Team Shanghai rented a private room in an internet cafe. The players sat down in a half circle around Zeng Rui who pulled out his notebook and licked the tip of his finger. He counted the pages with his thumb before opening the notebook and scanning the page. He then moved his head around in hesitation, looked up at his teammates, and then flipped to the next page.
Lin Feng tapped his foot on the ground impatiently. He watched Zeng Rui flip to the next page for a third time and grimaced. He grabbed his phone and checked the time, then looked up at Zeng Rui again, who was still focused on his notebook. He finally couldn’t take it any longer and said, “Come on already! Tell us what we’re doing!”
Zeng Rui looked up at Lin Feng, distracted, and slowly massaged his temple. He moved his lips around for a bit and then said, “Alright, here’s the deal. I’ve watched all of Fudan’s games. Twice. I can only conclude… well, they’re strangely similar to Zhejiang University. The playstyle for both teams is damn near identical at times. Both of them go with very strong team comps, and that’s also their weakness. It takes them until the mid game, when teamfights become more prevalent, to start building momentum.
“We are the perfect counter to that strategy. Tang Tang’s aggressive playstyle will let us gain an early advantage, BunBun is one of the best early game Junglers I’ve ever seen, and then, well…” Zeng Rui stopped and shrugged. He then nodded at Zhang Hao and continued in a different direction, “You might have a bit of trouble in the top lane. But that’s fine. We’ll just have BunBun camp up there. Fudan can focus you all they want, they’re not getting anything with the two of you there to hold it down.”
Lin Feng looked at Zeng Rui. Waiting, expectantly. But Zeng Rui stopped talking and was now looking through his notebook, flipping through his notebook in an excruciatingly slow manner. Lin Feng chewed on his lips for a couple of seconds until he couldn’t take it anymore. He blurted, “What about me? You didn’t say anything about me? What’s your plan for me?”
Zeng Rui glanced up from his notebook and took a long, deep breath. What do you think? You’re Maple! Isn’t it clear what you’re going to do? You’re going to carry us, because no matter how good I am, no matter how well Tang Tang plays, regardless of everything BunBun and Zhang Hao pull out of their assholes, it’s never going to get anywhere near what you can do. But if I tell you that, you’re going to be insufferable for the rest of the day. Thundering dumbass. He sighed and said, “Qiu Yijie is a solid Midlaner. The general consensus is that he’s reached the A grade and that he can hold his own against most professional Midlaners. But you’re not most Midlaners. You’re Maple.”
Lin Feng grinned and said, “You’re calling me good, right? You’re right! I’m really good! I’ll beat him!”
Zeng Rui briefly closed his eyes and breathed in, allowing the fresh air to clear his thoughts. He then opened his eyes again and smiled. He replied, “Just win mid. Alright, enough chattering. I’ve got a couple of strategies here that we’re going to practice.”
Team Shanghai practiced from lunch until dinner. The time they spent queuing up, Zeng Rui explained everything that went wrong in his opinion and how he wanted to see the team members improve. And when it was finally time for dinner, he suggested that they continue playing. He said they would just order some chicken cutlets to eat while in queue for the next game.
Lin Feng was the first to agree to this suggestion. He’d been playing since early that morning, but he still wanted to keep going. When Chu Fang told him that playing League of Legends for 10 hours in a single day wasn’t the most healthy habit, he shrugged it away. And when An Xin explained to him that this was why the rest of the team had taken the morning off, he laughed and replied that he had important League business he’d had to take care of that morning.
Team Shanghai played through dinner, but despite Lin Feng’s excitement, the quality of his play saw a sharp decline. He started messing up in the mid lane, failing to warn his teammates when something was happening and even cost them a game. That was when Zeng Rui stopped. He looked at Lin Feng and said, “You’re not fine. You can say you are, but you aren’t. You need to rest for tomorrow. We’re ending practice tonight.”
“But I can still play!” Lin Feng argued. “That was just a little slip up there!”
An Xin looked at Lin Feng, her lips curving up but her eyes remaining steady. She said, “HMM? Just a little slip up? You fell down a waterslide. That's how hard you fucked up that game! Now stop. Rest. We need you on point tomorrow.”
Lin Feng looked at An Xin. He wanted to argue. But when he looked past her at the worried look from Tang Bingyao, he paused. He looked back at his screen and opened the detailed analysis of the game. His damage dealt was low, his damage received high, his wards placed low… His stats were all moving in the direction he didn’t want to see them go. He grimaced and muttered, “Okay. Fine. We can take a break.”
“Not a break,” Zeng Rui said. He looked at Lin Feng and corrected, “We’re ending practice tonight. And we’re going to rest. Go and sleep, Lin Feng. We need you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, yeah! It’s fine! I’ll get some rest!” Lin Feng replied, grinning. “Don’t worry. I’ll be in great shape tomorrow!”
Lin Feng ran up the stairs at the hotel while the rest of his team waited at the elevator. He reached the fourth floor before the others and burst into his room. The curtains were closed already and his bed was made. He pulled his clothes off in a half-run and then jumped on bed. Alarm, alarm. Set the alarm! He grabbed his phone and set an alarm for half an hour later. He then let his head fall on the pillow and closed his eyes. I’m still young! I can play all night and be fine in the morning! I’ll just rest for a bit and then I’ma play all night long and get to the top of the Korean ranked ladder!
Chu Fang walked into the hotel room a couple of minutes later and found Lin Feng already in bed. He smiled and shook his head. Crazy kid. He sat down on his bed and turned on the small lamp on the nightstand. It gave just enough light for him to read a webseries on his phone. Joshua was still getting used to his new life as a truck. But the pavement the mega ants had made for him made his life much easier these last few weeks. He could drive between Sardonia and Grelsh in half the time with half the effort and there were no real life and death moments like usual. It seemed like the dangerous monsters didn’t like the smell of tar…
The buzz of an alarm rang. Chu Fang looked up from his phone, confused and annoyed by the interruption. He searched for the source and spotted Lin Feng’s phone flashing brightly. Why is Lin Feng’s phone… His eyes grew round and wide and he slowly shook his head. “No,” he mumbled. “Don’t tell me…”
Lin Feng opened his eyes and blinked a couple of times. He turned his phone alarm off and then looked at the time. LEAGUE! He was wide awake, the thought about the Korean ladder having a similar effect a bucket of ice cold water would’ve had. He jumped up from his bed and turned the lights on.
Chu Fang looked at Lin Feng and asked, “Are you really going to…?” Lin Feng nodded at him, answering the question. He continued, “Are you sure that’s smart? A good rest is important for your health. And you need your health to play League. Didn’t Zeng Rui tell you to sleep tonight?”
Lin Feng sat at the small table and turned his laptop on. He glanced over his shoulder while waiting for it to boot up and said, “I did rest! And now I need to play. I promised One I would get to the top of the Korean ranked ladder and I won’t get there if I just sleep all night. I need to play and play and play and use every free minute I have to get to the top!”
Chu Fang shook his head and mumbled, “Ain’t no rest for the wicked.”
Money don't grow on trees
I got bills to pay
I got mouths to feed
There ain't nothing in this world for free
I know I can't slow down
I can't hold back
Though you know
I wish I could
Oh, no there ain't no rest for the wicked
Until we close our eyes for good
A powerful buzz swept through the Chinese League of Legends community. CN•HOOK2 had become the single most discussed topic on the different forumboards. It was even higher up there than the LPL games and Shi Hang’s return to professional play. Within minutes of CN•HOOK2 coming online and entering the queue, everyone in China who cared about League of Legends found out. They left work early, called in sick, skipped their homework, and searched online for a place to watch the epic ascension of the Korean Challenger ladder by a Chinese player.
「CN•HOOK2, he’s online again!」
「FUCKING FINALLY!!!!!!! It’s already 9 PM! I’ve been waiting allll dayyyy!!!」
「RANKRANKRANRANKRA TELL ME HIS RANK NOW SOMEONE TELL ME」
「17! He’s already rank 17!」
「he needs one more win to get to 16! He’s getting so close to the top 10! just imagine OH MY GOOOOD!」
It didn’t take long for news of CN•HOOK2 playing a game on the Korean server to reach the various gaming houses from the LPL teams, including Dark Glory. Lightless Heart was streaming a game on the Ionia server, chilling with his viewers after a long day of practice with his team, when he found out. Viewers were talking about CN•HOOK2 in his stream chat. He read the conversation and got so distracted by it that he forgot to play his game. If it’s really One, how awesome would that be? One is showing to the world that he still has it and that there’s no Korean who can stop him! Humm… Fuck me I wanna watch this too!
Lightless looked at his camera and smiled. He said, “I’ve got a small surprise for you guys. Wanna watch CN•HOOK2 play live? Let’s go!” He logged out from his Ionia server account and opened his Korean client. There he opened his friends list and at the very top it showed CN•HOOK2 with the tag “playing solo queue”.
The 30,000 viewers in Lightless’ stream lost their minds. They spammed his chat and then their phones and different message boards. It didn’t take long for word to go round, only the time it took for Lightless to load into the game and spectate CN•HOOK2. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese League of Legends players stopped with what they were doing. There were so many of them that abandoned their games that it even became difficult to find a game on the Ionia server. All of them joined Lightless’ stream and flooded his chat.
「CN•HOOK2!? ITS HIM ITS HIM ITS HIM!!!!!」
「OMGGGGG!!!! LIGHTLESS KNOWS HIM! THEYRE FRIENDS!!!!」
「does that mean hook is someone on dark glory?」
「YEAH! LIGHTLESS TELL US! IS HE YOUR TEAMMATE?!?!?!?!?!?」
「TELL US!,DO YOU KNOW HIM!」
「do you also know what hes doing? like what his goal is? is he going to try and beat rake for number 1 spot??」
「how far do you think he c an go before the ladder resets? hes only got like two more days, right?????」
Lightless didn’t see the chat. Just like most of his viewers, he was mesmerized with CN•HOOK2. He clenched his fist and licked his lips, mumbling, “Come on, come on. Win! Carry the game. I know you can!” He glanced at his second monitor, tabbing out of his streamchat and opening the Korean Challenger ladder rankings. 17. He already hit 17! Holy what the fuck! I’ve been watching him when I can the last few days, but this… How in the world… FUCK YEAH! FUCK YEAH! He grinned and shouted, “FUCK YEAH!”
A player from Dark Glory sitting behind a computer on the other side of the gaming room looked up from his screen. He nodded at Lightless and asked, “You okay?”
Lightless chuckled and replied, “Yeah! All good here, all good here… All fucking great and fantastic! SWEET!” He ignored the strange look from his teammate and focused back on his screen. Sure, we don’t have any super top pro’s in China right now. We don’t have some fancy Emperor like Europe, America and… Korea do. But that doesn’t make us shit either! We’ve got our legends, even if they haven’t played competitively in a long time. He clenched his fists until the white showed on his knuckles. We’ve got One! The best ever! Even after so many years of not playing, he just hops on the Korean server and goes all the way to the top! He’s the only legend we need! FUCK YEAH! He’s making the Koreans look like shit! This is the best thing ever! Better even than winning a game in the LPL!
Zeng Rui sat in his hotelroom, massaging his temples. Zhang Hao sat next to him, scrolling through a forum post about CN•HOOK2 and commenting, “Look at this, Zeng Rui! Lin Feng’s just won another game! He’s already Rank 13!” He turned his head to look at Zeng Rui and continued, “I thought he was supposed to sleep early. Wasn’t that why he ran so fast up the stairs? But he’s been online for hours now! He hasn’t slept at all!”
Zhang Hao continued talking and Zeng Rui continued not listening. He was staring at the wall and massaging his temples. The thundering dumbass played for more than 10 hours and then when he was supposed to take a break, he plays some more. I want to be mad at him. I so badly want to be mad at him. But it’s just… how is he still climbing? He’s beating Midlaners from the OGN every single game! These are the best guys from Korea! How is he beating them every single game? He hasn’t played Rake yet, but that’s about the only one he hasn’t played yet! How is he beating all of these guys after playing all day already?
Zeng Rui took a long, deep breath and nodded at himself. It took me a while, Lin Feng. All I saw in you was a thundering dumbass, someone so retarded they couldn’t possibly be any good at League of Legends or anything in life really. But I was wrong. I looked at your cover and wrote your story for you, and that says more about me than it does about you. I can see it now, your story. It’s one of persistence. One of pure willpower. When the rest of us give up or feel like we need to rest, you keep going. You keep fighting. You don’t stop and you never give up. He nodded at Zhang Hao and asked, “You tired?”
“Not particularly, no?” Zhang Hao replied, confused.
“Good,” Zeng Rui said. He got up from his bed and grabbed his laptop from his suitcase. He then glanced at Zhang Hao and asked, “What are you waiting for? Grab your laptop and get ready. If the thundering dumbass can give it his all, then so can we. We’re not going to let him down.”