FourEyesChan stood up from behind the caster desk and grabbed his microphone from its stand. He then walked towards the monitor that showed the final moments of the Championship game between Team Shanghai and Team Beijing. “This is it,” he started. “The final moments!”
“Take us through them!” Cherry cheered.
FourEyesChan looked over his shoulder at Cherry and smiled. He then pushed the microphone to his lips and shouted, “The last few moments! Team Shanghai has scored an ace! A perfect one! Five kills, zero deaths and four perfect ultimates!
“They’re taking down the tower in t-minus 3… BOOM! IT’S DOWN! ONTO THE INHIBITOR!
“ANOTHER BOOM! GOD THIS IS GOING FAST! THEY’VE TAKEN THE SECOND INHIBITOR!” He paused for a moment to catch his breath and then continued, “That’s the second inhibitor. It’s the point of no return, and it really looks like that in this game! Team Beijing is all dead! They’ve got more than 20 seconds left to respawn! AND TEAM SHANGHAI KEEPS PUSHING!
“SUPER MINIONS FROM THE TOP LANE AND NORMAL ONES FROM THE BOT LANE ARE TAKING TOWER AGGRO FROM THE TWO NEXUS TOWERS! AND TEAM SHANGHAI KEEPS PUSHING!
“ONE TOWER DOWN AND THE SECOND ONE… FOLLOWS NOW! IT’S JUST THE NEXUS LEFT! A FEW MORE SECONDS AND THEN WE’VE GOT OUR NEW CHAMPIONS!
“THE NEXUS HAS EXPLODED! THAT’S THREE IN A ROW! WE’VE FOUND OUR NEW COLLEGIATE CUP CHAMPIONS! TEAM SHANGHAI WINS 3-0 FROM TEAM BEIJING IN THE GRAND FINALS OF THE WINTER COLLEGIATE CUP! GIVE IT UP FOR THEM! GIVE IT UP FOR THEM!”
Cherry pumped her fist in the air and screamed, “WOOOOOOOOOO!”
The audience was slow to follow. They’d come into the series expecting Team Beijing to win, and though the games they watched suggested the opposite there was still a part of them that believed Team Beijing would turn it around. But Team Beijing didn’t turn it around. The series was over. Team Shanghai had won.
“It’s over. Huh?”
“I thought Team Beijing was supposed to be… better?”
“An off day maybe?”
“They beat U-Tech! How can they be bad?”
“I don’t get it…”
“How did this happen…?”
FourEyesChan looked from the casterbox out over the stands and saw the confused reaction from the audience. He shook his head and smiled. I get how you guys feel. All my research showed Team Beijing would win. We were all… None of us were expecting Team Shanghai to be this good. But they were… Are. And they deserve loud applause! He put the microphone to his lips again and shouted, “I CAN’T HEAR YOOUUUU!”
A part of the audience recovered from the surprising conclusion of the grand finals and started cheering. But many more were still arguing with each other about how it was possible that the series had ended like this. FourEyesChan focused on those people and shouted louder than before, “I CAN’T HEAR YOOUUUU!”
It was the push that the audience needed. They briefly discussed the plays they’d cheered for over the past three games, most of which were for Team Shanghai. More specifically, for Lin Feng. They all agreed that his performance was of such high quality that there really wasn’t anything Team Beijing could’ve done. He was just that much better. After that discussion swept across the stands, people rose to their feet and cupped their hands around their mouths. They started shouting,
Up on stage were the two soundproof booths. Team Beijing sat in the one to the right. The five team members were silent. They sat behind their monitors and stared at their screens, trying to understand what just happened. From the moment they became aware of Team Shanghai many months ago until the start of the Grand Finals a few hours ago, they never once considered the possibility of losing.
“I knew they were good,” Team Beijing’s Jungler mumbled. “But this good…?”
Yu Ping rested his head in his hand, defeated. I was looking for a challenge. All tournament long, I’ve been demanding a challenge. I’ve been looking down on every other Midlaner. And why shouldn’t I have!? I beat them all! All of them, except him. His stomach clenched so hard that it hurt. He bit on his teeth and tried to move his head up and look at the audience, but he couldn’t get himself to do so. Shame pushed down on him and it took everything he had not to collapse. I got what I asked for. A challenge. A real one. And I wasn’t anywhere near ready for it. Maybe… Maybe Goalie was the challenge I should’ve been looking for…
“What do we do now?” Team Beijing’s ad-carry asked meekly.
Zhang Hongyi turned his head and looked across the stage at Team Shanghai’s soundproof booth. Those assholes are celebrating and… GODDAMMIT! He replied through gritted teeth, “We go out on stage and we congratulate those bastards. Fucking Zeng Rui and his stupid luck! It’s like solo queue all over!”
“Yeah, congratulate,” Yu Ping mumbled.
The second soundproof booth belonged to Team Shanghai. The mood inside was entirely different from Team Beijing. After the victory emblem appeared on his screen, Zhang Hao pushed his gaming chair back and leaped at Lin Feng. The two fell to the ground, but Zhang Hao didn’t care. He had tears of joy in his eyes and screamed, “WE WON! WE WON! HAHA! YOU SAID WE WOULD AND WE DID! WE BEAT THEM! WE FUCKING WON!”
Lin Feng yelped in surprise, just for a moment. He then looked up at Zhang Hao and the rest of his teammates and grinned. “Of course we won!” he exclaimed. “We’re the best!”
Tang Bingyao looked at Lin Feng and Zhang Hao on the ground and chewed on her lips. Butterflies were flying around in her stomach and a sudden force of impulse made her drop to her knees and join the hug. She cheered, “Mhm! We won! We really did!”
Zeng Rui looked at the three on the ground and fought against the voice in the back of his mind telling him to join them. He hesitated long enough for An Xin to walk over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her, confused.
“Good work,” An Xin said with a smile. “I know how hard you’ve worked. And I want you to know that all of this…” she waved around the soundproof booth and then at the audience in the background. “… none of this would’ve been possible without you. You made it work.”
Zeng Rui smiled, a tear in his eye. He looked out through the windows of the soundproof booth at the audience. They’re cheering for us! We did it! We really did! He stood up and replied, “Thanks. I appreciate it. We all work—”
“ZENGZENG! COME IN HERE!” Lin Feng exclaimed. He’d gotten back up to his feet at some point and now jumped at Zeng Rui and hugged him. “We did it! WE WON!”
Zeng Rui let it happen. Lin Feng first and then Zhang Hao and Tang Bingyao next. And finally An Xin joined in. He jumped with the four of them, going against every instinct in his body, and enjoyed every second of it.
Team Shanghai went through the motions of the post game sportsmanship habits. They left their soundproof booth and walked up to the middle of the stage, where Team Beijing was waiting for them. The ten players bowed to each other, after which they bowed towards the audience to thank them for their support. When this was all done, both teams left the stage.
Chu Fang was waiting for his team at the bottom of the steps. He gave them a thumbs up and said, “You guys did great! I’m so proud of all five of you! And it was super extra sweet because Fan Yuan was super salty! You guys should’ve seen his face! It was priceless! Actually, you know what? WE’RE CELEBRATING!” He nodded at Lin Feng and asked, “You’ve got the list. Where are we going!”
Lin Feng pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and traced his finger down a list of options. He stopped at one halfway through and said, “This one! It’s got hot pot! I want hot pot! Oh, oh! This one is a special hot pot because it’s the traditional coal-fire Beijing-style hot pot! Let’s go, go, goooo! I wanna eat it right now!”
“Uh, Lin Feng…” Zhang Hao interjected. He licked his lips and then said, “There’s still the award ceremony…”
An Xin put a hand on Lin Feng’s shoulder and winked at him. She asked, “There is indeed. Don’t tell me you forgot? You remember, the President of the Chinese Esports Association is presenting us with the trophy!”
Lin Feng turned stiff. He scratched the back of his head and mumbled, “Uhh, but celebrating…”
Chu Fang scrunched his eyebrows and asked, “Is something wrong?”
“You don’t want the trophy?” Zeng Rui added.
Lin Feng forced a grin on his face and replied, “No, no! I want the trophy! I just forgot! Haha! Yes, that’s it! I forgot! Totally forgot! Trophy, yeay!”
The award ceremony began half an hour later. Zhou Wei, Vice President of the Beijing Esports Association, walked up on stage and introduced the shared third ranks Fudan University and U-Tech Beijing. Both teams walked up on stage and accepted a medal and thanked the Chinese Esports Association for hosting the event and the audience for coming out in such numbers to support them.
Zhou Wei gave the two university teams a couple of minutes with the microphone before taking it back and thanking them for participating. He then introduced Team Beijing and congratulated them with their second place. But Team Beijing wasn’t looking all too happy. The time they had to wait for the award ceremony to begin was long enough for the adrenaline to subside. They felt the pain of the loss, made worse by Fan Yuan who’d yelled and screamed all the way up until they walked back on stage. Zhou Wei looked at them and grimaced. Fan Yuan will get over it when he finds out who Lin Feng is. Bloody Maple. Of course they were gonna lose!
After Team Beijing left the stage, Zhou Wei brought the microphone to his mouth and said, “For this next part, we’ve got something a little more special.” He pointed at Team Shanghai and instructed, “Team Shanghai, come up on stage please.” He waited for them, under the loud applause of the audience, to walk up on stage and then continued, “This edition of the Collegiate Cup was special in several ways. We felt like it’s only appropriate that the award ceremony reflects that! That is why I won’t be the one offering the trophy to our Champions, but the President of the Chinese Esports Association will! Let’s give a warm welcome to Lin Songshi!”