That was the last thing that Lin Feng said to Lin Songshi. Lin Feng had said those words with no emotion whatsoever just as the audience erupted into a final round of applause and cheers. The din from the crowd was more than loud enough to drown out the words. But the words, however muted, exploded when they hit the rest of Team Shanghai’s ears.
Zhang Hao, who had only just recovered from the odd conversation between Lin Feng and Lin Songshi and returned to his senses, was once again floored. This time, his eyes didn’t glaze over. They closed. Whatever it was that just happened at this Award Ceremony, it was too much for Zhang Hao’s mind to handle and he shut down. He swayed back and forth slowly before finally leaning over and resting against a stony Zeng Rui, eyes still closed.
Zeng Rui did not notice Zhang Hao. He was playing back everything that just happened and trying to piece it all together. Uncle. Uncle! Now everything makes sense! That thundering dumbass… how many more secrets is he hiding from me? I didn’t know he was Maple… and apparently, I didn’t realize that Lin Songshi was his Uncle. The President of the Chinese Esports Association! Lin! Lin Songshi and Feng. Why is this a surprise to me? It should’ve been obvious from the minute they were on stage together! But what’s with all the friction? I can understand why Lin Songshi is a little upset with Lin Feng over leaving after Season 1. That’s logical enough. But what happened between them that pissed Lin Feng off to this degree? I need to research everything that happened during the Season 1 World Championships! Hm… Why… why is Zhang Hao sleeping on my shoulder?
Tang Bingyao’s jaw dropped. Then closed. Then she waved at Lin Songshi and said, “Bye Uncle!”
The briefest look of confusion showed up on Lin Songshi’s face when he heard Tang Bingyao calling him Uncle. But he politely smiled and waved farewell back.
Chu Fang’s eyes glimmered with disbelief for a few seconds. And then his body language completely changed. Uncle! Of course! Chu Fang’s shoulders relaxed as exhaled every last drop of tension. His expression was peaceful. This revelation, shocking as it was, seemed to be enough for Chu Fang to attain enlightenment. This is what Fang Hao meant when he said everything would sort itself out organically! HE KNEW! HE KNEW THAT LIN SONGSHI WAS LIN FENG’S UNCLE! That’s why he wasn’t worried about the Beijing Esports Association figuring out that Lin Feng was Maple! Because the President of the Chinese Esports Association already knew Lin Feng was Maple!
The only one on Team Shanghai who was unperturbed by all of this was An Xin. She stood there calmly with the same smile on her face the entire time. She already knew about Lin Songshi, and none of this was a surprise to her.
Lin Songshi finished waving goodbye to Tang Bingyao after she called him “Uncle”. He gave her a fleeting puzzled glance and then motioned to the Host that it was time to conclude the Awards Ceremony and declare the end of the Collegiate Cup. Then he turned to look at the audience and gave them a goodbye wave before walking off the stage.
That was it. Team Shanghai had the Collegiate Cup trophy, and Lin Feng had the MVP medal around his neck. The Awards Ceremony had ended.
The Host walked back onto the stage and screamed out to the crowd, “Let’s give our new Champions one last round of applause! Congratulations, Team Shanghai! You’ve done it! You’re the new Champions of the Collegiate Cup! There were a lot of people who doubted you. Many who dismissed each of your victories on luck or circumstance or trickery. But you proved all of them wrong and advanced step by step until there was no one left!”
The entire stadium erupted into cheers, applause, random cries of ‘WIN FENG!’, and odd monkey noises from a corner of the stadium.
It had been a long month and a half for Team Shanghai. From the local qualifiers to the regionals and then finally the main tournament. And in between, they had to take their exams. The last few weeks had been a blur of endless practice sessions, strategy meetings, late night chicken cutlets, and high-tension league matches against the best teams and players outside the professional scene. But it had finally ended, and now they could go home with victory in their hearts. The Collegiate Cup was finally over, and Team Shanghai had seized the championship!
Just as the Finals for the Collegiate Cup wrapped up at the Chaoyang Sports Centre in Beijing, an important LPL match also concluded in Shanghai.
Team Shanghai had stunned countless spectators by defeating Team Beijing and claiming the Collegiate Cup Championship. But the LPL Season 6 Sprint Split match that had just taken place at the Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai left half the players in all of China in shock.
The match was between Team Rapids and HoG. The game was a fierce 37 minute clash between the two teams.
Team Rapids and Hand of God were evenly matched in most lanes. The Toplaners fought all through the laning phase but no clear winner came out and Nightsong threw his big dick around, yet couldn’t get the edge he needed to carry the game. It all came down to the mid lane, where AyDeeCee played against Hermes. It was a pure skill matchup in LeBlanc versus Zed. Both Champions were assassins and both champions relied entirely on the mechanics of their summoner.
The early laning phase had no clear winner. Shi Hang and Hermes threw everything they had at each other, they made the most breathtaking plays, but ultimately neither side could get the all important first kill. Because that was what they needed. Both their Champions didn’t really start shining until they got a few kills under their belt. It was eventually Shi Hang’s LeBlanc in the 8th minute who picked up the first kill. Hermes stepped away from his minions and got punished for that right away. Ethereal Chains rooted him to the ground, after which a full damage combo from LeBlanc killed him.
That first kill set the tone for the rest of the match. Shi Hang’s LeBlanc got the items she needed before Hermes’ Zed. Shi Hang used this to his advantage, pushing Hermes around and forcing Hand of God’s Jungler to come to the mid lane. All the while, he had his Jungler hiding near his Outer Tower, waiting for the countergank. It was a perfect outplay by Team Rapids. They got the countergank, played it perfectly, and two more kills went to Shi Hang’s LeBlanc. From there on out, it was a stomp. He’d gained such an advantage in gold and items that Hermes’ Zed was forced to abandon the mid lane. And every time Hermes’ Zed tried to return to the mid lane, Shi Hang killed him.
Shi Hang showed everyone in China that he was still at the top of his game. He proved all the naysayers wrong. That he still had a lot left to give. By the 15th minute of the game, he’d gotten his 5th kill. 10 minutes after that, his LeBlanc was declared Legendary. Hand of God was struggling to defend, because Shi Hang’s LeBlanc could jump their backline whenever he felt like it. And there was nothing they could do to stop him. He dealt too much damage and LeBlanc was far too mobile to be locked down.
At the 35th minute of the game, Hand of God pushed their lanes out and rushed the Dragon in a final desperate attempt to make something work. They engaged the Dragon and tried to kill it, until the voice announcer informed them that Nightsong had died. They moved their cameras and found Nightsong’s corpse, with no sign of his killer. LeBlanc had jumped in and then back out again. She then waited for her skills to come off cooldown again while her teammates ran over, before fighting the 5 versus 4 and winning it convincingly.
Team Rapids breached Hand of God’s base 10 seconds after scoring an ace. They destroyed the Mid Lane Inner Tower, then the inhibitor behind it, and one of the Nexus towers. Then they took a small break to kill Nightsong, who had just respawned, once again. After that, they took out the second Nexus Tower. Once the tower was down, Team Rapids started attacking Hand of God’s Nexus. And they destroyed it just as the remaining Champions from Hand of God respawned. It was a decisive victory led by Shi Hang and his LeBlanc. Shi Hang had just beaten the King Hermes.
Team Rapid’s Coach had watched the entire game backstage. And when his team won, he lost his mind from the sheer overwhelming joy. He jumped around screaming “OH MY GOD! WE DID IT! WE DID IT! WE WON! IT WAS AMAZING! DID YOU GUYS SEE SHI HANG? I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING! IS THIS A DREAM? NO! IT CAN’T BE! THE LAST TIME I FELT THIS MUCH JOY IN A DREAM WAS WHEN I DREAMED THAT MY WIFE DIDN’T LEAVE ME AND THAT DIDN’T FEEL AS GOOD AS THIS DOES! THIS IS REAL! WE WON!”
The Coach had dedicated his life to ESports, and specifically League of Legends. He poured everything he had into Team Rapids. So much so that his wife had left him. She declared that their marriage wasn’t a real one since he’d spent the last 8 months sleeping at the Team Rapids headquarters. It had devastated him, but changed nothing in his resolve to push Team Rapids to new heights. He’d bet everything on Shi Hang and brought him back into the professional scene and Team Rapids. Even then, the Coach wasn’t certain about Team Rapid’s chance for victory in this match against HoG. But all doubt had vanished now! This victory was the turning point for Team Rapids and himself! He was so delusional with joy that he convinced himself that his wife might take him back.
“WE WON! Hahahah! I TOLD YOU ALL THAT AYDEECEE WAS A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH! WE WON! SHE’LL LET ME COME HOME AGAIN NOW! We actually did it!” Team Rapid’s Coach cried out. He wasn’t just happy for himself or for his team. Most of his joy came from the fact that his old friend of many years, Shi Hang, had done well. The debut game that Shi Hang played for Team Rapids against KG had not gone well at all. Team Rapids had lost. But the worst part was that his performance in that game was average at best. Shi Hang was forced to bear an onslaught of criticism from fans to commentators to analysts to critics.
But Shi Hang proved all of them wrong with this victory! He’d shown every single person who called him a hasbeen that he could hold his own, even against China’s current number one Midlaner and the only King in the country, Daybreak Hermes!
Team Raid’s Coach wanted to call and message every single person who claimed that Shi Hang was well past his prime and couldn’t compete in today’s professional scene. But he couldn’t, so he settled for yelling at one of the assistants backstage responsible for technical maintenance. “YOU STILL HAVE THE BALLS TO CLAIM THAT AYDEECEE IS A RELIC? You want to keep talking about how Shi Hang peaked in Season 1 and can’t compete with the professionals in Season 6? LISTEN TO ME! Someone like Shi Hang, who managed to claw his way to the top back in those days, you can’t underestimate them! My wife underestimated me, and now she’s probably twisting the bedsheets in regret! AYDEECEE IS BACK HOME NOW AND SOOON I WILL BE TOO!”
Among the cheers and applause of the audience, Team Rapids’ members walked down from the stage.
Shi Hang had just returned backstage, when Aurous, who had also come to watch today’s match, ran over and slung his arm over his shoulder. “Hahaha! WAY TO POP OFF, QUEEN! You even beat Hermes! How’s it feel to be you again?” He was clearly happy and excited for his old friend.
Shi Hang shrugged his shoulders. “I did alright. Hermes… eh, he was careless during the early game. Probably didn’t think he needed to try against me after that game with KG. If he was really going all out from the start, it would’ve been way tougher to win today’s game.”
Aurous laughed and pinched Shi Hang’s cheek. “So modest and coy! If you keep this up, you’ll catch the eye of some CEO’s son and he’ll come sweep you off your feet! What does it matter if Hermes underestimated you and played carelessly at the start? This is Hermes we’re talking about! Even if he played carelessly, how many players do you think there are in China who could’ve caught that and taken advantage of it? Be proud, sweet AyDeeCee! Even if you don’t have a real bust, your booty more than makes up for it! You snowballed your advantage and hard-carried the game!”
Shi Hang smiled. God damn Aurous! I can’t tell if I’m laughing at his nonsense or if I’m happy about winning today’s game now. But it was a good day. I’m back!
With this match, Shi Hang had proved that he was one of China’s top Midlaners. He’d finally announced his return.
Shi Hang suddenly stopped smiling and grew thoughtful. He looked at Aurous and asked, “Hey. Do you know if the Collegiate Cup ended?”
Aurous was puzzled by the question. This sweet untouched chrysanthemum just beat a King… and he wants to know what’s going on at the Collegiate Cup? Aurous looked at Shi Hang for a brief second before replying, “Yup. It just ended. Team Shanghai beat Team Beijing 3-0.” He waved his out dramatically and continued, “But why are we worried about what’s going on in some tournament for the next generation? They’re still ripening, forget about them. We should be talking about you! Everyone said that you’d gone rotten. And then you go an win against HoG! You, my friend, are still very ripe and plump. With how amazing your LeBlanc was today, I’d even say that you’re… bursting with springtime firmness. Hahahaa! I’m 100% sure that anyone and everyone who plays League in China will be talking about your LeBlanc. You’re going to be just as hot on the forums are you are in real life!”
Shi Hang bonked Aurous on the head to calm him down a little. Then he raised an eyebrow and smiled at his friend. “I’m not so sure about that.”
Aurous stared at Shi Hang, baffled by the turn of events. “What? Something else happened? What do you know? Tell me everything! ”
Shi Hang turned around to look at the stands. At all the spectators still cheering. His eyes flickered with a strange light as he took it all in. Then he said, “You’ll find out later tonight.”