Raking in the Money

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The first thing that needed to be said was that this wasn’t Tang Bingyao’s first, second, or even third time making money with League of Legends. She’d been boosting accounts for a while now. Tang Bingyao had even charged Lin Feng a challenge fee when the two first met at the NetCow Cafe when the school year started. This was essentially the same thing, which is why the idea came so naturally to her. Nothing about making money from playing League games was foreign or unheard of to Tang Bingyao.

“You want us to collect a challenge fee?” Lin Feng asked while rubbing his chin. His body language made it clear that he didn’t like the idea. “I don’t know… yeah, no. Okay. That doesn’t sound good to me at all. Everyone here today, they came to cheer us on. Asking them to pay us a challenge fee to 1v1 them just feels too scummy.”

An Xin frowned at Lin Feng and rolled her eyes. “Idiot! We’re not asking the internet cafe customers to pay us. What we’re going to do, obviously, is we go to the owner of the business. Isn’t that right, Boss Qian?” She turned to face Qian Lu with a faint smile.

“Eh!?” Qian Lu’s eyes went wide. 

“Yup! Yup! That’s it exactly, An Xin!” Tang Bingyao said, nodding in agreement.

An Xin looked straight at Qian Lu and continued, “I don’t remember anything about 1v1ing any customers in our contract. But since we are being compensated for our matches here in this tournament, its only fair that we get compensated for any other games we play as part of that, right? That’s only fair. Don’t you think so, Boss Qian? That’s only fair. Right, Boss Qian?” An Xin  looked at Qian Lu, the same smile still on her face as she emphasized the last sentence. 

“Oh no! She’s doing that scary thing again…!” Lin Feng muttered under his breath as he felt shivers run down his spine. 

Qian Lu gulped. The corners of his lips quivered slightly as he slowly pulled them into a forced smile. “C-collecting a fee..? W-well, about that.”  He rubbed his palms on his pants, but he could do nothing about the beads of cold sweat running down his forehead. “You know, we’re only a small business here. So, paying you a fee for 1v1s is a little…”

“Ah, is that so? That’s too bad. Then, let’s forget about it.” An Xin smiled. She turned to Tang Bingyao and asked, “Isn’t that right, Tang Tang?”

Tang Bingyao nodded earnestly.

Qian Lu’s smile was frozen on his face, despite the twinge of pain that flickered in his eyes. After a brief struggle in his mind between saving money and potential profits, he gnashed his jaw and asked, “How much do you want?”

An Xin smiled. “I’ll let Tang Tang deal with that.”

Tang Bingyao thought for a moment, then raised three fingers. “That’s how much I want a game.”

Qian Lu breathed a sigh of relief. ¥30 a game? That doesn’t sound too bad. 

“Wow, Tang Tang! That means if you do 1000 1v1s, you’ll get ¥300,000!” Lin Feng exclaimed, then slapped Tang Bingyao on the shoulder and continued, “You’re gonna be rich!”

“En!” Tang Bingyao’s eyes sparkled. 

“….” Qian Lu’s mouth gaped.

“…” Zhang Hao was speechless.

Zeng Rui’s eyelids twitched, as he turned his face away. But his thoughts were clearly evident on his face. He just didn’t want to be associated with the morons. The childish morons.

It didn’t really need stating, but all of the discussion between Qian Lu and the team was held in private. But Qian Lu quickly drafted an amendment to the contract for the 1v1s, and it was signed. Once that was done, Qian Lu headed up onto the stage and announced that the NetCow Cafe team would be accepting 1v1 challenge matches. It was an unexpected turn of events that stunned the customers of the internet cafe when they first heard it. 

“Against the NetCow Cafe team…?”

But once they figured out what was going on, the entire internet cafe erupted into cheers! There wasn’t a single customer who wasn’t excited to play against the team representing their internet cafe. It wasn’t every day that regular players like them could test their skills in duels against top players. And the cherry on top was that two of the players were super cute. Almost in unison, every customer decided that there was nothing more to think about or consider. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, and they were not planning on missing out. Qian Lu was swarmed by a mob of overexcited customers. 

“Boss, Boss, me first!”
“No me! No me! Me first!”
“I’m Platinum 1! It’ll be a more entertaining match if I play. Let me go up first!”
“Dumbass? Platinum 1? Really!? Fuck you mate, I’m Diamond in the Demcia server!”
“Bro, who the fuck cares. That’s basically Ionia Bronze!  At least get to Challenger there first!”

The 1v1s hadn’t even started, but the customers of the internet cafe already started fighting over who would get to play first. After a great deal of effort and shouting, Qian Lu finally managed to calm them down. Then he announced that the order of the 1v1 duels would be decided through drawing lots. As for who would be playing against the customers from the NetCow Cafe team, Tang Bingyao was the obvious choice. 

“Oh, Tang Tang is going first?” Qian Lu’s eyes lit up. “Then that means we’ll be doing ad-carry 1v1s first. Let’s welcome the first challenger!” 

There was only one reason that Qian Lu agreed to pay the fee for the 1v1 duels. He’d seen and understood how popular An Xin and Tang Bingyao were among the customers. As he calculated it, the sheer amount of goodwill, advertising, and attention he’d get from all this would end up being more than worth the expense! That reasoning held up right until the 1v1s started. From that point on, Qian Lu would come to regret this decision. 

Once everything was decided and everyone got ready, the first 1v1 started. Tang Bingyao picked and locked in her signature champion with zero hesitation. Draven, the Executioner! The choice prompted a wave of gasps from the audience. Her challenger was a long time customer of the NetCow Cafe, and ranked Platinum. He decided to play Lucian. With both champions locked in, the players loaded into the game. 

3 minutes later, the 1v1 ended.

《First Blood!》

The announcer’s voice rang out across Summoner’s Rift, shaking the hearts of all the audience members.

“Ww-what the hell was th… is that it!”
“Fuck! I can’t even take a shit that fast!”

The player who had thought he was lucky to pull the first challenge against Tang Bingyao also had a dazed expression on his face. He didn’t get up from his seat for several long minutes after the 1v1 ended. Mere moments ago, he’d been confident that he could play well enough to impress Tang Bingyao a little. Then the game started, and he was dead before he even realized what was happening. He was completely powerless against Tang Bingyao! The whole thing played out so differently from the scenarios he’d gone through in his head.

Tang Bingyao, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber. Right after securing an easy win in the first 1v1, she looked down from the stage and asked, “Alright! Who’s next?” 

Another customer stepped up from the crowd and raised his hand. “Umm, that would be me.”

Tang Bingyao’s eyes lit up. “Good. Let’s go! Mhm!” She was more than happy to play, and as quickly as they could get up on stage. Right now, every customer was a walking bag of cash to Tang Bingyao. Every takedown was ¥30 in her pocket!

The second 1v1 began without much fanfare. Then five minutes later, it ended. Tang Bingyao had switched to Lucian for this game, and her opponent decided on a Sivir. It was yet another easy first blood for Tang Bingyao. 

Tang Bingyao now had 2 wins in a row under her belt. Then it quickly turned into 3 wins in a row. Followed by 4 wins in a row. Before anyone could blink it was 5 wins. Tang Bingyao was mowing through the challengers in record speed!

Below the stage, the NetCow Regulars roared and cheered, amazed at Tang Bingyao’s skill. Meanwhile, Qian Lu was trembling. The blood drained from his face slowly. As Tang Bingyao notched victory after victory, he realized that he’d made a mistake. A grave mistake. The initial plan was for Tang Bingyao to boost the enthusiasm of the crowd, show them a good time while the Battle Bonanza continued. She was doing exactly that. But she was doing it so quickly, and Qian Lu started to tally how much money he was losing. He was hemorrhaging cash with every challenger! 

Lin Feng and the rest of the Gang also watched Tang Bingyao’s 1v1 carefully. 

Zhang Hao sighed. “Wow, Tang Tang’s managed to improve her mechanics even more. She’s getting so much better every time I see her play!”

An Xin chuckled. “Yup. Tang Tang’s hit some rapid improvement.”

After watching Tang Bingyao beat another customer, Zhang Hao swallowed his saliva. “At this rate, she’s going to be as good as a pro player.”

Zeng Rui shook his head. “No, she’s still got a ways to for that. Tang Tang’s mechanics are great. But she’s got a lot of progress to make in other aspects of the game.”

An Xin nodded with a smile. “It’s fine. All of that will come in time. What she needs the most right now is experience.”

Lin Feng waved his hand. “That’s no problem! We’ve got plenty of time! We can just take it easy!”

After hearing Lin Feng’s words, An Xin’s eyes flickered with a trace of gloom. She lowered her head and thought, Take it easy, huh? I wonder if I can afford that luxury…


Dev Thought: No real thought here. Just trying to get myself out of my funk by building some momentum. It a meh thought for a meh time.

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