An Unexpected Opportunity!

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Qian Lu let out a content sigh as he bid another group of customers goodbye. The NetCow Cafe had started to empty out, now that the first day of the Battle Bonanza had come to an end. The reason for Qian Lu’s contentment was that the NetCow Cafe had a very good day. Specifically, the customers in the NetCow Cafe had a good day. That made all the difference to Qian Lu. He was a shrewd businessman, but he had too much heart to truly be a ruthless businessman. As much as he wanted to make money, he wanted his customers to enjoy their stay at the NetCow Cafe more. That’s what brought him the most joy about today. His customers got to watch many exciting plays, they cheered louder and celebrated more with every victory, and they even got to 1v1 against the players on the NetCow Cafe team! Qian Lu heard several groups of customers talking about how the trip to the NetCow Cafe today was definitely worth it.

Qian Lu started tidying up here and there, smiling to himself some more. He’d even heard that all of the customers were even planning on coming again tomorrow, and that they were ready for the excitement to continue! He’d decided at that moment that all of the money he’d spent recruiting Lin Feng and the Gang was more than worth it. Customers and excitement are the lifeblood of an internet cafe! These high schoolers are exactly what the NetCow Cafe needs to really get pumping. As long as this place is lively, more customers will come here. That will pull even more people, turning into a positive feedback loop. I’M GOING TO BE RICH! This isn’t the Battle Bonanaza. Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho no! This is just a bonanza for old Qian Lu! Especially those 1v1s… perhaps that could be the specialty… no! NO! It’ll be the NetCow Cafe’s ultimate move! I’ll have the edge over all the other rival internet cafe’s in the area! Oh-hohohoho-hohoho-hohohoo! It’s a double bonanza for old Qian Lu! 

Lin Feng and the Gang, now the established Team NetCow Cafe, started to pack their bags up to leave, since the tournament day had ended. And also because they were tired. They had spent the entire day playing game after game. While it was true that most of the opponents they faced were weak and didn’t push any of them to go all out, it was still a lot of games. And each one, no matter how easy, took a mental and physical toll. It didn’t help that the 1v1s continued in between tournament matches, which meant that Lin Feng and the Gang had not taken a break since the tournament started earlier that afternoon. It would be abnormal if they weren’t tired after all that.

It was feeling the toll of all that gaming that made Zeng Rui and Zhang Hao stare at Lin Feng. Several times. They understood how they felt right now. And they had not forgotten about the night that Lin Feng played game after game to climb the Korean Challenger Ladder right after they won the Collegiate Cup. Because of how they felt right at that moment, they gained a much deeper understanding of the exhaustion and mental fatigue that Lin Feng endured on that night. 

“You can’t tell most of the time, but he really is amazing…” Zhang Hao muttered. 

Zeng Rui didn’t respond and only shook his head. 

Completely unaware of what his two team members were thinking, Lin Feng had snuck over to Tang Bingyao’s side and asked, “Hey, Tang Tang! You got two of those scraps of paper that my new friends gave me, right?”

“Huh?” Tang Bingyao said, tilting her head. “What slips?” 

“Ya know…! The little pieces of paper with… well, uhm. The ones with the phone numbers and summoner tags from the girls! Come on! I know you know what I’m talking about!”

“Oh…!” Tang Bingyao replied. Should I give them back? I don’t want to! I’m going to keep them. Mhm! It might be a little daring… but I don’t care! An Xin is in on this too! Then she shook her head. “No idea! Haven’t seen them at all!”

Lin Feng scratched his head. “What… why? I wasn’t going to add any of them really! I just want them as proof. I can’t tell Ouyang and the other guys that girls gave me their numbers without proof. They’ll never believe me!”

Tang Bingyao stared. Lin Feng withered a little, but she continued to stare. Then she stuck out her tongue and said, “No way! Go ask BunBun!”

“Huh? BunBun?”  Lin Feng considered the idea of asking An Xin.

As if summoned by her name, An Xin looked over at Lin Feng with a smile that scared nightmares. “Hm? Did you want to ask me something, Lin Feng?” 

“…. No, nothing.” Lin Feng quickly replied.

A short while later, Lin Feng arrived back at his apartment. In a rare moment of togetherness, he’d managed to remember bringing his house keys with him as he left that morning. He didn’t need to knock on the door until Su Xue decided to let him in. He opened the door, took off his shoes and walked into the living room. It was empty. So he decided to go see if Su Xue was in her room. He stomped over and opened the door while yelling, “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy! I’m home!” 

Su Xue was at her desk, streaming while holding half a watermelon in her hands. She was watching a livestream of a League tournament and commentating on it. She turned around when she heard Lin Feng’s voice and said, “Oh! You’re back! Come watch this LSPL stream with me and the viewers!”

Lin Feng looked at the melon in Su Xue’s hand and said, “I wanna eat some watermelon too!”

Su Xue rolled her eyes. “The other half is in the fridge. Run to the kitchen and get it yourself.”

Lin Feng ran out. A few moments later, he barrelled back into Su Xue’s room with the other half of the watermelon and a spoon. He settled in next to Su Xue and started shoveling a big spoonful of watermelon into his mouth. Then he looked at the stream. “LSPL? Whoplayin?”  

Su Xue looked at him and scowled. “Can’t you eat more gracefully? Watch me.” She daintily scooped up some watermelon and ate it. “Oh, right. LSPL. The game is Deep Abyss against GG. They only just started.”

“Deep Abyss? GG?” Lin Feng realized that he’d never heard of these teams before. 

The current competitive League scene in China featured far more teams than most people realized. Everyone knew about the most famous teams, the ones in the LPL. That went double for the teams at the very top of the LPL. But all teams in the LPL were considered Tier 1. 

Below the LPL was the LSPL. All teams in the LSPL are considered Tier 2 teams, and there are a total of 18 teams. But for most people, the only teams worth knowing about were the Top 8 LSPL. Everything below that line was relegated to obscurity. Because there were very few people who followed absolutely every single game of competitive League of Legends. Only the most dazzling of LSPL teams, the ones that had a shot at one day breaking through into the LPL, entered the public consciousness. Or teams that had famous players. But the two teams playing right now, Deep Abyss and GG, belonged to neither category. 

“Deep Abyss went 11th and GG placed 14th in the last LSPL season,” Su Xue said, understanding Lin Feng’s confusion. She’d done some research into the competitive scene earlier, and was using this as an opportunity to put it to good use. “Neither team has any player of any real renown either. The only one that kinda qualifies… I’d say maybe GG’s Support—Red Breeze. He used to be pretty well known on the Ionia Server. Peaked somewhere in the 30s on the Challenger Ladder. He also did some streams for a while and picked up some fans. ” 

Su Xue looked at the other team, then continued, “As for Deep Abyss, well, there’s nothing to really talk about. At least I’ve never heard the names of any of their players before.”

“Oh gee whiz! Wow! You’re a real encyclopedia here. If you had brown hair, you could be Encyclopedia Brown!” Lin Feng said, surprised. “When did you start doing so much research into the LSPL?”

Su Xue was taken aback. Then she immediately went on the attack, “What? I’m not allowed to learn stuff now? Just because I didn’t do well in school doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn anything! I’m serious about this streaming stuff. I’m a professional streamer now!” Su Xue huffed as she finished her rant. Then she calmed down and fixed her hair before explaining. “Remember that contract I signed with Huya? They reached out to me a couple of days ago and said I should watch a few LSPL games, do some research. Because… because… there’sachanceImightbecastingafewgamesthereinthefut—”

The chat exploded before Su Xue could finish mumbling out the rest of her words. 

we’re gonna be on top!
damn… i never thought that feeder caitlyn I was watching 2 months ago would suddenly become  a professional caster. I feel so proud! It’s like watching a stupid puppy learn how to walk for the first time! Or you know, like in those American movies where you’re rooting for the idiot!  think I’m gonna cry!
tell us the deetz! When you starting!?

Su Xue finally realized what was going on in chat and waved her hands. “Enough enough! This isn’t even a sure thing! I was just saying it might happen. Don’t celebrate too early! AND DEFINITELY DON’T SPREAD IT AROUND!”

This really is a sponsored chapter.

Dev: So this started out as a joke. I said something about how I didn’t know what day it was, Selphid replied by saying it was chapter release day. Lulz were had by all. But I have a mental illness where I can’t stop creating or escalating bits. I think they call it Sad Clown Syndrome or something. Or maybe I’m just deeply depressed, and this is all a cry for help. Anyways. I decided to elevate this mild chuckle of a joke by molding the meme of ‘2 dolla rolex’ to this situation. So I told Selph I’d sell him a chapter for $2. Then because Selphid also has a similar mental illness to mine, he continued to escalate the bit. But I’m the Dom Torretto of Webnovels. I never flinch in a game of chicken because Ohana means family. Selphid asked where to send the $2, and I gave him my PayPal. Mostly because I forgot how to log into the Rise PayPal. A different problem for a different day. Selphid sent $2. Possibly because he’s also terminally online and lacks the muscle strength to take his foot from the gas. Who knows? Not I. Definitely not you guys. We may never know. Anyways, Selphid sent me $2.

This is the part where I could have just released the chapter and been like “hahahaha! Look funny bit and everyone got a chapter! Selphid’s a jolly old fellow!” But once again, I have mental problems. I decided to try to construct an old school RGB strobing banner at the top of the chapter using text effects because everyone uses an adblocker that targets flashing gifs these days. I did not know how to do this. But I didn’t care. I finished the chapter as quickly as a Keebler Elf, and then proceeded to try and figure out how to make the most annoying sponsored chapter message ever. Because messing with Selphid is fun. This took an entire day. I broke the site twice. I read tutorials on the old parts of the internet. I watched YouTube videos. And then I finally realized that we don’t pay enough money to the web host to run the thing I want to run, and that I don’t know nearly enough about webdesign to pull it off for a short meme. So instead of completely overhauling the site for this one very mild joke, I decided to spend 5 minutes doing an annoying circa-1998 internet era style message. But apparently that doesn’t come easily either. I put five hours into creating ascii art of this (some of it modified from other ASCII art on the internet because my autism isn’t this bad). I also colored individual parts of it to somewhat replicated the strobing colors effect I wanted. And then the WordPress editor crashed. So I had to try and get a new one in that would support what I wanted to do. I installed that, which made everything break. So I had to go to the web host’s dashboard and flash the entire server instance back to a backup from a few hours before I messed up.

In short, this was an enormous amount of effort put into a joke that really wasn’t that funny to begin with. Maybe this is all just a cry for help.

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