Two Games. Two losses. After the first game, Qi Ming truly believed that it was purely dumb luck that had done him in. And it was that reasoning that made this second loss sting that much more. Lin Feng hadn’t just beaten him. Lin Feng had taken his champion from the first game and shown him how it would’ve looked had he played it better. When Qi Ming played Fizz in the previous game, he failed to predict where Lin Feng’s Lux would Flash. In this game, where Lin Feng was playing Fizz, he accurately predicted which way Qi Ming’s Syndra would Flash and splashed down on her with Trickster. The exact same situation in both games, and Qi Ming had made the wrong decision twice.
“You know, if you’d flashed like I did last game, you would’ve lived too,” Lin Feng remarked.
Qi Ming alternated between anger and humiliation, but he had nothing to say. Everything Lin Feng said was right. He could’ve flashed forward, and he would’ve escaped with his life. But in that critical moment, his gut reaction was to flash away. How could he possibly have the time to think of anything else? This was the crux of the problem. When there was no time to react, when the moment was most crucial, most players acted on instinct or habit. Only someone truly extraordinary could stay calm in a crucial moment like that one and ignore their instinctive reaction! Although he was a Master, achieving this Zen mindset was extraordinarily difficult. From his point of view, even professional players couldn’t necessarily pull this off consistently! So there should’ve been no reason for him to feel ashamed of himself. Except that this piddly high schooler had somehow pulled it off!
Lin Feng could do it. Easily. So why couldn’t I? Qi Ming couldn’t come to terms with his loss to Lin Feng, and a string of excuses, justifications and rationalizations ran through his mind. It was luck. No, lag! My keyboard wasn’t working… But all of those were worthless, he knew they were hollow. The reality of the situation was that the answer was simple. There’s no excuse! You were just bad! There was no excuse, no circumstance that had negatively influenced his gameplay. This absolute truth was what made his face flash between red and purple, between anger and embarrassment. Qi Ming shot up from his chair, toppling it over, and stomped out of the internet cafe. He didn’t even bother saying goodbye.
“Huh?” Lin Feng started after Qi Ming. “Where is he going?”
Zuo You burst out laughing. “Hahahaha! That was great! Oh my god! Let’s see him brag and try to show off in front of me at work again! Hahaha!” She wiped the tears from her eyes.
Lin Feng scratched his head. “I mean, he played pretty well.”
Zuo You rolled her eyes. “But not as good as you. Am I right?”
“Exactly!” Lin Feng balled his fist and struck a victory pose, a triumphant smile on his face.
“Can I ask you something?” Zuo You curiously looked at Lin Feng. “Why did it look so easy? You made him look like a silver noob… Are you really that good?” She went and picked up the chair Qi Ming knocked down, then glanced over the computer at Lin Feng and said, “I want to give it a try, let’s do a 1v1!”
The game barely lasted three minutes. Zuo You stared at the grey screen in front of her, confused and surprised. Then she chucked her mouse away. “Fuck this! I’m not playing anymore!” She couldn’t believe what had just happened. There wasn’t a single game she could remember where she’d felt as powerless as in this 1v1 against Lin Feng. She decided to go with Orianna, a ranged AP champion. Lin Feng picked Yasuo, a melee champion. Most of the time, ranged champions acted as a counter to melee champions, especially in the early game. Not this game though. Lin Feng’s Yasuo completely shut her down. She could barely last hit a minion. Nor could she manage to poke or do any damage to the Yasuo. Whatever she was going to do, Lin Feng was already there throwing up a Wind Wall or dashing around her or constantly poking at her. She was completely and utterly powerless against Lin Feng’s Yasuo. Her confidence as a Platinum player was shattered.
“Oh oh! Looks like my Yasuo is pretty good too!” Lin Feng said.
“Yes yes yes. You’re the best. You’re the strongest,” Zuo You said. She kinda understood how Qi Ming felt right now. But it did look like that fight was more evenly-matched than the one she just had with Lin Feng. Thinking of him, and that unsightly look on his face as he fled the scene, her anger left her body and a smile replaced her frown. “Alright, how about we leave? Let’s go get some KFC.”
At the KFC, Lin Feng sat down in a booth next to the window. A minute later, Zuo You arrived with a family bucket of chicken. He grabbed it from her and dug in. Zuo You sat down across from Lin Feng and started talking about Qi Ming again. “You don’t know, but man is he a show off! It’s like all he ever does! You know, he’s already 27 and still only a low level employee at the company! All he can do is look good and brag about his Master-rank to the girls. He’s the worst! Tsk, guys like him never get their act together.” She paused and watched Lin Feng wolf down a drumstick. “Hey kid. What do you think of Su Xue becoming a streamer? You think she’s making the right choice?”
Lin Feng was duking it out with a piece of New Orleans-style chicken1This is an actual menu item that is unique to KFC China. It’s a type of oven baked, though it can be pan-fried or grilled, chicken marinated in a mixture of Asian spices and coated in a honey-glaze sauce. It’s super popular in China. Many people have created homemade variations and recipes of it, which you guys can find on Google if you want to give it a try yourselves.. He stopped chewing for a moment before vigorously nodding. “Of course I do!”
Zuo You frowned. She looked both worried and angry and vehemently disagreed with Lin Feng, “But she can’t do this long term! You know how these things go. For the next few years, sure, she’ll have a fun job. She might even make a bit of money. But then what? How will she pay rent? Definitely won’t be able to buy a house. Will she even have money for groceries? She won’t have enough savings to retire.”
With a mouthful of chicken, Lin Feng waved the drumstick in his hand. “Yrou schuld do icht exachry becush ou’re yung!” He chewed and swallowed the food before adding, “What’s the point of being young if you’re not chasing after your dreams?”
Zuo You rolled her eyes. “So you’re one of those who doesn’t think about the consequences, huh? Hey, what’s your dream? I remember Su Xue telling me you wanted to become a pro?”
“Yeah! I want to become the best player in the world!”
Zuo You gasped. “Oh my god! Aiming a little high, are we? That’s even less realistic than Su Xue’s dream of becoming a big streamer!”
The best player in the world? Number 1? Zuo You had played League of Legends long enough to have some understanding of the scene. For the average player, like herself, there was the ranked ladder. You could play casually, or until 2 in the morning on a weekday, and climb the ranks from Bronze all the way up to Challenger. A lucky few at the top of the ladder became ordinary pros. They joined professional League of Legends teams but would never truly compete for any silverware. Next came the members of the top teams in the LPL or similar competitive circuits in other regions. Above them were the individual players who consistently performed well on the world stage. And finally, at the very top, stood the illustrious Seven Kings and Four Emperors.
“You want to become even better than the Seven Kings and Four Emperors?” Zuo You looked flustered. “Don’t forget. There’s that one emperor everyone says is better than the other three!”
Lin Feng sipped on his coke. He looked up at Zuo You and nodded. “I know.” Of course he knew. That emperor, the best player in the world, that was exactly who he had his sights set on. That guy was something else. He was genuinely, truly amazing at the game! He was a god. An unrivalled God. Thinking about that guy sent Lin Feng back into memories of his own past.
People always tell you not to dream too big. They tell you that some dreams are unrealistic, just a little too big. They tell you not to dream that big because big dreams never come true. But if a dream isn’t big, if you’re not chasing after the heavens, does it really count as a dream? Lin Feng knew how difficult it was to accomplish his dream. He knew it better than anyone else could. He’d fought against that guy before. And he lost. Lin Feng was the last stepping stone that guy used to ascend to the throne of Sovereign. That guy had stood at the apex of the Four Emperor since then. No one could take the throne from that guy in the last four years. Lin Feng also nursed some regret, since he’d decided to stop playing and leave the scene after losing to that guy. But that was in the past. He was back now!
Lost in his reveries, Lin Feng absentmindedly took another big gulp of his coke. The ice-cold carbonated drink tickled and fizzed in the back of his throat, snapping him back to the present. “Man, that was good!”