Early on Monday morning. The bell rang, announcing the end of the first period. While the teacher grabbed his stuff and the other students started whispering amongst themselves, Ouyang couldn’t contain his excitement any longer. “YES!” he shouted at the top of his lungs from the back of the classroom where he sat, “One more week until Worlds! Only one more week!”
Every student had turned around. They were all looking at him. They turned back around a few seconds later, shaking their heads. They were all thinking the same thing. He’s hopeless. To the majority of the class, Ouyang was just another League obsessed idiot going crazy about Worlds.
“You’re right, Worlds really is only a week away,” Yang Fan said while adjusting his glasses. Then he let out a melancholic sigh and continued, “Time really does fly. It feels like it was only yesterday that we were talking about it being a month away…”
Yang Fan probably had more to say. The dramatic trail-off and pause had all the makings of a prelude to an epic monologue about the vicissitudes and vagrancies of time, living in the moment, and celebrating their youth. But before he could continue, Lin Feng misunderstood the dramatic pause as a moment to interject.
“It’s also almost National Day[mfn]This is a public holiday in China to celebrate the establishment of the People’s Republic of China that is held on the 1st of October.[/mfn]! We get a week-long break!”
Ouyang rolled his eyes. “Pfft! You’re still such a kid! The break isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that Worlds is starting at the same time! We can chill all day at the internet cafe and watch the games together!”
Yang Fan raised an eyebrow and asked, “You’re going to watch Worlds at an internet cafe?”
“Duh!” Ouyang blurted out, incredulous. He couldn’t quite understand why Yang Fan would ask this. Then he raised his finger and wagged it back and forth. “It’s Worlds, guys! Worlds! Are you telling me you were planning to watch it at home? Alone in your room? Fuck that! How can anyone possibly enjoy such a big event by themselves? This is an experience you have to share with others! With your friends! Imagine it! The three of us, and plenty of others, all having drinks and cheering our team on! Is there anything more exciting than that?”
“Having drinks and cheering our team on?” Yang Fan adjusted his glasses again. “I thought those kinds of bar events were reserved for real sports. You know, like football. Or basketball.”
“PFFFT! Says who?” Ouyang moved his arms around wildly, showing the anger that already sounded in his voice. Then he passionately declared, “Who cares about those “real” sports? Get with the times, old man! Now is the era of esports! We’re just as big, if not bigger than the “real” sports. We are a real sport!”
“Yeah! What Ouyang says!” Lin Feng agreed, riled up by Ouyang’s little speech.
Ouyang quickly pivoted the topic. “Hey, how about we get together next week and watch Worlds together at the NetCow Cafe? We’ll grab a few beers. It’ll be fun!”
Yang Fan shrugged. “I’m up for whatever.”
Lin Feng shook his head and said. “Nah guys. I think I’ll stay home and watch it with my roommate. She’s really into League too.”
“What? Come on, man!” Ouyang yelled while punching Lin Feng in the arm. “Why watch with her? She’s a girl! You don’t watch sports with a girl! You watch sports with your bros! And everyone knows it’s ‘bros before hoes’. You know, we go to the internet cafe, get some beers, shoot the shit. Watch the epic gameplay moments live and tell good stories in betw…”
Ouyang trailed off mid-sentence and paused. He’d completely forgotten what he was talking about once he processed what Lin Feng had just said. Lin Feng lives with a girl? And she’s into League?
Then he continued on a very different train of thought, “Wait, your roommate’s a girl? She cute? What does she look like? Is she hot? She must be hot, right? That’s why you never mentioned her before. You interested in her? If you’re not, how about you introduce me to her? That’s just what a good bro does, right? Lemme play a game of League with her. She’s into the game, right? I can show her how good I am! Only-if-she’s-cute-though!”
“She definitely wouldn’t go out with you,” Lin Feng said bluntly.
Ouyang’s expression twisted in faked pain. “Damn, that cut deep bro. You know I like to play Ezreal, right? Well. Someone said I’m just as handsome as him the other day!”
Yang Fan rolled his eyes and snorted. “Ezreal? Hah, you look more like Trundle[mfn]Trundle is a troll.[/mfn].”
You’re right! He really looks a little like a troll! But I still think he’s more of a Kassadin,” Lin Feng added in high spirits.
“Kassadin?” Ouyang asked in a daze. Then, he quickly regained his sense and erupted, “Screw you! I’m not a dickface! What part of my face looks like a penis to you?”[mfn]In the Chinese League scene, there’s an ongoing meme that Kassidin’s face looks like a penis so they refer to him as ‘dickface’. It’s just one of those things. There are a bunch of other champions that fall into the meme category of ‘dickface champions’.[/mfn] Ignoring the laughter coming from Lin Feng and Yang Fan, he quickly changed the subject again, his train of thought hyperactive as always. “Right! The club fair is tomorrow! Our esports club is recruiting new members!
Yang Fan nodded. “Yes. The club fair is tomorrow after school. That gives us plenty of time, since school ends early on Tuesday.”
Lin Feng’s eyes lit up. He raised his hand and shouted, “I want to join! I want to join!”
Ouyang turned to Lin Feng. “Oh, sure. But first, did you do that thing I asked you to do?”
“Huh? What did you ask me to do?” Lin Feng asked, bewildered.
Ouyang stared at him, speechless. “I asked you to help us convince Tang Bingyao to join our esports club! We’re having a tournament on the 16th next month, and we’re still missing a good ad-carry!”
“I can play ad-carry. I’m better than her!” Lin Feng volunteered.
Ouyang rolled his eyes. “Sure buddy, you keep saying that. Whatever, just convince her to join us, and we’ll help you get in the club!”
“Oh, okay!” Lin Feng happily replied, dense as ever. Wait. He looked at Ouyang, suspicious. Hold on. Then it hit him. “Hey! I don’t need any help! I’m a Challenger! I can get in with my own skills!”
Ouyang and Yang Fan either pretended not to hear him or just tuned him out.
Lin Feng met up with Tang Bingyao at the NetCow Cafe after school, like they did almost every day. From the moment they walked in together, he had a stream of complaints about Ouyang and Yang Fan as large and fast flowing as the Yangtze River. Tang Bingyao patiently listened to him until they sat down behind their computers. “Don’t they watch league livestreams?” she finally asked. “You showed yourself on the webcam the other day. They would’ve recognized you.”
“They do… but not on Huya. Probably some other streaming site. I don’t think they watch anything on Huya,” Lin Feng replied.
“I see.” Tang Bingyao nodded. She looked up at Lin Feng and consoled him, “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. You just have to show them a bit of your skill tomorrow. They’ll be shocked, for sure.”
“Yeah! I’ll show them how good I am tomorrow!” Lin Feng pumped his fist in the air.
“Good luck,” said Tang Bingyao, while she clapped her hands softly and daintily. She was playing the proper role of a supporter.
“Uhh, you’re coming with me, right?” Lin Feng asked, recalling the task Ouyang had given him.
“No, not interested.” Tang Bingyao shook her head. She didn’t see any point in wasting her time attending this event if she wasn’t getting paid for it. She might as well spend that time knocking out a few orders. Time was money, after all.
Lin Feng frantically shook his head. “No no no, you have to come!”
“Huh, why?” Tang Bingyao asked, puzzled.
“Cause Ouyang said that if I don’t bring you I probably won’t be accepted…” Lin Feng explained with a pitiful expression.
“Sorry, I’m just really not interested.” Tang Bingyao frowned.
“It’s because there’s nothing in it for you, right?” Lin Feng asked.
Tang Bingyao nodded.
Lin Feng rubbed his chin for a little before offering, “How about this? If you come, I’ll teach you how to play Rengar!”
“You’re bribing me?” Tang Bingyao asked, knitting her brows.
“Bingo!” Lin Feng replied without any shame.
Tang Bingyao thought about it for a couple of seconds. Then she nodded. “Alright, deal.”
The second the final bell started ringing on Tuesday, Lin Feng rushed to the front of the classroom where Tang Bingyao sat. He got there before the bell had even finished ringing. He impatiently waited for her to put her books away and then rushed to the esports club meeting, dragging her along. The door was open when they arrived at the packed classroom. They stepped inside and found 50 students who had all arrived before them cramped into the classroom.
The classroom had two rows of computers in the middle, and everyone gathered in the space around that island. Ouyang was behind a desk at the front of the classroom, struggling to maintain order. Everyone in the room was jostling and rushing to get to the desk, and the individuals had merged into a crowd that continued to grow at an alarming rate.
“Everyone, there’s no need to rush! Form a line!”
“Come up to the desk one at a time! Sign in on the sheet here with me! Don’t forget to write down your rank!”
“One at a time! Don’t crowd the desk!”
“No! Don’t take the sheet and pass it around! Give that back to me!”
The crowd that had laid siege to the desk at the front where Ouyang was attempting to get everyone to sign up was noisy, excited, and in the highest spirits possible. A few people had even found their way around the desk and were quickly boxing Ouyang in. Most of the students in that crowd were first years. This was their first time joining a club. This particular club was for their favorite game, which only served to amp them up further. They were rowdy, nearly giddy from all the excitement. None of them paid any attention to what Ouyang was saying or that he was even there. Most of what he was saying was drowned out from the din of the crowd.
It was then that a booming voice brimming with menace rang out, accompanied by the loud bang of a palm slamming down on the podium. “SETTLE DOWN!”
The room went silent. No one dared to do so much as breathe. The previously excited first years stood paralyzed in fear, slowly turning their heads to look at the podium in the front. There she stood. A tall and pretty girl with an almost palpable rage bubbling around her. Her icy cold gaze locked onto them, all of them, and sent shivers down their spines. This fiery beauty was Ren Rou, the class president of Senior Class 7!
Lin Feng’s eyes went wide. “Class pres is also part of the esports club?”
“Rou Rou is the club’s President of Logistics and Communication. She’s basically in charge of everything,” Tang Bingyao replied.
“Wow. She’s really talented!” Lin Feng remarked.
At this moment, Ren Rou spotted Lin Feng and Tang Bingyao in the crowd. Her eyes lit up. “Lin Feng! Tang Tang! What are you two waiting back there for? Get over here!”
Duo → Date → Doink?
Shanks Thought: I really like the interactions between the characters. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t help but gush. Tang Bingyao and Lin Feng… Ouyang and the rest. They just feel so alive and real in my head. That said, having a friend like Ouyang would get exhausting pretty quick.
Sietse Thought: Though it’s nothing like going to the stadium, watching a good game in the bar is still always a great time with both friends and strangers. When it is football obviously, with a round ball! There is only one football! Unfortunately, with the whole rona situation there isn’t any bar-going here 🙁 Hope we can safely have these parties again soon(™).
Devs Thought: A cute girl who plays League, ain’t that the dream? Some of you are probably thinking Ouyang is being super cringe, but I get where that dude is coming from here. Interesting fun fact, did you guys know that 55% of all LoL players are female? I’m not entirely sure of the validity of that study, but it seems plausible with all the attention Riot gives to Lux, right? Anyways, I heard a whole thing about how one of the best ways to meet women in these pandemic times was playing ARAMs. The legend is that many people have found each other and built solid 5-10 year long relationships through the ARAM. Bunch of people also got married to someone they met in an ARAM. Now I’ve played a lot of ARAM games with Shanks, Ruze, FBT, and Deceptioning. Never met a girl. What’s the verdict here, folks? Is this a true thing?