59

Outsmarted

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The second game of the esports club tryouts had started. Ren Rou, Ouyang, and Yang Fan huddled together around a screen to watch. Though there were 10 players, 5 on each team, they weren’t really interested in watching all of them. Their eyes were locked on mid lane, taking in everything that was going down there.

“Oh damn! You guys seeing this? It’s starting to feel like Lin Feng is beating Luo Tianming…?” Ouyang half-muttered.

Ren Rou nodded. “You’re right. If Orianna keeps taking hits like that, she’ll have to go back to base or give LeBlanc the kill. Was Lin Feng always this good in mid?”

“I figured it out! Whole thing finally came together. Listen, that fucker Luo Tianming probably got his account boosted! I’ll even bet on it. I mean, sure, Tang Tang is really good. I can see how he’d lose to her. But this… what is this? The fucker’s playing like a Silver! If that’s a Diamond 3, then I could be one too!” Ouyang exclaimed.

Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and looked at the screen again. He shook his head, disagreeing with Ouyang’s analysis. “Sorry man. But if you were in his shoes, you would probably look like the worst League player in all of history. Watch the game more closely. There! See how Orianna is going for CS? And right there! Look at how she’s trying to get some poke in. You see that? Luo Tianming isn’t playing poorly at all…it’s just that Lin Feng is playing really, really well. Absurdly well.”

It took quite a bit of experience and understanding of the game to fully understand what was happening in mid lane during this game. Yang Fan was Platinum ranked, he could see beyond the hype and spectacle. He could see that Luo Tianming wasn’t making too many mistakes. Every last hit was well-timed and solid. Every poke was planned out and designed to deal maximum damage while taking very little back in return. Luo Tianming was not bad at the game at all. He was better than most people.

The reality of the game was that Lin Feng played better. Not a little bit better. Significantly better. In every aspect and facet of the game, Lin Feng outplayed Luo Tianming by a considerable margin. From the moment the game started, the Orianna never stood a chance. Lin Feng used his LeBlanc to clear minion waves with the splash damage from Distortion, while also positioning to let the splash damage deal poke to the Orianna. Once Lin Feng hit Level 2 and learned Sigil of Malice, the situation went from bad to worse for the Orianna. Yang Fan’s eyes had a peculiar gleam to them as he stared at Lin Feng’s back. Was he telling us the truth this whole time? Is he really a Challenger…?

Luo Tianming knew he had to do something. This LeBlanc was far better than he expected. She was quickly taking control of the lane. He could feel his scalp tingling from apprehension. SHIT! I can’t lose another one! But there wasn’t anything he could do. Every time he tried to last hit a minion for the gold and experience, the LeBlanc would already be there, lying in wait. The second his Orianna walked into the LeBlanc’s attack radius, she would jump out and hit him with her entire combo for a ton of damage before jumping back out. He tried to counter using Orianna’s Ball, but the LeBlanc was just too damn fast. And LeBlanc’s skills could chain together faster than Orianna’s Ball could move. If the game kept going this way and at this rate, his Orianna’s health would continue to plunge until he was forced out of lane and back to base.

Luo Tianming was thinking, searching for a way to turn things around on the LeBlanc. That was when the Jarvan IV, the jungler on his team, sent a ping on midlane to announce that he was coming up for a gank. This was exactly what Luo Tianming needed, and he felt the pressure around his forehead loosen. The Jarvan IV was walking up to mid lane from the Red Buff jungle camp, which meant that the jungler had both Red and Blue Buff up. Luo Tianming used a health potion to recover some health and let the minion wave push back towards his tower. He was getting ready to bait the LeBlanc into a position that would end her reign of terror over him.

The Blue team’s minions started pushing toward the red team’s outer tower, just as Luo Tianming and his jungler had planned. Lin Feng followed after them, focusing on last hitting the minions. The Jarvan IV hid in the river brush right above the mid lane. Three and a half minutes into the game, the ambush was ready. All that was left to do was to throw out the bait. Luo Tianming had his Orianna walk out of from the safety of Red team’s outer tower under the pretense of last hitting a minion. The deception was flawless, and the LeBlanc took the bait.

Jarvan IV ran out of the brush and straight towards the LeBlanc. He threw his Demacian Standard down on top of her. Then he thrust out with his lance towards the flag. When they connected, Jarvan IV was pulled to the flag! The Jungler could see the entire animation play out in his mind before it happened in the game. The LeBlanc that stood between him and the flag would be knocked up. Then he and the Orianna would gang up and remove whatever remained of the LeBlanc’s health. That would be the end of LeBlanc. There was no way to avoid the might of Jarvan IV’s Dragon Strike!

… Except that’s not what actually happened. Lin Feng’s reaction time was simply too fast for the plan to work. While the Jarvan IV was still mid-dash, the LeBlanc had safely jumped away using Distortion. It turned out that there was indeed a way to avoid the might of Jarvan IV’s Dragon Strike.

YOU IDIOT! Luo Tianming screamed in his mind. Great fucking job, you NOOB! Why would you waste your combo like that? Look what you did! Now she got away… Luo Tianming shook his head in frustration. Every fucking game. These goddamn noobs! Why me? Why is it always me? He took a deep breath and tried to focus back on the game. Shit! His Orianna was still in danger. Shit! Shit! She stood outside of her tower’s range with relatively low health. Shit! Shit! SHIT! He clicked towar—

Lin Feng had that look on his face. The one he always got when there was an opportunity for a kill. The Jungler had burned his combo and Luo Tianming’s guard was down while his Orianna was outside the safety of the tower. Lin Feng quickly recast Distortion, activating the second half of the skill. His LeBlanc jumped back to the place she had initially jumped from. This is it! The Orianna was exposed, there were no minions in the way. LeBlanc branded the Orianna with a Sigil of Malice, then shot out Ethereal Chains. The chains wrapped around Orianna while also triggering the Sigil and dealing additional magic damage! Then Lin Feng used his Ignite on the Orianna.

“Oh my god!”

“The turn around!”

“What a sick play!”

The crowd of first years that had gathered in the esports clubroom let out a collective gasp. The play was electrifying, phenomenal, amazing!

The alarm bells, missile attack sirens, and nuclear bomb warnings in Luo Tianming’s head all went off at the same time! He didn’t expect the LeBlanc to turn his gank back around on him, never even thought about the possibility! T-this… did he already calculate all this…!? But there was no time to think of all that. He needed to escape before the Ethereal Chains managed to snare him! His finger smashed down onto the keyboard trying to send his Orianna panic-flashing towards the tower. But he wasn’t fast enough, the Ethereal Chains had already rooted him down. Crap! Fuck! SHIT! I’m dead! Despair, regret, and irritation started washing over Luo Tianming. But before he succumbed to the emotions and started wallowing, he smashed his teeth together. I’m going to take that fucking LeBlanc down with me! Or force him to use his flash! I’m going to get something out of this! He sent Orianna’s Ball towards the LeBlanc, then slowed and damaged her with Command: Dissonance. But before he could pull off the rest of what he was planning, his screen turned grey. The final tick of Ignite had burned up the last of his Orianna’s health.

《First blood!》

The Jarvan IV was still standing there. He watched the LeBlanc jump away from his flag toss combo and just stood there confused. Then he watched the LeBlanc jump back and seamlessly flow into a combo that led to the death of the Orianna. He didn’t really know what happened, the entire exchange was too fast for him to follow. But he did notice that the Orianna had gotten some damage in before she died. This was his chance! The LeBlanc had less than half her health left and she was standing right next to him! He hit her with an auto attack that was empowered from the Red Buff.

LeBlanc’s health dropped below 30% which triggered her passive skill–Mirror Image. Two LeBlancs materialized out of thin air. One stood idly by in the middle of the minion wave, right next to Jarvan IV. The other LeBlanc ran down, towards the bottom side of the river and bot lane. The Jarvan IV was too clever for something like this. He’d never be fooled by lies and deceit. Without stopping to consider things for a second, the Jarvan IV decided that the LeBlanc standing right next to him was a fake and pursued the one that was running away.

A long second later, Lin Feng had the real LeBlanc, the one that had stood idly next to the Jarvan IV in the middle of the lane, move up towards the top part of the river and top lane. When Luo Tianming saw this, he finally lost it. For the first time this game, he opened his mouth and loudly cursed, “You dumbass! Are you fucking blind or something? The real one is heading top. Fucking hell…” How can someone be this bad? Why do I always have to play with these idiots? It’s so easy to tell which one is the real one…

Lin Feng took a detour around his jungle, enjoying the scenery, and returned back to the safety of his outer tower. He’d picked up first blood and kept his Flash. This was a huge win! “Man, my LeBlanc is really good!” he happily muttered to himself. His voice was barely audible. Quiet enough that aside from himself, no one heard it. That was probably for the best. If Luo Tianming had heard him, he would’ve probably passed out from anger.

Ouyang, Ren Rou, and Yang Fan all stared at their screen slack-jawed.

“What the fucking fiddlesticks was that? This is still Lin Feng playing, right? He’s that good? That play was so fucking sick that even Lux’s panties would be soaked! Lin Feng is slick!” Ouyang stammered.

Ren Rou was so shocked that she didn’t even bother smacking Ouyang for saying something like that. Instead, she exclaimed, “Oh my god! That was amazing!”

Yang Fan was so taken aback he forgot to adjust his crooked glasses. He couldn’t help but mutter, “When Lin Feng told us he was a Challenger… are we sure that wasn’t true?”

With First Blood and a kill in hand, Lin Feng’s LeBlanc was now in a position to completely dictate the pace of mid lane. A LeBlanc needed to get that early advantage and snowball from it. If she could, she’d become an unstoppable force. Then it didn’t matter anymore what anyone else on the opposing team did, she would just rip through them and hard-carry her team to an easy win. Luo Tianming’s primary job in the early game was to make sure this didn’t happen, which he had failed at. He not only handed Lin Feng a kill, he also gave away an entire minion wave’s worth of experience and gold. Luo Tianming had gotten himself into a terrible predicament. Now his purpose in the game had changed. What he needed to do was distract and restrain Lin Feng’s LeBlanc as much as possible so the rest of his team could salvage the situation. So after reviving in the fountain, he quickly teleported back to lane using the summoner spell Teleport.

Lin Feng, on the other hand, had gone back to base to spend the gold he’d gotten from killing the Orianna on items. He then closed the shop and had his LeBlanc walk back to mid lane. He was in a great mood and started planning out how he would play the lane next. Hmm. What to do, what to do? Should I kill Orianna two more times? 

Unfortunately, a good mood wasn’t exactly deadly. And kills didn’t come just because you wanted them. Luo Tianming was still a Diamond 3 player with excellent instincts, deep game knowledge, and map awareness. Despite the pressure that Lin Feng put on him, Luo Tianming managed to avoid dying again.

“Ah, if I had ignite, it would’ve been another kill…” Lin Feng said regretfully after forcing the Orianna back to base for a second time in just as many minutes. But although he didn’t pick up the kill, he did continue to increase his advantage over the Orianna. She could barely step into lane, and the two times she tried to last hit a minion, he’d forced her back to base. Luo Tianming could do nothing but try and soak up experience from underneath the safety of his tower. But he had fallen too far behind in both experience and gold and was no longer a match for Lin Feng’s LeBlanc. Luo Tianming had lost the lane.

As bad as the game was going for Luo Tianming, it could’ve been much worse. If the Blue team’s jungler, Rek’Sai, had come to gank mid then his Orianna would have died again. But the Rek’Sai was busy helping another lane, though not necessarily his own team. Five minutes and forty seconds into the game, the game announcer’s voice rang out from bottom lane.

An ally has been slain!》 

Double kill!

Rek’Sai had roamed to bot and failed the gank. The Tristana and Leona duo had somehow managed to turn the gank around, killing both Rek’Sai and Kalista. Red bottom lane’s duo was doing great for themselves!

Lin Feng’s eyes lit up. Bot lane’s losing? That’s great!

3
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RISE CREW GETS THEIR MINDHOLE BLOWN

Shanks Thought: I’m traumatized by the events of yesterday. No thoughts. Head empty. In all seriousness, Devs caught me off guard with this extra chapter for comments thingy, then did his best to convince me that the readers would never hit it… I believed him! Bought into his lies & deceit! Until you guys pulled out 45 comments in the first hour after release…If I wore the pants in this relationship, I’d totally give him a piece of my mind, but I don’t. So, here I am whining in the thoughts.

Devs Thought: God damn guys! I said 50 comments, and y’all decided to pop off with 77 comments! Blew my mindhole. It meant more than you guys know. Lotta people out there talking about how the whole community is dying, how no one really wants to talk to other people about novels, how comment sections are basically pointless now, etc, etc. Then all of you came out to show them they were wrong. Not just a little wrong. Very, very, very wrong. Strong work. Could not be more proud of the readerbase and community we’re building with this novel. We’ll do this again when another chapter that really needs an extra release comes along. So next time there’s a game announced, trust us and pop off again. You’re going to want that extra chapter. And the roaring success of this tiny experiment convinced us that we need to come up with way more fun things like this one.

Sietse Thought: I can’t believe you guys did this to me. You can’t just freak Shanks out like that. He starts doing weird shit. Here I was peacefully sleeping, trying to get a good night’s rest so I could properly prepare today’s chapters, when I was rudely awoken by Shanks. This dude lights up my phone and is all like, “OMG DEV UNDERESTIMATED EVERYTHING, WHAT DO WE DO NOW!?!??!” Sleep Shanks. We sleep. It’s the middle of the night. >.>

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