Lin Feng chuckled. These guys have no clue how lucky they are. They’re getting all the perks of belonging to a professional team with none of the downsides, and the whole thing is free! He was coaching them while Ren Rou took care of everything else in terms of management. All the five players from the esports club had to do was work on their game. To improve as quickly as they possibly could! They didn’t even have to think about strategy or what champion to play, he did that for them. It couldn’t be any easier for them!
This was exactly how the professional teams and esports orgs worked these days. After the competitive League of Legends scene had matured, there was a lot of money going around. Team owners woke up one morning with more than enough funding to expand their organizations. There was now enough money for support staff. They already had managers, but now they could start investing in coaching staff and analysts. The coaches made all the decisions. They decided who would play in a tournament, what strategy the team would go for, and which champions the players would use. All that was left for the players to do was focus on improving their play and being in optimal condition when the next game started.
Lin Feng didn’t have this luxury back in Season 1. Not that many people played League of Legends during those days, and there really weren’t many professional players and orgs. There was no money for support infrastructure around the teams. No coaching staff to tell them how to play. All they had was a team owner, someone who spent most of their time seeking out potential sponsors and convincing them to throw money at the team. They also had a manager who took care of the logistical things, like arranging scrims, booking travel and accomodations, and buying food. The rest was up to the players.
From analyzing the game to staying up to date with the latest patches. They researched their opponents and prepared their own strategies. Lin Feng and his team handled all of that back in Season 1. They had to coach themselves. That’s what Lin Feng drew on for what he was doing with the esports team. As far as game knowledge and tactics went, Lin Feng was good enough that he could be considered about half of a professional coach. Sure, it was a given that he didn’t have anywhere near enough experience to join the coaching staff of a professional team. But it was more than enough to help the esports club prepare for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament.
The five players on the esports club team sat side by side. Lin Feng walked behind them, back and forth. His eyes caught everything, from how they sat in their chair to the smallest mistakes they made in the game. And he was sure to point them out as bluntly as he could. There was no time to be nice about it. They had to be ready when the Shanghai 16 School Tournament started!
“Tang Tang, you have a minimap for a reason! Go to your settings and make it bigger, maybe then you can keep an eye on it!”
“Wei Dong, Tang Bingyao isn’t going to bite you. Stop running away from her! Support her goddamnit!”
“Liu Yue, quit it with the bullshit roaming. Maintain vision and move in when there’s an opportunity! Don’t walk around the map admiring the trees and the rocks! If you can’t find an opening to gank, force one!”
“Chen Ze map awareness! Come on dude, what did we talk about last game? If you pick Teleport, use it. Hey! Chen Ze! Listen! What did I just say? Teleport!”
They tried to do what Lin Feng told them to do, but every time they tried to change things he’d be yelling at them about yet another mistake they made. Another mistake. Another thing they did wrong. Half of the time they didn’t even understand what it was they did wrong. Or how it was wrong! They started to play more carefully, hoping he would stop shouting at them. But he didn’t, he only shouted louder. Their hands felt sweaty and their hearts would skip a beat every time they thought he would scream at them again.
Ouyang tapped on Lin Feng’s shoulder and gestured at him to follow. When they were out of earshot from the rest of the members, he said, “Hey bro. I trust you, really, I do. But are you sure this is the best way to coach them? Look at them! Look! They’re terrified! If you keep pushing them, they’ll snap. They’ll either rage and tilt or give up. You don’t want to see that happen, right? So how about you chill down a bit?”
“No. I can’t.” Lin Feng shook his head. “I would be a bad coach if I did that. If they want to improve, I have to point out their mistakes as they happen. That’s the only way they’ll get any better!” He looked over at the five players, then added, “Besides, I’ve only been pointing out the big, obvious mistakes. I’ll go into a little more depth after the game is over.”
“The big, obvious mistakes?” Ouyang looked at Lin Feng, incredulous. He felt his heart skip a beat. If he thinks those are only the big and obvious mistakes, then what about…? Is he going to scream even more at them after the game…? He grabbed Lin Feng by his arm and asked, “Yo bro, are you sure about this? Don’t you think you’re setting the bar a little too high? It’s only a high school tournament…”
Lin Feng smiled at Ouyang. “Trust me. We need to do this if we want to win that tournament.” He understood better than Ouyang how vast the gap between them and high ranked teams was. If they wanted any chance at winning the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, they couldn’t slack. He couldn’t be nice about certain things. Being this harsh and yelling and hammering down on them, it wasn’t fun for him either. But it was necessary if they wanted to have any chance of beating the top schools like Shanghai International and Shanghai High School.
The team had two weeks to prepare for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. Even if they trained every single day until then, it was still going to be incredibly difficult to get to a point where they were ready. There were so many variables that had to fall perfectly into place. Even with Lin Feng on the team there were no guarantees. He couldn’t carry them by himself. But if they worked hard and really tried, they would eventually get to a point where they’d be real contenders.
No one gave up. No one tilted. The members of the esports club listened to Lin Feng’s advice, trying to ignore his harsh tone, and worked hard to improve their game. For every failure, they made a mental note to work on it later. They couldn’t let Lin Feng down. They wouldn’t let this golden opportunity to take home the trophy pass by. For the honor of their club and the glory of victory, they would push themselves to their limits and exceed them! They would go beyond plus ultra!
They played several more games like this until Lin Feng noticed how late it was. “Oh, shoot! It’s already seven? I need to go home guys!” Su Xue was probably already in her pajamas, waiting for him with dinner ready. He’d promised to take over her stream so that she could get some sleep. “Alright guys, gather around. Come here for a moment. Let’s call it a day for now. Think about everything I’ve told you and then we’ll continue tomorrow where we left off. Go get some rest. See you guys tomorrow!”
Everyone nodded and started grabbing their stuff, when Ouyang nudged Yang Fan and said, “Hey bro, wanna play a couple more games with me? You know, get some extra practice in before tomorrow? We can walk home together afterwards.”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses. “Sure, sounds good. I think I finally understand one of the things Lin Feng was explaining to me. I wanted to see if I could get the hang of that anyway. Let’s stay and play a few more games.”
Wei Dong watched the exchange between Ouyang and Yang Fan and then looked at Tang Bingyao, who was packing her bag. He fidgeted his fingers before gathering the courage to walk up to her. “Erm, Tang Bingyao…?” When she looked up at him, he felt his face heat up. He tried to hide it behind his hand as he meekly asked, “I-I feel like our synergy in bot is kind of bad. You’re way better than me. I can’t really keep up. So I was thinking that maybe, if you’re ok with it, that we could play a few more games? That will help me get better… But only if you’re ok with it of course!” He stared at the ground, his eyes wide and terrified, waiting for her reply.
Tang Bingyao was caught off-guard. She paused midway through putting a notebook in her bag and looked at Wei Dong. Then she thought about it for a moment before nodding, “Sure. That sounds good.”
Chen Ze looked at his new teammates. Three of them had already decided to stay behind and get a few more games in to practice what they’d learned today. He couldn’t slack behind them! So he put his bag back down and sat behind his monitor again. “I’ll stay for a few more games too! I have almost no homework for tomorrow anyway.”
Liu Yue looked at everyone and then laughed. “Chen Ze, wait! Don’t queue up yet! I’m joining you! Let’s play some games together. I felt our Jungle-Top combo had great synergy. Let’s work a little more on that and make Lin Feng proud of us tomorrow!”
Ren Rou looked at the excited team members with a smile. “Guys! Guys!” she shouted while raising her hand. She waited until she had everyone’s attention and then continued, “Seems like we’re all staying to get some more practice in. That’s great! I’m really proud of you all! But we can’t work on an empty stomach! So, you guys play one game while I go and get some takeout. Then we’ll have a quick bite to eat together and then play a few more games! How does that sound?”
“You’re the best Rou Rou!”
“Get me something vegetarian please.”
“Only if you pay for it with club funds.”
Lin Feng flung his bag over his shoulder and looked at his trainees. Without exception, all of them chose to stay behind and get some more practice in. It seemed like his first training had lit a fire under their asses! He pumped his fist in the air. “Awesome guys! Train hard! I’m really looking forward to seeing how you’ve all improved tomorrow!”
To Lin Feng, only the impossible and far-fetched could be considered a dream, and working hard to achieve it was one of the most fulfilling things in life. This group understood how difficult it was to reach their goal and how hard they would have to work for it. And they were willing to put that work in! He was incredibly proud of them for this. If they kept it up, then High School 13 would deserve to win the Shanghai 16 School Tournament! In his opinion, at least.
While the high schoolers in Shanghai were excited about the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, there were tens of millions of League of Legends fans in China looking forward to a different event. One that would start in another three days. Worlds! Chinese fans everywhere were in heated discussions on their favourite forums and platforms. Riot put more fuel on the fire by releasing emotes for every team participating at Worlds. Players could buy them and flash them above their Champion’s head during a League game to show which team they were supporting.
Riot also released a promotional video for Worlds. It featured all 16 teams and their achievements as well as interviews with the players. This video became the most viewed video in all of China. Everyone was watching it. Fans would go online and discuss the interview highlights. How one player looked really out of it and how their team had to be preparing poorly for Worlds. Or how another one looked happy and carefree. That had to be a sign that their team was doing great!
Lin Feng and Su Xue also watched the promotional video. Su Xue had put her laptop on the table, and they were playing it on repeat while enjoying dinner. The different teams and players flashed across the screen. Su Xue had something to say about all of them, nitpicking every tiny detail.
“Oh god… That dude is seriously ugly.”
“Oh yeah! Wait, he’s a support? How can a support be that hot!”
“Hahaha! Look at that troll! Haha! That American looks like a troll! What do you think Lin Feng? You think he plays Trundle? Hahaha!”
When KG appeared, both Lin Feng and Su Xue sat up a little. They watched closely on the screen. First they saw some of KG’s previous achievements, after which came the interviews with the players. Tian Tian was also featured here.
“Roundy! Ahhh, he’s so cute!”
“Oh my god and he’s so chubby and totally adorably!”
“You know Lin Feng? I just really wanna hug him and squeeze him and pinch his cheeks!”
Lin Feng looked over at Su Xue and laughed, “I know right? Fatty’s cheeks are really great to pinch!”