Tang Bingyao looked over her shoulder at Lin Feng. While everyone else in their group was discussing the Worlds schedule for Day 1, he sat back. The excitement from a moment before had left his face. He was slowly shaking his head while looking at the screen. She walked over and sat down next to him, then tapped on his shoulder. “Lin Feng?” She waited for a second but Lin Feng didn’t seem to notice her. She tapped on his shoulder again and asked, “Was Roundy really your teammate?”
Lin Feng nodded, his eyes locked on the TV.
Tang Bingyao looked at Lin Feng. She wanted to ask, Are you ok? Something definitely seemed off. She wanted to be a good friend, but he was barely listening and she didn’t know what to do. After hesitating for a little bit longer, she whispered just loud enough that only he could hear her, “I read online that Legend has a really good Toplaner.”
Lin Feng nodded again. He heard her talk, but he was in no mood to respond to her right now. His eyes were still locked on the TV. On the logo of KG. He thought of Fatty and his matchup in top lane in game 1.
Legend had switched Toplaners after Season 4 Worlds. Their old one just wasn’t up to the task anymore and they’d found a very talented rookie. Demon. He started playing League of Legends in Season 4 and joined the pro scene in the off-season before Season 5. During the next EU LCS spring split, he surprised fans and analysts alike with his strong performance. Game after game. He never faltered. The summer split was much of the same. He dominated in top lane. Many European fans were swept up by the hype surrounding him, saying that he belonged in the Seven Kings.
Lin Feng stared at the screen. Fatty should be better than Demon. Fatty was the Uncrowned Eighth and Demon was still just a rookie! But Lin Feng wasn’t all that convinced. He shook his head and said, “Demon is really good. Pretty much as good as Fatty.”
Tang Bingyao tilted her head, surprised. She’d finally gotten Lin Feng to talk. But she didn’t expect him to say this. It didn’t sound like he was all too confident in Fatty. She prodded, “Who do you think is better? Do you think Roundy will win this game?”
The lineup of KG and Legend appeared on the large TV. Lin Feng looked at it, ruffling his messy, curly hair. He didn’t immediately answer Tang Bingyao’s question. A picture of Fatty appeared on the screen with his biggest achievements next to it. He took a deep breath and said, “That’s all on Fatty. If he stays calm, this will be his game. He’s really good when he’s calm. But if his nerves are getting to him again… I’m not sure he’ll stand a chance if that happens.”
It was almost 2 PM in London. The League of Legends fans had found their seats in the Wembley Arena. All 12,500 seats were sold out, and it looked like more people had managed to sneak in. Above the stage in the middle of the arena were four large screens on which the crowd could see all the action live. The lights in the arena dimmed. There were thousands of lightsticks that started flashing in the crowd. The music stopped playing. Then the four large screens lit up.
A video started playing on the large screens. It showed the highlights of the 16 different teams that would be participating in the tournament. Famous casters hyped up the different plays! The fans started cheering and whistling! The opening ceremony of the Season 5 League of Legends World Championships had started!
The video ended several minutes later as a single ray of light shone down on the center of the arena. It shone down on a pedestal on which the trophy the players would be fighting for stood. The Summoner’s Cup! Then the game announcer’s voice sounded throughout the arena, “Please welcome the teams for the 2015 League of Legends World Championships! Representing Korea and the LCK, Warrior!”
The 16 teams were introduced, one by one. When their name was called out, the team members and their coach stepped onto the stage and waved at the fans, who cheered and whistled in excitement. The crowd went really wild whenever a European team walked up on the stage. Many of them were from Europe and they made sure everyone knew this! Some fans in the crowd started a wave that went round and round the arena. This went on until there were only two more teams to be announced. Legend and KG. The European fans started screaming for their heroes from Legend, while the few Chinese fans in the audience tried to let their voices also be heard. But they were drowned out.
“God Roundy, you’re the best!”
“DEMON! DEMON! DEMON! DEMON!”
The Chinese fans were pissed off that their voices were drowned out by the much larger European crowd. They wanted to show support for their team! But there were not enough of them to make any kind of impact. All they could do was hope and pray that KG would shut these European fans up by beating Legend! Preferably by winning a perfect game! If KG could keep all their towers and give away not a single kill, now that would shut these Europeans up!
In the backstage area of the Wembley Arena. A KG staff member pushed the door open to the bathroom. He was completely out of breath as he checked the stalls one at a time. They were empty, until he got to the one at the very end. This one was locked. He knocked on the door and shouted, “Hey! Are you done yet? You need to come out! The match is starting soon! It’s our turn to go up on stage! You need to come out now! Come with me! Please!”
The staff member didn’t have the time nor patience to deal with this player from his team right now. He knocked on the stall again. “Please Roundy! You need to come! We have to go!”
A weak voice came from the other side of the door. “A-alright. Give m-me a m-m-minute. J-just let m-me finish up.”
“Fine.” The staff member shook his head, exasperated. He didn’t know what to do. “Just hurry up please! Everyone is waiting for you! I’ll be right outside.” He then turned around and walked out of the bathroom.
Inside the bathroom stall, Tian Tian sat on the toilet with his hands over his head. He pulled on his hair and bit on his lips. There were tears in his eyes and his heart was beating rapidly in his throat. He could barely breathe. His first match at Worlds was against Legend! He would have to step up to the plate from the start! There was no easing into it! If he fucked up. If he didn’t win. If he made a single misplay. He would be screwing over his entire team!
He would be up against Demon! Everyone was talking about how good this rookie was. How this kid, because he was barely more than that, would soon rank among the Seven Kings! Tian Tian didn’t stop to think about his own skill. All he knew was that his opponent was strong. Really strong. That meant that the odds of him fucking up increased exponentially! He forgot to breathe. The world around him started spinning and turned dark.
A memory from last year started playing in his mind. It was the same back then as it was now. His nerves had gotten the better of him and he’d locked himself up in a bathroom. Back then, an old friend and mentor who he deeply respected came to find him. When his mentor saw the state he was in, they became pissed and started shouting at him, “Grow the fuck up Fatty! This bullshit has gone on for long enough! It’s the same shit every time you have to play in a tournament! You always have your stupid fucking breakdowns! Get your act together man! You’re such a good player! If it wasn’t for these stupid breakdowns, you probably would be an Emperor by now! God! You’re wasting away here in this disgusting bathroom! Can’t you smell the shit?”
Tian Tian had endured the scolding from this retired professional player. He hadn’t said a word. This was a respected mentor who only had the best in mind for him. He knew that. He also knew that he could play really well when he wasn’t stressed out like this. That he was a really good player. But it didn’t matter how he tried to convince himself of this, his subconscious wouldn’t hear it. It didn’t listen to reason, only to fear.
Tian Tian opened his eyes again. He was still in the bathroom stall. Alone. He swallowed his saliva and felt the urge to start eating something. Anything. His stomach agreed, rumbling in response. “M-maybe I s-should go get s-some-something to eat.” He shook his head and pulled on his hair. “T-this g-g-game is lost anyway. W-we can’t win. They. T-they’re w-way too strong.”
Legend didn’t just have a strong Toplaner. They had a strong team. Their Midlaner was something else. He was one of the best players in the entire game! Phoenix. He’d seen Phoenix in action first-hand during Season 1 Worlds. Back then, Lin Feng only barely managed to outplay him. It was almost a loss! And the Midlaner on his current team’s roster was nowhere near as good as Lin Feng was. His Midlaner didn’t stand a chance against Phoenix!
Lin Feng! Lin Feng! Tian Tian smiled for the first time that day. His nerves had completely settled down, if only for a moment. He pictured his old friend in his mind, the one that was always there for him and stood by him. Lin Feng would know exactly what to say right now! He’d probably walk over and tell me I could do it, tell me to focus on the game and just do my best. Because that’s all that matters. The Lin Feng that existed in Tian Tian’s mind, that Lin Feng always knew what to do. That Lin Feng was rock solid and never scared. He’d be right here next to me, with a giant smile on his face. Probably talking about how much more satisfying our win would be against a strong team. How everyone would know how awesome we are if we kicked ass in both games! The Lin Feng in Tian Tian’s mind calmed him down, completely wiped away all the nerves and anxiety. But that Lin Feng only existed in his mind, and wasn’t playing next to him. Once Tian Tian realized that, the anxiety flooded right back in. He started trembling again and mumbled, “I-if you w-were here, e-everything would be f-fine… O-only you can beat t-that guy…”
In the NetCow Cafe in China, Lin Feng and his group were watching the opening ceremony of Worlds. The sound of the event blasted through the TV speakers. It was as if they were in the Wembley Arena, cheering with the 12,500 fans there! Ouyang even started waving his arms around as if he had a lightstick in his hand. Liu Yue joined in, and Ren Rou rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t hide the smirk on her face.
After the last two teams were introduced, it was time for the first game of Worlds. The players from KG and Legend sat down behind the monitors on the stage. The casters announced their names and listed their prior achievements before starting to analyze both teams. They laid out the differences and gave their opinions on the current state of both teams. Finally, they gave their predictions.
However, none of the people in the stream cared for whatever it was that the casters were talking about. They were far too excited to sit still and listen to what the analysts had to say. Rather, they were jumping up and down behind their monitors or TVs and were typing chat memes or other random messages that had absolutely nothing to do with what the casters were talking about.
Inside the private booth in the NetCow Cafe, Liu Yue suddenly cried out, “Look! LOOK! That’s God Roundy! It’s really him! That’s God Roundy! Oh my god! We’re gonna see God Roundy play!”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses. “Calm down. I can see him too. I might have bad eyesight, but I’m not blind. How could anyone miss him? Look how big he is. He’s filling the entire shot.”
Ouyang inched closer to the TV. The others moved their heads to look around him, but he kept inching closer to the screen until his nose was almost touching it. “Hmm, that’s odd,” he started. “Is it just me or does he look kinda bad? He doesn’t look like himself. Do you guys also see it?”
“We might. If you moved your big head away from the screen,” Ren Rou replied.
Ouyang hurried back but didn’t forget to point with his finger at Roundy Round’s face. “Look! See what I’m saying? He really looks out of it.”
“You’re right. He does look bad.”
“Did he not get enough sleep or something?”
“He does look kinda pale…”
“Do you guys think it’s nerves?” Ouyang asked. Then he shook his head. “No, no. That can’t be it. It must be something else. What do you guys think?”
“Haha! God Roundy doesn’t feel stress! He is God Roundy! Not stresses-too-much Roundy.”
“He’s played at Worlds so many times already. How could he be nervous?”
“You must be joking, right? He’s been to Worlds four times now. He knows the pressure. The others from KG might be feeling a bit nervous, but God Roundy? I don’t believe it!”
Tang Bingyao didn’t say anything. She turned around to look at Lin Feng, worried.
Lin Feng looked at the TV screen. At the familiar figure on it. Fatty… He knew what was wrong with his old friend. He recognized it the moment Fatty stepped into the shot. It was impossible to miss. Fatty, you had another breakdown, didn’t you? He clenched his fist and bit on his teeth. Come on, Fatty! I believe in you! Show everyone how good you really are!