“First place is ours! Haha! We’re gonna win this whole damn thing! No one can stop us! We’re the fucking best!” Ouyang exclaimed. “Who cares about who we gotta play? We fucking rule! Isn’t that right!”
“Exactly! We don’t care! We’ll beat them all!” Liu Yue was infected by Ouyang’s enthusiasm. He gave Ouyang a bro hug and shouted, “We’re totally awesome! No one can take first place from us!”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and nodded, “We can really do this!”
Ouyang’s little outburst drew a few eyes, but when Liu Yue jumped on top of him, most eyes in the internet cafe turned to High School 13’s esports team. Some chuckled or just shook their head before going back to what they were doing before. It wasn’t strange to see a team get a little overexcited. There was always one. Others didn’t turn away and instead started whispering amongst each other.
“Who the hell are those guys? They look like idiots…”
“I love their vibe, man. They’re totally feeling it. Can you feel it? Man, they’re feeling it.”
“Smack-talking after playing the first round of games… Do they think they’re already in the main tournament?”
Those who were still paying attention to Ouyang and his crew after their little outburst learned which school this team belonged to. High School 13. There weren’t many esports clubs in Shanghai who didn’t know about High School 13. It was one of those teams that believed the world had it out for them, always claiming they got dealt the worst hand. Just last year, they made some wild accusations about a spy after getting their asses kicked in the first qualification round. As if that was the reason they lost. Only the best 16 teams could make it to the main tournament of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament, and High School 13 definitely wasn’t one of them. High School 13 was only here for the experience.
“You for real? Haha! That’s hilarious! Are they high on something?”
“Shit man. I’d be too embarrassed to show my face again if I lost here in the first round. Like, can you imagine, losing in the first round… Heh. And now they’re talking about taking first place? You know what? They’re probably just having a laugh. Hehe. We’re taking them more seriously than they do themselves is my guess!”
“I kinda wanna know where their confidence is coming from. What if they found some great first year?”
The whispers turned into a louder discussion, until someone informed the gathering crowd that High School 13 would play against High School 7 next. This little piece of information hit the floor like a bomb. Most people stopped laughing. It wasn’t funny anymore. This team from High School 13 had no clue what they were in for. High School 7 wasn’t some no name team. They were a contender for a spot in the main tournament! Just last year, they made it all the way to the round of 16, and it was rumoured that their current roster was at least as strong as back then!
A small audience gathered around the isle of 10 computers where High School 13 would face off against High School 7. The commotion caused by Ouyang had drawn so much attention that there were people curious to see where he and his crew got their confidence from. Plus, if High School 13 really did end up beating High School 7, then that would be a huge upset! There was no losing here for the crowd. They’d be in for some good drama and an exciting game either way!
The team members from High School 13 looked around the place. It felt like all eyes were trained on them. Wherever they looked, people were staring at them, laughing and whispering. Their joy and excitement vanished, and back came the nerves they’d beaten a few minutes ago. Ren Rou and Ouyang took a step back, while those who were playing had to walk forward and take their seats. Only Lin Feng walked to his chair with his head held high. He looked nothing like the nervous wrecks around him.
High School 7 looked as confident and calm as Lin Feng. They weren’t at all afraid of High School 13, joking and laughing with each other as they found their places behind their monitors. High School 13 was the team that always called itself unlucky. There was nothing for them to worry about or watch out for this game. This would be nothing more than a warm up match in preparation for their game against Tonji Aff. High later in the evening.
Lin Feng leaned back in his chair and looked around the room. He was playing because High School 7’s Midlaner was quite strong. Too strong for Yang Fan, and High School 13 really needed this win to move on to the next round. Huh? What’s up with them? He noticed the worried looks of his teammates. Oh come on, not again… How many more times are they going to be like this… He patted Liu Yue on the shoulder and said, “Come on guys, cheer up! I’ll crush their Midlaner and carry the game. Just have some fun. Don’t worry so much.”
This comment got some laughs from the crowd, but the biggest reaction came from High School 7. Two of their team members lost it as they started laughing uncontrollably, while their Midlaner shook his head, smiling. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He’d reached Master on the Zuan server and was a Diamond 1 on the Ionia server. These were genuine high ranks. Poor guy doesn’t know what he’s in for… He grinned one last time before focusing back on his monitor. This opponent wasn’t worth his time. Huh? He looked back up and caught Lin Feng smiling at him, bright and confident. Uhh… Why does he look like that? Doesn’t he know who I am? Though he tried to convince himself that was the case, there was something that didn’t feel quite right about the situation. That smile was a little too confident.
High School 13 and High School 7 loaded into the game. There were no big surprises in Champion Select. High School 13 was on the Blue team and got first pick. They’d locked in Rumble who was a really strong Toplaner in the current patch. In response, High School 7 locked in Gragas and Leona. Leona was the Support, while Gragas could go Mid, Jungle or Top. High School 13 decided it was best to choose their bottom lane duo and get a little more information before deciding what to play in Jungle and Mid. They went with Kalista and Braum, two favourite picks for Tang Bingyao and Wei Dong. The next two picks for High School 7 were Jarvan IV and Jinx. Jarvan IV was usually played in the Jungle and Jinx was an ad-carry.
High School 13 discussed their best option for a bit. They had two more Champions to choose. But ultimately, Lin Feng reminded Liu Yue to just have fun. He would carry this game, and the rest of the team could play something they were comfortable with and just do their best. With that in mind, Liu Yue chose to play Elise in the Jungle, while Lin Feng locked in Zed, the Master of Shadows. In direct response to this pick, High School 7 chose Yasuo. This meant that Gragas would play in top lane and that Lin Feng was up against a Yasuo with his Zed!
The crowd had their eyes on both Midlaners, and they were loving what they were seeing. Zed versus Yasuo! This was a pure skill matchup! The better player would win! They’d all heard Lin Feng say how he’d crush High School 7’s Midlaner. This would make for a really interesting lane match-up!
“What do you guys think? Who’s gonna win?”
“Yasuo, obviously. The dude is a Master. That Zed is going to get destroyed!”
“Haha! Either way, it should be a fun game to watch!”
《Welcome to Summoner’s Rift!》
High School 13 and High School 7 opted for a normal start to the game. There were no lane swaps and there were no jungle invades. Everyone found their way to lane and waited for the minions to arrive. At 1:55 minutes, the minion waves met in the center of mid lane. Zed and Yasuo started laning.
Yasuo learned Steel Tempest at Level 1. This was a skill where Yasuo would thrust forward his katana and deal damage to everyone it hit.
Lin Feng had his Zed learn Razor Shuriken at Level 1. As the name would suggest, Zed could throw his Shurikens. It was similar to Yasuo’s Steel Tempest in the sense that both their skills dealt damage in a straight line, though Razor Shuriken had a longer range than Steel Tempest.
Lin Feng and the Yasuo focused on last hitting the minions while also trying to harass each other. This worked out better for Lin Feng than it did for High School 7’s Midlaner. Lin Feng sidestepped every Steel Tempest with his Zed, not taking any damage. The Yasuo wasn’t so lucky, or good. He failed to dodge even a single Shuriken the Zed threw at him. His health was quickly dropping.
The crowd that had gathered behind Lin Feng and High School 7’s Midlaner gasped “ooh’s!” and “ah’s!”. This Zed wasn’t all talk! He was playing far better than any of them had expected. High School 7’s Midlaner felt the same. He’d thought Lin Feng was all talk, but it seemed he would have to get a little serious if he wanted to win his lane. He sat up straight in his chair and started really focusing on the game.
The Yasuo started playing more carefully. He couldn’t afford to lose more health, or he would be forced out of lane and back to base. But it still wasn’t enough. Another Shuriken hit him, and also the minion behind him, killing it. It was the last bit of experience the Zed needed to Level up. Lin Feng had his Zed learn Living Shadow. This skill let Zed place a living Shadow in front of him who would mirror his actions. If he activated the skill again, he could switch positions with the Shadow.
Lin Feng pressed down on W twice. The Zed’s shadow dashed forward and then he switched positions with it. He was on top of the Yasuo and attacked. Yasuo hit back with Steel Tempest while retreating back. He ate two auto attacks from the Zed before he activated the third hit of Steel Tempest. After hitting two targets in a row with this skill, the third attack would turn into a tornado and knock everything in its path airborne. Including the Zed. This was enough for the Yasuo to run away to his outer tower, his health dropping dangerously low.
Lin Feng pushed the minion wave in mid towards Red team’s outer tower. His Zed still had well over two thirds of his health remaining and he had yet to use the first of his three health potions. In stark contrast, the Yasuo had dropped below half health and had already used his health potion. It became dangerous for him to stick around in lane.
The small audience standing around the isle of computers couldn’t believe what they were seeing. They expected a fun match-up, yes, but not an easy one like this. It looked like Zed was completely outplaying the Yasuo, leaving zero room for counterplay.
“How’s Yasuo getting pushed back? That’s High School 7’s Midlaner!”
“I know right! Isn’t that dude a Master?”
“On the Zuan server, but yeah, he’s a Master. Also pretty good on the Ionia server actually.”
Lin Feng lingered just outside the range of Red team’s outer tower. His eyes were trained on the Yasuo. He’s so careful. He knows if he makes one misstep he’s dead. He last hit the red minions while throwing his Shurikens at the Yasuo. But he didn’t try anything more. He was waiting. Waiting for the Yasuo to make that mistake. It always happened. He just had to be patient.
Zed hit Level 3 and learned Shadow Slash. This was a slash that dealt damage in a small circle around Zed. Lin Feng still waited. The Yasuo hadn’t made the mistake yet. He got a few more minions. There! And Yasuo made the mistake. He went in to last hit a minion with Steel Tempest. It was small. Most players wouldn’t have been able to capitalize on it. But Lin Feng jumped on it right away.
Lin Feng had his Zed’s Shadow dash forward–Living Shadow! It appeared right behind the Yasuo. He stood right in front of the Yasuo. Lin Feng pressed down on Q and E. Zed and his Shadow both threw out their Shurikens, after which their claw blades swept out in a circle. All four attacks hit the Yasuo! His health fell below 30%! The Yasuo tried to run, but Zed switched positions with his Shadow, then auto attacked and ignited the Yasuo. It looked like the Yasuo would die right there, just inside his outer tower’s range. Then the Yasuo disappeared. He flashed away to behind his tower and then threw out a hurricane at the Zed–Tempest Steel!
Lin Feng saw this coming from a mile away. He wasn’t new to the game. The Yasuo was trying to bait him and play an UNO reverse card. The idea was to get him into the outer tower’s range and then knock him up, after which he would die to the tower’s energy shots. He had his Zed take one step back, retreating just outside of the outer tower’s range to cancel its aggro, then flashed through the hurricane and appeared right on top of the Yasuo. He hit the Yasuo with an auto attack, and then another.
The audience around Lin Feng lost it. They started screaming and wanted to go up and high five Lin Feng. Ouyang had to step in to keep them away. But Lin Feng didn’t notice any of this. He was under Red team’s outer tower and would die if he didn’t move. It was too far away to walk back up the lane, but there was an opening into Red team’s bottom jungle just behind the tower, almost exactly where he was. He had his Zed run there and get out of range of the tower, its last energy shot bringing him down to less than 10% health. Then he tracked back through Red team’s jungle, fortunate enough not to run into High School 7’s Jungler. He safely made it back to lane, where he recalled back to base.
When Zed recalled back to base, Lin Feng let go of his mouse and balled his fist. Let’s go! I’m holding up my part of the deal, Fatty! The rest is up to you! Let’s do this together!
Sietse Can't Help Being a Chad
Sietse Thought: When I was very young, like 6 years old, I played football for a few years. That is soccer for the North Americans here. In the summer we would go on camp to… somewhere. I can’t for the life of me remember where. All I remember is this huge barn where we all slept in, like a hundred of us. Maybe there were fewer people, but in my memory there were a lot of people there. Anyway, so one day we go to this indoor attraction park? I’m not sure what to call it. It had like trampolines, arcades, and most relevant for the story a pool of sorts with paddle boats. Now I really wanted to go on the water, but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. So I put on my big boy pants and stepped into one of those things by myself. Everything went great until I was out in the middle of the water (which was like only a few meters from “shore”) and I wanted to go back. I just didn’t know how to. Until then I was just having fun going wherever, but I had no clue how to actually steer the thing. So there I was, in the middle of what looked like an ocean to me, and all I wanted was to go home. Obviously I started crying (because that’s what little kids do, right?) until two very nice girls who were also on the water came over and asked me what was up. For some reason I still remember those two girls. They helped me back to shore and then helped me find the rest of my group. I still think of them from time to time. They were the best.
Shanks Thought: I’m just reading Sietse’s thought, thinking he’s lowkey bragging that he had game even when he was a little kid. See, this is the kind of stuff Devshard and I have to deal with. Sietse and his chad adventures. That said, it’s wild thinking back to your experiences as a kid. So many people you meet in life that are just passing encounters. I still remember a really nice Norwegian couple I befriended back when I was a kid. Every year, they would visit our small family restaurant whenever they were in town. (Yes. I was that stereotypical Asian kid who’d serve as the waiter and cashier) They’d bring gifts with them, books, toys, etc, and send postcards too. I got along really well with them, and I always looked forward to seeing them. But then one year, they stopped coming. I don’t know why, and I never found out. I do remember feeling pretty sad about it, though. But life goes on, and I eventually buried the memories at the back of my mind. Until a couple of years ago, when I found their postcards while going through my old stuff. I tried tracking them down with the information on the postcards, hoping something would turn up on Google or Facebook. But nope. Nothing. I still think about them to this day. The giant encyclopedia of animals and marble set I received from them are still one of my most cherished possessions.