In the Wembley Arena, multicoloured lights danced in the air! Loud beats drummed through the venue. Everyone could feel the excitement the DJ tried to build! But it failed miserably. The 12,500 fans in the crowd didn’t really go wild. They watched the Nexus explode. Gold hadn’t stood a chance against Fate. The Koreans, led by their Midlaner Moon, methodically dismantled the European team. It was one of those games where there was no excitement. Everyone knew from minute one who would win. Not that it wasn’t impressive. It was, incredibly so. But it was also a boring match for the neutral fan.
If it was just losing one game to a stronger Korean team, the crowd in the Wembley Arena wouldn’t have been this quiet. But Fate didn’t just beat Gold, Moon also used this game to send a message to Legend’s Midlaner Phoenix! That he was the better Midlaner! Moon had played Anivia, Phoenix’s signature Champion, and ended the game with a score of 7/0/3. He was just one kill away from being Legendary!
In the VIP viewing area, Phoenix leaned forward on the balustrade. He’d watched the entire game and was now staring at the large picture of Anivia on the big screen. Well played. His eyes fell on Moon, smiling. He felt the itch to play, to show Moon who the better Anivia was. A fight between Emperors, now that was something to look forward to! But the tournament had barely started. There was still plenty of time for that.
The second game of the day would be in Group A. It was North America’s Flash versus China’s KG. If last week’s performances were anything to go by, this game wouldn’t hold any suspense either. The crowd felt the same. Those who had to take a bathroom break left the hall, while those who stayed were more focused on talking with their friends or looking at their phones than they were with waiting in anticipation for the game to start. KG was such a big disappointment this year, even the wildcard team in Group A looked better. Many fans even thought that if KG kept going like they were, they would end up at the bottom of their group.
Chinese fans all around the world turned silent. They stopped flaming KG on the forums, and they stopped judging them in the various streams. No matter how low their opinion was of the current KG, they still held that last trace of hope. KG still had a chance! They could still make it through to the next round! If they’d dealt with whatever problem they were dealing with last week, then maybe they could finally show the world how good of a team they really were! It wasn’t much to hold on to. But the Chinese fans desperately clung onto this hope. KG had to perform! They just had to!
The players from Flash walked up on stage, waving at the cheering crowd. They were loving all the attention. Their Toplaner Chris sat down on the gaming chair in front of his computer and leaned back, smiling. This was what he lived for. Thousands of people cheering for him! He cracked his knuckles. I’ll show them how good I am! This game was the perfect moment for that. They wouldn’t just qualify for the next round by winning this game, or as good as, but he would also show the entire world how much better of a player he was than God Roundy! Though, he did hope KG would perform better today than they did last week. Last week was just pathetic. If that was the level of KG and the LPL, then that was really disappointing.
Chris looked across the stage at KG. He looked at Tian Tian. God Roundy, ha. God… Roundy Round looked like a nervous wreck, much like how he’d looked a week ago. Chris sneered. This’ll be easy. Uncrowned Eighth my ass… Just a nervous, fat scrub. Can’t believe he beat me four years ago. Well, he didn’t really. The other guy did… The thought of what happened four years ago still stung Chris. This terrible Toplaner had somehow beat him. It was humiliating! He’d been looking for a chance to get revenge for four whole years, and now that chance had finally come! Last week was fun, yeah, but there were no consequences. This time though. Hahaha! I’ll kick that sad excuse for a player off the World stage! I want to see him cry and wobble away! He laughed. Just the thought of watching Roundy Round walk away in defeat had him crazy with joy!
The mood on KG’s side was completely different from Flash. No one was talking. They walked up on stage with their heads hanging down in defeat. They hoped the crowd wouldn’t look at them. Worlds was already as good as over for them after last week. It would take something really special to save this sinking ship. But it wasn’t over yet. Not everything was lost. They realized at least that much. There were still three more games to play, and if they won all three of them, they would make it to the next round! So they forced smiles on their faces and mumbled motivational quotes to themselves. They did whatever worked to hype themselves up for this next game.
However, they were only motivating themselves. They didn’t even look at their teammates. This game was for personal redemption. To show everyone how good they were, and not to come together as a team and win. They’d thrown that plan out the window during their off time last week, when instead of planning and preparing for these three games, they’d spent their time sulking in their rooms and reading all the terrible things their fans had to say about them online. They couldn’t be considered to be anywhere near their optimal state of mind.
Tian Tian looked the worst out of all the staff and team members from KG. His face looked ashen and he was chewing on his lips. He thought of the match and the stakes at play, and then his mind wandered back into that dangerous corner. It traveled to that place of darkness, where all he thought of were the ways in which he could screw up. What if I towerdive and screw up? The thoughts were wild and unnecessary, but they haunted Tian Tian’s mind and he couldn’t rid himself of them.
But then a figure appeared in Tian Tian’s mind. A vague silhouette. He recognized it in an instant. Lin Feng! He thought back to his phone call, and the promise he’d made to his friend. His friend had believed in him. “Arrghh!” he groaned, causing his teammates to look at him, annoyed. But he didn’t notice, he was battling in his own mind. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! You can’t be afraid! I trust him! He said I can do it! I can do it! I can really do it! He screamed louder and louder, trying to fight off the demons in his head. He failed. The demons struck him where it hurt. And he let them. Those dark thoughts were right. A-ah… I can’t do it. I-i’m useless…
“I don’t need players who can’t even get out of the group stage.”
Tian Tian trembled. The thought hit him out of nowhere. He’d already forgotten about it under all the pressure. But now it was back in his mind. Lin Feng wasn’t looking for a weak teammate, or an old friend to goof around with. He was looking for someone who could compete at the highest level! So if he wanted to play with Lin Feng again, he had to perform. I-i can’t drag him down! I-i have to win this game! Every match! I-i win!
His nerves and worries lost to the pure confidence in Lin Feng’s words. He raised his head. There was no more crippling anxiety of everything that could go wrong shackling him down or ten tons of abuse from his fans weighing down on his shoulders, there was only Lin Feng’s voice in his mind, reminding him how good he was. He took a deep breath and started smiling. “L-lin Feng is right! I can do this! I’ll win every match!”
In the NetCow Cafe branch in downtown Shanghai, the game between High School 13 and High School 7 was in full swing. After Lin Feng secured first blood with his Zed on the Yasuo, High School 7 got a kill back. Jarvan IV had ganked top lane and helped the Gragas pick up a kill on Chen Ze’s Rumble. The score was now one to one.
The least interesting lane to watch was bot lane. Tang Bingyao and Wei Dong failed to capitalize on a mistake from High School 7’s bot lane duo early on and the game had since entered a deadlock. Kalista and Jinx were both busy farming, and were both failing to put any real pressure on the other. Tang Bingyao on her Kalista was the better ad-carry, but High School 7’s Leona was the better Support. It was an even match-up.
Mid lane wasn’t much more interesting than bot lane after the first kill. When the Master rank Yasuo came back to lane, he changed his playstyle and started playing far more defensively. He kept his skills to retreat and used his Wind Wall skill to block Zed Shurikens whenever it was off cooldown, while he only went to last hit a minion when it was safe to do so. There was no opening for Lin Feng to abuse. He couldn’t get another kill.
Lin Feng kept pushing the minion waves into Red team’s outer tower. He killed the red minions the moment they got into lane with the help of his Living Shadow. It gave him a false sense of security. And when his ward in the river brush wore off, he stuck for another wave. This was the wrong move. He used Living Shadow again to clear out a wave, when Jarvan IV came for a gank, jumping on him with a flag-toss combo. His skills were on cooldown. He had to run away as the Yasuo dashed to him. Fortunately, Liu Yue arrived at mid lane to bail him out. He had his Elise throw out a Cocoon which stunned the Yasuo.
High School 7 didn’t have enough damage to finish Lin Feng off. His Zed got away with less than 10% of his health remaining. Though High School 7 didn’t pick up the kill, they did force Lin Feng back to base. This gave Yasuo some breathing room to push out the minion wave. By the time Lin Feng returned to lane, he’d lost an entire wave and the advantage he’d built up with his first blood was mostly gone.
High School 7 was putting the pressure on High School 13. They were a strong team, but there were stronger teams participating in the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. If High School 13 gave up to this little pressure, it would be the same as giving up on the tournament and on their dreams! That wouldn’t happen. They weren’t going to give up or cave under the pressure from High School 7!
Lin Feng took a deep breath. He’d promised his team that he would carry this game. He didn’t forget his promise to Fatty either. They would be fighting side by side! Though in different tournaments in different parts of the world and for different stakes. He smiled and looked at his screen. What’s the point of a promise if I don’t keep it? A man keeps his word!