Thank you to Somebody for the generous Ko-fi!
Before coming to Chongqing, Xiao Bai listed all of its delicious food that he knew of 8,888 times in their team voice chat during their practice matches.
After arriving at Chongqing, Ding-ge herded them into the team’s prearranged bus like he was herding a flock of ducks and dragged everyone to Haidilao1.
Their staff had come with them to Chongqing this time as well. Adding in the assistant manager, assistant coach, and personal assistants, they just happened to have enough people to fill up a private room.
“No… it’s one thing to eat at Haidilao.” Yuan Qian stared at the pot in front of them with no appetite. “But this? Clear broth and mushroom soup?”
The one area that TTC’s five members shared the most similarities in was food. They were all spice lovers, and every time they ordered takeout, the entire table was covered with bright red, making it look especially festive.
Without batting an eye, Ding-ge started ordering for them. “The day before last year’s semifinals, you guys ate mala bullfrog, and one hour prior to the match, Kan was still crying about how his stomach hurt. Have you not learned your lesson yet?”
Yuan Qian propped his chin up on his hand. “BS, he was nervous back then because he was about to matchfix, how could his stomach not hurt?”
Upon hearing that, the originally listless group of people couldn’t help but burst out in self-derisive laughter, which was also peppered with quite a few “damns” and “what the hells.”
Time was the best medicine. No matter how unacceptable, uncomfortable, or disgusting it was back then, now that it was in the past, it had merely become another joke.
Jian Rong didn’t laugh. He wasn’t there before, so he had no way of lamenting and then chuckling about it with the people who had actually experienced it. It was also fortunate that he wasn’t there, or else by this point, he would’ve already been eternally banned from competing for beating up Kan.
Lu Boyuan was the same. Though XIU was the one with the injury, he didn’t want his opponents to have an easy time either. The moment XIU got off the plane, he had started mentally harassing Lu Boyuan, texting things like “old pal, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you play Ezreal jungle, really miss it” and “I feel like your team’s mid laner is super good at Talon, is he considering it for the finals.” After checking his unread messages, Lu Boyuan directly slapped a do not disturb onto him.
They had been practicing a lot lately, so Jian Rong hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before. He took a two hour nap on the plane, but that just made him feel even more sleepy now.
His eyelids drooped drowsily. After he gave a yawn, he finally couldn’t stand it any longer and looked at the person next to him. “If you have something to say, then freaking say it.”
Xiao Bai: “…”
Jian Rong had realized it a long time ago: starting from the instant he had woken up on the plane, Zhuang Yibai’s gaze had remained fixed on him.
Xiao Bai wanted to ask, but he also didn’t dare to. As a result, he put on a show of picking up the strainer spoon and fishing around the hot pot with it. “It’s nothing, I was just gonna ask if you wanted to eat… mushrooms?”
Jian Rong was full of grumpiness from waking up, and he didn’t feel like bothering with him.
The meal that night went by fairly smoothly. Ding-ge looked at his dispirited players and was filled with satisfaction.
The evening before the finals, other teams’ players got so nervous that their bathroom trip frequency directly doubled, and they would also either have insomnia or dream a lot. The next day on camera, they would become a row of haggard faces.
But that didn’t happen with TTC. They had ample competition experience, so their mentalities were all top-tier among the pro players.
As for their newest member…
Ding-ge glanced over, just in time to see Jian Rong tug sneakily on Lu Boyuan’s shirt. Then, Jian Rong picked up the hot pepper seasoning that he had hidden next to a certain corner of his chair and covertly passed it to Lu Boyuan under the table.
Forget the spring season finals.
Even if the World Championship finals were to commence tomorrow, their newest member probably wouldn’t raise a single eyebrow.
However, this peaceful perfection didn’t last for very long.
As a healthy little fatty who couldn’t eat a lot and got full easily, Xiao Bai ended up chewing on a toothpick as usual, waiting for the others to finish, while he browsed through his phone to pass the time.
He rubbed his little belly and went to check if any pro players were streaming. Right as he casually opened a certain streaming platform, he saw an advertisement banner hanging bright and obvious at the top of the app—
[A warm welcome to the LCK’s strongest battleship, HT, for joining Momo Live! All HT members will officially begin streaming tonight at eight!]
“Shit” flashed across Xiao Bai’s mind. When he clicked on the banner, he was immediately sent into the stream for HT’s ADC, Rish—
As luck would have it, Rish was currently broadcasting Jian Rong’s Cassiopeia 1v5 highlight clip from the semifinals.
Because he hadn’t found a stream that he wanted to watch, Xiao Bai didn’t have time to put in earphones before a burst of Korean spilled out from his phone. Just by the tone of voice alone, it sounded mocking enough.
Not many people present could understand Korean, but everyone still looked over at Xiao Bai.
Lu Boyuan’s eyes darkened, and he put down his chopsticks before he picked up a towelette and wiped his hands.
“Whose stream are you watching? How come I heard Jian Rong’s ID…” Yuan Qian peered over. After he saw who was in the video at the bottom left corner of the screen, he blurted out, “What the hell, how come HT came over to our side to stream?”
Ding-ge took a sip of the soup. “Momo Live, right? I’ve heard about it, apparently HT was the one who reached out to them too. At first, they contacted StarTV, but StarTV’s boss knew about their dark history, so he rejected them without even considering it. After that, they sought out Momo.”
“What’s Momo’s boss thinking?” Yuan Qian was astonished. “Everyone knows that HT internally discriminates against the LPL, which is why they’ve never really had any domestic fans here…”
“They don’t need fans.” Lu Boyuan said indifferently, “There’s more than enough people who admire the strong or are simply curious. Also, even if people go to curse them out, they’re still an audience—all Momo needs is traffic, streaming platforms don’t make money off of gifts.”
Ding-ge nodded. “And to tell the truth, Master has a lot of fans in China. In the first place, most of those people already dislike the LPL.”
Jian Rong swallowed the tripe that Lu Boyuan had just finished cooking for him before he turned his head and asked, “What did that dumbass say about me?”
Jian Rong didn’t have a glass heart, so Lu Boyuan had no intentions of hiding it from him.
“‘Even a Cassiopeia like Soft’s can get a penta kill, it looks like the LPL has become even more disappointing and terrible this year. It seems that no matter how many Korean import players we send over here, there’s no helping it. In the future, everyone should just support our HT. Esports doesn’t distinguish between borders, if our pro players can compete over on your side, then you all can also like our country’s esports teams’…” Lu Boyuan’s voice was measured as he translated without missing a single word. “That’s more or less what he said.”
A professional translator wouldn’t even have translated that as naturally as you did.
If you wanna fucking see our mid laner go into Rish’s stream and go crazy while flaming and laning against him, then just say it. There’s no need for you to torture me painfully like this.
Ding-ge set down his chopsticks, already prepared to stop Jian Rong.
Unexpectedly, after Jian Rong finished listening to Lu Boyuan, he merely tossed down an unconcerned “dumbass” before he picked up some tripe with the serving chopsticks and continued putting it into the hot pot.
It ended up being Xiao Bai whose eyes widened. “Wow, what kind of moron is Rish? Who does he think he is, hah? Every time we lane, I pummel him into shit and he still has the nerve to tell LPL fans to be his fan? That stinky dog who’s always being carried, how shameless is he?!”
“Exactly, if it weren’t for Kan last year… who knows who would’ve won.” Yuan Qian frowned and clicked his tongue. “Bad luck.”
“Didn’t Jian Rong also slaughter him ruthlessly last time in ranked…” Halfway through his sentence, Xiao Bai nudged the person sitting next to him with his elbow, a puzzled expression on his face. “Did you hear my ge’s translation?”
Jian Rong said, “I heard it.”
“Then how come you didn’t respond?”
“I’ve been penalized too many times in the past few months. The most recent one isn’t removed until next week.” Jian Rong said rationally, “If I’m fined one more time, I’ll be hit with a competition ban.”
Xiao Bai: “…”
Rish’s trick was indeed effective. Because of his nasty mouth, he never had many fans in China, but by ridiculing the LPL’s pro players, his stream popularity skyrocketed. Most of the people were there to insult him, and the room mods internally cursed Rish out while helping him block people at the same time, making them feel extremely stifled. Of course, there were also some antis without a bottom line who were in the stream worshipping his smelly feet as they followed his example and flamed LPL players.
In short, it was chaos and an eyesore.
For the sake of not affecting the members’ moods, Ding-ge told Xiao Bai to turn off the stream. Then, he brought everyone to the hotel.
Originally, the competition side was supposed to take care of the hotel arrangements, but Fu-ge wanted everyone to live a bit more comfortably. With a wave of his hand, he upgraded everyone’s rooms to suites, with two bedrooms per suite.
After promising Ding-ge that he wouldn’t cause any trouble, Lu Boyuan took the room card and led Jian Rong, who was pushing his luggage along for him, into their room.
It was only when the door closed behind them that Jian Rong realized in hindsight—did this count as them getting a room?
With one hand kneading the handle of a suitcase, he stood in the entryway foolishly for a few seconds.
Lu Boyuan looked back at him. “What’s the matter?”
Jian Rong shook his head. “…nothing.”
He pushed Lu Boyuan’s suitcase into one of the rooms. He was about to head to the other room when Lu Boyuan grabbed onto his wrist.
“Where are you going?”
Jian Rong said, “…to my room.”
Though he said that, he slowly pulled back the foot that had already taken one step out.
Lu Boyuan nodded. “Wanna sleep separately?”
Jian Rong hesitated briefly before he turned around and walked back into the first room. With a wooden expression, he said, “No.”
There was a spacious double bed in each room, and it looked as if it could even fit three people.
Jian Rong sat on the ground and opened his own suitcase. Instantly, he was greeted with a few pairs of underwear—he had stuffed them in hastily in the morning. Compared to Lu Boyuan’s luggage, Jian Rong’s suitcase looked like it had been searched through by a thief.
Lu Boyuan suddenly thought of something, and he asked, “How come you don’t wear the pair with Action Mask on the back anymore?”
“…” Jian Rong froze while he was sorting through his suitcase. He replied vaguely, “It shrank.”
Lu Boyuan raised an eyebrow. “Did it?”
Jian Rong clenched his teeth. “It did.”
Lu Boyuan laughed and stopped teasing him. He ruffled Jian Rong’s hair before he got up and went to shower.
After they had both washed up, Jian Rong was so sleepy that he dove right under the covers. Even when his phone sounded consecutively a few times, he was too lazy to look at it.
Lu Boyuan was sitting at the head of the bed, and he exited a match recording to check the notifications.
Jian Rong’s eyes remained closed as he asked languidly, “Who?”
“Xiao Bai.” Lu Boyuan said, “He said he wants to see the hotel room layout and asked if we could video call.”
Jian Rong went silent for two seconds. “…he’s crazy.”
Lu Boyuan gave a huff of laughter before he put his phone on do not disturb.
Right as he switched back to the game recording, Jian Rong suddenly lifted his head from the pillow. “Are you not going to sleep?”
“I’m not tired yet. I’m not familiar with their jungler, so I wanted to watch him play Lillia.” Lu Boyuan asked softly, “Did I disturb you?”
“No, you have earphones in, how could you disturb me.”
That being said, Jian Rong continued to keep his head raised. His eyes were half-narrowed from exhaustion, and he was so sleepy that the rims of his eyes were red.
Lu Boyuan met Jian Rong’s gaze for a few seconds before he suddenly understood.
Their match was tomorrow, so even though they were sharing a room together, they couldn’t possibly do much.
However, a goodnight kiss seemed to be within the bounds of possibility.
Although Jian Rong was tired, when Lu Boyuan’s lips pressed against his, he still ended up subconsciously opening his mouth—then, Lu Boyuan pinched his cheek very gently.
“Let’s leave the rest for after the finals.” Lu Boyuan wiped Jian Rong’s lips with the back of his hand. “Go to sleep.”
Jian Rong automatically linked “the rest” to the things they had done previously before this.
With reddened ears, he replied with an ambiguous “en.” Hardly a moment later, he pressed his head against Lu Boyuan’s leg and fell asleep.
The next day, the spring season finals officially kicked off.
Many spectators were still trapped in Rish’s dumbass opinions from last night and couldn’t free themselves. As soon as the match broadcast started, a huge chunk of comments floated densely and unceasingly across the barrage—
[When will HT die?]
[Momo Live is dumb as hell, giving money to HT for the sake of site traffic. Momo Live will go bankrupt tomorrow!]
[I was always a Soft anti before this, but after I saw Rish’s stream yesterday night, I suddenly feel like Soft is actually quite pleasing to the eye.]
[Praying that TTC wins the match today, I hope that Soft can go to Korea and beat Rish into a pulp.]
[Give me a break, Soft became a coward after joining the LPL. Look at how much Rish mocked him yesterday. There’s no way Soft doesn’t know, but he still didn’t speak up and flame him back.]
[PUD must win T-T, Savior darling, carry XIU-ge’s hopes with you and do your best!!]
[Who knows who’ll be representing the LPL in MSI this time. If they lose to HT, that’s the same as waiting to be cursed to death…]
In the midst of their discussion, the broadcast suddenly switched screens, and a prerecorded video was inserted—PUD’s top laner, 98k, appeared on the screen. He sat on the stage wearing PUD’s team uniform, with the empty stadium behind him.
The pre-game trash talk segment began.
Pre-game trash talking was a special segment that occurred before major LPL competitions. In this segment, you could exchange flames and taunts with the opponent that you were about to play against. As long as no profanity or personal attacks were involved, everything else was fair game; the purpose of the segment was to add some flavor to the competition.
Of course, the two players weren’t supposed to argue face to face. Instead, they would exchange jibes back and forth through different cameras, which was then displayed to the audience via switching camera angles.
There had been many cases where pro players went too far with their taunting during the trash talk segment and had consequently been mocked for it till retirement upon losing the match…
The videos were recorded the day of the finals, so they were hot and fresh. The first ones to appear were both teams’ top laners—
98k looked relaxed. “There’s nothing really to say… is Qian still practicing my Volibear?”
The camera switched angles.
Yuan Qian maintained his smile. “The meta’s changed, Volibear’s useless now. 98k is about to fizzle out today too.”
Right after them, the ADCs went—
PUD’s ADC, KK: “I hope he won’t be the first one to die all the time when he’s team fighting, it’s really quite boring this way.”
The camera switched angles.
Pine: “You can criticize me once you have the guts to lane against me.”
The support duo—
PUD’s support, Dundun: “Has Bye made it to Challenger yet? He has? Whose thigh did he hug… I’m not trying to look down on him, but when he used to queue alone, I think the highest tier he ever made it to was only Diamond 1. To tell the truth, I feel quite sorry for him.”
The camera switched angles. Xiao Bai was instantly stabbed where it hurt. “That’s because I didn’t want to climb! Also, what part of Challenger is more fun than Diamond?! And can you guys not call Savior over this match? If he’s so strong then let him lane against our mid laner at mid!”
Dundun turned a blind eye to Xiao Bai’s rage. “What’s more, Pine’s focused and oneshotted at the very beginning of every team fight. This actually has a lot to do with how capable the support is, doesn’t it—”
Xiao Bai extended his hands and made a ‘time-out’ gesture. “Stop, may I please ask the AFK-under-the-tower duo not to casually stir up anything between my P-baby and me, we love each other a lot.”
The jungler team—
Road sat in a careless manner, and he didn’t seem the slightest bit interested in this segment. “What’s the name of the jungler playing today?”
“…has it started recording?” The substitute jungler that was temporarily replacing XIU said nervously, “Hello God Lu… I’m called Tuotuo, I hope that God Lu will remember it. After all, we’ll be seeing each other often during competitions in the future.”
The camera switched.
Road gave a leisurely laugh. “Let’s see each other in your jungle instead.”
Finally, the two young and inexperienced mid laners appeared on the video—
Savior licked his lips anxiously. “Hang on, let meh think of something to say… ah? It’s started? Then… Aye will do my best to make Soft disappear with our snowball strategy tonight.”
In the next shot, the bluenette lifted an eyebrow disdainfully. “You want me to trash talk Savior? If he cries, who’s to blame?”
Jian Rong leaned back in his chair and said, “However, I actually do have something to say to him—teach me a few sentences in Korean, I need them for when I go to Korea in two weeks.”
After he said that, the audience watched as he pulled out his phone and read off his notes:
“Useless ADC, stand up and bark like a dog.
“Every other team in the LCK has to take responsibility for the fact that a garbage team like HT can represent and play on behalf of the LCK.
“I respect every Korean import player who complied with the rules when joining the LPL and remains serious and dedicated to their career. I also despise every piece of trash who discriminates against the LPL but still insists on bootlicking and streaming in China to earn money.”
- Famous hot pot chain in China ^
Yan: Who caught that PUBG reference? Hahaha missing Yanyan and Boss 1~