After giving out those two skills, Lulu continued recalling to base. Nidalee paused for a second as she was passing by before she raised her hand and gave Lulu, who was in the middle of channeling, an unnecessary heal. Then she vanished back into their team’s jungle.
Question marks first filled the entire broadcast barrage, followed by—
[It’s reciprocal (confident).]
[The director is quite the expert. Look at how the four people in the bot lane are already fighting to the point that their icons are overlapping in the minimap, yet the director can still switch over to the mid lane to show us this.]
[And they’re both using the Snowdown Showdown skins…]
[If you cover their IDs, I feel like I’m watching those big esports accounts submit article drafts. The content of the draft is: “Why date in the Rift, are these two poor fools too broke to go to the movies?”]
[Soft has someone he likes already, and Road also has a partner. Respect the pro players a little, can you all stop shipping them??]
[Nobody said that the person Soft likes isn’t Road, and nobody said that Road’s partner isn’t Soft.]
[Holy shit???? The sister above, wait a second??? How come I’m getting this feeling that I’ve been utterly and supremely enlightened?!!!]
[In the pre-game trash talk, he made it sound like he was going to set off for Korea tonight to pummel HT, but after he got on stage, he’s out there on a healer Lulu tenderly lingering with Road.]
The three commentators were also rather stupefied.
Commentator A: “Ah this. This… this is probably because Soft sensed what we were talking about and wanted to tell us with his actions—he does know how to shield his teammates!”
Commentator B nodded repeatedly. “Correct. And also, what’s wrong with playing Lulu? She has a long range and strong skills, so it’s quite interesting to lane with her. Look how happy Soft is playing her—”
Right as Commentator B said that, the little bluenette in the bottom right corner of the screen switched his camera focus out of sheer boredom as he made his way back to his mid lane. He checked in on the four bot laners, who were engrossed in an intense, all out battle, and his eyes revealed a rare trace of envy.
In the end, after he switched back to his own perspective, he still couldn’t stop himself. In front of more than 100 million people watching the broadcast nationwide, he opened his mouth wide, and without making any attempt to hide it—he gave an enormous yawn.
At that moment, half of the spectators felt like they were watching themselves sit impatiently through class in high school.
The other half was infected by him and couldn’t help but also freaking yawn.
There were fun aspects of playing a healer, and it was suited for those altruistic, motherly players who wanted to save the common people and cherished the world—except Jian Rong wasn’t one of them.
The reason he picked Lulu was because Xiao Bai’s signature champion, Thresh, had been freed. Xiao Bai had expressed his 200% desire to play Thresh in the team voice chat, but Ding-ge had used the “not good at protecting the ADC” rationale to refuse.
Pine’s Kog’Maw was a champion that didn’t have any blink skills and was in dire need of his teammates’ protection.
As a result, Xiao Bai had rambled on and brazenly stated that as long as Jian Rong chose a utility champion like Lulu or Karma, then this game was absolutely set.
Jian Rong had politely inquired as to whether Xiao Bai had gotten tired of living and wanted to go up to the heavens to be side by side with Rish.
After careful consideration, Ding-ge had unexpectedly come to the conclusion that Xiao Bai’s argument was somewhat reasonable. Then he had skillfully asked what Lu Boyuan thought about Lulu mid.
Lu Boyuan’s voice had been calm. “Anything’s fine, 3C or utility both work, he can play whatever he likes… don’t Lulu and Nidalee have skins from the same set?”
…in short, Jian Rong ultimately ended up compromising and picked Lulu.
With TTC’s liveliest lane extinguished, even thirteen minutes into this game, nobody had died yet.
“Good news good news!” Xiao Bai acted like he was performing a skit in the voice chat. “Their bot lane duo are both missing their ults. This Lord Bai’s finger is already on the flash, and the unrivaled unmissable life-stealing hook is also ready and prepared. There’s only big profits to be made and wins to be had for all that come—the prerequisite being that you guys have to leave a kill for my P-baby, or else we’ll have a rough time in the bot lane, thank you thank you.”
Jian Rong sneered coldly. His “what’s the damn point of Dad going, to give you a shield?” was already in his mouth.
Lu Boyuan finished off the three wolves that had just respawned. “Lulu, come.”
Jian Rong swallowed down his curses. He cleared the minions in front of him before he gave himself a movement boost with a whoosh. The little sorceress gripped onto her staff with two hands and flew towards Nidalee, both feet leaving the ground.
They went to the bot lane. In the last season, Lu Boyuan’s Nidalee had also been banned the vast majority of the time, but because Nidalee had been nerfed a round in this season, not many teams used her anymore. However, that round of nerfing clearly didn’t affect Lu Boyuan.
Actually, strictly speaking, the opposing jungler’s Graves made it over to the bot lane first. But before he could touch a single hair on Xiao Bai or Pine’s head, Lu Boyuan’s javelin flew out from the brush like a bullet and landed on the enemy jungler at the max range possible—with a swish, Graves instantly lost over a third of his health!
Lu Boyuan rushed out from the brush with Jian Rong’s speed boost and transformed into a cougar with his ult before he pounced straight onto Graves. Jian Rong followed closely behind him and first morphed Graves into a sheep, silencing his ability to cast skills. Then he used his Q to slow Graves down, allowing Lu Boyuan to crush him into the ground—
Xiao Bai’s scythe accurately latched onto the enemy support as he shouted, “Woooow—vanishing health technique!”
“Don’t yell random things,” Pine said. “Lantern.”
The bot lane duo immediately matched their teammates’ rhythm. After killing the opposing jungler, Lu Boyuan didn’t plan on leaving. He instructed succinctly in the voice chat, “Tower dive, kill their bot lane.”
As the tankiest support present, Xiao Bai was definitely going to use his own fleshy body to eat the damage from the enemy turret. He was also already very much used to doing this sort of thing for his teammates, and he thought that there was no way he would die with Lulu present. But a few seconds later—
“Shield! Shield shield shield! Jian Rong—I’m done for ahhhh!!!”
Half a second before his last sliver of health was going to be shredded away by the turret, Jian Rong finally gave him a shield, calmly and unhurriedly.
Xiao Bai managed to escape from the tower with an iota of health. Upon seeing that saving the situation was impossible, the enemy ADC promptly decided to forcefully trade a kill. His target was Xiao Bai, who only had a couple dozen HP left.
At death’s door, Kalista used her flash and hurled a spear at Xiao Bai—
Xiao Bai shrieked, “This dog wants to trade me!! Jian Rong ult, ult! Give me your ult! Ahhhh I’m gonna die!!!”
Jian Rong frowned. “Stop screaming, my ears are gonna explode.”
The moment the spear was about to pierce Xiao Bai, Jian Rong leisurely used his ult on him, enlarging and healing him, barely managing to save Xiao Bai’s lowly life.
Lu Boyuan transformed back into a human and threw a javelin at the enemy before he turned around and left. Behind him, with a rustle, the enemy ADC responded by collapsing.
The stretched to the limit shield and ult, both of which Jian Rong had purposefully delayed giving until the very last second, nearly sent Xiao Bai on his way.
“Aren’t you just playing Lulu mid for a single game…” As Xiao Bai hid in the underbrush and recalled to base, he looked behind him resentfully just in time to see Jian Rong give Lu Boyuan a speed boost. He felt even more wronged. “P-baby, I also want a movement boost.”
Pine was in the middle of browsing through the shop in the base. “Where would I get a movement boost?”
Xiao Bai said, “I saw that your heal went off cooldown two seconds ago.”
Pine: “Keep dreaming.”
After toying with Xiao Bai, Jian Rong’s mood improved greatly. His staff swayed around in the air as he returned to the mid lane to continue clearing minions and farming.
Meanwhile, Lu Boyuan slipped straight into the enemy jungle.
Commentator A exclaimed, “Road has so much confidence in himself. Right after he threw the javelin, he instantly turned around confidently…”
Commentator B: “Logically speaking, if I’ve only missed one single javelin throw since the start of the game until now, I’d be even more self-confident than him… who would’ve expected that after Road missed the semifinals, his feeling for the game got better and better instead.”
Commentator C had already accepted the fact that Soft was taking the warmhearted route this round.
When he saw Lu Boyuan’s Nidalee slip into the jungle, he looked pitingly at PUD’s substitute jungler. “In the first place, Graves doesn’t kill monsters as fast as Nidalee does. Now that he died once from being counterganked, doesn’t that mean the bottom half of his jungle is basically gone… but it’s no big deal. If they meet and 1v1, it’s not like Graves can’t do anything. He’ll be fine as long as he can dodge God Lu’s skills.”
The consolation in the last part of his commentary was very obvious. After all, everyone knew that once Lu Boyuan pulled out a carry jungler and created an advantage in the early game through ganking, then congratulations to the opposing team’s jungler—your jungle no longer existed.
Sure enough, after Graves revived, the only thing he could do was loudly sing “Empty1” to describe the bottom half of his jungle.
Currently, he was already one level behind Lu Boyuan, and while he was getting the blue buff, he was cautious to the point of dragging the monster as far away as he could.
He called out to his teammate, “Savior, come get the blue buff.”
98k paused briefly while clearing minions. “…don’t copy the intonations that those netizens use.”
Savior responded obediently, “Okay, ge.”
Savior was having a great time in the laning phase of this game.
To be able to peacefully clear minions when laning against Soft without any smoke or chaos, that was something that wouldn’t even happen in his dreams. He found an unprecedented calm in this game, despite the fact that he was in the middle of the finals.
His happiness ended the moment his team’s blue buff was stolen by one javelin throw from Road, who had been hiding in the brush behind them for quite a while.
“He was behind me that entire time?!” Tuotuo was greatly alarmed. “There’s no way, right? Or else why wouldn’t he sneak attack me earlier…”
98k immediately wanted to rush over to his teammates’ aid, but he was stopped by one of Yuan Qian’s skills. He couldn’t free himself, and he knitted his brows. “Leave quickly—he wants to get a double kill!”
Savior reacted swiftly and instantly threw out a skill, wanting to daze Lu Boyuan. Lu Boyuan shifted to the left to avoid the attack and simultaneously tossed his javelin, causing Tuotuo to subconsciously use his blink skill—
The javelin stabbed into Tuotuo with a swish, and half his health disappeared in the blink of an eye—Lu Boyuan had predicted his movements.
Lu Boyuan gave a careless laugh. He was too familiar with Graves, and in this terrain, the range of possible movement was very limited. Even with his eyes closed, he would be able to tell where Tuotuo was going to go.
“It’s fine.” Savior remained calm and said in his clumsy Chinese, “Aye am here, no panic, we can trade him.”
Tuotuo knew that there was no way he could escape this time without his flash. As a result, he dealt all the damage he could and cooperated with Savior’s skills to grind Lu Boyuan’s health down to a sliver before dying.
The screen abruptly went gray, and Tuotuo let out a sigh. Internally, he thought that trading him and Lu Boyuan this wave was actually a steal, since they would get surplus gold for killing Lu Boyuan. After this, his jungle should be a little safer…
Caught up in his thoughts, Tuotuo suddenly heard the sound of a flash—Jian Rong made it over in the nick of time and gave Lu Boyuan a shield while also silencing Savior. Nidalee transformed into a cougar and sprang straight onto Savior’s face, killing him with one claw attack and getting a double kill.
They continued on their warpath. After killing the enemy mid laner and jungler, they headed straight for the top lane.
Seeing that they were on their way, Yuan Qian unhesitatingly used his ult and charged, successfully knocking 98k fiercely into the air!
When Lu Boyuan pounced on 98k, he didn’t have much health left. Without even thinking about it, Jian Rong used his ult on Lu Boyuan before he silenced and slowed 98k. The three of them very bluntly killed off 98k and destroyed the top lane’s outer turret—
Commentator A: “First turret down! Isn’t TTC’s rhythm really good in this game?!”
Commentator B: “It is. It goes without saying what God Lu’s rhythm is like when playing a carry jungler, but I didn’t expect that Soft would actually keep giving out shields. You know, when the shield skill is used on an enemy, it can deal damage—but he still chooses to give God Lu unlimited refills. Of course, this is a very good choice, because God Lu has extremely explosive DPS right now. One more second of survival means more pressure on their opponents!”
Commentator C: “I feel like Road and Soft have had excellent teamwork today. It’s clear from one glance that they frequently duo queue together in private to practice their tacit coordination.”
In this round, PUD’s carry jungler strategy failed miserably. Not only was Graves unable to help the other lanes, even his own farming became an enormous problem. Under the circumstances where there weren’t any wards around, he didn’t dare go after his own side’s monsters out of fear that Nidalee would leap out from the side in the middle of him fighting…
PUD’s most reliable top laner, 98k, was playing Ornn this game. Ornn wasn’t a carry champion, and he was also visited simultaneously by Lu Boyuan and Jian Rong in the early and mid game, so his farming wasn’t much better off than Yuan Qian’s. Pine and Xiao Bai were playing a Thresh and Kog’Maw duo, which was already an extremely threatening combo, and after Lu Boyuan helped them out in the early game, they easily suppressed the opposing bot lane duo. Meanwhile, because Savior couldn’t kill Lulu, he didn’t have an edge over Jian Rong either.
The first team fight finally erupted twenty-three minutes in. Lu Boyuan’s long-range javelin throw consumed half of two enemy champions’ health, after which Yuan Qian promptly used his ult and rushed towards the crowd. Even though he didn’t hit anyone, he successfully forced out two flashes from the opposing team.
“Chaaarge my brothers!” Yuan Qian shouted with excitement. “Mid and support don’t have flash! I tricked it out of them!!”
Lu Boyuan: “Beautiful.”
Lu Boyuan seized the opportunity to switch into his cougar form before he flashed straight towards the enemy ADC and instantly oneshotted him with an extremely explosive melee combo!
The ADC was killed, but Lu Boyuan had also charged into the midst of the four enemies. PUD quickly recovered, and countless ults smashed towards Lu Boyuan—with a swoosh, Jian Rong used his ult on Lu Boyuan and protected him. Then, he gave his remaining shield and speed boost to Pine, who was behind himself!
Not only did Jian Rong’s skill increase movement speed, it also increased attack speed.
Xiao Bai flashed and hooked onto Savior before he dashed over to him and slowed him down. Immediately after, he tossed a lantern over to Pine.
“P-baby go for it!” Xiao Bai said, “Bite them to death!!”
Pine rushed into the fight via Xia Bai’s lantern. In coordination with Jian Rong’s attack speed boost and his own skills, Kog’Maw opened his mouth wide and spewed balls of acid everywhere—
“Nice! Clap clap clap!” Xiao Bai mimicked applause verbally before he said cryptically, “Twenty-three minutes in, congrats to our ADC for successfully getting our mid laner’s shield one time!”
Jian Rong asked, “Is it violating the rules to betray your teammate in a match?”
“If you don’t make it too obvious,” Lu Boyuan answered, “No.”
Xiao Bai: “Monitoring big brother, are you there? If you don’t mind, could you please record this conversation for me? After the finals, I’m gonna ruin our mid laner’s reputation because he bullies his teammates!”
Jian Rong: “It doesn’t matter, I didn’t have much of a reputation to begin with. Say whatever you want.”
Xiao Bai: “In that case, my ge indulging your bullying of me is also a crime…”
Jian Rong: “If you want to fight me, then just say it. Let’s go straight to the bathroom once the finals are over.”
Xiao Bai: “I’m sorry.”
The monitoring big brother: “………”
Would this team really be okay if they made it to Worlds?
PUD was already at a disadvantage, but that team fight directly established their loss. In the first place, Graves was an early game champion that consumed a lot of items. The moment he lost the advantage, he was useless.
Twenty-five minutes in, the second team fight began at Baron. The exact situation was that Xiao Bai wanted to place a ward next to Baron, but the opposing side misunderstood and thought that TTC was inflated to the point that they wanted to go for Baron. The five PUD members shot straight towards Xiao Bai, who turned tail and ran for two seconds before he suddenly whipped around and hooked onto the enemy ADC. Then he dashed into the crowd of enemies and used his ult, slowing and stopping three people from leaving—
I ran, but I was just pretending.
Xiao Bai’s teammates stormed over from behind and hammered PUD into a team wipe before they promptly went for Baron and pushed PUD’s base.
Twenty-eight minutes in, TTC grouped together and went for the Nexus. 98k wanted to have one last stand and successfully sent Pine flying with his ult—but because his teammates didn’t have enough damage, they weren’t able to follow up. Savior flashed in an attempt to ult and oneshot someone, but the instant he rushed forward, he was unexpectedly turned into a sheep and silenced by Jian Rong, proclaiming his death. A few seconds later, Yuan Qian finished him off.
Twenty-nine minutes in, TTC killed PUD’s three damage dealers and destroyed their Nexus, winning the first round of the match.
Both teams left the stage to rest and prepare for the next game. When the camera panned over to TTC, each member wore a very natural and carefree expression.
Commentator A: “Congratulations to TTC for winning the first game—why do I feel like everyone in TTC seems particularly relaxed tonight?”
Commentator B: “Right? They don’t look as serious or pressured as they did against Fighting Tiger.”
Commentator C: “That’s to be expected, since Road didn’t play that time, just like PUD tonight… speaking of which, recently I’ve been seeing a lot of opinions about how veteran players have declined in strength and reaction speed. But in reality, it’s also very important that a team has a veteran player with ample experience… and also, you really, really can’t stake your carry jungler against Road’s. You truly can’t win against him. On the contrary, a slow and steady late game jungler like XIU actually has an easier time handling Road.”
Once they were backstage, Ding-ge first gave them a perfunctory compliment of “you guys played pretty well” before he immediately launched into a discussion about the next game’s tactics.
The five of them didn’t even have any time to sit and rest on the couch for a bit. In order to hear what Ding-ge was saying, they stood very close together, almost shoulder to shoulder.
Lu Boyuan sensed the person next to him lean towards him a little, shifting some of his weight onto Lu Boyuan.
Lu Boyuan looked down at him.
Jian Rong was listening with drooping eyelids, as if he was forcing himself to stay alert. Ultimately, he couldn’t resist and yawned for the second time that night.
Some people said that yawns were also contagious. Right after, Xiao Bai yawned too, and then Yuan Qian uncontrollably opened his mouth as well—
Ding-ge: “…what? Should I deliver a few pillows onto the stage for you guys?”
Actually, Jian Rong wasn’t exactly sleepy. It was just that he had cleared minions for over ten minutes and still only had one kill by the end of the game, so he was truly feeling a little lethargic and unexcited, even if it was the finals tonight.
He rubbed his face. “Is there Red Bull?”
Ding-ge: “No, I’ll tell someone to go buy some… but it’s definitely too late for the next round. Hang in there. They have the counterpick this time, so you don’t need to play utility anymore, don’t worry.”
Jian Rong nodded before he straightened up and said, “I’m going to wash my face.”
In the bathroom, Jian Rong vigorously splashed cold water onto his face. After several splashes, he still felt like it wasn’t enough, and he lifted a hand, wanting to slap himself a few times. But before his hand could hit his face, someone grabbed onto his wrist.
“Harming yourself?” Lu Boyuan asked him with a raised eyebrow. He had entered the restroom at some unknown point in time and was standing next to Jian Rong, his face mostly expressionless.
“…no.” Jian Rong was startled, and when he blinked, the water droplets on his eyelashes dripped everywhere. “I’m not in a very good condition right now.”
Lu Boyuan asked, “Low blood sugar again?”
“No, definitely not,” Jian Rong instantly said. “I have no problems competing, it’s just… not super stimulating. I feel like I don’t have enough energy.”
Jian Rong wiped at the water on his face using his other hand before he asked, “Did Ding-ge send you to get me? Is it time to go on stage?”
“Not yet.” Lu Boyuan said, “I came to find you.”
Jian Rong was taken aback. “For what…”
Lu Boyuan said, “To help boost your energy.”
Before Jian Rong could ask how, Lu Boyuan lifted him by the butt and placed him onto the sink counter.
When Lu Boyuan cupped the back of his neck and half-forced him to lean forward, Jian Rong didn’t forget to ask, “The door—”
Lu Boyuan said, “It’s locked.”
In reality, it was only a very short kiss that lasted less than twenty seconds, yet Jian Rong felt as though his lips were about to be rubbed raw.
Someone knocked on the door. Lu Boyuan released him and asked lowly, “Is that a bit better?”
Jian Rong subconsciously swallowed, and the taste of coffee from Lu Boyuan’s tongue flooded down his throat. Immediately, the tips of his ears reddened even more.
“Mn.” Jian Rong jumped down from the sink and pulled out a paper towel to wipe his face. “Right now, I can take on ten Zhuang Yibais by myself.”
Lu Boyuan laughed and reached out to tousle his hair.
Upon opening the door, Xiao Bai was standing outside, his face full of confusion and incredulity. “What the heck? You’re in the public bathroom, why’d you lock the door? Who were you talking to on the phone, why do I feel like I heard my name? Also, what’s wrong with your mouth, it’s so red… ai, hang on, let me go to the bathroom first, I’ve been holding it in so bad. Wait one minute for me outside, okay, we can go back together—”
All of his words came to a halt the moment he saw his ge.
At first, Xiao Bai thought that his ge had snuck off to smoke. But unexpectedly, he was also here in the bathroom with Jian Rong, and they had locked the door too—why would they lock a public restroom’s door?? That was really very immoral—but that wasn’t the main fucking issue.
Looking at Xiao Bai’s completely blank face, Lu Boyuan asked mildly, “Want us to wait?”
“…………no need.” Xiao Bai said, “I can go back by myself. You two, please go ahead.”