Jian Rong flipped over and clicked on the string of letters.
TTC ་ Road, Follow 71, Follower 5.81M. Weibo Verified: TTC Esports Club Pro Player.
He exited the page, and then opened it again.
After repeating that action five times, something finally changed on the page—Road’s following count became 72.
The “Already Following” in the bottom right corner of the screen also changed into “Mutual Following.”
Jian Rong: “…”
There were already more than fifty replies from fans under that comment.
[Sorry God Lu, I was only shooting my mouth off just then, I’ll go screenshot it right now from the livestream replay.]
[Ah? I actually saw Road in a streamer’s comment section???]
[I never realized this before, but nearly all of this dumbass streamer’s likes are of Road’s posts.]
[The first account he followed on Weibo was Road’s too…]
Jian Rong shot off of his bed at light speed, turned on his computer, and deleted that livestream replay; the entire series of actions was direct and efficient.
He sat cross-legged on his gaming chair and gnawed on his fingertips, agonizing over Road’s message.
After hesitating for ten minutes, he finally replied with a [crying] emoticon.
By the time Lu Boyuan saw that emoticon, three days had already passed.
He had way too many Weibo notifications, and that day he had only randomly chosen to respond as well, so he hadn’t thought too much of it.
He was about to check whether that fan sent him a PM or not when Xiao Bai suddenly stretched his head over from next to him. “Ge, why did Ding-ge call us over to the meeting room?”
Lu Boyuan locked his phone and set it down on the table. “Don’t know.”
It was normal to have internal team meetings. During competition seasons, they could have numerous meetings in a single week, but this time it evidently wasn’t a game review meeting.
Several minutes later, Ding-ge walked into the meeting room by himself and closed the door immediately after entering.
He got right to the point. “The reason I’ve called you guys here today is to tell you about Kan.”
When he said that, the expressions of everyone present instantly grew more serious.
Even Xiao Bai, who usually always wore a smile, quieted down and leaned back in his chair without saying anything.
Although Kan hadn’t played very well these past two seasons, he was still a veteran member of TTC. He had been a part of the club since the moment TTC was established and had fought through the secondary pro league with the team before; he’d even won the World Championships with them.
It could be said that Kan had watched all four players present grow and take the stage.
Ding-ge was silent for a few seconds before he said heavily, “The LPL discovered some things.”
Instantly, Xiao Bai’s nose soured, and he forcefully blinked a few times.
Even Pine, who was the most taciturn player on the team, tilted his head and looked outside the window.
Lu Boyuan’s eyelids lowered slightly, his face mostly expressionless. “Is it confirmed?”
“More or less.” Ding-ge said, “At first, it wasn’t that easy to investigate, but two days ago someone contacted the LPL and said they had evidence.”
Xiao Bai frowned. “Who?”
“His girlfriend.” Ding-ge paused. “Or rather, his ex-girlfriend.”
“In a few more days, the results of the investigation should come out. Let’s just wait and see.”
The atmosphere of the meeting room was gloomy. Ding-ge sighed unnoticeably and changed the topic. “There’s also another thing. Management is already contacting the new mid laner. They’ve chosen two people, and the person in charge is in discussions with both of them. I wanted to be completely transparent with you all in advance.”
Upon hearing the three words “new mid laner,” nobody looked very surprised.
This was just how esports was. There would always be old people leaving, and there would always be new people entering. Every team had to experience generational change in order to maintain the best scores.
The substitute’s strength was average, and Kan’s condition was spiralling downwards. Adding on the incident this time, it was imperative that TTC recruit a new mid laner.
Yuan Qian breathed in deeply. “Who did they choose?”
Ding-ge said: “One is the Korean division’s Savior. His contract just expired, and he’s interested in joining the LPL this season.”
Yuan Qian was shocked. “Savior? He wants to come to our division? How expensive would that have to be?”
Savior was a new mid laner in the Korean division, and he had just joined the professional league two years ago. Even though the team he was currently in was only so-so and had barely managed to enter the knockout stage1, his personal ability was famously strong. He was the best at farming, and he often was able to step forward and carry the entire team in disadvantageous situations.
The thing that Savior’s fans said the most often was: “If you gave Savior some teammates who are actually alive, he would already be a two-time champion by now.”
“That you don’t have to worry about. The team can even support Road, and you’re scared of it not being able to afford a mid laner newcomer?” Ding-ge said.
Lu Boyuan noncommittally raised an eyebrow.
Pine said, “You watch those boring K-dramas all the time and you didn’t learn a single phrase?”
“If I could learn just from listening, then I’d be at Tsinghua or Peking University by now. Why would I still be suffering here as a pro gamer with you?” Xiao Bai propped a hand up under his chin and looked at Ding-ge again. “Who’s the other person?”
Ding-ge said, “The other person is a streamer who doesn’t really have any professional experience, a blank slate. But his personal ability is very strong, and he’s a good seed.”
The meeting room descended into a brief silence.
After a beat, Pine knitted his brows and repeated, “Streamer?”
When the esports industry was just starting, many pro players were unearthed by teams from streaming platforms and based on their ranked points. Yuan Qian and Kan were both found in this way.
But after the esports industry slowly grew, every team possessed a well-developed training system, and the trainees had already become the main channel through which the teams found new members.
As for the streamers, that became the optimal job for retired players.
Xiao Bai actually didn’t care. Anyone who management chose definitely wouldn’t be bad. He asked, “Which streaming platform? Do we know him? How come I don’t remember there being some particularly amazing new streamer recently?”
“…you could be considered to know him.” Ding-ge said, “Savior’s side is still in discussion. PUD also wants to sign him, so right now both sides are just negotiating the price. Management just finalized the other person, and they’ve already sent someone to go contact him.”
“What’s his name? If I have time, I’ll take a look at his livestream.” Xiao Bai sighed. “I really can’t speak simida.”
Ding-ge was quiet for a second. “A streamer with dyed blue hair.”
Xiao Bai said, “But if I try really hard, it’s not like I can’t do it. I’ll go buy a Korean textbook right after this.”
The depressing atmosphere was swept away instantly, and Ding-ge and Yuan Qian both laughed out loud. Even Pine, who was always cold and detached, smirked a bit.
Only Xiao Bai collapsed by himself. “No… why do we have to recruit a troll into the team! Which blinded member of management took a liking to him?! Besides abusing noobs in Gold and Platinum, what else can he do!!”
“I took a liking to him.” Lu Boyuan spoke up.
“You… ge?” Xiao Bai forcibly swallowed his curses and turned his head, astonished. After a long moment, he asked blankly, “What part of him did you take a liking to?”
Lu Boyuan paused for a little, as if pondering something. He then said, “Every part of him is pretty good.”
Xiao Bai was thoroughly stupefied.
He felt like the bluenette that his ge was referring to was a completely different person from the bluenette that he knew.
“Enough.” Ding-ge restrained his laughter. “I’m only giving you guys a heads up that right now we’ve selected these two. The final choice is still up in the air, so don’t think too much about it. It’s already eight, let’s go downstairs and eat dinner first.”
Lu Boyuan only stood up from his seat once everyone else had departed.
When he passed Ding-ge, he stopped briefly and tilted his head slightly to the side. “What does management plan to do about Kan?”
“What else can they do…” Ding-ge said, “They have to announce that he violated his contract.”
Lu Boyuan looked down and let out a soft “en” before he turned and left the meeting room.
Late at night, 11 p.m., TTC’s practice room.
Xiao Bai wandered back and forth outside of a StarTV livestream room. Finally, he still couldn’t resist and created a new side account before slipping into Soft’s livestream.
At that moment, Jian Rong was eating hot and sour noodles while playing Teamfight Tactics3.
[What kind of lousy champion did you grab, do you know how to play or not?]
[Stop eating, hurry up and play the game, just how long has it been since you’ve set up a fan tournament?]
[Soft’s Only Fanclub: Why did you blacklist laozi on Weibo!!!]
Seeing that last comment, Jian Rong once again recalled his emoticon on Weibo that never received a reply.
He felt unhappy, so he lifted a hand and banned his only fanclub from commenting.
After finishing his hot and sour noodles, Jian Rong was about to open the game when a friend request suddenly popped up from QQ4.
[Attached message: Are you interested in playing professionally?]
Jian Rong was startled, before he bluntly closed the request.
[Oh shit someone’s finally discovered my son’s strength?]
[Why reject them ah?]
[Probably a scam, there’s a team out there who even wants this piece of trash?]
Xiao Bai, sitting in front of his computer, was about to agree, but then he recalled that his own team really was trying to recruit him, so he had no choice but to resist the impulse to send a mocking comment.
“No particular reason why, just don’t want to.” Jian Rong said lazily, “I also think it seems like a scam.”
[Isn’t being a pro player better than being a streamer? And it makes money.]
[Enough with that, only the peak of the pyramid makes money. The subs on those small crappy teams don’t even earn 10k5 in a month. And also, he’s just a noob-bullying streamer, he won’t be worth a damn in front of experts.]
[Didn’t the streamer beat up Tank’s Bye last week?]
Xiao Bai instantaneously exploded!
You’re the one who was freaking beat up! If you have the skill, then you go face off against him in the lane! Don’t you know what specialization of labor is!
“It’s enough as long as I earn your money.”
After Jian Rong said that, he saw a wave of swears cross the barrage, and he couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “Bye? He plays support, it’s very normal for him not to be able to beat me in mid.”
Xiao Bai let out a “hmph” through his nose.
At least this little bluenette knew how to be tactful.
Following that, Jian Rong spoke again. “But if I used a support champ and soloed him, he still wouldn’t be able to beat me.”
Will you die if you act like a human for more than half a fucking minute!!
Xiao Bai gripped his keyboard and advanced forward bravely: [Solo my ass! This is a five player game! Bye is ten thousand times more useful than you in a team!!!]
This comment floated across thousands of others in the barrage, and Jian Rong didn’t see it at all.
He continued to answer other people’s questions. “There are plenty of teams that come to look for me… why don’t I go? Already said it, don’t like playing professionally. I like playing the game by myself. It feels great to solo kill, team operations don’t suit me.”
[What if a big team comes to find you?]
“Big team? Such as?” Jian Rong said indifferently, “PUD? Not interested, their specialty is playing late game, a model case of team operations.”
“OYG? Also not interested, they like to revolve around their bot lane in game, I don’t want to babysit other people.”
“TTC…” Jian Rong paused for a moment before he lifted his eyes and peeked at the upper right corner of his screen.
As if he was confirming that a certain person wasn’t on his money-smashing list.
Xiao Bai subconsciously sat up straight and listened.
“Their support Bye just looks like someone who holds a grudge. I’ve solo killed him so many times, he probably hates me deep inside.”
Jian Rong purposefully didn’t mention Road, but when he swept a glance over the barrage, some dumbasses were taking advantage of the situation to spread slander again.
So Jian Rong still couldn’t help himself. “However, I do like their jungler, he’s very—”
Pushes the limits of gameplay.
Has flexible strategies and tactics.
Jian Rong wasn’t able to say any of these.
Xiao Bai was about to smash the table and curse him out when the livestream window suddenly went dark and a little crying character appeared on the screen. Next to it, a large row of text was written—
[New Rule Revision: Since this streamer is still underage, the platform will temporarily lock this livestream room!]
Xiao Bai: “???”
Xiao Bai jumped up from his chair excitedly and saw Lu Boyuan standing behind him the moment he turned around.
“Ge—” Xiao Bai exclaimed. “This bluenette troll! Is actually a minor whose hair hasn’t even all grown in!!”
Lu Boyuan was holding a cup, and he looked down at the desktop monitor. “Mn.”
Xiao Bai hadn’t been wearing headphones, so Lu Boyuan had heard the livestream’s entire conversation.
He was even younger than Lu Boyuan had expected.
Xiao Bai was about to say something else, but Lu Boyuan spoke first. “Since he’s just a kid, don’t hold a grudge over whatever he’s said about you before.”
- To participate in LoL’s World Championship, there’s the play-in stage (group stage and knockout stage) and then the main event (group stage, knockout stage, quarterfinals, semifinals, and then the finals). More and more teams get eliminated after each stage ^
- Simida (思密达) is Chinese slang to refer to Korean (the language). It’s a loan word that plays off of the Korean verb ending ‘seumnida’ (습니다) ^
- Teamfight Tactics is LoL’s autochess game. It’s kind of like the name implies – it’s an autobattle/strategy kind of game but with LoL champions ^
- QQ is another Chinese instant messaging/social media app ^
- About $1,500 ^
Yan: LBY always looking out for our baby~ Also Jian Rong is, in fact, a minor right now – to be more exact, he’s 17 and will turn 18 in about one or two months! Nothing happens between him and LBY romantically while he’s underage, so don’t worry 🙂 just a lot of cute interactions!
Wei: We set up a Ko-fi (button below)!!