Almost exactly as the translator finished repeating Jian Rong’s words, the Korean audience members began expressing their dissatisfaction. Interspersed throughout were cheers from Chinese spectators who had come to specifically support TTC.
Luckily, there were only group stage matches today, so not many Chinese fans were there. Otherwise, with this attitude in the audience, it’d be hard to believe if a few fights didn’t break out on the spot.
Jian Rong continued to stand up very straight. When the anchor was rendered speechless, Jian Rong even turned his head and raised an eyebrow at him, as if he was asking “no more questions?”.
It wasn’t just the audience who reacted strongly; the break rooms backstage were also quite lively.
In HT’s break room.
After listening to the translation, Rish opened his mouth to let out a curse. Unfortunately, right as he started saying “ah fu—”, their top laner shot him a cold look. Out of respect for his seniors, Rish subconsciously shut up, and several seconds passed before he retrospectively realized that there was a camera in front of them.
Although no one had ever explicitly outlined it, there was an unspoken hierarchy in most Korean teams. The veteran members considered newer members to be their juniors.
Rish was just promoted from the second team not too long ago, so he only had the guts to go wild in front of other people. In the team, as long as his seniors seemed the slightest bit unhappy, he didn’t dare to utter a single word.
The top laner leaned back against the couch and curled his lip. “Ah, isn’t the LPL being a bit impolite?”
“Well, birds of a feather flock together.” The jungler remembered something and sneered. “The newcomer that we once eliminated from our team, didn’t he join a small team in the LPL? I heard that after he joined the team, everyone in it began listening to his commands, even the management.”
Rish said promptly, “Yes, that’s right, hyung1. That’s exactly what the LPL is like. They don’t have a lot of their own pro players, or else why would they be coming to our league every year to scout people?”
There was a pop.
Master cracked open a can of coffee and stood up from the couch. Everyone else instantly went silent.
“Where are you going?” the coach called out to him.
“To look for someone, don’t follow me.” With that, Master strode away.
Meanwhile, in TTC’s break room.
Xiao Bai’s emotions kept rising and falling with each sentence Jian Rong spoke, and he couldn’t help but mutter, “Badass.
In the end, he couldn’t resist jumping to his feet and exclaiming, “Is he allowed to say that?!”
Yuan Qian was also stunned by Jian Rong’s speech. Briefly taken aback, he finally said, “Forget it… this is a routine procedure by now. I already prepared myself mentally before he even went on stage.”
“I did too!” Xiao Bai said, “But isn’t this going way too freaking overboard! We still have to play two BO1 matches against HT for the group stage. With this out there, if we lose one of the games we might as well directly pack up and go live in a crack in the ground!”
Pine said calmly, “Then we just have to win every match through the finals.”
“?” Xiao Bai froze, and he peered down at him.
Pine recalled the gif that showed him being spawn camped, and the fury and powerlessness he felt leaving the stadium last year came rushing back.
“I’ve never thought about losing.” He stuffed both hands in his pockets and lounged back on the couch. “Everything he said was also what I wanted to say.”
Startled, Xiao Bai seemed to remember something. A moment later, he quietly sat back down on the sofa.
Ding-ge had prepared himself for the worst-case scenario long before Jian Rong went to do his interview. Once the interview wrapped up on TV, he waved his hand. “That’s enough. Gather your things, let’s get ready to go back and practice.”
As Yuan Qian unzipped his equipment bag, he suddenly noticed something. “How come Captain’s been in the bathroom for so long?”
Following the conclusion of the match, Lu Boyuan hadn’t returned to the break room with them.
Xiao Bai sighed. “Who said my ge went to the bathroom?”
Lu Boyuan’s phone had already exploded.
Jian Rong had just thrown a bomb into a nationwide stream. Other people had no way of personally expressing their admiration to him, so they could only seek out his boyfriend instead.
He didn’t actually receive that many private messages, but the pro player group chat had blown up. The group chat that was typically used solely for the sake of scheduling practice matches currently had 99+ unread messages.
Lu Boyuan leaned against the wall next to the backstage entrance, the brim of his hat pulled so low that his face was almost completely hidden. Although they were in Korea right now, he still attracted a fair amount of attention from the staff. Every person snuck a glance at him as they passed by, and some even approached him to ask for his signature.
While he was scrolling through his unread messages, someone said carelessly from behind him, “Hyung.”
It was said in Korean.
Lu Boyuan replied to XIU’s text first before he leisurely turned his head.
Master stood behind him, holding a can of coffee. He followed the angle Lu Boyuan was facing and glanced outside the door: it was precisely the direction leading to the interview stage.
“I heard about you and Soft. So it’s actually true?” Master lifted an eyebrow. “Hyung, are you really about to retire? Dating a teammate?”
Even in the LCK, there probably weren’t many pro players who Master would call “hyung.” That was all the more true for the LPL. Since the day Master started competing, he had only ever spoken to one LPL pro player of his own accord, and that was Lu Boyuan.
The year Lu Boyuan won Worlds, he had stepped on Master to come out on top.
Both of them had competed in Worlds for the first time in the same year. One became the champion, and the other finished in the top eight.
Later on, Master gradually developed and became HT’s core. Lu Boyuan remained at the peak, and TTC was still a team that forced their opponents to ban three jungle champions in a row.
There was another secret that very few people knew about—Lu Boyuan was the LPL’s only pro player who had ever received an invitation to play for an LCK team. And the team who had invited him was none other than HT.
Back then, the rules concerning import players had just been announced. The domestic esports scene lagged considerably behind the LCK, and though Lu Boyuan received a high salary for their competitive region, it would be considered hardly anything nowadays. HT had also offered him an even higher pay at the time.
However, Lu Boyuan had refused very bluntly, which was why nothing about this incident was ever leaked.
Lu Boyuan swept a look at Master and replied in accurate, fluent Korean, “This isn’t any of your business.”
Master took a sip of coffee. “But hyung, your preferences are quite strange. Do you like someone who’s so impolite?”
“There’s no need to be polite to some people.” Lu Boyuan raised his eyebrow. “Such as you, and those brats on your team.”
Master scoffed. “Hyung, at the very least I’m calling you hyung. You don’t need to put it like that, do you? It’s truly such a shame that hyung wasn’t in the fountain last year.”
Lu Boyuan’s expression didn’t change. He said, “Is that so? What a pity, I’ve already forgotten what you looked like sitting in the fountain four years ago.”
Jian Rong returned backstage just in time to see Master clench his teeth and glare angrily at Lu Boyuan.
Lu Boyuan turned and saw Jian Rong walking towards them with a glower on his face. He seemed even more ready to fight than he had earlier during the interview.
Lifting a brow, Lu Boyuan reached out to try and grab his hand, but Jian Rong walked straight in between him and Master, separating them with his slight build.
Upon seeing a junior, Master subconsciously restrained his emotions. Face unreadable, he opened his mouth to say something.
Jian Rong spoke before he could.
Lu Boyuan: “…”
This outburst of nonsensical Korean caught the other two people off guard.
Lu Boyuan recovered first. He ducked his head and let out a muffled chuckle.
From start to finish, Master only understood two phrases.
And not a single damn one was something nice.
When he saw Lu Boyuan laugh, he quickly snapped out of it and said with a dark expression, “What did he say? Is he cursing at me?”
A “Master” came from behind them. Lu Boyuan glanced in that direction and said, “Alright, someone from your team is looking for you. Hurry up and get out of here, let’s not talk to each other outside of matches from now on.”
Master was filled with anger, but at the same time, he couldn’t exactly vent it out in front of a junior member of his team. He shot a glare at Jian Rong and turned around.
Once he was gone, Jian Rong’s bristling fur slowly flattened back down, and he peered behind him. After seeing the look on Lu Boyuan’s face, he frowned and asked, “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing.” Lu Boyuan paused. “Who taught you those phrases of… Korean?”
“Savior. He told me that those were all ways to curse someone out in Korean.” Jian Rong hesitated briefly. “…did I say them wrong?”
Lu Boyuan held back a smile. “No.”
Ding-ge called to let them know that the rest of the team was already on the bus, and he urged Lu Boyuan and Jian Rong to head over to the parking lot.
On the way to the bus, Jian Rong still couldn’t resist asking, “What were you two talking about earlier? Did that dumbass insult you?”
Lu Boyuan gave Jian Rong a short rundown of their conversation.
Jian Rong: “Four years ago, the fountain?”
“I was young back then, and it was my first time playing in Worlds. I was too arrogant.” Lu Boyuan laughed. “During the playoffs, I trapped him in the fountain and bullied him for a while.”
No wonder Master brought up Lu Boyuan every single time he expressed some opinion targeting the LPL.
Jian Rong nodded. “So that’s why he’s held a grudge against the LPL for four years.”
Lu Boyuan couldn’t help but laugh. “…it shouldn’t be entirely because of me. Also, after the match, Ding-ge brought us over to apologize.”
When they got back to the bus, the others happened to be discussing that match from four years ago as well.
Xiao Bai: “Okay, so let them spawn camp. If you lose, then stand there and take the beating, they can camp as much as they want. But what’s the point of mocking us all the time with this after the match is over? And making a gif out of it too? Who the hell hasn’t won a match before… this won’t do. I’m gonna go find the video of us camping Master four years ago and post it on the internet as a gif!”
The assistant coach: “Ah… that’s not very appropriate, is it? Wasn’t Rish the one stirring up trouble?”
Yuan Qian shook his head. “You’re too naive” was written across his face. “Without Master’s brainwashing and consent, would Rish dare to act so wildly? Would he dare to cause trouble for his team?”
“That’s enough.” Lu Boyuan interrupted him evenly. “Don’t do something that you yourself would also find disdainful.”
In reality, Xiao Bai wasn’t really planning on doing anything; he was just fiddling with his phone and working off his anger.
“I knew it… my entire Weibo homepage is filled with clips from Jian Rong’s interview.” He sighed, moved. “This group stage interview is being treated like a finals interview.”
Jian Rong was aware that his last few remarks from the interview had placed the team in the spotlight again.
Even though he had tried his hardest to convey his opinions from his own standpoint, as a member of TTC, everything he did and said in the competitive field undeniably dragged in the club and his teammates.
He propped his cheek up against his hand. As Ding-ge passed by their row, Jian Rong called out to him.
Ding-ge stopped, supporting himself on the back of a seat. “What is it?”
“The things I said in the interview,” Jian Rong paused for a second. “Will I be penalized for it?”
Ding-ge hiked up an eyebrow, somewhat surprised. “Why would you be penalized?”
Jian Rong: “I insulted Rish and called him a dog.”
Lu Boyuan almost burst out laughing.
Ding-ge was also startled. A long moment passed before he said, “To tell the truth, what you said was indeed a bit humiliating… for a dog.”
Jian Rong: “…”
Ding-ge said firmly, “Someone from the LPL called me just now and said that an official interview team is already on their way to Korea. They’re going to follow us all the way through MSI—this means that the LPL doesn’t think that there’s anything wrong with what you said. If the LPL isn’t even gonna do anything, why would I penalize you?
“Oh, right, Fu-ge also sent me a text saying that he’s going to increase the team’s competition budget. With that amount of money, it’s like he wants me to buy the LCK while I’m at it—of course, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but clearly the team’s owner is extremely pleased with your interview.
“The antis have noticeably decreased on Weibo, and esports fans with profile pictures of other LPL teams are also flaming people for us. So in the eyes of the masses, there’s nothing wrong with your interview either—though naturally that might change if we lose the competition.” Ding-ge paused. “But didn’t we all come to Korea this time with our minds made up to win?”
“That’s for sure!” Yuan Qian picked up where Ding-ge left off. “Man, I rewatched the interview a few more times just now, it feels so freaking good! Recently, it’s all been news of HT ridiculing the LPL. It’s finally our turn to mess with them for once!”
Pine asked mildly, “Why didn’t you insult them some more before leaving?”
“…the anchor stopped asking me questions.” Jian Rong’s voice was emotionless. “They even turned off my microphone.”
Uproarious laughter instantly exploded through the bus.
The bus stopped in front of the hotel entrance. Ding-ge picked up his backpack and calmed down his laughter. “Alright, let’s get back to practice. Thanks to Jian Rong, all the other teams have actively asked to schedule practice matches with us today, so our schedule is already packed for tonight… our first BO1 match against HT takes place tomorrow. Everyone, let’s put in the work and get first blood from HT!”
- Using hyung here instead of ge because they’re talking in Korean ^
- Xiba = ssibal = fuck. I’m just gonna leave it in pinyin cuz we all know Jian Rong isn’t pronouncing anything right anyways ^
- Gaojiao = kkeojyeo = get lost ^