Thank you so much to AnaVita for the very generous Ko-fi!
It was already a routine procedure to see the viewer count of TTC’s competition livestreams increase instead of decrease after the conclusion of a match.
However, this time was different. In the past, everyone came to watch TTC’s post-match interview, but this time—
[HT, fuck you.]
[What’s the reason for the redo? What was the bug? Are they not gonna explain? I watched the replay clip ten times and still couldn’t figure out what could’ve possibly allowed Rish to trigger a rewind!]
[Laozi is fucking furious!!! My son didn’t even fucking cry when he badmouthed pro players and was flamed by five teams’ fans, or when he said Kan was matchfixing and his stream was demolished, or when he lost to PUD and got on the hot search because a bunch of idiots were shading him and calling him trash!!! Dammit, I’m seething with rage!!!]
[Exactly! He didn’t even cry when he was called the king of the dwarves!!!!]
[Everyone in TTC looks dejected T-T Xiao Bai seems like he’s about to cry too, my heart hurts.]
[They’re gonna cry just because they lost???]
[Are you a dumbass? As if they’re crying because they lost the match? No, they’re fucking crying out of disgust!]
[Road looks unhappy too. The last time I saw him wear this expression was backstage during the previous World Championship semifinals.]
[I can’t take this anymore, Dad is jumping over the firewall to kill a few HT fans and spice things up.]
[Dumbass HT, you won the match but lost your dignity. Was it worth it?]
Jian Rong also didn’t expect for himself to be angered to the point of tears.
If he were a balloon, he probably would’ve already exploded midair by now, and the detonated latex could’ve been ejected straight out of the atmosphere.
This was Jian Rong’s first time encountering this sort of situation. Earlier, Yuan Qian had briefly explained Chronobreak to him in the voice chat: this function had actually become quite common in recent years. The last time it occurred was during a match between a North American team and a European team, because the North American support couldn’t use his ult. That kind of major bug definitely required the usage of Chronobreak.
But from the beginning to the end of the game’s pause, the officials hadn’t given TTC’s five members any explanation whatsoever regarding the Chronobreak. The only thing they said was a simple: “There’s been a bug.”
What kind of bug appeared? What kind of bug could appear?
Rish couldn’t use a skill? Impossible, because Jian Rong had oneshotted Rish in less than two seconds. He had even calculated it—during that time frame, Rish’s flash was still on cooldown, whereas Jian Rong’s was still in his grasp. In other words, no matter what kind of champion ability Rish used at the time, that dumbass still would’ve died.
It wasn’t that Jian Rong was a sore loser. He was merely unwilling to accept this turn of events.
They were about to get their double kill on HT, which would’ve crushed that dumbass Rish to the point where he couldn’t spout any more damn nonsense…
It felt too oppressive, too uncomfortable.
But there was no way he was going to cry in front of HT or the dumbass HT fans in the audience. And there was absolutely no way he was going to cry on stage.
So he forcefully suppressed that tiny hint of reflexive tears until his eyes ached from it.
Lu Boyuan sensed Jian Rong’s current state of mind.
It was normal to feel emotional. No matter how long Jian Rong had lived as a wild child all on his own, right now he was still only a fresh eighteen-year-old pro player who had just started competing.
Competitive matches were different from streams. Even if everyone believed that this match was unfair, they couldn’t immediately grow hostile and start spewing insults on stage. They couldn’t even report anything after the game finished.
Lu Boyuan placed his hand on Jian Rong’s head. He was about to remind him that they had to shake hands when Jian Rong suddenly shot to his feet.
The young man, whose eyes were red just a moment ago in the lens of the camera, had already returned to normal, though his eyes were still narrowed.
Lu Boyuan lifted an eyebrow. He started to withdraw his hand, but Jian Rong directly grabbed it.
Their fingers tangled together as they held hands for a few very short seconds.
Jian Rong released him and wrapped his hand around Lu Boyuan’s wrist instead. He said, “I’m fine. Let’s go shake hands.”
That scene happened to be captured by the camera’s deliberate close-up.
The fans, who were in the middle of passionately flaming HT together, all paused—
[This director’s camera shots are so fucking……… beautiful!]
[Even though this game pause and Chronobreak were both very fake, Road and Soft are real.]
[I was so pissed that I booked a ticket to Korea for tonight. Fucking hell, without laozi there, any kind of pig-dog dares to bully my dumbass son, dammit!]
[:) what a freaking coincidence, I also just bought my plane ticket]
[Originally, I felt like Master still had a bit of pride from being a strong player. Now, he’s nothing at all.]
After they shook hands and left the stage, they heard the sound of an argument before they even entered the break room.
Ding-ge had already been battling with the competition officials for an hour.
“Fine—fine! Even if laozi acknowledges this bullshit vision deficiency bug of yours! There was no ward in the brush that our team member was in! It was impossible for Rish to have noticed that our team member was there! He would’ve still died! Does this kind of bug affect the results of the team fight?! It isn’t sufficient enough to trigger the requirements for a Chronobreak at all! What a shitty referee!” Ding-ge propped a hand against his waist. His face was flushed with anger as he said to the translator nearby, “Translate everything I just said to them! I’m demanding a rematch!!!”
Upon seeing the team members return, Ding-ge waved at them aggressively. “You guys worked hard and played very well. Grab your equipment bags and go rest on the bus, I’ll be there once I’m done arguing with them!”
Lu Boyuan swept a cool look at the competition representative.
The representative felt a bit guilty because of that glance. He pursed his lips and even prepared himself to be on the receiving end of Road’s condemnation.
But Lu Boyuan didn’t say anything to him. He merely retracted his gaze and said to Ding-ge, “They won’t agree to a rematch.”
“I know.” Relying on the fact that the guy in front of them couldn’t understand Chinese, Ding-ge said, “I didn’t really think that I would be able to convince them to accept a rematch. I just wanted to curse them out… whatever, let’s go. I’m not going to waste my time on a bunch of dumbasses.”
Today’s match truly gave rise to a huge earthquake in the esports circle.
Almost as soon as the match ended, public opinions began exploding through the circle, all across the world.
HT fans first launched their mockery on the internet outside of the Great Firewall—they said that Jian Rong only knew how to talk big, but he was actually incomparably trash; they said that Road had become way weaker after dating someone on the team, and that he was no longer at the peak; they also said that TTC fans were sore losers who flamed just because they lost the match.
But it was obvious that there weren’t as many bystanders speaking up on their behalf this time. Many people even made posts asking the officials when they would be releasing an announcement regarding this Chronobreak.
In the hour following the match, the LPL’s pro players posted one after another—
[PUDXIU: Too dirty, this is really too dirty. Although it’s just a group stage match, I believe that the Korean competition officials need to give an explanation.]
[PUDSavior: It shouldn’t be like this~…]
[PUD98k: Waiting for the announcement.]
[MFG-Jm: I’m so pissed!!!]
[Fighting Tiger Da Niu: Who exactly is the sore loser here? They’re also a veteran team, so how come they’re becoming more unsightly as time goes by?]
[YY Doufu: Piece of trash HT! Piece of trash Rish! During ranked, I already thought that this bastard was utterly garbage. Playing support for him was enough to infuriate laozi out of this universe! Who would’ve thought that he would have the balls to pull this kind of dirty trick in a competition? His head’s as big as a damn watermelon, is it full of water from the Han River?]
These statements were brought over the Great Firewall. Soon after, HT fans changed their tune from “TTC is a sore loser” to “the LPL is a sore loser.”
But at the height of their ridiculing, the other professional leagues unexpectedly popped up as well.
The first to do so was the top North American team, HOH. The team’s mid laner posted a screenshot of a practice match lobby containing HOH and TTC. The caption was: “Every game is extremely enjoyable.”
The jungler from the LCK’s M7 posted: “Who fell into the Chronobreak?”
And from the Japanese team that they had encountered many times in the hallway outside of their practice room, the little support who had posted the picture of Jian Rong and Lu Boyuan said—“Really such a pity~~ losing the match in such a manner ó﹏ò ~~ but TTC has always been an extremely powerful existence to me (smile). Even though this post may seem very headstrong, I still want to express my thoughts no matter what >_<!”
Even the runner-up from the LCK’s Spring Split, LLC, posted “disappointed” and “crying” emojis.
Because of how vocal the pro players were, more people began paying attention to this match.
In the practice room, Yuan Qian locked his phone in satisfaction and lifted his head to ban a champion. “The comment section of HT’s official social media account is already a complete mess. Karma’s a bitch.”
“I still don’t get it.” Xiao Bai frowned. “It was just a group stage match, and it didn’t really matter whether they won or lost. Did HT need to act so disgusting? I was so nauseated that I couldn’t even finish my freaking dinner today…”
“They did need to.” Ding-ge looked up from his phone. “Someone leaked a piece of information to me. There was a pretty big Korean brand that was in negotiations with HT, and they were apparently about to discuss the contract when HT lost to us in the previous group stage match. The LCK fans were displeased, so that company started to hesitate. I bet… their goal was already set before this match: they had to win.”
Pine: “With the way things currently are, can they still get the endorsement?”
“No, that company has already gotten in touch with the LCK’s spring season runner-up.” Ding-ge paused. “Unless HT wins this year’s MSI…”
Jian Rong destroyed the enemy’s Nexus and interrupted coldly, “If they win, I’ll eat Doufu alive.”
The others: “………”
Actual imagery appeared in Xiao Bai’s mind, and he made a face. “That’s not necessary…”
Lu Boyuan stretched his fingers. “When is the official announcement coming out?”
Ding-ge shook his head. “Still unclear, but it should be soon. This incident has made a big splash, so they probably have to consider their wording.”
Jian Rong stopped in the game lobby. No matter how he practiced, it didn’t feel right.
His lane opponents were too weak, and they weren’t a match for him at all. After laning, he also had to clean up the mess left behind by his slacking teammates…
He contemplated a little before he picked up his phone from the table.
Jian Rong had received many consoling messages tonight, and he had replied to each one with a concise “thank you,” ending the conversation there.
Now, Jian Rong clumsily pulled up the group message function, which he had never used before. He typed out something and selected all of the LPL mid laners on his friends list as the recipients…
Late at night, Lu Boyuan received a text—
[XIU: Isn’t your mid laner a little too freaking arrogant.]
Lu Boyuan cast a quick glance behind him. His boyfriend sat upright in his chair, and he was, as usual, earnestly laning against someone.
[R: What do you mean.]
[XIU: You don’t know?]
[XIU: Tonight, your mid laner invited everyone—and by that, I mean the mid laners belonging to the LPL’s other fifteen teams—to solo.]
[XIU: Tell me, is that not freaking ridiculous?!]
Lu Boyuan couldn’t help but laugh.
It was ridiculous, but it was indeed also something that Jian Rong would do.
[R: And then what? How many people agreed?]
[XIU: At the beginning, they all did. What LPL team would reject you guys right now?]
[XIU: After five hours, the other fourteen mid laners all withdrew.]
[R: The remaining one is…?]
[XIU: Our mid laner.]
[XIU: They’ve been dueling for an hour. Savior learned some curses from your mid laner’s stream, and he’s been swearing out loud to himself this entire time…]
[R: Who’s won more?]
[XIU: I feel like the outcome isn’t important. The main thing is that they’re learning from each other and growing. Also, Soft and Savior aren’t the same kind of mid laner either, so there’s no way to tell who’s better or worse, don’t you agree?]
Lu Boyuan scoffed. He put down his phone and started the next game.
Jian Rong soloed with Savior all the way until 3:30 in the morning.
In the end, Savior’s computer was taken over by some unknown teammate, who also messaged: [We still have practice matches tomorrow, go torment someone else. While I’m here, let me mention that your boyfriend is pretty good at playing mid too, maybe you can go solo with him instead.]
Jian Rong usually couldn’t bear to see Lu Boyuan practice for even one extra hour. Naturally, there was no way he would make Lu Boyuan solo with him.
He bid farewell to Savior before he left the party and created his own lobby with plans to solo queue.
“Wait a moment.” A hand covered the back of his hand and moved his mouse so that he left the queue.
Lu Boyuan let go of him and straightened upright. “Lift your hand.”
Jian Rong obediently raised his hand as he tilted his head back, puzzled, and asked, “What is it…”
Lu Boyuan tore open the wrapper for an herbal plaster and stuck it on Jian Rong’s wrist.
Jian Rong instantly said, “It doesn’t hurt.”
“It’ll be sore tomorrow, so leave it on.” Lu Boyuan pressed his palm over the plaster, securing it in place. “Why did you suddenly ask people to solo?”
Jian Rong looked up at Lu Boyuan. After a few seconds of silence, he said, “I want to win.”
He didn’t merely want to win the competition; he even more so wanted to beat Master.
Since that match, Jian Rong had done some rare self-reflection—if he had just destroyed Master during the laning phase, then it wouldn’t have mattered even if that team fight was replayed over and over.
There were quite a few times in lane where he could’ve solo killed Master.
Since Master was able to narrowly escape every time, it only meant that Jian Rong still wasn’t strong enough.
Jian Rong continued to stare at Lu Boyuan. “Right after you first went pro, you could already trap and bully him in the fountain…”
Lu Boyuan smiled. “I didn’t tell you this earlier, but Ding-ge believes that spawn camping is disrespectful to the opponent. That’s why an internal penalty for spawn camping was established a few years ago.”
Jian Rong: “I have money.”
“…alright then.” Lu Boyuan laughed in spite of himself and glanced at Jian Rong’s game lobby. “Should I solo with you for a while?”
Jian Rong firmly refused. “No need.”
Lu Boyuan said, “I didn’t practice much tonight. I watched a lot of match recordings, so I haven’t surpassed my practice quota yet.”
“That’s not it.” Jian Rong lowered his head and fixed his gaze on the computer monitor. As he entered matchmaking, he mumbled quietly, “If I solo with you… I won’t be able to play.”
Xiao Bai: “But giving my ge movement boosts and shields during the match seemed to come pretty easily to you.”
Jian Rong: “…”
“I’m absolutely not eavesdropping on purpose, okay,” Xiao Bai immediately clarified. He removed one of his earbuds and made as if he was going to hand it to Jian Rong. “The song just happened to end. Listen if you don’t believe me.”
Jian Rong sucked in a deep breath. “Get lost.”
Lu Boyuan held back his laughter and kneaded Jian Rong’s face before he turned around and returned to his seat to continue practicing.
Xiao Bai pretended to act spoiled. “Ge, this poor person has also been playing the entire night, my wrist hurts a bit too…”
Lu Boyuan tossed an herbal plaster onto his desk.
Xiao Bai: “Ge, it’s a bit inconvenient for me, could you help me stick it on…”
Jian Rong asked, “How are you inconvenienced? Is your wrist broken? A youth with a broken arm may have an injured body but is still resolutely determined to play competitively?”
Xiao Bai: “I’m sorry.”
Yan: 8* chapter countdown till the end of the main story begins now 🙂 (I got it wrong the first time oops)