Thanks to Sofia for the Ko-fi!
The official announcement was posted the next day, which was also the last day of the group stage.
They used the same justification that they had provided to Ding-ge backstage: Rish’s map was lacking vision, and the referee believed that this bug severely affected the progression of the match over the next few seconds. After obtaining the agreement of both teams, the officials used Chronobreak to restore the game to the time 21:18.
Apart from that announcement, there wasn’t any further explanation.
This announcement was clearly a bit bare bones. Not only did it fail to calm down the collective fury, it actually exacerbated the situation. At first, Rish had stubbornly refused to delete that spawn camping gif, but because of this incident, a torrent of hostility rained down on him, and Rish deactivated his side account altogether.
But it was no use—
Due to unforeseen circumstances last year, two of TTC’s starters had to step down from the match. You decided to hit them while they were down, and in the previous half of the year, you both explicitly and implicitly opened fire on the LPL during your interviews, documentaries, and on your social media. Now that your team ended up using this kind of cheap trick to win a match, let’s just settle our new and old grudges at the same time.
If your side account is gone, then we’ll look for your main account or the team’s official account. In short, don’t think that you’re going to get out of this.
The pressure of public opinion was too great. In the span of one night, the Chinese streaming platform and gaming gear brands all expressed that they were going to terminate their contracts with HT. Most of the few Chinese HT fans also deserted them.
HT had already secretly blown up internally. Meanwhile, the other team involved remained completely calm; they continued to practice and compete, and they didn’t spare a single glance at the competition officials or HT.
Because their enrage buff had too many stacks, TTC effortlessly won their last two group stage matches. Neither BO1 match took longer than thirty-two minutes to finish.
At this point, the group stage schedule had concluded. The top four teams with the most accumulated points directly entered the semifinals.
After they were done with the group stage, Ding-ge bluntly declined the Korean competition organizers’ request for a private individual interview, using the excuse “we were not informed of this ahead of time.” Then, he immediately left with the rest of the team members in tow. There wasn’t any room for negotiation with a competition host that lacked a bottom line.
The sky was already dark by the time they got back to the hotel, and they were the only ones in the hotel buffet’s dining area.
Ding-ge took a sip of his orange juice and said, “Even the interviewers from our own pro league have to get in line, so why do we have to be at their beck and call? They’re just using this private interview to bring traffic to their official media accounts. It won’t be streamed nationwide, you’d have to be a dumbass to agree to that. And also, aren’t these organizers HT’s own dad? They should go ask their son to do an interview.”
Yuan Qian nodded. “HT really lost more than they gained from this.”
“After obtaining the agreement of both teams, the officials used Chronobreak…” Xiao Bai was in the middle of reading the official announcement. Halfway through, he frowned and asked Ding-ge, “Ge, did you agree?”
“How could I have possibly agreed?! I only approved the pause, and then they hit me with the notification about the Chronobreak later!” Ding-ge waved his hand. “Whatever, let’s drop the subject. It’s ruining my appetite.”
Pine leisurely sliced open his steak as he watched the match livestream on his phone. “HT’s in a very poor condition today. They’ve been playing against HOH for forty-seven minutes now, and they have the disadvantage too.”
Xiao Bai raised his head. “How long did it take us to play against HOH again?”
Yuan Qian: “A little over thirty minutes, probably.”
Lu Boyuan placed a freshly peeled crab leg into Jian Rong’s bowl before he glanced at Pine’s phone. “There’s no such thing as a disadvantage this late in the game. It all comes down to one team fight.”
Jian Rong polished off the crab leg. Then he seemed to think of something, and he looked up as he asked, “If HT wins, we’ll have the same amount of points as them. Will we need to have a playoff?”
“Not this year.” Ding-ge set down his chopsticks. “The top two teams, or the teams that are tied for first, won’t encounter each other during the semifinals this year. Their respective opponents will be determined based on lots drawn by the teams in third and fourth place.”
Yuan Qian was startled. “Even if HT loses this match, they’re still ranked second. That means… we can only compete against the third- or fourth-placed team in the semifinals?”
Ding-ge nodded. “Correct. Going off of the current point ranking, it should be Japan and Europe.”
Jian Rong said lowly, “They’re getting off lightly.”
Lu Boyuan: “What?”
“Giving them a chance to make it to the finals.” Jian Rong repeated coldly, “They’re getting off lightly.”
Lu Boyuan: “That’s not guaranteed. What if they lose to Japan or Europe and fold at the semifinals…”
That possibility instantly caused Jian Rong’s expression to darken.
Lu Boyuan restrained his laughter. “Then should I go help you invite them to a 5v5?”
Jian Rong turned to look at him, somewhat perplexed. “How?”
Lu Boyuan smiled. “How do you want to do it? If you want to make a bigger deal out of it, I could directly tag their official Twitter? And say that they’re my grandsons if they don’t come?”
Jian Rong: “…”
The others burst out laughing.
Only Ding-ge couldn’t bear to laugh. “What the hell… are you trying to screw with HT or me? Enough, forget other teams, we have to perform well in our own semifinals first. They’re drawing lots tomorrow, and the match is the day after that. Work hard these next few days, don’t slack off. You guys will get a long vacation after MSI.”
The good part about a tightly packed schedule was that pro players and spectators alike could remain immersed in competition mode the entire time.
Not long after the group stage ended, the semifinals followed close on its heels. Through drawing lots, TTC’s opponent for the semifinals ended up being Japan’s KWY, whereas HT was going to compete against the LEC’s M7.
The match between TTC and KWY was scheduled for the first day of the semifinals.
The competition organizers were doing a final equipment inspection, and both teams stood at the backstage entrance, waiting to go on stage.
Jian Rong chewed on his gum, both hands stuffed in his pockets as he listened to Lu Boyuan and Ding-ge quietly discuss the pick/ban phase that would be taking place shortly.
Xiao Bai suddenly shuffled over and whispered, “Hey, has the team over there been staring at us?”
Jian Rong furrowed his brows and looked over.
The Japanese team wore cherry blossom pink uniforms.
Five guys wearing pink team uniforms were looking at them as if they were their idols, especially their team’s support, who was staring straight at Jian Rong. The support’s hair was dyed ash-gray, and his eyes were very large. When he met Jian Rong’s gaze, he subconsciously averted his eyes at first, but he turned his head back a few seconds later. Then, he nervously and shyly… waved at Jian Rong.
Jian Rong: “…”
A few seconds later, he raised his hand and gave an extremely stiff wave back.
“KWY’s members all seem to be quite short?” Xiao Bai peered around. “Not a single one is taller than you.”
Jian Rong: “Come with me to the break room over there.”
Xiao Bai: “No way, we’re about to go on stage!”
Jian Rong: “It won’t take that long to beat you up.”
They were told to go on stage. As the Japanese team’s support passed by them, he summoned up his courage and said something to Jian Rong.
Xiao Bai: “What’d he say?”
Jian Rong shook his head. “Couldn’t understand.”
After KWY’s introduction was finished, it was their turn. Jian Rong and Lu Boyuan walked side by side at the very back of the group.
“Gege, please do your best during the match, I will be paying attention to every brilliant play you pull off during the game. I look forward to your guidance today…” Lu Boyuan’s voice floated over at a volume that only the two of them could hear. “That’s what the little support said.”
Jian Rong: “…”
“Gege is so popular.” Lu Boyuan smiled as he copied that support and said softly, “I will also be paying attention to gege’s brilliant plays during the game…”
Before Lu Boyuan could finish his sentence, Jian Rong kneaded his fingers.
“Then you better watch well.” With reddened ears, Jian Rong said somewhat tonelessly, “Watch gege carry you to victory.”
Perhaps because KWY’s support had been constantly speaking up on social media, the barrage in today’s match livestream was the most harmonious it had been recently—
[KWY has improved so quickly. In the play-in stage, Japan and Turkey were still just two noobs pecking at each other, but now they can even make it to the semifinals to get thrashed. I’m touched.]
[Apparently their support is a Soft fanboy, he has a set of Soft merch…]
[I just went to check the stream showing their support’s POV. He really does keep switching over to look at Soft.]
[Why is everyone talking about that Japanese support? Are you treating my God Lu like he’s nonexistent? In God Lu’s POV, he also keeps checking on his boyfriend!!]
A second after Pine killed the opposing bot lane duo, an announcement of Jian Rong solo killing the enemy mid laner sounded.
The game was progressing extremely smoothly, and Xiao Bai hit “B” to recall to base. “Though KWY is a bit stronger than they were during the play-in stage, to be able to make it to the semifinals… it’s still unbelievable.”
Yuan Qian explained, “They got lucky. When they were playing against Europe, one of the European players had an upset stomach, and when they were playing against North America, the North American sub had to be sent in because their starting mid laner had a hand injury. That let them pick up two points… and they just barely squeezed out the North American team.”
There was too much of a difference in strength level between the two teams. The semifinals match ended up being more like a recreational game.
Of course it wasn’t very entertaining to one-sidedly crush the other team, but the interesting part about it was—the KWY members truly did have excellent mentalities.
After Lu Boyuan stole the enemy jungler’s monster, the jungler ran out of Lu Boyuan’s range and did a dance for him.
When KWY was wiped during a team fight, the five of them collectively tossed out the white flag emote.
Because of this relaxed atmosphere, even Jian Rong, who was usually constantly dancing on other people’s “corpses” as he went back to base, behaved cautiously as he passed their “corpses” and did his best not to step on them.
As he was moving past the enemy support’s “corpse,” the support suddenly flashed an Ahri heart emote, making him seem both lowly and pitiful.
Meanwhile, Jian Rong—
Jian Rong stopped next to him briefly and responded with an emote of Lu Boyuan’s championship skin before he mercilessly turned around and left.
Half an hour effortlessly flew by. TTC won the semifinals match with a final score of 3-0, obtaining their ticket to the MSI finals.
Looking back on this MSI, TTC had steamrolled through the competition like a hot knife slicing through butter. Apart from that one “manipulated” group stage match, they had won all their other games. This gave the LPL’s spectators a brand new understanding of the veteran team TTC—
To date, their competitive region’s representative team had a top laner, Qian, whose ability to resist pressure was top-tier. He could also step forward in a critical moment and carry the match.
The bot lane duo was extremely well-coordinated; Bye excelled at protecting and engaging, and because of him, Pine was still able to deal the damage the team needed even during a meta in which ADCs were weak.
Since the start of Road’s pro career, he had always stood at the peak of the game. Not only was he TTC’s core and backbone, he was also widely acknowledged to be the world’s number one jungler daddy, the most popular pro player, and the face of the LPL.
And their new mid laner, Soft… was a rough and fierce person to be feared by all.
He was young, reckless, and fearless. His playstyle was vicious, and outside of competitions, he had also poured unlimited vitality into this team. All by himself, he could drive TTC’s management up the wall—the management that used to act the most formal and dignified out of everyone in the entire LPL.
Merely half a year ago, everyone thought that TTC’s golden age had already passed. Even though Road was still just as powerful as before, he couldn’t help being encumbered by his injuries. The team’s reputation had drastically fallen because of the matchfixing incident, and the mid laner and jungler substitutes both weren’t up to par either…
But at that moment, in the eyes of the LPL fans, TTC had once again become their strongest team.
While the esports fans were still immersed in joy over the fact that TTC had a chance to win the championship, some disgusting things just had to pop up and ruin everyone’s moods.
In two short days, HT lost all their endorsements and income from the LPL, which dealt a major blow to their wallet. HT’s management assumed quite the air of someone who decided to smash the already broken pot: on the night TTC won their semifinals match, HT’s official account posted the following statement—
[LOL HT: Truly envious of the team that made it to the finals by relying on sheer, dumb luck to play against a weak team. However, you won’t get far on luck alone. When will this team and its fans finally understand that?]
Once again, the online translator exploded because of the LPL fans.
Right as the demolition squad was getting ready to open fire on HT’s official account, a newly created foreign social media account with the bio “TTCMid-Soft” abruptly appeared in front of everyone.
[TTCSoft: @LOL HT, if you have time to sit here and shade other people, you’d be better off making up some more bugs you can use to pause and rewind the game. That way, you can avoid not even being able to win the semifinals. Dad is still waiting to play another match against those five Chronobreak monsters on your team, so I can show you noobs that even if you rewind the game a hundred times, you’ll still be just as trash.]
Wei: Hello friends so sorry this chapter is out a day late I… fell asleep LOL OTL