Rish’s reading comprehension actually wasn’t precise enough.
If gazes had voices, at that moment perhaps he would’ve heard “the hell are you looking at,” “so freaking trash,” and “how come any piece of garbage can yap away on the internet” in eight different languages.
There were cameras rolling ahead of them. When Lu Boyuan saw the person next to him staring at HT like a wolf cub, he couldn’t help but laugh as he lifted his hand and forced Jian Rong’s head back around.
TTC’s win for the first match came far easier than expected. To exaggerate it a little—the way they played made it seem as if they were completely invincible.
The LPL commentators and the livestream barrage acted like they were celebrating New Year’s. The commentators beamed as they watched a replay of the last game’s brilliant kills and team fights. This was also the first time the stream mods were so idle during the finals match of an international competition that they could spam “666” along with the rest of the spectators.
However, nobody shared the same joys and sorrows.
On the LCK commentator platform not too far away from the LPL’s, the three commentators wore heavy expressions as they forced out small smiles. The only thing they could do was continuously boost up the pro players, and their brows furrowed tightly together whenever they analyzed the previous game. The left side of the audience, which was full of Korean spectators, was also utterly quiet, and the HT support banners had been temporarily placed on the ground.
Actually, it wasn’t that scary to lose one game. HT’s 3:2 match during the spring season finals was also hair-raising and full of dangerous moments. But at least every game in that match was closely fought and filled with back-and-forth exchanges.
But that earlier game… was an overwhelmingly one-sided victory.
HT was entirely suppressed by TTC.
Commentator A: “TTC is truly in an amazing condition this year… it’s not just the mid lane. The bot lane duo has clearly become even more coordinated than before, while the top lane’s ability to engage and resist pressure is as astonishing as ever. And there’s no need to talk about the jungle—”
Commentator B: “The jungle has always belonged to our LPL.”
Commentator C held back the urge to boast with his commentators. Restraining his excitement, he said, “TTC played extremely beautifully. I also hope that HT won’t get discouraged and will adjust their mentalities accordingly, so that they can display their proper strength in the next game.”
The intermission was very short. Before the LCK spectators and commentators could even shake off the first game’s defeat, the music sounded, and the two teams returned to the stage after resting and regrouping.
The HT members looked more grave than they had before they went off stage. Rish, who was nearly slaughtered into a legendary ghost, kept his gaze fixed on the floor as he pressed his lips tightly together. Master was expressionless as usual, and he walked alone at the very front of the group, holding his water bottle.
Meanwhile, over on TTC’s side.
Yuan Qian walked onto the stage, drinking coffee. Xiao Bai scooted over to Pine and said something to him quietly before they both took their seats at the same time.
Lu Boyuan was still wearing his jacket—it wasn’t cold in the arena, so he was the only member wearing his jacket, and his sleeves were tugged down near his wrists. With an indifferent expression on his face, he sat down in front of his computer and put on his headphones. A single close-up shot was enough to spur screams from the entire audience, and even the HT fans, who were in an extremely bad mood because their host team had just lost a game, couldn’t help but stare at the big screen.
The last game’s MVP chewed gum as he came on stage, looking even cockier than he had back when they just won. Jian Rong had a habit of messing with his hair, and his hair had gotten quite disheveled after just one game. As a result, the makeup artist had snatched him and spent some time fixing it up.
The moment Jian Rong put on his headphones, he heard Xiao Bai say exuberantly, “Laozi just snuck a glance at the big screen, those people in HT really have such an awful look on their faces right now hahahaha!!!”
Pine: “Don’t put on an expression like you’re some scummy person who gained success.”
Xiao Bai: “I’m a superior person who gained success!”
Ding-ge knocked his notebook gently against Xiao Bai’s head, warning him not to say too much; after all, someone was monitoring their conversation. He said, “Keep in mind the problem areas I talked about backstage. You two, don’t do anything too extreme, they’re fond of 4v2s in the bot lane when they’re on the blue side… Relax during this game, no pressure. I bet that a lot of their members have already crumbled internally. If we stay stable, our win is guaranteed.”
Yuan Qian shrugged. “There’s no pressure on me, really. Maybe I’d lose my cool against 98k, but HT’s top laner… he’s the same type as me, a veteran pressure-resistant pro player. I’m definitely more fierce than him when it comes to engaging and enduring beatings.”
As always, Lu Boyuan inspected his equipment. Sensing the burning gaze from the person next to him, he turned his head and asked, amused, “What is it?”
Jian Rong looked at his wrist and asked, “Does your hand hurt?”
The intermission period was very brief, and they had to rush back on stage as soon as they finished listening to Ding-ge’s simple game review and instructions. Jian Rong couldn’t find a chance to ask Lu Boyuan earlier.
Lately, they had undergone intensive practice, and the pain-relief patches had become a constant fixture on Lu Boyuan’s wrist. This morning especially, he had directly plastered on three patches. Because Lu Boyuan didn’t want the spectators to worry, he had deliberately concealed them with a long-sleeved jacket.
Lu Boyuan said, “It doesn’t hurt.”
Jian Rong frowned. “Mn.”
A few seconds later, Lu Boyuan laughed as his index finger rubbed against the left mouse button. “It really doesn’t… stop looking, God Jian, the cameras are watching.”
Consequently, the audience saw the bluenette on the big screen frown and stare at a certain spot for quite a while before he retracted his gaze, still frowning.
Before the commentators could analyze what Soft was looking at, the image on the big screen changed, and they entered the pick/ban phase for the second game.
Since the other team had first pick this time, Ding-ge didn’t even hesitate. “We’re banning LeBlanc this game, don’t let Master have it.”
Jian Rong: “Am I afraid of his LeBlanc?”
“I’m afraid, I’m afraid.” As Yuan Qian spoke, he shoved LeBlanc onto the ban list.
Recently, the two teams had played many games against each other, so the pick/ban phase didn’t take very long. Soon after, both team compositions emerged—
HT’s team composition was: Gangplank, Gragas, Twisted Fate, Ashe, and Alistar.
TTC’s team composition was: Ornn, Ekko, Diana, Jhin, and Leona.
Commentator A: “HT’s team comp… TTC’s bot lane will have to be extremely careful this game.”
Commentator B: “You know, it’s not great that they let Master have Twisted Fate. Master’s Twisted Fate is very strong at roaming, and that champion is actually how he initially rose to fame.”
Commentator C: “That’s no helping it. Varus is the favored son of this meta, and the red side is essentially short a ban spot by default1. There’s also no problem with banning LeBlanc and Renekton. What I’m more curious about is—Ekko jungle? I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen God Lu play this.”
Commentator A: “Ekko can also be considered a carry jungler, except he consumes quite a bit of resources and requires good mechanics. But that shouldn’t be a problem for God Lu, he’s capable of handling Ekko.”
Commentator B: “Then what do you have to say about Diana mid?”
Diana, Scorn of the Moon, had a play rate of 0% in the current MSI, because she was weak in the early game and lacked both CC and AOE skills. This was the first time this AP carry2/assassin champion was standing on the MSI stage.
Commentator C: “I got nothing. Did you see that ID? Soft. I’m not worried even if he pulls out Teemo for the mid lane—I’m not trying to imply that I look down on Teemo.”
The commentators and spectators expressed their confidence in the team composition chosen by their pro players. They thought that it was definitely some new strategy that TTC had been secretly practicing diligently.
Meanwhile, in the team voice chat—
“Ding-ge told you to pick a late game champion to scare them, not to scare us.” Xiao Bai stared at the Diana sitting next to him and asked in disbelief, “Do you know how to play this champion?”
Chewing on his gum, Jian Rong said arrogantly, “When I climbed up to rank one on the Chinese server with her, you were still muddling along in Platinum.”
Xiao Bai was shocked. “That’s such bullshit! Damn brat! When laozi was playing professionally, you were still out there somewhere drinking milk!”
Right as Jian Rong was about to retort back, he heard Lu Boyuan suddenly chuckle in the voice chat.
It was then that he belatedly realized—when Zhuang Yibai was competing in the finals for the secondary pro league, Jian Rong was indeed freaking drinking milk in the internet cafe entryway……
Jian Rong shut up and quietly entered the lane to clear minions.
Although Diana had just been buffed recently, she still wasn’t much of a threat to the enemy in the early game, especially since the opposing Twisted Fate was a ranged champion that Master played extremely meticulously. Twisted Fate didn’t have much burst DPS, but that didn’t hinder him from whittling away Diana’s health. As a result, Jian Rong could only rely on his Q to kill minions prior to level 6.
With such an abrupt change in style, the camera director was somewhat unaccustomed to it, and they kept bringing the focus back to the mid lane for a few seconds before leaving.
Upon seeing Twisted Fate reach level 6, Jian Rong recalled to base and warned, “Twisted Fate has his ult now.”
Soon after on the big screen, the audience members saw HT’s jungler stealthily approach the brush behind the first tower in TTC’s bot lane. Twisted Fate also started making his way over.
At that moment, Lu Boyuan had just finished ganking out the opposing top laner’s flash for Yuan Qian. As he sat in the brush and began going back to the base, he checked on the empty mid lane and said, “Bot, watch out.”
The P-Bai duo had also caught a whiff of danger, and they retreated together.
Unfortunately, it was no use.
Because they were worried about being ganked, the minion wave had remained close to TTC’s tower the entire time. This meant that HT could directly tower dive them without having to wait and push the wave. The enemy jungler, Gragas, popped out from the brush as the special effect from Twisted Fate’s ult also appeared above the five TTC members’ heads. Gangplank’s ult descended from the sky, while Alistar immediately flashed and knocked Pine into the air, tanking the turret damage—the two of them simply couldn’t escape.
During times like this, Xiao Bai was extremely collected. “Trade one of them, kill the ADC.”
Without saying a single word, Pine did his best to deal damage, but who knew how many times HT had practiced this strategy in private. They had even guessed how Pine would react, and Ashe walked backwards as soon as she used her ult—
Master got the double kill.
Pine: “My fault. I couldn’t trade their ADC.”
“You’re fine. They excel at tower diving; if you could’ve killed one of them, then all that practice would’ve been for nothing.” Lu Boyuan seized the opportunity to invade the enemy jungle and steal resources. He said calmly, “No worries. Let’s drag things out, we’ll do well in the mid-late game.”
Once the bot lane was at a disadvantage, that was equivalent to losing the ability to take initiative for the drakes.
Since Twisted Fate had a major advantage in the early game and also possessed a teleport, he started to constantly meddle in the top and bot lanes. After getting the drake, he coordinated with the jungler to kill the Rift Herald as well. Pine was ganked and killed twice in two levels, meaning that TTC’s bot lane was already long gone for this game.
Even though Lu Boyuan had helped countergank the bot lane once and got a support kill while he was at it, TTC was still at an overall disadvantage in terms of the current situation.
Commentator A: “This Twisted Fate really is everywhere… TTC’s bot lane doesn’t even dare to leave their tower. It truly was a bit of a bad idea not to ban Twisted Fate this time.”
Commentator B: “Frankly, this is a little worrisome for TTC. The rhythm of the game is being completely controlled by HT… or rather, by Twisted Fate. Master is too good at keeping the game moving, and it just so happened that Soft chose Diana for this game, who’s comparatively weaker when it comes to providing assistance.”
Commentator C: “Actually, Diana’s been scaling quite well. She hasn’t died, and her CS is higher than Twisted Fate’s, but her power spike is still a ways away. If TTC wants to make a comeback… they’ll have to look for opportunities.”
To tell the truth, it wasn’t easy to find such an opportunity. After all, they were facing off against an LCK team that was renowned for their stability.
HT knew how to deepen their advantage with the passing of every second in the game.
Four HT members grouped together to push the mid lane; they were never late to getting the drake; they killed both Rift Heralds… soon enough, HT destroyed the inner turrets in TTC’s top and bot lanes, as well as the mid inhibitor. They also found a chance to ambush and kill the solitary Xiao Bai and Yuan Qian in the jungle. Then, the five HT members unhesitatingly headed towards Baron!
Commentator A: “I feel like they can’t be allowed to get this Baron, or else it’ll probably be over in one wave. I think this game… is already more or less determined.”
Commentator B: “But what can TTC do about it? Right now, only their mid laner, jungler, and ADC are alive, and they have to protect the base too. Only God Lu can attempt to steal Baron… look, Soft went back to the base already, they’re most likely planning to let Baron go……… hm??”
Before Commentator B could finish his analysis, he saw Diana, who had just recalled to base, instantly teleport on the spot—the teleport destination was the control ward that Lu Boyuan had placed above the Baron pit a moment earlier.
Commentator C: “Ah? What’s the meaning of this? If they’re gonna steal Baron, God Lu can go by himself, right? Wouldn’t it have been better to save this teleport to carry the minion waves in the top and bot lanes?”
Everyone thought that Jian Rong had teleported in order to steal Baron.
So when Jian Rong landed after teleporting and used his Q and E skills to immediately charge into the pit, the three commentators were so astonished that they almost jumped onto the table!
HT already had sight there, and they had long since started discussing how to kill Lu Boyuan, who was hovering around the pit. But the instant Alistar was about to push Lu Boyuan away, Lu Boyuan promptly flashed and dashed, following Jian Rong into the crowd!
Jian Rong’s Q struck four HT members, and he dashed down into the pit, using the enemy top laner as a target location. Then he flashed over to HT’s mid laner, jungler, and ADC, drawing all three of them in with his R ult! Simultaneously, Lu Boyuan shifted ever so slightly and dodged the enemy Ashe’s ice arrow ult before he entered the temporal expansion created by his W skill, stunning the three players—
A second later, Diana’s moonlight beam struck inside Ekko’s temporal expansion—
Instantly, Lu Boyuan’s Q landed on Baron, and he calculated its remaining health before unleashing a Smite—
[TTC ་ Road has stolen Baron Nashor!]
Commentator A: “Nice!!! Nice!!!! God Lu stole Baron!! Soft got a triple kill!!! They’ve done it!! They’ve overturned the game!!”
Commentator B: “It’s here!! This is the vanishing health bar technique!!!!”
Commentator C: “It’s absolutely incredible how these two used their skills! That damage was an instant burst…”
Before he could finish, the screen went gray.
The five words that everyone was familiar with appeared on the big screen again—[The game has been paused.]
The spectators were stunned; the commentators were dazed.
The referee stepped forward to communicate with Rish, who had requested the pause.
Although the pro players sat quite a distance away, and the camera hadn’t specifically focused on TTC, the audience members close to them could still see that the TTC members were leaning back in their chairs with calm looks on their faces. This included Soft, whose eyes had reddened last time from anger. He merely kept chewing on his gum expressionlessly, and he even stretched his neck from side to side.
A long pause passed before the audience finally realized what had happened.
At the beginning, the LPL audience members were the only ones continuously booing as they held up TTC support banners, doing their best to convey their dissatisfaction with this pause.
After a while, the other gamers in the stadium—including some HT fans—also began expressing their discontent.
It was okay to lose a team fight, and it was also okay to lose a game.
But it really wasn’t okay to pause as soon as you lost, not even if it was a team that they liked.
The stream barrage took over the entire screen—
[Rish you fucking piece of shit!!!!]
[Do you think you’re competing in the freaking NBA right now? Trying to pull off a technical timeout???]
[Fucking hell, just play if you’re gonna play, otherwise get lost! Laozi’s dumbass son is there to compete, not to be mistreated, FUFUFU!!!]
[The cannons are already loaded, if they pull another Chronobreak, I’m going to directly blow up HT’s base.]
[Wah I’m so pissed, this really is the first time my face has ever gotten so red watching a match. Rish, you’re really something.]
Right as the barrage was about to overload the stream server, the three LPL commentators received some news in their headsets, and they let out long sighs of relief.
Commentator A: “Rish believed that his game was affected by a ping spike, but after undergoing official testing, no issues were detected. Consequently, the competition officials have issued a warning to Rish.”
Commentator B: “This… my heart is about to leap out of my chest.”
Commentator C: “Me too. Let’s leave it at that, I hope that Rish can be a bit more cautious in the future when calling for a pause.”
The countdown timer appeared on the game screen.
After entering the game again, Xiao Bai, who had just rushed over to the Baron pit, furiously flashed and ulted. He stunned HT’s top laner, allowing Jian Rong to get a quadra kill.
This Baron team fight brought TTC back from the dead. Jian Rong and Lu Boyuan’s levels caught up to their opponents’ at last, and they were also able to upgrade their items.
With the Baron buff on hand, TTC headed straight for the Elder Dragon.
As soon as they came in contact with HT, Yuan Qian decisively used his ult and engaged. He summoned a lava elemental, which immediately sent HT’s poorly positioned bot lane duo flying into the air. Jian Rong followed up with a Q and E, instantly sending Rish on his way to heaven… Master’s yellow card landed on Jian Rong, and the remaining HT members promptly rushed towards him to try and kill him, only to be stunned on the spot by Lu Boyuan’s temporal expansion. Jian Rong unhesitatingly used Zhonya’s to render himself invulnerable to all damage, while Lu Boyuan charged into the battlefield and sliced Master to death!
Finally, Pine’s ult wrapped things up and slowed HT’s support, who was attempting to escape. As Xiao Bai cried out “damn dumbass still wants to run!”, he stunned the support where he stood—
A mechanical female voice mercilessly announced: “—Aced3!”
TTC made a beeline for HT’s base without even waiting for the minion waves. Yuan Qian’s Ornn spearheaded the group like a tank, enduring endless damage from the turrets.
At forty-five minutes, TTC destroyed HT’s Nexus one second before the HT members revived, pulling off their comeback. The score was brought to 2:0, and they successfully obtained the match point for the finals.
- Both sides ban three champions each before pick phase 1. B/c blue side has first pick, the red side usually has to use all their initial ban spots on OP champions or they run the risk of letting blue side have them. Hence, the red side has more ‘limited’ ban spots. ^
- AP = ability power, or magic damage. ^
- Ace = all five members of the opposing team are dead at the same time. ^