Thank you so much to Vera for the generous Ko-fi!
“At the time, I was this close to picking up my keyboard and smashing it on Rish’s head.”
In TTC’s break room, separated by the door, Xiao Bai gestured in the direction of HT’s room with one hand on his hip. “If it wasn’t because I was worried that I would injure him and delay the match, I would’ve…”
Pine reached out and hauled him down onto the couch. “Stop shooting your mouth off.”
“You know, back when the pause announcement popped up…” Yuan Qian glanced at the other end of the sofa. “I really was prepared to try and stop a fight.”
As Jian Rong watched the stats analysis on the TV, he sensed his teammate’s gaze and said, “I didn’t have time for that.”
During the brief duration of the pause, one thought occupied Jian Rong’s mind—if Chronobreak happened again, how should he trigger this Baron team fight?
It had to take place; there was no question about that. They had endured for over forty minutes solely for the sake of waiting until HT, this incredibly stable team, decided to go for Baron.
The oldest member of the team, Yuan Qian, had already started comforting them in the mid-late game, saying things like it didn’t matter if they lost, the score would be 1:1, they still had very high odds of winning.
But Jian Rong didn’t want to lose a single game. He only wanted to stomp his way across HT, not even giving them the slightest sliver of a fighting chance.
“HT is doing worse today than I expected. Apart from Master, none of the other players are performing well, especially Rish. At the beginning of the first game, he still had some competitive spirit, but then he transformed directly into a mindless pawn in the second game. Since he was afraid of dying, he didn’t dare to deal damage, and he didn’t do a single thing right except for his ult.” Ding-ge said, “Let’s keep up this winning streak and do our best to send them home in three games!”
The post-game stats replay finished being broadcasted on TV, and Lu Boyuan stood up from the couch.
Jian Rong tilted his head back and asked, “Where are you going?”
Casually, Lu Boyuan pressed the back of his hand briefly against Jian Rong’s cheek. “Restroom.”
After he was done with his business, Lu Boyuan was washing his hands at the sink when he heard footsteps sound behind him. Immediately after, a voice said in Korean, “Hyung.”
Lu Boyuan raised his head and met Master’s eyes in the mirror before he turned off the tap. “Mn.”
Master had just finished rebuking his teammates in the break room, and his expression was very poor. He lit a cigarette and said, “Hyung is still as strong as ever.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t respond, so Master continued, “I originally wanted to play a proper game against hyung this year, but my teammates really are way too trash… Actually, rather than being hyung’s opponent, I’m much more interested in competing in the same team as hyung. Too bad hyung didn’t accept our manager’s offer back then, it truly is such a pity… Want a cigarette, hyung?”
Lu Boyuan pulled out a paper towel. “No need.”
Master nodded. After a few seconds of silence, he spoke like he was in a world of his own. “Well, it’s not as if the opportunity doesn’t exist.
“Quite a few LPL teams keep sending me invites. Even though those teams are all pretty awful, their offers are extremely high. Isn’t hyung’s contract with TTC about to end soon as well?” Master exhaled a mouthful of smoke and said half-jokingly, “…how about transferring with me, hyung? We can be the champions for two years, and then hyung can retire in glory…”
“We?” Lu Boyuan lifted an eyebrow slightly as he let out a very light scoff.
Master paused and started to say something.
“I can become the champion all on my own.” Lu Boyuan asked, “Why do I have to carry you?”
Master was a little taken aback, and his smile mostly disappeared. “First of all, the match isn’t over yet, hyung. Our team just isn’t in a good condition this time…”
“Also, why do you think—” Lu Boyuan interrupted him and said in puzzlement, “—that you’re worthy of my transfer?”
Used to being fawned over, Master took a harsh drag on his cigarette as his smile slipped even more. “I forgot that hyung is dating your team’s mid laner right now. I didn’t mean anything by that…”
“This has nothing to do with my personal business.” Lu Boyuan tossed the paper towel into the trash can and said simply, “I merely believe that our team’s current mid laner is stronger than you.”
Master was stifled to the point that he almost had a heart attack. After Lu Boyuan said that, Master’s face instantly darkened, and he opened his mouth to retort.
“You have a lot of confidence in yourself, but you’re also very average.” Lu Boyuan spoke before he could. As he walked past Master, he said indifferently, “You should head back once you’re done smoking, don’t hold up the match.”
Right as Lu Boyuan left the bathroom, he ran into Jian Rong, who was on his way to find him.
Following close behind Lu Boyuan, Master also exited the bathroom in an attempt to prolong the dispute.
But the moment Master saw Jian Rong, he remembered what that person had said on social media. His argumentative mood vanished, and he promptly walked away with the scent of cigarette smoke clinging to him.
They didn’t have time to return to the break room. As they made their way over to the stage entrance, Jian Rong asked, “Was he causing trouble for you?”
His tone of voice was quite contemptuous, as if a single affirmative reply from Lu Boyuan was enough reason for him to immediately go to HT’s break room and settle grudges with Master.
Except he was also sucking on a piece of candy that Lu Boyuan had just shoved into his mouth, so his enunciation was a bit unclear.
“No.” Lu Boyuan paused and laughed. “I seem to have caused a little trouble for you, though.”
Jian Rong looked at him, perplexed.
Lu Boyuan summarized, “I brought a ‘world’s number one mid laner’ title back for you.”
Jian Rong stared at him blankly for several seconds before he finally understood what Lu Boyuan was implying.
They were surrounded by staff members and cameras, so Jian Rong restrained himself and stuffed both hands in his pockets as he shifted a tiny bit closer to Lu Boyuan.
Although he was trying very hard to hold back, he still wasn’t able to hide the happiness and conviction in his eyes.
Just before they went on stage, Jian Rong leaned over and pressed his shoulder against Lu Boyuan’s.
“You did the right thing.” Jian Rong said, “At this moment, that title is mine.”
The pro players returned to their seats on stage.
Since it was potentially the last game, the entire audience couldn’t help but stand up and shout when they saw the pro players appear. It was so lively and loud that it was hard to tell which team the audience members were cheering for.
“Our LPL fans are so amazing.” As soon as Yuan Qian sat down, he couldn’t resist saying in the voice chat, “Even though it’s the LCK’s home ground… I actually feel like there are more people supporting our team.”
Ding-ge: “They really are incredible, you don’t know how hard it was to fight for these tickets. The day the finals match tickets went on sale, there was a topic on the hot search called ‘I haven’t even tried this hard to buy idol tickets before’.”
Xiao Bai: “I’m crying, what about you guys?”
“Is there any point in crying?” Pine checked his equipment and said, “Just don’t give the audience an Alice sleepwalking in Wonderland performance, I’m thanking you on their behalf.”
“What the hell.” Xiao Bai said, “Don’t be corrupted by that bluenette!”
Jian Rong: “Mind your own damn business.”
Because they had the match point, their voice chat was as relaxed as could be.
Lu Boyuan smiled. “It wasn’t easy for the audience members… so let’s perform well and give them more than their money’s worth. That way, they can go back satisfied.”
They entered the third game’s pick/ban phase.
The three commentators had already exhausted themselves screaming “3:0.” Due to excessive excitement, two of the commentators’ voices were even a little hoarse.
Commentator A: “Alright, we’re about to enter today’s last… the third game! Both teams have regrouped and are ready to go again!”
Commentator B: “The two teams’ ban lists are still more or less the same as before. However, TTC banned Twisted Fate this time, and HT has also banned LeBlanc.”
Commentator C: “But God Lu’s Graves has been freed! I feel like that’s a good choice to go for first—they picked it!”
After Yuan Qian helped Lu Boyuan lock in Graves, HT immediately chose Orianna mid.
Commentator A: “What do you guys think Soft will pick this game?”
Commentator B: “Against Orianna… Fizz? Kassadin? Both of those champions are quite appropriate.”
Commentator C did his best to hold back, but in the end, he had to ask, “Do you think he’ll pull out Zed or Talon…”
The commentators fell into a brief silence.
It felt like a joke to mention those two champions during a finals match…
Commentator A: “He probably wouldn’t… right?”
Commentator B: “Actually, it’s not impossible, but to tell the truth, it’s really hard to solo kill Orianna with either of those assassins…”
Commentator C: “In any case, 2:0, there’s no pressure! I have absolute faith in Soft’s laning abilities, I trust that TTC’s coach and members definitely have the same mindset as me!”
Commentator A: “Who would’ve thought that one day we would end up discussing the chances of a pro player picking Zed or Talon in a finals match…”
Before Commentator A could finish his sentence, TTC’s mid lane champion appeared.
Of course it wasn’t Talon or Zed.
A frowning, dark-skinned champion emerged in front of everyone.
Commentator A: “Lucian!!!”
Commentator C: “I think this is a very plausible choice! Lucian has an unquestionable advantage over Orianna!”
Commentator B: “Lucian is a champion that truly tests a player’s skill level. If I remember correctly, Master picked Lucian in a group stage match, and Soft played Zed, right? That match was especially fun to watch, since the two of them were trading blows back and forth the entire time.”
As they were conversing, TTC locked in Lucian.
Commentator A said resolutely, “Trust me, this game will be even more fun to watch.”
Both sides’ team compositions were swiftly determined. HT’s team composition was: Gangplank top, Orianna mid, Gragas jungle, Jhin ADC, and Alistar support.
Meanwhile, over at TTC, Yuan Qian got his Irelia, along with Lucian mid and Graves jungle. The bot lane had picked Ashe ADC and Sett support.
The game began, and both teams appeared at spawn. Simultaneously, the player POV for each team started streaming as well.
TTC’s player POV was given to Jian Rong this time, whereas HT’s player POV was given to their mid laner Master for the third game in a row.
But the viewer count in these two streams were worlds apart.
Master’s viewer count was a sixth of Jian Rong’s, and his barrage was mostly filled with insubstantial comments.
However, in Jian Rong’s player POV stream—
[So laggy so laggy! Considering how rich StarTV’s boss is, why doesn’t he improve the bandwidth!!! Laozi’s lagging to death!]
[It’s here, my bros~ Welcome to the live teach and learn for the current meta’s strongest Lucian.]
[The strongest Lucian? I’m laughing, did you not watch that group stage match where Master played Lucian? That’s what you call a teach and learn from the strongest Lucian, okay? His positioning and DPS are all top-notch, and though everyone’s been going after HT these days, anyone with eyes would understand once they see his mechanics. Well, whatever, it’s politically correct to praise Soft in the barrage right now, so keep blindly forcing yourselves to hype him up.]
[HT fan, why go through such lengths to be flamed?]
[Mhm if Master’s so amazing then why didn’t he win that match, hah??]
[Don’t ask, the answer is because there was a bug.]
[Don’t ask, or you might have your time rewound all the way back to the group stage.]
Four minutes into the game, the mid lane was fighting.
Four minutes and forty-three seconds in, the mid lane was fighting.
Five minutes and twenty seconds in, the mid lane was fighting.
The director continuously moved around the camera and couldn’t help but sigh internally. That’s right, this was the proper opening method for a TTC vs HT game.
Although Soft was the one picking nearly all the fights so far.
Lucian was undoubtedly an early-mid game champion. If he wasn’t able to create pressure in the lane, then there was no point in taking Lucian at all.
Naturally, Jian Rong couldn’t compete with Orianna in terms of waveclearing, so he kept going up to trade with Master as soon as his skills were off cooldown. Jian Rong’s positioning was good, making it very hard for Orianna’s skills to land on him, and it was evident that Jian Rong was getting the better end of the deal after a few exchanges. Only a small chunk of Orianna’s health remained, but she stubbornly refused to recall to base—
The spectators with omniscient POV could see that Master wasn’t going back to the base because HT’s jungler, Gragas, was nearby.
Lu Boyuan helped Qian-ge bait out the opposing top laner’s flash before he turned around and slipped into the enemy jungle. When he saw that their red buff was unexpectedly still there, he immediately said, “Mid lane watch out, their jungler should be close by.”
Jian Rong: “Okay.”
As Xiao Bai was channeling back to the base, he checked on the mid lane. “You’re still not leaving yet?”
Not only did Jian Rong stay, he even pressed forward, practically encroaching on the enemy’s tower.
At that exact moment, the low-health, manaless Orianna suddenly flashed HT’s team logo at Jian Rong.
As soon as that emote popped up, Xiao Bai knew that there was no way their mid laner was leaving now.
Almost right after, Gragas, who had been waiting in ambush for quite a while, instantly used his E and flashed in an attempt to knock Jian Rong back—which Jian Rong beautifully evaded with a dash!
The fearful and on edge Commentator A widened his eyes in shock. “Soft dodged it! How was he able to avoid that?! Gragas was clearly in his blind spot… just how fast is Soft’s reaction speed???!”
In front of Commentator A’s dumbstruck gaze, a golden flash of light subsequently illuminated the game—despite being ganked, Lucian didn’t just refuse to run. He also flashed right on top of the low-health Orianna.
Master’s heart skipped a beat, and he immediately used his own flash. Unfortunately, it was already too late.
A moment before he flashed, Lucian’s last two bullets left the barrel—
Commentator A shouted raspily, “Incredible!”
Commentator B: “Amazing!!!”
Commentator C: “Congrats to Soft—for a successful! Solo! Kill!!!!!”
That play seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. While everyone else was still reflecting on Jian Rong’s incomprehensible blind E dodge, Lucian had already killed Orianna and disappeared into the enemy jungle.
Of course, Gragas couldn’t just let him leave like that, and he pursued him into the jungle—only to run smack into Graves, who had rushed over to provide aid.
With Lu Boyuan’s help, Jian Rong got a double kill. Then, he returned to the mid lane with 88 HP left.
Everyone thought that he was going to clear another wave of minions before going back to the base.
But after Jian Rong walked over to the mid lane, he stood in place and stopped moving.
The spectators watching the overall match didn’t know what was going on, and the commentators were also baffled.
However, the viewers in the stream titled “MSI Finals Player POV – TTC Soft” watched with wide eyes as Jian Rong halted Lucian in the mid lane and—clicked on the chat.
[[All] TTC ་ Soft: ?]
[[All] TTC ་ Soft: pause?]
—Do you need to pause?
The author has something to say:
Not sure if you can see pro players typing in the player POV stream in reality. In any case, you can in my novel (?)