By the time Jian Rong finished drinking all the milk, Ding-ge just happened to push open the practice room door.
“I made a reservation at the restaurant. Let’s get ready, the car is already waiting outside.” Ding-ge saw that Jian Rong had just entered a new game, and he frowned. “Oh no, I forgot to tell you ahead of time…”
Jian Rong bought some equipment and left the base. When he heard that, he shook his head. “It’s fine, I can eat whatever, you don’t need to worry about me.”
“How can that be? I can tell the driver to wait a little, play quickly,” Ding-ge said.
“It’s really fine.” Jian Rong paused and said, “I want to finish playing my promotion series.”
At that, Ding-ge could only drop the subject. “Alright. In that case, I’ll send you the base’s address, and you can order takeout for yourself. I’ll reimburse the money. Or there’s also food in the fridge, you can eat anything you want.”
Jian Rong said, “Okay.”
“I won’t be going either.” Lu Boyuan stood up. “Didn’t get enough sleep, so I’m going to go up and take a nap. You guys go ahead.”
Ding-ge: “Do you want us to get something to-go for you?”
Lu Boyuan went straight upstairs, only tossing behind a: “No need.”
Ding-ge gave a few more instructions before leaving.
After everyone left the practice room, Jian Rong let out a long breath.
He was already used to living by himself, so he wasn’t quite used to playing games together with other people in a practice room yet.
This ranked game finished in less than twenty minutes. “Victory” had just flashed on the screen when the phone that Jian Rong had placed next to his keyboard chimed twice.
A new group chat appeared in his WeChat.
The name of the group chat was [TTC’s Fierce Men Workout Club], and there were only six people in it.
[Ding-ge: The base’s address is…]
[Ding-ge: If you need anything these next few days, just give me a call or say something in the chat. I can see it.]
Jian Rong was slightly startled.
Was this… TTC’s internal group chat?
Could probationary members also be added to the internal group chat?
[Ding-ge: It’s just a group chat for living together, no pressure. Feel free to let me know if you need anything.]
During the second promotion series game, Jian Rong played absent-mindedly.
The battle concluded after thirty-five minutes, and the words “Promotion Successful” jumped out. He clicked ‘OK’ and immediately closed the game.
Jian Rong returned to his room. He stared blankly at the ceiling for two minutes, but in the end he still couldn’t resist pulling out his phone from his pocket.
Opened the group chat.
Clicked on the members list.
The person with the WeChat ID “R” was quietly lying at the very bottom of the list. The profile picture was of a little teacup pig.
Only Lu Boyuan’s friends could see his Moments, so all Jian Rong could access when he clicked on his profile was an extremely bland personal message. He looked at it for a few moments and unexpectedly recalled Shiliu’s “big perverts who would follow you home” line.
Jian Rong was silent for a long time, before he picked up his clothes and walked into the bathroom.
He fumbled around in the bathroom for some time, but the only thing that came out was cold water. Jian Rong took off his clothes and was about to just wash using cold water when he heard the sound of knocking come from outside his door.
Remembering that there were only two people in the base right now, Jian Rong froze, before he snatched up the clothes next to him and randomly threw them on himself.
“Ding-ge said that you weren’t answering his messages…” Lu Boyuan looked up when he heard the door open. He paused briefly before he finished what he was saying originally. “And told me to come over to see what’s up.”
Jian Rong’s hair was extremely messy since he had dressed in too much of a hurry. He gripped the handle of the door and blinked before letting out an “oh”. “I’ll check right now.”
“En.” Lu Boyuan felt like something was a little off about the person in front of him, and he lowered his eyes and assessed him for a few seconds before suddenly raising an eyebrow. “Your shirt is backwards.”
Jian Rong looked down and was met with the sight of his shirt label.
“…I was taking a shower.” After he said that, he then felt like it was too weird to put on his clothes and come out to open the door in the middle of a shower. Jian Rong forced himself to add, “But, there doesn’t seem to be any hot water.”
Lu Boyuan said, “Let me take a look.”
Jian Rong was about to refuse, but Lu Boyuan had already entered.
The bathroom floor was a little wet. Lu Boyuan glanced at it and said, “Come here.”
The bathroom was very small. Jian Rong scooted forward a tiny bit.
Lu Boyuan looked back and saw that Jian Rong was still standing far away, and he smiled before slanting his body to the side so that Jian Rong could see where he was pressing. “These two buttons below, pressing the left one gives cold water, the right one gives hot water. If you turn them, you can adjust the temperature.”
Jian Rong looked at the buttons that he had tugged at for a long time earlier to no avail. “…got it.”
Lu Boyuan nodded. “Go ahead and shower.”
Lu Boyuan was about to walk out of the bathroom when the phone that Jian Rong had placed on the counter suddenly rang. “Ding-ge” was written across the top of the screen.
Lu Boyuan picked up the phone in passing, wanting to hand it to Jian Rong, but he accidentally pressed the lock screen button and hung up the call.
After the incoming call notification disappeared, the screen returned to the page that the owner was originally looking at.
It was a WeChat profile. Lu Boyuan swept a glance over it and saw the little teacup pig that his family was raising.
Jian Rong froze in his movement to take the phone and was also dumbfounded.
Jian Rong: “…”
Lu Boyuan said, “I accidentally pressed the wrong thing and hung up the call.”
Jian Rong said faintly, “It’s fine.”
“You should shower after you call him back.” Lu Boyuan placed the phone in Jian Rong’s extended hand. “He probably wants to bring back food for you.”
Jian Rong instantly locked the screen and wished he could throw his phone into the toilet and flush it away. “…okay.”
He summoned up the courage to send Lu Boyuan out of his room.
After he called Ding-ge back, Jian Rong returned to the bathroom to shower.
Jian Rong’s mind was full of Lu Boyuan’s expression just then when he saw his phone; Lu Boyuan was wearing a small smile, but he hadn’t exposed Jian Rong.
He stuck his head under the stream of water and let it douse him for a while. Finally, he leaned forward and knocked his forehead foolishly against the wall once. He couldn’t help but curse “dumbass” at himself inside.
Jian Rong walked out, rubbing at his hair with a towel, and saw that there was a WeChat notification on his phone.
At that moment, he felt a little opposed to that crappy app, so he messed around for a long time before clicking on it—
[R has requested to add you as a friend. Attached message: None]
Jian Rong stopped rubbing his hair.
He stared at that little teacup pig for a long while, all the way until someone knocked on his door again. Flustered, he only then did he press ‘accept’.
Jian Rong slipped his phone into his pocket and jumped off the bed to open the door. Before he did so, he didn’t forget to force his chaotically damp hair to lie down flat.
Once the door opened, Xiao Bai put on an amiable smile. “Ding-ge got some snacks to go and told me to bring it up for you.”
The youth’s hair was wet, and when he saw Xiao Bai, he obviously looked a little disappointed. His eyelids drooped down listlessly.
Jian Rong was silent for a few beats, before he rejected him coolly. “I don’t want it, thank you.”
“Don’t be like that.” Xiao Bai put to use what he just learned. “Eat a bit more! Grow a bit faster!”
Jian Rong: “?”
Seeing that Jian Rong remained unmoved, Xiao Bai fished out his trump card from his pocket.
“I even brought up a bottle of milk for you.” Xiao Bai said kindly, “If you drink it once you wake up tomorrow, you’ll definitely grow nice and tall.”
“………” Jian Rong stared at the milk for a long time.
Then, he lifted his head and asked him, very sincerely, “Do you want to fight?”
The next day, Xiao Bai trapped Pine and complained to him about his hardships for quite a while.
“Didn’t we both give him milk? The one I gave was even Milk Deluxe, it’s way more expensive than the other Mengniu1 milk!”
Pine had listened to him prattle away for an entire game, and he was at his wit’s end. He reminded Xiao Bai, “He’s Lu-ge’s fan.”
“I know that ah.” Xiao Bai said, “But isn’t the difference still way too extreme? He’ll drink the milk that his idol gives him all in one breath, but if I give him milk, he wants to fight me??”
Pine thought for a bit. “He’s probably your anti-fan then.”
Xiao Bai: “…”
Seeing Jian Rong come back from the restroom, Xiao Bai immediately zipped his mouth tightly shut.
While waiting for the game to update, Jian Rong secretly snuck a glance at Lu Boyuan’s spot.
Lu Boyuan was going to stream today. He was sitting with his arms crossed, waiting for the staff member to help him adjust the equipment.
It seemed like he had just woken up, as he hadn’t really said anything the entire time. Whenever the staff member asked something, he only nodded or shook his head in response.
The door to the practice room was pushed open, and Jian Rong hastily whipped his head back around.
Ding-ge walked in hurriedly, and the moment he entered, he spoke seriously. “Don’t play on the Korean server from now on, everyone return to the national server and climb there.”
Even though the LPL was currently the number one competitive region, the domestic game environment was still very bad. The high ranks had many booster and deadweight2 players, and there were countless more “game actors”3. It had already turned into that sort of awful atmosphere, so the majority of professional players would still choose to train on the Korean server.
It reached the point where, for some clubs, one of the requirements for choosing trainees was a ranking on the Korean server above Master tier.
Xiao Bai said, puzzled, “What’s wrong?”
Ding-ge said, “The spring season rules were announced.”
Yuan Qian asked, “Players aren’t allowed to play ranked on the Korean server anymore?”
“No, but it’s basically the same.” Ding-ge let out a long sigh. “The LPL is requiring that… every professional player’s peak rank must be maintained, either through solo or duo queue, at Diamond 1 or above.”
Everyone in TTC: “………”
In reality, this wasn’t a tall order for professional players. Many average to good players could charge up to Diamond 1 with a burst of effort.
But, as everyone knew, most of TTC’s members didn’t really have a good affinity with ranked games.
The least worrisome person in the team was Yuan Qian. He was diligent when climbing, and he never fooled around with champions that he wasn’t good at; his rank was always hovering between the Master and Challenger tiers.
Pine liked to play neglected ADs, and he liked to taunt people in a deliberately ambiguous manner even more. He had once taken out an AD Lulu in a Diamond 1 game and successfully pissed off his other four teammates completely. His current rank was Diamond 3.
When solo queueing, Xiao Bai basically never played support. He wasn’t good enough to carry girls, yet he liked to duo queue with them, so his rank always roamed around, leaping back and forth between Diamond and Platinum.
Lu Boyuan’s rank had been frozen and was consistently dropping points from inactivity decay. It was about to hit Platinum.
Xiao Bai’s expression was heavy. “We’re going to lose our qualification to enter the competition.”
“It’s not that serious.” Ding-ge patted his head and comforted, “During the upcoming period, you guys should duo queue as much as possible. Don’t look for trouble, and it’ll be fairly easy.”
After Ding-ge said that, he asked Jian Rong, “Your rank should be at least Diamond 1, right? The requirements for joining as a new player will also be upgraded to Diamond 1.”
Jian Rong said, “Diamond 4, 0 LP.”
But Jian Rong was calm. “It’s fine, climbing up there is really easy.”
TTC’s bot lane duo couldn’t help but shoot him envious looks.
Even though Jian Rong sounded arrogant, it was the truth. In the current version of the game, it was easiest for mid laners and junglers to climb, especially a carry-type mid laner like Jian Rong.
Ding-ge nodded, satisfied, before walking over to Lu Boyuan.
Ding-ge lowered his voice. “Don’t play if your hand is uncomfortable. I can let the officials know, making up the stream time later is fine too.”
“It’s not that bad…” Lu Boyuan couldn’t help but laugh. “I can play.”
Ding-ge was still hesitant. “In any case, don’t force yourself.”
Jian Rong’s game finally finished updating, and he opened the game client. He was about to log into his main account when—
Jian Rong was startled by the call, and he only slowly turned his head around a few seconds later. “Ah.”
Lu Boyuan pulled up the streaming website, and he asked him, “Queue for a while?”
Jian Rong first nodded subconsciously, but then he remembered something. “…aren’t you about to stream?”
He had previously discussed it with Ding-ge. Before the probationary period was over, he wouldn’t divulge the fact that he was at TTC to anyone else.
“Won’t affect it.” Lu Boyuan said, “As long as you don’t talk and don’t let them know that you’re here next to me, it’ll be fine. Coming?”
- Mengniu is a Chinese dairy company, and the Milk Deluxe is one of their milk products (supposed to be top tier milk I guess) ^
- Boosters are people who get paid to level up other people’s accounts. Deadweight players are basically the people who always get carried? Like they don’t really know how to play very well and always do stupid things in the game on accident, but not purposefully ^
- Trolls, not like JR’s “trolling” but actual trolls who purposefully let themselves die and otherwise mess up the game ^
Yan: Road’s quiet indulgence of Soft begins >///< also lmao I laughed when Jian Rong wanted to fight Xiao Bai over the milk, two babies. Also the forced switching over to Chinese server thing is something that really happened this year to LPL, a link here if anyone’s curious!
Wei: Haha the entire TTC team makes me laugh, I love their dynamic