After half a week, the contract finally arrived.
It was a short-term contract, lasting for only one season.
Jian Rong looked it over. The percentage allotment and base salary for streaming had been raised quite a bit, and he could tell that Ding-ge had already done his best to fight for him.
It took Ding-ge a moment to realize what he was thanking him for. He smiled. “No thanks needed, these were the terms negotiated based on your own worth.”
Jian Rong looked through the contract very cursorily. When he was flipping through the rules related to professional players, Ding-ge couldn’t help but remind him, “Pay closer attention to this page.”
As a result, Jian Rong stopped turning the pages and instantly pinpointed the content that Ding-ge wanted him to read.
Each regulation was written in an extremely lengthy and complicated manner. A rough summary was approximately—professional players were forbidden from idling, throwing the game, and insulting other players, both during competitions and otherwise, or else they would be fined by the LPL. A serious violation could even result in suspension.
Jian Rong was silent for a few seconds before he asked, “Can’t AFK even during a normal ranked game?”
Jian Rong wasn’t willing to give up. “If there’s a deviation in my gameplay and I die too many times, that’s also out of the question?”
Ding-ge propped a hand against his forehead. “…don’t think that the LPL people are idiots.”
“Then what counts as insulting someone?” Jian Rong asked. “Does dumbass count?”
Jian Rong settled for the next best option. “Moron? Idiot? Noob should at least be allowed, right.”
“Who knows.” Ding-ge was expressionless. “How about you test each of them out? It’s only ten to twenty thousand yuan1 per fine anyway.”
Jian Rong didn’t have anything else to say to that, and he signed his name on the contract.
“That’s all. When you have time, I’ll find some people to help you move the rest of your stuff into the base.” Ding-ge closed the folder. “The rest can wait until after management sets up the official announcement. In a few days, you’ll have to go take an official photograph. Your team uniform is already being made, it’ll probably get here tomorrow. And Weibo… generally we don’t interfere with players posting about their daily lives on Weibo, but you should still restrain yourself a little. With those fans, don’t always…”
“I got it.” Jian Rong said, “Relax, I won’t pay any fines because of them.”
With that, Ding-ge finally stopped badgering him about it.
He briefed him on a few more things before he opened the door to the meeting room. TTC’s other members were all sitting on a sofa in the living room.
Seeing them come out, Lu Boyuan looked up. “Done signing?”
Ding-ge said, “En.”
“So we’ll be teammates from now on?” Xiao Bai slouched, one leg hiked over the other, and asked, “Then, per tradition tonight?”
Ding-ge glanced at the time and said, “Sure, I’ll go make a reservation. A little later should be fine, right? I feel more at ease if there’s less customers.”
Jian Rong asked, “What tradition?”
“What else?” Xiao Bai said, “Of course, it’s to go celebrate! Training is about to begin anyway, so we should first go and eat a good meal beforehand!”
Ding-ge had already dialed the restaurant phone number when he thought of asking for the opinion of the person in question. “It’s a hot pot place we often go to. The food is pretty fresh, and there are private rooms, not dirty. Is it okay?”
Ding-ge was already calling them, what else could Jian Rong say. He nodded. “Anything works.”
Jian Rong went upstairs and changed his clothes. He could no longer remember how long it had been since he last wore a jacket. Ever since he entered TTC’s front door, he had never left.
Before leaving his room, Jian Rong hesitated briefly before still taking off his hat and hanging it back on its hook.
Wearing a merch hat in front of the person himself… was very odd.
When Jian Rong walked out of his room, he just happened to run into Lu Boyuan, who was exiting the room opposite his.
Every member of TTC was able to shoulder the title of “esports celebrity.” Their level of fame among young people was even higher than the popularity of some celebrities, so they all wore masks and hats when going outside.
Out of habit, Lu Boyuan had pulled the brim of his hat down very low. Upon hearing a noise, he lifted his head slightly.
“It’s 7 degrees2 outside.” Lu Boyuan said.
Jian Rong’s footsteps froze. “What?”
Lu Boyuan looked at the thin coat he was wearing and said, “You’ll be cold wearing that, go change into another one.”
Jian Rong shook his head. “It’s fine.”
“We’re about to start training.” Lu Boyuan said, “Getting sick will affect your condition.”
Jian Rong tugged at his hair and said, after a beat of silence, “…I don’t have any other jackets.”
When he came to the base, the temperature wasn’t quite as low yet, so he only brought one jacket over.
Lu Boyuan assessed his figure before he turned around and went back inside his room. “Wait here.”
Lu Boyuan hadn’t closed his door, and Jian Rong subconsciously peeked into his room.
Even though they were living in opposite rooms, the structure of the rooms was completely different. Lu Boyuan’s room was clearly a little bigger, and he had more furniture than Jian Rong did as well.
Lu Boyuan came out soon after, carrying a gray jacket and a white baseball hat.
“This coat is from a few years ago. It’s been washed and was placed in a garment bag the entire time…” Lu Boyuan raised an eyebrow. “You don’t mind, do you?”
“I don’t mind.” Jian Rong said, “But the one I’m wearing now…” Is fine.
Before he could finish his sentence, a baseball hat appeared on top of his head.
“It’s been cold these past few days, and it might snow tonight.” Lu Boyuan said, “Wear it.”
Jian Rong swallowed and reached out to pinch the brim of the hat. He wanted to say that he didn’t need it, he had his own hat.
But when the words got to his mouth, he suddenly didn’t really feel like saying it anymore.
“Ge!” Xiao Bai heard Lu Boyuan’s voice and shouted up the stairs. “Are you ready? Ding-ge is already waiting in the car. Can you hurry up Jian Rong while you’re at it—”
“Ready.” After Lu Boyuan answered him, he looked back at Jian Rong and said, “Go change your jacket. Make sure to zip it up.”
Lu Boyuan was much taller and broader than Jian Rong. Even if it was clothing a few years old, it was still quite loose on Jian Rong.
The hem of the jacket was almost long enough to cover his butt, and the sleeves could also effortlessly envelop his hands. Even the pockets were big, and it felt very comfy to stuff his hands inside of them.
Jian Rong looked down, wondering if he should always buy jackets a size up from now on, before he quickly got in the black van waiting by the front door.
Everyone else was already waiting in the van. For convenience’s sake, the people who got on first sat in the back row. Out of the two individual seats in the middle row, one was empty and one was occupied by Lu Boyuan.
Lu Boyuan was sitting leisurely, his long legs sprawled out casually, and he was playing on his phone.
Detecting movement, he raised his head and glanced at Jian Rong, as if confirming whether or not Jian Rong was properly wearing the jacket, before he swiftly looked away again.
Jian Rong ducked his head and silently sat in the empty seat.
The others were playing on their phones, so he also took out his phone and browsed through Weibo randomly. The replies on that comment from before had already argued their way into the nine hundreds, and seeing that number, Jian Rong decided it would be better to just not click on it and make himself feel annoyed.
The hot pot restaurant wasn’t far from the base. Since today was a weekday, and it was evening, there weren’t that many people in the store.
After parking, the six of them walked towards the restaurant.
En route, Xiao Bai made a noise of surprise. “Jian Rong, you aren’t wearing my ge’s merch hat today?”
Hearing that, everyone else looked at him too.
Jian Rong: “…”
With a stiff expression, he thought, if he had known someone would bring it up even if he didn’t put it on, he might as well have just worn it.
“Also, isn’t your jacket a bit too big?” Yuan Qian laughed and poked fun at him. “Did your dad pass it down to you?”
Jian Rong: “…no.”
Lu Boyuan said, “It’s mine.”
Everyone was startled for a moment, before they turned away and laughed even more uproariously.
The private room for an open-air-type hot pot restaurant was fairly simple; it was basically a little empty square room. The only things inside were a table and a wooden cupboard containing bowls and chopsticks.
After Jian Rong took off his coat and hung it on the back of his seat, he saw Lu Boyuan pull out the chair next to his and sit down very naturally.
Men always went overboard when ordering food, only stopping when dishes filled their entire table. Yuan Qian then turned and asked, “Ding-ge, can we order some alcohol?”
“You can right now, but don’t touch it after we start training in a few days.” Ding-ge said, “Though don’t drink too much…”
Yuan Qian gestured with his hand. “Two bottles of baijiu!”
It had been a very long time since Jian Rong last shared a meal with so many people at the table.
During the break period, every member of TTC had different working and resting hours. For the most part, everyone ate in front of their computers as well. If it weren’t for the auntie at the base, there would probably be a layer of dust on top of the dining table.
Once the baijiu arrived, Xiao Bai poured a cup and placed it in front of Jian Rong.
Lu Boyuan was in the middle of talking to Ding-ge. He spotted the cup of alcohol from the corner of his eyes and told Xiao Bai, “Don’t give it to him.”
Yuan Qian waved a hand. “Just a little bit is fine.”
Pine raised an eyebrow. “Not necessarily. Last time, didn’t someone only take two sips before rushing out of the store, insisting that he had to go to the swimming pool next door to play basketball?”
“………P-baby, I’ve improved a lot now! I won’t get drunk again!” As Xiao Bai spoke, he took back the liquor in front of Jian Rong. “Never mind, you’re still young, it’s good if you don’t drink.”
Xiao Bai’s inadvertent statement successfully attacked the underage teenage boy’s ego.
“It doesn’t matter.” Jian Rong took the cup back from him. “I can drink.”
Xiao Bai said, “Aiya, children shouldn’t try to show off.”
Hearing that, Jian Rong picked up the cup and knocked it back in one go.
Xiao Bai: “…”
Jian Rong said, “Pour me another cup, thanks.”
Taking advantage of Xiao Bai turning away to go pour the alcohol, Jian Rong lowered his head and grimaced firmly underneath the brim of his hat.
So unpleasant to drink.
Why did it taste so much worse than beer.
It also really burned. Just then, he almost wasn’t able to keep a straight face…
With alcohol, the food didn’t seem to be that important anymore.
“Come on.” Xiao Bai was the first to lift his cup. “Congratulations to Jian Rong for officially joining TTC, a toast to you!”
Everyone raised their glasses, with Ding-ge substituting water for alcohol. He explained, “I’m driving.”
There wasn’t much liquor in Lu Boyuan’s cup. He drank with everyone else before he shook his head and refused a refill.
The taste of the alcohol stung too much. Yuan Qian crinkled his brows and asked, “Jian Rong, how old were you when you started playing LoL?”
Jian Rong: “I forgot, probably in primary school.”
“About the same as me.” Yuan Qian leaned back and sighed. “But my circumstances back then weren’t as good as yours. At that time, I kept playing in illegal internet cafes, bearing the risk of being exposed by my parents… tsk, this makes it sound like we’re from two different generations. It isn’t easy for us to have become teammates. Here, another toast.”
Xiao Bai asked, “Why did you start streaming afterwards?”
Jian Rong wiped his mouth. “Short of money.”
Xiao Bai mulled it over. “Even so, you shouldn’t have turned to streaming. It’s not like you can make much money when you first start streaming, wouldn’t you have been better off working part-time and getting some quick cash?”
“Things were pretty strict back then, a lot of places weren’t hiring child labor.” Jian Rong spoke casually. “I happened to have a computer at home, zero cost, so I decided to stream.”
After drinking alcohol, Jian Rong clearly became more talkative.
Pine glanced at his hair. “Why did you dye your hair like that?”
Jian Rong raised his glass towards Yuan Qian before he drank another half. At Pine’s question, he subconsciously ruffled his hair. “Lost a PK3 with another streamer, and this was the punishment.”
Everyone else: “………”
Lu Boyuan lifted a brow. “PK?”
Jian Rong gave an “en.” “Betting on gifts. The winner was whoever would receive more, and the loser would be given a random punishment drawn from the platform’s provided punishment cards. I drew dyeing my hair blue.”
“…so tragic.” Xiao Bai took pity on him and asked, “Then what about the winner? What’s the prize?”
Jian Rong: “It’s also a random reward, probably one of the platform’s big gifts.”
With a wooden expression, Jian Rong was silent for a while before he said, “I’ve never won before. The water friends in my livestream room were all sending gifts to the other side.”
Xiao Bai cackled until the waiter came in and told them to lower their volume.
Lu Boyuan also laughed. “How long was the punishment? Not going to dye it back?”
“One week.” Jian Rong rubbed his face. “At first, I didn’t want to spend money to dye it back, but later on that group of dumb… that group of water friends said that my hair color made me more eye-catching on the homepage’s recommendation section. Plus I got used to seeing it too, so I just let it be.”
Dyeing his hair like this in order to attract customers…
Xiao Bai instantly felt deep respect for Jian Rong, and he lifted his glass. “Incredible.”
Jian Rong raised an eyebrow before he picked up his cup and clinked it against Xiao Bai’s.
Lu Boyuan reached out, wanting to block him, but he was stopped by Ding-ge.
“Just let them drink. It’s a rare opportunity, and they can also use it to get a little closer to each other.” He said quietly, “Such a small amount of alcohol won’t cause much trouble anyway.”
Lu Boyuan let out an “en,” but when Jian Rong turned to talk to Xiao Bai, he still furtively poured out half of the alcohol in Jian Rong’s cup.
After finishing the alcohol, they were also pretty much done with the food on the table.
The aftereffects of the alcohol gradually crept up, and each drunkard was in a different state.
Yuan Qian started to talk about Kan in a booming voice, saying that Kan wasn’t human to screw with them like this after so many years of being good bros.
Xiao Bai leaned against Pine’s shoulder, resting with his eyes closed. When Yuan Qian got to the important points, he still slowly nodded his head to indicate his agreement.
Pine didn’t knock Xiao Bai off of his shoulder, which meant that he was also quite drunk.
Among them, only Jian Rong was the most normal.
He was propped up on an elbow, one hand holding up his head as he calmly watched Yuan Qian go crazy.
If it weren’t for his extremely red cheeks, nobody would be able to tell that he had just consumed alcohol.
After a moment, Jian Rong got up and walked unhurriedly towards the door. “I’m going to the bathroom.”
A few steps later, there was a bang, and he ran into the door’s handle.
Ding-ge: “Are you okay?? How about I help you walk over?”
Jian Rong painfully massaged his thigh. “It’s okay, I’m fine, I can go by myself.”
Although this restaurant didn’t have great decor, its bathroom was still relatively clean.
After relieving himself, Jian Rong felt like the world became quite a bit more wonderful. He stood there, out of it; there seemed to be overlapping images even when he was just looking at the wall in front of him.
He only took a step back once his stomach felt a little more comfortable, bowing his head so that he could button his pants.
When Lu Boyuan entered the bathroom to search for him, what he saw was Jian Rong’s drooping head as he fiddled around with his pants, his eyebrows knitted tightly together.
Lu Boyuan asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Pants zipper.” Jian Rong’s head was whirling, and he couldn’t tell who the newcomer was. “Can’t zip it.”
Lu Boyuan: “…”
Jian Rong struggled with it for another ten seconds until he felt his fingers ache. He let go, discouraged, deciding to deal with it later once he was more sober.
The person in front of him reached out and helped him pull up his zipper.
- Approximately $1,500 – $3,000 ^
- 7 degrees Celsius = 45 degrees Fahrenheit ^
- Player killing, but used in this case to refer to a bet ^