Bonus Ko-fi chapter thanks to Kitty, jayde, and Chel!
Ding-ge brought some fruit and crackers over for the film crew. When he went upstairs, he saw that the other three people were standing together chatting, but Jian Rong was leaning against the railing and zoning out by himself.
“You didn’t eat a lot for breakfast, right?” Ding-ge handed the plate to him. “Take some of the crackers to fill your stomach.”
“It’s fine, I’m not hungry,” Jian Rong said.
“Alright.” Seeing his tightened lips, Ding-ge said, “Don’t be too nervous, the interview content and video will go through me first before being posted.”
Right after he said that, the door to the practice room opened. It looked like Lu Boyuan’s interview was already finished.
“You’re next, go ahead.” Ding-ge patted his shoulder.
Even though the interview was over, Lu Boyuan was still talking to Tang Qin and the interview supervisor. Lighting and sound equipment were set up in the practice room, and several staff members were also standing around, making it seem somewhat crowded.
Jian Rong stood to the right of the doorway, his back pressed against the wall, his head lowered as he waited.
He recalled what Xiao Bai had said just then again, and he clicked his tongue in annoyance.
If he’d known about that earlier, then he wouldn’t have sent in some job app.
When Lu Boyuan saw that email, did he also think that Jian Rong was a pervert?
What’s more, Jian Rong really had saved Lu Boyuan’s QQ number for a very long time. Sometime in the middle, when he had switched phones, he hadn’t backed up his pictures or contacts; the only thing he transferred over to his new phone was that QQ number…
“How come you didn’t answer the text I sent you yesterday?” Tang Qin’s voice was sweet and delicate, traveling over from afar and interrupting Jian Rong’s train of thought.
“There were too many messages, so I didn’t see it.”
Upon hearing that familiar voice, Jian Rong subconsciously turned his head and met Lu Boyuan’s eyes right as he walked out of the practice room.
Lu Boyuan stopped. “Why are you standing here?”
Jian Rong shot a glance at Tang Qin, who was behind him. She smiled at him, clearly not minding that he had overheard their conversation just now.
Jian Rong said, “Ding-ge said that I’m next for the interview.”
Lu Boyuan nodded. “Go.”
Jian Rong gloomily turned around and was about to enter the practice room when someone suddenly tugged very lightly on his clothing.
Lu Boyuan cast his gaze downwards and helped Jian Rong tug out a small portion of his shirt hem that was stuck in his waistband.
After returning to the practice room, Tang Qin confirmed the interview questions with the supervisor one last time before officially starting the interview.
“This is your first time being interviewed, right? You can just answer as you wish.” Tang Qin slightly raised one long, well-shaped eyebrow. “Your ears are quite red. Is it because you’re too nervous? Or is the heating on too high?”
“Body constitution issue.” Jian Rong sounded calm and didn’t seem nervous at all. “Ask away.”
Tang Qin suddenly remembered the brief interlude that had occurred just now at the entryway.
She smiled without batting an eye. “Okay. First off, a question that everyone is very curious about—why did you want to play competitively?”
The interview went on for twenty-five minutes.
At first, Tang Qin thought that Jian Rong would cause some trouble, like with what had happened with the official announcement, but he didn’t. From start to finish, he answered every question casually and simply; they weren’t standard answers, but there was also nothing wrong with them. In just a few words, his personal style was thoroughly and vividly reflected.
No wonder his streams were so popular despite his young age.
Only the last few questions were left. Tang Qin smiled and asked, “So far, there’s still a lot of controversy surrounding you becoming a professional player. What are your views on this?”
Jian Rong said, “I don’t view it. The coach is worried that I’ll interact with them, so he doesn’t allow me to look.”
“…I see.” Tang Qin held back a laugh. “With your shift from streamer to professional player, the ones who received the biggest shock must have been your livestream fans, right? Do you have anything you want to say to them here? You can face the camera and tell them~”
Jian Rong lifted an eyebrow and put on an “as if I have anything to say to them” expression.
After a long pause, he looked into the camera and said, extremely half-heartedly, “I have enough money to pay the penalties, stop worrying so much about me.”
On Sunday, Ding-ge held a small meeting in the practice room.
Sunday was a day of rest, but for professional players, that merely meant that they could get up a little later, play some other games, and watch a few television shows.
“The spring season is in half a month. Starting from tomorrow, we’ll be increasing the training time, and I’ll be setting up more practice matches.” Ding-ge said, “The most important thing is strengthening the team’s coordination. It’ll be up to you all to practice your individual skills, I won’t be supervising you guys over that. You should all be aware of what you should be doing.”
Xiao Bai sprawled back in his gaming chair. “What teams are scheduled?”
“Currently only two teams are decided. One is Fighting Tiger, the other one is MFG.”
There was also etiquette to follow when it came to scheduling practice matches.
First of all, strong teams would almost never play against weak teams. It wasn’t really useful for the strong teams, and it was equivalent to helping weak teams train for free.
Secondly, because they were afraid of exposing strategies, strong teams wouldn’t go all out in practice matches against each other. For the most part, the purpose of a practice match was to test out a certain champion’s strength in the current meta1 and the adaptability of a team composition during a competition.
Every practice match was a custom game, and when the round was almost finished, the members of both teams would simultaneously withdraw from the game. Without a completed match, the scores wouldn’t show up on their profiles, so it wasn’t actually important whether a team won or lost a practice match.
It was precisely because of this that some teams were indomitable during practice matches but ended up with a string of defeats during competitions.
“Don’t schedule with MFG.” Lu Boyuan said without looking back.
It was acceptable to hide strategies during a practice match, but it was a little excessive for MFG to let a half-retired substitute play when they clearly knew that TTC was practicing with their newcomer.
“They’ve apologized to me for that already. They said that their starting jungler was back at his hometown during that period.” Ding-ge said, “Try one more time. If something happens this time too, I won’t schedule any more matches with them in the future.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t reply and remained silent.
Ding-ge was going to continue talking, but his phone suddenly rang. He glanced at the caller ID before he lifted an eyebrow in surprise and walked out of the room, saying that he had something to attend to.
“Then should we eat something good tonight?” Xiao Bai straightened up and looked at Lu Boyuan. “Ge, how about we order from that private home kitchen we got food from before?”
“You guys can eat it, my treat.” Lu Boyuan turned off his computer.
Xiao Bai was startled. “You’re going out?”
Lu Boyuan casually threw on his jacket. “Mn.”
As Lu Boyuan passed by Jian Rong, he shot a glance at Jian Rong’s computer screen.
The screen was stuck on the LoL client’s homepage. Nothing was playing, and the owner seemed like he was just sitting in front of the computer spacing out.
“I’ll forward the WeChat in the group.” Lu Boyuan paused. “Order whatever you all want.”
Everyone else answered with an “okay,” but only Jian Rong didn’t look up. His cursor swayed back and forth on the screen.
Lu Boyuan stared at the back of his head for a few seconds before he turned around and left the practice room.
“Jian Rong, take a look at what you want to eat.” Xiao Bai pushed his phone over in front of Jian Rong, and there was a menu pulled up on it.
Jian Rong swept a cursory glance over it.
“Whatever… one bowl of rice is 22 yuan2?” Jian Rong was filled with doubt. “Are they cooking with gold??”
Xiao Bai misheard him, and he was dumbfounded for a few seconds before he said, “This private home kitchen is just really expensive, apparently it’s some special kind of rice… don’t worry about the price, in any case my ge is the one paying.”
Jian Rong scanned the rest of the dishes, and the prices were even more extravagant. He averted his gaze. “Don’t like eating these things, you guys can order.”
Jian Rong wasn’t actually that hungry, since he had just eaten a bowl of noodles at three in the afternoon. After he finished a ranked game, he stretched and got up to discuss with Ding-ge the matter of staying at the base during Lunar New Year.
The light in the meeting room was on, but the door wasn’t shut completely, with a tiny crack still open.
Jian Rong had just put his hand on the doorknob—
“Is it just because he was recommended by Captain?” An unfamiliar, somewhat youthful voice spoke. “So he could become a starter the moment he entered the team?”
Jian Rong paused in his movements. He peeked inside and saw the substitute mid laner from TTC’s summer season standing there; he seemed to be called Hezi3.
“A member can’t have the final say regarding the starting roster.” Ding-ge’s tone of voice was severe. “Don’t say something like that again next time.”
Hezi was silent for a while before he said, “My apologies.
“But I still can’t understand. Coach, I could accept it if you found any other experienced, independent player to be a starter. But he’s just a streamer…” Hezi’s voice was gloomy. “He hasn’t undergone any training before, nor does he have experience competing. How can you be certain that he can play better than me on stage?
“If… if the one that Captain recommended back then was me, then would I also have been able to become a starter?”
Each and every word was permeated with the two words “still unconvinced.”
Hearing that, Jian Rong withdrew his hand, expressionlessly turned around, and left.
Ding-ge didn’t really scold Hezi. After all, it was the child that he had single-handedly brought out of the trainee team. Ding-ge knew that Hezi felt wronged inside, so he only said a little bit before he told him to go back and focus on training.
Hezi returned to the villa in the back that belonged to the second team and rejected the other members’ invitation to eat midnight snacks with them. He went back to the practice room by himself and started streaming as he played in ranked to practice.
Before he even matched into his first game, his phone suddenly vibrated—
[R-ong has requested to add you as a friend. Attached message: Soft]
Hezi was startled.
Ding-ge told Soft about it this fast??
Hezi knew what Soft’s personality and temper were like, so he subconsciously thought that Soft was coming to insult him. He hesitated on the friend request interface for quite a while before he hardened his heart and pressed accept.
There was nothing wrong with what he said to Ding-ge just then. He definitely wasn’t afraid.
Hezi stared fixedly at their chat, already preparing himself mentally to be flamed. He had even thought of how he should curse him back when—
[R-ong: Come solo]
Hezi was stupefied for a bit before he carefully replied with a “?”.
[R-ong: Yes or no?]
A barbeque stand at night.
Two men sat across from each other, chatting casually. The person on the right was basically the only one eating the meat skewers. The man on the left was wearing a baseball cap, one hand stuck in his pocket while he listened quietly to the other man talk.
“Korean people really love playing late game way too much. In eight out of ten games they’ll choose a late game champion, my butt is almost flat from sitting so much…” Right after XIU said that, a notification sound abruptly came from his phone.
He clicked on the notification and glanced at it before clicking easily on the link to the stream that his coach sent over.
When Lu Boyuan heard the sound that floated over from the phone, he tugged down his mask and asked indifferently, “You made me come here to listen to you watch a livestream?”
“No, the coach told me to watch this streamer’s 1v1. He said that the person soloing against him is pretty good.” XIU was about to close the webpage when he suddenly realized that the streamer’s ID was somewhat familiar. He narrowed his eyes and asked, “Hezi… isn’t he your team’s substitute mid laner? Who is he soloing with ah… ‘What Can You Do Besides Being Carried,’ do you recognize this ID?”
Lu Boyuan looked up when he heard that and pondered over it for two seconds.
That’s right, it was his mid laner’s side account.
Lu Boyuan, “Which livestream room?”
Tonight, Hezi’s stream popularity reached new heights.
He was tethered by the enemy LeBlanc’s chain, and after he lost the last of his health, he left the game with a dejected expression.
The barrage was an unceasing flood.
[6:1!!! Being Carried is so badass!]
[Who is Hezi soloing with ah?? Does anyone recognize this ID?]
[Hezi only narrowly won a round when he soloed using Lissandra, the champion he’s the best at… he lost with all the other champions.]
[Hezi was originally a team fight-type player anyway. But the other side’s gameplay really is super amazing…]
[Just saying, I think this LeBlanc is a little like a certain dumbass.]
[To tell the truth, me too. I even went to check the match history. This account duo Q’d with TTC’s Xiao Bai last week.]
[But I haven’t seen the little dumbass use this side account before?]
[Are you all calling LeBlanc a dumbass? Why? Have they provoked or angered you somehow? How come I can’t understand the barrage…]
Hezi switched away from the streaming interface. The two of them had returned to the game lobby.
[What Can You Do Besides Being Carried: The next match, which champion?]
[Hehe4: Do you know how to play Cassiopeia?]
Everyone in the barrage was advising Hehe to try and accept reality, and to stop soloing with this person.
But he had long stopped doing this because he wanted to regain his honor.
He just purely wanted to play a few more rounds against Soft and watch how he played the game.
[What Can You Do Besides Being Carried: Yes. How many more games will you lose before you’re convinced?]
[What Can You Do Besides Being Carried: I’m hungry.]
[Hehe: I am convinced ah. This round Cassiopeia, the next round Qiyana?]
[What Can You Do Besides Being Carried: Then I’m done, getting off now.]
[Hehe: Nooo, play a few more games.]
[What Can You Do Besides Being Carried: Even with ten more matches you’d still lose. Don’t waste time.]
Right after that was sent, the other person left the custom game lobby and went offline at the speed of light.
[Damn, the more I look at it the more similar it feels…]
[It’s definitely that brat who’s looking for a beating.]
[This dumbass son won’t be seeking out pro players to solo every day from now on right??]
[Why are you all acting like you’ve guessed who it was?? Is it that easy to guess???]
[Mn, just wait, wait for him later on… you’ll also be able to recognize him in a heartbeat.]
Today was a day off, so the other three team members were all watching variety shows or playing different games.
Jian Rong’s stomach was so empty that it hurt. He rubbed his belly and went to look for something to eat in the kitchen. As he crouched down and fished out an unopened package of bread from the very bottom cabinet, the phone in his pocket suddenly vibrated.
He stuck the bread in the crook of his elbow and pulled out his phone.
[R: [Sharing location]]
[R-ong: What’s the matter?]
[R: Come here.]
Jian Rong didn’t even have time to eat a single chunk of bread before he randomly threw on a jacket and left.
The destination was on a side street. Worried that Lu Boyuan wanted him to come out at night because of something urgent, Jian Rong speed-walked the entire way after getting out of the taxi. Finally, he made it to the barbeque stand after following the navigation.
Jian Rong stopped walking and stared blankly at the two people sitting at a dining table in front of the stand.
Lu Boyuan was in the middle of a conversation with the man sitting across from him.
The brim of his hat completely concealed his eyes, and his right hand was propped up lazily on the chair next to him. He was biting an unlit cigarette, his mask pulled under his chin. Because of something he heard, the corners of his mouth were also tilted up as he smiled very slightly.
Jian Rong departed in too much of a rush, so he hadn’t brought his hat or mask.
His hair color was way too conspicuous, and XIU spotted him with one look.
“Oh hey.” XIU was surprised, and he blurted out, “That well-behaved kid of yours is here.”
- In gaming, meta refers to what’s currently the most accepted/optimal way to play the game (i.e. preferred champions). What’s meta can change frequently with patches/updates, which is also why what is ‘meta’ in ICDI may not necessarily reflect what’s actually meta in LoL right now ^
- A little more than $3. This might not seem that bad but considering you can easily get a great meal in China for like … 15 yuan, it’s really expensive especially because rice is usually like part of the meal lol ^
- Hezi literally means box, so… again, like Shiliu (Pomegranate) I’ll just be leaving his name as Hezi ^
- This is Hezi’s He repeated twice, not ‘hehe’ like laughter ^