For a moment, Ding-ge didn’t know if Jian Rong had become a prophet or if it was the LPL purposefully causing trouble.
The barrage flew by too fast, and the water friends who came late had no choice but to turn off the comments in order to see the competition schedule clearly—
[Fff they’re really playing Squid? This is way too exciting!!!]
[Originally I wasn’t very interested in the spring season, but now I’ve decided to snap up an admission ticket. Son, just wait and see how Dad will support you.]
[Ahhh husband destroy this dumbass Doufu!!]
[They’re really going up against each other? This is peak drama, the LPL is amazing.]
[Hehe, keep laughing, dumbass TTC fans. If YY pulls an upset and wins the match, Tieba will make fun of this for ten years.]
[YY winning a match? It’s faster just to dream.]
“Enough.” Ding-ge glanced at the clock and signaled from behind the computer that they should stop the stream.
After turning the stream off, they walked towards the practice room. Xiao Bai patted Jian Rong’s shoulder only to find that he actually felt unexpectedly tense.
He was startled, but before he could say anything, Jian Rong looked back and asked, “What do you want?”
Xiao Bai lowered his voice. “Tell me a string of numbers.”
Jian Rong frowned. “For what?”
“So I can buy a lottery ticket… hey, don’t go.”
In that night’s practice match, everyone in TTC played very radically, especially Jian Rong.
As long as Ding-ge didn’t tell him to practice a specific champion, Jian Rong could pick whatever champion he wanted.
MFG helplessly watched as TTC pulled out mid lane Talon, ADC Draven, and top lane Tryndamere…
They were all freaking high-damage glass cannons, the gutter champions1 that basically never showed up in competitive play.
Kongkong had picked a teamfight champion that was weak in the early game. As a result, he was solo killed twice by mid lane Talon early on, and then he was ganked twice again by Talon mid game in the jungle. Even though Kongkong’s team ultimately won the match, he felt more like he had just experienced twenty consecutive losses in ranked.
After the practice match, Kongkong couldn’t help but send Jian Rong a message.
[Kongkong: Bro, Doufu was the one who screwed you, not me. Go screw him instead pls.]
Jian Rong only saw this message twenty minutes later, and he replied with a simple “OK” before he put down his phone and continued to play ranked.
[Kongkong: Taking so long to reply, what a busy bee you are ah.]
[R-ong: Was playing ranked earlier.]
[Kongkong: Duo Q?]
[Kongkong: Then Q together?]
[Kongkong: I’m not streaming, it won’t reveal what champions you’re training.]
Jian Rong didn’t actually care whether any champions were revealed. He could play all the champions.
[R-ong: How can two mids Q together?]
[Kongkong: You just haven’t witnessed how strong my jungler is. Invite me.]
After joining the party, Kongkong said, “I thought that you would be duo queueing with a teammate.”
Jian Rong said that he wasn’t.
Originally, he did want to duo queue with a teammate.
But right after they finished the practice match, Ding-ge brought over a person who was carrying a little wooden box on his back.
That person chatted quietly a bit with Lu Boyuan before the two of them went into a meeting room together. A while later, Lu Boyuan came out and returned to his own room without looking back.
Jian Rong played all the way until four in the morning. Everyone else had gone to sleep already; only he was still there saving his teammates in the Summoner’s Rift.
Another game ended, and he was about to start matching again when Kongkong yawned on the other side. He couldn’t endure any longer and said, “Enough, bro. Let’s go to sleep, it’s already 4:30.”
In reality, Kongkong had started to get sleepy long ago, but seeing as Jian Rong had continued to silently start the next match, Kongkong had just tolerated it without saying anything.
Jian Rong glanced at the time. “You can go.”
Kongkong: “You’re still gonna play??”
Jian Rong gave an “en.” “For a bit.”
Kongkong went quiet for a beat before he asked, “Bro, do you usually practice until this late, or is it just because the pressure’s on since you’re about to fight Squid?”
Jian Rong took a sip of his coffee.
The instant coffee didn’t taste as good as the coffee Lu Boyuan made, but he was truly too lazy to try and figure out that coffee machine thing.
Actually, in the past, Jian Rong had never really felt any pressure when playing this game. After all, for a streamer, the entertainment factor was much more important than the strength level in a game.
But today, the instant that the competition schedule had come out and Jian Rong had seen that “if you lose Tieba will mock you for ten years” comment, the only thought left in his head was—he must not lose.
The reason Ding-ge didn’t say anything was probably because he was worried that Jian Rong would feel pressured.
Jian Rong was used to being cursed, but he couldn’t let TTC and his teammates be mocked for ten years because of him.
“That’s also fair.” Hearing no response, Kongkong mused aloud, “Since it’s your debut, after all. During my first match, I was so nervous that my whole body was covered in sweat in the middle of winter. But don’t you worry, I feel like Squid’s mid laner can’t beat you.”
Jian Rong said, “I know.”
Do you know how to fucking write the word ‘humble.’
“But it’s not just that I want to win,” Jian Rong said.
Kongkong: “Then what?”
Jian Rong didn’t reply. Instead, he asked, “Are you going to sleep or not? If not, I’m starting a game.”
Kongkong said, “If you want to queue, I can still hang in there for a few more rounds…”
“Well, it’s not that I want to queue. Your jungler is a bit better than a stranger’s.” Jian Rong said, “I can insult you through voice chat, and I won’t be caught by a patrolling LPL employee.”
The LPL Discipline Committee checked the players’ accounts, strictly inspecting whether or not a player insulted someone, AFKed, or threw the game during ranked play.
In the end, Kongkong still chose to preserve his life and sleep. Right before he left, he said, “…Squid relies on their bot lane during competitions. Their mid laner is actually just so-so. He likes playing with Syndra and Zoe, and he’s pretty strong in early game, kind of like you. But he shouldn’t play as well as you do, so you can drag it out to late game before slaughtering him.”
Jian Rong paused, and quite a few seconds passed before he said, “Thanks.”
Jian Rong practiced until dawn and went back to his room to take a shower and sleep right before the auntie came to the base.
But he ended up opening his eyes again after sleeping for only a few hours. He saw that it wasn’t even nine yet, meaning that he hadn’t even slept a full three hours.
Jian Rong laid there for a few more minutes before he got out of bed and washed up. He then went downstairs with a bird’s nest on his head.
Originally, he was just intending to eat some bread to fill his stomach, but the auntie insisted on frying an egg for him and making noodles.
After being fed to her satisfaction, Jian Rong returned to the practice room and continued to train.
What an auspicious beginning. Right off the bat, Jian Rong encountered dumbass teammates for four games in a row, pissing him off so much that his brain ached. Finally, in the fifth game, after he met a jungler teammate who fed the other team three times in ten minutes, he decided to take a break for a few minutes and play on his phone for a while. That way, he wouldn’t be tempted to add this jungler as a friend and take his head.
As Jian Rong messed around, he eventually clicked into his WeChat conversation with Lu Boyuan.
Jian Rong had already browsed through Lu Boyuan’s Moments many times before.
Lu Boyuan didn’t have much activity, and his Moments consisted only of a scant few pictures. There were photos of food and the seascape, but most of them were still of that little teacup pig from his profile picture. It seemed to be a pet that Lu Boyuan was raising at home.
Even though Jian Rong knew that the other person hadn’t posted anything new, he still couldn’t resist the urge to take a peek at Lu Boyuan’s Moments. He leaned back in his chair and lazily poked at the little teacup pig in his profile picture—
[You’ve patted R]
Jian Rong: “?”
What the hell?
I patted who??
Jian Rong, who never looked at the app update contents, stared at that tiny line of words, dumbfounded.
At the speed of light, he typed a question into Baidu. After he read the “take a pat” explanation, he was even more dumbfounded.
Was there something wrong with the WeChat team?
With this kind of energy go improve the chat history function instead of making decisions on your own all the time and help laozi clean up his photo cache okay?
What the hell was the purpose of this function besides allowing couples to flirt with each other and making people feel awkward???
A few seconds later, Jian Rong pressed down on that line of text, wanting to see if he could withdraw it or not—
[R has patted you.]
[R-ong: . ]
Jian Rong rubbed his face in despair.
[R: Need something?]
[R: Then why are you patting.]
[R-ong: Just want to ask you to duo Q.]
The other side didn’t answer for a long time.
Jian Rong glanced at the time; it was ten.
Only a moron would ask a professional esports player to duo queue at ten in the morning on a practice day.
Jian Rong closed his eyes, and he had already cursed out WeChat until it went bankrupt in his mind.
[R-ong: I can also solo Q, you should rest]
This time, he got a new reply only a few seconds later after the message was sent out.
It was a voice message. Propping up his head, Jian Rong moved the phone next to his ear and pressed on it.
The first thing he heard was the sound of water. The man’s voice contained a hoarseness from feeling sleepy. “Hold on, washing my face.”
When Lu Boyuan entered the practice room, he was holding two large packages that he had just picked up from the doorway.
Jian Rong had already sat there embarrassedly by himself for a while. When he heard the noise, he braced himself and turned his head, wanting to explain a bit, only to see two packages appear on his computer desk.
Jian Rong was slightly startled. “What?”
“Open it up and take a look.” Lu Boyuan carried the peppermint scent of his toothpaste on him.
Jian Rong tore open the packaging. Inside was a new keyboard.
The design was the same as Lu Boyuan’s, and the only thing that had changed was the color and keycaps. He subconsciously flipped it over, and sure enough, there was a “Soft” engraved on the back.
Not many esports youths could resist the lure of high-end peripherals. Even a little miser like Jian Rong had clenched his teeth and bought a pair of headphones and a keyboard costing four digits total once his wages had surpassed 10,000 yuan. What’s more, his own ID was printed on this keyboard.
He swiftly lifted his head, his eyes shining. “Did the bankroller daddy sponsor this?”
Lu Boyuan was quiet for a few seconds and didn’t answer the question. “It’s the same model as the one you’re using right now. Switch it out and see if it works for you or not.”
Jian Rong nodded. After he picked the new keyboard up out of the box, he recalled something else and asked, “Then what should I do with the one I’m using right now?”
“Whatever you want. Let’s put it in the cabinet.”
Lu Boyuan returned to his own seat and, after playing two duo queue games together, the way Jian Rong had looked when he raised his head to ask Lu Boyuan a question just now floated through his mind again.
Jian Rong had looked just like a kid who had received candy, trying to restrain his happiness and hold back his smile. At the same time, he wasn’t able to hide anything, all of it written in his eyes.
A rare expression that, for some inexplicable reason, put Lu Boyuan in a good mood when he saw it.
The match with Squid, who they had just dissed, was right around the corner. Even though no one in TTC said anything openly, they were all secretly practicing more during this time.
After a tense, highly strung period passed, they finally arrived at the first day of the spring season.
This time, the roster that TTC registered for the spring season was pretty much the same as the previous summer season; only Kan had been swapped out for Soft. The subs were still mid laner Hezi and jungler Moon.
Jian Rong wasn’t close with either of these substitutes. Afterwards, he had rejected Hezi every time he asked to solo, and he had never once spoken to Moon before.
He changed into his uniform, went downstairs, and just happened to see both substitutes enter the room. After Moon finished greeting everyone, he walked over to Lu Boyuan and greeted, “Captain.”
Lu Boyuan glanced at him. “Mn.”
There were a lot of empty seats around Lu Boyuan, but Moon didn’t sit down. He furtively snuck a few looks around before he spoke again. “Captain, I’ve been practicing extra recently. If I have an opportunity to play again someday… what happened last time definitely won’t happen again.”
Lu Boyuan chuckled and said okay.
When Moon saw that laugh, he seemed to gain some more courage, and he wanted to say something else.
“When are we leaving?” Jian Rong spoke leisurely.
“Soon.” Right after Ding-ge said that, he got a phone call. He said after hanging up, “The car’s here, let’s go.”
Jian Rong walked at the very back.
After Xiao Bai finished putting on his shoes, he saw that Jian Rong was still standing in the entrance. Xiao Bai raised an eyebrow and asked, “We’re leaving ah, what are you zoning out for?”
At that, Lu Boyuan shot a look back.
Jian Rong said nonchalantly, “I forgot to get something. You guys go ahead, I’ll be right there.”
One minute later, Jian Rong stood in the doorway and peered around, confirming that everyone was gone.
He retreated back to the entrance hall and fished out the new toy that he had bought for the first time, secretly stuffing it into the depths of his shoes.
Today, they were driving the team bus. This was actually Jian Rong’s first time sitting in the team’s charter bus. Not only was the exterior low-key and stylish, even the interior was much more high-end than that of a normal charter bus.
After arriving at the stadium, Jian Rong stuffed two pieces of gum inside his mouth before getting out of the bus.
On their way to the stadium’s backstage area, Xiao Bai walked side by side with Jian Rong. Halfway there, Xiao Bai glanced at him, puzzled.
A few beats later, he turned his head and took another look at him.
After this happened several times, Xiao Bai couldn’t help but speak up and call for Lu Boyuan, who was walking ahead of them. “Ge.”
Lu Boyuan stopped and looked back.
Because the person in front of him stopped, Jian Rong had no choice but to stop walking too. Unexpectedly, Xiao Bai suddenly reached out and pushed him very gently on the back. Jian Rong was caught off guard and took a step forward, nearly plastering himself to Lu Boyuan’s back.
Jian Rong blurted, “Are you crazy…”
“Were you always this tall before?” Xiao Bai asked.
Jian Rong instantly went silent.
“I remember that you were only up to here on my ge before…” Xiao Bai extended a hand and gestured. “Now you’re almost at my ge’s temple.”
When Lu Boyuan heard that, he lowered his eyes and glanced at Jian Rong.
Jian Rong wrote ‘endure’ ten thousand times in his mind.
“Is that so?” Jian Rong’s voice was mostly flat. “You must’ve remembered wrong.”
Xiao Bai: “No way?”
Jian Rong grinded his teeth. “In that case, I grew taller.”
Xiao Bai was astonished. “Ah, can you grow that fast…”
“Enough, why are you guys just chatting around and blocking the way?!” Ding-ge said from behind them. “You’re blocking the staff’s way, hurry up and go!”
Jian Rong stared at Lu Boyuan’s nape and chewed on the gum in his mouth, pretending that it was Xiao Bai.
Right when they were about to reach the break room, they met a row of people head-on.
Squid was full of skinny people—or else they wouldn’t be mocking other people’s figures all day long.
When they saw TTC, Squid’s members were also startled.
Both coaches wore serious expressions, already prepared to stop a fight at any time.
Unexpectedly, Lu Boyuan didn’t even spare them a second glance and brushed past with a cold look on his face.
Doufu was standing at the very front of Squid.
At his core, Doufu wasn’t some benevolent being. He had long since wanted to speak out and insult Soft back, but his coach had been one step faster than him and had changed his Weibo password. Doufu had also been forced to reflect for half a night before he finally had no choice but to endure it.
Now that they were meeting in person, Doufu subconsciously put on a sneering, cocky expression and decided to unleash a few ambiguously shady lines.
Who would’ve thought that Lu Boyuan would just unhesitatingly walk away like that? As for that bluenette behind Lu Boyuan—
Sensing that something about the height was off, Doufu looked Jian Rong up and down a few times.
Before Doufu could snap out of it, Jian Rong had already walked over to him.
The youth was chewing gum, and he shot a chilly glance over, ridicule and disdain clear in his gaze. As he passed by, he breezily spat out a single word. His voice was very quiet, so that only the two of them could hear it.
The author has something to say:
R-ong, you’re such a badass.
- Refers to champions that have been nerfed/are no longer meta ^
Yan: Technically the word the author uses in the author’s note isn’t ‘badass,’ it’s more like… how coolly arrogant of you, Rongrong. But it’s hard to find an English equivalent. (Seriously though, Jian Rong has some big balls to say that at the competition site LOL)
Wei: …Rong Rong… I can’t believe you bought heel lifts to make yourself look taller LOL desperate times desperate measures I guess??