Like before, they were the second match of the night.
Today, the competition was taking place in TTC’s home stadium. Jian Rong had passed by this place before in the past.
There were many esports teams based in Shanghai, so originally no team in Shanghai had their own home stadium. However, TTC’s boss had too much money, so he had directly opened an offline esports arena that was both spacious and close to the river. At the time, it had even been a hot topic among the esports circle for a while.
After TTC’s boss negotiated with the LPL, that arena also ended up being integrated into the ranks of the LPL’s competition stadiums.
When he got out of the car, Jian Rong raised his head and took it in anew. TTC’s home stadium was an extremely cool-looking black building with a sharply angular white crown logo embedded on its body. Matched with the slightly protruding letters of “TTC,” the building was low-key yet handsome.
“At night, our team logo, name, and the edges of the building all light up, it looks super cool. You can take a look when we’re leaving.” Noticing Jian Rong’s stare, Yuan Qian patted his shoulder.
Jian Rong snapped out of it. He shifted his gaze away before walking into the arena. “Okay.”
Lu Boyuan had bundled himself up very tightly today. The brim of his hat covered his eyes completely, and everything else was hidden underneath his mask; adding on the black uniform with white lettering, he seemed entirely like a patch of darkness. On the other hand, he did match quite well with the building.
Immediately after entering the break room, Jian Rong went to close the window securely before sitting down.
The TV on the wall was broadcasting the current match. The first match had already entered the pick/ban phase, and it was PUD versus UUG.
Jian Rong had played one practice match against UUG before, but he wasn’t very familiar with the team. The only thing he remembered was that the team hadn’t entered the World Championship finals last year.
As for PUD… Jian Rong had never played a practice match against PUD before.
“PUD is using Mordekaiser with Leona?” Yuan Qian frowned as he watched the stream. “They’ve really got some guts.”
“It’s a new strategy pulled from Korea’s high-ranked games.” While Ding-ge noted it down, he said, “Recently PUD has probably been practicing quite a few new tactics from Korea.”
“It’s not something the Korean server came up with. That combination has been showing up in the national server’s ranked games for a while now.” Lu Boyuan coughed and said with a stuffy voice, “At the most, the Korean server just perfected this strategy. A champion like Mordekaiser… has high DPS and is tanky enough. Paired with any hard CC champ, he’ll be extremely strong regardless whether he’s being played in mid or bot lane.”
“Enough, you shouldn’t speak so much with that voice of yours.” Ding-ge was fully concentrated on the TV. “Let’s see what happens first.”
Xiao Bai propped up his chin on two hands and asked curiously, “In your opinion, how much money does PUD have to spend in order to schedule a practice match with a team from Korea?”
PUD hadn’t scheduled practice matches with any of the LPL teams during the past few months. Instead, they had kept spending money to seek out Korean teams to practice with.
A few years ago, it wasn’t possible to schedule a practice match with one of Korea’s famous teams even if you spent money. In its early stages, the LPL lacked strength, so it was especially fond of copying Korean strategies. As a result, the relationship between the Chinese and Korean professional leagues hadn’t been very friendly at first.
With the recent rise of the LPL, a few teams had actually managed to break through that blocked channel.
The only thing was – in the end, spending money to schedule practice matches was still a bit unpleasant to hear.
“How would I know? Originally I also thought about scheduling one or two matches with them before… but wasn’t Xiao Lu the one who wasn’t willing.” Ding-ge muttered.
Lu Boyuan reclined on the sofa and didn’t feel like explaining.
“I’m also unwilling.” Jian Rong stuffed both hands into his pockets and said bluntly, “Paying to schedule a practice match? Shameful. And during these past few years, haven’t the Korean teams also started to imitate our region’s team compositions and strategies?”
“Exactly.” Xiao Bai spouted wildly, “If any other pro league wants to schedule a practice match with us, I’d have to think it over first!”
“Enough, enough, I stopped considering it a long time ago. I feel like our coach group is already fairly developed now, and the other teams in the LPL are also very powerful. It’s true that we don’t need to seek out Korean teams. Let’s first just concentrate on watching the match.” After Ding-ge said that, he saw Lu Boyuan, who still hadn’t taken off his mask or hat. Ding-ge couldn’t help but sit down next to him and ask quietly, “The heater’s on, do you not feel hot with how covered up you are?”
Lu Boyuan said, “No.”
It would be best if he could force out some sweat; that way, it wouldn’t be easy for his temperature to rocket upwards.
Lu Boyuan was sitting on the sofa next to the door, while Jian Rong was sitting on the one next to the window. It was the one farthest from Lu Boyuan, so Jian Rong couldn’t hear what they were talking about.
Jian Rong was expressionlessly plotting the best way to naturally stand up and sit over there when Xiao Bai, who was next to him, suddenly let out a “hey.”
“Oh shit.” Xiao Bai sat up straight and lowered his head for a few seconds before he said, “Jian Rong, your shoes are so cool.”
Jian Rong was wearing his new shoes today, the gift that Lu Boyuan had given him for his eighteen birthday.
Jian Rong subconsciously glanced at Lu Boyuan, who was watching the match, his chin slightly raised. Ding-ge was still prattling on next to him, so Lu Boyuan probably hadn’t overheard what Xiao Bai just said.
Jian Rong also felt like these shoes were cool. He nodded and replied with a profound, “Mn.”
“Are they the real deal?” Xiao Bai asked, full of intrigue.
Jian Rong: “Even more real than your teeth.”
Xiao Bai: “…”
“Did you win it during the online lottery or did you buy it from someone else?” Xiao Bai braced his chin on his hand. “Aren’t I just looking out for you? There are so many fake versions of this limited edition model.”
Jian Rong paused. “Limited edition?”
“Yeah.” When Xiao Bai saw Jian Rong’s expression, he was startled. “These are the shoes that you bought, but you didn’t know that?”
Jian Rong hesitated before he decided that it didn’t really seem like there was anything to hide. “Captain gave them to me as my birthday gift.”
“Fuck? My ge is that generous?!” Xiao Bai was momentarily astonished before he nodded. “Since my ge gave them to you, then there’s no need to worry. They’re definitely real.”
Jian Rong frowned. “How much do these shoes cost?”
Xiao Bai shook his head. “Unclear, the original price was 18,000 yuan. By now, it’s probably been inflated to… 100,000 yuan1?”
Jian Rong: “………………”
Yuan Qian, off to the side, listened to their entire conversation and interjected, “You might not even be able to buy it at a hundred thousand. These shoes have a threshold, you have to spend at least 400,000 yuan before you can buy them. None of the people who can afford to buy it are particularly lacking in money, so they would rather keep it to wear themselves2.”
Seeing Jian Rong’s shock, Yuan Qian chuckled and said, “Don’t worry, this is nothing for Captain, it’s just like a sprinkle of water. Don’t feel any pressure.”
Even though Xiao Bai was envious, he also nodded along. “That’s true, my ge has plenty of money. He’s just never given me shoes worth a hundred thousand before, that’s all.”
Never mind shoes worth a hundred thousand.
If Jian Rong added up all the shoes he had ever purchased in his past eighteen years of life and then multiplied the total by two, it still wouldn’t equal a hundred thousand.
Jian Rong exhaled and thought, At least I can also be considered a burgeoning rich young master right now, so I’m capable of buying a return present. Otherwise, this gift… he really wouldn’t be able to accept it.
“It’s not like you’re lacking anything, you have a whole cabinet of shoes.” Yuan Qian comforted Xiao Bai, “Also, Xiao Rong is the one Captain recommended to the team, it’s very normal for Captain to look after him.”
Those words were inexplicably pleasing to Jian Rong’s ears. He pursed his lips and was about to say something when—
“It’s like the affection an older brother has for his younger brother.” Yuan Qian continued, “When Pine just joined the team, didn’t you also treat him very well?”
Pine didn’t bother looking over. “It was so-so.”
Xiao Bai instantly said, “P-baby you’re so damn cruel.”
The tiny smile that was about to emerge on Jian Rong’s face vanished again. He leaned back on the sofa and started to coldly watch the match.
A few seconds later, he furrowed his eyebrows and felt like his current mood was somewhat baffling.
Was the relationship between an older and younger brother not good enough? It was already a very close relationship, what was there to be irritated over…
PUD’s new mid laner coordinated extremely well with the rest of the team—or in other words, PUD’s two Chinese players coordinated extremely well with the other three Korean players. The jungler, XIU, constantly ganked mid; the ADC, Baihe, didn’t steal resources from his teammates; the support was almost always with the mid laner. In short, the formation was aimed to protect their two carries, top and mid.
Not long after, UUG was at a disadvantage, and it was estimated that they would lose within twenty-five minutes.
With the outcome of the game already set, Jian Rong didn’t pay close attention to the match. From the corner of his eyes, he glimpsed a figure walking towards Lu Boyuan.
Their team’s substitute jungler, Moon, offered Lu Boyuan some hot water, holding the cup with both hands.
Lu Boyuan swept a look over and took the cup, but didn’t drink from it.
Moon seized the opportunity to sit down next to Lu Boyuan. He said something that caused Lu Boyuan to cast his eyes downward briefly while listening to him, before shaking his head.
Yuan Qian’s voice dragged Jian Rong’s attention back. “Moon is really quite the little fanboy of Captain.”
“As if my ge is lacking fanboys.” Xiao Bai yawned before he patted Jian Rong. “Speaking of which, Moon’s just like you. He also joined because Captain picked him.”
Jian Rong’s expression didn’t change. “…is that so?”
Xiao Bai hummed. “I remember at that time, there was only a month left before the competition began, and our team urgently needed a jungler sub. Originally, Ding-ge had contacted a Korean import player, but that person ended up acting pretentious about it for a long time… so my ge just straight up snatched the phone from Ding-ge and told the guy to beat it. Then he went to our trainee team and chose Moon.”
Jian Rong was silent for a moment before he responded dryly, “Oh.”
He remembered that Moon was seventeen this year. When Moon turned eighteen, would Lu Boyuan also give him a pair of shoes too?
During the second round of the match, Jian Rong paid very little attention to it. Just as he turned his head and was about to ask “when is Moon’s birthday,” the person sitting on the other side of the room called out to him.
“Jian Rong.” Lu Boyuan said, “Come sit over here.”
Jian Rong stood up and walked over. Moon glanced at the untouched water on the table before he silently shifted to make room for Jian Rong.
Lu Boyuan continued to watch the TV. A few seconds later, he asked, “Did you see Savior’s last wave?”
Jian Rong paused. He thought that Lu Boyuan wanted him to learn from Savior, so Jian Rong started to say that he hadn’t been paying attention.
“An example of a mistake.” Lu Boyuan continued, “His weak points are quite obvious, you can make note of them for the next time you face off against him.”
“…okay.” Jian Rong replied, “I’ll rewatch the recordings a few times once I get back.”
Lu Boyuan gave an “en.” A while later, he turned his head and asked, “If we played PUD today, what do you think your probability of winning is, if you and Savior laned against each other?”
Jian Rong lifted his eyes and met Lu Boyuan’s gaze. “80%.”
Lu Boyuan laughed.
Unhesitatingly stating that he was stronger than the up-and-coming mid laner whom the entire pro league viewed the most highly… that was Jian Rong’s style.
Since Lu Boyuan was wearing a mask, Jian Rong couldn’t make out his expression clearly. When he didn’t say anything, Jian Rong asked, “You don’t believe me?”
Lu Boyuan tilted his head to the side and coughed. He said, “I do.”
The sound of the audience’s cheers rose as PUD beautifully won their spring season match with a score of 2:0.
A staff member notified them to go on stage, and Lu Boyuan took off his mask and hat. Because his complexion was too pale, for once he didn’t reject the request to put on makeup.
Right after TTC walked out of their break room, they ran into XIU and his team’s new mid laner Savior, both of whom had just come out of the bathroom and were on their way back to the practice room.
“Yo.” XIU smiled and joked, “God Lu put on makeup today? Now you’re way too handsome.”
Lu Boyuan swept a glance over him. “Don’t mess around.”
“How come your voice sounds so hoarse?” XIU lifted an eyebrow. “How about it, will you be able to beat Fighting Tiger in a bit?”
“Of course.” Yuan Qian could tell that Lu Boyuan didn’t want to speak, so he answered instead. “Your team’s Mordekaiser and Leona are quite something.”
“Just average, just average. We only wanted to try testing them out. Then you guys go ahead, I’ll first…” Before XIU could finish speaking, Savior suddenly reached out from behind him and tugged on his clothes.
XIU was startled before he swiftly reacted. “Oh right, you have something to say to Soft, right?”
Jian Rong looked over.
Savior was twenty years old; he wore glasses, and he had both round eyes and a round face.
He stared at Jian Rong for a long time without saying anything.
“Soft, wait a moment, he’s not really good at Chinese.” XIU explained.
Jian Rong waited for a while before he lost his patience. “He can’t even force out a single word, how do you guys communicate with each other during competitions? Don’t tell me that you and the ADC are the ones learning Korean?”
“You…” Savior finally organized his thoughts. The first thing he did was lift his hand and give himself bunny ears on top of his head. “So cute3.”
Jian Rong: “??”
“How-evuh, LoL, you…” Savior pointed at Jian Rong with his index finger before he wagged it and pointed at himself. “I – more powuh-ful.”
Everyone else: “………”
Nobody said it, but he actually did seem quite stupid cute.
Unfortunately, Jian Rong wasn’t buying it. It took him ten seconds to understand what the other person was trying to say.
Then, he inquired politely of XIU: “Excuse me, how do you say ‘scram for laozi’ in Korean?”
The author has something to say:
To clarify something – because the game meta is constantly changing, what I’m referring to in the novel is a mixed meta. It can be considered a meta specific to this novel. Many backdrops (for example, the Shanghai main stadium) are just made up by me.
- 18,000 yuan = $2,730. 100,000 yuan = $15,000 ^
- I’m assuming he means rather keep it than sell it again for a profit ^
- Spoken in English lolll ^
Yan: Translated the author’s note about meta just to emphasize again that while this is based off of LoL, many things might differ from what is actually currently meta/plausible in competitive play.
Also, Savior is a mega cutie lol~ the reason I will be translating his speech like that (how-evuh, etc) is because he uses incorrect tones due to his accent. Just wanted to clarify since he comes up a lot in the future!