XIU was rendered speechless for a few seconds before he burst out laughing. “Don’t get too excited… it’s only because he still remembers those few ranked games where he encountered you previously. The day of your stream, he was holding his phone and watching the entire time, he really does think you’re cute.”
Xiao Bai thought, You better fucking stop saying the word ‘cute,’ or else if this guy opens his mouth, nobody will be able to stop him.
Sure enough, Jian Rong’s face had already soured quite a bit.
The staff member ahead of them saw that they had stopped, and the staff member hurried over to ask, “God Lu, what’s wrong? Can the team go on stage now? Fighting Tiger is about to go up.”
Lu Boyuan nodded without saying anything.
Jian Rong glanced at the back of Lu Boyuan’s head and swallowed down the ridicule that had just reached his mouth. He thought to himself, the faster they walked away, the faster they could play, and the faster they would be able to return to the base.
Unexpectedly, right after he took a single step, his name was called again.
Savior had been learning Chinese recently, but it was true that he had joined the LPL not too long ago, so he only knew some commonly used phrases for communicating in game.
Savior: “Soft, WeChat, can I?”
“No.” Jian Rong answered flatly, “I can’t speak1 simida.”
His English made Lu Boyuan quirk his lips and chuckle. A heavy feeling intermittently traveled from the back of his head, but by the time Lu Boyuan turned his head again, he had already regained his original expression.
Jian Rong let out a muffled “en” before he caught up with Lu Boyuan’s figure, both hands stuffed in his pockets, treading with his new shoes.
Fighting Tiger’s members were already sitting in their seats. All five veteran players had tall and sturdy builds, and they gave off a distinctive aura just by sitting there.
“Da Niu-ge seems to have become even sturdier lately, the team uniform can’t even contain his muscles anymore. It looks like Fighting Tiger is gonna have to get a new team uniform for my Niu-ge again.” Commentator A said jokingly.
Commentator B nodded. “Yes, as veteran players, all of Fighting Tiger’s members usually pay a lot of attention to working out. It’s true, you can only perform better by maintaining a healthy body—TTC’s members are coming on stage now. Oh my, today God Lu… looks so handsome?”
The camera instantly gave Lu Boyuan a big close-up shot.
The man was expressionlessly checking the state of his equipment. He was indeed handsome, but he appeared much colder than normal, and he hadn’t spoken once since sitting down.
“Ai, I can suddenly sort of understand some of what the female fans feel.” Commentator A sighed.
“Enough, be quiet, if you keep talking you’re going to end up violating the rules.” Commentator B lifted an eyebrow. “Soft doesn’t seem to have a great expression either? What’s up with TTC today?”
“Ah? Hasn’t Soft always looked like this? The day he walks on stage with a smile, that’s when things will become weird.” Commentator A abruptly laughed. “However, speaking of which… director, don’t you know better? Shouldn’t you be focusing the camera on Qian-ge today?”
Although Yuan Qian behaved in a fairly low-key way, nowadays people paid just as much attention to professional gamers as they did to celebrities. In addition, since Yuan Qian had never deliberately hidden it before, the romantic relationship between him and the female streamer Youyou was common knowledge in the circle.
Meanwhile, Youyou was at the stadium today, sitting in the first row. She was trying to be extremely covert, not moving at all, but the cameraman still found her. Every time, the audience cam would specially focus on her.
Youyou didn’t bother avoiding the camera after being discovered. When the camera panned back to her, she swiftly pulled out a support banner from behind her body. The large characters written on it flashed with bursts of light—
[Soft feel free to flame, Mommy will follow you forever.]
On the back was a row of smaller characters: (Also hope the match goes well for Qian).
The entire arena burst out laughing, and not even the commentators were able to hold back.
The people on stage also saw it.
Xiao Bai was dying from laughter. “Qian-ge, is this the reason why sister-in-law wanted a ticket from you??”
“Yep.” Yuan Qian also chuckled. “She also sent a gift when Xiao Rong was streaming the other day.”
But Jian Rong wasn’t able to laugh.
There were a few other people sitting near Youyou who were also there to show support for Jian Rong. A picture of him wearing rabbit ears was printed on their support banners, accompanied by the text: “Bunny-eared sweetheart big troll.”
At the very least there were three filters layered on top of his picture. At first glance, Jian Rong almost didn’t recognize himself.
He quickly retracted his gaze. “Does this count as infringing on my portrait rights?”
“Probably not? My ge’s support banners often have photos of him on them.” Xiao Bai curiously asked, “Oh right, just now XIU said that you and Savior played against each other in ranked before? When did that happen ah.”
Jian Rong: “I’ve played a few games against him, don’t remember when anymore.”
“Did you win or lose?” Xiao Bai questioned.
“Hell yeah!” Xiao Bai complimented wildly, “No wonder he still remembers you, tsk, our mid laner is a true bargain deal. Savior’s signing fee seemed to be several times the amount yours was… this contract is really your loss.”
Jian Rong gave an “en.” “My value will go up next season.”
Ding-ge smacked both of them on the head with his notebook. “Don’t talk about this stuff at the competition stadium!”
After everyone finished checking their equipment, the match quickly entered the pick/ban phase.
Both teams’ ban lists were more or less the same as they had been during their practice matches. Fighting Tiger had the first pick, and they locked in Twisted Fate.
“Xiao Rong, what do you wanna play?” Yuan Qian asked.
Since his throat was parched, Lu Boyuan twisted open a bottle of spring water. He had just taken a sip when he heard Jian Rong say in his headphones: “Fizz.”
“This thing is really something in terms of mana consumption and lane pushing. If you pick him, don’t even think about touching their mid lane tower in the early game.” Ding-ge confirmed, “You genuinely want to play him? The reason?”
“He can suppress Twisted Fate in the lane.” Jian Rong paused. “Want to finish as soon as possible.”
Ding-ge was still hesitant. He asked, “Xiao Lu, what do you think?”
Lu Boyuan placed the bottle of water back down in its original position, and his voice, which had been moistened by the water, was a bit raspy. “Fighting Tiger’s competitive state is different from the way they act during practice matches. If you think you can do it, then pick him.”
Jian Rong had never once thought that he couldn’t do it before.
After Lu Boyuan said that, Yuan Qian instantly helped Jian Rong lock in Fizz.
As the second pick, Lu Boyuan discussed with Ding-ge and decided to choose the jack of all trades jungler, Trundle. Fizz already dealt enough damage, so they needed a tankier front line.
By the time the other team finished picking their remaining champions, Fighting Tiger’s strategy was already extremely obvious.
Twisted Fate, Shen, Nocturne, Ashe, and Tahm Kench.
Pine adjusted his runes. “They’re using a global support flow strategy this game.”
Twisted Fate had a teleportation ult that could transport him to any target location, while Nocturne had an ult that allowed him to dash to an enemy within a huge range. In addition, Shen could directly blink to an ally’s location. The combination of these three champions together was basically the legendary saying—with the firing of a signal flare, an army ten thousand strong will be there.
This kind of strategy targeted the bot lane the most.
After they picked their champions, Ding-ge warned before going off stage, “Bot lane, be careful, it’s best if you don’t fight in the early game.”
One minute later, the match officially began.
Jian Rong and Da Niu had laned against each other countless times by now in practice matches and ranked games. He hadn’t picked Fizz out of arrogance; Jian Rong had solo killed Da Niu numerous times in practice matches before.
But by the time this game was five minutes in, Jian Rong sensed that something wasn’t right—Da Niu wasn’t fighting with him at all.
Not only was he not fighting with Jian Rong, he was even clearing minions using only his Q skill. As long as Jian Rong’s blink and CC skills were still on hand, Da Niu wouldn’t take a single step forward, even at the cost of not eating the minions at the back.
“This… Twisted Fate, isn’t he a bit too stable? He would rather not kill minions than give Soft a chance to hit him?” Commentator A answered his own question. “However, this can also be considered one of Fighting Tiger’s strategies, right. Not making any mistakes whatsoever in the early game, and gaining dominance in the mid-late game by relying on team fight coordination.”
“Indeed, that strategy became very clear the moment they chose a support flow team composition.” Commentator B chuckled. “The only thing is… I’m afraid that player Soft will be stifled this round.”
Jian Rong really did feel very stifled.
Could this be called laning? This was called clearing minions. Twisted Fate didn’t approach him to fight him, and adding on the fact that Twisted Fate’s waveclear ability was strong, after Jian Rong finally managed to shove the wave over to the other side’s tower, he wasn’t even able to touch the enemy turret. By the time he reached level 6, he had only landed one hit on Twisted Fate.
In this kind of match, everyone was just farming on their own in the early game, and there were no exciting moments. The commentators also sounded quite calm.
“Level 7 now, Twisted Fate is finally recalling back to base after clearing all the minions. This is his first time going back to base in this game, Da Niu is currently half a level behind Soft’s, but I don’t think that’ll be a big problem… oh?!” Spotting Twisted Fate’s movement, Commentator A’s voice finally changed. “Da Niu is going to the bot lane! This means they’re about to begin—TTC’s bot lane hasn’t noticed anything yet, both sides are still peacefully waveclearing. To tell the truth, this positioning is a bit dangerous… he’s here!”
Right after Jian Rong said, “Twisted Fate disappeared,” his game screen suddenly went dark—it was the enemy jungler Nocturne’s nearsighting ult.
Within three seconds, all five members of Fighting Tiger gathered at the bot lane.
“Shit shit shit shit!” Xiao Bai frantically ran for his life. “I only fucking took one extra look at their support! Just one!! Is this fucking necessary?! …fucking hell they’re also going to push the tower!!”
“I’m here.” Lu Boyuan had a faint suspicion for a while now that the other side was going to come push the bot lane, so he had been waiting in the lower half of the jungle the entire time. Seeing it happen, he decisively abandoned the two little Krugs and headed towards the bot lane to provide assistance.
Even though Jian Rong had purchased boots, he still arrived late. When he got to the bot lane, Xiao Bai and Pine had already died, and Lu Boyuan managed to kill the enemy support with difficulty. He only had a sliver of health left, and he was in a very bad state.
Jian Rong didn’t even think about it before he flashed and used his ult—just as his ult was about to hit Fighting Tiger’s ADC Luoluo, the enemy support, playing Tahm Kench, swallowed Luoluo whole into his champion’s stomach. He then blinked away and dodged Jian Rong’s ult completely before he fled without looking back.
This time, Jian Rong’s assist achieved nothing. By the time he returned to the mid lane, Twisted Fate had already finished clearing a wave of minions, evening out the gap in their levels.
The first mini team fight established the rhythm of the entire game.
Even with the advantage, Fighting Tiger wasn’t reckless; they would draw back if no teammates were coming to assist. After Twisted Fate finished clearing all the mid lane minions, he went to eat the little monsters nearby. Within the span of a minute, Jian Rong incurred quite a few ‘misses,’ causing his teammates in the top and bot lanes to feel alarmed.
Ten minutes in, three members of Fighting Tiger appeared simultaneously at the top lane. They were truly able to coordinate way too well with each other, as they were even able to divide the damage from pushing the tower very thoroughly. Before Jian Rong could reach the top lane, he received the game notification that his teammate had died.
Fifteen minutes in, Jian Rong found an opportunity and was about to solo kill Da Niu when Fighting Tiger’s top laner, playing Shen, used his ult and came down to assist. At the same time, their support, Tahm Kench, also used his ult, with the destination being right at Jian Rong’s feet… in the end, it was Lu Boyuan’s timely arrival that barely managed to save Jian Rong.
“This game has already completely entered Fighting Tiger’s rhythm.” Commentator A shook his head. “Someone needs to step forward. As long as they can interrupt one of Fighting Tiger’s assists, TTC will still have a chance to make a comeback. Can God Lu do it?”
Commentator B: “God Lu can, but his champion, Trundle, can’t! You can tell that God Lu picked this champion for the sake of the front line, but TTC’s damage dealers currently still aren’t doing enough DPS. Pine keeps being ganked, and Soft’s Fizz… to tell the truth, it’s very hard for him to get a kill. Fighting Tiger has ample CC with this team composition, and their ability to protect allies is very strong. In my opinion, Soft actually shouldn’t have chosen Fizz. When facing a team like Fighting Tiger, it might have been more useful for him to pick a late game champion that can team fight.”
Thirty minutes in, a team fight finished. Three TTC players died in the battle, and Fighting Tiger went for Baron.
Just as everyone thought that the match was about to end, Lu Boyuan rushed into the pit and stole Baron before flashing away and fleeing with barely any health remaining, forcefully replenishing a wave for TTC.
Unfortunately, it was useless. Relying on Ashe and Twisted Fate, who both had outstanding waveclear abilities, Fighting Tiger strenuously delayed team fighting until TTC’s Baron buff ran out.
Forty-six minutes in, Fighting Tiger destroyed TTC’s Nexus and won the first round of the match.
When the staff member came to tell them to go offstage and wait in the break room for the second round to begin, Jian Rong was still sitting in his seat and didn’t move.
This was the first game that he had ever lost while playing competitively.
It felt different from losing a ranked game. Ranked games consisted of random teammates and random opponents; the feeling of being ruthlessly suppressed by tactics wouldn’t exist. In those last forty-six minutes, Jian Rong felt like every single hit of his was landing on cotton, and he had a strong sense of helplessness.
Jian Rong opened the scoreboard, wanting to see his damage output, but then someone patted his head very gently twice.
“Stand up, leave the stage first.” Lu Boyuan said.
- He says all this in English. And again, simida refers to Korean ^