Thank you to Kitty and Anonymous for the Ko-fis!
TTC’s second team wasn’t doing very well in the current LDL spring season, so the second team’s coach sought out Ding-ge to discuss it numerous times. After Ding-ge solicited the agreement of the first team’s members, he finally set up this practice match with the second team.
After the second team’s members entered the lobby, they collectively greeted the first team in the chat, calling every single one of them ge.
[TTC-K Xiao Ya: Rong-ge, good evening.]
Everyone else laughed when they saw Jian Rong being addressed as ge.
[TTC ་ Qian: Don’t call him that, Xiao Rong probably isn’t even as old as you all are.]
[TTC-K Xiao Ya: …then how should I address him 0.0]
[TTC ་ Bye: ‘Esports male god.’]
Jian Rong ignored Xiao Bai’s deafening laughter in his headphones and expressionlessly typed.
[Just Watch My Gameplay: You can just call me Soft]
[TTC-K Xiao Ya: Okay!]
After entering the game, Xiao Bai pulled up the scoreboard out of habit and voiced the problem that he had been dying to ask about all along. “Jian Rong, look at your game ID.”
Jian Rong’s thoughts were focused on that iPad in his room. “What’s wrong with my ID.”
Xiao Bai said, “It doesn’t match at all with ours.”
Jian Rong’s competition account was named TTC ་ Soft, but he had never changed the usernames of his own LoL accounts, including all his side accounts and his Korean account.
Jian Rong originally wanted to say “we’re teammates not a married couple why do we have to match,” but then when he saw his own ID placed next to Lu Boyuan’s, he felt like it was indeed out of place.
It was just an ID. A name change cost only a few dozen yuan, and Jian Rong wasn’t that stingy. As a result, he asked, “Should I change it then?”
Lu Boyuan said, “No need.”
When Jian Rong heard that, he subconsciously glanced to the side out of the corner of his eyes. He couldn’t openly look over, so he could only see Lu Boyuan’s hand as it gripped his mouse.
His fingers were curled, and he appeared to be very relaxed.
Lu Boyuan spoke again. “No one will force you to change your ID, you can make it whatever you like.”
“It’s true that there isn’t such a rule in the team.” Ding-ge was standing behind them. “Before, it was because Xiao Lu chose this name on his new account, so the others also ended up changing their own IDs when they saw it.”
Jian Rong was startled. “New account?”
“Mn, at the time…” Ding-ge was about to say something but hesitated. Finally, he said, “In short, he created a new account.”
“The old account was used in an account-sealing bet with someone, and I lost, so I stopped using that account.” Lu Boyuan played it down. “After that, I just kept playing on my friend’s account, which had a lot of champions. I only created this account after joining the team. I was too lazy to come up with a name, which is why I used the team ID.”
Jian Rong was stunned, and he nearly missed a minion.
He actually didn’t know what to be more surprised about—
Lu Boyuan made an account-sealing bet with someone before?
And he freaking lost???
It wasn’t just Jian Rong; everyone else was astonished as well.
“So something like that happened before…” Yuan Qian was dumbfounded, and he focused on pretty much the same thing as Jian Rong. “You actually lost?”
“Isn’t it normal to lose a game?” Lu Boyuan effortlessly ganked the second team’s jungler. He seemed to recall something, and his lips quirked up. “It wasn’t that bad for me, that account didn’t have any skins. XIU’s account had all the skins and all the champions, it was the most impressive account in all those internet cafes… and it was gone just like that.”
Xiao Bai sucked in a breath through his teeth. “XIU was there too? So it was a 5v5 account-sealing bet? That exciting?”
Even Pine asked, “Why accept the account-sealing bet?”
Lu Boyuan went silent for two seconds. “I forget.”
It was something that happened quite a few years ago, and Lu Boyuan had long since forgotten the reason why he accepted the bet. He only remembered that back then, he had been brash and impulsive, agreeing to the bet without hesitation. In the end, when they had to seal their accounts, it felt like they were burying their wives. As soon as the five teenagers left the internet cafe, they went to hunker down at the corner of the street and smoke, and XIU was the one who had given them the cigarettes.
At the time, Lu Boyuan was fighting back against his dad, so he would play truant and skip class to hang out in internet cafes; he didn’t have a single cent on him.
Yuan Qian recalled something and chuckled. “I thought about it, and the old you… really was capable of doing something like this.”
Jian Rong spaced out while listening, his curiosity skyrocketing.
As long as this kind of curiosity made an appearance, it would be impossible to restrain. Jian Rong’s mind was full of thoughts like—
What was the old Lu Boyuan like?
And what was the not yet eighteen years old Lu Boyuan like, the one who hadn’t started playing competitively yet, the one who hadn’t stood on a stadium stage yet?
Agreeing to an account-sealing bet, and losing to boot: that sort of thing was way too childish, and it was disgraceful too. Ding-ge couldn’t help but interrupt them. “Enough, play properly, respect the second team’s members, okay?”
“How are we disrespecting them?” Xiao Bai immediately said, “I’m playing properly, P-baby come get my heal.”
Pine: “No thanks, recalling to base.”
They played three games in the practice match, which they all won.
Just as Lu Boyuan exited the game client, his phone rang. He glanced at the caller ID before he stood up and answered it. “Hello.”
“Bro.” There was a lot of background noise on the other end, and XIU’s voice blended into the wind. “You free? Come out and chat a bit? Oh… you just finished playing a match today, right? Forget it then.”
Lu Boyuan could tell that his tone of voice wasn’t right. He hesitated briefly and checked the time.
“Send me your location.”
It was the same barbeque stand as before.
XIU hadn’t ordered any barbeque, but he had ordered a few bottles of beer. By the time Lu Boyuan arrived, one bottle was already empty.
“You’re here, you’re way too slow.” When the seat next to him was pulled out, XIU didn’t even look up. He merely picked up an opened but untouched bottle of beer. “Drink a bit?”
“Wasted some time with Ding-ge.” Lu Boyuan rejected, “Not drinking. Don’t you have a match tomorrow?”
XIU knocked back a gulp. “It’s fine, as long as I don’t get drunk.”
Lu Boyuan sat there quietly. He knew clearly what was going on, and he asked bluntly, “They told you about the new jungler?”
“Mn.” XIU took a drag on his cigarette. “Just a few days after you told me, management came to discuss it with me.”
Lu Boyuan lifted his eyes. “What did they say.”
XIU clenched his teeth. “What else? They said they had signed a new jungler, and what happened next would depend on my spring season performance. If I play well, he’ll be my sub in the summer season. If I don’t play well… I’ll be his sub.”
At that point, XIU was already extremely fed up and angry, but he still had no choice but to keep his voice down. “Logically speaking, I didn’t perform poorly in the last summer season, did I? We haven’t lost a single game in the spring season yet, and though I haven’t gotten MVP a lot, my jungle has never exploded before. My hand is injured, true, but I’ve never gone on break for it, nor have I ever missed a single practice match… and then what? Just because of this bullshit reason called ‘youth,’ I have to yield to someone else? What kind of fucking logic is this?!”
It was very illogical.
But this was just what it was like to play competitively.
XIU didn’t perform poorly, but his hand injury was severe, and perhaps he wouldn’t be able to go up and play one day. A developed esports club had to take care of everything, to prevent any accidents from occurring.
Lu Boyuan understood that, so XIU definitely understood it too.
But understanding something didn’t mean that you could calmly accept it. XIU thought about it for two days, but he still felt suppressed and unwilling to give up.
“They’ve already signed the contract, that jungler moved into the base today.” XIU said weakly, “I just want to know… how did you manage to put up with it? You’re much stronger than me, but you still allowed that trainee kid to be your substitute, and you even let him play in the semifinals. If it were me… my mentality would’ve been completely shattered.”
Lu Boyuan lowered his eyes and rubbed his fingers together without replying.
A long while later, just when XIU thought that he wasn’t going to receive a response at all, Lu Boyuan finally said indifferently, “I didn’t put up with it.
“Which is why I’m still playing.” Lu Boyuan’s voice was deep and low. “Concerning the substitute, management went around Ding-ge and came to talk it over with me. I also consented, but I made it clear in advance… I wouldn’t be yielding my position. The person they found would either have to be stronger than me, or they would always stay as a substitute. Management agreed.
“Why else do you think they let me pick a substitute from among the trainees? They couldn’t recruit anyone else.
“No registered professional player dared to come.”
Lu Boyuan sneered. “Nobody felt like they could beat me, nor did they want to wait and endure until I retired.”
XIU looked at him, stunned. Quite a while later, XIU ducked his head and laughed out loud.
He laughed for some time before he suddenly asked, “Do you still remember Ah-Yang? That mid laner who participated in the account-sealing bet with us before.”
Lu Boyuan raised his eyebrows, indicating that he hadn’t forgotten him.
“A while ago, he called me up and was sighing about how time doesn’t stop for anyone. He talked about how that person who used to have to solo other people eight or ten times a day in the internet cafe back then, cigarette hanging from his mouth, had now become the captain of a top team. He even praised you for being low-key and unflustered… bullshit, you still behave the same way as before.” XIU chuckled and said, “The funniest thing was, the day after we finished chatting, the news about you kicking someone filled my entire Weibo.”
Lu Boyuan laughed as well and tilted his head to the side, too lazy to bother with XIU.
Only after XIU brought that up did he remember to ask, “Oh right, did you have to face disciplinary action for it? After all, those LPL people are the strictest when it comes to regulations.”
Lu Boyuan hummed. “Penalty.”
“Not bad, at least it wasn’t a competition ban.” XIU asked again, “That little mid laner of yours was also penalized, right?”
“The same as me.”
When Lu Boyuan said that, the corner of his mouth curled up.
XIU stared at him for a bit before his tense shoulders relaxed slightly. “You know, some of the devil’s advocates weren’t wrong. That person was already restrained by the security guards, he wouldn’t be able to charge over, so why did you have to go and add that kick… you’re not afraid of being banned from competing?”
No professional player wanted to be banned from competing. Lu Boyuan was the same.
Suffering for over ten hours every day in a practice room, wasn’t it all for a chance to go on stage?
“I am.” Lu Boyuan said mildly, “But I wasn’t thinking that much.”
XIU nodded and asked teasingly, “Secretly speaking up for Soft in the post-game interview, depositing money for him to pull skins, beating up someone on his behalf and getting the first disciplinary penalty of your five-year professional career… do all captains nowadays have to treat their team’s newcomers like this in order to meet the standard?”
Lu Boyuan went silent for a few seconds, before he also laughed hearing that. “Who knows.”
“It doesn’t matter if other people know or not, the question is whether Soft knows.” As XIU spoke, he handed Lu Boyuan a cigarette. “Have a stick. If you’re discovered and fined, I’ll pay for you.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t actually care whether he was fined, but having reached this point of the conversation, he did indeed want to smoke.
XIU lit the cigarette for him. The two most popular veteran junglers of the current LPL sat in front of the barbeque stand and started smoking together.
Before, XIU was only guessing. After all, he knew Lu Boyuan way too well; Lu Boyuan hadn’t concealed his fondness for that kid, and it was too obvious.
He exhaled a mouthful of smoke. “What’s Soft’s attitude? Oh… what the hell am I asking, he listens to you the most. Even the cooking auntie in my team knows that.”
Lu Boyuan bit down on the end of his cigarette. At that moment, the person who normally appeared calm and collected had gained a bit of a bad boy aura. A long while later, he finally said, “I think… that the rose-colored glasses he looks at me through are too thick.”
XIU scoffed. “Bullshit. What kid in the LPL doesn’t look at you through rose-colored glasses? If I were to send out a questionnaire right now asking them which pro player they like the most, how many of them wouldn’t pick you?”
It was a compliment, but Lu Boyuan didn’t feel that happy to receive it.
Precisely because of this, Jian Rong interacted with him like a fan would with their idol, or an underclassman with their upperclassman. As for any other ways of thinking… Lu Boyuan wasn’t able to tell at all.
If they kept talking about this, just one cigarette wouldn’t be enough.
Lu Boyuan put out his cigarette. “Enough with that, let’s keep talking about how you’ll be smashed to death on the shore by the next wave.”
XIU was dumbfounded for a moment, and the gloomy emotions that he had before coming here were completely swept away. “Damn, who the hell’s gonna be smashed to death…”
By the time Lu Boyuan returned to the base, it was already almost two in the morning.
The light in the second floor practice room was still on. The others wouldn’t practice for too long the night after a match, so the only one who could possibly be in the practice room was their team’s new mid laner.
But their new mid laner wasn’t actually practicing at that moment.
Jian Rong was wearing his headphones and taking advantage of the game queue time to watch a compilation video.
A water friend had edited together the video, which contained a variety of little clips taken from their team’s matches. However, these clips… only featured him and Lu Boyuan.
It was paired with sweet and pleasant background music, and a few hearts would even pop up on the screen occasionally.
Jian Rong bit down lightly on his left thumb, watching the video as attentively as he did their match recordings. The sound in his headphones was turned up extremely high, so he only sensed that something wasn’t quite right when a faint whiff of tobacco slipped into his nose.
He slowly turned his head.
Lu Boyuan’s gaze was still focused on Jian Rong’s computer screen. About two seconds passed before he finally cast his eyes downward to look at Jian Rong.
Jian Rong: “…”
Jian Rong rapidly exited the video-watching software, revealing the webpage that he had just finished perusing but hadn’t closed yet.
It was a Baidu search. Written big and bold in the search box was—“LPL player Road’s early years experience”.
Countless smaller windows were opened next to the webpage. The webpages’ summaries were respectively: “Road debut photos”, “Road’s early period interview video (extremely blurry)”, and “Listing all of Road’s dating scandal partners”.
Jian Rong: “……………”
Jian Rong’s face burned red, and he expressionlessly closed the websites. He thought, as long as he didn’t act awkward, Lu Boyuan would be the one to feel awkward.
Until Lu Boyuan’s voice floated down: “Who was listed for my dating scandal partners?”
Jian Rong pressed his lips together, opened them, and pressed them together again. Then he gave up in despair and said, “I only remember Tang Qin, forgot the other people’s names.”
Lu Boyuan let out an “en.” “It’s fake, I’ve never been with anyone before.”
“Oh.” Jian Rong turned his head back around and frowned while he slowly and forcefully rubbed his own face. He didn’t know how to explain why he wasn’t practicing this late at night and was instead here searching up his captain’s personal affairs.
This was his first time doing something like this, and he ended up being caught red-handed too…
Lu Boyuan looked down at Jian Rong’s completely scarlet ears, and he said, “In the future, you can ask me directly about anything you want to know. You don’t need to waste time looking it up.”
For a brief moment, Jian Rong couldn’t tell if Lu Boyuan was angry, or if he was being serious.
But he found out the answer to that soon enough. Lu Boyuan’s hand descended, sinking into his hair and ruffling it very gently.
“However, let me tell you in advance,” Lu Boyuan paused for a second before continuing, “I’m not as good as you think I am.”
Wei: Poor Jian Rong, he always gets caught by Lu Boyuan at the worst possible times LOL