The warmth of Lu Boyuan’s fingertips, bundled in the taste of strawberries, seeped through Jian Rong’s mind. He stayed frozen with his mouth hanging open, making him look a bit foolish.
For a split second, the bustling backstage area suddenly went quiet.
Seeing no reaction, Lu Boyuan lowered his eyes and asked, “Don’t like the flavor?”
His heart thumping wildly in his throat, Jian Rong pushed the hard candy over to the right side of his mouth and replied indistinctly, “Like it.”
Everyone snapped out of it.
The staff member who came to get them let out an “er” sound before repeating, “The computer inspection is finished. If you’re ready, you can head on stage at any time. The match will start in approximately ten minutes.”
“Fuck, isn’t that way too freaking obvious…” XIU muttered out loud to himself, blinking rapidly several times in a row.
Savior gazed at that package in Lu Boyuan’s hand, his eyes burning. “I want, also eat candy.”
“I’ll buy some for you after we’re done with the match.” XIU patted Savior’s head. “Stop watching them, you’re gonna end up being corrupted.”
Why would he be corrupted?
Couldn’t quite understand.
PUD’s core top laner, 98k, retracted his gaze. Despite being a Korean import player, he spoke Chinese completely fluently, and he said, “We’re going on stage now, play well. If we win, we can have a happy belated birthday celebration for you tomorrow.”
XIU gave a huff of laughter and followed after him. “And if we lose?”
98k: “We’ll have an unhappy birthday celebration.”
After Lu Boyuan did that, never mind the bystanders, even TTC’s members were startled for a moment.
Xiao Bai glanced at the nearby camera before realization dawned on him and he instantly tugged at the hem of Pine’s jacket. “P-baby! Quick! You feed me one too!”
Pine said disdainfully, “No.”
Ding-ge looked suspiciously at Lu Boyuan.
He had already felt like something was off before. Now that Lu Boyuan had fed Jian Rong, it could be considered a knock on his head.
Ding-ge said, “You…”
“Don’t rub your hand against the wall next time.” Lu Boyuan swept a look at Jian Rong’s hand. “Wipe it off, it’s time to go on stage.”
Jian Rong blinked and lifted his hand. Only then did he realize that the fingertips of his right hand were coated with a layer of dust from the wall.
Jian Rong carelessly wiped his hand against his pants, immediately leaving behind a streak of white on the black fabric.
The commentators warmed up the match for quite a while before the two teams finally took their seats.
“They’re coming, they’re coming, they’re finally here.” Commentator A rubbed his hands. “I’m sure that the fans have all been waiting a very long time for this match, right?”
Commentator B: “Forget the fans, I’ve also waited a very long time for this. However, the last match was unexpectedly brilliant, I’m already starting to look forward to the LPL’s only female pro player at the moment and her next match.”
“Indeed.” The camera panned over to the audience, and Commentator A burst out laughing. “Speaking of which… what’s going on with all the LED signs tonight?”
The fans present at the stadium tonight were split fifty-fifty between the two teams, and both sides possessed about the same amount of LED signs. Some of the fans were also using their phone screens to display scrolling text.
PUD’s fan support included—
[With the sound of a gunshot, 98k strikes Qian’s heart.]
[Savior darling an eternal god]
[Savior killed Soft]
[You can always fall back on XIU]
[Congrats TTC for receiving their first defeat of the regular season!]
Everyone in the audience was the type to shade others in game, so PUD’s LED signs were all filled with provocativity.
But TTC’s fans evidently weren’t in the mood to fight back tonight—
[Pure passerby here, did TTC’s mid laner and jungler really sleep together?]
[TTC’s bot lane is not clean]
[Soft and Road, covered with a blanket, simply chatting]
[Road stop killing stop killing]
[Concentrate on the competition don’t date @TTC all members]
[Qian-ge run for it!]
Xiao Bai appeared to be checking his peripherals, but his gaze kept floating over to the audience as he narrated aloud, “A staff member went over… and took down the ‘did TTC’s mid laner and jungler really sleep together’ sign, Jian Rong now you’re short a support banner!”
Jian Rong: “…don’t talk to me.”
Yuan Qian sighed. “Who would’ve thought, in my lifetime… someone on our team would actually have low blood sugar.”
Ding-ge frowned. “I also can’t figure it out. Every day, I feed you guys with delicious food, good drinks, and generous amounts of meat…”
Pine said indifferently, “Even if you prepared it in advance, there’s no point. He doesn’t eat it.”
Xiao Bai seized the opportunity to snitch. “Exactly. Apart from that one time my ge ordered dim sum for everyone, he barely ever eats breakfast before a match.”
Everyone else chatted cheerfully with each other, but only Lu Boyuan remained silent.
Jian Rong clenched his teeth and thought to himself, How come the match still isn’t starting yet.
After the players sat down on stage, they were forbidden from looking to their left or right, so Jian Rong couldn’t see Lu Boyuan’s expression.
Commentator A said, “Okay, the camera is starting to give close-ups to the players now, which means our match is about to begin… 98k’s killing intent seems to be quite high today ah. Savior’s hairstyle is too cute. XIU looks as relaxed as ever, it’s unclear how XIU’s hand injury is faring.”
“His injury must be recovering quite well, or else he wouldn’t be playing… hey, are we allowed to talk about this?” Commentator B chuckled. “Next up are TTC’s members. Ss—how come Qian-ge gives off an inexplicably lonely impression today…”
“Stop stop stop! That’s what you really aren’t allowed to talk about, okay!” Commentator A said, “As always, God Lu is very handsome—except he doesn’t seem to be in a very good mood?”
“…that does seem to be the case.” The camera turned, and Commentator B said, puzzled, “Soft also looks quite unenergetic… what’s up with TTC? They have to get serious ah.”
In his head, Lu Boyuan estimated the time left before the match was set to start. He asked evenly, “Do you still feel uncomfortable.”
“I can play.” Jian Rong answered extremely quickly, before he added, “It won’t affect my gameplay.”
Right as he said that, the game entered the pick/ban phase.
PUD was the blue side, and they unhesitatingly banned Lee Sin.
Commentator A: “A routine procedure. Regardless of whether this champion is strong or weak in the current meta, anyone playing against TTC has no choice but to ban Lee Sin right off the bat.”
Commentator B sighed regretfully. “Ai, speaking of which, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen God Lu’s Lee Sin. I miss it quite a bit.”
Commentator A gave an obliging laugh. “In that case, you can go to Soft’s stream and try your luck there.”
At that moment, Jian Rong couldn’t hear anything apart from his teammates’ voices and the game’s sound effects, so he didn’t know that the commentators had swept him up into their rhythm.
He glanced at the opposing team’s ban list, and a bit of unhappiness appeared in his eyes.
PUD gave their first three ban spots to Lee Sin, Varus, and Yuumi.
They didn’t ban a single mid lane champion.
So when Ding-ge asked if they wanted to ban Savior’s Orianna, Jian Rong coldly refused. “No need. No matter what he picks, I can beat him.”
Jian Rong was still sucking on the candy. As a result, even though he was clearly laying down a threat, he sounded somewhat comical since his pronunciation was unclear.
Lu Boyuan shifted his mouse as his expression cleared up a little.
“Then how about we ban either Renekton or Camille.” Yuan Qian instantly said, “I’ll lay my cards on the table first: I’m no match for 98k in the top lane.”
98k was PUD’s top laner, as well as the first Korean player to join the LPL. Prior to that, he belonged to the LCK’s top ranked team.
Back then, when the news about his transfer broke out, it wouldn’t be excessive at all to describe the situation as “bloody carnage.” PUD and 98k himself were both utterly and completely flamed. However, 98k’s mentality was very strong, and he stubbornly stayed in PUD all the way until now; currently, he was the LPL’s most popular top laner.
The pick/ban phase ended, and Jian Rong chose Syndra, who possessed both CC and damage.
Xiao Bai and Pine held a brief discussion. 98k was a powerhouse in the top lane, whereas it wasn’t clear yet who would win in the mid lane between Jian Rong and Savior, meaning their bot lane would become extremely crucial. As a result, after they talked it over, they decided to go with a team composition that was stronger in the early game—Lux and Caitlyn.
Ding-ge felt like they could deal enough damage with their current team composition, so he told Lu Boyuan to lock in Jarvan IV, who could be used to engage in team fights.
Meanwhile, Yuan Qian chose the steady and dependable errand boy, Ornn.
Two minutes later, the game officially began.
Jian Rong’s playstyle was as intense as usual. Even before he hit level 6, he started looking for opportunities, continuously whittling down Savior’s health. But Savior played his Aurelion Sol extremely cautiously, focusing solely on the minions in front of him. If he was low on health, he would retreat back to his tower to wait for the wave, not in any rush whatsoever.
Lu Boyuan’s early game objective was very clear—thoroughly gank 98k.
XIU’s objective was similarly clear: protect 98k to death.
Conflicts constantly popped up between both teams’ top laners and junglers. They clashed twice, but nobody died.
The third time, Lu Boyuan said calmly, “Even if XIU counterganks this time, keep fighting. We can beat him.”
Yuan Qian immediately responded, “OK.”
Lu Boyuan calculated it correctly. With a precise EQR combo, he restrained 98k’s Volibear. Although XIU appeared at the back end of their field of vision, it was obvious that he wouldn’t be able to make it in time to save 98k.
At that moment, a blue-colored ice arrow slowly flew over from the bot lane—and accurately pierced through Yuan Qian.
It belonged to the ult of the opposing ADC’s Ashe, and it was able to both deal damage and stun an enemy for 3.5 seconds.
Commentator A said straightaway, “What a beautiful ult! Qian-ge has been stunned and can’t move, so they don’t have enough damage to kill 98k. XIU makes it just in time, and God Lu has no choice but to retreat, since he doesn’t have enough health… 98k has successfully escaped!”
Commentator B: “The top lane is so lively, God Lu has already gone up there three times now. How come he doesn’t try ganking the mid lane?”
“Savior’s almost combined himself with the tower, how to gank that? Of course, there’s also another possibility…” Commentator A coughed lightly. “Avoid arousing suspicion. You understand, right?”
Commentator B laughed in spite of himself. “You really aren’t afraid of being assassinated by Soft, huh.”
The barrage in the stream’s live broadcast was extremely energetic—
[@Commentator A, the moment he started speaking I knew he was an old water friend.]
[Just wait, this commentator will undoubtedly make it onto the dumbass’ grudge book.]
[Grudge book? Isn’t that too excessive?? It’s normal for Road not to go to the mid lane, Savior is famous for being stable in the early game. Last time, four people in Fighting Tiger surrounded the mid lane and still couldn’t kill him…]
[That’s true. Not like my dumbass son, who’s constantly tower diving but can’t beat up four enemies as long as they press down on his head1 ^^]
[It is exactly that excessive. Back when LoL’s blocking system wasn’t refined yet, this bluenette dumbass had a genuine grudge book. If he encountered an actor listed in his book, he would instantly start interacting with them the moment he entered the game.]
[The most infuriating thing was how quite a few times after he finished insulting them, he could still carry the game all by himself and win even with the actor on his team. I fucking died laughing.]
Taking advantage of the fact that the enemy ADC didn’t have his ult, Pine and Xiao Bai promptly forcefully pushed a wave.
Jian Rong reported lowly, “Enemy mid laner is missing, low health.”
“How low is low health?” Xiao Bai asked.
Jian Rong replied swiftly, “Less than 300.”
With that little health, it was very unlikely that he was headed down to gank the bot lane.
Xiao Bai: “Granddad’s going for it.”
Xiao Bai flashed and rushed forward to toss out his Q, which landed squarely on the enemy support’s Tahm Kench. Tahm Kench wasn’t able to react in time and ended up being rooted in place; Pine immediately followed up with a trap, triggering a headshot.
Right as they were about to finish off Tahm Kench, a blue glowing object flew towards them—it was the opposing team’s Aurelion Sol, with 299 HP.
Savior played his Aurelion Sol to its absolute limit. Just as Jian Rong reached the drake pit, he heard someone speak in their team voice chat.
Xiao Bai: “Granddad’s gone.”
The first blood announcement sounded. Savior killed Xiao Bai, and Pine withdrew back under the tower with minimal health.
At once, Jian Rong used his flash, wanting to trade Savior, but Savior quickly followed up with his own flash. With a shake of his tail, he vanished.
Jian Rong questioned, “He came down with 300 HP, and you two couldn’t even force out a flash from him?”
Xiao Bai: “Well, what could I have done about that? I only had enough mana for one Q. This Savior’s positioning seems to be even more amazing than yours…”
Jian Rong’s expression was chilly. “Say that one more time??”
“You’re the most amazing.” Lu Boyuan placed a ward near Jian Rong’s mid lane and instructed levelly, “Savior is going to try harder to gank the bot lane now. Suppress him in the lane, don’t let him get too relaxed. Qian-ge hang in there, I’ll head up once I help the bot lane gain an advantage.”
Intentionally or not, Jian Rong’s fur was stroked back down. He blinked a few times, pretending to be calm as he swallowed back his ridicule.
Lu Boyuan’s prediction was very accurate. In the next ten minutes, Savior flew towards the bot lane over and over, bringing XIU along with him too.
Lu Boyuan and Jian Rong also rushed over quickly. They exchanged blows back and forth for two waves, yet not a single person lost their life.
At that moment, Yuan Qian was solo killed by Volibear in the top lane.
“98k has been hiding this Volibear for the entire freaking season!” Yuan Qian was suppressed for ten whole minutes, and he couldn’t help but clench his teeth. “And he even tower dove to kill me… Captain, don’t bother coming up here. You might not be able to gank him, and if you’re counterganked, it’s a sure death. I’ll make do somehow… just treat this game as if I’m not here.”
“Mn.” Lu Boyuan said, “It’s fine.”
Two minutes later, Xiao Bai and Pine entered their lane, but Pine only got to hit a minion once before Aurelion Sol once again flew into their line of sight, swinging his butt.
“He’s fucking here again!!” Xiao Bai said angrily, “Does heaven’s law even exist anymore? Where’s our darling mid laner?”
The “darling mid laner” frowned. “He has twenty less minions than I do, and he went straight over from his base. Clearly, he wants to restrict Pine’s farming even at the cost of giving up his own minions. What can I do about that?”
Xiao Bai: “You come gank too ah.”
“Have I not gone?” Jian Rong cleared the wave of minions. “The number of times I went to the bot lane in this one game alone is higher than the total amount of times I go to the bot lane in a whole month of ranked games…”
Xiao Bai: “Shut your mouth!”
Jian Rong: “?”
“I’m going to say a number right now, and you’re going to get on board instantly!” Xiao Bai fled under the tower, his mouth running at lightning speed. “Within one minute……… come to the bot lane 8,133 times2!”
Jian Rong: “…”
There was an outburst of laughter in the team voice chat.
Jian Rong truly couldn’t hold back any longer. Enduring the discomfort in his stomach, his lips twitched into a smile as he said, “…dumbass.”
The chaotic melee in the bot lane came to an end after they pushed PUD’s first tower; Jian Rong and the rest had an edge over the opposing team most of the time.
However, by the time the first turret was destroyed in the enemy’s bot lane, 98k’s score was already 3/0/0—it was a super fat bear.
TTC’s damage output was focused on the mid and bot lanes this round, but Jian Rong’s farming could only be considered average. After all, he didn’t have a single kill or assist to his name. Meanwhile, Pine’s farming had also been utterly restrained by Savior.
As a result, thirty-two minutes in, when Volibear came down to team fight, Xiao Bai felt just like a huge mountain was bearing down on him.
Even though Lu Boyuan and Pine had worked together to kill off the enemy ADC at the first possible moment, the moment Volibear entered the fight, they realized that oneshotting the ADC… wasn’t any fucking help at all!
At the end of the team fight, Jian Rong gritted his teeth and forcibly traded Savior’s Aurelion Sol, while he himself was directly swatted to death by Volibear. Taking out two of PUD’s players at the cost of five of their own, TTC lost this team fight.
Forty minutes into the game, Volibear powerfully flashed in and engaged, unreasonably able to slap people around even with his eyes closed. After he killed Pine, PUD immediately chose to go for Baron.
At forty-four minutes, PUD swiftly regrouped and pushed mid. Jian Rong flashed and oneshotted the enemy ADC, seizing a small chance for them to catch their breaths. However, TTC’s total gold was still less than PUD’s.
At forty-eight minutes, Savior cooperated with XIU to kill Xiao Bai, who was acting as vision. They continued to advance down the mid lane, leaving Lu Boyuan with no alternative but to flash in and engage. Right as he instakilled Aurelion Sol, Volibear also flashed and killed off Jian Rong.
At forty-eight minutes and forty seconds, TTC’s Nexus was destroyed, and PUD won the first round of the match.
Jian Rong removed his headphones as the cheers of the PUD fans resounded through the stadium.
Jian Rong stood up while reflecting back on his shortcomings in this game. Maybe it was because he got up too suddenly, but for a split second, he felt his mind go blank when he straightened up.
Almost imperceptibly, Jian Rong swayed a little, and Lu Boyuan rapidly steadied him with a hand on his shoulder.
This scene was captured by the big screen. TTC’s fans were startled for a moment, before they instantly exploded with a series of odd screams.
PUD fans: “?”
Were you the ones who won the game, or were we?
Jian Rong stood up straight and promptly clarified, “I’m fine, I just got up too suddenly.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t say anything. He only quietly waited for two seconds to make sure that Jian Rong had recovered before finally releasing him.
Back at the break room, Yuan Qian was the first to speak. “It’s my fault, I was careless during that one wave and didn’t expect that he would dare to tower dive and kill me. I should’ve gone straight back to base instead.”
“You’re not to blame, 98k plays Volibear extremely well, too meticulously. I didn’t think that he would take out that champion here during the regular season.” Ding-ge lowered his eyes. “It’s alright, we’ll ban Volibear right away in the next game.”
Xiao Bai raised his hand. “Can we ban Aurelion Sol? I’m about to go into self-seclusion from being ganked.”
As soon as he finished saying that, he immediately received a death glare from their team’s mid laner.
“I’ll play Twisted Fate next game.” Jian Rong sat on a stool next to the TV, chewing on the crackers that Ding-ge had just handed him. With a dark expression, he said, “I’ll take him on in terms of providing support.”
Lu Boyuan was sitting on the sofa, his attention focused solely on Jian Rong.
Jian Rong hid it very well. If it wasn’t for his stagger earlier, Lu Boyuan wouldn’t even be able to tell that something was wrong.
Just as Lu Boyuan was hesitating over whether they should switch in the substitute or not, the staff member knocked on the door and informed them that it was time to go on stage.
“Okay, let’s go.” Ding-ge stood up and handed that bag of candy from before to Jian Rong. “Eat one more piece.”
Jian Rong took the bag and let out an “oh.”
There were numerous different flavors of candy in the bag. Jian Rong searched through them and found the same strawberry-flavored candy as before. He peeled off the wrapper and tossed it into his mouth.
Lu Boyuan retracted his gaze. From his peripheral vision, he could clearly sense that after Jian Rong tied the bag of candy shut again, he shot a stealthy look in Lu Boyuan’s direction.
The players entered the stage again, and the next round of the match started quite soon after.
The commentators were still immersed in Volibear’s regime from the last game.
Commentator A: “This Volibear really is something else. Also, the other thing is that PUD’s ability to group together is too strong, and their cooperation is good as well. It feels like TTC’s mid and bot lanes still need to improve on their teamwork. There’s no way to win a competition relying only on your individual strength ah, Soft.”
Commentator B couldn’t help but laugh. “How do you know that it’s Soft’s fault? What if Soft reported an MIA, but the bot lane wasn’t willing to leave?”
“Er, that’s not impossible either.” Commentator A glanced at the screen. “Alright, currently the first six banned champions have been announced. As expected, Volibear has been banned. We most likely won’t be able to see this champion appear on PUD’s team for a very long time after this, just like Road’s Lee Sin… hm??”
Commentator A was stunned, and he leaned forward a little, repeatedly scanning over PUD’s ban list. “Wait a moment—I’m not seeing things, am I?”
PUD’s first three banned champions were Graves, LeBlanc, and Varus.
Amidst the screams of the entire audience, Commentator B paused briefly before he gave a deep sigh. “After an entire summer season and half a spring season… the champion Lee Sin has finally been released from the ban list during a match that Road is in.”
- I think this is just implying Jian Rong’s short so he can’t reach him if they push him away by his head ^
- Alrighty, another Chinese meme lol. Source is a douyin video making fun of streamers who trick viewers into buying products through various methods – Xiao Bai quotes some of the lines here ^
Yan: In case you’re curious how P&B works – each team bans three champions and then picks three in phase 1; the remaining 2 pick/bans happen in phase 2 (after phase 1 is over). Therefore, if they don’t ban Lee Sin in phase 1, that means Road is able to pick it. (I think this is how it works anyway – please correct me if I’m wrong!)