Jian Rong finished eating his egg before he finally understood what video of ‘fingers reaching into his mouth’ the barrage was talking about…
Jian Rong said, “Stop spamming, we were in a rush to get on stage at the time and my fingers were covered with dust from the wall. That’s why Captain handed me one.”
After he said that, he glanced behind him and saw Lu Boyuan turning on his computer, drinking water, and putting on his headphones.
Taking advantage of the moment Lu Boyuan put on his headphones, Jian Rong cupped a hand around his mic and asked, bluntly and quietly, “What video? Where’d you see it? Send me the link… reliving the moment my ass, I’m trying to refute baseless rumors here… is anyone going to freaking send it to me or not?”
Since they hadn’t reviewed the match last night, the other three members also woke up one after another before noon.
At 10:45, everyone’s phones chimed at the same time.
[Ding-ge: Too many things were happening yesterday, so I forgot to say this. Uninstall Tieba and Weibo for the next few days, and you can take it easy on the streaming too, don’t screw yourself over. I just woke up, I’ll head over after I get ready, and we can review the match an hour from now.]
[Ding-ge: Is Jian Rong up? Tell him to eat breakfast.]
[Xiao Bai: He’s up, he’s been awake for a few hours. Right now he’s in the middle of a massacre with my ge in the Summoner’s Rift, they just seized 16 points from Da Niu.]
[Pine: You sent that too late.]
Ding-ge’s eyes were barely open, and he was still in the state of being where nothing in the world had anything to do with him. He turned his head and kissed his wife before he replied with a question mark.
Xiao Bai sent him a video.
Ding-ge clicked on it, confused.
The video was shot from a higher angle looking down, and the first thing that popped up was the image of their mid laner’s back as he played LoL.
The teenager had one leg hiked over the other, with his headphones only covering one ear. There were two fruit gummies next to his keyboard, and you could faintly see that he was laning against someone in the mid lane as he chattered away.
“Thank you ‘Soft loses a game and grows shorter by a centimeter’ for the Little Star… wait a moment, don’t fight for now. Trolls, you stop too, watch my mechanics right here first. If you can learn it, it’ll be enough to get you into Platinum, I won’t even ask for your apprenticeship fees.”
The keyboard clattered loudly.
“Immediately open with Ignite, don’t give them any chances. First W, then Q, and like that… they’re dead.
“Did everyone get it? If you didn’t, you can watch the replay at 0.5 times the speed later on—water friends who know how to screen record, help me record the clip. It’d be best if you added some badass special effects and music too, you can directly DM the video to me on Weibo or to my stream account. Letting you all know in advance, there are no rewards, I’m a cheapskate, thank you.”
The video came to an abrupt end.
[Yuan Qian: Xiao Rong’s already been streaming for over two hours.]
[Ding-ge: What has he said??]
[Pine: The same as usual.]
[Yuan Qian: He just finished settling a dispute with a water friend over who is whose dad.]
[Xiao Bai: Reasonably speaking, I feel like there wasn’t anything wrong with Jian Rong’s play. That water friend was being too much, they called him a Smurf the moment they opened their mouth.]
[Ding-ge: Isn’t he duo Q’ing with Xiao Lu?]
[Xiao Bai: En, my ge told him to make sure to avoid using obscene language.]
Ding-ge rejected his wife’s return kiss, rushed out of his house like there was a fire under his butt, and forcefully put a stop to this stream, which might have ended up triggering who knows what kind of public opinions.
Today’s match review was destined to take longer than usual.
Ding-ge’s expression was more grave than it had been in the past, and his wording was more severe than before too. All five of them were scolded at one point or another; even Lu Boyuan was on the receiving end of a few lines. He had made a small mistake in the third game, causing a gank to fail, so he hadn’t been able to establish an advantage in the early game for his teammates.
The one who was scolded the worst was Yuan Qian.
The look on Yuan Qian’s face was very bad, and he continuously nodded. His deaths in the first game were replayed over and over numerous times, and his ears went red from the lecturing.
“If you can’t beat 98k in the lane, I won’t blame you for that, since your strengths are resisting pressure and engaging. But you completely collapsed in this game, your playstyle was extremely rushed. When 98k tower dove, you could’ve run away, yet you insisted on turning around, wanting to trade. In the end, it didn’t work and you ended up dying… there’s a lot of problems in this wave.” Ding-ge frowned. “98k isn’t as good as you are in the late game, but with you feeding him to that extent, what late game is there even to speak of? You threw away your own strong points.”
Yuan Qian nodded. “My fault.”
Ding-ge grew tired from talking and took a sip of water. “Can you fix it before the playoffs?”
As for Jian Rong, it was just the same old observations.
After per usual scolding him for his loner behavior for half an hour, Ding-ge suddenly shifted gears. “—however, it’s not as if you didn’t improve at all.”
Jian Rong: “…”
He thought that Ding-ge was trying to use the carrot-and-stick approach, so he raised his head and said, “You can scold me as you like, no need to say all that. I can take it.”
“I’m being serious.” Ding-ge lifted an eyebrow. “At least you know to provide assistance now, even if you looked like you were window-shopping because you were too late every time.”
“That’s true.” Xiao Bai agreed, “Back then, I was afraid that you wouldn’t come at all, and then you would ask P-baby and me ‘are you having fun feeding, noobs’.”
Jian Rong: “.”
After the match review finished, Jian Rong stayed behind.
Ding-ge exited the video and glanced up at him. “Is something the matter?”
“Mn.” Jian Rong paused. “With a situation like mine… how can I quickly improve? Though we have practice matches every day, it seems like it’s not quite enough.”
Prior to this, Jian Rong was always playing the game by himself and trying to figure out how to become stronger on his own. This was his first time asking the team’s coach a question since joining the team.
“Practicing support is very simple. You just have to pay more attention to what’s going on in the other two lanes, don’t focus only on laning.” Ding-ge contemplated for a few seconds. “Aside from that, I think there’s another issue: you’re still not good enough at team fights. You keep making the mistake of disregarding your teammates for the sake of getting a kill. As for that, I recommend that you attempt to have more contact with each person individually.”
Jian Rong didn’t understand. “What’s that mean?”
“Like duo queue or flex queue, both work. Under the current circumstances, you guys still don’t have enough coordination with one another yet. You have to try to understand your teammates and learn their habits when they’re team fighting, laning, and tower diving.
“In a nutshell, you should queue with the others more. Why are you fixated only on Xiao Lu?”
“…oh.” Jian Rong nodded. “Got it.”
In the following few days after the game review, TTC’s practice match schedule grew even more packed, and training also finished later and later every day. Frequently, all the members were still sitting in the practice room at two in the morning.
Tonight, right as Lu Boyuan logged on, XIU’s party invite popped up.
Lu Boyuan checked his friends list. All of his teammates were online with the ‘in game’ status.
He cast his eyes down and clicked accept.
XIU had most likely been practicing for a while too, and his voice was somewhat hoarse. “Hey bro, let’s play a few games. My role is to be carried, I’m too exhausted from playing tonight.”
Lu Boyuan gave an “en.”
“Oh right.” XIU asked, amused, “How come I haven’t seen you duo queueing with that little friend of yours lately? These days when I meet him in ranked, if he’s not queueing with Xiao Bai, then he’s playing with Yuan Qian or Pine.”
Lu Boyuan selected his roles and didn’t say anything.
It was true that Jian Rong hadn’t asked him to duo queue recently. He had even declined Lu Boyuan’s offer last night, awkwardly saying that he had already invited Xiao Bai.
XIU continued, “Did you end up lecturing him that day after the match, so he doesn’t want to play with you anymore?”
Lu Boyuan knew that wasn’t it; Jian Rong wasn’t really one to nitpick over something like that.
But as of late, Jian Rong had indeed only played a few games with him. Thinking back on it now, it was probably just because it hadn’t been convenient for him to refuse in front of the stream’s water friends.
Lu Boyuan began to ponder whether it was because he had been too obvious about it that night and had scared Jian Rong away.
If that truly was the case, and a single use of the word “coax” was enough to make Jian Rong avoid him… Jian Rong was really rather too straight.
Thinking about this, Lu Boyuan felt even less inclined to talk.
“No way? Did I hit the nail on the head?” XIU roared with laughter before he started to earnestly analyze for him, “Ai, let me tell you, from one glance you can tell that Soft is the type of person who has a big ego. If there are any problems, you can’t just jab his forehead and say it, you have to be a bit more tactful…”
“He’s not as petty as you think he is.” Lu Boyuan’s brows furrowed. “Did you used to talk this much when playing ranked before?”
“I’ve always been a brilliant conversationalist.” XIU shook his legs, one of which was propped up over the other. “By the way, you better not forget about the get-together on Sunday night.”
Lu Boyuan randomly banned a champion. “I know.”
Everyone went offline at 2:30 AM once again that night.
Right as Jian Rong turned off his computer and stood up, Xiao Bai tugged on his shirt. “Jian Rong, come here, let’s watch this together.”
Jian Rong lowered his eyes lazily.
Xiao Bai clicked on a link that a fan had privately messaged him. The link summary was: “no butterflies challenge, esports male gods version”.
Jian Rong frowned. “What’s this?”
“Oh, I know this.” Yuan Qian powered off his computer and also joined the crowd. “It’s a game you can play with friends. You show a video with a bunch of clips of handsome guys or beautiful girls, and if while watching the video, anyone smiles or makes an expression that clearly shows they’re ‘feeling butterflies,’ they’ll be punished… my wife made me play this before.”
Pine asked, “Then what happened.”
Yuan Qian said expressionlessly, “She beat me up.”
Jian Rong had no interest whatsoever in this, and he didn’t want to waste his sleeping time. He said absently, “They’re all male pro players, what’s the point of me watching as a guy?”
There was no fun in watching this kind of video alone. Xiao Bai immediately said, “You fucking dragged me around and forced me to duo queue with you for ten hours, so what’s the big deal if I want you to watch a video with me now? What’s more, why can’t a guy feel butterflies for another guy? Are you looking down on gay love?”
“…” Jian Rong slowly drew back the foot that had just taken a step away.
Xiao Bai was satisfied. “Let me guess, Pine is definitely in this, as well as my ge… and me!”
Before this, Lu Boyuan was replying to a group chat and wasn’t paying attention to what they were talking about.
Hearing Xiao Bai mention him, he cast a look at Jian Rong, who was standing behind Xiao Bai, and also came to a stop next to them.
Xiao Bai clicked on the video, and the background music gradually started playing.
“Ai, Western pro players have an unfair advantage in these kinds of videos, their features are already very clearly defined.” Yuan Qian crossed his arms and sighed ruefully.
Foreign professional players took up half of the video; the LPL players were put at the end.
The first LPL player to take the stage was Doufu. The inserted clip was recently filmed, and the person in the video behaved exactly the same way as he did in Jian Rong’s mind: as someone who was asking for a spanking.
Judging from the background, he was in Squid’s base. Doufu was sitting in his gaming chair, and it was unclear what he overheard, but he propped a hand up under his chin and faced the camera, tugging up the corner of his lips in a smirk.
Jian Rong felt so overwhelmed by the grease that he wanted to throw him into a pan.
Did fans see esports pro players through too much of a filter these days?
There was no way anyone would feel butterflies when looking at a pig like this, right??
Following that was a video of Pine backstage during last year’s summer season. He sat on the sofa, eyebrows knitted together as he stared at his phone. When the camera panned in closer, it was clear that he was playing Fight the Landlord.
“Hahahahahahaha.” Xiao Bai tugged at Pine’s hand, laughing like a fool. “P-baby, look at this, you’re both dumb as hell and handsome here.”
Pine swept a glance over. “Ridiculous.”
Jian Rong watched the video, feeling no flutters at all. In his mind, he simply summarized what he had learned from today’s ranked games—Xiao Bai was fairly decent at playing aggressive supports, and if Xiao Bai picked Thresh or Leona in a future match, Jian Rong could choose a mid laner that was good at providing assistance, such as…
Lu Boyuan appeared on the screen.
Jian Rong couldn’t help but lift his hand and bite down on his thumb.
Such as… such as what again?
Lu Boyuan’s video appeared to have been taken quite a long time ago. It seemed to have been filmed by a staff member, and the quality wasn’t very high.
Lu Boyuan was wearing their team’s short-sleeved shirt uniform, and he stood in a corner of the break room, watching a game replay on his phone. Two seconds later, Xiao Bai said something to him, which made Lu Boyuan lower his head and laugh out loud.
The person holding the camera most likely called his name, and when Lu Boyuan looked over, his smile hadn’t completely disappeared yet. There was a teasing note to his smile, and the outer corners of his eyes slanted upwards. His pitch-black irises looked as if they could peer into the depths of someone’s heart.
Jian Rong bit down so hard on his thumb that it turned white, as he stared at the computer screen without blinking.
He could clearly sense his heartbeat slowly speeding up. It leaped into his throat the moment the Lu Boyuan in the video turned his head, and even the finger that he was gnawing on felt like it was trembling.
Before the video finished, Xiao Bai and Yuan Qian already began exchanging their opinions on it. Jian Rong attempted to concentrate on what they were saying, but not a single word sunk in.
Xiao Bai: “@! #%¥#… isn’t that right, Jian Rong?”
The instant Xiao Bai called his name, Jian Rong suddenly felt guilty.
He had no idea what Xiao Bai just said, so he dully replied with: “Mn.”
His thumb hurt a bit from him biting it. Jian Rong shifted his teeth upward and started chewing on a different area.
Another few seconds ticked by. Finally, Jian Rong couldn’t restrain himself any longer, and he glanced to the side in a manner that he personally believed to be extraordinarily careful, covert, and unnoticeable—
He met Lu Boyuan’s eyes.
Those eyes that had been in the video were currently looking down, and the faint fluorescence of the computer monitor reflected moons in his irises.
Lu Boyuan’s gaze was calm, and it wasn’t clear how long he had been watching Jian Rong.
Yuan Qian was standing between them in a position slightly closer to the computer, so he didn’t manage to obstruct anyone’s vision.
Lu Boyuan stared into Jian Rong’s eyes, which couldn’t hide anything at all, and very lightly lifted an eyebrow. Then, just like he had in the video, he curved his eyes and smiled.
Yan: *clutches chest* even I felt the doki dokis translating this scene, rip Jian Rong