Thank you to kekeke for the Ko-fi~
The LPL’s announcement of the penalty was published on LoL’s official website and Weibo at eight PM that night.
The post was written in the same format as always, as if the only thing replaced was the pro player’s name. Antis who were aware of the entire sequence of events were storing up their energy and waiting to act; they were already prepared to control the direction of the comment section and stir up conflict between TTC and PUD.
But when they opened the comment section—
[PUD fan here, we will happily pay this fee. My baby Savior is really super-duper cute, Mommy wishes you eternal happiness.]
[I’ve already replayed the stream from that day a hundred times now. I won’t apologize for all the insults I gave Soft in the past, but this time, I am wholeheartedly saying thank you]
[No way no way, nowadays when a pro player publicly teaches someone to troll, nobody flames them for it anymore? This is an issue with the quality of his character, okay?]
[There’s no need to mention quality of character when you’re dealing with actor dogs. I’m willing to pay 10k to kill a troll.]
[Savior darling will resume streaming tomorrow, will I be able to see him duo Q with Soft again?]
[Wait a sec? What’s going on? Only penalizing Savior but not my son? The LPL is looking down on him, huh? I’m telling you, Soft’s penalty announcement must be arranged by tomorrow!]
[My son has been earning a lot of money lately. LPL, don’t hold back on your punishment ah.]
[Stop talking stop talking, he hasn’t streamed for two days now, and there hasn’t been any activity on his Weibo either. It’s a reasonable suspicion to think that TTC’s coach has already secretly done away with him.]
[Savior is so well-behaved, I hope that PUD’s coach can look after him well. Don’t let him get close to my son again, my son isn’t some good person.]
[Indeed. Before I watched the dumbass’ streams, I was the #1 soft girl in Summoner’s Rift, but now I can annihilate nine entire clans all on my own.]
The LPL was lacking mid laners recently. As a result, ever since these two mid laners belonging to the new generation settled in the LPL, the water friends and fans had fought ferociously with each other.
Yet today, the fans were in perfect harmony, full of joy, to the point that they even wanted to reach out and shake hands.
The antis struggled to incite arguments amidst it all, but they weren’t able to create any waves whatsoever.
Savior forwarded the Weibo post. His apology was written in a very official manner, and it was clear that someone else had typed it out for him.
Just as the fans thought that things would conclude here, at one in the morning, Savior added another comment underneath his apology Weibo post—
[PUD-Savior: I have something else to say to everyone~ ^^ Soft is a mid laner I’ve met whose individual strength is extremely strong. I could sense it during the competitive match, his mechanics are amazing! I very much want to play with him again, he’s the Chinese friend I like the most, besides my teammates and staff team. Fans, please don’t attack him, I will be super sad QvQ after I resume streaming, I will do my best to play with him again~! Thank you everybody!]
Xiao Bai encountered this comment during a break between games, and he proceeded to dramatically read it aloud in the practice room.
Leaning back in his chair, Lu Boyuan was in the middle of watching a recording of PUD’s last regular season match.
After Xiao Bai finished reading the entire comment, Lu Boyuan lifted his hand and expressionlessly hit the fast-forward button.
Pine raised an eyebrow. “Is he confessing?”
Yuan Qian rubbed his aching wrist, smiling dumbly with his head lowered as he scrolled through his girlfriend’s messages. “My wife also sent me that comment, she told me to take some notes from Savior…”
“The comments underneath it are all things like ‘totally shipping it,’ ‘get engaged today, meet each other on the peak,’ ‘TTC and PUD formally connected through marriage’… tsk, it’s because they didn’t hear what Ding-ge sounded like a few days ago when he was laning against PUD’s manager. What marriage alliance? A family feud, that’s what this is.” Xiao Bai muttered for a while before he turned his head and said, “Jian Rong, how come you don’t have any reaction.”
Jian Rong wasn’t paying any attention to him. He was currently drilling last-hitting, and he asked without bothering to look over, “What?”
Xiao Bai said bluntly, “The PUD mid laner’s confession to you.”
Jian Rong picked up his phone and checked the comment.
The paragraph read like it had been machine translated, and it was clear from first glance that Savior had written it himself. There were also a ton of people mentioning him in the comments below; who knew what they were getting so excited over.
Two minutes later, Jian Rong locked his phone and placed it face down on the table.
Xiao Bai was startled. “Are you not going to respond?”
Xiao Bai curiously refreshed his Weibo timeline. With a thunk, the post that Jian Rong had just forwarded appeared at the very top of his home page.
[TTC ་ Soft: Forwarding this Weibo // PUD-Savior: I have something else to say to everyone~ ^^ Soft is a mid laner I’ve met…]
Emotionless, indifferent, without even an emoticon.
Internally, Xiao Bai felt briefly sorry for Savior. Then he scrolled down and discovered that their mid laner had actually forwarded another Weibo post in those past few minutes.
[TTC ་ Soft: [cheer] [thumbs up] Beautiful, support. // TTC ་ Road: Thanks to Feng Hua Peripherals for creating these exclusive Road keycaps…]
Xiao Bai: “…”
Xiao Bai clicked on the post to confirm something.
That’s right, Jian Rong had forwarded Lu Boyuan’s sponsored post—and it was one that had been posted a whole freaking month ago.
Along with the netizens underneath that Weibo post, he felt even more sorry for Savior.
Jian Rong had missed quite a few minions today during their practice match earlier, so he kept practicing it throughout the night.
Once he finally hit his self-imposed goal, Jian Rong let out a long sigh. Then, pretending to act casual, he looked behind him just in time to see Lu Boyuan stand up from his chair, holding his phone.
Lu Boyuan stuck one hand in his pocket, and he sensed Jian Rong’s gaze. “What’s up.”
Jian Rong said, “Nothing… wanted to duo queue with you.”
Lu Boyuan glanced at the clock on the wall before he said, “I have to do something, maybe in a bit.”
After Lu Boyuan left, Jian Rong slouched backwards and sprawled listlessly in his chair.
As the playoffs drew closer, more and more teams started scheduling practice matches with them; it was almost enough to fry their minds. When a practice match was finished, they had to review it, and when the review was finished, they had to continue practicing… he hadn’t really talked to Lu Boyuan the entire day.
Jian Rong rubbed his face. He kind of wanted to eat scallion oil noodles again.
He shifted his mouse and created a lobby before he turned his head and asked, “Wanna duo queue?”
Xiao Bai asked in return, “Chinese or Korean server?”
Jian Rong said, “You’re currently talking to the Korean server’s future rank one player.”
“No thanks then.” Xiao Bai decisively chickened out. “I still want to be happily alive.”
Jian Rong didn’t force Xiao Bai. It didn’t matter to him whether he did solo or duo queue. He just thought that he might as well practice his teamwork while he was climbing.
Right as he selected his roles and entered matchmaking, his phone abruptly vibrated.
[R: Come to the break room?]
From his peripheral vision, Xiao Bai saw Jian Rong playing on his phone expressionlessly, head lowered. All of a sudden, he felt like their mid laner was also a tiny bit pitiful—if it wasn’t because Jian Rong had to go through too much hardship when he was young, who would want to become a little troll that nobody cherished or loved?
Being flamed by water friends, being trolled by actors, and now he couldn’t even find someone to play games with him…
Xiao Bai’s heart was filled with guilt and sympathy. A few seconds later, he mentally prepared himself to do some reverse climbing before he gritted his teeth and said, “Forget it, I can queue with you—”
Jian Rong shot to his feet, swiveled around, and started walking towards the door.
Xiao Bai was taken aback. “Where are you going? Didn’t you want to duo queue? I’ve already logged in…”
“I’m busy, I can’t carry you anymore.” Jian Rong said, “Play by yourself.”
Xiao Bai: “???”
It was late at night, and the lights in the base’s living room were off.
The practice room was brightly lit, as if time didn’t pass in it. Only when Jian Rong walked out of the room into darkness did he vaguely recall what time it was.
The aroma of coffee saturated the break room. Lu Boyuan leaned against the counter, one hand placed its edge while he looked down at his phone.
Hearing noise, Lu Boyuan lifted his head. “Come here.”
Jian Rong had gamed all day in front of his computer, and he didn’t even have to think to know just how bad he looked right now. He subconsciously ruffled his messy hair as he walked over to Lu Boyuan. “…did you need me for something?”
Lu Boyuan watched as Jian Rong’s hair grew more and more disheveled. He said, amused, “If I don’t, am I not allowed to seek you out?”
With a single sentence, the exhaustion from two hours of last-hitting practice seemed to fly away.
Jian Rong licked his lips and said, “You are.”
“I saw that you were practicing the entire night, so I called you over to relax a little.” Lu Boyuan set his phone down. “We still have a match tomorrow, how late are you planning to practice?”
Jian Rong said, “Just a few more games, and then I’ll sleep.”
Lu Boyuan hummed. He cast his eyes down and asked, “Do your fingers feel sore.”
Last-hitting was the most tedious of the fundamental drills; you had to continuously click on the mouse and auto-attack to finish off the minions and get their gold. It had to be repeated over and over in order to develop the muscle memory for it, and anyone who practiced it for a long period of time would feel uncomfortable.
Jian Rong was practicing early game last-hitting with a mage champion. He could only auto-attack, and he dealt less damage than a physical damage champion, which was why he drilled for two hours before he was finally satisfied.
Out of habit, Jian Rong wanted to put up a strong front and act like everything was fine.
Lu Boyuan then said, “I can help massage your hand?”
Jian Rong swallowed his “it doesn’t feel sore” back into his stomach. His right hand, which was hanging at his side, unconsciously twitched.
Lu Boyuan’s hands felt somewhat cool, or perhaps the temperature of Jian Rong’s palm was just high due to him practicing last-hitting for too long.
Lu Boyuan picked up his fingers one by one, slowly kneading all the way from the base to the tip. Whenever he drew his hand back, his fingertips would always scrape lightly against the sides of Jian Rong’s fingers.
Every time they brushed by, Jian Rong would swiftly blink once, tingles running down his back.
At first, Jian Rong stared obediently down at his hand. But not long after, taking advantage of the fact that Lu Boyuan’s head was lowered and he couldn’t see him, Jian Rong’s gaze floated up all on its own.
He never thought much of them being in the practice room together every day for over ten hours, but the moment they were alone, all sorts of thoughts jumped out.
“Does it feel good.” Lu Boyuan’s head was still lowered.
Whether it felt good or not was the least of Jian Rong’s concerns. His throat bobbed, and he responded indistinctly, “Mn.”
Lu Boyuan said, “I’m just messing around.”
Lu Boyuan stopped his movements and suddenly said, “The second ointment is more effective.
“The cut is already healed.”
Jian Rong shut his eyes briefly as his ears flushed red because of those two lines.
He couldn’t resist hooking his index finger around Lu Boyuan’s fingers, wanting to hold his hand. At the same time, Lu Boyuan tilted his head, bent down, and kissed him.
For the sake of his old back, Xiao Bai decided to return to his room to rest.
Right as he walked out of the practice room, he saw that the door to the first floor break room was half open, and the lights were on inside.
As a result, he braced both hands against the railing and shouted downstairs, “Who’s in the break room—”
“Anyone there?” Xiao Bai continued to yell, “Dididi~”
Someone jerked open the door with quite a bit of force, and it even let out a muffled bang as it slammed against the wall.
Jian Rong silently came out from inside. He raised his head and looked straight at Xiao Bai.
Xiao Bai: “…”
Perhaps it was because the lights in the living room were off, but at that instant, he felt as if the expression in Jian Rong’s eyes was somewhat sinister. It was extremely terrifying.
Xiao Bai swallowed for no particular reason. “Can… you bring a cup of milk up for me while you’re down there…”
Jian Rong glared at him for a few seconds before he coldly spat out, “You just wait.”
Xiao Bai: “…………”
None of the next few teams TTC played against were particularly strong. Their accumulated points were so low that even if they were to unexpectedly beat TTC, they still wouldn’t be able to enter the playoffs, so the teams were all in somewhat dispirited moods. This allowed TTC to effortlessly win their last two spring season matches.
After WZWZ and Fighting Tiger finished their last matches, the regular season portion of this year’s Spring Split officially concluded.
PUD was ranked first with all wins and no losses. TTC was ranked second with fourteen victories and one defeat.
The playoffs were set up according to a seeded single elimination bracket. The top two teams entered the semifinals by default, meaning TTC had ample time to prepare for the playoffs.
“Our next match is ten days from now, so we still have some time, since the other teams have to compete for their spots. We don’t know which team we’re playing against yet in the semifinals, but none of the teams who can qualify for the playoffs are weak.” After they finished watching the match, Ding-ge turned off the broadcast. “Let’s practice hard in these upcoming days, don’t leave behind any regrets.”
Xiao Bai bit down on his popsicle. “Of course. I’m still thinking about that car from Fu-ge.”
Ding-ge nodded before he suddenly recalled something. “Oh right. Same old thing as usual tomorrow, I’ve already arranged the transportation. Sleep earlier tonight.”
Were they going out for a practice match?
Jian Rong encountered two actors in this game, so he had to put even more effort into his gameplay and didn’t get to ask Ding-ge about it before he left the base. After that, Jian Rong forgot about the matter completely.
So the next day, Jian Rong was a little stupefied when he was woken up by a call at seven in the morning.
He washed up and changed into his team uniform before he headed downstairs with his peripherals bag on his back. Then, standing on the staircase, he exchanged looks for a while with his other teammates, who were wearing casual clothes, hats, and masks.
Xiao Bai looked him up and down several times. “Whatcha doing?”
Jian Rong was bewildered. “Getting ready for a practice match.”
Ding-ge: “What practice match?”
“Didn’t you arrange the transportation… to go out for a practice match?”
Everyone was sleepy this early in the morning, but when they heard that question, they woke themselves up quite a bit from laughing.
“My bad. I forgot to tell you…” Lu Boyuan held back his laughter. “It’s a tradition that Fu-ge set. Before the playoffs, we have to pick a day to go burn incense.”
Jian Rong: “…”
In the car on the way to the temple, Xiao Bai was still laughing.
With a scowl, Jian Rong asked, “What the hell are you laughing about.”
“No, just… why didn’t you ask anyone if you didn’t know?” Xiao Bai’s cackling increased. “And you came down with your keyboard too…”
Jian Rong: “Too lazy to ask.”
Who would’ve freaking expected the LPL’s number one rich powerhouse to also believe in feudalistic superstitions.
Ding-ge booked the entry tickets a long time ago. After retrieving the tickets, they entered the temple.
Jian Rong had played ranked until three AM last night, so he got less than four hours of sleep in the middle. At that current moment, ‘don’t mess with me’ was written across his entire face.
Smoke spiraled through the temple. Jian Rong walked at the very back of the crowd, shoulder to shoulder with Lu Boyuan; both of them seemed extremely disinterested.
Especially Jian Rong. He stuck both hands in his pockets, his face filled with fatigue as he silently followed after the team.
There was a large incense burner in the middle of the temple, the top of which was already inserted full of incense sticks. Ding-ge tore open the package of incense that he had just purchased and distributed a handful to each person. “Come come come, everyone pray a little.”
Jian Rong glanced at the incense in his hand and refused. “You guys go ahead.”
“Aiya, you’re here anyway.” Ding-ge stuffed the incense into Jian Rong’s grasp. “It’s better to be safe than sorry. Pray a bit, make some random wish, it’s not like anything bad will happen.”
Jian Rong crinkled his brows. “I don’t know what to wish for.”
“Isn’t that easy?” Ding-ge said without thinking, “Just pray that we’ll have the advantage and that we’ll get the Ocean and Infernal Drakes every single game. Our opponents will shoot their ults in the wrong direction and miss, their carries will sleepwalk, right before the match they’ll get diarrhea and they can only send up their substitutes…”
“Fuck!” A furious shout interrupted Ding-ge.
Jian Rong and Ding-ge jolted simultaneously. When they looked back, they stared straight into few familiar faces.
PUD’s five members were standing right behind them, looking uniformly awkward.
“I just knew that you were full of malicious schemes! You’ve been caught red-handed by me this time, hah?!” PUD’s manager peered around him before he grabbed a bundle of incense from XIU. He lifted it into the air and said, “Reflect back onto you!!!”