After the commentator said that, the stadium went quiet for approximately two seconds.
Then the fans holding up Fighting Tiger and MFG signs brought their hands up to their mouths and started shouting—
“It’s real! He got with him! I’ve seen the drawings!”
A piercing female voice stood out above the rest. “Soft give me some of your luck I also want to get with my idol—”
Jian Rong lifted his head and coldly looked up.
Commentator A said to the person sitting in the middle, “Are you allowed to say that?! Little B, go cover his mouth!”
Commentator C: “Ah that’s not it, I was just joking, joking. Also, they’re both guys, how…”
“Enough, enough, TTC’s manager really can’t handle much more.” Commentator B coughed lightly before changing the topic. “Our match is about to begin as well. Oh right, where are the Spring Split finals being held this year again?”
Commentator A instantly played along. “The Mountain City, Chongqing!”
Ding-ge really wanted to beat someone up, but he couldn’t figure out whether he should be beating up Little C or his own team’s mid laner and jungler, who were the ones actually involved in the workplace romance. Afraid that the broadcast director was going to cause trouble and turn the camera on him, Ding-ge lifted the corners of his mouth, doing his best to put on a fake smile.
In reality, Jian Rong wasn’t intending to make a face, except his lips were drawn tightly together. That, in combination with how his image usually wasn’t very good, gave off the impression that he was quite displeased.
He had raised his head because he wanted to glance at the big screen.
When he saw himself and Lu Boyuan on the screen, for a brief moment, Jian Rong felt as if he had returned to last year’s Worlds finals.
However, back then, he was merely a passerby who had accidentally entered the frame. He had sat next to TTC, listening to them discuss where to eat after the finals were over, which BBQ skewer place to go to…
At the time, Lu Boyuan also probably couldn’t have imagined that the person sitting next to him had watched him compete for several years, that he had drunk the milk Lu Boyuan had handed him before, and that he had nearly sold the entrance ticket that Lu Boyuan had given him.
The camera finally went back to the commentators. The three professional commentators quickly returned to the main topic and started analyzing the previous team compositions and scores that the director had provided them for the two competing teams today.
Not wanting to reveal anything, Jian Rong ducked his head and tugged the brim of his hat down a little further. Then, he stealthily shot a glance to his side.
It was hot outside, and the air conditioning in the arena was somewhat weak, so they had tugged their masks underneath their chins immediately upon entering the stadium.
Lu Boyuan was in the middle of replying to some WeChat messages. His eyes were half-lidded, and the bridge of his nose was tall and straight. Most likely because this wasn’t his own match, he wore a fairly lazy expression.
Right as Jian Rong looked over, Lu Boyuan locked his phone and tilted his head towards him, lifting his chin slightly to reveal his eyes.
There was a faint smile hidden in his gaze. “Do you want me to help you clear things up?”
Jian Rong was startled. “Clear what up?”
“Clear up,” Lu Boyuan said lowly, “that I was the one who got with my fan first.”
Jian Rong: “………”
Jian Rong nearly got killed by that word “got1.”
Xiao Bai, sitting to the side, was both watching the show and adding fuel to the fire. Not only had he jeered and howled a few times along with the audience earlier, now he had even pulled up the live broadcast on his phone to check out the barrage.
Oblivious to the ambiguous aura enveloping the two people next to him, Xiao Bai held up his phone as he said delightedly, “Hahahahaha, they’re all spamming things like ‘welcome to the wedding ceremony for TTC’s mid laner and jungler’ in the stream’s barrage…”
Before he could finish his sentence, someone rapped him on the back of his head.
Xiao Bai turned to stare straight at Pine.
Pine: “Watch what you’re saying, there are people filming us from behind.”
Xiao Bai covered his head and said, shocked, “You hit me.”
“You couldn’t even bear to raise your voice against me before, but now that more time has passed—”
“Shut up.” Pine coldly cut off Xiao Bai’s performance. “I didn’t use any force.”
Five minutes later, MFG and Fighting Tiger officially entered the stage. Jian Rong glanced at the people on stage; that female player was still the starter for MFG today as well.
During the first match of the playoffs, MFG’s starting mid laner Kongkong had played averagely, which gave this substitute female player many opportunities.
The five old brothers in Fighting Tiger seemed to have gained quite a bit of weight again during the regular season, and there was a stark contrast between them and the little sticks on MFG. Especially that female mid laner—perhaps due to the pressure, she had lost weight, causing her facial features to sharpen considerably.
But that was to be expected. In and of itself, substitute players didn’t have many chances to become starters. As long as they didn’t perform well in one game, it was very likely that they would end up going back to continue watching the water cooler.
Commentator A: “Like before, MFG is sending out their female general, Jm, today.”
“Jm’s in a good condition. Her performance has been outstanding in the last few matches, so it’s normal for them to swap her in.” The camera focused on Jm. Upon seeing her fair and clear face, Commentator B laughed and said, “Sure enough, nineteen-year-old girls just have bright and healthy skin. On the stage, she’s like a single flower amidst ten thousand blades of grass.”
“I have a vague impression of this female pro player, I think her ID was Jmroad on the Ionia server before? She later changed it to the team ID after joining MFG.” Commentator C chuckled mischievously. “It seems like Jm is also God Lu’s fan, hm? But that’s not unusual. After all, he’s the top jungler daddy in the LPL. It just so happens that God Lu is also here today, maybe they could exchange contact information or something after the match…”
Lu Boyuan instinctively looked at Jian Rong.
As expected, the teenager had propped his chin up on one hand and was currently staring at Commentator C’s back.
Lu Boyuan laughed in spite of himself and leaned in a little towards Jian Rong. “Who do you think will win?”
Jian Rong withdrew his gaze. The players on the stage were in the middle of adjusting their peripherals and hadn’t entered the pick/ban phase yet. “Disregarding team comps… Fighting Tiger is a bit more likely to win.”
Although MFG’s teamwork had been remarkable after switching in a new mid laner, allowing them to rise all the way from fourth to last in the regular season to the quarterfinals, the strength and cooperation of an old veteran team like Fighting Tiger was also displayed right there in front of them.
Facing off against a team who was weaker than them as a whole, it was very hard for things to go wrong for Fighting Tiger, especially since this was a BO5 game, which tested the players’ endurance.
Lu Boyuan saw that Jian Rong’s lips were pursed, and he asked, “You want to play against Fighting Tiger again?”
Jian Rong nodded without hesitation. “Mn.”
After the previous regular season match with his stifling solo-player Fizz, Jian Rong practiced Fizz for a very long time. Later, he also solo killed Fighting Tiger’s mid laner Da Niu numerous times using Fizz during their practice matches—
But everyone knew that Fighting Tiger’s condition during a practice match was completely different from their condition during a competitive match. Even if he solo killed Da Niu eight or ten times in a practice match, it didn’t mean much.
Jian Rong harbored grudges and didn’t like to admit defeat. Wherever he fell down, that was where he wanted to crawl back up from.
The match swiftly entered the pick/ban phase. The team compositions for both sides were revealed, and they were filled with mid- to late-game champions.
Ding-ge was watching the screen closely. He wrote down the pick/ban choices for both teams in his notebook before he subconsciously turned his head and asked, “What are your thoughts on that female player?”
Lu Boyuan: “?”
“I’ve been watching game recordings these past few days, her Orianna and Taliyah are both pretty good. Most importantly, she’s great at being a protective mid laner and can play both Lulu and Karma. Is this the superiority of female players?” Ding-ge sighed. “I’m a little regretful that we didn’t recruit her into the team back then and make her a sub. Maybe then we could’ve tried out a four-protect-one strategy. You take Kindred, Yuan Qian takes Shen, and then we pick Leona or something along those lines for support. Wouldn’t Pine just directly soar into the sky…”
Jian Rong: “I can also play Lulu and Karma.”
“Like hell you can.” Xiao Bai promptly said, “Last time when you clicked on the wrong champion and picked Lulu mid in ranked, just how many shields did P-baby get while he was duo queuing with you that game…”
Pine replied emotionlessly, “Forty-seven minutes and fifty-one seconds, three shields.”
Xiao Bai heaved a sigh. “Poor, poor P-baby.”
“…it’s been so long since you left your hometown to come to Shanghai.” Jian Rong turned to ask Xiao Bai, “Have you ever eaten a Shanghai fist before?”
Xiao Bai was already used to his threats. He was about to reply when he suddenly saw his ge’s hand reach out and land on Jian Rong’s hat, effortlessly rotating their displeased mid laner back around.
The BO5 match soon began.
In the first round, MFG still had many good plays in the early game. Their bot lane had seventeen more minion kills than Fighting Tiger’s, and the mid laner nearly solo killed Da Niu.
Jian Rong looked at Da Niu on the big screen, who was calmly recalling to base, and blurted out, “He seems unbothered.”
Lu Boyuan hummed. “She appeared to have almost gotten the kill, but in reality, when Da Niu chose to push the lane and wave clear, he had already calculated out that she wouldn’t have enough damage to kill him.”
However, it didn’t matter if she didn’t kill him. Restricting Da Niu’s farming was also good.
Just as everyone was thinking that MFG had a chance of winning this game, during a drake team fight twenty minutes in, Fighting Tiger’s top laner transformed his Gnar and directly smashed MFG’s top and bot laners into the wall. Da Niu’s Neeko quickly followed up and plummeted down from above, stunning the three MFG members, before the ADC’s Aphelios dealt out explosive damage—
That perfectly played team fight reversed the tide. MFG was suppressed to the point that those three players couldn’t even use their ults before their screens instantly went gray.
In the end, Fighting Tiger killed four of MFG’s players and captured their second drake.
“MFG is done for this round.” Ding-ge stared at the match broadcast. “Since the start of the spring season until now, Fighting Tiger has never lost a single match in which they’ve been able to get two drakes.”
Sure enough, after that team fight, Fighting Tiger resumed control of the game.
They started snowballing bit by bit. By the time Jian Rong lifted his head again to check how much gold both teams had, Fighting Tiger was already leading MFG by 7,000.
Thirty-eight minutes in, Da Niu, who was restrained in the early game, solo killed the other mid laner. All of Fighting Tiger headed straight for MFG’s base and won the first round of the match.
In the second game, MFG still sent out their substitute mid laner. This time in the pick/bane phase, Jm got the champion she was best at: Orianna.
From his peripheral vision, Lu Boyuan noticed that his team’s mid laner was frowning, so he asked curiously, “How’s her Orianna pick?”
“Fighting Tiger has never made a mistake in their pick/ban phase before.” Jian Rong fell silent briefly before he said, “She wasn’t the one who chose Orianna, Fighting Tiger is purposefully giving it to her.”
Right after Jian Rong said that, Da Niu chose Syndra, who was extremely good at suppressing Orianna in the early game.
Despite being the oldest pro player in the LPL, Da Niu continued to maintain the strength level that a pro player should have, even though the peak of his career had already passed. He could play early, mid, or late game, a true all-around mid laner.
Coupled with the flawless tacit understanding and teamwork he had with his team’s jungler, in less than fifteen minutes, Orianna’s score was already at a pitiful 0/3/0. Though she was a champion that needed to farm, by mid game, she didn’t even dare to cross the river to clear minions or push towers.
This round finished even faster than expected. Twenty-eight minutes in, Fighting Tiger flattened MFG’s base.
In the third game, MFG finally switched in their starting mid laner, Kongkong.
Unfortunately, it was still no use—the issue with the last two games came from the team as a whole, not only the mid laner.
Thirty minutes later, Fighting Tiger simply and efficiently won the entire match with a score of 3:0, officially becoming TTC’s opponent for the semifinals.
After watching the post-match interview, TTC stood up to leave the arena.
Because they had been discovered by the fans and were worried about causing a disturbance, a staff member specially came up and invited them backstage to take the personnel elevator, which could take them straight to the parking lot below.
“Fuck, on average those guys are all over twenty-five, how can they still improve so much?!” Ding-ge hit the elevator button. “Especially Da Niu, I originally thought that he was gonna retire last year…”
“Should be soon.” Yuan Qian held Youyou’s bag for her and said, “No matter how powerful you are, your body still can’t handle it. I heard that their top laner, mid laner, and jungler all have very serious back injuries.”
The moment he said that, a hand stopped the elevator door from closing completely.
Jian Rong raised his head and saw the disappointed-looking MFG members.
Both teams were startled.
Jian Rong’s gaze subconsciously went to MFG’s female mid laner, Jm. Jm’s hair was a bit messy, and she hadn’t taken the time to tidy it up. Even though her face was mostly expressionless, her eyes were bright red. There was a watery sheen to them, most likely due to crying, and it gave her a wronged appearance; anyone who saw her couldn’t help but want to comfort her a little.
As a result, Commentator C, who just got off work and was walking past MFG from behind, stopped in place and put on his same asking-for-a-beating smile from the match. “This elevator can fit fifteen people, go in go in—hey, Jm, don’t you like God Lu? This is perfect, you can ask God Lu for his WeChat or something…”
Immediately, MFG’s top laner suddenly moved from where he was standing in front of her to cover her completely.
Simultaneously, Lu Boyuan felt the person next to him freeze for a second before turning sideways to stare outside the transparent glass of the elevator.
“That’s not really necessary…”
Jm and Lu Boyuan spoke at the same time.
Jm rubbed her eyes and said extremely calmly, “He was my idol before, but now he’s my competitor.”
Thinking that she was just embarrassed, Commentator C laughed. “That’s no problem, it’s normal for pro players to add each other as friends! And plus, you can chat about things outside of competitions!”
Jian Rong sucked in a deep breath of air. He really wanted to ask if this man’s main job was being a matchmaker and commentating was just his side gig.
Jm hesitated and probably thought that there was no harm in merely adding each other as friends. She lifted her head and shot a questioning look at Lu Boyuan.
“No thanks, I’m good. It’s not very convenient, my partner is managing my WeChat.”
After Lu Boyuan said that, he smiled at her in front of everyone’s dumbstruck gazes. “You play pretty well, I look forward to meeting you on stage next time.”
- My last brain cell failed me here – technically the word they’ve been using this whole time when talking about “getting with” their idol is 搞 (gao). Gao is the equivalent of ‘do’ in the sense that you can use it perfectly normally or in a euphemistic way. Here, LBY is lowkey making a dirty joke with it ^