At the end of Season Seven, Excellent Era announced Ye Qiu's retirement.
It came as a surprise to many. Sure, Excellent Era hadn't won a championship in four seasons, but they were still a consistent presence in the playoffs every season. Despite all the talk of Ye Qiu's decline, no one actually believed he should have retired.
In very much his usual style, Ye Qiu left quietly and decisively. No appearances, no personal words. Neither the cheers nor the tears of his fans had been able to move him to the very end. After all, what did a mob amount to in the face of a god?
Only fellow gods had the privilege of questioning him.
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: lao ye what the fuck!! you're really retiring???
Ye Qiu: Jealous that I beat you to it?
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif]
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: who said i was retiring!!
Ye Qiu: oh?
Ye Qiu: So you haven’t been avoiding the group chat, holed up in your sorrows?
Ye Qiu: haunted by the eyes that saw through your formation over and over again…
Ye Qiu: feeling every gap left by your partner...
Ye Qiu: Not even a little?
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif]
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: you aren’t even active on the group chat, how would you know!
Ye Qiu: Mucheng
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: …
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: okay, okay, maybe i was thinking of it a little
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: just a little!
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: but im not as heartless as you, i cant leave so easily
Ye Qiu: When did you get such a poor impression of me?
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: the moment you opened your mouth
Ye Qiu: [wangjiexi_o_O.jpg]
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: FUCK OFF!!! [middle_finger.gif] [middle_finger.gif]
Ye Qiu: It wasn’t easy
Ye Qiu: but with the direction the team wanted to go, this was the best I could do for Excellent Era’s future
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: is EE stupid?? are YOU stupid???
Ye Qiu: “Team performance isn’t good. Team captain takes the blame and resigns.” You should understand it best out of anyone
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: bullshit
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: the only thing i dont understand is how you aggro'd your own team this much
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: ...wait. i do understand. i understand everything now
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: you could have just transferred, are you really giving up?
Ye Qiu: Of course not
Ye Qiu: I’ll rest a year, then come back
Ye Qiu: I've worked so hard for so many years, what's so bad about a year of rest?
Ye Qiu never replied further; he was done with the conversation, even if Zhang Jiale wasn’t. Not wanting to become the next Huang Shaotian, Zhang Jiale had to stop messaging as well for his own dignity. But Ye Qiu’s words continued to follow him regardless.
I’ve worked so hard for so many years, what’s so bad about a year of rest?
Casual understatement combined with a rhetorical question to misdirect. It was very much Ye Qiu’s style to speak like this. But Zhang Jiale wasn’t fooled. In those few words, he could feel the countless miles of exhaustion Ye Qiu had tread to reach this point, each and every one as lengthy as his own.
In the end, they weren’t so different. In the end, even the indomitable Ye Qiu could feel worn, weary, and lost, no matter how much he tried to hide it in his usual aura of confidence.
And yet, still, Ye Qiu wanted to return.
That was the one thing Zhang Jiale couldn’t understand, but he wanted to, no, needed to understand.
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: su! mu! cheng! talking about me behind my back, answer for your sins!
Dancing Rain: [zhouzekai_face_of_innocence.jpg]
Dancing Rain: ye qiu?
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: [hanwenqing_glare.jpg]
Dancing Rain: he must have been worried for you too
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: i dont need anyones concern!
Dancing Rain: of course of course
Dancing Rain: [head_bowing.gif]
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: where is that bastard? i need to talk to him
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: you owe me for starting this!
Dancing Rain: ...let me ask
“We failed to secure Sun Xiang’s transfer. It looks like he got a better offer from Excellent Era...”
The news from Hundred Blossom’s management team neatly fit another piece of the puzzle in place. Excellent Era was tossing out its old god for a newer, flashier model, even if it meant risking something as dramatic as a class change on an unstable newbie.
It showed just how desperately teams clung to their legacies.
Because Excellent Era’s legacy was built around One Autumn Leaf, Sun Xiang had to change classes. Because Hundred Blossoms had started from a partnership between a Berserker and a Spitfire, Tang Hao had been pressured to do the same.
If Ye Qiu had remained in the pro scene, undoubtedly Sun Xiang would face even more comparisons to the original. Leaving the scene, even temporarily, was the last kindness Ye Qiu could offer to his successor and team to come into their own.
“No worries,” Zhang Jiale said with an uncharacteristic calmness. He glanced down at the address Su Mucheng had sent him on his phone. As long as he remained with Hundred Blossoms, the shadow of Blood and Blossoms would hang over the club.
Ye Qiu had moved on. As for Zhang Jiale...
He too was tired. He too had worked hard.
“About my contract renewal…”
Delilo: fuck you
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: ???
Delilo: the anonymous material donation, it was obviously you
Delilo: you can just apologize to us directly like a normal person
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: ...xiao tang, i just spent all my money buying my account back, how could i afford anything else??
Delilo: it really wasn’t you?
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: im broke
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: seriously broke
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: ive eaten cup noodles for my last three meals
Delilo: what are you even doing right now?
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: resting, bullying noobs, rediscovering myself
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: miss me?
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: want to visit your old captain in game?
Delilo: how would i have time for that when i'm busy picking up after your mess
Delilo: when you come back, i’ll make you regret it on stage
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: i have no regrets
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: but i'll see you on stage