Dancing Rain: Congratulations on graduating!
Indifferent Heart: Thank you. I’ve been awaiting this day
Dancing Rain: Of course you were. You’re finally free!
Desert Dust: Too bad it’s too late to join a team though
Indifferent Heart: It’s okay. I’m not in shape anyway. I haven’t touched Glory in months because I had to make sure I graduate with grades that will satisfy my parents! It was torture!
Dancing Rain: I can’t remember the last time I got good grades. I can’t remember the last time I had grades…
Desert Dust: Your best course of action would be to catch the attention of a team so you can enter their roster by the next season
Dancing Rain: Speaking of which, which team are you joining? Come to Excellent Era!
Indifferent Heart: I’ll think about it if you win the championships!
Dancing Rain: Of course we will!
Desert Dust: Keep dreaming!
Indifferent Heart: Can’t wait to see you two compete. But, sorry, I was kidding. My parents want me to stay here, so I’m aiming for a team in City B
Dancing Rain: *sigh* this filial son…
Indifferent Heart: It was already a big stretch they allowed me to be an eSports player. I’ll take what I can get.
Desert Dust: City B? So, either Royal Style or Tiny Herb? Unless another City B team pops up out of nowhere next season
Dancing Rain: Don’t go to Royal Style! I don’t like Guo Mingyu! That guy always looks down on people )):
Desert Dust: So, Tiny Herb, it is
Indifferent Heart: Why do you automatically assume I’ll follow Su Muqiu’s wish?
Dancing Rain: I’m your best friend!
Desert Dust: Were you planning to join Royal Style?
Indifferent Heart: No, wouldn’t we be too much of an unstoppable team then? Nobody could measure up to us if Royal Style had both Guo Mingyu and me!
Dancing Rain: Excellent Era will still defeat you two!
Indifferent Heart: For real though: how do I join a team? I can’t just show up at Tiny Herb’s entrance and demand to be let in?
Desert Dust: I can message Lin Jie and recommend you if you want?
Dancing Rain: You can also recommend yourself! You’re famous! You’re Indifferent heart, the most famous Battle Mage of the first server with an Arena Record of 97 %!
Indifferent Heart: I prefer Old Han’s idea. Old Han, won’t you do me a favor?
Dancing Rain: Won’t Lin Jie find this super suspicious though? Like, why is another team’s captain recommending a good player to Tiny Herb?
Desert Dust: Lin Jie is a nice guy who doesn’t think he’s being deceived with every nice gesture. Don’t worry, not all people are as dramatic as you are.
Tiny Herb was located right on the border to the outskirts of City B. They inhabited a newly built three story building. It was neither very impressive nor really run-down. It was just enough for a new team starting out in a new field. If they did well and the Alliance developed further, they would move to a better location soon anyway.
A man around his mid-thirties comes down to greet Ye Xiu at the agreed upon time. He holds out his hand politely and introduces himself as the club manager. Excellent Era – Ye Xiu knows – does not have a club manager. But, Tiny Herb is already an official club with willing sponsors while Excellent Era is a mere team scraped together out of a guild founded by an Internet Café owner.
“Ye Xiu, right? Captain Lin said you were recommended to him?” the club manager musters Ye Xiu from head to toe. He doesn’t seem to find anything that displeases him. If it was up to Ye Xiu, he wouldn’t bother dressing up but he needs to join a team for sure. Any sign of failure would result in his parents dragging him back home to study economics. So, he had dressed up casually but tidy and neatly.
Ye Xiu shakes his hand politely and introduces himself. “My name is Ye Xiu. Nice to meet you.”
Ye Xiu is led inside the building which is sparsely decorated but clean and tidy. There is no elevator and they take the stairs to the second floor. In the end they stop in front of the furthest door at the end of a long hallway which is labeled “practice room”. Inside the room seven youths are in a heated discussion. When the door opens, all of them look up towards the door.
“Good morning. I brought the player recommended by Captain Lin,” the club manager greets the team.
Lin Jie doesn't bother to correct that he didn't recommend Ye Xiu but that Ye Xiu was recommended to him. He simply extends the greeting and gets up to assign a seat to both Ye Xiu and the club manager. He’s a friendly and amiable person – just like Han Wenqing described him.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Lin Jie, the captain of Team Tiny Herb. These are our current team members,” he gestures towards the other members and they introduce themselves one by one. Ye Xiu introduces himself again and nods at each one in greeting.
“Great to see you! We were talking about you just then,” Chen Deming, who controls their Knight Angelica, reveals without a second thought. “Captain Lin told us Han Wenqing of Team Tyranny recommended you? Maybe you can explain. Why would someone who is going to be captain of his own team refer a great player to another team?”
“We’re just curious. We don’t doubt you or anything!” Jin Long clarifies. Earlier, he introduced himself and his Cleric Account Aweto.
“Old Han and I used to play together on the first server. I’d say we’re good friends. And why Tiny Herb? Well, I’m from City B and I plan to stay in City B. Old Han was simply doing a good friend a favor.”
“Han Wenqing is quite a nice person,” Li Rongxian remarks dryly. Ye Xiu has actually met the sharpshooter on the first server quite a few times so his voice feels a little familiar.
“You’re friends with Han Wenqing? Then, could you formerly be an expert of Tyrannical Ambition?” Ruan Derong, their Grappler player Flying Drops, inquires while he tries to remember the various experts there have been in Tyranny’s in-game guild.
“No, I met Su Muqiu in the game right from the beginning and joined Excellent Dynasty. My character’s name is Indifferent Heart.”
“Ah, Indifferent Heart, the Battle Mage!” Jin Long exclaims, clearly recognizing Ye Xiu from his in-game character. “Aren’t you and Han Wenqing rivals? But, why did you not join a team for this season already? It’s too bad it’s too late to add new members now.”
“You know him?” Geng Mingan asks. He plays their Blade Master Flying Sword.
“He’s quite famous on the first server. Very strong, very skilled and nearly unbeatable. Although he wasn’t very active recently, especially this year,” Lin Jie recounts Ye Xiu’s fame.
“I had to compromise with my parents. They were willing to compromise on my career if I finished high school and stayed in City B. I wouldn’t be able to join you anyway even if it was still possible to add members. I haven’t played in a long time and my character might not be good enough. Not to mention that I’ve never played with any of you before.”
“Now, you’re jumping the gun. Sure, you arena record is great but we haven’t even seen you play!” Li Rongxian exclaims at Ye Xiu’s speech as if he has already been accepted to the team.
“How about you play a match against each of us?” Lin Jie suggests and tries to ease the tension.
“Sure, but I haven’t played in months,” Ye Xiu agrees.
“So, you want to back out now? Or do you want us to go easy on you?” Li Rongxian exclaims, mockingly.
“Not, it was simply a statement,” Ye Xiu shrugs and inserts his card into the card reader.
“You said you didn’t have a character good enough to join a team? What about Indifferent Heart?” Chen Deming asks.
“What I meant is – while Indifferent Heart is fully leveled and has a good skill distribution, his weapon might be lacking. It’s definitely not Silver,” Ye Xiu explains. Actually, Su Muqiu did give him a weapon, one he made when he just started out with the weapon builder, so it wasn’t a phenomenal one.
“Well, that’s not difficult. We have an R&D Team here. They’ll help you develop one if you join us,” Ruan Derong explains.
“If he can join us!” Li Rongxian stresses.
“Then, you can be the first to go against him,” Jin Long laughs, entirely convinced by Ye Xiu’s reputation. Not anyone can become Han Wenqing’s rival after all.
“Definitely a player from the first server,” Lin Jie comments when Ye Xiu has played against each of them once and won over each of them once as well. “A direct and effective playstyle.”
“You fight in quite a strategic way. Although you have the ability to overwhelm your opponent with skill and hand speed alone, you still choose to fight strategically,” Geng Mingan analyzes.
“Not many people know too much about strategic play yet so I'm taking advantage of that,” Ye Xiu answers.
“Are you also good at strategies for team matches, too?”
“I haven’t had any chances to try yet but I have a few ideas.”
“It’s really too bad we can’t add you this season,” Li Hui, their Grappler Bamboo Leopard, speaks up for the first time today.
“It’s just the first season of the Alliance. Surely, there will be adjustments to the rules as we go,” Lin Jie comforts them. After seeing Ye Xiu’s skill, nobody has any objections to add him to the team.
“Then, I will ask management to draw up a contract for you. Can you leave your contact information? We’ll send it to you as soon as it’s finished. Since we haven’t established a training camp yet, you can just train with the team here. I’ll also arrange for you to talk to R&D as soon as possible,” the club manager arranges all the organizational matters.
As soon as Ye Xiu joins Tiny Herb, he throws himself into his work. He spends that year helping out in different departments around the club. Some days he's with the team and thinking of strategies to best their opponents. Other days he's at the R&D department and giving his input on how his weapon should be built to cater to his playstyle. Most of the time though he's at Herb Garden and helping them foster materials for the weapons Tiny Herb is still in the middle of building.
“Little Ye, you've come at a good time!” Herb Garden's guild leader Ariseama exclaims.
“Did a Wild Boss spawn?” Ye Xiu assumes as he sits down at his usual station.
“Yes, you guessed it. Sit down at a station. I'll send you the coordinates.”
Ye Xiu nods and starts up the station to log into his account. He immediately receives a message from Ariseama and heads to their meeting point where Excellent Dynasty is already surrounding the boss.
“Damn, we were too late!” Ariseama curses. “And it's even a material R&D requested specifically.”
Ye Xiu carefully examines the formation Excellent Dynasty is applying. Someone definitely put some serious thinking into the positioning but Ye Xiu can tell that neither Su Muqiu nor any of the other Excellent Era players are present. He is very familiar with Excellent Era’s players because they all used to be in-game elites of Excellent Dynasty at one point – he himself included.
“I can break through,” Ye Xiu gives his observation.
“You can?” Ariseama asks, astonished. Of course he has seen Ye Xiu's talent as a tactician and his superior skill many times already. That is the reason why he will be debuting next season, for sure. But, him alone breaking through this elaborate formation by himself?
“In that case, take me along. I can help,” a voice beside them offers.
Ye Xiu turns around to come face to face with a Paladin named Wind Guard.
“Are you good?”
“I'm pretty confident in my skills.”
“Hey, you know, this guy is not some random guild elite. He's going to debut in Tiny Herb next season!” Ariseama protests against the Paladin’s confidence.
“Great, let's get moving. Guild leader, keep the path open and follow behind if possible,” Ye Xiu ignores Ariseama's protest and marches forward, Wind Guard right behind him.
As soon as Ye Xiu follows his Sky Strike up with a Dragon Tooth, he can see that the Paladin was not boasting thoughtlessly. He can indeed back his confidence up. His timing is good and he plays in an unusual but effective way. Ye Xiu is certain he is even good enough to join the current pro league. He might even be better than Jin Long, their current healer. With Indifferent Heart at the front and Wind Guard right behind him they fight a path through masses of characters till they come face to face with Excellent Dynasty's guild leader himself who immediately recognizes Indifferent Heart from the days Ye Xiu had joined Excellent Dynasty together with Su Muqiu.
“Oh, guild leader! I almost didn't recognize you! You changed almost your entire equipment!” Ye Xiu greets his old guild leader.
“I almost didn't recognize you with that green tag above your head! What are you doing in Herb Garden?” the guild leader gives back with bafflement.
“Obviously, I signed with Tiny Herb,” Ye Xiu laughs. “Sorry but we were asked to get this boss, specifically. You'll have to concede on this one!”
All this he explains while he attacks the guild elites with a Falling Flower Palm. Wind Guard immediately follows with a Holy Light Strike and a Holy Shield on Indifferent Heart as Ye Xiu storms the lines of Excellent Era’s elites.
“You're quite good!” Ye Xiu praises the paladin when the boss has been claimed as Herb Garden’s.
“Thank you, I've been told a few times,” Wind Guard replies not so humbly. Ye Xiu doesn't mind. If someone was able to back up his words, they were simply stating facts rather than bragging. He likes to think of himself like that as well.
“Have you ever thought about becoming a pro?” The guild leader perks up, curiously. Does Ye Xiu actually see potential in this player? However, they already have a healer.
“Are you a scout?” Wind Guard asks.
“No, I guess you could say I'm a trainee at Tiny Herb. But, maybe I have a little more say than a trainee usually would,” Ye Xiu summarizes his position.
“Would Tiny Herb recruit me if you were to suggest it?”
“They would ask you to come for a visit first and upper management would decide whether to recruit you after hearing the other players' opinions.”
“Sounds reasonable,” Wind Guard agreed. “Then, will you recommend me?”
“Sure, your skill is good. I will talk to captain about it and text you then. Add me as a friend for now.”
Wind Guard accepts Indifferent Heart’s friend request and logs off after. Ye Xiu bids the guild workers goodbye and heads to the training room. As expected, the lights are still on even after training hours. Although he is a great captain, who everyone trusts and follows, different from other teams, their captain is not an outstanding player. All the other teams have a highly skilled player as their core – Excellent Era’s Great Gunner, Tyranny’s King of Fighting, Royal Style’s First Exorcist. Tiny Herb’s Vaccaria is actually considered the best Witch in the Alliance – Lin Jie is not a bad player but, at least to Ye Xiu, it is certain that there will definitely be a better Witch player one day. And Ye Xiu knows that Lin Jie himself also knows his skill level. He is, however, a great captain who everyone trusts and follows and who coordinates well with his team. That is a quality not easily found, either.
“Captain,” Ye Xiu calls out. Lin Jie has already heard him when he entered the room. He slowly pauses the training program and turns around. “Ye Xiu, I can’t wait to implement your new tactic in the next match! Of course, it would be better if you were playing yourself but there’s nothing we can do right now.”
“That’s okay. Indifferent Heart’s equipment isn’t ready yet anyway.”
“Still, with you as shot caller and also as a player on the main roster, Tiny Herb would surely fare a lot better,” Lin Jie sighs regrettably.
“You’re already doing a really good job,” Ye Xiu encourages the captain, a small smile on his face.
“Thank you. I’m happy to hear that from you. It’s really too bad. If you had debuted this season, you would have surely received one of those great titles as well.”
“It’s okay. I’m still young. And I have to please my parents, as well. I never thought it possible for them to allow me to go into eSports. Waiting one more year is more than I’d ever imagined for them to allow. I was sure I’d never be able to fulfill my dream. And helping out at the guild is not bad, either. I still get to play Glory all day long. Right, regarding that. Today, there was a really good player. A paladin. I want to invite him for an assessment.”
“A paladin?” Lin Jie asks. It is true their healer Jin Long isn’t exactly the best. Tiny Herb’s players are also aware of their talents. Their strongest point right now is definitely not their player’s overwhelming skill. It is their teamwork and mutual understanding of each other. Which is why it would also have been dangerous to add Ye Xiu right before the first season – a player with overwhelming skill like him is sure to disrupt current team dynamics. And if they gained another skilled player, Tiny Herb would have better chances next season. That was all hypothetically speaking, naturally.
“Sure, I trust your judgement. Invite him Saturday afternoon. Another day is fine too. Just not before the match or right after. We’ll need the morning to review the match. And inform the club manager, as well.”
“Will do. I’ll tell you when to expect him,” Ye Xiu agrees.
Wind Guard agrees to come Monday morning and wishes them good luck for their match. On Thursday Ye Xiu takes an early train with Team Tiny Herb to City Q. “Unpack and relax the rest of the day,” the club manager tells them when they arrive at the hotel. All of them nod and head upstairs to their rooms.
“Ye Xiu, we’re planning to grab a bite first. Meet you in the lobby in 20 minutes?” Chen Deming asks before Ye Xiu enters the room he shares with Li Hui.
“Sure, where are we going? Oh, I was planning to visit a friend though.”
“Not sure yet. We’ll have to look up a place.”
“Then, let’s have my friend show us around and choose a place!”
“Sure, I’ll inform the others,” Chen Deming agrees.
Ye Xiu and Li Hui arrive at the lobby first and Ye Xiu takes out his phone to text that they’re coming over. Actually, Ye Xiu couldn’t be bothered to keep a phone but his parents insisted he use one when he moved out to live at Tiny Herb’s dorms.
As soon as all players of Tiny Herb have arrived, Ye Xiu leads them out of the building and navigates them a few blocks down. When they arrive at their destination, all the team members gawk in awe at the tall building. But, what makes their eyes look up to the sky is not the height of the building – rather, it is the red and black logo sitting on top of the building, imposingly. It is the logo of the team which will be their opponent in tomorrow’s match. Ye Xiu enters the building without concern. The others hesitate before they follow behind, doubtfully.
“Hey, didn’t Ye Xiu enter our team with a recommendation from Han Wenqing?” Ruan Derong remembers when Lin Jie, walking ahead, is about to open the door.
“So, Ye Xiu’s friend from this city might be…,” Geng Mingan starts but that moment Lin Jie has already opened the door and they see Ye Xiu standing in the entrance hall, conversing with another man. The man is very young – just like all eSports players are – and wears a red and black jacket with Tyranny’s logo printed on the back. He is unusually well-built for an eSports player and the already frail Ye Xiu looks even frailer next to him.
“Guys, there you are! This is Han Wenqing,” Ye Xiu introduces Tyranny’s team captain. All of them stare at Ye Xiu in disbelief. Does he seriously think that they don’t know Han Wenqing?
“These are my team members,” Ye Xiu gestures at the players of Tiny Herb. In response, Han Wenqing musters Ye Xiu with a scrutinizing glare. His gaze portrays the same humorless reaction to Ye Xiu’s unnecessary introduction to people working in the same field. Ye Xiu only grins back like he knows he’s being ridiculous. Han Wenqing turns to Tiny Herb’s main team instead. “Nice to meet you. Ye Xiu said you wanted to go to a restaurant first? What do you feel like having?” Han Wenqing is not smiling like any other person greeting strangers would be but his tone is leveled and polite.
All of them are a little taken aback at Han Wenqing’s intimidating face and nobody says anything for an awkward span of 15 seconds.
“Well, we’re in Qingdao, so shouldn’t we eat seafood? Oysters! Do you know a good oyster restaurant?” Chen Deming catches himself first and exclaims his proposition overenthusiastically. His loud voice in the otherwise empty hall makes the situation even more awkward.
“Sure, there’s plenty of those in Qingdao,” Han Wenqing agrees and leads the way.
After some time Tiny Herb’s players get used to Han Wenqing’s scary face and start talking to him, too. Although he gives off an intimidating first impression, Han Wenqing is not actually an unfriendly or evil person. He’s neither arrogant nor does he have a bad personality so the players of Tiny Herb warm up to him rather quickly.
“So, how did you become friends with Little Ye? You must be close since you recommended him yourself,” Lin Jie asks when they’re all seated at the small but cozy restaurant not too far from Tyranny’s headquarters.
“Well, we simply met in the first server. He has always been someone I regarded as a formidable rival. One day we fought as opponents and then we kept dueling. Later, we talked a bit more privately as well. Mostly with Su Muqiu. It is only right for me to recommend him. He is an outstanding player. I would be a shame for him not to join a team. This is a rather surprising turnout, though. I was always sure Ye Xiu would join Su Muqiu in Excellent Era. The two were already close when I first met them.”
“And move over a thousand kilometers away from my hometown? My parents would alert some kind of secret service to hunt me down and bring me back home within the same day!” Ye Xiu laughs at the mere idea of that happening. He remembers when Ye Qiu tried to run away in ninth grade and was back within half a day.
The Tiny Herb players look at each other, confusion clearly written on their faces, what kind of people Ye Xiu’s parents were. Judging from small hints he dropped, they knew Ye Xiu’s family must be one of the upper class.
“I guess we should be glad they’re letting you play at all. I’m looking forward to your debut next season.”
“You should concentrate on this season! Otherwise, god forbid, Su Muqiu will win the championship!”
“That’s not going to happen!” Han Wenqing retorts immediately.
“Of course not, the championship will be Tiny Herb’s!” Li Rongxian exclaims and shrinks back right after when Han Wenqing fixes him with a menacing glare.
“Now, how does a tour around Tyranny sound?” Ye Xiu offers when they have finished all the dishes Han Wenqing insisted they try and paid for despite many protests. As the host though Han Wenqing insists on covering the bill and his scary face makes all of the Tiny Herb members back off. Ye Xiu – the only one able to totally resist the urge to jump out of Han Wenqing’s way – doesn’t even bother arguing over the bill.
“Are you gonna show us around Tyranny?” Han Wenqing snorts. All the others nod in amusement. They all knew Ye Xiu was shameless but this is another level.
“Of course not. I have you, after all,” Ye Xiu answers nonchalantly like the possibility of Han Wenqing being busy is totally absurd. “You have nothing to do anyway. It’s one day before a match. You’re supposed to relax and not train strenuously!”
Han Wenqing sighs, defeated. In the end, no one can win over Ye Xiu when it comes to a verbal competition. “Whatever, let’s go.”
Monday afternoon the club manager brings a young man around Ye Xiu’s age to the training room.
“Wind Guard, the paladin? I’m the team captain, Lin Jie,” Lin Jie approaches the man first and holds out his hand to shake.
“Yes, nice to meet you. I’m Fang Shiqian. I play Wind Guard. Normally, I play a cleric though,” Fang Shiqian takes Lin Jie’s hand. Just like with Ye Xiu, Lin Jie takes Fang Shiqian over to the others and introduces each one of them one by one.
“And Ye Xiu you have already met. He plays the Battle Mage Indifferent Heart. We would have liked to have him debut this season already but he only joined us shortly before the season started so we’re building up his equipment right now.”
“Nice to meet you,” Fang Shiqian says politely and Ye Xiu smiles back.
“Ye Xiu already showed us the recordings of his dungeon runs with you as it’s rather difficult to determine a healer’s ability from combat. Although I must say you’re a rather aggressive healer. But, individual styles are always good! After all, there’s nothing special about someone who acts the same as everybody else. Anyway, I trust Ye Xiu’s opinion and we’d love for you to join the team and debut next season. Naturally, there will be more preparation and training needed but you definitely have a lot of potential.”
“Thank you. Naturally, I’d be happy to accept your invitation.”
After that Fang Shiqian becomes Ye Xiu’s constant companion. They train together, sit at R&D meetings together, help out at the guild together and sit in on team meetings together. Fang Shiqian is very similar to Ye Xiu in that he loves to aggravate people and make fun of others. He’s also confident in his abilities but knows his flaws well too. Fang Shiqian is a little hot-headed but eases up to Ye Xiu’s nonchalant attitude quickly. Ye Xiu and Fang Shiqian still bicker all the time but they get along well and know when to be serious. Lin Jie is happy to know that their team is fostering such talents.
When Tiny Herb enters the playoffs, they sign on a huge sponsorship which enables them to move to a nicer building downtown where there's enough space to open a training camp and foster new talents as well. Ye Xiu and Fang Shiqian, who are the most senior trainees are treated like part of the team already and train separately from the other trainees but they occasionally drop by the training camp.
One day a new talent appears for testing when Ye Xiu and Fang Shiqian are dueling with the trainees two on two. He is led inside the training room by the testing supervisor. He is in his late teens, very tall and his left eye is larger than his right eye. “This is a new trainee, Wang Jiexi. He broke the testing record,” he introduces the boy.
“You see potential in him?” Ye Xiu asks the testing supervisor.
He nods enthusiastically. Ye Xiu turns to the boy next, “What do you think of your skill level?”
“I do think I have potential. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have tried out for the training camp,” the boy answers hesitantly but admits to his talent.
“So what? That doesn’t prove anything! Hand speed isn’t everything!” one of the trainees sneers.
“Then, come play a match against me,” Ye Xiu tells him and gestures at the station opposite him.
The trainee who protested just then fumes quietly but doesn’t say anything. Although Ye Xiu hasn’t debuted yet, everybody in Tiny Herb knows that Ye Xiu has at least as much authority as a vice-captain would.
The boy nods and sits down at the station. Ye Xiu lets the system pick a random map and both of their characters load into the map. Unlike his usual systematic approach Ye Xiu charges to the center of the map immediately. Soon a male Witch comes into sight and Wang Jiexi is the first to attack. Wang Jiexi’s first attack is Magic Missile, followed by Star Ray. An unusual combination and Ye Xiu does not manage to evade all damage. Ye Xiu charges forward with Furious Dragon Strikes the Heart and Wang Jiexi counters with a Shadow Cloak and escapes upwards with Broom Mastery. Meticulously, the two exchange skills in quick succession. The spectators standing behind Ye Xiu and Wang Jiexi can barely see the happenings of the match as colorful chasers and blinding spells fly around the characters, wildly.
After a short while the match ends with Ye Xiu’s win. Ye Xiu stands up to go over and speak with Wang Jiexi, directly.
Ye Xiu pulls out a chair to sit down directly next to Wang Jiexi. He studies his face and Wang Jiexi looks back confused. “You played well. You have a lot of potential. Here at the training camp we can help you further develop this unique playstyle of yours and hone the skills you already possess. You’re still in school, I suppose?”
“I am 16 years old. I am fine with going to school less if I have the potential to become a professional eSports player. Do I have that potential?” Wang Jiexi speaks in a calm and composed way but the look he directs at Ye Xiu is expectant.
“In my opinion you do. You have potential and youth. Whether you have the ambition, is something you need to ask yourself. If you think you have that and can prove it as well, I look forward to working with you in the future,” Ye Xiu answers seriously.
“You think that I will be able to join the team?” Wang Jiexi asks warily at Ye Xiu’s unspoken promise.
“That depends on you,” Ye Xiu laughs. “I hope you do. Your playstyle is very interesting.”
In the end it is Excellent Era who takes the championship title in the first season and Su Muqiu delightedly accepts when his friends congratulate him. During summer break Ye Xiu and Han Wenqing make their way to City H and meet Su Mucheng for the first time who delightedly caters to her brother’s friends. When Ye Xiu returns to his parents’ house for once, Ye Qiu complains about his business classes and Ye Xiu tells him to accept his fate. His brother scowls and doesn’t talk to Ye Xiu for 30 minutes.
And then, the second season starts and Ye Xiu and Fang Shiqian both debut as part of the main team. Ye Xiu debuts with Indifferent Heart and Su Muqiu and Han Wenqing both congratulate him on his debut. Han Wenqing even announces loudly in the pre-season interview that what he looks forward to the most is finally going up against Ye Xiu on the professional stage. Dubbed as ‘Han Wenqing’s long awaited rival’ many people look forward to Ye Xiu’s first match, expectantly.
Tiny Herb’s Cleric Jin Long retires after the first season and Shiqian is now switching between playing Wind Guard, the Paladin he brought himself, and Aweto, the Cleric he inherited, to match their tactics accordingly.
The first match of the season leads Tiny Herb's team to City G where Blue Rain resides. On the stage Ye Xiu meets an acquaintance he has never met before but has already interacted with in-game many times.
“Old Wei! It's the first time we're meeting,” Ye Xiu greets as he shakes the older man’s hand. Wei Chen musters Ye Xiu from head to toe.
“Oh, you must be Indifferent Heart. Why aren't you in Excellent Era anyway?” Wei Chen recognizes him. Naturally, he has also studied his opponent beforehand and Ye Xiu has already garnered a lot of attention ahead of his debut. Wei Chen has met Ye Xiu a few times in-game when he was still just a guild elite at Excellent Dynasty and the Glory Professional Alliance didn’t even exist yet. Other than that Han Wenqing and Su Muqiu have been hyping up their friend as a player to have high expectations for so there is really no escaping Ye Xiu’s name in this scene.
“I'm from City B,” Ye Xiu answers plainly.
Wei Chen frowns at that but simply moves on to the next player.
The chosen highlighted match is that of the defending champion Excellent Era VS Hundred Blossoms, a newly debuted but very promising team. Therefore, sadly, there is no commentator to cry out when Tiny Herb's rookie Ye Xiu, put as anchor of the group arena, a position usually taken by the team’s core, arrives at his third opponent of the group arena with half of his health still intact. Indifferent Heart only has 10% of his health left by the time he has won the group arena but a win is still a win.
“Don't slack off, great healer,” Ye Xiu reminds Fang Shiqian before they enter their player booths for the team competition. While everyone in Tiny Herb gets along very well, the two rookies are especially close as they have spent the last six months alongside each other everyday.
“Yeah right. By the end of the season they'll call me ‘God of Healing’!” Fang Shiqian promises.
Then, right as the team competition starts, the biggest surprise to spectators occurs when Tiny Herb's newly debuted rookie turns out to be their new shot caller as well. And what a shot caller! Expertly, he predicts Blue Rain's moves and sets a trap to separate their core player from the rest of the team. Within a mere ten minutes two of Blue Rain's players are killed already.
But, not only Ye Xiu gets his time to shine. The players of Blue Rain and spectators alike are stunned as Tiny Herb's Cleric unlike the usual Cleric, who remains well-hidden and seeks protection from his teammates, runs and jumps about fearlessly and attacks like a DPS class. Is that actually a Cleric? The way he charges forward one might think Aweto was a Knight!
The reporters are delighted when Lin Jie appears at the press conference followed by the two astounding rookies.
“Congratulations on winning your first match of the season,” the first reporter offers politely.
“Thank you very much,” Lin Jie answers pleasantly.
“Tiny Herb has debuted some great talents this season. Many people have already been looking forward to Ye Xiu. Especially, Captain Han’s announcement that he regarded Ye Xiu to be his rival has been garnering a lot of attention. What does player Ye Xiu think of this?”
“Old Han and I have known each other for years and battled many times. I’m surprised he’s still not tired of battling me. On the other hand, Old Han would never back down from anything, especially not a match,” Ye Xiu laughs and doesn’t give any real answer.
The reporter sits down helplessly as Ye Xiu seems to have finished answering.
“Ye Xiu, this was your first time as shot caller. You did quite a good job and brought quite thought through tactics. Can we expect more of those from you in the future?”
“Hmm…sure. Since I did a good job today, I might do it again.”
“Little Ye has been thinking up tactics for Tiny Herb since he joined the team in Season 1. He has been a great help and you can look forward to more of his talent in the future,” Lin Jie provides a more pleasant answer instead. The reporters eagerly write down the captain’s words.
“Fang Shiqian, you also delivered quite an amazing debut performance today. Is there a reason for your aggressive playstyle?”
“There is no specific reason. It is simply the playstyle which suits me most,” Fang Shiqian answers shortly and to the point.
Han Wenqing V
Congratulations on a successful debut. I am looking forward to the day we meet each other on stage! @Ye Xiu V
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Su Muqiu V: Next time you should be put as first in the group arena, then it will be a full 1v3!! Still, you kicked that old geezer's ass!! @Ye Xiu V
Wei Chen V: This old geezer will kick your ass next time, you rude brat!!!! @Su Muqiu V
Su Muqiu V: Hahaha, with your walking cane, you mean? Can you even catch up to me? Careful or you'll tire yourself out, old man!
Following that is a long thread of thrash talk from Wei Chen and Su Muqiu in turn. Fang Shiqian snickers as he shows the thread to Ye Xiu who has set up a Weibo account per the management's suggestion but hasn't even bothered to install the Weibo app on the phone he barely uses.
Ye Xiu smiles amused but doesn't look at the screen any longer.
“I'm heading down to the training camp. Care to join me?”
“Checking on your favorite pupil?”
“I don't favor him. But, he shows a lot of potential and enthusiasm so I feel obliged to teach him,” Ye Xiu explains. “If any of the other trainees ask me for advice, I won’t refuse.”
“Sure, sure. You even gave him a nickname! If you're not playing favorites, I don't even know what it is you're doing!”
“But, isn't it weird to call him ‘Little Wang’? He's only two years younger than me. And he doesn't mind the nickname.”
“That's cause you won't stop anyway. And what do you mean ‘only two years’? You call Captain Han ‘Old Han’ even though he's just a year older than you!”
“Whatever. You call him by the same nickname!” Ye Xiu defends.
“That's cause you do it!” Fang Shiqian gives back.
“So, let's not argue about it since the nickname is so popular, everyone's using it, anyway,” Ye Xiu ends the argument and opens the door they have just arrived in front of.
“You’re the kind of person whose child would be bullied because of the name you chose for them!”
Normally, none of the trainees look up when the door opens. So many people walk in and out everyday that they would never actually be training if they looked up at the sound of every little noise. But, Fang Shiqian’s word are just too eye-catching not to get curious.
Ye Xiu immediately heads for Wang Jiexi, training quietly by himself, so Fang Shiqian looks for other ways for him to help out at the training camp. He notices the jealous stares directed at Wang Jiexi.
Some of the more daring ones even voice their complaints out loud.
“I don't get why he is favored by Senior Ye so much.”
“He's not debuting anytime soon anyway! Season 2 has just started so Captain Lin won't be retiring anytime soon!”
“Just because that guy has high hand speed!”
“So, how about a duel? Who wants to spar with me?” Fang Shiqian grabs the attention of the trainees and takes their minds of Ye Xiu teaching Wang Jiexi in the corner.
“Against a Cleric?” the trainees look at Fang Shiqian confused.
“Let me tell you, I can totally wipe the ground with you, especially with a Cleric!” Fang Shiqian brags about his skill.
“I saw you in the last match. You were amazing! I have never seen anyone play a Cleric like you! You totally seemed to be a main attacker!” one of the trainees excitedly shares his admiration for Fang Shiqian.
“Ah, thanks,” Fang Shiqian accepts the compliment, a little embarrassed. “Anyway, you can pick the class you want me to play. Best you pick a class nobody in the training camp plays so you can try battling other classes from the ones you're used to.”
“Can you play every class?” the trainees stare at Fang Shiqian in admiration.
“Um...to some extent. I'm no Glory Textbook like that guy over there but I have a basic grasp on all of them. You should try playing different classes as well. Playing them yourself can help you understand your opponents. Understanding your enemy better is also a necessary foundation to win. When you battle, you should always think about what your opponent might do next, logically. Therefore, study your opponent and try to predict their next move. Be one step ahead. Anticipate every possible move!”
“Ye Xiu activates Rising Dragon Soars the Sky. The Dragon heads toward Desert Dust. If this Rising Dragon Soars the Sky hits, this will be the end of this match. With such a win rookie Ye Xiu will have proven himself as one of the best Glory players! But, will he win? Han Wenqing is no easy opponent and known for his precision! Han Wenqing uses Thousand Ton Drop to dodge the skill. Who will win this match? Ah, Han Wenqing escapes the attack with only a small width and Ye Xiu l… wins! Ye Xiu has won the group arena and two points for Tiny Herb! Let’s watch the replay. I am still unable to grasp what exactly happened. We see here when Desert Dust moves at the perfect timing to evade Rising Dragon Soars the Sky but the Dragon turns around and raises its head! I have never before seen the Dragon of Rising Dragon Soars the Sky do that! What is this? A bug in the game or an unprecedented move by Tiny Herb’s Ye Xiu? No matter what, this is truly a move no one could have anticipated!”
Everyone in the stadium stares in bewilderment at the replay of the Dragon turning its head to take the last bit of Desert Dust’s life. The match has already ended though and Ye Xiu exits the player booth and heads toward his team’s seats.
“Wait, Ye Xiu,” a voice calls out from behind. Ye Xiu stops in his step and turns around.
“Old Han, what’s the matter?” Ye Xiu asks nonchalantly as if he hasn’t just used an unprecedented move to defeat Han Wenqing.
“What was that?”
“What do you mean? Me winning the match just now?” Ye Xiu grins smugly and avoids answering.
“Is it a deliberate move?” Han Wenqing asks.
“Who knows,” Ye Xiu laughs and doesn’t provide an actual answer.
Han Wenqing doesn’t ask any further. Possibly, the move can be anticipated if you research it enough. And Ye Xiu would want to use the surprise effect of his unprecedented move as long as he can. In that case he won’t give Han Wenqing a clear answer so he doesn’t press further.
The players of his own team storm Ye Xiu as well as soon as he joins them again at their seats. They have never seen this move before, either.
“The dragon raised its head. I found this by accident when I was training with Fang Shiqian one day. A lot of coordination and precision is needed though. It’s a little unpractical as well and it can be anticipated if you’ve seen it enough. So, don’t talk about it just yet. Let’s have the others ponder whether it’s intentional or a bug or whatever,” Ye Xiu explains and grins.
“What if people think you won the match because of a bug?” Geng Mingan fears.
“They won’t,” Lin Jie denies. “It’s an actual move that needs certain inputs. Even if the publishers of the game themselves didn’t know this was possible, they will check whether they have a bug anywhere and find that there’s nothing wrong with their game. If worse comes to worse, Ye Xiu can simply prove himself by repeating the move.”
“Player Ye Xiu, or perhaps we should start calling you God Ye as of now,” the reporter flatters Ye Xiu. “Many are curious about the last move you used in your battle against Han Wenqing. It was clearly Rising Dragon Soars the Sky, however, the ending was different from how we know Rising Dragon Soars the Sky to be. Can you tell us more about this unprecedented move?”
“What? Do you want me to tell you how to do it?” Ye Xiu laughs amused.
“Um…of course not,” the reporter blushes embarrassed. “Just…was it by luck or was it intentional?”
“It was luck and intentional!” Ye Xiu answers.
“Could you execute the move again?”
“Will you use the move again?”
The reporter gives up and another reporter is called to ask about the strategy during the team competition instead.
Su Muqiu V
As if you just got lucky! What’s with the vague answers! You definitely got this figured out! Just joined the Alliance and you’re already doing all kinds of things, now even inventing new moves! You’re really stealing all the spotlight these days! @Ye Xiu V
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“So this is where you two disappear to all the time!” Ruan Derong’s loud voice is even heard above the loud chatter of the training camp.
All of Tiny Herb’s main team crowds into the room and joins the crowd Fang Shiqian is currently entertaining. Lin Jie comes over to where Ye Xiu is sitting in the corner.
“You guys spend a lot of time at the training camp,” he remarks.
Ye Xiu nods and offers Lin Jie his seat.
“It’s okay. I’ll just…,” Lin Jie tries to refuse but Ye Xiu already stands up.
“You could teach Big-eyed Wang a little. You probably know more about Witches than me. He’s really good. He has a very interesting and unique playstyle.” Lin Jie nods and sits down. He doesn’t question the strange nickname Ye Xiu has given Wang Jiexi. Wang Jiexi doesn’t even blink when he’s called out for his uneven eyes.
“Nice to meet you, Captain Lin. I hope to learn from you and improve.”
Ye Xiu looks up when Lin Jie speaks out of nowhere. He has been absorbed in his own thoughts and hasn’t noticed the others walking ahead a little while his captain remained a little behind beside Ye Xiu.
“Wang Jiexi has a really unusual style. He has a knack for surprising you. I can never predict what kind of move he’ll use next. His choice defies all expectation and makes my think why I never thought of combining these moves when they seem to connect just fine under his command. He’s really talented. I think we should debut him next season.”
“Next season?” Ye Xiu asks and turns his head in surprise. The only reason Ye Xiu could imagine for a team to have two players with the exact same class in their line-up is that they are training a successor. Of course, two same classes on one team is possible. However, it can restrict the team more than it opens new possibilities. But, they were just in the second season. Is captain planning to retire?
“One day he will control Vaccaria and lead the team. His skill can lead the team to victory.”
“Such an unpredictable playstyle can bring victory but can also cause disarray and confusion within the team,” Ye Xiu counters. He likes Wang Jiexi, of course, and wishes for him to debut soon. Right now, he is simply making Lin Jie aware of the danger of plunging Wang Jiexi in the midst of the team.
“That’s why we should learn to coordinate with him. I hope you can set some time aside to make yourself familiar with Wang Jiexi’s playstyle and thought process. You as the shot caller can lead the team in coordinating with Wang Jiexi.”
“I train with him pretty much regularly anyway,” Ye Xiu gives his confirmation to the request.
“Great, I will talk to management about him.”
Just yesterday Tiny Herb lost the championship to Excellent Era but today the team is assembled in the training room again. Normally, everyone would simply go home for the summer break, immediately, after the season ends. But, Lin Jie has called for a meeting so they’re all putting off going home.
A knock sounds from the door and Lin Jie calls for the person to come in. The door opens and Wang Jiexi steps into the room while he bows to the team members. Wang Jiexi knows his strength and knows he’s the most promising of all the trainees in Tiny Herb’s training camp but he doesn’t anticipate the reason he was called here, either. As he plays a Witch, he can’t expect to debut anytime soon. Lin Jie is still young after all and the team, the fans and the club all like him.
“Little Wang, we, that means the club and the team, have discussed a lot and decided for you to debut next season and to take over Vaccaria. Do you think you can take on this responsibility?” Lin Jie gets straight to the point.
“Me? Vaccaria?” Wang Jiexi breaths out, a confused frown already marring his face.
“Yes, you are truly talented and skilled. You can bring Tiny Herb forward!” Lin Jie smiles.
“But, what about you, captain?”
“Me? Don’t worry about me right now. Just think about it. Can you take on this responsibility?”
Wang Jiexi looks at the other team members sitting behind Lin Jie casually like they have nothing to do with this enormous change. Most of them try not to stare at him so not to put him under pressure but Wang Jiexi can see the disappointment on their faces as they stare at the ground. And that moment Wang Jiexi knows. He knows that as soon as he agrees, Lin Jie will no longer hold the same position he did before. Lin Jie will possibly no longer be with Tiny Herb, then. Wang Jiexi desperately looks around for someone to tell him what to do. His gaze meets Ye Xiu’s who has trained him and been closest to him since he has entered Tiny Herb. Ye Xiu looks him directly in the eyes and nods once.
“I believe I can do this.”
“Great!” Lin Jie exclaims with a broad smile. “Since that’s the case, I have another position I would like you to take on. You should become Tiny Herb’s captain next season!”
“Captain?!” Wang Jiexi yells in utter surprise.
Behind them one of the team members heaves a heavy sigh, audibly.
“I have already spoken about this with the club,” Lin Jie says, looking back toward Wang Jiexi. “Of course, we will respect your wishes on this matter as well. Even so… I do hope you will accept, because I think this is the best decision for Tiny Herb. My apologies for being somewhat selfish here, pushing all these responsibilities onto your shoulders. But, you won’t be alone. Ye Xiu will become vice-captain and support you in the best way he can.”
“Why isn’t Senior Ye becoming captain? He is skilled and experience and he’s the shot caller of the team,” Wang Jiexi questions. He’s not asking because he’s insecure or questioning the team’s decision but because he’s actually curious how they came to the decision that he would make a better captain than Ye Xiu.
“The Witch has always been the core of Tiny Herb. That hasn’t changed even when I became shot caller. Also, I think you would make a great captain,” Ye Xiu answers encouragingly.
“This guy just doesn’t want to be captain. Nobody would listen to him anyway,” Fang Shiqian mocks although he always listens to Ye Xiu’s instructions.
Wang Jiexi is still confused but Lin Jie stares at him expectantly and all the team members seem to have already decided on this decision. Ye Xiu nods once more to show his support.
“Alright,” Wang Jiexi replies with a nod.
Tiny Herb’s Rookie Wang Jiexi Directly Becomes Team Captain, Controls Tiny Herb’s Core Account Vaccaria!
Today was the pre-season press conference where representatives of all Professional Glory Teams participating in Season 3 of the Glory Professional Alliance were in attendance! Many new and interesting teams and players have joined the Alliance this time. The biggest surprise, however, was announced during Tiny Herb’s press conference!
In attendance were Fang Shiqian – dubbed the God of Healing –, vice-captain Ye Xiu – Season 2’s Best Newcomer and Arena Star – and Tiny Herb’s newly appointed Captain Wang Jiexi. Questions like why a new captain was chosen or how the team members felt about this sudden change in lineup were answered with non-replies as to wait and see for themselves when the season starts. Fang Shiqian was especially direct when he said to stop asking questions at all if the reporters were only going to ask useless questions. “Do you think our team operates without any caution and consideration? We’re not appointing a new captain on the whim! We’re here to win the championship!” were Fang’s exact words. Many are looking forward to the first match day to see the abilities of Tiny Herb’s new core-player.
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Su Muqiu V: Whoa, what happened at Tiny Herb this summer? You’re putting a newly debuted rookie not only into the core position but also making him captain! @Ye Xiu V
Ye Xiu V : Weren’t you also a rookie when you became captain? @Su Muqiu V
Finally, the first match of Season 3 arrives and Team Tiny Herb doesn’t have to take on the burden of traveling far this time. Their opponent is Team Royal Style who are conveniently also located in City B. In Tiny Herb’s waiting room the players are getting ready for the match.
This is their first match of the season, one that is attracting much attention. The team members all started training with Wang Jiexi a few weeks before and have already seen his extraordinary skill They also know that both their former captain and their current vice-captain hold Wang Jiexi in high regard and trust those two, endlessly. However, Wang Jiexi is still a rookie and they can’t help but feel nervous. The amount of pressure on Wang Jiexi is unfathomable. And since he is captain, he has the responsibility to stay strong under pressure and direct the team members.
They’re even up against Team Royal Style who is regarded as one of the top teams. In a situation like this, are the team members supposed to comfort or encourage the captain? They all look at Fang Shiqian who’s stretching his fingers without any thoughts and Ye Xiu who’s going over his tactics for the team competition with Wang Jiexi once more.
Soon, a staff calls them to come up on stage now and Wang Jiexi finally looks at his team, directly, “Is everyone ready?”
“Huh?” the veterans of Tiny Herb are thrown off by his words. We’re worried about you, new captain!
“Let’s work hard together,” says Wang Jiexi.
“You better work even harder,’” Fang Shiqian returns. “You have to prove that Captain’s decision was correct!”
“Don’t worry, just do what you always do. Play like you usually do,” Ye Xiu smiles and it’s the first time the team members have seen Ye Xiu act like something like a captain.
“Okay.” Wang Jiexi only nods and accepts the words of both his seniors.
“It’s about time, let’s go!”
They file into the passageway leading to the stage. It is here that the two teams met.
“You’re Wang Jiexi?” Lu Liang, Royal Style’s captain and the player of their core-character Peaceful Hermit, speaks to the player next to him. The players are lined up with the captain first and the vice-captain second, followed by the rest of the team.
“I am,” Wang Jiexi confirms. He is keenly aware of the curiosity everyone held regarding him. He notices the members of Royal Style craning their necks to get a look at him, some even on their tiptoes.
“Are you nervous?” Lu Liang asks. This is a question that a senior will ask a rookie and definitely isn’t something commonly said between team captains. He is obviously looking down on Wang Jiexi. With this question, there is faint snickering from the Royal Style crowd.
“I’m alright,” Wang Jiexi replies, neutrally.
“What’s there to be nervous about? Royal Style didn’t even make the playoffs last season. Oh, no offense. You just have to try harder this season,” Fang Shiqian answers with his own thrash talk.
Lu Liang’s expression darkens at that and he turns to the front.
“We won’t disappoint,” he grits out, a grim smile plastered on his face.
Soon, the two teams appear onstage. Starting from this season, the Glory Pro League matches are broadcasted live on television, but this doesn’t decrease the number of people who came to watch live. The atmosphere of the stadium simply can’t be replaced by online or televised broadcasts.
Everyone is paying attention to the line-ups for this match, wondering when Wang Jiexi would go onstage. Normally, the core players would be placed third in the group arena, anchoring the two points of that round, but they could also go to the individual round to guarantee one point there. Last season Tiny Herb’s rookie Ye Xiu always anchored in the group arena and was awarded Arena Star for his performance.
The first individual round starts where Tiny Herb actually puts forth their healer Fang Shiqian with his Paladin Wind Guard. Many doubt Tiny Herb’s judgement to use a healer for the individual battle – even a Paladin rarely participated in PK – but this is Fang Shiqian, the most aggressive healer in the Alliance, a player who can make a Cleric seem like a main attacker. The match takes a little long, as PKs with healers usually do, but Fang Shiqian manages to grind out a win.
Next up is Tiny Herb’s Grappler Ruan Derong who ultimately loses to Royal Style’s Spitfire. Then, the third individual round begins. The player who is announced for this round is actually Ye Xiu. Truthfully, Ye Xiu has never played in the individual round because he was always put into the group arena as Tiny Herb’s strongest player. But, now that Tiny Herb has gained another individually strong player, Ye Xiu decided it was only fitting for their new core and captain to take on this challenge. Wang Jiexi didn’t back down when Ye Xiu presented his idea and accepted the lineup.
Lu Liang is a little disappointed when he sees this. Actually, he has hoped that Ye Xiu would once again be group arena anchor and wanted to face him. Now he knows that Tiny Herb has actually put their rookie captain in the position of anchor.
But, nobody expects it when Wang Jiexi moves around the field dramatically and throws about spells and flasks in uneven intervals. Just like his two teammates Liu Lang is utterly defeated by Tiny Herb’s rookie. “It’s Magic!” all the audience members call out as Vaccaria moves and attacks in ways nobody has ever thought possible. That day Wang Jiexi earns himself the title of “Magician”.
The team competition almost seems brutal as it ends within a mere six minutes with Tiny Herb’s strong teamwork and strongly skilled players domineering the field. Many can see that Tiny Herb has truly become a powerhouse and is ready to fight for the championship this season.
The season continues and this season a new event is introduced. With the expansion and rapid growth of the Alliance and the rise in popularity of Glory players, the demand is just right to organize the first GPA All-Star Event. The event is held on the first weekend of the new year and now everyone realizes why the first match of the year was pushed back by one week.
A voting starts for all players of Glory to vote who will participate in this exciting new event. To most fans, it is already obvious that some players will definitely be voted in. The core players and characters of the powerhouse teams are immensely popular and are practically guaranteed a place in the All-Star ranking.
So, on the 5th of January Ye Xiu is forced to take a plane to City H where Excellent Era has the honor of hosting the first All-Star event. He is enthusiastically greeted by Su Muqiu and a little more calmly by Han Wenqing, who placed 1st and 2nd in the All-Star ranking, respectively. Ye Xiu who is immensely popular himself and has been dubbed the “Battle God” nowadays has managed to place 3rd. At the venue he meets many familiar faces who he’s known for a few years now as they all started in the 1st server together. Lin Jingyan, ever the calm and friendly person, greets him happily. Sun Zheping and Zhang Jiale who debuted with Ye Xiu last season greet him as well. There’s also some people he’s not acquainted with as well but generally, all the pro players get along well and have at least one topic in common to talk about.
First the segment called the Rookie Challenge Competition is held where new pro players can challenge their seniors in a friendly match. “Who is a rookie?” the host asks in order to answer the question himself, right after. “A rookie is who has only been active as a pro player for one or two years.”
The host calls forth the first rookie, Tiny Herb’s captain Wang Jiexi.
“You’re a rookie but you’re already captain and core of your team. Do you feel you’re not really suited to the term rookie?” the host asks Wang Jiexi when he stands on stage.
“By your definition, I definitely am a rookie,” Wang Jiexi answers, logically.
“Um…yes, of course. Then, who of your seniors would you like to challenge?”
“Um…I’ll challenge Senior Ye.”
“By Senior Ye do you mean your vice-captain, Ye Xiu?” the host asks for clarification.
“Yes.” All this has been prepared beforehand, naturally. Wang Jiexi was encouraged to participate in the Rookie Challenge by their club. However, he actually didn’t have any interest in fighting anyone in a match that wouldn’t even account for anything. The Alliance is still a rather small circle and Wang Jiexi has met almost everyone through professional matches already, anyway. There is no senior he admires, especially, either. He admires Lin Jie, of course, but Lin Jie is no longer active. So, he and Ye Xiu agreed on him simply challenging Ye Xiu. That way Wang Jiexi wouldn’t have to hold back on his strength in order not to embarrass his senior, either.
“Is there a special reason for you to challenge your vice-captain?”
“Senior Ye has taught me a lot while I was still a trainee and still teaches me a lot as a senior now,” Wang Jiexi answers, truthfully. Although he doesn’t voice his admiration for Ye Xiu a lot, he does respect him and thinks he’s a great person to learn from.
At that moment Ye Xiu has finally made his way from the player area to the stage and the host rushes to interview Ye Xiu. “Vice-captain Ye, what do you think about Captain Wang challenging you?”
“I don’t get it. We battle each other during practice all the time,” Ye Xiu acts as if he didn’t know about the matchup beforehand. “By the way, per your definition I’m also a rookie. Why wasn’t I selected for the Rookie Challenge? I was already looking forward to it.”
“Um…I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe you will get to fight your challenged senior next time,” the poor host who didn’t even decide on the matchup fumbles for an explanation.
“Next year I won’t be a rookie anymore,” Ye Xiu complains but turns to enter his player booth already.
The match is a blur of magic spells and exploding chasers and is won by Ye Xiu by a small margin in the end. Wang Jiexi is known for his unexpected playstyle which often overwhelms people. But who is Ye Xiu? He is the strongest Battle Mage and one of the strongest players in the Alliance. He is also the one who’s taught Wang Jiexi from early on and the one who is most familiar with Wang Jiexi’s playstyle beside Wang Jiexi himself.
The next rookie to come onstage is Zhao Yang, the core player from a new team called Seaside. “I really admire Senior Ye and wish to receive guidance from him,” he speaks into the mic, earnestly.
Ye Xiu goes up on stage a little reluctantly and fights the match. He wins without suspense but Zhao Yang thanks him once again when he leaves the stage.
The next rookie is Zhang Wei from Hundred Blossoms and Ye Xiu thinks he’s getting a headache when Zhang Wei earnestly calls for Senior Ye as well. Still, Ye Xiu forces a smile and goes up onstage.
But, when the fourth rookie calls him up once again, Ye Xiu groans and only trudges on stage when Wang Jiexi forces him out of his seat. “You’re so popular, Vice-captain Ye!” Su Muqiu cheers smugly.
The host repeats those same three words when the fifth rookie requests to receive guidance from Senior Ye once more.
“Doesn’t anybody want to learn from the other seniors? There are many great teachers in the Alliance!” Ye Xiu complains when the sixth rookie calls him up as well.
“How are there even this many rookies in the Alliance?” Ye Xiu questions and the host laughs good-naturedly at his question.
The eighth rookie doesn’t even bother stating his reason which sounds just about the same every time anyway. “Same,” he says and Ye Xiu feels a little challenged not to go onstage. “This is the price of popularity,” Su Muqiu sing-songs and Ye Xiu decides then and there to make their rookie challenge Su Muqiu if they debut a new player next season.
On the second day Ye Xiu meets up with a few others before the events are held in the evening. Su Muqiu's little sister Su Mucheng insists on being a good host and shows them around City H. Ye Xiu doesn't care a lot about sightseeing but Su Mucheng has also gone through the effort of preparing lunch for both him and Han Wenqing so Ye Xiu doesn't have the heart to refuse and praises her abilities as a tour guide.
On the third day is the event called the All-Star competitions where all All-Star players split up into two groups to conduct a mock match. "Although you didn't join Excellent Era, at least we can be on the same team this once," Su Muqiu cheers when the team division is announced. Han Wenqing is put into the other team because he himself always proclaims Ye Xiu to be his true rival.
Nothing significant happens as everyone plays a little idly. The pro players don't really play seriously because they know there isn't really anything to gain or lose from this match. Afterwards they all return home and Ye Xiu already dreads the next time he has to participate in this rather pointless event.
The season continues and Tiny Herb slaughters their way through the regular season. Although the All-star ranking is based on popularity, strength is what brings popularity. That three of their players were elected as All-stars is a statement in itself. Beforehand, the team feared that there might be difficulty in incorporating Wang Jiexi’s unpredictable playstyle into their teamwork but with Ye Xiu as commander team competitions have been progressing smoothly. So, Tiny Herb ends up finishing the season in first place and are one of the eight teams contending for the championship in the playoffs.
During the Regular Season one loss is not the end. A draw is also an acceptable outcome. But, the playoffs implement a knock-out principle. One loss and the season and fight for the championship would be over right at that moment. Therefore, the point distribution is also changed during playoffs to prevent a draw from happening. Each of the three matches of the individual battle count for one point each. The group arena accounts for three points altogether as well. And the team competition counts as five points as usual. Which means a team has already lost if they don’t manage to score a single point in either the individual battle or the group arena.
Tiny Herb’s first opponent for the playoffs is Team Royal Style. This powerhouse has managed to place within the Top 8 once again. However, just like at the beginning of the season they are easily defeated by Tiny Herb’s new captain and vice-captain duo. The match ends 9 – 2 and they move forward to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals Team Tiny Herb meets Team Hundred Blossoms. In the first individual battle Ye Xiu wins Tiny Herb one point, in the second Zhang Jiale triumphs over Geng Mingan. In the third battle Hundred Blossom’s Zhang Wei defeats Ruan Derong with his Witch Endless Forest. In the group arena Wang Jiexi’s Magician playstyle manages to even trump over Sun Zheping and secures Tiny Herb three points. As the score is now 4 – 2 with Tiny Herb in the lead it is up to the team competition to determine the winner.
The Blood and Blossoms duo is known for their unbeatable playstyle. So, Ye Xiu prepares an ambush to separate the partners. While Ye Xiu takes on Zhang Jiale, Wang Jiexi takes on Sun Zheping. Sun Zheping is a direct fighter with a motto akin to “an eye for an eye” so Ye Xiu makes him battle Wang Jiexi who’s known for his unpredictable and turbulent playstyle. Unfortunately, a player ith such a confusing playstyle which is the exact opposite of direct cannot be fought head-on and Sun Zheping ultimately loses the 1v1. Afterwards, Wang Jiexi joins Ye Xiu against Zhang Jiale who also only has a small amount of health left. The rest is a given in a 5v3.
Then, at last Team Tiny Herb advances to the championship finals against Excellent Era. The two teams go against each other and in the end it is up to the team competition again to be the deciding factor.
The map used for the finals is displayed. The map consists of trees upon trees. They are fighting in the middle of a forest as dark as the night. And at the center of the forest is a wide clearing with a tall tower located in the center of the clearing. “Fight for the high ground. Don’t let Dancing Rain climb the tower,” Ye Xiu announces in the voice channel and Tiny Herb presses forward.
“Wang Jiexi, let’s go ahead. We can’t let them take the high ground,” Ye Xiu announces and Vaccaria accelerates immediately. Indifferent Heart follows right behind. Right as they arrive on the clearing, they can already spot Excellent Era’s Elementalist Emotionless Magic next to the tower.
“I’ll take him on. Keep a lookout for the others,” Ye Xiu orders and Vaccaria flies a little higher so he can spot their enemies from afar. “Ye Xiu, long time no see,” Qin Tianran says familiarly. Both of them used to be guild elites at Excellent Dynasty back in the first server. “It’s been a while, senior,” Ye Xiu agrees and surges forward with a Sky Strike. He follows up with a Double Stab and then a Circle Swing and the attacks come a little too fast for Qin Tianran. His Elementalist is also not as strong in close combat. Not to mention Ye Xiu’s insane hand speed moves the spear in Indifferent Heart’s hands so fast the bare eye can barely keep up. Vaccaria helps out a little with Disperse Powder to slow down Emotionless Magic and Ye Xiu uses the support accordingly.
“They’re coming,” Wang Jiexi announces and right then an Anti-Tank Missile flies towards them in greeting. Wang Jiexi counters with his own Magic Missile and the two attacks meet in the middle and explode with a loud bang and flames and sparks fly around. Right as the bright light from the explosion fades, a dangerous Broom Tornado makes its way towards Excellent Era’s team and all of them hurry to get out of the way. The purple tornado looks a little ominous as it races through Excellent Era’s midst. Wang Jiexi leaves Ye Xiu to handle Qin Tianran by himself for now and takes off on his broom with Broom Mastery. From above attacks keep raining down on Excellent Era. Frost Powder, Acid Rain and Lava Flask come falling from the sky in the form of raging flames, toxic liquid and sparkling fairy dust and the characters of Excellent Era disperse in different directions.
Even as he’s attacked from all directions, Su Muqiu still finds the time to shoot a Laser Rifle at Vaccaria. The laser pierces through the dark night with a zing. Vaccaria turns around again and flies to Indifferent Heart’s side where Emotionless Magic is just barely holding on. As two superior players pummel him into the ground, the first to go is Excellent Era’s player. Next, the two turn towards the narrow path where Excellent Era’s team is heading towards them. Excelent Era lost a player but now it is a 4v2!
Just as that thought crosses the minds of Excellent Era’s players, the three other players of Tiny Herb appear from the direction of Excellent Era’s spawning point. They had taken a long, roundabout way to create a pincer. Vaccaria flies up into the air again and summons first Ice Rain, then a Magic Ray. The star-shaped lights of the Magic Ray pierce through the crystal drops, dangerously. Indifferent Heart raises his spear with both hands and light gathers at the tip of his spear – Dragon Breaks the Ranks! Tiny Herb’s other players don’t hesitate either as their Knight Angelica jumps forward with Heroic Leap. Thanks to their fortunate arrangement Tiny Herb wins the match and the Season 3 championship.
They climb out of the player booth – still dazed – and the light of the stadium is kind of blinding. “We did it! Guys, we won!” Fang Shiqian exclaims excitedly and gathers all of them in a hug.
“Yeah, we won. Congratulations, Captain Wang!” Ye Xiu grins and Wang Jiexi looks back in astonishment. It’s probably the first time Ye Xiu has called him ‘captain’. Slowly, the surprise eases off his face and he smiles back, pleasantly. “Good work, vice-captain!”
“Congratulations, Ye Xiu. You deserve it. You played well. We were thoroughly tricked,” a bright voice sounds behind Ye Xiu. Ye Xiu turns around to come face to face with Su Muqiu and the other players of Excellent Era. “Thank you. It was about time someone else took over,” Ye Xiu can’t help but talk back and Su Muqiu rolls his eyes.
“Watch out. I won’t let you off so easily next season!” Su Muqiu announces.
“Do your worst!” Ye Xiu mocks him but laughs in anticipation. Su Muqiu laughs as well, offers another round of congratulations and makes his exit then. Ye Xiu stares at his retreating back, a little nostalgic as he reminisces the times when they used to play together and a little melancholic as he laments they will never be able to share a victory again.
But, Ye Xiu has found new friends, new teammates and goes with them to celebrate their championship win together. Their first out of many.
Click click, tap tap…
A pair of nimble hands flutter across the keyboard and mouse, producing rhythmic tapping sounds much like a lively symphony. The screen flashes with bright light and the opponent falls to the ground in a spray of blood.
Ye Xiu brandishes his mouse and strikes his keyboard, continuing his assault on his opponent. Right when he is about to say a few words to his opponent, the door of his room is suddenly pushed open with a bang.
Ye Xiu doesn't turn his head, as though he has been waiting for this moment. He merely asks, “Here?”
“Here.” The reply is also simple. Or maybe it is because the speaker is panting a little as if he has sprinted all the way from the club entrance to Ye Xiu’s room on the 5th floor.
“Then let's go!” Ye Xiu declines his opponent’s request for another duel and gently removes the card from Glory’s dedicated log-in device. He heads to the door, grabbing a jacket from a clothes hanger on his way out.
“Captain is already waiting in the conference room on the third floor together with the club manager and Yingjie. This player is very important?” Qiao Yifan asks as they make their way to the conference room located at the end of the corridor on the third floor.
“If everybody approves of him, he will most likely become Indifferent Heart's successor,” Ye Xiu confirms. “Pay attention as well. You will have to work with him for a long time if he stays.”
“Yes, senior,” Qiao Yifan listens and remembers every word his senior says as he always does. “But... What about Xiao Yun?” he inquires about his teammate, hesitantly. As the only Battle Mage in Tiny Herb, Xiao Yun has always been regarded as Ye Xiu’s unofficial successor. But, Ye Xiu never trained him especially or paid any special attention to him so nobody ever knew for sure.
“Well, if Qiu Fei is deemed reliable, there will be no need for another Battle Mage so Xiao Yun will have to be transferred elsewhere. Otherwise, his contract will simply end at some point. If Qiu Fei is better than Xiao Yun, there is no reason for us to keep Xiao Yun on the team. Just like Zhou Yebai left when you were deemed a better fit for the team. Obviously, it’s not your fault he had to leave. Nor would it be Qiu Fei’s fault if Xiao Yun was to leave. It is simply the way competition works.”
“I see,” Qiao Yifan feels a little sorry for Xiao Yun but, honestly, he also feels a little relieved. Before, when Qiao Yifan had just joined Tiny Herb, Xiao Yun often looked down on Qiao Yifan for being less skilled and ordered him around all the time. He had been given an Assassin account and was the worst out of the group of trainees who were considered to be promoted to the team. The only one who didn't look down on him and befriended him was Gao Yingjie, ironically the best out of their group and who was from the beginning favored by Wang Jiexi.
Only after Ye Xiu dropped by the training camp one day and guided Qiao Yifan in changing classes, did his performance improve rapidly. In the end Zhou Yebai had to leave Tiny Herb because Qiao Yifan was chosen to replace him as Tiny Herb's Ghostblade. When they debuted together at the beginning of Season 8, Xiao Yun stopped ordering Qiao Yifan around but Qiao Yifan knows that he is still disliked by Xiao Yun.
“You're late,” Wang Jiexi greets Ye Xiu, coldly, when they enter the conference room. Ye Xiu only shrugs and takes the seat left open for him beside Wang Jiexi.
Gao Yingjie waves him over to where he is sitting a little sideways to their Captain. A young man is seated at the table as well and Qiao Yifan musters him, curiously. He’s wearing a black tracksuit jacket over blue jeans and the bag he is carrying is red and white and has Excellent Era’s logo printed on the front. He seems to be a little younger than himself.
“So, now that everyone is here, we should start,” the club manager initiates the conversation. “Qiu Fei, right?”
Qiu Fei nods and takes the cue to introduce himself, “Yes, my name is Qiu Fei. I play the Battle Mage. I have been in Excellent Era's training camp for 8 months now. Last time Captain Su said I should go over to Tiny Herb as that might be better for my future.”
“It’s great to have you here. These are our team captain Wang Jiexi, our vice-captain Ye Xiu and these two are the youngest players from our team, Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan. So, we will go to a training room now and our captain and vice-captain will take a look at your abilities. After that we will discuss everything else.”
With that all of them stand up and head to the training room. Wang Jiexi walks in front with the club manager, talking about options going forth if Qiu Fei joins their team. Behind them are Ye Xiu and Qiu Fei, already talking about Qiu Fei's preferred playstyle and skill distribution. At the back Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan are walking next to each other.
“So, who exactly is he?” Qiao Yifan asks. He was only told by Ye Xiu that he was to attend a new player’s assessment today.
“Apparently, he’s from Excellent Era. Captain Su recommended him here because Excellent Era just debuted a Battle Mage this season and won’t debut him although he is talented. So, if he joins Tiny Herb, he will become Indifferent Heart’s successor.”
“What about Xiao Yun, then?” Qiao Yifan repeats his question from earlier. He’s a little curious about Gao Yingjie’s opinion.
“Obviously, he will have to leave if Qiu Fei is better than him. I don’t hate Xiao Yun but I think it might be better for team dynamics as well. How can I be on a team with someone who bullied you for the better part of a year?” Gao Yingjie tries to say all this in a calm and reasonable tone but the way his tone of speaking is a little higher than usual gives away how upset he is. Qiao Yifan thinks it is the first time he has seen Gao Yingjie holding a grudge like this.
“Have you already talked to him?” Qiao Yifan changes the topic back to Qiu Fei.
“Just a little. He seems nice. Confident and blunt - but he's not arrogant nor rude. I think he'll coordinate well with the team.”
“Vice-captain said to pay attention because we will be the ones to work with him the longest,” Qiao Yifan repeats Ye Xiu's words.
“Captain said I should have some say in these matters or at least be present during decisions because I will lead Tiny Herb one day,” Gao Yingjie recounts with a fearful look in his eyes. He’s still not used to the thought of being Vaccaria’s successor and feel a little pressured anytime anyone mentions it. He turns to look at Qiao Yifan nervously.
“Well, you are his successor. Don't worry, just tell him what you honestly think, Yingjie. You will have to get familiar with such things one day so captain is giving you the chance to get used to it early and slowly. No need to be afraid,” Qiao Yifan tries to ease his friend’s worries.
“You're also vice-captain's successor. He brought you here with him, after all!” Gao Yingjie grins now.
“How can I be senior's successor? I'm not a Battle Mage,” Qiao Yifan returns.
“You can’t inherit his character but right now you’re the one vice-captain teaches the most. You’re inheriting his thoughts and tactics! Something like an intellect inheritor. Although you're not going to inherit his character, you might inherit his position!” Gao Yingjie believes firmly. Gao Yingjie quite likes that idea. If he was to become captain one day, the person he would want to be his vice-captain would be Qiao Yifan.
Shortly, they arrive at the practice room. “So, first to assess Qiu Fei's abilities. Will Captain Wang conduct the assessment?” the club manager asks and looks at the two people of high authority in the room.
“So this poor trainee can get assaulted by Big-eyed Wang's crazy playstyle? It's better to have someone else do it!” Ye Xiu intersects, immediately and suggests another option. “How about Yingjie or Yifan try out their possible future teammate?”
Gao Yingjie freezes at those words. He glances towards Qiu Fei unsurely to see that Qiu Fei is also mustering Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan curiously now. Gao Yingjie feels a little pressured. He is supposed to be Wang Jiexi’s successor. For him to fight Ye Xiu's possible successor like this actually makes him a little nervous. On the other hand, he feels bad to shove this task onto Qiao Yifan. Qiao Yifan immediately recognizes the insecurity in Gao Yingjie's eyes and volunteers himself, shyly.
“It's your successor candidate. You should assess him yourself!” Wang Jiexi then assigns the task back to Ye Xiu.
“Okay,” Ye Xiu accepts, immediately. After knowing Ye Xiu for a year and a half now, Gao Yingjie suspects Ye Xiu only mentioned his earlier suggestion to fluster Gao Yingjie. “Do you have an account card, Qiu Fei?”
Qiu Fei shakes his head, “I always used the one Excellent Era provided.”
“Okay, then we need two about evenly matched Battle Mage accounts.” Qiao Yifan immediately volunteers to go fetch them and Gao Yingjie follows along. When they’re back, they start the match immediately. Qiu Fei is quite skilled with good reaction speed, hand speed and decision making. All of them can see that even as Ye Xiu wins the match. It would be a miracle if Ye Xiu didn’t win, after all.
“Next for the team assessment, how about, Qiu Fei, you team up with Yingjie and Yifan against Big-eyed Wang and me? It will be a good chance for you to get to know your future teammates,” Ye Xiu suggests. He also throws Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan a look as if to say to observe Qiu Fei from their perspective.
Wang Jiexi agrees with the suggestion and the two teams are given a few minutes to discuss. “Just wing it,” Ye Xiu says a little too loudly as soon as they split up into the groups.
“He’s just joking,” Gao Yingjie feels the need to defend his vice-captain in front of Qiu Fei. Qiu Fei nods, an impassive look on his face.
“What classes do you two play?” Qiu Fei asks.
“A Witch,” Gao Yingjie answers. Qiu Fei nods. He tries to maintain his expression but the minimal change on his face shows that he’s realized which position Gao Yingjie holds in this team.
“I play a Ghostblade. One that specializes as a Phantom Demon,” Qiao Yifan introduces himself.
Qiu Fei nods again and vaguely remembers a Ghostblade in a few of Tiny Herb’s team competitions this season.
“We’re up against captain and vice-captain. Since we have Yifan, the best course of action would be to look for an opportunity for Yifan to cast a Debuff Skill first to restrict at least one of them,” Gao Yingjie takes the lead in the discussion.
The others agree quickly and try to think up an ambush point.
“We should not separate by all means! We have a better chance of winning 3v2 than 2v1 and 1v1!” Gao Yingjie warns them and Qiao Yifan and Qiu Fei nod in agreement. The three younger players rush forward as soon as their characters have spawned. Somehow Qiu Fei is pulled into a 1v1 with Captain Wang as soon as the two sides meet and their plan can hardly be implemented. Qiu Fei now understands why Ye Xiu didn’t want Wang Jiexi to duel him earlier. Just like his nickname, the Magician flies around and attacks like a whirlwind without caution or warning. When Qiu Fei watched Tiny Herb’s matches, Vaccaria always only looked like a blur of colorful explosions and fairy dust. Now as his opponent it is even harder to keep up with Wang Jiexi’s barrage of attacks.
Gao Yingjie is left with the task of shielding Qiao Yifan from Ye Xiu so he has enough time to cast a boundary. While Gao Yingjie gives his utmost, it’s not nearly enough time for a Dark Boundary or Silence Boundary so Qiao Yifan decides on an Ice Boundary first. As that slows down their opponents, he now has little more time to lay down a Dark Boundary. Unfortunately, it is Ye Xiu they’re up against and even within a Dark Boundary he still strikes like he knows exactly where they are even though his screen is obviously black. But, at least Gao Yingjie has an easier time now and Qiao Yifan sends a Ghost Slash, a long-ranged attack, towards Wang Jiexi. He moves forward with Ghost Step, then attacks with a Moonlight Slash, followed by a Full Moonlight Slash.
“Switch!” Gao Yingjie demands and Qiu Fei lets Qiao Yifan take on Wang Jiexi, temporarily. Immediately, Kind Tree is at Rangoon Creeper’s side and defending against the barrage of attacks by his captain. Meanwhile, Qiao Yifan has the task of running across the battlefield to avoid attacks from either side and find the right positon to connect the two battles with his Ghost Boundaries.
In the end the two gods win as all three rookies are swept up in a Broom Tornado and accurately hit by Dragon Rises from the Sea. This outcome surprises no one, honestly, but the three are still a little disappointed, they seem to be so far from their seniors in skill. The club manager carefully asks for Wang Jiexi and Ye Xiu’s judgement now or whether they need more time or a private room to discuss the issue further.
The two share a look of understanding and Ye Xiu smiles as he walks toward Qiu Fei. He offers him his hand as he congratulates him, “Welcome to the team!”
Qiu Fei takes Ye Xiu’s hand slowly and shakes it. Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan look at each other happily as well. Qiu Fei is an easy person to work with and definitely skilled with potential to improve even more.
“Great! That’s great!” the club manager celebrates. “Then, I will get all the necessary paperwork. For now, you will join the training camp and keep training there. We will inform you at a later date about plans for your debut and the like. Is that alright?”
Qiu Fei nods and the club manager rushes off to his office.
Qiu Fei thinks back to the match. As to be expected from Vaccaria’s successor, Gao Yingjie is very skilled and a strong player. Although he seemed a little shy and reserved at first, he took the lead and commanded the team well when needed.
Qiao Yifan’s position within the team is a little unclear to Qiu Fei. There must be a reason why he was also present at a new player’s assessment. His class of choice revealed that he held more of a supportive position. Ghostblades usually aren’t main attackers with the exception being Team Void. Qiao Yifan always paid attention to the overall battle and noticed details many didn’t. He was very suited to the class he played. Most of all he and Gao Yingjie had a tacit understanding of each other and worked together well. Possibly, he was being groomed to be something like Gao Yingjie’s main support who was to become captain at some point.
And just like that Qiu Fei enters Tiny Herb. He goes back to City H once more to fetch his belongings, thanks Captain Su for the recommendation and moves into a room with three other trainees. They welcome him warmly and inform him of everything going on at Tiny Herb. Qiu Fei smiles thankfully but doesn’t say too much. He likes having friends, of course, but in a scene as competitive as this it is hard to make genuine friends, especially when it is uncertain whether all of them will remain in this scene.
Nobody seems to know of Qiu Fei’s special means of entering the training camp yet because no jealous stares and no mocking battle invitations have been sent his way. Sometimes members of the main team come down to practice with the training camp and Qiu Fei feels like it’s a pretty cheerful atmosphere. Mostly, members of the substitute team visit as they were part of the training camp not too long ago and are still friends with some of the trainees. Qiao Yifan and Gao Yingjie, Qiu Fei has already met. The other two who come often are Xiao Yun and Liu Fei, Tiny Herb’s other two rookies.
As the only girl on Tiny Herb’s roster, Liu Fei spends most of her time with the girls in the training camp. She wrinkles her nose in distaste at the rowdy boys firing each other up at 1v1s. One time she acknowledges Qiu Fei’s presence with a simple nod when she spots him next to Qiao Yifan and Gao Yingjie, who she greets with a small wave.
Xiao Yun stares at him menacingly from the moment they set eyes on each other and Qiu Fei immediately knows which position he inhabits. Xiao Yun acts very loud and likes to hang out in large groups, surrounding himself with younger trainees who shower him in admiration for being on the team, already.
Meanwhile, Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan keep a little more to themselves. They welcome anyone who look for them but don’t approach anyone themselves. Truthfully, not many dare to approach them, though some get curious when they hear that Gao Yingjie is Vaccaria’s future successor. When they spot Qiu Fei, quietly training by himself, though, they offer to train with him.
“How do you know Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan?” one of Qiu Fei’s roommates wonders after Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan have left for training with the team.
“I met them when I came for the assessment test,” Qiu Fei explains but leaves out that Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan were part of his assessment. He feels like that piece of information may change the way most of the trainees view him.
“Well, you’re skilled and the future captain and vice-captain acknowledge you. You’re definitely set to debut!” the roommate groans, a little jealously.
“Future captain and vice-captain?” Qiu Fei frowns in confusion.
“Gao Yingjie is Vaccaria’s successor so he’s definitely going to become captain. Qiao Yifan… do you see Xiao Yun over there?”
Qiu Fei looks over where Xiao Yun is battling a member of the training camp and grinning triumphantly at his superior skill. If he was a more expressive person, he would sigh in disappointment that Xiao Yun actually felt happy to beat a trainee while he himself was part of the main team. But, Qiu Fei doesn’t want to judge anyone too quickly or give off a wrong impression so he has learned to school his expression.
“Last year the three of them, Xiao Yun, Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan, entered the training camp. All three of them stood out quickly and managed to become part of the group that was to be promoted to the main team. Only, Qiao Yifan was the worst of them and was often picked on by Xiao Yun and the other trainees. Only Gao Yingjie befriended him.
One day Vice-captain Ye dropped by and suggested Qiao Yifan change classes. After that he had a sudden surge in improvement and easily made the jump to the team. He even beat out someone who had already debuted in Season 6 for the account he now plays on.
And well, Xiao Yun is a Battle Mage on the substitute team. So, wouldn’t that normally indicate he’s Indifferent Heart’s successor? But, Vice-captain Ye has always paid more attention to Qiao Yifan than Xiao Yun. Qiao Yifan has vice-captain’s backing and he’s Gao Yingjie’s best friend. Those two are inseparable. Some say it’s almost certain that Qiao Yifan is going to be vice-captain when Gao Yingjie becomes captain. Although he’s not even a Battle Mage, many consider him to be vice-captain’s successor.”
Qiu Fei nods in understanding. Qiao Yifan definitely holds a certain position if he’s allowed to participate in the assessment for their All-Star character’s successor. That event indicates that he’s evenly matched with Gao Yingjie who holds a vital position in Tiny Herb’s future. Well, Qiu Fei does want to surpass Xiao Yun. He came to Tiny Herb to improve his skills and join this team, after all.
Qiu Fei also understands Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan’s willingness to train with him and teach him. Naturally, they would rather want him than someone they have a bad relationship with on the team.
“By the way, have you already voted for All-Stars?” Qiu Fei’s roommate asks.
Qiu Fei frowns. Right, All-Stars is just around the corner. As a Battle Mage in Tiny Herb, should he vote for Vice-captain Ye? Or should he vote for Captain Su who was the one to recommend him here?
“Right, this pointless event,” Ye Xiu sighs as he stands up from his seat and the crowd cheers at him.
“Hey, brighten up, number two! You should thank your fans for proving your popularity once again!” Su Muqiu scolds him and grins brightly at the crowd.
“Then, you should have ranked higher. Look at number one. Does it look like he wants to be here?”
Both of them glance to their left where Zhou Zekai is standing stiffly and waving at the crowd with robotic motions. Still, the crowd of Samsara’s home stadium cheers loudly for their beloved captain.
When they’re finally allowed to sit back down and the host begins to announce the first event, Wang Jiexi warns Ye Xiu once more, “You’re not allowed to decline or throw any matches. Tiny Herb has a reputation to uphold!” He’s referring to the first All-Stars event back in Season 3 where all rookies challenged Ye Xiu for the Rookie Challenge and Ye Xiu was about to refuse to go on stage.
“Just concentrate on your match. Drag it out so long nobody else will have the chance to play. Then, there won’t be any match for me to throw,” Ye Xiu dawdles and looks over at Gao Yingjie fidgeting in his seat. Naturally, the club has urged all their rookies to sign up for the Rookie Challenge. Gao Yingjie feels especially nervous as it’s his first time to play on stage.
Wang Jiexi sighs in disappointment at the (lack of) professionalism his vice-captain of five years displays and turns back to the stage where Dai Yanqi of Team Thunderclap has called out Chu Yunxiu of Team Misty Rain.
Afterwards, it is Gao Yingjie’s turn. He approaches the stage determinedly and receives the microphone. “Hi, everyone. My name is Gao Yingjie,” he introduces himself but his confidence dwindles and the last three words are said so quietly nobody hears them. Good thing everybody already knows Gao Yingjie and his image as a genius who will inherit Vaccaria one day.
“Go on, mother hen. Rescue your baby chick,” Ye Xiu gestures at the stage vaguely and Wang Jiexi rolls his eyes but stands up to hurry to Gao Yingjie’s rescue.
“Don’t do that with your uneven eyes!” Ye Xiu complains.
To everyone’s surprise the one to win the match is Gao Yingjie. The whole stadium is quiet as Gao Yingjie trudges back on stage. He doesn’t know how to face his captain. He went all out because he knew his captain would want him to. But, now he has humiliated his captain in front of millions of people! He never thought that he could possibly win.
Suddenly, his left hand is grabbed. He immediately looks to his left and sees that it is his captain’s hand holding onto his. And then, he watches as his left hand is raised up into the air, along with applause from all around the stadium. The instant his hand goes up, the applause becomes even louder.
“You’re going to be the one to shoulder Tiny Herb’s future, Yingjie! “ Wang Jiexi promises his young mentee.
At the passage back to their seats Wang Jiexi and Gao Yingjie meet Qiao Yifan. “You played well, Yingjie! Congratulations!” Qiao Yifan greets him, sincerely, and Gao Yingjie feels relieved to see his friend still smiling at him.
Then, it is Qiao Yifan’s turn to walk onto the stage and announce his own challenge. Gao Yingjie and Wang Jiexi walk back to their seats and take their places. When Wang Jiexi sits down next to Ye Xiu again, Ye Xiu looks at him and raises one eyebrow but doesn’t say anything. Wang Jiexi doesn’t say anything, either. He knows Ye Xiu doesn’t fully approve of his method but won’t argue with him. Gao Yingjie has not played in a single match yet this season while Ye Xiu has put Qiao Yifan into the team competition almost regularly. But, Gao Yingjie is Wang Jiexi’s successor so Ye Xiu doesn’t want to argue. Still, he has made up his mind to convince Wang Jiexi to let Gao Yingjie play at least one match this season.
“Hello, my name is Qiao Yifan.” The crowd cheers loudly for him. Although he is merely a rookie, he has displayed his skill many times in the team competition already.
When asked who he wants to challenge, Qiao Yifan answers with one sentence, “I wish to challenge Senior Su Muqiu.”
“Su Muqiu?” a lot of the audience members and also all of the pro players look at the person in question in confusion. Usually, rookies would choose to challenge seniors they liked in the Alliance, which is why it is very common that players who played the same class fought in the Rookie Challenge.
“Does Little Qiao like Su Muqiu?” Liu Xiaobie wonders and the others shrug, helplessly. All of them look over at Ye Xiu who has a small smile tugging at his lips. If they were to think of a senior Qiao Yifan admires, they would think of Ye Xiu who taught and guided Qiao Yifan aplenty. But, Ye Xiu doesn’t seem very bothered by who his mentee paying his respects to a completely different person.
The club had encouraged all of their rookies to sign up for the rookie challenge. Gao Yingjie’s match had obviously been arranged by Wang Jiexi. Qiao Yifan had originally planned to challenge the senior he held the most respect for. That would be Ye Xiu who has taught him everything he knows and guided him in finding his place in the team.
However, when Ye Xiu saw his name on the application Qiao Yifan was filling out for the Rookie Challenge, he took Qiao Yifan by the shoulders and spoke to him in such an earnest way like he never had to someone before. “Yifan, if you respect this senior who has supported you in every way possible, please do me one favor and don’t force me to take part in this pointless event more than I already have to!”
When asked why he wanted to challenge Captain Su, Qiao Yifan explains, “Vice-captain Ye has always said that Senior Su is someone he holds in high regard. So, I want to challenge Senior Su who I’ve never fought against before.” Actually, Ye Xiu had urged Qiao Yifan to write down Su Muqiu’s name with a gleeful look in his eyes and Qiao Yifan had complied. But, Qiao Yifan doesn’t want to say that.
“I see. A recommendation of sorts,” the host laughs.
“One question,” Su Muqiu who has arrived on stage by now snatches the microphone. “If you admire Ye Xiu so much, you’d challenge someone he respects, why didn’t you challenge him?”
Qiao Yifan smiles wryly and takes the mic back to answer honestly, “Senior Ye doesn’t want to participate in this event.”
Su Muqiu snorts like he’s remembering something funny and trying not to laugh at the memory of it. “I guess Ye Xiu still has a trauma from All-Stars in Season 3. Well, this is also interesting! I've wanted to see you up close for a while but you only appear in Team Competitions," Su Muqiu beams when he appears on the stage. He smiles at Qiao Yifan expectantly.
"I play a Ghostblade," Qiao Yifan justifies his lack of individual battles and Su Muqiu laughs at his junior's seriousness.
"Little Qiu, talks a lot about you. I'm curious to see your abilities for myself."
Qiao Yifan stays silent, not sure what to answer to that.
"I'll try my best, senior," he settles on a polite, generic response and Su Muqiu smiles amused.
The two character spawn in the map and Qiao Yifan immediately takes a left for a roundabout way. As a Ghostblade he knows that direct combat won't be beneficial for him. Especially not against a Launcher who can attack from a large distance. Although he is participating because the club urged him to apply, he will still try his best. There aren't many chances for him to fight Senior Su either so he's a little curious how he will fare against him.
Qiao Yifan climbs through trees and leafs and tactically swerves around Su Muqiu’s Launcher. A Ghostblade is not the best class for close combat but a short distance would be more advantageous against a Launcher. Qiao Yifan lurches forward with a Moonlight Slash.
However, Su Muqiu is no rookie. He immediately notices the ominous light behind him and dodges. As soon as Qiao Yifan sees that the Moonlight Slash would not hit, he cancels his skill and opts for a Plague Boundary instead. Su Muqiu sees Qiao Yifan move to set down the Boundary and immediately counters with BBQ. The bullet interrupts Qiao Yifan’s cast and his character is sent flying backwards. Su Muqiu quickly follows up with an Anti-Tank Missile. Three artillery shells fly at Qiao Yifan in quick succession.
Qiao Yifan defends with Shadow Image and a Ghost materializes out of nowhere to shield him. He activates Ghost Step to move nearer and prepares a Dark Boundary right then. Su Muqiu is still a distance away but the radius of the Dark Boundary is big enough to include Su Muqiu’s character just barely. Immediately, Su Muqiu aims Gatling Gun at the ground to move himself backwards and out of the Boundary. But, Qiao Yifan was prepared with Death’s Tombstone followed by an Ash Boundary. With that it will be harder for Su Muqiu to escape.
Despite the Ash Boundary Su Muqiu keeps firing and moving backwards so Qiao Yifan has no choice but to activate Ghost Feast and take what health he can before Su Muqiu escapes completely. The Ghost Boundaries on the ground explode and the ghostly powers surge up to take Su Muqiu’s health. He goes after Su Muqiu with a Ghost Slash but Su Muqiu dodges swiftly and extends the distance between their characters further to match his firing line.
After that Qiao Yifan only manages to get near once more. The rest of the time Su Muqiu maintains his advantage and wins the match in the end.
“You played well. I’m looking forward to your next time on stage,” Su Muqiu praises him when they have both exited the player booth. He extends his hand for Qiao Yifan to shake. Qiao Yifan happily takes the hand and Su Muqiu’s acknowledgement.
Back at his seat Gao Yingjie greets Qiao Yifan cheerfully, “You played well against Captain Su!”
“Did you have to say all that? Now that smug bastard will rub in my face that I said I respected him for months!” Ye Xiu complains to Qiao Yifan about his explanation earlier.
“You told me not to challenge you,” Qiao Yifan blinks confused.
“Yes, but…whatever. Good job,” Ye Xiu sighs and Qiao Yifan sits down in his seat.
“It was a good match,” Wang Jiexi praises Qiao Yifan with a small smile. It looks a little eerie with his uneven eyes but Qiao Yifan thanks him for the compliment.
The next to challenge someone is Tang Hao who haughtily announces, “The junior succeeds the senior.” Promptly, he even beats Lin Jingyan and a lot of the pro players frown at the scene. Although Gao Yingjie also beat his senior earlier, this has a completely different feeling from the earlier match.
Amidst everyone’s discussion, the commentators announces the rookie of the next match. Excellent Era’s rookie Battle Mage Tang Rou appears on stage. She is a very beautiful young girl and many cheer when she appears. Different from her gentle and pretty appearance she’s known for her fierce and direct playstyle. However, she hasn’t been able to showcase her talent too much yet as she’s not on Excellent Era’s main team and hasn’t had too many chances to play.
“Hello, my name is Tang Rou. Captain Su has always spoken about how the best Battle Mage in the Alliance is Senior Ye. Most Battle Mages learn from his videos and guides. I want to challenge him and learn from him directly,” she speaks calmly and looks right at Ye Xiu.
“Did you put her up to this?” Ye Xiu leans over to Su Muqiu and eyes him with suspicion.
“Not at all! You’re simply good study material,” Su Muqiu grins in a way that says he’s guilty and not ashamed at all. Actually, he didn’t tell Tang Rou to challenge Ye Xiu but he would never refuse a chance to tease his oldest friend. He had praised Tang Rou generously when he saw Ye Xiu’s name on her application for the Rookie Challenge.
“It seems like God Su and God Ye both sent forward their rookie in their stead to challenge each other,” the host laughs.
“Please guide me well, senior,” Tang Rou says politely when Ye Xiu arrives on stage.
“Yes, yes,” Ye Xiu answers listlessly and trudges to the player booth, slowly.
The two Battle Mages spawn into the map and the battle begins. Tang Rou immediately rushes forward to the center of the map. As this is not a real match, Ye Xiu doesn’t bother to go a roundabout way or find a strategic approach. He simply makes his way to the center of the map as well although not as fast as Tang Rou.
As soon as Ye Xiu’s character is near, Tang Rou jumps forward with a Dragon Breaks the Ranks. She knows how strong Ye Xiu is and that she can’t match up to him in neither tactics nor skill. Therefore, she decides to simply fight in a way that is most comfortable for her and try her best even when the odds are against her. Ye Xiu easily dodges the attack and counters with a Circle Swing followed by a Double Stab. He uses an Ice Chaser to slow her down and aims for a knock-up with Tyrant’s Destruction.
Tang Rou is defenseless as Ye Xiu juggles her in the air. She can only see the character’s shadow as her opponent vanishes into her blind spot after every attack. He does it so effortlessly and precisely that it seems like he isn’t trying at all and uses the technique out of mere habit. After a while, she manages to escape while struggling but Tang Rou has the feeling that Ye Xiu purposely let her escape.
The audience boos, “How can a God toy with a rookie like that?”
Meanwhile, the pro players chuckle a little, “Isn’t Ye Xiu going easy on her?” They know Ye Xiu could have kept up his combo for much longer.
Ye Xiu counters every one of Tang Rou’s attacks swiftly and has taken minimal damage by the time the match has ended.
The two of them exit their booth and everyone is staring at Tang Rou curiously. Tang Rou has been known as an outstanding rookie since her debut. She is someone many consider a nominee for Best Newcomer this season. Incidentally, her biggest rival for the award is the one who battled against her own captain today. Team Tiny Herb’s Qiao Yifan has had a few more chances to go on stage than Tang Rou and therefore more chances of showcasing his skill.
After all, Excellent Era is full of talented players who all want to get their turn on stage. Naturally, Tiny Herb has a lot of talented players as well but as a Ghostblade Qiao Yifan only appears in Team Competitions anyway. Tang Rou is one of the few rookies who haven’t hit the rookies’ block until now. Incidentally, Qiao Yifan hasn’t either but he has also only played in team competitions.
“Tang Rou, how was the match against Senior Ye?” the host asks her, nervously.
“I learned a lot today. Thank you for your guidance, senior,” Tang Rou bows politely to show her respect.
“God Ye, would you like to say a few words to Tang Rou as her senior?”
“Tang Rou is truly a talented player. She has good hand speed and learned all the theory there is well. What she still lacks is experience and her own judgement. Right now, you play as the guide suggests or rather the way all Battle Mages would generally. It is now up to you deviate from the general and figure out which of the general parts suit you and which should be changed to suit you. But, I’m sure Su Muqiu has told you all that already.”
“I will remember your words, senior.”
The last battle of the Rookie Challenge is that of the hosts Samsara, who put their rookie against their captain Zhou Zekai. This match paled, however, in comparison to the excitement of all the matches before. Zhou Zekai is simply too overwhelming on stage.
After the event are interviews scheduled with players from the teams. Ye Xiu begrudgingly takes his place next to Wang Jiexi and answers the reporter’s questions.
“Captain Wang, what did you think of your rookies’ performance today?”
“They both played very well. Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan are the future of Tiny Herb. They have both showcased their abilities today. They are a great duo and I hope they can work together well in the future. I am looking forward to their growth and what they will do as Tiny Herb’s future.” He especially stresses the words ‘Tiny Herb’s future’.
“You call them Tiny Herb’s future. Normally, wouldn’t successors of core characters take those positions? The rookie Battle Mage on your team Xiao Yun hasn’t had much of a presence yet, however.”
“A position should not be tied to a character. Gao Yingjie and Qiao Yifan work well together and support each other. We can’t force them to take on the classes we chose for ourselves back then. Xiao Yun will contribute to the team in his own way,” Ye Xiu answers a question with a valid reply for once.
On the second day some mini-games are held. The first game is led by Team Samsara’s Zhou Zekai who as always isn’t very talkative but his skills speak for itself. The second game is led by Team Excellent Era’s Su Mucheng who selects one of her diehard fans as a participant. A very excited woman named Chen Guo jumps about in joy as Su Mucheng greets her. They even seem to know each other beforehand as they address each other with nicknames. The last mini-game is led by Team Blue Rain’s Huang Shaotian who talks everyone who wants to hear and everyone who doesn’t their ears off.
The last event of the day is the Player vs Pro Battle where one lucky audience member gets the chance to play against Team Samsara’s Du Ming. Without any suspense Du Ming wins all his matches but the selected audience members seem to enjoy themselves nonetheless.
On the last day is the long awaited All-Star competition. All the All-Stars stand on stage to see the team division. The host is going around and asking all the pros of their opinion of this year’s All-Stars.
“Now, we’re approaching the Top 10,” the host announces and immediately shoves the microphone in front of Deng Fusheng. “How are you finding this year’s All-Stars?”
“Well, there have been many unusual twists this year. I hope we can end the event on a rather peaceful note.” – Number 1 Knight Deng Fusheng
“Yes, that was Team Tiny Herb’s Deng Fusheng. Next up we have Zhang Zinjie. Vice-captain Zhang, what do you think of being voted into the Top 10 this year?”
“I’m happy I’m thought of so highly,” Zhang Xinjie answers with a mild smile.
“Captain Yu, do you look forward to the competition?”
“Of course, I’m sure there will be many highlights to see,” Yu Wenzhou gives a rather generic answer.
“Su Mucheng, you’ve managed to rank 7th this year. Does it sadden you to be so far from your brother and best partner?”
“We spend enough time together as is,” Su Mucheng jokes good-naturedly.
“Next up, we have Han Wenqing. Captain Han, do you mind sharing your thoughts?”
“I look forward to an exciting match,” the ever stoic captain of Tyranny doesn’t utter more words than necessary.
“And here at number 5, Wang Jiexi. Captain Wang, this year’s All-Stars have been rather surprising for you. Can you still enjoy today’s events?”
“I am very proud of the performance displayed by my team’s members. I am not in the least in a bad mood.”
“Haha, yes of course. Then, next up is Team Blue Rain’s vice-captain Huang Shaotian. We look forward to your performance. Please make it an exciting match!” the host announces all by himself and passes by Huang Shaotian quickly without letting him speak even once.
“We have finally reached the Top 3! Captain Su, are you saddened by your sister’s need of distance from you?”
“Well, you know children. Sometimes they have these phases where they want to be a little rebellious and act independently,” Su Muqiu grins and forms a heart with his hands aimed at his sister who is sticking out her tongue in spite.
“And now for the Top 2 All-Stars! Vice-captain Ye, is there anyone you would like to be on a team with today?”
“Not particularly,” Ye Xiu answers. His answer is followed almost immediately by a loud cough and Ye Xiu remembers he promised to act a little more appropriate at this event. “Well, I wouldn’t mind being on the same team as Old Han for once. We’ve been at All-Stars every year now but not even once have I had the chance to be on the same team as Old Hand!”
“That might be because you guys are such big rivals. The organizer probably doesn’t want to instigate a fight,” the host jokes.
The last to be interviewed is also the hardest to interview. “Who are you looking forward to seeing on your team, Captain Zhou?” the host asks and decides to end the interview as long as Zhou Zekai says just one word.
“…,” Zhou Zekai takes some time to think. Then some more. And some more.
“Everyone is good!” he finally settles on not naming anyone and the host accepts the answer.
“Then, let us reveal the team division!”
The first to appear on Team A’s roster are the players of the home team, Team Samsara’s Zhou Zekai and Jiang Botao. While many expectantly stare at Team B’s roster now, it is Team A’s roster where two more names are displayed: Excellent Era’s Su Muqiu and Su Mucheng.
To many, it is now obvious who is going to appear on Team B’s roster. There is only one team with four All-Stars this year: Team Tiny Herb has Wang Jiexi, Deng Fusheng, Li Yihui and Ye Xiu. Next is Team A’s roster again with Team Tyranny’s Han Wenqing and Zhang Xinjie. Along with them Team Royal Style’s Tian Sen is also displayed.
“Oh no, sadly, this is not the year Vice-captain Ye’s wish is fulfilled,” the host remarks remorsefully and the crowd laughs.
Next on Team B’s roster are Team Blue Rain’s three All-Stars Yu Wenzhou, Huang Shaotian and Yu Feng. On Team A then Team Hundred Blossom’s Tang Hao, Sun Xiang and Zou Yuan and on Team B Team Wind Howl’s Criminal Duo Lin Jingyan and Fang Rui along with Chu Yunxiu.
The last two to join Team A are Team Thunderclap’s Xiao Shiqin and Team 301 Degrees’ Yang Cong. For Team B the Ghost Duo Team Void’s Li Xuan and Wu Yuce join lastly.
Each team gets some time to decide on their arrangement. Team A’s members look at each other wordlessly. They’re all waiting for the host team to start the discussion. But, Zhou Zekai remains silent as always.
“Well, we can start by naming which part you want to play in. As the host, it is important that Captain Zhou plays in the team competition,” Jiang Botao, Team Samsara’s vice-captain, speaks up.
“Anything is fine. I don't mind if you decide everything by yourself,” Su Mucheng shrugs and smiles pleasantly.
“Yeah, you're the hosts. Just go ahead,” Su Muqiu agrees with his sister for once.
Still, Jiang Botao looks a little hesitant to say any more. As part of the host team he would be next in line after Zhou Zekai but in case of seniority it is far from his turn. He is definitely one of the later debuted players here as he still used to be a rookie up until last year.
“Captain Zhou, you can decide the roster!” Captain Han speaks up and shoves the paper towards Zhou Zekai. Most players of the first generation call Zhou Zekai “Little Zhou” as a form of endearment. Even all the players of Season 4 call him so although they only debuted one year ahead of him. But, Captain Han is not a person for endearments so he calls him by his position.
Surprising everyone, Zhou Zekai nods and takes the pen and paper. The pen hovers above the paper for two whole minutes and everyone waits for Zhou Zekai to do anything. Finally, he starts writing. He skips the individual battle and the group arena and sets his pen down at the section for the team competition first.
First, he writes his own name down just as Jiang Botao suggested. Then, he adds Zhang Xinjie. A logical move as he is the only healer. Zhou Zekai looks up shortly and looks around at the people standing around him. Then, he writes down Su Muqiu and Su Mucheng. He writes down Han Wenqing as well and looks up again.
“Sixth player Jiang?” he asks and proceeds with his suggestion when nobody protests.
Then, he simply puts the others down in the order that they're standing from left to right. He slides the paper in the middle of the table for everyone to see.
Sun Xiang and Tang Hao feel a little dissatisfied that Zhou Zekai didn't bother thinking and simply put them down as he saw them standing but don't protest. After all, all the players here are their seniors. If none of these people felt the need to complain, how can they?
At Team B Ye Xiu speaks first, "We at Tiny Herb have a wonderful record for single matches! We should be put into the group arena!"
Wang Jiexi only nods solemnly. For once, he's thankful for his shameless vice-captain. At this event, which is only for show, nobody feels the urge to expend too much energy.
“You're last season's champion. Since we don't have a healer, the strongest need to go into the team competition! Especially you, MVP! Right, Old Lin?” Fang Rui counters and tries to shove the tiring work onto Ye Xiu. To support his statement, he drops Lin Jingyan’s name who has the most seniority among the players here.
“Fine, Ye Xiu and I will join the team competition,” Wang Jiexi concedes. Although his motive is questionable, Fang Rui's argument makes sense.
“And what's the use of having a master tactician if we don't use him. Wenzhou and Huang Shao can join the team competition as well!” Fang Rui determines the next players. Fang Rui used to train at Blue Rain’s training camp, back when he hadn’t even debuted yet, so he's quite familiar with Yu Wenzhou and Huang Shaotian. Furthermore, with his shamelessness personality he would never address someone who debuted only a year before him as his senior.
“Next, why have a Ghostblade if we don't use him for the team competition? Li Xuan, you can join those guys,” Fang Rui writes down Li Xuan's name without hesitation.
“The only one who can turn the tide if we lose a player is someone with enough shamelessness. Fang Rui, you can be the sixth player!” Ye Xiu decides.
Fang Rui willingly puts his own name down as well. With all these strong players in the team competition, there most likely won't be much to do for him anyway.
“Now, Yu Feng, care to anchor? Best Knight, you can be second in the group arena. First, let's start out with Old Lin. Chu Yunxiu can get us a first win in individual battle. Next Li Yihui and third individual battle is Wu Yuce. Any complaints?”
A few of them raise their eyebrows at Fang Rui's seemingly random allotment but don't say anything so Fang Rui deems their discussion finished.
“Now, you two master tacticians can figure out some grand plan for us to win!” Fang Rui hands over the rest of the discussion to Ye Xiu and Yu Wenzhou.
“What's there to discuss? We have a Warlock and a Ghostblade. The others simply need to make enough of a distraction for Yu Wenzhou to finish some powerful CC skill and Li Xuan to lay down his boundaries. The target is the Cleric, naturally, since he's their advantage. Be aggressive and try to finish the match as quick as possible. Just go all in," Ye Xiu waves off any further discussion.
Yu Wenzhou shrugs in agreement. It's not a very specific but a simple and reasonable plan.
“I've seen the complicated shenanigans you put into motion for Tiny Herb! Can't you put a little more effort into this?” Fang Rui complains but mostly because he's bored.
“What? Do you want me to reveal our strategy for the next round? I'll tell you a secret: Tiny Herb is preparing a secret weapon!”
From the way all members of Tiny Herb turn their heads at Ye Xiu in surprise, the other teams know that there is in fact no secret weapon Tiny Herb is preparing. Wang Jiexi even sighs at Ye Xiu's mindless thrash talk.
Soon the discussion time is up and the first match starts with Chu Yunxiu from Team B against Tian Sen from Team A.
Windy Rain: Hi (:
Chu Yunxiu even greets Tian Sen with a smiley. As part of the Golden Generation the two are quite close and on friendly terms.
Peaceful Hermit: Hello, Yunxiu
Windy Rain: How about a direct battle? Let's meet in the middle!
Peaceful Hermit: Sure, see you
And with that both of them march straight down the middle path of the map. Windy Rain attacks first as an Elementalist's attack range is longer than that of an Exorcist. They fight quickly and directly if a little lackluster and in the end Tian Sen wins with only a small margin of his health left. They exit the player booths and Chu Yunxiu even gives Tian Sen a friendly wave who reciprocates it.
“Well, I lost,” Chu Yunxiu announces with a shrug and sits down. Nobody says anything about her lack of disappointment. In the end this is just a show match anyway.
The next matches go rather uneventful as well. All the pros are reluctant to go all out and expend a lot of energy for a match which won’t be scored into the ranking anyway. Tang Hao and Sun Xiang are the only ones who actually try harder as it is their first year as All-Stars and they are eager to showcase their skill. They would have liked to play in the team competition as well but alas Zhou Zekai quickly decided to only take along the strongest players.
The battle starts and all characters spawn into the map. Team A arrives at the center of the map first with Cloud Piercer leading the group. Directly behind him is Desert Dust and behind both of them the sibling duo form a triangle with Immovable Rock in the back.
Running towards them is Team B but only three characters can be seen approaching. Vaccaria and Indifferent heart parallel to each other form a triangle with Swoksaar in the back. So, where are the other two? Suddenly, from a side alley Troubling Rain and Crying Devil jump in their midst, Crying Devil ready with a Dark Boundary. Cloud Piercer tries to stop the cast but Huang Shaotian gives everything to shield Crying Devil and let him finish his cast. As soon as the Dark Boundary descends Troubling Rain and Crying Devil go for the target – Immovable Rock. Vaccaria conveniently uses Broom Mastery to fly above their heads and aims for Immovable Rock as well.
There is no other choice: if Team A runs backwards towards their Cleric they will meet Team B and as bodies can’t pass through each other in Glory they will keep on fighting in the dark. So, forward the way is where they meet Indifferent Heart and Swoksaar. But, naturally the team with two master tacticians who aren’t under attack have thought ahead and prepared a Chaotic Rain to greet Team A as soon as they leave the Dark Boundary. Since they cannot go back into the Dark Boundary to save their Cleric, they must force a trade. Team A pummels on Indifferent Heart who is fighting a 2v4 with Skowsaar in the back.
A Cleric can only hold on for so long with his few attack skills and Team B finishes their target off first and hurries back to save Indifferent Heart. Team B realizes they’re stuck in a pincer with enemies on both sides now. But, what else can be done. It is fight or flight and since flight seems impossible, fight it is. Besides, they have the strongest players of the Alliance – they won’t back down! Furthermore, this is just a show match anyway so no harm done even if they lose.
Although both teams have strong fighters, Team B wins in the end using their advantage of having a Warlock with plenty crowd control skills and a Ghostblade with endless Debuff skills. Usually, the host team is supposed to stand out and save some face in the All-Star competition but that’s just the club wanting to polish their image. The players actually don’t care too much for the outcome of the All-Stars competition. So, Zhou Zekai smiles brightly at his interview, happy that he has managed to overcome so many challenges once again on this day and that this publicity event is finally over.
When they arrive back at their headquarters in City B, Gao Yingjie is pulled aside by Ye Xiu.
"Yingjie, do you want to play in the next match?"
"Me?" Gao Yingjie asks back wide-eyed. He glances around nervously as if another Yingjie could pop out at any moment instead but the only ones present in the room are him and Ye Xiu.
"Captain and I have some differences when it comes to raising new players. Especially you are very important to the captain so he doesn't want you to face too many hardships and doubt yourself. However, I think very differently. It’s one of the reasons why Yifan has already played so many games compared to you. The captain said the playoffs are off limits but I want to give you the chance to play at least once this season. Only if you feel ready, of course. Tell me sometime before the next match whether you’d like to play and where you’d like to be put so I can arrange the roster.”
Gao Yingjie thinks about it for only a second and nods in agreement, “I want to play in the team competition!”
“Oh, you already decided?” Ye Xiu asks. Gao Yingjie nods determinedly. “I want to play with Yifan.”
“Sure, I’ll go talk to Big-eyed Wang and make the arrangements,” Ye Xiu says and turns to leave. Gao Yingjie grimaces. No matter how many times he hears it, he just can’t get used to Ye Xiu calling Wang Jiexi by that nickname.
“Right now, it is the 18th match of Season 8 of the Glory Professional Alliance. As the highlighted match we have Team Tiny Herb against team Thunderclap and are about to start the team competition. Old friend, what should be paid attention to in this match?” Pan Lin asks Li Yibo while they wait for the match to start.
“First of all this is a face-off of two maser tacticians. Ye Xiu and Xiao Shiqin are two of the most brilliant shot callers of the Alliance. But, what really catches the eye is the roster of Team Tiny Herb. Aside from his appearance in the Rookie Challenge of this year’s All-Stars it will be the first time that Tiny Herb’s Gao Yingjie plays in a match. What is even more shocking – Wang Jiexi is not playing in the team competition! Tiny Herb has switched out their captain Wang Jiexi and their core Vaccaria for Vaccaria’s future successor! Of course, Ye Xiu has always played a vital part in Tiny Herb alongside Vaccaria but these two partners, Ye Xiu and Wang Jiexi, have never been apart since Wang Jiexi’s debut in Season 3! Will Gao Yingjie take over Wang Jiexie’s role as Indifferent Heart’s partner in their tactics today?” Li Yibo quickly analyzes the most conspicuous point of today’s match.
“Indeed, that is an important question! And now the match is starting so let us find out ourselves!”
Both teams spawn at different corners of the map and start heading towards each other immediately. Honestly, Xiao Shiqin is as much at a loss as any other viewer. What is he to make of this arrangement? Why is Wang Jiexi not playing? No matter how much of a genius Gao Yingjie is, he can’t expect to be able to replace his mentor in his first match!
The questions are soon resolved: Gao Yingjie is in fact not Ye Xiu’s new partner and taking over Wang Jiexi’s role. This is a peek at a Tiny Herb for the future – a Tiny Herb where their core players are not Wang Jiexi and Ye Xiu. In the future Tiny Herb’s new talents will take over.
Gao Yingjie’s adrenaline spikes high as he coordinates his Magic Ray to match with Rangoon Creeper’s Dark Boundary. He and Qiao Yifan have practiced together from the moment they entered Tiny Herb. Their coordination and teamwork is that of familiar partners and their attacks interlink perfectly as if they have become one entity. Gao Yingjie has always dreamed of playing on stage with his best friend.
Gao Yingjie is certain. If he was to become Tiny Herb’s captain one day, he would want Qiao Yifan to remain close by his side and become Tiny Herb’s future together with him. Just like now.
GPA Regular Season Summary
Season 8 of the GPA Regular Season has now come to an end and it is time to announce this year’s Individual Player Awards! It has been a turbulent and surprising season with many exciting events so look forward to who will be awarded a special title this year!
Best Newcomer of Season 8 is Tiny Herb's Qiao Yifan. Despite officially still being a substitute player, Qiao Yifan has played in more matches than some main team players this season. This may have helped him beat out Excellent Era’s contender for best newcomer Tang Rou. She has shown great potential this season and many have enjoyed her performances. However, Tang Rou hasn’t appeared in as many matches as Qiao Yifan and also seldom in the Team Competition. Meanwhile, Qiao Yifan has been given many chanced to prove himself this season, not only in Team Battle but also in the group arena. His great sense of teamwork and leveled thinking despite being a newly debuted rookie has impressed us many times this season. We look forward to the further development of these outstanding talents as they mature as players!
Rising Star goes to Tang Hao from Hundred Blossoms! This rookie from last season has truly elevated himself to be Team Hundred Blossom’s core after their captain Zhang Jiale retired suddenly. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this talented player in the next season!
Best Partner is the only award awarded to two players. This season’s Best Partners are Excellent Era’s sibling duo Su Muqiu and Su Mucheng. This pair of siblings has never failed to snatch up this award since Su Mucheng’s debut in Season 4. Their synergy and coordination is just as seemless as their incessant bickering! Another strong contender were the Ghost Duo of Team Void, consisting of their captain Li Xuan and vice-captain Wu Yuce.
King of Dueling which is rewarded to the player who has won the most battles in the Individual Round goes to Ye Xiu of Team Tiny Herb. This player who started in Season 2 and became vice-captain the next season is still going strong in his seventh year as a pro player.
Arena star goes to Zhou Zekai, Captain of Team Samsara. Although he is a rather quiet person in real life, his playing is simply superb, fills the audience with enthusiasm and often enough wins his team the Group Arena. Sadly, Team Tiny Herb’s Captain Wang Jiexi who was most often anchor in the group arena has barely missed the mark after his outstanding junior.
One Hit One Kill of this season goes to Team Blue Rain’s ace Huang Shaotian. Although his Troubling Rain is a Blade Master, with his stunning ability to seize an opportunity as soon as it presents itself, many believe this player to be more of an Assassin!
Most Reliable Player goes to Zhou Zekai who truly never disappoints. As the star of Team Samsara he likes to showcase his ability in match rather than with Thrash Talk. Zhou Zekai is someone who is there when he is needed and earns himself therefore “Most Reliable Player”!
Best Sixth Player goes to Lu Yining of Team Misty Rain. This Sharpshooter player would be the definition of “turning the match around” when the team is in a critical position. I would even dare to claim that this player has played a huge role in getting Misty Rain into the playoffs.
And lastly, the award everyone desires and is only given to the best of the best, the MVP of the Regular Season is awarded to Ye Xiu of Team Tiny Herb! Many have been contending for this award, including Team Samsara’s ace Zhou Zekai, also from Team Tiny Herb Wang Jiexi, and Team Blue Rain’s Huang Shaotian. Still, with his extraordinary skill and contribution as tactician and shot caller of his team, Ye Xiu has proven himself to be a top god of Glory once again!
The Regular Season has ended but soon Playoffs are about to begin! Check out our article about the eight teams entering the playoffs this season as well on [https://www.weibo.com/ESports_Home/9378478873/]!
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Glory Season 8 Playoffs
The Regular Season has ended and in a little more than a week playoffs are starting. Let’s take a look at the eight teams vying for the championship now!
Ranked number One in the Regular Season is Team Tiny Herb, currently the team with the most championship wins! After preventing Excellent Era from creating a dynasty with three championships in a row in Season 3, they have continued to win the championship time and time again. Their core players Wang Jiexi and Ye Xiu have remained the same since their first championship in Season 3. However, after Season 7 their healer Fang Shiqian has retired. Will the defending champion be able to win the trophy without their God of Healing?
At number two is Team Blue Rain. The Sword and Curse Duo has been going strong this season and have continuously surprised their opponents with clever tactics. As a previous championship winner, will Blue Rain be able to snatch their second championship win this time?
Third is an up and coming star: Team Samsara. They have been steadily improving as a team since Jiang Botao transferred to Samsara in Season 6 to lead communications within the team in support of their outstanding captain Zhou Zekai. Last season they even made it to the semi-finals. Will they be able to win the championship this time?
On Rank 4 is back-to-back championship winner of Season 1 and 2, Excellent Era! Excellent Era is still led by its first captain Su Muqiu and the ever-radiant Su Mucheng. Will the Best Partners bring Excellent Era to the finals once again?
At Rank 5 resides the long-standing powerhouse Team Tyranny! They have not entered the finals again since their championship win in Season 4 but have been a steady contender in the playoffs. Captain of Tyranny has been Han Wenqing from the moment Tyranny entered the Alliance back in Season 1. In Season 4 they won the championship with the addition of master tactician, Zhang Xinjie. Will they be able to snatch their second championship win this time?
Ranked 6th this season is Team Misty Rain, led by the only female captain in the Alliance, Elementalist Chu Yunxiu! Supporting her is Vice-captain Li Hua who had almost been crowned Best Newcomer last season. Hopefully, they will be able to showcase their strengths during these playoffs!
At Rank 7 resides Team Void this season. The Ghost Duo is one of the most famous partnerships in the Alliance with their amazing teamwork. Despite that they have yet to win Best Partners over Excellent Era’s sibling duo. Possibly, they can beat out their rivals for Best Partner in the playoffs.
And the last to snatch a place for the playoffs is Team Thundercap! Team Thunderclap has seen a huge improvement from a mid-tier team to one now contending for the championship after Xiao Shiqin debuted and became captain in Season 4! Will the master tactician bring his team to the finals, finally?
Sadly, on 9th place and just barely missed the mark is Team Hundred Blossoms. This is a huge disappointment to fans of the team who were runner-up last season. However, their strength greatly dwindled after their captain Zhang Jiale retired just before the new season started. Zou Yuan took over Zhang Jiales position and character but it was their Brawler Tang Hao who led the team forward. Now with the addition of a Berserker in last season’s Best Newcomer Sun Xiang will Team Hundred Blossoms revive their legendary Blood and Blossoms duo next season?
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