Yu Wenzhou closed the front door and jogged into the elevator. He was about to close the door when he caught a glimpse of a figure turning the corner. He stopped and took a closer look. The shadowy figure looked like that of Wang Jiexi.
“Captain Wang,” he greeted, "Are you not going?”
Wang Jiexi turned around, “Go where?”
“Bowling,” Yu Wenzhou gestured to the sneakers on his feet, “Hundred Blossoms is hosting it. Do you want to go together? If you're going you should change your shoes.”
Wang Jiexi stood away from the light, the expression on his face unclear. It was as if the distant clouds had painted a serene look onto his face.
A carpet lay underneath their feet, a thin layer of dust settled on the red velour.
“The bowling alley will provide shoes. There’s no need to change into sneakers,” Wang Jiexi said.
Yu Wenzhou froze for a moment, then laughed, “Hahaha, I’ve never played before. You saw through me at once.”
Wang Jiexi also smiled, but his figure seemed to have moved back into the shadows again, “I’m not going. You best leave soon.”
Yu Wenzhou blinked, “I know you have something to think about, but to be honest it’s not important right now. Everyone is going out to play, you can relax a little bit Captain Wang.”
The elevator made a ding-dong sound as it arrived, and light poured in from the opening door.
A moment before the elevator doors were about to close, Yu Wenzhou seemed to hear Wang Jiexi’s voice.
“It’s about to succeed.”
When the door opened again, it was already at the hotel lobby. Under the large chandelier, Huang Shaotian was sprawled on the black leather sofa. As soon as he spotted Yu Wenzhou, he promptly stood up.
“What took you so long? Do you need to be slow at changing your shoes too? Haha Captain, I’m joking, I’m not saying your feet are crippled too. I just remembered that you use your hands to tie your shoelaces…aiyo”
Huang Shaotian pretended to cry out in pain, after being flicked in the back of the head. Following behind Yu Wenzhou, they walked out into the night.
The home of Season 5’s All-Star, City K, is still immersed in the coldness of winter. The warm yellow that had emitted from a streetlamp was now frozen into a cool white. Across the road, a few people gathered on the side of the road. Fearing that they were being followed by fans, Yu Wenzhou and Huang Shaotian looked at each other, turned a corner, and then fled into the darkness.
“Actually, I’m very afraid that he will succeed…” Yu Wenzhou said, “Seeing him ponder it was unbearable for me. He’s clearly an extraordinary player. We could even say that we all debuted underneath his light.”
“Yes,” Xiao Shiqin grabbed the towel off his neck and wiped the sweat off his face, “He’s been trying to change his playstyle for half a season already. He hasn’t tried to hide it from anyone. I don’t think it’s going too well though. Recently, even his winning rate in the Arena has dropped. As an opponent, I should be happy but as a pro player, I feel like this isn’t the solution.”
A bowling ball crashed into the pins, and Huang Shaotian’s cheers could be heard in the distance.
“Yeah,” Yu Wenzhou nodded, “Did you know at press conferences, Senior Fang would glare at Captain Wang? He seemed to be really mad.”
“Doesn’t he glare at Captain Wang all the time?”
“Yeah, he was used to it from before.”
“Oh that’s true,” chuckled Xiao Shiqin
“What about our captain and Senior Fang Shiqian?” After losing to Huang Shaotain three times in a row, Li Yihui chose this moment to walk off the field.
Yu Wenzhou moved over to make space for him, “How is Captain Wang doing?”
“What do you mean by how is he doing?”
“You know what I mean,”
Li Yihui took a sip of his water and shook his head.
“Still suffering?” Yu Wenzhou asked.
“Tell me about it,” replied Li Yihui.
Yu Wenzhou looked at him kindly, his expression filled with encouragement.
“In principle, changing your playstyle seems very straightforward,” Li Yihui looked straight ahead, “But it’s easier said than done. The backbone of a playstyle is a set of habits and techniques. Practice these skills to perfection and then add personal elements to make it a style. Captain is already a mature player, changing his playstyle now is equivalent to relearning how to play the game.”
“Cooperating with him must be very hard,” Xiao Shiqin sighed.
“If it weren't for Captain’s hard work,” Li Yihui gnawed at the mouth of the water bottle, “There would be no other way. We hate that we cannot fly. But no matter how distressed we are, we still cannot fly. If we could, the alliance would have a second Magician. Senior Fang is so powerful, yet he throws cups in anger after team battles. He doesn’t hate Captain, he hates himself.”
“He even throws cups…” Xiao Shiqin was very shocked.
“In his room, I accidentally saw it once,” smiled Li Yihui “You better not tell him.”
“Why would I?”
The lights of the bowling alley shone brightly. A heavy ball rolled across the bowling lane, with the sound of lighting and thunder.
“People can start to change themselves,” Yu Wenzhou sighed, “That in itself is great enough.”
“Yes, but what the Captain wants is not greatness, but victory.”
After everyone was finished bowling, Zhang Jiale tried to convince everyone to go drinking. At that time, Blood and Blossoms, after three seasons of victories, and four seasons of adjustments had reached its peak. Zhang Jiale, after gaining better technique and more experience, was more motivated than ever before.
At this moment, his smile and excessive excitement seemed to have a purpose. Maybe if he smiled enough, there would be no hardships in the future.
That night, Sun Zheping stuffed as many people as he could into his Land Rover. When there was no more room, he got another car and made it follow him into a small alley. Sometime in the early morning, Yu Wenzhou walked out of the alley. Standing at an intersection, he called Wang Jiexi.
“Can you come and help us drive a car? They’re all drinking and the security here isn’t very good. I don’t think Sun Zheping’s car can be left overnight.”
“Okay, Just one car?”
“Yes, I’ll send you the location right away.”
When Wang Jiexi arrived, he saw Sun Zheping lying unconscious in his seat. Except for Yu Wenzhou, those who could still walk had already taken taxis back. Huang Shaotian and Zhang Jiale could be seen standing on the chairs, betting on the latest boxing match. Sun Zheping’s head was only a few inches away. If they weren’t careful they would’ve stepped on his face.
“I didn’t want to call a taxi in case we got recognized,” Yu Wenzhou explained behind him, “Thank you for coming so late in the night.”
“It’s nothing,” Wang Jiexi helped put Sun Zheping in the back seat, and Yu Wenzhou sat in the passenger seat to help Wang Jiexi navigate.
“Is it ok to leave them behind?”
“It should be fine. Shaotian isn’t drunk.”
They stopped at a red light. The weather these days was exceptionally cold, so there were no pedestrians on the street. The heater in the car steamed up the windows and the night looked slightly blurred.
Wang Jiexi paused for a moment, “Are they happy?”
Yu Wenzhou chuckled, “Sun Zheping’s left hand is deteriorating. I’m afraid it might give out at any moment, You noticed too right? Although there haven’t been any major mistakes, his stability has obviously decreased.”
Wang Jiexi nodded.
“Just now, he and Zhang Jiale argued about this,” Yu Wenzhou sighed. “He needs to take a break, but he doesn’t want to back down and play in a rotation instead.”
The car started up slowly and then tore through the night sky.
“It’s understandable,” Wang Jiexi kept his hands on the steering wheel and his eyes forward.
Yu Wenzhou looked at him and then the navigation on his phone. He didn’t ask any more questions.
Even though it was only halfway through Season 5, the situation in the Alliance was confusing. In the last season, talented players sprung up left and right. It was a group later dubbed as the “Golden Generation.” After a year of hard work, most of them had become an important part of their respective teams. The players that debuted in this season were no less impressive.
Even though only a couple of months had passed since the season started, the new Sharpshooter in Samsara was already considered this season’s Best Rookie. There was also the Thief from Wind Howl and a second Ghostblade in Void. Excellent Era had added a new Spellblade to supplement the blind spot between cannon and spear. Because of that, their mid-range was greatly strengthened.
The veteran powerhouse Excellent Era, the previous champion Tyranny, and Hundred Blossoms, who re-swept the alliance with their Blood and Blossoms, maintained a relative lead in the standings. However, none of them managed to gain an overwhelming lead and were in danger of being overtaken at any time.
Tiny Herb was like the sea during low tide, silently treading through the mud. In Season 3, the once brilliant magician and conqueror exposed the shortcomings of not being able to coordinate. At the beginning of Season 4, he tried to adjust but failed. The media that used to praise him, turned against him. “Wang Jiexi Changed his Playstyle. The Grassy Season is passing like a Shooting Star.” Such a headline appeared on the front of E-Sports Weekly.
The car drove past an intersection. Yu Wenzhou glanced outside and saw a huge LED panel on the mall. It faced a plaza with no one in it. Displayed on it was a scene from a team battle, the invincible Blood and Blossoms. There was no sound, and the night was quiet. On the screen, Dazzling Hundred Blossoms shot bullet after bullet, bright light shining onto the players. Blossoming Chaos waved a black sword, and cut three Tiny Herb players down, one after another.
City K was home to Hundred Blossoms, so it was understandable that they won the game. But why did the opponent have to be Tiny Herb? Yu Wenzhou’s heart beat a little bit faster. Perhaps it was because the colors of the teams complemented each other. Red and green clashing on the bloody battlefield, highlighted a romantic and splendid fight. Or maybe, things were always like this. Whatever was missed in the heart would be projected to the outside world. Whatever was feared, would be encountered in a nightmare.
Yu Wenzhou quietly glanced at Wang Jiexi, but Wang Jiexi just seemed to be looking at the road ahead. Wang Jiexi’s uneven eyes looked ordinary and calm from his perspective. His harsh jawline now looked a little softer underneath the halo of the street lights.
“It’s my fault,” Sitting in a small conference room, Wang Jiexi was answering the reporter’s questions.
A touchscreen computer sat in front of him. He played a video of a team battle that Tiny Herb had lost without any fear. On the screen, Vaccaria swayed in the wind and seemed to be flying very slowly. Suddenly, two pro players appeared out of nowhere. Vaccaria was struck by a bullet in the side, then again in the chest. As if someone had tied up the wings of a bird, he fell towards the ground.
The criticism he gets is overwhelming, “Wang Jiexi,” a daring reporter asks, “How long are you going to keep leading Tiny Herb to defeat?”
“For a long time, my playstyle could not be integrated into Tiny Herb. This caused us to fall apart in the team battle. This is my fault. I have been exploring new methods, but I am still facing many difficulties.”
“Is it painful? Maybe, but it’s not psychological pain. I know that my current choice is based on the needs of my team.”
“Yes, it’s harder than expected”
“I know the end result, and I also know the method, but it’ll still take a long time.”
“Am I dragging down the team? I cannot say for sure. For Tiny Herb, I’m still an indispensable combat power. The unpredictability of my ability alone can gain us points by surprising the opposing team. But when the other team has good tactics and the player’s personal strengths are relatively outstanding, we will not have any advantages.”
“Most of the pros who debuted last season are excellent team players, including our team’s Li Yihui.”
“Yihui and Fang Shiqian have helped me a lot.”
“These are things that everyone knows about. There’s nothing worth keeping secret.”
“Everyone can see what I have tried.”
“Thank you for all the well wishes. I believe that one day I will succeed.”
“You don’t need to put all the blame on yourself.”
Fang Shiqian was standing outside the conference room the whole time. As soon as Wang Jiexi came out, he started angrily berating him.
Wang Jiexi glanced at him and then shook his head, “It was my fault though.”
“Did you think that if you took all the blame,” said Fang Shiqian, “we would be more at ease?”
Wang Jiexi was silent for a moment, “I’m sorry.”
“No need,” Fang Shiqian impatiently retorted back, “Isn’t the team battle going to be successful soon? What witchcraft have you been trying out lately? Are you going to change your playstyle in the arena? Are you trying to kill the magician completely?”
“Yes,” nodded Wang Jiexi. He didn’t try to hide anything. Didn’t try to make excuses.
Fang Shiqian opened his mouth, closed it, opened it, and closed it again. He bit on his tongue in anger. The scalding lecture that he’d prepared, didn’t make it out of his mouth.
“Without victory, what’s the meaning of a playstyle? I won’t forget why I started playing Glory,” Wang Jiexi continued on as if he hadn’t noticed Fang Shiqian’s anger, “You don’t need to worry about anything. You just need to fight with me.”
Fang Shiqian stood there in silence. Wang Jiexi walked up and patted him on the shoulder.
“Don’t think about it too much,” he said, “I’ve finally figured out how we can win. I’ll perfect it tonight and discuss it with everyone during training tomorrow.”
Wang Jiexi walked away. Fang Shiqian stood there in a daze for a few minutes. Then he raised his foot and fiercely kicked the wall.
For twenty years, Fang Shiqian never thought he would be left speechless. Here he was, defeated by the insufferable Wang Jiexi. He felt like he was going to die of anger. Fang Shiqian knelt down and wiped the footprints off the wall. Then he put his hand in his pockets and angrily walked away.
The lamp shone a sickly light above his head. Ye Xiu held a cigarette in his hand and tossed the magazine he was reading on a nearby table.
“This Wang Jiexi,”
In front of him was a table with a pile of crumpled-up papers that had tactics scribbled all over them, and a Rilakkuma mug that Su Mucheng had placed there.
“Drink something,” Su Mucheng sat down beside him, and crossed her legs, “What’s wrong with Wang Jiexi?”
Ye Xiu took a sip, “Is this green tea?”
“It’s chrysanthemum Pu’er. It was recommended by Xiuxiu. She said it was suitable for people like
us that never move and eat junk food every chance we get.”
“I was wondering why it didn’t taste the same,”
Su Mucheng smiled, “So what’s going on with Wang Jiexi?”
Ye Xiu motioned to the magazine on the table. Su Mucheng picked it up and flipped through it, “They’re putting all the blame onto him?”
“Everyone thinks that Tiny Herb is stuck in a ditch and can’t get out. Who knows how many people Wang Jiexi has deceived.”
“Huh?” Su Mucheng said, “Deceived? What do you mean?”
“What do you think?”
Su Mucheng frowned and thought for a bit, “ Didn’t we play against Tiny Herb two weeks ago. We used box-1 to directly kill Wang Jiexi,”
Ye Xiu took out another cigarette, “Why do we use box-1 again?”
“Huh?” Su Mucheng was a little bit surprised, not knowing where this was going.
“Wang Jiexi is the core of Tiny Herb. Using box-1 to stick to the opponent’s core then separating them from their team isn’t logical. Did we use box-1 against Tiny Herb last season?” Ye Xiu shook his head, not waiting for Su Mucheng to answer, “In the past we didn’t need to use box-1 at all. Just let Wang Jiexi play and he would naturally fall off his team’s rhythm. So why do we use box-1 now?”
Su Mucheng was startled. So it turned out to be like this…
“No wonder Yu Wenzhou and the others were saying you can’t underestimate Wang Jiexi.”
“They are very clear on this issue,” Ye Xiu leaned forward, “Have you wondered why they keep mentioning this?”
“Why?” Su Mucheng said in a serious voice.
“Think. If you happen to discover your opponent’s weakness, you’d obviously keep it to yourself. If your opponent has an advantage, but you know how to beat it, it’s also best to keep quiet. Once the other players find out, all they need to do is observe your playing to crack the code. But what if your opponent has an unbeatable advantage?”
“Speak out,” Su Mucheng understood what he meant, “Make sure everyone notices. Think about it together, maybe someone can find a way to fight it.”
“Right,” Ye Xiu smiled, “My heart is very dirty though,”
Su Mucheng smiled.
“Then you,” she asked softly after a while, “have you figured it out?”
Ye Xiu raised his head and smoked the cigarette. He remained silent until soot started falling onto his face.
“If there ever comes a time where he is successful,” he said in somewhat of a bleak tone, “I’ll have to rely on his strength to crush Wang Jiexi.”
Su Mucheng let out a chuckle.
“Don’t laugh, Mucheng,” Ye Xiu grinned, “If he really reaches that stage, it’ll be nice to be able to smile.”
Unconsciously, the night outside their window became darker again.
Many years later, Li Yihui still remembered that late April in the fifth season. They had arrived in City Q to play a game in Tyranny’s home court. On arrival, the fresh smell of the sea had filled the air.
“My first reaction was why is it so humid? Is a tsunami coming? Of course, I as a person from City B, had no idea what a tsunami was like. Later, when I chatted with Xinjie he told me that before a tsunami, the water level often drops and it exposes large areas of the seafloor. This was called the trough period during a tsunami. Then the huge waves the size of mountains would come whirring in. I was very impressed with his words, and I remembered them all the way to today.”
“Yes, that’s what I meant,” He nodded to the reporters in front of him, “Pro players in Season Five witnessed Tiny Herb’s trough period for more than half the season.”
“We all know what happened next.”
“No matter where I ended up, I am honored to have debuted at Tiny Herb. I will never forget that summer, the summer that belonged to Tiny Herb, and how we all followed Captain into that stadium.”
“There was a tsunami following behind us.”
“How was it?” Fang Shiqian kicked open the door to the lounge in the Tyranny Stadium. He very generously handed Wang Jiexi an energy drink. Wang Jiexi took it and placed it on the glass table in front of him. Before Fang Shiqin came in, he seemed to not be doing anything. Only sitting on the sofa with his hands clasped in front of him. His eyes were focused on some imaginary point.
“I bought it for you, you better drink it,”
Wang Jiexi didn’t feel like arguing, so he unscrewed the cap and took a sip.
“Hey.” Fang Shiqian kicked the sofa next to him, “Is everything okay?”
“What’s not okay?” Wang Jiexi was surprised
“Can you put more effort in when we’re talking?” Fang Shiqian always seemed to be looking for trouble, “When they ask you for a statement just reply with sure okay,”
Wang Jiexi smiled, “Sure.”
“Eh that’s pretty good,” Fang Shiqian was very satisfied, “Wait, don’t say that I deliberately make things difficult for you!”
Fang Shiqian staggered to the window edge, whistling a tune. The air was foggy making the sky outside blurred and unclear. As a native of City B, the humidity made his skin very uncomfortable.
But it didn’t matter.
Because in the long run, nothing mattered except victory.
What’s going on? Is Fang Shiqian shot-calling?
Shortly after the game started, whispers started ringing out in the audience. Li Yibo who had just retired and started commentating, also quickly pointed this out.
“We can all see that Fang Shiqian has been issuing commands in the chat,” Pan Lin quickly focused on this topic, “As far as I know, ever since Lin Jie retired, Wang Jiexi has been the one doing the shot-calling. Today seems to be the first time this has happened. Director Li, what do you think? We all know that Tiny Herb has been trying to change, is today’s attempt also part of the transformation experiment?”
“It seems like it,” Li Yibo said, “However Wang Jiexi is the core of Tiny Herb. No matter who issues the commands, Wang Jiexi will always be at the center. Fang Shiqian issuing the commands today isn’t a very strange move. There are several teams in the alliance, such as Tyranny and Samsara, that are commanded by healers. Compared to them though, Fang Shiqian’s style is somewhat different. The main job of a healer is to ensure the safety of their teams. However, Fang Shiqian is also very good at assisting with attacks, so he is more involved in the battle. I believe this is one of his advantages as a commander.”
“Thank you for the analysis, Director Li,” Pan Lin couldn’t help but nod in agreement.
“Let’s put our attention back onto the game. Fang Shiqian issued an order in the team chat. Wang Jiexi has successfully executed it and has moved Vaccaria to the upper left-hand corner of the map. The purpose of this order however…”
Pan Lin had already established very high expectations of Li Yibo. He looked at him, hoping that he would continue explaining. Li Yibo turned his gaze away and pretended not to notice.
“... Is not clear yet.”
Pan Lin continued on the broadcast, “Tyranny maintains a tight formation, and the two sides are steadily approaching each other. Vaccaria’s flight speed is remarkable, and he has already reached the designated location.”
“Another order has come out. This one is asking Vaccaria to approach Tyranny’s formation from the back… the back?” Pan Lin’s tone was very surprised.
“Is that even possible? If it wasn’t Wang Jiexi on the field, I would have suspected that the order was wrong. Even if it is Wang Jiexi… Let’s just take a look at what he plans to do. Okay, Vaccaria turned about 150 degrees almost immediately, as if he really is going to execute the order. Vaccaria has suddenly stopped flying and jumped off his broom. He... He changed his weapon!?” Pan Lin didn’t even notice he was yelling, “ He has a wand in his inventory?! He cast the skill Teleport, probably applied to the wand using a skill scroll. One teleportation is not enough, This skill has a long cooldown...Oh, Vaccaria pulled out another wand and used Teleport again.”
Li Yibo very stubbornly kept silent.
Pan Lin continued on, “The weight of a wand is very light, and Vaccaria has a relatively high strength stat. The increased weight shouldn’t be a problem for him. Okay, we’ve seen three… three Teleports so far. Wang Jiexi has returned back to Stardust Exterminator and flown off. With the hand speed of a professional, the three Teleports were basically consecutive. Ladies and gentlemen, I have to say, this is the first time we witnessed this way of moving in a professional match.”
The audience was silent.
“Vaccaria has flown around to the rear, presumably to harass… what, attack?!” Pan Lin, who had just calmed down started yelling again, “How could it be an attack--Aweto ordered an attack?!”
The silence suddenly turned into an uproar
Even if he succeeded in approaching Tyranny from behind, albeit in a really weird way, how did Wang Jiexi have the nerve to challenge the entirety of Tyranny? Tyranny! Last year’s championship team and currently playing in their home court.
Kill! The audience roared mercilessly.
“Aweto has issued another order. Vaccaria has immediately started to retreat to the coordinates attached with the message. The attack just now cost him 16% of his health. Tyranny has a tight formation so they didn’t receive any serious damage,” Pan Lin mechanically explained the situation on the field, “To be honest, I can’t tell what Tiny Herb is planning to do. Fang Shiqian’s command style is very unpredictable. Even more unpredictable than the Magician.”
Li Yibo clenched his fists and nervously glanced around the studio. He felt as if there was something off.
“Yes,” he said with an unnaturally hoarse voice.
Feeling that there was something off about him, Pan Lin cast a silent glance over.
Li Yibo was no longer part of Tyranny, only a guest commentator now. Besides, it was just a regular game. But Li Yibo, couldn’t explain his unprovoked panic. In hindsight, it seemed to be some weird power messing with his brain. But at that moment, he felt his heart pounding against his chest, and bile rising up in his throat.
“This is a diversion,” he forced himself to go on, “We knew from the beginning that Fang Shiqian was the shot-caller today, but Tyranny doesn’t know this.”
“So?” Pan Lin still didn’t understand.
“Fang Shiqian’s purpose is to make Tyranny think that Wang Jiexi is still acting freely,” Li Yibo finally calmed down, “Tiny Herb’s biggest problem is that the other team members cannot predict Wang Jiexi’s next move. Today in a way, they’ve very clumsily solved this problem.”
“So that’s it?!” Pan Lin couldn’t help but express his admiration, “As expected of Director Li.”
Li Yibo didn’t say anything else.
Have you really fooled Zhang Xinjie?
Regardless of whether they supported Tyranny or Tiny Herb, the audience was filled with suspense.
“We now know why Fang Shiqian’s orders have only been given to Wang Jiexi,” Pan Lin’s whole body was filled with unexplainable fear, so he forcibly maintained a calm voice, “The other players have been with Aweto the whole time. Okay.. the two teams are about to meet now. This battle is going to be intense. Under the cover of the sharpshooter’s bullets, Flying Drops has engaged Desert Dust in a fight. I’m afraid they’re going to be stuck in a stalemate for some time. Vaccaria, who has not received any more orders, seems to be staying in the area. He has been dropping various magical skills, such as Lava Flasks and Acid Rain, into Tyranny’s formation.”
Aweto finally arrived on the battlefield. Everyone in Tiny Herb seemed to be frozen by some magical power for half a second. Then Tiny Herb carried out its last two orders:
Aweto: Vaccaria, distract Rota
Aweto: Everyone else, kill
Rota watched Vaccaria rise from the ground, like lava gushing out from the cracks of Earth. Just as he gained some height, Vaccaria dropped down sharply. Avoiding the lightning crackling above his head, his body burst forward like an arrow. Vaccaria’s expressionless face rushed into Rota’s field of vision. In the competition booth, Bai Yanfei reflexively jerked backward. He immediately focused back on the game and released an Electric Ring to disrupt Vaccaria. Unexpectedly, Vaccaria started traveling even faster. He looked like a comet, with a tail of afterimages dragging behind him. Then, he slammed into Rota.
The audience exploded
There were no skills used, just a series of high-speed moves with a movement buff applied to the character. Wang Jiexi used Vaccaria’s body as a weapon and sent Rota flying into the air.
“What a fool! This is as foolish as the three Teleports from before,” Pan Lin yelled loudly; before he could catch a break, something even more foolish happened. Aweto actually fell down from the sky. Dust fluttered up from beneath his feet, as he landed between Rota and the other Tyranny members.
“What’s going on? Aweto?! Where did he jump down from?!” Pan Lin was starting to feel very anxious, “There are no towers or hills for him to jump off of though!”’
As soon as Aweto hit the ground, his cross started burning a bright white, and a Sacred Fire was ignited. The closest to him was Tyranny’s knight, Mountain Split, and the escape route had already been blocked off. When the opponents started coming towards him, Aweto did not panic, instead, he started chanting an Ascension Array.
Rota was completely cut off from his teammates.
Pan Lin hit the table in frustration, “In the past, we’ve only seen this provocative playstyle used by Wang Jiexi. Today we’ve witnessed him and Fang Shiqian and several other teammates tactically work together...this is no coincidence. Although he can’t assist with the attack, Li Yihui has managed to keep Desert Dust busy. Immovable Rock’s path has also been blocked. If Rota dies, Tyranny will lose the ability to attack medium and long distances. Originally, Rota’s position wasn’t considered dangerous. Even if he was attacked by Vaccaria, it wouldn’t have had any decisive consequences. But we didn’t expect-”
In just a few seconds, Rota had been cut off from the rest of the team.
It wasn’t until his avatar became grey that the directors realized they missed a few key moments, and the mystery of Aweto falling out of the sky was solved.
It wasn’t actually all that magical. He used Angel Wing’s beforehand and floated into the sky. As Vaccaria went to shove Rota, his trajectory covered up Aweto. Prior to this, the other members of Tiny Herb had been using the special effects of various skills to make sure Tyranny didn’t notice, especially Immovable Rock. Under this careful cover, none of Tyranny’s players noticed.
When Wang Jiexi led the team out of the competition booths, it seemed as if there was a quiet fire, burning behind his footsteps.
Han Wenqing was the first to applaud them in front of the thousands of spectators. Followed by Zhang Xinjie, and then the rest of Tyranny. The clapping slowly spread to the audience.
Wang Jiexi looked down, but a faint smile could be seen on his face.
It was Tiny Herb’s first victory in a long time. It was also the beginning of something incredible.
“Today we lost because Tiny Herb has effectively solved the problem between its players and Captain Wang. He is no longer someone that destroys all forms of predictability, but a true pro player. We are all very aware of the unparalleled hardship he’s faced and effort he has put into this process. Of course, the persistence of all the players in Tiny Herb contributed to their victory. We have no excuses for our loss today. We played well, but Tiny Herb played even better. However, the method that Tiny Herb used today will be difficult to replicate in the future. I hope that they continue to improve.”
In the scorching and uncomfortable early summer heat, Fang Shiqian bit down on a melting popsicle, watching Zhang Xinjie talk on the TV.
“This kid is speaking so seriously,” He chewed on the popsicle and grinned, “Isn’t he just a second-year rookie?”
“He’s a second-year rookie in a championship team. “ replied Wang Jiexi.
Fang Shiqian gave him a sideways look, “You’re really hard to talk to.”
“I think so too.”
“So you’re aware?”
“I didn’t realize it before,” Wang Jiexi was a very honest person.
Fang Shiqian didn’t feel like continuing the conversation, so he continued watching the special broadcast on Tiny Herb. Their car still hadn’t come to pick them up.
“The fighting in this match was a little bit silly,” Fang Shiqian said, with something in his mouth, “It’s a bit like yelling that the wolf is coming. We can’t do this next time.”
“I agree,” Wang Jiexi replied, “but we should also start winning.”
Fang Shiqian understood what he meant.
The victory over Tyranny had been hard-earned with many pre-game discussions and drills. However, the details still hadn’t been perfected.
Long-term troughs always require an uplifting victory as a morale booster. This was a big opera that they had orchestrated in advance. They had all agreed that they would win. After that, they hadn’t come up with many details.
But the results were real. For three consecutive weeks, regardless of the opponent's strength, Tiny Herb won them all. The worst score was 8-2. The team game that once was their shortcoming, had become easy points.
After that, Fang Shiqian finally knocked on Wang Jiexi’s dormitory, “You promised me that once we succeeded, you’d accompany me to buy clothes!”
Wang Jiexi thought for a moment, wondering if he agreed to such a thing, “Let’s go then.”
To Wang Jiexi, Fang Shiqian was hard to understand. After a meeting a couple of months ago, Fang Shiqian made that request of him. Wang Jiexi didn’t understand why Fang Shiqian wanted to buy clothes, or why he wanted to buy clothes with him. He was even more confused on why specific conditions had to be met before he could buy clothes.
Many years later Wang Jiexi realized how rare someone like Fang Shiqian was: acting like Wang Jiexi always owed him something, but also giving everything he had to their games, and in turn Wang Jiexi.
Fang Shiqian shopped without purpose, randomly buying things. Wang Jiexi carried around seven to eight bags. Summer clothes and sandals were normal, and even a discounted, off-season coat was acceptable. However, Fang Shiqian also chose to buy two pairs of trousers, a pair of non-slip shoes, and some mountaineering equipment that would probably never get used.
It was very heavy
Not long after the beginning of May, the weather had already become extremely hot. The two of them soon became very sweaty. Fang Shiqian seemed to be particularly excited. Empty-handed, he hailed a taxi using a ride-hailing app, and then attentively watched the TV, as if he had met Zhang Xinjie for the first time.
His phone vibrated. Seeing that it was from his mom, Wang Jiexi transferred all the bags onto one arm and picked up. When the special broadcast was taking a commercial break, Fang Shiqian turned and looked over.
Wang Jiexi turned half his body, with one hand holding his phone to his ear, and the other holding all the shopping bags. A red mark could be seen on his fingers. The insurance that Wang Jiexi had on his hands was scarily high. A very familiar annoyance ignited in Fang Shiqian’s heart. He dropped the popsicle stick and rushed over to grab the bags. Wang Jiexi, still on the call, just raised his eyes and looked at him with a little surprise.
Two people stood in front of the mall’s glass wall. One of them was on the phone. Pedestrians kept flowing around, and the light that hit the glass behind them sparkled abnormally.
Suddenly, Fang Shiqian couldn't get angry anymore. He freed one of his hands and patted Wang Jiexi’s head, “You seem to be a little cute right now.”
Wang Jiexi looked over suspiciously, his mother’s voice could still be heard over the phone.
Fang Shiqian called, after Wang Jiexi had hung up. Fang Shiqian deliberately didn’t turn around. Wang Jiexi approached him, took a few bags from Fang Shiqian, and waited for him to speak. But Fang Shiqian was in no hurry to speak. They walked closer to the road. A crowd had gathered under the bus stop to escape the summer heat.
After a while, Fang Shiqian finally opened his mouth, “You know, this brother has always hated you and still hates you today. But you’re working hard, and no matter how much I hate you, I can’t say that I haven’t noticed. Today, you’ve helped me carry the bags, so you can be regarded as a person who sweated and worked hard for this brother. From now on, I will reluctantly help you fight heaven and earth.”
On the day that a typhoon warning for the East China sea was broadcasted, the regular season came to an end. Tiny Herb won its final five matches, and with that, they placed fourth overall and made it into the playoffs. At the moment, the one receiving the most attention was Wang Jiexi, who had made many breakthroughs with his playstyle. Following him was Fang Shiqian, who was gaining fame as the god of healing. On the other hand, the most important award of the regular season, the MVP, went to Hundred Blossom’s vice-captain Zhang Jiale.
Zhang Jiales’s madness did not just end at the regular season. Tiny Herb’s first playoff match was an away game in City S, against Samsara. The day before, Hundred Blossoms had destroyed Blue Rain. The MVP of that match was unsurprising, Zhang Jiale.
The plane was delayed. Fang Minghua had received a notice that the players from Tiny Herb would be boarding three hours late. In the heavy rain, the plane landed in a hurry, and the car sent by Samsara raced through puddles and speed towards the stadium. There wasn’t much time left until the match started. Fang Minghua hurried towards the back door. The old doors of the stadium were soaked in water. Like overturning a pile of leaves after it rains, the damp smell filled the area around him. Fang Minghua held two umbrellas in his hands. Just as he was contemplating on how he was going to open the door, a figure appeared behind him.
Zhou Zekai quietly walked out. The yellow and black of the team uniform wrapped around his silhouette. The bullet of the Samsara logo was placed on his shoulder. He took an umbrella from Fang Minghua and opened it. A black dome appeared above his head and he walked into the rain. The car that was sent to the airport just happened to break near the steps, splashing water all over Zhou Zekai. Zhou Zekai who was now covered in a thin layer of water, quickened his pace.
There was a thick layer of snow on the ground. The wind caused the snowflakes to messily fly around. Not even a hat could stop the snowflakes from landing on Cloud Piercer’s eyelashes. Not only did the heavy snowfall make his vision blurry, but it also hid the traps, pits, and ditches. Even though it was a public map, few people bothered to study and remember all the trigger points.
Of course, Zhou Zekai remembered. This was Samsara’s home game after all.
But instead of using Aerial Fire, he adopted a relatively modest position. He kept a sharp lookout for Wang Jiexi. With both hands on his revolvers, he was ready to attack at any moment. He knew that Wang Jiexi probably wouldn’t come up from the ground. Most of the traps were triggered by stepping on them. Because of Vaccaria’s silver equipment, in addition to jumping, he was also able to fly for a very long time. They were currently playing the Arena portion of the match. Zhou Zekai had just eliminated Tiny Herb’s Battle Mage, and still had 88% of his health left.
Perhaps Wang Jiexi had already had enough experience from the previous match to be able to use the terrain in reverse. You could never predict the unpredictable though.
Zhou Zekai calculated quietly.
Suddenly, Cloud Piercer raised his pistol and shot at a black spot that was almost indistinguishable by the naked eye. The camera zoomed in: that was exactly where Vaccaria’s eyes were under his pointy hat.
The audience followed the trajectory and gasped.
Wang Jiexi did what any witch would do in that situation. Move to dodge the bullet, narrow the distance, throw a Lava Flask to deal some damage, and a Star Ray to restrict the opponent’s movement. But within a few seconds, Cloud Piercer started moving closer. Continuously shooting curved bullets with Rapid Fire and Gatling Gun. Vaccaria steadily evaded, only a couple of bullets grazed his side. He summoned an Ice Rain, then dived down and launched a Gravitational Acceleration Shot.
Cloud Piercer immediately used Aerial Fire to dodge the skills and move a comfortable distance away. Then he started firing back, with bullets flying straight towards Vaccaria’s chest. Blood spewed out and stained the white snow.
“It seems that Wang Jiexi does not intend to use his Magician playstyle this time around,” commented Pan Lim “What does Director Li think about this?”
“The skill tree required for the Magician playstyle isn’t consistent with that of ordinary witches, It is also very expensive to operate. Today, Wang Jiexi is keeping the consistent playstyle that he’s been using during the last few rounds of the regular season. It seems that his priority is ensuring the team’s performance.”
“Director Li is right.”
“I don’t know if Wang Jiexi has considered it,” Li Yibo tapped the table lightly with his fingers, “But if he’s against a young and explosive player like Zhou Zekai-”
What would happen if he was against Zhou Zekai?
Zhou Zekai blinked in the competition booth, as if to shake off the moisture that formed on his eyelashes. Cloud Piercer raised his hand. The snowflakes scattered off his eyelashes.
The game once again ended in silence.
The rain outside the Samsara Stadium seemed to be getting worse. Thunder that sounded like sobs had appeared, as if to match the stunned expressions on the fans inside.
Cloud Piercer started violently shooting. Three consecutive skills were all fired one after another. Even at such a close range, random firing was still precisely controlled. In this match, Zhou Zekai’s Three-Step Gun Fu had taken shape. Cloud Piercer, with his irrefutable technique, had caught Vaccaria.
The conqueror of Season 3. The Alliance’s Magician.
He fell into the deep snow. Cloud Piercer with his windbreaker and leather boots that were wrapped in leather and white snow, had achieved an absolute victory. He stepped onto the body and pointed the muzzle of his pistol towards Vaccaria’s forehead.
Sharpshooter skill, Punisher.
This skill had a strong sense of dominance and explosive power. It was enough to ignite the enthusiasm of the fans. Our first-year rookie, leading Samsara into the playoffs for the first time, had lived up to expectations. He even managed to get Vaccaria beneath his feet!
The time left in the stepping skill was running out. Zhou Zekai used Barrett Snipe without hesitation. The previous step was more of a symbolic one. Only the damage from a powerful skill such as that could decide the end of a battle.
The whole audience exploded.
They almost believed in their god. They almost thought it was the end.
But only a moment is needed to turn the tide.
The grand move was canceled by Cloud Piercer. Instead, he used the recoil from Burst Firing to fly back. Before one could react, Vaccaria was already back up. The Broom Tornado that he had cast was already being canceled.
Facing each other in the wind and snow, the shapes of the two characters appeared blurred.
The audience’s half-finished cheers froze, not knowing what had happened.
“Director Li,” Pan Lin was dumbfounded, unable to even report the name of the skill,” What happened just now…”
Li Yibo was upset. Didn’t we agree that I wouldn’t have to explain Ye Qiu’s tactics and Wang Jiexi’s moves? Why can’t you remember anything?
Fortunately, Wang Jiexi immediately gave the answer in that chat.
Vaccaria: Disperse Power blends in really well with the blizzard. The King of Rookies has witnessed it today.
Cloud Piercer did not answer. Instead, he silently raised his hand.
Vaccaria didn’t move. He was sitting sideways on his broom. The wind disheveled his clothes, and his eyebrows were bowed, making him look like a cloud of evil. What he said in the chat, reinforced the impression.
Vaccaria: It seems that I have to destroy you here.
The game had already been over for five minutes. Pan Lin’s voice finally stopped trembling, “It’s no exaggeration that only because of Zhou Zekai has Samsara made it into the playoffs for the first time. In this battle, Zhou Zekai exchanged 88% of his health for 90% of Wang Jiexi’s. The title King of Rookies is truly well deserved.”
The violent wind and snow, mixed with various spells and unclear bullets, left Pan Lin no time to commentate.
“I’d like to point out,” Li Yibo said, “that Wang Jiexi’s playstyle during this game can be described as ‘very ordinary’.”
“Your point is…”
“In the beginning, we had already determined that Wang Jiexi wouldn’t be using his Magician playstyle. Wang Jiexi’s thinking throughout the game was so ordinary, it really couldn’t get more normal. To put it bluntly, the player with more health bullies the player with less.” Li Yibo spoke smoothly, but there was still some bitterness behind his tongue, “We all know that he’s only gotten this far because he successfully sealed his Magician playstyle. In such a critical playoff game, if he breaks the rules that he’s established, he risks the danger of losing.”
Li Yibo had already retired, already ended his journey on the road to Glory. The players on the field had already left him in the dust. In the future, he would continue savoring the bitterness. Commenting on others’ strengths as if he wasn't envious of it. “Wang Jiexi rebuilt himself piece by piece. Even though the Magician is gone, Wang Jiexi is still powerful.”
Li Yibo was right.
The team battle went smoothly.
To Tiny Herb fans, who were used to Wang Jiexi’s unpredictability, the victory seemed plain. However, they still cheered and waved flags in support of their team.
Because this was undoubtedly a victory.
The fans had begun to transform with the team. Already getting used to the lackluster, but undeniable victories.
“Today, Captain Wang was shot down and stepped on by Samsara's new rookie. What’s your opinion on this matter?”
At the press conference after the match, a female reporter from E-Sports Weekly was the first to speak. Everyone there looked attentively at Wang Jiexi.
“Why are you asking about this?” asked Wang Jiexi.
“Huh?” the female reporter was startled. The question of course was a little rude. However, everyone knew that she was deliberately trying to provoke Wang Jiexi. Did she really have to admit it out loud though?
How did it end up like this? The reporter’s face immediately became a little hot.
“Stepping on someone and then shooting isn’t an advanced skill. The control time is short, and the damage is low,” Wang Jiexi said, “I don’t quite understand your question.”
“What I meant…” The female reporter was unable to organize her words.
“Maybe this young lady has never seen a captain being trampled by a rookie.” said LI Yihui, “Actually, I’ve never seen anything like it either.”
Wang Jiexi nodded, as if he understood, “It’s just a very basic skill. There are various situations that could happen during a game. Do you have any more questions?”
The female reporter said “no” a couple of times, before bowing her head and disappearing into the crowd. After a few seconds of silence, reporters from various newspapers and magazines raised their hands.
Most of the questions afterward were focused on Tiny Herb’s performance, the performance of their opponents, and the outlook for the future.
“As a team that has entered playoffs for the first time, Samsara performed beyond expectations. However, their damage output and team coordination still needs to be worked on.”
Wang Jiexi’s comments were quoted by various media outlets. Even Samsara’s publicity department vaguely confirmed that this would be the direction they’d strive for next season.
The second match against Samsara took place in Tiny Herb’s stadium. Zhou Zekai was placed in the individual matchups and avoided Wang Jiexi. Samsara won all of the individual matchups. The deciding factor had become the team battle. Tiny Herb was meticulous. Fang Shiqian played exceptionally well, taking good care of the four front-line players. Zhou Zekai also made two extremely eye-catching moves but was unable to gain the upper hand. Samsara accepted their defeat. Finishing their journey this season in the top 8.
“How was it? Starting to become afraid of your own powers?” Fang Shiqian bumped into Wang Jiexi in a hallway, sending him staggering to the side.
“Are you complimenting me?” Wang Jiexi looked at Fang Shiqian.
“I guess so,”
Wang Jiexi smiled.
“Don’t become too careless,” he said, “There are many more things we need to destroy.”
The facts were slowly forming into a result that no one wanted to see.
On the first day of during playoffs, Wang Jiexi, who was brewing some tea and reading a book, received a call from Zhang Wei at ten o’clock in the evening.
“Old Wang, God Fang is bullying our brother Le again. Can you get him to stop? To be honest, I don't know how Brother Le’s mentality is doing right now...you understand our mood…”
Wang Jiexi hung up the call and checked the pro players group chat. Just as expected, Fang Shiqian was harassing everyone.
Wind Guard: Zhang Jiale, you have nothing to worry about. Not to mention whether you can beat me, whether you can reach me is an even better question.
Aweto: Yes God Fang, you’re correct God Fang.
Wind Guard: I think that I could even play in the Arena next match. Wang Jiexi will go second, and I’ll anchor.
Aweto: Yes God Fang, you’re correct God Fang
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: Fang Shiqian is it interesting talking to yourself?! Why can both accounts be in the chat?! Admin! Ye Qiu, where did Ye Qiu go off to die?!
Demon Subduer: Zhang Jiale… that’s only one account. He just keeps changing the name.
One Autumn Leaf: [Auto Reply] Don’t ping me, I’m just a legend.
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: …
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: Ye Qiu, that wasn’t an auto-reply at all!!
Wind Guard: Don’t keep struggling Zhang Jiale. Didn't you say you say you wanted to fight? If we’re going to fight, hurry up!
Doubtful Demon: Senior Fang, I am groveling in admiration for you! I wholeheartedly dedicate my loyalty to you!
Wind Guard: Although there seems to be something wrong with the idiom you used, I think this howling kid has good taste. Do you want to learn the art of healing from this god?
Wand Guard: You have the same surname as me. That must mean you have some talent.
Doubtful Demon: Thank you Senior, But what I want to learn from you is the art of trash-talking. I indeed seem to be a little talented in this area.
Wind Guard: …
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: Hahahahahahahaha
Wind Guard: Zhang Jiale, do you have any dignity left to laugh at me? Let’s see if you laugh when I beat you up!
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: Why do you want to fight me so badly???
Wind Guard: Maybe I just like you a lot! [Kissyface.jpg]
Wind Guard: I heard that you were always the first to fight in a group. You know, fighting alone really isn’t my thing. I like group fights and bullying people the most.
Wind Guard: Where did Zhang Wei go? Quickly open a room. I want to beat you black and blue, and see your confused face when you witness my holy light.
Someone who had been silent this whole time suddenly appeared.
Blossoming Chaos: Fang Shiqian, don’t be so arrogant. I’m still alive you know.
There was silence for a moment, before a large number of pro players sent booing expressions into the chat.
So it turned out to be like this.
Wang Jiexi understood now. He leaned forward and typed:
Vaccaria: Just in time, 2v2?
The chat filled up with high-five gifs.
Wind Guard: Damm, why are you here?
Wind Guard: Then I won’t fight anymore. You and Yihui should 2v2 them.
Wind Guard: Or else I’ll bully the two of them. One who has a hand injury and the other who has no dignity.
Demon Subduer: You’re the one with no dignity here…
Wind Guard: Lin Jingyan, this has nothing to do with you. You might want to be careful. This Brother might show up at your door to spank you.
Vaccaria: Forget it, we don’t want to disturb everyone. You can go against Zhang Jiale by yourself.
Wind Guard: Why?! Why can’t you go up against Zhang Jiale?
Vaccaria: I’ll meet Zhang Jiale sooner or later. Didn’t you always want to play in the arena? I’m giving you a chance right now.
Wind Guard: Kids these days. Is this any way to treat your Senior?
Wind Guard: Back in my day, when I was training with Captain Lin, he would catch a monster and throw it to me. Then I would slowly smash it to death with my cross.
After countless messages flashed past his screen, Sun Zheping typed another sentence:
Blossoming Chaos: Room JJC1317, Password: Dad
Wind Guard: …
Wind Guard: Sun Zheping, look at you! How can you talk so unenthusiastically?
Wind Guard: Nevermind. Wang Jiexi I won’t point you out this time. I guess I’ll open the room by myself.
They were actually fighting?
How could they fight? A Witch and Paladin didn’t have a high damage output, and they couldn’t even fight up close. Against the Blood and Blossoms duo, which contained a Spitfire and Berserker, it would be a miracle if they lasted more than a minute.
Tiny Herb and Hundred Blossoms were both in the top four. This was a fight that no one wanted to miss. Gossip spread quickly, and in a blink of an eye, hundreds of people poured into Fang Shiqian’s newly opened room.
Dazzling Hundred Blossoms and Blossoming Chaos were already standing in the field. However, neither of them pressed the ready button. Vaccaria and the Wind Guard didn’t urge them either, they just waited silently. After about half a minute passed, they agreed to start the game.
Because the Arena was so narrow, the two opponents were in each other’s field of views as soon as they loaded in. Dazzling Hundred Blossoms habitually switched the magazine in his pistol. A clicking sound filled the air.
It was over in less than three minutes. Nothing unexpected happened. The two sides were so imbalanced, that Tiny Herb’s two players didn’t even have a chance to attack. There was no cover for an attack in the open Arena, so Vaccaria stayed near Wind Guard. After a while, he got trapped in a narrow space and was attacked viciously. Wind Guard’s healing couldn’t keep up with the damage of two silver weapons, and Vaccaria fell within two minutes.
Glory soon popped onto everyone’s screens.
Fang Shiqian closed the game, opened his door, lit a cigarette, crossed his legs, and leaned against the wall. This way, if Wang Jiexi came out, it would be unclear if he was smoking or waiting for him.
He had become accustomed to living like this, but something about it made him feel uncomfortable. Annoyed, he rubbed the ashes of his cigarette against a window sill.
When Wang Jiexi came out, he was able to catch the comets streaking across the sky.
“I’m afraid that Sun Zheping is falling apart,” Fang Shiqian spoke.
“You noticed too,” Wang Jiexi nodded and then answered him.
Fang Shiqian sighed deeply, “He obviously hasn’t recovered. Sun Zheping shouldn’t play more games than he is required to, but Zhang Jiale didn’t stop him today. Besides, you’ve probably noticed, but Zhang Jiale …”
Wang Jiexi knew what he was about to say
Fang Shiqian opened his mouth and exhaled a puff of gray smoke, “Since Sun Zheping appeared, he hasn’t said a single word.”
He didn’t have the skill to spit out smoke rings. The grays smoked scattered in a shapeless manner, mixing with the haze that enveloped City B, and the heaviness in their hearts.
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to bully Zhang Jiale too much in the future,” Fang Shiqian let out a sigh.
“Then let’s defeat him on the field.”
There were only two steps left.
Wang Jiexi and Boss Yu, who had accompanied the team, exchanged a few more words. He ended up walking alone through the dusty corridors of the Excellent Era Gymnasium.
Wang Jiexi looked up; Ye Xiu was waiting for him up ahead.
“I never thought you would succeed,”
Wang Jiexi just shook his head, “Neither did I. I was prepared to fight a long uphill battle. I didn’t expect to get so far in one year.”
“I wasn’t talking about the result,” Ye Xiu bit into an unlit cigarette.
Wang Jiexi smiled, “ It’s not a big deal. If sacrifice is needed to achieve victory, then I don’t really mind.”
“You’ve finished tearing yourself apart, and now you’re tearing us apart.”
“Thank you for your approval.”
“Eh, I originally wanted to frighten you,” Ye Xiu chuckled, “However, it seems like I came here to compliment you. Forget it, a compliment is a compliment. You’re a very powerful person, so you deserve a few praises.”
Wang Jiexi continued smiling. His smile was so faint that it didn't even melt the usual seriousness on his face. It left people wondering if joy had really overtaken his heart. However, it undoubtedly was a smile.
“Excellent Era will win today. Tyranny and Hundred Blossoms are playing tomorrow. I think Hundred Blossom’s chances of winning are higher though. They are currently very motivated, like a knife tied to the back of a firecracker. Whoever picks it up will definitely get hurt,” Ye Xiu seemed like he was talking to himself. But it also seemed like he was discussing it with Wang Jiexi, “Zhang Jiale’s recent playing makes it seem like he’s ascended into the heavens. I’m a little scared he might go crazy after the game.”
“Victory will never come without a price,” replied Wang Jiexi.
“That doesn’t matter, only victory is important.”
“What’s correct?” Ye Xiu took the cigarette out of his mouth, “You won’t achieve victory. I’ll make sure of it.”
There was a serious but focused look on his face.
“I’ll reach it before you then,” said Wang Jiexi, “See you later.”
When the team entered the competition booth, Wang Jiexi snuck a peek at a deliberately separated area. The long curtains and the dim lights emphasized a mysterious feeling.
When he first debuted, he ascended from earth to the realm of gods. Best Rookie, well-rounded skills, the first person to evade the dreaded rookie’s wall, and full of the passion for victory. Wang Jiexi was the only person who met these requirements.
That day, he walked down from the stage after his Rookie Challenge. No one cared about the result of the All-Star game, and he didn’t mind. However, no one could forget the power engraved onto Ye Qiu’s name.
The same goes for Wang Jiexi. The Alliance had existed for five seasons, and four finals had taken place. Nobody was safe from Ye Qiu, holding a triple-crown in his hands.
Wang Jiexi entered the booth and spent ten seconds doing various preparations. Stretching his joints, testing his keyboard, mouse, and headset. Then, he looked forward and pressed ready.
The sounds of the outside world were replaced with the sound effects inside the game.
With a flick of his wrist, Vaccaria started flying forward. It was crisper than an arrow, faster than a bullet, and more oppressive than a storm.
The whistling of the wind filled his ears. The map was mainly composed of sand and wind, with little vegetation. Excellent Era appeared in his field of view. A scarlet color could be seen across the landscape. The tassel on Evil Annihilation.
Wind Guard: Pay attention to the plan
Wang Jiexi smiled. There was no need to remind him. He couldn’t forget it even if he wanted to. If he forgot about the hurdles that he had climbed over, and lazily carried out every order given, would he even be where he was today?
If they were heroes, then Ye Qiu would be that dragon that killed all the heroes.
A Fire Chaser exploded on Wang Jiexi’s broomstick. His figure swayed slightly, and a lava flask was thrown out behind him. One Autumn Leaf didn’t even turn to look, instead shattered it in mid-air. Dragon Tooth. Double Stab. He flew through the sparks and launched a Dragon Breaks the Ranks without warning.
Vaccaria was being hunted as prey, caught at the end of One Autumn Leaf’s spear. Only five minutes had passed, and he was already being beaten up like a sandbag.
Vaccaria seemed to have no advantage, and his health had already dropped to 50%. On the other hand, One Autumn Leaf suffered no substantial damage. One Autumn Leaf was like a bloody wedge in Tiny Herb’s formation.
The chests of Tiny Herb fans tightened.
Back when he was still the Magician, coming and going like the wind, had he ever been humiliated this badly? Even if Ye Qiu’s name was at the pinnacle of Glory, even if Wang Jiexi didn’t achieve victory in season three- he had never been embarrassed like this. Did he really want to lose that gracefulness he once had?
Five points for the team battle, and two points in the Arena. Was it worth worrying about something so insignificant as points?
A Spellblade’s Wave Formation followed One Autumn Leaf. A Satellite Beam from a nearby launcher descended, and cast despair into Tiny Herb fans
One Autumn Leaf: Give up, you can’t beat me anyways
All of Tiny Herb’s frontline players were pushed back, with Vaccaria being pushed back the farthest. Accompanied by the strong attack, Vaccaria’s health fell drastically.
The light in the competition booth was originally dim, but now it seemed to be completely dark. The devil appeared behind Wang Jiexi. On his face was a blood-covered smile, elusive yet determined.
“Hey, you’ve already given up so much.” The devil smiled hoarsely at him. “The halo of vanity, the trivial honor of mankind. Like the shedded feathers of birds in the spring, it has already fallen into the mud beneath your feet. Ha, you cannot bear to look at these things, but I am the same. But, if you don’t have these things, what can you trade with me? Hey, listen to me. The coming path is not one you can walk alone. You have a gem of burning desire in your chest. You’ll call on me sooner or later.”
“No matter what I’ve lost, I will never lose my soul,” Wang Jiexi didn’t speak, but his heart answered for him instead. The time around them was too slow to perceive, the pictures on the screen were almost frozen.
“Hahaha, that’s right. You’re very clear on what your bargaining chips are. The stronger and more resilient a soul is, the harder it is to chew. Like a good nougat candy. You’re a very troublesome human, but your soul seems delicious. You’ve lost a lot of things, making it even better. That’s why I’m willing to come to you again. You truly are a smart person.”
“I only need victory,”
The devil’s smile became even scarier, “Of course, I know how to grant victory. That is the power of the devil after all. You are not far from the future you want. But there is still a moat you cannot cross in front of you. It’s not your fault! It’s because you are a person. As long as you stay a person, you cannot move forward on your own.
“Tell me the name of that last moat.”
“You already know what it is though, don’t you? Wang Jiexi, just look at your soul. See it? The tumor residing below your heart and above your diaphragm. Some people praise it for its beauty. But it made Satan fall from heaven. Do you understand? You cannot remove it yourself. You will bleed, and then you will die. It is part of the reason why a human is human.”
“So it's like this,”
Wang Jiexi laughed and looked at his heart. It turned out that his pride was preventing him from taking that last step.
“Thank you for telling me,” Wang Jiexi murmured, “but I don’t need outside help. I have enough strength left to defeat the me who still has pride.”
“What’s going on… One Autumn Leaf is moving farther and farther away from his teammates.” Pan Lin’s voice once again became higher, “Did he get cut off? Director Li?”
Li Yibo swallowed his saliva, “Ye Qiu has nowhere else to go. The space behind him is being compressed with control skills from Tiny Herb. He can only move forward.”
The result was clear.
Excellent Era would be stopped here, and Li Yibo would witness history.
“So One Autumn Leaf was indeed cut off from his team.”
“Yes. In today’s tactical arrangement, Vaccaria only served as bait."
Just occupy Ye Qiu, don’t die. His teammates would take care of everything else. No need to be the core of the team. No need to be the matches’ MVP. No need to place first in damage output. No need to search for a fight. No need to occupy much screen time in the post-match review. No need to be remembered.
As long as he played in the alliance, his goal would be the same
Yes, his goal had always been clear. Even when the sky fell apart, he never wavered. He was the only one who possessed this talent and learned to use it in the most terrible way possible.
His vortex had engulfed the entire world.
The phone rang.
Wang Jiexi looked at the caller ID, Zhang Wei. He thought about it, but decided not to pick up. Letting it ring until Zhang Wei hung up.
Tomorrow would be the last game of finals. He had gone to the training camp to instruct the kids on etiquette when watching the game. Turning off do not disturb, Wang Jiexi realized he had missed 8 different calls. Opening various social media apps, it wasn’t very surprising that he had countless unread messages. Huang Shaotain alone had sent 13.
But he decided to retire early.
Tomorrow would be the final stretch of their journey. Adequate sleep must be ensured.
“Going to sleep?” Fang Shiqian was walking past his room, looking at a tablet. Even if they ended up losing to Hundred Blossoms, second was already the best Tiny Herb had ever placed. Fang Shiqian’s face was filled with joy in advance.
That’s okay, though Wang Jiexi. Having a good mood would greatly improve the team’s performance.
“Good night then,”
Only a moment after Wang Jiexi had closed the door, Fang Shiqian rushed over and started banging on it.
Wang Jiexi opened the door, and Fang Shiqian said, “Hey, you promised me the championship. I’ve thought about it for a while...”
Wang Jiexi was stunned for a moment, but suddenly remembered a scene from after semi-finals in Season 3. They had lost to Hundred Blossoms that day, and Fang Shiqian had unhappily shaken hands with their opponents. Fang Shiqian and Zhang Jiale had a rivalry since their debut. Seeing Fang Shiqian pouting, Zhang Jiale had become cocky. Sun Zheping shook hands with Wang Jiexi. Standing behind Sun Zheping, Zhang Jiale winked at Fang Shiqian.
At that time, Fang Shiqian seemed to have promised that he would win a championship with Tiny Herb
“Let’s not wait around anymore. We’ll win this season.” Fang Shiqian didn’t wait for Wang Jiexi’s answer. Instead, he talked to himself solemnly.
Wang Jiexi smiled.
Fang Shiqian made a loud noise as if he’d gotten a satisfactory answer, and closed the door.
Wang Jiexi brewed a cup of tea, and set it on his desk. He sat quietly for a while.
He fell into a state of peace. No longer seeing his opponents, nor his teammates. He sat face to face with his only enemy. The man was wearing a Tiny Herb uniform. His eyes were uneven, one big and one small. His name was Wang Jiexi, and he used to be a magician.
He took a sip of his cold tea.
He was ready for victory.
And victory was ready for him.