Shen Qiao glanced at the map. His lips suddenly curled with a derisive sneer. "Keep messing around. Elise has already made our jungle her home—"
As he spoke, he moved his mouse and clicked on the map to draw Lu Zhe's attention to the spot where Elise was currently gobbling up their blue buff.
Lu Zhe glanced at Elise, the Spider Queen. She'd taken advantage of their move up to the top lane to sneak into their jungle, and she already had their Blue Sentinel down to fifteen percent health. Even if Lu Zhe's blind monk rushed over now, he wouldn't arrive in time to stop her from getting the buff.
He simply crouched down in the underbrush by the river and eyed the enemy Ryze that was moving along the top lane. Unhurriedly, he said:
"No problem. The spider owes us a debt. Ryze will pay.
"With his blood—"
As soon as those words fell, the blind monk leapt out of the underbrush and sent his ult hurtling at Ryze!
Shen Qiao caught up to them and slowed Ryze. Since Ryze had used his flash ability earlier, he had no more outs—there was no escape. Lu Zhe quickly collected his head.
By the time Pyke rushed up from the middle lane to help, Shen Qiao and Lu Zhe had disbanded. They both wandered off with their HP at a healthy seventy percent or more.
After watching the blind monk heal up with a potion, Pyke could only dejectedly slink back to the mid lane.
At that time, Elise was the more powerful jungler. She wanted to creep up to the top lane to gank Lu Zhe, but in the end—Shen Qiao wasn't the only one who came to help. Qian Bao made her way up to the top lane with Nautilus again.
Elise had just flung her E skill at Lu Zhe when she was surrounded by DG's top laner, mid laner, and jungler. Her player was scared enough to scurry back to their outer turret. When she escaped, her HP was already sitting below thirty percent.
Five and a half minutes into the game—
DG had a lead of eight hundred gold.
Shen Qiao went back to their base to change his equipment. Seeing the enemy Ryze gear up with a Tear of the Goddess, Shen Qiao put on a magic resistance cloak. By the time Shen Qiao returned to his lane, Ryze had led two waves of minions to DG's outer turret.
Lu Zhe was down in the lower jungle, battling the first cloud dragon to spawn. He cautioned:
"Be careful. The spider will definitely try to catch you off guard in the top lane."
"I know," Shen Qiao said.
He was only Level 5 at the time. Once he made his way to the tower and defeated those minions, he would reach Level 6. Elise definitely wouldn't pass up this opportunity to team up with Ryze and assault Shen Qiao.
Perhaps because they'd given away two kills early in the game, Ryze charged forward in a rage and started concentrating his attacks on Shen Qiao. In no time at all, Shen Qiao's health had dropped below fifty percent.
He still had six minions that he needed to demolish before he could level up.
But Shen Qiao didn't get caught up in the heat of the battle. He fought back while retreating, hurriedly backing up to DG's inner turret. It was just then that Elise, as expected, leapt out from the underbrush and charged at him.
Shen Qiao's health was already down to thirty percent. He'd originally planned to recall to their base while he was hiding between their outer and inner turrets, but when the progress bar for that move was still filling up, he voluntarily interrupted it and took a step back—
One of the spider queen's skills flew at him and missed him by a hair.
While Shen Qiao returned to their base to heal, Lu Zhe battled the cloud dragon in the lower jungle without a care in the world.
Old Wo and Er-Hua faced off against the enemy Varus and Tahm. Er-Hua abruptly hooked Varus and dragged him in, at which point Old Wo attacked with his own skills!
Varus lost half his HP in the blink of an eye.
Tahm quickly caught up to rescue his team's AD!
The two sides exchanged blows, each shaving off a chunk of the enemy's health. At the same time, Lu Zhe slew the cloud dragon and went on to attack the Herald.
WTG's plan to slowly build an advantage and snowball into the lead didn't come to fruition. Instead, it was Team DG that slowly built their advantage to one thousand gold.
On the other side, WTG's voice channel—
Paopao, playing Ryze in the top lane, sobbed to his teammates: "Waaaaaah—I don't know if you guys are keeping it together, but I'm falling apart. What's with DG's playstyle recently? Does Lu Zhe plan on buying a house in the top lane and living there forever?
"Wasn't he supposed to be on bad terms with the wolf cub?"
All his teammates were speechless. Their mid laner was extremely perplexed as well—
"Rumors have betrayed us. Wasn't Money1 supposed to be a mid-lane assassin? Her running Nautilus today is really a pain in the neck."
"Ai, ai, Paopao! Keep your eyes open. Money is heading up to the top lane again."
"…bwaaahhhhhh!" Paopao cried out. "Why are they all so hungry for my body?!"
Paopao's Ryze frantically retreated to avoid giving DG another kill in the top lane. When Shen Qiao saw him backing away, he casually strolled up to their outer tower and gobbled up the minions for experience and gold.
As WTG's tower took more and more damage, Shen Qiao seemed to hear a melodious voice in the background, reporting—
More and more glittering pieces of gold leapt out, jumping straight into his possession.
Qian Bao had gotten a taste for wandering freely through the rift.
When Pyke tried to barge into the jungle to interfere with Lu Zhe, Qian Bao piloted her Nautilus down and quietly shot out a hook—it hit!
Unfortunately, Nautilus's damage output in the early stages of the game wasn't that impressive, and Qian Bao had no teammates around to help her attack. She could only watch as Pyke made a hasty getaway.
Lu Zhe took note of Qian Bao's machinations on the map. He took the opportunity to sneak into the enemy jungle to attack a Gromp, only to be discovered by Tahm. The enemy Varus also suddenly changed course in the bottom lane and—
Tahm leapt out beside Lu Zhe, and Varus attacked with his Q!
Lu Zhe decisively abandoned his attack on the Gromp to make a hasty retreat, but Varus used his R to pin him down!
Tahm charged up again. Trapped in place, Lu Zhe was helpless to do anything but take the brunt of their attacks. After just a short burst of this two-pronged assault, Lu Zhe's screen grayed out.
Shen Qiao, seeing Lu Zhe become their team's first casualty of the match, lazily smiled and offered a line of narration:
"Secret Technique—HP Vanishing Act!"
Lu Zhe smiled too. He opened up the shop and started to buy some new equipment, completely unbothered by his little misstep.
"Group up in the mid lane?" Qian Bao suggested. She nodded towards the location of the Rift Herald on the map.
"Let's give it a shot," Lu Zhe said.
WTG's team composition was especially strong in the early and middle stages of a match. If they could establish their dominance now, their chances of victory would only continue to increase later in the game.
Fifteen seconds later, Lu Zhe respawned. He changed his gear and left their base. The other four members of Team DG slowly made their way towards the Rift Herald as well.
WTG quickly realized their intentions. Their mid laner, jungler, and bottom lane champions approached from various directions to surround DG. The two teams flung a few small skills at each other; everyone was waiting for the right moment to initiate a team fight.
At that time, Qian Bao was grouping up with Old Wo and Er-Hua. They advanced together, moving forward just a little too far.
WTG struck first!
Their crowd control skills hit Qian Bao. Fortunately, Nautilus was tanky. Qian Bao withstood their first few blows, but the enemy was determined to claim her head. Er-Hua could see things going sideways for them. He quickly rushed to Qian Bao's side to take a few hits for her.
A team fight was about to break out. Shen Qiao didn't hesitate; he teleported down from the top lane right away, and Ryze followed suit.
At that point, Er-Hua's Thresh was already down to twenty percent health!
Er-Hua knew he was in danger. With his life flashing before his eyes, he put himself in stasis!
With that move, he managed to make the enemy Pyke waste an ult.
By the time Er-Hua's protective stasis wore off, all ten champions—five from each side—were gathered around the Herald by the river. Er-Hua's health was still dangerously low. He ducked out of the middle of the action and moved to the back of the fight.
The enemy Varus wasn't willing to let his prey escape so easily. He unleashed his long-range Q from the back of his team, but Er-Hua dodged with a well-timed flash. As he evaded the attack, he breathed:
"That was close…"
DG's team assault was summarily broken up by WTG. The standoff had turned into a 5v5; Team DG no longer had the advantage in numbers.
WTG also seemed a little embarrassed over flinging out so many big skills without claiming a single enemy head. They apparently decided it would be too impetuous to continue attacking now. While DG retreated, WTG also moved back in the opposite direction.
However, Lu Zhe didn't want to take a loss so easily—
While passing the neutral Rift Herald during their retreat, he threw out his Q and successfully aggravated the big monster. The pissed off Herald chased after DG's five members, like a big dish that was delivering itself to their door.
WTG had just started their retreat when they saw this going on. How could they possibly stand back and let the other team steal the Herald so easily?
Lu Zhe saw WTG give chase. He let out a soft sigh and said, "Forget it. This Herald isn't plump enough yet anyway. Let's fatten it up some more before we go in for the kill."
Saying that, he let the Herald turn back towards WTG.
Shen Qiao calmly returned to the top lane to continue farming minions. Old Wo came up with his champion Sivir and chuckled into his mic:
"Wolfy, I feel like Ryze is going to target you again soon. How about you let your bro camp out here for a while?"
Shen Qiao's answer was cold and indifferent: "Camp all you want. But why are you stealing my minions?"
"You want me to work for you for no pay?" Old Wo asked self-righteously. "Our wolf cub has been exposed as a ruthless capitalist."
Shen Qiao was silent for a moment before he said, "…I'd like to say something about your mother, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate or not."
Er-Hua was hanging out around them, getting a few hits of his own to gain some experience. He joked, "I think you've already said it."
While Old Wo happily stole some of Shen Qiao's minions, the enemy Varus and Tahm came up from the bottom lane and hit Thresh with their Q skills without any warning whatsoever.
Er-Hua's HP plummeted. He quickly retreated while Old Wo retaliated against Varus. Shen Qiao moved up to block Ryze and Tahm from coming in to assist.
Varus, cut off from his teammates, wanted to retreat. But DG's outer turret was blocking his way, and in the end—he had no choice but to give up his life.
Er-Hua, on the other hand, managed to hang on to his life. As he started heading back to their base, Qian Bao called out to them in the voice channel: "Wait for me, wait for me! How could you leave me out of a fight?"
"Too late, it's over," Shen Qiao said.
Lu Zhe's lips quirked into a smile. He suddenly emerged from the jungle to strike Tahm with a well-aimed kick, to prevent him from pinning Shen Qiao down and making him an easy target for Pyke and Ryze. There was no need for DG to hand over a kill in exchange for the one they'd claimed.
Qian Bao sighed mournfully, but Er-Hua said, "Don't worry. I'll come to the middle lane to help you with the next one."
That was music to Qian Bao's ears. She was immensely pleased. "Our team must have prayed diligently for thousands of years to score a support like you in this lifetime!"
Er-Hua calmly answered, "Don't get so emotional—"
He soon made good on his promise. Once he returned from their base, he moved into the middle lane and immobilized Pyke right away. The enemy Elise and Tahm rushed up to help, but before they could arrive, Qian Bao unleashed her ult and—with Er-Hua's help—claimed a kill!
The enemy spider queen had had enough. Seeing as Nautilus had exhausted his ult and his flash, Elise and Tahm charged in to crush him.
Er-Hua, seeing that the tables were turning, slowly backed away with his champion Thresh. He'd gotten an assist, and now it was time to let Nautilus pay the price for Pyke's death.
As he retreated, Er-Hua finished what he'd started saying earlier: "—I'm just here to get an assist."
Qian Bao, whose screen had grayed out, said: "…be upfront about that next time. Seriously."
A bit of exasperation rose in Lu Zhe's gaze, but he didn't pay any attention to the middle lane. He headed straight towards the second dragon.
Seeing him claim the ocean dragon, WTG speedily took down the Rift Herald.
The Herald was sent up to the top lane. After battling the dragon, Lu Zhe headed straight down to the bottom lane to help out there. Shen Qiao and Old Wo had already gone down to take care of the minions in the bottom lane, and the opposing Ryze had swapped lanes as well.
Qian Bao came down to the bottom lane too.
In a burst of energy, the lot of them slew Ryze once more. Then they took down the enemy's outer turret in the bottom lane—
At the same time, the Herald took out DG's top lane outer turret.
The two teams were making every second count, exchanging blows back and forth.
After each team lost a tower, Lu Zhe immediately said:
"Fall back, to the base."
The Rift Herald was ultimately taken down by DG's inhibitor turret.
After heading back out, Shen Qiao instantly targeted WTG's top lane outer turret. Qian Bao and Lu Zhe teamed up and killed Ryze, yet again, in the jungle!
The two sides continued their endless back-and-forth exchange—
At the twenty-minute mark, WTG took their first ocean dragon and Shen Qiao used his ult to save Qian Bao in the jungle.
At the thirty-minute mark, the two teams were still exchanging kills and blows in cautious little fights. A large-scale team fight had yet to break out.
Just as WTG claimed a infernal dragon, Lu Zhe spoke:
The five members of DG charged in together. They took out Tahm, who was bringing up the rear for WTG. The enemy Elise and Varus hesitated for a moment in the bottom lane, and that moment of hesitation was all it took for DG to catch up to them and claim their heads!
Qian Bao moved back to the middle lane to face off against Ryze and Pyke. As soon as she threw out her first wave of attacks, she went into stasis!
At the same time, Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao rushed up to join her. Once Qian Bao came out of stasis, the three of them attacked together, turning the brawl into a 3v2!
Pyke and Ryze fled, and Lu Zhe didn't bother pursuing them. Instead, he ordered, "Let's get the Baron."
All five of DG's champions grouped up to go after Baron Nashor. Pyke and Ryze continued to harass them from the sidelines. Shen Qiao peeled away from their formation to land a solo kill on Ryze. In the meantime, Lu Zhe and the others took down the Baron!
With the buff from Baron Nashor, DG pushed straight towards WTG's base—
One after another, Pyke and Ryze were hooked and beaten into oblivion by the surrounding DG champions. Then, WTG's mid-lane tower and inhibitor were destroyed.
Er-Hua was used to keeping a steady head on his shoulders. He took stock of their surroundings and decided, "Let's go, let's go. Back, back, back. We've pushed far enough this time."
Shen Qiao's ult was still up. When he saw three of WTG's champions grouped up together, he fired up his ult and charged in without any hesitation. As soon as Lu Zhe saw him racing up, he also followed close behind. At the exact same time, Old Wo flashed in and used his stasis to swallow up most of their enemies' skills!
The word 'PENTAKILL!' appeared on screen, and Er-Hua was rendered speechless.
After a few seconds of silence, he opened his mouth again and amended: "Alright, let's keep pushing."
When WTG's nexus exploded under their assault, the five members of Team DG let out a collective sigh of satisfaction—
Victory was sweet.
Qian Bao leaned back in her gaming chair and declared that, from then on, Nautilus would be her one true love. Old Wo happily grabbed his cup to go fetch himself some water. Er-Hua continued watching his monitor while muttering, "You buncha reckless bastards."
Across the room, Shen Qiao took off his headset. He seemed utterly unflustered as he slowly rubbed at the slight discomfort in his ears, which had turned from white to red after wearing his headset for so long.
Next to him, Lu Zhe smiled and gave him a poke.
Shen Qiao glanced over.
Lu Zhe scooted closer. A warm, soft light emanated from his dark pupils. He lowered his voice and whispered deeply in Shen Qiao's ear: "I've done the math. Today is a good day."
"So what?" Shen Qiao asked.
Lu Zhe's smile grew a little wider. His tone remained soft and warm as he asked:
"So, how about a kiss to celebrate?"
1. Another nickname for Qian Bao. The 'Qian' in her name means 'money'.
To kiss or not to kiss? You guys decide.