Fans of Team BLX and Xu Xiao rampaged through the relevant teams' official Weibo accounts for a few days before realizing BLX's officials were playing dead and not addressing the matter at all. It was like they wanted to pretend the whole issue didn't exist.
These fans then turned on the BLX officials, tearing into them for not treating their players well. Some of Xu Xiao's fans were even complaining that BLX should change their name to Team AD, because they clearly only cared about their AD Mo Mo. Besides Mo Mo, all their other players were expendable. If this incident had involved Mo Mo, surely the team's higher-ups would have sought justice by now.
How could they remain silent, even now?
@Has BLX's Upper Management Planted A Pipa Tree Yet1: Now I get why you guys were able to let go of an awesome player like Wolf Cub. You guys only keep a top laner to sell him out. [Admiration.jpg]
@Xu Xiao Go Go Go: Do you guys still think you're playing S5, where your AD can face every opponent under the sun? Can you all just wake up? If it weren't for Xu Xiao, do you really think you would be able to make it to the playoffs? Are BLX's higher-ups all brain dead or something?
@Pipi Shrimp Also Wants Justice: @LeagueOfLegendsTeamDG @DG-ZHE Have these guys come to apologize yet? I'd advise certain people not to let one championship win go to their heads. You guys are forgetting who your real daddy is. Fair play in the game is the spirit of the league, anyway. You really think it's appropriate to use your alpha status to bully an opponent in private?
Angry esports fans lived up to their reputation of being hateful, vicious trolls. This matter instantly drew the attention of regional officials from the LPL.
The official statement issued on the matter—
Well, the general idea was that DG and BLX were two pillars of the LPL, and the two teams had always enjoyed a good relationship. The official statement asked everyone to not buy into the rumors circulating online, to not make unwarranted attacks on the players, and to continue supporting the players on the field.
Soon afterwards, Team BLX and Team DG both shared that statement from their official accounts.
Regardless of what had actually happened, fans had no choice but to accept this statement. Fans of BLX uneasily hoped that no internal discord would arise within the team, and that their performance in future games wouldn't be affected. Fans of Xu Xiao continued to spray their vitriol online, leading a mob against Lu Zhe.
The reason why the brunt of this attack was focused on Lu Zhe was that Xu Xiao had hosted a livestream later that night. When his fans asked about the incident, he only vaguely responded, "Ai, every team gives special treatment to the 'core' of their team. Like our captain, and like DG's captain too."
His implication was clear—BLX wouldn't speak up in his defense, and DG would protect Lu Zhe to the death.
When fans saw how this issue played out and thought back to Xu Xiao's words during that livestream, how could they have any doubt as to who was in the wrong?
As a result, Xu Xiao's fans clashed fiercely and repeatedly with Lu Zhe's fans. Many passersby came to feel that Xu Xiao's fans were too aggressive, but that Lu Zhe was a bit arrogant as well.
However, none of this drama had any effect on the members of Team DG. They had all flown out to Korea already, where they were preparing for the start of their international tournament.
This tournament, formally known as League of Legends Rift Rivals, mainly focused on teams from different regions playing against one another. The Red Rift consisted of three major regional leagues—the LPL from China, the LCK from Korea, and the LMS which consisted of teams from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
During the week-long tournament, the participating teams would play against one another.
Every region had four seeded teams. The LPL would be represented by the top four teams from the spring tournament—this year, it would be DG, WTG, BIG, and COCO. DG's performance at the last spring tournament was the worst out of these four teams, but there would be no competition between teams from the same region at this international tournament.
Coincidentally, DG had only previously played against BLX and other lower-ranked teams in the LPL during this regular summer tournament season. Even if they didn't clash with these other seeded teams now, on the international stage, they would surely face each other once they returned home.
"The first matches will be best-of-one games. Let's all work hard and bring the LPL into the finals. Take it easy, and reserve your strength…"
In their hotel, Coach Fang was giving a talk to the five players who'd just completed their daily drills.
Old Wo cradled the thermos that never left his side and mumbled under his breath, "That's probably what the LCK and LMS teams are thinking too…"
Coach Fang shot him a glare, then continued, "Our day one match will be against the fourth seeded team from the LMS. We already talked about this when we reviewed their game tapes—their most formidable players are their bottom lane duo. Everyone, review their footage some more tonight.
"Our first critical match will be on the second day, against our old rivals from the LCK. We'll be facing off against XHG, a well-rounded team that excels in just about everything. Their positioning is strong, they're good at setting the pace of a game, and they dominate team fights.
"We haven't had many opportunities to play them in the past, so I'll start by talking about recent changes to their line-up. Then we'll review the games they played in this year's spring tournament…"
They spent nearly four hours analyzing that team.
Finally, Coach Fang excused them all so that they could get to their individual practice hours. All five players let out a breath of relief. Shen Qiao got up out of habit and went over to the refrigerator to get himself a piece of chocolate.
His hand had just touched the door to the fridge when he suddenly remembered—he hadn't brought that box of chocolate with him on this trip. It was still back at the HQ.
Even if he had brought it, there would have been no point…
Because there was only one piece of chocolate left in that box.
"What are you standing here for?"
Lu Zhe had, at some point, come up from behind him. Shen Qiao instinctively glanced over at him. He had already opened up the fridge, as though to give himself an excuse for being there. He gave the contents of the fridge a cursory glance, then took a chilled can of Coke and backed up to make room for Lu Zhe.
But Lu Zhe didn't actually move any closer. His gaze simply fell to the can of Coke in Shen Qiao's hand.
Shen Qiao raised his eyebrows, silently asking what Lu Zhe wanted now.
There was a hint of a smile in Lu Zhe's dark eyes, and his voice was full of mirth as well as he said, "I seem to recall you've developed a habit of having something sweet to eat before practice. How come you've switched over to soda now?"
Hearing that, Shen Qiao's heart did a little flip. He was starting to worry that his well-hidden secret had been discovered.
"Just changing things up," he finally answered without much conviction.
Lu Zhe hummed skeptically and slowly reached over to pull open the lower compartment of the fridge. With a note of remorse in his voice, he asked, "Really?"
Shen Qiao was feeling rather perplexed after hearing Lu Zhe's obvious doubt. His gaze skimmed over the open compartment, and then he instantly froze—
The two big sections of the fridge's lower compartment were stuffed full of box after box of Godiva gift boxes.
At exactly that moment, Lu Zhe heaved a heavy sigh. "I thought you saved that last box and nibbled at it for over half a month because you really liked these chocolates. But if you're changing things up, I suppose I should find a chance to give these away to someone else."
He stooped down in front of the refrigerator and lazily cast a glance up at Shen Qiao, just in time to meet Shen Qiao's astonished gaze.
In that instant, a crunch filled Lu Zhe's ears.
It was Shen Qiao. He'd tightened his grip on the can of Coke in his hand so much that a dent had appeared on the side.
Shen Qiao couldn't even begin to conceal his surprise. He stared at that open compartment, which contained at least six boxes of chocolate. His eyes had gone slightly wide, and he couldn't hide a genuine note of curiosity as he said, "When… when did you buy these?"
Lu Zhe didn't rush to answer. He took out a box of chocolate right in front of Shen Qiao, then closed the compartment with the other boxes still sitting inside. He straightened up and met Shen Qiao's gaze, smiling brightly as he opened up the box in his hands.
It was only then that he lightly asked, "You don't want any anyway, so why does it matter when I bought them?"
Shen Qiao was speechless.
Then, he could only watch as Lu Zhe opened the box and took out a handmade truffle with an unknown filling. Lu Zhe popped it into his mouth, with a smile still crinkling the corners of his eyes.
Shen Qiao's mind filled up with just one question—
What flavor was the piece of chocolate Lu Zhe had just eaten?
Usually, in gift boxes like these, one flavor wouldn't appear twice. Each piece was unique! The one that Lu Zhe had eaten would be one that Shen Qiao never got a chance to taste.
When Lu Zhe noticed Shen Qiao's gaze falling upon his lips, the mirth in his eyes grew brighter. He teased in a low, warm voice, "What are you looking at?"
Shen Qiao furrowed his brows. He deliberated for a few seconds, then finally asked, "What… flavor was it?"
Lu Zhe seriously thought he'd heard wrong, until Shen Qiao, succumbing to the temptation of chocolate, asked one more time.
This time, Lu Zhe was the one who was rendered speechless.
Well, that was just perfect. Shen Qiao had spent so long staring at his lips, but all he was thinking about was the chocolate.
Lu Zhe huffed a laugh, a little miffed and a little amused. After a moment, he thrust the box into Shen Qiao's arms and shifted closer to whisper to him, "Come have a taste. Then you'll know, won't you?"
Shen Qiao instinctively looked away, taking stock of where everyone else in the room was at the moment.
His gaze returned to Lu Zhe's lips and hovered there for another long while. In the end, he clutched the box closer and decided to step past Lu Zhe. With immeasurable amounts of regret in his voice, he finally said, "Forget it."
Lu Zhe watched, silent.
He was very sure that Shen Qiao's regret didn't stem from this lost opportunity for a kiss.
Never in a million years would Lu Zhe have imagined that his greatest rivals in love… were the chocolates he'd personally purchased.
At just that moment—
"Captain Lu, come here for a minute." Manager Zhou had appeared at the door to the room, calling out for Lu Zhe.
Lu Zhe nodded his acknowledgement, then turned back to Shen Qiao, who was shifting like he was getting ready to slip away. Lu Zhe mulled it over for a moment and ultimately decided he wasn't at all okay with letting this moment slip through his fingers.
While no one was looking their way, he lifted a hand to Shen Qiao's nape and massaged the spot where his glands were located. He didn't let up until he felt Shen Qiao trembling under his touch. It was only then that he retreated his hand.
Shen Qiao, thinking of the chocolates, endured Lu Zhe's unbridled harassment until it ended. Then he hurriedly moved back to his own computer and took a seat at his desk.
Old Wo was streaming at the desk next to his. He was chattering on and on, his voice quickly filling up the room.
"You guys want to see our 'work environment'? Pfft, do all you little kids know how to lie so well these days? You obviously just want to see our Captain Lu! Hah, too bad he just stepped outside… oh, you want to see him later? Well, let's see how you behave."
While Shen Qiao listened to Old Wo's voice, he looked down at the box of chocolates in his own hands. After some time passed, he started to stream as well.
[Wolfy! You finally remembered me, your wifey, waiting for you at home?]
[Holy shit! What kind of special day is this? You actually turned on your camera for once! And… what's with this fancy chocolate? Are you trying to imply something?]
[As everyone knows, chocolate is usually exchanged between sweethearts! Ah, ah, ahhhhhhh! Wolf Cub, are you dating someone?!]
[wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf is happening]
[Mama won't let you date while you're still so young, wahhhhhhh! Who is it! Who's the scoundrel trying to steal you away!]
Shen Qiao had fixed his camera to a spot where it could only capture the chocolates on the desk. He loaded up the game without rushing to answer any of the questions in his comments. He ignored all those remarks about his relationship status and leisurely queued up for a game.
Soon enough, the screen was full of bullet comments about the chocolates. Shen Qiao finally glanced over his shoulder, towards the door, to confirm that Lu Zhe wouldn't be returning for a while.
Then he answered lazily, mirthfully—
"I'd recommend this chocolate to everyone."
"It's very sweet, very tasty."
"Were they given to me by my significant other? Not exactly…"
"They're from the person I like."
1. Planting a pipa tree is a euphemistic insult that more or less means 'I hope your mom dies'.