"Our heartiest congratulations to DG! They've successfully defeated BIG, and now they've won over COCO as well! That settles it! Our three teams for the world championships are set—they are BLX, WTG, and last year's world champions Team DG!"
In the Hua City stadium—
The DG fans in the audience cheered loudly enough to shake mountains. They waved their banners so excitedly that they practically started tearing them apart. On stage, the players from COCO exchanged hugs before gloomily gathering up their peripherals to start heading offstage. Their coach patted each of them on the shoulder as they passed, whispering words of encouragement in their ears.
DG's side wasn't overjoyed either.
For one thing, they were the reigning world champions. When they took the title last year, the reaction from their domestic fans was even wilder than the reaction they were receiving now. After all, that was the LPL's first world championship trophy—the entire domestic esports industry could be overjoyed for them. All those who had failed to bring home the world championship title for the LPL in the past could cheer DG on, for making their dreams come true.
For another thing…
They were last year's champions. They should have ridden that momentum into this season, but even as the former kings, they were reduced to struggling for the third spot in this year's qualifying tournaments. That was nothing to celebrate. In fact, they could only sigh over their struggles.
If DG had lost today's match against COCO, they would have been the ones who were left crushed and dispirited.
Sometimes, a team's true strength couldn't be gauged by one or two games. After all, many factors went into determining a victory—such as the state of the players, the team comp, the tactics. Players and coaches all worked together to achieve each win.
Of course, fans primarily gauged a team's strength solely by whether they won or lost. Winners were strong. Even if they used bewildering tactics or champions, they were awesome as long as they won.
Only those who played on the field knew COCO's true strength. Even though they lost and regrettably missed out on qualifying for the world championship that year, their standing in the hearts of DG's players was clear.
Team COCO had been a worthy adversary.
After the match, it was Qian Bao's turn to be interviewed.
Lu Zhe and the others waited backstage.
Shen Qiao lowered his head to check his messages. He had already received a few from his old teammates on BLX, who'd all watched the match DG had just played against COCO.
Qiao-ge, congratulations to you all! We'll see you at worlds! See you in Europe! Hahahaha!
Under that message, there was also a string of reaction memes and gifs. Some were of fireworks, some were of little characters dancing around in excitement. All sorts of celebratory images were there.
A smile reached Shen Qiao's eyes as he scrolled through them. Once he got to the bottom, he replied, See you in Europe.
The location for that year's world championship tournament had already been decided. As one of the strongest leagues, the LPL would only need to turn up starting in the group stage. Before that, a few other wildcard teams would still need to battle it out to earn their spot at worlds.
Just as Shen Qiao finished sending off that message, Lu Zhe came over to his side with the light scent of cedarwood emanating from his body. "Manager Zhou just told me there's a casual fan tournament going on next week. He'd like us both to participate, as a treat for our fans."
Shen Qiao put away his phone and froze for a second, thinking of the various fan tournaments he'd seen in the past. "Online or offline?"
Lu Zhe thought about it for a moment. "It should be online, I think. Offline is too much trouble. You'd have to take venue security into consideration. Online is more convenient, and fans can still get together and have fun."
Old Wo had been sipping at his red date and goji berry water, but his ears were very sharp. He heard this right away and instantly asked, "What kind of tournament? Which streaming platform are you collaborating with? Are you two going to be a team?"
His voice was loud, and he instantly drew the attention of the rest of their teammates. Lu Zhe looked at them and decided to explain the situation to them as well. Afterwards, he added, "You can sign up as well. The more people the better, for Manager Zhou. That way, more fans will sign up as well."
After hearing all that, Old Wo instantly waved a hand. "No, no, no. I refuse to work overtime. Just fulfilling my monthly streaming hours is tiring enough."
Er-Hua calmly answered, "I want to sign up."
Then he looked over at Old Wo and added, "Old Wo has to sign up too. I want to apply to be on the team facing off against him. I'm tired of playing support for him day in and day out. I want to be the AD."
Old Wo was speechless.
He gave Er-Hua an incredulous look. "What am I doing wrong to make you suffer so much? You just say it and I'll change. I'll end myself if I don't change."
"How about we do a 1v1 tonight first?" Er-Hua suggested.
Old Wo laughed curtly. "Exactly what I was thinking."
The bottom lane duo started up their daily ritual of dissing each other. Meanwhile, Zheng Zhizhuo looked at Shen Qiao, then brushed his nose and turned to Lu Zhe to whisper, "Captain, can I participate as a fan?"
Lu Zhe smiled and answered, "Sure. If you sign up and get assigned to Qiaoqiao's team, I won't have a problem with it."
Zheng Zhizhuo carefully thought about how many fans Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao had, then silently calculated the probability of randomly being assigned to a team with a bunch of Shen Qiao's fangirls. In the end, his expression grew a little gloomy.
Shen Qiao, however, didn't seem to understand at all. He looked at Zheng Zhizhuo with confusion and asked, "What's the point of joining in as a fan? If you want to play with me, I'll see you in the rift tonight."
Zheng Zhizhuo froze for a few seconds before his eyes suddenly lit up again!
Lu Zhe watched as this little fan fawned over his idol. He couldn't help but laugh. Once Qian Bao returned, the team got together and agreed on a course of action—
They would hold a two-day fan tournament.
On the first day, Old Wo and Er-Hua would each lead a team and play for four hours.
On the second day, Shen Qiao and Lu Zhe would each lead a team.
On the road home—
Lu Zhe nudged Shen Qiao with his shoulder, but didn't say anything. He just waved his phone a little, gesturing for Shen Qiao to take a look at his own phone.
Shen Qiao gave him a suspicious look, thinking that Lu Zhe was trying to show him some shameful R18 content again.
However, when he checked his messages, he found a very simple question—
Remember the 1v1 you owe me from before? How about we bet that on the fan tournament instead?
Shen Qiao stared at the screen for a moment.
He gave it some thought, then asked Lu Zhe, "Are there any ranking requirements for fans who sign up for the tournament?"
"Nope. It's more exciting that way, isn't it?" Lu Zhe said. "Who knows, you might get legendary players while I get stuck with bronze-rank players."
In other words…
The two of them could only guarantee their own skill. Not the skill levels of their teammates. It was very likely that one of them would get stuck in a situation where they had to carry their four teammates.
Shen Qiao smiled and shook his head. This guy really… didn't miss out on any opportunity to engage in an 'adult' life.
Now that the summer tournament was over, and the world championship had yet to begin, it was true that they could let loose and relax a bit—
Shen Qiao slowly sent back two messages.
Whoever loses will be a good boy and lie down.