In their game against the wildcard team, DG stormed their base in the eighteenth minute of the game—
Because, in the picks and bans stage, DG managed to secure the combination of Lee Sin and LeBlanc for themselves in the jungle and middle lane respectively. Lu Zhe worked well with Qian Bao to establish dominance early on in the game. The claimed all the resources in the jungle, while Shen Qiao, Old Wo, and Er-Hua simultaneously pushed ahead on the top and bottom lanes, doling out some serious damage to the enemy towers.
By the time they reached the enemy's base, the bullet comments were a sea of exclamation marks.
[I felt like I was watching a pro team take on a bunch of casuals just now. Are these casuals? Someone tell me, are these casuals?]
[There weren't many strong teams in the wildcards this season. If they can't match up to our LPL, that's understandable, but… eighteen minutes? Are you guys kidding me? It only took eighteen minutes?]
[This momentum! DG is on a roll! I'm so, so, so, so, so, so, so hyped!]
[Our Money went 7-0! Seven kills, zero deaths! Qian Bao, Qian Bao, we'll treasure you forever! Ahhhhhh, jiejie, look at me! Meimei loves you!]
[Eighteen minutes. Twenty kills. Our DG is wreaking havoc, I see.]
[DG Girl, chiming in! I'm thriving!]
When DG pushed onwards to the enemy base in the eighteenth minute, even the domestic commentators were confused. "This is a feint, right? They should kill another dragon or something. Their forces aren't even there yet, so they can't be planning on launching a direct attack on the Nexus, right?"
"Wait! Wolf Cub is coming up! He's catching up! Qian Bao… is coming in for the kill?!"
"DG is attacking for real!"
"They don't plan on getting another dragon or waiting at all! They're taking turns blocking damage from the tower. Lu Zhe's Lee Sin has already taken two hits. Their opponents are ganging up on him now!"
"Flower strikes with a hook! It hits! His Thresh… Flower's Thresh is really godly."
"Old Wo just took three kills! He's really shown us his stuff in this round. Sneaking in for the kill with Varus again and again, he's really too much. Ah, Wolf Cub is down to just a sliver of HP now. Varus let out an A, and—"
"Ai, wait, why do I feel drunk just from watching DG destroy their opponents?"
The energy in the livestream room was electric. Everyone watched as DG assaulted the enemy Nexus in turn, managing to take three of their opponents down as well.
At this time, DG's minions finally got far enough to start taking down the enemy's base turrets. Lu Zhe's Lee Sin escaped the tower's range with just a bit of HP left. Shen Qiao and Qian Bao didn't have much health left either. When Old Wo retreated, he took a few additional hits from the tower since he'd gone too far ahead in his pursuit of the enemy. He nearly lost his life, but was saved by Er-Hua just in time.
The enemy could see that DG was trying to retreat and regroup. Their mid-laner and AD rushed out of the base after respawning to stop DG. They'd come out with full health and new equipment, after all. Even if they still weren't nearly as well-equipped as DG, they figured it wouldn't be too hard to slay at least a few of DG's low-health champions before they all scattered.
But in the end…
DG actually had no intention of retreating.
Their five low-health champions surrounded those two enemy champions with full HP, attacking in earnest. Er-Hua, whose HP was the highest out of all of DG's champions, pulled his teammates back from the brink of death at all the right moments. DG focused their skills on those two enemy champions, ultimately succeeding in collecting two more kills.
With that, their minions surged down the middle lane, towards the enemy's base.
The players' voices passionately rang out in the voice chat—
"Attack the Nexus, attack!" Qian Bao shouted.
"Tower, tower, Qiaoqiao, get over here and hit the tower!" Lu Zhe exclaimed.
"I'll come back after I kill them all…" Shen Qiao said.
"I'm out of lanterns!" Er-Hua warned.
"Holy shit, Daddy Lu! Too good" Old Wo crowed. "He just sent three of them flying with one kick!"
Twenty-two minutes into the match—
Shen Qiao stood guard outside the enemy fountain. Lu Zhe waited around to see when their opponents would respawn, kicking them back down whenever they dared emerge. Er-Hua, Old Wo, and Qian Bao poured all their firepower into attacking the enemy Nexus. Luckily, Varus was at a high enough level and LeBlanc's DPS was pretty good. They managed to blow up the Nexus before the other team respawned.
As the blue victory logo flashed across the center of the screen, DG's five players took off their headphones. Old Wo was still raving about how awesome Lu Zhe was, excitedly telling Er-Hua about the way Lu Zhe knocked down three people with one blow.
Er-Hua smiled faintly with his eyes. He packed up his peripherals while listening to Old Wo gush about their captain.
Lu Zhe also got up from his seat. He looked over at Shen Qiao with a warm voice and asked, "Did you get a rush?"
Shen Qiao had indeed gotten a thrill from all the kills he'd scored during the game, but his expression was still calm and collected now. When he heard Lu Zhe's question, he looked up with a crooked smile and admitted, "Just a bit."
Earlier, while Shen Qiao single-mindedly pursued the enemy champions, Lu Zhe had helped him fend off the damage from the towers several times. If Shen Qiao had done that when DG was at a disadvantage, the fans surely would have been scolding him like he was a feral dog.
Lu Zhe noticed that Shen Qiao wasn't meeting his gaze. He couldn't help but grin. "Are you being shy? You, a man who rampages through the rift and rains death down on his enemies, know how to be shy?"
"…shut up. I'm not."
He just felt like he was feeling too much.
Shen Qiao lowered his head and started to pack his bag, then followed Lu Zhe backstage. Before long, the MVP of the match came out. It was Lu Zhe's Lee Sin—
There was a difference of over five thousand gold between the two junglers.
And Lu Zhe's kills-deaths-assists statistic was 5-1-17.
His participation rate was 82%.
By then, the event organizers had already chosen someone for the post-game interview. It was none other than DG's captain, Lu Zhe.
Shen Qiao and their other teammates waited for him backstage, pausing what they were doing to watch his interview.
Coach Fang was talking to the two younger players, saying that if DG could win their best-of-one game against their next two opponents, he would let them play in the second round when they faced this wildcard team again.
At that moment, the voices from the interview spilled out through the sound system.
"As everyone knows, Lee Sin is one of Zhe's best champions, easily in the top three for him in terms of win-rate. Did you guys plan on running this team comp a long time ago, or did you decide on this on the fly?"
Once the interpreter finished translating that long question from German, Lu Zhe took the microphone and smiled faintly. "These two champions just happened to escape the bans stage, and Money and I are quite good at playing them. Our coach decided that we should take them right away."
The first question was very mild.
The second was far more pointed.
"We saw Lee Sin tank some damage from the enemy towers today. Is that because your team wasn't tanky enough in this match, and so you decided to fill in where you were needed?"
A burst of laughter rippled through the audience. Once that question was translated into Chinese, more of DG's fans joined in on that laughter.
Lu Zhe licked his lower lip.
"A certain teammate chased their opponent too deep into enemy territory," he said. "So someone had to take some damage for him, right?"
Just as Lu Zhe finished speaking, the director of the live event decided to be utterly diabolical. A few well-timed clips of Shen Qiao and Qian Bao rushing into dangerous territory to get a kill started to play on the big monitors at the venue.
Since LeBlanc had a mirror image ability, she was always alone when she pursued someone. Lee Sin was never anywhere to be found.
But things were different in the top lane.
Every time Shen Qiao got too close to an enemy turret to get a kill, Lee Sin would come running like a good boy to help him take some damage.
The final clip that played out was from their attack near the enemy's base turret. It showed Lu Zhe taking two hits from the tower before a red circle suddenly appeared around the champion Shen Qiao had chosen. Accompanying that red circle was an arrow and a caption, written in German, English, and Chinese, which said—
A certain teammate.
The interviewer was a woman with gorgeous blond hair. She turned back to watch the clip play out on the screen, then turned back to Lu Zhe to ask, "When you say 'a certain teammate', you mean Wolfy?"
Lu Zhe also watched that clip play out on the screen. The smile in his eyes didn't fade one bit. After a moment, he turned back to answer, "Not entirely."
The spectators were all momentarily baffled.
How strange. That answer wasn't typical of Dog Lu at all. Wasn't this the sort of time when Lu Zhe would show off as much as possible?
Backstage, Qian Bao and the others all froze for a moment as well.
Only Shen Qiao smiled.
He knew what Lu Zhe meant by this reply—
It didn't matter how flirty Lu Zhe could be in private. When it came to the game, in a professional setting, every player on the team knew what they had to do. This was simple professionalism. Lu Zhe had made the right choices that guaranteed them a win.
Whether or not they went public with their relationship after worlds was one matter.
But in that moment, all that mattered was their fight for victory.
After the interview—
The subject of Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao wearing a pair of matching lovers' bridge watches spread like wildfire through their supertopic. Lu Zhe's ambiguous answer during his interview was also hotly debated. Fans were endlessly combing through the details of the new information they'd received, trying to figure out if this was a piece of candy or a knife.
But neither Lu Zhe nor Shen Qiao had time to browse their supertopic.
After getting back to the hotel, Shen Qiao queued up for a game for a while. However, he waited for ages without getting into a game. He checked the time and saw that there was still an hour before dinner, so he decided to get up and leave the training room.
Lu Zhe came over and took a look at his computer monitor. He saw that Shen Qiao wasn't engaged in a brawl, but had actually been queueing up for a practice game. He looked back over at Shen Qiao and asked, "Where are you going?"
"Gym," Shen Qiao answered without turning back.
Some unspeakable image must have flitted through Lu Zhe's mind. His attention drifted away from him for a moment before he hurriedly called out, "I'm coming too!"
Manager Zhou happened to enter at just that time. He eyed Lu Zhe carefully for a second, then said, "You're not allowed to go."
Lu Zhe blinked.
Manager Zhou continued to stare at him with a serious expression. "If one of you goes, you'll work up a sweat by exercising. If you both go, I don't even want to guess how you'll work up a sweat. Don't think I don't know."
Lu Zhe was silent for a long moment.
Then he blinked again.
Did he have the words 'unsated lust' written all over his face or something?
"Would you believe me if I said that Qiaoqiao said he would teach me how to swim, and I'm just going now to take him up on that offer?" Lu Zhe asked. He helplessly leaned back in his chair, spreading his hands at his teammates who had peeked over after hearing Manager Zhou's words.
His teammates all shook their heads in unison.
Only Lu Zhe's precious little fan, Zhao Yue, showed some hesitation.
After a few seconds, Zhao Yue meekly blurted out, "I would believe you."
Old Wo looked at this pure, innocent child with pity in his eyes. "Your Captain Lu is just thirsty for Wolf Cub's body. He's depraved! Got it?"
Lu Zhe said nothing.
After a moment, he huffed a laugh of anger and said, "We're properly dating. Everything is perfectly above board. We're a couple, so—
"If I didn't thirst for his body, what would I be? A eunuch?"
"He admitted it!" Old Wo exclaimed. "Manager Zhou! He just wants to go out there and engage in all sorts of indecent activities! We have an obligation to stop him!"
In the end, Lu Zhe was forced to stay in his chair by all the protests from his teammates and manager.
Lu Zhe maintained a slight smile on his face as he queued up for a game, but his heart and mind had already drifted away to imaginings of how Shen Qiao would look when he swam.
If Lu Zhe had really been allowed to go to the gym, he might not have done anything improper. But now that he'd been denied the chance to see this sight…
He just really couldn't get it out of his mind.
The more he thought about it, the hotter he burned.
I don't blame you.
I want to see it too~