Inside WTG's hotel, the coach approached the players and announced the results of the first semifinals match.
The players, who'd just finished a training match against an LCK team, all straightened up in their seats. Paopao turned and asked, "What was the score?"
"Three to one," said WTG's coach.
"Holy shit, DG!" Paopao exclaimed.
Their jungler stretched and said, "Then it'll be up to us in tomorrow's match."
If they could win their match against Z1, it meant the LPL would be locking down the championship tournament in advance. As long as WTG took a win tomorrow, the domestic fans could start celebrating early.
The champion and runner-up could both be from the LPL. It could be a beautiful year.
"We're ride or die with our brothers until we meet again in the finals!" WTG's middle laner cheered. His teammates echoed that sentiment, until their coach checked the time and called for their attention again.
"Alright, get some rest early tonight," the coach said. "Don't stay up too late. Stay in good shape and be prepared for tomorrow's game."
"Got it, got it."
After DG took the win against SLG and sent themselves to the finals, they didn't start to slack off in the slightest. They proceeded with their training as usual, and they set aside time for the following night to watch the match between WTG and Z1 from their hotel.
The day passed quickly.
The world championship tournament schedule was packed, without much downtime for the players to do any serious relaxing. At most, they had time to keep up with their daily routines and play a few ranked matches. Before they knew it, the next semifinals match was upon them.
Shen Qiao wasn't actually too nervous about this match, but Qian Bao and Old Wo were both keeping their expectations low.
"Z1 has been in great shape this year. They've got a new coach, and they've done well in the picks and bans stages. Z1 will probably win."
"I want Z1 to win too. That way, we can feel like we're playing an outsider in the finals, and fans back home will support us more. Hahaha, just kidding, I don't want to jinx WTG."
Er-Hua looked over at Old Wo, who was chattering while pouring goji berries into his thermos, with a look of disgust on his face. "It's obvious what we should be hoping for—a WTG victory, and then another crushing victory for us in the finals. Wouldn't that be sweet?"
"Sweet, super sweet," Zheng Zhizhuo agreed.
The two kids couldn't focus on their own games either. They'd come over to watch the WTG vs Z1 match with the others. After all, whoever won this match would be DG's opponent in the finals. At this stage of the world championship, most of the teams had already revealed all their tricks. After observing these two teams, Coach Fang would be able to make any final adjustments they needed to their strategy before the finals.
Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao harbored the same opinion on this match—
WTG and Z1 each had a 50% chance of victory.
"Welcome to the League of Legends world championship tournament! Today, we'll be bringing you the semifinals match between WTG and Z1. Let's welcome both teams to the field—"
On the projected screen, the two teams took the stage while their fans cheered from the live audience and waved banners of support.
WTG's players entered one after another.
Then, soon enough, the picks and bans stage began.
The lineups for both teams indicated that they had carefully studied up on the habits and strengths of the other team. They pulled out the strongest champions from that season and picked standard, conventional teams. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary.
Perhaps they both wanted to play it safe in the first round and feel each other out.
The first game's teams were set—
Z1 would be running Aatrox, Jarvan IV, Twisted Fate, Miss Fortune, and Thresh.
WTG had taken Camille Ferros, Elise, Syndra, Kai'Sa, and Nautilus.
However, as soon as the game began, DG was immediately baffled—
Because during the first team fight in the jungle, Z1 lost three of their champions while only taking one kill off WTG.
"Fuck me, is Z1 falling apart already?"
"They took way too much of a loss in this fight."
DG's players all showed their admiration for WTG's ability to set the rhythm in that first fight. It was the perfect start that seemed to foreshadow something ominous.
In the next fifteen minutes, WTG's jungler seemed to do everything—ganking, farming, counter-jungling, and so on and so forth. He was like a fish in water, and he even found time to help Syndra take down the enemy Twisted Fate. And while Twisted Fate was back at their base, WTG's jungler went straight up to the top lane to help with the Rift Herald.
After taking the Herald, they went for a dragon.
Their rhythm was extremely stable.
Lu Zhe kept his attention fixed on WTG's jungler for the whole game, wanting to see if the other jungler had any refreshing tricks he would pull out on the world stage. But there wasn't much to see in that first round.
Because WTG seized the advantage early and held it throughout the whole game.
Before Kai'Sa got the equipment she needed, the team relied on Syndra to strike their opponents. Z1 was at too much of a disadvantage early on to initiate fights with WTG. They waited all the way until WTG had taken three dragons. At that point, they had to confront WTG to keep themselves in the game, but…
By then it was already too late.
Kai'Sa had a few pieces of equipment ready, and she was starting to flourish in her lane. She immediately teamed up with Elise in a team fight to get rid of the enemy Miss Fortune, instantly ridding Z1 of their carry.
They took another dragon after that, then Baron Nashor…
"Are they botting or something?"
"WTG is… way too good right now."
"They hardly made any mistakes at all. I seriously feel like they wrote up a script, and everyone's playing by it! This game could go down in LoL history!"
"Way too strong."
"This jungler, their carries in the top, middle, and bottom… Z1 seriously had no chance."
"And their Camille Ferros got a solo kill on Aatrox too… a solo kill… on Aatrox. If I remember correctly, Z1's top laner isn't bad or anything."
"Z1 is off their game. They didn't set the rhythm early on because they were afraid of self-destructing, but when they developed a bit and felt bold enough to fight, WTG took them on head-on. Syndra's in a good position to do damage. Elise, Kai'Sa, and Nautilus zeroed in on Z1's AD. And when Thresh wanted to protect them, WTG got in his way and took down Miss Fortune."
While DG's players praised WTG, they also couldn't help but imagine themselves as the opponents on this field. They knew that WTG hadn't possessed this fearful sort of momentum even when they won the spring tournament.
It was like…
WTG had done everything they needed to in order to prepare for victory in the world championship.
Before them, no team could stand as their equal.
After the first round, DG talked about the rhythm of the team fights, the mistakes Z1 made, and the highlights of WTG's performance. When the second game began, their voices quieted. They watched WTG's players set an intense, chaotic rhythm once more, perfectly controlling the game.
By the time the third round started, the hotel room had gone eerily silent.
All the spectators had been completely entranced by WTG's style of play and current state. Their eyes were filled with tension as they regarded this fierce opponent they would soon face. Tension, and a bit of excitement.
Someone murmured, "WTG is going to win."
Old Wo was the first to get up. He didn't bother to watch the last push as WTG made their way to Z1's base with Baron Nashor's buff and a ten thousand gold advantage.
Er-Hua looked up and followed him over to their computers. "Duo queue?"
Qian Bao was the third to leave.
Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao got up next, leaving only the two kids from the team watching WTG's stunning performance.
Coach Fang looked at the players heading off to their own computers, then suddenly smiled. Relief and approval flooded his gaze. He didn't disturb them from their training. Instead, he fell into thought and reviewed the tactics he'd planned for DG, thinking hard about any points on which he could still improve before the finals.
In front of their computers—
Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao had teamed up. Their voice chat was clearly open, but strangely enough, Lu Zhe wasn't speaking. He only typed a message to Shen Qiao in their team's chat channel.
[What do you think after seeing WTG's condition?]
Shen Qiao was just starting to queue up. Seeing that, his lips curved with a smile, and he typed back a response.
[Aren't we all the same?]
[Not thinking about anything. Just have to focus on practice. Our opponent is strong. We'll need to adjust our condition and prepare to play our best in the match the day after tomorrow.]
Shen Qiao paused for a moment, then continued typing.
[WTG is very strong. Their jungler sets a good rhythm. But our jungler is pretty good too. Isn't that right, Daddy Zhe?]
When Lu Zhe saw the words 'Daddy Zhe', the smile in his eyes deepened. His fingers rested on the keyboard, like he wanted to type something else. But after he hit a few keys, another string of messages from Shen Qiao appeared in the chat box.
[DG lost to WTG in the spring and summer tournaments, and WTG is in great shape here at worlds. They blew Z1 away. The final match will definitely be a bitter battle.]
[I wanted to say it before, that the road to victory in this tournament may be extremely difficult…]
[But I still want you to win. I still want you to be the world's best jungler, forever.]
Lu Zhe deleted what he had typed into the chat, amending his message and instead sending—
[Not me. Us.]
[I want us to win together.]
I want to be with you.
I want to bathe in that golden glory with you.