Qin Rui had already ascended to Diamond. Ye Shaoyang was currently at Platinum IV.
In ranked matches, games began with a B&P stage if any one teammate was Diamond-ranked. This meant that the preparation stage of the game would involve a bans and picks process for choosing heroes.
Banned heroes were sent to the 'ban list', meaning no one in the match—on either team—could choose that hero.
In all games below the Diamond rank, players could all freely choose their heroes. The same hero could even appear on both teams at the same time.
But from Diamond-ranked games onwards, the alternating B&P process was implemented. The selection process was as follows: the blue side picked one hero first, then the red side picked two, then blue picked two more, red picked two more, blue picked their final two, and red closed out by choosing the last hero to counter blue's picks.
This was where each player's personal 'hero pool' started to matter. If a player's hero pool was very shallow, they would be put into an awkward position if an opponent picked or banned all their best heroes before they could get to them.
Currently, Ye Shaoyang could only play the Abyssal Lord and the Frost Goddess in ranked matches. If the Abyssal Lord was banned and the Frost Goddess was chosen by the enemy team, then he would have no heroes left to field! He certainly couldn't play the default top lane tank in the middle lane, after all.
Ye Shaoyang shut off the livestream for the time being, after pinning up an announcement: [Going to feed the kitty, be back in half an hour.]
The cat really did need to be fed, but Ye Shaoyang sent Qin Rui to do that.
There was a cupboard dedicated to Xiao Bai's food. Qin Rui opened up a pack and scooped out a spoonful into Xiao Bai's dish. The little kitty scarfed it all up, then started meow-meowing like it was waiting for more. Qin Rui helplessly called out, "Ge, your Xiao Bai has a big appetite. Won't it get fat if it keeps eating like this?"
"It's still growing," Ye Shaoyang said. "It's fine for it to eat more right now. We can look after its weight when it's all grown up."
Qin Rui could only give Xiao Bai another scoop. Once the kitten had eaten its fill, it returned to the couch to continue playing with its toy.
Ye Shaoyang used this time to play a few quick rounds against A.I. teams, getting his proficiency with the [Illusionist] up to 100.
The Illusionist was also an assassin mage, and the hero was much simpler to handle than the Abyssal Lord. Ye Shaoyang was mostly just practicing with this hero in case both the Abyssal Lord and the Frost Goddess were taken out of play.
After finishing his preparations, Ye Shaoyang opened up the livestream again.
The viewers saw the little kitty's face in frame again. They instantly started filling up the chat with kissy faces.
A golden comment scrolled across the screen—
[Handsomest Fighter has sent Xiao Bai a rocketship. Message: 'Buy some canned food for the kitty.']
This was Ye Shaoyang's first time receiving a gift in his stream. He froze for a second, then laughed and said, "Thank you for the rocketship, Handsomest Fighter. But you guys don't need to send gifts. My cat has a cupboard full of food that it'll never finish."
He wasn't streaming to make money. He intended to use this platform to become as visible as possible, as quickly as possible, to domestic teams so that he could swiftly find a scout who was interested in signing him.
However, his viewers didn't listen to him. Someone else immediately sent another gift—
[I Only Play Support has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. Message: 'Host, you've got skills.']
This was the most expensive gift on the entire streaming platform. Whenever it was given out, a platform-wide announcement was made.
That announcement drew in another wave of viewers. All the newcomers to the streaming room were baffled—
[Even cats can play this game? Is this cat a god?]
[Let me explain, newcomers. The host is rushing the national leaderboards with the Abyssal Lord. This is his Ragdoll cat.]
[He said his cat was playing in the game where he died eight times in a row yesterday. Doge.jpg]
[This host seems to have a very interesting style. Followed!]
The follower count of Xiao Bai's streaming room climbed higher and higher. In the blink of an eye, it had exceeded fifty thousand.
Ye Shaoyang minimized the chat and continued to play the game.
A new ranked match began. Both sides entered the B&P phase. Fortunately, the Abyssal Lord wasn't banned right away. Ye Shaoyang also happened to be up first on the blue team, so he immediately locked in the [Abyssal Lord] as his choice.
In order to avoid hearing his teammates voice their doubts, he swiftly sent over his battle history—
[Abyssal Lord - 16 games, 100% win rate.]
His teammates' enthusiastic responses came in right away—
[I was scared to death, I thought this was someone practicing with the new hero again. This win rate… looks stable!]
[Great God, I'll lie down and prepare to be carried.]
The game went very well. Ye Shaoyang was feeling more and more fluid with this hero.
More importantly, Qin Rui was starting to get the hang of things. He was able to keep up with Ye Shaoyang's thoughts now. As the two of them double queued together, Ye Shaoyang could always instruct Qin Rui to scope out the woods so that he wouldn't be ambushed by enemy assassins.
As long as he could smoothly develop until mid- or late-game, his Abyssal Lord could always suppress the enemy in a fight.
The game ended after fifteen minutes. Ye Shaoyang's Abyssal Lord had a kill-death-assist score of 7-0-3, and he was once again named the MVP of the match.
Because of the bonus rewards from winning consecutively, Ye Shaoyang's rank immediately rose by two stars.
The games continued.
Abyssal Lord, 18 consecutive wins. Battle power 5,180!
Abyssal Lord, 19 consecutive wins. Battle power 5,530!
Abyssal Lord, 20 consecutive wins. Battle power 5,970!
The viewers in the streaming room all watched with wide eyes and slack jaws.
The people who had doubted him at the beginning finally managed to close their mouths. They all joined the horde of viewers typing '666' into the chat. The comments section was completely flooded by those sixes, though of course there were still some less-than-impressed comments mixed in.
[This guy's even better than God Fish next door. Brother Fish got cut off after a 20-game win streak. His win rate is only 95%.]
[You can't really compare them. God Fish has been playing Master-ranked and King-ranked games this whole time. Xiao Bai is still in Diamond, right?]
[Diamond and King are completely different worlds.]
It was true. The true value of a winning streak had a lot to do with what rank the games were being played at.
Although Diamond-ranked players were familiar with the game and could demonstrate some pretty impressive tactics, their teamwork was typically still lacking. Their communication wasn't the best, and they weren't always the most aware of their surroundings or positioning in relation to one another. This was especially true of Diamond-ranked supports. Many Diamond-ranked players weren't all that careful about setting up wards and scouting out the enemy team's movements either. That was why Ye Shaoyang could lurk in the woods and assassinate enemy heroes so easily.
He had a strong sense for the rhythm of each game. Typically, only professional players were so good at keeping things like timing and spawn rates in mind. If Ye Shaoyang developed well in early-game, he could easily carry his teammates to a win.
But in the King rank of the game, assassinating enemy heroes who had a reliable support wouldn't be such an easy task.
After a morning of gaming, Ye Shaoyang's Xiao Bai account rose from Platinum to Diamond. He paused the stream there and went to eat lunch with Qin Rui.
The number of viewers in the stream never decreased. In fact, it continued to steadily increase. Ye Shaoyang glanced at the gifts that were trickling in. He smiled and said, "Our Xiao Bai has the potential to be a superstar. Lot of these gifts are coming in with messages saying we should buy more cat food."
When he first put Xiao Bai on the couch, he hadn't imagined the cat's ability to draw in viewers would be so strong. He'd only wanted his cat to keep him company while he gamed.
But Xiao Bai's allure was too powerful. The streaming room had over 100,000 followers now. Some were there to watch Ye Shaoyang play games, and some were there to coo over the cat.
Only half a day had gone by, and this room had already reached 100,000 followers. It immediately shot up to number one on the platform's 'New Streamers' list!
That afternoon, Ye Shaoyang got himself pumped up and continued queueing with Qin Rui.
Qin Rui still felt all this was sort of surreal.
Yesterday, he had been excited about winning fifteen matches in a row. That morning, their consecutive win streak had grown to a count of thirty games!
And they were still winning.
He was practically numb to victory now.
What kind of feeling was this, to be numb to victory?
He was pretty sure his classmates had never experienced anything like this.
It felt so good to have such a powerful gege!
At eight in the evening, Qin Rui reached the rank of Ultimate King.
At eight-thirty, Ye Shaoyang also reached the top of the Master I rank.
Ye Shaoyang was about to play his promotion match.
The promotion match from Master to King was a nightmare for many players.
The Ultimate King rank was full of experts and professionals. Masters hoping to become Kings would often be matched up against several strong players during their promotion game. If hopeful Kings weren't strong enough themselves, it was very easy for them to crash and burn.
Countless players were stuck at this promotion game. Ye Shaoyang's viewers couldn't help but worry—
[Play well in your promotion match. If you reach King, I'll buy a subscription to your channel!]
[He's been on a winning streak since ten this morning. It's very likely he'll be matched up against opponents with really long win streaks too.]
[I checked on Gods War Assistant, and our host has won 49 games in a row since yesterday. He used the Abyssal Lord in 39 games, and he used the Frost Goddess in the other 10 games. Are these the only two heroes our host knows how to play?]
At that moment, a new bolded comment suddenly popped up on the screen—
[Fuck, fuck! Our host matched up against God Fish in the promotion game!]
[I have both their streams up, I'm watching side by side. The mid laner on the other team really is God Fish. I saw Xiao Bai's kitty avatar pop up in God Fish's streaming room.]
Before the start of the match, the two teams couldn't see the IDs of the players on the other side.
But the avatars of the ten players would be visible to everyone. Ye Shaoyang's cat avatar was extremely recognizable. As a result, viewers who were diligently studying both streams immediately noticed this coincidence—
In the streaming room of the popular streamer Brother Fish, a little white cat's avatar had appeared.
Ye Shaoyang remembered God Fish.
When he opened up the streaming platform at ten that morning, there had already been over two million viewers in this Brother Fish's streaming room.
While Ye Shaoyang streamed, many of this other streamer's fans had trickled into his room to tell him that his Diamond-ranked wins weren't nearly as impressive as Brother Fish's performance in King-ranked games.
Both of them were playing the Abyssal Lord. It was perfectly normal for them to be compared.
Qin Rui saw these bullet comments. In order to avoid being heard by their viewers, he lowered his voice and whispered in his gege's ear, "Ge, this God Fish is an extremely popular streamer. You know our domestic teams didn't manage to get the world championship trophy last year, right? God Fish was talking all sorts of nonsense back then, saying that our country's players can only play a good game in domestic games and that they all turn into cowards on the international stage. He even said they'd be better off if they let him play. He has lots of fans and antis. He's gotten really popular by being controversial."
"Is that so?" Ye Shaoyang raised his eyebrows. "Better off if they let him play, huh?"
Using his own amateur experience to challenge professionals… who gave this guy the audacity?
Ye Shaoyang narrowed his eyes at his computer monitor. "I'll check out this streamer and see for myself how impressive he is."
At the same time, in Brother Fish's streaming room—
[The kitty avatar on the other team is that new streamer, the one rushing the national leaderboards with the Abyssal Lord!]
[You mean Xiao Bai? His cat is pretty cute. I'm watching his stream too.]
Instantly, someone sharply retorted—
[How could a newbie like Xiao Bai have the guts to say he's going for the national leaderboards? Brother Fish, hurry up and teach him a lesson!]
[Exactly, exactly. Our God Fish's Abyssal Lord is the one that's really awesome. Everyone else should just stand aside.]
[Is this the Xiao Bai who's number one on the new streamers list right now? How shameless. His skills aren't up to par, so he can only attract viewers with his cat.]
The streamer Xie Yu huffed a laugh, as though he had disdain simmering in his heart.
A new streamer had the balls to talk about the national leaderboard?
This rookie didn't seem to know his own limits.
He swiftly typed a message into his team chat—
[Brother Fish]: I'm taking the mid lane. Leave me the Abyssal Lord, don't ban him.
[Brother Fish]: Battle history: [Abyssal Lord - 45 games, 95% win rate.]
His teammates instantly boiled over with excitement.
[Murmur]: Holy shit, is this God Fish? I watch your stream all the time!
[Assassinator]: We're definitely winning this one. God Fish, carry us!
The game began, and Xie Yu's team was assigned to the red side.
The red team was the second to choose their heroes. Xie Yu furrowed his brows. An uneasy feeling rose in his heart.
As expected, the blue side locked in the Abyssal Lord with their first pick!
After grabbing the Abyssal Lord, Ye Shaoyang swiftly typed out a few messages to his teammates.
[Xiao Bai]: Mid and support are double queueing. Marksman, don't leave the tower until Level 6. After Level 6, support will head down to help you.
[Xiao Bai]: Jungler, would be best if you left the blue buff. I'll guard it.
Upon seeing those messages, some of his teammates were displeased. Why should they listen to him?
[Xiao Bai]: Battle history: [Abyssal Lord - 39 games, 100% win rate. Star City, #1.]
[I Only Play Jungler]: …awesome.
[Blockhead]: Okay, okay, okay! We'll listen to your command!
[Shooting Stars Every Day]: 666! Great God, I'll listen to you even if you tell me to run into a wall~
Ye Shaoyang answered with a smiley face, then politely added—
[This is my promotion match to King, and it seems we're up against a strong opponent. Brothers, sisters, alphas, betas, and omegas, please don't mess me up here. Thank you, thank you!]
His teammates were all silent.
And his viewers were baffled.
These words of gratitude seemed to be addressed to a… very comprehensive crowd?
The King-rank promotion game! The battle for fame!
谢宇 (Xie Yu): The streamer's real name is Xie Yu, and 'fish' in is also written with the pinyin 'yu'.