ALL-ROUND MID LANER

Chapter 14

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Whale Streaming had a 'Streamer Image Display Screen' at the bottom right of their platform interface. Many streamers turned on their webcams and showed their own faces there. The good-looking streamers got a huge advantage in that regard. Some who felt too unattractive to show their faces could only put up graphics from the game or fan club icons in that space.

But this was Chi Shuo's first time seeing a streamer who put their cat there.

The cat's ears were a deep coffee color, and its fuzzy tail was like that of a little squirrel's. It had a snow white scruff around its neck, as well as big blue eyes. It was extremely cute. If it weren't for the fact that Reporter Zhao had said this was a recording of a game in which Brother Fish got smacked down, Chi Shuo might have assumed the streamer 'Xiao Bai' was selling cat food live.

Chi Shuo watched the kitty determinedly playing with its ball for a moment. Then he minimized the streamer image section to enlarge and focus on the game interface.

He wanted to see exactly how the #1 Abyssal Lord player in Mingzhou Province played, while learning about the new hero along the way.

At that exact moment, Coach Lin Feng silently wandered over with a thermos in his arms.

Coach Lin's footsteps were featherlight. He always drifted around like a ghost. Most of Tianhuan's players were afraid to get distracted for even a second while training, because the coach was sure to catch them spacing out.

"Coach," Chi Shuo greeted. "Want to watch this with me? #1 Abyssal Lord in Mingzhou Province."

Coach Lin quickened his step and came up behind Chi Shuo, peering down at the computer screen. "Someone got a provincial ranking that fast? If I remember correctly, you need a battle power of at least 7,000 to make it onto the board. You'd have to be the MVP in at least forty games."

"A new streamer is rushing the national leaderboards," Chi Shuo said. "I downloaded this video from the group chat."

Coach Lin instantly set down his thermos, showing great interest. "Okay, okay, okay. Let's watch the replay."

Chi Shuo clicked play.

At the start of the match, the blue team took the Abyssal Lord right away. Both sides continued to pick their heroes. In the chat box, Xiao Bai's orders popped up. He instructed his teammates to take the Divine Archer, the Berserker, and the Brawler.

Casual viewers and professional coaches certainly couldn't analyze team comps in the same way. When Ye Shaoyang chose those heroes, his viewers flooded the chat with lots of doubts and scorn.

But a professional coach understood his thought process at a glance.

"The red team's lineup is too powerful in early-game," Lin Feng said. "Does he want to rely on speed and mobility to avoid fights and control the whole map?"

Chi Shuo calmly reasoned, "Map-wide play is difficult in online matches. His teammates won't necessarily be able to keep up. Someone would have to take command from start to finish, and the rest of the team would have to listen to all those commands. Otherwise, if they leave one lane open, they'll completely collapse."

"Mm." Lin Feng nodded. "Let's keep watching."

The game began. Right away, the Abyssal Lord led his teammates over to the blue buff, where they camped out and got first blood.

"The opposing jungler was too careless," Lin Feng remarked. "But the blue side's positioning was great. They chose to hide out on the other side of the woods, not on the right side like people would normally do."

Chi Shuo also focused more intently on the details. As a top-tier jungler in the professional league, he knew the wilderness in the game better than he knew his own backyard. The blue side had indeed chosen a very crafty place to hide.

Soon, the opposing Illusionist reached Level 6 and started to try to get a solo kill on the Abyssal Lord.

In the end, the Abyssal Lord slipped away with a sliver of health left.

"Beautiful!" Lin Feng exclaimed.

Chi Shuo paused the video. "At Level 6, the Illusionist can kill 90% of all mage-type heroes in one wave. This guy definitely shouldn't have been able to escape. How did he get away?"

Lin Feng was also a bit curious. "Rewind. Let's watch in slow motion."

Chi Shuo dragged the progress bar back with his mouse, then played the clip again at 0.5 speed.

It was only then that they clearly saw what had happened. The instant the Illusionist rushed over, the Abyssal Lord summoned two shadows in quick succession. He placed one next to himself and one on the other side of a nearby wall. The enemy's assault destroyed the shadow next to him and brought his HP down to a cripplingly low level, but then he used his E to swap places with the shadow on the other side of the wall, allowing him to get away.

"Good attention to detail," Lin Feng praised. "He knew exactly how much damage his opponent could do. The Illusionist's ult is actually an AoE attack, with a small range. If there's more than one target in his range, the attack power of his ult is diluted. The Abyssal Lord summoned two shadows, one to take some damage for him and one to prove an escape route. He kept a cool head."

In a livestream, these details flew by so quickly that no viewer would have been able to notice.

In professional games, if an opponent chose a hero like the Illusionist, who was strong in early-game, then the team's jungler or support definitely wouldn't let their mid laner face off against a Level 6 Illusionist on their own.

However, the streamer Xiao Bai had taken on the Illusionist by himself. He relied on extremely accurate damage calculations and extremely quick moves to escape with a drop of blood, which was enough to prove that he was highly skilled and adaptable.

Lin Feng was bewildered. "Hand and reaction speeds are both so high… could this be the alt of a pro player?"

Chi Shuo opened the small window where the streamer's face was supposed to go. He pointed out the cat that was still there. "Not many people in the league have cats. Captain Fang has one, but it has a black face."

Lin Feng was caught between laughter and tears. "Captain Fang's is a colorpoint Ragdoll. The one you're seeing is a bi-color Ragdoll. There are lots of variations when it comes to Ragdolls. Could it be that Captain Fang didn't think one cat was enough and adopted another one?"

Chi Shuo shook his head. "No. Just now, when Reporter Zhao talked about this streamer in the group chat, Old Fang also reacted like it was news to him. He doesn't seem to know this Xiao Bai streamer, unless he was faking."

He and Lin Feng looked at each other for a moment, then refocused their attention on the Abyssal Lord and continued watching the game.

Soon enough, the blue side's bottom lane was obliterated. Their jungler also crumbled. They were at a huge disadvantage. In professional league matches, a 1 to 6 headcount deficit was very difficult to come back from.

Chi Shuo focused even more intently on the computer monitor.

Then, when the first big team fight in the mid lane was about to go down, a curt order appeared in the chat: [Everyone, open your mics.]

"He wants to issue commands in voice chat," Lin Feng said. "Let's hear what he has to say."

Chi Shuo turned up the computer's speaker volume and immediately heard a pleasant voice ringing in his ears.

The voices of most alphas grew deeper after they differentiated, while omega voices remained on the softer side. This person's voice was very unique—it was clear, sunny, and imbued with a bone-deep sort of confidence.

"Don't target the Knight, just mind the minions."

"Support, give us a haste. Berserker, go around the left and stun the enemy marksman. He's hiding there!"

Then, the two viewers watched a spectacular scene unfold.

With absolutely no visibility at all, the blue side's Berserker and support blindly charged towards a copse of trees. The Abyssal Lord followed up with a long-range shadow attack, instantly snuffing out the enemy marksman.

"Beautiful!" Lin Feng was growing even more excited. "He guessed the opposing marksman's position!"

"Mm," Chi Shuo calmly agreed. "Taking out the marksman in a team fight is the most logical course of action. Without a marksman, the red team won't gain much from this mid lane fight."

The video proved him right. In that team fight, the red team didn't gain momentum. If anything, they came out at a loss!

Because halfway through the fight, the Abyssal Lord actually dared to slip away and push the top lane…

Lin Feng had nothing but praise to offer. "He's handling the minions perfectly. There wouldn't be much use in him continuing to participate in that team fight. He used his skills, which came off cooldown after he got a kill, to clear minions quickly and push the top lane. He got them good!"

Next, the blue team's guerrilla warfare tactics dragged the game on for eight more minutes.

That confident voice continued to ring out in the voice chat channel—

"Berserker, go push the minions down the top lane. Get them to the river, then go back to base."

"Marksman, farm the bot lane minions. I'll be in the jungle."

"Guard the mid lane."

He had full control of the whole map. He dominated all three lanes.

Under his command, the blue team split up their forces to advance. Although the enemy had an overwhelming headcount advantage, they couldn't make any progress towards the blue side because their minions were all being suppressed!

The more Lin Feng watched, the more surprised he became. "He has a very thorough understanding of how to handle minions. Many King-ranked players forget all about the minions when they become too obsessed with getting kills."

Chi Shuo eyed the minions that constantly spawned from the team bases. "Minion management," he stated seriously, "is usually something that only pro players care about. It's rare to see such fine-tuned coordination on all three lanes in an online match."

The red team finally sensed that something wasn't right. They went to engage the grand dragon.

Xiao Bai sent his own support out to play decoy. After getting a few seconds of visibility from his support, he decisively ordered an attack. He locked on to the grand dragon with his Abyssal Glare, then swiftly took the kill!

He made his move so quickly that the opposing jungler didn't even have time to react.

Lin Feng laughed. "The other side is going to lose."

The red team had been led around by the nose. They may have been geared up with the best equipment in the game, but they couldn't use their gear to good effect.

They were like a clumsy tortoise racing against a nimble hare.

Total control. Full-map awareness.

If they hadn't seen it with their own eyes, Chi Shuo and Lin Feng probably wouldn't have believed that a streamer could command a whole match with such fine attention to detail, turning certain defeat into a decisive win.

In the final team fight, the Abyssal Lord targeted the enemy marksman again—

The kill was practically instantaneous, like the marksman's head had been claimed from a thousand miles away!

Dying at the very start of a team fight was the gravest mistake. Even if you were well-developed and well-equipped, you wouldn't be able to contribute anything in a group fight after dying right away. Your team was sure to lose.

The streamer Xiao Bai clearly understood this. In these two big team fights, he'd targeted the enemy team's carry both times.

What was an assassin mage?

This! This was a player who understood the true essence of an assassin mage!

The game ended.

Three lines popped up on the screen—

[Xiao Bai]: This is a tower-based 5v5 game.

[Xiao Bai]: It isn't a one-man show.

[Xiao Bai]: Good game. ^_^

After seeing all that, Lin Feng couldn't calm his racing heart for a long while.

What was the central point of a tower-based game? The towers.

Even if you could take four kills, letting the enemy destroy just one of your base towers could lead to a loss.

Lin Feng often stressed the importance of minding the minions to his players. He urged them to not get high on seeking kills, to not impulsively give chase to a bloodied opponent that seemed like tantalizing bait—focus on the minions, push the towers!

Most players could play well when they were at an advantage.

Only the top-tier powerhouses in the pro league could regain stability while at a disadvantage and turn things around to get the win.

Lin Feng took a deep breath and turned to Chi Shuo. "This Xiao Bai has an extremely strong sense for keeping the big picture in mind."

Some players were only able to focus on the enemy in front of them. Some players only paid attention to the minions in their own lane. But players with an eye for the big picture were able to make clear judgment calls with the whole game in mind. They knew when to farm, when to avoid fights, when to counterattack…

This kind of player usually served as the commanding tactician of major pro teams.

The importance of a good commander couldn't be overstated. There were countless examples of professional players stubbornly engaging in a team fight that they should have avoided, only to lose in the end. A commander had to possess strong mental fortitude, excellent big-picture thinking skills, and the ability to call shots calmly. There was no doubt that Xiao Bai's command in this match had been outstanding, even in the eyes of professional coaches.

Lin Feng studied the game interface and seriously said, "We have to find out where he came from as soon as possible. I suspect he's a rookie tactician that some team has been raising in secret."

Chi Shuo closed the video. "I'll reach out to him."

When he opened Whale Streaming, there was no need to look around. Xiao Bai's streaming room, [Abyssal Lord National Ranking Sprint], was plainly visible on the front page, sitting at #1 on the list of new streamers.

When Chi Shuo clicked into the room, he was met by a black screen. The streamer had already gone offline.

The pinned announcement read: [Tomorrow at 10:00 AM, I'll continue rushing the national leaderboards with the Abyssal Lord. You're welcome to watch.]

It was only half past midnight. Was there really a player in the professional league with such a regular work-sleep schedule?

Chi Shuo froze for a second, then loaded up Gods War Assistant to check Xiao Bai's profile.

While streaming, Xiao Bai hadn't covered up his player ID number—8977543. While more than one player could have the same in-game display name, player ID numbers were unique. It was easy to use those IDs to look up a player's stats.

Chi Shuo scrolled through Xiao Bai's battle history and frowned. "Fifty consecutive wins from Bronze to King. Only two heroes used—the Abyssal Lord and the Frost Goddess. This is obviously an alt."

With stats like that, no one would believe that this wasn't someone's alt account.

Lin Feng sighed remorsefully. "I wonder which team raised up such a formidable newbie. We have to figure it out soon, or it won't be easy to deal with him during tournaments."

"He's offline right now. I'll check out his stream tomorrow." Chi Shuo paused for a moment, then turned and looked back at Lin Feng. "Do you still have an extra alt? One that no one knows about. King-rank, 10 stars or less."

"You want to go up against him with an alt?"

"No. I want to double queue with him."

Lin Feng was startled for a moment, before he understood. "That makes sense. Double queueing makes it easier to snoop around. However, if you just add him in the game, he won't necessarily accept, right?"

The streamer Xiao Bai was already very popular. Countless players were probably vying for a spot on his friends list.

"Don't worry," Chi Shuo said mildly. "I have my ways."

 

Author's Notes:

There will be quite a lot of esports content in this work. The gaming details in this new A/B/O world have all been worked out. The heroes' skills and counters are all planned out already, everyone can follow along without worrying.

Next chapter, the gong and shou will meet!

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