Chi Shuo got an alt account from Coach Lin. Its ID was 'Jungler No. 8', and it was also at King-rank, one star.
The team usually kept a lot of alt accounts in order to practice various lineups in ranked matches without exposing their tactics to other teams. This was a new account that had been ranked up recently; its friends list was still empty. All the jungler-type heroes had already been unlocked, though. The account had clearly been prepared for Chi Shuo.
Chi Shuo thanked the coach, then turned off his computer and started to head back to his dorm room.
Coach Lin watched the alpha's back as he made his way to the door, dubiously asking, "You're going to sleep this early? Don't you usually stay up until two or three in the morning?"
"I'll be getting up at ten tomorrow morning," Chi Shuo said, "to watch Xiao Bai's stream."
Lin Feng fell silent.
This 'creature of the night' had suddenly been turned into a 'creature of the sun', and it was all thanks to one streamer.
Lin Feng grinned. "Then I'll get some sleep and get up early tomorrow too."
Chi Shuo hummed his acknowledgement, then turned to head to the dorms for a shower.
As warm water washed over his body, his mind continued to think about the game he'd just watched.
He wasn't afraid of this newcomer who seemed to have popped up from out of nowhere. After playing in the professional league for so many years, Chi Shuo wouldn't have been nervous even if a world champion appeared in front of him.
What lingered on his mind was that… in that game, Xiao Bai's thought process had perfectly overlapped with Chi Shuo's own.
When Chi Shuo thought, Now's a good time to push on the top lane.
Xiao Bai gave that order right away.
When Chi Shuo thought, It'd be good to send the marksman to attack the bottom lane tower.
Xiao Bai gave that command too.
He had rarely ever experienced this sort of tacit understanding with anyone in the past.
Chi Shuo was the captain and primary commander of Team Tianhuan. In games, his teammates were accustomed to taking orders from him.
Usually, Chi Shuo was the one to command all three lanes. He was the one who controlled the whole map. In the match Chi Shuo had just watched, Xiao Bai had given the exact commands that Chi Shuo would have given. It was a perfect match, which told Chi Shuo exactly how formidable this Xiao Bai was—
Xiao Bai had a rare talent for tactics, which made him an excellent commander.
There were countless excellent players in the professional league, but only a handful of powerful commanders.
Some teams had players whose individual abilities were pretty good, but they fell apart when it came to issuing or taking commands. They always collapsed during team fights, never managing to win a game. It was as Xiao Bai had said—this was a 5v5 game, not a one-man show.
Five players cooperating on three lanes was the essence of these tower-based games. You couldn't win just by being powerful enough on your own. It was very difficult for one overpowered player to carry four dead weights to victory if a team couldn't cooperate.
If Xiao Bai really was a rookie tactician raised up by some other professional team in secret, who'd only slipped out to give Brother Fish a smack in the face, he would become a fierce opponent for Chi Shuo in the future.
That was what Chi Shuo thought.
And that was why he went to bed at an unprecedentedly early hour, in order to camp out in Xiao Bai's stream at ten the next morning.
Meanwhile, at Team Jingzhe's HQ.
Fang Zhengqing pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and smiled at the white kitten at the bottom right corner of the screen. "This Ragdoll is very cute. I don't know if it's a boy cat or a girl cat, or how many months old it is. I wonder if it's been spayed or neutered yet?"
His teammates stared.
Xie Yuan couldn't hold his tongue. From nearby, he blurted out, "Weren't you just checking out the Abyssal Lord's gameplay? Now you're checking out the cat?"
Fang Zhengqing narrowed his eyes and stroked the dark-faced Ragdoll in his arms. "What's so interesting about the gameplay? Any pro player can play at that level." He thought for a moment, then set his cat aside and turned back to say to their coach, "This Xiao Bai is good at keeping the big picture in mind. They can turn this match around and win. Mostly because he's a pretty good commander."
Players who could play well were a dime a dozen. Good commanders were much, much harder to find.
Coach Chen suspiciously mused, "Do you guys get the feeling that this guy's minion management is a lot like Captain Chi's?"
Fang Zhengqing nodded. "A bit like Chi Shuo's, yeah. But I've played against Chi Shuo's apprentice, Cheng Xing, in ranked games before. His skills aren't at this level. Could this be a new tactician raised up by Coach Lin?"
Everyone in the room looked at one another.
Coach Chen came to a decision and ordered, "Let's do this. We don't have any plans for tonight anyway, so you guys go to bed early. Tomorrow, get up at ten and start queueing for ranked matches. See if you can run into this Xiao Bai and personally get a sense of his skill level."
At the same time, Ye Shaoyang was sleeping soundly.
In his dream, he was standing on the awards podium at the world championship, hefting the golden trophy high over his head as everyone in the audience shouted his name.
Thanks to that beautiful dream, Ye Shaoyang woke up charged with energy the next morning. He was in a great mood.
When Ye Shaoyang ambled out to the dining room, his didi had already made breakfast. There were new things to try that morning—their breakfast was a platter of exquisite little meat buns and two steaming cups of hot soy milk.
After eating, Ye Shaoyang fed Xiao Bai half a can of food. Then he played with Xiao Bai, leading the cat on a merry chase around the apartment, so that Xiao Bai wouldn't eat a lot without exercising at all. Best to avoid letting the kitty get too fat.
At ten, Ye Shaoyang carried Xiao Bai into the study and turned on his computer right on time.
His streaming room had over 400,000 followers now, and 150,000 of them were paying subscribers.
It seemed he'd gotten another wave of attention after going to bed last night. Most likely, these new followers had been drawn over by the commotion with Brother Fish's anti-fans. Brother Fish's anti-fans were really quite powerful.
Upon seeing the little white kitty appear in the lower right corner of the screen again, the viewers camping out in the streaming room grew excited—
[Kitty, kitty! Kissy, kissy! Our little meow meow is still cute today~]
[Good morning, host. Streamers who rise with the sun are really way too rare.]
[I'm watching at work. Host, please teach me how to play the Abyssal Lord!]
[I came over from Brother Fish's channel. He accused you of cheating after he lost!]
[I'm here from Brother Fish's room too. This host's Abyssal Lord is way more awesome than Brother Fish's. I've already subscribed. I'll be living in Xiao Bai's room from now on!]
Ye Shaoyang quickly skimmed the comments, then said, "Good morning, everyone. I currently plan to stream from ten in the morning to midnight, with a few breaks to eat. If anything else comes up, I'll let you know in advance. You're welcome to watch."
Next to him, Qin Rui also turned on his laptop and logged into the game.
Ye Shaoyang continued, "I won't waste my breath on small talk. Today, I'll continue building up the Abyssal Lord's battle power. I'll tell you guys about how to play this hero and what gear he works best with. I was too busy rushing to King yesterday, I didn't get a chance to talk much."
Just then, a flood of golden announcements suddenly popped up in the bullet comments—
[Jungler No. 8 has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x1]
[Jungler No. 8 has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x2]
[Jungler No. 8 has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x3]
[Jungler No. 8 has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x100]
One hundred gilded announcements in a row shot across the bottom left of the screen. Ye Shaoyang almost felt like he was seeing stars.
The viewers in the streaming room were practically blinded as well.
[Holy shit, holy shit! A big spender has appeared!]
[Whoa! A big spender unexpectedly showed up! 100 torpedoes… that's 100,000 yuan in one go!]
[Xiao Bai got a moneybags in here that fast? Can I be buddies with you, moneybags?]
Ye Shaoyang said, "Thank you, Jungler No. 8, for your gifts! You can stop now, I really can't accept so much."
Because of those one hundred torpedoes, Jungler No. 8 instantly became the #1 [Honored VIP] in Xiao Bai's streaming room. All of Jungler No. 8's comments would be bolded and sparkly.
Just then, Jungler No. 8 wrote: [Does the host carry fans?]
Ye Shaoyang blinked.
Many streamers would offer to carry a fan in ranked games in exchange for a certain amount in gifts. That was pretty common in the streaming world, but professional players rarely did such things. Upon seeing those unexpected words, Ye Shaoyang's mind went blank for a moment.
Jungler No. 8 added: [I'd like to queue with the streamer. Host, can you help me get a few more stars?]
The other viewers in the room saw these comments and instantly started to coax Ye Shaoyang—
[Host, hurry up and say yes.]
[Yea, yeah! Host, go ahead and say yes.]
[Moneybags sent you so many torpedoes. You carry him up the ranks now. It's true love!]
[The true love of a big spender is so delightful. I want this kind of true love too~]
Ye Shaoyang stared at the screen.
Every successful streamer had big spenders in their streaming rooms. Those big spenders were pretty familiar with their favorite streamers, and it was common for them to queue up together.
The income of any streamer was directly linked to how many gifts they received, so streamers loved these big spenders more than anything.
Jungler No. 8 had sent so many gifts, and all he wanted was for Xiao Bai to queue with him for a while. It was a very reasonable request.
It wasn't easy to refuse.
But… all those viewers spamming 'say yes', 'say yes' in the bullet comments made the whole thing feel like a marriage proposal scene.
Ye Shaoyang helplessly pressed a hand to his forehead. "Alright. Big spender, you're the boss. Send me a private message with your in-game ID, I'll add you."
If he could carry Ruirui up to King, he was sure he could carry this jungler anywhere, as long as the jungler wasn't exceptionally bad.
Chi Shuo, sitting in front of his own computer, quirked the corners of his lips with a slight smile. He quickly sent over a private message: [Player ID - 7658337, display name - Jungler No. 8.]
Xiao Bai was already a very popular streamer. If Chi Shuo simply sent him a friend request, Xiao Bai wasn't sure to accept.
Chi Shuo had to use the 'send gifts to be friends' tactic from the streaming world, in order to give Xiao Bai a reason to add him.
As expected, he received a friend request from [Xiao Bai] a moment later. Chi Shuo accepted right away.
Ye Shaoyang added [Jungler No. 8] to his team for a ranked match.
Chi Shuo saw the names [Xiao Bai] and [Xiao Rui] in that room. He typed out a question and asked: [This Xiao Rui is…?]
Ye Shaoyang turned on his mic and said, "Hello, boss. This is my didi, he's queueing with me."
What kind of pro team was training up a pair of brothers together?
Chi Shuo skeptically clicked the 'ready' button.
Ye Shaoyang politely continued, "Boss, your name is Jungler No. 8. Does that mean you only play jungler?"
[Right. I only bought jungler-type heroes.]
"Okay, perfect. I play mid laner, Xiao Rui plays support. Boss, you play jungler."
Commence ranked matching. Currently searching for a team for you…
It was Friday. At ten in the morning, there were much fewer active King-ranked players than there would have been at night. Ye Shaoyang thought he would have to wait a few minutes before finding a match, but he wound up with a match within five seconds of entering the queue.
Ye Shaoyang was on the blue team again, and he had the first pick. He instantly took the Abyssal Lord.
The first and second picks of the red team went to the Cobra King and the Warlock of Poison.
Chi Shuo furrowed his brow. A foreboding feeling was rising in his heart.
…the enemy was running a poison team comp.
…this was just an online ranked match. How could they run into such a difficult team comp right away?
At that moment, an extremely light set of footsteps sounded out behind Chi Shuo, like a ghost was drifting by. It was Coach Lin.
Chi Shuo had changed his sleeping habits to get up early and double queue with the streamer Xiao Bai.
Coach Lin had also done his best to change his sleep schedule, getting up bright and early to watch Chi Shuo double queue with this streamer.
He made his way over to Chi Shuo. Just as he sat down and turned on his computer, he heard Chi Shuo whisper to him, "Coach, this alt you gave me. Is the hidden matchmaking rating very high?"
Lin Feng yawned and said, "Of course it is. I had the rookies from our training camp rank it up fast."
Ranking up fast probably meant shooting up to the King rank in one breath.
Starting in the King rank, the competition became very fierce. The game system used matchmaking ratings—MMRs—to match players with appropriate opponents. Each player's MMR was hidden. The system calculated it based on a player's average stats and win rate. People with high MMRs were typically matched up against other people with high MMRs.
That way, matches would be more balanced and interesting to play. It wouldn't be one side completely crushing the other.
Xiao Bai had taken Xiao Rui straight up to the King rank by winning fifty games in a row. The alt account Chi Shuo was using had also shot up to the King rank quickly. The three of them must have had very high MMRs. Plus, they were queueing together as a team of three. They were bound to be matched up against another team of three players with very high MMRs.
Chi Shuo didn't need to guess.
He calmly stated, "We matched up against a trio from Team Jingzhe. Captain Fang is leading them."
Lin Feng was halfway through a yawn. Hearing that, his yawn was startled right out of him. He immediately sat bolt upright and got into the streaming room, while mumbling to himself, "It's only ten in the morning. What are they doing up this early?"
Chi Shuo said nothing.
Inexplicably, a bunch of night owls had all suddenly been swayed into rising with the sun.
阳 (yáng): This is the 'yang' in Ye Shaoyang. It's also the 'yang' in 'yin and yang', and it can mean 'sun'. We may see lots of sun/sunshine puns and references surrounding Ye Shaoyang. (For example, his pro name from his previous life was Captain Sunshine.)
Xie Yuan, Fang Zhengqing: These guys have 'yuan' and 'fang' in their names, which respectively sound like the words meaning 'round' and 'square'. They're [I'm Very Round] and [I'm Very Square] from the pro players group chat.