Team Jingzhe's HQ.
When he saw the word 'VICTORY' pop up on his screen, Fang Zhengqing released his mouse and leaned back in his gaming chair. He started to yawn uncontrollably. Usually, he slept until two in the afternoon. Suddenly being forced to wake up at ten in the morning had filled his whole body with a strong sense of displeasure. He was too tired to even pet his cat.
Next to him, Xie Yuan was very energetic. He turned to the coach and said, "Chen-ge, what do you think?"
Coach Chen had a pair of huge, dark bags under his eyes. He looked completely bewildered. "I was just watching from Xiao Bai's streaming room. He didn't give any orders at all, and this Xiao Rui who's queueing with him… why does he seem like a complete newbie?"
Li Yunmo was the most calm and level-headed support in the league. He pulled up the replay of the match and quickly used his mouse to scroll back to an earlier team fight. He pointed to the screen and said, "Earlier I was camped out here by the river. Xiao Rui passed right by me. He didn't know how to scope out the area. Also, he had his Q buff hooked up to their stealthed jungler, exposing his own jungler's position."
Xie Yuan couldn't contain his laughter. "Hahaha, it's the first time I've seen the Blessed Priest attaching his attack buff to a stealthed jungler. It's like he was telling us, 'See? My jungler is right here.'"
Everyone fell silent for a moment.
Li Yunmo turned back to the coach and concluded, "Xiao Bai is probably an ordinary King-ranked player, not a professional. Xiao Rui is a genuine newbie. He has no awareness of the field, and no idea how to play support in high-ranked games."
Coach Chen nodded, then looked towards their yawning captain. "Captain Fang, you faced off against Xiao Bai in the middle lane. How did you feel?"
Fang Zhengqing took off his glasses and rubbed his sleepy eyes. He curtly offered his judgment in as few words as possible. "Flexible, agile. Sharp reactions. Accurate predictions."
There weren't many mid laners who were capable of receiving praise from Fang Zhengqing. He was a world-class mid laner, after all. Many other mid laners looked like complete noobs to him; they would be totally overwhelmed if they were to face off against him in the same lane.
Fang Zhengqing hadn't played at his full power in his game against Xiao Bai. He'd been very sleepy, after all. However, the fact that Xiao Bai had been able to stand up under his pressure proved the streamer had a rather high level of skill and game sense.
This was already very high praise from Fang Zhengqing.
Coach Chen's feelings were a bit more complex. "It's good he isn't a pro. An ordinary player is easier to deal with. Let's keep observing him. Maybe we'll be able to sign him first."
In Xiao Bai's streaming room.
A golden notification of a new gift popped up in the bottom left of the screen—
[Square Square has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x10]
[Square Square: Host's cat is very cute, here's a little token of affection. Buy some food for the kitty.]
[Square Square: Can I get an add to your friends list?]
When those messages popped up, Xiao Bai's viewers were instantly dumbstruck—
[Holy shit, Captain Fang! Our host Xiao Bai actually caught the attention of God Fang?!]
[Captain Fang definitely has his eye on our Xiao Bai's cat!]
[Doesn't everyone call Captain Fang the laziest alpha in the league? The one who sleeps in until two in the afternoon every day?]
[Old Fang, Old Fang. Blink twice if you've been hacked.]
[Question for the #1 pooper scooper in the league, Fang Zhengqing. Did you wake up this early to scoop Xiao Bai's kitty poops?]
Ye Shaoyang politely said, "Thank you for the gift, Captain Fang. Your Cobra King is pretty strong. I'll add you as a friend."
[Square Square: Host played pretty well too. Let's play again when we have time.]
In the game, Square Square added Xiao Bai as a friend, then went offline.
The viewers in the streaming room started to get worked up—
[Old Fang is actually capable of getting up early enough to see the morning sun? Something isn't right in the world!]
[Maybe he's getting ready for the playoffs and studying tactics in the morning.]
[When other pro teams hear a trio of Jingzhe players got up at ten this morning, will we see other pros getting up at eight tomorrow morning?]
[The sleeping schedules of pro esports players are about to be turned upside down. Doge.jpg]
[They're all turning into creatures of the sun? Let's have them play official games starting at seven in the morning from now on, hahaha.]
Chi Shuo glanced at the bullet comments, then asked in the game: [Xiao Bai, you don't know about the poison comp?]
Ye Shaoyang answered honestly. "I don't know much about it. I haven't encountered it before in ranked matches."
Chi Shuo swiftly typed out an explanation: [Poison comp consists of two mage-type heroes with abilities that inflict the poisoned status, plus an HP-boosting support. They stack poison on their enemies to bring them down. Everyone's magic resistance is weak in early-game, and poison damage is considered magic damage. So it packs a punch. Once you poison an enemy, it's very easy for them to fall.]
Ye Shaoyang clearly understood every word. "It's not easy to dismantle this sort of comp, right?"
Chi Shuo wrote: [An aggressive mid/jungle duo could do it. You need to disrupt their rhythm.]
Poison comps featuring the Cobra King had been popular in the 8-2 tournament season for a while. Fang Zhengqing had used the Cobra King to win the title of MVP in several matches, which ultimately forced opposing coaches to dedicate a ban slot to his Cobra King in every game.
This was one of Fang Zhengqing's most famed heroes.
The fact that he'd used a poison comp against Xiao Bai in their game meant that he had really taken Xiao Bai seriously.
That lazybones Fang Zhengqing, who usually slept in until two, had gotten up at ten and started queueing for ranked matches in a team of three. They had definitely meant to run into Xiao Bai.
When players of similarly high MMRs queued at the same time, it was very likely for them to be matched together.
It seemed the video Reporter Zhao uploaded to the group chat last night had garnered quite a lot of attention from these big teams.
In Xiao Bai's promotion game to the King rank, plenty of mistakes had actually been made. Some of the players played so poorly that it was hard to watch. However, their flaws made Xiao Bai's clear, decisive commands even more striking.
Xiao Bai's control over the game had been exquisitely nuanced. He'd kept a good rhythm and held all three lanes. Very few commanders could keep their eyes on the whole map like that. It was no wonder Coach Chen from Team Jingzhe was curious about where Xiao Bai had come from.
When he thought of that, Chi Shuo continued to type: [The mid laner you encountered was Fang Zhengqing, the captain of Team Jingzhe. He's a top-tier, world-ranked mid laner. If you don't know of him, does that mean you don't pay much attention to the professional league?]
Ye Shaoyang thought to himself, I just crossed over to this world. I haven't had time to pay attention to that yet.
He also started to type, responding: [I just downloaded this game a while ago. I haven't watched pro games yet.]
Chi Shuo asked: [Then, besides the Abyssal Lord and the Frost Goddess, are you good at any other heroes?]
Ye Shaoyang answered: [I know how to play the Illusionist too, but I haven't used him in ranked matches yet.]
Chi Shuo: [Anyone else?]
Ye Shaoyang: [Nope.]
Chi Shuo paused.
Only three mages?
Upon seeing that answer, Coach Lin's face filled up with surprise. "Even Diamond-ranked players know at least seven or eight heroes, right? He only knows how to play three? Is he being modest?"
Chi Shuo had looked up Xiao Bai's battle stats last night. Xiao Bai only had records of playing as the Abyssal Lord and the Frost Goddess, and his win rate with both was extremely high. Chi Shuo had initially assumed this was someone's alt account.
But it was actually someone who could only play three mages?
Someone who could only play three heroes… how had he gotten up to King?
Ye Shaoyang also sensed that his own track record was a bit inconceivable. He quickly added: [I read a lot of strategy guides, and I practiced a bunch against A.I. teams. I started playing ranked matches the day before yesterday and found out I had a knack for it. ^_^]
Chi Shuo eyed the smiling emoticon at the end of that message. He kept getting the feeling that this guy was full of it. He thought for a while, then typed back: [Getting up to King in two days is really impressive. Can you carry me some more? I want to get up to King, 20 stars.]
Ye Shaoyang swiftly answered: [No problem. You sent me so many gifts, boss. I'll fly you up as high as you want to go.]
Chi Shuo: [Thank you for flying with me, host.]
Ye Shaoyang: [No need for thanks. Come, boss. Let's play another.]
He'd closed the livestream for a while just now, so his viewers hadn't been able to see what he and the big spender said to each other. Chi Shuo also noticed that the livestream had been cut off; that was why he'd asked all those questions.
But the more he asked, the more confused he became.
Ye Shaoyang didn't offer any more explanations. He immediately started queueing for the next match.
At that moment, Qin Rui's cell phone suddenly rang. He answered and heard the caller say, "Little Rui, we're meeting up for lunch at the West Park dining hall today. Everyone wants to have a meal together before school starts. You coming?"
Qin Rui looked towards his gege and whispered, "Ge, I have to meet up with a classmate today."
Ye Shaoyang asked, "Is this a good friend of yours?"
Qin Rui said, "My best friend. We grew up together."
Ye Shaoyang concernedly continued, "An alpha? Or a beta? Omega? A male classmate or a female classmate?"
He sighed inwardly. It was so much trouble just asking for someone's gender in this world.
Qin Rui froze for a second. It was the first time he'd ever heard someone ask about gender in that way.
He scratched his head, confused, before he answered, "A male omega."
Same as Qin Rui? Ye Shaoyang relaxed and waved him off. "Go ahead, then. Don't stay out too late."
Qin Rui brought his cell phone back to his ear and said, "I'll be there in an hour."
After hanging up, he stood from his chair. "Ge, I still have some time. I'll go make lunch and dinner now. When it's time to eat, just heat it up. Better to not call for takeout too often."
Ye Shaoyang grinned up at him. "Great. Thanks for your hard work, Little Rui."
Little Rui turned to head to the kitchen.
With Little Rui taking off, Ye Shaoyang's team was left without a support.
But Litte Rui's skills as a support were actually quite subpar. Not even Diamond-level, truth be told. He'd been dragged up the ranks by Ye Shaoyang.
During all their ranked games before now, Little Rui had continuously buffed his gege Ye Shaoyang's attack with his Q. In that morning's game, when he started following their jungler around, he'd persistently buffed their jungler out of habit.
At the time, their jungler was actually in stealth mode. With his Q skill, Little Rui had personally revealed their jungler's position to the enemy.
Ye Shaoyang had meant to warn Little Rui, but it had been too late.
Little Rui was very well-behaved, but players who were too well-behaved weren't actually suitable for esports. Little Rui didn't know how to think critically about his situation in the game and adapt. He only knew how to listen to his gege's commands. When Ye Shaoyang couldn't watch over him, he was left at a loss for what to do.
In lower-ranked games, it had been easy to carry Little Rui through with brute force.
But in King-ranked games, MMRs started to come into play. Little Rui's MMR was very high, but his skill level couldn't actually keep up. It was very easy for them to match up against hidden kings now, and in those games a subpar support could easily cause them to crash and burn.
Furthermore, matchmaking rules dictated that a group of three queueing together would necessarily be matched up against another group of three.
Professional teams and rookie training camps often sent their players into ranked matches as groups of three. Queueing as a trio with a newbie support made it far too hard to rank up at this point. Double queueing made things a lot easier. They would only be matched up against two people queueing together as well.
Ye Shaoyang readied them for the queue again.
Very soon, they were matched into a game.
During those few minutes of silence in the streaming room, the comments section had become densely packed with chatter. Ye Shaoyang turned his mic back on and said, "Thanks for waiting, everyone. We'll continue to double queue now. My didi has been called out by his friends, so I'll be queueing with the boss."
Please select your hero.
This time, Ye Shaoyang was on the red team. He and Chi Shuo were the second and the fifth to pick, respectively.
The opposing blue team chose the [Divine Archer] first. When the red side's turn came up, the fifth player in line to choose sent a message into the chat.
[Please help me grab the Bloodstained Assassin. Games played - 0. Win rate - 0%.]
The red team player who had the first pick was utterly baffled.
And the viewers in Xiao Bai's streaming room were about to die laughing—
[Boss, you're too funny. This request you sent is going to make your teammates' minds explode!]
[Boss, ah… your win rate is 0%. How can you make a request like this?]
[Their teammates are thinking: Are you kidding me? Win rate 0%!]
[This boss is pretty bizarre!]
Chi Shuo was silent for a moment.
He'd forgotten that this was an alt.
He didn't know which player from their rookie training camp had ranked up this account, but that player hadn't used the Bloodstained Assassin in even one ranked match. All the junglers had, at least, been ranked up to a proficiency of 100 in practice games against A.I. teams. Chi Shuo would be able to use them in ranked games.
Ye Shaoyang had to laugh as well. "This 0% win rate of yours is really going to mess with your teammates' heads."
Chi Shuo typed back: [Apologies. Forgot this was an alt.]
Ye Shaoyang had guessed a long time ago that this was someone's alt account, because Jungler No. 8's battle history was a long string of victories.
When Ye Shaoyang's turn came around, he immediately took the Bloodstained Assassin as their team's second pick.
Teammates could help each other choose heroes.
Chi Shuo had sent that request into the chat because he was worried someone else would steal the position of jungler away from him. The red side's player with the first pick had looked at his 0% win rate and outright ignored him, minding their own business and choosing a fighter. Luckily, Xiao Bai had the second pick and had been willing to help him take a jungler.
Chi Shuo typed: [Thank you, Xiao Bai.]
The viewers in Xiao Bai's streaming room were still flooding the screen with comments—
[Host, you're so good at doting on the boss. You're really helping him grab that one?]
[Our Xiao Bai is such a good person. The boss has a 0% win rate, but he's still willing to help the boss get his hero.]
[A 0% win rate jungler… his teammates are going to have a mental breakdown, hahaha!]
Doting on the boss? That was only natural.
After all, the gifts from the boss were all gifts of cold, hard cash.
But in order to prevent his teammates from breaking down, Ye Shaoyang swiftly typed into their team's chat channel—
[Xiao Bai]: We're double queueing as a mid laner and jungler, the jungler is using an alt. We're not here to mess around.
[Xiao Bai]: Leave the middle lane to me. Thank you.
[Xiao Bai]: Hero battle record: Abyssal Lord. Games played - 41. Win rate - 98%. Mingzhou Province #1.
The #1 assassin mage in the province should be enough to reassure his teammates, right?
As expected, upon seeing his messages, his teammates started to spam '666' in the chat.
Everyone agreed to leave the positions of mid laner and jungler open, each choosing other positions for themselves.
A mid/jungle team-up was the most common team-up in these 5v5 games.
There was no reason to protest.
Baby Xiao Rui will be temporarily offline~