The boss's question came as quite a surprise to Ye Shaoyang. He could currently only play the Abyssal Lord, the Illusionist, and the Frost Goddess. Just those three heroes. Even if he'd taken the initiative to declare that he wanted to play in the professional league, no one would have believed in him.
Most people would simply think that he was young and wild, that he didn't know his own limits. So, besides asking Whale Streaming to add the clause about his being signed to an esports team during their contract negotiations, Ye Shaoyang hadn't told anyone that he wanted to play professionally.
Because at his current strength, he wasn't good enough. Making such bold claims would have just been a waste of breath.
His original plan was to become nationally ranked with more heroes. When his hero pool was deep enough, and when he'd become well-known as an 'amateur king', he would then reach out to professional teams. Then no one would think he was just talking out of his ass.
He never imagined the boss would bring up this question on his own. Ye Shaoyang didn't answer directly, instead asking, "Boss, do you think I come off as someone who could play professionally?"
Chi Shuo said, "Based on my observations, there are no problems with your operational skills and game sense. As for whether or not your other skills are up to par, that can only be determined by professional tests and trials."
Not all players who were good at a game could become professional esports players. There were indeed a lot of tests and trials that were conducted before one could enter the field.
Ye Shaoyang curiously asked, "Boss, you're involved in the esports industry?"
He had been curious for a long time about the boss's identity. At first, he thought the other party was just a rich guy with an interest in games. But today, after meeting face to face, Ye Shaoyang discovered that the boss's understanding of the game was extremely thorough. Earlier, when the boss had introduced the members of Team Jingzhe and Team Huowen to him, Ye Shaoyang had been able to tell that the boss's knowledge of the esports industry wasn't that of an outsider.
Chi Shuo was silent for a moment before he gave an earnest answer. "You've guessed it. I coach an esports team. If you're interested in becoming a professional player, I can help you."
Chi Shuo didn't say that he was a coach just for the sake of deliberately lying to Xiao Bai, but assuming the identity of a coach would make it easier for him to get Xiao Bai to let down his guard. Because in the vast majority of professional teams, it was the coach's opinion that held the most weight when signing new players. Many coaches would go out of their way to seek out 'civilian' players who were promising sprouts, to bring home to cultivate.
As expected, after hearing that Chi Shuo was a coach, Xiao Bai's eyes instantly filled up with a deeper sense of respect. "Nice to meet you, coach. How did you take note of me? It's only been a week since I started streaming."
"Your King rank promotion match," Chi Shuo explained. "When you played against Brother Fish, it was recorded by someone and sent into an esports chat group. I watched that game and found that you had a talent for commanding your teammates, so I went to check out your streaming room."
It all suddenly made sense to Ye Shaoyang. "So that's what happened."
He really had to thank Brother Fish for lending a helping hand.
Brother Fish was famous for dissing esports players, so his reputation in the esports circle must have been quite bad. Back when Ye Shaoyang ran into Brother Fish in a ranked match, he'd just wanted to hit the King rank as soon as possible. That's why he had calmly commanded his teammates, fighting their way back from a disadvantage to flip the tables and win. He hadn't expected that a simple King rank promotion match would have been recorded and shared among esports players.
Taking that into consideration, it was probable that there were quite a few coaches keeping an eye on him.
The boss was the one who'd moved the quickest. He'd already managed to meet up with Ye Shaoyang in person.
"So," Ye Shaoyang started, "sending me gifts, inviting me to the game, and meeting with me in person was all to confirm whether or not I'm suitable for professional play?"
Chi Shuo bluntly admitted, "That's right."
Ye Shaoyang completely lowered his guard now.
A coach discovering a talented amateur playing and reaching out to them personally was something Ye Shaoyang had seen countless examples of. Since the other party was so honest, Ye Shaoyang also didn't feel the need to hide anything. He straightforwardly said, "I'm already twenty-one years old. If I wanted to play professionally, would you think I was too old?"
Chi Shuo looked at Xiao Bai with some surprise in his eyes.
The boy's eyes were very open and honest, and his voice made him sound quite young. He didn't have the deep voice of a fully matured alpha at all. Chi Shuo had assumed Xiao Bai was a teenager, around eighteen. He hadn't imagined Xiao Bai would already be twenty-one.
Starting to play esports at twenty-one… really was a bit late.
Most newbies tried out in their teens. By twenty-one, the successful ones were already powerhouses in big teams.
But it wasn't completely hopeless.
You couldn't evaluate a professional player just by their age.
Chi Shuo looked at him and said in a gentle voice, "As long as you're interested, twenty-one isn't too late."
Hearing that encouraging answer, Ye Shaoyang couldn't help but smile. "Really?"
"Esports is mostly about talent," Chi Shuo said. "Some people play for years and still only have a poor track record. Some people become the season MVP in their very first year of professional play."
Ye Shaoyang nodded his agreement. "That's true."
Chi Shuo's gaze remained calm. He gazed into Xiao Bai's eyes and said, "If you want to become an esports player, you'll have to pass the professional-level tests. You'll be tested on things like reaction speed, dynamic vision, hand speed, and so on. I can get you a tryout, so that you can better understand where you stand.
"If you don't have the talent to be an esports player, you can continue to walk the path of a successful games streamer. With your gaming skills and streaming personality, you can definitely become a top-tier streamer.
"But if you do have the talent to play professionally… you'll have another option. You'll have the opportunity to climb to a higher stage."
Chi Shuo turned and faced the stage at the center of the stadium again.
Ye Shaoyang also followed his line of sight and looked back at the stage—
Inside the soundproofed rooms, both teams of players were making their final preparations.
Some were having a drink of water to adjust their mental states. Some were discussing tactics with their coaches. This was the last break before the final, deciding game. They had to take advantage of it, because the next game would determine the fate of these teams in this season.
In a tense, thrilling match like this, no one could know the outcome until the final moment was played.
What Ye Shaoyang loved… wasn't it this stage?
Even in this new life, his determination had never wavered.
So what if he was twenty-one years old? As long as he was interested in playing, it would never be too late.
Ye Shaoyang pulled his gaze away from the stage again and turned back to Chi Shuo. "Thank you for your recognition. I can go with you to do the tryouts, to see if I have the skill for esports. However, I also want to make something clear to you in advance."
Ye Shaoyang paused, then seriously continued, "I can't promise that I would definitely join your team, coach."
He was someone who wanted to win the world championships.
Therefore, he couldn't only let a team choose him. He had to choose the team as well—he had to choose a team that had the potential to win the world championships, not a second-rate team where he would just be wasting time.
Chi Shuo nodded, showing obvious appreciation over Xiao Bai's honesty. "Of course. You'll have the freedom to choose your team."
The lights on the big stage came up again, and the image on the big screens cut back to the commentators' booth.
The commentator Youyou energetically started, "Welcome back, friends and viewers! Both teams have finished making their preparations, and the deciding game is about to begin. Let's all focus our attention on the screens!"
Ming Yu said, "The deciding match in a playoffs game is different from the deciding matches in regular season games. The rules are to nix the ban phase, so not a single hero will be banned. Both teams will get the chance to play their favorite heroes."
Youyou continued, "Let's all look forward to seeing what team comps they'll come out with today—!"
No bans in the final game. All heroes were open to all players. Ten players on two teams would choose freely, and the same hero could even be chosen by more than one player. Ye Shaoyang had seen this kind of system before. Sometimes, if a team comp was extremely strong, you could even see two teams facing off in a fierce fight with the exact same lineup.
But today, Jingzhe and Huowen didn't run the same comp.
Team Jingzhe really did whip out the poison comp, running Fang Zhengqing's Cobra King and Xie Yuan's Warlock of Poison. This double poison mage comp relied on the Warlock of Poison's attack speed; with attack speed boosting gear, the Warlock could flourish as a marksman and efficiently take out enemy towers. Combined with the Shadow Priest as his support, who could boost his HP by draining health from others, the Warlock's damage output was high and he was very difficult to target.
Team Huowen finalized their lineup as well—for the first time, Ye Shaoyang saw Captain Zhou Zhou claim the Flame Goddess for the mid lane. Their jungler took the Trapper, and their marksman took the Master of Arms.
Ye Shaoyang carefully recalled the skills of these three heroes, then looked at Chi Shuo. "They'll focus on positioning with this comp?"
Chi Shuo whispered back, "Right. The Flame Goddess can set the ground on fire. Enemies who enter her field of fire will be afflicted with the 'burned' status, and they'll continuously lose HP. The Trapper can hide traps and snares all over the place, which can fix their enemies in place and lock them down. The Master of Arms can set up his cannons in a concealed position and deal an AoE spray of bullets."
Ye Shaoyang suddenly understood. "With that, their enemies won't be able to move an inch."
Blazing fires and traps everywhere, plus a hidden cannon that could blast away a hero's HP in one go.
In team fights, their enemies would be stuck in the awkward position of having nowhere to turn. Team Huowen would be able to rely on their positioning advantages to steadily advance in this game, until they blew up their enemy's base crystal.
But this sort of team comp had a huge weakness as well.
Ye Shaoyang analyzed the situation and said, "Positional warfare does indeed make them very strong in team fights. They can fill up the battlefield with fires, traps, and so on. The other side can't easily cut in. However, any one of these heroes isn't all that powerful on their own. It's easy for them to be picked off one by one."
Chi Shuo gave him a look of approval. "That's right."
Xiao Bai was truly very perceptive. He could astutely point out the flaws of this comp in an instant.
Chi Shuo said, "Huowen's coach must have predicted that the other side would run the poison comp. That's why they brought out the positional warfare comp that they're so good at. Because the poison comp doesn't have any burst potential either. Both sides are running teams that are well-suited for team fights. This game will probably be dragged out into a prolonged battle of more than forty minutes."
What was a team's burst potential dependent on? It relied on assassins who could cut into the enemy's backline and mid laners who could instantly snuff out the core of the enemy team. Sometimes it even relied on the ability of the mid/jungle duo to do huge bursts of damage to instakill their opponents. Before team fights even began in earnest, these burst heroes would take down one of their enemies, creating a 5v4 fight to their advantage and crushing their opponents under their heels.
Looking at Huowen's lineup now, it was obvious that their jungler, the Trapper, didn't have the ability to take a kill in a second. The mid lane hero, the Flame Goddess, was good at dealing with crowds, but her ability to get a solo kill was extremely weak. As for the marksman? Forget about instakilling others. He had to worry about not getting instakilled himself.
The same could be said of Jingzhe's poison comp. The Cobra King and the Warlock of Poison could stack the 'poisoned' effect on enemies. When duking it out in a team fight, they could easily get up to five stacks of poison on their opponents, ultimately resulting in their enemies' HP plummeting to zero. However, it took time to stack poison on their enemies. These heroes weren't well-suited to instantly offing their opponents; they were geared towards waging a war of attrition.
Both sides had chosen team comps that favored team fights.
In cases like that, it was very easy to drag the round into the late-game stage. Victory would be decided by the details.
Ye Shaoyang straightened up eagerly, lifting his head to gaze up at the big screen.
How they moved their minions, how they timed their team fights, and each player's operational skills… he would definitely learn a lot from this game.
Chi Shuo discovered that Xiao Bai had once again shifted into 'total concentration mode', entering a state of watching the game like no one else was around. It was like nothing could disturb him. He was an emotionaless, cold-blooded, game-watching machine.
This kind of concentration and focus was truly rare.
Chi Shuo looked away from Xiao Bai and leaned back in his own seat, looking up at the big screen again as well.
Many viewers would perhaps find this sort of game boring, because the two teams both avoided fighting each other at the beginning. They didn't get into any scuffles at all. The two sides minded their own business and farmed minions, leveled up, farmed in the jungle… it was like they were each playing a single-player game.
But Ye Shaoyang wasn't bored at all.
Stalling, stalemates… when one watched closely, one could see that this game was full of intricate little details.
For example, Captain Fang suddenly using a skill to force his opponent out of position, causing Zhou Zhou to miss a minion.
For example, Zhou Zhou continuously using his fire to keep the playing field ablaze, thus forcing Fang Zhengqing to retreat back to Jingzhe's defensive tower.
For example, Huowen's jungler and mid laner teaming up to invade Jingzhe's jungle, stealing a kill on one of the small monster spawns.
All these minute details were of vital importance in a duel between masters.
In the first fifteen minutes of the game, not a single team fight broke out.
It wasn't until the mages and marksmen on both sides finished developing, each geared up with three pieces of core equipment, that they started to stick their heads out.
Both sides swiftly marched into a brawl to test each other's strength.
In the first team fight, two of Jingzhe's players were trapped. Zhou Zhou unleashed a huge field of fire, taking two kills and giving up zero deaths in that fight. Jingzhe's surviving players swiftly retreated, helplessly giving up a minor dragon to Huowen.
Jingzhe took the initiative to start the second team fight. Their top laner charged into the fray, taking the damage from the Flame Goddess's blazing fire. He instantly placed Huowen's mid laner and jungler under the 'taunt' effect, which allowed Fang Zhengqing and Xie Yuan to rush over and start stacking poison on those two players!
Twenty minutes into the game, the two teams had demolished each other's outer and inter towers, leaving only the base towers standing.
The battle in the highlands lasted for another ten minutes. It was an endless back and forth that showed just how fiercely the two sides were pushing.
This went on for forty minutes, until the decisive team fight around the grand dragon. Both sides battled it out fiercely. Ye Shaoyang anxiously balled his hands into fists, gazing up at the big screen with wide, unblinking eyes.
Beautifully executed skills, extreme precision…
And the heat of a fierce fight, which Ye Shaoyang hadn't experienced in a long while.
Although he was only watching these players duke it out as a spectator, he couldn't help but think—if he were on the field, how would he avoid Fang Zhengqing's ring of poison and Zhou Jiawen's flames? How would he find a breakthrough point, on a battlefield where hidden traps lay all around him? Would he be able to avoid being stunned by the support or sniped by the enemy marksman?
It would be tough.
His assassin mages, in a battle like that, would probably have nowhere to turn.
These were the world-class mid laners of this world.
As an outsider, Ye Shaoyang still had a long way to go before he could reach the 'world-class' level.
The last team fight was extremely fierce. Huowen was the team who lost two players first, but they had a piece of resurrection gear that brought them back into the match. Three of Jingzhe's heroes were slain next. When they also used their own resurrection gear to come back to life…
A scorching field of fire was all that awaited them.
Captain Zhou had specifically saved his skills to target these heroes that resurrected with low HP.
His flames lashed out in all directions, blazing hotly and instantly killing off the three resurrected heroes again!
Jingzhe suffered a total team wipeout.
Huowen had lost all its heroes as well, with only Zhou Zhou left standing. He led their minions up to Jingzhe's base and slowly reduced their crystal to ash.
The commentator Youyou exclaimed, "Congratulations to Team Huowen for taking the first win of the playoffs!"
The roaring cheers from the audience nearly split the roof.
Ye Shaoyang couldn't help but applaud for the wonderful performance of these players as well!
It was too cool. In this match, all the players had put on a very good show, especially in the deciding game. Several fights had been a ruthless tug-of-war. Both sides fought very fiercely. Coaches could definitely use that game as teaching material, to study and watch again and again.
Chi Shuo turned and looked at Ye Shaoyang again.
For the entire forty-five minutes of the deciding game, Xiao Bai had sat at the edge of his seat. His eyes never once left the big screen.
This was a true love of esports, right?
That look in his eyes couldn't be feigned.
Chi Shuo whispered, "What do you think? Coming to see a game today wasn't a waste of time, was it?"
Ye Shaoyang smiled and nodded. "Mm, I learned a lot. Later, I'll watch these games again online."
Chi Shuo stood up and said, "It'll take a long time for the audience to file out. Come with me, I can take you through a backstage exit. It'll be the quickest way out."