Playing games and playing professional esports were two entirely different matters. Many people who were good at games weren't suited for esports. Even top-tier streamers with many national rankings under their belt, ones who could be considered 'amateur kings', wouldn't necessarily meet the standards required of professional esports players. These talent trials alone was where 99.9% of people would get stuck.
The esports world was very harsh.
Sometimes, even a 0.05 second delay in reaction speed could lead to your team's complete collapse in a team fight.
All big professional teams had extremely rigorous requirements for their players. These talent trials were ones that every hopeful esports player had to pass. It was like knocking on the door of the esports world.
Ye Shaoyang had also scored full marks on his trials with Team GD, back in his old world.
He remembered, back then, the coach of Team GD had said something to him.
"Reaction speed, dynamic vision, coordination, stability… these are all fundamental necessities for esports players, just like the basic hardware components of a computer. When your hardware is good enough, you have to pair it with outstanding software as well—that's your game sense."
That was correct. Hardware alone wasn't enough.
Many esports players with exceptional physical skills still couldn't become gaming gods in their careers, because their game sense, their ability to make quick decisions, their ability to analyze a game, and so on simply weren't up to par with what was required of the best players in esports.
A computer with excellent hardware couldn't function smoothly and beautifully if it was laden with heaps of garbage software.
Hardware and software always had to exist in tandem, supporting and building upon each other. When a player only had good enough hardware, they had to continue deepening their understanding of the game. They had to work on their big-picture thinking skills, their critical analysis skills, their ability to carry out their team's tactics—these were all skills that could be cultivated later in life.
Ultimately, Ye Shaoyang wasn't all that exhilarated over receiving full marks on his physical trials. Lots of players could meet the reaction speed and hand speed requirements. But in games, could they decide whether or not to initiate a team fight in critical moments? Could they decide whether or not to push with their minions at the right time? All those things depended on a player's ability to make strategic decisions in the heat of the moment. As an outsider to this game, Ye Shaoyang still had to deepen his understanding of these matters.
Ye Shaoyang got up and took his test results from Chi Shuo. He looked them over and politely said, "Thank you, coach."
Coach Xu stared at Chi Shuo in shock, silently mouthing, He calls you 'coach'?
Chi Shuo coughed lightly, ignoring Coach Xu's wide, confused eyes. He looked towards Ye Shaoyang and said, "Your test results are extremely outstanding. Receiving 5 S-ranked requests on your trials is very rare. There aren't more than ten players in the country who have achieved this."
"Really?" Ye Shaoyang earnestly asked. "What's the minimum requirement for playing esports?"
Coach Xu came back to his senses. From the side, he excitedly interjected, "An A-rank in all five tests is good enough for esports. Clearing eleven levels of the dynamic vision test is considered a pass. You cleared all thirteen levels. For the final stability test, usually we use a 3 millimeter groove. I had you start on the 2.5 millimeter one."
Ye Shaoyang seemed to understand. "Then it looks like my results were pretty good."
Coach Xu's eyes were practically glittering. He took the initiative to ask, "Have you signed with a team? How about you come here and spend some time at our training camp? I could personally coach you."
Ye Shaoyang politely declined, "I'm not considering any training camps for now."
Coach Xu scratched a hand through his messy bird's nest of hair. He turned to look at Chi Shuo and found that Chi Shuo's gaze had been fixed to this young man's figure the whole time. His eyes were full of respect; they were much warmer and gentler than usual.
Coach Xu's heart filled up with questions. He scooted over to Chi Shuo and whispered in his ear, "You have your eyes on this one? You want to sign him to Tianhuan?"
Chi Shuo didn't answer the coach's question. He only said, "It's almost dinnertime. How about we eat together?"
Ye Shaoyang thought about it for a moment, then said, "To thank both you coaches for working so hard to help me with this, this dinner should be my treat."
He wasn't familiar with Star City, so he decided to head out of the testing room and find Qin Rui, who was still obediently sitting nearby. He softly asked, "Little Rui, are there any good restaurants near here?"
Qin Rui fished out his cell phone and did a quick search. He swiftly found one and said, "Ge, this one is a chain store, the food should taste pretty good. I've been to their main shop in the past. Their dishes are really good, and the price isn't bad either."
Ye Shaoyang took a look, then said, "Let's go there, then."
While Ye Shaoyang stepped outside to talk to Little Rui, Coach Xu swiftly dragged Chi Shuo off to the side and whispered, "What's going on here? This guy is already twenty-one years old. Usually, that's too late to start playing esports, but his talent is off the charts. Where did you find him? Does Coach Lin know you want Tianhuan to sign him? What exactly are you thinking, secretly bringing him out to me for a test like this?"
The quick-fire questions made Chi Shuo furrow his brows lightly. "Which question should I answer first?"
Coach Xu coughed once, then said, "The most critical one. What are you thinking?"
Chi Shuo thought for a moment, then answered quietly, "I just want to change Tianhuan's predicament."
He turned towards the door, just in time to see the shapes of Ye Shaoyang and his didi chatting outside.
Chi Shuo turned back to the coach and said in an extremely resolute voice, "In my eyes, this person is my perfect partner."
Coach Xu's eyes widened. He didn't dare believe Chi Shuo's claim right away. "You've competed with him before?"
"No," Chi Shuo said. "We only double queued in a few ranked matches."
"Then how can you be sure that he's your perfect partner?" Coach Xu asked. "Don't tell me it's just a feeling!"
It was just a feeling.
Some feelings were difficult to explain in words. It had only been a few ranked matches, but that mysterious sense of tacit understanding between them and the link between their minds were things Chi Shuo had rarely ever felt before.
The two of them had identical understandings of the game.
Without even speaking, they could understand what the other was thinking.
And even more importantly, Xiao Bai was like a keen blade from the outside world that had pierced the veil of the esports world.
He wasn't afraid of anything.
He was willing to experiment, to make breakthroughs, to innovate.
Who cares how strong Jingzhe's poison comp is? Who cares how hard it is to take down Zhou Jiawen's Flame Goddess?
Xiao Bai had plainly stated, As long as we think of a way to kill them, we can defeat even the strongest team comps.
He and Chi Shuo shared the exact same beliefs.
They didn't want to ban those powerful team comps. They wanted to find ways to break them down, ways to innovate their own style of play. They wanted to find ways to deal with those powerhouses.
They wanted to use the strongest teams to make themselves stronger.
Wasn't that what esports players were supposed to be like?
At the beginning, Chi Shuo had worried that Xiao Bai was only good at playing games. Maybe he wouldn't have been able to pass the professional trials, and thus wouldn't be able to enter the esports industry.
But today, Xiao Bai had achieved 5 S-ranked results and completely set Chi Shuo's heart at ease.
He would definitely do everything in his power to win over this gem whose dazzling light had yet to be discovered.
Ye Shaoyang returned to the testing room, just in time to meet Chi Shuo's gaze. The other party's eyes were warm. Ye Shaoyang gave Chi Shuo a small smile and said, "Coach, my didi has already picked a restaurant for us. It's only around half a kilometer away from here. We can walk over. It'll be my treat."
Chi Shuo nodded. "Alright, then I won't be shy."
Then he turned to Coach Xu. "Coming with us?"
Coach Xu's thirst for gossip had been stoked a long time ago. He instantly said, "If someone's treating, of course I'll be going to mooch some food. I've grown tired of all the food at the base's cafeteria already, haha!"
The group of four headed out the main doors of the rookie training base.
The rookies eating in the cafeteria were all full of curiosity. They started to whisper amongst themselves again.
"Old Xu left?"
"Who exactly are the people who came looking for him today?"
"Hat, on. Mask, on. That guy was all covered up, like a celebrity. This definitely isn't some simple matter."
The rookies' curiosity had also been piqued.
Ye Shaoyang followed the directions from Qin Rui's phone. They crossed an overpass, then reached a restaurant which looked pretty good.
Qin Rui had just booked a private room on his phone earlier. The four of them were led into a VIP room on the second floor as soon as they arrived. Ye Shaoyang didn't really know how to order, so he gave the menu to his didi and said, "Little Rui, you order."
Qin Rui politely asked, "Coaches, is there anything you'd like to avoid?"
"I don't eat sweets," Chi Shuo said.
Coach Xu laughed boisterously and said, "I'm not picky, whatever's fine."
Qin Rui looked down at the menu and started to browse. Coach Xu studied Chi Shuo for a moment, then looked at Ye Shaoyang for a while. He ultimately couldn't resist teasing, "How long do you two plan on wearing your face masks? Are you going to wear them while you eat, too?"
Hearing that, Chi Shuo removed his hat and mask of his own volition.
Ye Shaoyang followed suit.
When the two of them locked eyes again, Ye Shaoyang discovered that this 'coach' was even more handsome than he'd imagined.
At first, he had only been able to see the other person's eyes and eyebrows. Those pitch black eyes had already been enough to leave a very deep impression.
Now that he could see the man's full face, he saw that the man's nose and lips were all perfect, like he had been delicately sculpted with care. The only 'flaw' was that he looked far too divine, which caused him to give off a cold, unapproachable air, like it would be difficult to get close to this person.
Coach Xu looked at Ye Shaoyang and curiously asked, "What's your name? How come you're only taking these tests at twenty-one? With your talent, if you started training at seventeen or eighteen, you would have become a god by now!"
Ye Shaoyang smiled and said, "You can call me Xiao Bai, sir. I didn't take these tests in the past because I didn't play any online games until recently. I downloaded Gods War a short while back, played for a while, and felt like it was pretty fun."
Coach Xu stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Oh, so it's like that."
Didn't play any games until recently? That was really too bad. If he'd been discovered sooner, this Xiao Bai could very well have been a top-tier player in the country already.
Qin Rui finished ordering, then turned the tablet with the menu on it to Ye Shaoyang. "Ge, do you think these are okay?"
Ye Shaoyang nodded. "Mm, tell them to start bringing out the food quickly. Everyone's hungry."
While waiting for their order to be served, Chi Shuo gazed into Ye Shaoyang's eyes and earnestly said, "Xiao Bai, I want to extend a serious invitation to you, to join my Team Tianhuan."
Tianhuan? Ye Shaoyang knew of that team, and he knew it could be considered one of the top teams in the country. One of the top eight teams of the season was Tianhuan. They had just barely managed to make it out of the groups stage in the regular season, squeaking into the playoffs in the losers bracket.
Of course, it was impossible to judge a team's true strength just by looking at their results from one season.
Ye Shaoyang smiled slightly and said, "Thank you, coach. But I told you before, I won't necessarily join your team. I'll have to give it some thought once I get home."
Coach Xu stared at him in shock.
Holy shit?! Chi Shuo's invitation was being rejected?!
This would definitely be explosive news in the gaming circle!
Tianhuan, one of the domestic powerhouse teams, had been strong for over ten years. Countless people dreamt of playing for them. Most players who received an invitation from Tianhuan would be thrilled beyond belief. What was going on with this Xiao Bai?
Coach Xu curiously asked, "Xiao Bai, are you not impressed by Team Tianhuan?"
Ye Shaoyang plainly said, "It's not that. I just don't understand enough about Team Tianhuan yet. Since I plan to play professionally, I have to make sure I'll add strength to whichever team I sign with. I can't make this decision carelessly. Coach, don't you agree?"
He looked towards Chi Shuo, who was silent for a moment, before nodding calmly.
"You're right," Chi Shuo said. "I also figured you wouldn't agree right away. That's fine, you can take your time to think about it slowly. Tianhuan's information is all online, you can look it up and get a better understanding of us. Our team's performance in this season wasn't very good, but our foundations aren't bad."
Coach Xu coughed and said, "Team Tianhuan were the domestic champions of Gods War in seasons one, three, and six. They also came in second in the world championships in season six." He looked over at Chi Shuo and smilingly continued, "The current captain, Chi Shuo, is the most outstanding student I've ever coached. A once in a lifetime prodigy."
Ye Shaoyang wasn't swayed by his words. He only calmly said, "No matter how glorious your past achievements are, it doesn't represent your current strength, does it?"
Coach Xu nearly choked on a breath. He was just about to retort when Chi Shuo calmly said, "That's right. The glories of the past aren't worth bringing up. When deciding to sign with a team, you have to look towards the team's future. Your way of thinking isn't wrong at all."
A more serious look came into Chi Shuo's eyes. He lowered his voice and said, "Tianhuan's marksman and support have already sent in their resignation letters. After this season, they'll be leaving. The marksman who will be debuting with us next season doesn't have any practical experience in big games yet, he's an eighteen-year-old newbie, but he's very talented. His trial results were one A-rank result and four S-rank results. The new support hasn't been determined yet.
"Next season, Tianhuan's lineup will be undergoing huge changes. Our performance will be an unknown variable. I have no way of guaranteeing that we'll take the world championship next season, but our goal has always been to work our hardest to achieve that title.
"I can only promise you, if you're willing to join Tianhuan, I'll fight for the best conditions for you."
Ye Shaoyang looked at the other party with some surprise.
Usually, when a coach signed a person, they would blather on about how awesome and powerful their team was, to sway a new player into signing with them. Coaches would exaggerate their strength and even brag that they could promise a world championship win in the next season.
Newbies who didn't know any better were very easily swayed by management. It was like going into an interview at a company, only to be promised all sorts of things by HR, then discovering upon joining the company that those promises had been exaggerated or outright false.
Coaches like the one sitting in front of Ye Shaoyang now, who were open and honest about the weaknesses of their team and their actual circumstances, were really rare—that was exactly why Ye Shaoyang could truly feel that this person was sincere.
This person really, truly wanted to invite Ye Shaoyang to his team.
That was why he spoke of Tianhuan's present situation very plainly and honestly, so that Ye Shaoyang could consider all the facts and make the most informed decision that wouldn't bring him any regret.
Signing with a team, after all, would have a big impact on the rest of his career. It was a decision which had to be made carefully.
Ye Shaoyang was actually a little moved.
He had dealt with too many cheats and swindlers in the past. It was his first time facing someone so earnest and honest.
When he met Chi Shuo's warm gaze, Ye Shaoyang earnestly said, "Thank you for recognizing my ability. But I have two conditions. One, I only play mid laner. Two, I have to debut on the starting lineup next season. I won't be a benchwarmer. If you can fulfill those two conditions, I'll seriously consider whether or not I want to join Tianhuan."
Coach Xu was speechless.
Newbies with wild demands were a dime a dozen.
But this was the wildest one!
Coach Xu's eyes were close to bulging out of their sockets, but Chi Shuo didn't seem to be at all surprised by Xiao Bai's conditions. He only smiled faintly and warmly said, "Okay. Once I get back, I'll talk to the team and get back to you with an answer."
The conversation ended there. It was just then that their food was served up.
Ye Shaoyang shifted the focus to their meal. "Let's eat first."
He would only play mid laner, and he was determined to debut on the starting lineup next season. He was already twenty-one years old; he couldn't train with a team for half a year like other newbies, then sit on the bench as a substitute for another year. He couldn't waste his own time like that.
His demands truly did sound wild and unreasonable. He was just a newbie, after all.
But to Ye Shaoyang, they were genuine necessities that he would have to insist on.
A team could choose him, but he would choose a team as well.
He hoped he would find a team willing to accept his conditions.
He hoped he would find a scout who truly understood him.
Joining a team isn't a decision that can be made rashly. If Ye Shaoyang immediately nodded and agreed to join as soon as Chi Shuo invited him, this would become a Mary Sue novel with no logic.
Ye Shaoyang's goal is the world championship, so he'll carefully gauge Tianhuan's strength before making a decision~