ALL-ROUND MID LANER

Chapter 30

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Chi Shuo didn't bring up the matter of signing with Tianhuan again. Ye Shaoyang also avoided the subject. The two ate and chatted about the day's game at the same time. Coach Xu had a complex look on his face, like he had fallen deep into thought.

As for Qin Rui…

He didn't dare say anything. He just obediently sat there, acting like he was practically transparent.

After they finished eating, Chi Shuo took the initiative to stand up. "I'll drive you guys back?"

"No need to go to the trouble," Ye Shaoyang said. "I can take the subway back with Little Rui. Our home is pretty close to the station."

Chi Shuo didn't insist. "Then let's keep in touch. See you next time."

After they said their goodbyes, Ye Shaoyang headed up to the front desk to pay their bill. He took his didi with him and headed off for the subway station.

Once the two of them were gone, Coach Xu said with that complex look on his face, "Xiao Bai's skills are outstanding. He's a rare talent that you practically only see once in a lifetime. But he's completely new to professional play, and he wants to be a starter right away? This request of his… only second-rate teams that are desperate for new people would be willing to accept his terms, right?"

Chi Shuo quietly said, "His situation is pretty unique. If he starts from scratch by joining a rookie training camp, at age twenty-one, it'll be too late for him. Professional esports players only have a few years in which they're in peak condition. He just so happens to be in peak condition now. I think he's very intelligent. He knows exactly what he wants."

Coach Xu was silent for a moment. He scratched at his head. "But this demand… will Tianhuan agree to it? Your performance was incredible back in the day, but you still spent more than half a year on Tianhuan's second string team. After that, it was only because your master fought fiercely for you that you were able to debut in a major league game."

Chi Shuo got up and went to stand by the window, gazing out at the signboard of the rookie training base that wasn't too far from the restaurant. He softly said, "Coach Xu, four years ago, I came out of this training camp."

Coach Xu also walked up to him and gazed at the training building in the distance. His voice was full of emotion as he said, "Your group was the most promising group of rookies I ever trained up."

Chi Shuo continued, "People often said that if the five of us had formed a team, we might have been able to represent the country well and stand on the podium of the world championships stage."

Hearing those words, Coach Xu felt his nose becoming a little sore.

How terrifying were those kids from Chi Shuo's training group?

Netizens often said that Season 6 had been a true 'Battle of the Gods'. That year, extremely talented newcomers emerged endlessly. It was also the season that their country had been expected to dominate the world championships.

The five newcomers who'd come out of the rookie training camp in Star City, the largest training camp in the south of the country—

Chi Shuo, Tianhuan's starting jungler and current captain.

Fang Zhengqing and Xie Yuan, the mid laner and marksman of Team Jingzhe; Fang Zhengqing had taken over as the captain of Jingzhe as well.

Xu Zhuo, the most powerful anti-pressure top laner in the league and current captain of Team Yueying.

Chen Qianhua, a support with an extremely good understanding of the big picture in any game. One of the rare betas in the league, and current captain of ICE-Binghun.

All five of them had been brought up by Xu-laoshi, and they were each good at one of the five positions in the game.

Netizens often fantasized about a team made up with these five players. Wouldn't they have been able to win the world championship trophy, which their country had never won despite having waited for it for many, many years?

After all, the five of them had each gone on to become well known in the international league as comprehensive masters of the game. They won solo tournaments, double tournaments, and now had each become leaders of powerful teams.

Coach Xu took a deep breath, then lamented, "If you guys had signed to the same team back then…"

"There's no 'if'," Chi Shuo said.

He turned back and faced the coach next to him, quietly continuing, "You know very well that Fang Zhengqing and I are only fit to be opponents. Our philosophies aren't compatible, and we have clashing methods of command. Xu Zhuo and Chen Qianhua also have different ways of thinking from me. All five of us are very strong, but we aren't suitable as teammates."

When Chi Shuo wanted to go east, Fang Zhengqing wanted to go west.

When Chi Shuo wanted to charge into a fight, Fang Zhengqing flashed away to retreat.

Back in their training camp days, they had often clashed over their differing understandings of the game. They were good friends in their personal lives, but as Chi Shuo said—they really weren't fit to be teammates.

Coach Xu asked, "You feel Xiao Bai would be suitable as your teammate?"

Chi Shuo nodded decisively. "That's right—he would be the perfect teammate."

When he thought of Xiao Bai demanding to play mid laner, as part of the starting lineup, the corners of Chi Shuo's lips quirked up slightly. His voice became much softer as he said, "Back then, my master fought very hard for me to enter the starting lineup. Everything he did for me, I'll do for Xiao Bai as well."

Coach Xu asked, "Are you planning to convince Tianhuan's coaches and managers to sign this twenty-one-year-old newbie without any practical experience, and to let him play mid laner as a starter? That would be too hard! What about Qu Jiang? Little Jiang has played with you guys for three years now. How can you bear to tell him to give up his position?"

Chi Shuo fell silent for a moment before he said, "I'm confident if I can convince them, Tianhuan will change."

He looked towards the unkempt man in front of him and calmly continued, "If we win the championship next year, Team Tianhuan will bring the trophy here and take a group photo with you, Coach Xu."

Coach Xu laughed boisterously. "Then I'll be waiting!"

This slovenly man with messy hair had once had his heart broken by the esports world. Everyone called him Old Xu. He had been a professional player in the first season of the league. His talent was average. During his time as a player, he never won any trophies.

But he'd always loved gaming. After tiring from professional play, he became a coach at the rookie training camp in Star City. He had been welcoming wave after wave of newcomers to the industry with his 'demonic training', before sending them off to fill up the league with fresh blood and outstanding talent.

He didn't have the ability to win a championship trophy with his own abilities. But he had always been waiting…

One day, one of their national teams would bring back the world championship trophy.

What he couldn't accomplish, his students definitely would!

 

After Ye Shaoyang got home, he put the gift box he'd received next to his computer, then sat down in the gaming chair and turned on the desktop.

Qin Rui whispered, "Ge, do you really plan on playing professionally?"

Ye Shaoyang nodded. "I didn't get into any good universities, and I don't have any other special skills. I'll try it out. It's not a sure thing that it'll work."

Qin Rui excitedly said, "Ge, you'll definitely make it work! You're the most powerful player I've ever seen!"

Ye Shaoyang breathed a laugh and didn't explain any further.

He went to fetch the cat and feed it some kibble, then returned to the study to get online.

While he was out to watch the game that day, he'd created a Weibo account. After logging in on his computer, he saw that 'Streamer Xiao Bai' had already gained more than 50,000 followers. All of them had come over from his streaming room. Since he hadn't posted anything to Weibo yet, his private messages were full of people asking him why he wasn't streaming over the weekend.

Of course, there was plenty of hate mail from anti-fans as well. It was obvious that these were all from alt accounts that had just been made, and clicking through some of those accounts made it clear that they were Brother Fish's diehard fans.

Ye Shaoyang blocked all those people, then posted to his Weibo.

This is the Weibo account of Whale Streaming's Xiao Bai, everyone is welcome to follow. I had a bit of personal business over the weekend, so I won't be streaming for now. At 10AM on Monday, please click here: [link to streaming room]

Once he made that post, he swiftly received a bunch of comments on it.

[Xiao Bai, I followed you. Post lots and lots of pictures of your cat in the future!]

[Taking a break on the weekend, coming back at 10AM on Monday. Are you treating this like a normal job with a normal schedule?]

[I watched your Abyssal Lord tutorials and practiced for a bunch of days, then realized: I'm handicapped.]

[Xiao Bai, are you charging the national leaderboards again next week? Which hero are you going to practice?]

Ye Shaoyang answered the most recent comment: [I'll be taking the Frost Goddess up the national leaderboards next week.]

That response got quite a few likes.

The Frost Goddess, a hero which the system made available to all players by default, was the mid lane hero many players used before buying other heroes. In Diamond-ranked and lower games, you could run into her in pretty much every match.

This hero could be said to be a beginner hero that everyone knew how to play.

But to play her well required a heightened sense of game awareness and precise operational skills. A Frost Goddess who couldn't freeze her enemies was as fragile as an overpowered minion, but a Frost Goddess who could freeze all foes in a team fight could instantly turn the tide of the battle.

Although Ye Shaoyang was the most adept at playing assassin mages, he was also pretty good at playing this kind of crowd control hero. Today, the boss had given him a set of Goddess bookmarks. He intended to take all those heroes up the national leaderboards.

The 5 S-ranked test results he'd achieved was his way of knocking at the door of the esports world.

His unfathomably deep hero pool would become his true worth.

He wasn't strong enough yet. It was unlikely that any team would let a twenty-one-year-old rookie, an 'old newbie', join their team. It was even less likely that any of them would allow him to be a starter.

Want to prove yourself? In esports, only your skills could speak for you.

Ye Shaoyang opened up Baidu and looked up some information on Team Tianhuan.

Tianhuan had been established ten years ago; they'd been active since the first pro league season of Gods War. They were an old, well-established team. Tianhuan's main backer was a well-known tech company. Therefore, Tianhuan was such a well-funded club that they could outright buy a building in a nice neighborhood and convert it into their team's headquarters.

As for the team's performance… it could be said that they had their ups and downs.

They were crowned the national champions in their first season, then had a year with no accomplishments. In the third season, they were champions again. Two years of ridiculously poor performance followed that. Then came Season 6, which became the year Tianhuan showed the most power and momentum. The captain at the time was named Ming Sheng, who netizens worshipped as God Ming—he was a world-class mid laner. The new jungler, named Chi Shuo, was his disciple.

As soon as the youth Chi Shuo appeared on the playing field, he became the center of attention, targeted by everyone.

​​With his incomparably precise and quick style of play, Chi Shuo slaughtered all the glass cannons in the rift. Countless marksmen and mid laners started to flash away in fear as soon as they caught sight of him. And Tianhuan, in that season, set a record for the longest winning streak of regular games for any team in the professional league.

It was all thanks to the mid/jungle duo of this master and disciple, Ming Sheng and Chi Shuo.

Thirty-five consecutive wins.

In the end, Tianhuan played in the Season 6 world championships as the champions of the national region.

Unfortunately, they only got as far as second place and brought home silver medals.

The internet filled up with rage, and Tianhuan was flamed so fiercely that they trended. God Ming suddenly chose to retire for some reason, handing over the captaincy of Tianhuan to Chi Shuo. After that, Tianhuan's mid laner player became Qu Jiang.

Qu Jiang was a very stable player who was good at crowd control heroes like the Frost Goddess. He performed very well in team fights. However, from Season 6 to the current Season 9, in three whole years—Tianhuan never sat atop the national championship throne again.

From Season 6 onwards, Tianhuan had been consistently trending downwards.

Although Chi Shuo was a very popular player, he was also very controversial. Many people on the internet insulted him by saying that he'd peaked when he debuted, and that he'd only been going downhill ever since, falling and falling and falling and falling…

There were too many of those scornful comments to count.

Ye Shaoyang thought of his own past life. He had been mocked day in and day out by people like this as well. Before the car crash, he and his team had just lost the world championship finals, earning second place. When they lost, they had been flamed until they trended as well.

What a similar experience.

As a result, Ye Shaoyang could understand the pressure Captain Chi faced.

However, sympathizing with a team didn't mean that he would necessarily join them. He wasn't their savior. He had to think about his own future as well. If he joined Tianhuan and Tianhuan showed him that they didn't have the strength to win the world championships, then he would have made the wrong decision.

No one could sway him from his determination to win the world championship.

Ye Shaoyang clicked around on the league's official website and found all the game recordings from the current season. He did a search for videos of Tianhuan.

And he only watched the games that Tianhuan lost.

From the replays of these games, it was evident that Tianhuan was currently facing a big problem.

First of all, Chi Shuo—their jungler—was the core of their team. But he was being targeted by all the opposing coaches. In any game with Tianhuan, their opponents would relentlessly invade Tianhuan's jungle. Forget about Chi Shuo finding a chance to gank people; the reverse often happened, with the enemy teaming up to target him down. This made it very difficult for Chi Shuo to set the pace of the game.

Secondly, their mid laner Qu Jiang had a style of play which focused on stability and team fights. He could get the enemy under his control in practically every team fight, but the team couldn't kill them once he had them frozen. As a result, Tianhuan would often fall apart during team battles. Their marksman just couldn't keep up.

The current Tianhuan was like a series of cogs. Each part worked fine on its own, but when they started to operate together, they just couldn't form a functional machine. They were individual links that couldn't come together to form a chain. Either they got stuck in one place, or made a mistake in another.

That was the key reason for Tianhuan's decline in recent years.

Their teamwork had major problems.

Should Ye Shaoyang join a team like that?

Ye Shaoyang furrowed his brow and sank deep into thought.

If he joined Tianhuan and played as their mid laner, what about their current mid laner Qu Jiang?

Qu Jiang's individual strength was actually completely fine. From the replays Ye Shaoyang watched, he could tell that this player was extremely stable. Although he wasn't especially outstanding, a player who never made mistakes was a formidable opponent too!

Tianhuan's biggest problem was their marksman and support duo.

The coach had said today that their marksman and support would both be retiring after that season. Next season, they would be bringing in newcomers.

If the mid laner changed as well…

That would mean of the five starting players on Team Tianhuan, three would be changed.

The old lineup would be obliterated!

They would definitely face problems like a lack of tacit understanding, disjointed cooperation, and so on.

Ye Shaoyang massaged his temples to stave off a headache. He temporarily set Tianhuan aside and checked out the information on the other top-tier teams with hopes of reaching the world championships.

The teams that had made it to the Top 8 of the domestic playoffs that year were JG-Jingzhe, HW-Huowen, ICE-Binghun, YY-Yueying, BM-Beimu, TH-Tianhuan, LSD-Luoshendian, and YG-Yaoguang.

Among them, Ye Shaoyang didn't need to consider Jingzhe and Huowen at all. The world-class mid laners Fang Zhengqing and Zhou Jiawen were there, and they were the captains of their respective teams. Ye Shaoyang couldn't snatch their positions away from them.

He would have to slowly study the rest of these teams.

Perhaps there would be a mid laner who was just about to retire, and a team short on mid lane talent would need him?

There was still some time before the start of the next season. He had to pick a team that best suited his own ambitions.

Ye Shaoyang opened Weibo and followed each and every one of these teams.

He curiously clicked on the Weibo page of the 'Tianhuan Esports Club' to take a look around. That was where he saw a photo pinned to the top of the page—it was a promotional photo of Team Tianhuan for the playoffs.

The background of the photo was the team's headquarters, with five players from the main team—all wearing neat white and blue uniforms—standing in front of the camera. The man who stood in the second position from the left, usually reserved for those who played jungler, was very tall and handsome.

Underneath his image on the photo, a caption read: Tianhuan-Shuoyue.

Shuoyue was the player ID used by the captain of Team Tianhuan, Chi Shuo.

Ye Shaoyang stared in silence.

The face in the photo and the face he'd seen at dinner… they were identical.

The captain who wore a white and blue jacket, Chi Shuo, had a calm and mild expression, looking effortlessly cool.

Coach?

Their captain was moonlighting as their coach?

Ye Shaoyang wasn't sure if he wanted to cry or laugh. He grabbed his cell phone and loaded up WeChat to find the avatar of his 'boss'. Then he copied that photo of Team Tianhuan and sent it over, along with the message: [Captain Chi, your cover has been blown. ^_^]

Chi Shuo stared at this message.

He'd only managed to act as a coach for half a day, and his cover was already blown.

Ahem.

 

Author's Notes:

Has Captain Chi set a record as the gong who had his cover blown the fastest? ^_^

For the super cool Captain Chi, please look at the cover of the novel. The chibi Captain Chi is very cool too.

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