The next morning, Ye Shaoyang got ready to start streaming at exactly 10:00 AM. When he logged into the game, he saw that Mumu's avatar, in his friends list, was already lit up. He immediately received a system notification—
Your friend [Mumu] has invited you to their team.
Ye Shaoyang accepted the invitation and entered the team's waiting lobby. He turned on his mic and greeted, "Good morning, Mu-jie."
Mumu turned on her mic as well. She smiled faintly and asked, "Xiao Bai, are you charging the national leaderboards with the Frost Goddess?"
Ye Shaoyang said, "My Frost Goddess's battle power is already maxed out. I plan on trying to take the Destiny Goddess up the national rankings."
In Mumu's streaming room, a slew of bullet comments popped up—
[Holy crap, this newbie seems super awesome!]
[The little gege's voice is so pleasant. Is this Mu-jie's friend?]
[Previous commenter, do you even have wifi in your village? This is a streamer from the same platform. Mu-jie ran into him last night during the summit tournament and added him as a friend.]
[The Destiny Goddess is considered one of the most difficult mages to play. I get a headache just watching games with this sort of high-difficulty hero.]
[I watched Xiao Bai's stream last night. He got an instalkill under the enemy tower. His skills are wicked!]
[I watched it too, and followed him while I was there!]
These comments made many other viewers very curious about the situation.
Another wave of fans, who'd missed the streams last night, went to Whale Streaming's platform to look up the streamer Xiao Bai. Of course, they soon realized that they didn't need to do a search at all. Xiao Bai's streaming room was right in front of them, on the 'Most Popular' streams chart of the main page.
Mumu's streaming room was, of course, number one on this list.
Xiao Bai's room was number two. Even at that early hour in the morning, he had a popularity rating of over one million points.
Relatively few people streamed in the mornings in the games category. That was the key reason Ye Shaoyang could get so high up the popularity charts. In the evenings, his rank wouldn't be so high. Because other streamers like Xiao Wei, Cutie Bear, and so on would all be online, filling up the platform with top-tier streaming rooms.
Hearing Ye Shaoyang's words, Mumu said, "Then let me get on my alt. There's a support hero I want to take up the national rankings there. Please wait just a moment and add my alt account."
She logged out of her main. A moment later, an account with the ID 'Ben'niao Xian Fei' joined the team.
Ye Shaoyang checked out the account. Mumu's alt was King-ranked, 3 stars.
Meanwhile, Ye Shaoyang's account was already at 45 stars in the King rank.
Ye Shaoyang asked, "Is this to lower our MMR?"
Mumu said, "Mm. The MMRs of our main accounts are too high. Double queueing will lead us to very difficult matches."
Because King-ranked games used these 'matchmaking ratings' to match players into games, it was very easy for a team with a very high combined MMR to run into professional players, national experts, and so on—leading to a catastrophic loss.
On the other hand, if you had a teammate with a relatively low MMR, the system would average things out and match you into games that were a bit easier to play in. That was the importance of using an alt account to lower your MMR.
Ye Shaoyang wanted to climb the national leaderboards, so of course it was better for him to win more games. He didn't have an alt account himself. With Mumu taking the initiative to use her own alt to lower their combined MMR, the two of them would both have an easier time raising their heroes' battle power.
[I have a feeling… we're going to see a winning streak this morning!]
[With a support as powerful as Mu-jie, Xiao Bai will have an easier time developing in games.]
[I'm excited! Rubbing my hands together with glee right now.]
[Mu-jie, which support are you taking up the national leaderboards?]
Mumu addressed the questions in her stream by asking Ye Shaoyang, "Is it okay for me to use the Holy Knight as our support?"
The Holy Knight was a hero who could be played in the top lane or as a support. He was pretty meaty by nature. In team fights, he could tank a lot of damage. His ult was a 'group taunt' skill, which could serve as crowd control. It was a skill which forcibly dragged enemies closer to him and stunned them for one second, which was a very useful skill for a support as well.
The Holy Knight was a big, tall character whose movement was a bit slow and cumbersome. He could be considered a 'hard support'. Mu-jie choosing this hero as the support for the Destiny Goddess was pretty good; they were a suitable match.
Because the Destiny Goddess, in her Shadow state, had a W skill which cast out her damage-dealing talismans in an arc. Once the Holy Knight grouped up all their enemies with his taunt, the Destiny Goddess could use her small AoE attack to deal a huge amount of damage.
Ye Shaoyang asked, "Mu-jie, you want to take the Holy Knight up the national leaderboards?"
"Mm," Mumu confirmed. "When you play this hero in the top lane, it's hard to get a high game rating. But as a support, his battle ratings tend to be better, which means his battle power goes up more per game."
Ye Shaoyang happily said, "That's great. Then let's climb the national rankings together."
The two of them began to queue for a ranked match.
In this game, Ye Shaoyang personally got to experience how refreshing it felt to play with a 'gold-tier support'.
Mumu could always pick the optimal moment to jump into the fray with the Holy Knight. She would immediately dive in and use her ult to group up their enemies. It was like she was saying, Come on, stand together and wait for your beating.
Then, Ye Shaoyang would take aim at the cluster of enemies she'd pulled together. With his quick hands, he would unleash a brilliant flurry of skills.
To Ye Shaoyang, this was like taking aim at a bunch of wooden stakes that had been nailed in place. With the enemies all grouped up like that, Ye Shaoyang could comfortably do his damage.
Mu-jie also established visibility in their jungle with style. She swiftly made her way through the jungle, eliminating the enemy team's wards and confirming the enemy jungler's position. She would always make notes on their own map. Sometimes, she could just leave a simple warning, and that would be enough to avoid having one of their teammates silently ambushed by the enemy.
With a support like that on the team, could you even be ganked? Impossible.
Ye Shaoyang's own movement skills were impeccable to begin with. With Mumu tightly guarding the river on both sides of the middle lane, the enemy jungler couldn't find any opportunities at all to leap in and hack at Ye Shaoyang. For that whole match, Ye Shaoyang didn't die even once. In one team fight, he even took a triple kill.
At the end of the game, Ye Shaoyang was unquestionably deemed the MVP with a kill-death-assist stat of 10-0-8 and a game rating of 15.0.
Mumu's stats as the support were 0-0-24, with a game rating of 14.8.
Twenty-four assists. Not a single death. This was the saintly support of legends!
"Mu-jie's Holy Knight is too powerful," Ye Shaoyang praised.
Mumu humbly answered, "I haven't played this hero much in the past. I only recently started to practice with him."
Ye Shaoyang also modestly said, "I haven't played much of the Destiny Goddess before either. I just started practicing with her."
Mumu laughed and said, "That's perfect. Let's practice together."
The heads of the viewers in their streaming rooms all filled up with question marks.
[Just started to practice? You guys are quick learners, huh?!]
[These two humble bragging streamers… I want to report them both!]
[These streamers aren't talking like normal people. Report, report.]
[WTF, I can practice with a hero for a whole month and still not play as well as you two who are just starting out. My heart is crumbling into pieces.]
Mumu truly was very good at playing the Holy Knight. In team fights, she could tank a large amount of damage, and she could pick the opportune times to drag the enemy into a cluster, allowing Ye Shaoyang to wreak havoc.
With the mid laner and support working together, the enemy's mid lane towers often fell in the first ten minutes of the game. The rhythm they set was incredibly swift.
Ye Shaoyang was named the MVP in match after match. The Destiny Goddess's battle power soared like it was strapped to a rocket.
Similarly, the battle power of Mumu's Holy Knight also climbed very quickly.
The two streamers had a tacit understanding. They swiftly built up the battle power of their respective heroes, each becoming ranked in their city in just one morning.
That was when their viewers saw—
Xiao Bai's Destiny Goddess had become the #1 Destiny Goddess in Star City.
And Mumu's Holy Knight had become the #1 Holy Knight in Star City!
[Both ranked in Star City. Does that mean these streamers are from the same city?]
[You guys are just finding out Mu-jie is from Star City? She's a special guest at the playoffs games that take place in Star City's Esports Center!]
[I didn't think Xiao Bai would be from Star City. That's my old home, we used to be like neighbors!]
Although sharing a hometown wasn't that remarkable, two streamers being located in the same city at the same time was indeed quite fateful.
After taking a lunch break, Ye Shaoyang continued to play ranked matches with Mumu in the afternoon.
His original schedule involved watching game recordings in the afternoons. However, it was rare to encounter such a powerful support. It was the perfect opportunity to play a few extra matches and raise his battle power more quickly. The two of them may as well charge into the Top 10 of their province in one go.
This way, Ye Shaoyang could possibly get two national rankings per week.
They played straight through the afternoon, until Mumu said at around four, "Xiao Bai, I have to get ready to go out."
Ye Shaoyang asked, "Are you heading out to the official game as a special guest?"
"That's right," Mumu said. "There's a tournament match tonight. It's the playoffs game between Tianhuan and Beimu."
Last time, when Ye Shaoyang had gone to watch the opening game of the playoffs, he'd seen Yao Mu on stage as one of the hosts. He wasn't surprised that she would be invited back as a special guest, so he politely said goodbye to her.
He turned off his computer as well, then wandered into the kitchen to eat his fill before preparing to head out.
If an official Gods War tournament game took place over the weekend, it could be scheduled in the afternoon or evening. But if a game took place on a weekday, it would only ever be scheduled at night, in order to ensure a larger viewership.
That night, the game between Tianhuan and Beimu was scheduled to start at seven.
Going to watch the game meant Ye Shaoyang wouldn't be able to play in the summit tournament that night. This was fine, though. He could continue playing in the summit tournament tomorrow. Seeing Tianhuan play live was much more important.
Little Rui continued to keep Ye Shaoyang company. The two of them took the subway to Star City's Esports Center and once again entered through the VIP passageway.
As it was his second time at the venue, Ye Shaoyang already knew his way around.
His seat was still 3-51 in Section A, same as last time. When he turned his head around to check out the stands behind him, he saw that Tianhuan truly had a formidable number of fans. Huge banners in support of Tianhuan were stretched out all over the place, in addition to many posters cheering on the team.
They were a very old and established team, after all. They must have had a lot of diehard fans. Of course, with the decline in their performance in recent years, they had plenty of anti-fans as well.
The game began very quickly.
The five members of Team Tianhuan rode the transparent elevator down to the grand stage, each wearing a blue and white uniform. They lined up in order on the stage—top laner, jungler, mid laner, support, and marksman—and bowed in unison to the crowd.
Chi Shuo stood in the second position from the left. The attractive man was still very handsome, even dressed in a simple team uniform. His gaze swept over the seats below the stage, almost as though looking for someone. It wasn't until he found Ye Shaoyang that his gaze finally settled.
Ye Shaoyang met his gaze and smiled faintly, making a 'good luck' gesture with his hands.
With the huge stage between them, they had no way of speaking to each other. But Chi Shuo could clearly see Ye Shaoyang's gesture. He nodded faintly at Ye Shaoyang, then led his teammates into one of the soundproofed rooms on stage.
Tianhuan's five players started to set up their equipment, and Chi Shuo put on his own noise-cancelling headphones.
Ye Shaoyang carefully studied Chi Shuo's teammates.
The top laner, Qin Yizhu, was nicknamed Old Qin. His player ID was 'Zhuhuo'. He was a proper-looking alpha, about the same height as Chi Shuo. He had an honest and well-behaved look about him, and he wore his hair in a typical buzz cut. He gave off a very capable aura.
The mid laner Qu Jiang played under the ID 'Yi Jiangshui', and he looked quite refined. His eyes curved when he smiled, giving him a very amicable sort of energy.
His skin was on the pale side, and he was around 175 centimeters in height. He was about half a head shorter than the rest of his team. So, when the five members of Team Tianhuan stood together, there seemed to be a 'dip' in the middle, with their mid laner's height suddenly dipping below that of the others…
Ye Shaoyang had looked Qu Jiang up already. Qu Jiang was a beta.
Most professional esports players were alphas, with around 20% of players being betas. Because alphas were born with more outstanding foundations than betas, fiercely competitive fields like esports were where alphas were the strongest.
However, that only meant that betas who could get into this world had outstanding qualities of their own. Either they were born with a talent for esports, or they worked much harder than normal people to train themselves up for this world. Qu Jiang's outstanding quality was his stability. He never let the heat of the battle get to his head. He never acted rashly or impulsively, and he made very few mistakes. This kind of player was actually very well-liked by both coaches and teammates.
The marksman Nie Cheng and the support Song Yu'ning were the bottom lane duo. Truth be told, their conditions were already on the decline, but the two of them had played professionally for five years already. They were even more experienced than Chi Shuo. In terms of mental fortitude, they were top-tier players. By relying on their wealth of experience, they could still hold their own against their opponents.
After Tianhuan's players took the stage, Team Beimu appeared.
Ye Shaoyang saw a very tall, striking young woman appear on stage. An explosive wave of shrill screams suddenly exploded through the stadium. Ye Shaoyang took out his phone and did a quick search, only then learning that this was Beimu's team captain—a woman.
A female alpha.
Ye Shaoyang curiously thought, A jiejie who can make someone pregnant? Amazing!
By that point, Ye Shaoyang could already calmly accept the existence of female alphas and male omegas. The world had six biological genders. There was nothing to be surprised about when he saw pregnant men or women who could get people pregnant, right?
He was starting to realize that his own mental fortitude was pretty strong.
Ye Shaoyang's focus had always been on esports, anyway. Nothing else really mattered.
Zhao Xinping, the captain of Team Beimu, played under the ID of 'Big Zhao'. She was one of the top three marksmen in the league. Her play style was calm and cool, and she was also the only female alpha in the professional league. She was at least as popular as other world-class players like Chi Shuo and Fang Zhengqing.
Her twin brother was named Zhao Xin'an, and he was known as the most volatile top laner in the professional league. In terms of kills, he was the #1 top laner in the league. His player ID was 'Little Zhao'. Rumor had it he once badmouthed someone so fiercely in his stream that the league had issued him a yellow card in warning, and his streaming room was still banned to this day.
A calm and collected jiejie, and a violent twin didi. These siblings were Team Beimu's trump cards.
That meant that Team Beimu was actually strongest on their two outer lanes. Their mid laner often chose control-type heroes and left resources to the top and bottom laners. The team mainly relied on these outer lanes of theirs.
This kind of play style, focusing on the top and bottom lanes, was actually a good counter to burst-type junglers. It was useless for the enemy jungler to gank their mid laner, after all. The mid laner was just a pawn; killing them off wouldn't be very rewarding.
Meanwhile, the marksman would be protected by the support, and the top laner typically ran a fighter-type hero with lots of movement skills. They usually couldn't be ganked.
As long as Beimu could get their fighter and marksman powered up, they could be very fierce in late-game team fights. A powerful fighter could hack two to three glass cannons to death immediately after charging into the fray. A powerful marksman could snipe the enemy down from afar.
When Tianhuan faced off against Beimu, Tianhuan's chances of victory weren't great.
Truthfully, after talking to Chi Shuo, Ye Shaoyang already harbored a desire to join this team. But he still had to think carefully and see the true potential of Chi Shuo and Tianhuan's other players. He had to see how the team worked as a whole.
Winning and losing were both natural in esports. A loss or two, or a win or two, didn't mean much. However, would your team stay calm while fighting an uphill battle? Would they keep their cool while fighting with an advantage? Could the team stay steady as they played?
These were the important questions.
笨鸟先飞 (bèn niǎo xiān fēi): The name of Mumu's alt account. It's a saying which translates literally to 'the stupid bird flies first'; it means those who aren't exceptionally bright/talented need to work harder/start sooner than others in order to make the same amount of progress.