Chapter 44

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When Chi Shuo returned to the villa with a fish in tow, Ming Sheng and Ye Shaoyang were in the middle of chatting on the couch. Chi Shuo saw that Ye Shaoyang had a copy of a contract in his hands. He turned to Ming Sheng and asked, "Master, is everything settled?"

Ming Sheng smiled faintly and stood up. "Mm. I asked my housekeeper to prepare dinner. You guys stay and eat here."

He took the bucket from Chi Shuo and looked at the wildly flailing and jumping fish inside. "You really managed to catch something?"

"Just one," Chi Shuo said.

"It's big and fat," Ming Sheng said profoundly. "One is enough."

Ye Shaoyang couldn't help but feel that Ming Sheng's words had a deeper meaning—was Ye Shaoyang the fish that Chi Shuo had hooked for Tianhuan?

After Captain Ming turned and left, Chi Shuo looked towards Ye Shaoyang and said, "Let's go take a walk."

Ye Shaoyang followed him out to the nearby lake.

It was currently the beginning of autumn in Star City. The temperature was still slightly warm. The lake was huge, and the water was crystal clear. Trees lined the side of the lake. When a breeze blew past, it filled people's hearts with a refreshing sensation.

This time of evening was the most comfortable time for a stroll.

Ye Shaoyang breathed in the fresh, lakeside air while walking shoulder-to-shoulder with Chi Shuo.

The area around the villa was extremely peaceful. Not one other person could be seen around them. The two of them walked a distance around the lake, before Chi Shuo said, "What conditions did my master offer you in the end?"

Ye Shaoyang passed the contract over to him.

Chi Shuo swiftly flipped through. "A five million signing fee paid in a lump sum, and five million more to be paid as a bonus after winning the domestic championships. No time limit on the bonus," he read. After thinking for a few seconds, he looked at Ye Shaoyang again. "Can you accept these terms?"

Ye Shaoyang laughed and said, "Of course I can. I don't have a proven track record in tournaments, after all. I'm just a newbie. The team isn't a charity. Giving five million to a newbie already feels like too much to me."

"When I was a newbie, my fee was three million. But that was three years ago," Chi Shuo said. "A player's worth will steadily climb as they rack up more achievements. This compromise my master came up with seems like an empty promise, but in reality it means he's acknowledged your potential. He thinks you'll be able to win this bonus."

Ye Shaoyang nodded. "I understand."

Chi Shuo stopped by the lake and quietly said, "Your signing fee is just one part. You'll have a lot of other sources of income later. Like a cut of product promotion fees, merchandising fees, tournament winnings, and so on."

Ye Shaoyang curiously asked, "Do your players split your tournament winnings evenly?"

Chi Shuo nodded. "Mm, in order to prevent teammates from competing with each other and causing internal strife. Among all our starting players, their signing fees might be different. But after joining the team, they receive the same percentage of earnings."

He paused for a moment, then said, "For example, in the S6 tournament season, we won the domestic championships. The prize money was ten million yuan, and we also received a portion of earnings from the FMVP's exclusive hero skin. That's the big payout."

Ye Shaoyang thought back and understood. "I watched the recording of the finals of the S6 domestic championships. Back then, it was your Bloodstained Assassin that got you named the FMVP, right? You turned things around for your team with a pentakill."

"That's right," Chi Shuo said. "After that, the domestic Gods War team made an exclusive FMVP championship skin for the Bloodstained Assassin. It was exclusive to our servers for a month, and during that time it made 150 million yuan in sales. The game promised fifteen percent of earnings to the championship team. So, besides the tournament winnings of 10 million, Tianhuan also received 22.5 million from the exclusive skin. The team divided up a portion of all that between us players, so we each got another five million or so."

Ye Shaoyang was speechless.

A percentage of earnings from an exclusive championship skin was really the big prize.

In these MOBA games, the skills and stats of heroes were the same for all players. The only thing that could change was a hero's skin. Most players would buy a special skin for their favorite hero. Some players with a lot of cash to burn would buy all skins just to collect them, even if they weren't ever going to play some heroes.

In his previous life, Ye Shaoyang had been the captain of Team GD. His earnings from the LoL world championship tournament had also included a percentage of sales from a special championship skin. Of course, Team GD wasn't such a wealthy team that they could give all of the tournament earnings to the players. Back then, seventy percent of the grand prize pool had been promised to the players. Unfortunately, they were unable to take home the grand prize in the end.

Ye Shaoyang was lost in his memories when he saw Chi Shuo flip to the page in the contract that mentioned the world championships.

"If Tianhuan takes the world championship title," Chi Shuo said, "the grand prize will be completely split between the players. This is actually the most important condition."

Ye Shaoyang said with a complicated expression, "The exclusive skin for the world championship will be available internationally. Sales will be at least ten times as much as sales of the Bloodstained Assassin skin that was limited to the domestic servers only."

In just their country, one exclusive Bloodstained Assassin skin had pulled in 150 million yuan.

Then, the team that won the world championships would have five exclusive hero skins made… one each for their top laner, jungler, mid laner, marksman, and support. These skins would be released worldwide. How much would they make?

This was an almost terrifyingly inconceivable number.

In comparison, Ye Shaoyang's signing fee would be like a drop in the bucket.

It was obvious that Ming Sheng had been the previous captain of Team Tianhuan. He was thinking even farther into the future than Chi Shuo.

Giving a ten million yuan signing fee to Ye Shaoyang? The club's shareholders definitely wouldn't agree to that. Why should a newbie with no accomplishments take ten million?

But they would be more easily convinced to agree to the condition of Ye Shaoyang being paid a percentage of their world championship winnings. They would think that Ye Shaoyang joining Tianhuan didn't necessarily guarantee Tianhuan a world championship win, so adding that condition was no big deal.

And if they really did win the world championships? That wouldn't be a loss for the club either. After all, a world championship win would bring them an endless flood of new sponsorships and investors. The club's coffers would be filled to the point of overflowing, and they would also earn a reputation of treating their players well by offering them the entire prize pool from their winnings.

Chi Shuo took in Ye Shaoyang's complex expression and warmly said, "I didn't expect my master to propose this kind of condition either. It looks like he really admires you. He also believes, if you join Tianhuan, we'll have a shot at becoming champions."

Ye Shaoyang turned back to him and asked, "Captain Chi, have you done the math? If we really win the world championships, and the domestic championships along the way—the domestic championship prize pool, plus the world championship prize pool, plus all sorts of sponsorships and promotions. How much will our income be?"

"Easily over one hundred million," Chi Shuo said.

Ye Shaoyang gazed out across the lake, smiling brightly into the distance. "Then aren't we going to get rich in an instant?"

Chi Shuo followed his gaze and looked out across the lake as well. He mildly answered, "It's all empty promises if we can't win the championship. If we do win, then this is the reward we rightfully earned."

A refreshing gust of wind blew across the surface of the lake, rustling Ye Shaoyang's hair and making him feel more alert and awake.

On the surface, this contract dictated that he would only receive a signing fee of five million yuan. But it actually offered him boundless opportunities for growth—as long as he was strong enough, as long as he could win the world championships, the club definitely wouldn't let him down. If Tianhuan won the world championships, his salary could very well set a new record in the world of professional esports.

This kind of bonus-based reward system was actually a way of motivating players.

Whether he got a lot of money or a little money, Ye Shaoyang didn't really care.

As long as he could win the world championships, he would even play for free.

However, he could clearly feel the sincerity in the contract Tianhuan offered him. He could also feel the strong desire Tianhuan had for the championship trophy. They wanted it so badly that the club was willing to give up every last cent of the championship winnings to the players. Captain Ming was really quite bold to propose such a thing.

Ye Shaoyang looked back at Chi Shuo and asked, "I'm a bit curious. When Captain Ming retired back in the day, was it because his condition was declining? I played 1v1 with him today. His hand speed is very fast. I only wound up going 50/50 with him."

Chi Shuo shook his head and said, "His condition wasn't declining. He left to inherit his family business."

Ye Shaoyang was silent.

"My master's world isn't full of only esports," Chi Shuo explained. "You heard him playing the piano earlier, right? He's actually the heir to the largest music enterprise in the country. That year, he made a bet with his father. If he couldn't win the world championship title, he would come home and run the business. We lost the S6 world championship that year, so he had no choice but to retire. Back then, he was actually in peak condition. When he announced his retirement so suddenly, the captaincy fell to me pretty abruptly."

Ye Shaoyang suddenly understood it all. "So, later on, he bought the shares he needed to become a shareholder in Tianhuan?"

Chi Shuo nodded. "Team Tianhuan's main backer is the Tianhuan Group. My master invested and bought a thirty percent stake in the business. He couldn't let go of Team Tianhuan. He often says he's sorry to me, for foisting off the mess of the team on me back then."

No wonder Ming Sheng's temperament wasn't like that of other esports players.

He was definitely giving Ye Shaoyang preferential treatment for Chi Shuo's sake. Because he felt he owed his apprentice, he didn't give Ye Shaoyang a hard time. Ye Shaoyang was someone Chi Shuo had personally brought to see him, so Ming Sheng had even gone out of his way to propose better conditions for Ye Shaoyang.

Chi Shuo looked at Ye Shaoyang. His gaze was warm and gentle. "This contract is just a template from my master. The official copy will be confirmed by the legal department after the higher-ups in the club talk things over. Also, once this condition of splitting the entire prize pool between the players is approved by the board, the rest of us will have to renew our player contracts as well. At that time, I'll have our lawyers send your formal contract over right away."

Ye Shaoyang smiled and said, "That's no problem."

He paused for a moment, then asked, "About Qu Jiang, has he agreed to switch to support?"

"Coach Lin will personally talk to Qu Jiang. I'll have a proper talk with him when I get back too," Chi Shuo said. "In order to win in the playoffs, I was willing to sacrifice everything as the jungler and play for the sake of the team. I believe Qu Jiang will also be willing to switch to a more suitable position for the sake of the team's achievements. He usually plays support when he double queues with Little Xing, so switching to support won't actually be very difficult for him."

Ye Shaoyang managed to relax. "That's good. I definitely don't want to cause problems with your veteran players as soon as I join the team."

"That won't happen," Chi Shuo said. "Qu Jiang has a very good disposition, and he's easy to talk to. The fans, on the other hand, might have some negative opinions. Tianhuan has always had a lot of anti-fans. We've been flamed for our declining records for three years already. When the time comes… you just try not to look at those negative comments too much."

Ye Shaoyang smiled and nodded. He silently thought, I was flamed for four years straight in  my past life. I've grown used to it a long time ago.

"When is it convenient for you to report to the team?" Chi Shuo asked.

"I can go at any time," Ye Shaoyang said. "It depends on the team's plans."

"Then when I get back, I'll have our logistics team sort out a dorm for you?" Chi Shuo suggested.

Ye Shaoyang was a little concerned. He asked, "How are Tianhuan's dorms organized?"

"Most of the units are two bedroom apartments, about eighty square meters in size. Each one has a living room, dining room, kitchen, and a shared bathroom. The bedrooms are one person per room, so no one disturbs anyone else," Chi Shuo said. He looked towards Ye Shaoyang. "Would you like to live with me?"

Ye Shaoyang froze for a second, looking at him with some doubt. "Captain Chi, you don't have a roommate?"

"My roommate is Old Nie. He's retiring this year. He'll be packing up and leaving Tianhuan in a few days," Chi Shuo said. "You'll be a new player and all, so you won't be too familiar with Tianhuan. If you have any questions, it'll be easier for you to ask me if you live with me."

He was thinking, We're both alphas anyway. There's no problem if we live together.

Furthermore, if Tianhuan planned on taking its mid/jungle duo into the next season, then having their mid laner and jungler live together to cultivate their tacit understanding through their daily lives would be ideal, right?

Ye Shaoyang didn't think much about it. He happily agreed, "I'm glad to go along with the team's plans. Of course living with Captain Chi would be the best. I'm most familiar with you, after all."

He thought of the cat he had at home, then quickly added, "Oh, that's right. I have a Ragdoll cat. Are there any players who are allergic to cats, or afraid of them? Captain Chi, please ask them for me when you get back. If anyone is allergic, I can keep Xiao Bai in my bedroom once I move in. I won't let my cat affect anyone else."

Although kitty cats were such cute little animals, there were indeed people who were afraid of them or allergic to them. If Ye Shaoyang was going to Tianhuan, he would naturally bring Xiao Bai with him. But he didn't want Xiao Bai to make trouble for anyone else either.

Chi Shuo met his gaze and remembered the adorable cat from his livestream. He smiled lightly and said, "I'll ask everyone when I get back and tell you their answers. But I'm not allergic to cats. You can raise the cat in our dorm. The dorms are pretty big, so there'll be enough space for the cat to get some exercise."

Ye Shaoyang released a breath of relief. "Then I'll head back and start packing, and I'll wait for Captain Chi's next message."

Chi Shuo nodded. "Mm. I'll ask the club to hurry it up, so that you can get through the paperwork as quickly as possible. But the shareholders will need time to meet, and the financial and legal departments will need to comb through the contract carefully. So it'll probably be at least two weeks or so before you can report to the club."

He extended a hand to Ye Shaoyang as warmth rose in his eyes. "Shaoyang, thank you for choosing to join Tianhuan."

Ye Shaoyang clasped his hand and earnestly said, "And thank you, to Tianhuan, for choosing me."

The two of them shared a smile.

Players and their teams always had to have a mutual relationship.

Signing with a team was something that had to be carefully deliberated. There were actually lots of famous teams in the country. Other teams could very well extend Ye Shaoyang an offer in the future. But Ye Shaoyang wouldn't regret his decision.

Captain Chi genuinely valued him.

And the former captain Ming Sheng had offered him unprecedented conditions in his contract.

Tianhuan was a team that had worked tirelessly to climb the ladder to the throne of the world championships. Generation after generation, Tianhuan's players never gave up on this goal. This was exactly in keeping with Ye Shaoyang's own dreams.

Next season's Tianhuan would place their focus on their sharp, cutting mid/jungle duo.

But they wouldn't focus solely on their mid/jungle duo.

The new Tianhuan would have a rich, comprehensive set of tactics. Their overall strength would improve by leaps and bounds.

The domestic championships would just be their stepping stone—the world championship trophy was their ultimate goal.


Author's Notes:

  1. In Honor of Kings, the world championship prize pool is 50 million RMB. Many exclusive skins break 100 million in sales.
  2. The LoL world championship prize pool is about 12 million RMB, plus a share of global sales of the exclusive championship skin.
  3. There really are teams that offer the entire prize pool to the players. Clubs don't only make their money through these prize pools, there are lots of sponsorships and advertising deals as well.

I'm not writing nonsense here~

Captain Ming is giving Ye Shaoyang an offer that can grow exponentially. Don't just focus on the 5 million.

I've been following the esports world for more than five years, and my in-game rank isn't low. This book is set in an A/B/O world where people have more disposable income, so the signing fee is a bit higher than normal, but in the plot it's all logical.

Start the countdown to joining the team!

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