After returning to Tianhuan's HQ, Chi Shuo didn't waste a single second in making the preparations for Ye Shaoyang's arrival. Although Ye Shaoyang had already confirmed that he wanted to sign with Tianhuan, Chi Shuo couldn't completely relax until the day the papers were all signed and sealed.
What if this cooked duck flew away now? What if someone stole it away when Chi Shuo only had it halfway home?
He absolutely had to rush the club and get them through the paperwork as soon as possible.
Qu Jiang didn't give them any trouble. Coach Lin's persuasive skills were excellent.
"I believe you'll be able to show more of your outstanding skills and do more for the team in the support position," he said. "Cheng Xing is debuting next season. He has such a brazen personality. I won't be able to stop worrying about him unless he has a veteran watching over him. You're the most suitable choice."
Hearing all that, Qu Jiang happily agreed to the switch.
So, when Chi Shuo went to find him at mealtime, Qu Jiang smiled very good-naturedly and said, "Captain Chi, don't worry. You were even willing to play as a support jungler for the team. Of course I'm willing to make adjustments for the team as well. Actually, the pressure of playing mid laner is huge. You need to deal with so many things. Playing support is easier on me anyway."
Chi Shuo lightly patted Qu Jiang on the shoulder and said, "If you feel that way, that's great."
He just knew Qu Jiang wouldn't gripe over something like switching positions. Qu Jiang had come out of Tianhuan's rookie training camp, and he had very deep attachments to the team.
Qu Jiang did curiously ask, "I originally thought the team was going to recruit a powerful support. Since I'm going to be playing support now, our mid lane will be vacant. Are the coaches preparing to recruit an outsider, or promote someone from the second-string team or rookie training camp?"
"We'll be recruiting an outsider," Chi Shuo said. "The five from the second-string team will all be substitutes next season."
Old Nie and A-Ning had already finished processing their departure paperwork. When they came to the cafeteria for food, they just so happened to hear these two talking. Old Nie giddily ran over to get in on the gossip.
"I heard Little Jiang say he's switching over to support," Old Nie said. "Are we getting a new mid laner next season? Which team are we poaching them from?"
Song Yu'ning was also curious. "The league's trade period hasn't opened yet. We wouldn't be able to sign anyone even if we didn't poach them. Did you set things up in advance, to formally transfer them later?"
"He isn't a professional player," Chi Shuo said. "He's a streamer."
Song Yu'ning and Nie Cheng met each other's gazes, exchanging a look.
"I haven't watched gaming livestreams in a long time," Qu Jiang said. "Whale Streaming's Xiao Wei and Mumu, and Douding Streaming's Brother Cabbage… none of these people play professionally, right? Could it be that we're getting someone who just popped up?"
Chi Shuo didn't have any intention of hiding it from them. He lowered his voice and said, "Whale Streaming's newcomer, Xiao Bai."
"Xiao Bai?" Old Nie was even more curious now. "Are his gaming skills really good?"
Coach Lin came over, smiling brightly and carrying a tray of food. "Old Nie, remember to buy yourself some women's clothing in advance."
Old Nie was bewildered. "What women's clothing?"
Qu Jiang took out his cell phone and played the recording of Old Nie's bold promises from a few days ago.
Old Nie laughed boisterously and said, "The condition for me crossdressing is you guys taking the world championship trophy. The question is whether you guys…"
He trailed off and suddenly froze, looking at Coach Lin with disbelief. "Could it be… next season, you'll really be able to take it?"
Chi Shuo and Coach Lin exchanged a look, then nodded in unison.
Chi Shuo said, honestly, "We can't say there's a one hundred percent chance, but there's hope."
Old Nie excitedly slapped his thigh. "That's awesome! The streamer Xiao Bai, right? When I get a chance, I'll send him some gifts in his streaming room to welcome him to Tianhuan!"
Coach Lin knocked on the table. "Keep it down. This is still a secret."
Old Nie hurriedly mimed zipping his lips. "I got it."
Chi Shuo looked towards Coach Lin and quietly asked, "What have the bosses said?"
Coach Lin grinned and said, "Next Monday, they'll hold a board meeting. Your master will attend as well. With him personally getting involved, I don't think we'll encounter much trouble."
Ming Sheng wasn't the heir of a business empire for nothing. He had a very deep understanding of how to talk to these people. The other shareholders were all dazzled by his talk of how marvelously the club would develop after winning the world championships. Their eyes were practically glittering as they all raised their hands in approval, one after another.
All the contracts of Team Tianhuan's players would now have to be renewed.
Qin Yizhu, Qu Jiang, Chi Shuo, Cheng Xing who was scheduled to debut next season, and the substitutes from their second-string team would all have a right to a portion of the world championship prize pool.
The members of the second-string team would have to always be prepared to fill in for any players on the starting lineup who fell ill or experienced any other sort of condition which prevented them from playing. Furthermore, members of the second-string team had to train alongside members of the starting team. Their contributions couldn't be ignored.
Cheng Xing excitedly got out his phone and fiddled around with the calculator for a long time. The captain of the second-string team, Yan Bin, laughed and said, "You don't need to calculate it. If you win the world championships, everyone will be getting millions as a bonus. It's too bad, that's just a big dream!"
Cheng Xing muttered, "That's better than not dreaming at all!"
Yan Bin figured he did have a point. He leaned back in his chair and sighed. "Ai, I really hope that dream becomes a reality. If the team really takes the world championships, then we'll be able to bask in a bit of the glory as well. I would be able to buy a house in the city I like."
Cheng Xing grinned so wide that his eyes crinkled with mirth. "I would buy two sports cars!"
The whole club knew that they would be recruiting a new mid laner. Everyone's curiosity was at a peak. But besides the people Chi Shuo trusted the most—Old Nie, A-Ning, Qin Yizhu, and Qu Jiang—no one else knew who the new mid laner would be.
Coach Lin and Chi Shuo didn't breathe a word of it to anyone.
One day, Chi Shuo suddenly sent a message into Tianhuan's group chat to ask if anyone was allergic to cat fur. Everyone chimed in to say they weren't allergic, and some people also leapt at the chance to ask: [Captain Chi, you're getting a cat?]
Chi Shuo answered: [Mm. A cute cat will be coming to the team in a few days.]
Everyone thought Chi Shuo had bought a cat for himself. They couldn't have imagined it would be their new mid laner bringing along a cat.
Tianhuan swiftly started rushing through Ye Shaoyang's paperwork.
After Ye Shaoyang's contract was finalized by the legal and finance departments, it was sent up to the bosses for them to take a look.
One week later, Tianhuan's legal team sent an electronic copy of the contract to Ye Shaoyang, along with a polite message: [Ye-xiansheng, this is Team Tianhuan's contract. Captain Chi asked us to send it over so that you could have a look. If there's anything that needs to be adjusted, please let us know.]
Ye Shaoyang carefully read through the contract. In his previous life as an esports player, he'd read through many contracts. There really wasn't anything to nitpick about the contract he'd just received. There were no loopholes the team could exploit. Every aspect reflected the superb conditions he had been promised before.
After reading through, he responded: [I've read all the conditions. Everything looks fine.]
The legal department: [Then would you like to come directly to the base to sign, or would you like to sign the contract there and send it over by mail?]
Ye Shaoyang thought for a moment, then wrote: [I'll sign in person.]
The legal department: [Great. Please remember to bring your ID. The team will set up a bank card for you.]
Ye Shaoyang started to pack his luggage. Besides his own personal belongings, he also prepared a lot of things for Xiao Bai—a litter box, plenty of toys, canned foods, and so on. He planned on shipping a portion of what he needed straight to Chi Shuo, then buying the rest later.
These past two weeks, he hadn't neglected to continue training with new heroes.
In the mornings, he queued with Mumu and Xiao Wei. In the afternoons, he watched old games. And at night, he played in the summit tournament.
Because the three of them enjoyed an extremely high win rate when they queued together, Mumu and Xiao Wei also got new national rankings whenever Ye Shaoyang achieved a new national ranking of his own.
Xiao Wei very happily told Mumu in private: [Why do I feel like the two of us are being carried? This Xiao Bai is way too awesome. His skills as a mid laner are pretty much on par with the skills of professional players I've met!]
Mumu wrote: [Exactly. He's a pretty good person too. When he wins, he doesn't brag. When he loses, he doesn't blame his teammates. And he gave you a lot of kills to satisfy your vanity.]
Xiao Wei: [Hehe. Doge.jpg]
Xiao Wei: [When Whale Streaming picks a best newcomer of the year at the end of the year, it'll definitely be him in first place, right?]
Mumu: [No need to doubt that. There's no one who can beat his stats. Haven't you noticed that, lately, the number of people insulting him in the group chat has dwindled?]
Xiao Wei: [Yeah, that's true. Why have Brother Fish, Cutie Bear, and those guys stopped dissing him?]
Mumu sent over a smiley face emoji, then wrote: [Because they know that we're queueing with Xiao Bai. It wouldn't be good of them to insult him in front of us. They've definitely created another group privately, where they can diss Xiao Bai and the two of us at the same time.]
Xiao Wei: [……]
Xiao Wei: [They're really so fucking bored! They don't want to spend more time improving their skills, they just want to be salty all day. No wonder they've only achieved this much after being second-tier streamers for so many years.]
Mumu: [Xiao Bai is about to have eight national #1 heroes.]
Xiao Wei: [Hahaha, by riding his coattails, I have eight now too! Come on, let's go send him some gifts.]
At midnight on Monday, the national leaderboards were updated.
Two weeks had passed since Ye Shaoyang and Chi Shuo had their lakeside chat. Ye Shaoyang had continued to win national titles at a rate of two per week. He had already taken the National #1 title with eight heroes—the Abyssal Lord, the Illusionist, and the Frost, Flame, Thunder, Storm, Tidal, and Destiny Goddesses.
The Goddess bookmarks were still sitting on his desk.
He'd achieved what he promised Chi Shuo at the beginning.
Now, he was about to report to Team Tianhuan. And this was the 'report card' he could present to his new team.
At midnight, when Ye Shaoyang officially received his new National #1 titles, a huge wave of gifts came in through his streaming room—
[I Don't Look Good In Drag has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x50, Message: Xiao Bai 666!]
[I'm Not A Baobao has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x50, Message: Xiao Bai 6666!]
[Frontline Reporter #18 has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x50, Message: Xiao Bai, add me to your friends list.]
[Ears has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x50, Message: Can we get an add to your friends list if we send gifts?]
[Mumu has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x50, Message: Keep it up, Xiao Bai~]
[Xiao Wei has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x50, Message: I got new national titles too, hahaha!]
[Xiao Bai Fan has sent Xiao Bai a deep sea torpedo. x10, Message: Is there a party today? So many big spenders are sending gifts today?]
The viewers in the streaming were were all stunned speechless by the huge flood of gifts that popped up in the lower left corner of the stream.
At midnight, plenty of people were shocked to the point that all their drowsiness dissipated.
[Where'd all these wild moneybags come from all of a sudden?]
[Holy shit, our Xiao Bai is awesome. Even the platform's #1 ge and jie are here to send gifts.]
[I haven't seen a bunch of these weird names before. What's going on? Why did they suddenly pop up to send gifts?]
[Did the big spenders plan this? Have the big tippers formed their own secret circle?]
Meanwhile, at Team Jingzhe's base—
Coach Chen, who had signed into an alt account named 'Ears', suddenly swore, "This isn't a sign that the esports industry is swarming, is it? 'Frontline Reporter #18' is obviously Zhao Xin'an! And who's this 'I Don't Look Good In Drag'? Does anyone know them?"
Fang Zhengqing was very calm. He stroked the cat in his arms while smiling and saying, "Zhao Xin'an was the first to discover Xiao Bai. He sent the recording of that game into the group chat. It's perfectly normal for Beimu to have their eyes on Xiao Bai."
Coach Chen furrowed his brows. "Could they be thinking about recruiting Xiao Bai to play professionally?"
"Yesterday's game," Fang Zhengqing said. "How did Beimu lose? Do you remember, coach?"
Two weeks ago, Tianhuan had played Beimu. After losing 2-3, Tianhuan had been eliminated from the playoffs. Losing teams from the winners bracket would be sent down to face winning teams in the losers bracket, and as a result—by some sort of luck, Beimu had eventually come up against Jingzhe.
Beimu was strongest on their top and bottom lanes, while Jingzhe was strongest in their middle lane.
Would Beimu's two outer lanes destroy Jingzhe's middle lane, or would Jingzhe's middle lane pierce straight through to the heart of Beimu? The final results were almost impossible to accept for Beimu's fans—with Fang Zhengqing stationed in the middle lane, Beimu couldn't destroy their tower no matter how powerful their outer lanes were!
Plus, Jingzhe also had a world-class marksman, Xie Yuan. In addition to their usual mage plus marksman double carry system, Jingzhe had a calm and powerful support as well.
In the deciding game, the bans phase was eliminated. Jingzhe ran their poison comp, and Beimu simply had no way to deal with them.
Beimu lost 2-3 to Jingzhe, and they were regrettably eliminated from the playoffs.
Industry rumors said that Beimu's mid laner planned on quitting after that season, and Beimu's second-string mid laner wasn't an especially talented player. So, Beimu was currently in dire need of a mid laner. The streamer Xiao Bai had recently emerged as an amateur mid lane king. Lots of teams were observing him. Beimu was definitely the team that was most eager to recruit him to their team.
Coach Chen was practically quaking with fear. "If Xiao Bai goes to Beimu, then wouldn't Beimu's power increase by a lot? Powerful outer lanes, plus a mid laner who knows how to play all sorts of heroes? If they're strong on all three lanes, that'll make them way too hard to fight!"
"Coach, does that mean you've decided to act?" Fang Zhengqing asked.
Coach Chen was caught between laughing and crying. "I've messaged Xiao Bai on Weibo. He doesn't even answer. He's probably drowning in private messages. So, that's why I had no choice but to send him all those torpedoes, right? Little Zhao is probably in the same boat."
Soon enough, Coach Chen received a private message. It came from someone named Xiao Rui.
Xiao Rui: [Hello, boss. Thank you for sending our streamer fifty torpedoes. You can add my WeChat account, ruiruiXXX, and I'll add you to Xiao Bai's fan club group chat.]
Coach Chen: […can I get Xiao Bai's personal WeChat contact info?]
Xiao Rui turned back to ask his gege, "Ge, the boss who sent you fifty thousand wants to add you on WeChat."
"That's fine," Ye Shaoyang said. "Go ahead and let them add me. They sent so much money, after all."
A moment later, Ye Shaoyang received several friend requests. Ears, Frontline Reporter #18, I Don't Look Good In Drag, and I'm Not A Baobao—all four of the big bosses who'd sent a lot of gifts that day—had all sent him a friend request.
His WeChat interface started to blow up with new messages—
Ears: [Hello, Xiao Bai. I'm Coach Chen from Team Jingzhe. Are you interested in playing professionally? We would like to extend our sincerest invitation to you, to visit Team Jingzhe for a tryout.]
Frontline Reporter #18: [Hey, Xiao Bai. This is Zhao Xin'an, Team Beimu's top laner. Our coach asked me to contact you and ask if you have any interest in playing professionally? Our Beimu seriously needs a mid laner. We'd like to invite you to try out.]
Ye Shaoyang fell silent for a long moment, staring at the confirmation message for his flight from Star City to the capital.
You're a bit late, aren't you?
Captain Chi made his move a long time ago. I'm already getting ready to fly out and sign with Tianhuan.
Chi Shuo: This round is my win. : )