Chapter 555

“Are all the representative players out?” the host asked when he saw the players come to the stage. His eyes were quickly skimming over them. “One, two, three... eight. They are all out.”

The numbers were right. There were eight participating teams, and eight people had come onto the stage.

“JT Telecom has come out.”

“Red Bull America is out as well.”

“Manchester is out.”

Several players took turns calling out their team names and raising their hands. Moments later, all eight team names were mentioned.

“The eight teams have been confirmed. I’ll start explaining the draw for the siege order,” the host said. Then he stopped talking for a moment to wait for a huge picture to appear on the screen. He was caring for the crowd gathered at New York Arena Stadium.

The host pointed to the screen and started talking again. “The method for deciding the draw isn’t complicated. I have prepared a simple game. You can choose the number you want in the order you win the game.”

On the screen, there were two men with a small table in between them. Both men had their right arm raised on the table, and the two hands held each other. It was a situation that everyone knew.

Arm wrestling—this was the name of the action that the two men were doing.

“The prepared game is arm wrestling. The matchups will be made fairly through a program.”

The moment the host’s words were over, one person had a noticeably worse complexion. It was Reina. Her expression wasn’t very good as she never imagined that the siege order would be decided with arm wrestling.

‘I shouldn’t have come out.’ It was natural for Reina to have this thought. As a woman, she felt she couldn’t beat the men. ‘Still, I can’t give up...’

It didn’t feel good to have to participate in a showdown with a hopeless end. As Reina had a sulky expression on her face, the arm wrestling matchups were already displayed on the screen. Hyeonu soon found his name in the matchup for the second match.

‘The opponent... Aike?’

Hyeonu’s opponent was Aike, a man with impressive curly hair. Aike had fought fiercely against Hyeonu just a little while ago, and now he was matched against Hyeonu for arm wrestling. Additionally, the huge reward of determining the siege order was at risk.

‘Reina... Shouldn’t she change the representative?’

It didn’t make sense for an ordinary woman to participate in arm wrestling with men. Yet contrary to Hyeonu’s thoughts, neither Reina nor the host took any action. Reina was just standing still and waiting for the match, while the host had no intention of doing anything.

The completed match list appeared on the screen, and the host started to read it out. “All the matches have been determined. Match 1 will be played between Player Reina of New York Warriors and Player Mascherano of Red Bull America.

“The second match is a repeat of the event match. It is Player Gang Hyeonu of Crescent Moon against Player Aike of PSG. I think the key point of this match will be whether Player Aike can get revenge or if Player Gang Hyeonu will take the win from Aike again.”

The moment the second match was announced, New York Arena Stadium became heated again. The audience was very interested in the revenge match that would take place less than an hour later.

“The third match will be between Player Ryan of Manchester and Player Kim Jinyong of JT Telecom. Finally, the last match will be between Player Chiyou of Xuanhua and Player Karelin of Russia.”

Upon hearing the host’s announcement, Hyeonu moved his eyes and looked at the people whose names were called. He thought, ‘I don’t know about Ryan and Kim Jinyong, but... I know for certain that Karelin will beat Wang Chiyou easily.’

Ryan and Kim Jinyong had similar physiques—the normal physique of an adult male. However, there was a big difference between Wang Chiyou and Karelin. With a height of around 170cm, Wang Chiyou was shorter than the average male adult. On the other hand, Karelin was over 190cm tall and looked more like a wrestler or martial artist than a professional gamer.

The commentator looked at the players on the stage and talked about the surprise mini-game of arm wrestling: “There are some lucky teams and some who aren’t so lucky. In Zenith’s case, the presence of player Karelin on the stage has become a stroke of genius. I think that the New York Warriors and Crescent Moon are a bit unlucky.”

They hadn’t known how the drawing would be conducted, so Zenith was rated as lucky for having picked Karelin to represent them. Meanwhile, the New York Warriors were relatively unfortunate since a woman was representing them. In Crescent Moon’s case, it was unfortunate that Hyeonu came out instead of Dwayne, who had muscles that weren’t lacking when compared to Karelin’s. However, the players of Crescent Moon didn’t care much.

“Even if Hyung can’t win, don’t you think he will be at least second or third?”

“He can’t win against that bear-like person, but he can win against the others.”

“He will meet Karelin in the finals. I don’t think he will fail in the middle.”

The Crescent Moon players knew that Hyeonu was much stronger than he seemed. In particular, Dwayne often went to the gym to exercise with Hyeonu, so he knew it best. He said, “There is no need to worry too much. Hyeonu is very strong. His body is one that would still be considered as a player’s even if it is a sport and not a game.”

In spite of Hyeonu’s slim physique, he could actually lift a great amount of weight. He wasn’t much different from Dwayne who had been exercising for a long time. This was one of the reasons why Hyeonu’s body changed rapidly.


***


The first match between Reina and Mascherano was very boring. Reina abstained, so it ended before the match even began. Mascherano had an empty expression as he watched Reina surrender. It was regrettable that he couldn’t take the opportunity to get a small revenge against her.

“The second match will start immediately. Player Gang Hyeonu of Crescent Moon and Player Aike of PSG, please prepare for the match.”

In accordance with the host’s words, Hyeonu and Aike stood in front of the table. They listened to the on-site staff’s explanation and prepared for the match.

“Hold this handle with your left hand. The match will end when the opponent’s hand touches the cushion on the side of the handle.” The staff member put a sticker on the backs of Hyeonu’s and Aike’s hands. “This sticker has a function of glowing when it comes into contact with the cushion. In other words, it is a defeat if the sticker glows.”

Hyeonu and Aike nodded at the staff member’s explanation. It wasn’t just the two people. The others nodded as well. Reina and Mascherano hadn’t played their match, so this was their first time hearing the explanation.

“You are all ready. The match will start right away. Everybody, let’s shout the countdown together!” the host shouted loudly when he saw a gesture from the staff. Then the number ‘3’ appeared on the screen.

‘Is it starting now?’ Aike took a small breath.

His left hand, which was holding the metal handle, was already sweating a bit. He was very nervous. This arm wrestling would determine whether he got a good number or not. The number would have a small but significant impact on the siege.

“Three! Two! One!” The numbers that the crowd and host were shouting in unison entered his ears. “Go!!”

‘Now!’

At the end of the final countdown and the shout announcing the start of the match, Aike tried to give strength to his right hand. Perhaps his efforts worked as a hand moved.

Uh...?” Aike uttered.

The problem was that it was his hand, not the hand of his opponent—Hyeonu. The sticker on Aike’s hand was emitting a red glow.

The host announced, “The match has ended in an instant! Gang Hyeonu of Crescent Moon has beaten PSG’s Aike in the blink of an eye!”

It was an overwhelming sight. The match was over in a split second.

“You’ve worked hard, Player Aike.” Hyeonu approached Aike, who was staring blankly at the red sticker, and reached out his hand.

Ah, yes! Player Gang Hyeonu has also worked hard.” Aike regained his senses and grabbed Hyeonu’s hand.

“Player Gang Hyeonu can stand next to Mascherano, and Player Aike can stand next to Reina.” The host separated the winners and losers.

Hyeonu and Aike moved in accordance with the host’s words.

“Have you been working hard to exercise? Your strength is amazing,” Mascherano said to Hyeonu, who came to stand next to him.

“Don’t we have to pay attention to our health to play well? I think professional gamers should have a specified exercise time every day,” Hyeonu happily responded to Mascherano’s words. He was now friends with Mascherano. They met often, and it was easy for him to get close to Mascherano due to his lively personality.

Mascherano requested, “Can you take off your outerwear once? I think your body is quite different from what I saw on the island before.”

Hyeonu had on a thin layer of outerwear, but Mascherano could tell that Hyeonu’s body was quite well built.

“Now? It’s a bit cold...” Hyeonu pulled down the zipper of his outer clothes and took them off. Without his jacket, his body that was dressed in a short-sleeved shirt could now be seen. His muscles didn’t match the expression of ‘bursting’, but the muscles of the forearms showed that his body wasn’t at an ordinary level of fitness.

Hyeonu felt his body trembling in the chill and asked Mascherano, “Is that it?” 

“Yes, it’s a great body,” Mascherano said while looking at Hyeonu’s body through the thin t-shirt he wore.

Hyeonu put his jacket on again. Winter in New York was insanely cold. There was warm air coming from the heaters in the stadium, but it was still very cold.

“JT Telecom has lost. I think Ryan doesn’t have an ordinary level of strength.”

The third match ended while Hyeonu took off his clothes. JT Telecom’s Kim Jinyong was defeated by Manchester’s Ryan. It was as if the match between Aike and Hyeonu had been recreated. To begin with, arm wrestling was a game of extremes. It wasn’t easy to see a close match because it was a game where a small difference was very significant.

“There is no need to watch the fourth match,” Mascherano said as he looked at Karelin, who was placing his arm on the table. Karelin was only wearing short sleeves like he wasn’t cold at all. The massive muscles that bulged through his short sleeves shouted their existence to the world.

“We are lucky we only have to meet that monster in the finals.” Hyeonu smiled bitterly at Mascherano. This was a monster beyond the normal standard.

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