Tian Tian shook off his nerves and even smiled a little. And then what? If Lin Feng had asked him this right after HoG’s loss to SSK, he might’ve said something else. But not anymore. He thought back, back to minutes after the game, when the players from HoG walked off the stage, deflated. Nightsong and then Daybreak Hermes right behind him. He’d clapped. These two all time greats from the LPL had put on a phenomenal show. They’d given it their all! It just wasn’t enough this time. He’d clapped as they walked by and even mumbled a few words, “Y-you guys did great!” But they were lost in the crowd, never reaching anyone’s ears.
Nightsong did hear something. He looked at Tian Tian and smiled, pained. There was a pause in his step, a slight hesitation, before he stopped and walked up to Tian Tian. He put his hand on Tian Tian’s shoulder and, after a brief moment, grinned. “That wasn’t enough. You saw it. Fuck. Whatever, shit happens. I’ll piss all over them next year and show who can last longer. But this year is all on you now. You can do it, man. Make us proud.”
Daybreak Hermes had followed a step behind Nightsong. He’d put his arm around his friend’s shoulder and looked at Tian Tian. “What this dude here says. Make us proud. You can do this. Just like the Heca and Riven games.”
Tian Tian held the phone close to his ears. And then what? The answer was so simple. This was for the players! This was for the hopes and dreams of everyone who followed the LPL! This was for the glory of the LPL! But more than anything, this was for him! He took a deep breath and said, “Then we’re going to make it to semis!”
It was all on KG now! Hand of God was eliminated. They were the first seed from the LPL and most Chinese fans had vested their hopes and dreams on them. Now that they were out, these fans turned to KG. They acted like lifelong fans and flooded the online sphere with their presence. The added pressure was almost palpable. Even more so since KG had, in the eyes of many, the easiest way to the semifinals. Their opponent wasn’t an Emperor team. They only had to play a King team. Assassins.
Assassins was a team from the LMS. This was the League of Legends Master Series, a competition in which teams from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau competed. They were the best in this smaller region. And not just by a little. This was in part due to their Jungler. Read XIII. He was one of the best Junglers in the entire world, most known for his fantastic Lee Sin. His skills on Lee Sin were so good that many fans considered him the best player on the Champion! The only other player who could lay claim to this title was Orion, another King and Jungler for the Korean team Warrior.
There was a famous Taiwanese esports publication. They ranked all professional teams on their individual skills, teamwork and team synergy. In their rankings, 65 points was the score of a middle of the pack professional team. As for the best few teams in the world, those who were expected to make it to the quarterfinals and beyond at Worlds, they scored a minimum of 80 points. This was where Assassins ranked. Their individual players got them a score of 65. On top of that, they got another 15 points for teamwork and team synergy for a grand total of 80 points! They were one of the best teams in the world!
Lin Feng was talking with Fatty over the phone. The topic had shifted from some motivating words to Assassins’ Jungler. “I’ve been watching some games. That Read XIII sure has gotten a lot stronger!” He was Lin Feng, and he didn’t know how demotivating words could sound. His words were full of excitement. In his eyes, this was the perfect chance for Fatty to show the world just how good he was! He said, “Fatty, you can do it! Read was worse than you! You had one full rank on him! Now he somehow got this King title behind his name. That should be yours! You were better then and you’re better now! You just have to beat him for the rest of the world to see it!”
Tian Tian wasn’t quite feeling the enthusiasm in Lin Feng’s voice. He replied, “B-but he’s a Jungler… I’m a Toplaner! I-it’s like apples and oranges. You can’t just compare us. And he’s really good! H-he’s gotten so much better since Season 1.”
“Ah, who cares about that?” Lin Feng laughed. “All you have to do is win. You can do that. Easy. Just do like Eleven did! Eleven—” Eleven was the Jungler on Lin Feng’s team back in Season 1. It was a name he hadn’t said in a long time. One he didn’t intend to say out loud.
Tian Tian heard Lin Feng’s voice breaking off. He thought for a moment the connection died, but then heard his friend breathing on the other side. It was the name. He put two and two together, but didn’t know what to do with it. All he had were his words, and he wasn’t great at using them. The only thing he could think of was a fond memory, one he shared with Lin Feng. He said, “Y-yeah, yeah! Remember how we always made fun of their names? Eleven is better than Thirteen. Hehehe. That guy got so annoyed by it. It was great, hehe…”
It didn’t have the desired effect. There came no reply from the other side of the line. “U-uh… ‘Member XIII?” He stuttered a few more words. “Oh I ‘member!” Anything to get Lin Feng talking again. “That was fantastic.” But there came no reply. Lin Feng didn’t start talking again. So he stopped, holding the phone to his ear, not knowing what to do.
Lin Feng thought back to his road to Worlds in Season 1. His team was only one step away from securing the Asian wildcard. Their final opponent was the team Read XIII was on. It was a best of three series. The series came down to a difference in Junglers. Eleven outplayed Read XIII in both games, landing Lin Feng’s team a clean sweep. They qualified, while Read XIII and his team were sent home and could only cheer on Lin Feng’s team. Something they promised to do.
The two teams even made plans to meet up again in the next season. They’d had that much fun in the series! Read XIII was especially interested in this rematch. He wanted, needed even, a chance at revenge! With only this in mind, he started practicing. He trained and he trained to become the better Jungler, to become the better player. But the next year, Eleven had disappeared from the professional scene just like Lin Feng had. There was no revenge to be had for Read XIII. That didn’t slow him down. He kept working hard and had fought his way into the Seven Kings!
Lin Feng bit his lips, then finally said, “Hey, Fatty. After your games, I want to talk to you about something.”
Tian Tian held the phone closer to his ear. He smiled when he heard Lin Feng’s voice again and started nodding. “Okay!”
Lin Feng forced a smile on his face and hyped up his voice. “You have to win! You can do it! Just do it! I’ll do the same tomorrow in the next round of my tournament!”
League of Legends fans from around the world opened their favourite streams. So too did Su Xue’s viewers. They were looking for the best viewing experience of Day 4 of the League of Legends World Championships! The all Chinese team KG would face off against Assassins for a spot in the semifinals! To them, no one was better at analyzing than Lin Feng! Their li’l bro! But it wasn’t his voice that welcomed them. It was a female voice. The one that belonged to the maid. “Go KG! Go KG!”
「GO AWAY STUPID MAID」
「stop waving around that jerky like a fool…...」
「lill brroooo, help us get rid of the maid pllssssssssss」
「Why does she always have to be here?」
「remember the games with just lil bro? Those were the days」
「she isnt goin to be givin that shit analysis talks again right」
This was how the viewers showed their affection with Su Xue. It was a game where they were offensive while she pretended to be infuriated. There was never a dull moment in the stream because of that. More importantly, right now, it helped to get the viewers’ minds off the game. To forget about their nervous anticipation. KG had to win. They just had to! It couldn’t be any other way!
Lin Feng sat next to Su Xue. His eyes were on the stream, instead of on chat. The camera panned over to the players from KG, showing closeups of their expressions. When Fatty came on screen, Lin Feng started smiling and balled his fist. You can do it! Come on, Fatty! Do it!
The Zenith Paris was full of excited fans. Even if the game didn’t feature a European team, that didn’t dampen their mood one bit. Everyone had found their favourites, many of them leaning towards KG after their phenomenal performance in the second week of the group stage. They were clapping their glow sticks together and cheering for the 10 players as they took to the stage and sat down behind their computers.
Tian Tian sat down behind his computer. He heard the fans in the background, cheering his name! Beads of sweat rolled off his forehead and trickled down his face. These were just 9,000 people. There were millions more watching online, counting on him to carry KG to the semis. He was the hope for the LPL. He was the only one who could do this! Closing his eyes, he breathed in deeply. The air filled his lungs. Then he blew it all out, letting the tension in his body go with it.
“I-i’m going to win! I will win! Win! Win! Win!” His eyes snapped open. Tian Tian looked up from his screen at the crowd in the arena. At all the people cheering for him! For his team! For all the people watching him play at home! For Nightsong and Hermes! For Lin Feng, and most importantly, for himself! He was going to win! No matter how hard it was going to be. No matter how strong Assassins played today! No matter how shit his team was today! No matter anything and everything! He was going to fight! He was going to never give up! And he was going to win! He looked at the screen and placed his hands on his mouse and keyboard. It was time to play!
KG and Assassins locked in their Champions. They loaded into the game and went with a standard strategy. There were no early level invades into the other team’s jungle, nor were there lane swaps. It was a pure matchup of skill. A matchup KG won. They pushed the different lanes, with top tower being the first to fall. Tian Tian kept putting pressure and forcing Read XIII, Assassins’ Jungler, to make trips up top. The rest of KG used this time to push their lanes. From there it was a methodical finish. Assassins’ Nexus exploded after 32 minutes.
This was the start that KG’s fans wanted to see! Assassins was a King team. KG only had God Roundy. But KG was the team dictating the pace of the game. There was no evidence that Assassins actually had a King on their roster. In the first game, anyways. The second game was a little different. It was a lot more even and at 35 minutes, KG tried to make the difference by trying to kill Baron Nashor without Assassins noticing. They did notice. Read XIII played Rek’Sai and was waiting around the edge of the Baron Pit. Waiting for that one moment. That one opportunity.
KG’s Jungler played Jarvan IV. He tanked Baron Nashor while his team killed it. His health was dropping, but there was no sign of Assassins coming to stop them, so he kept pushing. He kept pushing. And then a tunnel appeared on the map. It came from the other side of the wall. Rek’Sai clawed herself out of the tunnel and knocked the Jarvan IV airborne. She followed up with a quick auto attack to kill the Jarvan IV. Then she turned to Baron Nashor.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
THE WOMAN IN THE RED DRESS
The life of an amnesiac is not a particularly fun one, in general. I’ll tell you the worst part of it is that most people around you think you’ve had some sort of psychotic break down. The people that I used to know in my old life, the one before J. Edgar Hoover went crazy on my brain, tip-toe around me like I’m going to snap and wring their necks. Like in that book ‘Wringer’. Or not, I wouldn’t know. The most annoying part about this is that I constantly have flashes. I remember names, books, movies. Rather, the titles of books and movies. I never know what goes on in them. I’m a silver-lining kind of guy though. You wouldn’t know it if you met me, but I’m so damn cheerful that I glow in the dark. So the silver lining is that I never have to ask people for recommendations on books and movies. The old me takes care of that, and surprisingly enough, I usually like the crap that pops into my head. This is useful because I have tons of free time. No one really wants to hire someone that has marketable skills, but simply forgot them. I got a copy of my resume, and I know nothing about the man on that page. Thus, we end up with the old me and the new me. My doctor told me to keep a journal, and hopefully my memories would return. The whole talking to myself via the written word got a bit too creepy for me though. I’ve already got a person I don’t remember whispering suggestions to me in my head. I don’t need to be talking to myself. So I decided to write to all of you, my adoring fans. I’d get a Twitter, but the doctor said that I wouldn’t get anywhere in a 140 characters or less. Plus, you know, I have a twitter and I don’t remember the username and password.
When they talk about amnesia in the movies and television, they always show a guy waking up in a sweat, not knowing anyone around him. The terror is evident on his face; his world is reeling, so on and so forth. Clearly, a very horrible situation for the amnesiac, the viewers, and the bored writer that came up with the storyline. They never really go into it, though. It’s always the first few days you see, never the first four weeks or first four months. How about that first date post-amnesia? You know, I’m one of a hundred guys on the planet that can actually walk up to a woman and say, “I’ve lost my phone number. Can I have yours?” and be telling the truth. It wouldn’t even be a line; it would just be another sad, lost amnesiac looking for his place in the world. Think about it for a moment though, how exactly does one pick up a woman? I’d tell a joke, except I don’t remember the punch line. Nor am I sparkling conversationalist. The bitter overtones discourage charm. Besides, the world started a couple of months ago for me. Current events are too cutting edge for me. For us Amnesiacs, women are hard to come by.
So you can imagine my pain when I saw her; the woman in the red dress. I was at a party with someone who used to be my friend. Not that he wasn’t when he took me to the party, but I just don’t have the shared experience with him that I had in my old life. Still, the poor guy liked to take me to places with the hope that I’d return to a semblance of my old self. I did what I usually do, I smiled and mingled. I said hello, and my former friend whispered names to me at exactly the right moments. It was a dance that he and I did every few weeks, and by now we had it down perfectly. He knew when I’d get uncomfortable, and when to swoop in to save me. He’d twirl me at a new bunch of people, letting me get acclimatized. If he were a girl, my life would have been so much better.
That’s when I saw her, dancing in that red dress. As she spun, she set my eyes ablaze. Every step she took drew me to her, I couldn’t look away. Everything else faded, and nothing else mattered except that woman in the red dress. From the moment she looked at me, I knew that she knew that she had me completely. I was ready to die for her, and I’d been given one more life than most people had. She whirled on the dance floor; I watched the light reflect off her dress. The brilliant reds, sapphire blues, and the melancholy greens; I felt as if I remembered everything that was worth remembering. In those precious few seconds, I finally felt like a person again. She looked at me again, cocked her head and winked. I walked over, and she grabbed my hands and began to dance. I don’t remember if I danced well, and not because of the amnesia. She transfixed me to the extent that I could focus on nothing else. She whispered in my ear, asked my name. I mumbled back that I didn’t remember. She laughed, danced, and told me that it didn’t matter.
This is the part when you’d expect everything to become magically better in my life, while the Elton John song plays in the background and I dance all my cares away. Except this isn’t a Disney movie. Things don’t magically work out, and a singing lobster doesn’t run around telling you that things are better under the sea. So when this random woman who actually managed to call me over and make me feel like a person suddenly told me that my name didn’t matter in the slightest, it pissed me off. Not in the normal sense of I’m-slightly-miffed. She managed to piss me off to the extent that I wanted to smash her head in with a bottle, and then ask her if it didn’t matter that she didn’t remember a single thing at all.
I didn’t, obviously. I’m a charming guy after all. I honestly don’t even know why it made me so angry. It’s not that I forgot my name from the amnesia. The whole moment was so unexpected that I barely knew how to react. Still, something about the act of forgetting managed to get my Irish up, and when she said that it didn’t matter, it made it sound like everything in my life. So I did what I always do nowadays. I danced with her, made some polite small talk about this and that and how the finger food was horrible at this particular party. Then I ditched her, and decided to run out of the party. As I walked around the parking lot, I figured out what the worst part of this entire experience was. See, I’m not even a real person anymore. I’m not a life, or a bundle of experiences. In essence, my very humanity was sucked away; I’ve been kissed by a Dementor. The only thing I am is a footnote; the living conclusion to another man’s life.