A bet was a bet. Su Xue begrudgingly headed to the kitchen and started busying herself. Even though she was an enchanting beauty, she was quite high spec in other areas too. Her skills with a knife were superb. As soon as she stepped into the kitchen, the air around her changed completely, transforming into something akin to the beloved big sister next door.
Of course, the most beloved thing for Lin Feng was the savory, steaming-hot dishes Su Xue brought over to the table half an hour later. There were braised eggplants, stir fried chicken, squash soup, and tomato and scrambled eggs just to name a few.
Lin Feng widened his eyes. “Wow, amazing!”
Su Xue proudly harrumphed. “Of course. I told you I was a Challenger cook!”
Lin Feng nodded vigorously as his hands greedily reached out to the bowl with squash soup.
After eating about half the rice, Su Xue placed down her bowl. Resting her palm under her chin, she stared in amusement at Lin Feng wolfing down her food with gusto. “Tasty, right?”
“Ryesh, bery tashty!” Lin Feng answered with his mouth full of food.
“How about you take your time and enjoy it? The food isn’t going anywhere.” Su Xue couldn’t help but break into a smile. “Hey, can I ask you something. How did you get so good at League? How long have you been playing?”
Lin Feng swallowed a mouthful of rice before replying, “Oh, I started playing way back in season one, but I took a break from it for around three years. I only recently started getting back into it again.”
“Oh, wow. You started playing in season one? You must’ve been in middle school back then, right?” Su Xue exclaimed in shock. “No wonder you’re so good. You’re a veteran!” She paused for a moment, then looked to Lin Feng with keen interest. “Hey, tell me. What do you think of my play?”
“Nothing special,” Lin Feng replied without a second thought.
“H-hey, hey, hey! You don’t need to be that blunt, alright!?” Su Xue exclaimed. Then, she slumped back down dejectedly. “But you’re right… I’m just a Gold player.”
After a moment of silence, Su Xue looked up at Lin Feng and asked curiously, “Then what rank are you? Don’t tell me you’re really a Challenger?”
Lin Feng shook his head before calmly replying, “No, I’ve never actually reached Challenger. But that’s because back when I played, Challenger didn’t exist. If I were to convert my elo back in season one to the current system, I’d be Challenger.”
“Sure, keep bragging.” Su Xue turned her lips, not really believing him.
Lin Feng scratched his head. “Really, I’m serious here. Not bragging.”
Su Xue sighed. “Damn, if I had the skills of a Challenger, how great would that be? I’d easily sweep away all those famous female streamers!”
“So, you want to become a full time streamer?”
Su Xue nodded before letting out a deep sigh. “Yeah, but things aren’t looking so hot right now. It’s going to be difficult.”
“That’s no problem. It’s good that you have a dream. As long as you persevere, you’ll succeed,” Lin Feng said.
Su Xue couldn’t help but giggle. “Thank you. Hey, what about you then, mister oh so great Challenger? With how good you are, are you planning to become a pro?”
Su Xue said this more as a joke than an honest question. There were already so many famous and godly players out there. Those who truly had what it took to become a pro could be counted on her fingers. So, it wasn’t strange she never considered that Lin Feng actually had such grand and lofty ambitions.
“Mhm. Yeah. I want to become a pro.” Lin Feng nodded seriously. Then, he clenched his fist and solemnly vowed, “I want to become the number one player in the world!”
Su Xue gasped. “Jeez! Don’t you think that’s a bit out there?”
Lin Feng lowered his head back to the bowl and shovelled some more food into his mouth. He then raised his head back up again and said, “I don’t think so. Any pro should strive to be the best, or else what’s the difference between them and anyone else?”
The next day, the 9th of September, the first day of the new school year. Lin Feng had already woken up and gotten dressed while Su Xue was still fast asleep in her room. He grabbed his bag and headed off to Shanghai High School 13. He wanted to get there a little early and get the lay of the land before he started, since he was a transfer student.
Once Lin Feng arrived at the school, he wandered around until he finally found the office of the Head Teacher. It took him a little bit longer than he’d expected. The Head Teacher gave Lin Feng a small orientation and then guided him to the classroom he’d be spending the next year in before handing him off to the homeroom teacher for Senior Class 7. The homeroom teacher beckoned Lin Feng inside the classroom and asked him to briefly introduce himself to his new classmates. This was met with a smattering of politely welcoming applause.
“Right. Lin Feng, is it? Welcome. Hm. A bit late to swap around seats again. How about you just find an empty seat and sit…” The homeroom teacher scanned the room quickly and pointed at the corner desk in the fourth row, at the back of the classroom, “... that one should be good.” The only other student in that row was a guy who had the desk next to the empty one the teacher was pointing at. Lin Feng nodded, walked over to his desk with his bag in hand, and sat down.
Before long, the first lesson of the day began, which happened to be mathematics, and the students of Class 7 returned to their regular drowsy selves. What was the most boring subject in high school? More than two thirds of students wouldn’t hesitate to cast their ballot for mathematics.
Lin Feng earnestly paid attention in the beginning, but he quickly noticed his neighbour one desk over secretly fiddling around with something. He curiously glanced over. His deskmate was secretly looking at his iPhone, browsing some kind of webpage. It looked like a Baidu page about the season 5 world championship for League of Legends.
Oh, right. Worlds is soon. Lin Feng had read the announcement from Riot Games before falling asleep last night. It would officially begin on National Day, the 1st of October, exactly 22 days from today. All of the professional League of Legends players from around the world would gather to compete in the most hyped esports tournament of the year. First, they’d play through the best of a double round-robin group stage. The top two teams from each group would advance to the single elimination knockout bracket until it culminated in a thrilling final round between the top two teams, where a new world champion would be crowned. The whole thing was a grand spectacle, one that set hearts on fire and pounding with excitement.
Lin Feng’s eyes lit up, but then he quickly realized something as a trace of regret surfaced on his face. Even that was fleeting as his expression returned to normal.
At this moment, the deskmate sensed someone’s gaze on him. Startled, he quickly shoved his phone into his desk and whipped his head around.
Lin Feng cracked a friendly smile. “Ah, hello!”
“Oh! It’s you! I thought you were the teacher... Damn, you nearly scared the piss out of me!” The student breathed a sigh of relief, a trace of fear still lingering on his face. He took his phone back out, but held it carefully low so the teacher wouldn’t notice it. He cast a side glance at Lin Feng. “Hey dude. What’s your name?”
“Hehehe. Right right right! I remember now. Lin Feng, I’m Ouyang Decai. Just call me Ouyang.”
“Oh wow. Your family must really want you make it big and get rich…” Lin Feng quietly exclaimed.
Ouyang helplessly curled his lips and sighed. “It can’t be helped. What more can you expect from parents obsessed with running their business? I’m just thanking the heavens they didn’t name me Ouyang Moneybags...”
Lin Feng chuckled at his amusing deskmate. He then switched the topic back to before and asked, “What were you looking at? Something about worlds?”
“Yeah!” Ouyang’s eyes lit up. “You also play League? Only a few more weeks until Worlds! Exciting, right? Best of all, it starts on National Day, so we have no school! I’m definitely going to stay up all night to watch it! I was just looking at this post on Tieba. It was talking about the line-up. Supposedly, it’s the best yet! The three teams that qualified in the LPL are amazing! But I heard the teams from the other regions are also really strong!”
His excitement reaching a crescendo, Ouyang added, “Oh right, you know about the Four Emperors and Seven Kings, right? Nine out of eleven of them will be in Worlds this year!”
Lin Feng scratched his head. “Errm… Yeah, I’ve heard a bit.”
The Four Emperors and Seven Kings, better known as the “Yonko” and “Shichibukai”, was a reference taken straight out of the popular Japanese series “One Piece”. Specifically in this context, it referred to the 11 best professional League of Legends players in the world. They were voted on by the fans for their fame and skill. Of course, this ranking wasn’t official, but a community endeavor.
Among the Seven Kings, there were two players from Europe, two from Korea, one from North America, one from Taiwan, and one from China. As for the Four Emperors, who ranked above the Seven Kings, two were from Korea, one from North America, one from Europe, and… none from China.
This kind of naming sense reeked of eighth-grader syndrome, but Lin Feng didn’t mind. In fact, he was quite fond of it. Back in season 1, there was a similar ranking in the global esports circle, though it went by a different name and had different players on it; most of the players of today had yet to touch the game back then.
On the old list, there were 10 professional players that were lauded as standing at the very apex. However, there was one title that stood far above the rest and left the deepest impression on everyone. Sovereign. The Sovereign of the League of Legends competitive scene.
Recalling these memories from what felt like a lifetime ago, Lin Feng lowered his head, allowing his messy bangs to drape over his eyes and cover his face. In the past, he’d been infinitely close to obtaining that supreme honor. However, he faltered at the very last step.
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It kind of threw me for a loop when I found out schools in China are named after just numbers.