CH 252

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“Oh, right, guys, before you go home,” Luo Yu said to his teammates from the Shanghai University of Finance’s esports team.
They were leaving the esports clubroom after a few hours of practice.
He waited for them to turn back to him and then continued, “We’re scrimming on Saturday against Team Shanghai.
They’re the high school team from the Shanghai Esports Association that’s playing in the Winter Collegiate Cup.”

“Sorry, what?” Xie Qing, the team’s Support, blurted out.

Qiu Le, who was the ad-carry of the team, looked at Luo Yu in confusion and said, “Yeah, what the hell, man? Since when are high schoolers playing in the Collegiate Cup?”

“It’s a new format,” Luo Yu explained.
“The three big esports associations are each drafting a team of high schoolers for the Collegiate Cup.”

“High schoolers?” Huang Yang, the team’s Jungler, blurted out.
“Wait, hold on, stop, wait, what?” He looked at Luo Yu and said, “You’re joking with us, right? Joking.
You have to be! Tell me if you’re not, so that I can go call an ambulance because you’re clearly sick in the head!” He waited to see if Luo Yu was going to laugh, but his friend didn’t laugh. What the fuck is going on? Why in the world would they invite high school teams? Why would Luo Yu accept scrimming against them? What the… He took a deep breath and said, “You’re serious? The esports association is actually making high school teams join the Collegiate Cup? WELP, there goes the prestige of the tournament.
They’re letting a bunch of kids play in it…”

Xie Qing finally came to his senses after the initial shock.
He nodded at Huang Yang and said, “Do those high schoolers have relatives in the esports association, or something? Maybe they’ve got an uncle with a lot of money, or something? That’s why this is the new format, right? Some cocky kids using their money and connections to force themselves into the Collegiate Cup.
I can’t believe this.
What a fucking joke!”

Qiu Le looked from Luo Yu to Huang Yang and then back to Luo Yu.
He finally said, “I think Huang Yang here is right.
Do we need to call you an ambulance? What is wrong with you? Why would you accept scrimming against a high school team.
Fuck me! What a waste of time!”

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“Guys, please, let me explain,” Luo Yu said.
He waited for his teammates to stop talking and then said, “First off, I didn’t ask to scrim them.
They came looking for us.
And yes, I agreed to—”

“I knew it.
I’m calling the ambulance,” Huang Yang said as he grabbed his phone.

“Wait, wait, please.
Let me explain,” Luo Yu shouted.
“I’m not sick! Give me a damn minute to explain!”

Huang Yang kept his phone in his hand and the touchscreen was alive.
But he didn’t press the buttons.
He looked up at Luo Yu and said, “Well, talk!”

Luo Yu shook his head and smiled.
“The one who contacted me was Zeng Rui.
He’s the team captain of Shanghai High School, and he’ll be playing on Team Shanghai in the Collegiate Cup.
He’s a really good player.
I’ve played a bunch with him in high Challenger.
He is a good Support, guys.
He was even a top 10 Challenger in the Ionia server at one point! So if he believes his team can play against us, then I have to believe that he actually has a strong team.”

Xie Qing frowned and stared very intently up at the ceiling, mumbling, “Shanghai High School… Shanghai High School…” Then he suddenly looked back at his friends and said, “That’s where I remember them from! They’re supposed to be a pretty strong team! I remember because some of my friends said that the Support on their team was scouted by an LSPL team! So… that Support is Zeng Rui then?”

Qiu Le raised an eyebrow and said, “So what if he got scouted by an LSPL team? Luo Yu here has received an offer by an LPL team!”

Luo Yu quickly added, “As a substitute.
But these guys aren’t bad, guys.
I’ve looked into them.
Zeng Rui and their Toplaner are from Shanghai High School.
They’re the guys from that team Xie Qing mentioned.
And then they’ve got three players from High School 13.
It’s some random high school but they apparently have some pretty talented players.
I heard that they defeated Shanghai High School in the Shanghai 16 School Tournament this  year.” He paused for a breath and then continued, “Guys, we can’t underestimate them just because they’re high schoolers.
These are five good players.
That’s why I agreed to scrim against them.”

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Qiu Le and Xie Qing shrugged their shoulders in perfect sync, like a Support and his ad-carry were supposed to be.
Then Qiu Le said, “Whatever, man.
Since you already agreed, let’s humour them with a game or two.”

Huang Yang snorted and said, “Great! We’re going to play against a bunch of brats.
I’m betting you they’re really proud of themselves for winning that high school tournament.
So let’s kick them down and show them how big the difference is between a real university team and their shitty ass team.”

It was Saturday afternoon.
Team Shanghai had met up at the train station near the Shanghai University of Finance and were now walking the last bit to the campus.
Zeng Rui took this opportunity to introduce their opponents.
“This is a really strong team.
They came in 6th last year.
Their starplayer is Luo Yu, their Midlaner.
He’s a top Challenger.
When I looked last night, he sat at a little over 600 points! From what I heard, an LPL team approached him about a position as substitute.
But he turned them down.
That should give you guys an idea of just how good he is.”

Zhang Hao’s eyes went wide and he mumbled, “Invited to play in the LPL? That’s so cool!”

Tang Bingyao’s eyes also went wide, wide with dollar signs.
She was well aware of just how big the professional contracts were these days.
Even substitutes made far more than she made elo boosting accounts.
She nodded and said, “Mhm.
We have to beat them.”

“Wow!” Lin Feng exclaimed.
“It’s so beautiful! I already love it here!” He hadn’t been listening to Zeng Rui, since his full attention was on the large buildings in front of him.
They were the large square buildings from the Shanghai University of Finance.
More impressively, there were beautiful beds of flowers all around them.
There were trees shading paths lined with benches.
And all of this came together at the large fountain, comprising several blocks of cement, that stood in the very center of the grounds.

Team Shanghai stopped in front of the large fountain.
There were university students everywhere.
Some were sitting on the benches, others were passing by, and a couple of pretty girls were standing next to the fountain.
They were talking, giggling, and pointing at people walking by.
And Lin Feng was staring at them.
An Xin noticed it and raised her eyebrow.
“Are you talking about the school, or those girls over there? I can go up to them and get their numbers for you, if you want.
You just have to say the word.
I’ll go right now.
What do you think? Shall I go and ask them?” She took one dramatic step forward.

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“Uh…” Lin Feng scratched the back of his head, embarrassed, then said, “No, no need! I’m… I’m not interested in older women!”

Zeng Rui ignored the exchange between Lin Feng and An Xin.
He’d quickly learned to stay as far away from them as possible whenever they got into another argument.
So he took a few steps away from them and took out his phone.
Then he looked up and searched around the square with his eyes.
“Guys, someone from the esports club is coming to pick us up.
She says she should be here in a minute.
So let’s wait for her here.”

They didn’t have to wait long.
A female student walked up to them seconds later and said, “Hi, you must be Team Shanghai, right? I’m Han Ying.
Let’s, uh…” She looked at the five members from Team Shanghai and then looked at Zeng Rui.
“I thought you said the team was here? Where are your other members?”

“Ye… Eh… Uhhh…” Zhang Hao mumbled in response.
He couldn’t take his eyes away from Han Ying. She’s so pretty! Those black leather boots are so hot! When she’d walked up to them, it was like everything else in the world disappeared.
There was only Han Ying. Her legs… Her eyes! He smiled like a fool and nodded at her. Please talk again.
Say something! Please! He glanced at her eyes every few seconds, but was afraid she’d look back at him.
So he examined the rest of her face. That shawl hides most of her hair.
But it looks so pretty on her.
And I’m sure her hair is just as pretty.
Long and black—

“What other members?” Lin Feng asked, confused, interrupting Zhang Hao’s thoughts.

Zeng Rui followed Han Ying’s gaze to Tang Bingyao and An Xin and realized the misunderstanding.
He quickly explained, “This is our team.
The two girls here are members of the team.”

“Oh, ok,” Han Ying said with a smile.
She looked at Tang Bingyao and An Xin again. Don’t see that everyday.
And they’re supposed to be some good team? Didn’t think they’d have girls.
Oh well, not my business. She shrugged and then pointed over her shoulder.
“Let’s go.
The club is over there.”

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Han Ying led Team Shanghai into Shanghai University of Finance’s esports clubroom.
And when Lin Feng followed her in, his mouth fell open, speechless.
This looked like a proper gaming room, completely different from the computer science lab they had to use at High School 13.
“Wow!” Lin Feng exclaimed.
“They have a stage! And soundproof booths! And look at that LCD screen up there! This is so cool!”

“Mhm.” Tang Bingyao nodded.
“I wonder how much this all cost.”

Hang Ying smiled and said, “Right? It’s beautiful here! We’re really lucky to have such good facilities.
I don’t know how much it costs.
But quite a lot I think.
Well worth the money though, if you ask me.
Anyway, I’ll go let the guys know that you’re here.
Just wait and I’ll be right back.” Then she winked at Zhang Hao before leaving the room.

Four of the five players from Team Shanghai waited exactly where they stood.
They barely breathed.
Lin Feng was the only exception.
He ran around the room, looking at everything and touching it too.
Then he walked into the soundproof booth and shouted something, before coming back out and asking, “Did you guys hear me? What did I say?”

“An Xin glared at Lin Feng and said, “Just sit down and wait.” Then she turned to the others and said, “This is taking them long.
What’s it been? Five minutes?”

Zeng Rui looked at his watch and nodded.
“Five minutes, yeah.”

Five minutes turned to 15 and the players from Team Shanghai got increasingly frustrated.
Everyone complained and had something to say.
Even Lin Feng.
He looked at his phone and said, “It’s been 30 minutes! We could’ve played our first game by now! What are we doing waiting here? Let’s just play a game!”

Zeng Rui looked at Lin Feng and then back at his phone.
He complained, “We agreed to a time and place.
Their clubroom.
At their university.
We had to travel all the way here.
And they’re not here.
This is rude.
Just plain rude.”

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