Chapter 1: Retired as a Casual
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
DOTA Tournament, London, England
Dazzling neon lights flared in the tournament hall, and multi-colored LEDs lit up the awards stage!
Upon the stage, five English contestants raised a trophy high over their heads, beaming proudly. Beside them, a statuesque woman popped open a bottle and sprayed them with champagne in celebration of their victory!
The one in the middle was a handsome young Englishman with brown hair. Flashing a gorgeous smile that made girls swoon, he looked down at another young man, beneath the stage.
He was the triumphant heart of the winning team. Only seventeen, he was the prince of the English e-sports scene!
“I learned a Chinese proverb.” Rather than delivering a winning speech, the champion was directly addressing that young man beneath the stage. “A man is only as good as his word. Now that you’ve been defeated, please uphold your end of our wager, and give up DOTA forever!”
The one he was speaking to was a young man with jet-black hair, a bit on the skinny side.
Standing before the radiance of the Prince of Gaming and his blinding smile, all he could do was nod mutely.
“Here now, this is the talented player known as Hawk—let’s have a smile, so we can commemorate this moment.” A photographer approached the dark-haired youth, speaking perfect Chinese.
Facing the camera, the young man cracked a smile.
It was a smile which tore his heart to shreds!
Now, he understood: Often, there was no prize for second place. In war, for example.
To him, multiplayer gaming was a battlefield. Although there was neither smoke nor bloodshed, the defeated were little better than corpses, with no fate to look forward to besides slowly rotting away in the dirt.
That was e-sports, the same as any other event with lots of competitors involved, hardly anyone would remember who came in second.
His name was Yu Luocheng. Game ID: Hawk.
But he had to withdraw from the professional gaming scene for his beloved DOTA, and not merely because of his gamble with this English prodigy.
One year later.
Upon the balcony of an unremarkable residential apartment, verdant evergreen boughs waved gently in the wind coming off the river. If only the wind wasn’t also carrying the stench of fetid water, Luocheng might have called this an incomparably lovely morning.
Short black hair, a white singlet, baggy shorts, a pair of flip-flops: the very portrait of a loser.
Thank goodness the face wasn’t too bad to look at, and with the deliberate air of melancholy he wore about himself, there was a roguish sort of charm to him!
Luocheng was holding up an English book, slowly memorizing new words.
Truth be told, he spoke English rather well, especially when it came to words and phrases used to inquire about one’s family and loved ones—why, one he could say he had a marvelous talent for it!
There was no helping it: If you needed to swear at someone in England, it was no good to do it in Chinese.
“I’m telling you, Luocheng can catch up in his studies. One practice exam and he’s already in the top 30 for the school. He’s a genius, no matter what you throw at him!” A woman’s voice could be heard from the kitchen, tinged with pride and admiration.
“Hmph, if not for your encouraging him to keep playing those damned games, his grades would be even better. He could easily get into Tsinghua University, no problem. Top 30? That’s a far cry from good enough. If he can’t do any better than some unremarkable university somewhere, I’ll smash that computer of his!” Now it was the voice of a middle-aged man.
“You dare—you dare try that and I’ll throw all your smokes and your drinks straight into the rubbish heap! So what if he plays games? It’s even taken him to foreign lands! Have you ever gotten out of the country?” The woman had instantly flown into a rage!
“You… It’s all because you’ve spoilt him! If one day he finds stuck in a dead end, it’ll all be your fault! What future is there in gaming?” the middle-aged man blustered in frustration.
“So what if it all falls to me? Tell me how you’ve been taking responsibility in any of this, tell me that!”
“I can’t be bothered!”
It was the usual quarrel between his parents. Every morning, Luocheng was either woken up by his alarm clock, or more likely the ceaseless squabbling between the two.
Their apartment was just eighty square meters in all. It offered no place for him to hide from that cacophony.
The woman was obviously Luocheng’s mother, Li Yun. The typical doting mother who loved her son more than anything else in the world.
The middle-aged man was his father, Yu Jing. Harsh in manner and short of temper, he was basically the same as every father.
“Mom, Dad, I’m going to school.” Packing his English book away, Luocheng put on the hideous uniform, slung his bag over his shoulder, and went to the door to put on his shoes.
“Alright. Stay safe out there.” Li Yun poked her head out of the kitchen and watched until her son had finished putting on his shoes, before continuing to do the dishes.
When she was done in the kitchen, Li Yun went to tidy up her son’s room.
In the room, Li Yun noticed some lights still flashing from the computer screen. Obviously Luocheng had forgotten to turn it off.
“This child, waking up early just to sneak in a few games,” Li Yun muttered with some exasperation. Quietly, she shut the door, for fear that if Yu Jing noticed, there might be another outburst.
Approaching the computer, Li Yun noticed that the game program was still open. Across the top, bold words announced some sort of ‘League of Legends’.
“What sort of game is this?” she wondered curiously.
Then she saw ‘Rank 1,900 points’, but she didn’t know what that meant, either. She moved the mouse cursor over to close the game window, and then shut down the computer.
Achievements in the Olympics were worth merit, and so was doing well in academics, in regional competitions… but getting second place in an international gaming tournament? Not only was it not worth any credit, the board might also hesitate to admit you into their school.
Yu Luocheng was a hardcore gamer. Ever since middle school, he’d won first place even in silly things like bubble puzzle games, go-kart racing games and the like. Later, he became obsessed with Warcraft, and then DOTA. He could bury those so-called genius scholars under all the prizes that he’d won.
However, it was well-known that no matter what your accomplishments in the field of gaming, the grand majority of parents and relatives would label you as a good-for-nothing loafer.
Luocheng was currently enrolled in a prominent regional high school, and it had cost his family several years’ worth of savings to get him in there. His previous school was no good, which was why he’d been able to find enough free time to become a pro gamer during his first two years of high school.
In June of his second year, he’d flown off to take part in an international DOTA tournament, but after that had ended, he’d gone back to concentrating on his studies like a good little boy.
The grand prize for the international DOTA tournament had been three hundred thousand RMB. But there had been no reward for placing second.
As for why, you’d have to ask the organizing committee in Britain.
With two years of his high school education wasted, his family had paid an exorbitant price to transfer him to a better school. He wasn’t from a wealthy family, and it had pained Luocheng to see the despair on Yu Jing’s face, so he’d been working hard for the past year.
A talented person could find success in many areas. Doing well in academics was also a matter of talent.
Yu Luocheng was a talented person. Not only had he regained what had been lost in the short span of a single year, he’d even surpassed some of the star students there, as he’d demonstrated in the recent round of exams.
Of course, just because he was putting an effort into his studies, that didn’t mean he’d given up on gaming.
To some in his generation, gaming was a second life.
As Garen would say, ‘Hold fast!’
Some things were worth fighting for, and gaming was one of those things.
Luocheng had been keeping his promise to that English dude, and hadn’t touched DOTA since. However, he’d found a new love in League of Legends.
Even if he couldn’t be a pro gamer, it was fine just to play casually too.