Chapter 16: Showdown (3)
Translator: Nomyummi Editor: Nomyummi
This was the last match to end in this stadium. This result was so shocking that for several long moments, there was no sound from a single person. There was only the announcement echoing around the stadium, declaring the winner of this round, congratulating the team that was advancing to the next round.
At this time, the players from the two teams walked out of the competitor booths. Tyranny’s players were beyond excited, charging like crazy toward their captain. But at the last moment, upon meeting Han Wenqing’s gaze, everyone suddenly stopped in their tracks and calmly high-fived, shook hands, and congratulated each other on their victory. Han Wenqing smiled but didn’t say anything, and then he looked toward the other side, toward the two opponents he had just defeated.
When Sun Zheping walked out of the competitor booth, he was still in disbelief. He twisted around and saw that Zhang Jiale was still sitting in his competitor booth in a daze, and the others of Hundred Blossoms were all dejected and crestfallen.
Above them, the massive display screen was replaying the thrilling moments in which Han Wenqing instantly killed the two of them. Sun Zheping lifted his head to look, absently watching it over and over again, just like how before he’d entered the professional circle, he’d watched over and over the thrilling moments in which Ye Qiu obtained victory. He didn’t even notice when Zhang Jiale came to stand beside him.
“Fuck.” After watching a full four times, Sun Zheping suddenly let out an angry swear.
The display didn’t just replay the battle. The earlier chat logs were also flashing on the screen.
“Senior, you have let us win.”
“Defeating you is just as difficult as defeating Ye Qiu.”
He thought they’d won, he thought that his praise of Han Wenqing was very sincere, but now, these messages seemed like slaps to his face, one on the left, one on the right.
Compared to the dejection he felt from losing, Sun Zheping felt more ashamed.
“This was my fault,” he said to the teammates standing beside him. “I owe everyone a victory.” He lowered his head; he couldn’t bear to look any of them in the eye.
“Uh…” The teammates exchanged glances, hesitant.
“What’s with this…” Someone finally opened his mouth. “Captain, don’t be like this, we’re all new here. If you’re like this, we don’t know what we should do.”
“Right right right right,” everyone else chimed in.
Sun Zheping raised his head, looking at everyone.
“It’s just a lesson learned!” Zhang Jiale said.
“Don’t act like this has nothing to do with you,” Sun Zheping narrowed his eyes at him. “You had a part in that just now too.”
Zhang Jiale started coughing.
“Then, next year we’ll come again,” Sun Zheping said, looking at everyone.
“Next year again,” everyone nodded emphatically. Sun Zheping looked toward the other end of the stage, where Tyranny’s Captain Han Wenqing was also looking back at them. When he met Sun Zheping’s gaze, he nodded slightly, and then led Tyranny offstage amidst the cheers of the crowd. For the Tyranny supporters, the final moments of this match were simply too enjoyable, too worth the return fare.
With that, the first round of the playoffs ended. All of the teams that were advancing to the second round had used just two matches to cleanly defeat their respective opponents.
Next round’s opponent…
Han Wenqing stood in front of the electronic display in the lobby, studying the updated bracket schedule.
“Wind Howl?” A voice sounded from behind him. Han Wenqing turned his head to see Ye Qiu smoking a cigarette as he stood behind him, also looking at the electronic display.
The Wind Howl that Ye Qiu mentioned was Tyranny’s opponent in the next round. Excellent Era’s next opponent… Han Wenqing’s gaze swept to the other half of the screen. The team that would be competing with Excellent Era for a spot in the finals was…
“Tiny Herb,” Han Wenqing said.
“Mm,” Ye Qiu nodded. “They have a pretty good healer rookie. Speaking of which, I feel like you’re lacking exactly that kind of high-level healer by your side, someone who can control large situations. Want to recruit him to your Tyranny?”
“Still too green,” Han Wenqing said. He of course knew to whom Ye Qiu was referring, Tiny Herb’s rookie Fang Shiqian, an extremely competent healer. This season, a lot of teams had already made offers for him, and even Tyranny’s boss had come to ask Han Wenqing’s opinion, but he was undecided. He recognized Fang Shiqian’s talent, but for now, he felt that Fang Shiqian still wasn’t mature enough. Especially since he liked to switch between Cleric and Paladin, the two healer classes, as part of his strategy. Han Wenqing felt that these changes were a bit excessive. This wasn’t the healer style that he felt best fit Tyranny.
“Hey, don’t look down on the rookie! Being able to switch between two healer classes, what suspense!” Ye Qiu said.
“Then don’t lose to him,” Han Wenqing said, turning and preparing to leave.
“I’m scared you’ll lose to that Brawler,” Ye Qiu said. Tyranny’s upcoming opponent Wind Howl also had a skilled rookie, Lin Jingyan, a Brawler player.
“See you in the finals.” Han Wenqing waved his hand and left.
Three days later, the first matches of the semifinals began. This time, four teams were catching and killing each other, chasing victory. Before the match, people were already making one-sided predictions. This time, finally, there were no surprises. Although Tiny Herb and Wind Howl had skilled rookies, they still couldn’t defeat the shrewd sturdiness of Excellent Era’s Ye Qiu and Tyranny’s Han Wenqing. After two matches, the two teams were cleanly eliminated. To everyone, this result seemed like a matter of course, as though these two teams were destined to lose.
When Fang Shiqian walked out of the competitor booth, he let out a long breath, revealing a very clear fatigue.
Excellent Era… was really too strong.
Fang Shiqian massaged his somewhat numb hands and sighed, helpless. He had already fought to his fullest, but still couldn’t block Excellent Era’s victory. He didn’t blame anyone in particular, he simply felt very deeply the significant difference that remained between their Tiny Herb and Excellent Era.
“You’ve worked hard, Shiqian.” Tiny Herb’s Captain Lin Jie came in front of him now. Even though he was speaking to a rookie, his words were actually quite polite.
“Captain and everyone all worked hard,” Fang Shiqian immediately responded.
“But even if we worked hard, so what?” Lin Jie smiled sadly. There was a reason, of course, why he was so polite to a rookie, and it was that Fang Shiqian, even as a rookie, had already surpassed them in skill.
Their battle had lasted this long thanks to Fang Shiqian’s furious support from behind. But in the end, they still hadn’t managed to accomplish much. The seniors felt that they had been the burden on the juniors, which made them feel ashamed to face this rookie.
“Don’t say that…” Fang Shiqian said a bit nervously, using the respectful form of address. He couldn’t ignore the implication that the seniors’ strength wasn’t enough. Their self-blame made Fang Shiqian extremely uncomfortable and upset, and he didn’t know what he should to let them stop undervaluing themselves.
“Don’t worry! Next season will definitely be different,” Lin Jie said, looking back toward the stands. Over there were Tiny Herb’s supporters, and Tiny Herb’s future – about this, he was confident.
“You’re talking about…?”
“You know,” Lin Jie smiled. “He already has this strength.”
“But right now, we don’t have a position on the team, do we?” Fang Shiqian said tentatively. There were only so many players who could go onstage. If a new player joined, then an old player had to be let go. The seniors were all such good people, Fang Shiqian couldn’t bear to see any of them replaced.
“Position should go to those who are capable,” Lin Jie said. “To be honest, I don’t have the strength to hold that position!” As he spoke, his gaze again moved, landing upon the Excellent Era and Tyranny players celebrating their victories. And the strongest among them had already left the stage by this time. Thinking about that person’s strength, Lin Jie could only smile wryly. He could never be that strong himself, not even in his dreams.
“Captain, you!” Fang Shiqian stared at their captain in shock. The captain was going to give up his position himself? Give his own position and character to that guy? He admitted that that guy was very strong, and he didn’t have much of an opinion toward him personally, but…
“Captain, we can’t be without you!” Fang Shiqian shouted.
“What,” Lin Jie laughed, “the weakest person in the team is me, isn’t it? Such a good character in my hands is only gathering dust! I, more than anyone else, hope to see it shine.”
“You could do it too!” Fang Shiqian said in a rush.
“Silly.” Lin Jie shook his head, and his eyes again returned to the stands of the stadium.
“The future is up to you all now,” he said.
“Captain…” Fang Shiqian looked at him, but he couldn’t bring himself to say any more.