They hadn’t even gone onstage yet and the mockery had already begun. This knife at Zhang Jiale was particularly cruel – even the stadium worker nearby couldn’t keep a straight face.
But these people from Tyranny had interacted with Ye Xiu for far too many years, and understood him very well. And Zhang Jiale was such an easy target, it’d be strange if Ye Xiu didn’t take a few jabs at him. So even though Zhang Jiale expressed his indignation, Tyranny as a whole remained fairly unruffled. They were all so familiar with each other that even if the hostility was high, they just treated it all as insults traded between bad friends. Notably, when Ye Xiu said this, some people in Tyranny almost laughed. Such as Lin Jingyan.
When Lin Jingyan saw Zhang Jiale twist his head to look at him, he hastily turned it into a cough. Adjusting his glasses, he regained his composure.
“When did you become nearsighted?” Fang Rui happened to be standing across from Lin Jingyan. Fang Rui wasn’t as familiar with the others in Tyranny, but he and Lin Jingyan had been partners back in the day, so of course the degree of familiarity wasn’t the same.
Lin Jingyan adjusted his glasses again. “They’re plain glass.”
“Trying to look all intellectual?” Fang Riu said.
“I think they looked quite good!” Lin Jingyan appeared to be quite satisfied with this new accessory. But then, he heard another voice speak up from behind Fang Rui.
“You’re a Brawler, what kind of Brawler wears glasses to look intellectual?”
Steamed Bun. Only Steamed Bun would have such strict views on Brawlers.
“My character’s class is a Brawler, thanks.” Lin Jingyan felt gloomy as he turned and answered Steamed Bun.
“You don’t like Brawlers? Then why’d you pick one,” said Steamed Bun.
“I…” At this point, Lin Jingyan couldn’t explain any further. This Steamed Bun insisted on drawing an equals sign between the in-game Brawler class and a real-life brawler. Alright, the Brawler class did have the aura of a street thug, but this was still a separate matter, okay? Did using this class mean that you had to have the aura of a street thug?
Lin Jingyan looked at Steamed Bun through his plain-glass glasses, and found that he couldn’t say anything. This guy really fit the image! This hairstyle, this attitude, this attire, throw him onto a street and anyone would recognize him as a little brawler! And… quite a handsome brawler at that.
“Haha…” Aside from a weak chuckle, Lin Jingyan really had no idea what to say. In the end, Happy’s trash talk did have some effect, not from the experienced Ye Xiu, but from the rookie Steamed Bun.
Fortunately, they were finally about to walk onto the stage.
Ye Xiu, Han Wenqing…
When the two captains met at the center of the stage and shook hands, the entire stadium erupted with enthusiastic applause.
Both of them had once stood at the peak of Glory, had experienced ups and downs. Now, ten years had passed, and they still stood on this stage, still stood on this battlefield, still faced off against each other.
Whether they loved or hated them, no one could erase the respect held toward these two people. The two of them shook hands and prepared for battle, once more, after so many times throughout the years. Everyone delivered up applause, no matter whether they were Happy fans, Tyranny fans, or old Excellent Era fans looking for excitement.
But soon after the applause…
Such brutal and foul language immediately rose up within Xiaoshan Stadium. Respect had been expressed, so the next step was to establish dominance.
The two of them had faced off for ten years, and the fans behind them had faced off for ten years as well. Even if their team backgrounds were thrown away, these two people’s names were enough to ignite a fiery chaos.
The emotions of the stadium were immediately bursting aflame, and under this ruckus, the players of the two teams continued to shake hands down the line. After that, the players returned to their respective player areas, and Ye Xiu alone remained onstage.
“Ohhhhhhh!!” In Happy’s home stadium, there were naturally many Happy fans. Seeing this, they immediately started cheering. They knew all too well what this meant – this meant that Ye Xiu was still the first up. Starting from the second round of the regular season, up through the second round of layoffs right now, he had always been Happy’s first player, and he had yet to lose a single 1v1.
Loyal fans didn’t even recognize this streak anymore.
It should be 39!
There was no “individual competition” in the playoffs. There was only the group arena, and they couldn’t expect anyone to 1v5, right? So, because Ye Xiu had twice defeated the opponent’s first player, they counted that result into the record. Quite a few people were emphasizing that Ye Xiu’s current win streak was no longer 37, but more accurately 39.
And now, for the 40th time, Ye Xiu was Happy’s first player. There was no more suspense – after the pre-match formalities, he simply remained onstage and aimlessly strolled around.
In the past, this would have been quite a valuable shot, because Ye Xiu never made public appearances before. He’d always hide very well. But now, it had already been a whole season, so that mysterious aura had long since disappeared. By wandering around onstage now, in everyone’s eyes, it looked like he was trying to provoke Tyranny.
I’m right here. Which of you will come to fight me?
“Who’s coming?” Happy’s fans knew how to get hype, and immediately began shouting.
“Han Wenqing, you dare come?” Someone shouted this. In theory, if a Happy fan wasn’t formerly an Excellent Era fan, they shouldn’t have much reason to hate Han Wenqing. But everyone at least knew that there was so much history between Han Wenqing and Ye Xiu, and so at this time, they wouldn’t shy away from helping their own team’s captain provoke the other.
Of course, everyone loved this this kind of topic, and so very quickly, the entire stadium was helping Ye Xiu call out Han Wenqing.
Tyranny’s fans had no way of retaliating.
Because the player order was decided before the match, if they really hadn’t set Han Wenqing as the first player, there was no way that they would decide to change the order just because the whole stadium was shouting for Han Wenqing to come onstage.
But… Happy’s choice to send Ye Xiu first was a very obvious thing, right? Would Tyranny back down from such a challenge?
Of course they wouldn’t.
This was Tyranny, this was their captain Han Wenqing. Knowing that Ye Xiu stood before him, would he retreat?
What a joke.
When they thought to here, Tyranny’s fans immediately gained confidence. Thus, they also began to shout for their captain, as though it was a guarantee that Han Wenqing would come onstage.
All the way until the digital screen flashed with Tyranny’s first player. All the way until, in Tyranny’s player area, the first player stood up.
The stadium quieted down for a moment, and then Happy’s fans exploded with crazy jeering. And Tyranny’s fans? They were silent.
Tyranny’s first player: Qin Muyun. Character, Sharpshooter Negative Nine Degrees.
Han Wenqing actually retreated? He’d clearly known that Happy’s first player would be Ye Xiu, and yet he still didn’t stand forward to fight Ye Xiu, instead leaving this opportunity to Qin Muyun, this most overlooked player of Tyranny’s main roster?
The audience was shocked, as were the commentators Pan Lin and Li Yibo.
This was entirely outside of their expectations. Pan Lin and Li Yibo had just been talking about how Ye Xiu’s position as Happy’s first player had never changed, and so in the confrontations in this round of the playoffs, it was very possible that Ye Xiu would 1v1 Han Wenqing a number of times.
“Best of three. This ten-year conflict might finally see an answer,” Pan Lin had noted, but unexpectedly, Han Wenqing actually hadn’t come up to fight.
“This…” At first, the two wondered whether Han Wenqing had sustained some injury, and wouldn’t be able to fight at all today. But when they thought again, they remembered he had still been playing well last round. Would he suffer such a serious injury in just a few days? Tyranny couldn’t be that unlucky!
The two exchanged glances. They had no idea how they would explain this. The televised broadcast ignored Qin Muyun as he went onstage, instead choosing to show a close-up of Han Wenqing.
Tyranny’s captain merely sat in his seat, his face cold, his attention on their player walking onstage. It didn’t seem like there was anything unusual going on.
The match hadn’t even begun yet, but the player order had already given everyone a big surprise. It was just completely outside of everyone’s expectations, expectations that had been formed over the course of ten years.
Ye Xiu, too, was surprised.
The broadcast didn’t skip over him, and furiously snatched close-ups of his reaction when Tyranny didn’t send up Han Wenqing.
Ye Xiu was indeed somewhat caught off-guard, somewhat surprised. He glanced toward Han Wenqing, still in Tyranny’s player area. But then, he smiled lightly.
Was it mockery?
Those who saw this immediately began analyzing Ye Xiu’s smile.
This smile looked more like one of understanding, more like one of relief.
When Han Wenqing’s expression was shown next to his onscreen, this feeling became even stronger.
After shaking hands with Qin Muyun, Ye Xiu headed to the player booth to prepare for the upcoming battle. Everyone was still discussing what it meant that Han Wenqing hadn’t come onstage, and poor Qin Muyun was completely overlooked.
“Han Wenqing isn’t going up against Ye Xiu first battle, are you watching this?”
Huang Shaotian had come to watch the match live. With his status, getting the best VIP seats wasn’t difficult, of course. There was no way he could sit with the masses, because after all he was a top star of Glory as well. Right now, seeing Tyranny’s arrangement, Huang Shaotian sent out a text.
“I’m watching.” A reply came – Yu Wenzhou.
“What do you think he’s trying to do?” Huang Shaotian continued to ask.
“Stepping back,” Yu Wenzhou replied.
They were all players at the highest level. With such great mutual understanding, not much needed to be said.
The one thing that it had always looked like Han Wenqing didn’t know how to do was step back. But now, he made this kind of choice. Was he yielding, was he compromising?
No. There was absolutely no way.
If Han Wenqing knew how to yield, how to compromise, then countless people’s worldviews would be completely shattered.
Han Wenqing was changing. In the twilight years of his professional career, for the sake of that goal, he was adjusting himself. Much of this could be seen, in fact, from his performance over the course of the regular season.
Stepping back wasn’t compromising, even less so yielding.
Stepping back was a wisdom, a wisdom that Han Wenqing understood, but was unwilling to accept. Yet this time, he had done it. And this was just an arrangement of player order. On the actual battlefield, the Han Wenqing who now knew how to step back, what kind of performance would he bring?