Chapter 184: Reach For the Stars!
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
It was a long street, filled with crowded tables.
Vendors, cooks, drunkards, songbirds, courtesans, and bustling waiters.
It was always this hectic at this hour, and the smell of roasting meat filled the whole street.
Not far behind them, skyscrapers soared towards the clouds, some shrouded in shadow, some coruscant with light. The cold solitude of their towering reach stood in stark contrast with the cheerful commotion of this cramped little street.
“Da Luo, take it easy, there.” Lin Dong admonished, catching hold of Da Luo’s beer bottle.
“What are you talking about? This is a rare gathering between us all! Come, I’ll pour you a glass. Let’s drink!” Swaying and tottering, he maneuvered the bottle towards Lin Dong’s own glass.
His face was red as a boiled lobster. His eyes were unfocused, and his words were slurred.
Da Luo was totally wasted, which had probably been his intention all along.
With the roller-coaster ride that today had been for him, he wanted the overpowering aroma of wine to ease the pain and anxiety that had built up in his heart.
Sadly, such methods were of no use.
Having been filled in on Da Luo’s travails by Lin Dong, Zhou Yan had no comment to make. Every young man had to go through something like this, in order to grow and mature.
Zhou Yan turned to Luocheng. “Luocheng, am I to take it that you won’t be playing in any more tournaments?”
Luocheng nodded. “Yeah. But I’ll train with you guys, and help out anywhere I can.”
“Alright. Then who’s going to be the team captain?”
“Zhou, old buddy… How about you do it?” Luocheng asked.
Zhou Yan cast an eye towards Lin Dong, as well as the inebriated Da Luo.
Lin Dong expressed no objections. Da Luo blinked at Luocheng and said, “You… You’ve already done it before. Why… Don’t tell me you’re scared to go again? You’re a man, why can’t you… how could you…”
Lin Dong hurriedly caught ahold of Da Luo. The alcohol was causing him to lose his marbles now. Lin Dong helped him over to the washroom. They were in the presence of a lady, here.
When they had left, Zhou Yan picked up where Da Luo had left off. “Is it too hard to get back into the game?”
“It’s not about the difficulty of the game,” Luocheng replied.
“Come to think of it, you’re in university now. You don’t have to sacrifice your own future for the sake of these old regrets.” Zhou Yan added with a nod, “By the way, do you still remember Wu Sen?”
“Yeah, that guy.”
“He used to be on Team TC, but left after some disagreements. Now he’s wandering around unemployed. If you’re not going to be a regular player, we’ll be short a man. How do you feel about bringing him in? He’s a professional Support and ADC, and he’s been playing LOL since it started in America.”
Wu Sen was someone Yu Luocheng had known, back in the old Team Wings. In those days, he’d been on the second roster for Team Sky. He’d been a talented and hard-working player.
After the dissolution of Team Wings, Wu Sen could have taken over as the captain of the first team, but Sky Club’s tyranny and lack of integrity had moved him to leave with everyone else.
“Isn’t Team TC pretty famous?” Qianqian spoke up, recognizing the name.
Zhou Yan turned to regard Qianqian, surprised that this girl was so familiar with League of Legends as well.
“She’s a gamer. Warcraft, Starcraft, Crossfire, LOL… she’s played it all. Only casually, though,” Luocheng explained with a laugh.
Qianqian glared daggers at Luocheng.
Her brother played all sorts of games. Originally, it had been none of her business—but then she got sick one day, and was stuck at home. Seeing her bored with nothing to do, Yang Ying had taught her to play his games—all of them.
“Team TC was one of the top eight teams during the last LPL,” Zhou Yan confirmed. “Their members are all exceptionally skilled, but perhaps they’re still hot-blooded and full of themselves… Put them in a team together, and during the most crucial matches of a tournament, the cracks in their teamwork will show—they’re no match for the more seasoned teams, so they couldn’t make it into the semi-finals.”
He’d been keeping a close eye on developments in LOL. Although normally tight-lipped, when the topic was about the professional gaming scene, he could go on and on. It was evident where he placed his true passions, his true self.
“To be placed among the top eight teams in the nation, that’s already rather impressive!” Qianqian declared.
Nowadays, there were more professional LOL teams in China than you could shake a stick at. Qianqian knew that currently the most well-known team in Lecheng was the one that Luocheng had been in formerly, Team Scarlet.
If every town was home to a group which made their living playing League of Legends, and there were thousands upon thousands of towns across China, being able to fight your way into the top eight of the LPL was, without a doubt, a highly remarkable achievement!
“Essentially, we’ve got enough members to go on for now,” said Zhou Yan. “Next, we should prepare to take part in some serious competitions. We have to get ready for the Regional Qualifiers as soon as possible.”
“What’s a qualifier?” Finding herself in unfamiliar waters, Qianqian asked in eager curiosity.
“The ‘LOL Pro League’ (LPL) is the most prestigious pro-gaming tournament in the nation, because it’s the only path by which you can reach the international-level ‘League Worlds’ tournament.”
Qianqian knew this much already. It was the main reason why the LPL was unquestionably the premier tournament in the region.
The LPL Regional Qualifiers were a series of elimination matches to select worthy competitors. Those teams that made it through to the LPL proper were considered first-class teams.
Those that failed to make the cut would only be seen as second- or third-class professional teams, at best. This comprised pro-gaming teams which had managed to get first or second place in cyber café contests, campus championships, G-League tournaments, and similar.
To put it simply, making the LPL was the ultimate aspiration, the highest tier in competitive gaming.
The top two seeds from the LPL would automatically be eligible for the world tournament, and everyone vied for that honor. To make it into the LPL was to stand among the best of the best.
The LPL Regional Qualifiers were an example of a second-tier professional tournament. This comprised of three separate events: The Champions War, the Media War, and the Server War.
(Translator’s Note: Similar to how other regions have Spring and Summer Play-Offs, Regional Qualifiers, etc. League of Legends in China seems to have multiple official tournaments throughout the year, with fancy names as shown. I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with a best-guess translation, here.)
The top two teams from each of these events would compete in a pre-season tournament starting in January, also known as the LPL World Championship Regional Qualifiers!
Teams taking part in the Regional Qualifiers could be considered second-class pro-gaming teams, at the very least.
The remainder could still take part in various nation-wide competitions, which drew no small number of professional players as well. There were cyber café competitions, campus championships, and so on: sponsored by major corporations, with coverage and promotions handled by specialized e-sports media outlets.
It was the best place for unknown teams to make a name for themselves. Before a team gained enough recognition to participate in first- or second-tier tournaments, they went for this sort of thing instead. There was cash to be won, experience to be accrued!
Even if you did well in these kinds of tournaments, you were still only considered a third-class team.
Otherwise, all manner of regional competitions, even if they were sponsored by Mengniu, Yili, Lucky, Tencent, 37 Wan, Youku, 9U, and so on… those were lower than third-class.
Competitions at this level were aimed at ordinary players. Although more time-consuming, there were nevertheless substantial rewards to be had.
Gaming teams of third-class or better should have other, more important tournaments to prepare for, so they generally didn’t take part in such mainstream events.
Now that a team had been formed, they had to set a clear aim for themselves.
Would they squabble over amateur competitions, drifting loosely from one event to another, hoping to snatch up those lucrative sponsored prizes… or would they reach for the stars, preparing to overcome the fiercest opponents the world had to offer?
“Shall we start with the mainstream stuff, or head straight for the big leagues?” Da Luo’s head was feeling a lot clearer, now that he’d had a moment to take a breather.
“Getting into the LPL is easier said than done,” Lin Dong declared frankly. “We used to have amazing teamwork together, but it’s been a while. The main problem is that there are a whole lot more teams to compete against in LOL, compared to our DOTA days. It’s like everyone and their dog is an elite player nowadays.”
“Well, we can’t settle for the small-time. No one will respect us!” Da Luo whined.
If their once-glorious Team Wings couldn’t even make it as a third-class team, they would become the joke of the century!
Zhou Yan spoke up. “Lin Dong, getting the team back together was your idea. I suppose you’ve already figured out some kind of plan for us?”
Lin Dong nodded and replied, “We definitely can’t muck around with the mainstream competitions—that would just wear us out. We have to make some real progress in the professional scene, and win one of the pre-season tournaments!”
“I seem to recall that there are three ways to become eligible for the LPL Qualifiers,” Da Luo said. “The Inter-City Champions War, or the Media War between various corporations, and finally the Server War.”
Qianqian felt like she might have been mistaken about something. She asked in a whisper, “Didn’t they say that being the top few teams in the Coca-Cola Cup would be enough to get a place in the LPL?”
Lin Dong shook his head with a smile. “That’s just an urban legend. The Coca-Cola Cup was just a third-class tournament. Getting into the LPL to become one of the country’s top eight teams could hardly be that simple!”
Qianqian opened and closed her mouth, like a goldfish.
Even a nation-wide tournament like the Coca-Cola Cup was still at least two levels away from the first-class LPL tournament!
But the teams that had fought during the finals of the Coca-Cola Cup had already seemed as good as anyone could ever hope to get… so how much better were the second- and first-class teams, exactly?
(Translator’s Note: Hopefully, good enough to live up to the expectations of the seasoned tacticians who comment on this series.)
It was a mind-boggling thought!
At present, the team Qianqian was most familiar with was Team Scarlet—but with all that she had learned today, it turned out that Team Scarlet wasn’t even good enough to be considered a third-class team. In fact, they might very well be far short of the mark!
And even at a tournament of that level, Luocheng had suffered the occasional defeat. If they faced off against opponents stronger than Team Scarlet—perhaps a great many times stronger—would they really be able to get anywhere?
No matter how much faith she had in Yu Luocheng, Yang Qianqian couldn’t help but begin to worry about the future of this fledgling team.