Shen Yanming wondered whether he was viewing people through tinted glasses.
When he shook hands with the opposing player before the match, he always felt that Moonlight appeared gentlemanly but hid malicious intent beneath his smile.
Perhaps it wasn’t just Shen Yanming’s imagination.
After all, when a normal person wants to convey friendliness, they probably wouldn’t tilt one corner of their mouth so much that their whole face becomes unbalanced.
To put it simply, the entire expression looks twisted.
Regardless of whether Moonlight had ill intentions or not, the competition speaks through strength on the battlefield.
Back in the early days of the esports industry, when esports competitions weren’t yet standardized, there would occasionally be behavior that didn’t conform to the rules.
For instance, assessing the situation through the reactions of the audience, or even having the audience report the game’s progress.
There were also ridiculing opponents on the public screen, and some more extreme fans might even throw bottles onto the stage.
But now, competitions were highly regulated, and even those who wanted to cause trouble found it quite difficult.
Shen Yanming couldn’t fathom why Moonlight was feeling so pleased with himself.
Solely relying on their skills, although TR couldn’t be considered weak, it shouldn’t have boosted Moonlight’s confidence to the point where he could display such a smug expression, right?
Shen Yanming really wanted to tell him, instead of trying so hard to look like a son-in-law with a sinister smile on his face, he might as well worry about himself.
The reason Shen Yanming was thinking this way was twofold: aside from wanting to show his true abilities on the competitive stage, there was another reason – the beautiful female commentator who was also hosting the event had walked to the front row of the audience and handed a microphone to a female audience member.
The woman blushed and smiled at the camera.
The cheers in the arena grew louder.
Shen Yanming recognized her; she was Moonlight’s girlfriend.
Their idealized image as a loving and affectionate couple had indeed deeply rooted itself in people’s hearts.
The host had already started the interview by now.
The girlfriend mentioned that she was originally studying in a city two thousand kilometers away, and she rushed to finish her assignments and took leave just to watch Moonlight’s match.
Although she missed several matches before this, she finally made it in time for this one.
The more Shen Yanming listened, the more uncomfortable he felt.
He didn’t even know if this naive girl was aware that her boyfriend was emotionally manipulating her.
He thought that if this scandal came out, Moonlight’s professional career would be over.
It was a pity for the girl.
He glanced at Pudding, who seemed to be thinking about the same thing, and they exchanged a look.
Shen Yanming pouted, shaking his head.
He Changkong stood between the two, perplexed by the strange eye contact they were sharing over him.
He placed his hand on Shen Yanming’s shoulder, giving him a questioning look.
It was just a simple shoulder touch, but Shen Yanming unintentionally shivered a bit.
Gossiping so openly wasn’t appropriate, so he leaned in and whispered into He Changkong’s ear, “I’ll tell you later.”
After speaking, Shen Yanming stood back in position, waiting for the signal from the host that they could enter the players’ room.
He Changkong touched his ear.
The gimmick was over, but they still needed to focus on the game.
For certain reasons, TMM hadn’t scheduled any practice matches with TR.
However, as the saying goes, knowing oneself and the enemy is the key to victory.
Before the match, they had studied several recordings of TR’s previous games.
The team’s tactics were quite standard – splitting into two lanes at the start, with one lane focusing on treasure hunting and the other on facing opponents.
Unexpectedly, this time, quite a bit of time had passed at the start, and the Milk Stabbing Duo1Healer and assassin duo who usually roamed outside failed to initiate a fight, until Pudding exclaimed, “F*ck”
Pudding, “All four of them are coming over to my side.”
Ganging up in a group to outnumber the opponent was a valid strategy, but under normal circumstances, the focus should be on targeting the squishy DPS first.
However, these individuals were acting like lunatics – they completely ignored Nightmare next to Pudding and relentlessly focused their attacks on Pudding alone.
It was truly perplexing.
Even after a while, TR’s Nanny and Tank directly engaged with Nightmare, keeping him occupied while the two remaining DPS concentrated their firepower on Pudding, showering him with skills as if they were unlimited.
Even the commentators were baffled.
“Is this a new strategy they’ve developed? But isn’t it too early to use this at the moment?”
Normally, innovative tactics or strategies were kept as a trump card and wouldn’t be employed during the regular season, especially not during the initial stage of the tournament.
Even if the opponents were relatively strong, the format didn’t necessitate revealing one’s hand so early, considering it wasn’t a knockout scenario.
The final standings were determined by points, so there’s no need to reveal your cards so early.
Shen Yanming looked quite baffled, “Should we go over?”
He Changkong asked, “Can you hold on for a bit longer?”
Pudding nodded, “Sure, I can take a beating.”
He Changkong marked a spot on the map, then turned to Shen Yanming, “There are two goblins spawned here.
Let’s see if we can get the buff first and then head over to support.”
Based on their usual gameplay analysis, triggering a random event before engaging in a team fight would leave them with ample time.
Unexpectedly, a twist occurred at this moment.
Meng Yan was being held back by the opponent’s Nanny and Tank.
While the two of them lacked significant damage output, one had high health, and the other had good sustainability, making them seem like perpetual motion machines.
Every skill Meng Yan cast was like a pebble thrown into the deep sea, creating a small splash before disappearing.
He eventually stopped bothering with the two of them.
However, when he attempted to go over to help Pudding in the fight, the Nanny threw a crowd control skill at him.
He dodged, but this only distanced him further from Pudding.
After finally managing to change direction by leveraging the terrain and landing beside Pudding, Meng Yan directed his accumulated combo at Moonlight, who was also a mage.
Oddly enough, Moonlight didn’t bother dodging.
Meng Yan thought to himself that things were about to go south.
He shouted to Pudding, “Retreat, retreat!”
What they saw next was Moonlight’s character holding up a mirror, pointing it in Pudding’s direction, and directly reflecting the damage Meng Yan had dealt onto Pudding.
This mirror was also an item granted by a random event, capable of reflecting damage.
However, it was extremely rare, and generally, players didn’t guard against it too much.
After all, how could you fight if you were constantly worried about damage bouncing back? It’s better to practice Tai Chi.2It’s better to practice Tai Chi.: It implies that it’s more practical to approach the situation with a calm and strategic mindset, rather than becoming overly concerned about every possible outcome.
Meng Yan hadn’t anticipated that their opponents would be so lucky to obtain the mirror shortly after the match began.
Normally, Pudding could’ve dodged it.
Even now, he almost managed to avoid it.
However, he was just a tad too slow.
He had been besieged by two DPS earlier, and his health was already far from ideal.
This additional blow landed him on the ground, defeated.
Pudding bit his lip, “…I’m sorry.”
At first, Meng Yan paid him no mind.
Without Pudding, he was facing a one-on-four situation.
However, managing to kill four opponents with just a sliver of health left required the perfect alignment of timing, conditions, skill, and luck.
Apart from having exceptional technique and mental fortitude, a bit of luck was needed as well.
Meng Yan executed a series of actions swift and fierce like a tiger, but in the end, he couldn’t escape the fate of being overwhelmed by the enemy’s four-man assault.
When the corpses of both characters lay side by side, Meng Yan glanced over at Pudding.
Seeing Pudding’s pale face, Meng Yan furrowed his brows, “Be honest, are you in pain again?”
Pudding’s current complexion wasn’t the shade of makeup – even with foundation concealing it, anyone could tell he wasn’t doing well.
Pudding shook his head, “I’m really not.”
He wasn’t lying; he wasn’t in pain.
Last night, when he got home, he argued with his father, who had somehow gotten out of jail at some point.
The argument escalated to the point where his father was about to hit his mother.
Pudding had intervened, and in the process, his wounds were inevitably aggravated, resulting in a secondary injury.
At that time, it did hurt, and the pain persisted into the next day.
However, before returning to the base, he had secretly taken a numbing injection, so for now, he couldn’t feel the pain.
In normal circumstances, playing a match should be no issue.
However, he had forgotten that his mental state wasn’t in the best condition.
He had overestimated himself.
Teams that advanced to the second round of the regular season were all competent.
Unless there were actors involved, it was difficult to see a crushing defeat.
What they were competing for was their ability to respond during critical moments.
Just like earlier, a slight delay, a tiny fraction of time – it might have been as brief as a blink of an eye – and he could be taken out of the game.
He didn’t want to make excuses, “It was my mistake, but it had nothing to do with my shoulder.”
He Changkong reassured, “It’s alright, focus on the next part.”
Meng Yan also affirmed, “Yeah, it’s okay.”
Shen Yanming chimed in, “When playing the match, don’t think about the pretty sister.”
Pudding replied, “…Got it.”
After taking down two TMM players in a row, TR seemed determined to finish off the remaining two.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t pull it off.
However, when He Changkong seized the opportunity to revive their two fallen teammates, Pudding’s subsequent performance was still subpar.
While he didn’t commit any major mistakes, he always seemed slightly sluggish at crucial moments.
It was like a vicious cycle; the later the match went on, the more Pudding struggled to keep up.
Compared to the somewhat subdued atmosphere on TMM’s side, TR’s side was noticeably more lively, filled with cheerful laughter and voices.
A well-known team member teased Moonlight, “You’ve got some skill, coming up with such a tactic.”
Moonlight just chuckled.
When he initially suggested focusing all their firepower on Pudding, others thought he was insane.
He had to put in a lot of effort to convince his teammates that Pudding would definitely be TMM’s weak point this round.
Targeting a weak point was a strategic breakthrough in a match, far different from simply targeting Pudding as a player.
But he didn’t tell others how he knew that Pudding would become the weak point.
He messed with Pudding’s mentality.
These days, messing with someone’s mentality wasn’t as easy as it used to be.
Mere taunting wouldn’t suffice.
After all, what kind of insults hadn’t long-time players heard? Why fear a few insignificant verbal attacks? Besides, making disrespectful comments could lead to punishment.
However, what he did was much more than just taunting – he knew it was quite nasty.
Hence, he kept it to himself.
Pudding had a terrible father.
It wasn’t widely known, but it wasn’t exactly a secret either.
Perhaps in an attempt to appear nonchalant, Pudding would openly discuss it when asked by those he had a good rapport with.
Pudding’s father was a chronic gambler and alcoholic, prone to violence even while intoxicated.
When drunk, he’d beat his wife and children.
When Pudding was young, he was forced to endure the beatings along with his mother.
He had even secretly called the police on occasion, but the local officers dismissed it as a domestic matter and never intervened.
As Pudding grew up, he fought back, and his father stopped hitting him.
Pudding had thought his father changed, until one day he returned home from school early and saw his mother being beaten.
He then realized his father hadn’t changed at all; he had simply learned to pick moments when Pudding wasn’t present to abuse her.
His mother was a weak, traditional housewife, and she never dared to speak of such matters to her son.
At that time, Pudding had fought with his father.
Acting on impulse, he and his mother boarded a train to Haicheng overnight.
He stopped going to school, penniless, but luckily, he was somewhat skilled in gaming.
He sent his rank information to all the clubs that were recruiting, joined the youth training team, and initially could only earn a few thousand bucks.
It was enough for him and his mother to get by.
Later, he heard that his father had drunkenly injured someone and ended up in jail.
Pudding assisted his mother in filing a lawsuit, and they finally succeeded in getting a divorce.
Pudding also excelled in gaming, getting better and better, and eventually winning championships.
Mother and son lived a peaceful life from then on.
Of course, Pudding might not have revealed these details in such specificity to others, but through various conversations and hearsay, people slowly pieced together the entire story.
Moonlight couldn’t help but think that Pudding’s lack of personal privacy protection was to blame – after all, there was a reason why they said family matters shouldn’t be aired in public.
He didn’t really want to get involved in all this, but he had been driven by his new, budding relationship.
His new boyfriend had implied that the TMM members looked down on him.
He lost his senses and boasted in front of his new boyfriend that he could definitely win against them.
Once the words were spoken, he was bound to give it his all and try to win.
After all, pulling off something as audacious as a miraculous comeback wasn’t easy.
And then, someone handed him a pillow when he was feeling drowsy, and while he was idly browsing the forums, he came across a post.
A forum post mentioned that a new guy had moved into their area.
Word was that he used to be a street ruffian, had done time, and was now bragging to anyone who would listen about his son being a world champion.
Others told him to stop bragging, and he got furious because he couldn’t provide evidence.
In truth, the post garnered little attention – just idle chatter with no substantial content.
Moreover, the poster didn’t specifically mention who this world champion was, so it quickly faded away from the front page.
Yet, by chance, the post was still visible on the front page when Moonlight stumbled upon it.
Moonlight recalled the old gossip he had heard during his days in the youth training camp.
He reached out to a contact, and to his surprise, the person was indeed Pudding’s biological father.
He didn’t do much, just got a new SIM card and messaged Pudding’s father.
He told him that his son was making more money in one match than some people make in a lifetime.
Since he was his father, Pudding should respect him, and if he asked for money, Pudding would undoubtedly give it.
Moonlight even forwarded Pudding’s private address in Haicheng – obtaining addresses wasn’t difficult in their circle, friends often exchanged such information casually.
Coincidentally, this happened right before a match.
Moonlight managed to time it well.
He got his wish.
Pudding indeed didn’t perform well.
He felt like they were going to win this time.
If Pudding continued to play, he would likely become even more of a liability.
Even if they swapped in an unknown substitute, they might not perform well either.
In any case, the advantage was clearly in their favor.
Pudding struggled to focus, starting from the beginning of the match.
Although he had managed to drive his father away the night before, today, during the match, he couldn’t help but worry about his mother’s safety.
As the mistakes piled up, he began to feel like it was all his fault, and the pressure on him grew significantly.
Even though he’s participated in numerous matches before and knows that it’s crucial to stay composed in situations like this, he finds it incredibly difficult to do so.
The first game was a struggle and ended in defeat.
Pudding didn’t say much.
After returning to the lounge, he apologized to his teammates again.
His voice sounded a bit low, “I’m not in good shape.
Let’s have Ritian take over in the next match… I’m sorry.
I should have let Tian Tian play the first round; I overestimated myself.” Besides overestimating himself, he was also concerned that Ritian lacked experience and might not be able to handle the pressure.
He still wanted to hold on as long as he could.
Reviewing the match, identifying problems, and preventing similar issues in the future were all necessary steps, but this wasn’t the right time for that.
The teammates could see that Pudding’s expression was not good, and they knew that he was probably feeling the worst right now.
Criticizing their brother further at this point, when they’ve already lost, wouldn’t make much sense.
Meng Yan went over and draped his arm around Pudding’s shoulders.
He usually pokes fun at him, but now, he couldn’t find any hurtful words to say, “It’s okay.
Just sit back and watch us, your brothers, show off on the stage.
We’ll talk more after we’re done.”
Pudding responded with a muffled acknowledgment.
The coach hesitated to speak, finally looking at Sunday, who had also come closer to Pudding, “Sunday, can you step in?”
Sunday clenched his fist and nodded, his eyes narrowing with determination, “I got this! I’m not just Sunday now, I am iPudding Plus! I’m gonna carry the spirit of my Ding Ding hiong and crush them!”
Sunday’s Mandarin was admittedly quite lacking, and the word “spirit” sounded more like “legacy,” making Pudding crack a small smile on his pale face.
He reached over and ruffled Sunday’s hair, “You don’t have to make it sound so ominous, I’m still alive…”
Sunday rubbed against him, “I’ll fight well.”
Shen Yanming came over and patted Pudding’s shoulder, “Rest well, Ding Ding ge.”
Pudding felt like a tourist attraction at the moment, where everyone had to leave their mark to show they’d been there.
Even He Changkong came over and gave his shoulder a reassuring pat.
Pudding let out a long sigh.
The remaining few, along with the coach and manager, discussed the upcoming strategy.
Shen Yanming wasn’t fully aware of the details, but from the reactions of Zhuo Minxing and Moonlight, before they went on stage, he had a vague idea of what might have transpired.
When Zhuo Minxing and the others provoked him earlier, Shen Yanming had merely thought they were acting out, putting on an empty show, without delving too deeply into it.
A person can’t simply become overconfident for no reason, unless they had predicted the outcome in advance.
Given Moonlight and his team’s lofty confidence, coupled with their unconventional tactics, it was highly likely that they had foreseen Pudding’s struggle in this match.
Of course, Shen Yanming’s speculation might be a bit too absolute, but if such a possibility exists…
Perhaps the decision to substitute players in the second round was also something TR had anticipated in advance.
However, Sunday was still a relatively unknown figure to most.
Apart from Shen Yanming and a few others, little was known about him, and even the members of the second team were unaware of his background.
The primary reason was the toxic nature of the game ID “Liu Ritian.” After deliberation, the club had decided not to reveal his identity to avoid tarnishing their image.
Therefore, very few knew that Sunday was Liu Ritian, the number one tank among passersby.
Moreover, Sunday hadn’t even been in the youth training team before.
He had joined the main team directly, making it difficult for others to gauge his skill level.
Shen Yanming tugged at his cap and spoke earnestly, “If someone messes with us, we must hit them back tenfold.”
In truth, he felt he was being too lenient in his words.
With both new and old grievances, it would take a hundredfold retaliation to vent the anger in his heart.
Sunday raised his arm high and shouted, while throwing in an idiom for good measure, “I agree! Tooth for tooth!”
Meng Yan, struck by a sudden urge, decided to correct this minor pronunciation mistake, “It’s ‘hái,’ with the second tone.”3It’s ‘hái,’ with the second tone.: “以牙换牙”(Yǐ yá huànyá) is corrected to 以牙还牙”(yǐyáháiyá).
The meaning also changed from tooth for a tooth to an eye for an eye
Sunday followed, “Still! Let them return the teeth to us!”
Meng Yan sighed, “….Oh well, that’s not quite how you use it.”
Shen Yanming shared his thoughts, “Since they won a round, they might think our morale is low, and they have no idea how well Ritian performs… In reality, we’ve played numerous games with him, so our coordination is solid.
But they’re unaware of that, and they’ll likely observe Ritian’s performance at the start of the next game.”
The others nodded in agreement.
Shen Yanming continued, “We can outwit them by intentionally causing a few minor, manageable mistakes with Liu Ritian.
Let them fall into our trap.”
He Changkong chimed in, “Catch turtles in a jar.”
Shen Yanming gave He Changkong a surprised look, “You just cursed.”
He Changkong raised an eyebrow, “?”
Shen Yanming explained, “You called them bastard”4bastard: “王八” (wáng bā) is a colloquial insult in Chinese, and it is often used to refer to someone in a derogatory way, similar to calling them a “bastard.” Additionally, “王八” is a homophone for the word “turtle” in Mandarin Chinese, which adds a playful or creative element to the insult.
He Changkong paused for a moment, then chuckled and playfully ruffled Shen Yanming’s hair beneath his cap.
A few people huddled together to discuss the specifics of their strategy.
Before taking the stage, each member treated Pudding like a tourist attraction once more, tapping their fingers against his head.
Pudding was annoyed, “You guys messed up my ponytail!”
Shen Yanming chuckled and walked away, “Hahaha, I’ve finally avenged my hair that got ruined by dyeing.”
The second game began, and as planned, a few TMM members intentionally allowed Sunday to be hit by TR’s attacks, even adopting an unusual positioning.
Meng Yan seemingly concealed himself behind a rock, a tactic that typically worked well.
Ideally, he should have remained deeply hidden to avoid detection by the enemy.
However, Sunday’s peculiar positioning ended up exposing Meng Yan to the enemy’s line of sight.
If they could hear the audience’s reactions or see the barrage of comments in the livestream chat, they would have been met with a chorus of insults.
People were saying all sorts of things, ranging from Pudding underperforming to the substitute being even worse, claiming that TMM was surely doomed this round.
Meanwhile, the TR players were still immersed in an atmosphere of joy and harmony.
Initially, they were concerned that the substitute coming in might be a hidden trump card.
And what did they get? Just this?
TMM’s players could also guess what others’ reactions might be.
However, they didn’t care.
At this moment, Shen Yanming took on the role that He Changkong usually held, becoming the commander for this round – after all, he was the one who had mostly devised the strategy for this round.
Together with He Changkong, they sat silently in a tree, closely observing the situation below.
It seemed that Meng Yan was the one in ambush.
TR probably thought that if their ambush was discovered, it would be useless.
They were still planning to catch Meng Yan, not realizing that their situation now fully matched the phrase “praying mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind.”
“Attention all units, pay attention.
The turtles have arrived.
Operation ‘Catch the Turtle’ begins now.” Shen Yanming whistled and cast a sidelong glance at He Changkong, “Kong ge, I’m jumping down now.
Remember to protect me!”
“Got it,” He Changkong assured, deploying a shield over Shen Yanming as he landed.
“Go ahead with confidence.”
Thank you for reading!
Hope you enjoy the rest of your day
If you like reading my translations, do consider supporting me with ko-fi
1Healer and assassin duo2It’s better to practice Tai Chi.: It implies that it’s more practical to approach the situation with a calm and strategic mindset, rather than becoming overly concerned about every possible outcome.
3It’s ‘hái,’ with the second tone.: “以牙换牙”(Yǐ yá huànyá) is corrected to 以牙还牙”(yǐyáháiyá).
The meaning also changed from tooth for a tooth to an eye for an eye4bastard: “王八” (wáng bā) is a colloquial insult in Chinese, and it is often used to refer to someone in a derogatory way, similar to calling them a “bastard.” Additionally, “王八” is a homophone for the word “turtle” in Mandarin Chinese, which adds a playful or creative element to the insult.
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