Chapter 14: Showdown (1)
Translator: Nomyummi Editor: Nomyummi
“Playoffs, here we come!”
With the match that had just ended, the stadium was alive with cheers.
After this round of matches finished, the regular matches of Glory Professional Alliance Season 2 were officially at an end, and the team rankings for this year were set. Six teams had already secured their spots before this round, while numbers 7 and 8 had only just slaughtered their way into these last two playoff spots, earning the right to compete for the ultimate championship. The cheers now came from the fans of these two teams, while the members of these two teams each gathered into a group hug onstage.
At this time, Team Tyranny’s Captain Han Wenqing also stood, and let out a long breath.
He turned to look at his gleefully celebrating teammates. But when these grinning teammates saw their captain looking toward them, they all suddenly froze, as though in a snapshot. And then they all became more subdued, their cheering no longer as raucous as before.
Han Wenqing, whether in the eyes of his opponents or his teammates, was an intimidating person in both appearance and spirit. With his one glance, the members of Tyranny stopped baring their teeth and brandishing their claws like they were earlier. They high-fived and shook hands, politely congratulating each other, and then they clustered around Han Wenqing.
“Captain, we won,” someone said.
“Yes, we won,” Han Wenqing nodded. “However, this is only the start.” As he spoke, he turned to look somewhere onstage.
“Yes yes yes.” The members all nodded their heads. Without looking, they knew at whom their captain was staring.
Ye Qiu of Team Excellent Era.
During last season’s playoffs, Tyranny was eliminated after losing to Excellent Era. But the story of their captain Han Wenqing and Ye Qiu began even before then, stretching all the way back to not long after Glory had launched and everyone was still at level 30, or so it was told. In the Glory Arena, there were two characters with a perfect win rate. And now, anyone who knew even just a little about Glory would know these two characters.
The Battle Mage with the title of Battle God, “One Autumn Leaf”– Excellent Era’s Captain Ye Qiu.
The Striker with the title of King of Fighting, “Desert Dust”– their own Captain Han Wenqing.
But the Battle God had thoroughly sealed his title as a god in Season 1, knocking over powerful opponents in the playoffs and ultimately achieving the championship. Meanwhile, Desert Dust fell on the Battle God’s path to godhood, seemingly unworthy of the title King of Fighting. Some fans would joke that he was the king of fighting, of hand-to-hand combat, so when he met someone who didn’t use fists, he was not their king. In the end, the title of Battle God was more sweeping, with no rivals beneath the sun.
Han Wenqing didn’t care about jokes like that. But this opponent, Ye Qiu – everyone in Tyranny knew that their captain cared very much about him.
Their playoff journey last season had been terminated by Ye Qiu and the Excellent Era he led. Desert Dust’s old perfect-win record in the early days of the Glory game had also been broken by One Autumn Leaf.
After that, in-game or in offline Glory matches, the two of them had faced off against each other in countless battles.
All the way until the Glory Alliance was formed. In this completely professional competitive Glory setting, this pair of old foes met once again. But onstage, everyone could only see Han Wenqing. Ye Qiu, strangely, never revealed his face, and refused all photos. These players generally could only see him in abrupt and coincidental meetings in some random places before or after matches. No one knew why Ye Qiu insisted on doing this. In the eyes of Tyranny, who held a very hostile attitude toward him, his purposefully mysterious position was particularly disgusting.
At this moment, for example, as Han Wenqing stared toward Excellent Era, everyone knew that Ye Qiu wouldn’t appear over there. Everyone could only imagine his presence.
But Han Wenqing still stubbornly stared for a long while before finally turning his head.
“Let’s go,” he said.
Tyranny’s players followed behind him, waving their hands to acknowledge the crowd as they exited the stadium floor. But as soon as they entered the player passageway, they caught the scent of cigarette smoke drifting toward them.
“Ye Qiu!” Han Wenqing, without even seeing the person, was already shouting. At this time, most players were still onstage! No one aside from Ye Qiu would run down here and smoke in the passageway like this.
“Hm?” Up ahead, someone answered, and everyone walked closer to look. Wasn’t this Ye Qiu?
“Congratulations on entering the playoffs,” Ye Qiu said. But this was coming from someone who had secured a playoff spot a full three rounds earlier, and was first place on the points leaderboard at the end of the regular season. No matter how you listened, this sentence seemed to contain a trace of mockery.
But no one said anything. Everyone on Team Tyranny looked toward their captain. Sometimes they thought, if they didn’t play Glory and instead went to a real-life PK, their captain could probably kill Ye Qiu in three blows.
“See you in the finals,” Han Wenqing said calmly.
Tyranny’s members were excited. They were in seventh place at the end of the season, so they were in a separate half of the playoff bracket from first place Excellent Era. If they met, it would be in the finals. And before then, both teams would have to defeat two opponents. Han Wenqing now completely disregarded those two teams, directly arranging a meeting with Ye Qiu at the finals. For a team that had only just secured seventh place after this round, this kind of tone was a bit arrogant. But Tyranny’s members didn’t feel this way, because this was their captain. After he said this sentence, everyone felt that they were already standing on the finals stage, prepared to smash this despicable guy in front of them.
“So brash! That’s not too good, is it?” the despicable guy said, laughing.
“See you then,” Han Wenqing answered with certainty, and then he walked right past Ye Qiu, the rest of the team following closely.
“Your first opponent is quite strong,” Ye Qiu said behind him.
Han Wenqing paused in his footsteps. Tyranny was seventh, so their first opponent was the second place team.
Hundred Blossoms, the highlight of this season, the black horse that had drawn the most attention. Even though they had ultimately been surpassed by Excellent Era, there were still many people who held high hopes for that beautiful rookie duo to earn the championship. As for Tyranny, who had only just secured a spot at seventh, far fewer people held high hopes for them. If news got out that Han Wenqing had directly disregarded two rounds of opponents to challenge Ye Qiu at the finals, there would certainly be many people accusing him of not knowing his own strength.
But that didn’t change Han Wenqing’s attitude.
“Just another team that lost to you,” Han Wenqing said, already beginning to walk away again.
“Hey hey, but they beat you!” Ye Qiu called. The regular season was a rotation, so every team fought every other team. Naturally, Tyranny had fought against Hundred Blossoms in the regular season early on, but they had fallen behind in points.
“I’ve beaten you before, too,” Han Wenqing said, without turning his head. The implication was, naturally, that one or two victories didn’t say much.
“In-game counts too?” said Ye Qiu.
“Of course,” said Han Wenqing. Whether in-game or on the professional stage, his determination to win never changed. As long as it was a battle, he would fight with everything he had. After saying this, Han Wenqing and the rest of Tyranny had already walked far away, and their silhouettes quickly vanished in the long player passageway.
Ye Qiu stood there alone, as though in deep thought. He even forgot about the cigarette dangling between his fingertips.
If in-game counts too, then Excellent Era would be far stronger than it is now! Because we would have that guy… he thought silently.
After a few days of rest, the Glory Season 2 playoffs officially began. The four matches of the first round of playoffs would occur simultaneously. Because the playoffs were elimination-style, the matches were more exciting and intense, and they received more attention than the regular season matches. For the first round of the playoff matches, the doors opened two hours beforehand, and the seats were rapidly filled.
No one felt the long wait was tedious. Fans of the various teams along with fans of the various players were already having contests with each other outside the stadium. The scene as a whole was lively to the breaking point.
“Ye Qiu is nothing! Kill him!” From Blue Rain’s fan section, a youth started yelling with no regard for anything else. But even his fellow fans were embarrassed to agree with this bold shout. They could only express their admiration for this youth’s bravery and his love of Blue Rain. As for the Excellent Era fans, never mind whether or not they could hear this youth’s lonely yell, but even if they could, it would only provoke mocking laughter.
Blue Rain had made a strong showing last season, and had been a powerful opponent in everyone’s eyes. But this season, Blue Rain’s performance had decreased drastically. They’d only made it into eighth place with the last round of the regular season, just barely jumping onto the late bus for the playoffs. Over the course of the entire regular season, anyone could tell that Blue Rain’s strength was slipping. Their core player, team captain Wei Chen, could not replicate the strength he’d shown in Season 1. His condition had been plummeting, bringing Blue Rain’s scores along with it, and they’d almost failed to make it into the playoffs entirely.
Everyone knew the reason. This was a type of inevitable decline. Everyone felt pity for Blue Rain, and naturally they didn’t have much faith in their strength.
And now, in the first round of the playoffs, they met Excellent Era. Even though Hundred Blossoms had been more eye-catching this season, the number one of the regular season was still Excellent Era. For everyone that had made it into the playoffs, the team to defeat was Excellent Era. When Blue Rain became Excellent Era’s first-round opponent, in that moment, no one had any expectations for Blue Rain. Even Blue Rain’s own fans treated the hope they held in their hearts as a miracle.
Excellent Era was truly too strong…
To no one’s surprise, Blue Rain lost.
“This is only the first game! There are still two more!” The youth shouted in the stands, but not too many people could hear. The playoffs were best two of three games, so Blue Rain still had a chance of making a comeback. But after seeing their performance in the first game, people truly had no more hope toward Blue Rain. The aged Swoksaar had no way of stopping the Battle God at his peak.
As for the other first games of the first round, one result that surprised the viewers was that Hundred Blossoms lost their first game to Tyranny.
As this was the first game, some commentators said things like:
The rhythm of the playoffs is different from the regular season, they still need to grow accustomed to it.
This loss can let them realize early on the difference of the playoffs and figure out the adjustments they need to make. Better to lose now than lose in the finals.
They’re smart players, they’ll figure it out for sure.
From all of these comments, it could be seen that Hundred Blossoms fans were still relaxed even after this loss. As they analyzed the reasons why Hundred Blossoms might have lost, their belief in the team’s subsequent victories were certain.
No one paid too much attention to this setback, and no one pointed out Tyranny’s strength.
Because last season Tyranny had been eliminated in the first round of playoffs. Because this season Tyranny was only at seventh place.
They seemed to be a cannon fodder team that always vacationed in the playoffs for one round. But no one seemed to notice that even if Tyranny had been cannon fodder in last season’s playoffs, they had been cannon fodder to the championship team Excellent Era. If not for Excellent Era, what position would Tyranny have obtained? No one had thought about this possibility.
Three days later, the second game of the first round of playoffs began. Which teams would advance to the next round of playoffs after today? Everyone eagerly awaited the results. This game would determine the fates of several teams. In the prep rooms of each team, the atmosphere was much more serious and tense than it had been the previous game.
“Everyone relax. As long as we perform at our skill level, we can defeat our opponents for sure.” In Hundred Blossoms’ prep room, Captain Sun Zheping said this to his teammates.
Last game, Hundred Blossoms had indeed experienced some problems. Because of the elimination nature of playoffs, they had been too worried about the outcome during the match. They couldn’t relax properly, and ultimately fell to Tyranny. And now, facing the pressure of the knowledge that if they lost this game they would be directly eliminated, the situation that Hundred Blossoms faced was much more dire. But after these three days of adjustment, the team members’ mental conditions had stabilized.
“Just treat this like a normal match.” These were the most common words said amongst the team members these past three days, and finally, the nervous attitude gradually dissipated. And now, as they were about to go onstage, Sun Zheping reminded everyone one last time.
“Understood!” Everyone nodded.
“Treat this like normal.” Another person repeated this phrase that had been emphasized these three days.
And then, head out!
When they walked out of the prep room, their opponent happened to be heading out at the same time. From the prep room across the hall, Tyranny’s Captain Han Wenqing led his team walking out.
“Hello, Captain Han,” Sun Zheping greeted him. Everyone had met each other during the regular season. Some people said that his battle style was somewhat similar to that of Han Wenqing, and Sun Zheping himself couldn’t deny this completely. Indeed, Sun Zheping had known for a while now that his preferred style had some points of similarity with the courageous and ferocious strength demonstrated by Han Wenqing. Han Wenqing was also a senior to which Sun Zheping had paid attention from the very start.
“Hello.” Han Wenqing nodded toward him and accepted the right hand that Sun Zheping extended. They shook.
“Today, we’ll be the ones to win,” Sun Zheping said as he shook his hand.
Han Wenqing smiled.
“It’s still too early for you,” he said, releasing Sun Zheping. He turned to lead his teammates onstage.
“See you onstage.” Without turning around, he waved toward Sun Zheping and the rest of Hundred Blossoms.
“Let’s go, don’t lose to them!” Sun Zheping said to the teammates behind him.
“Yes!” everyone answered.
Zhang Jiale went further, raising his right hand and pointing a finger gun toward Tyranny.
“Bang!” He mimed firing a shot, earning laughter from his teammates.
“Let’s go.” He blew imaginary smoke from the gun and pretended to holster it.
“Let’s go!” The team immediately gave an answering shout, and they headed out to the stage.