Edited by Tin
After almost a month of additional training, the Asian Invitational Cup was finally about to begin.
“Passport, identification card, phone, cash…” Lai Hua stood in front of the car, extremely nervous, repeatedly instructing them, “Don’t leave anything behind, Bu Nana… Are you going to a competition or a migration? What are you doing bringing along this much luggage?!”
Bu Nana was too lazy to talk more than necessary to Lai Hua, who brought only a backpack. He picked up his luggage and put it into the trunk, then waved his hand, “You don’t understand the lifestyle of a delicate boy1.”
Lai Hua frowned. Before he could say more, Qi Zui came out with two large suitcases.
Yu Yang got off the car and helped Qi Zui carry the luggage onto the car.
Lai Hua’s brows kept twitching, “Where did you find so many luggage bags from? We’re going to complete, alright? Why are you guys like this every single time? There’s no hint of nerves or seriousness at all…”
“I’m nervous in my heart,” Qi Zui was carrying the bag containing his computer accessories and randomly comforted him by saying, “Anyway, it’s not that much… Eight sets of personal clothes, two sets of team uniforms, four pairs of shoes, a few pairs of underwear…”
Lao Kai and He Xiaoxu had also exited the base while pushing their luggage. Behind them was the accompanying cameraman from the operations department of their club. He Xiaoxu had changed and was wearing a suit today. With his hair done up, he looked quite pretentious. He Xiaoxu hurriedly took a glance around and frowned, “Where’s Xin Ba?”
“I’m here, I’m here,” Xin Ba was especially nervous, checking for all his identification documents in a fluster. “I thought that I forgot to bring my passport…So I went back to grab it.”
“Get on the car, it’s already late,” He Xiaoxu looked to the left and right. “Where’s the child bride? Has he not come down yet?”
Yu Yang closed the trunk with a loud slam, his face expressionless as he looked at He Xiaoxu.
“Ha, haha…” He Xiaoxu looked at Yu Yang and laughed dryly, “It’s good that all of you are here. Xin Ba, follow me to the car behind. Make room for our accompanying photographer brother2. Aiya, please get some good video clips! Today, we got up late and there was no time to film us heading out. There aren’t enough clips. You guys should cooperate a little and try only saying things that don’t have to be cut out. Okay okay, all of you, get in the car.”
Lai Hua was an honest person, so he was still nervous. He suddenly said, “How about everyone stand at the main entrance of the base and take a photo together?”
He Xiaoxu was puzzled, “Why?”
Lai Hua looked at everyone, feeling awkward, “There’s no, no reason, what’s wrong with taking a photo together? In the movies…”
Yu Yang’s heart thumped and he could not help but look towards Qi Zui.
He Xiaoxu paused for a moment, and the smile on his face also faded.
Several people understood what Lai Hua meant. Qi Zui, Bu Nana, Lao Kai, Yu Yang, this combination of HOG’s four invincible Gods of War, might only exist this one time.
“We…” The atmosphere suddenly became a little strange. Qi Zui looked at everyone and said carefully, “Is there someone who’s not coming back with us this time? Taking this sort of photo…”
He Xiaoxu failed at keeping his composure.
Lai Hua became exasperated, “Who said that? It’s not like I’m taking a black-and-white photograph3!”
Yu Yang tried his best to hold back, but he could not stop the corners of his mouth from lifting upwards.
“I might think Busan really does have zombies4 with how you all are acting like we won’t ever come back…” Qi Zui smiled disdainfully, “Who are you trying to scare?”
There was a reason why Qi Zui was always scolded and called an old beast5by people. It was very hard for him to understand the delicate feelings of parting that others felt. It was like looking for death if you tried to grieve over the passing of season with him. He would not only not comfort you, but he was also very good at ruining the atmosphere.
Lai Hua gets on the car angrily. He Xiaoxu pulled Xin Ba to a car that was behind while trying to hold his smile back, and the cameraman brother got on the SUV that was in front along with the Team One members.
On the way to the airport, the cameraman brother followed He Xiaoxu’s instructions, and kept looking for topics to talk about to accumulate materials for the video and started to interview them one by one. However, the four people in Team One were either old bastards or mutes, and the interview process was extremely difficult.
The cameraman brother smiled at Qi Zui, “God-Qi just said something about not being able to come back after reaching Busan, what’s the meaning of that?”
“Not being able to come back after reaching Busan…” Qi Zui played with his phone and said, totally unconcerned, “If we lose the competition… the logistics personnel will push us into the sea at the Busan Port to fill it up.”
Accompanying photographer: “…”
The photographer brother was full of unspoken criticism for his answer and turned his head to look at Bu Nana. He smiled and asked, “I saw that Bu Nana’s luggage was very big just now, did you prepare a lot of good food? Haha, with your body type, you must be a big eater, right?”
“Ha, of course not,” Bu Nana patted his belly. “It’s empty, so if we lose the match and have no prize money, I’ll buy goods for people as a purchasing agent6 to earn some money to pay for my tickets.”
The accompanying photographer scolded Bu Nana in his heart too7, then he turned his head to film Lao Kai and asked, “Lao Kai, how has your preparation gone this time? I heard that you’re not against people calling you a ‘pug’? The fans are all very curious, in solo matches, without anyone giving you commands, you…”
The Buddha-like youngster8 Lao Kai mildly said, “Follow my heart, drive, stroll around the map, forget those sorts of fighting and killing, put down guns and ammunition, and be a free man.”
The cameraman brother swallowed his saliva with much difficulty. He refused to give up as he turned to look at Yu Yang with a dry smile, “I heard Manager He call you ‘child bride’ just now? Haha, the meaning of this nickname is…”
Qi Zui shook his head, feeling pity. He said to himself, “This accompanying cameraman is newly hired, right? He can’t do anything else right, but he’s really good at stepping on mines9.”
Yu Yang had done additional training until around four in the morning last night again, he had just slept for two hours before he had to wake up to pack his luggage. Currently, he was holding an unlighted cigarette in his mouth as he leaned against the back of his chair and caught up on his sleep. When he heard the two words ‘child bride’, Yu Yang opened his eyes that seemed to shoot out knives10 and said with a cold face, “What did you say?”
“No…Nothing!” The cameraman brother felt like weeping but had no tears. “You can continue resting, I was just casually asking.”
The cameraman brother that had managed to step on the pain points11 of everyone in Team One succesfuly managed to make the car quiet down. After everyone played with their phones for a while, they all dozed off.
When they reached the airport, they took their tickets and checked in their luggage… In the waiting hall, everyone went to buy water and rest, Yu Yang habitually did not follow what the others did and instead bought a cup of coffee and sat at the side, opening his tablet to review his practice matches.
Qi Zui carried a cup of hot tea and watched Yu Yang from afar, feeling that he was too tensed up.
“You’re unwilling for others to call you child bride?” Qi Zui sat by Yu Yang’s side, “Don’t watch that anymore, aren’t your eyes tired?”
“Not tired…” Yu Yang quickly put down his tablet, his ears turning red as he explained in a small voice, “I’m not unwilling…”
Qi Zui tried his best to hold back his smile, “So you’re willing.”
Yu Yang was embarrassed again.
“It’s fine if you say it, but other people…” Yu Yang said in a low voice, “other people can’t make fun of me.”
“I’m not making fun of you either,” Qi Zui refuted, “I’m anticipating it.”
Yu Yang frowned, “What are you anticipating.”
Qi Zui leaned towards Yu Yang, and said a very lewd sentence.
Yu Yang’s face turned red instantly.
It did not turn back to normal even when they got on the plane.
Thankfully, he was actually tired and when he got on the plane, he fell asleep for two hours, all the way to Gimhae International Airport.
When they got off the plane, they just happened to meet everyone from TGC. They greeted each other, dealt with a few procedures, and left the airport, getting on the car to go to the hotel.
“Take a short rest. I’ll bring you to the competition venue in a while to take a look. Don’t run around randomly, I set aside some time for you guys to go out and play already.” In the lobby of the hotel, Lai Hua went to check in while He Xiaoxu greeted everyone. “If you need phone cards with data, go and find the logistics team. If you want to go out, you have to report it to me. You are not allowed to act alone. Alright, you can rest for a while. Sleep early tonight, tomorrow will be the competition. Good luck12 , everyone.”
Bu Nana was very tired due to the car ride. He was slumped on the sofa as he nodded in a pacifying manner. Lao Kai, the nanny13, was changing the phone cards for Bu Nana and Lai Hua to ones with mobile data. Yu Yang sat at the side. He had already rested enough and gotten enough energy and was reviewing the videos from his practice competitions again.”
Qi Zui stood behind Yu Yang, looking at his tablet… It was a video of Yu Yang playing a duo with Xin Ba.
Qi Zui said, “How’s your practice with him going?”
Yu Yang turned his head and looked at Qi Zui, then, he shook his head, “I’m not good at playing duo, and we haven’t practiced enough to play well together… our practice so far has been very bad.”
“Your duo skills have never been your strong point, it’s normal,” Qi Zui was very straightforward, “When you were a youth trainee, what Lao Lai was interested in was your solo and your squad matches, especially your solo… it was unmatched.”
Yu Yang raised his eyes to look at Qi Zui , his eyes shining, “I have never played in a solo practice match with you before…”
Qi Zui was stunned for a moment, then he smiled, “Wo-ah, so your goal was me all along?”
Yu Yang paused, feeling that he had said the wrong thing. He said awkwardly, “I was talking rubbish, I don’t…don’t mean anything by saying that.”
“No,” Qi Zui smiled, heartfeltly saying, “I’m really anticipating it.”
The Asian Invitational Cup was a total of three days. The first day was solo matches, the second day was duo matches, the third day was squad matches.
Qi Zui’s right hand could not deal with such a high-intensity competition, so after considering multiple angles, the team decided to give up on the duo and only had Qi Zui play in the solo matches on the first day and the squad matches on the third day.
That way, the stress on Qi Zui’s wrist would not be so intense. He could rest for one day in between, and it would not interfere with the squad matches that attracted the most attention and were the most important.
Actually, if the team listened to Lai Hua, they would not even let Qi Zui play in the solo matches on the first day.
On one hand, Lai Hua did not want Qi Zui to work so hard and consume too much energy for his solo matches. There was another layer of considerations that he had but did not say, and Qi Zui knew clearly.
Lai Hua did not allow for Qi Zui to have any point of criticism in his last competition.
Lai Hua was worried that Qi Zui’s relaxed training in the past six months would cause him to not be able to keep up with the intensity of everyone else. He was worried that Qi Zui’s wrist would give up on him at a critical moment. He was worried that the pressure during Qi Zui in his last competition would be too great and cause him to make mistakes…
In short, Lai Hua did not want to see someone win against Drunk in a solo competition.
In squad matches, you could blame your teammates, you could pass the blame onto others, but during solo matches… Even people in the same team would treat each other as enemies, the hundred players participating in the competition were all fighting battles on their own, there was no situation where someone could take responsibility for someone else. If you could do it, you could do it. If you couldn’t, you couldn’t.
In this regard, Lai Hua was taking more things into account than Qi Zui was.
He had even found Qi Zui to talk to him, trying to convince him to give up on the solo competition.
Aside from the strong players from Japan and Korea, there were quite a few people who were strong in solo matches from China as well. Zhou Feng14, Hua Luo, Hai Xiao, Yu Yang…
This could be Qi Zui’s last competition. Lai Hua could not accept Qi Zui’s career ending on a bad note, just like his own.
But Qi Zui did not agree.
“My body can obviously still hold on, why should I not compete?”
Qi Zui could accept losing to others because of his declining condition, but he could not accept abstaining from playing just because he was scared of losing when he was obviously still able to play.
Although he had slacked for half a year, and he had not been able to keep up with the training intensity the whole time, Qi Zui was not afraid of fighting.
It was the complete opposite. He was very excited.
If there was a fight, then he would fight.
“I’m really anticipating the solo competition tomorrow,” Qi Zui looked at the excited light in Yu Yang’s eyes that appeared before a fight. He smiled, “Good luck15, try to win against me.”
Yu Yang said in a low voice, “I will try my best.”
“I will, too.”