The practice matches lasted from 3:00 PM until 9:00 PM. Without other mishaps the total points for Qi Zui’s team managed to place first. However, in the first round Qi Zui commited a significant error, and in the later few rounds Yu Qianxi’s form worsened until it was unwatchable. After the practice matches ended, the coach made the four people of Team One stay behind for postgame analysis of each match one by one.
Coach Lai Hua was HOG’s previous team captain. After retiring he returned to serve as the coach. Normally stern, he had considerable status within the team; even Qi Zui listened attentively to his instructions. The manager He Xiaoxu seeing the terrible atmosphere did not say much. He quietly went downstairs. Grabbing a few meal boxes, he packed dinner and delivered it upstairs.
Postgame analysis is the most unbearable aspect of the professional training regimen.
Forget about a smooth-sailing match. In this sloppy match where a range of errors resulted from a player’s terrible condition led to the coach replaying footage, zooming in on shots, and dissecting the errors frame by frame. It was tantamount to a public sentencing. Originally, Yu Qianxi had red eyes from staying up late, but now even his face, ears and neck were red. With each round of critique, Lai Hua’s anger went up another notch, until finally his temper exploded, unleashing a litany of curses on Yu Qianxi. While at it he called He Xiaoxu forth, assigning him management of Yu Qianxi’s frequent livestreams to four hours a day at most.
Engrossed in eating, Qi Zui raised his head at the name call: “En?”
Lai Hua was Qi Zui’s former captain. From when Qi Zui entered HOG at age 17, Lai Hua first partnered with Qi Zui for five years. After retiring he then served as the coach for almost three years. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say he watched Qi Zui grow up.
Consequently, Qi Zui did not fear him like other people did. Swallowing the food in his mouth, he pulled out a napkin to wipe clean the corners of his mouth and sat up straight with a smile: “Captain, please continue.”
“Call me coach……” Lai Hua frowned at Qi Zui and sighed, “Keep maintaining your form, reflect on the origin of today’s error, promptly dodge away, and pay attention next time.”
Qi Zui held up the meal box to resume eating, not forgetting to drink soup in the meantime.
Yu Qianxi gave Qi Zui an unhappy look before lowering his head to stuff a mouthful of rice.
Because of the sloppy gameplay in the training matches, postgame analysis continued until 10 PM. Team One’s regular training period was 2:00 PM to 2:00 AM, with daily training matches scheduled for the afternoon. After the evening meal, people either played individually or partnered within the team. Yu Qianxi in a temper wanted to train in Solo mode and left. Bu Nana and Lao Kai, both wanting to adapt to Duo mode, walked off leaving behind a lone Qi Zui.
“Qi-Ge!” He Xiaoxu held back Qi Zui helplessly, “The Mrs. Qi-s are blowing up our battle team’s official blog. No matter what I send on Weibo all the comments are crying for you. If you’re free in the evening, how about livestreaming a bit. Isn’t appeasing them good publicity? At the end of the month our battle team’s Taobao shop will have the new team uniforms available. We’re still counting on your wives to help sellout the inventory.
“If you have spare time to read Weibo comments, could you first get in touch with the forum manager to block a few IPs?” Qi Zui’s mood felt dismal and was reluctant to livestream. He purposely changed the subject. “Are you all already immune to the haters stirring up daily controversies about this godfather? A group of people criticizing that I only train three hours in a day is eating jujube pills . They never consider if Daddy actually trained seven or eight hours……”
Qi Zui picked up and draped the team uniform over his shoulders, smiling languidly: “Would there even be a way for the other teams to live?”
Coach Lai Hua following out a step later happened to hear this line, glancing at Qi Zui with a complicated expression: “Can you have some more dignity? If you won’t train, then go livestream! Do some work properly! Team One’s average training time is only 10 hours with you dragging it down! Team Two is 14 hours. There is even a youth trainee with 16 hours! In a day you only have three or four hours. Is scolding you a few times not enough?
“A youth trainee…… ” Qi Zui pursed his lower lip, “Who? They’re that diligent?”
“Youth, your Captain Lai’s newly emerged dear son.” He Xiaoxu laughed, “Every day he sleeps at most six hours and even eats meals in front of the computer. Alas……. being young is great.”
Qi Zui responded with a vague grunt and subconsciously asked: “By the way, does our team have medicine for……”
“What?” He Xiaoxu came to a stop, “Medicine for what?”
“Never mind.” Qi Zui shook his head frowning, “I’m heading off to livestream.”
Qi Zui returned to the training room. Bu Nana and Lao Kai had already entered a Duo match. Loading the game, Qi Zui turned on the livestream.
He had not livestreamed for several months nor provided any updates. Suddenly starting the stream, the viewers rose to a million before three minutes passed. By the time he browsed a webpage for a while and returned, the views reached over three million. The comments barrage scrolled rapidly. Qi Zui squinted slightly to confirm and laughed: “I haven’t been up to anything. Just been busy and too tired to stream.”
The barrage instantly scrolled faster.
[It’s been three months, and I finally heard my hubby’s voice! Ahhhhh! It’s still sounds so satisfying I can die without regrets.]
[QAQ My hubby is too heartless but what can I do if I still love you this much?
[Chirp, chirp, chirp. God Qi, if you stop livestreaming again, I’m going to cheat and fan over Banana that damn fatty.]
[Ahhhh! God Qi, is your webcam broke again? Why don’t you turn on the webcam?]
[When will this year’s spring team uniform release? Ahhh! I want to wear matching couple outfits with my hubby.]
[Team uniforms! Team uniforms! Did this year’s sponsor change again? Ahhh! Whatever the case I’m requesting a speedy release! Or else, for the sake of getting matching couple outfits I really want to go play professionally at HOG! QAQ Such a pity my hand is disabled.]
Qi Zui saw the three words “matching couples outfits”, and the mouse cursor hovered.
This spring the HOG battle team conference had a piece exactly like his design, except the back had “Youth” printed on the team uniform.
Qi Zui pinched the center of his brows. Turning off the barrage in the livestream assistant, he opened the game interface and pressed the “play” button.
Selecting a random 4-player squad, Qi Zui prepared to battle casually. After entering the lobby, he remained looking down at his cell phone until a person suddenly appeared in game squeaking ‘wow‘ and roaring: “HOG! HOG!”
Qi Zui feared other people would make a ruckus upon meeting him and normally played on an alt account for random teams. Unaware of how someone recognized him, he looked up: “……”
The teammate shouted not for him but for the other person in the random squad: HOG-Youth.
This was some sort of ill-fated relationship……
On the other side, Yu Yang clearly also did not anticipate meeting here. The speaker icon behind his ID lit up, then instantly darkened. Qi Zui supposed he had turned off the mic.
Qi Zui’s lips twitched. Not waiting for him to speak, this stranger that joined the random squad was more unpredictable than himself. First he kept roaring their battle team’s name. Then he began shouting Yu Yang’s game ID repeatedly, stirring up a commotion. Onboard the airplane in this ruckus nothing could hinder his enthusiasm: “Sind Sie Youth? Wirklich? Ich bin Ihr Fan!”
The speaker icon behind Yu Yang’s ID flashed again twice, but for unknown reasons he did not say anything.
Qi Zui tagged the position and indifferently said: “Jump.”
After Yu Yang’s speaker lit he stammered: “Ok…… Ok.”
Qi Zui pursed his lips and vented to himself:
God Qi, you’re being a let down…….
The four people landed. Yu Yang had deliberately drifted further away to avoid looting Qi Zui’s supplies. After he last spoke Qi Zui remained silent. The delicate undercurrent reached a peak.
Fortunately there was that German lad, who seemed to be here specifically to ease the delicate undercurrent. He circled excitedly around Yu Yang, chattering incessantly. Yu Yang, whether tired of being pestered or caving in to the fan’s enthusiasm, spoke awkwardly in a quiet voice: “I…… I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
The German lad certainly understood Chinese even less, but he felt just as excited. Compared to earlier he was more urgent.
The German lad: “Sind Sie Youth? Sind Sie Youth?”
Yu Yang searched for equipment while quietly repeating: “I don’t understand English.”
Qi Zui raised a hand to brace the headphones, his eyes looking downward. After a pause he serenely said: “He asked if you’re really Youth.”
“Bang,” Yu Yang’s gun unintentionally discharged.
Yu Yang did not seem to expect Qi Zui would start talking. Distracted, he immediately said: “Yes, yes.”
Unsure if he was being overly sensitive, Qi Zui thought Yu Yang’s voice had a slight quiver.
Qi Zui replied to the German lad: “Ja, genau.” (It’s him.)
The German lad grew more excited: “Ich bin Ihr Fan! Ich habe Ihren Wettkampf gesehen! Ich mag Sie super!” (I’m a fan of yours! I’ve watched your matches! I really like you!)
Over there, Yu Yang calmed down for a moment and lightly asked: “What……did he say?”
Qi Zui silently observed Yu Yang’s game ID, and for a time he did not speak.
It was quiet within the team chat for a minute.
Yu Yang was left hanging for so long the awkwardness overwhelmed. He lowered his head and collected supplies, tactfully keeping his mouth shut from troubling others.
“He……” Qi Zui switched to a gun and loaded a bullet while speaking slowly: “He asked you if this 7DRUNK on our team is Drunk.”
Dumbfounded, Yu Yang never expected that aside from himself a stranger could also identify Qi Zui’s alt account and subconsciously replied: “Yes…… Yes.”
Qi Zui answered the German lad: “Danke, Bitte verfolgen Sie ihn aufmerksam weiter.” (He thanks you for your care. Please continue to follow him.)
The German lad hastily nodded and pressed closer in front of Yu Yang’s character: “Ja, ja! Ich unterstütze Sie für immer.” (For sure, definitely! I will always support him.)
Yu Yang felt bewildered as Qi Zui searched for some attachments, continuing to “translate”: “He asked why did you join HOG.”
Staring out blankly in a garage, Yu Yang’s character stood idle for half a minute.
Yu Yang stammered: “Because…… HOG is really…… really strong. Always……”
Qi Zui snorted. Yu Yang silenced from unease and shut off the mic.
The unwitting German lad was still rejoicing from meeting Youth. He opened the mic to ask: “Wohin gehen wir?” (Where are we going?)
Again an awkward silence stretched in the team voice chat.
Yu Yang asked cautiously in a very small voice: “What did…… he say?”
Qi Zui let go of the keyboard. Releasing the mouse, he leaned back on the chair.
After looking at Yu Yang’s game ID for a long time, Qi Zui indifferently replied: “He asked…… do you like Qi Zui?”
Edited by Armaria.
 eating jujube pills: “吃枣药丸” (chí zǎo yàowán: eat jujube pills) is a homophone of how Qi Zui’s critics would finish the line as, “迟早要完” (chízǎo yào wán: doomed sooner or later)