Qu Zui looked at Yu Yang with a complicated gaze in his eyes, unable to speak for a long time.
Could it be that the heavens took pity on him for his eight years of never-ending hard work, so they finally opened their eyes and gave Yu Yang to him?
He had retired due to injuries when he had yet to find a successor in the team, handing Yu Yang a fallen team that was about to lose their investments, Yu Yang did not complain at all and instead came over to comfort him.
“I…” Yu Yang was not good at saying such words, he paused for a moment and said in a low voice, “I came to HOG not because your team is the strongest or because your team’s welfare is the best.”
He Xiaoxu had once shown Qi Zui the youth trainee questionnaire that Yu Yang had filled up when he joined the team.
The last question of the questionnaire was, why did you come to HOG.
Yu Yang had written: Drunk.
Yu Yang had come to HOG for Drunk, even though his God-Qi had already retired.
If it was not because there were too many cameras around them, if it was not because he was worried about Yu Yang’s anxiety, Qi Zui would have kissed Yu Yang.
Why was this boy so tough?
Yu Yang felt a little embarrassed due to Qi Zui looking at him. He rubbed his face. After that, he was called over to get his photos taken by the staff.
Qi Zui stood together with the managers and leaders of other teams, standing off-stage, and watched as the team leaders took promotional photos one by one.
The nineteen-year-old Captain-Yu stood amid everyone. He was quite tall, but when he stood with other captains, it was very obvious that he was the youngest.
The young, slightly inexperienced Captain-Yu, whose expression was cold.
“That’s Youth? It’s a pity…”
“Why do you say so? He became a Captain at such a young age and HOG’s welfare is so good, there’s a high chance of him getting an annual income of ten million RMB.”
“Don’t be so quick to make a judgment. Although HOG just came back from Busan with the championship title, it’s obvious that TGC has better momentum this year. After they returned from Busan, they changed their sniper. Now, Zhou Feng, Hai Xiao, and the rest have already created a team of four war gods. What about HOG? First, Yu Qianxi left. After that, Qi Zui retired, and the new captain is so young. In the future… it’s hard to say.”
“HOG is recruiting youth trainees again, perhaps…”
“Don’t make me laugh, isn’t the Knights constantly having youth trainees? Look at what happened? Didn’t they just go to Busan but end up just buying things back from Korea for others? They didn’t get a single award, yet Hua Luo’s wife fans kept praising him mindlessly, I’ve had enough…”
The two staff members were whispering to each other in the distance, and everything they said was heard by Qi Zui, who had exceptional hearing.
The Knights’ Soso was standing next to Qi Zui. He was the coach of the Knights currently and had accompanied Hua Luo here.
Naturally, whatever Qi Zui heard, Soso could hear too.
But Soso’s expression did not change. It was as if the conversation was not about him and was about another team.
“You’re angry just because you don’t like some of the words being said?” Soso carefreely stuck his hands in his pockets, saying lazily, “I’ve been hearing words worse than this all the time, and I’ve long gotten used to it.”
Soso turned his head to look at Qi Zui and smiled gloatingly, “Do you want to get familiar with it first?”
Qi Zui did not speak.
“Brother, we have quite the affinity with each other,” Soso thought about the time when he had just retired, feeling very unhappy. He laughed bitterly, “We both retired because of our injuries, and we had to watch as our teams slowly fell into ruin, fuck… did your team steal my team’s script? The way our teams fell is exactly the same…”
“Can the wild chicken stop trying to make themself relevant?” Qi Zui looked at Yu Yang who was a distance away and said mildly, “We are in an inspirational idol drama, you’re in an entrepreneurship drama of a struggling start-up, how is it the same thing?”
“You…” Soso was so angry his lungs ached, “Can’t you have the decadent feeling that a fallen team should have?!”
Qi Zui was helpless, “I can’t bring myself to feel listless, our new captain is just nineteen years old, his future is promising.”
Qi Zui turned his head to look towards Soso and asked, “How old is Hua Luo?”
Soso was so angry that he refused to speak anymore.
Until the end of the event, the Knights and HOG drew a clear line between them, not greeting each other, not speaking, and refusing to be in the same frame.
“We’re both declining teams, why are they so against interacting with us?” On the car back to the base, Qi Zui sighed, “What’s the matter? Are there age requirements for this sort of thing?”
The driver wanted to laugh but did not dare to laugh. He held himself back from laughing till his stomach hurt. Qi Zui looked at Yu Yang. Yu Yang was wearing his headphones and leaning back on the seat with his eyes closed. Qi Zui did not know when it had happened, but Yu Yang had already fallen asleep.
He was making use of all the time he had to catch up on his sleep.
Qi Zui felt helpless. Yu Yang was definitely going to do additional training when he returned today.
A joke was a joke, but towards the matter of a sponsor withdrawing their support, how could the two of them not feel disgruntled at all?
Qi Zui did not bother Yu Yang. He took off his suit jacket and covered Yu Yang.
Qi Zui was silent the whole way, thinking about a solution for the current situation.
To Qi Zui, a sponsor withdrawing their support was not a bad thing.
Qi Zui’s mother had hinted to Qi Zui that the boss might abandon the club.
The worse the situation HOG was in, the less money they made, the more likely it was for the boss to want to sell off the club.
Apollo withdrawing their sponsorship at this time would push the matter forward.
But for the whole team, this was not a good situation.
Qi Zui could buy the club, but he could not buy sponsorships.
Attracting sponsorship was not only a matter of contacts. It was mainly about the club’s results and achievements.
When the sponsors ran away, the higher-ups would hold He Xiaoxu responsible. Pursuing the responsibility of this situation was a small matter. The main problem was that the club’s internal funds were limited, could the club afford the contract fees of those members? Were they able to maintain the daily expenses of the team?
Will the club respond to all the demands of the team as they had before?
The reason Qi Zui refused to retire and kept forcing himself on was that he was worried about this sort of situation.
But half a year would pass by quickly, and it was hard to tell if they would be able to maintain some sponsors in the second half of the year.
After their funding was lowered, the welfare of the team would definitely not be as good as before.
The example of Knights was a good example. Two years ago, Hua Luo and the rest had even changed their base once.
There was no other reason besides the fact that they were no longer able to afford the large villa by the riverside.
The condition of their base had worsened, they had to lay off logistics personnel, and the bonuses of the members were halved… These sorts of things would in turn affect the enthusiasm of the team members when it came to training and would worsen their performance in the competition, which would cause a vicious cycle.
HOG was already used to being the center of attention at competitions, suddenly falling off the altar… Qi Zui did not know what would happen.
More than an hour later, they returned to the base. The two of them got out of the car. He Xiaoxu, who had a hungover after waking up angrily came to meet them. Qi Zui told He Xiaoxu, “Yu Yang, go and rest. You… come here, I have something to tell you.”
He Xiaoxu looked at their serious faces and was confused, “What… What’s the matter?”
Yu Yang shook his head, “I’ll go with you.”
Qi Zui paused for a moment, then smiled, “Alright.”
Qi Zui deliberately avoided Bu Nana and the rest. He called Lai Hua over and the four of them went into the lounge for a small meeting.
Qi Zui told He Xiaoxu about the matter with Apollo and said, “Don’t ask them directly, don’t expose Zhou Feng.”
He Xiaoxu was so angry that his hands trembled. He barely maintained his demeanor and pretended not to care as he smiled, “I know, is there a need for you to remind me about this sort of thing? Zhou Feng is really a good person, he told us beforehand… I’ll test the waters? Anyway, it’s time to talk about the contract for the second half of the year next month. I won’t mention Zhou Feng, I’ll just ask if it’s alright to sign the contract at an earlier date, is that alright?”
Qi Zui nodded. He Xiaoxu picked up his phone and turned on the speaker, calling the relevant personnel.
He Xiaoxu exchanged greetings with the person on the other end of the call. The normally friendly management personnel was obviously a lot colder today.
He Xiaoxu smiled, “The contract is about to expire, I might have to go on a business trip next month for half a month and I don’t have time. Should we discuss the contract first?”
The other party laughed, “There’s no hurry, there’s no hurry…”
He Xiaoxu smiled, “It’s no hurry, but I’m afraid that my business trip will delay matters…”
The other party smiled, “Aren’t you still in a hurry? What’s the matter? Hahaha, are you short of money?”
He Xiaoxu’s expression turned dark instantly, he gritted his teeth and tried his best to smile, “How could it be…”
The other party said, “Hahaha, I’m joking. If you’re not short of money, then just wait for a while. You know that this year… a lot of things are different, and there are many changes. It’s hard to say for now. How about this, next month, I have a few days free. When the time comes, you can bring your people over and I’ll see if we can settle this matter…”
Lai Hua was so angry that his face turned purple. He clenched his fist, wishing he could open his mouth and question. In the past, when they were discussing their sponsorship, Apollo would always bring their own lawyers over! They were as attentive as a pug. The last time they signed their contract, it was this manager. He had even brought his son and shamelessly insisted on taking a picture with Qi Zui. It had only been half a year and these people…
He Xiaoxu frowned and shook his head at Lai Hua. He smiled, “Alright, alright, what’s the specific date?”
The other party just randomly said some things, half-heartedly saying, “Why are you rushing things? I don’t make the decisions on this kind of matter, let’s wait and see. How about you wait for the news? I’ll try my best to contact you as soon as possible, alright?”
He Xiaoxu forced a smile, “Alright, I’ll wait for your reply.”
He Xiaoxu hung up the phone and smashed his cell phone on the table with a bang.
He was so angry that his face turned white. His arms kept shaking, “Fuck them! Talking to me like that… they must have finished their talks with TGC but want to keep us hanging…”
“I heard worse things today, do I need to repeat them to you?” Qi Zui quickly pressed on his phone, checking his account to see how much money he could use right now, “With Apollo as the first to withdraw their sponsorship, there will be other sponsors following them. Although these words are not the most pleasant to hear, they are true. If they analyzed our overall strength, we are definitely not as good as TGC.”
He Xiaoxu tried his best to keep his calm. When he heard those words, he quickly glanced at Yu Yang and took a breath, “What rub-rubbish are you spouting?!”
“What Captain said was right,” Yu Yang said calmly, “I admit it, I’m lacking a lot compared to Captain, and I’m not as good as Zhou Feng.”
“There’s no such thing,” Lai Hua could not stand listening to him anymore. He tried his best to control his temper, “Everyone had to start from somewhere! In the past, we’ve had our ups and downs, it’s not like we haven’t experienced hardships before. When this batch of youth training camp is over, perhaps…”
Yu Yang shook his head, “Training someone quickly from the youth trainees… it’s not realistic.”
He Xiaoxu laughed dryly and sat down with weak legs. He flattered Yu Yang unconsciously as if he was grasping onto their last hope, “Of course, how could we find another person like you? You are talented, and you’re not truly a newcomer, and you have good psychological qualities. I keep telling Lai Hua, we are too lucky. It’s probably because the incense I burned for the four-faced Buddha in Thailand last year worked…”
Yu Yang frowned and said, uncomfortably, “Don’t talk to me like that.”
Lai Hua frowned and looked towards Yu Yang. He Xiaoxu was stunned and stammered, “I-I didn’t lie, anyway…”
“There are a lot of things I don’t understand. I insisted on coming here to make clear my stance on this topic,” Yu Yang stood up and said, “As long as the team exists, I’ll be here. I don’t care if there’s any sponsorship, or how the welfare is like. As long as there is a competition, I’ll play. If there is no longer a base one day, I’m fine with staying in Internet cafes and eating cup noodles. That was how I lived in the past anyway.”
Yu Yang looked at He Xiaoxu directly, “If I do something wrong or make a mistake in competition, or if I am in a bad state, you can scold me however you want, I won’t leave, there’s no need to talk to me like that.”
He Xiaoxu stared at Yu Yang, dazed. His eyes turning red instantly.
“I’ve wasted the whole morning, I’ll go and train now.”
Yu Yang picked up his team jacket and left the training room.
“Looking on the bright side, at least we don’t need to worry about our main player disappearing on us,” Qi Zui knocked on the table and smiled, “The new Right Hand of God is now able to stand up on his own.”
He Xiaoxu tried his best to stop himself from crying, but his teardrops still fell out.
Lai Hua suppressed the sobs in his throat, “I am also sure that Nana, Lao Kai, and Xin Ba will not leave. If it gets really bad, I won’t leave even if I don’t get a salary.”
He Xiaoxu used all his strength to wipe his tears away and picked up his phone.
He Xiaoxu hurriedly made a phone call. The Apollo management personnel quickly picked up the phone. The other party’s tone was impatient, “Didn’t I tell you? Wait till I have a plan, I’ll…”
He Xiaoxu took a deep breath, channeling all his anger, “I’ll plan the route of your fucking hearse!!!”
On the third floor, Yu Yang, who had just sat down, felt his hand tremble. He removed his headphones and raised his head, confused.
Bu Nana, who had just got off his bed and was wearing his pajamas stretched out his neck, looking at the hallway in a daze. He happened to see Lao Kai and Xin Ba, who both had expressions of confusion.
Before everyone understood what was going on, He Xiaoxu’s second yell resounded throughout the whole base.
“Was I too polite to you? Do you talk to your Dad like this?!!!!!!”
He Xiaoxu was furious, “Isn’t it time for you to be polite and discuss the contract with me? How dare you say that I have no money? Do you know how much I earn in a year! You can go and find out! You won’t be able to even earn my monthly salary in a year, and you dare to mock our team and say that we have no money?!”
“You asked me to wait, to wait, to wait, do you want me to wait for your funeral obituary?” He Xiaoxu rolled up his sleeves and scolded loudly, “In the past, you were shameless enough to bring your son to take a group photo, and you even boasted everywhere in your WeChat moments that Qi Zui said your son has talent. You even said that your son wants to enter HOG in the future, I was laughing so hard. Tell me, when did Qi Zui say such things to you? Or do you have terminal ear cancer and have hallucinations?!!”
The other party was very shocked and angry. However, before he had the time to scold back, He Xiaoxu who spoke at an amazing speed had already spat on the other man’s face through the phone, “If you’re sick, go and see a doctor! I hope that you win your fight against cancer, thank you very much! And you want to keep me hanging? And you dare to mock me so obviously? Saying that we’re no longer the same as before? How different are we? Now that you’ve grown up, did you forget who brought you up1? What’s the matter? You’re speechless? Hahaha, you wanted to scare me? You can call me Lady He, come for me!!! Do you think I’m still scared of you now that you are no longer sponsoring me?! Come!!! Let me show you what is meant by a thin camel is better than a horse! Get lost!!!”