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The silence of the press conference was far quieter than Happy's prep room. Even though they could see the live broadcast of Lin Jingyan's retirement announcement on the television, the Alliance rookies still had limited experience with the helplessness and grief of retirement. Moreover, they were still immersed in the wild joy of having made it to the finals. The news of Lin Jingyan's retirement didn't change the atmosphere in Happy's prep room.

The young players were still laughing merrily, but at that moment, melancholy still spread in Happy's prep room.

Ye Xiu had known Lin Jingyan for a long time. They'd fought against each other from Season 2 until now, so they were no strangers. Ye Xiu had played from Season 1 all the way until today, and over the course of these years, he'd seen familiar faces leaving one after another. Some had been teammates, some had been opponents, but in that moment of departure, everyone would forget these identities. All they would feel was the departure of a partner.

Today was the same. Another familiar face was fading away.

Ye Xiu was silent.

Fang Rui, too, was silent. He hadn't known Lin Jingyan for as long as Ye Xiu had, but he, who had debuted in Season 5, had immediately come to Lin Jingyan's side. It was Lin Jingyan who had watched him grow, and then they'd become a famous duo. And then after Season 8, Season 9, they'd gone their separate ways.

To Fang Rui, Lin Jingyan had been both a teacher and a friend. If he had to pick the player in the Alliance that he respected the most, Fang Rui would vote for Lin Jingyan without any hesitation, even if Lin Jingyan wasn't the best player in the circle.

And now, he had left.

Fang Rui, who now already had several years of professional experience, had realized that this day would come eventually. But he had never imagined that he would witness Lin Jingyan's departure like this.

He'd originally thought that the two of them would fight side by side, until one day, Lin Jingyan would suddenly smile and say he couldn't fight any longer. And then Fang Rui would make fun of him for it, but Lin Jingyan wouldn't change his mind, and just like that, smiling, he would say goodbye.

And today, he saw it.

Lin Jingyan was smiling, he said farewell to everyone, but it was after being defeated by the team that Fang Rui represented…

The sadness hidden beneath the smile, how many people could feel it?

Fang Rui knew, Lin Jingyan definitely still hoped to win a championship. He hoped so, so much.

But the ones who had ultimately destroyed that hope were himself and Happy.

Lin Jingyan would have no more chances.

Because he had already chosen to leave.

I wish you all the best.

He gave his well-wishes to everyone, and this, of course, included Fang Rui.

But how could this kind of well-wishing make someone feel better? Fang Rui, at least, wouldn't. He couldn't bear to watch any longer, and in that moment, he found an excuse and left Happy's prep room. After him, Wei Chen, this old guy who had retired early on only to return many years later, ignored the rules that forbade smoking in the prep room, and roughly pulled out a cigarette.


Unlike normal, Chen Guo didn't go to scold him. As a senior Glory fan, even though she had never personally experienced this kind of goodbye, she had seen it happen like this many times before. And now that she had entered this circle, she felt the pain, and she was aware that she would gradually see these farewells occurring next to her. Wei Chen, Ye Xiu, and then after that, Su Mucheng, Fang Rui…

Chen Guo was scared, truly very scared.

She watched as Fang Rui mumbled something and left the prep room. No one tried to stop him. Even the still-celebrating rookies, at this time, recognized that the prep room wasn't entirely this joyful atmosphere, and they quieted down as they saw Fang Rui leave. And then, they saw the broadcast of the press conference, as Lin Jingyan hugged and said goodbye to the other three Tyranny players, thanked everyone, and left.

Um…

Those whose brains moved a little faster already realized something.

Fang Rui had left the prep room, and Lin Jingyan was returning from the press conference. Then, wouldn't these two meet in the passageway?

The prep room instantly went quiet, and someone had even muted the television, as though it would disrupt the two talking in the passageway. No one moved, no one made a sound, until the door to the prep room was pushed open again.

"It's our turn," Fang Rui said calmly, standing in the doorway.

And so Ye Xiu and Luo Ji, the two that Happy had already arranged to participate in the press conference, walked out of the prep room. In the passageway, they saw Lin Jingyan, who smiled at them, and then patted Fang Rui. He didn't return to Tyranny's prep room, but instead continue to walk down this passageway, which would eventually lead outside the stadium.

"Let's go." Ye Xiu didn't watch him any longer. He waved at the others, and the three Happy players walked out of the passageway, toward the press conference.

"Do you know that Lin Jingyan just announced his retirement?"

The reporters had already pulled out their first question.

"Yes," Ye Xiu nodded.

"Could each of you say some of your thoughts on this?" The reporter emphasized "each of you." Evidently, they weren't very interested in Ye Xiu answering this question. What they wanted to hear was Fang Rui's thoughts.

Fang Rui didn't shy away, voluntarily taking the microphone, so Ye Xiu didn't try to say anything first. Just as the reporters wanted, he waited for Fang Rui to say his thoughts.

"I wish him the best." Fang Rui took the microphone and said five words.

Everyone quietly waited. But then, there was nothing after. Fang Rui said only these five words. To his partner of many years, to his teacher and friend, to Lin Jingyan, whose lifelong dream he'd personally ruined, Fang Rui only said these five words.

"That's all?" The reporters didn't give up. They wanted to hear some more deeply moving thoughts.

"That's all." But Fang Rui shook his head, smiling, just like Lin Jingyan. All of his thoughts, all that he'd wanted to say, he'd already said to Lin Jingyan when they met in that passageway. To Fang Rui, this was enough. There was no need to retell it to these reporters.

After that, there was nothing left but to wish him well. Him, and only him.

But the reporters still refused to give up easily. Even if Lin Jingyan hadn't retired today, as a former partnership, meeting onstage was still a big topic.

"Forgive my bluntness." Another reporter opened his mouth. "It seemed like your performance today didn't meet expectations. Was it because your former partner was among your opponents, and you found it difficult to fight against him?"

"My performance today was indeed not very good, so it was lucky that the team could still win the match. In the upcoming matches, I will continue to fight to my fullest," Fang Rui said.

It seemed like a very ordinary response, but at this moment it was quite clever, completely avoiding the issue of "former partners," and then taking responsibility for his poor performance, analyzing the results, and facing the future.

How were the reporters supposed to continue? What else could they ask?

There was no way they could continue to tangle with questions about Lin Jingyan. They could only begin to ask serious questions about Happy's performance this match. The analysis that Zhang Xinjie had provided in the press conference suddenly became important data that everyone could use to ask Happy questions.

"Was Happy completing a Life-Risking Strike against Zhang Xinjie's Immovable Rock in the team round today a carefully-trained tactic prepared beforehand?" a reporter asked. 

"Hahaha," Ye Xiu laughed, "don't use Zhang Xinjie's analysis to ask me questions. I was watching the broadcast. Everything he analyzed was wrong."

The reporters instantly felt like facepalming. Everyone knew that Ye Xiu was spouting nonsense. But he so rudely scorned Zhang Xinjie's analysis just like that, what were the reporters supposed to do?

Before, Ye Xiu never appeared at these sorts of events. When it came to press conferences, in reality, both Ye Xiu and Luo Ji were rookies. But this rookie was terrifyingly difficult to deal with. Compared to those who were very slippery when answering questions, Ye Xiu simply didn't care about them. When a question came, he would just casually make something up, and when you turned around to ask clarification, he could forget what he'd just said. Worst of all was that he never tried to avoid this point. He would simply reply to you, very honestly, "Really? Did I say that?"

So what if he'd said it? So what if he hadn't said it?

Could the reporters report on the sort of made-up nonsense he spouted? Of course not. Wouldn't it make the reporters look like they had very low IQ, for believing that kind of nonsense?

Seeing Ye Xiu activate this status once again, the reporters internally freaked out, but on the surface they still gave off a very even-tempered and good-humored air.

"Then, was there any special reason for sending out Luo Ji in this match?" someone asked.

"Training rookies, training rookies on the big stage. It's just like how Tyranny sent out Song Qiying; we sent out Luo Ji," Ye Xiu said, very seriously.

Motherfucker!

The reporters raged in their hearts.

This kind of reply here was simply evasive. Maybe you didn't believe it, but what he said followed logic; maybe you believed it, but you'd always feel that something was wrong with what he said, that you were being taken for a ride. 

"And we're braver than Tyranny. In this critical match, we actually sent out as many as three rookies," Ye Xiu continued to speak.

The reporters wanted to cry.

Try not sending them up! In your Happy, aside from you, Fang Rui, Su Mucheng, and Wei Chen, who's not a rookie?

"Perhaps in the finals, we'll experiment with a full rookie roster. Let them accept the toughest test of all," Ye Xiu said.

Who believed that?

Who would believe that?

Send rookies into the finals to train? This was taking the joke to the extreme!

The reporters all looked miserable. How were they supposed to write today's article? Some were already mentally in a different place. It looked like this press conference wasn't going to give them any material.

"Then, shall we end here today?" In the end, Happy's press conference hastily came to a close, The reporters didn't resist much, they weren't even in the mood to snap a few extra pictures. Once upon a time, getting a picture of Ye Xiu had been such a beautiful and rare accomplishment, but now, seeing this guy appear in the camera lens, everyone only felt like their mouths were dry. They didn't know what to ask, and they didn't know what they should listen for.

The press conference ended.

At last, the curtain fell on the winds and storms of today's match.

The losers, the victors, they all walked their own paths.

But no matter what kind of path they took, the direction in which they charged was always the same. They each took their own path, but it was always the path chasing victory, the path to be champions.

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