The quarter-finals of the playoffs had come to a close. All four games ended in two rounds. Samsara, Tyranny, Happy and Tiny Herb advanced to the semi-finals.
Among them, Samsara, Tyranny and Tiny Herb were all members of the top four in the regular season. Happy, at number six, was the only one to have successfully turned the tables, knocking out the regular season's third place, Blue Rain. This match, especially the second round at Blue Rain's home stadium, was the match that had the most discussion.
The group arena was alright. It was clear that Blue Rain had made careful arrangements with their map choice. In the end, it was because their plan for Ye Xiu was completely destroyed that they fell behind.
However, the team competition brought Blue Rain a lot of disgruntlement and jeers, to the point where this match was the hottest topic with the end of the first round.
By now, Team Blue Rain's holiday had already started. Regarding the last round of the playoffs, their captain Yu Wenzhou had said everything there was to say in the press conference already.
Next up was Tyranny versus Happy and Samsara versus Tiny Herb. The playoffs had entered an even more tense atmosphere. None of these four teams dared relax for even a moment.
Blue Rain hadn't bothered reviewing the heavily criticized team competition at Blue Rain's home game against Happy. On the other hand, Tyranny began looking over that match ended. The team competition of that match had become the main focus of their pre-match preparations.
As for who it was they were studying, it obviously wasn't Blue Rain who had been knocked out of the competition already, but Happy. Happy, who they were facing in the next round. Happy, who had wiped the floor with Blue Rain on their home turf, drawing harsh criticism of Blue Rain from all over.
Those criticisms, to them, were unreasonable. However, they didn't have the time to spare to explain for Blue Rain, and it wasn't Blue Rain they cared about anyways.
Happy. The discussions and research these three days were all about Happy, because Happy had revealed all too much in this match, too much that had been kept hidden or vague in previous matches.
The entire team was gathered in the conference room, the match VOD playing on the projector. They had lost count of how many times they had watched and analyzed the match, but none of the Tyranny members held any hint of impatience in their expressions, all focused as if they were in a match themselves.
Zhang Xinjie, their vice-captain, Tyranny's tactician, stood in front of the projector. He faced the projection as well, watching the recording silently with everyone else.
The two teams spawned and headed out. The viewpoint in the VOD was completely focused on Team Happy.
After three consecutive days of studying the match VOD the file they were using was no longer the original. Speaking of which… as Happy's five characters advanced, a red circle appeared over Dancing Rain, flashing a few times.
They didn't stop watching because of this. They had studied this part several times already.
Many people thought her performance wasn't as spectacular after joining Happy. At first they thought that it was because she was in a new team and had to familiarize herself with her new teammates and characters. However, throughout the whole season, Su Mucheng hadn't made any particularly spectacular improvement.
However, in these three days at Tyranny, Zhang Xinjie had came to a very certain conclusion.
Su Mucheng's performed spectacularly, but her brilliance was integrated into the details.
The annotations done for Dancing Rain's positioning at the beginning was emphasis on her choice of position in their formation as well as the adjustments she made. You wouldn't be able to see anything from just watching one character, you had to look at it from the whole.
The moment the red annotations appeared, Steamed Bun Invasion and Boundless Sea had both deviated from their formation.
This deviation wasn't a result of the two not being in sync, but it was because the two characters had been met with obstacles they couldn't leap over in their linear path, so they had to make their own adjustments.
This was a natural, logical move that couldn't be more ordinary,
However, Su Mucheng adjusted herself with them.
Dancing Rain, with no obstacles in her path, adjusted her position as Steamed Bun Invasion and Boundless Sea swerved around trees.
The scene was paused.
Happy froze with the two characters swerving around trees and Dancing Rain in her now adjusted position.
"A seemingly inconsequential detail, but this maintains the completeness of Happy's formation," Zhang Xinjie turned and said to everyone.
"These movements are woven into this match from start to finish, and we'll come to it again. This is just to make sure you all realize that Su Mucheng can already do this subconsciously, even for something so inconsequential," Zhang Xinjie explained, "In other words, I think that Su Mucheng is no longer just Ye Xiu's best partner, but all of Happy's best partner."
After three days of analysis, this was the first time Zhang Xinjie had given such a straightforward explanation.
"She's become more comprehensive, even more of a team player," Lin Jingyan said. As veterans, none of them were unfamiliar with Su Mucheng, and with this new information, they would immediately compare it to their original understanding of Su Mucheng and notice the difference.
For the Su Mucheng of the past, not only did she often forget everyone but Ye Xiu, but her support was imbalanced. She placed too much importance on Ye Xiu's decisions, leading to her inability to maximize her impact in the battle.
This was because Ye Xiu wasn't always the best target for her to support, and giving support to her other teammates would have been better to open up the situation.
Now, she no longer had any of these problems.
Soon enough, the scene arrived at the first clash between the two sides. Blue Rain took advantage of their tailwind to launch an assault. At this point, Zhang Xinjie had switched the shot to Su Mucheng's perspective.
With this first person perspective, everyone felt as if they were in the tense atmosphere of the match themselves.
Su Mucheng's camera view was constantly in motion, things appearing repeatedly in the shot, some far, some close.
Then, it suddenly froze.
It was Zhang Xinjie who paused it.
In the scene, Blue Rain's Blademaster Duo had already charged into their formation with such great coordination that even Ye Xiu couldn't stop them.
As for Su Mucheng?
All of this occurred under her eyes, and she had the chance to steady the situation for Happy, but she didn't.
Su Mucheng's view, instead, kept a close eye on Yu Wenzhou's Swoksaar.
"What if it was the Su Mucheng of the past? What would she do?" Zhang Xinjie inquired.
The veterans all fell silent.
The old Su Mucheng would most likely coordinate with Ye Xiu to take on Blue Rain's Blademaster duo.
But what about the Su Mucheng of today?
"Happy's disarray here was planned, and Su Mucheng's decisions influenced Happy's plans for this stage. If she had coordinated with Ye Xiu to defeat Blue Rain's Blademaster duo, then this situation here would be difficult to achieve," Zhang Xinjie said.
Tyranny's members knew the scenario that followed like the backs of their hands after three days of analysis. Happy had an order to their chaos, while Blue Rain, responsible for scattering them, sunk into their chaos like into quicksand. Of course, every member of Happy had contributed their efforts to this, but even after three days of studying, the role Su Mucheng played seemed to have a deeper layer to it.
"Blue Rain wasn't cautious enough of Su Mucheng." As Zhang Xinjie talked, the projection cut to a collection of strung together highlights. Scene after scene flashed by. This was a video of the times Su Mucheng used Dancing Rain's range advantage to disrupt Blue Rain's plan. As for Blue Rain, they weren't watching Su Mucheng very closely, so it made Su Mucheng's job much easier.
This sentence was basically Zhang Xinjie's criticism on Blue Rain's performance. This was a criticism that hadn't appeared in that cacophony of voices. However, Zhang Xinjie, who had managed to catch onto this, didn't act proud or anything. This was a trail they had only found after three days of intense study. Su Mucheng's transformation was very fragmented. It would be very hard to notice without combing through the data thoroughly. Zhang Xinjie could only be thankful, thankful that there was this match to provide them with this fragmented information.
"It seems like we had better keep a closer watch on her," Zhang Jiale said.
"Or obstruct her view!" Zhang Xinjie gazed at Zhang Jiale as he said this.
The veterans didn't need to say much more. When Zhang Jiale brought this up, it was because he already understood that he was the one in Tyranny who was most appropriate for cutting Su Mucheng off from her allies. Dazzling Hundred Blossoms had ranged attacks and the Hundred Blossoms style was doubtlessly the best at disrupting Su Mucheng, no matter if it was used on the field or on Su Mucheng directly.
And so, a strategic choice was decided. Outsiders would probably never guess that the first person Tyranny brought up as a key opponent to keep watch on would be Su Mucheng, who didn't seem to shine so brightly amongst the rest of Happy.
This wasn't the only choice Tyranny had settled on in these three days. The recording continued, and soon came to a chaotic free for all between the two sides. Steamed Bun Invasion had been Blue Rain's attack target for awhile, but after a few exchanges, Steamed Bun worked together with Boundless Sea to kidnap their healer.
What was Happy's reasoning behind sending out Steamed Bun Invasion?
This was one of the many questions Tyranny was analyzing these three days. The choice of player and character was the best reflection of a team's intentions. An unpredictable and unstable player like Steamed Bun wasn't the strict Zhang Xinjie's style. Compared to Yu Wenzhou, he was interested in why Happy chose a player that might mess up and cost them their victory at such a crucial map.
Ye Xiu was there to compensate; that was something that Yu Wenzhou realized during the match, as well as something Tyranny quickly figured out. However, this only meant that Happy had the ability to neutralize the risk of using Steamed Bun Invasion, but nothing of why Steamed Bun Invasion was important. It wasn't like they'd send him up to wear at Ye Xiu's focus.
As the recording arrived to where Blue Rain's healer Soul Speaker was kidnapped, the projection once again cut to a collection of highlights.
A collection of highlights of Steamed Bun Invasion attacking Soul Speaker.
Conclusion: Steamed Bun was a counter to Xu Jingxi's Soul Speaker. The Brawler class had many ways to disrupt and interrupt their opponents, and Paladins with their strong defense had many ways to protect themselves, so a class like the Brawler was required to CC them.
The shot paused at a scene where Steamed Bun Invasion launched a Tyrannical Chain Punch and knocked Soul Speaker down.
"It looks overkill, doesn't it?" Zhang Xinjie said, pointing at the shot. "However, if he didn't do something so overkill, then a single Guard of Virtues or Angel's Might would be able to turn the tables."
"This Steamed Bun Invasion feels really enthusiastic when it comes to things like this…"
Feelings…. Zhang Xinjie would never rely on feelings for something like this, yet even he had to resort to an ambiguous term like this. He just couldn't understand Steamed Bun.