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Yanzhou's Western region, a small town close to the mountains, in a certain household in a normal housing block.

Former 2S e-sports club's mainforce captain Jinro had just picked up his wife and son after work and from the kindergarten respectively. When he arrived home, he rushed into his study immediately without removing his shoes or changing his clothes. He opened this week's edition of Rising Dragon's news, which he automatically subscribed to, and watched that short video clip once more.

Receiving the news on that day, he had went to watch Strong Bubbles's webcast, but as Strong Bubbles was not from the industry, the video handling and commentary were not suitable for professional gamers like himself. Since Rising Dragon had bought the usage rights, the commentary and analysis were now much more detailed. Two days had passed since then, but the popularity of that video still had not dropped. Every day there were professional game analysts from every continent giving their opinions and comments.

Indeed, every time the video was refreshed, new comments would appear. The video followed the comments and appeared everywhere.

"That control is just too strong!"

No matter how many times he watched it, Jinro would just sigh.

Being proficient in the use of guns in real life did not mean it would be the same in-game. To be good at virtual reality games, one relied not on one's body's qualities but rather the brain!

Just watching the speed of his switches and shooting reaction, one could see that his control was amazing, definitely godlike! Number one on the global leaderboards definitely had the ability to back it up and indeed deserved his reputation. Whether or not he had any strong backup supporting him, this person was without a doubt an expert!

But Jinro still had some doubts. Looking at his movements, this person did not seem like a newcomer, but nobody within the gaming circle had heard of this god before. There had been absolutely no foreshadowing of him emerging. Jinro had even asked a few friends who specialized in shooting games, but nobody knew of this person! Nobody could guess who he really was!

Two days had already passed and there was still no news on who AliveAfter500Years was.

As he was thinking, Jinro's communication device rang.

"Hey pal, what's up?"

"What else, the matter with the number one big god on the global rankings. Any new info?"

"Nope, I asked everyone I know, but no one has anything for me," Jinro replied.

"Oh." The voice on the other end sounded regretful. "I had hoped to meet him."

"You could also go to Qi'an City to look for him. Maybe you will find him there?" Jinro suggested.

"I'm too busy and can't leave. Recently, business has been rather good. The equipment you helped me obtain was sold for quite a sum. When the time comes, I will send the money to your account. Hey, I almost forgot, there must be quite a number of e-sports clubs that contacted you recently, right? Were none of them acceptable?"

"Nope. They are willing to pay the penalty fee, but those few e-sports clubs have internal problems and are not willing to relinquish authority, yet they still expect me to change their predicament immediately. How is that even possible?"

The silence on the other end lasted quite a while before there was a reply. "You have been retired for eight years already. Do you really intend to wait another two more years?"

At that time, due to a problem with strategic decision-making within the team, Jinro had fallen out with the management of 2S e-sports club and been placed in cold storage until the end of his contract. With the situation back then, if Jinro had wanted to leave, he would have had to fork out a large penalty fee. 2S was willing to release him without complicating matters as long as Jinro signed a 10-year agreement that had the following terms: Jinro would not sign a contract with any professional e-sports clubs in Yanzhou. If not for these conditions, 2S would not have let him leave so easily. Even if they wanted good relations, they were still a business-minded club, after all, and when taking into account benefits, good relations did not mean much.

Therefore, if Jinro signed with any other e-sports clubs, it was necessary for his new employers to pay that large penalty fee. Given Jinro's status and influence within the gaming circles, excluding 2S, two out of the remaining four were willing to sign him and pay the penalty fee, but Jinro had turned them all down.

In the last few years, other clubs and companies had approached him, and some private studios had contacted him, but Jinro had not agreed to sign with any party. Now he only collaborated with a few small teams, providing training services and selling equipment. These few studios were opened by old friends, who had helped him during the toughest part of his contract termination. After it had settled, Jinro had returned the favor, obtaining good equipment for the studios to sell, earning a share of money for himself and helping his friend's studio gain reputation. 

As a person with a professional e-sports athlete background, before his skills deteriorated, Jinro did not want to go on like this. Especially for the release of "Battle of the Century," Jinro indeed had thought to sign with a club. This time he had carefully considered a few, but none of them were suitable. When he looked at a club now, he did not completely base it on their reputation, but rather, he considered their potential and internal management. Due to various reasons and restrictions, Jinro had not logged into "Battle of the Century" using the official account he had registered with Fiery Bird a long time ago. When training or collecting equipment, he used other dummy accounts.

"Try to decide as soon as possible. This time, 'Battle of the Century' is an imitation of the course of history. History never repeats itself. Any moments you miss are gone for good and will never return. Don't tell me you intend to continue using dummy accounts to exist in the game?" the other party advised.

Jinro gave a helpless smile. "This I know..."

There was a beeping notification of a new message. Jinro checked and saw that he had received a new private message. Opening it, the contents were a District 79 account, a login password, a set of coordinates, and a time. At the end of the message was the sender's name—AliveAfter500Years.

"!!"Jinro stared at that ID, trying to determine its authenticity.

On the other end of the communication device, the other person was still talking, but after a long time without any reply from Jinro, he was dissatisfied. "Hello, Jinro, are you still listening?! Hello hello!"

"Sorry, something urgent came up, I'm hanging up!" Jinro ended the call and went into his gaming cabin, entering the account and password. After logging in, he realized he was indeed in District 79! Bringing up the account's friend's list, he saw there was only one—AliveAfter500Years.

And this account's avatar settings were set to the height and weight that Jinro was accustomed to.

It was actually real!

The person who had contacted him was indeed the global number one, AliveAfter500Years!

The accounts inventory had a number of guns and melee weapons. Other than these, the other party had provided all sorts of equipment.

What was the meaning of this?

A declaration of war?

Unlikely. The other party was ranked first in the global leaderboards and did not have any reason to declare war. Even if he wanted to do so, he would not go as far as to find a person who had maintained a low profile in the gaming circles for a number of years.

Then what was the other party up to?

Could it be...

Thinking of that possibility, Jinro's breathing quickened.

Within gaming circles, there were rules that everyone knew. For example, if a newcomer wanted to join a team, the captain and other core members would have to evaluate the newcomer. A recommendation alone was not enough to bring someone in, the newcomer still had to go through an assessment and gain approval from the team before being accepted. Most of the time, they used this sort of method, setting a place and time they would do battle.

In this case, could the other party have had this idea?

In a city in the southern region of Yanzhou, inside a popular plant store.

A man wearing work clothes was holding a potted ball cactus bigger than a human head in one hand as he was tidying up the store. This man was muscular and built like a tank.

There was the notification sound of a new message. After he placed the cactus on the shelf, he checked the message and froze on the spot. After a while, he twisted his rigid neck to look at the plants on the shelf before turning back to view the newly received message. The muscles on his face were completely taut and trembling slightly. His expression did not give anything away, but as a whole, he looked very weird.

Immediately after, he hurriedly rushed to the back and put on a gaming helmet that he occasionally used while tending to the store.

In a certain university dormitory in Yanzhou's north.

In the four-men dormitory, everyone had their own room. At that moment, the room doors were open. Three guys were in the living room watching a movie, and the remaining one was in his room sleeping.

The guy sleeping had been gaming throughout the night. The others in the dormitory were used to it and had even heard that their roommate, who was especially good at games, was going to sign with a certain e-sports club. They were going to get him to give a celebratory treat after he signed.

The three in the living room were engrossed in the movie when they heard a "thud" from the room, like the sound of someone falling off their bed.

"What happened, Schwarzer?

The voice from inside sounded distracted. "N-nothing, Could... have been a dream..."

The other three did not bother, still thinking, Has that kid become stupid from playing all those games? He can't even tell if he was dreaming.

As for the guy who had just fallen of his bed, he took a look at the message he'd just received and muttered, "What the f*ck!"

At a certain coastal city in Yanzhou.

Inside a restaurant, a father and son sat facing each other at a corner table.

"2S, Transcendental, Big Dipper, BOOM and HWR have all sent their invites. Which one are you going to choose?" As his father cum manager, he could not help but feel anxious for his son. "Such good opportunities and so much competition, if you do not hurry up and decide, the spots will be stolen!"

"There is no rush," said a youngster with a pair of huge earphones hanging around his neck. Leaning forward unhurriedly, he bit on the straw of his drink as he played around with it, as though not taking his dad's words to heart. He slowly explained his thoughts to his dad. "I don't wish to join any of the Big Five at the moment. The competition there is too intense. If I were to join, I would have to start from their second- or third-string teams. If that is the case, wouldn't it be better if I joined a slightly weaker club? This way I might be able to enter their main team straightaway."

"I still think that you should pick one of the Big Five. With your ability, you can definitely jump from their second or third string to the main team in a short time. After all, they are the Big Five! Still, it's fine if you really want to join the main team of another club, but you should make the choice fast!"

The youngster continued sucking on the straw. "What's the hurry. Let me check this message first."

The father could not stand his son's behavior and was really itching to give him a smack. Just as the father was about to reprimand him, his son suddenly sprayed a mouthful of drink over, stood up with an urgent look on his face, and started running toward the exit.

"Let's go, go, go!"

"What happened?"

"I need to find a console to log in!"

"There is still so much food left; what's the rush?"

"Hurry! This is urgent! Let me check whether there are any game cafes nearby and log in for a little. No, that won't do. Gaming cafes might not be safe. We should head back!"

Eight people in different parts of Yanzhou had received a message from AliveAfter500Years at practically the same time. As if a king had summoned his subjects—no matter the intention, the people that received the message were willing to give it a try.

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