Nobody else cared about the reactions of the engineers. Everyone else's eyes were fixated on the screen displaying what was happening inside the game.
For this exchange match, Fiery Bird had opened up a district approximately 500 meters in diameter. It resembled an ordinary residential area in a small town from the Old Era. The highest building in the area was only six or seven floors up.
There were online bookmakers offering bets on how long the exchange match would take. SilverLight team members rushed to place the bets after hearing one challenger request Fang Zhao not to show mercy. Given Fang Zhao's style of blitzkrieg, they picked the bet with the least time.
Online, the bet with the quickest time frame offered by bookmakers was "zero to 10 minutes."
All 10 challengers had logged on. As Fang Zhao was the one being challenged, he could only enter after the rest were in. Furthermore, the moment he appeared online, the other 10 challengers would receive his starting coordinates.
Starting coordinates were only visible for a moment. After three seconds, they would disappear. Radar and warning devices were forbidden for this exchange match, but players could bring their own firearms.
Fang Zhao's equipped gun was the same one given to him by the system when he'd started, an Old Era police-issue revolver. From detailed information on Fiery Bird's official website, this sort of gun only had an effective firing range of 50 meters.
This time around, Fang Zhao did not equip a helmet when he got online. Through the system's monitors, fans got to clearly see AliveAfter500Years's in-game appearance.
"It really looks 70% similar to the real Fang Zhao."
"The few scars add quite a touch of personality. I've decided to add a few scars to my avatar too."
"Scars on the face, seems kinda familiar, hmm."
Nobody wasted time mulling over it. They were fully devoted to their screens. The game's monitoring systems were showing the movements of Fang Zhao and the other 10 challengers.
The first thing Fang Zhao did after logging in was find a place close by to take cover. Many experienced players watching could tell that Fang Zhao had not picked a spot at random. His choice had been a shrewd one, enabling him to avoid sniper fire.
"Why has he stopped moving?" some gaming fans watching the broadcast posted in the comments section.
"Is he waiting for the challengers to make the first move? After all, in this match, he doesn't know the positions of the challengers."
"Someone is heading over!"
The scene cut away. Indeed, one challenger was inching closer to where Fang Zhao was.
Of the three challengers closest to Fang Zhao's starting spot, two of them had started advancing closer.
As for the others, they were probably lying in ambush.
Fang Zhao was still motionless. He seemed to have fused with the wall behind his back, making people suspect whether he had set his account settings to dormant mode.
As for the audience, they watched as the system-displayed minimap showed the distance between both sides as they got closer.
One hundred meters... 50 meters, 40 meters, 30 meters...
When the first challenger was 20 meters away from where Fang Zhao was, he suddenly saw Fang Zhao appear around a corner and raise his gun without any hesitation.
There were portraits of the 10 challengers displayed at the top of the live broadcast, and one faded to black.
Killed with one shot! Immediate disconnection!
Time taken: 35 seconds.
The first person to have been killed and disconnected got out of his gaming cabin. He was feeling dejected. Being the first out of 10 people to get kicked out, he wasn't pleased, but he did not blame Fang Zhao.
He had always felt good about himself and was confident in his own ability. His ID could not be seen on the overall leaderboards, but he could place within the top 100 of the subleaderboards for his own continent. For an amateur gamer, this was already considered really good, but now, after less than a minute, he had been killed and forced to disconnect. Up until the moment he'd been shot, he had not even gotten a glimpse of the other's shadow and had had no time to react as his vision turned to black and he was disconnected.
It was as if a bucket of iced water had been splashed over his head, waking him up from his conceited idea.
"Don't tell me the difference is so great?"
The first challenger to fall kept replaying the scenario in his head, recalling whether he had show any openings that the opponent had taken advantage of. He clearly had not made a single sound when getting close, and there was no way the opponent could have seen him.
But soon, he had no time to feel remorseful. The topmost display had changed once again. The second challenger to disconnect after being shot came only three seconds after him. Most likely, when Fang Zhao was handling the first, the second challenger had tried to sneak up behind him but had unfortunately been killed as well.
In less than 40 seconds, two out of 10 were out.
Everyone hoped to be the one to take down the legendary AliveAfter500Years. When Fang Zhao's starting coordinates had been displayed, those who were unwilling to let the glory be stolen first were also the first to be kicked out of the battlefield.
A silhouette tiptoed carefully to where he reckoned was the best sniping spot. He quietly raised his gun up, calmly waiting for the target to appear.
However, outside the game, the audiences were getting anxious.
"Brother! Don't just check your front! Your side—no, now he's behind you!"
"You are gonna get shut down! Hurry and withdraw!"
"I can already foresee the ending for this brother."
Gaming fans spectating the match all wished they could rush into the game and warn this challenger to evacuate and shout at him: "You have already been exposed!"
Another gunshot, and another portrait faded to black.
At 1 minute 27 seconds, 3 out of 10 were out.
"Ha, the sniper had someone knocking on his door! Were his concealment skills too clumsy? He was rather slow to react; is his experience on the leaderboards fake? Or perhaps he had a substitute? Maybe this account was handed to someone else for this match?" someone said in the chatroom.
"Let's watch some more. There are still seven more. Maybe not everyone will be like this."
However, when snipers who thought they had laid an ambush were found by Fang Zhao and shot one after the other, the audience that had been laughing and making jokes about the challengers fell silent. The chatroom and comments section on the live broadcasting platforms became much quieter.
One might be clumsy, two might be clumsy, but could all the challengers all botch their hiding techniques?
The audiences were all watching the live broadcast closely. They all had eyes to see for themselves the standards of these challengers. Although these challengers could not be considered top notch, they were worthy of their rankings within their own continents. The standard could be considered mid-to-high tier in e-sports circles, and they were way better than the majority of gamers.
Yet they had still been eliminated one after another in quick succession.
When Fang Zhao was motionless, he was like a statue, but when he moved, he could not be stopped. Even the system's monitoring cameras could not necessarily catch up with his silhouette. Many times, it only caught a flickering shadow, just like an apparition.
"I'm starting to believe that Fang Zhao is AliveAfter500Years. If not for the monitoring cameras following Fang Zhao, if I were there, I might not even notice him beside me."
That was also one reason why everyone believed that, in real life, AliveAfter500Years's identity originated from the special forces or was a veteran that had seen actual combat. From the videos of him that had circulated, it proved that he was different from a normal gamer.
Whether it was his concealment techniques, rapid movements, accurate shooting, or even his radar-like awareness, if this was in the real world, it would totally be at the standard of special forces! Even exponents of the military-renowned continent Rongzhou could not compare!
Even e-sports athletes from Rongzhou that bragged about how hard and tough their training was could not perform the movements they saw on the screen in front of them.
Another gunshot. The ninth challenger had been eliminated.
The match timer showed 8 minutes 30 seconds.
"Really... merciless," someone lamented.
The SilverLight members, upon seeing the rueful atmosphere, could not help but grin slightly.
Is this "showing no mercy"? This is already being too lenient!
Do you know what sort of treatment he gave us back then?
What's so bad about being shot? Why not have a taste of being beaten up before getting shot?!
A sniper being found out does not count for much. At least he's letting you save some face, killing you from around 10 meters away. Have you felt the sullen taste of having a gun pressed to your forehead before being killed?!
Have you felt the pain and suffering of getting disconnected straightaway from a kick?!
That short history of blood and tears would never be told to anyone. Just remembering it left them with heavy hearts. The disparity in strength was just too great, so much so that after joining the SilverLight team, no one had the courage to rebel.
But watching these challengers suffering a similar fate, their hearts felt a little better. Furthermore, thinking about their wagers, the SilverLight members felt much more relaxed.
When these challengers disconnected and left their game cabins, their faces wore blank expressions, totally not comprehending why they had suddenly disconnected. Only after heading online to watch the replay did they understand. Their loss was not unwarranted!
In past exchange matches, with this sort of map and these sorts of players, the matches lasted at least 20 to 30 minutes. But now, was it going to be concluded before 10 minutes?
"Is Fang Zhao really not using 'radar' or any other assistance equipment?"
"Probably not. Didn't Fiery Bird's staff mention it is forbidden? Besides, even if you do use those, what can you even do to him?"
"As a born and bred District 79er, this brother shall tell you all. All those who escaped following the SilverLight team know that 500Years-god is even more reliable than those warning devices!"
A science student asked, "And why is that?"
"Perhaps... the same principle as a cemetery guard? Born with an in-built hack."
Cemetery guards were widely known to have sharper intuition than sensor equipment, as well as an outstanding perception for detecting danger.
"That kinda makes sense."
"Stop harping on all that! Hurry up and watch. There's just one left."
At this moment, the sole surviving challenger felt like he was bearing a huge burden. In his hands was a high-caliber sniper rifle. Given the 500-meter-wide map this time, even if the map area was doubled, there was no issue. This sniper rifle could still shoot accurately at over 1000 meters!
As long as a tiny bit of the opponent showed up in his crosshairs, he had the confidence to get rid of him!
Whether the opponent was hiding behind a window, a car, or even a wall, he would kill AliveAfter500Years all the same!
However, he had not even caught a glimpse of Fang Zhao. All he heard were some gunshots from time to time. Every time, there were only one or two shots, and every time they rang out, the system gave a notification: one more player had disconnected.
The position he was at was an extremely favorable sniping spot, but since he had camped here, he had only heard gunshots and seen silhouettes of other challengers. Fang Zhao was still nowhere to be seen!
He usually had an accurate grasp of where a target was, but right now, he felt a little foggy.
Undetectable! Unable to determine! Totally no idea!
Where the hell is he?
Suddenly, he felt a chill across his back, provoking his keen senses. His body became rigid as he moved his line of sight away from the scope of his rifle. A stunned expression was written all over his face. He wanted to turn around and look behind him, but he didn't have the chance.
The 10th challenger had disconnected!
On the display screen, 10 portraits were completely black and the timer had stopped.
Nine minutes 17 seconds.
"It's really within 10 minutes!"
"That... that quick?" A gamer watching the broadcast had not even finished his bowl of rice yet the exchange match had already concluded.
"If it wasn't that quick, there is no way he could have dominated the global No. 1 spot till now."
"Evaluation complete. Fang Zhao is AliveAfter500Years without question!"
"Now I really believe that he is AliveAfter500Years."
"Say, isn't tomorrow the auction? According to past arrangements, the third day is always the auction."
"Yes. The official website did mention it, but we have no idea what is going to be auctioned. As the No. 1 player on the global leaderboards, Fang Zhao will definitely bring out something to auction. I wonder what it will be."
At every year's Fiery Bird annual conference, they would hold an auction. Social welfare in the New Era was better. As long as one was willing to work hard, contribute, and continue living, regardless of whether they were orphans or teenagers, these beneficiaries would receive relevant aid from various institutions.
People from the Founding Era had emerged from those desperate times. As descendants of those Founding Era pioneers, people of the New Era did not consider themselves useless unless their brains were totally incapable of normal processes. Even if one's body was not robust, if their mind was sound, they could still earn a living.
Thus, the scale of charity in the New Era was lesser.
The proceeds of Fiery Bird's auction were not for their own use but were totally invested into military constructions.
Having gone through that hundred years of damage, the planet had not yet fully recovered, and excessive mining was still impossible, but development required resources, so there were exploratory missions to foreign planets to search for resources and mining locations. Manpower, material resources, R & D for machines, and many other aspects required lots of military expenditure.
Many who had completed their military services knew that mining on a foreign planet was a real hardship and extremely tiring! Therefore, whenever there were special occasions or donation drives, these people would make a choice of donating to "military expenditures."
Some big companies, famous celebrities, and rich and powerful people would also donate this way. Whether they were flaunting their wealth of if they truly wanted to contribute, all had to go through this process.
Every sum of money accepted during Fiery Bird's auction would be made public with detailed information. This was also under the supervision of relevant departments so nobody had doubts.
Thus, every year, during Fiery Bird's auction, famous e-sports athletes would put forward some of their own items, and fans would bid for them. Supporting their own idols and contributing to military constructions, they were willing to spend this sort of money!
Some gamers already had their own thoughts on the next day's auction.
"Will Fang Zhao take off the clothes he is wearing and auction them? There are this sort every year, right? Shirt, pants, and whatever to be auctioned," someone surmised.
"That's great! Has it been washed? I don't want it if it's been washed. I want those that he wore! No washing!"
"What about your obsession with cleanliness?"
"To hell with that!"
A gaming fan from Huangzhou said, "I criticized Fang Zhao too terribly before. Whatever he produces tomorrow, I will bid on it to atone for my sins. Everyone, please don't fight me for it."
"I think my sins are even greater. Let me have this chance for atonement instead," a Muzhou gamer expressed.