For many people who liked to watch videos as they ate, the opening exchange match lasting under 10 minutes was really too short. Normally, when watching a battle, food that could be finished in 3 minutes would be dragged out for half an hour, just right to finish watching a match. Eating while watching competition videos was something lots of game players liked to do, but today, the opening match had unexpectedly ended so quickly!
After the match ended, online discussion became very intense. Some were going through a detailed analysis of the exchange match, while others were making guesses as to how many among the 10 challengers had someone else substituting for them. Yesterday, after the selection of challengers had been annouced, a few of the challengers had posted videos, but as long as there was no live broadcast of them logging in, someone else could have substituted for them at the last moment.
Regardless, whether the players had substituted out or not, this exchange match had achieved its goal: nobody doubted Fang Zhao's identity as AliveAfter500Years anymore. Even if there were any remaining skeptics, it was just an extremely small number of people; the majority of gamers had already accepted this fact.
A certain floor in the hotel where Leizhou's team "Wireless" was at.
A youth emerged from his gaming cabin, wearing an expression that was 70% shock and 30% blank. He had been the last challenger to be eliminated.
But when he saw the person sitting in front of him, the youth curbed his facial expressions. Ashamed, he muttered, "Sorry, Senior Master, I was unable to snipe him."
Seated on the chair was Zaro Renault, who seemed to be deep in thought. Hearing what the youth said, he replied, "I feel that you should have used a 10th-generation console. Fang Zhao was using a 10th generation, and the 10th generation sounds superior to the ninth generation. Its a pity I left my 10th generation back in Leizhou."
"... Senior Master, this has nothing to do with the machine. Besides, my performance in the ninth gen is better than when I use the 10th gen."
"Just a little bit more!" Zaro slammed the armrest in a fit of anger. The other person looked helpless and wanted to say "Senior Master, that wasn't 'just a little bit more'," but he heard Zaro continue, "Just a little bit more and you could have shot him. Whether you hit or miss wouldn't have mattered. I purchased that account and obtained such a mighty sniper rifle and yet you actually didn't manage to get a shot off! I have lost face!"
The youth drooped his head. "...My apologies, Senior Master." He could only say this much. It was not that he hadn't wanted to shoot, but he hadn't even seen a single strand of hair from the opponent! He suspected that Fang Zhao had already perceived his location and had intentionally kept away from there.
Zaro's face was dark and convulsing. Suddenly, he cried out. "How much money does it cost to poach Fang Zhao from Silver Wing?"
His agent mercilessly rejected him. "Just give up on that idea!"
As Zaro's agent, he knew all too well the sort of temperament Zaro had. Unlike Silver Wing, who were prepared to go all out, Wireless e-Sports was just for a round of fun. He also believed that this senior master's passion for e-sports would not persist for long. Since it was only for a time, why was there a need to spend such large sums to poach a single person?
Poaching others was fine. Some others might seem costly, but to them, that was not necessarily the case. However, if they really wished to poach Fang Zhao, that would indeed be forking out a premium! After poaching him over, they would have to operate for longer, and nobody knew how long would it take to recoup the investment. This matter was something he was unwilling to do.
On a different floor in the hotel, where 2S e-Sports Club were.
Instead of the boisterous atmosphere of discussion and ana
lysis after watching the exchange match, the area was deathly quiet.
Both were Yanzhou e-sports teams, but till now, they had not come into contact with anyone from SilverLight. The two teams did not have good relations, so they would not normally hold any practice matches or scrimmages. Thus, 2S's higher management had wanted to use this exchange match as a pretext to test out the renowned AliveAfter500Years's ability. Originally, they had tried to purchase one of the spots for this match, but they had unfortunately been unable to do so.
Given the game's progress and newly released areas, it would be quite some time before they encountered any SilverLight members. Previously, they had felt regret at missing the chance to fight against AliveAfter500Years earlier, but now, this had become joy!
Even if they had managed to obtain a spot for this exchange match, the 2S challenger would probably have ended up like the other 10, and once the information leaked, it would be very disgraceful. Now, the entire internet was discussing the true identities of the 10 challengers.
A gaming pundit from Yanzhou said, "With such a person, Yanzhou is going to be lively in the future."
This brought about considerable pressure to Yanzhou's Big Five e-sports clubs, because as long as Fang Zhao was around, maybe the original equilibrium would be broken.
At the same time, Yanzhou's 10th ranked team, Zebra e-Sports Club, was currently in a terrible mood. On the first day after arriving, they had tried to use Zaro Renault to sound out the SilverLight team on the sixth floor, but they had not expected Zaro to turn around and sell them out. Not to mention that there was still the nightclub incident where Fang Zhao was attacked at their instruction.
A deathly pallor had appeared on the faces of those involved. Given Silver Wing's nature of holding a grudge, these incidents would not be swept under the rug. There were not yet any signs of activity, as Fiery Bird's annual conference was still underway, but the moment the conference ended, Silver Wing's retaliation would come forth.
Touching other people was all right, but having made a move on an important member of the team, Silver Wing would retaliate for real. No wonder Silver Wing's retaliation methods after the nightclub incident had been so vicious.
Silver Wing had always been like this. If you swayed public opinion, Silver Wing would do the same. If you caused trouble, Silver Wing would do it too. Previously, the nightclub incident had been ordered by two senior management executives. After the incident, those two Zebra e-Sports Club executives had gotten their just desserts. One had been hospitalized and the other had left his job.
The Zebra executive still lying in hospital was full of regret. If he had known Fang Zhao was AliveAfter500Years, even if he'd had 10 balls, he still wouldn't have had the balls to do anything to Fang Zhao!
On the 62nd floor, Wayne was delighted, chatting animatedly with the people around him, probably discussing future plans.
As for Fang Zhao, he wasn't really stirred up. Being mentally over 100 years of age, he was different from other people. Beating those few challengers was nothing to be proud of.
After watching the opening exchange match, among the e-sports athletes from all continents, some turned tail, but there were still others who wanted to pit themselves against Fang Zhao. However, after the opening match, Fang Zhao was nowhere to be found.
Fang Zhao had been invited over to Fiery Bird's headquarters. Engineers were preparing to conduct a study once more. They needed sufficient data to prove the success of the 10th-generation console.
After Tang Can brought Fang Zhao over, he left. There was still too much for him to do, so he could not stay.
Fang Zhao cooperated with the engineers as they ran a few tests. After that, he rested to one side, watching the engineers analyze the data.
A hearty-looking old man with hair the color of snow came and sat beside Fang Zhao. He was Cao Kan, the chief engineer here. Most of the people here had received guidance from Cao Kan, and everyone was used to calling him Chief Cao.
Cao Kan expressed a strong interest toward Fang Zhao. "According to my expectations, of the 100 users of the 10th gen console, I had not expected anyone to achieve an adaptability value of 98 within two years. Never did I expect that in just over three months you would actually hit 99." Cao Ken flashed a kindly smile at Fang Zhao. "Young friend, do you have any interest in working at Fiery Bird's headquarters?"
Fang Zhao looked at Cao Ken but did not speak. Young friend? Adding up your age and your predecessor's age, only then would it be comparable to the person in front of you.
Not getting a reply from Fang Zhao, Cao Ken sighed. "Never mind, you still have your own path to take. I heard that you are an artist? A composer? Heh, that's meaningful. Perhaps we can do some research on this topic, whether the brain of you composers is more active than normal humans?"
"Maybe," Fang Zhao replied.
While Cao Ken spoke with Fang Zhao, his hands did not stop moving. His fingers were flying all over, searching for Fang Zhao's personal information on the internet.
"Eh?" Cao Ken abruptly eyed Fang Zhao suspiciously. "You haven't completed your military service?"
"Then you are in some trouble." Cao Ken brought up a few hot entertainment news articles on the screen and showed them to Fang Zhao. "You are being focused on."
Fang Zhao scanned the articles briefly. Those entertainment reporters had finally found out that Fang Zhao had not done his military service yet.
Why was Fang Zhao's shooting so accurate, why was he so agile? Many entertainment reporters had started their research according to these lines of thought. Since he was not from the special forces, then it might have something to do with his military service. Indeed, there were people who had interactions with firearms or improved their physical abilities during their military service.
Little had they expected that, as they dug, they would find Fang Zhao's university history and that he had not yet enlisted with the military!
This was not hard to find. Just heading to the Qi'an Academy of Music and asking around would do. From Year 1 of university till graduation, there was a record of Fang Zhao's examinations. His school reports were not a secret.
Since there were examination records of every year and there was no gap year in the middle, that meant that, during his university days, he had not done any military service!
Entertainment reporters that discovered this bit of news were thrilled. What they loved the most were currently popular celebrities trying to escape military service.
Fang Zhao was one of the most searched terms on the internet. Although he had not reached the age limit for military service, this topic attracted a lot of viewership.
Furthermore, one who had not done his military service yet had this much skill in-game. Either he was a veteran gamer or he had experience that others did not.
If nobody in the gaming circle had heard of such a godly person previously, then it had to be the latter. As for Fang Zhao's experiences that were different from others... everyone unknowingly thought of the black street.
Thus, when the news was refreshed once more, news articles with these sorts of headlines appeared:
"Shocking! World No.1 Actually Originates from the Black Streets!"
"Unveiling the Little-Known Details of the Black Streets!"
"Exposing Fang Zhao's Life in the Black Streets!"
Many people's impressions of the black streets were like this: slum housing, appalling and dirty conditions, fighting and killing everyday, and lots of shady activity going on that never saw the light of day, just like the organized crime syndicates they saw in movies set during the Old Era!
Therefore, online audiences understood.
"So he came from a black street, no wonder he is so impressive!"
"When I saw Fang Zhao had some experience from the black streets, I originally thought it was for a short duration. Seems like Fang Zhao must have lived there for a long time."
"It's rumored that Fang Zhao participated in a black-street gang fight before. Is that true?"
"I heard that people from black streets own guns, and there are gunfights everyday. Fang Zhao didn't just handle a real gun, he even participated in a real battle!"
"I also heard that he is the illegitimate son of a triad boss from the black streets?"
There were also a number of internet users that refuted those claims, saying the black streets were not as bad as imagined. Where had all these gangs even come from?
But these sentiments were quickly crowded out, because a popular web series last year portrayed the black streets this way!
In the minds of these gamers, they had already labeled Fang Zhao as one from the triads.
Artists were already overflowing with inspiration and could not help themselves. With the swishing of brushes, they painted the image in their minds of Fang Zhao's black-street persona: clad in all black, his skin adorned with tattoos, and his eyes hidden behind shades as he smoked a cigarette. One hand held onto a machete as a whole group of people stood behind him. The image displayed a formidable power and haughtiness yet was awe inspiring and cool at the same time!
"Although Fang Zhao looks like a cultured person now, who knows what he looked like back in the black streets? Wasn't it said that Fang Zhao used to look very cool? Maybe he looked just like this!"
"Right, and there are the scars in-game. Perhaps he used to have them on his face. He could have gotten those scars from gang fights and only later use medical techniques to remove them!"
The more audiences thought about it, the more they believed it was actually this way!
In no time, this new image began circulated among gamers.
Fang Zhao, upon seeing his new image illustration: "..."
Yanzhou, Yanbei city's retirement center.
Smash! A watering can was violently smashed onto the ground.
"Utter rubbish!" Great-Grandfather Fang's beard twitched with rage. "Black street doesn't mean gang activity! These people are just making up a bunch of nonsense! What, what, what... what is this hideous illustration!"
Great-Grandmother Fang sighed beside him. "All these youngsters are watching too many poor-quality shows! What do they think about all day?!"
"What illegitimate child of a triad boss... that is totally slander! Creating rumors and causing trouble! This won't do. I have to speak with little Zhao and clear things up! If these people continue talking, what will the end result be?!"
Although Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother Fang did not exactly know what Fang Zhao's life in the black street had been like, they believed their own great-grandson was not what the rumors perceived him as, taking part in gang fights and whatnot.
Fang Zhao was browsing through the news when he received a call from his great-grandparents, originating from Yanbei city.
"...Got it. Tomorrow, I will clarify... Mmhm, the company's staff have started preparing. Things will be made clear tomorrow... No need... There is really no need for you to step in..."
Great-Grandfather Fang wanted to help Fang Zhao resolve it personally. Although his influence when put on the global scale could not be considered much, if it could help Fang Zhao clarify these rumors, this old man was more than willing to step out.
The chat went on for half an hour. It was rare for Great-Grandfather Fang to talk so much.
After ending the call, Fang Zhao received another call from Wayne. He was informed that Silver Wing would try to contain those online rumors, but it could not entirely prevent them. After all, as long as there was discussion, there would be attention.
"Everything is all prepared. At the auction tomorrow, you can use the chance to explain and, at the same time, announce your decision to withdraw from the team and prepare for your military service." Wayne was afraid that Fang Zhao might be affected by all the slander and rumors online. "Those rumors might not all be from gamers. Some rival companies probably have a hand in them as well. They are just looking forward to squeezing you out. You just have to wait for the best chance. Stay calm, don't worry."
"I'm not worried, and I'm pretty calm," Fang Zhao replied.