Before the event officially began, the people present could roam freely in the reception hall.
When SilverWing50PolarLight, also known as "SilverLight" in the gaming circles, entered, many eyes turned toward them. Generally, they were more flamboyant, partly due to how young they were on average, and were considered to be much more vivacious. In the past two years, the team's reputation had kept rising.
Within the team, Jinro and the other veteran members had been here so many times that they did not feel any unease.
On the contrary, the eyes of those newcomers were shimmering as they looked at the exhibitions all around. However, they still remembered what Jinro had said, and to avoid being lectured, they had to remain lovable.
In the reception hall, other than professional e-sports athletes, there were some lucky fans that had won a chance to be here through a Fiery Bird raffle and some amateur gamers who had performed exceptionally well and had received invitations. These two groups had even more acute reactions, and their eyes were on the verge of popping out as they got to see all the memorabilia and old machines while they were busy looking for their idols to get autographs.
All of Yanzhou's big e-sports teams were present too.
The organizing team had specifically arranged a place for Fang Zhao so as to facilitate him interacting with fans, signing autographs, taking photos, and talking about his gaming experiences.
SilverLight's members did not go over. First, there were too many people over there, and second, they were too ashamed to go over. They were afraid of getting reprimanded. In the past half a year, they had indeed slacked off. This was an undeniable fact that could be easily seen from the statistics.
After the SilverLight team entered the large reception hall, not just the newcomers, even the extreme chatterbox Schwarzer also became much quieter.
Over at the other side, 2S e-Sports Club had also just entered the reception hall, and they saw their old adversary SilverLight immediately. Right away, they switched to combat mode and waited for the SilverLight team members come over to pick a fight!
But as they waited and waited, the SilverLight team did not come over.
"The SilverLight people are acting weird today," someone said.
The others had also realized this. "Indeed."
Normally, when these two sides met, SilverLight members would start calling them out. However, today, when the SilverLight members had seen them, they had only thrown a passing glance, and that was all? Even if the 2S members provoked the other side, there wasn't even a retaliation. Do they finally know their place?
They must be plotting a big move!
These thoughts were not limited to just 2S. When the other Big Five e-sports clubs saw the situation with SilverLight, they came to the same conclusion. They were wary about what big news SilverLight might announce and made their own mental preparations first. There were even people who reacted quickly and went to investigate and try to uncover whether SilverLight was secretly plotting some large operation.
The 2S manager saw a few of his old friends in the same line and chatted with them passionately, mentioning a fresh talent they had signed this year.
When the Silver Wing gaming department manager, Wayne, who was nearby, heard this, the smile he put on his face appeared somewhat forced.
Back then, they had been the ones poaching happily and even pried away a number of young talents from established e-sports clubs by spending money, creating a lot of animosity. This year, Silver Wing had decided to tone it down and focus on reorganizing the team, letting newcomers to the main team improve their teamwork and coordination. However, they had just relented a little and an even more talented newcomer had been signed by 2S!
In the first half of the year, an exceptional newcomer who had just started university had emerged. His name was Wilkinson, and he had placed first on the newcomer leaderboards. He could very well be the newcomer with the highest score this year.
Wayne was full of regret!
He had wanted to sign Wilkinson early on but had hesitated after some thought. This newcomer's style was too incisive, and Wayne had been considering the pros and cons of signing him to the team. However, before he had been able to come to a decision, 2S had snatched Wilkinson away!
Unlike Wayne, who was regretting, the 2S manager's face was glowing. This year, he had wild ambitions, especially after the very satisfying signing of the capable new talent Wilkinson. This year, their team had also appeared in the limelight a number of times, and if everything went smoothly, they might be the highest-scoring team from Yanzhou this year.
The team manager had just flaunted the newly signed talent, but when he turned around, that talent was nowhere to be seen.
"Eh? Where is Wilkinson?" the 2S manager asked.
A 2S member shrugged while pointing in a certain direction of the reception hall. "There."
The manager looked over and the smile on his face faded.
The other members of 2S didn't look too good either.
In a lapse of concentration, they realized the newly signed talent Wilkinson had run over like a kid to where Fang Zhao was!
"Wilkinson! Get back here right now!" the manager shouted.
With so many people around, it wouldn't seem too appropriate to raise his voice too much, so he could only grunt for Wilkinson to come back.
In the past, they'd had some conflicts with the SilverLight team, especially when it came to Fang Zhao. Nowadays, they could still return some verbal attacks when faced with the other members of the SilverLight team, but when they recalled the incidents with Fang Zhao back then, it was still very embarrassing.
Wilkinson had no idea his new team had these sorts of worries. On the contrary, he was very excited. At the moment, he was getting to see his idol!
Unfortunately, Wilkinson was still dragged back by the combined strength of his teammates.
2S's manager reprimanded him in a hushed tone. "What are you doing over there, joining in the festivities?! If you have that much time, why don't you go and memorize your thank you speech so that you don't forget and freeze up when you collect your award later!"
"Manager, who will be conferring the award for the newcomer half-year leaderboards?" Wilkinson asked.
"No idea. Fiery Bird has yet to reveal it."
"I hope it's going to be Fang Zhao." Wilkinson chirped.
"Shut your mouth!" the manager berated.
Over at the side, after Fang Zhao's interaction session with the fans was over, he headed to the rest lounge that Fiery Bird had arranged. When he entered, he saw someone familiar.
Yanzhou's top-rated actor, Silver Wing S-lister He Lisi, sat on the sofa browsing through a set of game resources.
As he saw Fang Zhao enter, He Lisi smiled and pointed over to a seat beside him. "Little Fang, take a seat and let's have a chat."
When He Lisi had been younger, he had been a professional e-sports athlete for a period of time, but he had shifted his focus to filming. In order to have greater breakthroughs and produce more quality works and strive for the top, he had given up professional gaming. Now he only played occasionally just for fun.
He Lisi also knew some senior employees at Fiery Bird's Yanzhou branch, but over the years, his interaction with the gaming circles had decreased. He had also not attended Fiery Bird's activities for quite a long time, yet he had appeared today.
"I have been invited over today as an honorary guest to hand out the award for the amateur team category. However, Fiery Bird's people have not revealed this information yet." He Lisi was explaining why he was here today and also telling Fang Zhao not to divulge that he was here before the award ceremony officially began.
Actually, Fang Zhao could also partly guess He Lisi's main reason for appearing as well.
He Lisi was currently vying for an important role in "Founding Era." All his competitors were also people with ability. Recently, He Lisi had been in contact with people from the Wu family, and his appearance here was to garner the support of people in the gaming circles as a bargaining chip of his own.
The award ceremony would be broadcast live. With the publicity operations of the team behind him, He Lisi would be able to gain more popularity. Gamers were also an extremely large category, and gaining support from this group was an advantage in the fight for the role.
However, He Lisi would not talk to Fang Zhao about things from an angle of someone in the film industry.
"Are you really not gaming competitively anymore?" He Lisi asked.
"Not gaming. I don't have the time," Fang Zhao replied.
"Right, people in your industry have to keep building up your experience and qualifications. It is difficult to focus on two things at once. When will you be organizing your next concert? Make sure to let me know when it's time."
"It's still early."
He Lisi thought that Fang Zhao's "It's still early" was him being modest. He Lisi had heard through other means that there were still other pieces inside Fang Zhao's notebook. Even if some were not yet complete, within six months to a year, he would probably be able to organize another concert.
If the copyrights had not been completely sold, a few more concerts could have been held on other continents to publicize those pieces. However, since the copyrights had all been sold, there was no need to have concerts on other continents. Instead, he could focus fully on preparing for his next one.
He Lisi had asked about his next concert but had not made any promises to attend. If he managed to snag the role he was vying for in "Founding Era," he definitely wouldn't be attending Fang Zhao's concert.
Although He Lisi was not from the music circles, he had friends there and understood quite a bit. Thus, he gave Fang Zhao some advice as a senior. "Take advantage of the favorable situation now. You are still young and talented. Seize the moment and prepare for your next concert or pursue your studies. Whether you choose to walk the academic path or the popular path, or even if you choose to go entirely commercial, you still cannot avoid these two steps."
He Lisi's own opinion was that Fang Zhao was just a junior worth being friendly with. He thought that Fang Zhao was competent, but that was all. Furthermore, He Lisi had even more important matters to see to, so he naturally could not pay too much attention to Fang Zhao's matters. What he had just said were words others had told him when they had been talking about Fang Zhao.
Fang Zhao chatted with He Lisi for a short while before he received a notification informing him to prepare and head to the main hall. The award ceremony was about to officially begin.
"Oh right, I forgot to ask you. Little Fang, what award are you handing out?" He Lisi asked before they stepped out.
"Newcomer award, to a capable newcomer named Wilkinson," Fang Zhao replied.
He Lisi nodded his head but did not say anything.
Afterward, the awards ceremony began. Awards were handed out in succession, starting in order of least importance with the amateur gamers and then moving to the professional e-sports athletes.
When they saw Fang Zhao standing up as the esteemed guest who would be heading on stage and handing out the newcomer award, the faces of the 2S team members turned green.
As for Wilkinson, after the initial surprise, animated laughter followed.
Seeing the situation, the host asked Wilkinson, "Very excited?"
"Yes! The person I respect most is Fang Zhao!" As he was very excited, Wilkinson had said this so loudly that nobody could pretend not to hear it.
Some snickering broke out among the e-sports clubs off stage, and certain people could not help but burst out laughing.
They all knew that 2S and SilverLight had mutual animosity and could not stand the sight of each other. Now, on stage at this half-year award ceremony, Yanzhou's highly rated top newcomer that 2S had signed had just proclaimed his idol was Fang Zhao!
Given Wilkinson's exuberant manner, it surely wasn't an act.
This was just f*cking embarrassing!
Meanwhile, there were no happy faces at 2S's side. Even forcing a smile was impossible on their currently rigid faces. Now all they could do was rejoice—luckily, the cameras had not been pointing at them.
While on stage, Fang Zhao glanced over at the SilverLight team seated below.
Everyone in the SilverLight team that was taking delight in 2S's disaster simultaneously lowered their heads. Those that didn't maintained their lovable appearance: Boss, I'm not laughing. Really!
Outside the venue.
Zuo Yu and Yan Biao had some rest time.
Zuo Yu had gone off to chat with his comrade who was currently working as security personnel at this Fiery Bird branch. Yan Biao had seen the security personnel here and had originally wanted to talk to a few. However, he did not expect that after some interaction, there was actually someone who had served on planet Baiji, just at a different outpost. Immediately, they had a camaraderie of sorts.
After all, now they were idle, so the two of them went to the side to exchange stories.
"After getting discharged, someone recommended working here. It's much more relaxing. I can spend more time with my family and there aren't any dangerous missions," that veteran ex-Baiji soldier said.
"Me too. My injuries were too severe, so I had to be discharged." Yan Biao sighed as he recalled the reason for his discharge.
The other ex-Baiji veteran pointed at his colleagues that were currently on patrol duty. "The few right at the front of the path were just like me, only that our military districts were different. After being discharged from the forces, signing on as security personnel with Fiery Bird isn't too bad. The salary is good, and normally, all we have to do is prevent fans from charging in, obstruct reporters, and be wary of fires and thieves. Furthermore, we have so many smart systems and so much equipment, so most of the time we don't get too tired. What about you? From your attire, I'm guessing that you are someone's bodyguard?"
Yan Biao hesitated for a bit while considering the two choices in his head: driver or bodyguard. Nodding his head vigorously, he said, "Yeah! Bodyguard!"