Chapter 831 - Rookie’s Block
The role given to Team Happy in this article was a foil to the real main character, no more than a sentence. It was submerged in the reports of the Pro League matches, struggling to stand out amongst the other information present.
For a team from the pro league like Everlasting, the amount of attention they received would greatly decline after they were eliminated last year. As for Happy, the attention they received was atypical at best. Most of those who paid attention to them did so with the hopes that they would lose. If Happy really did lose embarrassingly, then they would definitely rail and yell about it. However, with the victories that Happy had to its name recently, they were as silent as the grave. No one would come out to discuss them.
Most players didn’t purchase the issue of Esports Home to read about the Challenger’s League.
Last Saturday, the third round of the Pro League had come to a close, but the anticipatory air for the new season had not yet subsided. The one who drew the most attention was, once again, the youngest pro player, Blue Rain’s Lu Hanwen. During the Blue Rain home field match against Royal Style, Lu Hanwen’s ability shocked everyone to the core again. He managed to consecutively defeat two members of Royal Style as the first player for Team Blue Rain in the group arena. His fighting spirit showed no signs of faltering in the third round against the ace of Royal Style, Tian Sen and his ancient god-level account, Peaceful Hermit. Though he lost to Tian Sen in the end, he had already taken the spotlight. Some even thought that, had Lu Hanwen not had to fight two others and lose a good deal of health, he would’ve beaten the god Tian Sen in a fair one on one match.
No one even cared about the resulting points of the match anymore. Everyone’s focus was on the group arena and the tactics that Blue Rain had used these three rounds.
Huang Shaotian’s Troubling Rain and Lu Hanwen’s Flowing Clouds appeared together in the line-up for the Team Competition. The important position of main attacker that once belonged to Yu Feng was given so confidently to this young rookie.
Lu Hanwen’s account wouldn’t be weak in any way. If Team Blue Rain could armor Troubling Rain, then, so long as they had enough materials, they wouldn’t have any problem getting Flowing Clouds the exact same set of equipment either. However, pro characters had to be adjusted to each player, so there were rarely any two same characters for different players.
Flowing Clouds’ equipment hadn’t copied Troubling Rain’s, but the 10 pieces of Silver equipment on him were not a single bit worse than Troubling Rain’s. Out of these, four pieces were different, the most eye-catching being his weapon.
Troubling Rain held the lightsaber, Ice Rain, which was covered in a flickering blue light; Flowing Clouds’ Silver weapon was a greatsword: Flame Shadow.
Greatswords and lightsabers were two opposing extremes among Blademaster weapons. Lightsabers were the lightest and fastest swords, while greatswords were weighty and slow. However, greatswords were superior in physical attack.
Blademasters with lightsabers had a completely different playstyle compared to Blademasters that used greatswords. In the current pro circle, or even the entire Glory circle, lightsaber users were the majority, or maybe even taichi users. Either way, most depended on speed, preferring to fight with quick strikes. Yet, Lu Hanwen’s Flowing Clouds was atypical. He gave up the speedy and light lightsaber for the heavy but powerful greatsword.
This problem was something people had been discussing ever since Lu Hanwen had debuted with Flowing Clouds. Now, after the third round, Lu Hanwen’s fierce performance had shut up all those who doubted him. Although, many experts had pointed out that, since he was a rookie with an all new character, Lu Hanwen and his greatsword Blademaster Flowing Clouds would be a surprise for all.
If Lu Hanwen could keep up his current pace, as the competition continued and other teams started to understand his playstyle, it was hard to say if he would be able to maintain his current performance.
This problem was something that was very common to the Alliance, called the Rookie's Block.
What it referred to was when talented rookies drew attention with their great performance, they slowly lost their pace as other teams became more and more familiar with the way they played. This situation was the so-called Rookie's Block.
As for what happened to rookies after that, it differed between each player. Some would hit the block hard and were thrown back equally as hard, slowly having to rebuild their style and get used to pro matches again. Others would be able to make the necessary adjustments to continue performing stably. However, their performance after hitting the Rookie's Block would never be as eye-catching as it used to be. In the history of the Alliance, there were only two people who managed to break through the block without faltering, excluding the first generation of pro players who were all rookies anyways.
The first was the current captain of Team Tiny Herb, Wang Jiexi, who debuted in the third competitive season of the Alliance; the other wasn’t currently in the Alliance, but struggling to fight his way through the Challenger’s League with Excellent Era: the seventh season Best Rookie, Sun Xiang.
Only these two managed to completely avoid the Rookie's Block. Apart from them, everyone, even the golden generation, Zhou Zekai, Tang Hao, and last season’s Best Rookie Zhao Yuzhe, had all been affected by the Rookie's Block.
The Rookie's Block existed subjectively. That was why each team would always take extra caution in understanding how each talented rookie would try to deal with it. For example, Team Tiny Herb’s genius Gao Yingjie hadn’t been sent out into matches immediately after his contract was signed. He started out as a backup player, slowly getting used to the pace of pro matches. Since his chances of getting onto the field were quite limited, he had to give up the opportunity of becoming Best Rookie, but this gradual accommodation allowed Gao Yingjie to slip past the Rookie's Block without too much trouble. Now, in this season, Gao Yingjie had enough experience and had managed to become accustomed to the pace of pro matches as a second year player. If he encountered any sort of problems, it wouldn’t be as serious as it might’ve been had he still been a complete rookie.
Different players had different ways to overcome the Rookie's Block that suited them.
Gao Yingjie had quite a soft personality, so his team chose this steady method of helping him past the Rookie's Block. Though it was rather unfortunate that he wouldn’t have a chance to get the Best Rookie award, it was still good for Gao Yingjie’s development in the long-term.
As for Team Blue Rain’s Lu Hanwen? He had been protected in the opening round, not appearing at the press conference, but after the second round, he walked onto the stage with Team Blue Rain’s captain Yu Wenzhou and ace Huang Shaotian.
The reporters were, naturally, very interested in this rookie, but after meeting him face to face, they all thought that Team Blue Rain’s protection in the first round was overly excessive!
This young man was optimistic, energetic, open, and cheerful, unafraid of the offense these reporters were mounting. He was brave enough to say anything, opening up about everything. He was able to express himself clearly, though his words lacked the slippery edge of a veteran. He was only a fourteen year old teenager; if he had learned how to structure and smoothen his words, it would be a total blemish on his image. In comparison, Team Tiny Herb’s Gao Yingjie was more than a year older than Lu Hanwen and had a year’s worth of experience in the pro circle, yet wasn’t nearly as neat as Lu Hanwen when it came to interviews.
With the third round over, there was no way Lu Hanwen could stay hidden from the public after drawing such attention.
This budding young boy not only triggered the touting of the fans, but also became the favorite of the media. At Team Blue Rain’s press conference, not many people even bothered with Huang Shaotian anymore. That guy wouldn’t stop with his nonsense once he started, so most would rather listen to Lu Hanwen’s occasional clumsy slips in speech.
In this issue of Esports Home, Lu Hanwen had taken the cover story and the headlines. There was no doubt that he was the brightest star in this round of matches. However, Esports Home was still an all inclusive media. Their reports wouldn’t tilt too much towards any team, so, they pointed out the problem of the Rookie's Block even as they praised Lu Hanwen.
As for the local newspapers in the areas around Team Blue Rain, they weren’t nearly as clear headed.
These media channels weren’t focused on eSports, but all had section for sports. They, of course, couldn’t lack the continuously popular eSports, especially not Glory. For these local media, their favoritism and biased opinion was obvious. The local media in Team Blue Rain’s area described Lu Hanwen as invincible. Rookie's Block? In their opinion Lu Hanwen would no doubt become the third person after Wang Jiexi and Sun Xiang to avoid the Rookie's Block. Of course, they wouldn’t put this down without coming up with a reasonable analysis for it.
Wang Jiexi’s style was everchanging to the point of extreme success. The incredibleness of the Magician playstyle wasn’t someone that had ever appeared before, so for Wang Jiexi, it was the powerhouse teams that had hit a Rookie's Block, and had been hitting it hard over the course of the season. By the time they managed to make some headway into countering it, the season was over and Wang Jiexi managed to retain his halo all throughout that season.
As for Sun Xiang, he was a God coming from a small team. No matter how strong he was, his team would be holding him back from what he could truly achieve. All the powerhouses aimed to defeat teams, not just specific people, so they wouldn’t put too much effort into researching someone like Sun Xiang who was from an inconsequential team. That team would pose no threat anyways! Since Sun Xiang was very strong, this limited research wouldn’t be able to give him much trouble, making his debuting season smooth going.
These two Rookies who managed to avoid the Rookie's Block had reasons behind how they did it. Pro-Team Blue Rain media was now saying that Lu Hanwen could do the same, so they had to back themselves up with some form of evidence. To do so, these media channels found a relatively reasonable explanation. That was Lu Hanwen’s personality.
Though he was young, he also had no fear, just like how a newborn calf didn’t fear a tiger. What these media channels believed was that, with such a personality, Lu Hanwen wouldn’t falter no matter what difficulties lay ahead of him. Wang Jiexi didn’t give his opponents the chance to build a Rookie's Block and Sun Xiang’s Rookie's Block wasn’t strong enough for him. As for Lu Hanwen, many people believed he would be the first to completely shatter the Rookie's Block.