He Caitou turned around at this moment, and he nodded calmly at Huo Yuhao before he removed the cigar in his mouth and gave him a smile that seemed to contain a far deeper meaning.
Huo Yuhao couldn't help but reminisce on the scene when He Caitou had confided in him back then. Second senior brother, he…
Zheng Zhan's expression was a little black. He was a Class 9 soul engineer, but he had failed to prevent another death in a match that he had personally refereed, so there was no way he didn't feel bad right now. However, he had been faced with a tough choice just now, and the outcome proved that he made the wrong one.
Xiao Hongchen jumped onto the competition stage with a dark look on his face. "I'm up for the next round."
On the other side, Huo Yuhao also spoke up from the Tang Sect's waiting area. "The Tang Sect will abandon the remaining single elimination rounds. We choose to enter the group battle directly."
Both He Caitou and Xiao Hongchen were taken aback for a moment, and Xiao Hongchen's expression grew even gloomier than before. He Caitou frowned for a moment before he grabbed a Milk Bottle and leapt off the competition stage to show that he was absolutely supportive of Huo Yuhao's decision.
The Tang Sect had already won three matches. There were seven matches of the single elimination round, and the Sun Moon Empire couldn't possibly overtake the Tang Sect by more than five points even if they won the remaining matches. The final result had to be determined through the group battle. However, the Sun Moon Empire had already lost two in combat, and Huo Yuhao had slain another. Three of the original seven were dead. Substitutes weren't allowed in this seven-man round, and this meant that the Sun Moon Empire would be at a great disadvantage in the subsequent group battle. The Tang Sect had an absolute advantage if they chose to go straight into the group battle, as they were seven against four.
Zheng Zhan stared deeply into Huo Yuhao's eyes before he lowered his voice and declared, "The single elimination round is over. Both parties can take some time to rest up, and we will commence the group battle after the break. The Tang Sect has accumulated three points, and the Sun Moon Empire has seven."
On the rostrum...
Xu Tianran's face became darker and darker, and Jing Hongchen's eyebrows were also tightly knit together.
The Tang Sect's prowess was far stronger than he had imagined. The first two participants were both six-ringed Soul Emperors, and He Caitou had just displayed a Class 7 soul engineer's strength. It was correct to say that the three members from the Sun Moon Empire were completely suppressed by their opponents, rather than they didn't manage to unleash their full capabilities.
The thing that worried and shocked Jing Hongchen the most was how powerful Huo Yuhao's eruption was. Jing Hongchen was a Titled Douluo, and even he felt a little dizzy and lost the moment that purplish-golden light appeared. He had found himself unable to lock onto and determine the peculiar attack that Huo Yuhao had unleashed. What kind of power was that? Even an Invincible Barrier couldn't stop it! Furthermore, the Tang Sect was in the right during that incident!
The group battle was about to commence. Even though the Sun Moon Empire's reserve team members weren't that much weaker than their main team members, there was a rift. Furthermore, his granddaughter and his grandson were also part of this tournament. It was absolutely impossible for Jing Hongchen not to be worried or anxious.
Xu Tianran asked plainly, "Can they win the group battle?" He placed a lot of emphasis on this year's tournament.
Jing Hongchen took a deep breath and said, "I have faith in those kids. However, I implore that you give me permission to keep those guys from the Tang Sect here forever after the tournament. They will grow up to become real problems in the future if they possess such prowess at such a young age."
Xu Tianran glanced at him and said, "Either you make them submit, or you make them disappear."
Ju Zi was still sitting beside Xu Tianran, and her eyes shifted a little in response.
He Caitou sat down beside Huo Yuhao, but his expression was no different from before.
Huo Yuhao stared at him and whispered, "Are you alright, second senior brother?"
He Caitou shook his head and said, "I'm good. Hehe, I'm good." He raised his head as he spoke, and he gazed at the rostrum in the distance with a calm look in his eyes, there at the seat that was high above everyone else.
The arena and the audience had settled down, and several earth-type soul masters hurried around as they attempted to repair the competition stage. The group battle was about to start, and even though the competition stage was a hundred meters in diameter and didn't look small at all, it couldn't be considered that spacious if it was to host fourteen people at once. The least that the organizers could do was the repair the stage's surface.
"Dong'er, you will remain by my side later, and you're responsible for protecting me," Huo Yuhao said plainly.
Wang Dong'er was momentarily stunned. Her eyes darted around at the others, but she lowered her head in the end. She forced herself not to rebuff Huo Yuhao and ask if that was being unfair to the others.
Huo Yuhao looked at his other compatriots. "Please follow my guidance from my Spiritual Detection during the group battle after this. We have to win this round, and we can't afford to sustain any losses or injuries at all."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Huo Yuhao closed his eyes once more, but his right hand was still holding onto Wang Dong'er's left hand. Everyone closed their eyes one after another, and they took this opportunity to mentally prepare themselves so that they could maintain their peak condition and go into battle in their best state. The subsequent round was a showdown of life and death to them, and a single misstep could lead to injury, and perhaps even death.
Fortunately, that powerful soul engineer had taken over as judge, so this round would be a lot safer than otherwise.
There were commotions all around the arena. The citizens and aristocratic families alike were all discussing things amongst themselves.
Those who were more familiar with the competition rules originally expected that the tournament would be a little calmer after the initial elimination phase ended and the tournament progressed into the round robins. After all, the round robin stage didn't directly determine the final winner and loser. The point accumulation was related to whether the teams would get to progress into the next round, but one loss didn't mean that a team would be eliminated right away.
Who would have thought that the round robin stage that they didn't expect to be too intense was so epic, and this was only the first round!
Nobody had ever heard of the Tang Sect before, and they were up against their own country's Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy. The Tang Sect ended up killing three of their own in a row... what exactly was going on?
The audience's hearts were with the Sun Moon Empire's team, but the disgraceful attack against Wang Dong'er earlier made the audience cheer conspicuously quieter than before. That was such a low blow, and was simply too disgraceful. It was also the reason why most of the audience didn't feel bad or pity Zhou Xinghao after his head exploded from Huo Yuhao's formidable strike.
Nobody expected that the Tang Sect would have a landslide victory like that. Those who liked to gamble couldn't help but feel fortunate that their country prohibited gambling. Otherwise, they would probably have lost everything they had in this round.
It was the truth! If the Tang Sect eventually defeated the Sun Moon Empire's team, it would be the greatest upset since the start of this tournament!
Everyone couldn't help but feel a thread of hope for the group battle that was about to commence. They naturally hoped that the Sun Moon Empire would emerge victorious, but the three consecutive losses before this shook their confidence and their faith. The Tang Sect's first two participants were actually two six-ringed Soul Emperors!
For most citizens, Soul Emperors were already considered unassailable and highly respectable people that nobody could reach!
The competition stage's flooring was swiftly repaired. There was no time to re-install the metal boards, but at least that didn't affect the tournament.
"Step on stage, everyone!" Zheng Zhan announced with a deep voice.
Wang Dong'er was the first to stand up, walking behind Huo Yuhao as she slowly pushed his wheelchair forward. The others didn't overtake them and followed behind, more than enough to prove Huo Yuhao's status as team leader.
On the other side, the Sun Moon Empire's four remaining members got to their feet and jumped on stage one after another. Xiao Hongchen was still wearing that solemn and insidious look, and he walked in front of everyone else as he glared at Huo Yuhao in the distance. Xiao Hongchen's fists were tightly clenched, as if he were about to swallow him up.
This round was seven against four, and those that were truly familiar with the Tang Sect's team members understood that the Tang Sect practically had an absolute advantage over their opponents. Unless some special circumstances cropped up, it was almost impossible for the Sun Moon Empire to turn the tables. This was also the benefit of killing opponents in the single elimination matches, as it wasn't difficult to see how much pressure the team would have to sustain with three fewer people.
Something utterly unexpected happened right at that moment. Xiao Hongchen suddenly raised his hand and said, "Judge, we're admitting defeat for the group battle."
Zheng Zhan was momentarily stunned, and he asked again to be sure. "Are you saying that the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy is admitting defeat in the group battle, which also means that you guys have lost this whole round?"
"Yes." Xiao Hongchen was gritting his teeth as he nodded heavily.
Huo Yuhao's eyes sparkled as he sat in his wheelchair. His eyes closed into a squint as he stared back at Xiao Hongchen, and his right hand unwittingly gripped his wheelchair's armrest tightly.
Zheng Zhan paused for a little while as he stared into Xiao Hongchen's eyes. He lowered his voice and said, "Alright, the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy has admitted defeat in the group battle. The Tang Sect is victorious in this round!"
Zheng Zhan was a nine-ringed Titled Douluo, and his voice traveled to every corner of the arena so that every single person in the audience could hear. There was an immediate uproar.
Back on the rostrum, Xu Tianran was also taken aback. Jing Hongchen thought that Xu Tianran was about to erupt in a fit of rage, but Xu Tianran's face broke into a smile.
"He knows when to bend and when to give or take. Not bad, Hallmaster Hongchen. Your grandson has improved a lot over the years, and he's not so headstrong and all about the fists anymore."
Jing Hongchen lowered his head and forced a laugh. "He's humiliated the empire, your Majesty. Please punish him."
Xu Tianran smiled and said, "The round robin stage has only just begun, and this round is far from over. The final result hasn't been revealed, so nobody can say whether he's disgraced us or not. Furthermore, I'm sure he will learn from this lesson, and he won't repeat the same mistakes in the following rounds. However, the Tang Sect is quite interesting, and they seem quite powerful. Imperial Tutor, what is the ability that Huo Yuhao used before this?
The Imperial Tutor was sitting on his other side, and he was clad from head to toe in black. He lowered his voice and said, "I believe it was a spiritual-type attack. His martial soul is a pair of eyes, but that third eye should have come about from some mutation, and it's likely similar to the Body Sect's second martial soul awakening. This has allowed him to develop formidable spiritual power. That soul skill is incredibly powerful, and I'm afraid there's nobody at the same rank as him who can withstand that attack. It would require special soul tools or soul skills that are specifically designed to counter that soul skill if one wished to deal with it, and I believe the Hallmaster is quite adept at things like that. I believe that the Hallmaster's grandson opted to withdraw temporarily because he hasn't found a way to deal with that skill, and he wishes to conserve his team's fighting strength so that they can keep on going in the subsequent rounds. There'll always be another chance to take revenge."