The last semi-final match ended. The entire stadium became a sea of cheers for fans of the South Korean division but no one noticed the losing team’s bleak exit. PAY boarded the business car and headed back, the vehicle immersed in a depressed atmosphere the entire way. Everyone knew very well that the end of today’s match meant their captain would officially retire.
After experiencing such a tense match, DeMen’s face was inevitably filled with fatigue. He wanted to say something to invigorate the atmosphere but he felt it would just increase sentimentality. In the end, he still didn’t say anything.
No matter what, losing was losing. At the same time, his career had ended. According to the original plan, he would terminate the player contract with the club, officially quit the e-sports circle and return to the life ordinary people should live.
DeMen let out a long sigh. He glanced at the person next to him and felt a dull feeling in his heart again. Since the end of the match, the jungler demon king had been silent like he was now. It was precisely because DeMen knew how much AI cared that he didn’t know how to open his mouth.
They were silent all the way back to the hotel and the other three members of PAY went back to their rooms. Their journey in the World Competition was officially over. After booking the tickets, they were ready to return home.
The moment he entered the room, DeMen noticed the man behind him head to the bathroom and close the door. He shook his head and didn’t go to ask. Just like when he was idle in the past, he started to clean up the messy room.
Looking at AI’s invincible appearance on the field, it was absolutely impossible to imagine that this jungler demon king was an absolute life idiot in private. In addition, AI didn’t like to let others touch his things. When staying in a hotel, he didn’t even use the cleaning service so it could be imagined how messy his room was when he lived alone.
In fact, DeMen had a bit of a cleanliness habit. He didn’t know how it happened but he became used to the existence of such a messy AI. DeMen thought of this and his actions paused slightly. So who would clean it up in the future?
By the time AI came out of the bathroom, the messy hotel room was restored to its meticulous appearance. The familiar figure in front of the closet was still busy. He placed the last piece of clothing in the last place and slowly closed the zipper of the suitcase.
DeMen didn’t hear any movement behind him. He turned around with the suitcase and noticed the figure standing there. He paused before smiling. “Have you finished washing?”
AI didn’t answer. His gaze fell on this natural looking face for a long time and his already gloomy expression sank even more.
DeMen waited a while but there was no response. He was ready to open his mouth again when AI suddenly walked over and grabbed the suitcase in his hand. This sudden move narrowed the distance between the two of them.
DeMen was obviously a bit surprised. Then he saw AI push his suitcase into the corner silently and found this type of childish behavior amusing. “What’s the matter?”
AI stared at DeMen for a long time before whispering, “Are you really leaving?”
The expression on DeMen’s face slightly froze at the words. He knew this topic couldn’t be avoided directly and sighed as he got a headache. “Didn’t I say it already?”
The corners of AI’s lips lowered a bit more and he didn’t speak.
DeMen felt helpless every time he encountered an attitude like AI’s.
He didn’t even notice it but his tone became lighter in an instant. “You should’ve felt it too. The influence of age is really great. In my current state, it is indeed not suitable to continue playing professionally. Take today’s match as an example. There were several times in the middle when I didn’t grasp the key rhythm point. You created enough opportunities for me but there is no way I can continue with my side lane duties.”
DeMen secretly glanced at AI’s expression. “So it’s my fault that we lost to KING. I really don’t blame you.”
At the words, AI’s hand clenched tighter and he said in a deep voice, “No, I should be blamed. In the last group battle, if my skills had been faster… the result would be completely different.”
From the beginning until now, DeMen had always known that AI had strict requirements on himself. All people saw was the near-perfect performance of the jungler demon king on the field. They never asked how much effort was behind such a result.
DeMen knew very well that AI wouldn’t have been so restrained in today’s match if it wasn’t for the sake of helping him. He saw AI still trying to take the blame at this time to protect him and it was impossible not to have a soft heart.
DeMen laughed slightly but he felt helpless. He tried very hard to make his speech seem natural. “If I say I don’t blame you then I don’t blame you. I know my own situation the best. Why are you rushing to grab the blame?”
“Forget it. It doesn’t make sense to talk about it now.” AI obviously didn’t want to argue with DeMen but his voice inevitably became more depressed. “After all… you are still retiring.”
“E-sports is originally a field for youths. Anyone who gets older will have to retire. I am in such a state. If I don’t retire, do you want me to be scolded online for another year?” DeMen observed AI’s expression. After explaining the reason, he didn’t forget to appeal to emotions. “You’ve seen what the Internet says about me. Can you really bear to see me take so much abuse for nothing?”
This remark successfully got to AI. The top players naturally couldn’t be unclear about what happened online. Even the jungler demon king AI had been scolded, let alone the side-lane veteran like DeMen who had once been evaluated as ‘doing nothing.’
AI’s ugly expression became darker as he thought of those unsightly remarks. “They are all sunspots with no brains.”
DeMen laughed. “Look, you can’t bear it, can you?”
AI didn’t want to admit it but he really couldn’t bear it. Although he understood the truth, AI still frowned when he saw DeMen’s self-deprecating expression. “You can still smile. Don’t you feel reluctant at all?”
“I am reluctant but people always have to look forward. You are the same.” DeMen’s tone was gentle. “Everyone has a career trajectory. Although I can’t accompany you, I will be watching from elsewhere as one day, you lead PAY to officially stand on the podium of the World Competition.”
AI was silent for a while before saying softly, “However, there will be no you on that podium.”
The sentence that was almost inaudible caused DeMen’s breathing to stall for a moment. The emotions that he originally thought he controlled were inevitably hooked out.
Unlike the other players currently active in the professional arena, DeMen had been in this professional field for too long. In fact, he started to feel his incompetence when he was around 22 years old. Although he tried to persevere for the sake of his love for the professional game, he actually thought of retiring numerous times when he saw his less than ideal results.
Perhaps it was because of the preparations he made for a long time but once the final decision was made, he was about to maintain this self-righteous indifferent mentality. It was only at this moment that DeMen suddenly realized—perhaps he still felt a trace of unwillingness.
Part of this unwillingness stemmed from the denial of his mediocre self and his envy of those talented players. In particular, there was someone as dazzling as Jing Yuanzhou on the side lane. In fact, he had yearned for the kingly posture in the canyon over and over again.
According to DeMen’s original plan, he would make the retirement announcement with the club after he returned to the country. Then he would go to his hometown, completely fade out of the circle and return to the mediocre life he should’ve had.
At this moment, DeMen took a deep breath and suppressed the vaguely surging mood in his heart. His expression for a while was a bit complicated.
AI wasn’t good at words so even if he felt reluctance and nostalgia, he would only say this sentence. However, DeMen was partial to this set in particular.
The room fell silent. It wasn’t broken until the phone placed on the bedside table vibrated.
After AI had vented his emotions, the annoyance of losing the match had been greatly reduced. He didn’t mean to make DeMen too embarrassed. He adjusted his mentality and spoke first. “There’s a message.”
DeMen turned to pick up his phone and clicked on it. His gaze stayed on the screen for a long time and he didn’t speak. In order to alleviate the embarrassment just now, AI once again actively opened his mouth. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s Manager Lu.” Afte DeMen responded, he paused for a moment. Then he seemed to make a decision and sighed. “I think that I might still have a chance to stand on the podium with you.”
AI stared up at DeMen, apparently unable to fully digest the meaning of the words. “?”
DeMen quickly replied to the message. He pressed the send button and couldn’t help shaking his head.
There were complicated emotions in his smile but he seemed to completely relax as he looked at AI. “I just agreed to Manager Lu. After the player contract is canceled, I will stay in the team as a coach. In fact, Manager Lu has mentioned this matter many times before. I was planning to completely retire so…”
AI was rarely stunned. “So why did you promise now?”
DeMEn looked down. In the end, he couldn’t help gripping his phone and patting it on top of that unenlightened head. “Do you still need to ask? Of course… it’s because of you.”
[PAY extra finished.]
The author has something to say: So today’s content is the whole process of DeMen coaxing a cute AI~