1723 Forward, Step by Step

The King's Avatar

In the outside world's discussions of Glory, whenever Su Mucheng was mentioned, Ye Xiu would always be brought up as well. In the eyes of countless people, he was the sole reason for Su Mucheng's accomplishments.

However, in Season 8, after Ye Xiu's departure from Excellent Era, Su Mucheng's performance put her in a new light. Everyone began reexamining her, evaluating whether their past opinions of her had been unfair.

Su Mucheng had changed the way people viewed her, but she never cared about any of it. All of her efforts to improve were because she believed that Ye Xiu would definitely return, and when he did, she needed to be ready. She needed to become an even better support for him.

Although she hoped to win the championships as well, she wanted to win it together with Ye Xiu. Otherwise, the victory would feel hollow.

She would never give up!

She was determined. Even if Ye Xiu gave up first, she would remain here and stand guard. But Ye Xiu never gave her this chance. Even when he was kicked from Excellent Era and had to start from zero, he cut his way through thistles and thorns to stand on top of this grand stage.

For victory.

For the championship.

These phrases always felt flat when describing Ye Xiu, because he did not lack victory. He had the most championship titles in all of Glory. Even so, he still blazed with unsurpassed passion.

Everyone felt like there must be some reason behind his drive.

Such as, to prove to Excellent Era that he could still play?

But if that was his reason, then he had already proved it. He had left Excellent Era, and then eliminated them in the Challenger League.

Yet even after all that, he didn't change.

His actions, his performance, everything he did showed that the only thing he strove for was victory, pure victory. Whether it was Excellent Era or anything else, he didn't seem to particularly care. In his eyes, there were only opponents. Opponents that he needed to defeat in order to win. Since that was the case, he just needed to defeat them. It was that simple.

There was no other reason that could explain Ye Xiu's passion for Glory.

He had three championship titles and countless other individual honors, yet his goals remained the same: victory, championship.

There was no reason to give up. There was no excuse to give up. The championship was right in front of him.

However, in this regard, everyone believed that Samsara was closer to the championship than Happy. 

Victory or defeat would be decided here!  

Everyone watched the match attentively, Whether it was Samsara's fans or Happy's fans, all of them had their fists clenched tightly.

Looking back on this match, starting from when the two sides first made contact, there hadn't been any cushions. The fighting and killing had begun beneath this golden pyramid, and it looked as if it was going to end there too. This was supposed to be a map filled with features; not far from there was a river, and next to the river was a forest...


However, after the two sides began fighting, they never strayed far, because there hadn't been any opportunities to. From the start, both sides held onto each other tightly, not giving the other even the slightest room to breathe.

Now, the deciding moment had come.

The players seemed to have felt lit. Jiang Botao had the lowest amount of health on the field, but he was as lively as ever. After escaping from Lord Grim's attacks, he began searching for Dancing Rain.

Earthquake Slash!

He had sent out multiple consecutive wave slashes at Lord Grim to trap him. As a result, he didn't have many wave slashes left to use. Earthquake Slash was the lowest level wave slash and had the shortest cooldown. As soon as it came off cooldown, he immediately used it again.

Zhou Zekai's Cloud Piercer covered him from behind so that he wouldn't be at risk of an ambush from Ye Xiu's Lord Grim. At the same time, this cover separated the connection between Ye Xiu and Su Mucheng.

The situation was looking good for Samsara, but none of them relaxed. Sun Xiang became increasingly focused. He paid attention to each and every movement from Dancing Rain, especially her cannon. In this situation, Su Mucheng definitely wanted to attack Empty Waves, who only had 11% of his health left. She wouldn't even need a powerful high-level skill to kill him. Just a few normal attacks would be able to blast him off the stage.

But there were no opportunities for her to do so.

Sun Xiang clung tightly onto her. Not only was she unable to escape, even when she found an opportunity to attack, Sun Xiang would always knock her cannon askew at the last moment.

An Earthquake Slash swept by.

Dodge.

Every pro player, every player would have this thought as soon as they saw the attack. But Su Mucheng didn't plan on dodging. She wanted to do more, not just wait for Ye Xiu to break open the situation. 

Not only did Dancing Rain not dodge, she ran straight into the Earthquake Slash. 

Sun Xiang was surprised for a brief moment, but he immediately realized that Su Mucheng wanted to use the knockback from Earthquake Slash to widen the distance between them.

Sun Xiang didn't stop her. One Autumn Leaf immediately moved to the side, predicting which direction Dancing Rain would move towards. 

But with this slight change in positioning, Dancing Rain raised her gun.

You want to attack?

Even though Sun Xiang was guarding her retreat path, this didn't mean that he would neglect the possibility of Su Mucheng attacking. 

Evil Annihilation flew towards her.

The instant the cannon flashed with light, the cannon was knocked askew.

One Autumn Leaf's defense towards her was extremely tight. Why else was Su Mucheng unable to provide any support to Ye Xiu and Steamed Bun?

Previously, Sun Xiang had been completely focused on suppressing Dancing Rain's attacks. Now, he was also thinking about killing her.

The Earthquake Slash struck Dancing Rain. However, One Autumn Leaf had already cut off her retreat path.

Falling Flower Palm!

One Autumn Leaf threw out a palm. The knockback from Falling Flower Palm was much stronger than that of Earthquake Slash. Not only did the palm stop Dancing Rain's momentum, it even sent her flying in the other direction.

Su Mucheng didn't care about all of this. She once again aimed at Empty Waves.

But Empty Waves was already charging towards her.

Jiang Botao didn't let Empty Waves' low health hold him back. He knew that victory could be decided here. Even though Empty Waves had almost no health left, he was Samsara's biggest advantage. As long as they could suppress Dancing Rain and block Lord Grim, victory would be theirs. How could he cower at such a moment? Just having an extra player on the field wasn't an advantage. The advantage depended on how the extra player performed.

The target was a Launcher. The closer he was, the safer he would be. Spellblades required a bit of space to use their skills, but since his opponent was a Launcher, he wasn't afraid of fighting up close.

Colliding Stab.

Jiang Botao's Spellblade could use this low-level Berserker skill as a movement skill as well. Empty Waves tread along the path created by Earthquake Slash. In the blink of an eye, he arrived in front of Dancing Rain.

Bang!

Dancing Rain's cannon was knocked away by the Colliding Stab. Dancing Rain was once again unable to shoot in time. After getting sent flying by Falling Flower Palm, she was reflected back by the Colliding Stab. One Autumn Leaf was already waiting.

Dragon Tooth, Double Stab, Sky Strike...

Skills chained together, Chasers flew in succession. Sun Xiang's One Autumn Leaf performed a full combo. Jiang Botao's Empty Waves wandered to the left and right, slashing at Dancing Rain with what close combat skills he knew.

Launchers were poor at close combat. Facing this pincer from two sides, she became even more helpless.

It looks like it's up to Ye Xiu!  

Everyone's gazes shifted towards Lord Grim. Everything depended on how fast Ye Xiu broke out from Cloud Piercer's imprisonment. Hoping for a Launcher to escape from two enemies in close combat would be too difficult.

Ye Xiu's Lord Grim didn't stop moving.

At the start of the match, Team Happy had gotten a bird's eye view of the map from on top of the pyramid. As a result, they had a slight advantage in the beginning. Qiao Yifan had utilized this advantage to escape from Wu Qi's pursuit.

However, the battle had gone on for a long time now, with all of it revolving around this one area. Samsara's players wouldn't neglect the terrain. At this point, they had a good understanding of the terrain as well.

Particularly so for Zhou Zekai. His Sharpshooter required vision to attack, so he naturally need to pay attention to this aspect. Which areas were favorable for cover? Which of these areas allowed for movement? How could he get around these covers? He had to know the answers to these questions.  

Lord Grim moved about, but his movements were limited. Zhou Zekai's blockade was too tight. Zhou Zekai had originally been focusing Dancing Rain, but now, most of his attention had returned to Ye Xiu. It had to be said that Samsara was truly quite fearful of Ye Xiu. Despite it being a 3v2, they didn't dare fight head on.

"That's not the only reason." Li Yibo heard Pan Lin's analysis of the situation and added in his own opinion. "Don't forget that Happy has a one point lead because of the group arena. If Samsara wins the team competition with only one player remaining, the match will have to go overtime to break the tie. If Samsara wants to directly win, they need to win with at least two players alive."

"Oh, overtime... if they go into overtime, which team do you favor?" Pan Lin asked. 

"Samsara, of course," Li Yibo replied without thinking, "Have you not noticed that Ye Xiu's playing has been getting worse and worse?"

"Oh, really?" Pan Lin was stunned.

"The pace of the team competition has been too fast. As soon as the two teams met, they began fighting. They didn't move to a different area, or slow down the pace. Both sides have been attacking fiercely non-stop. For an older player like Ye Xiu, the burden is too much."

"Is that so. But I really couldn't tell! That Shadow Steps combined with Triple Slash from before was incredible!"

"The burden on him has only increased because of how incredible it was! He had to perfectly link together two skills while switching weapon forms. That must have been extremely difficult to execute. After making the play, he wasn't given any moment to breathe. He had to keep it going. Just thinking about it is making my hands cramp..." Li Yibo said.

"Ah..." Pan Lin looked at the screen, at Lord Grim, who was constantly looking for an opening under the pressure from Cloud Piercer's gunfire. He didn't know what to say.

"Overtime is unfavorable for Happy. They definitely cannot let this go into overtime,"

Li Yibo said.

"In that case, wouldn't it be a good idea for Samsara to drag out the match into overtime?" Pan Lin said.

"No, you can't think about it like that. Samsara has an opportunity to end the match right here. Why would they give up their advantage to play in an uncertain overtime game? Ye Xiu's condition might be declining, but who knows what will happen in a match. Taking advantage of a lead that you already have is also extremely important," Li Yibo said. 

"That's true. Then, right now..."

"If this situation doesn't change, Samsara will certainly win," Li Yibo said confidently, "The key lies in Ye Xiu and whether he can break through. It doesn't look like an opening will just appear. He'll have to force his way through." 

"Forcing his way through... That's not really a good idea either, is it?" Pan Lin said.

"But what other choice does he have?" Li Yibo said.

Yes, no other choice.

Lord Grim didn't have much health left. He would certainly lose quite a bit of health if he forced his way through Cloud Piercer's attacks. Let alone whether he could successfully rescue Dancing Rain afterwards, even if he did, both of them would nearly be dead. The situation wouldn't be much better than before.

But if he didn't, it was extremely unlikely that Su Mucheng would be able to escape from Sun Xiang and Jiang Botao on her own.

Su Mucheng was trying her hardest. Even though she wasn't able to fully break free, Dancing Rain was slowly inching towards Lord Grim.

One step, two steps, three steps...

But wasn't it pointless?

Sure, she was slowly making her way there, but she wasn't able to get away and make contact with Lord Grim. It was as if she knew that she couldn't place in a running competition, but she persevered so that she would at least be able to complete the course.

Countless Su Mucheng fans closed their eyes, unable to continue watching. Among these fans was Chen Guo. It wasn't that she didn't want to cheer for Ye Xiu and Su Mucheng. It was just too difficult to watch. The sort of struggle, this sort of effort, but for what? What would the outcome be?

The pro players were also quiet. 

Ever since the start of the match, they had never once stopped their discussion. But at this moment, even though the situation was clear as day, no one said anything. They couldn't bear to. They were also pro players. While the players on stage were trying their hardest, they had no right to talk ill of them, even if those efforts looked stupid, even if those efforts seemed pointless.

"What are you waiting for? GO!!!" Someone was unable to bear it any longer and stood up. It was Team Blue Rain's Huang Shaotian. Everyone knew who he was referring to. The only person who could change things was Ye Xiu.

Force his way through!

He had no other choice.

Would Ye Xiu be able to create a miracle with only 23% of his health left?

Forward!

Ye Xiu made his move. Lord Grim hadn't been able to find any openings the entire time, when suddenly, he rushed out.  

As expected!

Zhou Zekai had anticipated this would happen. This was the enemy side's last chance. How could Ye Xiu give up so easily? But it wasn't going to be easy for him to grasp it.

Shining Cut!

Lord Grim rushed out. Although it was his last chance, he didn't panic. He at least waited for all of his necessary movement skills to come back up. 

Shining Cut! The first step that he took was done with a movement skill.

Left? Right?

Zhou Zekai didn't need to guess. His Sharpshooter had two guns. He could cover both options. Ye Xiu was aiming for speed. He would be testing the enemy side's reaction speed.

A cold light flashed, and Lord Grim rushed outward. Ye Xiu could hear bullets whistling by. Did it hit or not? He couldn't concern himself with the answer. From the moment he stepped out, the only things he sought were speed and mix-ups.

Speed alone wasn't enough. Zhou Zekai was precise with his aim and exceptional at predicting the opponent's next moves. Ye Xiu needed to constantly mix things up so that Zhou Zekai wouldn't be able to figure out his pathing. Even though Zhou Zekai could cover two directions with his two guns, it wasn't possible for him to cover every angle, even with Gun Shake.

After taking two steps with Shining Cut, Lord Grim changed directions.  

Charge!

Another movement skill. These movement skills were all fast, but there were differences in the actual numbers. Switching between movement skills was a mix-up.

After three steps, Ye Xiu's Lord Grim could feel the bullets hitting him. Zhou Zekai was using Gun Shake. He wouldn't look down on Ye Xiu, thinking that he could he fully predict his movements. He chose to use Gun Shake to spread his bullets around and increase his coverage.

Lord Grim had been hit.

However, since Lord Grim was using Charge, normal attacks wouldn't be able to stop him.

Charge, three steps.

Ye Xiu could see Dancing Rain getting closer, but he didn't grow impatient. After Charge, he didn't immediately follow with another skill. He took a normal step.

To break through Zhou Zekai's blockade, mix-ups were more important than raw speed. Slowing down was also a mix-up. When the bullets started focusing on Lord Grim, he suddenly sped up.

Colliding Stab!

Another skill. Lord Grim sped up. 

Cloud Piercer's bullets seemed to be coordinating with Lord Grim, keeping up with Lord Grim's sudden acceleration and spreading out.

The bullets chased after Lord Grim, but they weren't able to completely stop him. Lord Grim might be able to force his way through, but he would definitely lose health doing so. This was the outcome that everyone was expecting. But afterwards, could a nearly dead Lord Grim be able to rescue Dancing Rain? After breaking through Cloud Piercer's blockade, would he be able to break apart One Autumn Leaf's offense?

No one was thinking about the future. What everyone saw was two players refusing to give up. The former Best Partners had been separated, and at this moment, they were trying their hardest to regroup. Whether they won or lost in the end was a matter for the future.

Three consecutive movement skills. Even though he wasn't moving in a straight line, Lord Grim had closed the distance by quite a bit. However, Ye Xiu knew that the farther he went, the more difficult it would be. By quickly rotating through his skills, fewer and fewer options became available for him, meaning fewer and fewer mix-ups. Zhou Zekai definitely knew this as well.

Slide Kick!

Next up was a Sharpshooter skill. In terms of speed, this movement skill couldn't compare with the others. However, since it changed the user's posture, from standing to sliding, it would be able to dodge a few attacks. Ye Xiu suddenly used this skill to slide forward in a straight line. As he slid along the ground, he could see the bullets whistling past him.

Zhou Zekai reacted immediately and readjusted his aim. Once Slide Kick was done, Lord Grim would have to stand back up. Zhou Zekai was waiting for this moment.

But as soon as he readjusted his aim downwards, an explosion suddenly engulfed Lord Grim.

Shadow Clone Technique!

Zhou Zekai quickly thought of this skill. He had been on guard against this skill the entire time. Ye Xiu had created an explosion to cover him. It was only for an instant, but this instant gave Ye Xiu more than enough time to complete a Shadow Clone Technique.

Cloud Piercer didn't stop shooting, but as he fired, he also rapidly retreated. Zhou Zekai wasn't sure if he would be able to interrupt the Shadow Clone Technique. He retreated back to widen the distance between them so that he could obstruct Lord Grim for longer.

Ye Xiu had been carefully setting up for this Shadow Clone Technique, and his preparations paid off.

The explosion only lasted an instant before vanishing. The shadow clone inside of it poofed into smoke. Lord Grim had closed the distance considerably. Fortunately, Zhou Zekai had predicted this would happen. Cloud Piercer had retreated fast enough, keeping Lord Grim within his sights.

Triple Slash!

This skill was finally off cooldown.

Speed and variation combined in one skill. This skill was nothing more than three movement skills in one. Ye Xiu had left it for last, using it as soon as it came off cooldown.

Sword light flashed, three arcs in quick succession.

Almost there!

Countless people were excited. Even though they knew that getting close to Dancing Rain and rescuing her were two entirely different matters, when they saw that the two would finally be able to meet after going through so many hardships, they felt that it was already worth it.

As for what came after, no one was optimistic.

Lord Grim only had 18% of his health left. Losing only 5% of his health forcing his way through Cloud Piercer's blockade was already amazing.

As for Dancing Rain, she was helpless under the pincer from One Autumn Leaf and Empty Waves. Her health lead was already a matter of the past. She only had 21% of her health left.

Even so, Samsara didn't relax. They readjusted their tactics. They weren't going to let these two reconvene so easily. Cloud Piercer continued to retreat, pinning down Dancing Rain from behind. Sun Xiang's One Autumn Leaf began paying attention to Lord Grim, and prepared to fight him. Jiang Botao's Empty Waves began adjusting his distance. He had too little health left. If Samsara wanted to keep their numbers advantage, he couldn't let him get killed so easily. 

Zhou Zekai had been focusing on Ye Xiu the entire time. Sun Xiang and Jiang Botao were now paying attention to Ye Xiu too. They were making adjustments because of Lord Grim's approach. However, they didn't stop attacking Dancing Rain because of this. Only the tempo had changed a bit. In many people's eyes, this sort of change was negligible. However, Su Mucheng had been waiting for this moment for too long. Dancing Rain acted. Under this pincer, under Samsara's notice, they heard the boom of a missile descending from the sky.

Heat-Seeking Missile!

A killing move suddenly appeared, catching everyone off guard. The three on Samsara didn't have time to think, and hastily began to dodge. However, while they dodged, they didn't forget to attack, including Zhou Zekai's Cloud Piercer. He also aimed his gun at Dancing Rain and fired.

As for the spectators, they were completely stunned up until the mushroom cloud dissipated completely. Only then did the pro players faintly realize something.

Dancing Rain had been in a difficult position? Yes, an extremely difficult position. Every step she took required a tremendous amount of effort. However, she hadn't been moving towards Lord Grim, but Cloud Piercer.

Lord Grim forcing his way through had been difficult? Yes, extremely difficult. He wouldn't have forced his way through if he had any other choice. However, his goal hadn't been to rescue Dancing Rain, but to force Cloud Piercer back.

The two on Happy were grouping the three on Samsara together.

Finally, Su Mucheng was the main attacker, and this time, Ye Xiu was the support.