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HAS THE PHOENIX FALLEN?

An article by Luo Fang

BEIJING — Last Friday, the entire E-Sports industry was struck by the news that Celestials' Captain, Zhào Huáng, better known by the ID of Phoenix (凤凰), was caught on tape assaulting a fan outside the competition venue. This was allegedly after Celestials lost to Alpha in the semi-finals. After careful reviews, the ORIGINS League's Committee has decided to ban Zhào Huáng from partaking in any E-Sports competitions for a year. (Read more...)

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"Captain Zhao, the CEO isn't happy when he heard about the news," is what the Celestials' manager, Li Wei said once Zhao Huang had sat in the conference room. "He was already on edge after the team lost the season. Then, your assault scandal shows up. Everything's a mess right now. Investors have been threatening to pull out after that video surfaced. Ah Huang, you know what this means, do you? I'm afraid someone has to take responsibility for all the mess..."

Manager Li brings out a folder and slides it towards the Celestials' captain. Without much reaction, Zhao Huang takes the folder and opens it. Quickly scanning the document, he realizes that the concerned document really was as he had expected— the termination of his contract. The male suppresses the urge to chuckle at how everything played out. He really did underestimate Manager Li's cunning nature.

Zhao Huang looks up at the older male, to his smirk and then towards the pen Manager Li was oh-so-generously offering. Without another word, he takes the pen and smoothly signs the document. If they wanted him out then there was no need for him to stay. The team had long since fallen after their old Captain Ji had retired. Zhao Huang had tried his best to keep Celestials from falling further apart after the Captaincy was passed onto him. However, he had long ignored the fact that there were things that were already broken beyond repair. But if it was his departure is what they believe could miraculously fix his old team, then he won't hesitate to give them what they wanted. He only ignored the part where they had long been trying to find fault in him.

After he finishes signing the document, Zhao Huang decides there was no more reason to linger in the room and stands up.

"Celestials thanks you for all the years of hardwork that you have done, Captain Zhao," Manager Li says before the other male could take a step. Li Wei then offers his hand to the now ex-captain. Zhao Huang stares down at the hand blankly for a while. "We hope you do not take our actions personally. After all, this is purely business."

There is an awkward silence as the manager's hand hovered over the conference table. Just as Manager Li was about to put his hand down, Zhao Huang's hand shot up and takes the offered hand and shakes it.

"Don't worry, Manager Li. I know. It's always been business for you." Pulling his hand away he then adds, "Then I'll be taking my leave now and pack up. I hope Celestials would have a good season next year. Thank you for your care."

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"Brother Zhao! Big Brother Zhao!" were the shouts of a familiar voice, quickly followed by a set of rushed footsteps.

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Zhao Huang, who had just stepped out of his now-vacant room with his luggage at hand, hears he noise and turns his head towards the sound. He spots one of his teammates, Wáng Leizhi, speedwalking towards him; a look of anxiousness etched on his face.

"Brother... Is it true? It's not, right? Mu Fei's just messing with me. You're not leaving, right?"

There was one thing that everyone in the E-Sports industry knew about Wang Leizhi. He was Phoenix's brainless fan. Ever since Leizhi applied to Celestials at the young age of sixteen for the sake of meeting his idol, the coaches in Celestials' Training camp easily took notice of the skilled teenager who had yet to complete his growth spurt. Just a year after his entrance in the camp, Wang Leizhi was then promoted to become part of the main line-up as an assassin. Since then, the young male began to etch his name in the Chinese E-sports industry. However, despite his unprecedented growth, there were always some things that would never change and Wang Leizhi's admiration for his captain was one of them.

Zhao Huang's lips pursed into a straight line as he looked at the teary-eyed male in front of him. Now the age of nineteen, the young male was now one of the Chinese ORIGINS League's top Assassins. Wang Leizhi had truly grown from small teenager that he once was. Giving him a tight-lipped smile, the former captain reaches up to pat Leizhi's shoulder.

"... It's true. I already signed the termination agreement with Manager Li earlier. Little Lei... your captain has failed you. I apologize. You must take on the burden and help in taking care of the team from now on."

"But Brother Zhao..." Zhao Huang watches as tears fell down Leizhi's cheeks. He sighs.

"Ah Lei, it's already done. We both have no choice in the matter. I... have already came to terms with it long ago. Celestials does not need me anymore. But you? Ah Lei, you still have a bright future ahead of you. Promise me that you will do your best to bring pride to Celestials."

"Brother Zhao... I..." Sniffs. "Do not worry. I will definitely give pride to our team. But you have to promise me too. You will come back, right? The Phoenix doesn't just die so easily. I know you can still rise back from the ashes. Brother Zhao, promise me. Whether as teammates or opponents— Let's meet in the competition stage again!"

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