Webnovel

1 Reunion

Chen Guo walked towards the trophy display in the lobby of Happy's internet cafe. The light gently reflected off the marble tiles, giving the room a vibrant feeling. The front desk employee stood up to bow as she walked past, but Chen Guo waved her down; to her, the several hundred people that Happy employed are all family. Her pace slowed until she finally came to a stop in front of Happy's three championship trophies. Used to dealing with hundreds of high stress situations a day, she now had a simpler task on her mind - how should the newest trophy be integrated into the display in order to showcase all four?

It was a relief to be tied up over such a simple problem; the stress of the past ten years had worn her down. After Happy returned to the playoffs in Season 11 without Ye Xiu, the world began respecting the organization as "Team Happy" instead of "Ye Xiu's team". During negotiations with City H, Chen Guo managed to parlay that sentiment into a new facility for Happy - a massive 12 story complex complete with dorms, a gym, a training facility, and Happy's signature internet cafe. The facility itself was split into three sections; the Team's side, the internet cafe, and the public events venue. It was an impressive feat for the third year grassroots manager. City H was desperate to return to the national stage after Excellent Era was relegated, and Chen Guo managed to convince them that Happy's loss to Samsara in the semifinals was indicative of great things to come.

Chen Guo reached for the photograph resting next to the Season 10 championship trophy. On it were eight people forever etched into her memory - Happy's original members. Her eyes moved from each face, one by one, as memories flooded over her.

The smug look on Ye Xiu's face always annoyed Chen Guo, but she sincerely missed it. It had been almost a decade since she had last seen it in person. After delivering a victory to China in Season 10's international championship, Ye Xiu left the world of competitive Glory for good. Chen Guo had hoped Ye Xiu's family would allow him to return to Glory, but it was Ye Xiu himself that denied her.

"A tree that grows large and mighty is a wonder to behold, but one day it must be removed so the trees around it can grow and flourish too." Ye Xiu had said to Chen Guo, with a touch of sadness in his voice.

He returned to his family's business in City B, and occasionally kept in touch with team Happy and other players in the league. Despite that, he never showed his face publicly again. He wouldn't even go to watch the finals with the team, even if it was Happy playing. While this came as a surprise to nobody, it still annoyed Chen Guo to no end! After Season 13, Ye Xiu was inducted into the Glory Hall of Fame. Dubbed the "Ye Xiu rule", a player had to be retired for at least three years in case they decided to come back out of retirement. To this day, Ye Xiu still holds many records, including most championships, most individual matches won in a single season, and highest APM recorded during a battle.

The other person who retired after Season 10 was Ye Xiu's partner in shamelessness, Wei Chen. Aside from Ye Xiu, it could be argued that nobody had more passion for glory than Wei Chen. Still active despite his old age, Wei Chen was still heavily involved in Happy's guild department. Working with Wu Chen, he managed to elevate Happy's guild to where it sits today as the second most popular guild in all of Glory behind Samsara.

Wei Chen still remains the oldest player to win a championship, a fact that he never fails to bring up in conversation. Chen Guo suspected that he actually missed being on stage more than anything, and boasting about his 'unbreakable' record was a way of hiding it. If he cared so much, then why didn't he go to watch the Season 12 finals, where Han Weqing gave his final attempt to usurp Wei Chen's throne? Occasionally, Chen Guo would catch Wei Chen lost in thought in front of the Season 10 championship trophy. He would always scurry away after noticing her, and go back to cussing up a storm in game.

After losing in the first round of the playoffs in Season 12, An Wenyi sat down and convinced Chen Guo to accept his retirement. Despite making great improvement after Season 11, An Wenyi was still rated in the bottom ⅓ of healers in the Alliance. This fact never bothered team happy, and it certainly did not bother Chen Guo - An Wenyi was family. It, however, always bothered the extremely logical An Wenyi. Although he was a master of timing, his mechanics would never be able to catch up to the rest of the league, no matter how hard he worked.

An Wenyi revealed that he had began searching for his replacement after a particularly bad game midway through Season 11, where he was heavily criticized for failing to keep the team healed during a chaotic battle. In secret, he brought a talented youth with high potential onto the training team, and spent all his free time mentoring and training him. That day, An Wenyi announced that he would be stepping away, confident that his replacement would be more than adequate to support Happy through hard times. Moved to tears, Chen Guo erected a life-sized statue in Happy's internet cafe lobby, depicting Little Cold Hands standing triumphantly on top of the legendary Cloud Piercer - a reminder that skill and mechanics isn't the only thing that determines victory. An Wenyi went on to open his own Glory training school, a now-famous institution that had discovered and trained several all-star players over the years.

In Season 13, many doubts surrounded team Happy after announcing it would field a rookie healer in their main lineup, instead of seeking out a veteran transfer. However, one thing was certain - Happy's core was stronger than ever, with the previously overlooked Luo Ji becoming an integral member in both individual and team lineups. After showing significant improvement in Season 11 and becoming a main player in Season 12, Luo Ji became the first summoner voted to the all-stars in Season 13.Happy's large fan base certainly played a large part, but it was also due to Luo Ji's excellent performance and setting the all-time record for most kills by a Summoner at the end of Season 12.

In truth, the professional Glory scene had never seen such a proficient summoner. One needed complex analytical skills, sound decision-making, and endless theory-crafting and research. Why would anyone bother with such boring and difficult tasks, when it would be more practical to play another class? Luo Ji preferred summoner for the simple fact that the summons allowed him to research things faster. All these traits culminated into the finest Summoner hat glory had ever seen. With Happy's core now made up of former rookies who blossomed into all-stars, Happy once again stood at the top of glory, winning their 2nd championship in Season 13 over Blue Rain. At the end of the season, to the surprise of many, Luo Ji announced his retirement from Glory, stating that he no longer had a passion for researching Glory, and wanted to pursue a career in AI research.

Luo Ji was voted into the Glory Hall of Fame in Season 18, with notable accomplishments being the only Summoner ever voted to the all-stars, only Summoner to win two championships, and all-time leader in kills by a summoner despite playing in only four seasons.

Despite the loss of an all-star, the Happy led by the aging veteran Su Mucheng in Season 14 was perhaps its strongest. With a team fielding an astounding five all-stars, the league's best partners, and the league's MVP, Happy cruised to a strong 1st place finish in the regular season and went on to win their third championship over a young and talented Tiny Herb team led by Gao Yingjie, who was dubbed 'magician junior'. To much sadness but little surprise, Su Mucheng announced her intention to retire from Glory after hoisting the championship trophy for the third time, with Qiao Yifan replacing her as team captain.

Fans expected her to follow in the Happy trend of retiring and staying out of the spotlight, but instead Su Mucheng went on to be a representative, spokesperson, and guest commentator for the Chinese Glory Alliance. At the conclusion of Season 17, Su Mucheng was voted into the Glory Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility, with notable accomplishments being a 3-time champion, 4-time best partner, perennial all-star, and widely considered the best launcher for the duration of her professional career. Rumored to be engaged to the legendary Ye Xiu, she would only respond with her famous 'Su Mucheng Smile' when asked about it.

The shock delivered to the Glory world came on the same day as Su Mucheng's retirement, with Bao Rongxing and Tang Rou also announcing their retirement. Bao Rongxing, who was widely called the 'Noob Brawler', changed his class after Season 10. At the urging of Wei Chen and a thumbs-up from Ye Xiu, Bao Rongxing inherited the unspecialized Lord Grim and became the face of Happy. Despite a rocky start to Season 11, Bao Rongxing steadily improved, becoming league MVP in both Season 13 and Season 14. Despite his seemingly random and absurd play, his teamwork with Tang Rou was nicknamed the 'Dance of Death', and the pair won best partners in Season 12, 13, and 14.

With skills from all classes at his disposal, Bao Rongxing became a nightmare for opponents. Contrasting with Ye Xiu's Lord Grim, who played as a pillar of support for Happy, Bao Rongxing's play style was hyper-aggressive and seemingly nonsensical - yet nearly impossible for opponents to defend against. In an interview during Season 12, Zhang Xinjie noted that it was due to all the members on Happy flourishing that Bao Rongxing was able to shine; if faced with the same burdens as Ye Xiu, it would have been a different story.

For all the headaches he caused inside the arena, he was considered even worse outside of it. Reporters would dread the days that Bao Rongxing would come out for press conferences. He quickly overtook Zhou Zekai as 'worst interviewer', due to his tendency for giving seemingly-nonsensical answers or answers that were so dumb that it seemed like he was trolling. In his last press conference, he was asked about the sudden decision to retire in his prime. "The boss told me to protect the new boss." Bao Rongxing simply stated, to the confusion of all the reporters. However Chen Guo and the rest of Happy were able to follow his overly-simplistic logic; since there was no Su Mucheng or Ye Xiu playing, there was nobody left to protect. It was also the last time that Lord Grim would step onto the competitive stage.

Bao Rongxing was voted into the Glory Hall of Fame with Su Mucheng in Season 17, with notable accomplishments being a 3-time champion, 2-time MVP, 2-time all-star, 3-time best partner, and all-time record for most bricks thrown.

Tang Rou, who burst onto the scene in Season 10, winning best rookie and completing a 1v3 in the grand finals, was widely considered the spiritual successor of Ye Xiu's battlemage. Her fierce and unyielding playstyle gave off the aura of 'Battle God', despite the title belonging to One Autumn Leaf. Soft Mist was dubbed the 'Battle Queen', and invoked images of a lone Battle Mage sweeping away a horde of enemies. The trio of Dancing Rain, Soft Mist, and Lord Grim became a symbol of unstoppable offense in the Glory world - the fire that reduced all things to ash.

After winning a third championship and met with another set of her teammates retiring, Tang Rou also announced her retirement, one day after Su Mucheng and Bao Rongxing. Tang Rou commented on her retirement by simply saying "I have nothing left to achieve" in a very straightforward manner, upsetting many fans. However, Chen Guo understood - with the people she started playing Glory with leaving and no Ye Xiu or championship to chase after, Tang Rou's competitive spirit began to waver. Despite losing three core members in one year, Chen Guo was more than ecstatic when Tang Rou mentioned she wanted to help run Team Happy's day to day operations.

Tang Rou was voted into the Glory Hall of Fame in Season 19 with much controversy, as her straightforward attitude rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. However, many current and former players came to her support and was eventually voted in, with her notable accomplishments being 3-time champion, 3-time best partner, 2-time all-star, best rookie, and only rookie to complete a 1v3.

Despite retaining Mo Fan, Fang Rui, Qiao Yifan, and their healer, Happy struggled in Season 15, missing the playoffs for the first time in their history. Losing 3 core players would obviously make any team weaker, but a lot of the criticism was placed on Mo Fan, who struggled with making significant contributions in the Team challenge despite being a part of Happy since their debut in the challenger's league. However, this was a lot of irrationally placed anger by the fans, since they were upset about missing the playoffs after winning 2 championships in a row. Chen Guo quickly came to the defense of Mo Fan, pointing out that he had an outstanding individual record, finishing the season as the 'Duel King' with 23 victories, including a streak of 9 to end the season.

Before the Season 15 Award Ceremony, Chen Guo found a note left by Mo Fan thanking her for giving him a place he could truly call home, and stating his desire to retire. Chen Guo accepted Mo Fan's 'Duel King' award on his behalf, and announced his retirement at the ceremony. Chen Guo was ultimately thankful that people forgot the criticism they made of Mo Fan, and instead remembered him for being the 'God slayer', and ending his career similar to his playstyle - with fireworks.

In Season 16, Happy bottomed out, finishing in the bottom 5 of the league. Despite this, Fang Rui, who had become known as the 'Dirty Old General', hung on to support Happy for one more season. As Vice-Captain, Fang Rui supported Happy to a playoff return in Season 17 despite his old age. "Dirty play ripens with age" he famously said in the Season 17 opening press conference. Despite openly boasting about his dirty play, internally it occasionally frustrated him. Not everyone was capable of playing dirty, and a lot of people had trouble integrating it into their play style. This was his main reason for convincing Chen Guo to promote Qiao Yifan to captain after season 14 - Fang Rui felt that happy needed a leader who emphasized teamwork, not dirty play. After losing in the Season 17 playoffs to the new Excellent Era, led by Qiu Fei's Combat Form, Fang Rui announced his retirement from Glory and declared his intention to remain with Happy as the training team coach.

Fang Rui's notable accomplishments were 3-time champion, 8-time all-star, and revolutionizing the Qi Master class.

The last member of the original Happy, Captain Qiao Yifan placed the full weight of Happy's legacy on his shoulders. Despite having the 3rd youngest team in the alliance, Qiao Yifan led Happy to another playoff appearance in Season 19. After another first round playoff loss to Excellent Era, Qiao Yifan announced his retirement and declared his intent to take over coaching duties for Team Happy. When asked by reporters why he chose to become a coach instead of being a coach-player, he simply replied that a wise person once said "A strong and mighty tree needs to be removed someday, so the younger trees beneath it have room to grow". While met with a lot of skepticism, Qiao Yifan proved the doubters wrong by leading Happy to its 4th championship in Season 20, getting revenge against Excellent Era in the grand finals.

Qiao Yifan joined Yu Wenzhou as the only people to win Alliance championship as both a player and a coach, adding to his lengthy list of accolades that include 4-time champion (1 as coach) and 7-time all-star.

Glancing over the picture once more, Chen Guo was still amazed that Happy had so many talented individuals come together in a single point in time and create a history that would forever transform the Glory landscape. "Miss Chen, are you okay?" Qiao Yifan called out with concern, who was used to seeing Chen Guo running all over the facility and surprised to see calmly staring at a wall. "Of course, I'm fine I'm fine." Chen Guo responded, waving off Qiao Yifan while wondering how long she had been lost in thought. "Don't forget about tomorrow night!" she quickly added, before walking off.

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Chen Guo's watch beeped again, letting her know that it was now 8:11pm. She was late. Hurrying quickly hurried through the light drizzle, she soon arrived in front of the dingy little restaurant that team Happy had grown accustomed to eating at over the years. She opened the door and stepped into a sight that she had seen just a day earlier; the cheerful faces of the original Happy. It was their 10 year reunion of entering the Glory Alliance! An unforgettable and smug voice called out to her

An unforgettably smug voice rang out through the revelry; "You're late!", immediately causing Chen Guo's eyes to form daggers. She found her target, sitting on the end next to Su Mucheng. Just as she was about to give him a piece of her mind, Ye Xiu followed up, shouting "Congratulations!", and quickly defusing the bomb that he originally lit.

Chen Guo paused for a second, giving the rest of the room enough time to chime in as well. "Congratulations!" everyone cheered, and Chen Guo felt her face begin to beam with joy as she surveyed the faces surrounding the table. Ye Xiu, Su Mucheng, Tang Rou, Qiao Yifan, Fang Rui, Wei Chen, Bao Rongxing, Luo Ji, and even Mo Fan had all gathered together!

"Forget about that!" Chen Guo shouted. "I'm happy everyone is here!" continued with excitement. To her, it was akin to a family reunion and for the first time in ten years, everyone had come together! "Eat, eat!" Chen Guo urged as she slid in next to Ye Xiu.

The night was lively and filled with conversation.

"Mo Fan, why did you leave so suddenly? Everyone was worried about you when you didn't keep in touch with everyone!" Chen Guo said, with Qiao Yifan nodding in agreement.

"Ah, I left to open a professional scrap-picking business," Mo Fan replied flatly, despite many raised eyebrows. "I thought you knew, since Wei Chen is my primary investor." he said increasingly quiet as Chen Guo's face began to form a gaze of death in Wei Chen's direction, who quickly excused himself for a smoke break.

"Boss, are you proud of me?" Bao Rongxing beamed, as Wei Chen left the table. Ye Xiu, unsure whether he was referring to his use of Lord Grim or carrying out his "orders", replied with a smile and an "Absolutely", before turning to Qiao Yifan and engaging in a discussion about coaching.

Hoping to avoid Chen Guo's wrath, Wei Chen tried to sneak back in without her noticing - which predictably failed. Just as Chen Guo was about to open her mouth, Wei Chen shouted "Hey, I heard you two are going to get married!", pointing to Su Mucheng and Ye Xiu. The room suddenly became silent. Luo Ji, Fang Rui, and An Wenyi abruptly stopped their business conversation. Bao Rongxing paused stuffing his face. Tang Rou and Su Mucheng fell quiet, and the smile left Ye Xiu's face as Qiao Yifan tried to hide his surprise.

Wei Chen felt like he just set off an even worse bomb and looked around for help. The only one who hadn't changed expressions was Mo Fan.

After two seconds that felt like an eternity, Su Mucheng let out a laugh, while Ye Xiu sheepishly replied "Yeah," a small grin on his face. Chen Guo couldn't be more excited, and reached into her bag. "Here's your wedding gift!" Chen Guo announced, as she handed a small box to Ye Xiu. He looked inside, then looked back at Chen Guo. "Are you sure about this?" Ye Xiu said with surprise, holding up the first-edition account card.

"Well, the King needs his Avatar" Chen Guo said with a matter-of-fact smile, adding to the revelry that continued far into the night.