In the stands of China’s official livestream channel.
“The 11th match will begin in a while; our captain hasn’t appeared yet,” Liu Chong said. “Should we get him?”
“Calm down,” Li Miaomiao said. “The last match has just ended, and the guests will take more than ten minutes commentating!”
“Actually, the matches from before were quite exciting. Several teams were really impressive,” Yang Qingshuo said. “Perhaps they will fight us in the second and third rounds. Brother Xu actually didn’t watch the competition?”
Wang Yi smiled and said, “Captain is being confident.”
“Don’t worry. He’ll watch the competition videos after the first round ends,” Li Miaomiao explained.
“An official livestream will schedule a match every half an hour,” Heng Fang said, “but the actual battle only lasts ten minutes at best! The pre-match interviews, the guests’ predictions… The explanations and commentary after the match take up most of the time. Old Xu saves time watching the videos after the match is over.”
“Huh?” Li Miaomiao saw a figure appear in the distance—it was Xu Jingming.
“Jingming,” Li Miaomiao immediately shouted.
“Old Xu, you’re finally here,” Heng Fang said with a smile.
“You’re the captain, yet you abandoned us here,” Liu Chongyuan said.
“Don’t worry. I kept track of the time,” Xu Jingming replied with a smile. “There’s nothing wrong with arriving ten minutes early, right?”
A woman suddenly appeared and walked straight for Li Miaomiao.
“Hello, Cat. I’m Xiaorong, an assistant for China’s official livestream channel,” the woman said with a smile. “I’ll invite all the members of Team Pearwood on stage in a while. This is the outline of the interview. The host will ask some of the questions, so you can make some simple preparations. If any of you don’t wish to answer, you can get the other teammates to answer.”
A stack of documents was handed to the team manager, Li Miaomiao.
Li Miaomiao took it and smiled. “These questions sure are pointed.”
“There has to be some tension in the pre-match interview,” Xiaorong said with a smile. “In a while, the official livestream will invite the six of you. Once you agree to the invitation, you will appear on stage.”
Xu Jingming and the others nodded.
“I won’t disturb you any longer.” Xiaorong then left.
“Guys, here’s an interview outline for each of you.” Li Miaomiao began distributing them, each getting a piece of paper.
Xu Jingming took it and looked at it before laughing.
“There’s a billion people watching. We have to be careful.” Liu Chongyuan was a little nervous.
As he read the outline of the interview, Xu Jingming asked, “Is there anything special to take note of for the first ten matches?”
“There were many experts,” Wang Yi said. “I’m not even sure if some experts are hiding their strength.”
Xu Jingming nodded. I’ll watch the videos after the competition.
Soon, an invitation came from China’s official livestream at 5 p.m. sharp.
“Dad, Mom, Grandpa, we’ll be making a move,” Xu Jingming informed his family.
“When you’re on stage for the interview, you mustn’t appear weak no matter what,” Xu Hong said.
“To put it simply, taunt them!” Grandpa Xu reminded.
Meanwhile, Wang Yi, Heng Fang, Yang Qingshuo, Liu Chongyuan, and Li Miaomiao also spoke briefly with their relatives and friends. Then, the six people in the team simultaneously agreed to the livestream invitation.
Xu Jingming and the others appeared on the podium.
“Six members of Team Pearwood, please sit here,” Liu Xin greeted enthusiastically, and Xu Jingming and the others sat down in order. At this moment, the six members of Team Thousand Sails appeared and sat down one after another.
“Sister Yi is in da house!”
“Cat? Wow, Cat can actually appear on stage as well.”
“Cat is amazing. She’s participating in the Firestarter Cup National Tournament, although she’s only a substitute member.”
Countless audience members watched, and many of them were fans of Wang Yi and Li Miaomiao.
On the commentary platform, a slightly fat female guest smiled and said, “I’m a fan of Wang Yi and Cat. I didn’t expect to have the chance to interview you guys today. First, I want to ask Cat; Cat, how does it feel to be onstage?”
“Nothing much.” Li Miaomiao smiled. “I think I’ll be happier if you ask me this question in the finals.”
“Finals?” Liu Xin and the other male guest looked at each other.
“That’s the spirit!” Liu Xin smiled and said, “I have to jot this down and ask you again in the finals.”
The female guest then looked at Wang Yi. “Wang Yi, we all know that many teams invited you. You didn’t make a choice until the last day, just before registrations ended. What made you choose Xu Jingming and the others as your teammates?”
“Because among all the teams that invited me,” Wang Yi said with a smile, “my teammates are the strongest!”
“Strongest?” The male guest smiled at Xu Jingming. “I want to ask Team Pearwood’s Captain, Xu Jingming. Do you agree with what Wang Yi said? The teams that invited Wang Yi consisted of Team Fairydance led by Zhang Qing, Team Golden Roc led by Tie Lianyun, and several other powerful teams.”
The female guest beside him asked, “Li Miaomiao said that she would be on stage in the finals. Captain, what do you think?”
Xu Jingming smiled. “Those were only tough words; we’re not that strong!”
The other five members of the team laughed.
“Team Thousand Sails, are you confident in defeating Team Pearwood?” The male guest immediately looked at the other team.
“We don’t have the confidence to defeat them,” Hao Fan said with a smile, his eyes filled with a fierce glint. “But if they want to win? They’ll have to break a few teeth for it!”
The other team members were also filled with fighting spirit.
From the intelligence gathered, the gap between the two parties was still very obvious. It was precisely because of this that Team Thousand Sails was prepared to go all-out. Even if all their members were wiped out, they would still have to kill two or three members of the other party.
“Everyone, the 11th match—Team Pearwood versus Team Thousand Sails—is about to begin.” Liu Xin looked at the combat space that appeared behind her. “The map they are fighting on is the forest map.”
The forest was muddy after the rain.
Xu Jingming’s team and the five members of Team Thousand Sails descended at the same time. Some appeared on the ground, some were on trees, and some were on a mountain to the side, but they were all within a kilometer of each other.
“Rendezvous with Wang Yi first.” Xu Jingming ran along the mountainside while speaking into the team chat.
“According to the rules of the main competition,” Heng Fang said in the team chat, “the winning team will have a combat strength ranking according to their actual combat performance at the end of every round! Other than Liu Hai’s and Lei Yunfang’s teams being fixed at No. 1 and No. 2, the other teams will have a new ranking according to their actual combat performance.”
“There will be 16 teams in the second round. When the time comes, No. 1 will fight No. 16, and No. 2 will fight No. 15,” Heng Fang said. “We have to avoid the two seniors’ teams early on so as to have more opportunities to fight and hone ourselves! If our team has an additional Lv. 3 expert, we will have a chance of winning against the two seniors’ teams.”
Yang Qingshuo said, “The team’s combat strength is calculated based on the strength each team member displayed in the competition. Therefore, even if you want to hide your strength, you can’t hide too much… If you hide too much, we might end up as No. 15 or 16.”
“Just treat this normally. It’s best if you can break through your limits in combat and reach Lv. 3,” Xu Jingming said in the team chat. “I’ll act according to the situation.”
The team members were all very serious. Nearly all these top experts were stuck at a bottleneck. Every one of them yearned to break through the bottleneck and reach Lv. 3. When that happened, they would quickly have a breakthrough with the evolutionary method.
“Let’s go!” In Team Thousand Sails, Hao Fan wore two sabers at his waist and charged at the forefront ferociously.
“Alright!” The four team members charged forward with the captain. The team didn’t have a single sharpshooter, so they attacked together.
Xu Jingming, Liu Chongyuan, Heng Fang, and Yang Qingshuo were already protecting Wang Yi.
“Hao Fan is an elder who made it into the top eight of the World Martial Arts Tournament after all, and he’s very strong. None of the people he invited are mediocre,” Xu Jingming said in the team chat. “The three of you will be in charge of defense.”
“Leave it to us.” Heng Fang, Yang Qingshuo, and Liu Chongyuan were filled with fighting spirit.
An arrow suddenly tore through the forest, fast and fierce. The two sides officially clashed.
Hao Fan swung his hand and shot out a stream of light, slamming into the arrow with a bang.
What impressive concealed weapon techniques. Xu Jingming was impressed. Some of these older generation contestants were relatively ordinary in strength, but the older generation—who remained diligent after retirement—had rather strange combat techniques.
“Charge!” Hao Fan continued charging forward. He was the spearhead of the team, and his four teammates charged behind him, heading straight for Wang Yi.
The forest map only covered one kilometer after all, so Hao Fan and the others had long determined Team Pearwood’s general location. They ran at a speed that covered 100 meters in a few seconds, having already seen Xu Jingming, Heng Fang, and the others.
“Throw!” Hao Fan ordered.
The four team members behind him suddenly threw out their flying axes and threw them consecutively with both hands. Instantly, more than ten flying axes flew toward Xu Jingming and the others.
The flying axes tore through the air until they turned into blurry shadows, and every one of them was faster than 100 meters per second. They instantly arrived in front of Xu Jingming and the others.