Classmancers - A MOBA Esport Story 73 Preparation And Adaptation

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The battle for StormBlitz's first string began. After clearing some jungle camps, everybody headed to their respective lanes. Yuel and Lars headed to Bot, where they'll face Howard and Ellen.

"Remember," Yuel said. "Don't get carried away against Ellen."

"I know, I know," Lars claimed so, but the glint in his eyes told a different story. "Don't worry, I'mma rek that Witch of Victory. Believe it, yo!"

[That's exactly the mentality I'm worried about...] Yuel sighed. Well, maybe that aggressive mentality will work out with this arrangement. After all, Lars got to play his G.o.dly Trickshooter this game and Yuel further supplemented that pick with his Alchemist.

Alchemist was a specialist cla.s.s which revolved around crafting items. It was considered mid-tier, but mostly because it required very good game knowledge and decision-making skills. Even though most people treated Alchemist as C tier, in Yuel's hands it was easily a B tier.

It's not a cla.s.s Yuel showed often, but today was the day to let it loose. Alchemist's versatility, combined with its surprise element, should work well against Howard.

"Say," Howard started. "You ever saw Yuel play Alchemist?"

"Hmm, don't think so," Ellen c.o.c.ked her head. "Think he's experimenting?"

"I wouldn't put it past him, but that can't be all. No matter what absurd ideas he usually comes up with, he wouldn't gamble this match on a cla.s.s he can't play."

"Oh, I know! He must've kept Alchemist as trump card this entire time, in preparation for this one match!"

"Only you would do something silly like that."

"Teehee~" Ellen playfully stuck out her tongue.

"Anyway, let's play it safe," Howard advised. "Alchemist has a stupid amount of options, so we'll need to figure out Yuel's exact plan for this match step-by-step. Try to poke him every now and then to make him leave lane and miss on materials."

"Aye aye, cap." Ellen saluted.

The two pairs clashed in the duo lane. As always, Ellen used her signature poke-and-run. She advanced just a little tiny bit toward Lars, shot him once and then immediately fled before he could counter.

[Geh! Here we go again.] Lars felt like Ellen slowly, but surely, sucked out his blood. It's like she was a flippin' mosquito!

Worst of all, Ellen always picked the most annoying timing to shoot him. Her shots struck in the brief moments after Lars finished an attack and was stuck in the recovery animation that followed. By the time he could attack again, Ellen has already snuck out of his range.

This was especially frustrating when Lars fired Trickshot, which had a longer animation than a basic attack. Ellen was gonna take every chance she could to poke him after a Trickshot.

"Duuuude!" Lars exclaimed. "Can I kill her already?"

"Stop," Yuel shook his head. "The game just started."

"C'mon, I just need to Trickshot her once and get in a few more hits after that. Easy peasy!"

"You know you'll be playing right into her hands by doing that, right?"

"Geh, but...!"

"Don't worry, I'll shut down her pokes after the first wave," Yuel promised. His Alchemist needed a little time to get going, but he definitely took Ellen's poke-and-run into consideration when picking Alchemist.

Alchemist was an amazing cla.s.s because it offered tools for dealing with virtually every situation. Yuel could craft any consumables available in the shop, even Wards, which spoke volumes of the cla.s.s's versatility. In addition, Alchemist could craft numerous "tools", which were unique consumables only the Alchemist could use. The tools effectively served as the Alchemist's kit, since his actual skills all revolved around crafting and using items.

This huge variety provided options for dealing with many different scenarios, but it was a two-edged sword. It was easy to lose oneself in the large number of options and to take too long to decide on anything. For that reason, Alchemist was one of the few in the game to deserve the "Challenging" difficulty tag.

To perform well as Alchemist in real-time, it was necessary to decide ahead of time which specific items the player was going focus on in the upcoming match and set these items to shortcut keys. Perhaps the top Alchemist players in the world could make fast decisions on the fly while taking into account the Alchemist's whole kit, but Yuel couldn't, not even with his extensive game knowledge.

Therefore, when he prepared for today's match, Yuel narrowed down the exact tools he'll be needing today. Ellen's infamous poke-and-run tactic was expected to show up, so Yuel prepared a tool to counter it. But first, he had to gather enough Magnet.i.te to craft said tool.

Alchemist's pa.s.sive, Gather Materials, automatically extracted materials from nearby fallen units, both allied and enemy. The type of gathered material depended on the fallen unit and minions dropped the most basic type: Magnet.i.te. It was good enough for crafting most tools and consumables, save for the most powerful ones.

A single minion wave rewarded Yuel with 12 Magnet.i.te, which was enough to craft four Blaze Bombs. This was the zoning tool he chose for dealing with Ellen.

"My!" Ellen exclaimed as a bomb flew in her direction. It exploded as it hit the ground, spreading flames on the ground. Ellen retreated as quickly as she could, but she still received a few ticks of damage from the flame. Fortunately, it was a DoT attack, so a few ticks didn't hurt that much. But, the bad news were that the fire kept burning on the ground for a while and zoned her out of her favorite poking spot.

Even though the bomb didn't quite hit Ellen, it served its purpose as a warning shot. That's clearly Yuel's way of saying "Try to poke if you dare, I'll bomb you." What a rascal.

"That's no fun." Ellen puffed her cheeks. "Yuyu is such a bully."

"Blaze Bomb, huh, " Howard took a mental note. So, that was one tool in Yuel's a.r.s.enal this game. How many more to go? The number had to be limited, so they'll find out with time.

With that said, Blaze Bombs were troublesome. Ellen tried poking from a different angle, but she was met with another Molotov. It felt like Yuel was watching every Ellen made.

"Say, Wardy," Ellen twisted her lips. "Can't you Divine s.h.i.+eld that thing?"

"I wish," Howard shook his head. "It's considered a tossed object, so Divine s.h.i.+eld doesn't work on it."

"So useless." Ellen pouted.

"I thought I got him with the Paladin pick," Howard admitted. "But, he came prepared."

Paladin was a cla.s.s both Howard and Yuel favored, so Howard felt confident when he got to pick Paladin. He left the cla.s.s open on purpose during drafting, despite knowing Yuel's team would be picking first. Yuel was a.s.suredly going to jump on the available Trickshooter, so Howard grabbed Paladin right afterward. It was a nice trade.

Alas, whether by chance or by a stroke of genius, Yuel's Alchemist was prepared to deal even with Paladin. Really, these Blaze Bombs were art. They both zoned out Ellen's poking and bypa.s.sed Howard's Divine s.h.i.+eld. [Well played, Yuel. Well played.]

But, that wasn't enough to shut down Ellen's poking. Even though the bombs were items from Yuel's inventory, they were considered "tools" and therefore couldn't be consumed normally. Yuel had to activate them with skills, but skills could be silenced.

"Tell me when you go for a poke next. I'll silence him."


From Yuel's perspective, the laning phase proceeded smoothly. His Blaze Bombs zoned Ellen just like he planned days ahead. It allowed Lars to play his usual game without being distracted by pokes.

"Dude, gotta say," Lars grinned. "I usually don't care for Molotovs in games, but this right here is some sick stuff."

"Thanks," Yuel smiled. He actually really loved these sort of tools in action games. Why? Because they were much easier to hit, especially in shooters. Landing a Molotov required predicting the enemy's general movements, but thankfully, it didn't require hitting that opponent with a nanometer-sized bullet.

Anyway, it's too early to celebrate a victory. Howard and Ellen weren't the types to quietly take a beating. They clearly weren't prepared for this Alchemist play, but they'll adapt.

"Ack!" Just as the thought crossed Yuel's mind - it happened. He tried to bomb Ellen again, but a perfectly-timed Justice Strike sealed his skills. As a result, Ellen successfully poked Lars and ran away.

"Dude, did I ever tell ya how much I hate that poking stuff?"
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"Only about a billion times."

"Okay, then now it gonna be a billion and one. I HAAAAATE that stuff!"

"Sure you got enough 'A's there?"

"Nah, dude. Take all the 'A's in the world and it ain't gonna be enough."

"At least I'm slowing her down," Yuel sighed. "She'll have to wait for Justice Strike's cooldown before trying anything again."

"That's cool and all, but when we get to the part where I kick her b.u.t.t?"

"Still working on it. Clear minions faster to hit Lv.5, then we can begin."

"Oh, that's what we're waiting for?"

"Yes, we are. I believe I went over this play with you a few days ago..."

"Dude, do you seriously think I remember."

"I no longer do." Yuel sighed. Well, that's to be expected from a goof who didn't even remember what he had for breakfast. They practiced that play together and that's what was important. Lars's muscle memory should recall the experience once they begin. No matter what science claimed about the human body, Lars's memory was clearly stored in his muscles and ONLY in his muscles.

The second minion wave has been wiped out, but there haven't been any new developments on the lane. Ellen's pokes became rarer due to the danger of Blaze Bomb, whereas Lars was under Yuel's watch and couldn't go on the offensive as he wished. As a result, both sides only fired away at minions, it was like a cold war. They only exchanged hits every now and then when somebody overstepped their boundaries.

Thanks to Trickshot's high base damage, Lars easily outcleared Ellen. She could have kept up with him if she used Backfire Cannon, but of course, a sneaky player like her wouldn't do so. Backfire Cannon was both Pirate's best lane clear ability and its escape tool, so by spending it on minions, Ellen would cut off her best escape option. That's a big no-no.

[These beasts will eat me alive if I do that.] Ellen wore a difficult smile. She could see Lars and Yuel's hungry eyes, they both waited for an opportunity to leap forth and ravage this innocent maiden. [My, how savage. I won't let you take me that easily.]

Thus, Ellen stuck to playing defense even though it came at the expense of surrendering lane control. Being pushed back a little was nothing compared to dying and feeding the big scary beastie. That rascal had do be tamed little by little, so she couldn't spoil him with food like that.

However, this defensive game plan was one h.e.l.l of a challenge. In addition to the advantage of Trickshot's high base damage, Lars also built more power than Ellen. As a result, even Lars's basic attacks cleared minions way faster than Ellen's.

Per usual, Ellen started off with a lifesteal item, a "bad decision" according to the meta. But, she knew how to make it work because she was talented like that~

Even though Ellen was losing in terms of lane advantage and farm, she was leading in HP and has already poked Lars all the way down to 60% HP. Of course, between arrows from aggro'd enemy bowmen and Yuel's pesky bombs, Ellen didn't escape these pokes entirely unscratched. Nevertheless, thanks to her lifesteal, she was at 75% HP.

Lars had neither lifesteal nor HP recovery, so eventually, he'll... oh, c.r.a.p. She forgot what Alchemist could do.

"Take a potion," Yuel tossed an HP Potion at Lars.

"Yo, my dude!" Lars exclaimed. The potion landed on his Trickshooter and the recovery effect kicked in. It was a slow recovery, but over time it resorted 20% of Lars HP and put him at 80% HP, slightly above Ellen.

"My," Ellen twisted her lips. "I have a feeling I hate Alchemist."

"Yeah, it's sometimes cheap like that." Howard nodded. Normally, it was impossible to use consumables like HP Potion on another ally. However, Alchemist's "Item Toss" skill made it possible.

Judging by Yuel and Lars's starting build, neither of them brought any potions when they arrived on the lane. However, at some point, Yuel crafted an HP Potion with Alchemy and now used it on Lars. It cost some Magnet.i.te, but it erased a large chunk of the progress Ellen made with her pokes. Not friendly.

Getting Alchemist out of lane was the best way to hit him where it hurt because he had to be near dying minions to collect Magnet.i.te. Under normal circ.u.mstances, even the ever defensive Howard would vouch for aggressively a.s.saulting the Alchemist. Unfortunately, this one Alchemist was guarded by a mad dog. Going on the offensive against Lars's Trickshooter was like asking to be killed.

[Yuel sure got us good with that Alchemist.] Howard frowned. What were their options at this point? They have been already pushed back due to the difference in damage output, and with HP Potions the enemy will be able to outlast them on lane. Ellen's early game lifesteal was cute and all, but it wasn't even as effective as the cheapest potion the Alchemist could craft on the go.

In term of preparation, Howard had to hand to Yuel. This Alchemist pick outplayed Howard and Ellen in every way. But, sports wouldn't be fun if the outcome were 100% determined by preparation, right? By facing challenges head-on, players learned to adapt and resolve problems.

Alchemist seemed overwhelming right now, but Howard wasn't some salty Bronze V who called "OP! Nerf!" on everything that beat him. Alchemist wasn't bulletproof, it's a cla.s.s with its own shortcomings. It was a mid-tier cla.s.s for a reason and not just because it was difficult to play.

"Elly," Howard said. "Try baiting bombs out of him. If he runs out of Mag, he won't be able to do much."

"My, how devilish," Ellen smirked. "I'm sure he'll fall for it and think I'm being salty after that potion heal."

"Aren't you, though?"

"Hmph, not in the slightest. Who cares that all my poking efforts have been erased like that? Nope, definitely not me."

[She's a salt mine, alright.]

Following on Howard's advice, Ellen went for a poke even though Justice Strike was still on cooldown.

[So, she's going for it.] Yuel nodded to himself. Justice Strike should still be on cooldown according to Yuel's estimation, but Ellen went for a poke regardless. She must have been triggered by that potion play just now. It must've sparked a desire to poke even harder than before in order to close that HP gap. This was a chance!

Unfortunately, it was still too early for the finisher he had in mind. Ellen's HP wasn't low enough to be killed by the play he practiced with Lars.

Therefore, Yuel went for the usual Blaze Bomb. He tossed the bomb in the usual direction, aiming to encircle Ellen with flames. But, as soon as the bomb left his hand - Ellen rolled away! She escaped the explosion range before the bomb even traveled halfway there.

[Ugh, a bait. Well played.] Yuel had to concede. There was no way Ellen reacted that quickly to the bomb, so she must have intended to roll away from the get-go.

The Blaze Bomb crashed and exploded, but its flames burned only the ground and nothing else. What a waste of Magnet.i.te. Well, at least, Ellen didn't get to poke Lars.

Still, things got more hairy for Yuel. If Ellen mixes baits between her pokes, it'll be difficult to tell when to throw a bomb and when not. It'd be one thing if he had an unlimited supply of bombs, but Alchemist constantly required Magnet.i.te to craft more bombs. Yuel couldn't waste any bombs on feints.

Shortly after this bait play, Ellen advanced for another poke. Another bait? Or, was she serious this time? Justice Strike was possibly out of cooldown by now, Yuel couldn't tell for sure because it's was really borderline.

Ugh! Ellen must have picked this exact timing to make Yuel hesitate! Should he bomb her? Wasting 3 Mag again would hurt too much, but getting damage on Ellen was very important- Agh! Too late!

Ellen poked Lars and dashed away, while Yuel was stuck in a.n.a.lysis paralysis. G.o.ddammit, that hesitation cost him.

"My," Ellen giggled. "Yuyu is such an indecisive boy~"

The bait tactic was very effective, so Ellen continued messing around with Yuel. Was she going for a poke or a bait? Ellen made her decisions on a whim, so there wasn't any pattern to her actions. At least, there shouldn't have been...

"My," Ellen clocked her head. "Am I imagining or his accuracy went up? It's like he can almost tell when it's a bait."

"He must've noticed," Howard said. "You never bait more than twice in a row."

"Really? And here I thought I was being deceptive," Ellen twisted her lips. She thought she was being random but, thinking about it, of course she didn't like baiting three times in a row. After all, she wanted to get some hits in. She didn't want to run back and forth the whole day like a headless chicken.

Yuyu being Yuyu, he must have figured out this pattern after stalking Ellen's graceful movements. He was soo~oooo not cute sometimes.

"If you bait twice," Howard said. "Either wait until Justice Strike is out of cooldown, or go for another bait."

"Aye aye, cap."

Thanks to this advice, Ellen covered up her quirk. She went for a triple bait for the first time while Justice Strike was on cooldown. That completely fooled Yuel and made him waste another one of his precious bombs. [Messing with Yuyu is so fun~]

[So, it's no longer guaranteed on the third time.] Yuel nodded to himself. He adapted to Ellen's baits and exploited a quirk they had, but she responded in kind by adapting to his adaptation. Which meant, he now had to adapt to her adaptation to his adaptation. Adapt-ception.

This was rough. Losing the guarantee that Ellen will shoot after two baits forced Yuel back to square one. Predicting her movements was the same as predicting die rolls. Ellen probably wasn't going to use tripe bait often, but she's the type who'd go to any length to mess with her opponent's expectations. Anything was possible with that fox.

Then, there's also Howard's Justice Strike which gave Ellen more freedom to work with. Ellen could be even more greedy than usual while Justice Strike had her back, she could mess with Yuel nonstop. For example, using a bait even though she could've gone for poke because Justice Strike would have protected her, or going for an unexpected poke in the small window of time in which Yuel couldn't tell for sure whether Justice Strike was on cooldown. Then, there's also-

"Dude, you thinking way too hard about that stuff." Lars turned toward Ellen and fired a shot, straight in her face!

"Wha...?" Yuel blinked. Ellen must have been equally shocked, she immediately retreated without finis.h.i.+ng her poke. All this time, she has been sneaking up to Lars while he was recovering from an attack animation, so what on earth happened just now?

"That's how ya do it, yo! Don't think too much, just feel it!"

[Yes, just feel it. I understanding everything now!] Yuel made a face. Still, this was a shocking stunt. "How did you hit her? I thought she has been catching you off-guard this whole time."

"I dunno, I somehow reacted on time now," Lars shrugged. "I betcha it's because she has been poking way too much lately. Sometimes, I can see her step forward before I actually start my shot, so I get time to switch targets."

[By "enough time" he probably means something like five milliseconds.] Yuel smiled wryly. What kind of supercomputer was installed in that goof's brain to make such split-millisecond adjustments?

Anyway, this was an interesting discovery. Was Ellen playing a bit more recklessly compared to before? Yuel hadn't noticed anything of the sort, but that's probably because Ellen was constantly wary of his bombs and focused on messing with him. As a result, she couldn't focus as much on Lars's movements and that left her open at times. Or at least, open enough to be countered by people who had Mach 5 reaction speed.

"Keep getting shots on her whenever you can," Yuel said. "I'll keep pressuring her with bombs."

"No problem! Let's rek her already and win this!"

Pressured both by Yuel's bombs and Lars's quick shots, Ellen began slipping. Her elegant poking fluttered and occasionally led to injury. Nevertheless, she stuck with that tactic.

Both sides were wearing each other down. Lars fell down to 40% HP, whereas Ellen was at 50% HP. Yet again, she somehow gained the upper hand. She was like a slippery snake which bit, retreated, bit, retreated and then bit some more.

But, this was good progress. 50% HP was very low, especially for a squishy cla.s.s. Without being aware, Ellen fell right within range for Yuel's plan.

Lars was about to hit Lv.5, a fact the enemies didn't know. Ellen just recently hit Lv.4, so n.o.body was expecting an Lv.5 from Lars for a while. Howard and Ellen surely knew Lars had some exp advantage over them, but they had no idea that when Lars was fully concentrated on farming - he landed a perfect last-hit on every single minion. In other words, he has gained the absolute maximum farm possible from every single minion wave!

That's why Yuel insisted on this pa.s.sive early game. No matter how hard Lars itched to aggress on Ellen, Yuel stopped the hungry beast from touching the main dish and made him focus solely on the appetizers, the minions. This slowly prepared Lars for gulping down the main dish in one fell swoop.

Lars hasn't done much this laning phase except for farming, which created the impression he wasn't much of a threat. However, in truth, he was like a beast lying in the bushes and waiting for an opportunity to leap on its prey! And now, that he was about to hit Lv.5, it was time!

"Remember," Yuel said. "Use Trickshot for the level up."


"I'll move in as soon as you hit Lv.5. If you see me throw an Impulse Bomb, that's the cue."

"Gotcha. We practiced something like that, right?"

"Yeah, we did." [So, you DO remember how the actual play goes.] Yuel shook his head with a smile. Seriously, that goof was a piece of art. Well, that's what made him charming in his own way, kind of.

Right as Lars was one minion kill away from hitting Lv.5, Yuel made his move. He stepped forward and Ellen stepped forward too, just as planned. There's no way she'll miss this opportunity to poke Lars. Yuel requested Trickshot to be dealt as the final blow for leveling up because Lars was the most vulnerable while firing Trickshot, hence the most inviting for Ellen to poke.

There was only one point of concern: will Howard make a move too? Poking during a Trickshot was so inviting, that Howard almost always backed it up with a Justice Strike. Getting silenced was the last thing Yuel needed right now.

As the thought crossed Yuel's mind, Howard turned in Yuel's direction! Justice Strike was coming! Yuel didn't waste a moment and rolled forward. From the corner of the screen, he saw a white blade forming at his previous location. Yes! He read it and dodged it!

There was a quirk. Whenever Howard planned to go for Justice Strike, he always turned to face Yuel right after Ellen advanced forward. It wasn't an easy quirk to spot because Howard has been looking in Yuel and Lars's general direction the whole the time. Nevertheless, that slightly unnatural twitch finally gave him away!

With that, Yuel baited out Justice Strike. However, that was just a nice bonus. The real play was starting now!

Yuel lightly tossed, almost rolled, an Impulse Bomb in Ellen's direction. He only needed to get the bomb a little behind Ellen's back, so no exaggerated movements were necessary. A low, but quick, throw was enough.

"Ah!" Howard exclaimed. "Elly, roll back! That's "

BAM. The Impulse Bomb exploded a behind Ellen's feet and fired a shockwave. The impulse shot Ellen to another dimension! The vertical dimension!

"My goodneeeeeeess!" Ellen cried out in sync with the hiiiiigh flight. She was launched to the other side of the lane like a human rocket! She was thrown into the den of lions! Oh no...

[We got her!] Yuel nodded to himself. Finally, the play he had been cooking this whole time was about to come to life!

Classmancers - A MOBA Esport Story 73 Preparation And Adaptation

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Classmancers - A MOBA Esport Story 73 Preparation And Adaptation summary

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