7/24 EDIT: Uploading error with D(period)Va, which omitted her name. I replaced it by dropping the period fully, now its Dva.
5. The people were ready. All over the world, thousands of basement-dwelling, couch potatoing, school skipping, Mountain Dew and Doritos eating teenagers of all kinds sat with their various streaming devices in hand, eyes on the screen as if their lives depended on it. The comments raged with anticipation of the next five minutes, entertained only by the music blasting out their speakers.
4. I entered my room, toting 4 liters of root beer, 3 bags of various chip brands, and a bottle of lotion...for dry skin. I set my items down, and seat myself in my comfy gaming chair. As I look at the stream chat, i can barely, just barely, keep with with the comments, as over 10,000 people who got nothing better to do sit themselves at their computer screens, and instead of busting their balls or stirring up shit on social media, boys and girls rather be here. That's kinda awesome, to be so beloved in this way. You can't get 10,000 people to go green in an hour, but promise a livestream of a video game for a few hours, they'll be there.
3. With little time to spare, I make final preparations. Food? Check. Drinks? Check. Excellent internet connection? Check. Headsets? Check. Lotion… Checkmate. However, I'm missing something...Ah, yes.
2. I hastily open a new tab, linked to the main page of the stream. Searching for one streamer in particular, I was pleased to know that the competition hadn't arrived, and given the time, she shouldn't be up anyway. If there is a gaming god, I pray that the party pooper stays in her toilet. I was nice enough to not stream when she was doing so yesterday, so she should show some respect as well. It is already bad enough we're both made famous by the same game, in the same competition, in the same tournament, and fighting the same battle over three years ago, and we would continue to compete for the gold for the next two years, her winning all three times. But each year, I came closer...but close is not good enough. If I do anything this year, I will defeat my arch-nemesis, and take home the gold in our fourth meeting.
1. As the countdown began to wind down to the final seconds, I looked over to my large wooden shelf, seeing the trio of silver trophies lined up in the center. Don't get me wrong, I am proud to be #2 in the world, because I never, ever thought I would even reach the top 20, but being beaten by a girl, a super attractive South Korean girl at that, ruffles my male American feathers. Call it hurt pride, because that's exactly what it is. I move my gaze down down normal eye-level, where a picture of me and my rival are shaking hands at the end of last year's match that lasted almost over an hour. Along the same part of the shelf were other pictures of us, with or without our trophies. We were portrayed as a friendly rivalry, but in truth, it was more than that. Last year proved it better than anything, and that while we were far from friends, and the only thing nice between us was our respect for each other. That's it.
OK, maybe I have had some...thinking time of her, but it was more of a "hate sex" fantasy. I don't like her, and I don't have to like her to think of her in the nude.
0. The stream countdown was over, and I officially broadcasted the stream a few seconds later. As the livestream began, I put on a smile, happy to be able to do what I love in front of...15,000 people. Damn...what if I fuck up? Nah… These same 15,000 people definitely watch my rival stream as well, and if I mess up, there's no telling what'll they say on her stream. Ah, whatever, they probably shit on me anyway. "Hello everyone from all around the fucking world, human and Omnic. I should need no introduction, and but out of the 15,000, a good… 12,000 are probably forgetful. Welcome to my livestream, and I'm your host, Hardin25. Now let's get some things settled." I put up my bottle of lotion, and snicker into the camera. "Dva isn't streaming yet, and neither are you nasty ass horny dogs either. Save it for later today, or save it for the championship in a month and a half...if they let me back in again. Now, if your stream is just right, can I get some random emojis in the chat?" My 15,000 and rising minions bombarded the chat with emojis, and I nodded in appreciation, hovering my mouse cursor over the Starcraft II launcher. "Thanks guys, now let's get started."
2 hours later
I watched in glee as the enemy computer base exploded, and stretched out my arms. I was doing Starcraft II's Wings of Liberty campaign on Expert difficulty, and even for the seasoned pro at the game that I am, it was difficult. I almost had to abandon my usual strategy of keeping everything cool and collected. Don't rush to have the largest force, but don't go steady trying to build up resources. Make an equilibrium. Usually, I lean slightly towards the resources, just to be able to produce stronger forces should the time come for them, and that plan works 99.9 percent of the time.
Looking at the time that read 3:09, I looked into the camera to the hidden faces of around 25,000 people and said, "All right guys, go take a bathroom break. You know you need one. Give me a few minutes to take care of some things, and we'll be back in ten minutes." Suspending the gameplay, I leaped out of my chair, and made my way to the front door, opening it just a tad to reach my arm out to my mailbox. Three envelopes were inside it, and I scooped them all up as I walked to the bathroom and sat on the toilet.
The first letter was something about car insurance, which I didn't need. Trash. The second was about credit cards. I never had a use for a credit card before, and definitely don't need one now. Trash. The final letter was actually of high priority interest to me. It was a letter from the GWC (Gaming World Championships) and what should be inside is my invitation to it, as expected. I got up and out the bathroom, and headed back inside my room to my stream. Before I resumed the stream, I could see pandemonium occurring in the chat. I didn't understand why, but I got two things from the rapidly moving chat: One, Dva is streaming right now (luckily, my views haven't dropped from the numbers I left behind, and why is streaming at 4 am in her time?), and two, they want me to go to her stream. Forgetting the letter, I quickly open a new tab, and instantly click the link to her profile page, and found her stream just as I resumed mine. "All right, we're back, and I see you guys telling me to watch Dva's stream, so here we are." I click on the stream page, and look upon the face of my mortal enemy, Hana "Dva" Song, who instead of wearing her trademark jumpsuit, facepaint, and headseat, was in a simple white tank top and hopefully something on for the lower half of her body. Once her stream started playing on my computer, I could see she had mine booted up on hers. She wasn't lying when she told me last year that she watches my streams.
Her face was down, looking at a sheet of paper, a mix of sleepiness, confusion and distress, and in the face of nearly 60,000 people, including Yours Truly, that wasn't good. Knowing that she could hear me, I called out to her. "Dva, are you alright?"
She shook her head, and looked up, glaring only at my soul (because she looked at her computer, not her camera), and replied, "No, Joshua, I am far from alright. Have you not gotten your letter?"
"Letter...oh." I picked up the discarded letter, and ripped it open. I unfolded the sheet of paper, and skimmed it, giving my viewers a synopsis. "Let's see… Same old greeting, same old message, yeah I'm invited, register here and there...WHAT?" I held the letter closer to my face, not believing what I was seeing. This… This was anarchy! "This year's tournament will be co-op…"
"'To make the tournament fair, should you participate this year, we are automatically assigning you your partner,'" I couldn't believe that I was going to read the next few words to the world, "'Hana 'Dva' Song.'" Immediately both my chat and Dva's went wild, but I was too shocked to even attempt to look. I brought a hand to my forehead, and sighed. I was not upset about having D. Va as my partner, as I would be foolish to hate the fact that the only person who beat me three times in a row was my teammate. I am upset that, instead of being singles, I have to team up with the person I wanted to beat and finally hold a golden trophy while she holds silver. My year-long goal was half crushed. Half crushed… I glanced up to my line of silvers, and imagined the gold next to it. The GWC just made a huge mistake. Putting the world's top two Wings of Liberty players together, against twenty-four other teams? Whose idea was that?
Smiling (and falsely trying to make good out of a horrible situation), I looked up to the computer screen, seeing Dva's still mixed expression. "Hana, you do know there's no way we can lose."
"Yes there is. You messing up my unbeatable strategy."
I took huge offense to that. Mostly because it was true, at the moment. However, Dva did forget something. "Hey, your strategy might be 'unbeatable,' but don't act as if you won against me in twenty minutes. Even you struggled to defeat me."
Dva pouted. "Struggle is the right word."
"Oh right… You didn't know what to fucking do."
"Does it matter, #2? As much as I would love to bicker with you-"
"I'm sure you think of doing other things with me as well." What, I had to get that in. The chats loved it.
"-we are going to have to practice. Since the GWC is in Asia, I would take it you could come over here. I might let you sleep on the floor for a month and a half."
I chuckled, and raised my lotion bottle (that is, by the way, empty from normal use), "Might have to bring some lotion as well." That made my rival a little angry, but I didn't care. Humor, light, dark, dirty, or clean, is my second life.
Hana folded her arms, and blew a bubble out of her chewing gum. "Nan dangsin-i neomu silh-eo, nan dangsin-i hal pil-yoga eobs-eossda balabnida. I'll send you my number later, and if you freaking dare make a stupid comment on it now, you can forget about it."
Looks like I won't have to, as the viewers did for me. "Don't be such a diva. We'll talk later." I exited her stream, and booted up my game. "Well guys and gals, after being interrupted by some Eastern chick, and some breaking news, we are back. Let's continue…"
Hours later, I found myself laying on my Nintendo-themed bed, my bedroom lit only by the lamp on my nightstand. I continuously stared at the line that, for better or worse, sealed my fate in 90 or so days. The words issued out a dream or a nightmare, victory or defeat, trust or doubt, deeper rival or a...friendship. Eww.
This year's Starcraft II competition will be a cooperative tournament, and to make it fair, all entrants will be assigned teammates. Your assigned teammate is: Hana "Dva" Song.
I have reworded, replayed, reread, and, to make sure I remembered what I did, rewinded my stream. I didn't really know how I felt, and if I'm going through this, I know my Korean counterpart is going nuts as well. Why in the hell would we be assigned together? Not to sound like a prick, but we're the two best Starcraft players in the world, three years running. One day, we'll be outmatched for sure, but… The two of us, together? Whose idea was that? Did I already say that?
By now, because I have verified, the gaming world knows about the new edition of the tourney, and just three hours ago (it's now six hours since Hana and I told our followers live) the news broke Hana and I were teammates. Just as I am thinking, most of the world thinks we have it in the bag. The competition are split between anger of our assignment or look forward to potentially besting not Dva, not me, but both of us at the same damn time. That put a whole new perspective on the situation. My lost would be bitter, but Hana's would be sweet, and the opposite, more likely circumstance bears the same bittersweet feeling in Hana's mind. Half of me wanted to win, and the other wanted Hana to experience lost, and if only each option had us in the same situation.
Is this what the organizers had in mind? They knew we hated each other's guts, minus the respect we showed on and off the stage. We would rather see the other lose, but now one's lost is the other's as well. If we wanted to win, we'll have to do it as one.
And I thought the FPS community didn't know the value of teamwork without sounding like deep-voice complainers or light-voice screamers.
Sighing, I threw the paper on the floor, and stuffed my face in Mario's...ugh. The answer was simple: I was going to win, and whether I liked it or not, Dva's cooperation was needed. It was not a want, or even a need, but a necessity. Some of you are freaking out about how need and necessity are the same, but trust me, they aren't. My cooperation with Hana is technically not needed, for I could venture on my own, but it is necessary for both of us to take home the gold. Me going to South Korea for a month to practice with her isn't necessary, but we do need to practice together.
So much to process while giving Pillow Mario some joy. I want what my pillow is getting...joy with a gold trophy in hand, not a...well, I wouldn't feel bad about getting that either, but from a human female instead, not a pillow plumber.
In my thoughts, my phone began to ring, blasting the Halo theme in my head, and I ignored it until I realized my phone was ringing, blasting the Halo theme in my room. I halfheartedly grabbed it and looked at the caller ID. You know who it is. Sighing, I swiped the green button, flipped to my back, and put the phone to my ear. "'Ello, love. Wot you want, mate?"
"I don't think that is correct."
It wasn't, but how would she know? "Maybe it is."
"I live near Australia, Josh. I would know what an Australian accent would sound like, and there's little, if any, English in there."
I scoff, and switch the call to speaker. "All right, you 'win.' Now answer this: Why are you calling me at this ungodly hour of… 8:30 pm Central USA time?"
"Oh no, am I interrupting your sleep? I am sooo sorry. I was just calling to see when you planned on being here… If you're coming."
I looked at my trio of scattered Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft themed suitcases, two carrying at least two weeks worth of clothes, and the third with my gaming equipment, which was just my laptop, charger, and all other essentials. My streaming equipment was to stay. "I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon. Should be morning for you when I arrive in Seoul, if you don't forget me."
For the first time in a long time, she laughed at a joke of mine. "I won't forget. Besides, I love breaking Daddy's number one rule about having boys over. Especially an American one."
For the record, I have met Hana's parents, and they are a typical type of parents when a girl meets a boy. Mrs. Song, unlike her daughter, actually likes me, and embraces the fact that I push her daughter to her limits in the game, showing that Hana is not totally invincible. She also finds it intriguing that an American excels at a game that typically the Eastern world dominated. She sometimes sends some mixed signals, occasionally leaving me wondering if she's trying to hit on my, or help her daughter out. I'll let you know that we (Hana and I) were 16 when we first met, and Ms. Song has been doing what she does ever since.
Mr. Song, however, is the polar opposite of his wife and his daughter. Mrs. Song loves me like a son (in law), Hana respects me, but only as a competitor, not as a friend, but Mr. Song neither likes me or respects me. He never flat out said it, but I can see it in his eyes that he's ready to knock me across the Pacific Ocean. I don't understand why he hates me so, but when I see him with his daughter, I think I figured it out somehow. You see, Mr. Song works for Lucheng Interstellar, a space organization in China, so the Songs are super-rich. Hana adds to their fortune, being the most popular streamer in the world, Mr. Song doesn't see a career, in his own words and translated, in "sitting on your ass all day playing video games for some underground dwellers." How did I earn his negativity? While Ms. Song thinks Hana should find a guy, like moi, who does what she does best, Mr. Song already has in his Mars-landed brain that I, in his own words and translated, "tarnished his jewel with my Americanism."
You know, I would think he would find it interesting that we play a game based on space military adventures, but I guess science and sport doesn't mix.
"I would hate to have your dad slice my intestines out, but it seems you don't care."
"Oh, I would normally love to see such a thing, but sadly I don't live with my parents, so they have no say in this. You'll be the first person besides them to see my new home."
Hana has her own place, and I won't have to see Mr. Song? Bitter has become sweet again. "Really now? Well then, this has really made things better."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. I got to go and start streaming, and I'll let you get back to your nightlife with your waifus. I'll see you tomorrow morning."
"I only have one waifu, and I'm talking to her."
"Oh no, I think a Great Knight has killed me. Oh well, gotta love perma-death. Bye bye." I hung up, and set my phone back on the nightstand. With the back of my head on Mario's plumbing device, I decided that I was going to make the most of my trip to South Korea, all culminating in a golden trophy with my arch-rival.
I mean, who's going to beat us?