Social media is on a storm. Ever since last night's confrontation between Joshua and Han, it has been the only thing people have talked about. #KingVHardin25 is the most popular hashtag worldwide, with over 5 million hits on various social networks. Knowing how press conferences and interviews go, tonight is going to be interesting.
The festivities leading to the actual tournament start in an hour, so I tap away on my phone as I wait for Joshua to come down. I've never been much of a mobile gamer, but, forget everything you think you know about mobile games because Raid Shadow Legends is one of the most ambitious RPG projects of 2019 has just been released and will change everything.
Imagine me actually telling people to play, I got enough sponsors as is.
I hear knocking at my door, so I hop up, grab my little Dva purse and head out. Opening the door, I see Joshua in his usual assortment of clothes: red t-shirt, black jeans, red and black shoes, and his black "Hardin25" jacket. He looks at me really quickly (a blue blouse, white pants and shoes) then to his phone. "We got a little over an hour, no rush."
"Yeah, but the earlier we arrive, the more I can prepare myself. This is the first press conference I've had in a year." Today is the press' day with us gamers, so that means interview after interview, conference after conference, and it pretty much ends with the appearance on GamerTV, gaming's most popular talk show hosted by Winston Harold. Last year's show was special due to the team nature of the Starcraft II division's new ruleset and controversy, but this year's GWC edition might take the cake. As far as I know, only ten of the fifty competitors are going to appear, me and Joshua included. If I had to guess, Han will too.
"You have nothing to worry about, mon amie." I turn my head to my left, seeing one of my female rivals, Amélie "Widowmaker" Lacroix. The bewitching beauty of Paris leans on the with quite a tired look, though if she flexes her legs one more time, I will seriously cut them down. Normally, I can care less if Joshua is with another woman (case in point, Sombra) but Amélie is… Well, as Joshua once described, I'm the girl-next-door kind of hot, but Amélie is the forbidden fruit. For some reason, she and Joshua have gotten along well, too well with each other, but I never had the courage to ask him about it.
Sneering, I intend to give her my best unwelcoming look. "The spider descends from its shitty web."
"All to bite the bunny on its delicious neck."
"Where's Lena? Never knew France to be so far away from Britain unless you got a white flag strapped on your ass."
Amélie sighs as she stands up. "Probably eating 'breakfast' with her girlfriend. Ugh, so glad I have my own room."
"Probably because yours has a nest of cobwebs," I mutter as I follow Josh and Amélie to the elevators. On our trip there, on, and out the elevators, I kept to myself as the other two conversed about something that happened last night. As we entered the lobby, Amélie waves over to someone in front of us. As we come closer, I sigh in disappointment. Wearing a grey shirt with a grenadier's vest as its design along with green shorts and black boots approaches Australia's best gamer, Jamison "Junkrat" Fawkes.
He grins at the three of us as he brushes his "flaming" white hair back. "It's a perfect day for some mayhem." He and Joshua fist bumps as he joins us, which blows my mind. I've known both guys for years, and they've hated each other. Jamison never had much love for Amélie either, so it is very disturbing to see the three of them together as friends.
"Hana, why you look like someone just blew your brains out?" Jamison laughs at his pun (He has a love for explosives, so he does that a lot) as he pats Hana's shoulder. Okay, that's it.
She takes a step back, holding her hands out to the unlikely group of gamers. "Okay, someone needs to explain why you guys are all so...friendly."
"Cheer up, love!" From out of nowhere behind me appears Lena "Tracer" Oxton, England's red-blooded queen. She hugs me from behind (a little too close and too tight for comfort) and pats my abdominal area. "Damn Hana, for a gamer, you're fit as hell. They worked you in the military?" She releases me and I quickly step away, much to her amusement. She smiles towards Joshua, pointing her thumb at me. "Bet you love how firm the rudder is, huh?"
Joshua clears his throat and turns to me. "To answer your question, while you were gone, I decided that last year's competition taught me that I possibly could be friends with other gamers, even if they are my direct rivals. So since the five of us are the top in our division, doesn't it help to keep your enemies closer than your friends? I will admit, it went better than expected."
"Besides," Jamison adds, "I'll love to see His Fucking Majesty lose again. Might stay away for good this time."
That… I can agree with Junkrat on. Sighing, I rejoin my fellow gamers. "All right. But don't get too close, I'm still better than all of you."
"Une telle chienne" I don't know what Widowmaker said, but based on everyone's laughter, I bet it wasn't good.
Some time later
"Thank you, everyone, for joining us this morning." As the Omnic host and interviewer SMK-1992 introduces the show and his guest, I sit in the high chair as comfortable as I can. This is, after all, my first interview since the aftermath of last year's competition. I requested that questions about my military service be kept to a minimum (I think the audience wouldn't care that much about it), but besides that, anything can go. Speaking of the audience, it is all media people, so unlike my normal audience of gamers and horny men and women, I have to watch what I say carefully. It is being live-streamed across the globe too, so one mishap will immediately be on social media almost instantaneously. Taking a deep breath, I smile as MK introduces me. "Her crown might be disputed as the world's best gamer, but without a doubt, she is the current queen of real-time strategy. My guest, Hana, 'Dva' Song!"
I smile and wave to the camera, then turn to the Omnic. "Thank you, MK, for having me."
"Always a pleasure, Ms. Song. Now we have you for fifteen minutes, so shall we jump right into the questions?"
"Okay, so it has been a year since we last saw you. No gaming events, not a live-stream, just military service that, I will say, thank you for it, so compared to other gamers who have been honing their skills, you are rusty. But do you believe you are rusty?"
I expected this question to come up at some point today. Laughing a bit to myself, I conjure up the press-friendly version of my answer. "Well, it depends on how you determine how rusty a person can be. If this was a Starcraft II tournament I was entering this year, I would decline. I've played it for years, won it three times. If something is familiar to you, you might have to get back into it, of course, but it won't take much for you to find your stride. But let's take something like Mortal Kombat or Smash Bros. I'm not a fighting game fanatic, I dabble in them, but it would take more effort to get to the level I am in them. So...I guess it depends on what I am rusty in. However, I don't expect to be hindered too much."
MK nods. "Very well answered. Okay, next question: I think at this point, no one will deny you are one of gaming's top players right. Three-time GWC champion, all your sponsorships and many other accolades. But this week, you go against 49 other competitors, which including rivals from Starcraft II and your own boyfriend. Whoever wins is undisputedly the best in the world. What will that mean to you, a young woman who pretty much, to many, is already the best in the world?"
"Well… Do I consider myself one of the best? Without a doubt. As you've said, I have evidence to back up my claim. It might just run in the family. My grandfather, after all, was one of the best in his time. But to be the best, that is something else. Especially with so many others competing for the same title, my boyfriend included… If they're here, they deserve it. Some are fellow champions, past and present, others are renowned gamers in their divisions. For those who are champions or were champions, this just cements how great we are, but for those who have never won a title, this puts them above the individual divisions. Quite frankly, this tournament is interesting."
"It is an interesting competition if I must say so myself. So… What are you expecting this year from the competition?"
I shrug. "To be honest, we don't know much about it. We don't know the games, how rankings will be handled, so going into this blind is very exhilarating. But in terms of the other competitors, most of these guys I have never competed against. Those that I have, it has only been in one game. So to face those I know in games other than Starcraft and to face others for the first time, I think I am expecting a good fight. Last year in Starcraft, I must say that the coop rules made it harder. Tracer and Widowmaker are hard on their own. I'm not just saying that because I'm here, I actually mean it, so them together was actually frustrating. If this competition is the fifty gamers the GWC considers worthy, that is not to be taken lightly."
MK nods then look at his notes. "Okay, final question. Dva, when you first entered the GWC, you won the championship after facing Hardin25 in the finale, taking the throne from King. Four years later, your fifth competition, he returns. He seems to be focused on the one who eliminated him, Hardin25, based on last night's video and previous comments. But do you, as the champion after him, have any thoughts about it?"
I sigh. "Well, he was in my squad in the military, we didn't have the best relationship but we put those differences aside in the fight. However...I did not know he was returning. So to speak professionally, I must say it is a surprise. I don't blame him at all for coming after the one who eliminated him, but he's going to find out that we've evolved our skills these past five years as he said he did. That's all I'll say about that."
"Mierda, being interviewed is tiring," Olivia says as she tosses a fry into her mouth. I chuckle as I take a sip of my water while listening to her rant. "'Baptiste this, Baptiste that,' if I wanted to discuss Baptiste I would do it myself. At least the third interview was interesting for the most part."
"Yeah." Olivia and I were part of a panel with other popular North American gamers, including Baptiste, McCree, and Ashe. Calling it "interesting" is an understatement, it was the most engrossing panel I've ever had whilst being professional in attitude. You just don't know how many shots I wanted to take at the members of Deadlock Gang and I'm sure Olivia held back when answering about her and Baptiste's rivalry. Of course, no questions refrained from asking about my new friendship with Sombra, including last night's events with that Korean jackass.
While Olivia is done for the day, I still have a big appearance on GamerTV. Having to make eight previous appearances (the panel my fifth) is tiring enough, I plan to enjoy Winston's interview. This time, I know it cannot possibly end like last year's. With that in mind, I lean back and snack on a chicken tender. "Well, today wasn't all too bad. 'King this, King that,' and all other manners of bullshit. It is what it is, but tomorrow, at least we get to hold nothing back."
"True," Olivia says with a conniving smile. "Might spread some blasphemy about McCree and Ashe. Maybe his penis can't reach 'high noon'? Or her Omnic… B.O.B., isn't it? Heard it fucks better than he can."
I smile. "Leave some ideas to Rule 34, please. Though I agree with the first idea, it might explain why she's always so angry."
"Yeah. As for Baptiste, the virgen he is, I'll think of something. But all this professionalism with people I do not like is stressful." Finishing her last fry, Olivia looks over to my fry-filled plate and takes some. I pretend to not care. "Anyway, big night, huh? I'll be watching on the big screen in my room. I'll be your biggest fan."
"I'll shout for you. 'Shoutout to Sombra who stole my fucking fries.' Sounds good?"
She laughs as she leans back and crosses her legs. "Si lo hace. More than perfect. Anyway, where's Hana? We haven't seen her since this morning."
I shrug as I look at my phone. I haven't got a single message from her in the last two hours. "Tons of interviews on her end, I guess. She is resting or something. We got an hour or so before we got to prepare for Winston's show, so I'll see her then."
Olivia raises an eyebrow. "Not the slightest bit concern? You two have a strong relationship, I see. Considering what happened last year, I shouldn't be all too surprised. Yet, I feel you and her need to watch your backs, especially with Han. I don't know much, but something just doesn't sit right with me about him."
I nod. "Me too, but you think it has something to do with me and Hana?"
"Yes, but I remembered something from Hana's first interview this morning. She worked with Han in the military, yet she says she didn't know anything about his plans to return. But the way she spoke about him, professional as it was, it didn't seem forced. If you didn't like someone, you would have to force yourself to speak in a non-bias way about them. Now I could be wrong, but that's not I got."
I narrow my eyes. I recall watching the interview too, and she did cut the answer about Han short. Now that I think about it, she didn't hesitate when responding, unlike me, who had to recenter myself. "Well, whatever it is, I'm sure the three of us will be on stage together tonight. Maybe there'll be some drama after all…"