Ranker’s Return - Chapter 568

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“The third PvP game between Crescent Moon and Zenith will be Gang Hyeonu versus Sergei.”

The moment the host’s words were over, New York Arena Stadium was full of cheers. There was only one reason for the cheers—Hyeonu’s game. Alley Leader, whom everyone was waiting for, finally appeared in PvP. Hyeonu and Sergei were already ready for the game. They were waiting for the host’s start signal.

“Is the beginning an exploration?”

“Sergei’s fighting style is really like a combat bible. He seeks a slow build-up and doesn't overdo it.”

Hyeonu and Sergei faced each other and walked around carefully. The two people were observing each other’s deceptions. Who would move first? It was a delicate psychological war.

The first one to move was Hyeonu. He pulled out the sword hanging from his waist and swung it. Blue light instantly burst out from Hyeonu’s sword. Sergei blocked it, but it was merely a block. He was unable to offset the damage of Hyeonu’s attack and was deflected.

“Player Sergei successfully blocked Player Gang Hyeonu’s attack, but that is it.” 

“It is overwhelming damage. It will be hard for Player Sergei to break down Player Gang Hyeonu unless he finds a way to break through that attack.”

“Now the secret to player Gang Hyeonu’s stats distribution has been solved to some extent. He uses the points for physique on other stats to ensure he has a physical ability that’s overwhelming compared to other players.”

The commentators neatly explained the first exchange of offense and defense. Hyeonu’s secrets were now revealed to some extent. It was the result of numerous people running around. However, knowing didn’t change anything. Hyeonu’s opponents still wouldn’t be able to follow along or cope. They would have no choice but to stay still and die.

Of course, this didn’t mean there was no solution.

“If you want to beat player Gang Hyeonu, you only need to have one attack land properly.”

In a way, it was really simple. They just needed to successfully attack Hyeonu once. His health was low since his physique stat was low. It would be the end for Hyeonu if he were to be hit properly just once.

“It isn’t as easy as it sounds. There is a reason why he is called Alley Leader.”

The method might be simple, but it was extremely difficult to implement. If it were so easy, Hyeonu wouldn’t have an undefeated record.

“Sergei is trying to fight back. He realized it is impossible to counterattack, so he has to act first.”

“There is a saying that the best defense is a good offense.”

Just then, Sergei repositioned himself and ran toward Hyeonu. Sergei had done a lot of research on Hyeonu and how to deal with him, but it was to no avail. The more he watched the videos of Hyeonu fighting, the more he felt that the only way to win was to use the basics. Hyeonu wasn’t a talented superstar who emerged instantaneously; he was a worn-out veteran. He was experienced and not lacking in any aspect.

Therefore, there were limitations to using anomalous strategies against him. Hyeonu’s videos were enough to confirm that he had a lot of experience in combat. From then on, Sergei temporarily put down his original fighting style and practiced the basics like he was Germany’s Daniel. Sergei worked on things like slashing, stabbing, and the appropriate steps he needed to take, as well as pouring out skills at the correct timing. He also worked on training his control of magic power.

All of this resulted in a significant improvement in his skills, and it actually made him a bit confident. However… reality was different.

His improved skills were insignificant compared to the wall in front of him. The wall was harder, thicker, and higher than he’d perceived. Facing Hyeonu in person was totally different.

“Sergei has continued his sharp attacks. They are flowing like water!”

“It is coming together as if he put them together beforehand. It might look good, but it isn’t actually a very good situation.”

Sergei’s attacks were quick, sharp, and smooth, but so were Hyeonu’s. Hyeonu easily withstood Sergei’s fast and sharp series of attacks. Right then, Hyeonu struck Sergei’s sword with the handle of his single-edged sword. There was a clear ringing of a bell, and a blue wave formed around Sergei’s sword.

At the same time, Sergei’s body was roughly pushed backward. Hyeonu rushed over to Sergei, wanting to seize this opportunity to strike. He grabbed his sword with both hands and quickly swung down it from the top to the bottom. Sergei raised his sword to block Hyeonu’s attack. The timing of Sergei’s defense was very neat, but that was all. It wasn’t a direct hit, but he couldn’t withstand the power of the blow and fell backward on his butt.

“This is a crisis for player Sergei.”

“It is a fatal mistake. No, I would say it is a crisis.”

“I think it is over. Sitting on the ground in front of Alley Leader is tantamount to defeat.”

The commentators confirmed Sergei’s defeat. Needless to say, it was an obviously critical situation for Sergei. There could be no disagreement about this considering the reality that he couldn’t cope properly even when he had both feet on the ground. The commentators’ expectations weren’t wrong; the battle didn’t last long.

Hyeonu’s sword swung exactly twice before the sword in Sergei’s hand disappeared. Then Hyeonu’s sword touched Sergei’s neck, and the game ended.

“The third game between Crescent Moon and Zenith! The winner is Player Gang Hyeonu of Crescent Moon! The score is 2:1. Both teams are playing a very tight match.”

A winner had yet to emerge from the match between Crescent Moon and Zenith, so calling it a tight match wasn’t wrong. It just wasn’t known how long that would last.


***


Sergei emerged from the cube, waved to the crowd, and moved to the waiting room where the Zenith players were waiting. Right after Sergei opened the door and entered the waiting room, he opened the refrigerator, took out a bottle of water, and gulped it down.

“After fighting him yourself, how was it? Is he really that strong?” Karelin, the bear-like hulk of a man, asked.

“Let’s give up this year. There is no solution,” Sergei replied while crumpling up the empty bottle of water. 

There was a dumbfounded expression on Karelin’s face when he heard Sergei say such words. “Why? Is he really that good?”

“Don’t even mention it. He isn’t a person. It didn’t feel like he had the same stats. The difference was like he had a unique item.”

The presence of one unique item might not seem like a big thing, but this was not the case. In PvP where the total amount of stats was equal for both players, a difference of 200–300 stat points was a very large gap.

“His usage of magic power is even more than an item. Have you seen it before? The blue explosion. It wasn’t a skill. It was just magic power,” Sergei said.

He thought he just had to hit Alley Leader once due to his low health, but that wasn’t the case. It took too many things for that one hit–things that Sergei didn’t have.

‘I now understand why Teika said those words.’

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Teika had only spoken the truth. Of course, what he’d said regarding Manchester was wrong, but everything else was true. Alley Leader was a god, and this Arena Week was a stage made for him.

“In any case, he said that this is his last Arena Week. Let’s win the next Arena Week,” Sergei stated. Therefore, he was going to give up. Sergei didn’t want to do that, but he couldn’t help it. He couldn’t surpass Hyeonu right now.

‘Unless he moves to another game...’

Perhaps, it would be hard to defeat him even in this lifetime. The heavily experienced Hyeonu was that strong. Sergei added, “Honestly, I’m not that sad or angry. I’m not the only one who will lose.”

After all, he wasn’t the only one who would be defeated. Every player and team who encountered Hyeonu would lose too. So Sergei felt comfortable thinking this way.

“In the end, this Arena Week will be a battle over who will come in second, Karelin.”


***


After Sergei’s defeat, Zenith’s players knelt down in front of Hyeonu. Hyeonu didn’t hurt a single player. Each of the following games simply ended with his sword at the player’s neck.

“With a score of 6:1, Crescent Moon has won the PvP match between Crescent Moon and Zenith.”

“Player Gang Hyeonu was the one who made the greatest contribution to Crescent Moon’s victory. He won five games in a row and neatly brought victory into Crescent Moon’s arms.”

“However, five consecutive wins isn’t enough. After four PvP matches, two players have won six consecutive games. Luke from Manchester and Reina from the New York Warriors are the main characters.”

Reina blew up Red Bull America. She neatly shut them out with six consecutive victories. With one match, Reina proved herself to be the dark horse of the competition.

“I’ll briefly interview Player Reina and Player Gang Hyeonu, the leading players of the third and fourth matches.”

At the end of the PvP matches, they picked the MVPs and conducted a brief interview. This was for the crowd and the public. Arena Week was a competition to select the world’s top teams, but it was also the largest Arena festival that took place only once a year. It was one of the few opportunities for them to actually see and hear from players who were normally hard to catch sight of. So, there naturally had to be countless interviews like this.

“First, I will ask Player Reina a question. I know you’ve been asked this before, but what is the secret to your increased ability?” 

The host’s question was solely based on public interest. Questions on how the match was played and how they prepared for the competition weren’t on the question list. The staff had only prepared questions that people might be curious about.

Reina said, “Um... I’ve said it before, but I’ll add a little bit more today. Practice is the most important thing. In order to improve, you need to make up for what you lack. Additionally... I would say that having the help of the person standing next to me was great.”

The host’s eyes widened at Reina’s answer. Simultaneously, a strange smile appeared on his face. He felt the bait was eaten properly.

“Next to you... Are you talking about Player Gang Hyeonu?”

Hyeonu was the only one standing next to Reina since they were the only ones standing on the stage for the interview.

“Yes, that’s right. I had the help of Player Gang Hyeonu.”

“Help...?”

“I sparred against him. I think that many things have changed since I recorded and analyzed the video of the spar.”

Combined with the two social media scandals, the fact that Reina had gotten Alley Leader’s assistance started to create strange rumors. In addition, the person involved in the story, Hyeonu, was caught staring at Reina with a bewildered expression on his face. This contributed greatly to the explosive spread of suspicions.

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