Part 2 can be found here.
After class, Michael made to go back to his room. Ken stopped him before he left, asking if he wanted to come hang out with himself and the twins. He almost refused, but realized that the last thing he wanted was another evening alone after last night. He didn’t have any motivation to ladder, either. The next qualifiers were in over two months.
Ken and Tommy were roommates, and seemed to be great friends. Marissa mentioned something about the three of them going on cruises together as children. Most people kept the same dorm the whole time they were at the school, and Ken and Tommy’s was decked out with posters, appliances, and dirty laundry. One of them had a crazy computer setup, with three massive monitors.
They were in the midst of talking about next month’s winter dance when Tommy got back from his class. He hopped on the bed next to Michael and opened the mini fridge.
“Hey, do you drink?” he asked Michael. He frowned, caught off-guard. “I…uh…yeah.” Tommy tossed him a beer and the conversation turned to colleges. Michael followed along, trying hard not to stare too obviously at Marissa, who was nonchalantly hanging upside down from Ken’s upper bunk. Ken asked him if he played any sports.
out site “Yeah, I’ve done swimming for a while and I started hurtles last fall, but I’m not very good. I just do it to stay in shape, I’d rather be playing games or working on coding.”
Tommy perked up. “What do you play dude?”
“A bit of everything. CS:GO, League, Starcraft, DOTA, you know.” Tommy was already in his chair, starting up the computer.
“Tommy’s really fucking good.” Ken remarked, opening another beer. “I have no idea what he’s doing, but it’s crazy.”
Marissa’s brother responded while still facing the monitors. He was infinitely more energetic with his hands on a keyboard. “Yeah, I play mainly Starcraft. I wanna try going pro, but it’s so hard.”
“Oh really?” Michal replied, much less out of his element. “I-”
“See?” Tommy asked, pointing at the screen. It showed the familiar North American ladder, highlighting an account just below the Top 16. Michael squinted, trying to read the name and unable to believe his luck at finding someone else around his level.
It was a barcode. The name was a barcode. Michael spit out his beer in alarm. Ken and Tommy didn’t notice. Marissa raised an eyebrow—well, technically lowered, since she was still upside down.
Tom continued on. “…was super pissed I didn’t get Top 16 last night, I could’ve gone to the next Dreamhack. I love that Blizzard is using the ladder for more qualifiers now though.” He turned back around.
“Yo, how good are you? I don’t care if you’re Bronze or something, it’s just cool to know another player.”
Michael coughed, mind racing. “You know, I don’t really play anymore. I got into other stuff and never bought the new expansion.” Tommy’s face fell, but he got distracted by something before he could respond.
The new phone in Michael’s pocket gave a mournful beep, and he pulled it out. His breath caught. The email was from Blizzard Entertainment. He scrolled past the header.
“…have been disqualified for win-trading. Therefore, we would like to offer you a spot in Dreamhack Katowice on February 6th.”
“No fucking way!” Tommy exclaimed from across the room. “I knew those two guys in vXa had to be win-trading. I can’t believe I’m going to Dreamhack! I guess the guy at rank 17 is going then too, he’s such a piece of shit.”
Let us know if you enjoyed Part 3! Stay tuned for the sequel…