Chapter 31:

Best In The World

Red-Black Course

Sports had always been an integral part of society’s entertainment. However, not everyone had the kind of physical body to take part in the activity. Hence, when a revolutionary invention like the VR helmet was officially released, a surge of sports in the virtual world appeared. And among those, Fantasy Soccer was the undisputed number one.

Though Zain had never heard of the game, in reality, he had in fact experienced an alternative form of it before. The motorcycle football game back in the Red-Black Course was in fact a harder, modified version of Fantasy Soccer, where the game was redesigned to be a 2v2 with motorcycles instead of a regular soccer match.

And, at the moment, Zain was about to experience the real deal.

“Now, have you understood all the rules?” Within the same kind of VR stadium like the one back in the course, just a lot more vibrant and detailed in color, the Architect asked.

“Basically, it’s a draft match, then a regular soccer match,” answered Zain. “Sounds easy enough.”

“Good to hear,” nodded the Architect. “Now, we first select our positions.”

The boy then dragged his hand across the air to reveal a hologram of a menu pane detailing a soccer field complete with all kinds of positions and gears. After pressing his finger on the bottom center corner, a data whirlwind encapsulated the boy, changing his wardrobe into a gray long-sleeved shirt and black pants, along with a pair of white gloves.

“Goalkeeper for me,” the Architect declared.

“Then I’ll pick…” Zain did the same with his side of the field. “This one.”

“CDM?” His opponent raised his voice. As he had known about Zain, combined with his deduction from the contest between him and Leo, the Architect was sure the young man before him would pick something like center forward.

“I have my reasons,” Zain answered without a hitch. “So, who’s getting first pick?”

“Rock-paper-scissors for it?”

“Fine by me. Rock…”



When Zain curled his fingers into a fist, the Architect had all of his fingers open and stretched. Rock against paper – the former had lost the first battle.

“Yes! I win!” His opponent, on the other hand, was elated, as his keeper uniform changed from a gray color to a dark blue – signaling the position of first pick.

“It’s just first pick, kid. Don’t get too cocky.”

“Oh, that just means you don’t know anything about modern Fantasy Soccer,” the Architect let out a conniving snicker. “Do you know what the current winrate of blue side is? 99%, across 278 million games!”

“So? It’s not like I don’t get anything even if I lose, right?”

Zain’s words reminded his opponent about the true nature of this game. It was just a test of Zain’s worth – in other words, Zain just needed to impress the Architect enough for him to place his trust in the young man. Winning or losing didn’t matter from the start, though it would certainly hurt Zain’s pride if he had lost this game to a kid.

“… Fine, fair enough. Now, feast your eyes as I grab my ticket to victory!”

Immediately, the Architect’s fingers danced to the top of the holographic screen as he immediately took the player on the top left – the most expensive player, and the best player in the world at the moment.

“Haha! I have Leonardo di Messeo now!” The Architect gloated as the hologram of the superstar appeared behind him.

“Alright… then I’ll take these two.”

While his opponent was ecstatic, Zain calmly pushed the two figures on the screen. From behind him, two other figures rose up.

“I see now. You’re trying to combat the number one by having the number two and three at the same time – Messeo’s eternal rival, Christopher Roland, as well as the Terminator, Levi Robertson. But little did you know, Masked Lion…”

“So… are you done yet? You have ten seconds left.”

“S-Soccer is decided by a team!” The boy hurriedly picked his two players as soon as he realized the predicament he was in. Thankfully, he didn’t press the wrong guy, or he would have had to dig a hole of shame.

“I’ll take these two.” Zain, meanwhile, still continued as if nothing had happened.

Ghh… the Architect though – after the events that had just happened, he had no courage to narrate things anymore. Harris Twister and Lee Jeon-pa? Aren’t those two forwards as well? He already has the number two and three, why does this guy need so many forwards for?

Ah, I get it! He’s trying to pinch my striker pool and have one of those four play at the wing! If I remember correctly, Lee Jeon-pa can also be an AMR! But little did he know, I have another tactic!

And so, the draft phase continued, with the Architect picking a strong all-rounded 4-3-3 squad, with Messeo playing as the center forward. Zain, meanwhile, had conjured a tactic that would confuse anyone who had a lick of football knowledge.

“You…” the Architect, seeing his opponent’s formation, paled in anger. “Do you have any idea how to play soccer? Why did you pick all forwards except for the keeper?”

Contrary to the Architect’s seething rage, Zain only let out a smirk of confidence.

“Soccer is a sport that requires you to score more than your opponent, right? So, if I pick more forwards, that means I can score more goals.”

“That’s… that’s not how it works! That’s not how any of this works!”

“Then we’ll just have to decide on the field now, do we?”

“Urgh… You’ll regret this!” The Architect, mad at his own opponent’s stupidity, shook his fist. “Wait until I crush you on the field!”

As the teams finally loaded up and got into positions, both of the players finally had the chance to observe their opponents.

The Architect’s strategy was simple – as his soccer skills were only average, he had picked himself the most balanced team possible between offense and defense. A pair of rock-solid center-backs to cover the defensive system, a fullback to aid against attacks from the wings, a wingback to deploy an attack of his own, a midfield with the main mission of controlling the tempo and giving the ball to Messeo – his star player as the false 9.

Zain, meanwhile, had put his team in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with himself playing the one to hold down the midfield. But true to the Architect’s words, other than his own position and the goalkeeper – the legendary stronghold, Enjou Kamada, the other players were all forwards. Even at this point, the Architect couldn’t understand how Zain would play the game.

“Ready?” The Architect asked, for his team was the one to handle the kick-off.

“Any time.”

“Match start!”

Immediately as the whistle was blown, the Architect’s players ran towards the opponent’s field like a hurricane. Blistering-speed one-two pass after one-two pass, the midfielders easily overtook the line of defense consisting of only forwards on Zain’s side.

Of course, the Architect was still wary. Though most of the opposition were forwards, Zain was still the one at CDM, not to mention Enjou as the keeper. Whatever Zain’s strategy was, he was the key to everything.

The Architect knew that fact. And so, when his midfield easily went past Zain, who didn’t even move a muscle, as well, he couldn’t help but let out an audible gasp in shock.

What is this guy thinking? Is he putting that much faith in Enjou? But before Messeo, he’s nothing!

In the end, it was just as he predicted. Enjou Kamada versus Leonardo di Messeo was a match-up that the current populace had seen a hundred times over. And unfortunately for the legendary stronghold, the best player in the world came out on top every single time. Even if the two of them were holograms in a game of Fantasy Soccer, the result wouldn’t change.

With an insane left-footed trivela, Messeo drove the ball from outside the goal zone all the way to the top right corner, causing Enjou to only reached out in desperation as the ball slipped over his fingertips.

The whistle was blown, and the score was 1-0. But the players’ faces couldn’t be more different.

While the Architect was sweating bullets in pure anxiety, Zain’s smirk hadn’t left his face ever since the match started.

“Analysis complete,” a mechanical voice echoed through the stadium, interrupting the match.

“W-What did you do?”

“Oh, that? I had Bitleo jack my helmet before I put it on. And all of the game’s info is now in my head. Get ready, kid, my counterattack begins now.”
Steward McOy
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