[“Finally, the day after tomorrow right? Is everything alright?”]
Aoyama’s voice coming from the voice chat was somewhat tense.
“It’s fine. I’m feeling good and have no plans.”
[“I’m also fine”]
The season was August.
There is a GPEX tournament in early August, and I am supposed to participate in it as a trio with a Blue Goddess, Umi Aoyama, and my classmate, Mahiro Nazuka.
The tournament is a loose event of sorts. It is a tournament for streamers, and is more like a festival for the enjoyable crowd than for the hardcore.
Aoyama is a popular streamer who streams under the name “Aomi,” and was approached by the organizer.
The organizer asked her to join the event. Although the name of the event is a streamer convention, it is said that not everyone has to be a streamer. The organizer said that it would be no problem if those who were invited to participate in the tournament would be able to stream their games on the day of the tournament, so I and Masahiro, who usually play as a trio, were able to participate. This somewhat random nature of the event made it a loose event.
Actually, I was looking forward to it.
I had always watched competitions and events on video and streaming, but when the time came for me to participate, I was both nervous and elated.
I wanted to win anyway.
At first, only the enjoyable players were supposed to participate, but when I heard that two professionals were going to participate, I was fired up.
I really wanted to feel their power in the flesh.
So, after returning from the pool, I spent my time immersed in GPEX. Recently, I have been playing GPEX on my computer and at the same time running around the app game on autopilot.
“After all this time, are you okay?”
“We’re men, remember? It’s better to work with women for this kind of thing. Look, our voices will be in the streaming.”
As a viewer, I sometimes don’t like it when a girl is streaming and suddenly a guy’s voice takes over.
[No problem. I’ve already said so on the streaming. I said I invited someone I know.]
“…… is that right?”
[I used to play with guys in the viewer-participation model in the first place].”
I didn’t know.
Then it doesn’t sound like a problem.
That day, two days before the tournament, we were practicing during the day. Recently, I’ve been getting back into the swing of things. I’m not very good at it, but I’m getting over being a liability.
[I’m looking forward to it.]
The same is true for Mahiro, who cannot contain his enjoyment.
Mahiro was showing surprisingly rapid growth. Apparently, this guy had been free since the summer vacation, and he had been working on his own training every day. Thanks to his efforts, he is now better than me.
Practice began in the afternoon and continued until nearly evening.
The average ranking also went up, and by the end of practice we had won the championship twice. These days, it is not unusual for us to win. I guess the team power is improving along with the individual abilities.
[……Uhm, do you want to have a strategy meeting now?]
Just before the last match was about to end, Aoyama made a start.
“A strategy meeting?”
[Yes, we’ll all have dinner together. There are strong teams participating in the main event, and just playing normally won’t get us to the top. So I thought it would be better to come up with a strategy to win.]
It seems that Aoyama is always at her best.
“Why don’t we just talk about it over Discordo?”
[We’re also aiming to strengthen our unity by having dinner together. If it’s just our voices, it’s not very pleasant, and besides, if it’s online, there’s the possibility of eavesdropping.]
“…..Indeed, but not about eavesdropping”
Do I want to go out to dinner with this girl?
If this was just an invitation to dinner, I would have declined, but when she said it was a strategy meeting, my mind reeled. I’m honestly looking forward to the convention. If participating in this strategy meeting would bring me closer to victory, it would not be a bad thing. If I’m going to participate, I want to leave my mark, and since I have an opponent, it’s only fair that I give it my all.
[I like it. A strategy meeting sounds authentic and fun.]
“….. I see. Guess I’ll come too.”
A few minutes later.
I changed from glasses to contacts, got on my bicycle, and headed for a family restaurant.
The family restaurant where we were meeting was the same place we had used for our previous study session.
It was close to my house, but we have never been to a family restaurant because we are not in the habit of going to family restaurants at home. I hadn’t been here since the study meeting.
“Long time no see.”
I join Mahiro, who was already waiting for me. He still has a neutral face. His skin was white, as if he hadn’t left the house at all. He’s been playing video games for a long time.
We wait for Aoyama while conversing about the events of the summer vacation.
“—-Sorry to keep you waiting.”
A few minutes later, Aoyama arrived.
Her trademark ponytail was tied on the side instead of in the back today. It is commonly called a side pony.
She was dressed in a summery, casual outfit. Her beautiful legs peeking out from her shorts were dazzling.
She really is pretty when she looks like this.
…… only in appearance.
Mahiro, next to me, had his heart set on Aoyama, who was dressed in plain clothes. He said he was in love with Aoyama, and I guess it was a blessing in disguise.
After a quick greeting, I quickly entered the restaurant.
“Welcome—–Eh, Nijitani. And Aoyama and Nazuka?”
The waitress’s face was familiar.
Me and Mahiro are surprised at the same time.
The clerk was our classmate, Hazuki Nekoda.
“What are you doing here? Did you come here to chill out by any chance?”
“It’s just a coincidence. Nekoda that outfit—–.”
“I work part-time at this place. I started just before summer vacation. I’ve been playing so much that I’m running out of money.”
During the first semester, Nekoda was playing around after making up with Akazawa. I guess she needed to get a part-time job. That makes sense.
When Nekoda and Aoyama’s eyes met, they bailed each other out.
“Ah, I’ll show you the way then.”
I was shown to my seat.
I guess it was impossible to talk to someone while she was working. After just a few words of greeting, Nekoda went back to her work.
“I was surprised.”
“Right. I didn’t think Nekoda was working part-time here.”
Aoyama, sitting in front of us, looked thoughtful.
“…… that’s Nekoda-san, right?”
Aoyama is also an Eastern Junior High School student, so both Mahiro and Nekoda are from the same school.
“Come to think of it, are you close with Nekoda-san, Aoyama-san?”
“We’ve never been in the same class. That is why we have hardly ever talked.”
I think back to the past, but I certainly don’t remember them talking.
“Well, we’re having a strategy meeting now.”
After we each placed our orders, we began our strategy meeting.
“Let’s start with a review. The rules of the tournament are that there will be a total of five matches. The final ranking is determined by the points you have. Points are awarded based on rank and kills per match. So the most important point is to survive to the end while defeating your opponent.”
Surviving to the end and getting kills would be ideal, but it would be difficult.
I checked out the participants and they are all at a high level. There are a few general participants like us, so I don’t know exactly, but if we played normally, our team strength would be at best 50-50, or losing a little. It is extremely difficult to win a large number of points.
“What about the pros?”
Two professionals are participating in this year’s tournament.
“I heard that the pros will be on a separate team, so I don’t think we need to take it that seriously. If we shoot at each other head-on, it’s impossible, but if we fish, we can make it work.”
The two professionals will not be on the same team but on different teams. This was done to strike a balance.
The strategy meeting was more solid than I had expected.
We then discussed where we were going down, what we were going to do, and what our tactics were going to be. I was getting caught up in the meeting.
“Hooi, here’s the hamburger with cheese you ordered.”
My order was brought in. Nekoda placed it on the table smiling.
After that, Nekoda continued to bring the food quickly and efficiently. Although she said she had only been working part-time for a short time, she seemed to have a good sense of how to get things done. Nekoda was very skilled.
“Thanks a lot.”
“I hope you enjoy the food. Then, please take your time.”
I was soothed by Nekoda’s smiling face until the end. There was not the slightest hint of the gloomy expression she had on her face after I transferred to this school.
” Then let’s go with that. Tomorrow is our last practice–“
Aoyama was just about to finish.
“Oh, it’s Umi-chan.”
“It’s true. Huh, Nazuka, is here too.”
I turned toward the voice and saw a pair of girls standing there.
The familiar faces were the girls who once belonged to the track and field club with Aoyama at Eastern Junior High School.