HaYeon typed on a keyboard, her hair tied back. She looked serious.
GaYeong shook her head while watching her from behind.
It was understandable. After all, the site HaYeon was looking at was none other than a Battle Net betting website.
“These gamblers sure are fast.”
“So you admit it’s gambling.”
“Let me correct myself. Those who analyze the battles are sure quick when it comes to information.”
“Haa… So, what made you think that, Miss?”
“The returns from Mr. Sung winning aren’t as high as I thought. It’s only at a 180% return.”
Low returns meant that people thought there was a high chance of JiHan finishing 1st.
Even though it had only been a day since the news of him joining the ‘Top 100’ promotion match was announced, gamblers had already finished their research on him.
“Is that considered low?”
“Yes. Based on this, he’s expected to finish in at least 2nd place. Well, anyone who’s seen his videos would know that he’s a different kind of player compared to others.”
“That’s true. He’s never missed finishing 1st, after all.”
“Yes. What if I also add the highest kill count to the bet on him…?”
As she added the most kills to the bet for JiHan, the return went up to a little over 300%.
“At this rate… Although it’s regrettable, I might be able to recover a significant amount of the money I’ve blown.”
“You won’t fully recover even after tripling your bet?!”
“Please, don’t ask for details…”
Just how much money had that gambling-addicted lady already lost? GaYeong sighed internally but decided to respect her request. Instead, she changed the topic.
“By the way, who surpassed JiHan with the highest chance of winning?”
“You mean the one with the lowest returns? Let’s see… ah, here he is.”
The player’s name who was being spotlighted as the leading candidate for finishing 1st in the ‘Top 100’ Bronze League promotion match appeared.
HaYeon frowned. “USA’s… Baron Williams.”
“Baron… So he’s in this promotion match.”
Baron Williams was a powerful Mage who’d dominated the New York Area 1, where the strongest Bronze players in the USA gathered.
“He revealed his Gift during an interview not long ago, right?”
“Yes. He bragged about having the SSS-rank Gift ‘Two Status Windows’.”
He was a good-looking man with an SSS-rank Gift, and he was already as popular as a Diamond League Mage in the USA.
“While he hasn’t always taken 1st place like Mr. Sung… He still maintained a 75% win rate in that ‘New York Area 1’…”
“Yes. Since New York 1 is harder than Gangnam 1, it seems people have placed more bets on Baron.”
The USA was the world’s strongest country. In Battle Net, they boasted top-notch infrastructure and had the most skilled players.
When it came to New York 1 in particular, the minimum Gift rank of the participating players was S-rank, which was why people acknowledged New York 1 as the best League in the world.
Baron Williams boasted a 75% win rate in such a place, so him having the lowest betting payout was understandable.
“Hmm…” Before placing her bet, HaYeon searched for information on Baron.
Even though he was just a Bronze player, he had many highlight videos posted. Not only that, but each scene was edited to look impressive.
“Woah, this person is no joke.”
In his video, he was a grand Mage who overwhelmed everyone. At each gesture, the area around him turned into a sea of flames, lightning struck, and the ground exploded. A Warrior was incinerated before he could approach, and an Archer’s arrow lost its strength mid-flight and fell.
“He can’t even be approached.”
“Maybe it’s because of his Gift…?”
“I think so. That isn’t magic, right?”
“Yes. It doesn’t matter how much I think about it… It seems like there’s no balance in Battle Net.”
“GaYeong, how could you say that?”
As they watched the video, neither thought that Baron’s power resembled Sung JiHan’s. That was because Baron used Force like a Mage to stop enemies from approaching.
HaYeon fell into thought while looking at Baron Williams, who was able to stop enemies from approaching and had huge firepower on top of that.
“Baron also looks very powerful… Could Mr. Sung win?”
“I’m not sure.” HaYeon bit her nails. “What should I do…?”
“Weren’t you going to bet on JiHan?”
“But Baron looks stronger.”
“Miss, your fingernail-biting jinx is showing itself. Instead of getting distracted, why don’t you just bet on JiHan?”
“Ah. When did I start biting? Hmm… I originally intended to bet on Mr. Sung, but I bit my nails, didn’t I? Doesn’t that mean I should bet on Baron instead?!”
It was a very convenient interpretation. In the end, HaYeon bet a large sum of money on Baron.
“I guess I’ll have to bet a bit on Mr. Sung, too, for business purposes.”
The money she put on JiHan wasn’t even 20% of what she bet on Baron.
‘This reminds me of the Independence Day match.’
GaYeong, who was watching from behind, discreetly took out her phone.
“I… should bet on JiHan.”
Although Baron looked stronger, HaYeon had more trust in ‘Lee HaYeon’s jinx’ than she did in the videos.
JiHan entered the Battle Net betting site, and his eyes lit up after seeing Baron’s name.
“Ah, so Baron was also in Bronze at this time.”
The former world ranked 1st, Baron Williams… JiHan didn’t know he’d started in 2020.
‘I’m going to repay the debt from the America First era.’
Baron and JiHan had been the foundations of the America First Guild, but ironically, they’d discriminated against him because, although he had naturalized as an American on paper, his nationality inside Battle Net remained Korean.
‘That’s why I didn’t get the nationality bonus in Battle Net.’
As the Tutorial Season ended, more and more content became available on Battle Net, and players could receive buffs from many different effects, particularly nationality-based buffs.
That’s how players from major countries like the USA or China received nationality buffs and became even stronger while players from fallen nations kept the nationality of their destroyed countries and didn’t receive any buffs.
Gaps in stats grew, and discrimination based on one’s nationality increased.
‘Now that I think about it, I reached 7th place without a nationality buff in my previous life.’
As a player from a fallen nation, JiHan’s rise to 7th place in the world rankings was almost a miracle. It had been possible only thanks to his exceptional abilities, so while Baron discriminated against him for not being an American, he also found him useful.
“Still, I’m thankful.” JiHan smiled while looking at Baron.
Thanks to him having appeared in the ‘Top 100’ promotion match, the payout for betting on himself had risen.
‘I’m going to take it all.’
JiHan poured all of the money he’d won from betting on the Independence Day match into the bet on himself.
He bet that he would finish 1st and have the most kills, but unlike when he bet for the Sword King, the payout was only 300%.
‘Still, if it succeeds, my assets will surpass 10 million.’
He was using a large amount of money, so the return was huge as well.
“Uncle, what are you doing?”
“Ah~ The ‘Top 100’ match?”
“Yes. I’m definitely going to finish 1st, so I should take this opportunity to earn money.”
“But that person, Baron, looked strong…” Sae-ah cautiously said while pointing to Baron Williams, whom JiHan was looking at on the screen.
“I heard no other player has dominated New York 1 like him.”
“Well, his Two Status Windows is pretty much a cheat Gift.”
“Regardless, I’ll still win. I can beat him with both arms tied behind my back.”
“B-both arms tied?”
“Ah, you don’t know what that means?”
“Yes, I do.” Sae-ah tilted her head. The Baron she saw in the videos was overwhelming, so how did he know he could easily defeat him?
“Uncle, if you’re that sure… should I bet as well?”
“Don’t do it. As an Uncle, I don’t want to encourage gambling.”
“It isn’t gambling, is it? As you said, you’ll finish 1st.”
“No. Even so, gambling is gambling.”
Regardless of the outcome, betting money for returns was gambling, and JiHan was concerned that Sae-ah might fall into it.
“Considering that it’s coming from you, it’s quite persuasive.”
“You shouldn’t do this kind of thing in the first place.”
Sae-ah had a great Gift called ‘Late Bloomer’, so money would roll in as long as she grew well. It would be wrong to expose her to the highly addictive Battle Net betting.
“Well thought, but… why are you wearing your uniform? Didn’t you quit school?”
“Yes, but I have to submit my dropout form.”
Students often withdrew from the Academy after receiving good Gifts. It was better for them to join a guild than keep attending school.
Even if Sae-ah was the Student Council President and a good student, since she’d decided to become a Battle Net player, there was no need for her to attend anymore.
“So this will be your last day… Okay, let’s go.”
* * *
Upon seeing Sae-ah at school, Hee-soo angrily shouted, “Eek…! You…!”
She’d gone through a lot of pain on Sae-ah’s birthday with her hair and eyebrows being pulled out, and it had taken her a concentrated effort over the weekend to cover it up and somehow appear normal.
Still, her memory of being ruthlessly plucked by JiHan was still vivid, so seeing the calm Sae-ah made her blood boil.
“Hi. Ah, you drew your eyebrows well. The hair… a wig? It looks better than your original hair!’
“Why are you so calm…? Do you know what you’ve done?! My cousin’s leg is completely broken! They said he needs a cast!”
“Isn’t the problem here that a Silver’s leg broke after he attacked a Bronze first?”
“Are you going to sue my uncle?” Sae-ah asked. “He’s the first Korean player to participate in a ‘Top 100’ match in four years.”
Hee-soo flinched at that remark. Even if he was a Bronze, the weight of being in the ‘Top 100’ was heavy. JiHan’s face was being displayed on most news sites, most media outlets were talking about it, and he was the first huge Korean Battle Net prospect since the Sword King!
Not even the Korea Daily could easily mess with him.
“Do you really think we can’t…?” Although Hee-soo did her best to sound threatening, she failed.
Sae-ah smirked and stood up. “I really don’t think you can.”
“Y… You… where are you going?!”
“To submit my withdrawal form. I was planning to wait until the teacher came, but I don’t feel like sitting anymore. Hair might end up flying around again, after all.” After touching her eyebrows, Sae-ah gracefully left.
Hee-soo was trembling in anger. To think that she was being ignored in such a way by a commoner…
She screamed at her friends, who were watching the scene in amusement. “Hey! Are you just going to watch?!”
“Why? Did you want us to say something?”
“Are you crazy? Of course we’d just watch.”
“What if Sae-ah got a good Gift?”
Even though they used to trash talk Sae-ah behind her back…
Hee-soo ground her teeth. ‘That bitch’s Gift…!’
All of it was because she tried to monopolize news around Sae-ah’s Gift.
Hee-soo remembered that day’s incident when she suddenly remembered that there was a CCTV camera in the Gift Hall.
‘Maybe I can get something from that…’
Hee-soo stood up and left the classroom.