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Chapter 290.3: Team Sun Moon

    The rules of the round-robin stage weren't as direct as they were in the elimination rounds. The thirty-two teams that had advanced to the round-robin stage were divided into four groups. The eight teams in each group would face off against each of the rest of the seven teams once.

    On the first day, four matches would be held in the first two groups. On the second day, another four matches would be held in the next two groups. This would continue until all the matches were completed. The entire round-robin stage would last around fourteen days. The top two teams from each group would progress to the quarterfinals.

    The last eight would compete in the quarterfinals, and the victorious four teams would advance to the semifinals. The winners of each semifinal match would then progress to the finals, where the eventual champion would be decided.

    The Tang Sect, Shrek Academy, and the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy were arranged in the same group. Since the rest of the five teams could make it past the elimination rounds, they were naturally skilled too. Their group was the group of death! Furthermore, the Tang Sect and the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy were going to face off in the first match of the round-robin stage.

    ---

    "This format isn't very good for us!" Meng Hongchen and Xiao Hongchen were walking together to the tournament venue.

    "How is it not good for us? I think it's pretty advantageous for us! Only one of the Tang Sect and Shrek Academy will enter the quarterfinals. Isn't that great?" Xiao Hongchen said heartlessly.

    Meng Hongchen rolled her eyes and said, "This is what you want, but not what they want. Do you really think the Tang Sect will give up this time?"

    Xiao Hongchen was stunned, "Why not? Didn't they do so in the last round? I think it's only wise for them to make the same choice. While the rest of the teams aren't that weak, they shouldn't be our match, either. Isn't it good for them to enter the quarterfinal with us before we meet in the final? Of course, the condition is that either we or them have to beat the Holy Ghost Sect. Come to think of it, we haven't discovered which team is from the Body Sect..."

    Meng Hongchen was a little annoyed as she looked at her elder brother and said, "Elder brother, please grow up. Those people from the Tang Sect come from Shrek Academy. If you were in their shoes, would you be willing to progress with your arch-enemy, or progress with Shrek Academy by teaming up with them? I don't think they'll give up today. Even if they can't beat us, they'll try their best to deplete our powers. On the contrary, I think we should concede defeat in this match. As long as we beat Shrek's team, we can progress. Compared to the Tang Sect, Shrek is weaker."

    "Concede defeat?" Xiao Hongchen opened his eyes wide. "Younger sister, is your brain damaged? Are you asking us to concede defeat to the Tang Sect in front of His Majesty and grandpa? Not everyone knows about the Tang Sect's background, but grandpa knows. They might not even choose to fight us. Even if they do, it'll be a great opportunity to exact revenge on them. At most, we'll just reveal our true abilities earlier. Huo Yuhao is crippled right now. If we concede defeat, how can we ever show our face in the empire again?"

    "Bro..." Meng Hongchen wanted to say something, but she was interrupted by Xiao Hongchen.

    Xiao Hongchen looked much more serious all of a sudden. "Meng, I know that you're smarter than me most of the time. However, do you know why grandpa made me the team leader instead of you?"

    Meng Hongchen was stunned.

    Xiao Hongchen said, "We are competing for glory. At times, it's not good to be overly rational. We need to have a forward-looking spirit. Have you ever thought what the motivational impact would be on the team if we can defeat the Tang Sect? You don't have to say anything else. No matter what, we must never give up on this match."

    Meng Hongchen sighed and said, "Elder brother, I know what the benefits of winning are. However, if we lose..."

    "Shut up. Don't you know it's extremely dangerous to undermine our chances before we even fight? I've already made my decision. Since you lack fighting spirit, I shall not let you compete first. You'll be the last. In the individual round, we still can make choices. Our fight with the Tang Sect will be decided in the team round."

    Meng Hongchen sighed and didn't add anything else. Xiao Hongchen wasn't wrong, either. At times, a determined mindset was more important than rationality.

    In the previous edition of the tournament, their overall abilities were greater than Shrek Academy's, and they still lost. After they returned, they tried to summarize the reason why they lost, and they came to a conclusion... belief! Shrek's Seven Monsters had been inspired to fight for Shrek's glory. Along with Ma Xiaotao and Dai Yueheng's abilities, they eventually defeated the stronger Sun Moon team.

    Xiao Hongchen was still bothered by that defeat. Over the past five years, he had cultivated tirelessly almost every day so that he could avenge his humiliation. He had sacrificed a lot, and no one was clearer about that than Meng Hongchen. That was why she stopped trying to convince him. In her heart, her fighting spirit was also lit.

    The resting area at the side of the tournament stage had been renovated over the past two days, and only the original VIP resting area was left. The resting area was also re-decorated, and the original wooden benches were switched to comfortable sofas. After all, there would be at most be eight teams at once in the resting area. It wasn't packed as tightly as before.

    When Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen brought their team to the tournament venue, they immediately saw the Tang Sect in the resting area.

    Bei Bei was still absent. The rest of Shrek's Seven Monsters were all seated. Huo Yuhao's eyes were shut. It seemed like he was resting his mind, while the rest of them appeared to be very calm.

    Meng Hongchen even suspected that she was wrong when she saw them. Were they really going to give up this match?

    At this point, someone from the Tang Sect stood up and walked towards the Sun Moon team.

    Xiao Hongchen squinted at him and stopped in his tracks.

    Xu Sanshi was the one who had walked over. He walked in front of Xiao Hongchen and Meng Hongchen and said, "It's been a long time! How are the both of you?"

    Xiao Hongchen's facial muscles twitched. It's been a long time? Were you blind over the past few days?

    "Yes! Long time no see." Xiao Hongchen revealed a foxy smile on his face.

    Xu Sanshi sighed and said, "Time passes really quickly! I never expected us to meet five years later. In the previous round, we decided to surrender because we understand how tough it must be on the both of you. I wonder if you can return the favor today. It'll be great if we can progress together!"

    Xiao Hongchen snorted. "We are not so spineless."

    Xu Sanshi looked very sad. "I hope the few people who died back then are resting in peace now. If I can, I'd like go over to pay my respects. It's hard to show mercy during the tournament. We're really not being hostile."

    "You..." Xiao Hongchen was furious, and almost snapped. However, Xu Sanshi had already turned around and left.

    Meng Hongchen dragged him back, "Don't be fooled. He's trying to provoke you."

    Xiao Hongchen quickly calmed down. However, his eyes looked very cold, to the point that his expression was almost frightening. "Even if he didn't remind me, I will never forget our vendetta from the previous tournament!"

    ---

    The eight teams who were supposed to compete in the morning had already arrived. Shrek's team was seated beside the Tang Sect. Wang Qiu'er was very close to Huo Yuhao, around three meters apart. Huo Yuhao's eyes were still shut, and he didn't move in his wheelchair. It was as if he were asleep.

    Wang Qiu'er had seen him when she first arrived. However, she didn't fix her gaze on him. The cold look on her face was even more intense than before. Her ferocious aura could be felt even if one got slightly close to her.

    "Hi, Qiu'er." Wang Dong'er was seated beside Huo Yuhao, and greeted Wang Qiu'er.

    Wang Qiu'er only nodded at Wang Dong'er and didn't say anything back. Wang Dong'er was dressed like a man now, whereas Wang Qiu'er was wearing a veil. It wasn't easy to tell they were identical.

    Dai Huabin also looked very cold, not much different from Wang Qiu'er. Zhu Lu and Wu Feng were openly hostile towards the Tang Sect. Xie Huanyue and Ning Tian were expressionless. On the other hand, Zhou Sichen and Cao Jinxuan were winking at Wang Dong'er and Xiao Xiao occasionally. The Lan sisters who were substitutes wore smiles on their faces.

    Up on the main stage, Ju Zi pushed Xu Tianran over to the main spot. After tidying up his shirt, she sat down beside him.

    Xu Tianran grabbed her hand and placed it on his thigh. He tapped her hand gently. Ju Zi smiled, and looked very cute.

    Xu Tianran smiled as he said, "Today's first match is between the Sun Moon team and the Tang Sect. It should be quite interesting."

    Ju Zi smiled and asked, "Really? The Sun Moon team will surely win."

    Xu Tianran twisted his head to look at Jing Hongchen and asked, "Hallmaster Hongchen, what do you think?"

    Jing Hongchen furrowed his brow as he replied, "I think it's difficult to tell. This is only the round-robin stage. Both parties won't be eliminated even if they lose. It's difficult to tell whether they'll give their best. If they do, it'll also be difficult to tell the outcome. The eventual victory will be decided in the team round. For teams like these two which are very close in terms of abilities, the elimination round is only a way to deplete each other's power and increase their own advantage. It's a way to ensure greater chances for the team round."

    Xu Tianran smiled and asked, "Hallmaster Jing, have you arranged a strategy for the Sun Moon team?"

    Jing Hongchen returned the smile and answered, "An eagle's wings will always remain weak if it doesn't learn how to fly on its own. I let them do whatever they want. My grandson and granddaughter have been working hard over the past few years so that they can defeat the bunch from the Tang Sect in this tournament. I'm also eager to see what'll go down, even though I hope that they won't need to give it their all at this stage."
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