When in Toronto...

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“And that’s it! That’s it! It’s over!” the commentator babbled into their headset. “The match goes to Klutz! I can’t believe it!!”

The cheering in the stadium was deafening, and yet still Kenneth Lutz couldn’t hear much. He was too busy coming back to reality and focusing on the fact that he needed to breathe.

For seven years Ken had worked his ass off to get to where he was now. Where he belonged. He had finally achieved his life’s dream – sitting on a stage, hearing people chant his name. For one glowing moment in his life, however long it would last, he was the biggest name in eSports.

Ken wasn’t thoroughly stupid. He knew that people saw him, at best, as a guy who was really good at a video game. He knew that being good at pushing buttons in a fighting game and narrowly beating other people who were basically as good at pushing buttons wouldn’t get him far. He’d have to go back home to his uncle, who was sweet but didn’t believe that eSports was a “real job.” He knew he would have to enjoy this moment while it lasted. In this moment, he had everything he had ever wanted – demonstrated skill, people literally chanting his name, power, and, odds are, money.

Of course, he didn’t have a girlfriend yet, but he was still working on that.

After taking his award, Ken said a few words to the crowd that were well-rehearsed and yet he never expected himself to be saying them, then quickly left the stage to reunite with his coach and his manager.

At first he was grinning when he saw the duo. Trophy in hand, he upgraded his walk to a light jog, a sparkle in his eyes. Perhaps even a fire, eager for more. Unfortunately, his manager’s job always seemed to be the firefighter.

“Kenneth,” Christopher, his manager, began. Ken’s smile faded. His manager called him by his gamertag, Klutz, when he was proud of him. It seemed like the more awards he won, the less his manager graced him with the name he had earned.

The trio walked out of the stadium hall into a slightly more private hallway. “You were faced with just about the biggest moment of your career,” Christopher continued in his monotone voice. “Your ending speech could have really solidified your brand. And the speech you went with…”

Ken wasn’t even going to bother staying on-topic. After all, the speech he gave was the one his manager made him memorize. “Sorry, did you miss the part where I won the tournament?!” Ken replied, anger boiling through his voice yet the smile returning to his face. He was panting in disbelief. “Right now, I don’t give a shit about brand, but the winne-”

“Well, that’s just it, Kenneth. You don’t care about your brand.” Christopher continued. “You do understand that the contract you signed states that…”

Ken tuned him out and turned to his coach, DisRupt. “Can you believe this guy?” Ken asked him, still panting.

DisRupt’s face was turned into a sorrowful grimace as he shrugged. “He actually kinda has a point, man.” he begrudgingly replied. “It’s not going to get any easier from here to keep your brand going. We talked about this – you kind of have to play the villain card here, man. Hype people up. Make sure that your next t-”

“Are you serious?!” Ken’s smile was now gone. “Okay, no, shut up. One, this was the speech I was given. If you two are seriously going to crawl up my as for following orders, you can blame yourselves for it going sour. Not me. If it even did go sour. Two, okay, two, like… I won! Can you give me a day without worrying about branding?! I expected this shit from you, Christopher. Like, I hoped not, but I still expected it. But…” Ken turned to face DisRupt. “Come on, man.”

Christopher was unmoved. “After your performance here today, you’re going to really need to try harder in the next few tournaments.”

“Try harder?! Am I invisible here? I won! I was the best. Yeah, I’ll try harder, but that’s to defend my title, and I just earned it. And by the way, I just earned it.”

Christopher sighed loudly. “Kenneth, your job is not to win tournaments.”

“Ex-cuse me?!”

“Your job is to get the name of Klutz to reach the people. Do you know what the Twitch demographics were like during the final match? This was the last watched final match in-”

“Yeah, you know, believe it or not, I wasn’t looking at the Twitch numbers when I was onstage proving myself to the world.” Ken countered. “I’m making a living, aren’t I? I’m keeping you two in it. Hell, I probably just got you guys your biggest paycheck yet.”

“With the way you could have extended the brand, and didn’t, I’d say you came closer to robbing us tonight, Kenneth.” Christopher replied sharply. “We have missed out on a great opportunity, and we’re going to need to take some steps to cover the ground we’ve now lost.”

Ken’s look turned incredulous. He just won. His friends should be happy for him. This almost seemed cartoonish. Not only were they this obsessed with numbers and money and marketing, but they were obsessed this quickly? They couldn’t let him have just ten seconds to gloat? This wasn’t fair. He turned to DisRupt, who was eyeing the floor.

This wasn’t the first time Ken had to deal with his manager and coach acting like this; they had always been the more business-oriented types. He had just hoped that the duo had put that whole shtick in the past, or at least wouldn’t have whipped it out tonight. Unfortunately, as the two were demonstrating, he was dead wrong.

“Okay,” Ken’s voice got smaller, knowing he really only had moral ground on which to argue, which wouldn’t exactly get him far with Christopher, who had a mind of money and legalities. “So what happens now?”

“I’m thinking Klutz gets involved in a lot more local tournaments.” Christopher clicked a pen and wrote something down in his notebook. “It works with your backstory. You are from around here.”

“I’m from St. Catherine’s.” Ken objected dryly.

“To an international crowd, that’s basically Toronto. Anyway, I want you to let

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Written by Bashful Scribe
Cargado May 18, 2020
Notes Sometimes you have to learn to say 'fuck it' and enjoy life... by getting drunk and fucking in public.
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