Gaming for a living
Article from the Sun daily by Yeevon Ong (posted on 7 June 2016)
CAPTAIN of the Fnatic Dota 2 team, Chai Yee Fung is undoubtedly the Malaysian Dota 2 icon. The 26-year-old has been playing the online video game for more than 10 years, having participated in hundreds of tournaments both small and major, and taken home more than US$400,000 (RM1.6 million) of prize money to date.
Chai is known for his long-standing title as the best player in Malaysia as well as his vast experience in the multiplayer game of action and strategy. His biggest strength is his years of dedication to the game, upon which he relies on when "drafting" (selecting and banning of hero characters), planning strategies, predicting opponents' ingame movements, and ultimately steering the team to success.
But the "tai kor" (big brother) of the team humbly reminds us that Dota 2 is a team game and his achievements are only as good as his teammates. Currently on a short break from playing competitively, Chai found time to speak to us about putting Malaysia on the global map of Dota 2.
What does a professional gamer do in a day?
We stay together and train about eight hours a day – it's a job. We think up strategies, and train to maintain performance to compete. We can wake up anytime we want but by 12pm, we have to be ready at the computer, whether it's to start playing or discuss about our performance in the previous game(s).
How do you sustain yourself?
We play for Fnatic (an international professional eSports organisation), which is our main sponsor. It was very difficult at first because when you're starting out, nobody knows who you are so nobody sponsors you. But now we have a fixed monthly income. When we win prize money, we give them a cut and then we divide the rest among ourselves.
What does it take to be a pro gamer?
First, you would need your parents' support, without which is very difficult to go pro. ESports in Malaysia hasn't really matured yet so it is difficult to start from zero to prove to your family. It doesn't mean much until you achieve something and gain recognition for sponsorships.
In Fnatic Dota, a productive and efficient player should possess these five criteria. One, you need skill; there are many aspects of the game that you need to master. Two, team style; you may have the skills but without teamwork you won't succeed. Three, mentality; you have to always be prepared for the game. The team that plans ahead usually wins. Four, respect; respect your teammates, your team manager, and your opponents. Lastly, responsibility; you should be accountable to your teammates by being in your best physical condition to play.
What do you think about the eSports scene in Malaysia?
It's getting better. Our government has started to recognise it, and on top of that, organised tournaments in the country. But it would still take time and a lot of understanding about the industry for it to gain the kind of recognition it deserves. A lot of parents aren't sure what it is about. We need more exposure of the community.
But it's looking up. Back then, people would have to pay to play but now it's possible to get paid to play. You can actually support yourself if you're good enough.
Name the biggest challenge of being a pro gamer.
You have to learn to accept failure, because I've failed many times. I thought of giving up so many times before but I overcame it by drawing from all the support I have. And I know that if nobody starts something to prove to the world that Malaysia can be good at this, nobody will recognise us for sure.
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