Back when I was in Singapore, I watched a lot of pro streams and League Championship Series games, both as a spectator and as a coach for my previous amateur teams. I was fascinated with the League of Legends pro scene, and always wondered what it would be like to be involved in a full time professional esports team, something which is currently impossible in Singapore.
In December of 2016, all that changed when I got an offer from two different Taiwanese League Master Series(LMS) teams. Without hesitation, I agreed to the highest offer and flew over in a week. I have learned a lot from the business of esports and the pro scene of LoL, so much so that there are three misconceptions that needed to be debunked.
#1: “I think it is fun to work in esports; this job must surely be really easy!”
This is the exact sentiment I had when I just joined Hong Kong Attitude (previously known as Hong Kong Esports). I thought I could finally earn money while doing something I loved. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
The esports scene is like a fickle mistress. One day you are the king of the world; the next day, you can be at the bottom of the garbage pile. I have experienced this first-hand during the 2017 LMS Summer Split. That week, we had two important matches lined up: the first was against Ahq E-sports Club, who were on a high after an extremely impressive Rift Rivals performance, beating EDG and KT Rolster, two of the best teams in the world.
That day, miracles happened as HKA crushed AHQ with a level of dominance matched only by the Flash Wolves. Following that amazing result, the champagne flowed, caviar was served, everyone partied and Panadol was popped the morning after.
However, we were not able to clinch victory in the second match of the week against Machi17. Losing 1-2 in an extremely close fashion despite an impressive game one, everyone trudged back home with our heads held low. A two hour reprimand followed, extra training sessions were scheduled, and breaks were cancelled. Losers don’t have a say nor do they have any time to rest.
#2: “Esports is a job. You work 5 days a week 8 hours a day, have a match on the 6th day, and take a break the next day! Right?”
After speaking to multiple teams from different wildcard countries, I found out that their training regiment was really lacking compared to teams in the major regions. Most teams in SEA wake up around noon and play until 11pm, with an hour break for lunch and dinner.
During the 10 hours of work, teams usually play 2 best of three practice matches, and some do solo queue. On the other hand, teams in the LMS work far more insane hours. It has been reported that Wayi Spider (the 7th place team in the LMS) works for a minimum of 16 hours a day, with three sets of scrims a day.
Players from the Flash Wolves have even said that working six days a week is not enough if you truly want to be competitive on the world stage. With so much dedication and time spent practicing and honing their skills, one can only wonder if the players and infrastructure from the wildcard regions can ever catch up.
#3: “We have coaching staff too! Why aren’t our players catching up?”
The last and biggest difference between the Wildcard region and major regions is the difference in power the coaching staff hold over the players. In most SEA regions, players have utmost power over the coaching staff and who they want to play with. This is the reason veteran players who aren’t good anymore are always able to find teams.
This is not the case with teams from the major regions. Players still can have their inputs and suggestions, but the coaching staff will always make the final decision on which player to hire. This keeps the team more professional and will also allow to coach to have control over the entire team.
Additionally, most players in the wildcard regions do not respect their coaches inputs and suggestions. They have the mindset of “if he isn’t better than me, why do I need to listen to him?” Players should always keep an open mind and listen to the suggestions and reasoning their coaches give. By listening to multiple perspectives, one can test out several solutions and come up with the most optimal choice.
No Pain, No Game
Being part of a professional LOL team is not all fun and games. You will need more than just love for the game in order to succeed. If you really want to overcome the best teams in the region like TSM or Flash Wolves, you will need to work longer hours and doubly as hard. Having an easier schedule is not going to cut it.