S'porean player game for chasing his dream

Mr Wong Xing Lei at the 2017 World Championship in Wuhan, China. He has been playing video games competitively for over a decade, and is now a member of Taiwanese squad ahq e-Sports Club.
Mr Wong Xing Lei at the 2017 World Championship in Wuhan, China. He has been playing video games competitively for over a decade, and is now a member of Taiwanese squad ahq e-Sports Club.PHOTO: RIOT GAMES

In a second-floor Housing Board flat in Choa Chu Kang, a small grey desk is tucked in the corner of the living room. In front of it is a worn-out office chair, on it is a computer that is more stuttery than smooth.

It is not the fanciest set-up, but this is where Wong "Chawy" Xing Lei, Singapore's superstar League of Legends player, got his start.

The 26-year-old has been playing video games competitively for over a decade, and is now a member of Taiwanese squad ahq e-Sports Club. The team just competed in this year's World Championship, where they were eliminated in the group stage.

For Mr Wong, this setback is just another pit stop on a journey that has dominated his adult life - the quest to be the best in the world.

He got his start young, playing Warcraft III competitively during his secondary school days. He kept at it through school and national service, despite having little time to practise. He said: "Every time I booked out, I would rush home to continue training."

In 2011, he got his first big break on the global stage. He took part in Dota 2's The International with Singaporean team Scythe Gaming. They came in third, drawing US$150,000 (S$205,000) in the process. It was also around that time that he started playing and competing in the League.

For Mr Wong, a pivotal point came in 2014, when he was approached by Taiwanese team Taipei Assassins. In Taiwan, where the e-sports scene is more developed, players stay in a team house and get paid a steady salary, which Mr Wong says is "more than what a fresh university graduate earns".

NOT GIVING UP

I have a dream, which is to do well at the World Championship and at least go to the finals. I haven't reached it yet, so I keep telling myself to not give up, and keep chasing that dream.

MR WONG "CHAWY" XING LEI, Singapore's superstar League of Legends player, on playing for as long as he can.

Still, it was not an easy decision to go overseas. After a string of bad tournament results, he was toying with the idea of giving up on gaming and instead going to study programming.

What pushed him to head overseas were his parents, who encouraged him to seize the opportunity. "They knew how much this meant to me, and that if I stopped halfway, I would regret it," he said.

In a scene where players start as teenagers and retire in their early 20s, Mr Wong is an old man.

"I do feel myself playing slower as compared with these new faces. But the game is more than just reaction times, it needs a lot of experience," he said.

He wants to keep playing at the highest levels for as long as he can.

"I have a dream, which is to do well at the World Championship and at least go to the finals. I haven't reached it yet, so I keep telling myself to not give up and keep chasing that dream."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'S'porean player game for chasing his dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe