Gamehubs recently got a chance to interview one of the finalist for TLC Malaysia 2017, Kuala Lumpur Hunters (KLH) despite their busy training schedule for the TLC Grand Finals. With the help of Garena Malaysia, we manage to get hold of the players' and coach's insights into League of Legends, the e-Sports scene in Malaysia and understand the life of the players as a professional gamer.
Kuala Lumpur Hunters was formed in 2012 as the only Professional League of Legends Team in Malaysia. Since its inception in 2012, Kuala Lumpur Hunters aims to lead the competitive scene in Malaysia, to bring the Malaysian LoL scene to the international stage and is working hard everyday to make the eSports dream a reality.
Kuala Lumpur Hunters Player Roster (from left to right) and Staffs (not in picture):
Kurtis Chan (KC): All sorts of top lane champions are being played since Season 7 began, which do you prefer? Tank or carry champions?
Shiro: Personally, I prefer carry champions because if you get a lead in lane, you can affect other lanes more than playing a tank, and I also think that they are more useful than Tanks.
KC: Is it hard transitioning from jungle to support? What are the difficulties faced?
Bipolar: I’ve been playing LoL professionally for like 2-3 years now, and transitioning between roles is not that difficult since jungler and support work very closely together. As a jungler, I knew exactly what I wanted my support to do, and as a support, Qaspiel has the same playstyle as me as a jungler, so I know what he wants me to do all the time, which makes it quite easy for me.
KC: As the longest member and captain of the team, how hard is it to rebuild the team in terms of skills, communication and team work?
Qaspiel: For me it’s not very hard. I can say that I’m just lucky to have these teammates who don’t have big egos and they’re very friendly, so it’s easier for us to work together and communicate well as a team.
KC: How does it feel to fill OzoraVeki’s shoes in the mid lane?
ArrHedge: I’m still not used to it. OzoraVeki is the previous captain for KLH and he did a lot of shot calling too. Moreover, our playstyle is quite different from each other. The good thing is that since I don’t have to shot call, I can just focus on my mechanics in game and try my best to be a carry for the team.
KC: After the assassins update, many players have been complaining about ADC becoming a useless role. What do you think about the state of ADC?
CO4: To be honest, I think social media itself has been over-exaggerating about how useless ADCs are in this current meta. The Assassins update doesn’t really affect much as long as you learn how to adapt to the game, how you improve your game knowledge and everything. It will help you to not feel like a burden to the team.
KC: How long do you guys play League a day and how long do you train as a team?
Bipolar: Our day starts about 10 or 11 in the morning and we play solo queue until approximately 1.30pm. After that we will all gather at the gaming house, and we usually have scrims from 3pm to 7pm, and after an hour break, we have another scrim set from 8pm to 11pm. We usually play solo queue again after that until we go to bed, which is about 2am. Essentially, we practice for 7 hours as a team, and 7 hours of solo queue, so it’s about 14 hours a day.
KC: What is the team environment like in KLH? Are there any internal politics?
Crowe: I think we are all really lucky like Qaspiel said, and everyone here is really set on trying to be better. I think our team culture is family based where everyone is really close. I think that the chemistry is really good within the team, everyone is open to criticism and working hard for each other. Not all teams have that, even when I first got into KLH we didn’t have that. In that regard, I think that we are really, really lucky to have people who want to be here and want to take the next step forward not only as a team and going on our aspirations towards Worlds, but also moving the e-Sports scene forward.
KC: Talking about Worlds, this year Riot is implementing a new format. Do you think that it will be easier for not only KLH but the SEA region as a whole to get into Worlds?
Crowe: Because of the new play-in phase, we definitely have a better shot of making it to Worlds. And it’s a good idea because it gives teams from outside the major regions to go and at least experience the feeling of playing on stage in front of thousands of crowd. I’ve never experienced anything like that but I’ve heard Bipolar talking about it and he’ll probably be able to explain it better than me.
Bipolar: Most people will get misconstrued about what a player really wants, it’s not the big salary or a really good team, but to know that people are here to support you. For me, playing on stage in PAX East was crazy! There were like thousands of people standing and looking at you and I was like “Wow! They are here to see me play?!” And that was really cool. Whenever you do something, the whole stadium is shaking and you can feel it beneath your feet. The feeling is completely different from solo queue and that’s how it feels like being a pro player.
KC: How do you all stay motivated to play the game?
Bipolar: We haven’t reach our personal goals yet, and it’s always the same thing, the first time and the hundredth time you get on a stage, everything is the same. When people scream your name and when people watch you play well, it’s always the same feeling so you’ll never get tired of it, and that’s why we’re all so motivated to play the game for a long time.
KC: In season 7, Riot Games introduced the 10 champions ban, how does it affect the LoL pro scene?
Bipolar: I think that one-trick ponies, as in people who only play a limited amount of champions aren’t really good anymore and it starts exposes a player’s champion pool, so you really have to understand what you’re doing in the your role as well as expanding your own champion pool.
KC: You guys said that FDG is the team to beat in this tournament, but you guys clean swept them in the semi-finals, in which area do you guys think that the game went so easily in your favor?
Shiro: I think during the particular series, FDG Wicked was underperforming a lot and it made the game easy for us. It was like a 5v4 for all 3 games.
Bipolar: I agree with Shiro, Wicked underperformed really badly in the series. I work pretty closely with the FDG team because I know most of them personally, whenever they ask me for help I will definitely lend a helping hand. I watch the team grow all the way from Semi Pro Cup up to TLC and I think that they are really good now. When they beat Swestic in their group I was so happy, but I didn’t realize that it meant they will be in our bracket, well that sucks for them, feels bad man.
KC: You’ll be facing Swestic in the finals next week, any thoughts about them?
CO4: As a team, they are pretty decent. But honestly speaking, I think they are just lucky to get into the finals since I’ve played against every member of Swestic in solo queue. When someone is better than you, you will know. But when they are not, it just feels like there’s no challenge.
Bipolar: I think they are good on the micro-level. But their decision making and macro-decisions like how to rotate around the map and how you make a team fight decision is really bad. As long as none of us underperform it should be our series to win.
KC: How long have you guys been playing LoL?
Shiro: I was 15 when I started, so it’s 3 years now.
ArrHedge: 7 years, since Season 1. But I stopped for a while before I started playing again.
Bipolar: I started during Season 3, which was 4 years ago. I was 17 years old back then.
Qaspiel: I’ve been playing LoL since it was released in SEA. Played the game for few months and then went back to Dota, after 3-4 months later I came back to LoL. LoL allows me to showcase my mechanics and its way faster than Dota in terms of gameplay, which is why I decided to move over to LoL.
CO4: I’ve played since release too. Quit the game for a while but came back later on.
KC: What did your parents say when you’ve decided to be a pro gamer? Did they support your choice?
CO4: My parents were not as supportive as my brother. But because of my brother’s encouragement and he helped talk to my mum by asking her to let me experience the life of a professional gamer, which my mum eventually allowed me to join KLH although she was tensed about it. I’ve always dreamt of joining KLH but I never thought that it will become a reality. She watches my games on and off, so she understands the scene quite well now.
Qaspiel: My family wasn’t supportive, except for my mum. She wants me to do whatever I want, but not the bad things of course. As long as I’m happy, she’s happy. My father and brother plays a lot of video games as well, and they knew how I feel so eventually they allowed me to pursue my dreams. My family actually owns an accounting firm and they wanted me to get into the business but I’m not interested in it.
Bipolar: My parents thought I was retarded or something. I was the captain of the football team and I got straight A’s. After I graduated from international school, I told them to give me 6 months to proof that I’ll be the best in Malaysia. At the end of 6 months, I defeated KLH in the 3rd/4th place match in 2014 TLC Winter split and my dad acknowledged my achievement. From there, I got a full Riot Scholarship for my first year in University of British Columbia (UBC), which is the number 1 University for League of Legends in North America. My extended family always looked at it like I was just wasting my time, but after I won in Malaysia and got my scholarship to UBC, they starting thinking that it’s a legitimate career path, so now everyone is very supportive. My dad watches all my games and he understands the game pretty well. After the quarterfinals, he called and told me that I played really badly, and even yelled at me like “Why didn’t you do this?!” and all I can say was sorry.
ArrHedge: My parents does not support me playing games, but my brother is since he plays LoL as well. He watches games from LCK and LCS, and analyzes the games for me, informing me about the strategies they used and so on. Although he watches and analyzes the game, sadly he can’t play the game. Even during our Dota days, he was the same, he loves watching it but somehow he’s not good at it.
Shiro: My parents are okay with me doing anything I want as long as I’m happy and doing well in it.
KC: Do you think that there is a future in e-Sports, especially in Malaysia?
Bipolar: Yes, with the change of staff in Garena, it’s on the way to a brighter future. The people in charge now thoroughly understands what needs to be done. A lot of people left Garena towards the end of last year, I was really worried that it will just spiral the scene downwards. The people who stayed are experienced and they are doing a good job as I can see a lot of progress and that is really admirable and respectable.
Crowe: Everything Bipolar mentioned are big deals, but what influenced me to think that there is a lot of potential here in Malaysia is that in a year, we had a lot of significant events happening. The first major one was Selangor Cyber Games, where a team of absolutely no name players who have failed in TLC, completed the entire tournament without dropping a single game, and it was unbelievable. Another example is our former mid-laner and captain, OzoraVeki heading to Taiwan’s LMS is another big step for Malaysian e-Sports as we have a local player who is moving onto greater heights. Our opponent to be in the finals, Swestic recently participated in the League of Champions tournament in Thailand and manage to return as runner ups. Malaysian e-sports is definitely coming up and heading into a good direction with APU’s recent launching of Malaysia’s first e-Sports Academy that focuses on various games. It will be really interesting to see how it goes from here.
KC: Does your earnings in e-Sports able to cover your livings?
Bipolar: In North America, it’s easy to survive since we are paid a lot of money from the University, streaming and some other stuffs. It’s much harder here when compared to the major regions like Korea, North America, Europe and so on since the tournaments there offers significant prize pools. But I think the SEA region is catching up.
KC: What are your future plans after retiring as a professional LoL player?
CO4: I’ll most probably go back to studying and getting a degree in Business.
Qaspiel: I still haven’t decided on what am I going to do after I retire. Since I am not the study type, that’s out of the option, but I still have no idea about it.
Bipolar: I’ve retired once from LoL and I was working as a coach for KLH. The reason why I came out of retirement is to keep KLH in the tournament since we are short on players. My retirement plan was to continue my psychology degree in Canada and to pursue the career of a sports psychologist.
ArrHedge: I’ll go back to auditing. I was working as an auditor before joining KLH.
Shiro: I’ll probably go back to studying. I’m still interested in IT.
KC: What do you see yourself doing if you didn’t pursue this pro gaming career?
Qaspiel: I would say working in my family’s accounting firm, but I still doubt that it will happen even if I’m not a professional gamer. Maybe I was destined to be with KLH.
Bipolar: I went into psychology solely because of LoL. I’ve gone through some experience which I think no other players should go through, so that’s why I chose psychology in order to help them. Before gaming, I was on the route to become an environmental lawyer to fight for the trees and the future of Planet Earth. This is what my parents are doing and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
ArrHedge: I’ll still be an auditor.
Shiro: Studying I guess.
CO4: Same as Shiro. Most probably be studying right now if I am not a pro gamer.
KC: Any advice for players who wants to break into the pro scene?
Bipolar: Just suck it up. Lots of people complain that solo q is hard, I can’t climb and so on. Stop complaining so much, grind it out and focus on improving yourself.
CO4: Make sure you have passion for the game. Without passion, hard work is not going to help much. You got to love the game first then you can do something with it.
Qaspiel: Play Maokai all the way! All jokes aside, I would say just go for it, have no regrets and don’t give up halfway.
Shiro: Git gud and don’t play Maokai. Honestly speaking, you should play Maokai as he is one of the easiest champions to learn. Like Bipolar said, just play broken champions, it will increase your chances of winning and people might notice you for that.
ArrHedge: Throw away your ego and learn. There’s always people trying to teach you but if your ego is too high, you won’t accept their criticism and you definitely won’t improve.
KC: Where can fans find out more about KLH?
Amanda: We will have a KLH YouTube Channel soon. Stay tuned to find out what kind of interesting contents we will upload there.
KC: That concludes the interview, thank you all for accepting this interview despite your busy schedules, and good luck in the finals!
Crowe: Thanks for coming over to conduct the interview with us! We would also like to thank our sponsor, Logitech. We couldn’t have make it this far without their support.
Kuala Lumpur Hunters will take on Swestic for the title of TLC MY Champions on 25th March 2017, Saturday, 10.30am at Prangin Mall, Penang. Be sure to make your way there to catch the action live, and if you can't be there in person, you can still watch them fight their way through at live.garena.com.