Malaysia is one of the many teams represented in one of the biggest mobile gaming tournaments in the world in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) World Championship.
Malaysia’s two-time representative on the world stage has been local urban lifestyle brand Todak’s own MLBB eSports team, which is spearheaded by Ashi or his real name Mohd Syazlan Mohd Rosdi.
From cyberbullying and misconceptions from the public to commitments and managing youths, he shared with Malay Mail the stigmas and challenges common amongst professional gamers, especially in Malaysia.
According to Syazlan, cyberbullying is nothing new in the eSports industry since there’s no actual way of stopping people from spitting abuse online.
When he started streaming for Todak, he was often on the receiving end, with abuse directed at anything from his gameplay to his physical appearance.
“Cyberbullying is a common thing in eSports because we can’t control what others are going to say.
“During my time as a streamer, I’ve received much abuse online, even when I did nothing wrong.
“They would harass me based on my physical appearance as I’m skinny, so they would call me a drug addict… but I’m used to all that already,” Syazlan said.
Despite the abuse online, he endured by holding on to his father’s advice.
“I usually follow advice from older people.
“One of the strongest pieces of advice that I’ve got was from my own father who said, ‘as long as the person is not putting food on our table, there’s no need for us to care about them’.
“It may sound a bit harsh, but I’ve come to learn the deeper meaning of his words,” Syazlan said.
The 26-year-old pointed out that commitment plays a huge role in becoming a professional gamer.
Before Todak, Syazlan said that the cost of joining a tournament is often higher than any potential returns.
“It was hard during that time as everything was coming out of our own pockets.
“Especially when our teammates are living apart from each other, we have no other choice but to travel back and forth for our daily trainings.”
He used to commute between Sungai Buloh where he lived, to Seri Kembangan where his teammates were.
The team however kept to their in-person training, as it was a reliable method to develop chemistry among players and understanding of each other’s gameplay.
Syazlan, who first joined Todak as a streamer in 2018 before taking on the mantle as their MLBB eSports team manager, said that his greatest challenge now is shaping the manners of the younger generation of local professional gamers.
This includes setting the objectives as a gamer, as well as the dos and don’ts.
“Most of the gamers nowadays are young and sometimes it’s a bit challenging as they tend to follow their emotions in making decisions.
“I’m not talking about their gameplay as they are crushing it, but I’m talking about building their characters and that has proven to be very challenging.
“We want to produce players who not only excel at gaming but are also smart in life, so that they can be a good role model for others and also for parents to see that there’s a future here in the gaming industry,” he said.
Syazlan said that professional gaming was often depicted as an easy career as their job involves playing games all day.
He however argues that it is more than meets the eye since every e-sport team has its own objectives, and many don’t see the challenges.
“Take Todak for example, we have our own objective which is to be a champion not just in Malaysia but in the whole world.
“So, the training is longer, sometimes we even have to spend up to 12 hours a day just to train.
“It may sound easy, but it is very tiring, it’s mental fatigue apart from sacrificing time with their family just to train,” Syazlan said.
Even though the duration of the training is long, the team also focuses on balancing their training time with some outdoor activities as well.
In 2019, Todak took home a cash prize of RM83,536 after snatching third place at the MLBB M1 World Championship held in Malaysia Axiata Arena, Kuala Lumpur in November.
The Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) M2 World Championship (M2) is currently taking place in Singapore from January 18 to 24 this year.
Organised by MOONTON in collaboration with Singapore’s Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA) and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), M2 will be one of the global offline eSports events to be held in South-east Asia in 2021.