Excitement is peaking as Malaysian e-sports challengers shape up in tight training for a regional face-off

THE e-Sports community in Malaysia has been enjoying some much-deserved attention in recent years, with the government allocating RM15 million towards the development of the sport for 2021 alone.

But while the attention is usually focused on PC gaming in the global Esports community, mobile gaming is fast catching up. In fact, one of the biggest PC games in recent years, League of Legends, released a much-anticipated mobile version called League of Legends: Wild Rift in March this year.

Here in Malaysia, the Wild Rift fever is growing, with the recently concluded ESL Malaysia “Wild Rift SEA Icon Series MY Summer Season” crowning Berjaya Dragons as the national champions.

The Dragons defeated long-time rivals Geek Fam 4-1 in the finals, and earned themselves a spot to represent the nation at the Wild Rift SEA Icon Series Summer Super Cup 2021, which ends this Sunday.

theSun recently had the opportunity to speak to members of the Berjaya Dragons team via video call from their gaming house in Selangor, as they were busy training for the upcoming competition.

The seven-member team comprises team leader and coach Chilly, Sagi, zSune, Karuto, Nenas, Winter and TaintedOnes, all talented and experienced Esports athletes who are looking forward to getting a chance to prove themselves on the regional stage.

When asked about their Open Series win, Chilly said: “(How we felt about) the win was more of a sense of ‘finally’, as it was our first (definitive) win against Geek Fam. So, it felt like all of our hard work finally paid off.”

The Dragons and Geek Fam have been rivals in the Esports arena for some time, and it had been a struggle for the Dragons to beat them during previous Wild Rift best-of-five competitions. Thus, it was satisfying to finally defeat them in such an important match up.

The win in the mobile gaming arena is especially important for the team as most of them started out playing on the PC. And almost all of them have experience playing the League of Legends PC game, and were easily able to adapt to Wild Rift.

$!The winning team that cemented Berjaya Dragons as the best Wild Rift team in Malaysia ... (from left) Karuto, Chilly, Winter, Sagi and zSune. – Courtesy of Berjaya Dragons

Chilly, who has been playing League of Legends competitively for several years, explained that the differences between the PC and mobile versions were minor.

Wild Rift is very fun to play, with the same (concept) as League of Legends,” he said.

“The pace of the game is faster, and you have to be smart with your strategies.”

For Nenas, there was a bit of a learning curve with Wild Rift. Prior to joining the Dragons in January, Nenas was a World Championship player, finishing third at the Mobile Legends World Cup (M1) that was held in Malaysia in 2019.

“I had to study a little more about (the mechanics of) the game,” he said.

“So, I’m a little slow at (picking things up) compared to my teammates, but I have been training hard with them and they have been helping me so I am able to catch up to them.”

According to team manager Edward Mah, during the Open Series championship, Nenas acted as a substitute, but they hope to have him make his game debut sometime in the future.

$!Some of the Wild Rift gameplay. – League of Legends: Wild Rift Facebookpix

Sagi, who was named Player of the Match during their Open Series win, said: “We’re excited to meet up with other international teams (from around Southeast Asia). Their level of skill is different compared to Malaysian teams and we’re looking forward to seeing how we will rank among them at the Super Cup.”

While Chilly guides his team, Mah is in charge of making sure they stick to the schedule and that they get the right balance of nutrition and rest.

Mah added: “It’s not just about making sure that they are prepared (for the competition). We also have a target for them to become one of the best teams in Southeast Asia and eventually, in the whole of Asia.”

The rest of the team concurred with this assessment, with zSune saying: “We’re hoping to have a good show (with the other Southeast Asian teams). It will be exciting to play a match against them.”

Karuto added: “We’re looking forward to playing against strong opponents. Right now, the strongest in the region are teams from the Philippines and Taiwan, and we’re looking forward to showing them how much we have improved (since the Icon Series MY Summer Season).”

The team is also hoping that their fans will be cheering them on at the Super Cup.

Sagi said: “We hope that everyone will give us their support. We’ll see how far we can go (in the competition). There are a lot of good players there, and we’ll definitely try our best.”