Gone are the days when being a “gamer nerd” meant that you’re some loser hiding out in your room, with barely any friends. These days, it’s cool to play video games, or as they call it, eSports. There are even tournaments for gamers to show off their skills!
Resurgence is one of the largest eSports organisations in Singapore, with nine teams playing eight different games. On 22 July 2018, their League of Legends (LoL) team just reclaimed the title as the best LoL team in Singapore. With this, they will represent Singapore at the Globe Conquerors Manila Championship.
What does it take to turn a simple hobby of gaming, into one that puts food on your table and eventually fighting your way onto the world stage? I decided to head down to Resurgence’s office to interview Jayf, who is the founder of the organisation.
What are the best ranking teams you have under your organisation?
“The Heroes Of The Storm team is the South-East Asian champions, and essentially the heart of Resurgence. It began with my own bunch of friends who came together to play the game.
My Hearthstone team is the top point earner in SEA for Season 2, and they ranked 15th globally. And they’re also the top South-East Asian team in terms of pro-team standings.
For League Of Legends, there’s a very tight rivalry between us and Sovereign. We’re usually competing with them for first place.
These three are our top divisions for now, and the others are still a work in progress. PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) won the best performing team in SEA recently, but it’s still a very new game.
Given that you were once a caster, what led you to choose to start an Esports team?
“Back when I was casting, I was a commentator for Blizzcon in 2015. Afterwards, I had to decide whether to move to America. It was very clear that the gaming prospects and opportunity in Singapore and SEA are limited compared to America. It was also a point where I told myself that I’ve reached the end of the line for casting. But I would much rather stay in Singapore, because I value my family a lot and didn’t want to leave them behind.
With all these factors in mind, I told myself it was time to retire from commentary and casting. I’ve done my best, and while I enjoyed it, I felt like I should focus on other things in life.
I took on my own business venture and found some success there. When I came back to the scene, I thought about a few questions. Considering that I’m not going to cast, how can I help other Singaporeans get to the stage? Can I teach other people casting? Can I help our pro players?
The most viable way to help others is a very direct approach, where I create an eSports organisation and try to level up their craft.
One of the biggest challenges Singaporeans face is that some of the players in Singapore don’t have that kind of support. Your parents will always ask: ‘How far can you go as a pro gamer? Is it really something you want to do for the rest of your life?’ There’s a lot of uncertainty because it’s a new industry, and nobody knows what the industry needs.
By directly supporting the players through giving them an allowance, or paying a bit of their bills, or providing support through coaching and facilities, this will all help them to step up their game. I thought it’s the best way that I can help these people to achieve the dream that I had enjoyed.”
Is eSports very competitive, considering so many schools offer it as a CCA?
“I don’t think that the barriers to entry are low. Competitive? Yes and no. Locally, Singapore’s barriers to entry are not very low. Even with schools offering eSports as CCAs, these are more like extracurricular and recreational stuff. For competitive teams like Resurgence, there aren’t a lot of brands to compete against in Singapore.
But if you look outside of Singapore, there are many more teams to compete with. In the Philippines, they have ten good teams. Malaysia has more than eight, and in Vietnam, it’s very hot and new, so many teams are going in. But locally, there are less than five.
The tournaments here are few and scarce, so I don’t think it’s that competitive. Moreover, there’s no real full-time pro team in Singapore as of yet, and Resurgence is one of the few paying organisations.”
What are your greatest obstacles when managing the 45 players in your roster?
“Definitely the finances. While we are a paying organisation, I think to be comfortably paying everyone, we need to have a very developed eSports scene. We are nowhere near that locally. It’s lucky for us that we compete in the SEA region, so we’re able to get exposure.
Finances have always been a big question for us, because we are currently surviving off our own funding. We have no sponsors, and we are still working on how we can convince sponsors that the brand Resurgence is here to stay.
We have this huge talent pool that can do well in games, and we can represent them well, which means we’ve conquered the first challenge.
The second challenge is the players’ mindset. Singaporeans tend to have this complacent attitude; they think they’re that good in the game and forget that the Filipino, Malaysians and Chinese spend more than 12 hours training.
As a Singaporean, you need to juggle between studies and pro-playing. It’s hard to come to terms that they have to clock at least four to eight hours. It’s very important to do that. They may think it’s okay to just play on the weekends, but that’s not possible.
In the past, talent alone can bring you pretty far. Today, you need hard work, regardless of how talented you are. And this is something that Singaporeans grapple with.”
Any messages for aspiring eSports players?
“I think that it’s important to juggle gaming and their studies, assuming that they’re still schooling. Also, they should always give themselves a legitimate timeline to work with. Don’t expect yourself to immediately achieve what others took one year to accomplish. But at the same time, don’t say you’re going to take five years to get there.
If you’re still a student, focus on clearing O levels at least. Have better time management: commit 10 hours per week maximum on quality training, learning the game, and improving the game. It’s not really enough, but that ensures you don’t fail your O levels.
Once you hit your tertiary education, you have more time to go into it. Students who go into JC will find it a lot more difficult. One of my players, Equinox, he achieved straight As for A levels. Upon completing his National Service, he took a gap year before university. He gave himself two years to become an eSports pro. Don’t
I feel that the eSports industry in Singapore is not ready yet to recognise talents who are 16 or 17 years old, and we don’t have a structured plan for them. It’s still a very new industry, so it’s the best way to go about it now until the industry matures.
If you want to be a pro player, finish up your tertiary education, then give yourself a two-year timeline. Train hard, but most importantly, train smart.
I asked Jayf what was his favourite memory after having started Resurgence. “Winning competitions la!” he replied with a straight face, and then broke into a laugh.
“It’s more of the journey that this company has provided for each team, and the office which turned into a community where everyone has a united goal. And our one-year anniversary party solidified that journey.”
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