I cried for about 30 minutes after the 2017 College Championship Final. I think I was upset that I had let another opportunity to go pro slip through my fingers, having already lost in the open qualifiers.
Watching LCK veterans had been my main motivation growing up. I felt inspired watching these guys who were doing what they were passionate about and had made a career out of it and I wanted that to be me.
I spent nearly all of the 8th grade lying in a hospital bed watching their games, wanting to become one of them; I had a pro career in mind even when I was living in Korea, but in honesty, I never fully committed to it.
I started to pursue a professional esports career properly when I joined the University of Toronto’s League of Legends team. I joined the team after my support, JayJ, offered me a tryout and soon after playing a few tryout scrims, I later joined the roster permanently.
It was the start of my journey.
My academic commitments were meant that, initially, I was dedicating 60% of my time to school and the 40% to league, but naturally, league slowly became a higher and higher priority as more college events and competitive games stacked up. Without a doubt, the biggest sacrifices I made during that time were my grades and social life.
Our team’s journey through the College Championship was a great experience, even though we had to use a substitute jungler. I didn’t enter the tournament with, particularly high expectations, I certainly didn’t expect us to make top 2, but the team really shone on stage.
My personal highlight of the event was, oddly, when we lost to MU in the finals. It stands as a defining moment for me since I got really emotional at the time, but ultimately, I think it pushed me to try even harder to pursue a pro career in esports.
I hoped for some recognition after the event but I didn’t hold my breath for any big offers since I knew that college League of Legends had a weak reputation, at least in NA. I chose to take a step back and focus more on solo queue, in the hope of getting noticed as a player.
My experience of travelling to China/Taiwan for the International College Cup changed my perception of the college scene. I got the sense that they really care about their collegiate scenes, especially in Taiwan where it felt like we were experiencing the full LMS pro-player package.
The stage and broadcasting setups in China are huge in scale, with the viewer count for our games going up to around 5-7 million whilst post-game interviews could get between 200~250k views on social media.
My reaction to winning the tournament was one of pure happiness and satisfaction. It was made all the more meaningful because of our victories over Maryville University, who we had lost to previously in the College Championship, and Haikou College of Economics, who we had lost to in China during the finals. I was satisfied, personally, because it showed that we were improving as a team with our results.
I’ll admit that, at that point, I definitely expected some interest from professional teams after winning the event in Asia, especially knowing that I was already hovering in high-challenger elo. These events helped my career a ton.
I was really excited to sign for FlyQuest since it gave me the chance to play with my friends again, only now we would be playing within the professional scene.
In honesty, I actually wasn’t expecting to sign with FlyQuest Academy roster originally, I was looking into other organisations and was also thinking about going to Scouting Grounds for more options. But, after hearing FlyQuest’s proposal, I really liked what I heard. Needless to say, their offer was more than good enough for me to drop my plans to attend Scouting Grounds altogether.
I’m hoping to win the academy league in 2018, to cement the legacy of the University of Toronto’s League of Legends setup and also, to prove my personal value.
Image Credit: Riot Games & University of Toronto