Ahq made their run at Rift Rivals Red 2017 in 3 games. Mid laner Wong ‘Chawy’ Xing-Lei only played the first match against RNG. On Taliyah, he roamed bot for an early first blood and held his own in lane. Despite being up in gold till 30 minutes, RNG’s initiative and team fighting eventually took over.

In spring, Chawy was ahq’s starter. However this summer’s LMS he has been sharing mid lane with Westdoor and overall, less games played. He is determined to press on nonetheless.

We sat down with the pride of our nation and caught up with Chawy here in Kaohsuing, Taiwan.

You’ve been a pro-player in Taiwan for 3 years now. How have you adapted to life here?

Chawy: At first I was not used to staying in Taiwan, especially because in Singapore the terms we use, the champions, items are in English. But in Taiwan I have to memorise the names in Chinese so it was pretty hard at first.

I still can’t memorise everything, especially when there’s a new patch with new items, so I try to use simple Mandarin.

Fans in Taiwan have been calling you ‘The General’. What do you think about that?

That came from a famous streamer, Kong Shen. Previously when I played on the Taiwan server while still in Singapore, I used to carry a lot of games. They (the Taiwanese players) treated me like I’m ‘The General’ and they are the soldiers— The General cannot die, but soldiers can.

You’ve been sharing mid lane with Westdoor in the LMS Summer split. How is the decision made on who will be playing for each match?

For this summer split we came up with the plan that we want to be able to play our best in all games so our coach decided that whoever performs better in scrims, whoever has a better performance in that week will get to play.

How have you been dealing with that pressure?

To be honest it is still quite a huge pressure for me because Westdoor has one of the biggest fanbase in Taiwan so whenever I go on stage his fans will ‘boo’. They’ll write a lot of nasty stuff online. It’s not a very nice feeling but I have to go through it.

ahq at the Rift Rivals 2017 opening ceremony
(Photo credit: Garena eSports, Taiwan)

Currently ahq is 4th in the LMS standings. What do you think ahq can do to improve in the second round robin?

We didn’t play well this season and it’s mainly because of communication. The new team RG (Raise Gaming), although they are a rookie team, their communication is good so they tend to have an advantage.

I feel that right now the meta, the way to win games through good communication in team fights. That is something we hope to improve on.

If you could sum up your pro-player experience in one word, what would it be?

I would say it’s really tiring. I don’t really say it much. I just keep going. Everyone should know that being in esports, being a pro-player is very tiring so that’s why a lot of pro-players retire after 1 to 3 years. But I will continue no matter how tired I am because I haven’t achieved my dreams yet.

Does your family come over to visit you here in Taiwan?

They visited me a while back on Mother’s Day. My organisation brought them over. It was a surprise.

If you could equip yourself with one item from League in real life, which would it be and why?

This is a tough one. (pauses) If I really have to choose one I’ll choose Redemption. It is the only item that’s useful in real life because you can help others. I’m not sure what I can do with Rabadon’s Deathcap.

What do you think is hindering Singapore esports organisations and players from succeeding within the region?

There’s a lot of reasons why eSports is not successful in Singapore. In Korea and Taiwan, the pro teams pick up talented players when they’re around 15, 16 years old. They will pause their studies to come and train, so the coaches and pro-players will teach them. They’ll play on stage when they’re legal which is around 17 years old.

In Singapore I don’t think we can stop attending secondary school [high school] and train with pro teams. For pro-players the peak age is around 17 to 19 which is also the age where Singaporean males are severing National Service, so it’s pretty hard.

The Singapore Campus League (SGCL) just concluded. The Legends Circuit (TLC) is starting next month. Many players back home are still inspired by your success. Could you give them a word of encouragement?

I’m quite proud, especially for the ‘B’ division because Chua Chu Kang, that’s where I’m from! These kids are from my area and they’re doing very well.

If new players really want to go pro, don’t give up so easily because it’s going to be really tough when you’re a Singaporean. I believe they can get somewhere.

The LMS regular split continues on 13 Jul 2017 as ahq takes on Wayi Spider, live on Garena eSports.