Wong ‘Chawy’ Xing Lei is the only Singaporean League of Legends player who has made it professionally. He has managed to go further than any other local League of Legends player, playing on professional teams in the major Taiwanese LMS league. Sacrificing sleep, putting his education on hold indefinitely, and choosing to train harder than anyone else, he is the sole example for aspiring local LoL players.

Currently the mid laner and coach for LMS team Hong Kong Attitude (HKA) based in Taiwan, he flew back home to Singapore where he spent an afternoon sharing his story with guests and mentees of the League of Legends SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme (TDP) on 7 July 2018.

While waiting for the crowd to trickle in, Chawy mingled with the participants. Clad in black with contrasting red shoes, he blended in among the youths. On the international stage however, he has been nothing but outstanding. Fans worldwide have given him their support, not just for the level of skill he has displayed, but also because he is the definition of hard work. LoL fans respect that. A lot.

An esports career that began with Dota, Chawy’s switch to LoL solidified in 2012. On this course, he went from Garena-sponsored team Singapore Sentinels, to joining the Taipei Assassins, to ahq Esports Club and now HKA. It was on ahq where he competed at the highest level of play at the World Championship against top teams from other regions.

His leap from the Singapore scene to the Taiwanese scene was not smooth despite being one of the top players in Southeast Asia at that time. Most famously known locally as Singapore Sentinels’ star player, it did not start out that way. “I didn’t get to join Singapore Sentinels because I went to into National Service, and they thought my skill will drop. I was quite sad and angry at that time. So I practiced very hard. Every day I slept only 3 hours. I just wanted to smash SGS.”

When his makeshift team finally did defeat SGS, he was offered a spot on the Garena-sponsored team. However, due to National Service commitments, Chawy was not compensated for his role.

“I was the only player who wasn’t paid in SGS because I was in National Service… I told myself to work harder. This is not where I wanted to be. I was the best player in SEA, and I wanted more. I got to 3rd placing [on the Taiwanese ranked ladder], just below Toyz and Westdoor.. That’s when I knew I could be something more. That’s what I always tell myself – I need to improve all the time.”

The high rank he achieved on the Taiwanese server started to turn heads. The grit he mustered over the years propelled him on. Taipei Assassins (TPA) was first team he signed with in Taiwan back in 2014. “Being on TPA, it wasn’t a big shock for me because training 16 hours a day was what I was already doing in Singapore… (but) when I went there I realised I was quite bad. I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. It was a shock. I started training even more, up to 18 hours a day.”

No matter which juncture he found himself standing at throughout his career, Chawy always found reasons to work harder. Recognising what he lacked only increased his relentless determination. Finally in 2016 and 2017, with ahq E-sports Club, he made his international debut at the League of Legends World Championship. Riot Games, the game developer, featured his story of endurance in the Legends Rising series.

Despite gaining global recognition and earning his place to play with and against the best of the best two years in a row at Worlds and, Chawy retains his humility. Dishing out solid advice to our Challenger-level mentees, he said frankly, “If you always think you’re better than others, you’re never going to improve. When bigger teams win, it’s about the mindset. If you want to go pro, never look down on anyone even if you’re way better than the person.”

“The newer generation [tends to] feel that ‘if you pay me more, I’ll do more’. I was quite sad when I saw this debate on Facebook. The older players had no money, no sponsors, nothing. We worked hard because we wanted to win.. If you want to be paid high, achieve something first.”

The highlight of the day came when workshop participants were given a chance to 1v1 the mid laner himself. Many hands shot up, and three were picked. 

Tan ‘Yone’ Jia Xuan, a top laner from the programme, was among them. Curious to know how he would fare against an experienced player of this calibre, he genuinely believed he could win. However as it was blind pick, the matchup unfortunately did not go in his favour. “I tried my best anyway! I felt very tense and I played to the best of my ability.”

The greatest takeaway is realising how much dedication one must have to do well at an international level,” Yone added, echoing our thoughts. After 6 years, Chawy is still Singapore’s only LoL professional player who is now transitioning into a coaching role. After his sharing, we hope that our local players get inspired and perhaps step up to the plate.