Sure, many eSports fans in the Philippines are familiar with the recent success of Mineski at the Frankfurt Majors, or the #Ravevolution that started 2015 with a bang. On the League of Legends side of things, many will recall Mineski making a cinderella run into the 2013 World Championships as a wildcard contender.
However, these bigger organizations aren’t the only ones representing the Philippines on a world stage. Choi Gaming/Choisted Tyrants will be heading to Korea to compete in the 7th e-Sports World Championship. The tournament will feature teams from over 40 countries, and will be held on December 2-5.
To underline just how big this is for League of Legends in this country, let’s look at what some of the members of Choi Gaming had to say about their careers as players
We caught up with Choi Gaming’s team captain AJ “Aoi” Uy at the e-Sports Festival at SM City Cebu and asked him a few questions about his team.
Formed in 2012, Choi Gaming quickly became a local favorite in the amateur scene of Cebu, winning one small time tournament after another, including multiple Mineski Pro Gaming League titles. Their stranglehold on the competition would come to a crescendo when they qualified for the 5th e-Sports World Championship in Romania.
Sadly, that opportunity to represent his country on an international level would be Aoi’s first and last. His parents, as he said, did not fully approve of his passion for gaming despite the amount of success Choi Gaming had achieved. They would not allow him to travel outside the country for a League tournament ever again.
Fast forward a couple years, and Aoi says his days on the competitive stage are numbered. He’s the last of the classic Choi lineup to still be playing as the rest have found it difficult to practice and maintain their level of excellence while having to juggle further studies or jobs. Aoi himself is expected to join his family business after he graduates.
While this sounds like the end of an era, it certainly didn’t mean the end of Choi Gaming.
Another team that started making waves in Cebu’s local circuits were the Toasted Tyrants. Like Choi before them, they were simply a group of friends who loved playing League and who also happened to be exceptionally good at it.
After gaining enough presence in the scene to actually rank with Choi, instead of putting on a hard stance against their up and coming rivals, Choi Gaming welcomed them as their new B team, and though they’ve gone by a number of team names, the amalgamated Choisted Tyrants is their most recent moniker.
It was a combination of mostly this roster that qualified for this year’s IeSF Worlds tournament, as the Tyrants players are still relatively young and hungry to prove themselves. While the older members of Choi are busy with their college lives, including representing the University of San Carlos in the LoL Collegiate League, one of the members of Tyrants isn’t even done with high school.
Hansel “Kidgart” Hermosisima is only 16, and already a seasoned competitor in his own right. He’s manned the top lane for the Tyrants and for Choi’s B team on numerous occasions, and sometimes, by his own admission, he only gets by on skill alone.
When asked about team strategies after his team qualified to represent Visayas in the IeSF national qualifier at Cebu e-Sports Festival, he said that he and his team did not have ample time to practice any solid pick and ban plans or specific team compositions. All they had was the mindset that they needed to win, one game at a time.
Yes, this isn’t exactly Riot’s World Championship, but this is still a team from the Philippines playing in a major international tournament sponsored by no less than the International eSports Federation with support from the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA).
We’ve stated before that it’s increasingly difficult for eSports teams to gain traction when it comes to international competition. Combine that with the amount of sacrifice each player looking to go professional has to put in, splitting study time and the like, without the security of a payout if left without a tournament win, and one can see why the Choisted Tyrants’ inclusion in the IeSF tournament is no easy feat.
Many promising amateur talents never get an opportunity this huge. Even in an organization as prominent and successful within its local circles as Choi Gaming, a number of its players couldn’t make it to Korea for one reason or another. These time constraints, scheduling conflicts, and even a lack of familial support, are all things e-Sports athletes need to contend with, especially in this country. But these boys have managed to rise above all that.
To top it all off, they’re the newly crowned champions of the recently concluded e-Sports Tour, only dropping one game in the entire tournament. Though there have been untold amounts of hardships and stumbling blocks to get to this point, the Choi organization is heading to Korea on a hot streak.
So this week, remember these 5 names:
Isaiah Cyrus “Terrarus” Majam
Hansel “Kidgart” Hermosisima
Gio Niño “Gioza” Mendoza
Mohammad “Evoker” Alsughayer
Syvert Lyndon “Donnat” Tan
These will be the young star players that will be carrying the Philippine flag as they do battle on Summoner’s Rift. They are the product of late nights at internet cafes. They don’t have the coaching staff or gaming house afforded to teams in other countries with bigger e-Sports scenes, but through sheer skill and determination, they’ve made it to a world tournament. No matter what, win or lose, the future looks bright for pinoy League of Legends with players like these leading the way.
Banner and in-line photos by Mineski Events