Dr Yew Weng Kean had once envisioned playing billiards for the nation.
Instead, he became Malaysia’s first eSports champion after winning the gold medal in Hearthstone at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.
Now, he plans to inspire teenagers and parents about eSports in a bid to cultivate interest in the scene.
“I had always wanted to play billiards for my country to wear the full national jersey set,” said Yew in jest.
“I even won my first amateur 9-ball pool tournament when I was 17.
“But I switched to eSports because it was cheaper to compete in tournaments compared to pool and billiards,” added the former La Salle Petaling Jaya student who now lectures electrical engineering at the Heriot-Watt University, Malaysia in Putrajaya.
Yew admitted Malaysia has many talented gamers and there is a serious need to have a more competitions, especially leagues that offer scholarships.
“In the US, they offer scholarships similar to college football or basketball. We also need to get the universities involved. It’s not just about playing the game but appreciating the whole ecosystem.
“Just go to an eSports competition and you will see how people make a career out of just commentating, organising events, promoting it. There are many aspects and possible job opportunities.”
Yew is on a mission to change the way people view eSports and educate gamers and their parents on what the game is all about.
He is keen to organise a workshop to educate them about the entire eSports scene.
“The workshop will also touch on the benefits and potential dangers and the main goal is to ensure gamers do not neglect their studies,” added Yew who is a PhD holder.
Yew said gamers stand to benefit as eSports enhances critical and strategic thinking, communication skills and teamwork.
He also warned there are dangers as certain gamers get burnt out and suffer mental health issues.
“Full-time gamers spend 16 hours a day training. I was lucky as I had a structured plan and my training was only intensified two weeks prior to the SEA Games.
He said the workshop will also see parents and their children play Mobile Legends together, so that “the parents truly understand the game and how they cooperate.”
He said some parents were open to the idea of their children taking up eSports but because of the generation gap, they did not know how to convey their sentiments.
Yew said it was vital to have a supportive family to succeed in the sport.
“My whole family, including my one-year-old son Isaac, was with me in Manila and they were all at the arena during the final. They have been really accommodating and I’m thankful for that.
“When I was declared winner, I was in disbelief. I’m sure my family members were in disbelief too but it’s such a wonderful feeling to win a gold medal for the country.”
He now hopes Hearthstone will be contested at the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam.
“eSports will be contested but we are not sure what games will be included. If Hearthstone is there, then I would like to represent Malaysia once again or at least be a coach if someone else does better during the selections.
“If Hearthstone is not contested, I hope I will be able to guide the younger athletes,” he added.
Catch The RSS with HD tomorrow (Sunday) at 2pm as actor and comedian Rashid Salleh and Twentytwo13 editor Haresh Deol speak about eSports.