This interview is the second in a series of articles featuring the stars of Jalur 14. This week, we have Soloz, a man who needs no introduction. Former Dota 2 player turned Mobile Legends: Bang Bang pro and now a full-time streamer, Mohd Faris Zakaria is one of the most popular gamers in the country. Known for his in-game skills, good looks and humble personality, he has been part of many notable MLBB teams in the past, including the squad that represented Malaysia at the 2019 SEA Games. Since taking a backseat from the competitive scene, he’s been focusing on his life as a married man and content creator.
How’s life as a married man? Any difference compared to when you were unmarried?
Back then when I was single, my life was not as organized as it is now. I had random times for eating, sleeping and such. I wasn’t as committed to my job as a streamer. However, when I got married, I had to start thinking about lives other than my own and that led me to prioritize my career. If you’re lazy then your family will struggle in the future. So yeah, there’s a difference between married and single life. I learned that proper time management is one of the most important things in life.
Are you going to change your name now that you’re no longer “solo”?
No! I will be using the same name. It’s the same name I’ve been using ever since I was a kid, even during my time as a Dota player.
Do you feel that marriage will affect the kind of content you create?
No, maybe because I am used to my viewers and I always educate them about the games I play. My viewers watch the stream not because of my looks, but because of my educational and funny content, and my personality. I don’t intend to change that.
What was your motivation for streaming when you started and has that changed so far?
Initially, I had no plans to become a professional streamer. In fact, I had wanted to become a teacher because my mom wanted me to become a teacher. But as you know, I didn’t further my studies, so that didn’t happen. The silver lining – I was good at games, so a lot of people who watched my YouTube videos asked me to stream, so it’s easier for them to ask my questions. So what I did was become a Mobile Legends: Bang Bang educator instead. I taught people about the strategies of using heroes, and the meta of the game through my streams.
My goal is to become a quality streamer with good gameplay content, who engages with his audience and has a personality that draws people in.
How do you feel about your success so far? Did you work hard to get where you are?
I’m happy with my success so far but it wasn’t easy to get here. Before I became a full-time streamer, during my professional player days, we spent many nights only sleeping four to five hours because we wanted good results. Every moment awake was spent training hard for our matches. Fortunately, these days I don’t have to go through that anymore!
How did you become a popular streamer? Was it because you used to play on a pro team?
My popularity started when I was 15-16 years old, during my Dota-playing days. People knew me through tournaments that I had attended. In my early 20s was when I started streaming Mobile Legends. It was then I noticed that the majority of my audience were the same people who followed me from Dota. After playing in various MLBB tournaments, that’s when my popularity skyrocketed.
You recently had a taste of competition with the SEA Valorant invitational – how did you feel about it? Do you miss the competitive life? Any chance of going back to competing in the future?
I had never played Valorant before so when I was invited to the tournament I was like, “okay let’s try it out”. I do miss competitive life, and there might be a chance for me to come back to the competitive scene. We’ll see how things go because I want to make sure that I have time for myself and my family as well.
You were very close to making to the next stage of the tournament, how did it feel to be knocked out because of point differences?
For me, I didn’t mind if we progressed or not. I would have been fine with the result either way.
Are there plans for a Bosskurr Valorant team? Would you like to be part of it?
Yes, there’s a high chance there will be a Bosskurr Valorant team and I’ll be in it – until they decide to kick me out because I’m not good enough. Then I’ll just stick to streaming the game instead!
Besides Valorant and MLBB, what other games do you enjoy?
I’ve been playing games like Call of Duty, Dragon Raja, and more. When a new game comes out I’ll give it a shot, but usually they don’t hold my interest for a long time. At the moment, I enjoy PUBG, MLBB, Valorant and Fall Guys.
Was it fun going down memory lane filming the documentary today?
It was a bittersweet experience going down memory lane. Thinking about the past, how we struggled and the special moments between us, going to places together – now everyone has moved on their separate ways, working hard to earn a living. We’re all blessed to be here today and if I could go back in time to fix a few mistakes I made I definitely would, but for now we just have to keep moving forward.
How does it feel to be selected as one of the heroes of Jalur 14?
It feels amazing to be selected as one of the heroes for Jalur 14 and talking about esports. At the same time, I can share my experiences as a pro player as well as being a streamer. This is a unique experience for me as you can’t get knowledge like this from textbooks or anything yet, as it is rare in Malaysia. For all the youth that want to strive in this industry and need guidance – I am happy to be sharing all this with them. Hopefully, I can inspire the youth to push on and try out the esports industry!
What tips do you have for aspiring streamers who want to be the next Soloz?
They must have a fan base – the fans who love you and not the game you play. Start by playing new games and building your community before you proceed to compete with other big streamers on the same platform. The most important part is building your community first, streaming is all about entertaining your viewers. Once you have a substantial audience, try to collaborate with other steamers to increase your exposure and put your name out there.
Any message to your fans?
Thank you to all the fans who have been there from the beginning till now. You guys are the ones who are responsible for me achieving “The Most Watched Creator” award from Facebook Gaming. Also, I would like to say thank you to my VIP club members for supporting me. Firm handshake to you guys!
RELATED – Heroes of Jalur 14: Mushi
Watch Jalur 14 every Thursday, 9pm (GMT +8) beginning 26 November 2020, on eGG Network Astro CH800, available to all Astro subscribers. It will also be shown on Awani (CH501) every Sunday, 10pm (GMT +8) from 29 November 2020 and AEC (CH346/306 HD) every Saturday, 7pm (GMT +8) from 5 December 2020.
A docuseries chronicling the rise of esports and the gaming industry in Malaysia. Jalur 14 recounts the tales of 14 Malaysian icons including Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung, Ng “YamateH” Wei Poong, Mohd Fariz “Soloz” Zakaria, Ahmad Fuad “Fredo” Bin Razali, Andriyana Binti “ChuChu Gaming” Mohamed Ghazali, and more, as they share about their struggles, challenges, and experiences on their path to success.
Covering some of the biggest games in Malaysia, namely, Dota 2, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Counter-Strike, and PUBG Mobile, Jalur 14 is a must-watch for anybody who’s had any interest in the Malaysian esports and game development industry. From zeroes to heroes, these stalwarts of the scene have all broken their backs putting the Jalur Gemilang on the map.
Jalur 14 is presented to you by eGG Network and Esports Integrated. It is proudly sponsored by Yoodo, Acer, Zotac Gaming and Suncycle.