Driven by their love for competitive gaming, the esports community has been rallying the world to embrace electronic sport as a “real sport”. With esports now inducted as a medal sport at the SEA Games, it’s safe to say that their efforts have finally paid off. So, it’s unsurprising that Malaysia - a melting pot of video game talents - would be onboard this groundbreaking milestone for the sport. And who better than Firdaus “MasterRamen” Hashim - founder of the Malaysian esports scene - to manage Malaysia’s representatives for the Games’ esports segment.
“Simply put, my role is to manage the players and coaches,” MasterRamen explained, a job scope likely derived from the title of “team manager”. His tasks include ensuring that everyone and everything stays on schedule, and helping the team jump through one too many hoops to ensure everything stays afloat.
“I’m basically like a father to them,” he added with a chuckle, a tongue-in-cheek joke to the affectionate nickname he’s been given by the local community, bapak ah esports (“father of esports”).
But like any other form of parenting, it’s not easy.
“The biggest challenge is scheduling the training for all 24 players,” MasterRamen said, as a chunk of players and coaches aren’t full-time professionals and have 9-5 jobs, meaning they’re only available on weekends and sometimes even have to take leave for practice. On top of that, training mainly takes place in Kuala Lumpur, proving a stumbling block for those residing in areas as far as Penang and Singapore.
There’s also the issue of players’ comfort during the tournament. The esports veteran expressed concern about the facilities provided by the SEA Games 2019 committee, which “will be tough on the players’ mentality” and could affect their performance. Fortunately, they will have a test run on-site so that they know what to expect and adapt better, while MasterRamen and his squad will do whatever they can to be ideally prepared, including early lights out.
“You know how gamers are, they generally prefer staying up late,” the team manager joked.
“I believe Team Malaysia has a pretty good chance of winning,” he affirmed, recognising the formidable teams of Vietnam, Thailand, and of course, host country Philippines. “We hope to surprise everyone.”
It’s a demanding task that MasterRamen has taken up as team manager, confessing that it has been exhaustive for him. But more importantly, he is proud to be a part of this breakthrough. “Before this, esports players would either play for themselves or the esports organisations they represent. But for the first time ever, with esports at SEA Games, they can now play for the pride of their country.”
Follow eGG Network for extensive coverage on esports at the 2019 SEA Games, happening from 5 - 10 Dec, at the Filoil Flying V Centre, Manila, Philippines.