Mobile gaming has come a long way since the Snake game on our old Nokia phones. Given the massive popularity of smartphone games such as Mobile Legends and Arena of Valor today, international competitions with prize pools as high as USD 100,000 have sprung up all around the region.
MOBAs – or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games – such as Mobile Legends and Arena of Valor pit two teams of five against each other. Each player controls an avatar with the ultimate goal of destroying the opposing team’s main structure.
Even for the relatively young world of eSports, mobile gaming has only recently been accepted as being competitive. Lim Yang, 24, better known by his online alias as ‘ly4ly4ly4’, represents Singapore at the forefront of this new frontier.
Veni, Vidi, Vici
Held late last year with a cash prize of RM 25,000, Lim Yang’s team Resurgence reigned supreme at Southeast Asia’s first major Arena of Valor tournament, Valor Cup 2017.
Similarly, Lim Yang and his team, IDNS SG, earned the bragging rights as the best Mobile Legends team in the region and brought home the prize pot of USD 30,907 by dominating the inaugural Mobile Legends Professional League (MY/SG).
An eSports veteran for more than a decade, Lim Yang is no stranger when it comes to representing Singapore on the international stage.
“I remember it was my 12th birthday when a friend brought me to a cyber cafe and introduced me to DotA (Defence of the Ancients),” Lim Yang tells me.
“I fell in love with the game almost immediately and soon decided to take a step forward by playing competitively.”
Since then he has competed in countless local and international tournaments for DotA before switching over to another contemporary MOBA – League of Legends – in 2011, becoming one of the pioneers of Singapore’s professional scene.
However, not everyone recognized his success in the digital realm. Big money international eSports tournaments are commonplace today but the sport was in its infancy in Singapore when Lim Yang started out in 2007. He had several friends and family members who were against his decision to compete in eSports.
Even today, we would be hard-pressed to find parents supportive of this pursuit.
“It was definitely difficult at first but I was stubborn in my choice. I wanted to live life to the fullest; to ‘do’ instead of regretting that I did not.”
Hungry for more competition, he made his foray into the then-burgeoning world of competitive mobile gaming in 2016.
As a fan of MOBA games, Lim Yang felt it was only natural for him to gravitate towards new titles in the genre. He was also drawn to the convenience of mobile MOBAs, being able to play anywhere and anytime.
“I first picked up Mobile Legends with the intention of playing with a friend. He was already hooked but was struggling to win. Soon afterward, I met a bunch of old DotA friends I used to compete with and started dedicating myself to the game.”
When asked about his thoughts on the young platform, Lim Yang was optimistic about its growth. “Mobile eSports currently has a huge market throughout the world. Mobile Legends is huge in Indonesia, and Arena of Valor is just as big in countries such as Korea, Taiwan, and China.”
“Mobile gaming definitely has a bright future and it is clear to me that the eSports scene at large is taking it very seriously.”
It seems that Singapore has made steps towards a gradual acceptance of eSports as well. Earlier this year, the Informatics Academy launched Singapore’s first diploma in eSports and game design, providing opportunities and invaluable training for hopefuls.
Singapore is also slated to host ASEAN’s inaugural eSports competition in August in preparation for the sport’s inclusion in the 2022 Youth Games as an official medal event.
Throughout his years in eSports, Lim Yang has witnessed first-hand its exponential growth. The main improvements, he notices, are the increments in prize pools for tournaments and the growing number of sponsors and organizations interested in investing in eSports teams.
Lim Yang believes and hopes that Singaporeans will be able to go far in eSports someday.
“I am really glad that Singapore will be hosting such a landmark event. Hopefully, this will boost our eSports scene while motivating new players to participate in the scene.”
Even after a decade of competing actively, it seems like Lim Yang is only getting started. For now, he aims to remain at the top of his game, carrying Singapore’s flag wherever competition beckons.
“I have been competing for so long, sometimes it’s easy to forget that I have Singapore’s name behind me,” he shares.
“Nevertheless, I am really happy to have the opportunity to represent Singapore even after all these years, this time in both Mobile Legends and Arena of Valor.”