Interview with Orbit Gaming's Nientonsoh: "I had no idea that there would be this much money in League"
Mon 1st Oct 2012 - 7:11pm
I had the privilege to talk to Orbit Gaming's Zach 'Nientonsoh' Malhas about his journey ion eSports and how his attitude has developed over his time playing League of Legends.
How old are you and how long have you been a gamer?
Nientonsoh: I am 18 years old, and I have been a gamer ever since I got ‘Pokemon Red’ for Christmas one year. I think I was around 6-7 years old.
Did you ever expect to be here, one of the most promising players (in a very promising team) in the League of Legends competitive scene, or in other words did you ever think professional gaming was a possibility for you?
Nientonsoh: Well, I initially swapped over to League with the intention of becoming a professional player, I used to play a lot of HoN [Heroes of Newerth] with Scarra and saw his success on League and wanted to mirror it. I was always aiming to be able to compete with the best of the best and I think I have achieved my goal, but I am still actively trying to improve.
Did you expect to make a living from e-sports? Before seeing Scarra's success did you have any real expectations of being a pro player or were they more like hopes?
Nientonsoh: Well, to be honest, I had no idea that there would be this much money in League, I just really wanted to play the game just to see if I could become one of the best, and I ended up loving the game. I always knew I could become a professional player if I truly put myself towards it, and it all worked out in the end.
It's awesome that it did! Now that you are a professional gamer have any of your goals/hopes adjusted?
Nientonsoh: Well, now that I have become a ‘pro,’ I look to do what all other pros aspire to do, which is become the best I can possibly be, for myself and also for my team. I guess being number one in the world and respected by all of the other players is something that I hope for.
Can you describe what it was like when you found out you had been picked up by Orbit Gaming? Was there any point where it really hit you and you sat back and thought "wow I'm actually doing this, I made it"?
Nientonsoh: Well everything didn’t really hit me until I sat down and actually started playing against the best of the best in a LAN environment, playing against teams such as Counter Logic Gaming NA, Counter Logic Gaming EU, and Team Solo Mid EVO at MLG Anaheim was not only really awesome, but also eye-opening. I realised that I had a lot to work on, and our team asa whole had a lot to work on, but we have fixed most of the kinks now and I believe we can compete with almost all of the teams.
Being picked up by Orbit gaming was awesome because we got a free ticket to go to MLG as well as many other events paid by Shane [Kelly], the owner of Orbit.
Do you still have fun playing the game? Is it more interesting and/or exciting knowing there's money and reputation on the line? Or has it become a little more like a regular job?
Nientonsoh: Yeah I [still] love league! Although, if I were to be completely honest I think I’ve had more fun with HoN than I have with League, but I love every MOBA game for different reasons. It’s definitely more exciting knowing the amount of money that’s on the line though.
TSM (a team you often practice with) decided to move into a Gaming House for Season 2, do you see your team doing something similar for Season 3? What are the pros/cons of doing something like that?
Nientonsoh: A gaming house is definitely something we as a team have considered, and I think it would help us out a lot. A gaming house helps a lot because you can work on team synergy not only within the game, but outside of it.
CLG.Black's Link left the scene in favour of a spot in a good university, would you make the same decision if you were in his position? Or is this something you're going to try to go all the way with, even if something else comes up?
Nientonsoh: I do not think I would've made the same decision Link made, but I guess it's completely different actually being in the situation, but yeah I definitely want to go all the way with this, and hopefully everything works out!
Hopefully! What sort of lifestyle did you have before you became a professional gamer?
Nientonsoh: Well mostly just playing video games while getting by in school and hanging out with friends. It's pretty similar now except no school, currently just focussing a lot more time on League.
Did you find it affecting your schooling or social life?
Nientonsoh: Mmm, yes definitely. I'd put off hanging out in order to practice/do tournaments etc, but I'm fine with that, it'll all be worth it in the end!
Did you feel as though any of your relationships or opportunities (schooling wise) were damaged because of it? Was there anything that made you reconsider your decision?
Nientonsoh: Not especially. Most of my League ‘Career’ started after high school was done, and I just decided to put off college for now. So maybe I am missing some good opportunities through college, but that’s fine because I really want to pursue this and go all out!
What do you think of the general public's opinion/stereotyping of e-sports and gamers?
Nientonsoh: I feel the general public's opinion/stereotyping of professional gamers is iffy at best, most assume that the average pro gamer is like the guy from the World of Warcraft South Park episode when in reality most of the pro's are just your average people who happen to really enjoy and also be good at video games.
If you were given a platform to address people who subscribed to those ideas what would you say to them?
Nientonsoh: I'm not really sure to be honest, there are some people that would do a much better job at convincing them than I would.
Do you think as time progresses their views will change?
Nientonsoh: Yes, I’m sure, it seems like League and other games in general have gotten a lot more interest recently, and who knows how much attention the World Finals for League will get.
Did any of your friends and family react negatively when you told them about taking E-sports to a professional/serious level?
Nientonsoh: Yeah, mostly all of my family and friends were a bit worried after I told them I was going to delay college for League, but ultimately league is what I want to pursue right now. Having the opportunity to play video games for a living is a lot of people's dreams, and I would regret not taking advantage of the opportunity. My family/friends slowly started changing their views when they actually realized that I could make money from e-sports.
Do you see this career branching into something else as well - for example a job in an e-sports or video game company? Or do you plan on going back to University afterwards?
Nientonsoh: Potentially, yes it could branch into something, but who knows! A lot could change all I know is that I will do my best to continue making a career out of this, because I really do love my 'job.’
How do you feel about the Korean attitude towards e-sports and League of Legends specifically, the way that it is treated as a professional and legitimate sport with a large following? Do you think it will ever become as common or widespread in the Western World?
Nientonsoh: I really admire the Korean attitude towards e-sports in general, it's really awesome. I wish that the Western world had a similar attitude towards it, but who knows what could happen in the future! Only time will tell.
How do you feel about the current level of professionalism in the e-sports and League of Legends arena?
Nientonsoh: Well pretty much all of the pro players act pretty professional, at least on stage. Even after a loss, every match I've seen at a LAN both teams shake each other's hands/say gg etc.
To wrap up, who's someone in the e-sports scene that you look up to?
Nientonsoh: I think that I'd have to pick Froggen he is just an all-around amazing player!