Not in NA Anymore: Interview with AL SG Manager Nelson Sng
Mon 8th Jul 2013 - 9:39pm
As Season 3 is in full swing, teams are looking for their chance to get into the Season 3 World Championships by overcoming their rivals in their regions. In North America and Europe, this means teams get ready to show their stuff on the biggest stage, the League Championship Series.
In Korea, teams fight to earn circuit points so that they might qualify for the season-ending Korean Regionals. However, in Southeast Asia, each individual region will be sending up a representitive to try to fight for those coveted World Championship spots, and they determine who this representitive is by holding a tournament at the national level. One of those tournaments is The Legends Circuit, where teams from Singapore play in a thirteen week league with the goal of winning the top portion of the $20,000 prize pool and the right to play in the name of Singapore at the SEA Regional tournament.
One of the teams that is in the hunt for this Regional spot is Absolute Legends, which is a long-running semi-professional team in Singapore. aL SG hopes to win the spot and solidify their place as a contender in SEA, with former Sentinel star Baldwin "Equivocal" Sai leading the way. In an effort to find out more about the Legends Circuit, I talked with the manager of aL SG, Nelson Sng, to talk about aL's chances in the Legends Circuit and in the future. 
How long have you been with Absolute Legends Singapore? You've been with them since the start right?
Nelson: Yes, I have, I've been with aL since early 2012 when they merged and disbanded with CLG. The team itself was picked up on November 21, 2012.
That was right before IEM Singapore, wasn't it?
Nelson: Just before IEM Singapore.
As a team, you've had a moderate amount of success. You came in 5th at IEM Singapore, and qualified for IEM Sao Paulo, while coming in at the top in a few regional tournaments. However, you've been on fire so far in the Legends Circuit [TLC] and are in second place behind the Garena-sponsored Sentinels by a single game.  Do you think you guys have hit a groove, and do you think you can take the tournament?
Nelson: I do not think we can take first place against SGS, but our goal for the TLS is top two. Because there is no difference other than prize money for the top two in the TLC. The top two will play against each other for a slot in the SEA regionals. This is mainly because SGS is the only team that can afford to train full time.
They're the only non-semipro team in the tournament, correct?
Nelson: We are one of the three semi-pro teams. The rest are amateurs.
The other two semi-pros being the Insidious Gaming squads?
Now, the team recently added a new support, Victoria "Miss Valentine" Lok, after Martin "Mexi" Lew left the squad in May. Why did Martin leave, and why did you guys settle on Victoria to fill his spot on the roster?
Nelson:At the start of the formation of the team with ReS, APET, BBTY, cwCwCW and mexi, mexi was supposed to be the ADC. But he performed really poorly, and was moved to Support while BBTY moved to AD. The team gave him time to improve, but he did not have the motivation to do so as a support. Thus we decided to bench him. The next day, he decided to leave the team. We got in Sexyboy to fill in the role as he was a good friend of the team. However, in the end, he proved to be a stronger Mid/Top compared to a Support, and he moved back to the substitute role.
Then the team decided to get Miss Valentine, who was the highest rated female player in SEA and probably Taiwan. She was also one of the player's girlfriends, thus the transition was easy. In between [the team giving mexi giving him time to improve and his benching] we had a major roster reshuffle, with two players [ReS and APET] leaving and Equivocal and BeNw joining. One thing to note was BeNw was a complete newbie at the time, playing LoL for only two months, and playing exclusively normal games. So it was a huge risk we took.
Why'd you guys take the risk on BeNw?
Nelson: Equivocal wanted his friend to enter the competetive LoL scene and wanted him to join aL once he was ready. xBeNw was a relative newbie to LoL, but he was one of the best players in Dota. Therefore we took the risk to take him in. However back then, we had cwCwCW in the top lane who was considered one of the best top laners in SEA. Therefore we had to undergo some roleswaps to accomodate to BeNw playing in the top lane.
But, both Miss Valentine and BeNw have worked out quite well.
Nelson: Yes. Miss V was already a proven support so it wasn't much of a risk. BeNw was.
When you use SEA, you're excluding Taiwan correct? And Hong Kong is its own beast?
Nelson: Yes. Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philipines, and Thailand. HK and Taiwan play on the same servers.
Do you think the team can compete with anyone in SEA/Taiwan?
Nelson: Yes, of course. We train exclusively with the TeSL and the top GPL teams, such as Wayi Spider, EDP [eSports Dragons Pro] , Gamania, TPS [Taipei Snipers], SAJ [Saigon Jokers], SGS. Occasionally before GPL, if teams need to scrim to practice, such as BKT [Bangkok Titans], they would scrim against us. I recall scrimming against them 5 times and they used the same strategy over and over, and they beat SAJ the next game.
If the GPL was ever looking for a second team from Singapore, do you think you guys would fit the bill?
Nelson: Yes, of course. In fact, if we were to compete in the GPL now, I would say we will be competing with SAJ to finish in the top 4.
Now lets take a step back from the team and talk about the scene in Singapore and SEA in general. How healthy would you say the competitive scene is in SEA, and if you could change one thing, what would it be?
Nelson: I do not think it is healthy at all. There are little to no new talented players/teams entering the scene. In fact the "newest" top team in SEA is iSG Exiles, and they are the only team who have taken a map off SGS in a LAN tournament at the moment. Majority of the players in the top 4 teams in SG consist of players who were always present since S1 [Season 1].
However, I think the teams in SEA are able to compete against some of the Challenger NA teams. If I recalled correctly, some of our local teams managed to beat aL.NA in scrims (3/5 of aL.NA have moved to FXOpen) , and some of the players even complimented them.
If I were to change one thing, I would like to have more tournaments. Other than the TLC, there is probably only 1 oter LAN event held once every other month. Therefore, there is no real motivation for any "real" teams to train. Most amateur teams barely last a month before disbanding, and the amateurs will literally give up and not show up for a match if they are playing against 1 of the top teams.
If you were to rank the regions of SEA (SG MY PH TH VN TW HK), how would you rank 'em?
Nelson: Based on overall strength?
Nelson: Because the top teams of SG can probably beat the top teams from VN, but VN has stronger teams overall. I would say: TW - HK - SG - VN - MY/PH/TH. Taiwan has many many top teams in the TeSL. Even the last placed team would be able to crush everyone else in other regions.
To finish things off, do you have any shout outs?
Nelson: Yes, of course. Shout out to all our wonderful sponsors: Orcbite, TwitchTV, RaidCall, BigPoint, Cachefly, and CKRAS. Thank you to Logitech Gaming for being our wonderful gear sponsor and a huge shoutout to all our fans for supporting us throughout the year. And finally, shoutout to Absolute Legends for picking us up, making us the first non-Garena sponsored team in Singapore. Do like our Facebook page for updates and future giveaways.
I'd like to thank Nelson for sitting down with me, and I wish the best of luck to Absolute Legends as they fight for their team's life in the Legends Circuit. You can check out the Legends Circuit on the Garena Singapore Youtube channel.
 This interview has been edited for style and punctuation, but not for content. Any comments that were not part of the interview are added in brackets or noted with a end-note.
 This was before aL SG fell to the Sentinels in Week 7.
 aL NA had 3 players that transfered to FXOpen after the team's dissolution - ROBERTxLEE, Zekent, and Slooshi. Slooshi no longer plays for the organization.