Photo: ah fu (centre) and LFY won US$2.5mil at The International 2017. — Valve
Hailing from the rustic little town of Tanjung Sepat, Tue Soon Chuan began playing Dota at the tender age of 13.
However, no one would have thought that the kid from rural Selangor would eventually emerged as one of Malaysia’s brightest young talent in Dota 2, the popular multiplayer online battle arena game.
Better known by his in-game name “ah fu”, he had to thank his friend for introducing him to the quirky, funny world of gaming and Dota 2.
He quickly fell in love with the game and gradually grew his skills and talents. It ultimately propelled him, unexpectedly, into a professional career.
Surprisingly, his parents supported and trusted him for a full time career in gaming. By contrast, most teenagers from conservative Asian households often find themselves being forced to pursue doctorate or the likes for a brighter future.
Still, had he not become the “Aegis” stealing hero of The International 2017, he would have most likely ended up helping his parent’s business.
Ah fu first caught the attention of the world when with the all-Malaysian team WarriorsGaming.Unity. The team shocked the Dota 2 world by edging out the region’s top and fan favourite, Fnatic for a place in The Boston Major back in December.
Despite the initial success, ah fu eventually opted for a greater challenge abroad which saw him turned go on trial with the Shanghai-based LGD.Forever Young (LFY).
Ah fu joins the illustrious ranks of Malaysian players such as “ChuaN” Wong Hock Chuan and “Mushi” Chai Yee Fung, who have represented Chinese top teams in the past.
It’s a common fact that Malaysian players are highly sought after by the Chinese for their skills and the common mother tongue.
The trial eventually turned permanent and the rest is history.
Competing in his very first ever The International tournament at a tender age of 23, ah fu stole the highlight reel more often than not.
In fact, the most memorable moment of the tournament came in the game against Russian giant Virtus.pro.
Outnumbered four to one, with the possibility of losing the Roshan to the enemy, ah fu blinked into the pit, stole the Aegis of the Immortal right under the noses of the Russians, and immediately rolled out of the way with the “steal of the tournament”.
For starters, the Aegis is a unique item drop available to the player/team upon the defeat of Roshan the Immortal. Similar to the mushroom in Super Mario, it grants the bearer the ability to revive from the dead.
Despite his game-changing exploit, Ah fu humbly credited his steal to clear communication with his Chinese teammates.
Playing in the support position himself, it was no surprise that he named “Fly” (Tal Aizik) from team OG as his idol.
Fly is arguably one of the best support players in the world at the moment, captaining the European-based team to victory in four Valve-hosted Major tournaments (Frankfurt, Manila, Boston and Kiev).
However, chances are we might not be seeing any all-Malaysian superstar dream team anytime soon though as ah fu has clearly indicated that LFY will be his home for now, at least.
While he might have won more than RM2mil on paper, ah fu himself is still unclear on the amount he would eventually receive due to the taxes, and cuts which are taken by the team, coaches, analysts, etc.
Coming from a rural part of Selangor, how did you end up playing Dota professionally? How were you introduced into the game? Was it a friend, family or something else?
I was introduced to Dota by my friend when I was 13 and I got hooked on it. I really liked this game and I have confidence in my skills so I decided to give professional scene a try.
Were your parents supportive when you told them you were turning pro?
My parents were supportive of my decision. They gave me a lot of trust since I was young.
What do you think you would be doing now if Dota did not come into your life?
I don’t know. Maybe I will be helping my parents in their business.
How did you ended up with Team LFY? Is it because of our common language or the quality of the players we have?
I thought that I needed to make some changes so I asked some of my friends from China if they have any recommendation. Because of that, I got the opportunity to go to LFY for trial.
Chinese teams think highly of Malaysian players. For example Mushi, Chuan and a number of other players that have played for major teams in China. In your opinion, why?
I’m not sure about it too. Maybe the players that have played against major teams in China are very strong so they gave the China community that kind of impression.
Why join a Chinese team and not team up with familiar faces in Southeast Asia?
When I decided to make some changes, the first thing I have thought of was changing the environment/community. I felt that China will be a suitable place for me hence I made this decision.
Do you think your team (LFY) could have done better and beat Liquid especially with the spectacular group stage record?
The result proved and there is no doubt that Liquid is the strongest team of TI this year.
Your clutch play against VP to steal the Aegis away right under the nose of five enemy heroes was one of the best moments in TI7. Have you done that before? Was it coincidence or something you have in plan before?
I have done similar moves in past tournaments. At the time, there was no plan but simply a self-judgement and communication with teammates.
Since esport is not quite an established industry in Malaysia yet, what would you do when you finally decide to retire from gaming?
I’m not sure about that as I have no plan for it yet. I will make my decision when the time comes.
Despite winning about RM2mil, how much did you ended up getting especially with the US and Chinese government taxes imposed on the prize?
I’m not sure about this, still inquiring about it but I believe won’t be as much as it is written for sure.
By the way, where is LFY based in? Shanghai?
How many hours do you (and the team) train everyday?
8 to 10 hours.
Is the training routine as hard as often as those when you were in Malaysia?
Yes. We train hard also in WG.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between a top Chinese team and a Malaysian one?
Compared to Malaysian teams, the Chinese are more stable.
More stable in terms of? The lineup? Or the performance?
Was talking to a few Malaysian top players and they said Malaysian players don’t train as much as don’t have discipline.
Disciplined or not depends on the team and players.
Last one. Who is your idol in Dota2? And what’s your favourite moment from TI7?
“Fly” (Tal Aizik) from team OG. That moment we come back and won the game against Virtus.pro in game 2 was really unforgettable.
Why do you look up to Fly? Mind to explain a bit?
I like those people who can be captain really well.