Father's Day 2021: Esports dads talk missing family, balancing career

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·Yahoo Esports & Gaming SEA team
·5-min read
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From left to right: Kuku, iceiceice, SynC and Jaypee (Photos: T1, EG, RSG, AURA PH)
From left to right: Kuku, iceiceice, SynC and Jaypee (Photos: T1, EG, RSG, AURA PH)

Even as a relatively young industry, the esports scene has already seen a generation of professionals who've grown from youths to adults.

This Father's Day, Yahoo Esports talked to four dads in esports about balancing being a father and their professional careers.

It's all about balance

For Singaporean Dota 2 professional Daryl "iceiceice" Koh, balancing a happy family and being competitive requires sacrifice from all family members.

Iceiceice, whose son Lucifer turns 4 this year, said finding that balance was the biggest lesson he'd learn in esports.

"Family and career are sometimes opposed. If you invest a lot of time in your family, you will not have enough time to devote to training and competition, especially in a profession like esports as it requires a lot of time to be spent everyday," the current Evil Geniuses player told Yahoo Esports.

"Take my family as an example. I spend more than half of the year playing or training overseas. And even when I have holidays at home, most days I have to spend more than 10 hours a day training," iceiceice added. "So most of the time, my wife takes care of the family's daily affairs alone while working, and my son goes without seeing his father for a long time. Thus I am very grateful that my family members still fully support my career in this situation."

Fellow Dota 2 professional Carlo 'Kuku' Palad told Yahoo Esports that parenting and professional Dota 2 taught similar lessons.

"I love what I am doing and I balance my time as much as possible with both," said Kuku, who is the captain of The International-bound T1. "The greatest lesson for both is that you just have to do your best in every aspect and it will pay off in the end."

The Filipino player also said he hoped his daughter, who is named after the Dota 2 Windranger, Lyralei, would share his interest in gaming and play together.

"She's my lucky charm... I miss my kid a lot whenever I'm away," said Kuku, who is currently in Kyiv with the rest of the T1 squad after the recent WePlay AniMajor. "I'm glad tournaments are only for a short period of time."

Mobile Legends professional Ho "SynC" Ee Hong told Yahoo Esports that he had initially travelled for competitions together with his family, as his son is very close to him.

However, he had to leave his wife and son by themselves in an unfamiliar land when he had to go to the competition venue.

"They had issues finding dinner, and I was in the midst of a competition, so I ended up worrying about them and [was] not able to focus on my competition," said SynC, a Singaporean who currently plays for RSG. Despite staff at the venue helping arrange for food after knowing about the situation, SynC said they only managed to have their dinner around 9pm.

"So instead of bringing them along and worrying about them, I feel more at ease when they’re at a place they are comfortable with and I need not worry."

Kids' future in esports?

SynC said he would also tell his son that being an esports professional may look "all fun and mazing", but "when your whole life revolves around gaming, the 'fun' element in gaming sort of gets taken away".

Being both an esports personality and a dad "requires whole-hearted commitment", said SynC. "You have to listen to what your child wants to say, and not just what you want to hear. Similarly, you have to listen to what viewers and fans talk to you about and not just what you wanna hear."

Jaypee "Jaypee" Dela Cruz, a Filipino Mobile Legends player, said he felt he could do "anything and endure all sorts of hardships", if it meant securing a better future for his child.

"Whenever I feel the pressure or feel like giving up, I always think that I need to overcome everything for my family, and that's exactly how I get through stuff and is one of the reasons why I am where I am today," said Jaypee, who plays for AURA Philippines and is married to AURA's country manager Clarisse Michelle "Mitch" Liwanag.

Like iceiceice, Jaypee told Yahoo Esports that he would feel homesick when required to spend time away from his loved ones. "My family, my loved ones and my kid — they give me strength. And by being with them, I forget about the stress and being tired."

"You can imagine how hard it is to be far away from them, especially [considering] that some tournaments like Mobile Legends Professional League require a lot of time in the field," Jaypee said. "However, it makes spending time with my family extra rewarding, too. I might lose in-game, but I feel like a total champ when I think of how lucky I am to have them."

He also said he'd be "more than happy" to guide his daughter if she were inspired to follow his footsteps.

"If she is to pursue the same path as I did, me and my wife — we'll be there to back her up. To fuel her passion and be there in every step of the way."

"Being in esports will test your patience. That is something I am used to by now. That being said, I get to be very patient when being a dad," Jaypee shared, adding that raising a kid in the early stage was "really taxing on the patience department".

But enduring it all and still being able to stand up strong pays off, said Jaypee. it pays when you have endured so much and still be able to stand up strong. 

"My kid would never see me tired or frown upon small things. I still have the energy to spend time with her, as I would not want her to feel the time that we spent apart. 

"No matter how long we're apart, I make sure to make time to make it up to her as a dad."

Read also:

Mother's Day 2021: Esports moms talk balancing passion with motherhood

Iceiceice will miss family, Singapore food, while away playing for EG

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