If Benedict "hyhy" Lim could do it all over again, he would have focused more on his burgeoning esports career.
Instead, he worked on finishing his studies first and left competitive Dota 2 after the second The International (TI)in 2012. He's currently signed on as a talent for Emerge Esports, which boasts a stable of talent, including Dota pro and caster Dominik "Black^" Reitmeier.
"I regret that I didn't give up my studies earlier," said the 31-year-old two-time The International competitor, and one of the three stars of the Valve Free to Play documentary. The film, released in 2014, is now available on Netflix.
For hyhy, Free to Play was an interesting and fun experience he did, though he did say some of the storylines were played up a bit for the drama.
In the documentary, hyhy was seen competing against the best wishes of his parents and relatives, simultaneously chasing the dream of winning and using that to reunite with his ex-girlfriend.
"Rewatching Free to Play just gives me a lot of bittersweet memories," said hyhy in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Esports SEA. "It reminded me of the good times where I was playing and competing."
While Scythe Gaming did not win, they came in third, bowing out to Chinese powerhouse EHOME. At the end of the film, hyhy got back together with his ex. But there's no happy ending here.
"We broke up last year. We were supposed to get married, it was a good 13 years, but it's over. We both decided we were not suited for marriage, that's it," said hyhy.
Given a choice to redo, the then straight-A student would have "pursued gaming to the max".
Another factor was that Dota 2 was a five-man game and he didn't want to let his team mates down. That's why hyhy made the choice to give up time spent on studying to compete.
With TI tournaments clashing with his final exams, he was forced to repeat the year, and finally decided to give up his competitive Dota career.
A new start
Leaving competitive Dota 2 after TI2, hyhy decided to join fellow teammate Joshua "ToFuBoi" Tan Jun Liang to play in the growing League of Legends scene.
"I actually decided on LoL because I was just one year away from serving national service. I had already given Dota so many years, and I was really disappointed with my performance at TI1 and TI2, so I decided to give it another start with a different game."
That, however, didn't last long, as he came back to compete for KingSurf, then White Fries Gaming, before finally leaving competitive Dota 2 in 2017.
"I got offers to join LGD and Newbee, but as I decided on White Fries Gaming in the end. I was on good terms with the owner, and they offered the most. I also wanted to be a big fish in a small pond," he said.
Having now somewhat retired from competing, hyhy now works on his side businesses and investments, which also involves cryptocurrency.
The former pro admitted that he was still very much in love with esports, and wants to still be a part of it, whether it's coaching, content creation, or anything that he can do to "be involved in whatever little way" he can.
Forging his own path
Interestingly, only hyhy's mother has caught a bit of the documentary, saying that she was somewhat proud he was featured. His dad has not watched it, nor have his aunts who were featured in the film.
"For those who have watched the documentary, you could tell that my parents were not supportive of me gaming. However, the film did cement the fact that her son did achieve something in gaming," hyhy said.
"Asian parents will always remain Asian parents to a certain extent. Parents will want to have more control over their kids, as compared to Americans and European parents."
Hyhy added that while his mum felt that she was right to have advised him to continue on with his studies, he said he was more certain than ever that he should have stayed on his own path.
In the end, his mum was glad that she was wrong and that hyhy had stuck to what he wanted to do after finishing his studies.
The new generation
For the new generation of players, hyhy has some sage advice, having been there, and done that.
"If you want to have success in whatever you do, you need to be really committed. I didn't allow myself to go to sleep until I perfected something. It requires a lot of commitment to correct your own mistakes, to watch your own replays and analyse what needs to be done. In esports, a lot of it comes down to your analytical skills."
Stressing a need to "correct your mistakes", hyhy also said that being smart helps, but one needed to know when to call it quits.
"I see a lot of younger teenagers who spend a lot of time gaming. The thing is, you have to be true to yourself, you should only do this if you have talent. Otherwise, your time could be better spent on studying."
Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com
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