Jun Yi Ho – Abyssus Gaming – Can Hearthstone be dethroned?

Jun Yi Ho is the Team Manager and Co-Founder of Abyssus Gaming, an esports organisation based in Singapore. It has a roster in Hearthstone and also has an events arm. We discussed the current state of esports in Singapore and the challenges faced by players, and in turn the development of the scene, in the country. 

Jun Yi Ho, Team Abyssus

We also discussed VR and whether Duelyst or any other digital card games can knock Hearthstone off its perch.

Esports Insider: Can you give our readers some insight into the popularity of the various esports scenes in Singapore and the state of the industry there?

Jun Yi: The popular games in Singapore mostly mirrors that of the rest of the world – League of Legends, DOTA 2, Hearthstone and Overwatch reign supreme. We are also witnessing a rising trend of mobile esports here in Singapore with the likes of Vainglory and Clash Royale proving popular. Recently there was a $3,500 prize pool tournament organised in one of the biggest shopping centres in the country, so we can see esports going from community to the mass market.

“Given that Singapore is effectively bilingual, we can be the bridge between the Eastern and Western scenes which each have their own individual ecosystem”

The esports industry here however is very fragmented, as most individual teams and organisations are working in a silo instead of collaboration.

Despite this I see a huge potential in Singapore. Given that Singapore is effectively bilingual, we can be the bridge between the Eastern and Western scenes which each have their own individual ecosystem.

The societal structure of Singapore also makes it challenging for our youth to pursue a career in esports. Conscription means that guys at the age of 18 have to serve the nation for 2 years, effectively taking two years off their prime years in gaming. Parents also want their children to go college and get a stable 8-5 job in the bank, and so precious few are willing to take the risk to pursue esports. I can understand their point of view as it is high-risk low-reward.

That said, it is good that we have players like iceiceice or RZR Xian who are pioneers. They show us that one can carve out a career in esports if they’re dedicated enough.

Esports Insider: Tell us about the founding of Team Abyssus, its place in esports and the workshops it puts on in Singapore.

Jun Yi: Team Abyssus was founded in 2015 as a competitive Hearthstone team, and have pivoted a few times since then.

Our place in esports is always for the community. We organise events and tournaments as an unifying force for the gaming community. We also publish regular content on our website (teamabyssus.com) with Hearthstone as our current focus but we plan to expand to other games in future.

Esports Insider: You’re a keen fan of Hearthstone and poker. What are your thoughts on the potential further crossover (such as 888Poker’s partnership with FlowEsports)  and Blizzard’s apparent position of reluctance in gambling firms sponsoring teams?

Jun Yi: We’ve also seen Team Liquid partnering with Pokerstars, given that both games are quite similar in nature and they attract the same people. I think that we will see more online gambling sites partnering with esports team in future, as the gasification factor is always there.

With that said, I hope that esports team will exercise due diligence in taking on gambling sponsors, as the big teams do have a sizable impact on their fans. Proper measures can be set in place to ensure that you are gambling responsibly and within your means.

Esports Insider: Will we see other digital card games cropping up in 2017 to challenge Hearthstone’s dominance? You’re involved in Duelyst…

Jun Yi: Duelyst is a really good game, we have players in our team who say that the gameplay is far more intriguing and balanced than Hearthstone.

However, certain features such as a mobile version need to be released before it can challenge Hearthstone. We are also seeing Shadowverse gaining popularity across the region with particularly impressive card art.

“Duelyst is a really good game, we have players in our team who say that the gameplay is far more intriguing and balanced than Hearthstone”

I am excited to see more indie studios developing their own card games, as this presents gamers with a wider selection. Personally, I don’t think Hearthstone will be dethroned as the #1 digital card game anytime soon. The folks at Blizzard are constantly improving the game. We used to say that our feedback to Team 5 always fall on deaf ears, but they are opening up. They are engaging the community, holding exclusive interviews with gaming sites, conducting live Q&As on Twitch, replying readers on Reddit and so on.

Esports Insider: SLIVER.tv recently announced a deal to broadcast 14 ESL and DreamHack events…thoughts on virtual reality as a way to consume esports events live?

Jun Yi: I think that there is still a long way for VR to go before it becomes mainstream. There are several VR products in the market right now, but it will take many years before it goes mass market. It is still in the experimental stage now, with companies dabbling a bit here and there to test the market.

However, the potential that VR presents is huge. Imagine plugging in and watching your esports team live on stage or even in the game itself. The experience that it offers the consumers is vastly different from watching on your monitor.