Gaming education and DOTA 2 boot camps: Yay or Nay?

Most people who have heard of boot camps associate them with military-style, aggressive, shock training techniques. Given that so many video games are based on combat, it is only natural that Iskandar Puteri’s very own Academy of Esports (AOES) should host gaming “boot camps” which push competitive gamers to perform as professionals.

Theoretically, anyone could become a professional eSports athelete, streamer, coach, manager or analyst. You may need to invest countless hours and a lot of money until you manage to reach champion level though. AOES offers one pathway to gaming greatness: an 8-month DOTA 2 certificate program which costs RM8,500. DOTA 2 is a free-to-play multiplayer battle arena and one of the biggest competitive pro games with a climactic international showdown annually. The rewards are massive; the tournament’s steadily growing prize pool is currently simmering at a cool USD$14,587,971 (RM58.75 million).

As Malaysia’s fully equipped pro-gamer education facility, participants at AOES gain access to top quality gaming gear and personalized programs and courses. Still, RM8,500 is no small sum, and it doesn’t take into account the time investment required to complete the program. Is it worth joining such a course? One way to make your mind is to join a boot camp that puts you to the test. AOES’s DOTA 2 bootcamps in 2017 offered participants specialised eSports training nine hours a day across a week for free. In 2017, AOES hosted 168 bootcampers -- almost 20 per week -- but this year, the numbers are expected to double.

AOES’s boot camp was designed as a shortcut for gamers to acquire the crucial mind-set, inspiration, advice, tools and strategies to become a tournament champion (and take home some serious winnings). Not huge on being that player but enthusiastic about gaming? The boot camp has you covered, serving a strategic platform to find attendees their best fit in the gaming industry. On top of providing free gaming education through these sessions, AOES also offered participants accommodation at only RM100 for the entire week in 2017.

The intense week-long sessions begin at 10:00am sharp on a Monday, kicking off with a thorough personality test before melding into basic housekeeping rules. Attendees then jump straight into hours-long accredited professional practice sessions in a group or solo setting. Day two starts with an analysis of each participant’s personality test results and delivers the fundamentals of a pro player. Each day brings about post-game analysis and technique development before more scrims and skirmishes. The week’s efforts culminate with the final exam: the tournament challenge.

Eight of 2017’s participants used the opportunity to springboard themselves into the 8-month certificate program. Current requirements for AOES’s free bootcamps include being at least 16 years of age and having a DOTA 2 Matchmaking Rating (MMR) of at least 3,500 solo. Potential attendees register individually or as a 5-member team.

“When I heard about AoES Bootcamp coming to Johor, I knew I had to get myself signed up for the next best thing in the eSports industry,” states boot camp participant Amin Martin. “After trying it out, I’m not the slightest bit disappointed.” Local gamer Paul Leong claims he “improved playing as a support for [his] team” after attending a session.

Being a professional gamer is fun and exciting, but it remains a serious profession. Winning tournaments and collecting prizes are the main ways professional gamers generate income. Gamers achieve this by continously improving their teamwork, conflict management, problem solving and more. Coaches at AOES like Muhammad “Groov” Yusuf, Kieran “ZergRush” Lam and Wilson “ShenGG” Quak impart what makes them champions during the academy’s programs. To this, boot camp participant Ridhwan adds, “If you want to study and learn, you will definitely need the best, cool and friendly teachers right? Say no more! AoES got the best DOTA 2 coaches!”

Esports education is a very recent addition to the blossoming gaming sector. Its audience has grown rapidly in the past decade, creating numerous opportunities for gamers around the world to sustain their passion. Initiatives are launching throughout South East Asia to recognise gaming talents and build upon the industry. AOES’s very own Coach Kieran wants to contribute to the growth of Esports as an industry. He points out that the academy’s goal is to empower a generation with a career in eSports not only as professional players but also in relatively new, sought-after trades like streaming, pro coaching, analysts, casters, events management and content creation.

If any of this makes sense to you, grow your MMR score and be part of this year’s intake. Weekend-long boot camps launched this June in Iskandar Puteri for a flat fee of RM50 while upcoming sessions in Kuala Lumpur are in the works.

To find out more about boot camps and courses at the Academy of eSports, visit the official website!

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