Benny Sycho Sid Hung Dropped Out Of Berkeley To Compete In League Of Legends

Team Vulcun League of Legends pro gamer Benny "Sycho Sid" Hung explains how dropping out of college to go pro was the best decision of his life.
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When Benny “Sycho Sid” Hung graduated from high school and went to the University of California, Berkeley, he found the time he spent playing Riot Games’ League of Legends was impacting his grades. Without the permission of his parents, Hung dropped out of college to pursue a professional career in eSports.

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Ever since he stumbled upon DotA in high school, Hung fell in love with the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre. He even convinced his parents to buy him a new laptop for doing homework, although it was mainly used to play DotA. His devotion to DotA was so strong that he didn’t even try League of Legends until a year after it was released. But he was immediately hooked. And his expertise led to a role on Vulcun Techbargains. The pro gamer talks about his love of MOBAs and explains why eSports will continue to grow in this exclusive interview.

How did you get involved in eSports?

My eSports career all started when one of my best friends introduced me to DotA back in my junior year of high school. I played that game on and off for three years, and I believe that I was good enough to play it professionally. Funny thing is, I wasn’t even aware that DotA even had a competitive league over my entire course of playing the game. Although it was the first MOBA game I ever played, I fell in love with the genre immediately. My oldest brother, Kenneth, was the person who introduced League of Legends to me, and his friend, Nancy, was the person who got him into the game in the first place. I was addicted to League of Legends after the first few games I played. It was very easy to apply the skills and game knowledge that I acquired from DotA to LoL. As a result, I was able to climb the ladder at a considerable pace and was starting to make an actual name for myself. Soon enough, teams were noticing me and asked me regularly to substitute for them in tournaments. With enough exposure, I was eventually picked up by more well-known teams, which is the reason why I am playing for Vulcun Techbargains today. 

What does it take to be a pro gamer today?

Imagine pro gaming as a business for a second. What does one need to become successful in the business world? There are numerous factors involved, but the most important ones are: 1) Diligence, 2) Perserverance, and most importantly, 3) Networking. In case the people reading this haven’t already heard this before, it’s not about “what you know,” but “who you know.” In fact, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of players currently playing League of Legends who are extremely talented, but they are never discovered because they do not know the right people to make it to the big stage.

What have you sacrificed to get to where you are today?

I have sacrificed a great deal to get to where I am today. Speaking from a pro gamer’s point of view, we all have, whether it is putting off school or moving away from home. I have done both of these things to chase my dreams. I was previously a student at the University of California, Berkeley. However, my grades there were lackluster and below average compared to those that I got in high school. I can almost completely and whole-heartedly attribute this academic failure to my love for MOBA games. The reason I would procrastinate doing homework or studying for exams was because I would use this time to play games instead. However, I can also attribute my eSports success to this academic laziness as well. For this, I am grateful. Sure, my parents disapproved of my aspirations of taking time off from school to chase this “fantasy” called professional eSports. Sure, we did not see eye to eye, and I left home without their consent as a result. Do I have regrets? None whatsoever. I’ve been enjoying the ride and my parents see this now. Now they support me and watch every game that I play over the Internet streams.

Why do you think League of Legends has propelled eSports to a new level beyond what other games like StarCraft II have achieved?

The reason that League of Legends has exceeded other games on a worldwide level is because of the company backing it up. Riot Games has done a phenomenal job expanding its game internationally. They did not simply design a game and let it become popular in nations across the world; they cultivated it. Other companies are starting to catch on and as a result, eSports as a whole is spreading like wildfire.

What advice would you give to aspiring pro gamers who think they’re good at League of Legends?

Before deciding whether you want to test the waters of pro gaming, do you at least have the three attributes that I mentioned above? If the answer is yes to all of this, begin by asking yourself, “How badly do I want this?” If the answer is “really badly,” now ask yourself, “How much am I willing to sacrifice to achieve it?” If you are willing to make the sacrifices to become a pro gamer, by all means go for it. Let me close out this question with one last piece of advice – please at least have a backup plan.

What’s the biggest misconception about pro gamers?

To a spectator’s eyes, the life of a professional gamer is probably most commonly misconstrued as happy-go-lucky and stress-free. In reality, it is pretty much the opposite. The game that we have played for fun has turned into a job that our lives now revolve around. In most cases, it is our only source of income and independence.

What’s the secret to your success in League of Legends?

Our success as a League of Legends team is due to both our individual mechanical skill as well as the hours of practice and preparation that we put into the game. Our team coach does his homework and constantly gives us tips and ideas for how we can play better. The game is also constantly changing every couple weeks, so the teams that adapt to the current “meta” the best are the ones who will succeed.

Where do you see eSports five years from now?

Five years from now, I can see eSports becoming more standardized across the regions. Right now, we already see that in Korea and the Chinese regions the cultures take eSports as seriously as we take the NFL. North America will gradually become more accustomed to this line of work as the eSports phenomena continues to prosper.


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John Gaudiosi
John Gaudiosi has been covering the video game business for over 20 years for outlets like The Washington Post, Reuters, Fortune, AOL and CNN. He's EIC of video game site Gamerhub.tv.