How Kelly Ong became a pioneer in local esports

Many people turn to video games to escape the mundaneness of everyday life. But for Kelly On, the game gave her something to live in the dark of her life.

“When I was in junior high school, my seniors cut the bra straps and sprinkled water on the front of the shirt to make it transparent,” reveals a 31-year-old woman.

“The brutality of bullying was a shock to me. Then I was molested by the band’s teacher, but when my parents announced it, I felt embarrassed by my family, so I decided not to accuse him.”

Kelly remained “dirty,” sad, and angry because she couldn’t get the justice she wanted. She soon became depressed and self-harmed. She also skipped school and began to fail the class.

Turned to the game

Shut off from the world, Kelly picked up Counter Strike 1.6.. First-person shooters not only helped her escape from real-life pain, but also helped her regain some confidence.

“It didn’t matter if I was a man or a woman. It didn’t matter what I looked like. The important thing was that I was the best player on the server. This is to live with me. Gave me something and helped me rediscover a little self-esteem, “she says.

By the time she was 15, she was playing a competitive game. However, at the age of 20, she noticed a newborn single mother from an abusive marriage.

“I had to do two jobs to be able to afford to take care of my daughter. I took her to school, went to my daytime work, went home, and she After spending some time, I went to work as a waitress at night. “

Recent photos of Kelly and her daughter, Ally.

Credit: Kelly Ong

But despite burnout, Kelly stuck to her desire to be a professional gamer.

“By that time, I was playing a real-time strategy video game. Starcraft II.. I was pretty good-I won some local tournaments. It was a popular game at the time and symbolized the rise of esports in 2010. “

However, she had few opportunities to do that in Singapore, so she contacted the Korean teamhouse (where players live together and strengthen their practice system) to see if they could pursue their careers. But she was rejected just by gender.

“They all said I would be distracted in a house full of boys.”

To take full advantage of this situation, Kelly decided to focus on sports comments.

“To be the best, you need to do the best training. I couldn’t do that, so I decided to comment instead,” she says. I also made time to comment on the game, even though I “feeled like a third job” to hone my commenting skills.

Shortly thereafter, with the support of her family, who helped her daughter at all times during work, she packed her bags and traveled the world for three years to pursue it as a career. The leap of faith paid off when she got a job as a commentator at the Global StarCraft II League, a large tournament-based event in South Korea.

“Frankly, I was very surprised to be selected. Hundreds of people around the world applied, but in a way I had the opportunity because I was working really hard. I felt it was worth it. “

“I remember being in Maui on vacation when a woman rushed to me and started screaming.’Are you Kelly Milky?’ I answered” yes “and after she saw me I explained that I went to a broadcasting school. I am very grateful that she shared it with me. “

Currently, she is based in Sweden and has a very different position in her gaming career. She is co-owner and chief strategy officer of Alliance, an esports organization sponsored by major companies such as Twitch, Monster and Razer.Game team including Tsuchida 2, Hearthstone, When Fortnite.. In addition to being involved in recruiting and structuring the organization, her work involves scouting for business opportunities and developing social media strategies.

Alliance team with Dota 2 fans in Moscow.

Credit: Kelly Ong

And as a pioneer of women’s esports in Singapore, Kelly is one of the profiles advocated by global esports games. The first global event will take place in December and Singapore is the host city of the year.

Pave the way

Although she has made a series of achievements, Kelly is very proud to “open the door to opportunity” for female gamers.

“One of the first things I did in the alliance was to hire women in company roles that weren’t previously offered to women. We reduced the ratio of men to women in the team to 50/50. I’m working to be and almost there. I want to be a beacon for every girl who wants to work or participate in e-sports. “

She is also pleased that people have endorsed the modern way of looking at team managers.

“Before 2012, the team manager was a pretty glorious” Water Boys “. In many cases, your payment was only for travel and accommodation, “she explains. “When I was a team manager, I didn’t have a guidebook, so I did everything the manager thought I should do. After all, my team that year was Dota 2 (The) at the World Cup. Won the International 3), which changed the way organizations see team managers. Modern e-sports have revolutionized the way team managers are evaluated. “

Want to enter the world of esports as a woman? Kelly has some advice.

“Don’t be afraid to take part in women’s tournaments to build confidence. Ask them to take the place of the team and join the in-house league on a regular basis. Doing so will be scouted. , You can accept criticism because it helps you improve your skills the most. “

“Once you start winning the Ladies League, you’ll compete in a mixed team. Playing for a long time in a women-only tournament may not give you the courage to take the next step.”


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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