The story begins in a small internet cafe, where Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod’s mother dropped him each day when she went to work. Little did she know this would lead her son to become a millionaire pro eSports player. After winning second place in his first competition—Audition Thailand Championship 2008—at the tender age of 14, he went on to become a worldwide name, competing in the Point Blank International Championship in 2015 and representing Dallas, Texas, in the Overwatch League as Dallas Fuel’s only Thai player. Now, at the age of 27, he’s shifted his focus to streaming by becoming a full-time content creator for Team Envy. We caught up with him at his new house to learn about his journey through the online world.
Tell us about your life as a player.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve played in so many competitions and not all of them were successful. One of my biggest moments was becoming the only player in Southeast Asia to be selected for Team Envy in the US. I had to move there and struggled with the language at first. We also had a strict training routine, which meant very long days. At noon, I would join a team meeting with five coaches to plan and implement strategy; I then practiced with the team from 1pm to 5pm, sometimes followed by a final team meeting to discuss problems, which could last for hours. After that, we often had personal training before sleep to sharpen our skills. Just like football players who have to work on their speed, we had to train our eyes, ears and hands to be sharpshooters.
What have you gained from the experience?
It has been both the best and the worst experience. Honestly, I came to the US for the money but I lost so many things along the way. I traded my teenage life, friends, and time with family for money to buy a new house, cars and everything. I don’t really think it was worthwhile, as it was at the cost of my happiness. However, I appreciate this rare opportunity. I also had the chance to practice my English, met many famous eSports players, made new friends and gained fans around the world.
What is the key to success in this industry?
Even if you’ve done your best and it wasn’t your fault, you’ll never learn from a failure if you blame it on other factors. Even if it was a friend’s fault, you have to see how you can play a part in fixing the problem then grow from it as a group. This thought process creates good teamwork.
What is your favorite game?
I don’t have any favorites. I enjoy playing board games and even paper games with friends. I still remember when I was in high school, we used to draw on paper, making our own board games. Back in the day, this was the game I enjoyed playing the most. That’s why I think the fun doesn’t depend on the game itself, but on who you’re playing with.
What does it mean to be a content creator instead of a player?
My dream is to become a billionaire. I can never reach that dream by being an eSports player. I also experienced burnout—imagine, for example, if you loved to swim but your coach made you do the same stroke every day and one day you just couldn’t do it anymore. I could only make myself practice the game for two or three hours a day when I’d normally do 14 hours. Being a content creator is a sweet escape, though I have to stream for 10 hours a day, which makes my voice hoarse.
What is your advice for making successful content in a world flooded with Youtube videos?
You have to work hard and create your own opportunities. Thai comedian Dao Kammin is the perfect example. He is funny but no one would ever know him if he hadn’t decided by himself to go on a reality show. Streamers are like that too. If you’ve watched videos by some of the most well-known streamers, you’ll know that famous doesn’t necessarily mean the best. The fastest shortcut? Make a dramatic video. Everyone loves drama. But you can also use determination and reach success by creating lots of content.
How has Thailand’s eSports and online streaming scene developed over the past few years?
Right now, eSports in Thailand is at the point it was in Korea five years ago. It’s growing very fast and people can really make it a stable job. Also, sponsors are not limited to the gaming industry anymore—now you see drinks, clothing brands and many other industries acting as sponsors, which means eSports is expanding every day. If you’re successful, you’ll become a celebrity, but competition is on the rise. This is also the case with online streaming, but the pay ceiling is higher.