Photo credit: Sammy Lam (Twitter, website, used with permission of MnM Gaming)
The co-founder of UK esports organisation Molotovs and Marshmallows (aka MnM Gaming), Kalvin Chung, has revealed in a Windows UK interview he once had to beg to survive.
In an honest and humble speech, he recalled a particularly tough time, and explained how creating MnM Gaming helped his life. His comments come after MnM won the ESL League of Legends Premiership for a second consecutive time.
In 2014, Kalvin (pictured, centre) had to go to China as part of his degree – studying at University in Beijing for his joint honour in Economics and Chinese.
“I had to go abroad to China on my own, and in China the internet is very restricted,” he told Windows UK in a video interview (shown below). “So I wasn’t able to do anything, play games, interact with friends… it meant we really had to take a step back.
“We thought let’s start a new organisation, let’s do it properly. We had a bit of money, we won maybe £1,000 but a lot of it went… I had to pay for my rent, I had to live.
“There was this one point in China where I didn’t have any money, and I had to beg for money, because I didn’t have anyone around to help me and I wanted esports to work.
“I thought I’d somehow make money in China and it got that bad, I guess, but I still persevered.”
“There was this one point in China where I didn’t have any money, and I had to beg. I was begging from the street. I either begged for money to pay for a train ticket and some food, or I starved for a week.”
Kalvin Chung, MnM Gaming
Esports News UK reached out to Kalvin after watching the interview, for more details on what he went through. Was he ‘begging’ as in asking friends and family for money, or begging on the street?
“I was begging from the street,” Kalvin said. “I had 40p on my subway card and I needed some water because it was Dragon boat festival, so in about May time it’s 30-40 degrees.
“And because I had no money, my friend invited me to her province about three hours away by train, so I could be fed etc. But because the train tickets were booked in a different province, I had to pay a £1 printing charge.
“But I had about 5p.
“So I had to catch a train in a really busy station in 30 minutes. So I either begged for money to pay the printing cost and get some food, or I starve for a week.”
It seems that founding MnM was a life-changing moment for Kalvin and his brother.
“Yeah it was something I actively worked on and could turn to because I had a lot of family problems,” Kalvin explained. “Living in a house of 10-12 people was hectic growing up – it left a few scars and marks here and there.
“We sometimes swapped with who slept on the sofa when we got too big, because my gran, Dan and myself used to share a bed.
“All money was spent on our education and any presents we ever got from others for Christmas etc were given away because we ‘hadn’t earnt it’.
“And even to this date my favourite meal is rice and an egg on top – because that’s what I had when I was a kid.”
MnM’s founders also spoke about what they look for in players and org staff, and how much they support talent to reach their potential.
Kalvin’s brother and MnM co-founder Daniel Chung (pictured, right) commented: “To be in esports in general, you don’t do it for any other reason than you love it. You’re very passionate about it.
“It’s easy to say you love it and want to be involved, it’s difficult to actually show it. It’s hard to find people who are genuinely passionate and have the ability to go into esports, because it’s not an easy route to take.
“When you say to someone on the street you’re in esports, you instantly get judged.
“‘Oh, you must be dropping out of school or failing in life, essentially’. It’s not a pretty picture, but you just do what you love.”
Kalvin added: “Our players right now range from about 16 to 22. Our League of Legends mid-laner Larssen is 16 and he wants to finish school – he’s incredibly talented. I think he’s taking the right option.
“He has to take that sensible step because it’s such a dangerous market. But when you see players really have the ability and believe in themselves, that makes me think – I need to support this guy.
“Hadow our support obviously cares so much about the game, this is his life. He thinks he can make it and I believe he can.
“That’s why MnM supports these players, whether they make it to greater things… as long as I think I made a difference, I gave them a chance to do something, then I’m always happy.”
Further reading: Read our in-depth interview with MnM founders Kalvin and Daniel Chung from last year here
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association and runs ENUK in his spare time.