Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994), the first game in the Warcraft series, was also among the first real-time strategy games to introduce a multiplayer element, paving the way for the style of games that dominate the giant professional gaming industry today. Sean Zhang Xiao Yi, co-founder and CEO of Talon Esports, Hong Kong’s leading professional esports team, tells Richard Lord how it changed his life. I would have been in grade seven, in my early teens, in Australia. I remember fondly our first IT class. Our teacher was a big gamer. He already had it installed, and he passed it around on a floppy disk and showed everyone how to play it. A lot of students installed the game and for the first time were able to play each other in a room; it was my first exposure to competitive gaming. My dad had bought me my first computer, a 486, which was how I first got exposed to gaming, but a lot of that exposure was on my own. Back then, we had dial-up internet, so playing online was very hard. The chance to play on a local LAN (a local-area network), like we did at school, was so rare. It kind of drove my interest in gaming and computers and technology in general. I started by watching my classmates play, and then started to play myself. As I played it, what really excited me was the competitive nature. I had played a lot of competitive sports at school, but never electronic ones. I’d been a gamer my whole life, but never at this level of sophistication. I loved all the different paths and approaches you could take. You were using resources, trying to survive, attacking each other; there was such a wealth of information available that it was kind of overwhelming, but there was also a lot of excitement. It was kind of addictive. We would try to get all our work done early so we could spend five or 10 minutes playing it at the end of class, and also at lunchtime and at recess we would ask the teacher if we could play it. After playing that game, I got hooked on the competitive aspect of gaming. Back then, I probably didn’t realise it, but it was an extension of the competitiveness we’d built playing traditional sports at school. Warcraft helped me understand what you have to be good at to do well in competitive gaming, and those lessons translated well into other games. Tencent-OCA esports alliance can put Hong Kong on global map Since then, I’ve always played that form of competitive games. It helped me when we (Zhang and his co-founder, Jarrold Tham) started our esports team. Of course, we’re not pro players, but it helps us in the business that we know what the players are going through. The game is so old now, but back then it was so revolutionary. I have friends from school that I’m still in touch with, and we still game together. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans was the trigger point.