In 2020, competitive gaming, eSports, streaming, and gaming influencers are bigger than ever. The eSports scene is growing at an exponential rate, and there’s a lot of space for gamers to make a name for themselves in the industry.
Exploring the current state of play, Plarium sat down with an influencer who certainly has an interesting perspective on the world of gaming. In their interview, we managed to get some key insight into modern competitive gaming.
For us, there was no better personality to interview than Professor Akali, a former competitive gamer-turned-YouTube star. These days, he posts regular League of Legends content on his channels.
Without further ado, let's find out Professor Akali’s thoughts on the competitive gaming scene, where LoL is heading and much more, in an exclusive interview.
Professor Akali’s real name is Kevin Payaam Maroufkhani. He is a former challenger, professional League of Legends player, and gaming coach. Since 2016, Professor Akali has been running his own popular YouTube channel, which features League of Legends guides and LoL entertainment videos.
The influencer’s channel, aptly named "Professor Akali," boasts over 758,000 subscribers and over 900 videos. It’s simply a huge channel for any League of Legends fan, with plenty of helpful and entertaining streams.
Professor Akali’s first video, "Winning A Diamond Ranked Game In Two Plays Ft. Best Akali KR," went live on YouTube all the way back on August 21, 2016. Growing immensely in popularity in the years since, the videos he creates now get hundreds of thousands of views.
His most popular creation to date is "Professor Akali vs. 5 Bronze Players (1v5) – League of Legends," which has over 2.2 million views. Along with his most popular video to date, Professor Akali has nine other streams that have eclipsed one million views. He has certainly earned a mighty audience of gamers within the League of Legends community, if not with eSports fans at large.
Professor Akali predominantly uses the rogue assassin Akali as his champion when playing League of Legends. As his name would suggest, the player has an affinity for the moderately difficult assassin champion.
But why does Professor Akali use Akali in LoL? When asked why he’s so attached to the character, Professor Akali responded, "She is by far the most fun character in the game to play.” Akali is a strong player in the game, which is likely why she was nerfed in the most recent 10.3 patch, but the Professor's reply reminds us how it’s important to use fun champions as well as strong champions.
One of the reasons why Professor Akali has been able to reach the heights of pro gaming is precisely because he enjoys using Akali. This has, in turn, made it much easier for him to put in the hours it takes to become a great player and streamer.
We also asked what makes him so much better at using Akali than his fellow influencers. He teasingly responded that he is just better at the game than his counterparts. Of course, the point was also made that he also plays as Akali thousands of times a year.
As anyone who has played League of Legends will know, there is a distinct difference between experienced players and noobs. In games like LoL and DOTA 2, there's a grand learning curve and many aspects to become familiar with if you hope to be a competitive player.
Outsiders often perceive professional gaming as a hobby of little effort. This is because gaming is, for most people, a leisurely and entertaining activity. Getting to the penthouse of pro gaming, though, takes thousands of hours of practice and strategizing. Professor Akali shows this as he explains how dedicated he is to just one champion on League of Legend.
Gaming on PC offers the player more controls and functions, which increases the skill that can be used in-game, says the pro. Professor Akali explains that the options on console controllers are too narrow to compete competitively, and we know quite a lot of his peers who would agree.
According to the former League of Legends pro, console controllers are simply too small and limited for competition. He told us that a small controller of around 14 buttons doesn't give players enough of a range of controls as compared to the keyboard. Professor Alkali aptly finished his point by saying, "if you think that you can play competitively with an Xbox controller, you’re delusional."
It’s easy to see why this is the case just by looking at the new games coming onto the scene. New titles aspire to the gameplay and skill levels in the likes of DOTA 2 and League of Legends. Developers want to replicate the immense depth and skill required to play their games to become respected competitive PC titles. This can be seen in the design and depth of PvP Arena battle title Raid: Shadow Legends on PC. With over 300 champions, epic boss battles, and over one million builds, Raid offers the depth desired by gamers. Due to the nature of the intense PvP arena, players are also required to learn the game and develop the skill to rise up the ranks - as it goes with almost every successful game worth the trouble.
Professor Akali believes that the worst part of a solo queue game is players who talk, chat, or moan too much. Simply put, players who are concentrated on winning don’t tend to do much typing. So, in LoL, you can tell who is going to be annoying in the game by their volume of chatter.
Professor Akali stated that people who vent are the most annoying: “More specifically, the jungler always frigging cries.” In his experience in the professional ranks and to this day, he says that basically every high-level jungler cries in the game.
What's more, Alkali says that there’s one situation that always gets the jungler moaning: When the game is around two minutes in, and the mid-laner doesn’t have pressure, he can’t roam to help the jungler. But the jungler wants help because they suck and get invaded.
Clearly, Professor Akali doesn't have much time for junglers who can't do their jobs and moan for help when things aren't going their way. In competitive LoL, the best way for a team to rise to the top is for everyone to be pulling their weight well in their own space. In the early game, the mid-laner can't give up their post to help the jungler, so there's no point crying for help.
If you happen to play jungler and are still reading at this point, the advice the pro has for you is that if you don’t want to get under the skin of your teammates, you’d best avoid crying in the chat and instead work on not getting invaded early on.
Interestingly, Professor Akali sees a strong future for competitive mobile gaming. His view is primarily based on the fact that mobile devices are getting stronger, and mobile games are developing rapidly.
It may not be up to the standards of PC gaming, but we can all admit that we've sunk a fair bit of time in a free mobile game. Most of us have also spent a bit of money on some microtransactions too. Mobile gaming is simply too diverse, easy, and convenient for it not to appeal to everyone - let alone to gamers.
Mobile gaming can still best be described as a guilty pleasure by most. The platform has a bit of stigma due to the games seemingly being inferior to console and PC games. Professor Akali used to be of the thinking that mobile games aren't good enough to be competitive. However, he’s since come around on the idea, despite the obvious difference in controls here too.
When asked if he sees a future for competitive games on mobile, he said:
“I used to not think so, but considering how mobile games are evolving so rapidly – in terms of how smoothly they run and all these things – and computers are not [evolving]. Mobile devices are getting stupidly strong, to the point where they’re like a computer from a year or two ago. I would say there’s definitely a very strong chance [that there’s a future for competitive mobile games], and, on top of that, the last fact is: So many people like mobile games.”
That's a fair point if we've ever seen one. As pretty much all of us have mobiles in our pockets and mobile games are so easily accessed, it shouldn't be surprising that mobile games are so popular. The mobile scene has become much more competitive and now there are loads of high-quality games available.
Now, mobile gaming is at a place where it wants to expand alongside the growing eSports industry. Of course, mobiles aren’t quite ready for sprawling MOBAs – mostly due to the limited controls available. But well-balanced and highly-competitive games are still making it to mobile devices. A prime example of this is Raid: Shadow Legends, which has delivered top-class competitive mobile gaming by adapting the PC version to be compatible with the small screen. It has the depth and customization options that competitive players seek, but with mobile-optimized controls.
Professor Akali has dabbled in the poker scene in the past but says that he doesn’t like the game anymore.
Speaking on his experiences on the poker scene at a competitive level, Professor Akali claims that it went well - until it didn't. He enjoyed the game until he lost, which he says ended up being a net loss. In fact, the League of Legends star says he still wouldn't be recommending the game to anyone else. He says that poker is a boring and slow game - as you would expect from someone whose game time is predominantly spent in the action-packed maps of League of Legends.
We thank Professor Akali for taking the time to talk with us and giving us a look into the exciting world of competitive gaming.
Professor Akali continues to put up several League of Legends videos each month, which you can check out on his channel over on YouTube.