Championing the Rift: Akshaj "Kai" Shenoy's Path to the Helm of India's LoL Team

Bryan "Dracorexia" Francis
category_image League of Legends
    Reading time  ~11  mins

    Akshaj Shenoy is a professional League of Legends player from India who has made history by leading his team to qualify for the 2022 Asian Games. He is the captain and mid-laner of the Indian squad, which consists of five talented players from different parts of the country. Akshaj, who goes by the in-game name ‘Kai’, is known for his strategic mindset and exceptional gameplay skills, which have earned him respect and admiration from both his peers and opponents alike. The 21-year-old from Bangalore has become a driving force behind the team’s success. Kai’s leadership qualities and ability to make quick, decisive calls make him an invaluable asset to the team.

    We Sat down with Akshaj to learn more about the Indian Esports Ecosystem and understand how much exposure League Of Legends has within India. As well as discuss his journey in this game and how he became the captain of the team representing India in the upcoming Asian Games.

    Bryan "Dracorexia" Francis, BLIX: My first question is that how has life been since you realized that you would be the captain of the Indian League of Legends Team?

    Akshaj “Kai”  Shenoy: It all began four years ago. When I made my team, I knew that it would be one of the strongest, and it was. One of my former teammates, who was part of the previous Indian team, was part of the Asian Games squad. He informed me that the upcoming Asian Games would have a qualifying stage, and he asked me if my team was ready for the games. Since I became the captain, my life has become more disciplined, and I have not been known to slack off as much.

    BLIX:  In a few words, please talk about your introduction to the game and the start of your journey.

    Kai: At the outset, I would like to recall that I had never had a high-quality PC. At the time, not many games were supported, so I found League to be very, you could say, low-end on the graphical side. I became interested in League after watching a lot of content creators for it on YouTube and found it to be very entertaining. I decided to try the game, as I had heard that the Indian League's counterpart was more well-known, namely Dota 2. I attempted to play both games and found that Dota 2 was not my preference. Despite the lack of a server, I had a great time playing League. Initially, I used the North American and European servers and occasionally switched to the Japanese server. Someone informed me that the parent company had leased the Southeast Asian servers to a company known as Garena. Five years ago, I started playing on Garena server, and that's when I realized that it wasn't my skill that was holding me back, but rather the ping. Initially, my ping was 300 on the North American servers, and then it increased to 160 on the European servers. When I started playing Garena servers in Singapore, which is relatively close to India, I began to receive about 60 to 70 ping, which is still average but much more playable. I was able to progress through the ranks so quickly that I realized it was the ping that was keeping me behind.

    BLIX: As a 21-year-old, How have you been able to maintain the balance many hope to seek between their professional, academic, and social life?

    Kai: It is all about balance. Even my teammates are equally or busier than me. They are currently working, and I am the youngest on the team. Apart from them, two other students are attending college. I am in my last year, and it is all about passion. Of course, I must focus on my college studies and make sure I do not fall behind, but it is important what I do with the remainder of my free time. Most people want to have some leisure time, but since I am the Captain of the Indian Team, I must spend it constructively. Initially, it is quite challenging, but once I understand that it is entirely up to me and how I choose to spend my time, it will become much easier. I have come to love what I do more because I recognize that I am among the best players.

    BLIX: As a captain, how did you decide which players you wanted to take on this journey to the upcoming Asian Games?

    Kai: The origin of the team can be traced back to the beginning. Initially, the Indian community was not very large, and due to Internet issues, not many people were aware that India had a dependable server to play on at the time, namely Garena. After playing on the team for approximately one year, which is when I first joined, I realized that I needed to take it to the next level. Therefore, I decided to scout players who had similar talents or were seasoned veterans who were highly valued members of the team. Consequently, I decided to conduct a draft and began reaching out to these players. The idea was found to be quite interesting and the players were very receptive to the concept. Since the formation of the team, we have won approximately 10 South Asian tournaments and have not lost a single tournament since.

    BLIX: Is there any particular trait that you were looking for within your teammates while scouting?

    Kai: I would like to emphasize that [while] rank does matter. It is not enough that you are good at the game. It cannot be good with other people. Many people are very good at the game, but they are egoistic. They are proud of their abilities. It does not allow them to play with other people… and League is a team game. Therefore, coordination and cooperation are important. Therefore, I have selected players who are well-versed in the game and who are, I would say, good communicators and coordinators.

    BLIX: Team India went undefeated in the qualifiers against the likes of Sri Lanka. How much of a moral boost was that for your team?

    Kai: The previous time India participated in regional qualifiers, they were unsuccessful, losing to Pakistan and several other teams. With this in mind, the team was somewhat apprehensive. However… several countries were unable to send a team and withdrew at the last minute. As a result, the South Asian and Central Asian countries were combined into one qualifying round, resulting in a total of four teams: India, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. We only had prior knowledge of the playstyle of Sri Lanka and the inclusion of new countries such as Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic made us nervous. League is a game where one must scout their players beforehand to gain an understanding of them.

    BLIX: Do you feel going undefeated increased the pressure to perform during the Asian Games?

    Kai:  The pressure has been increased due to our success in other Southeast Asian tournaments and our undefeated record here. However, it is important to remember that we are not just professional players, but rather college students and people with regular day jobs who are passionate about the game. China and Korea are the most formidable opponents in the tournament, alongside Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. We have only competed in domestic and regional competitions. At the same time, these players have had the opportunity to face Western teams. We will strive to maintain these expectations and strive to perform at the peak of our abilities.

    BLIX: How crucial do you feel the addition of the new Southeast Asia servers has affected the LoL ecosystem in India? Has providing an equal footing against other nations in the region has been quite detrimental?

    Kai: In the recent past, as I mentioned, the company was licensed to another company in Southeast Asia. After that, Riot took back the license and created their servers. It's been good, and they've been managing the server well. It's not that big of a difference. They've just transformed the servers. The base is still in Singapore, and it's just better management, it's a better routing, and we're still getting around 50-60 ping, which used to be around 60-80 ping. The fact is that they have an official presence on the stage. It looks like Riot India will slowly start investing in the scene. In that sense, yes, they understand that Esports is doing well in India. They realize that India isn't just a mobile game industry; they know that there's an ecosystem out there that they can tap into.

    BLIX: Could you share your daily routine as you prepare yourself and your team for the Main stage of the Asian Games?

    Kai: Besides team play, the best way to improve is to play yourself. So, the solo queue is there. You just queue up solo. You just make sure to reach the highest rank and know how to adapt to the highest rank. You know how to play in those higher ranks. So, that's the first step, and you know that reaching the highest rank is also a step. So, we make sure to practice at least five days a week. If we don't, then we make sure to improve individually. Because five good individual players are a requirement before you can get into team play. Coordination is very important, but you need to be good individually as well. So, we focus on both these aspects.

    BLIX: Looking at the upcoming tournament, what are some of the major goals you would like to accomplish during this tournament while representing your nation?

    Kai: Some players and athletes aim for the stars, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is important to be realistic and keep in mind the objectives of our teams. Therefore, it is not enough to simply be the world's best team. It is necessary to go through the process of becoming the best in one's region, then the best in the next region, and finally the best in the Asian region. Therefore, we are taking a step-by-step approach to ensure that our level is as high as possible. Before the commencement of this event, our goal was to become the best in both India and South Asia. Upon completion of this qualification, we have achieved this goal and are now officially the best in Central and South Asia. Now, we must begin our battle against the Southeast Asian teams, and we must fight against the East Asian teams. Our objective realistically speaking is to be the best in the world. Other countries and regions have invested a great deal of resources into professional players, as they are a lucrative source of income for them. Gaming in India has only recently seen a surge in popularity. Therefore, in this regard, India is lagging. It does not matter, however, as long as we are in our best form and we put up a good fight.

    BLIX: Do you have anything you would like to share with the Indian fans of League of Legends as well as the Indian Gaming Community?

    Kai:  I would like to express my gratitude to my community, as playing with them has been a pleasure. It has been an enjoyable experience to grow with them, not only with my team but also with other players in the community. I have had the pleasure of playing with several players apart from my Team. I want to thank all of them for their contribution and to the Indian gaming community for their contribution. Gaming has always been present in India; however, it has not been a popular trend. I also want to assure fans that my teammates and I will be giving our absolute best effort in every game we play.

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    CS Virtual Trade Ltd, reg. no. HE 389299 Registered address and the principal place of business: 705, Spyrou Araouzou & Koumantarias, Fayza House, 3036, Limassol, Cyprus
    Copyright © 2024 BLIX.GG. All rights reserved.