Usually when people win sports competitions they're pretty happy about it. Some might even be ecstatic. Back slapping and plaudits are sure to follow. But last Saturday there were a few victors who were not overjoyed.
The members of Valtorta College's team were a bit concerned because the school didn't know they were competing in the Garena Campus League Esports competition. One competitor hadn't even told his parents he would be playing.
In an internet cafe in Mong Kok, a crowd roared, cheered and jeered at a large projector. Commentators shouted things like, "Successful gank! Double Kill! Aced!" This was ground zero at Hong Kong's esports scene, and it was just like a school sports day.
What made it even more like a sports day was the number of secondary and university students competing.
It was also one of the few local esports events held offline.
Hosted by Hong Kong Esports Limited, local students played League of Legends last Saturday for a chance to fly to Taiwan and take on students from Macau and Taiwan for a NT$250,000 (HK$63,000) prize.
Eight teams competed and four went through to the next leg, which will be played online against Taiwanese players.
Representing Hong Kong will be the teams from Po Leung Kuk
C. W. Chu College, Valtorta College, the Chinese University and Hong Kong IVE. Victory online will secure them a spot in the finals in Taiwan.
Even gamers and fans would admit that online gaming has a bad reputation. Adults tell kids they might become addicted, or that time spent playing is worthless. It's not easy being a serious gamer.
So, Cheung Yui-yeung, of the Valtorta College team, admitted that his parents didn't even know he was competing on Saturday. "My parents even object to me playing regular sports. They want me to study and they think sports and games are useless," says Cheung.
"I don't dare tell my parents. I told them I would be playing basketball today," he adds. Faced with the prospect of going to Taiwan to continue playing, he admits things could get complicated.
"I don't know what to say. I'm afraid of what will happen if I tell them I might go to Taiwan to play video games."
Keung Wing-lok, Valtorta's captain, is also quite pessimistic about a serious career in esports. "We planned on telling the school, but after talking to the school social worker, we decided we would only say something if we made it to Taiwan."
He knows exactly why esports doesn't seem to be taking off in the SAR.
"Hong Kong has no room for sports, culture, arts and music. It's all degrees and good jobs and big money. It's a materialist social culture," he says.
But teammate Ng Yip-fung has hopes for a serious future in gaming. "One of my most memorable experiences was playing against Toyz and losing. It got turned into a video." He adds: "I think games are the only thing I'm good at."
The professional gamer and world champion Toyz was also at the event. Also known as Kurtis Lau Wai-kin , he has always insisted that anyone thinking of turning professional in esports needs a plan B. "This is a good start for students ... there were no such tournaments back when I was starting," he says. "But this is still amateur play and not true professional play yet. It is still difficult to play esports."
He draws from personal experience and says: "Fans only see the surface. There were a lot of difficulties and hard work involved. Luck was a big part of it. The field is very competitive and cruel. You have to be the best beyond any doubt. And things out of your control can still affect you, so it's not just about how good you are."