Kishan Makati, the Gamer
Colorful characters burst across the screen. Explosions. The battlefield is filled with corpses. “Focus nexus, focus nexus,” Darius shouts. “They’re getting their recalls off, so push now,” Darius says as he uses his ultimate to dunk Garen. Adrenaline bursting through his fingers, senior Kishan Makati, known in game as “Dragoon,” swipes his mouse across the desk, ready to strike the final blow on the enemy team’s nexus.
Ranked in the top 300 of North American players, Makati has been in the amateur scene of “League of Legends” for the past two years, after being approached by a substitute team of Anew, a major “League” competitive team. “It was my first time in amateur but I played well so my reputation went up a lot,” He left the team after a year.
Makati’s team for the past four months, Team Front, was able to make it to the final stage. However, they were knocked out of the tournament. “I don’t want to call my team this year bad, but I was probably the best person on that team,” Makati said.
While he’s made several hundred dollars off the game in the past few months alone, Makati’s start in the video game world was not so profitable. “My addiction started with my cousin because he gave me and my brother a PlayStation 2 and Gameboy when he moved to college when I was 5,” Makati said.
He began playing when his father bought an Alienware computer and his brother began playing games on it. Makati followed his brother’s lead and made a “League” online profile. “He moved away from “League”, but I kept playing it because I thought I was good,” Makati said.
One of his teammates, Tj “Command Attack” Björklund admires Kishan’s commitment to improving. “Kishan constantly wants to learn and try to be better than the competition,” Björklund said. “It’s obvious that he’s passionate about playing e-sports and wants to try to make something out of it.”
Despite Makati’s talented start, he did not become an amateur competitor for several years. “Until age 12 I was just playing Thranked Ladder for fun, but around 12 I learned about these professionals mainly through YouTube videos, and I was pretty impressionable, so all I wanted to do was improve and compete,” Makati said.
Makati is involved with both the professional and amateur community, messaging professional coaches and players daily. “You have to make connections, and obviously you need tryouts for a team,” Makati said.
Makati’s income is not solely from competitive earnings, however. When he has time during summers, Makati livestreams himself playing to his 3,000 followers. “I’ve gotten several hundred dollars from it on Twitch and it’s definitely something I enjoy doing,” Makati said.
Balancing schoolwork with his gaming aspirations hasn’t always been easy for Makati. Scrims, or practice matches, and real matches are scheduled weekly at 8 p.m., and each match is a three-game set. Matches typically end at 10:30 p.m., but then Makati spends time reviewing the game footage with his team to examine at their mistakes. “Sometimes when I have a lot of work, I have to stay up and sacrifice sleep to juggle everything,” Makati said.
Makati also plays solo, ranked games for a few hours nearly every day.
Makati’s parents support his video game endeavors, but also ensure he continues to pursue his academics. His father, Hitendra Makati, hopes Kishan has a future in gaming. “The whole professional play thing goes a little over my head, but I support him if he gets the chance,” Hitendra said. “I still encourage him to get good grades since it’s not a guaranteed thing, but I want a future for him, and if his passion for games can be a part of it, then that would be amazing.”
Makati’s older brother, Kamal Makati, thought that he was wasting his time with video games at first. “However, after watching him grow into the current performer he is, I know I was wrong because Kishan working towards his goals of becoming a competitive player has become more real with each passing match and I’m incredibly happy he found such a passionate hobby,” Kamal said.
As the e-sports industry grows, Makati finds insults towards competitive video game players increasingly frustrating. “A lot of people think that people that make money off of video games have it easy,” Makati said. “If you think of any other sport, the top people put just as much time in as video game pros. It may not be physical, but in terms of mental strength and micro movements it’s a similar amount of effort.”
While he’s unsure of his future in the game, Makati is confident he’ll end up on his feet. He wants to attend USF for college and play “League” competitively in order to become a professional. “My chances of going pro are relatively high at like almost 20-30 percent to go into Academy, which is pretty high in my opinion,” Makati said. He believes his prime potential to “go pro” is in the next four years, and if he manages to become a professional then he will to try to stay in the competitive scene for as long as possible.
Makati understands the impermanence of his talent, but that doesn’t hinder his excitement for the game. “I may only consider “League” my passion for the next several years, but I’ll play video games for the rest of my life because it’s so integral to my life.”
Makati is progressing through the first stages of tryouts for a role for a team in the “Academy,” an official amateur organization based in Los Angeles. If he succeeds, he would have the opportunity to move into a house there with other teammates in January, playing officially for hundreds of thousands of dollars.