No one has had a collegiate League of Legends career like that of Tony "Saskio" Chau. After winning his first CLoL title as the top laner for Maryville University in 2017, Saskio won his second title with MU in 2019 after his roleswap to AD carry. Saskio joined Winthrop University ahead of the 2020 season, and last month, became the first player in history to win three collegiate titles after WU took home the title of the 2021 Collegiate League of Legends Championship — while finishing his MBA.
Instead of continuing to play LoL competitively or pursuing a career with the use of his degree, Saskio is looking to stream full time after the success of his 2019 streams where he reached Platinum tier by playing duo queue by himself on two accounts by controlling Yuumi support with his feet.
Saskio spoke to Inven Global after his graduation about his time at Winthrop University, becoming the first player to win three collegiate League of Legends titles, and his future plans for streaming.
How did COVID-19 affect collegiate teams with Collegiate League of Legends being suspended due to the pandemic?
At first, it was just another year. Everyone was doing their own thing, and then the pandemic started happening. Riot Games made the decision to cancel CLoL, so, unfortunately, none of us were able to play anymore.
Did the Winthrop University team still stay together and practice, or did you end up going your separate ways for the time being to focus on streaming and other ventures?
Everyone ended up going home. We continued practicing because there was a mini-tournament called the ASU GSV 2020 Summit, but it wasn't as big as CLoL. We ended up getting 2nd, beating Maryville but losing to Harrisburg. After that, we just started focusing on rebuilding the roster for the next season. There wasn't really too much that happened once the pandemic started.
As someone who has been on the roster for quite some time, did you have a say in how the roster was rebuilt?
Our director Josh "Bo" Sides was definitely a bit more new to the scene at the time. He does have a good eye to spot talent, but sometimes he definitely needs the opinions of players who have actually worked with these other players. I did have a gigantic say in what the roster would look like heading into August 2020 and even into 2021.
One of the changes Riot has made to its esports ecosystem this season is that college teams have the chance to compete against amateur teams and League of Legends Championship Series Academy League in certain tournaments. How do these games differ from playing against collegiate teams?
In collegiate, there are usually only two or three schools that can match the level of amateur play, but being able to participate in amateur tournaments and face off against teams like TSM Amateur has really propelled us. It's helped us grow because it really showed us our weaknesses as a collegiate team.
We were able to hone in on problems and find solutions to fix those problems so that when we actually play at the collegiate level, all those issues are already fixed so we can play as well as we can.
What were the issues that you were able to identify and fix after playing amateur, and how did that help you improve leading up to the CLoL Championship. Do you think you still would have won CLoL without fixing those problems?
I would give a lot of props to the LCS Proving Grounds. LCS Proving Grounds was a huge factor in us being able to win CLoL. We were exposed more for our poor gameplay. If we didn't have Proving Grounds, I don't think we would have gone as far as we did.
I still don't know if we would have won CLoL regardless. Maybe we could have just played really well on the day and ended up taking the championship, but playing in Proving Grounds really made us play on the next level. Essentially, once we played in collegiate again after Proving Grounds, it was just a lot easier. We were playing at a level way above where we would have been without Proving Grounds.
What's the biggest difference in how collegiate teams and amateur teams play League of Legends?
When we face off against amateur teams and academy teams, games are very scripted and we can tell what's going to happen before it actually happens. However, when we scrim and play against collegiate teams, it definitely seems to be a lot more of a fiesta. It's really unpredictable.
For example, we took games off of Evil Geniuses Academy and 100 Thieves Academy, and all of a sudden, we face off against a bad collegiate team and lose all three scrims because there's no storyboard to the game. It's just a complete fiesta. It's like a completely different game. The best way I can describe is like driving in America where everything is very clean and civil and all of a sudden, you're driving in China and everything is like Mario Kart and it's really hard to navigate.
Is what motivated you to win your third collegiate title still the same as what motivated you to win your first two?
The first two runs I was just doing my best to win. I was part of Maryville University and I just wanted to win as much as possible. Once I came here to Winthrop University, there was something constantly pushing me because I knew there was no other player or program who had won three collegiate championships, so I wanted a way to differentiate myself from my competitors.
Winning a third collegiate championship would paint me as a "GOAT" since no one else has achieved that, so that gave me the extra boost to grind out these last two years and really push for that third championship. Taking down Maryville was another big factor in me pushing for my third collegiate championship.
It's pretty impressive to win two titles with a team and then beat them on your new team for your third title, but you did it all while graduating from college this year. Collegiate esports is all about balancing competition and education, but was it especially difficult when you're nearing the end of both of those journeys simultaneously?
I would give the speel about hard work, diligence, and all that jazz — but it was hard. It was hard.
I had to find what worked for me to finish my classes and be able to go to scrims. I was sometimes losing sleep over things. I was definitely a mess going through the whole thing, but my parents say I'm a fish who flops all over the place, but eventually, I reach the finish line. I'd say that's the best way to describe my time here at Winthrop University in terms of balancing everything. I just did everything and kept going.
Eventually, no matter the speed, I knew I would eventually reach the finish line in terms of my deadlines, scrims, and all of the other things I had to do to complete my education and compete with the team.
In your recent AMA on the League of Legends subreddit, you said you don't plan on pursuing professional play as a career option. What does the future hold for you?
I've looked at all of my options. I can join a collegiate program as a coach or a director. I can do something more business-related in nature, but honestly, none of those appeal to me financially or work-wise. I realized I enjoy streaming a lot, especially when it's like a self duo queue with my feet. That pleased a lot of viewers, and it was really fun being able to interact with the chat and make content out of it.
All that being said, after working hard for my MBA, I will be pursuing a full-time streaming career focused on creating content on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and most importantly, Twitch. That's the option I've decided to start pursuing next month.
Do you have anything more planned after duo queueing with yourself by playing Yuumi with your feet?
Right now, my plan is to build up a community and viewerbase around coaching content. Once I've built up a strong community — maybe after a year or two — I may branch out to more crazy, innovative stuff. It could be playing two accounts at once, it could be five accounts at once, or other aspects of things that can relate to League of Legends.
For example, bringing dating, fitness, or other social interactions into League of Legends, and just in general making more comedy-based styles of content. I definitely want to branch out once I've established a good base through coaching content.
What type of coaching will you be focusing on?
I'm currently in the process of setting everything up, but I already started coaching three days ago. My main focus will be coaching anyone who plays League of Legends who has the interest to get better at any rank. I'll be helping everyday individual players, so anyone can reach out to me and DM me about coaching and information about coaching. I'd be more than happy to assist. Also, I could definitely help out amateur teams around the level of Diamond 1 or Master tier.
Would you consider coaching at a higher level of competition?
I don't have an interest in coaching at a high level like Academy or LCS, but I would have an interest in an analyst position if it was with the right organization. If the organization shares the same values as me and the players are easy to work with, that's something I would look at. It would be a case-by-case situation.
Will you be focusing on games outside of League of Legends?
That's something I've definitely thought about. For now, I will be full-time League of Legends 7 days a week, but once I start to really establish myself, I think to branch myself out to other audiences, I will have to do variety streaming and play other games.
Playing other games interact with streamers that don't play League of Legends, so after maybe a year or two, I'll probably look to branch out variety streams once per week after establishing my audience so that I'm able to slowly start to transition to that type of content. That's something definitely far out in the future, but it's something I've already thought about when planning my full-time streaming career.
All photos by: Winthrop Athletics