The Influencers: Samson Li of Vancouver Elated


Samson Li/Vancouver Elated

Introduce yourself

“My name is Samson and I am a child and youth worker and passionate video game lover currently based in Vancouver, B.C.!

“My top video games of all time include Overwatch, Rock Band, and Pokémon Go. However, my favourite games go on for much longer.

“In my free time, I like to stream at on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. I also work with Vancouver Elated, a local esports organization based out of British Columbia.

“I hope to spread positivity and bring a psychology and mental-health angle to video games. However, I always just like to have fun.”

The first video game I ever played was…

“The first video I remember playing was being 6 years old and playing Pokémon Blue on the Game Boy. I was so lucky that I had a friend who was older who played and would allow me to go over to their house. Today, I still play Pokémon Go regularly and am a huge fan of Pokémon in general.

“The first game that ever stuck out to me as something special was Super Mario Strikers on GameCube. Never has there been a ‘sports’ game that got my brothers, friends, and I as hype as seeing Mario leap 50 meters into the air and punt a ball into the net. The adrenaline rush and skill was a highlight of childhood.”

Why I got involved in gaming

“I got involved in gaming because of my friends and almost purely out of defiance. My friends growing up were all gamers. Our favourite activities were playing Pokémon, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, and Smash Bros. At some point during high school, I sold my consoles and games for money, saying that it’s time to grow up and leave gaming behind. However, I found that my friends and my personal interests kept me coming back. I just grew to love the creativity, community, business, and challenge of video games.

“Growing up, my parents detested games and would never buy my brothers and I any video games purely because of the ‘negative’ implications. As we got older, we had to buy our own consoles and eventually PCs to game on. This ended being a great life lessons in managing money, and problem-solving our own PC builds.

“I would say I am a competitive person. However, growing up, I was never the most ‘fit’ kid, so I never got to exercise my competitiveness in traditional sports, other than a few years in high-school football and a year of soccer. In 2018, the Overwatch League launched their inaugural season, and I was all-in on esports. Seeing a diversely bodied player base compete at the highest skill level was so refreshing and exciting! The excitement continued as the Vancouver Titans got announced as an expansion team, owned by the Aquilini family and the Canucks. Finally, something that crosses over from esports and traditional sports.”

What I do when I’m not playing

“When I am not clicking heads in Overwatch and Valorant, I am a child and youth care worker in my hometown of Vancouver. I am passionate about my work and craft. My favourite part of work is how video games meld so easily into it! Every kid has played some video games before and knowing at least a little bit about every game makes the job much easier, and also way more fun.

“My other hobbies include streaming. Although that is semi-related to games, I love the production side of streaming, such as the audio, visual, special effects, and hosting. One day, I would love to get into podcasting, since I have an audio background as well.

“My favourite ‘analogue’ hobby is hiking and being in nature. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I am blessed to have amazing landscapes and trails so close to the city. So I like to take advantage of it as much as I can.”

My esports idol is…

Alex ‘GoldenBoy’ Mendez would be my esports idol. He is such a positive force in the esports scene, and has spanned multiple games from Overwatch, to Fortnite, to Valorant. I really enjoy listening to his podcast The Four Heads and tuning in to his streams. He’s so great at hosting, telling stories, and keeping people hyped and engaged. He acknowledges his humble roots (such as being from the Bronx and loving his wife Cynthia) and is a force of optimism. I was super lucky to catch him last year at the Los Angeles Valiant Homestand for Overwatch League.

“On a similar note, Kinda Funny’s Andy Cortez is a huge inspiration for my streaming. Being genuine, building a character, and creating assets outside of Twitch are all thing Andy excels at. He’s a force of positivity but also knows when to be humble and acknowledge feelings in a healthy way. I hope to be as good as he is one day at building those genuine relationships through an online medium. #BurnBlue!”

Where will esports be in five years?

“In five years, I hope the esports players and staff will unionize and figure out a ‘players association’ so they do not get abused by franchises and managers. In my short time following esports, I have seen multiple instances of players retiring or having their mental health decline because of poor management and lack of knowledge of player’s needs. Since esports itself is full of young talent with lack of older mentors, they also may not know how to stand up for their rights. I hope that in the future and as the player base ages, better systems and structures will be in place for the players to thrive in their craft.”

Follow Samson Li on Twitter and Instagram. (And while you’re at it, please follow eCentralSports on Twitter and Instagram, too.)

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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