When ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and his best friend Danny “The King” Kingad are not dominating their opponents in the Circle, they can be found beating their rivals in the virtual world.
However, just as they compete in different weight classes in ONE Championship, the Filipinos are also treading their paths separately when it comes to video games.
Pacio has always been a fan of the first-person shooter genre, and he names the Call Of Duty franchise as his absolute favorite.
Coincidentally, he also learned about the gaming series from his Uncle Ray – the same guy who originally introduced him to martial arts.
“It started when I was really young – I think I was in grade school. I also discovered it through my Uncle Ray, and Call Of Duty has been my game ever since,” the 24-year-old strawweight king explains.
“I switched to Prince Of Persia and Assassin’s Creed after that. I transferred to Dota when I was in college, but I never really focused on it.”
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Kingad, on the other hand, got his first video game experience in old-school fashion. During his childhood, the flyweight often played fighting games in the arcade.
Soon, he was enamored with the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike, which is famously known as CS:GO today.
It was not completely surprising that “The King” got hooked on that particular title, as it became a popular Local Area Network (LAN) multiplayer game in the Philippines back in the early 2000s.
“I started back when I was in grade one,” the 24-year-old flyweight sensation recalls.
“I was already hooked on video games. I started with fighting games like Mortal Kombat and other old-school arcade games, and then I switched over to computer games.”
With multiplayer online arena battle games now accessible on smartphones, the best friends have finally crossed paths through one specific title – Mobile Legends.
In fact, the game is so popular in the Philippines that almost every Team Lakay member is playing it right now. That includes former ONE World Champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon.
There are certainly times when things get competitive, but Pacio views this gaming activity as a good way to strengthen his relationship with his teammates.
“We’re all good here,” Pacio says. “We’re all in the same rank, except for kuya Eduard and kuya Kevin because they just started playing. It’s a good bonding [experience] for us.”
Kingad, however, feels like his buddy is being too humble. Also, he thinks “The Passion” is a little too obsessed with Mobile Legends.
“Joshua is better than me. He is addicted to that game,” Kingad says with a chuckle.
The best friends may disagree on their skill level when it comes to Mobile Legends, but the two earnestly believe there is only one true king of esports in ONE Championship, and that person goes by the name of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Johnson, who is the Chief Brand Ambassador for ONE Esports, has developed a reputation for being a top-shelf gamer. In fact, he destroyed Kingad and several other athletes in his Street Fighter Challenge during the 2019 ONE Elite Retreat in Phuket, Thailand.
Pacio, for one, is not confident he can defeat “Mighty Mouse” in Street Fighter, or any video game competition for that matter.
“Going up against other athletes is a fun idea,” he says.
“I think Martin Nguyen is fond of esports as well, and I would want to play against him. But then, of course, you have Demetrious Johnson. I don’t think I can beat him. I think he can play everything.”
Kingad, who also lost to Johnson in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship Final last October, said he has a better chance of defeating the American in mixed martial arts than in esports.
“If I face DJ there, whatever game it is, I really need to practice so I can make a good account of myself. He’s so good,” the flyweight offers.
“I think I can hang with him for a bit, but ultimately, I know he’ll beat me. He’s really hooked on esports. I’ll just get back at him if ever we get a rematch in the Circle.”
Ultimately, Team Lakay’s dynamic duo are focused entirely on their respective ONE Championship careers and building their legacies in the sport. Their gaming adventures are just for leisure and also a bridge to bond even further with their teammates in Baguio City.
“It’s just a pastime for me,” Pacio says. “I won’t ever get tired of doing martial arts.”
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