Interview with Aliya Khassenova – Wife of Hobbit, Major Winner from Hellraisers
Fri 8th Mar 2019 - 5:00pm
Aliya Khassenova is the wife of professional CS:GO player Abay “Hobbit” Khassenov from Hellraisers, who won the PGL Major Krakow in 2017 under Gambit’s banner. Being a wife of a professional gamer isn’t easy, as there is a lot of traveling involved, countless hours spent training and so many other sacrifices – but in the end everything seems to work out.
We talked with Aliya to get to know her better, how she and Abay met, how they deal with the constant travelling as well as her gaming history.
Let’s get our readers to meet you – tell us a little bit about yourself, what do you do, hobbies, etc.
Aliya: Hello! My name is Aliya. I’m from the city of Taraz in Kazakhstan. I had to move a lot from one city to another since my dad is in the military, and his work often required changes, which has made me stronger, independent and adjusted to adulthood. When I was 17, I moved to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
I entered the Law program at the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University. It was my dream, and I’m happy to have graduated with excellent grades and to have made my parents proud. I don’t work at the moment, since the law requires me to perform my internship at the bar association. I got an excellent grade on the first exam, and I’m currently preparing for the second one, after which I’ll have my license and be able to practice law. Hopefully, you’ll soon see me defend people’s rights.
As for my love of computer games, it all began when I was 9-10 years old. My dad bought me a computer and games like CS 1.6, Diablo, Warcraft and GTA. I was only allowed to play during holidays, and perhaps, had it not been for that, I would be one of the pros now. Besides gaming, I also like cooking, attending different courses, doing yoga; I love reading books and, not so long ago, I started studying medicine and psychology.
How did you and Hobbit meet?
Aliya: I was subscribed to Abay’s fan page, as well as Tengri’s on Vkontakte, since one of my friends asked me to do it to support our fellow countrymen in the esports world. I followed their pages and then just forgot about it, since I was a fan of Dota 2 and not CS:GO. A few days later I got a friend invitation from Abay, who noticed me among the followers and decided to text me. We began to talk and learned more about each other. We happened to have common interests including Dota, Warcraft, The Lord of the Rings, and we also went to the same university but studied different things. A month later, he asked me out. That’s how our love story started. I’m grateful to my friend and Dota2, since had it not been for them, I would’ve never met Abay.
What are the things you admire the most in him?
Aliya: I appreciate Abay’s kindness above all. He loves animals, nature, selflessly helps other people; he’s honest and respectful to older people, he always wants to share what he has. I’d also like to mention that he has no bad habits, which is one of the most important things for me. Abay is self-motivated and a dreamer. He’s achieved all the goals that he set for himself back when he was in school, which is so inspiring!
Just like your husband, you are also a gamer. How were you introduced to gaming?
Aliya: I love gaming since my childhood. Most of the time I used to play Diablo and GTA, as it was easier for me. I couldn’t play Warcraft as much, since I was little and didn’t understand it entirely. The most interesting times were when I went to a computer club with friends to play CS 1.6. As I remember, I did not play well, but they still called me, despite the fact that they were losing because of me. In general, I was a small star in the computer club. Even the owner himself made me a free guest.
I regret that I abandoned playing for a long period of time - since I was growing up, I began to have other interests. Roughly speaking, I did not play from 2007 until 2015. My best friend taught me how to play DotA. This game has completely changed my life for the better. I made lots of friends, I met my husband and attended DotA and CS championships. I express my deepest gratitude to my friend, because if it wasn’t for her, then I would never return to the world of esports.
What games do you enjoy playing the most?
Aliya: At the moment I only play DotA, since I don’t have much free time. To be honest, I play only in order not to improve my skill, but just to talk with my friends, since everyone lives in different countries. No matter how hard I try, I can’t learn how to play CS:GO, it's not for me. Before I got married, I dreamed of creating a female DotA team. But that was unsuccessful, as I rarely met girls who play games. But now esports has become an official sport in Kazakhstan, which made lot of female player to appear.
What are your thoughts on his career and esports in general, being that you’re a gamer yourself?
Aliya: A professional career in esports is something many players dream of, including myself; and I’m happy for Abay. He’s made his dream come true and now does what he loves. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Were you familiar with Counter-Strike before knowing Hobbit?
Aliya: Yes, I played CS 1.6. I learned about CS:GO from my little brother, but I didn’t follow its competitive side until I got married.
How hard does the marriage get during the times where he’s traveling the most? How do you work through those times together?
Aliya: To be honest, it is difficult for me. I live alone in a strange city; all my relatives live far away from me. Abay leaves very often, there are times I cannot see him for a month or two. Sometimes I give up to weakness and sadness, but then I get myself up. This is the difficulty that must be suffered for the future. This question cannot be solved in any other way, since Abay has to travel a lot to tournaments. As this is his work, I cannot constantly interfere, I can’t always be the center of attention. There are both disadvantages and advantages to this situation. Each of our meetings is like a new one, feelings are getting stronger and stronger, as we miss each other very much.
Do you usually watch his games?
Aliya: I’ve always enjoyed attending tournaments, talking to players, fans, supporting and feeling the atmosphere of gaming. Seeing Abay on stage is priceless. I’ve only been to CIS tournaments, since I need a visa to be able to go to Europe and America. I’m only allowed a one-time entry at the moment, which isn’t convenient at all as I’d have to apply for a new visa every time.
Hobbit had a very successful run with Gambit in 2017, climaxing with his Major win at the PGL Major 2017. After that came a very surprising change in the team – Zeus, the in-game leader, decided to leave right after the Major win to return to his old team. How did Hobbit received the news and how did your presence and support help him?
Aliya: Abay found out about this online. It was a surprise for us, since we expected him at our wedding. Abay got upset at first, but then made his peace and wished him the best.
He was acclaimed as one of the best players of the PGL Major. How did that made you feel?
Aliya: I have an overwhelming sense of pride whenever I think about those moments. My friends and I watched the Major final live at the theater. There were so many fans, so many feelings, and so many people congratulated us on winning. I sometimes rewatch the final, especially that very moment when he got a 4K on Inferno.
How does your familly see hobbit’s career, esports and your relationship with him?
Aliya: My parents fully support our choice. They’ve never had issues with me playing computer games in my free time.
What do you like to do together besides gaming?
Aliya: When we have some free time, we try to take a break from games and go out, which is difficult as we both enjoy playing Dota 2 and watching movies. We currently live in Saint Petersburg, and the city is known for its rich history, culture, and landmarks. We often walk around the city, visit museums, parks - there’s always something to do here. I also would like to add sports into all of this, but it’s hard to do it together because of Abay’s schedule. We sometimes get a chance to go to a swimming pool or a spa though.
What makes you happy the most in your marriage?
Aliya: The point of a family is striving for happiness. Love, being together and our shared future are what makes me happy, especially when you realize that when you have kids, you’ll bring joy not only to yourself, but to your family as well.
Are there any words you would like to say to wrap up the interview?
Aliya: Thank you for the interview. I hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks to Abay’s fans for their love and support. We really do appreciate this. We wish you all the luck and happiness!
I want to thank Aliya for her collaboration and patience during the interview! Be sure to follow her on social media: