New e-sports bar in Serangoon Gardens aims to be hot spot for online gamers

Gamers can gather to watch live multiplayer games such as League Of Legends-- PHOTO: RIOT GAMES
Gamers can gather to watch live multiplayer games such as League Of Legends-- PHOTO: RIOT GAMES
Gamers can gather to watch live multiplayer games such as Dota 2. -- PHOTO: VALVE
Gamers can gather to watch live multiplayer games such as Dota 2. -- PHOTO: VALVE
At Brewlings, the brainchild of (from far left) Mr Derrick Tan, Mr Chen Wei Ming, Mr Desmond Tan and Mr Lim Yee Chen. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
At Brewlings, the brainchild of (from far left) Mr Derrick Tan, Mr Chen Wei Ming, Mr Desmond Tan and Mr Lim Yee Chen. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

At the newest bar in the trendy Serangoon Gardens neighbourhood, you can catch live matches.

But you will not be watching 22 men pass a ball on a pitch or road-hugging cars roar around a track.

Instead, you will see virtual bombs being defused, flashy hadoukens (blasts of energy) being thrown and magical spells being cast at Brewlings, Singapore’s first e-sports bar, which opens tomorrow.

The 1,500 sq ft establishment, which can hold up to 80 patrons, is the brainchild of four friends: university student Chen Wei Ming, 22, business executive Desmond Tan, 26, university student Derrick Tan, 23, and game programmer Lim Yee Chen, 26.

The Tans are brothers and met the other two during national service or in school.

The sleekly decorated bar is decked out with a mixture of television screens and projectors, which will show live tournaments of video games such as Dota 2, League Of Legends, Street Fighter and Counter- Strike: Global Offensive.

Lining the walls are game-related posters designed by Mr Chen and two screens attached to Playstation 4 consoles for patrons to get in on the gaming action.

The idea of Brewlings came about after the annual major Dota 2 tournament in July last year, The International 4. Then, Mr Derrick Tan and Mr Chen met to watch public screenings of the tournament, which are usually one-off events held at LAN gaming centres or function halls.

Mr Tan says: “After The International 4, we thought it would be a good idea to bring all the gamers together, which cannot happen if it’s a once-a-year event and the venue keeps changing.

“So we decided to open an establishment to have a permanent platform for gamers to gather at.”

To draw up plans for the bar, they looked at models of e-sports bars overseas. Mr Chen cites Imperium in the Philippines and the Meltdown franchise, which has outlets in places such as London in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada and Germany, as inspirations.

“Not only are these bars doing very well, but they also offer customised drinks and a permanent venue to view events,” he says.

The actual setting up of the bar was not a breeze, though. None of them had any experience running a business and pooling enough money for the $140,000 initial investment was also not easy.

In the end, they managed to stump up the cash with their savings and money from their parents, although most of their folks did not warm up to the idea immediately.

“I think what convinced them was our dedication and commitment, such as how we came down every day to watch the space grow from a bare place into this,” says Mr Chen, gesturing at the renovated bar and screens around him.

“It took time, but they eventually changed their minds.”

The bar will also serve customised gaming-related drinks. For example, to tie in with the upcoming Dota 2 tournament, they plan to serve a rack of six different coloured shots, corresponding to six in-game runes, which give the game’s characters special powers.

The bar will also sell game-related merchandise such as soft toys and T-shirts.

Although the idea of the e-sports bar is still untested in Singapore, the foursome are certain that it will take off.

“We went online, on social media, we asked our own friends and our friend’s friends,” says Mr Chen.

“Their responses were very, very positive and most said that they would definitely come. Some even told us, ‘I’ve been waiting for something like this for so long’.”

lting@sph.com.sg

Brewlings is at 82 Serangoon Garden Way and is open on weekdays from 5pm to 1am and weekends from 3pm to 3am. Go to www.facebook.com/brewlings