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Singapore team heads to Halo world finals

Singaporeans (from left) Joshua Lim, Juan Rodriguez and Amos Goh are members of local Halo team Skyfire. Together with Filipino Franciso Adriano, they will compete in this year's Halo World Championship in California. Mr Rodriguez is team captain and
Singaporeans (from left) Joshua Lim, Juan Rodriguez and Amos Goh are members of local Halo team Skyfire. Together with Filipino Franciso Adriano, they will compete in this year's Halo World Championship in California. Mr Rodriguez is team captain and handles the administrative plans, while the rest focus on strategy and gameplay evaluation.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Having won regional qualifiers, they will represent Asia and battle best gamers in the world in Halo 5: Guardians for top prize of $1.4m

This weekend, a local team of gamers will represent not just Singapore but all Asia for a shot at the top prize of US$1 million (S$1.4 million) at this year's Halo World Championship.

Singaporeans Amos "Avenger" Goh, 21, Joshua "BLaQkRoW" Lim, 22, and Juan "Axis" Rodriguez, 19, along with Filipino Franciso "Mobius" Adriano, 23, will do battle with the best teams in the world in Halo 5: Guardians as team Skyfire.

Halo 5 is the latest game on the Xbox One console for the popular Halo franchise, a first-person shooter with a professional competitive scene since the first game was launched in 2001.

The four gamers had earlier formed a local team, Aftermath, to enter the championships. They were acquired by Australian e-sports team Skyfire after they won the regional qualifiers and will thus compete in the championship under the Skyfire banner.

The tournament, which will be held in Hollywood, California, from March 18 to 20, features a total prize pool of US$2.5 million to be split among 16 teams - the largest pot for a console shooter in the history of gaming.

This is the first time the four of them are in a team together, having known one another previously playing online or meeting at various competitions while in opposing teams.

"When we heard there was a world championship for Halo 5 this year, we decided to get the best Halo players here to form a team and compete," said Mr Lim, who is currently doing his national service.

They came together in early December last year and spent a month preparing for the regional qualifiers held in January. Each trained in his own home and communicated through in-game voice chat.

Mr Adriano, who works in his family business in the Philippines, has flown to Singapore on several occasions to train with the rest of the team here as the network connection is better. He has known the rest of them since 2007 when he joined a Singapore Halo network server to play the game.

Mr Rodriguez, a student at the Institute of Technical Education College Central, is the team's captain and handles the administrative plans. The other three focus on strategy and gameplay evaluation.

Their youth belies a wealth of competitive first-person shooter experience. Mr Lim and Mr Rodriguez have both competed in the Call Of Duty scene, while Mr Goh has had notable success in Gears Of War.

Mr Lim's fierce competitive side led him to participate in powerlifting competitions as well. Mr Goh is pursuing a degree in counselling at private institution Kaplan Singapore which he hopes will help him in his goal of working as a coach with a professional e-sports team as he will be better able to understand and help other competitive players.

Having won the regional finals and made it into the championship, the team is already guaranteed winnings of at least US$30,000. They stand to win US$75,000 if they make it into the top eight teams in the finals.

Team Skyfire faces a stacked group even in the group stages. It is up against arguably the best North American Halo team, Team Counter Logic Gaming, as well as Team Epsilon from Britain and Team Cloud9 from the United States.

"They are very, very good," admitted Mr Lim.

Added Mr Rodriguez: "These teams train the whole day, while we can train together only at night, for about four or five hours."

But they refuse to be intimidated by the competition, despite acknowledging their underdog status.

"We are going in there and giving our all, to show what the Asian representative can bring to the table," said Mr Goh.

Mr Lim said: "They have not played us before - they do not know us, our playing style and strategy, and we are using that to our advantage."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore team heads to Halo world finals'. Print Edition | Subscribe