SINGAPORE - Although the members of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) team The Highest Entity (THE) had never met each other in person before the grand finals of EChamp 2021 on Sunday (Dec 12), it did little to deter them from emerging champions in the e-sports competition.
THE had booked their spot in the grand finals after finishing among the top eight teams in the Nov 19-26 online qualifiers and beat JCG Alpha 2-1 in the top two clash at the D'Marquee at Downtown East.
THE player Ryan Chia, 20, was thrilled to win the tournament with his four teammates, whom he had gotten to know while playing the game, after two months of preparations that saw them training between one and three hours a day.
He said: "We're quite happy - the prize was quite big also and it's definitely exciting to win. We trained hard for it so our efforts paid off.
"We started playing together two months ago. It wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be because their voices are still the same offline and online and we're quite okay with each other and there was no awkwardness."
EChamp 2021, which had a prize purse of more than $14,500 in vouchers and prizes, is the first initiative of the three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NTUC Club and The Gym esportscentre to introduce national-level tournaments, masterclasses and industry workshops to grow the e-sports community.
Over the next three years, NTUC Club and The Gym will aim to push out up to 100 hybrid and virtual e-sports events.
The Gym's founder and chief executive Neo Yong Aik said: "Our mission at The Gym has always been to build a vibrant e-sports community from the ground up and help Singapore's e-sports industry rise to new heights.
"Through our events, we want to give the community a taste of what a professional set-up is like."
Gigi Low, NTUC Club's membership engagement and experience director, added: "We need to keep up with the ever-evolving trends among the youth and e-sports is an effective platform for community bonding.
"Beyond fun and responsible gaming, we hope to help them see the opportunities and benefits of the sport - new skill sets such as live streaming, game development, and digital content production, which could lead to potential careers."
JCG Alpha's Calix Chan, 16, was proud of his team's second-place finish, saying: "Individually we are the weakest team, but we worked together and communicated well, which is the key to victory."
Teammate Jayden Tan, also 16, added: "We're glad we made it over our expectations (of finishing top four). We had fun and it's hard to find these live events during Covid times so we're happy to have such a platform to compete in, opponents and sponsors."