SINGAPORE - They made history of a kind in April by becoming the first Singaporeans to reach a World Cup, winning the Fifa Online 3 East Asian Champions Cup Spring tournament and US$108,000 (S$145,000) in prize money.
That landmark achievement has now earned local pro gamers Joseph Yeo and Amraan Gani long-term contracts with Singaporean eSports organisation Team Flash, the pair announced on Monday (May 28).
Yeo extended his full-time professional contract with Team Flash till 2020, while Amraan, a second-year Nanyang Technological University maritime studies undergraduate, will continue to compete as a semi-professional till 2019.
Both are headed to Amsterdam for Fifa eWorld Cup Global Series Playoff that begins on June 1 where, much like the group stages for the actual World Cup in Russia, the 64 top players who qualified will be whittled down to 16 for August's Grand Finals in London.
Yeo, 24, said he was heartened by Team Flash's continuous support.
"The organisation has been absolutely professional and been fully behind me in my pursuit to be the best player I can be. This gives me the confidence to set higher goals towards putting Singapore on the international e-sports map," said Yeo, whose gamer handle is Zarate.
Added Amraan, 23: "It has been an incredible journey for me, and I'd like to thank Team Flash for allowing me to live my dream as an eSports player while allowing me to complete my university studies."
Together with Chinese player Li Si Jun, the duo had beaten Thailand 3-0 in the East Asian Champions Cup final. Amsterdam's event will see players competing as individuals instead after a format change, with Li slated to represent a team from his native China.
Team flash founder Terence Ting said he hoped the news would give more aspiring Singaporean eSports players the confidence to make it a full-time career.
"We have set big goals for both Amraan and Joseph, and believe we can narrow the gap for them to challenge for the World Championship in the next three years," he said.
The International Olympic Committee has recognised eSports as a viable Olympic sport. The sport is due to make its major Games debut as a demonstration event at this year's Asian Games in August, and could be a medal sport as soon as at next year's SEA Games in the Philippines.
eSports is also becoming increasingly lucrative. The prize pool for the annual Dota 2 international tournament was US$24 million, and could be even larger for this year's edition in August.
Team Flash also announced that gaming accessory companies Logitech and DXRacer had come on board as sponsors.