SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Against all odds, five local gamers have become the first women's team from Singapore to qualify for the grand finals of the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) in March.
Known collectively as Asterisk, the women achieved the feat by finishing second in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) in the Asia Pacific (APAC) finals in Qingdao, China last week, winning $4,000 .
They were also Singapore's first women gamers to make the APAC finals, and will compete for a prize pot of $170,000 at the world finals at Haikou on China's Hainan island from March 12 to 18.
WESG, touted as the world's highest paying e-sports competition, is hosted by Alisports, the sports subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba.
About 60,000 players from 120 countries and regions competed for a prize pool of $5.5 million at the inaugural tournament last year.
This year's finalists will compete in four games - CS:GO, Dota 2, Hearthstone and StarCraft 2 - for $3.7 million.
From Singapore, one team participated at the WESG APAC competition in Dota 2, one in Hearthstone, one in Starcraft 2, and two in CS:GO, including Asterisk.
But only the two CS:GO teams will continue in the world finals this March.
Asterisk's team captain Tasha Chew, 23, who has just graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance, said: "We couldn't believe it. It's our first time playing on such a big scale and being able to come in second is amazing."
Miss Sabrina Ang, 20, an events planner at Ape Works and the team's strategist, added: "The other teams were so well-equipped and looked like pro-gamers. We were like little villagers who knew nothing."
The other players are Miss Meryl Oh, 22, who is in the biomed sector, Miss Dinah Marinah, 30, who works in the construction industry, and graphic designer Nurlelawati Hussain, 26. Property agent Hanzel Chua, 31, is the team manager.
Despite facing tough competition in the grand finals, Asterisk remains hopeful.
"We've had a taste of victory. Now everyone wants more," said Miss Ang.