Growing up, I’ve heard my brother get reprimanded countless times for spending too much time, and being too serious about computer games.
With the disapproving attitude that most parents take towards gaming, I never would have thought young people would one day be celebrated for competing in this field.
Or at least, it seemed that the esports culture would only thrive in the western world and South Korea.
So it still amazes me to see Singaporean gaming teams now pitting their all in national and regional tournaments, as esports gains wider prominence and acceptance in this part of the world too.
One team of local gamers, called Sovereign, has fought its way to being hailed 3-time champions of Singapore, and its members are all under 23.
Bringing Together A Team Of Remarkable People
A couple of years ago, Sovereign first began with Leonard ‘OMO’ Loh, who has played many roles from manager, player, to the team’s coach.
It wasn’t always about competing for him, when he started out playing League of Legends with his friends.
“I started playing competitions way back with friends,” he says, “But I considered that like, for fun.”
“I would say I got competitive when I got pretty high ranked, and a bunch of people messaged me and wanted to pick me up for their team.”
“When we got into the local circuit, I’ll say that was the start of being competitive.”
Since then, the team has been through many changes, and not all of the pioneer members are still together.
They went through a rebuilding of their roster in early 2017 to build the team they are today.
“When positions open up on the team, players will recommend their previous teammates or players they know to be talented,” Leonard says.
“Most of the players we reached out to know each other well or have played together in the past, given their veteran status and the small community.”
Sovereign now comprises of coach Leonard ‘OMO’ Loh, support Jordan ‘Kusuo’ Lum, marksman Kenneth ‘Quake’ Chan, mid laner Dominic ‘Arykelic’, jungler Chen Yihui ‘EternaL’, and their youngest member, top laner Tan ‘Yone’ Jia Xuan.
Sacrificing Time To Train Champions
While there are also other strong esports teams in Singapore, Sovereign has become the rising star since late 2017.
This was when they were crowned champions thrice, at the Lenovo Legion of Champions Singapore Series 2, Singapore League Series Spring 2018, and the Hyperplay National Qualifier.
They have also recently been ranked at second place in Legion Singapore League 2017, and fourth place in Garena Premier League Spring 2018.
Just like any other hobby or profession, it was hours of dedicated practice that gave them experience and honed their skills.
21-year-old Leonard shared that they often sacrificed their leisure time to train, both independently in the ‘solo queue’ and together as a team.
In fact, he tells us, “[The team’s] jungler EternaL took time off from school to pursue full time gaming for a split.”
“And I myself have taken a gap year from my studies to work with the team.”
Leonard is also currently a mentor under the SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme, helping other aspiring esports enthusiasts hone their skills and get competitive.
Even though the players are considered veterans in Singapore’s small esports scene, they’re actually pretty young, mostly serving National Service or waiting to enlist, with the youngest member, Yone, still in school.
From Winning In Singapore To Competing At ASEAN
After coming out on top among Singapore’s best teams in the Hyperplay National Qualifier, Sovereign is now on their way to competing at a regional level for the first time, and standing a chance to become ASEAN’s champion.
The team will have the chance to meet and spar with the best players from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
Coming up on 4 and 5 August 2018 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, fans can attend Hyperplay to watch the teams who make it to the semi-finals and finals.
The event will also be a celebration of esports and music coming together, with artistes like The Sam Willows, CL, Alessia Cara and Nick Jonas taking the stage.
With Singapore helming the ASEAN chairmanship, Hyperplay is an inaugural esports tournament that celebrates ASEAN with festivities that reflect its unique flavour.
As esports gains its spot in the limelight, Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and National Youth Council, came together with Riot Games and MTV Asia to present the tournament, bringing top gaming teams to inspire other youths to go forth with their passions.
The event will also be held alongside SHINE Festival, a celebration for youths to enjoy dance, sports and music programmes, interactive installations, food and crafts, all at the Singapore Sports Hub.
As Hyperplay showcases youths in esports, SHINE Festival will also spotlight other interests like music, with a lineup of live performances by professional and learning artistes, including Joe Flizzow and Yung Raja.
Youths and families can also let loose and try all sorts of sports at Get Active! Singapore from 28 July to 9 August, whether it’s a classic game of basketball, parkour for the daredevils, or futuristic augmented reality games.
Deals To Gear Us Up To The Festivities
Hyperplay, SHINE Festival, and Get Active! Singapore are three parts of a campaign called YOUTHx, the largest celebration of youths in Singapore yet.
And as the excitement builds towards seeing the ASEAN teams battle it out at Hyperplay, YOUTHx brings us a bunch of great deals to enjoy in the meantime!
Here are some promotions just for you(th).
1. There’s No Better Treat Than Food
Singaporean millennials love to travel to Bangkok, and street food is surely one of the main reasons why.
If you’re missing the taste of sweet, milky and aromatic Thai tea before your next trip there, Soi 55 has got you covered.
All their drinks are at a 1-for-1 promotion from Mondays to Thursdays throughout the month, and there’s no redemption limit when you present this e-coupon.
2. Gear Up Your Tech
With our smartphones so important and useful to us in the digital age, we also have some great accessories to make them even better.
We’ve all seen those round “buttons” stuck onto the back of phones that people use as grips and stands.
But did you know they were in the works since 2010, and first started out of PopSockets founder’s garage in Colorado?
For the month of August, you can get 22% off any PopSockets grip on Lazada with the code “NYC22OFF”.
3. Give Your Skin A Boost To Slay
Koreans do skincare really well, especially when a label is created by dermatologists, like CNP Laboratory.
They’re best known for their Invisible Peeling Booster, raved for its remarkable exfoliating capabilities, and Propolis Energy Ampule, both of which have won multiple beauty awards.
From July to end of December 2018, you can get 30% off regular priced items with the code ‘NYC30’, and redeem a 1-for-1 Blackhead Clear Kit with the code ‘BHCK3S’.
The list of reasons to rejoice in our youth goes on, with even more deals from the National Youth Council’s many partners in dining, beauty, fitness and entertainment.
Click here to see the full list of partners and promotions.
With all these deals and events to reward, entertain and inspire you, it’s time to hustle hard and play even harder.
This article was written in collaboration with the National Youth Council.
Featured Image Credit: Millennials of Singapore