Collegiate esports continues to grow as competitions around the world spring up at tertiary institutions trying to find the next great esports player. For people in the Singapore PVP Campus League (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang) scene, those players might already be found. After a gruelling battle featuring 90 hopeful teams, three have qualified for the Finals on 7-8 December at PVP Esports @ Singapore Comic Con.
Unstable Network SIM (UNS), from the Singapore Institute of Management, qualified in the upper bracket, while Institute of Technical Education teams Serpentine (SPT) and Holy (HL) will have to fight their way up through a lower bracket final before they get their shot in the Grand Finals.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is the immensely popular mobile MOBA from Moonton featuring five versus five hero-focused battles where two teams attempt to destroy one another's bases. Being a mobile game, it requires a significant amount of focus and high manual dexterity as players make skillshots and secure kills.
A Twist of Fate
a1a2 snipes Holy to secure a win.
The best team out of the qualifiers, Unstable Network, came together almost by accident.
"They were all in my friends-list beforehand, so it was easy for me to ask them to join my team," explained Aaron "K U K U" Tan from USN. "At the time, however, I did not know that they were attending [the Singapore Institute of Management] until [Shane "Hao • WakaWaka"] Hao told me who to approach [from our school]."
This lead to USN adding William "a1a2" Heese, Eugene "ᴀcεσғsρα∂ε" NG and Enoch Cheong Xiang "Flawedshot" Rui to the team as they kicked off their campaign to win the Campus League.
A Winding Path
BAH-NANA secures an Ace against UNS (ITE).
For Serpentine, the path to becoming a team was a little more typical, as they just got together for the tournament and decided on a team name almost on a whim.
"Some of my teammates pitched weird names," Glenn "XCP." Hong of SPT. "So I figured I might as well put Serpentine. Otherwise, I wanted to [call us] Viper or Syngeneic."
Those teammates suggesting weird names are Chai "ᴊᴜɴ♣" Munjun, Tan Boon "Spyman" Kiat, Brosnan "BAH-NANA" Yong and Zacharias "ᴺᵞˣeтʜᴇʀ" Fong — alongside XCP., of course.
P⁄ιgεση•鳩 assassinates the enemy team to earn a GG.
Holy, meanwhile, have been together for quite some time — which might explain the team synergy that got them to the finals.
Eugene "p⁄ιgεση•鳩" Yam and I were friends from secondary school, while Sheng Meng "レクイエム" Foo knew me from CCA, our boardgames club," said Huang "❖FrostZK" Zhikang when asked how the team came together. Keith "gнοѕτ" was also a CCA member and friends with Sheng Meng, and finally, Marcus "dragonmasterultimate" is Eugene's classmate.
"At first the team was me, Eugene, Sheng Meng and two other friends of ours. However they couldn't make it, so Eugene introduced Marcus, and Sheng Meng introduced Keith. And we have known each other since."
We asked each team who their MVP was — who they felt played invaluably during the tournament. Serpentine quickly pointed to Spyman and BAH-NANA, two players who created massive headaches for their opponents.
For Holy, it was a different kind of one-two combo.
"Sheng Meng did a great job for protecting and supporting Eugene our mid-laner," said FrostZK. "But overall I think Eugene was the MVP, he played well in every match and carried the team to victory."
A1a2 was the MVP for UNS, and it appears that they weren't the only ones who noticed his spectacular play.
"[A1a2] has been approached by many esports teams but he rejected them all," said K U K U. "He displayed an outstanding performance at the Funan qualifiers, and it really wasn't easy trying to convince him to join this tournament as he has other commitments."
Educational and Inspirational
Singapore's Minister for Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung, attended the PVP Inter-Campus League at Funan Mall, taking the time to learn how to play Mobile Legends: Bang Bang — something all three teams agreed was a big deal.
"Maybe it will help Singapore host more esports events (in the future)" said XCP. of the visit.
"Esports is a booming industry, and people enjoy playing games for a living," said K U K U. "However many people feel that playing video games is a waste of time and not constructive or valuable to a person's development or career."
Hopefully the visit provided Minister Ong with a little extra perspective as esports continues to pursue governmental support in Singapore and around the world.
SPYMAN goes to work against team KIMMY
The Path Forward
One of the challenges of collegiate esports is the balancing act between practising and keeping up with your studies. It's a tight rope that USN is definitely walking.
"We are currently busy with our school work," said K U K U. "So we haven't really been playing Mobile Legends as much, but hopefully our standard of play will maintain into December."
Serpentine is taking a more measured approach.
"We are practising slowly until we figure out our mistakes," said XCP.
And Holy is going all-in to get the win.
"We will be playing together every day and training in ranked to improve more on our teamwork and skills," said FrostZK.
Holy and Serpentine face off first in an elimination match during PVP Esports @ Singapore Comic Con on the 7th of December, while Unstable Network SIM will be watching in the wings. They'll compete against the victor, and the winner will take home $2500 worth of prizes.