As Team Singapore prepared to step out into the spotlight, its five members knew this was not just another DOTA 2 competition. On home turf, it was win or die.
Piling the pressure on Tay “Merody” Hui Chun, Amanda “bings” Lim, Paula “xiaoma” Teo, Ho “KazeL” Sheng Ying and Joanne “Minkiey” Lim was their fan-favorite tag ahead of the Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games, held in December last year.
But months of grueling training paid off. After surviving a scare against Team Great Britain in the grand finals, Team Singapore roared back to claim the gold and fly the national flag high at Resorts World Sentosa.
Merody, however, recounted the tough journey preceding their victory. Behind closed doors, communication breakdowns and anxiety contributed to some nerves as the players could not practise together during the mandatory four-day quarantine just before the Games. They focused on forming a tight-knit group instead.
“We could not interact with outsiders and had no choice but to get to know each other better,” shared the 25-year-old captain, whose team also participated in several interviews during the event.
They had trained together before that — not just in front of their computer screens, but in the gym too. Having started weekly trainings long before the Games, they were confident in their chances of winning.
Off the rails
While they steamrollered their way to the grand finals and believed they had the upper hand, Team GB gazumped them in the first game. The Singaporeans had been caught off guard by their opponent’s fast push strategy.
Confidence waned, especially for Merody, who felt that she had let her teammates down.
“I remember this broke our team morale really bad and for me personally, I felt bad about myself for my poor performance,” she admitted.
The key to their eventual success, she said, was having a “Best of 1” mindset and motivating themselves to do better in the second game. It worked wonders.
“We put in 101 percent effort and I think this mentality helped us secure the second (match) win.”
For Merody, an engineer who used to play in an all-Filipino team under Bren Esports, her experience of achieving glory overseas was incomparable to winning first place at the Games.
“I think competing on home ground is a different feeling because you will have your friends and family watching you, and it was a matter of national pride,” she said.
Her teammates share the same perspective. Seeing opponents fly in from all over the world to compete and having matches that lasted over 70 minutes streamed live to millions of people served as healthy pressure that spurred them on. Only one thing was on their minds: making Singapore proud.
“It was amazing being able to represent our country to compete against players from other countries,” she said.