Standing video cameras, bright tripod lamps and the smell of pizza. It’s not every day you see a fully deck-ed out production crew and a platter of pepperoni in a LAN shop at the same time. With support from the National Youth Council, trials for the League of Legends SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme was held on Saturday, 28 April at Pasir Ris.

The SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme: Esports, is an initiative led by the National Youth Council with the aims of aspiring youths in Singapore to pursue to their dreams and careers in esports.

The programme will see a selected team of youths go through rigorous training, a mentorship program as well as a series of workshops in order to give them the right skills and knowledge to help kick-start their esports journeys.

Shielded from the sweltering afternoon sun, 20 players, 4 player managers and 3 commentators  aged 17 to 23 gathered at Downtown East Colosseum to show their potential. While there are always League of Legends competitions for players to participate, a structured mentorship programme for players, coaches and commentators is the first of its kind here in Singapore. Leading up to a show match during this year’s SHINE Festival, all mentees will get their chance to put what they’ve learned into action.

Trial day for some meant catching up with old friends. Veterans who have been competing locally in the Singapore Campus League (SGCL) and Singapore Legends Series (SLS) for years greeted each other with familiarity. “Dragon, let’s do dragon!” they exclaimed in-game, shotcalling for their squad. For others who were new, it was their first time sparring in a competitive setting.

Organised into 4 teams of five, players switched around to form different groups for three best-of-one games. Live streamed from the venue, commentators jumped in to shoutcast the games. Before and after, the player managers cum coaches were seen briefing and debriefing teams. In between, mentors chipped in, scribbling down notes as they assessed each candidate.

By the end of the day, the mentors shortlisted 11 players, 2 player managers and all 3 commentators for interviews which took place a week later at *SCAPE.

As with the culture of Asian esports where coaching and managing players are usually led by the same person, the selected Player Manager will learn about these dynamics from current League of Legends Coach Amanda ‘Tania Mae’ Tan and Zanthel Tan, former manager of Singapore Dota 2 team First Departure. In the commentating department headed by Garena shoutcaster Jenny ‘Reira’ Lee, the two commentators will learn to build rapport and support each other in casting as a dynamic duo.

Under the guidance of SEA All-Stars 2017 coach Leonard ‘OMO’ Loh, the 10 selected players will fine-tune their competitive edge for the next 10 weeks. “I’m looking forward to working more with the veteran players on the team. I would like to improve on map rotations and being more vocal as a shotcaller,” shared Ashton ‘Babylife’ Lim, a 2-time SGCL ‘B’ division winner.

Stay tuned for more updates as the mentees progress in the coming weeks!