If you’re unfamiliar with the world of competitive esports, then you’ve likely not heard of “scrims”. According to the dictionary, a scrim is “a strong, coarse fabric, chiefly used for heavy-duty lining or upholstery”. In online gaming however, it refers to a practice match where teams test out strategies against each other before the actual games. Strategies change according to the “patch” – the current game update – and vary according to team playstyles. Scrims are important in every team’s development.

Player mentee Favian ‘xMrDark’ Cheong has taken part in small tournaments previously. In his experience, the scrims were unorganised without clear goals. After participating the SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme: Esports however, he couldn’t help but notice stark contrasts. “I am utterly shocked by the difference between the scrims I had before and the scrim sessions I underwent here. Scrims were done with proper drafting with clear winning conditions. My team members were focused in making plays and making calls.”

Practice matches are meant to simulate the competitive environment. For the player mentees, this meant playing under pressure. For the player manager cum coach mentee, it meant carrying out picks and bans – the draft phase – under a countdown timer. Leif ‘Esterified’ Phang had to think on his feet, adapt to changing conditions in the draft, and make game-changing decisions in real-time.

To facilitate these scrims, for 5 out of 10 weeks, mentees were divided into 2 fixed teams. For mentees who are already playing on well-known competitive teams in Singapore, scrims are a part and parcel of their daily life. Favian, who has less experience, came to fully appreciate the structure and organisation of proper scrims. “After each scrim, our mentor Leonard would go through the match with us and help identify our individual mistakes. As a player, I was extremely thrilled and motivated as I uncovered a lot of game knowledge and mechanics. Teaming with and playing against the other mentees was also a source of motivation. I wanted to be as good as them, or better,” he related.

Coming into the programme with less training was not without its challenges. Favian shared earnestly, “I had a lack of confidence at first. Facing 5 Challengers on the other team, I always felt that I never stood a chance especially against their bot laner Quake who is the current ADC for Sovereign. This causes a feeling of inferiority which affected my decision making, such as opting to play safe all the time. I am currently working on improving myself by playing more and learn more skills.”

What’s unique about the SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme: Esports is that it has given high-skilled players of different ranks the chance to experience something new. Everyone has room for improvement, and scrims truly brought out each player’s strengths and weaknesses. Some may be gifted in their gameplay but had room to communicate better, while others shone in terms of keeping the team’s spirit up, acting as a constant source of encouragement. Feedback came not just from mentors, but from other mentees too. What more, before the weekend of the showmatch, all the mentees put in 2 extra scrim sessions to practice against each other. Talk about their passion and dedication!