IEM Singapore: Where In The World Were The Singapore Sentinels?

Amidst the frantic flames and indignation from our local keyboard warriors, one entity is, at least, standing above it all. We haven’t heard a peep from the Singapore Sentinels, and for good reason.

SGS are currently on their way to Las Vegas to participate in the IGN Pro League, better known as IPL. IPL Season 5 will see the Sentinels competing against teams like Curse NA, Azubu Blaze, and both EU and NA CLG teams.

We managed to snatch a moment with their manager, Apple Ng, on Saturday. He told us that the Sentinels were unable to attend the Intel Extreme Masters not just because of their commitment to the Garena Carnival – an event clearly hosted by their sponsor – but also because they were in “full force” preparing for the IPL as well.

“It’s actually the other way round,” Apple said, when RobotsGoneBad asked if he felt SGS’s absence from IEM Singapore would give local gamers the impression that Garena does not support e-Sports on the whole in Singapore. “Garena built the Stadium so that there’s a place for gamers to come down and watch live-streams.” He also added that the Sentinels’ non-participation of IEM was “definitely not an issue of not promoting e-Sports”, citing their participation in the Garena Carnival as an example.

“We are coming down to interact with our fans, to play with our fans (and) we constantly promote and try to fly the Singapore flag high overseas,” he said.

Apple also said that the Sentinels try to make sure they represent Singapore well before committing to anything.

“If we have to say no to make sure we are responsible participants, then we will do it. It is with great regret that we could not join IEM Singapore, but before we promise somebody something… we have to make sure we can do it (in the first place).”

Case in point: Romulus ‘SGS Kailing’ Tham told us that the Sentinels had recently been experiencing several issues with their members due to National Service and school. He also noted that IEM Singapore clashed with Garena Carnival.

The Sentinels could not participate, and with good reason. What, then, put the Electronic Sports League in such a bind that they had to reach out to Armaggeddon at midnight on competition day?


To be (held) or not to be (held) – The IEM LoL Qualifiers

ESL Asia – who were the ones responsible for scheduling the qualifying competition – told us that there had never been any plans for League of Legends qualifiers for IEM Singapore, as ESL Asia had held regional League of Legends events previously and witnessed very low team participation.

“The main goal for Singapore (qualifiers) was to actually produce a best of five showmatch between the Singapore Sentinels and another Singapore team just two or three days before IEM Singapore. However we received news on November 18 that Singapore Sentinels could not participate,” explained ESL Asia’s Country Manager for China and Southeast Asia, Mickael Piantchenko. A source told us that the invite for the showmatch had been sent to the Singapore Sentinels a month prior to IEM Singapore, and that they had initially agreed to get the approval for it on Nov 9 2012 before declining the invitation proper on Nov 18 2012.

The Sentinels’ bowing out was added pressure for ESL – who went on to encounter a bout of bad luck. Several League of Legends teams scheduled to play at IEM Singapore, like Curse EU and Azubu Blaze, pulled out around the same period, leaving the ESL crew scrambling to find replacements. This was why local Dota 2 team Armaggeddon ended up playing in the League of Legends playoffs. Director of Pro Gaming in Turtle Entertainment, Michal ‘Carmac’ Blicharz has since apologised for this, both on Reddit and while speaking to Robots Gone Bad at IEM Singapore.

Mickael added that ESL Asia went directly to the Singapore Sentinels for the showmatches as they felt it would be both quicker and easier. This could have given rise to the comment by Garena Game Master LOLi that ESL had refused Garena’s help. Mickael refuted this claim.

Additionally, ESL Asia is a regional subsidiary and the Asian partner of the Electronic Sports League, a brand belonging to Germany-based Turtle Entertainment GmbH. The license-holder for the Asia region, ESL Asia has organised a slew of successful gaming events, most notably the Go4LoL series, StarCraft II World Championship Series Singapore, and the Southeast Asia qualifiers for various Intel Extreme Masters tour stops.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

At the end of the day, with the fur and feathers from the snits thrown on Reddit and Garena forum threads settled, it is difficult to blame Garena for making the decision they did. Though many from the greater e-Sports community felt that the Big Red company could have aided the ESL better by acquiescing to its request for the Sentinels, the bottom line was that the Sentinels had prior commitments they could not move.

And though burdened by unforeseen setbacks, ESL has without hesitation admitted and apologised for its mistake in fielding Dota 2 team Armaggeddon, showing an accountability more local organisers should take note of.

With Intel Extreme Masters Singapore and its accompanying drama quickly fading behind us, it might be time to move on to a new international e-Sports event, and to cheer on our local boys the Singapore Sentinels as they attempt to take the championship in the upcoming IGN Pro League 5 in Las Vegas.

[Main photo: Garena]