Tampines Rovers FC have been crowned champions of the inaugural eSingapore Premier League (eSPL) after two weekends of intense virtual competition. The group stage matches took place on 11 and 12 July, while the knockout stage matches took place on 18 and 19 July. Played on the eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer (eFootball PES) 2020 video game, the eSPL featured all eight Singapore-based Singapore Premier League (SPL) teams, represented by two players from each team. The tournament was telecast by local broadcasters StarHub, Singtel, Mediacorp’s meWATCH as well as regional networks such as Indonesia’s First Media, UseeTV as well as eGG Network which is present in Australia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. It was also streamed on the Singapore Premier League (SPL) Facebook page.
The pairing of Tampines Rovers’ midfielders Haziq Mikhail and Joel Chew got off to a rocky start in the tournament as they qualified for the semi-finals after finishing as runners up in Group B. They amassed a total of four points from three games, after a 0-2 defeat to Geylang International, a 2-2 draw against Hougang United and a 2-1 win against Tanjong Pagar United. The Stags saw off Albirex Niigata (S) in the first semi-final of the day, notching up two straight wins (2-1 and 3-0) in a best of three format to progress to the final. In the other semi-final match, Lion City Sailors went the full three rounds against Geylang International and posted two wins and a loss (3-2, 3-4 and 2-1) to book the other slot in the final for a faceoff against Tampines Rovers.
In the final, the Lion City Sailors duo of Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Iqram Rifqi, eventually fell to Tampines Rovers after three consecutive defeats in a best of five format. Despite losing the first match 1-3, Tampines Rovers clawed back to beat their opponents convincingly with subsequent results of 4-0, 4-1 and 2-0 to claim the eSPL title.
“It really feels great to help Tampines Rovers be crowned as the first ever eSPL champion, and it is always nice to win something! I think that the level of competition here was pretty good. Haziq and I did not expect to win the tournament at all because we were not familiar with Pro Evolution Soccer, but belief is one’s greatest strength, and I am glad we had it in us to eventually clinch the trophy!” – Joel Chew
Mikhail added, “Honestly, neither me nor Joel expected to even qualify for the final, much less to win it! We were not used to playing Pro Evolution Soccer and this was the first time we were pairing up together for an eSports tournament. Qualifying for the semis was also a surprise after we lost and drew our first two games respectively. However, I am just delighted to contribute some kind of silverware to the club even though it is on the virtual pitch this time!” – Haziq Mikhail
Mini tournaments also took place alongside the official eSPL tournament, featuring four
players from the Women’s National Team, as well as a celebrity showdown match between
Lion City Sailors and SGAG.
Lutfiah Hannah emerged as the winner for the Women’s Tournament, defeating Stephanie
Dominguez 2-0 in the semi-finals before recording a 4-1 win against Raudhah Kamis in the
“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to participate in this event, and even going on to win it. I hope to see more of such tournaments in the future, so that it can give more exposure to women’s football in Singapore!” – Lutifah Hannah
In the celebrity match, Lion City Sailors, represented by Abdil Qaiyyim and Gabriel Quak,
defeated SGAG, who was represented by Xiao Ming and Calvin Singh. Both teams played as
themselves, complete with their own customised jerseys as well as their actual teammates.
The match went all the way down to the wire, until Gabriel Quak broke the deadlock in the
88th minute by using his in-game character to score. With a final score of 1-0 to the Lion City
Sailors, they took home a plaque and a medal to commemorate their win.
“With restrictions imposed on most sporting activities and entertainment during the Covid-19 pandemic, this inaugural edition of the eSPL has successfully merged together the elements of sport and entertainment during a period where both types of content were scarce. The eSPL has demonstrated that eSports and our Singapore Premier League can complement each other well, judging by the encouraging numbers of fans tuning in to our Facebook page to cheer on their favourite SPL clubs in the virtual arena. We recorded a total of 1,011,068 impressions, 747,691 reach as well as over 154,000 views* across the two weekends of competition, and that is not forgetting our local broadcasters StarHub, Singtel and Mediacorp, who agreed to screen all the action on theirplatforms, allowing us to reach out to an even larger number of audience. For this, we wouldlike to extend our heartfelt gratitude to our broadcasting partners for this show of support. As a pilot project, this marks the beginning of a new era for the SPL. We will continue looking into more creative ways to bring SPL action to fans as we work towards progressing together with the evolving sporting landscape so as to always remain relevant.
Lastly, we would like to thank our partners, Redd+E Sports, Zenway Productions and The Gymfor their support in making the eSPL a resounding success. At the same time, we would like to express our appreciation to SGAG and Lion City Sailors for their participation in the special segment of our tournament, the celebrity showdown match. Fans who might have missed the action can still catch all the matches on the SPL Facebook page!” – FAS Director of Commercial and Marketing, Jonathan Wong