Banana gave themselves a chance to dream. It did not matter if it was the Wild Rift Icon Series or SEA Championships. They were just 5 guys having fun, who ended up facing some of the top teams on their tournament run – and putting on a good show.
Losses to favourites Team Alliance (in August’s Icon Series 2021: Fall – Singapore Finals) and Team Flash were not unexpected. Yet Banana took the first game in both matches. They also thrashed Hong Kong’s QWQ 3-0 in the SEA Championships Play-Ins opener before going down against the same team in the Bracket C Losers’ Finals. Not bad for a non-professional side.
So who are they, really? As Dragon laner Adam “TaiLeS” Goh tells Ulti.Asia in an exclusive interview, they are just a group of chill dudes looking to earn some cash.
Show them the money
Apart from TaiLeS, Banana include Support Jervis “ScarletPetal” Lam, Jungler Tan “Vendetta” Yee Khai, Mid Shawn “Soul” Lim and Baron laner Wong “iNitrogen” Jing Kai.
They are hardly newcomers – all 5 are former competitive League of Legends (LoL) players. Unfortunately, conscription and studies took precedence, so they gave up LoL. What they didn’t know was that it would return to their lives in another way.
They were connected by mutual friends in July and decided to form a Wild Rift team on a whim as the prize pool was “more attractive” than LoL in Singapore. The Icon Series and SEA Championships offered a US$20,000 and US$200,000 prize pool respectively, significantly dwarfing those from previous LoL tournaments.
“Money is our main motivation, as the SEA Championships and Icon Series pay better than LoL tournaments in the past,” explained TaiLeS, a 24-year-old undergraduate. “As individual players, we are some of the best in Singapore, so there’s no reason for us to split up and look for other teams.”
Ripe for challenges
But calling the team Banana, really? It was suggested as a joke, but they “just went for it”, not knowing it would create problems when looking to scrim with foreign teams that had not heard of them. Banana eventually went into the Icon Series with just 6 practice matches and finished 2nd.
“Most of us have played ML (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang) before, so we’re quite used to using a joystick,” said TaiLeS. “Our game sense from our League days is also superior to most average players, so it was easier to adapt.”
While advancing to the SEA Championships Group Stage would have been a welcome surprise, the team are not beating themselves up about it.
“No regrets calling ourselves Banana though, because we still managed to qualify (for the SEA Championships Play-Ins),” he added.
But with members either in university or conscripted to military service, there are currently no plans to go pro – at least until a decent offer comes in.
Said TaiLeS: “If an organisation approaches us and the terms are good, we will take it up. If not, we will probably see when the next competition comes then we will practise, as this is the routine we’re already accustomed to.”