In July 2020, JJ Lin’s Team SMG made a bold move by signing an untested all-Singaporean Valorant roster.

In less than a year, they’ve won a total of five local and regional tournaments, and finished second in Riot Games’ official First Strike Malaysia and Singapore, and VCT 2021: Malaysia and Singapore Stage 1 Challengers 1.

Even though the team underwent minor roster changes, three of their core members, including captain Muhammad “ZesBeeW” Musharraf Bin Mohtar, continue to push limits on Team SMG.

“The key reason for our recent success is our strong team chemistry with our new roster,” Team SMG told ONE Esports. “We have a strong in-game leader who has the experience to use each of our strengths and weaknesses to his advantage when making decisions on the fly.”

Out of Team SMG’s five first-place finishers, three stretched all the way to five games. There is only one other time in a final where they fought all the way game five, but lost.

The grudge match between Singapore’s Team SMG and Malaysia’s Todak during the First Strike Malaysia and Singapore last December was incredibly close. Tied 2-2, Todak consecutively won the first ten rounds on attack in game five. Coming back from zero rounds to 7-12, Team SMG eventually fell to Senna’s triple kill on the Op in round 20, taking second place.

Looking back at the intense cross causeway finale, Team SMG admitted that they were too afraid to play their own game. “[We] ended up allowing Todak to drive the pace of the match. Furthermore, we felt the pressure to perform due to First Strike being one the first Riot-organized events since Valorant’s release.”

Barely a year old, the young team are keen to adapt and improve as fast as they can. One thing they have locked down is their pre-game ritual. Coach Hoc “Fayde” Wah Chong posted a clip of the team singing — or at least, trying their best to — before a match, calling it their “official game ritual”.

“Not only is singing a pre-game ritual, but also mandatory blasting of certain YouTube music videos into our headphones to hype us up for the match,” explained Team SMG’s Valorant squad, who are looking forward to singing karaoke together once pandemic restrictions are lifted.

“We normally go out as a group to celebrate after winning which is important for us to build friendship and chemistry. In times of defeat, we make it a point to reflect as a team and encourage one another.”

READ MORE: ‘The main goal in esports is to win, however for Team SMG, winning isn’t everything’ says JJ Lin