Singapore

A family victory: S’porean lawyer wins Star Wars X-Wing World Championship

A family victory: S’porean lawyer wins Star Wars X-Wing World Championship
X-Wing champion Justin Phua's family woke up in the wee hours of the morning of May 10, 2017, to welcome him back from the United States. Photo: Courtesy of Ivy Chua
He edged out 346 other players to emerge as the first S’porean to win the competition
Published: 11:15 PM, May 19, 2017
Updated: 2:39 PM, May 20, 2017

SINGAPORE — Lawyer Justin Phua has become the first Singaporean to win the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game World Championship, held early May.

Although his wife, Ivy Chua, is a self-professed non-gamer — one who has “zero interest in games, not even Pokemon GO” — she was nonetheless elated.

Chua, 44, woke up in the wee hours of the morning to welcome the X-Wing champion back from Minnesota in the United States, where the three-day championship was held.

Their daughters, Sammi, 16, and Maisy, 13, who were “so excited about the news they couldn’t sleep the night before”, were also in attendance. They were decked out in Star Wars memorabilia and were bearing welcome banners and posters in honour of their father’s victory.

“The Star Wars T-shirts and props were borrowed from my very supportive colleagues who were equally excited of my hubby’s incredible feat. I would like to think that he was pleasantly amused,” said Chua, a senior executive at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

Photo: Courtesy of Ivy Chua

Phua, 50, beat 346 other players from over 20 different countries — including two other Singaporeans — to place first in the annual X-Wing World Championship. Phua’s victory marks the first time that a Singaporean has won the competition, which has been going strong for six years.

Photo: Courtesy of Ivy Chua

THE MAKING OF A CHAMP

X-Wing is a turn-by-turn tabletop miniature wargame played by two players in person. In the game, players battle it out, using miniature spaceship figurines representing opposing factions. Each session lasts about 75 minutes, according to Phua. 


X-Wing miniatures. Photo: Shane Mok via Justin Phua

Phua is no stranger to competitive miniature wargaming. He describes himself as a gamer “since time immemorial” and spends up to four hours a week on his hobby.

From 2012 to 2015, together with a Singapore contingent of eight players, he participated in the annual European Team Championship for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, a tabletop wargame that involves battling it out with miniatures modelled after fantasy races — think orcs, dwarves and elves.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle miniatures. Photo: Justin Phua

Last year, he took a break from the competition to celebrate his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife, where the couple went on a 14-day road trip across Europe. It is also the same year he switched his focus to X-Wing.

To prepare for the Championship, Phua attended regular training sessions with his gaming buddies, which included tracking the outcome of other tournaments overseas and engaging in back-to-back sessions to build his stamina.
 

The efforts paid off. Despite fatigue, he managed to play through 13 rounds to emerge top and defeat last year’s winner during the Championship.

The victory has fulfilled a lifelong dream of his — winning a game tournament and putting Singapore in the spotlight on the global stage. He has plans to be there next year to defend the title “subject of course to spousal consent”.

He hopes it will spur other gamers in Singapore to pursue their dreams, especially in a category that’s dominated by the West.

“It’s a dream that came true to me, and it can also come true for others. And I hope other gamers in Singapore and neighbouring countries will be inspired to fulfil their dreams in the same way that I have done,” said Phua.

FAMILY TIES

At home at least, Phua’s love for gaming seems to have greatly influenced his daughters. While they have no interest in tabletop miniature games, both are avid computer and handheld-console gamers.

His wife is the odd duckling out of the family, and often gets teased about it.

“I was totally clueless about the life and world of a gamer until we met (25 years ago). I tried to understand and fit in (followed him to games) at first, but lost interest after just two attempts,” said Chua.

Despite her lack of interest in gaming or Star Wars, Chua is very supportive of her husband and even has a “rough idea” of his gaming strategies and rules.

Her advice to those with gamers as spouses? “(Gamers need a) way of de-stressing from this stressful, materialistic world of ours. As the saying goes, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them!’ Or, at the least, give them your trust and mental support,” she added.