Confidently Tenacious: GrindSky Eris as SEA Games’ Reigning Champs and Women Reaching Greater Heights (Exclusive)

by Matthew Escosia
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By: Jia Jarin


After sweeping Singapore with an incredible 3-0 score in the grand finals, the powerhouse team Grindsky Eris reigned as the first Filipino gold medalists of last May’s 31st Southeast Asian Games esports tournament.

Conquering the League of Legends: Wild Rift women’s division, players Christine “Rayray” Natividad, Charize “Yugen” Doble, Giana “Jeeya” Llanes, Rose Ann “Hell Girl” Robles, April “Aeae” Valiente, and Angel Danica “Angelailaila” Lozada were crowned as the first women champions in the history of SEA Games esports.

SEA Wave - GrindSky Eris

(L-R) April, Rose Ann, Charize, Rayray, Angel, and Giana taking home the gold medal. Photo by Grindsky.

The SEA Games Experience

In an exclusive interview with SEA Wave, the Grindsky squad talked about how they were able to set themselves up for success. They revealed that preparing for the SEA Games was no easy feat, with hours dedicated to individual training and team practices.

Charize told SEA Wave: “Our dancing, bonding, and playfulness as a team are part of our training. On a serious note, we have a training schedule, which is [every] 2PM-4PM-7PM-9PM. This doesn’t include the time we spend on individual plays.”

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Grindsky Eris on 2022 SEA Games Press Conference. Photo by Grindsky.

Rose Ann also expressed that the team would already be lucky if they get 5 hours of sleep. Although individual training is optional after their last team practice that ends at 11PM, Charize explained why it is crucial for them to work on their skill set as players.

She said: “In esports, if you sleep, you would think— ‘Oh no, another player might already be stronger than me’. So, on average, we spend 70 percent [of our time] in training, and use the 30 percent for sleep, or sometimes just 20 percent.”

“The 70 percent includes our eating time. We eat while we play,” Angel added.

Aside from having their own on-site bootcamp since the start of training season, April (who is the only player currently studying) found it easier to balance practice with academics because of the modular option in school. Despite the pandemic, Grindsky turned such limitations to advantages that only made them stronger as a team.

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Grindsky Eris during the announcement of 31st SEA Games Finals. Photo by Grindsky.

The players continued to elaborate on the surreal feeling of being announced as gold medalists, describing how that winning moment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent both women and the Philippines:

“It was truly an honor because out of a million [people], only a few players were handpicked to represent the country and we were extremely happy that we were part of that small group of people. When we won, it was nice to feel that we were able to contribute something to the Philippines,” Charize shared. “We deserved it because for us, it was two years in the making. From the very start, we trained with the goal of winning the SEA Games,” she added.

“We were over the moon especially because we made history in the world of esports, as we were the first all-women gold medalists,” Giana also said.

@angelailailawr YOUR FIRST GOLD MEDALIST FOR ESPORTS IN #SEAGames31! 🥇We hope you’re proud of us guys! 🇵🇭✨ #lakadmatatag #wildrift #sibol #seagames #angelailaila #grindsky ♬ See Tình – Hoàng Thuỳ Linh (Sped Up Version) – Tik Toker

When asked about their unforgettable experiences during the SEA Games tournament, the team shared how much they were like free spirits— feeling relaxed, comfortable, and confident throughout their stay in Vietnam.

“We made our venue in Vietnam our playground,” Angel mentioned. “When they see us running around and being playful [during the tournament], we would be surprised and find out that the cameras were already pointing at us.”

@angelailailawr Sea games what 🤣 Just go play for fun! #sibol #seagames #seagames31 #angelailaila #wildrift #lakadmatatag ♬ Funny Song – Cavendish Music

Giana added that getting to know the other teams from different countries was just as memorable. As they have been playing in online tournaments for almost two years, team Grindsky found it fun to finally meet their competitors face-to-face during the SEA Games.

Women in the World of Esports and Next Milestones

The team also shared what it is like being a woman in the male-dominated esports scene. Although everyone in Grindsky started playing video games at a young age and are professionally training as esports athletes in long hours each day, the team expressed that there are still a lot of people who belittle their skills because of their gender.

“Women are looked down on in esports,” April said. “But we take them as an advantage, especially during bets or when they challenge us to a game. There’s also a misconception that women only play support roles. It’s quite annoying, but there’s always a rewarding feeling after getting them to respect us because we always win in those games and even prove our skills in different roles.” Charize explained.

SEA Wave - GrindSky Eris

Grindsky Eris with other competing teams during 31st SEA Games. Photo by Grindsky.

The players also shared a recent encounter where they defeated a crew from a different country who initially did not want to play when they found out that Grindsky was an all-girls team.

“They wanted to cancel the game because we were women but they lost the match,” Angel expressed.

Giana continued by explaining how important their role is in the world of esports. “When I started going pro, there were only a few women players. It’s rewarding to know that we are one of those people who get to break the stereotype that women are weak or they freeload in team games,” she said.

When asked about their next steps, the team revealed their plans for the Electronic Sports League:

“Our next goal is to qualify for the ESL with the boys team [in Grindsky], reach top 4, then top 2, and eventually win as champions. Although it would take some time to improve on our team skill, we really want to be seen as strong players in not just the female league but the esports league as a whole,” Charize shared. “We believe gaming is for everyone, and that women players aren’t only up to a certain category or role,” she added.

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Grindsky Eris announced as gold medalists in the 31st SEA Games. Photo by ABS-CBN.

As for young girls who are interested in becoming esports players themselves, Grindsky gave a few nuggets of advice:

“If you pursue esports, you have to make sacrifices, like sleep,” Charize joked. “But even if there are men who try to discourage you and tell you that you’re weak or that video games aren’t for girls, keep trying different fields or games. Get out of your comfort zone because you might find something you enjoy doing and it would make you realize that it is that kind of future you want to pursue,” she said.

Team captain Giana also added that the sacrifices would be worth it if you are pursuing your passion: “If you’re really happy with gaming, follow your heart. Keep training yourself to be a stronger player.”

SEA Wave - GrindSky Eris

Grindsky Eris with other competing teams during 31st SEA Games. Photo by Grindsky.

For sponsorships, updates, and more Grindsky Eris content, you can check out their backstories and their official Facebook page.


(The quotes from SEA Wave’s exclusive interview have been translated from Filipino to English.)

What are your thoughts on the women representation in the esports scene? Share your love for team Grindsky and women players around the world through the comments section below!


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