When the final name for the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artist award was about to be announced during Sunday night's Star Awards, local actor Desmond Tan thought it might be him.
After all, the first word uttered by presenter Zeng Guo Cheng was "Chen", Tan's surname in Mandarin.
To his disappointment, the final spot in the category went to Shaun Chen, who also took home the Best Actor trophy.
Tan, 28, told The New Paper yesterday: "I was a little disappointed. With every nomination, there will be some kind of expectation, and I was hoping to win it as I won the award for the first time last year."
He added: "The people sitting near me (during the awards ceremony) kept telling me, 'Your name will be next, Desmond'. I think I was as shocked as they were when my name wasn't called."
Although it was a forgettable night for Tan, it was a great one for his BFF, local actress Rebecca Lim, who bagged the Best Actress and Top 10 Most Popular Female Artist awards.
He said: "I feel bitter about my loss, but I feel sweet and happy for Rebecca. She seems to have it easy now but her journey in the industry was quite tough, especially in the beginning."
One might not fault Tan for feeling blue.
Though he came in second at the Star Search talent competition in 2007, his career only took off in 2012.
The tanned 1.82m-tall hunk won the Rocket Award - given to the most-improved actor - at 2012's Star Awards for his breakout role as a rickshaw puller in the period drama A Song To Remember.
This was followed by his first Top 10 Most Popular Male Artist award last year .
He has appeared in several English and Chinese local dramas over the past 16 months, among them Spouse For House, Against The Tide and Second Chance.
The de facto leader of the all-male collective 8 Dukes of Caldecott Hill is an endorsement magnet, having been the ambassador of big brands like Samsung, Uniqlo and Mercedes.
Tan said he hasn't had time to analyse why he did not crack the Top 10, but he thinks it is due to the stiff competition among the male artists, especially with the introduction of the 8 Dukes last April. .
Of the 8 Dukes, four won awards, namely Shane Pow, Ian Fang, Xu Bin and Romeo Tan.
He said: "The category hasn't been this competitive in several years, but I think competition is good as we will grow to become stronger and better."
The first-time Top 10 winners from 8 Dukes expressed their surprise at Tan's omission.
Shanghai-born Fang, 25, told TNP: "It's unbelievable because of his high-profile status and his standing in the industry now. I am shocked. We gave him a pat on the back and told him he will get it next year."
Pow, 24, added: "Desmond has been getting a lot of attention in dramas and endorsements... Everyone has been calling him the band leader of the 8 Dukes, so it's not easy to be him. But he is a tough guy. I believe he will be fine."
There's no time for Tan to sit around and mope.
The star already has his work schedule packed till next year.
"Not winning the award has allowed me to grow up. It's a blessing in disguise," he said.
"You need to experience failure to appreciate success."
This article was first published on April 28, 2015.
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