Flame Awards 2014: Newbie Xu Bin is hot favourite

Flame Awards 2014: Newbie Xu Bin is hot favourite

He has only been on the scene for two years, so when Xu Bin edged his way onto the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes list at this year's Star Awards, he surprised many.

The 25-year-old's fan base is massive and growing rapidly, and the other dukes seem to know it.

When asked who they think will bag the Duke of the Year award, several named him without hesitation.

The chatty, affable idol has more than 135,000 followers on Instagram, a testament to his overwhelming popularity.

LEEWAY

The China-born Xu, who studied in Singapore, said: "I think I do stand a chance of winning, but I want to give myself some leeway.

"Aloysius (Pang) is a strong competitor too. He has a strong fan base, especially on social media. Shane (Pow) is very popular recently as well, because of his TV drama Three Wishes."

Xu Bin, who currently stars in the long-running Channel 8 drama 118, alongside Chew Chor Meng and Pan Ling Ling, believes in communicating with fans regularly to maintain a good relationship with them.

He said: "I am very lucky to have many supporters even though it's been a short time since I debuted. It's important to keep in touch with my fans and also have a good fan club manager."

ALOYSIUS PANG

Riding on his comeback

Compared to the other dukes, Aloysius Pang had a head start in showbiz.

The 24-year-old started acting in dramas when he was nine, but stopped at the age of 14 because of incessant teasing from his peers. But since the former child star made his comeback in 2012, he hasn't looked back.

With his boyish good looks and brooding personality, Pang has attracted a huge fan base in the past two years, having amassed over 102,000 followers on his Instagram account.

PLUS POINT

He admits that he is not used to the duke status but says that "it's a compliment being part of it".

"In terms of marketing, it's a plus point," he said.

"You put eight different guys together, and we get to share our fan bases and more people get to know about us individually. It feels like a new boy band."

Pang is now busy filming Chinese New Year-themed drama Good Luck alongside fellow dukes Romeo Tan and Zhang Zhen Huan, as well as drama Tiger Mummy, with Ian Fang.

On his nomination, the practical Pang said: "It's incredible. I've never been nominated for anything like this before.

"But I don't think my chance of winning is as high as the rest because this sounds like a popularity contest.

"I think Xu Bin or Desmond (Tan) will win."

ROMEO TAN

No pressure to win

Romeo Tan embraces the royal label unapologetically.

The handsome 29-year-old said candidly: "I am the romantic and sentimental duke. I like the title. It's an honour to be part of the 8 Dukes."

Tan gained notice after finishing fourth in the 2010 Star Search talent competition.

Since then, he has been slowly but steadily working his way up, earning a nomination for Best Newcomer Award at Star Awards 2012. He also won the Rocket Award, which recognises an artist's improvement in performance, in 2013.

This year, Tan also made it onto the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes list at the Star Awards.

CHALLENGE

In year-end blockbuster The Journey: Tumultuous Times, which is currently showing on Channel 8, Tan plays the main villain Zhang Yan, a man who becomes corrupted by power.

He was initially worried that the role would tarnish his boy-next-door image, but decided to take it on to challenge himself.

He said: "I think fans are looking forward to (see) how bad I can be. If I act well, I believe that viewers will still support me."

Tan, who thinks that Xu Bin or Ian Fang will emerge victorious in this Flame Awards category, added: "I don't need to win a lot of things to know that I am doing well in my career. If I don't win, I won't take it too hard. But if I win, it will come as a pleasant surprise."

SHANE POW

Nomination a surprise

This sporty duke stands out among the rest because of his chiselled good looks and hot, taut bod.

The 24-year-old broke onto the scene two years ago and gained the attention of viewers with his role as B-Niu, the son of a fishball noodle stall owner in Channel 8 drama It Takes Two.

His performance earned him a nomination for Best Newcomer at the Star Awards in 2013.

This year, the Manhunt 2011 finalist has been busy with multiple acting and hosting projects.

He was last seen on the small screen playing a fitness instructor in the popular drama Three Wishes, which scored one of the highest ratings this year with an average viewership of 1.04 million.

REFRESHING

Pow said of his 8 Dukes status: "It's refreshing and it's something new in the local media industry. People are talking about it, so it gives us more exposure which is always good."

"I am surprised and also happy to be nominated in this year's Flame Awards. It's an achievement."

He added candidly: "I don't have much confidence in winning it. I think my ranking is in the middle though, as I have more exposure these days with my recent TV drama. Xu Bin and Aloysius (Pang) stand a high chance as they have a strong fanbase

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