Pro gamer is world Street Fighter champ

A professional gamer has become Singapore's first winner at the world's largest tournament for video fighting games.

Mr Ho Kun Xian, 22, had been neck and neck with a Japanese rival before taking the US$5,600 (S$7,070) prize money.

He triumphed at Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (2012 Version) at the 12th annual Evo Championships in Las Vegas on Sunday.

It was one of nine games played during the three-day tournament, which attracted 1,600 participants from around the world. Other games included Ultimate Marvel Versus Capcom 3 and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

"Winning the largest fighting game tournament in the world means a lot," said an elated Mr Ho. "It validates my choice to become a full-time professional gamer and the eight hours I spend every day practising over the past three to four years."

He became a professional gamer in 2008 after completing his National Service but he started playing video games when he was 10.

Mr Ho also clinched fifth place in the game The King Of Fighters XIII after spending a total of 28 hours competing in four games throughout the tournament.

Previous years' Evo winners have mostly been Americans and Japanese, although Singaporean Jovian Chan came in second for the game Soulcalibur V at last year's tournament in Nevada.

Video game designer and former professional gamer Wilson Chia, 31, said the Evo Championships are "the Tour de France of competitive video-gaming".

"Winning is not easy, especially with keen competition from traditional video-gaming powerhouses like Japan and America," he said.