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eSports: The Rise of eSports in Singapore

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Credit – Lucie Liz / Pexels

The eSports industry has seen unprecedented exposure of late, with a lack of physical sports being replaced by virtual alternatives.

Across the world, players and fans have come together to either compete or watch others compete, keeping them engaged and entertained during tough times. In Singapore, eSports are on the rise and some significant recent developments have seen the industry go from strength to strength.

Traditionally, games such as Overwatch and League of Legends have attracted big crowds, but the platforms which have been drawing big crowds have diversified over the last few months. The Play Apart Together event held in Singapore raised S$6,430 for charity across titles such as FIFA 20 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Warzone. That event is not alone in strengthening eSports in the country though.

Channel News Asia reveals that the world’s first global governing body for eSports was launched in December 2019, headquartered in Singapore. Chris Chan is head of the body, and he is also secretary-general of the Singapore National Olympic Council, two roles he feels could be combined in the future. “Hopefully, e-sports will be less misunderstood and ultimately, we hope that the sports can then be featured on the highest stage, which is the Olympic Games,” he said.

Another boost to eSports in the area came when the eSports and gaming entertainment broadcaster eGG Network announced it would be showing the NBA 2K tournament to fans in Singapore, and wider Southeast Asia. The tournament comes with a $70,000 (S$97,700) prize, making it an illustrious tournament to take part in, as well as to watch.

Whilst that is impressive prize money, the world of eSports offers much more lucrative rewards for those who rise to the challenges. The prize money for FIFA tournaments is impressive, as Bwin Sports reports that it can reach up to US$250,000 for an eWorld Cup win (S$348,000), whilst the Fortnite World Cup offered rewards of up to $3 million (S$4.1 million) for the winner.

Whilst prize money can be a catalyst for eSports making an impact in an area, it was not money that prompted the explosion of popularity in Singapore. Prior to 2018, Singapore was a little ambivalent towards eSports, which was at odds with its location so close to a hub such as South Korea. However, with the 30th Southeast Asian Games suddenly including an eSports division, popularity flared and has not died down since, although the perception of eSports in the country is diverse.

There is a train of thought that eSports could be considered a ‘real profession’ however it is not widely accepted in Singapore, a traditionally hard-working country in which video games are actively discouraged at the family level. That attitude may well hold back a generation of eSports stars wanting to break through, but contesting traditional values at home.

Other parts of the world with such strong traditions and value will see similar resistance, but there is little doubt plenty is changing. The world of eSports is becoming mainstream and with every event like Play Apart Together and every announcement that sees eSports teams and bodies move to the area, that image of it not being a worthwhile past time erodes a little more.

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