See More on Facebook

Curiosity, Economics

E-sports here to stay in Asia

Despite a lack of acceptance by older generations, the competitive video game arena is more popular than ever and worth an estimated$900 million US.


Written by

Updated: April 6, 2018

Whether its pushing down turrets in Riot Games’ League of Legends or gunning down members of an enemy team in Blizzard’s Overwatch, eSports are capturing the hearts of fans across Southeast Asia.

Once considered a weekend hobby for bored teenagers, the thriving competitive video game industry now has 148 million players and will be worth US$905.6 million in 2018, The Straits Times reported, citing ESport research group Newzoo.

The new medium is even beginning to give its traditional cousins a run for their money, with 33 million viewers tuning in to the 2017 League of Legends World Cup, compared to just 20.4 million who watched the NBA finals.

The industry has experienced a whopping 38 per cent year-on-year growth – and according to a December 2016 article in Newzoo, the fastest growing region of all was Southeast Asia.

The region had 9.5 million Esports Enthusiasts in 2016, and this number was expected to double by next year.

The surge in interest in eSports – and its economic potential – have not gone unnoticed.

Gamers will be joining traditional athletes at the 2020 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China and may even be included in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, according to The Straits Times.

In Thailand, plans are underway to open an eSports arena in Bangkok and set up an eSports Academy in June where players can be trained, The Nation reported.

“The Thailand eSports Arena will be a digital-sport battlefield for everyone,” said Jirayod Theppipit, founder and chief executive of Infofed, the company building the arena.

“In 2022, eSports will be a part of the Asian Games. Opening the Thailand eSports Arena will pave way for Thai eSports athletes to take part in such regional and global tournaments,” he said, according to The Nation.

Singapore gaming and e-commerce start-up Garena, now known as Sea, has risen to become the country’s first billion-dollar tech start-up and was recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Popular online game League of Legends is among the games offered by the platform.

The island nation will also be hosting the inaugural Asean eSports competition at the Singapore Sports Hub in August this year.

Players themselves also stand to make a killing. For example, top League of Legends player Lee Sang Hyeok, better known as Faker, has raked in over a million dollars in earnings from tournaments, according to Esports Earnings.

Despite the earnings of top gamers, some believe eSports has a long way to go before it gains widespread acceptance and public appeal. The Nation notes that most Thais still feel ambiguous about electronic gaming, though eSports have been official recognised as a form of sport by the Sports Authority of Thailand.

Lester Hio makes a similar observation in his commentary for The Straits Times, suggesting that competitive gamers are still viewed with suspicion in success-oriented Singapore, where many are unwilling to acknowledge eSports as a viable career choice.

Though he notes that a new team, Chaos Theory, offers its players employment contracts, salaries and other perks that often come with a job such as medical benefits and even Central Provident Fund contributions, he asserts that infrastructural support alone will not be enough to change public perceptions.

The key, he suggests, is a complete image overhaul, with players viewing themselves as entertainment figures as well as gamers and behaving in a more professional manner.

“Being a professional gamer is not to sit around and play games all day long – it’s also to work on bettering themselves and the image of the eSports industry that they are helping to grow,” Hio finishes.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity, Economics

Cooperating on energy in face of tariffs

At Houston oil and gas industry forum, US, China executives discuss future. The US energy industry expects a strong long-term energy relationship with China, a US energy official told US and Chinese oil and gas executives the day after China announced a retaliatory 10 per cent tariff on US natural gas. Steve Winberg, US Energy Department assistant secretary for fossil energy, on Wednesday assured the energy executives that the US has never revoked a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export authorization, nor plans to do so. “Some potential exporters and financiers have expressed concern that the US may rescind or revoke LNG export authorization. Let me be very clear that these concerns are unfounded,” Winberg said on Wednesday at the opening of the two-day 18th US-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum in Houston. The forum has been a collaboration of the US Energy Department, Ch


By Cod Satrusayang
September 25, 2018

Curiosity, Economics

Swift assistance needed to rehabilitate Hokkaido’s quake-stricken industries

To realize Hokkaido’s post-quake rehabilitation, it is indispensable to rebuild its industries. A half month has passed since the Hokkaido earthquake, which registered the highest level on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7. A power blackout that spread to all parts of the prefecture has been resolved. The No. 1 unit at the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant — a facility that plays a central role in the supply of electricity there — has been brought back on line. The government has withdrawn its request for power-saving, and neon lighting has returned to flourishing areas in Sapporo. However, scars from the earthquake have not yet healed. Even if the amount of direct damage, including that caused to roads, rivers and forest land, is calculated alone, the figure exceeds ¥150 billion. There are still many disaster victims in evacuation centers. T


By The Japan News
September 25, 2018

Curiosity, Economics

Disruption seen from auto parts duty in US-China trade war

US tariffs on Chinese auto parts will probably result in higher prices and could disrupt the global automotive supply chain industry. The Trump administration has imposed a new 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that takes effect on Sept 24. Beginning on Jan 1, the tariffs will increase to 25 percent. China retaliated with $60 billion of new tariffs on US products. The new levies target more than 100 automotive products including engines, gaskets, rubber seals, tires and transmission shafts. Tariffs are basically taxes on the consumer, and all costs increases within the supply chain will eventually be passed along to the consumer, according to Peter Nagle, senior automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “In the short-term, suppliers might absorb some of the cost of the tariff but eventually they will have to raise prices or resource product from elsewhere, which also will rai


By China Daily
September 24, 2018

Curiosity, Economics

India launches world’s biggest healthcare programme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s ambitious healthcare program on Sunday. Deemed the “world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme”, the scheme will cover half a billion people through its network of hospitals and support services. Speaking at the event, the PM said that the number of beneficiaries is equivalent to the total population of the United States, Canada and Mexico or the entire European Union. “This is a major step taken to fulfil the vision of providing better healthcare facilities to the poorest of the poor and to those standing last in the queue,” the PM said. Following the launch, the PM informed the gathering that the scheme covers diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, kidney and liver problems, diabetes and over 1300 various ailments. “The treatment of the diseases can not only be done in government hospitals but also private hospitals,” said


By Cod Satrusayang
September 24, 2018

Curiosity, Economics

US exempts Korean steel from import tariff

The move is seen as a positive signal for the local steel industry. Steel products made by South Korea’s SL Tech has been excluded from the US’ steel tariffs, marking the first case of exemption since the US imposed a quota on Korean steel shipments this May, industry sources said Thursday. The US Commerce Department earlier this week accepted US medical device manufacturer Micro Stamping’s request for a tariff exemption on ultrafine steel tubes imported from Korean steel company SL Tech. Micro Stamping uses ultrafine steel tubes made by SL Tech to produce medical equipment. Korean steelmakers viewed the decision as a positive sign of a higher possibility of tariff exemptions, while remaining cautious over whether the same decision would be applied to steel products used for construction and household appliances.


By The Korea Herald
September 21, 2018

Curiosity, Economics

China hits back with tariffs on US$60b of US goods in trade war

China has hit back with reciprocal tariffs after President Trump imposed tariffs on over $200 billion of Chinese goods. China will impose tariffs on US$60 billion (S$82.3 billion) worth of US goods as retaliati


By The Straits Times
September 19, 2018