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

Iran sanctions alarm Korean petrochemical sector

Korea, major player in crude oil market, seeking alternative countries would drive up costs. As the US is set to end sanction exemptions for countries buying oil from Iran, South Korean petrochemical companies are anticipated to struggle in having to reduce their Iranian oil supplies. From May 2, eight nations, including Korea, Japan, China and India, will be banned from buying oil from Iran as the US government’s 180-day waiver ends. Iran is the fifth-largest exporter of crude oil to Korea, following Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the US and Iraq. Imports of crude oil from Iran to Korea accounted for 8.6 percent of total imported crude oil in February, according to Korea National Oil Corp. “We were a bit shocked. We didn’t expect a complete ban. Every company (affected) will be busy securing condensate, which is not abundant in the market,” said an anonymous official of a local firm in the petroc

By The Korea Herald
April 24, 2019

Curiosity, Economics

IMF to visit Pakistan in April

IMF says its mission will visit Pakistan ‘before end of April to continue constructive discussions’. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday said that it held “constructive discussions” with Pakistani authorities during last week’s spring meetings in Washington and that its mission will be visiting Pakistan “before the end of April to continue the discussions” on a bailout package. The announcement was made by the Office of the Resident Representative of the IMF in a press release following reports that the IMF mission’s visit of Pakistan for finalising the package may be delayed as both sides are still engaged in an intense discussion. “The Pakistani authorities and IMF staff held constructi

By Dawn
April 16, 2019

Curiosity, Economics

Malaysia avoids termination fee by renegotiating rail deal

The Chinese-Malaysian venture will go ahead. The government decided to go back to the negotiation table on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project because its termination would cost RM21.78bil with “nothing to show for it”, says Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Dr Mahathir said in renegotiating the project, the government called for a more equitable deal, where the needs of Malaysians would be prioritised. He explained that the Pakatan Harapan government’s main objection to the ECRL project was based on the way and speed at which the original contract was negotiated and signed in 2016. “It was unjustified, a hefty lump sum price which lacked clarity in terms of technical specifications, price, and, by extension, economic justification.

By The Star
April 16, 2019

Curiosity, Economics

China and Central European countries agree to boost ties

China and the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) on Friday agreed to enhance connectivity to achieve more development. The agreement was part of the Dubrovnik Guidelines for Cooperation between China and the CEECs, which was released after the eighth China-CEEC leaders’ meeting in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. According to the guidelines, China and the CEECs are willing to promote railway projects cooperation in line with respective laws and regulations and through consultations, in particular by strengthening exchanges and cooperation on railway planning, railway organization development, management, technology development, logistics and freight terminal construction. China and the CEECs will jointly explore utilization and construction of logistics hubs, said the guidelines, adding that China is welcome to participate in joint development of new freight lines in connecting markets

By China Daily
April 15, 2019

Curiosity, Economics

Seoul calls on Washington for auto tariff exclusion

Finance minister meets with US counterpart over trade, FX agendas. South Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki has asked the US government for an exemption from a new tariff on imported vehicles, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said Sunday. He also met with representatives of major credit ratings agencies, to persuade them to reflect the peninsula’s eased geopolitical risk in their upcoming sovereign rating adjustments. The fiscal chief met US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Washington last week. This was the first face-to-face encounter between the two since Hong took office in December. “I sat with Secretary Mnuchin in a 30-minute, close-door meeting without any attendees,” Hong told reporters.

By The Korea Herald
April 15, 2019

Curiosity, Economics

Managing Pakistan’s slowing economy

The government will find it challenging to keep Pakistan afloat. In case you’ve missed it, there have recently been a slew of forecasts that say the economy is likely to slow to less than 3.5 per cent GDP growth this year (from 5.8pc last year), and next year will be even more difficult as it is expected to contract further to 2.5pc or thereabouts. The World Bank has put these projections out most recently, but the State Bank agrees (though they have not put out any projection for next year at this stage), and the data that the government and the IMF are dealing with during their talks says more or less the same thing. Meanwhile, inflation is set to rise further for a few months, crossing 13pc, as per the World Bank, before it stabilises. The IMF and government projections show inflation to be elevated all thr

By Dawn
April 12, 2019