With Hyperplay round the corner, we take stock of the local eSports industry's growth over the years.
The first ASEAN League of Legends competition is happening this weekend in Singapore at Hyperplay, with youths from 10 countries competing at the indoor stadium.
The eSports and music festival will also feature live performances from popular artists Nick Jonas, Alessia Cara, CL, The Sam Willows and more.
But beyond just fun and games (literally), the scale of the event is indicative of how much our local eSports scene has grown.
Hyperplay features two important aspects of youth culture – eSports and music.
IMAGE CREDIT: HYPERPLAY
Here are four reasons why some see eSports, also known as electronic sports or competitive gaming, as the up and coming industry:
1. Increase in global recognition
The future for eSports shines promisingly, as eSports will be an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China, and there are discussions to include eSports as a demonstration sport in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Closer to home, South East Asia is the fastest growing eSports audience in the world, and the global gaming market is expected to be a $1.4 billion business in two years.
2. Attractive prizes at competitions
Hyperplay boasts a grand prize worth $12,000 for the winning team, and there are other competitions with even bigger prizes.
The AOV Glory Cup, also happening this weekend as part of the SHINE Festival, will feature prizes worth more than $22,000 in total.
Even local telco Singtel is jumping on the bandwagon, with its announcement last month that it will be setting up its own eSports league. Prize money for their tournament will be an incredible $400,000.
Many are becoming professional gamers, attracted by prize money in gaming competitions.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/CHIN AN
3. Increasing support for local players
Gamers no longer need to go at it alone, with local gaming entities stepping up to support those who have a passion for professional gaming.
Last year, Singapore's Cybersports & Online Gaming Association launched an eSports Academy. Supported by the National Youth Council, the academy trains gamers who want to become professional players.
Likewise, Team Flash, Singapore's leading professional eSports organisation, announced the official recruitment of two of Singapore's top eSports players, Amraan Gani and Joseph Yeo, both 24, two months ago. The duo won gold (and $140,000) in FIFA at the EA Champions Cup Spring 2018 in Bangkok.
Amraan and Joseph (left to right) hope that they can continue to "make Singapore proud" while competing in gaming tournaments globally.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/AMANDA WONG
Local perception towards gamers has also grown more positive over the years.
Joseph, who has been gaming for almost a decade, said at a Team Flash press conference: "Previously, my friends and family used to think that playing games wasn't a good thing. Singapore is still a very conservative country so it's natural…they would think that you can't make a living out of gaming."
Joseph hopes to prove that eSports can be a feasible career.
PHOTO CREDIT: TEAM FLASH
Now, the people around the full-time professional gamer sing a different tune.
"They are all really supportive after we won [the competition]," said Joseph.
4. Growing job opportunities
The gaming industry looks set to create new jobs, from casters to game designers.
In anticipation of this, the Informatics Academy launched their Diploma in eSports and Game Design two months ago.
First of its kind in Singapore, the diploma aims to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge in game design and development, eSports management, programming and live streaming.
18-year-old pro gamer Amos Ker is the school's ambassador for the diploma. The captain of Team Impunity in video game Vainglory said: "Enrolling in this programme will allow me to gain knowledge from a different perspective.
"It will provide me with the opportunity to pursue and upgrade my qualifications in eSports, which I am passionate about."
Becoming a pro-gamer at 16, Amos now ranks in the top 120 players internationally.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/AMANDA WONG
With the impressive amount of breakthroughs that the industry has achieved, it seems eSports scene is finally going to get the recognition that it deserves.
BANNER/TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/CHIN AN