The growth of eSports has reached unprecedented heights over the years, culminating into a multi-million dollar industry. Premium tournaments such as The International, League of Legends World Championship, and ESL One were hosted annually, boasting an increment of revenue, prize pool, and the number of spectators in each subsequent edition. This is a far cry compared to a decade ago when eSports was still considered a niche even in the games industry, but it currently has a worldwide reach after first gaining exposure and success in the western regions.
Malaysia is also part of the global eSports movement, with highly successful players making their mark in the scene, namely Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung (Dota 2), Zheng “Midone” Yeik Nai (Dota 2), Poon “Veki” Kok Sing (League of Legends), and Ramsay "Bipolar" Lochhead Devaraj (League of Legends). Many local gamers aspire to replicate their success in the industry, but it’s also apparent that you need more than just talent and effort to make a name for yourself. With that said, recent developments in the regional eSports market hints that now is the best time to venture into the industry, and here are five reasons why we think so.
Local universities are slowly embracing the concept of eSports in campus
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in becoming a professional player is to the find the balance between gaming and studies, but what if you can integrate education into eSports as well? Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) has established Malaysia’s first eSports academy, and it’s also the first educational institution to have a dedicated eSports course. This allows aspiring players to have proper guidance in joining the industry, while gaining exposure from experts and international organizations.
On top of that, APU is also offering courses for those who are interested in the management side of things, as the industry requires talents beyond professional gamers. Other universities and colleges are also embracing competitive gaming in campus by forming their own eSports clubs, and it won’t be long till we have a list of institutions offering similar courses.
Private sectors are putting in effort to grow the local eSports industry
The industry’s staggering revenue figures were made possible from the contributions of private sectors, and they play an important role in sustaining the market for years to come. International organizations might be seen only as sponsors, but they are making an effort to build the eSports community from the grassroots level, especially those who have a presence in Malaysia.
Garena is currently spearheading efforts to do so with the Garena Student Alliance (GSA) initiative, which aims to encourage tertiary education institutions to form an eSports club, while educating them on proper club management including tournament administration, partnership proposals, and event marketing. Besides that, they are also constantly organizing amateur level tournaments, which will give prospective players a decent chance to break into the industry. League of Legends studio Riot Games is also doing their part with the recent launch of the Student Ambassador Program.
Local eSports organizations’ infrastructure has improved tremendously
Skills and effort are definitely not enough to build a successful eSports team, as it also relies on having proper infrastructure to help the players grow into world class talents. Local eSports organizations were not up to par in this aspect when the industry was new, with players setting up their own teams without proper guidance or management.
With that said, we gradually saw improvements in them over the years, culminating in the formation of professional eSports teams with proper support behind the scenes. Fire Dragoon e-Sports is one of those organizations, having recently launched their gaming office. We also have 2016 Dota 2 debutant WarriorsGaming.Unity, who have notched several achievements under their belt, including top 8 finishes in the 2016 Boston Major and ESL One Genting 2017. Private sectors also play an important role in this aspect by sponsoring gaming hardware and other necessary tools to assist our players.
We’ll need a Malaysia team for 2022 Asian Games in China
eSports have made great strides in getting international recognition lately, after news broke out that it’ll be incorporated as an official medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in China. This can propel the industry to the mainstream audiences, who are generally not gamers themselves. Most importantly, coupled with the roles played by local universities and private sectors, this will boost the awareness about the viability of eSports as a prospective career, especially to traditionally wired folks such as parents and educators.
From a local point of view, Malaysia is always a huge competitor at the Asian Games, so it’s only inevitable for us to have an all-star team representing the country. Assuming the Games will feature Dota 2 as part of the event, which they most probably will, it’ll be great to watch the likes of Mushi, Ohaiyo, and Midone reuniting and relive their Fnatic days at such a prestigious stage. In fact, it might happen as early as next year when eSports will be included at the Asian Games in Indonesia as a demonstrated event. And who knows, you might be able to join them and be the next international star, so make good use of the next 5 years!
The Malaysian government is here to help, if ever so slightly
Despite all the hard work done by the contributors mentioned above, support from the government is imperative to ensure the success of the local eSports industry. They might be deemed as traditional or too conservative at times, but the Malaysian authorities have begun viewing eSports as a lucrative market. This led them to form eSports Malaysia (eSM), a governing body for local eSports and it’s registered under the Malaysian Sports Commission.
They first gained headway by organizing Malaysia’s first cyber games festival in 2015, in which the national representative team for Dota 2, Taring was formed. It all went downhill from that point as players left the team after several poor performances in tournaments, even though the lineup consisted of veteran players such as Adam "343" Erwann Shah and Ng "YamateH" Wei Poong. We also heard rumors from local eSports players that eSM are not committed to their work, while continuously cutting out fund requests from prospective teams.
With that said, the inclusion of eSports at the 2022 Asian Games should change things up, since you can’t form a national team without support from the government. Most importantly, 5 years is a long time to plan ahead, so we can’t see why eSM won’t be able to come up with an effective framework to prepare our players for the event. Just scrap the name Taring though, I definitely reckon we can come up with something better than that.