The future of e-Sports in Singapore

To most local gamers, Singapore has never been a hub for e-Sports. They have experienced far too many setbacks, far too many missed opportunities for lack of sponsorship, and they have become jaded. Ask any local gamer on the street – he or she will say that professional gaming, or e-Sports, still bears little importance in Singaporean society.

But all that is set to change.

On 8th to 11th March, Razer hosted the Razer DOTA 2 Tournament at the Singapore IT Show. Though its prize pot was not the largest ever, it was, at US$15,000, an amount significant enough to draw teams from all over the region. Razer-backed teams like Orange e-Sports from Malaysia and Mineski from the Philippines were also invited.

The tournament was part of a greater effort by Razer to promote e-Sports in the Southeast Asian region. And they made good on their promise by making a live stream accessible to fans who weren’t able to watch the competition onsite. Razer also brought commentators DPM – and later on, Tobi Wan – in to hype up the event. An approximate 150 visitors were present at the tournament setup at any one time, be it to watch the DOTA 2 matches or to gawk at the impressive Razer Blade display set. That number went up to 250 during the final few matches.

Mineski eventually walked away champions, pipping Orange e-Sports for first place. Winter, team captain of Orange e-Sports, had initially expected to place first. Aeon Sports from Singapore took third place, but the tournament was such that every participating team walked home with their fair share of the prize pot. The first place win came as a surprise for Mineski, whose player Mski.Bimbo admitted that they weren’t aiming that high because they weren’t able to get much practice in before the tournament.

The live stream of the competition, hosted by Rapture Gaming and commentated on by DPM live at the event, hit 600 concurrent viewers at its peak, while the stream, commentated on by Tobi Wan, attained a livestream peak of 12,456 viewers. Joindota’s video-on-demand has almost 47,000 views to date.

“It’s a small scale event, but they still did quite a good job,” said Daryl ‘iceiceice’ Koh from Team MYM, of Razer’s efforts for the tournament.

General Manager of AEON Sports, Michael Phee, felt that Razer had come in at the right time, as the last major DOTA 2 offline tournament was held almost four months ago in Kuala Lumpur. “We need more events and support in order to put Singapore and Southeast Asia prominently in the eSports world.”

And that’s just what Razer intends to do for the Southeast Asian region.

“Globally the support for professional gaming is increasing at an incredible rate,” said Christopher Mitchell, Global Manager of Razer’s eSports arm. However he also noted that it was for precisely that reason that “Singapore might just be falling behind the curve.”

In that respect, Razer is keeping their eyes open for teams to support in Singapore, especially since their Asian office is based here. But Christopher also added that while Razer is happy to support teams that can “show the performance, consistency and professionalism required to become a part of Team Razer,” Singaporean teams are lacking big time in their player consistency.

“There are a lot of team or roster changes among the really good players, and so it’s hard to build up a team brand,” he said. Compulsory conscription for Singaporean males is also a stumbling block, as they fall out of the scene for as long as two years. According to Christopher, serious e-Sports careers for male gamers will only be possible if they are allocated the exceptions to National Service normally reserved for regular national athletes.

Nonetheless, Christopher, an ex-pro gamer himself, feels that there are teams in Singapore that Razer would like to work with, as “they are incredibly professional and deliver great results.” Razer’s public relations department also hinted at some exciting announcements from Razer that would be released in the following weeks.

It certainly seems like Singaporean gamers are in for an exciting year in e-Sports, given the promising ambitions Razer has for the region. But whether our Singaporean gamers will be able to step up to the plate will be another issue all together.