SINGAPORE - The Singapore Sports Hub and local e-sports organisation Team Flash announced the signing of a talent development partnership on Friday (March 1), with an eye on November's SEA Games and the 2022 Asian Games.
E-sports is making its debut as a medal sport in both events.
Under the partnership, the Sports Hub will house a new dedicated training facility for Team Flash at the OCBC Arena, with Flash players also gaining access to the gym, physiotherapists and psychologists that their counterparts in traditional sports enjoy.
Flash will conduct regular workshops among other community engagement efforts. The partnership is for an initial six months with an option to extend after.
"It's beyond debate that e-sports is a genuine sport at this point. There are tournaments offering US$30 million (S$40.5 million) in prize money and (the industry) is just going to grow and grow. We want to be part of that," said Sports Hub chief commercial officer Adam Firth.
"Hopefully, we can help Team Flash in a small way and we look forward to their every success."
The facility, which was unveiled on Friday, boasts six PCs and four Playstation 4 consoles for Flash's 11 local players across games like card game Hearthstone, battle royale title Fortnite and football simulation Fifa Online.
Team Flash chief executive officer Terence Ting said the partnership ticked two boxes for the organisation.
"The traditional sports infrastructure in place at the Sports Hub was a big reason we decided to come here because e-sports is still developing in a lot of areas," he said.
"And having a partner like the Sports Hub really helps to elevate the legitimacy of our space as well."
Team Flash are one of the leading e-sports organisations in the local scene.
Its Fifa Online team were crowned Asian champions for the second consecutive year in November, winning US$100,000 in prize money.
Dedicated e-sports training facilities are not a new concept globally - Flash's 13 players in Vietnam live together in what is known as a "team house" in e-sports - but it was not an option previously available to Flash's local players.
"Before this, I would just be training on my own at home. Just like in traditional sports, it's not really possible for a player to analyse his own performance as he's playing. So I would have to record my gameplay and watch it after," said Fifa Online player Joseph "Zarate" Yeo, who is Flash's only full-time local player.
"Being able to train alongside my teammates saves a lot of time because we're able to give advice on the spot and this helps us improve faster."
Fifa is not among the six games on the SEA Games slate, which are: Dota 2, Starcraft II, Tekken 7, NBA 2K, Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends.
SEA Games host the Philippines is expected to field some of Asia's top NBA 2K players, but the game is less popular in other Asean countries, including Singapore, where NBA 2K does not feature on any of the top e-sports organisation's rosters.
But Yeo revealed that he would be contesting the local NBA 2K qualifiers which are likely to be in April with Flash teammates Shabbeer "Shabs" Ahmad and Fardeen "Fardino" Hussain and two other friends.
"I'm an NBA fan and I do think my team will have the advantage (in the local qualifiers) because both Fifa and NBA 2K are console games and we can get used to the controls faster," said the 25-year-old.