Gaming boost for S'pore

MTI Second Minister Tan says e-sports events can showcase nation, engage youth

E-sports events have the ability to boost tourism as Singapore gradually recovers from the pandemic, says Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng.

Dr Tan, who is also the Minister for Manpower, shared his thoughts on the sport as he attended the conclusion of the $10,000 OUE E-Cities Championships yesterday, which saw competitors "racing" along a virtual Orchard Road street circuit.

During a panel discussion after the proceedings at The Gym along Jalan Besar, he explained: "The way Orchard Road is transformed into a visually stimulating and adrenaline-pumping race is amazing and (shows) the spirit of creativity."

He added that organisers could consider highlighting other parts of the island in future editions, saying: "Orchard Road is very iconic, but you can also consider a race up and down Mount Faber... with a nice view of both sides looking over Telok Blangah and the Greater Southern Waterfront.

"You could also try something in the north-east, in Sungei Buloh, have an 'eco' kind of thing and introduce a new part of a garden within the city."

He also welcomed the idea of Singapore hosting e-sports competitions, noting that "in addition to simulated racing, it would be great if we could bring the racers here so that they can all come together when the easing of restrictions come about".

This year's event attracted 25 entries from six countries, with the foreign racers competing remotely from their home bases.

E-sports have grown in stature in Singapore in recent years with big-money events such as the US$2 million (S$2.7 million) Free Fire World Series 2021 Singapore and the upcoming US$800,000 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang M3 World Championships next month.

Dr Tan said that such events provide a "tremendous platform for youth engagement", as they learn teamwork, discipline, focus and control, while increasing opportunities for business development and career paths such as in the areas of software development and coaching.

After half an hour of racing 15 laps, Indonesia's Andika Rama Maulana claimed the chequered flag and $4,500, while compatriot Presley Martono took second place and $3,000.

Singaporean Dillan Tan, 12, was third and bagged $1,500 as well as another $500 for being the fastest qualifier yesterday.

Event organisers shared that the circuit will be extended from 3.2km to 5km next year, and they have started working on a street circuit in Jakarta.

Legion of Racers and E-Cities Championships co-founder Melvin Moh added that the vision is to take the programme regional and "include the creation of digital twin street circuits in cities around the region", with a grand finale held in Singapore next year to coincide with the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.

He added: "We will keep our fingers crossed that travel will be a lot easier by the time next September comes, so we can put together a physical sim racing championship event which brings together the top sim racers from Singapore."

His team also announced the setting up of Race Box, a motor sports-themed pop-up at Mandarin Gallery, which will open next month and feature sim racing, food and beverage offerings, retail and a sim-racing academy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2021, with the headline 'Gaming boost for S'pore'. Subscribe