The local e-sports community has received a boost on Wednesday, when Singtel announced its sponsorship of the SEA Games team and the appointment of three brand ambassadors for its e-sports arm PVP.
Under the deal, the SEA Games-bound gamers - who are yet to be selected - will receive financial support for overseas training stints as well as study stipends.
The Straits Times understands that the sponsorship amount could run into at least five figures.
E-sports will feature for the first time at the SEA Games in the Philippines in November and December, with five games confirmed so far. The first round of local qualifiers will be held next month.
Also, the telco announced one-year sponsorship deals for its three new brand ambassadors: professional gamer Ho Kun Xian; and e-sports organisations Resurgence and Asterisk. Singtel did not disclose how much the deals are worth.
Gaming is an area of increased focus for Singapore, said Senior Minister of State for Education, and Trade and Industry, Chee Hong Tat at the launch ceremony.
"We can grow a whole industry cluster around e-sports and different segments of the economy and workforce can get involved," he said. "It's important to equip our workers with the (relevant) skills, and for our institutes of higher learning and companies to come together to work out training programmes for both students and people in the workforce."
He added that e-sports can also help drive tourism through bringing large-scale events to Singapore.
In addition to the sponsorships, Singtel is launching community leagues for tertiary institutions here and corporates, and plans to expanding its PVP Esports Championship to the regional level later this year, among other initiatives.
"We have 675 million customers and 200 million are mobile gamers. Gaming and video content is driving data usage growth across the region so (going into e-sports) is something that makes sense as a business," said Arthur Lang, chief executive officer of Singtel's International Group.
We can grow a whole industry cluster around e-sports and different segments of the economy and workforce can get involved.
MR CHEE HONG TAT, Senior Minister of State for Education, and Trade and Industry, on the potential of gaming
"(Also), we all saw the potential of sport to galvanise Singaporeans when Joseph Schooling won his Olympic gold medal (in 2016). We believe the same can happen with e-sports here and we are excited to work with our local talent."
Getting an established brand like Singtel as a sponsor sends "a big message to the market about the results we are achieving and our vision of creating sustainable careers for players", said Resurgence chief executive Jayf Soh. "We also hope to attract top overseas coaches from developed markets like China and tap into Singtel's regional presence for expansion plans."