The local and regional e-sports scene is set to get a boost this year with a new regional e-sports league, even as the industry is poised to break the billion-dollar mark in two years' time.
Telco Singtel announced yesterday that it is setting up its own league, dubbed the PVP eSports Championship, for players at home and in the region, which will culminate in a tournament with international teams and a total prize pool of US$300,000 (S$406,600).
The league features two games - the popular online battle arena Dota 2 and mobile multiplayer battle arena game Arena Of Valor.
Online qualifiers for both games will open at the end of the month and will be open to gamers in Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The winners from each country - who can be professional players - will enter the finals with prequalified professional teams from North America, Europe and China at the October championship.
The finals will take place at Suntec Singapore from Oct 5 to 7 and those who are unable to attend in person will be able to watch matches through Singtel's platforms. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will be covering the event as a media partner.
SPH deputy chief executive Anthony Tan said that e-sports has been growing regionally in both audience numbers and engagement over the past few years.
"We are delighted to be partnering Singtel to bring our comprehensive media assets across print, digital, radio and outdoor to grow the e-sports audience across the country and region," he added.
The league's formation comes as the e-sports scene is set to break into the mainstream sporting arena, as the industry grows in size and revenue.
In a report on the global state of the e-sports economy released in February, gaming consultancy Newzoo estimates that the global e-sports industry will reach US$1.4 billion by 2020.
Arena Of Valor, for example, has been confirmed as a game in the 2018 Asian Games to take place in Indonesia next month, where e-sports will make its debut as an official demonstration sport.
The 2022 Asian Games, to be held in Hangzhou, China, will also see e-sports as a medal event for the first time.
Singtel's international group chief executive Arthur Lang said the telco has the assets to join the growing gaming system and aims to engage millennial consumers in the region. "We anticipate drawing the region's top gamers and a dynamic audience to Singapore this October," he said.
The telco also aims to use the league to spot and sponsor a promising local e-sports team which can represent Singapore in international e-sports tournaments.
Singtel is working with global e-sports stalwarts such as gaming accessory manufacturer Razer, gaming platform Garena and video-game developer Blizzard to flesh out the league.
The telco is working with MET, the event organisation arm of Philippines-based professional e-sports team Mineski, to organise and host the inaugural tournament here. As part of the championship, Singapore will also be a global stop for the Blizzard online fantasy collectible card game Hearthstone.