Esports in the 2019 SEA Games: Everything You Need to Know
Esports has grown tremendously over the past few years — and with this boom came questions of whether or not it would ever be included in traditional competitive events built around physical sports. These questions have since been answered, as the organizers behind the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games have revealed that esports will feature as a medal event.
This significant step in esports history is all thanks to Min-Liang Tan, CEO of Singapore-based gaming firm Razer. In November 2018, he initiated a campaign that lobbied for the inclusion of esports in the SEA Games. The company proposed to sweeten the deal by offering to supply support in terms of software, hardware, and services when and where required. Following this, they achieved the monumental feat of getting esports into the 2019 SEA Games as announced by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) in December 2018.
The Inaugural Esports Event in the SEA Games
After the announcement, PHISGOC revealed the six games that will be played at the Games which includes Arena of Valor, Hearthstone, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, StarCraft II, Tekken 7 and DOTA 2, debunking earlier rumors that these would be banned from the SEA Games. These will be played across three different platforms (PC, console, mobile) and will be overseen by the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Esports Union (PSEU). This group will also handle the formation of the official roster of Filipino delegates.
Alongside the host country, the Philippines, the SEA Games is comprised of 10 other participating countries in Southeast Asia, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. Following the announcement, the PSEU has released the names of 27 gamers who will represent their country, with the team’s name being Sibol, which means “growth.” Meanwhile, Malaysia has also submitted their list of representatives for each game, with Team Unicorn for DOTA 2, Team Shopee Bossku for Mobile Legends, Team M8 Hexa for Arena of Valor, Zaba for Tekken 7, and Ranger for StarCraft II.
On the other hand, Vietnam has yet to release its own list of representatives for the rest of the Games, but Mocha ZD, the team that won the country’s Arena of Glory 2019 event, is expected to participate. Other countries have yet to formally announce their participation in the esports segment of this year’s SEA Games.
Towards the Future of the Asia-Pacific Esports Scene
With $2.2 billion in PC and mobile games revenue generated in 2017 alone, the Asia-Pacific can easily be considered the world’s powerhouse in esports and gaming, in general. By the end of 2018, the region generated $66.2 billion in gaming — equivalent to an impressive 49% of the world’s total gaming and esports revenues. The inclusion of esports in an international sporting event like the SEA Games could help to expand its reach even further to casual gamers and sports enthusiasts, and could potentially encourage more people to get into esports. Not to mention, it could also spark more competition locally and internationally.
As the exposure will help esports to become more prominent and eventually widely accepted as part of international competitions, players will find more ways to remain competitive and up their skills — perhaps even through AI or machine learning. A post by Yoss points about how machine learning is set to revolutionize different industries, from automated stock trading and self-driving cars to making better management decisions and enhancing HR tasks. The growing influence of AI and machine learning can’t be underestimated in today’s digital landscape — and gaming isn‘t exempt. Already, Daily Sabah reports that a Turkish startup named Falcon AI has developed SenpAI, an AI-powered coaching bot that can not only assess player stats, but also suggest better strategies for games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends. Developments in this technology could make the esports industry even more advanced, and the player levels even more exciting.
This year, the Philippines will be hosting the biennial SEA Games, with the opening ceremony to be held on November 30 in the Philippine Arena. The esports segment will take place between 1st and 6th December 2019.