Macau eager to plug into eSports world

Macau eSports association says electronic gaming can diversify the local economy.

The newly-established Macau-based electronic sports association of Grow uP eSports wants to see Macau fully develop its eSports potential, and even take a local team to world competitions, according to founder Andrew Pearson. “In Macau, eSports is still not big but it is in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and is huge in China – where there are around 50 million eSport players. There’s a lot of development yet to be made in Macau,” Pearson told Business Daily. Pearson is a published author on topics such as casino marketing, mobile technology and social media and is the managing director of Qualex Asia. Together with other eSport enthusiasts Pearson founded Grow uP eSports in August last year as an electronic sports association based in Macau with the intent of promoting a competitive eSports culture through various tournaments and events in the territory. Grow uP aims to attract both world-class competitors as well as their fans from all over the world to Macau and is affiliated with Grow uP Gaming, a well-known Portuguese eSports Association that has been operating since 2002. “We’re currently trying that our Association becomes a member of the partnership with the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) in South Korea to help us expand further into other Asian countries and take a Macau team to the eSports 8th World Championships in Jakarta. Meanwhile, we will organise more future events and chose the best to send to the competition,” says Pearson. This Saturday, Grow uP eSports held its first tournament at Fisherman’s Wharf – with 50 participants signing up for a one-on-one FIFA16 – an online football game – competition via the Association’s website. The competition was conducted in an arena with large-screen TVs, a Grow uP press release announced. The prize pool featured more than MOP10,000 in cash and prizes, sponsored by established companies like RedBull and Swordsman Investment Consultancy. Grow uP is also planning a series of promotional avenues for eSports in Macau including tournaments, worldwide business networking, charity and educational events. The rise of eSports Pearson cited the announcement in 2014 by the Major League Gaming (MLG) – the global leader in eSport – of the construction of the first-in-the-world video game destination development on Hengqin Island as an example of growing regional interest in eSports. The arena will have 15,000 seats and is scheduled to open in 2018 as part of a project with a total investment of MOP22.21 billion, as reported by Business Daily at the time. This follows the continued expansion of electronic gaming competitions in the last few years with ‘hundreds of professional gamers spread worldwide, facing each other through game stations, computers or even cellphones battling online through popular online games such as Dota, League of Legends, or Counter-Strike,’ according to an eSport GrowUP statement. Most of the revenue for eSports comes through sponsorships and advertising of eSports tournaments and athletes, with player sponsorship and eSports-related sites exceeding US$578 million (MOP 4.61 billion). The global eSports market is estimated to be worth US$748 million (MOP 5.97 billion) and will reach US$1.9 billion (MOP 15.17 billion) by 2018, Grow uP quoted SuperData as stating. While organised online competitions have long been a part of video game culture, it wasn’t until the arrival of live video streaming services like Twitch that the e-sports trend was elevated to record numbers, a report from SuperData reveals. In 2015, there was a worldwide viewing audience at over 188.3 million and “the League of Legends Championship sold out the 40,000-seat World Cup Stadium in Seoul a year later, while drawing an online audience of 27 million,” Pearson told Business Daily, adding, “Hopefully, one day some of the casinos will organise an eSports event and the sport will become more recognised in Macau.”