The world’s eSports industry is growing at a massive rate, and Hong Kong is ready to catch up

If you haven’t noticed by now, the eSports industry is on an exciting growth trajectory that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Less and less people on the outside looking in are seeing eSports as a niche interest or trend, but a legitimate, lucrative and very, very entertaining sport that could easily eclipse traditional sports given the time. The proliferation of eSports events around the world is certainly helping drive that growth, with even official tourism boards now recognising the potential for eSports to be a major draw for international and domestic visitors. Case in point: the Hong Kong e-Sports and Music Festival.

The three-day event, which was held towards the end of August for it’s second year, took place in Hall 3 of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and represented a major recognition of the industry by the city of Hong Kong. In fact, it was organised by Hong Kong Tourism Board, with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited on board as the event’s major sponsor. As such, the prize pools were also remarkably large for such a young event of this size.

The tense CS:GO Grand Finals saw a record-breaking HK$2 million total prize pool, while the weekend’s highlight, the Hong Kong PUBG World Invitational, saw a pool of over HK$1 million – the largest amount ever in a local PUBG competition.

Throughout the weekend more than 26 eSports teams from around the world, and over 110 players, competed in the tournaments which were complemented by live music and an “Experience Zone” which filled an entire hall with eSports products, playable games, a large amount of VR titles, and a mini-stage hosting various other acts like a CLP x eSports Academy, KOL battles, and performances by local musicians.

With Hong Kong’s local eSports scene now boosted thanks to events like this, we thought it best to catch up with a big-name local to discuss competitive gaming, it’s growth, and what five things are required for someone to make it in this growing industry. That local just happened to be Hong Kong’s first League of Legends world champion, Toyz of professional eSports organization G-Rex and Emperor esports Stars.

Competitive gaming has come so far but there is still a long way to go for eSports, in terms of its popularity and recognition. Where has the major growth been in 2018 and what do you feel is driving this growth?

One of the significant growth factors in 2018 is definitely the legitimization of eSports as one of the demonstration sports in Asian Games, officially drawing the line between games and eSports. Asian Games attracts world-class players from different sports categories and audience from worldwide. Being one of the demonstration sports in Asian Games goes beyond a simple recognition but also drives public attentions towards eSports. Notably, eSports exclusively possessed over 60% of the viewership among all the sports in Asian Games; it shows the trend of future competitive entertainment and the growing mass public’s interest in eSports. From my perspective, this milestone is a recognition of youngsters’ interest and the penetration of eSports compared to traditional sports.

What is Hong Kong’s eSports scene like now? Is there any difference between the scene in Hong Kong and other Asian cities?

I think HK’s eSports is lagging behind compared to regions nearby. Even though we see HK officials are making more investment in eSports including EMF and a budget of $100M HKD for local eSports development; HK eSports has not yet been well recognized globally. One of the ways to truly accelerate HK’s eSports growth is to build an international eSports brand to compete in international matches and win international titles to acquire recognition on a global scale, and shape a better career path for eSports players as well as eSports related workers in HK.

What are five things you feel are necessary for someone to get into, and succeed in, the world of eSports?

Passion, persistence, talent, diligence, and high team spirit

How do you define your teams play style and what aspects of the play style remain consistent across games?

Our League of Legends team is more on defensive style with a late-game strategy. G-rex is strong in team fight and we keep this style as one of our signature.

Prize pools are getting bigger, like EMF in August, and there are now more new eSports events happening around the world. What do you feel will be the major trends in eSports in 2019? What would you like to see happen for the industry?

I think we can see more eSports stars in the market. We now see more eSports related entertainment supplementary to the traditional entertainment industry, and it’s great to see to see more and more big corporates join the market and help build a better and more supportive ecosystem for eSports in the future.

For more details on Hong Kong’s annual eSports & Music Festival head to their official website HERE.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review, an obsessive hip hop nerd, a whisky drinker, and a lover of all things travel. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter with @chrisdsingh.