Just when you thought there wouldn’t be any more events for the rest of the year, out comes a major Dota tournament hosted by a fresh face in the competitive scene, One Esports. With a prize pool clocking in at $500,000 USD, this tournament the highest esports prize pool hosted in Singapore so far.
12 of the major teams across the likes of Navi, EG, Team Liquid, Gambit, Alliance, Vici Gaming and more have been invited for this event.
Unfortunately for me, being a casual dota player since its inception, I certainly do not have the game knowledge or forte to be able to commentate on the plays (though I still try my best!) on screen but hey, there is still some time for me to brush up for next year’s coverage.
Near the entrance to the avenue, ONE Esports has also set up a booth selling team merchandise at, in my opinion, pretty reasonable prices for clothing and the such. There are also smaller items for sale such as enamel pins and stickers if you don’t fancy dropping more money on articles of clothing.
Upon asking for the availability of certain merch, I was told that the hoodies of both the zipper and non-zipper variant are selling out fast so make sure to take a gander before going into the event arena!
At the time of writing, tickets are still available for the weekend pass for seats are still available but the highest tier VIP seats are all but gone already. Standard seats are still available in some sections, though but most of the prime viewing areas has been sold out for this event.
Below are the pricing tiers for this event:
|Standard||$68 – $238 SGD|
|Restricted view||$48 – $68 SGD|
Get your tickets here!
State of Esports in Singapore
With recent news of another esports association/committee being formed in Singapore, I would like to take this time to do an examination of the state of competitive gaming here.
Gaining local traction
Even just looking at Dota alone, One Esports is now one of the organizers to host a “Major”,a qualifying round to the valve-backed grand tournament “The International”. With a prize pool of $1,000,000 USD just for the Major alone, it is a huge boon for local teams to try to qualify and compete with the added bonus of not needing to travel out of country.
This is a large step forward given that the last large-scale competitive tournament was WCG 2005 which only had a prize pool of around $500,000 USD
There is more incentive right now, more than ever to play competitively if you are good enough and I’m sure for this organization at least, they’ll be looking to host tournaments for more games outside of Dota and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table.
But still, the question remains. Why aren’t there more players interested in playing competitively?
Learning from past failures
Looking towards the future, it is always important to learn from the ashes of the past. The same dichotomy can be had when we pit the football scene against Esports.
Locally speaking, making it to the Football World Cup has always been the lofty hay-day dream of certain ministers in the political scene. A quick trip to the Wayback Machine archives reveals that almost 10 years have past since Mr Mah Bow Tan’s speech, then minister for National Development, urged for the acutely named “Goal 2010” and its ambitions of fielding a World Cup qualifying team by 2010.
Yet again in recent times, there is a similar repeat of kicking this (mile)stone down the road to 2034; It’s a telling sign of a fundamental problem at work in the system that still perpetuates today.
Just head on to any local news site to get an idea; a footballer was denied deferment from conscription simply based on the semantics of the situation alone. There is simply no “easy” or transparent resolution to this debacle and the 2 years of conscription remains at the crux of the issue that hinders growth in professional sports.
I suspect that there are many such problems within the ecosystem that makes both regular and esports be an unattractive choice but I’m not privy of the entire picture.
Changing the mindset
Another roadblock towards this in the local scene (and perhaps less so internationally) is the mindset that gaming, and professional sports in general, never becomes a career that is viable over the long term of 20 – 30 years much like a traditional job.
Many parents are rightfully worried about the longevity of their kids playing any professional sport. This is an even greater hurdle for Esports to overcome as games are traditionally regarded as an acivity for leisure without lucrative aspects.
There really is no consensus on this and it’s easy to see why if you were to ask yourself this question:
The question, of which the same can be said about any profession, is how long does one have to hone their skills before they can earn some form of revenue for themselves?
On one hand, no player can live off passion alone; a job in civil defence or the military will still pay you a sum without relevant experience or education; allowing you to learn on the job.
Contrast that to professional sports where one would still need to be substantially better than everyone else to join a professional team/organization, however “low-tier” they might be, before being able to earn from it.
That means spending more time on your craft without remuneration for your efforts which might not even pay off; a definitively larger risk to take as per the Asian culture and mindset.
On the other, the advent of streaming has made the barrier for “pay-off” lower for Esports in particular. Even for people whose peak are unable to “make it” within the competitive arena, they are still able to make some revenue from the time they’ve invested into the craft which couldn’t be said about professional sports.
Given that gaming skill sets are largely non-transferable to even games of other genres (e.g an RTS player would be unlikely to be playing nor coaching another genre like FPS competitively) and much less out of the gaming domain, I’d say that there is still a long way to go before one can have a long-lasting career in gaming.
Learning from past successes
That isn’t to say achieving a good foundation going forward is an impossibility or that it hasn’t been done before. KeSPA, the governing body behind and most famously for, Starcraft in Korea is a great example for this.
Their binding ruleset and unbiased decision-making helped pushed gaming to be recognized as a professional sport by advocating sportsmanlike behaviour. During the time when I was following the competitive scene in Starcraft, several players were banned from competing for match fixing by intentionally losing games after being paid off by a betting company; a move that legitimized them as the arbiter in the scene.
Borrowing from its Olympiad roots of competition, organizations that came to compete under these rules from KeSPA made a then-revelatory change in their mindset that set the stage for the de facto standard to become widespread and commonplace:
Competitive gaming was a job
Players were salaried employees, had coaches and analysts headed mostly by ex-players and had a wealth of resources dedicated for them to succeed. Specific to Korean teams at that time, they also had regimentation with regards to their training; both physically and in-game, along with team-bonding sessions and R&R.
No longer will players need to worry about only living off their winnings. Sponsorships from advertising and gaming companies also made it viable for organizations to provide such benefits to their players as a business model.
Their successes in both their local and the international scene spurred many other organizations to do the same and raised the level of competition for everyone.
Esports has come a long way from how it is perceived, organized and even played compared to a mere 2 decades ago from the dawn of competitive gaming in the days of Counterstrike/Unreal Tournament/Quake. There are many more large-scale tournaments today than in the past (and hence more money) making it possible for really good players to live off winnings alone.
On the flip side, Esports as a whole now has to avoid the pitfalls that has plagued large professional leagues (like FIFA); namely match fixing, corruption and other unsavory behavior.
It remains to be seen if local Esports can learn from the mistakes of the past and surpass these limiting factors inhibiting better talents from developing in this region.