Trending: The Esports Issue

In this issue: Plunge into esports, the arena of professional gaming and the fastest growing spectator sport in the world. Challenge looks at the latest developments in the industry.
Esports, the arena of professional gaming and the fastest growing spectator sport in the world. Article image

A Trend To Watch

The new opium?

Within 10 years, the playing of video games has become a billion-dollar industry in 2019 and transformed enthusiasts into millionaires. With a market value worth US$1 billion in 2019, and projected to surpass US$2 billion in 2021 according to gaming research firm Niko Partners, investors are queueing to pump money into the industry and establish competitive teams for tournaments. According to gaming and esports research firm Newzoo, the economic potential is huge, especially in Southeast Asia, the fastest growing region in the world for esports with 9.5 million players. It has spurred the region’s gaming hubs in Malaysia and Singapore to establish academies that teach strategies and techniques. But is it all a bed of roses for avid gamers? Mounting mental and physical pressures have forced a good number of competitors to retire in their mid-20s. Many young gamers have also succumbed to addiction, forcing authorities in China to establish controversial boot camps that use military tactics to detox them. But how can countries allow this industry to thrive without unleashing its dangerous toxins?

Global Outlook

How esports is making an impact on countries around the world


China authorities has mandated that all video games must be licensed before they are published to reduce cases of myopia among the youth.

According to the Chinese government, half its population – around 700 million people – will suffer from myopia by 2020. This includes 90% of all young adults. The main culprit is video games. Last year, authorities mandated that all new games must be licensed before they are published. To combat myopia among youth, they have also tightened the approval rules. Since its implementation, the roll-out of new games in January 2019 has dropped by 64%, year-on-year.

The US

The US has taken to giving out scholarships to enrol esport players into their campuses.

After American football scholarships, esports is fast becoming the next big thing among colleges in the US, as more among them are cashing in to enrol esport players. According to the National Association of College Esports, nearly 200 colleges are now giving scholarships worth US$15 million (S$20 million) per year to woo esports elites to their campuses – an increase of nearly 2,900% from just seven colleges in 2016.

South Korea

To maintain a healthy esports ecosystem, South Korea passed a law criminalising the practice of boosting.

The lure of big money has caused esports to rear its ugly head in South Korea. In a practice called “boosting”, highly-skilled players are hired to elevate the rankings of other players by playing for them. In December 2018, the South Korean government passed a law criminalising the practice. Offenders can be jailed for up to two years and fined 20 million won (S$23,000). The law is aimed at maintaining a healthy esports ecosystem in the country.


Singapore's first esports training facility at the OCBC Arena was launched in March 2019 to train emerging local talents.

Singapore Sports Hub, together with local esports organisation Team Flash, launched Singapore’s first esports training facility at the OCBC Arena in March 2019 to train emerging local talents. The aim is to increase Singapore’s medal chances at the 2022 Asian and 2019 Southeast Asian games, when esports will make its debut. The facility will also host regular workshops and community engagement efforts to boost the profile of esports.


Argentine Association of Electronic Sports have drafted a proposed law to exclude violent video games, including first-person shooter games.

The Argentine Association of Electronic Sports and government have drafted a proposed law to exclude violent video games in esports. In the bill, these are defined as “everything that shows images of fury, aggression or cruelty”. A clause explicitly excludes the first-person shooter genre from esports. This means that some of the world’s most popular games, such as DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike, will no longer be regarded as esports in Argentina.


Esports vs traditional sports

Competitive sports began formally from the ancient Olympics in 776 BC. In contrast, the first esports event was held in 1972 at Stanford University, when students pitted their skills in Spacewar! to win a year's subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

Professionally, players from both activities compete in major leagues, tournaments and world championships that are governed by rules. They can be penalised, disqualified and even permanently banned for violations.

Althouth esports is nodded by the Asian and Southeast Asian Games, it is still not approved by the International Olympic Committee.

With a global audience of around 320 million people, esports is no longer considered niche. But whether it should be considered a sport in the traditional sense has been the subject of heated debates. Detractors argue that sports demand a degree of athletic ability, whereas esports players mostly sit in front of screens. But supporters point out that video game players must apply strategic thinking to defeat an opponent and, therefore, should be classified as sports.

But despite receiving the Asian and Southeast Asian Games nod, the International Olympic Committee has yet to give esports the greenlight.

Learn The Lingo

CC = Crowd Control

CC or crowd control is a lingo used to describe abilities that a character uses to trap, limit, or disable other opponent mobs.

In a massive multiplayer online game (MMOs), these are abilities that a character uses to limit, trap or disable other opponent mobs, in order to reduce the number of opponents that can be fully activated.


Cheese is used to describe effortless yet powerful strategies that are exploited to defeat their opponents easily.

Unlike the edible variety, cheese in MMOs is widely frowned upon. It is a term that describes effortless, but powerful, strategies players exploit to defeat their opponents. In the gaming world, winning from a cheese strategy is considered undeserving.


Meta, also known as "most effective tactics available", refer to the strongest strategies available in a competitive game.

An acronym for "most effective tactics available". A game's meta refers to the strongest strategies available in a competitive game.

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