E-sports partnership formed to boost Thai tournaments
The Tourism and Sports Ministry and Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) have partnered with Garena Online Thailand to strengthen the domestic e-sports industry and develop the country as the hub of e-sports tournaments in Asean.
"The ministry and the SAT will focus more on e-sports next year including training and welfare to develop the e-sport ecosystem after e-sports was named in the Royal Gazette last month as one of the country's professional sports," said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
The e-sports industry across Asean was worth US$39 million in 2020 and is expected to grow to $72 million by 2024 as people spend more time playing online games amid the pandemic, according to the minister.
A boom in e-sports does not only benefit internet providers or IT products, but also consumer product makers which target millennials, sport tourism, and investment in the country, he said.
Mr Phiphat said Thailand is due to take part in the biggest e-sports event, Arena of Valor (RoV) International Championship 2021 (AIC 2021), with a prize pool of $1 million, at the end of next month, which could help the country prepare to serve as the future regional hub for e-sports competition.
SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee said the agency has recently established the SAT Esports Academy to train RoV players participating in the upcoming Road to AIC 2021, a tournament that selects e-sports teams for AIC 2021.
RoV is a multiplayer online battle arena game, developed by Chinese internet giant Tencent and brought to Asean by Garena, a Singaporean online game developer and publisher.
Mr Kongsak said there are 12 members from two e-sport teams that are preparing for the match under the supervision of the SAT, which provides support for physical training, nutrition and sports psychology.
Yesterday the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the SAT and Garena signed a memorandum of understanding to support and enhance the e-sports industry in Thailand.
"Even though Thailand is not the biggest e-sports market in Asia, investors and stakeholders perceive the country as a potential market thanks to the readiness of the ecosystem and official recognition from the government," said Allen Hsu, regional head of strategic partnership and e-sports development at Garena Online Thailand.
Thailand is the first country where foreign football clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Valencia have invested in the RoV Pro League, which showed the country's potential for e-sports, he said.
He said 2022 will be the year for e-sports as many tournaments will take place in Thailand and overseas, particularly the SEA Games and Asian Games, where e-sports have become a medal sport and could gain more recognition.