ADVANCED Info Services (AIS) has joined with Singtel Group and other regional partners for the launch of an e-sports tournament.
The PVP E-Sports Championship marks the first such initiative by the Singtel, with the partners saying they want to encourage the development of “an ecosystem for e-sport throughout the region”.
The move is a part of the Singapore telecommunications operator’s efforts to grow its gaming and digital content business throughout the Asia Pacific region. The PVP E-Sports Championship in Singapore is supported by Singapore Tourism Board.
The Asia Pacific is the world’s fastest growing region for e-sport audiences, with numbers expected to increase to about 290 million by 2021 from 167 million in 2017. In Southeast Asia, the e-sport audience is expected to more than double from 20 million in 2017 to over 40 million by 2019. As audiences grow, e-sport is pushing into the sporting mainstream.
Under the PVP E-Sports Championship, teams will complete at local qualifiers in each country. The winning teams from each country will move on to battle professional teams from North America, Europe, and China at the regional tournament in Singapore in October.
In Thailand, AIS will hold the Thailand PVP E-Sports Championship Powered by AIS event from July to October. Would-be competitors can start applying to take part in contests to find the two winning leagues in mobile and PC gaming.
This tournament focuses on two popular games: ROV (mobile game) and DOTA2 (PC game) and offers winners regional prizes totalling more than Bt11.5 million.
Pratthana Leelapanang AIS's chief consumer business officer, said the company’s entry into the games industry is aimed at creating new value for millennials. “This is a big group and we aim to bring AIS brands and services to this group,” said Pratthana.
“We really want to tap this millennial segment. Currently, the total millennial population in Thailand is 15 million.”
AIS already has a third of this market segment and no one else is fully addressing this group’s needs, Pratthana said.
E-sports have enjoyed exponential growth among the region’s millennials since its inclusion as a demonstration sport in the 2018 Asian Games.
The e-sports industry in Thailand has also seen dramatic growth. Thailand's e-sports community comprises more than 30 million amateur and professional gamers as well as tournament viewers.
Pratthana said that around Bt20 billion is spent on the games industry in Thailand, with PC and mobile platforms contributing about half of this each.
Arthur Lang, chief executive officer of Singtel’s international group, said that content such as e-sports are key to Singtel Group’s strategy to engage its customers, many of whom are millennials. Mobile-based games, in particular, have gained a strong following in this region where the mobile phone is the main device of choice, he said.
“With the group’s network leadership and reach across Southeast Asia, we are excited about building a vibrant e-sports ecosystem to provide gamers and fans access to local, regional and global e-sports competitions as well as original content and exclusive programming,” Lang said.