CEBU

Pages: E + Sports

Match Point

I’m not a gamer. Unlike my youngest brother Michael, whose favorite is Call of Duty: Warzone, my last gaming console was Atari. Ha-ha. Yes, Pong, Pac-man and Space Invaders!

Yesterday, I did a quick Google search on the sports that have thrived since the world changed 12 months ago. Not surprising, the No. 1 answer is Esports.

The “e” stands for “electronic” and it’s a sport involving multiple gamers playing video games. Before Covid-19 struck, a large stadium would be jampacked with overflowing fans watching a Jumbotron. This time, the games are happening remotely — at home.

Gaming is a huge, huge, huge business.

Of the planet’s 7.9 billion people, about 57 percent have access to the internet. And of those 4.5 billion Web users, a huge 2.81 billion play computer games.

The global video game industry is $159 billion. How huge is that? It’s four times the box office (movie) revenues and three times the music industry market.

Covid-19 has increased the number of gamers worldwide. Told to strictly follow stay-at-home protocols, the Internet Protocol (IP) has ruled. The length of time people spend online playing games has substantially increased during this pandemic.

For Esports, this is good.

It is officially a sport. During the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA)Games in Manila, a total of six medals were at stake. At the end of the six-day tournament held at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan, our Filipino e-gamers collected the most hardware: We won 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medals.

The games played included Arena of Valor, Starcraft II, Dota 2, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Hearthstone and Tekken 7. The popular “NBA2k” game was planned to be one of the titles, but a license was not secured before the game’s start.

Later this year in Vietnam, when our Asean neighbor hosts the SEA Games, they will offer 10 medals for Esports, including CrossFire and FIFA Online 4.

The Olympics is not ready yet. Esport aficionados, knowing how popular video games are in Japan, pushed to have Esports included in the Tokyo Olympics. But the IOC declined. Had the Games pushed through last year, an accompanying event (“The Intel World Open”) was to have been staged in Tokyo coinciding with the Olympics.

Here in Cebu, I remember an event I attended in September 2014. My good friend Brian Lim, an entrepreneur-triathlete, was then the chairman of the Phil. E-Sports Organization (Peso).

Brian helped organize the event, “eSports Festival: Rigs. Cosplay. Games.” that attracted over 500 participants at the Cebu Trade Hall of the SM City Cebu.

Sven Macoy Schmid, an avid gamer, wrote this in his blog, “I was stunned by how many spectators the event drew... There was the cosplay event, the rig competition and the beautiful creatures called ‘booth babes.’”

Brain Lim explained to me the attraction of this game.

“Esports is the modern-day equivalent of chess,” he said. “It’s a mind sport but without any physical boundaries as it can be played across the internet and across different genres or game types.”


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