E-sports has been gaining significant momentum over the past few years and while there are many global professional tournaments, there are fewer opportunities and competitions for amateurs.
This led to the founding of global media network and tournament platform, Esports Players League (ESPL), last August. ESPL is a global grassroots e-sports platform that focuses on online competition and digital interactivity.
According to e-sports analytics and market research firm Newzoo, the global games market will generate revenues of more than US$160 billion (S$227 billion) – over 150 times more than e-sports’ projected revenues of US$1.1 billion – this year.
“There have been a lot of leagues, tournaments and global e-sports organisations that are focused on the pro circuits – that’s almost 95 per cent of e-sports activities globally,” said co-founder Lau Kin Wai, who is the chairman of digital entertainment firm iCandy Interactive.
“We think there is a bigger market for grassroots gamers. It’s a pyramid. At the tip is professional leagues and top players, but there is a wider base.”
ESPL’s two other co-founders are Michael Broda, former chief executive officer of esports.com, and Azrin Mohd Noor, founder and managing director of Malaysian behavioural data and technology firm Sedania Innovator.
The ESPL, which is headquartered in Singapore, is focusing on creating events and platforms for amateur e-sports players, especially for mobile games.
Lau, who is Singaporean, said: “The aim is to provide a pathway for those who want to play professionally, but that’s not the only goal. Some are not interested in playing professionally, but love to play and win tournaments… so we are trying to give them the chance to be world champions.”
This initial wave of tournaments from the third week of June to November will be based in South-east Asia and Latin America, which ESPL has described as the first phase of its global roll-out.
National leagues will be held across eight countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico and Peru, and winners of these competitions will compete in a global world final.
The aggregate total prize pool of all the leagues and the world final is expected to be close to US$500,000.
ESPL has already organised several challenge series, which are short competitions, in countries like Malaysia. These events drew more than 2,000 teams.
Amateur e-sports player Haidah Yati Zainal Abidin took part in ESPL’s Safe Zone Community Cup PUBG competition in Malaysia last Saturday.
The 24-year-old teacher has been competing in the multiplayer battle game since last year and welcomed ESPL’s push for more opportunities for amateur gamers.
The Malaysian said: “Professional teams get more invitations for tournaments and it’s getting harder for amateurs.
“Getting the experience (in competitions) helps us polish our skills. It’s not easy to get kills, it’s not the same as when you’re just playing the game (in a non-competitive setting). You need to have proper strategies.”
The competitions will be held in a hybrid on-ground and online tournament model in which most of the qualifying rounds will take place online, while the final will be held live at a yet-to-be-confirmed venue.