The 30th Southeast Asian Games (2019 SEA Games) is a highly anticipated event among gaming enthusiasts as it will be the first time in history for electronic sports (eSports) to be contested as a full medal event in a multi-sport competition.
The regional sporting event will kick off on November 30 and last for 12 days, ending on December 11. However, the eSports games would be only start from December 5 until the end of the sporting event.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq announced that Malaysia aims for golds in the eSports category. Six games would be contested, namely Tekken 7, Starcraft II, Hearthstone, Arena of Valor, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Dota 2.
Malaysia is sending 24 eSports athletes for the 2019 SEA Games, including professional gamer as young as 15 years old.
Malaysia has been taking interest in eSports for quite some time. According to media intelligence, the ‘eSports’ topic had a fluctuating trend on the media. Yet, the number
of articles published on the topic was high, appearing in over 100 articles for most of the months in 2019.
A spike was witnessed in October, there were over 250 articles on eSports in that month. This is because the federal government allocated RM20 million to develop the industry in Malaysia, as announced by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng during the tabling of Supply Bill (Budget) 2020. The issues were highlighted in red.
It is also learned that the high numbers were contributed by the sensationalized meeting between local eSports powerhouse Orange E-Sports and Syed Saddiq, as highlighted in green.
Images of a mysterious woman in the meeting surfaced online, leading to the speculation that the woman is Syed Saddiq’s personal assistant. Some even claimed that the woman is a transgender.
However, the allegation turned out to be untrue and the woman was revealed to Nur Fathiah Syazwana Shaharuddin, the director of Cleo International Sdn Bhd. It was also reported that Cleo International was the firm that led the delegation.
Overall, the government, particularly the Youth and Sports Ministry, has been active in promoting eSports industry in the country.
It is a positive move by the government as eSports has been gaining recognition from international multi-sport event organisers. After this year’s SEA Games in the Philippines, eSports will also be played as a medal sport in the 2022 Asian Games which will be held in Hangzhou, China.
Therefore, the 2019 SEA Games would be a golden opportunity for Malaysian eSports athletes to showcase their talents on the international level. At the same time, Malaysians would then be able to judge for themselves on the worthiness of the RM20 million budget allocated for the eSports industry in the nation.