Early last month, for the first time, the U.S. Government officially recognized popular MOBA game League of Legends as a legitimate sport, and League of Legends pro-gamers as professional athletes, no different from football players or NBA superstars.
The U.S. is actually somewhat late to the party, as many other countries including Germany, Norway, China and most notably South Korea, where matches between popular gamers are broadcast in packed stadiums and on national TV, have already recognized various e-sports as official sports.
So why is Singapore lagging behind? Our tiny nation has not enjoyed a lot of success on the world stage in traditional sporting events, but believe it or not, we’re actually pretty damn good at video games.
The Evolution Championship Series is the world’s premier fighting video game tournament. The most recent tournament, EVO 2013 hosted more than 51 competing nations, over 3500 competitors playing nine different games, and more than 6000 spectators in attendance with millions more watching online. After a grueling three day slugfest, one man was left standing in the marquee event of the weekend, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Singaporean pro-gamer Ho Kun Xian.
Undefeated throughout the weekend, Ho took down giants from South Korea, Japan and the U.S., many of whom are celebrities in their home countries and to a limited extent, across the world too.
Ho isn’t alone in his success either. In 2005, Singaporean Wilson Chia narrowly lost in the Grand Finals of the World Cyber Games Dead or Alive Ultimate event. In 2007, local counterstrike team, SG.Swords finished in the top eight in the Championship Gaming Series World Championships. In 2009, Mohamed Phirkhan was the runner-up in the FIFA Hyundai Motors Cup Asian Championship and many other Singaporeans also regularly compete in the highest level of e-sports on the world stage. If Singapore is looking to nurture local talent, look no further.
Singapore prides itself as one of the most modern nations in the world: fiber broadband for all, no less than eight airports island-wide (even if six of them are military), and of course the world’s most expensive standalone casino. Maybe it’s time we modernized our view on what a sport is too.
James Lu / Associate Features Editor
Don't be fooled by specs, nobody needs a 9000 DPI gaming mouse.