SINGAPORE – After an action-packed week at the Shangri-La Hotel, the Mobile Legends: Bang (MLBB) M2 World Champion culminated in a thrilling grand last in between eventual winners Bren Esports of the Philippines and Myanmar’s Burmese Ghouls on Sunday (Jan 24), concluding among the first significant sports events that Singapore has staged this year in the midst of the pandemic.

The Jan 18-24 occasion, which included 2 regional and 10 foreign groups, ran into an early difficulty simply days prior to the start when three gamers from Brazilian team DreamMax tested positive for Covid-19.

However the US$ 300,000 competition went on smoothly behind closed doors without any other Covid-19 cases and the Brazil group completed while separating in their hotel spaces.

With the event considered a success, organisers and experts say that it shows that Singapore is able and all set to host major sports occasions during this Covid-19 age.

Lee Shu Ling, manager of Deloitte South-east Asia’s Sports Business Group, said: “This occasion has certainly proven Singapore’s capability to host and organise such major occasions, even in the middle of a global pandemic with strict safe distancing limitations and regulations.”

Singapore Cybersports and Online Video Gaming Association (Scoga) co-founder Nicholas Khoo stated on Sunday that the success of the world championship has erased doubts of Singapore’s ability to host significant e-sports tournaments owing to aspects such as expense and its little market size. “As evidenced by the successful organisation of M2, Singapore is a relied on and safe location for world class events,” he included.

Minister for Culture, Neighborhood and Youth Edwin Tong stated in a Facebook post on Sunday: “E-sports has a lot of capacity for development here, and we remain in a good position to end up being a local center. In time to come, I am confident that we will construct a growing e-sports ecosystem, and nurture more Singaporean e-sports legends!”

The week-long competition was co-organised by MLBB developer Moonton and Scoga, with the support of the Singapore Tourist Board.

In Sunday’s last, Bren beat Burmese Ghouls 4-3 in the best-of-seven series to declare the winner’s prize bag of US$ 140,000 (S$ 186,000).

Singapore has actually likewise formerly hosted the 2017 world champion for mobile game Vainglory, which had a US$ 140,000 prize pool, while the US$ 500,000 One Esports Dota 2 Singapore World Pro Invitational was staged here in 2019.

This week’s occasion might lead the way for more competitions, with Moonton managing director Lucas Mao saying that Singapore “will absolutely be high up in the list of prospective host cities for our future world champions”.

Such occasions can just be a boon for the Republic, as Lee added that this would “solidify our position as a worldwide sporting hub for the most popular and emerging sports, which in turn can increase tourist and the economy”.

She also pointed to factors that make Singapore a perfect destination for e-sports events, such as its place in the centre of Asia, which is the global hotspot for e-sports and among the first to accept e-sports in major Games such as the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines and the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Singapore also boasts some of the greatest infrastructures for technology in the world and has an IT-literate population, included Lee.

While noting that Singapore has a performance history of hosting marquee sporting events such as the Formula One’s Singapore Grand Prix, HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens and football’s International Champions Cup, she noted that e-sports “is an entire different idea and it needs its own facilities for tournaments, streaming and facilities for the groups”.

Large amounts of bandwidth and a trusted network are needed to host an effective e-sports tournament to ensure a great experience for gamers and viewers.

Khoo thinks Singapore has actually revealed that it is an ideal location to hold such tournaments, indicating South Korean e-sports group T1 selecting to hold its Dota 2 bootcamp here early last year.

Education in e-sports is likewise crucial in helping Singapore gain its grip in the industry.

Lee said: “With increased promotion and more e-sports viewership comes increased financial investment from sponsors, and more gamers and fans would equate to higher engagement and costs across the market, bringing the interest of e-sports video game developers and franchises and setting the stage for Singapore as an e-sports tournament destination.”