The government has pledged its support for Esports and proposed the establishment of a youth-led National Esports Assocation to lead its development here.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) said that an association that is run by the local gaming community could help spur the growth of the competitive sport in the country and contribute significantly to the economy.
“An application has already been made to establish an assocation for Esports,” said MCYS minister YB Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan POK Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin recently.
Esports was highlighted at the 15th State Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting this week as an area with significant growth potential.
Esports explosion in ASEAN
Esports is big business globally, with major leagues such as the World Electronic Sports Games giving away millions of dollars in cash prizes to winning teams and turning e-athletes into overnight celebrities and brand ambassadors.
LegCo member YB Iswandy Ahmad said that Esports has gained massive popularity in ASEAN and is a major contributor to the economy, with some countries in the region having earned US$3.1 billion from major league tournaments last year.
In addition, the upcoming South East Asian Games (SEA Games) will be hosting Esports for the first time, making 2019 a banner year for the competitive sport in ASEAN.
YB Dato Hj Aminuddin acknowledged the popularity of Esports among the youth in Brunei, having seen young e-athletes participating in both local and regional tournaments over the years.
He said MCYS has also seen positive developments in Esports activities organised by the private sector such as the Cyber Games Tournament 2018 at TechXpo. The ministry had also sponsored a Brunei team for Hyperplay 2018 ASEAN Esports Festival in Singapore last year.
“The ministry will support and assist the growth of Esports in Brunei,” the minister said, adding that MCYS hopes a registered association by Esports participants would be set up soon.
Esports will also be the main event at this year’s Brunei December Festival (BDF), after the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism recognised its explosive popularity.
“Assocation drives international participation“
Hawaii Yee (pictured), founder of BruGames Management Services, is an advocate for the local Esports scene and has stressed the need for an Esports regulatory body in Brunei for quite some time.
He said an association is crucial if the country wants to see more teams compete at major international events.
“An official esports association here could represent Brunei to deal with its counterparts overseas such as in Malaysia or Indonesia, especially on matters concerning participation for various competitions,” Hawaii added.
Hawaii, who is also the manager of Brunei’s elite CSGO team Goodfellas, said Brunei isn’t short of highly-skilled players, but the lack of support and an assocation hindered them from getting proper training and accommodation to compete abroad.
“With an association, we could learn how tournaments are held overseas, and apply them here. They could also become a commissioning body to ensure all tournaments are held accordingly to the internationally set standards,” he said.
An Esports association could also help event organisers get sponsors to cover the high cost of hosting a tourney, said GameOn founder Amar Agus Din.
Amar said it would cost at least $100,000 to run a gaming tournament, which is too much to swallow for smale-scale organisers.
GameOn has organised several gaming events in Brunei including the Brunei E-sports Tournament (BEST) in 2017 and 2018.