Recently, the Straits Times reported that the inaugural Esports Festival Asia (EFA) was launched on July 18, 2019 during the Comex Technology show. The prize pool for Comex EFA 2019 is $35,000 over 4 tournaments and 6 game titles, with close to 200 participants this round. The organizer, Sphere Exhibits (under SPH) is investing $1 million into eSports and gaming.
The Singapore Esports Association has been formed in November 2018, and now, the association has nominated a team for the SEA Games (Mobile Legends) competition to the Singapore National Olympics Council. It has also been recognized as an official sport in the Asian Games (from 2022) and on track to gain world recognition. Singapore has also launched its first diploma course in eSports and game design.
Looking at the eSports startup scene, we see a couple of unicorns that have emerged from Singapore. Garena (NYSE:SE), founded by Forrest Li in 2009, has raised up more than $700 million in venture funding (angel round to Series E). Another big name from Singapore is Razer (HKSE:1337), which has raised $175 million in venture funding. Both companies went onto the stock exchanges valued as unicorns. On a global level, Niantic (the company behind Pokemon Go), was valued at $3.7 billion during their Series C. Based on all these statistics and news, I would say that there is a rise in eSports in both Singapore and the global level.
According to Tracxn, we see an exponential increase in venture funding coming into this space, with big names such as KKR, Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital betting huge on this area.
Also, we start to see new VCs that are quite focused on this industry. For example, one of the newer VCs that came out in Singapore focuses mainly on 4 sectors, with eSports being one of them (the others being blockchain, AI and Fintech).
South East Asia is 2nd in terms of eSports VC funding ($552 million), with most of it coming from Singapore.
Maybe it is time for me to look further into this industry for potential investments as well.