It was only two years back when New York City’s Madison Square Garden sold out with more than 50,000 fans for a League of Legends event, and Asia isn’t far behind, said Frank Sliwka, COO, Asia of ESL Gaming.

Speaking at a conference session in ITB Asia 2018, Sliwka pointed out that the e-sports industry, or electronic sports, is seeing “massive growth” over the past few years as more major large-scale live electronic gaming tournaments enter the market.

These events, similar to traditional sports tourism, draw huge turnouts of at least 45,000 spectators and above.

Industry reports paint a rosy picture in terms of financial gains. This year alone, game revenues in Asia Pacific are expected to hit US$71.4 billion, a 16.8% growth from 2017, according to a report by Newzoo, a market research and data company for the gaming and e-sports industry. The rise of mobile gaming in the region was cited as the reason fuelling the growth.

Sliwka sees that Asia’s growth is led by China, but Southeast Asia, in particular countries Malaysia and Indonesia, are particularly bright spots for the industry.

Offline events are growing to become a popular platform. Globally, more than 200 events are expected to be held this year.

Sliwka is confident that large scale e-sports will drive travel and tourism businesses as stadiums, convention centres and other large venues continue to hit sell-out capacity.

At the forefront of the growth in the industry are games that see nearly eight million monthly active users and total prize pools of US$5 million.

These include games such as League of Legends, DOTA 2, Hearthstone and Counter-Strike. In DOTA 2 tournaments, 43 players have become overnight millionaires from prize pool winnings alone.

In January, Malaysia hosted ESL One Genting 2018, one of the larger and more prestigious qualifying league tournaments. The event at Resort World Genting had helped the resort to reach sold-out capacity.

Hoteliers have also responded to market demand with gaming-specific specialist products.

One example is iHotel in Taoyuan, Taiwan, which features a gaming theme throughout the hotel with an RGB check-in area and a lobby that features a 12-person LAN station designed for e-sports teams to practice. Guests rooms are soundproofed and fitted with two GTX 1060, i5 gaming rigs with 32-inch monitors, DX Racer chairs, dedicated Wi-Fi and 10 terabytes of storage.

This article is part of Travel Weekly Asia’s special report from ITB Asia 2018.

Originally published in Travel Week Asia – By Naomi Neoh 

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