"If we don't get out of this within the next few months, we'll either go bankrupt or not be part of the business anymore."
According to a survey done by the Digital Creative Content Division of MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation), when COVID-19 was beginning to weigh down Malaysia's economy, this is the belief held by 70% of the companies that they contacted for the survey, to analyse the needs of the digital industry. With that in mind, the vice president of said division, Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, recalled that they had to revise their then-current programs and cater to their necessities better, particularly MDEC's annual Level Up KL event.
"So when we suggested Level Up KL to go online (with LEVEL UP PLAY ONE), everyone wanted to be a part of it," Hasnul shared, aligned with their vision of Level Up to be "a platform that provides opportunities for our companies and partners." Originally a one-day online event, he said that they decided to expanded it into a four-day event instead - including LEVEL UP SPACEBAR - due to popular demand, testament to the viability of converting live events to digital versions.
Hasnul shared this recently in the LEVEL UP PLAY ONE webinar, which was organised by MDEC in partnership with eGG Network over the weekend (13 - 14 June). Each day of the webinar encompasses two esports-related topic, with Day 1 including COVID-19 & Esports and Esports & Opportunities.
Aside from Hasnul, several other key players across the Southeast Asian esports and gaming industry came on board the webinar to share their insights, including our very own Head of Sports at Astro, Lee Choong Khay.
"Although there's a pause in traditional sports tournaments, the sports federations and associations has resorted to esports version of their sports to make up for it during the lockdown," said Lee, whose portfolio covers both traditional and electronic sport. He cited the UEFA eEURO 2020, F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix and ePremier League Invitational as prime examples of this trend, "making esports a good introduction to traditional sports fan on what esports is all about."
Although traditional sports events going digital with esports may take some getting used to for fans and everyone involved, esports had the virtue of having little issue with this. "The community and ecosystem for esports was born online, so going from in-person events to streaming events is easy for us," said Carlos Alimurung, CEO of ONE Esports. Despite having said that, Alimurung clarified that "the extend and the scale to which we had to deal with COVID-19 is not easy", mentioning the short time that ONE Esports had to bring a Jakarta-based ONE Esports tournament from physical to digital in a span of five days due to Indonesia's sudden restrictions on live events.
However, it's still more good news than bad news, which is why Yoodo is now more involved than ever in the world of esports. "If you check out the last few months, you'll that there's so many more esports tournaments popping up, especially at the grassroot level," said Chow Tuck Mun, Head of Yoodo, explaining that casters and streamers are even starting their own tournaments online. "We've also started on tournaments but at a more national level for PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and so on."
Chow also opined that those who want to get involved in esports will see more opportunities to flourish in the industry. With Yoodo - who also sponsored the MLBB Professional League Malaysia/Singapore (MPL-MY/SG) Season 5 - backing a team for Call of Duty: Mobile and probably one for the highly-anticipated Wild Rift, Chow expressed cautious optimism for the scene. "As long as the opportunity is there and the price is right."
Viewing the situation as a moment for esports to shine, Alimurung explained that based on a survey ONE Esports conducted, a lot of former esports fans are returning to the scene, not to mention that there are a lot of new fans who are unfamiliar with the esports space. "The question is, how do retain those who come in after COVID-19? One way to do that is through compelling storytelling, which is why the type of content we're doing now is more emotionally-linked, revolving more around the personalities of those involved," such as the players, the production and business sides, and more.
These are just some of the highlights we've handpicked from the first day of the LEVEL UP PLAY ONE webinar. You can check out the full clips for Day 1 of the online panel discussion on the eGG Network YouTube page to learn more about effects of the pandemic on esports and its opportunities.
The Mobile Legends Bang Bang Professional League (MPL) Invitational 4 Nation Cup (MPLI) is bringing together the top-performing MPL teams of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar for an all-out battle royale. These teams will be fighting over a US$100,000 prize pool in a span of three stages: two group stage qualifiers and a Playoffs. With the likes of Resurgence, Geek Fam, RRQ.Hoshi and EVOS as part of the line-up, which MLBB esports fan would want to miss MPLI?
The MPLI group stage qualifiers will be held from 19 – 21 June and 26 – 28 June, with the three-day Playoffs commencing on 3 July. Be sure to follow the official MLBB Facebook page for more MPLI updates.
All-star athletes playing video games competitively to combat COVID-19? Sounds like a headline steal! The Solidarity Challenge is an online fundraising event that pits the world's top "real-life sport" athletes against one another via Konami's eFootball PES 2020, in collaboration with the United Nation's (UN) Foundation and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Participating athletes include footballer Antoine Griezmann, rugby player Danny Care and even golfer Tommy Fleetwood, with the money raised being funneled into the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
The Solidarity Challenge will run from today 12 - 14 June, with each match day beginning at 6.30PM (GMT+8). You can catch the live broadcast on YouTube, or opt to watch the telecast on 14 June, 6PM (GMT+8) on the eGG Network TV channel.
If you need a break from high-octane tournaments, why not learn something about esports for a change? eGG Network is teaming up with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Level Up KL to produce the LEVEL UP PLAY ONE webinar, featuring a panel discussion made up of esports experts and industry leaders, to inform the public on the hottest topics surrounding gaming and digital athletics. Whether it's the effects of COVID-19 on esports or video game addiction, there's plenty to learn about in the two-day webinar.
In these trying times, many of us are already missing the cinema, chatting with friends in an artsy cafe or watching live sports matches at stadiums, activities that have been put on hold indefinitely. But, what better way to use up that extra free time than to widen our perspective on esports with the Level Up Play One webinar?
Organised by MDEC in partnership with eGG Network (what an honour for us!), the two-day webinar will feature a panel discussion made up of esports experts and industry leaders, to inform the public on the hottest topics surrounding gaming and digital athletics. These include:
It's a well-known fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many of the world's industries, but for esports, business is booming, with people turning to games to fill the void left by not going out. "We are now at a very interesting crossroad with esports," said Lee Choong Khay, head of sports at Astro. "The current and upcoming trends of the sport will lead the industry to a very different direction or level of growth." Be sure to tune in to find out more!
Although many pre-COVID-19 opportunities have been turned to dust, new ones in turn took their places, with entrepreneurs scrambling to uncover them and fulfill their potential. "I believe this webinar can be valuable to anybody who is involved or is going to be in the esports or gaming industry," said Faraz Shababi, who will be moderating this webinar. "We will be hearing from a diverse roster of panelists that have been helping esports grow behind the scene so expect lots of juicy info."
Speaking candidly, Chow Tuck Mun, the Head of Yoodo, looked forward to "exchanging esports stories with his fellow panelists - and probably ask them about their IGN (in-game name) and how they got it."
Recently, Yoodo has arguably been the telecommunications company with the biggest esports footprint. In 2020, they sponsored the fifth season of the MLBB Professional League (MPL-MY/SG), as well as Yoodo Gank, the Malaysian PUBG Mobile squad which won the inaugural PUBG Mobile Professional League (PMPL) SEA Finals last month.
For Mr Chow, "this is a chance to hear different viewpoints of why esports is growing in its appeal, not just to the digital generation, but even to the corporate boardroom."
A concern that burns in the minds of parents, just how much gaming should be considered as "too much"? "(This webinar) is for those who are curious about the association of both gaming and esports with potential addiction," said Michelle Tan, returning once again on the Level Up KL panel. "You'll be hearing from a diverse panel with years of involvement in the industry, and hopefully we'll be able to shed some light on some of the biggest questions you may have."
Even though in reality, females make up half of the gamers demographic, they remain criminally underrepresented in the production of video games and its content. With the likes of ChuChu, MissRose and Yana Samsudin as panelists for this, it's bound to be a refreshing outlook on what women in gaming are doing to switch up the male-dominated landscape.
*All times are in GMT+8.
On the side, the Level Up Play One online gaming festival will be in full swing this weekend (13 - 14 Jun), with a multitude of activities lined up for you. This includes showcases of Malaysian games, esports tournaments and a lucky draw contest where you can win PC peripherals, gaming gadgets and more.
The Level Up Play One webinar and festival will run from 13 - 14 Jun this weekend. Catch the Day 1 live stream and the Day 2 broadcast on the eGG Network Facebook page! For more info on the festival, head on over to the Level Up KL website.
With the same noble purpose as major sporting events like the Olympics, the upcoming Your Home, Your Arena (YHYA) Charity Cup seeks to unify the esports community via online competition between countries. In addition to entertaining viewers with exciting matches, the goal of YHWA is to raise awareness and funds for the people who are struggling to make ends meet due to the impact of COVID-19.
Organised by the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF), which governed esports for the 2019 SEA Games and 2018 Asian Games, the YHYA Charity Cup will feature Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and The King of Fighters as part of its games line-up.
Here are the eight countries who are participating in the invitational tournament for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang:
On top of the Charity Cup, the AESF also launched the Your Home, Your Arena Charity Fundraising, an accessible platform where the public can contribute funds to assist those severely affected by the pandemic. If you're keen on helping out, head on over to GIVE.asia to donate however much you can - every cent counts!
After more than a year of setbacks, ordeals and literal tears, one Facebook Gaming Creator has achieved a milestone that cements his status as a streamer to be taken seriously (ironically, he emphasises on “fun” while streaming).
Celebrating 400k followership on Facebook Gaming (to be exact, 418k as of 22 May), Shibashis “Shiba” Biswas – more popularly known by his page name The Tharki Assassins – was quick to notify this writer the moment he reached an all-new high with his fan base, a testament to the pride he deservedly has for his newfound success. After all, he started streaming with an ancient yet surprisingly functional PC, the kind used in the ‘90s when dial-up Internet and MSN Messenger were common.
“I had 2GB RAM, no graphics card, plus a CRT monitor to work with,” Shiba recalled, explaining that his monitor was a bulky and box-shaped relic of the past. To the Indian streamer’s fortune, he was still able to stream the emulator version of PUBG Mobile when the battle royale game was gaining prominence in the local Facebook Gaming scene, albeit without any audio equipment. Determined to improve his set-up, Shiba bought his first webcam and headphones by saving his lunch money for two months, so he either starved or ate his friends’ leftover food. “That was the beginning of my struggles,” he said with a laugh, the kind where you relive past hardships with a grateful smile.
While waiting to be officiated as a Facebook Gaming partner (more info about the program here) early last year, Shiba’s ancient monitor chose the perfect time to break down and stop working. And to make matters worse, he didn’t have anyone he could borrow a display from. “I thought (my streaming career) was over and cried for days because I couldn’t stream without a monitor.” When all hope was thought to be lost, the unexpected happened.
According to Shiba’s experience, the majority of the older generation in India remain sceptics of gaming, including his parents who chided him for spending too much time with his hobby. “They even locked the door to my room – which had my PC – when I was playing too much,” the microbiologist graduate recalled, adding that he did well for his academics nonetheless.
After Shiba’s CRT monitor croaked and the streamer was still wallowing in misery, his father noticed and did something astonishing. “I don’t know what got to my dad, but he suddenly got me a new monitor the next day. It was a strange but huge turning point in my life,” recalled the Assassin’s Creed II fan. “If my dad didn’t buy me a monitor, I wouldn’t have gotten here and pursued other prospects.”
Shiba may be a streamer by profession, but he refuses to be defined by a single label. Aside from streaming, the Kolkata-born gamer has been an avid supporter of the local esports scene ever since he started volunteering for video game community functions like GamerConnect during his final years of college. This led to him becoming a reputable influencer in the local esports circle, even organising pop-up events and building relationships with key players in the industry, including NVIDIA and Discord.
On top of his full-time streaming career, he serves as Bait Esports’ coach and manager. “I’m focused on managing esports teams to help them grow as players. I groom them to be more professional in their presentation and attitude, and to help them find sponsorships with the connections I have from my volunteering days.” Shiba was also in the midst of preparing a PUBG Mobile bootcamp for budding pro players who wanted to improve their soft skills before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“I want to spread the awareness that gaming can be a good pursuit,” Shiba revealed, explaining his sheer determination in living and breathing video games. “If it makes you happy, you can make something out of it.” As a professional gamer without the support of his mother (his father grew to accept it) – he believes it’s the story of most Indians, both fans and workers, in the gaming industry: parents who scowl at their endeavours.
“Family support is currently the biggest obstacle for pro gamers,” and thus why he’s aiming to change that with his pursuits.
But, don’t the nobility of his actions fool you – true to his page name The Tharki Assassins (according to him, tharki means “naughty”), Shiba is one mischievous jokester who loves interacting with his viewers while streaming PUBG Mobile, GTA V, Call of Duty, MotoGP and other games. “I like knowing about their days and checking in on them, especially with the lockdown going on.” He sees his fan base as one big family, reflected in the plural implication of his page name. It also used to be the name of his team in producing short films on YouTube before they disbanded; he kept it because it strongly represented his personality.
Despite his barrage of playful jabs on camera, Shiba feels there’s a lot of negativity going around in the world and is combating it with as much positivity as possible. “With COVID-19, I think I have more responsibility now than ever as a streamer,” he confessed, saying that his viewers would try to break away from all the tension in the real world by watching his funny antics.
Even though he’s had his fair share of negative comments from some bad apples, he tries his best to empathise and treat them like friends – fortunately, this attitude has been working in his favour, with the naysayers dropping their pitchforks. “We should always be loving and caring to the toxic ones. They may be facing a lot of hardships in their life and didn’t get the love or care they crave, causing them to act this way.”
The present world needs more frontliners and people like Tharki Assassins. To continue his role in battling the COVID-19 global crisis, not only has Shiba contacted local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to carry out fundraiser streams, but he’s also using his online influence to spread true news – plus memes to raise morale – via his postings and streams. “This is the best that I can do for now, but at least I feel like I’m helping the world.”
Tomorrow (21 May) marks the continuation of the MyGameOn (MGO) Lunchtime Cup, a weekly PUBG Mobile community tournament that's held for gamers who are encouraged to stay home during the COVID-19 crisis.
Open to all, the online series pits solo players against each other in weekly matches, which is good news for those without teammates in PUBG Mobile. As for the mouth-watering cash prize, the MGO Lunchtime Cup adopted the concept of "the more people watch, the bigger the winnings", with the victory money bag going as high as RM500 every week. Viewers also stand a chance to win cash prizes, with two winners chosen at random weekly.
And to add a dramatic flair to the tournament, a slew of renowned PUBG Mobile esports influencers have served as guest hosts of the series, including ChuChu, Vokey and Iron Pro of Resurgence MY, DaddyHood and J Hunter. Obot Gaming will be this week's host.
If you're interested to join, you can check out the competition at MyGameOn's Facebook page tomorrow and the following Thursdays, 12PM. The MGO Lunchtime Cup began in April, and is expected to conclude late June.