ESports Rule as New Café Hogs The Limelight

Amid the rapid rise of Electronic Sports (eSports) across the world, Halls of Gamers (HOG) and its affiliates are the first entrepreneurs in Myanmar to attempt to tap into the market.

On December 15, HOG opened Myanmar’s first ever internationally certified iCafe and eSports centre housing state-of- the-art computers, game consoles and a dedicated space for virtual reality (VR) enthusiasts.

The two-storied building has space for up to 200 audience members and an equipment set up that will allow them to host international level tournaments.

Uplifting lives click-by-click

According to So Pyae Aung, co-founder of HOG, his brainchild and passion project will be the one to launch Myanmar’s almost non-existent eSports scene into the international spotlight.

He and his colleagues has concocted phase-by-phase plan that will not only provide gamer youths in Myanmar opportunities to compete in the big leagues but also open up access to the diverse careers within the industry.

The first step of the plan is a competition for arguably the most popular game in Myanmar – Defense of the Ancients 2, more commonly known as DOTA 2.

“We will begin with a competition that involves up to 245 teams, made up of 5 players each, from all across Myanmar. They will be fighting for four spots after which the winning teams will enter elimination rounds against four of the best local teams that we have invited. They will compete for K5 million (US$3,800) as well as official sponsorship from our organisation.

So Pyae Aung claimed that, despite the high-stakes, winner-takes-all nature of the competition, HOG will also be looking out for potential pro athletes who may not be part of the winning team. Those with the talent, dedication and analytical skills required to be professional game casters, or coaches, will also be scouted.

Once the selection has been made, the chosen five will go through systematic and rigorous training to prepare to make their debut on the international scene.

HOG has partnered with Convergent Myanmar, one of the leading distributors of quality IT products, as well as globally renowned brands such as Nvidia, Palit, Macron and Schneider Electrics APC.

According to So Pyae Aung, both future athletes and customers will have access to high-spec computers and gaming peripherals among other services such as food and drinks on a level only found in countries where eSports thrive, such as South Korea and Singapore.

He said that the government had been a big help, as evidenced by the formation of the Myanmar e-Sports Federation and the attendance of many officials who had facilitated the launch of HOG.

“The opening of our eSports centre and formation of the federation wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the government. The support of the government is definitely required for our future plans – be it more recruitment, competitions, educational workshops for youths, and so on. As the industry in Myanmar will inevitably grow in size and ambition, support from the state is critical in achieving those goals.”

Moore’s law applicable

On a global scale, most prominent in the Western hemisphere, the eSports industry is a highly lucrative business that is just about ready to become a billion-dollar industry by growing exponentially in Asia.

Asia’s economic power houses such as China, Singapore and South Korea have seen an unimaginable amount of growth in terms of grooming athletes, brand marketing, event planning and broadcasting (streaming).

China, in particular, has dived head-first into the popular but still largely untapped market by pushing for eSports to be a medal sport at the 2022 Asian games in Hanghou, and by attempting to form a ministry dedicated to handling eSports affairs.

Myanmar seems to be following suit and, while many potential investors are only just dipping their toes in the water, Nvidia’s sales lead for its consumer business division, Bertrand Lim, believes that the market is ripe for the picking.

“We’ve visited iCafes all around and despite the location and quality of service for the place, they are always filled with groups of youth that chose to spend their leisure hours at the cafés. The partnership with HOG proved that a lot of young, eager and driven entrepreneurs exist in Myanmar. This resulted in Myanmar’s first ever, Nvidia-approved platinum level iCafe experience we see here today,” said Lim.

He said: “When you walk into a platinum-certified establishment, what you get is the top of the line experience. HOG qualifies due to the number of PCs available, equipment used, international standard competition space and more.

“I have been to many other countries within South East Asia – Thailand, Vietnam and so on – but the amount of interest, growth and development for iCafes and eSports for Myanmar is growing at incredible rates despite having to play catch-up to other, more developed nations.”


Source: Eleven Myanmar


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