eSports in Malaysia, my personal view…
I am always on the lookout for talented teams and talented people, local or abroad. Believe it or not, watching them show-boating and displaying their mastery of the game spurs me on to continue playing. I’m glad to say I truly appreciate their efforts in making e-sports that much more exciting to follow. I’m sure millions of people around the world share the same adoration and admiration for these professionals as I do. But do you think these gifted players are given due recognition and respect from the world at large?
My answer is most definitely no. Sure, the best team in Asia, perhaps in the world, had the privilege to meet the Prime Minister and be wished good luck in person before their huge tournament in the US. They were also invited to talk on the 8TV Quickie program following their expected 2nd place result competing in the E-Sports World Cup (ESWC) in San Jose, California.
But with all due respect, all that is unnecessary and useless without proper endorsements and wholehearted support from the Malaysian government. What these players need is not just moral support, but monetary assistance from bigger organizations that is crucial to survive in this ever volatile industry.
If giant corporations like Telekom Malaysia are given a choice between professional Malaysian e-Sports and professional Malaysian football, choosing the former would not be such a bad choice. After all, Malaysia is considered as an Asian powerhouse in the gaming world. Were it not for general apathy from the public, government agencies and corporations, perhaps several of our prodigious gamers of yesteryear would have become commercially successful people today.
One such person who would have deserved it would be none other Paul Yan, who regarded his gaming career in Malaysia as ‘successful’ but ended on a negative note. I totally understand his grievances because relying on a small sponsorship a cyber cafe and paying his way through tournaments using his own money without the assurance of grabbing any prize money is not the safest way to earn big time as a professional.
Like many others across the world, it has always been my dream to play for a seeded team in top tier competitions. But so far this fantasy has not come to fruition. In any case, managing a group of promising individuals would be a more likely scenario. Of course, managing requires money: sending them to events, paying them salary, etc would cost quite a lot. However, what I have heard so far about the DotA business in this country has been far from promising, and quite disheartening in fact.
Take Russian DotA legend Vasily “JoliE” Pepelyaev for example. His team was picked up by ex-Kingsurf manager Eryc more than a year ago as the international arm of the Kingsurf gaming brand. But apart from the joy of winning tournaments, he was deeply disappointed by how poorly his team was managed and that they did hardly received any salary in return for their efforts playing under the Kingsurf banner. In fact, his team had to pay for all transportation costs themselves while being assured they would be reimbursed in due time. Now, only the team’s legacy remains as both the players and manager parted ways bitterly.
I personally do not feel surprised by this, although all these allegations have been denied by Eryc himself. Nevertheless, the money involved is pittance compared to the money involved in the lucrative industry of football, but as I’ve mention before, it fails to receive adequate attention by several quarters who can make a major difference and prevent such things from happening. Eryc is just one man, and he too may be at the mercy of external forces known only to him. In a nutshell, this proves to be yet another major setback or deterrent for aspiring teams who cannot afford to take gaming seriously as there are too many ‘invisible barriers’ to overcome.
What we need is a governing body, an organization equal to the stature achieved by FIFA in the football world. This idea is not entirely new as it has been proposed by both players and managers alike. If the international community is willing to work together, the days of managers not paying for teams’ expenditure, sponsoring cyber cafes who refuse to pay for event trips, dubious tournament organizers who do not pay out prize money should be over, once and for all. In Malaysia, the regulatory body for the DotA scene is Sendi Mutiara Multimedia Sdn. Bhd. (SMM) which watches over most major DotA tournaments across the nation. Apart from this, they also hold the biggest DotA festival annually which offers one of the world’s largest prize money which is an extra motivation boost to both local and international teams to soldier on. Let SMM help regulate what tournaments can be run, how much prize money is given out, get sponsors for teams and partners for tournaments alike. Provide us with a lifeline!
My hopes are that companies apart from SMM would finally understand the importance of eSports today and help play their part in expanding a field that I feel has great potential in the years to come. Let us not forsake those who have sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears in the name of eSports.
Image Credits: Lowyat.NET, myMYM.com, Gosugamers.net, Google
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