By Julius Tabios
Fans of gaming and esports in Asia have a whole lot to look forward to this year, as the scene, talent level, sponsorship and support here continue to grow. While watching your fav streamers from the comfort of your home is always entertaining, nothing beats the intensity and excitement of watching live competitions.
Here's a quick rundown of seven major esports comps set for Asia this year. Next stop: international medal competitions in the SEA Games, and eventually the Olympics!
World Electronic Sports Games (March 2019)
Why you should go: With World Electronic Sports Games (WESG)'s unique rule of "only one nationality per team", this is basically the esports Olympics. Organised by Alibaba together with the local Chongqing government, the 2018-2019 WESG will gather the best players from CS:GO, Dota 2, Hearthstone, Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 and Vainglory under one roof to complete for a whopping US$2.5 million from March 7 to 17.
Learn more: http://2018.wesg.com/en/
FIFA 19 FUT Champions Cup (March 2019)
Why you should go: Get ready to go for goal on the virtual pitch as FIFA 19 FUT Champions Cup sprints towards Singapore early next month. The event, which runs from March 8 to 10, boasts a $100,000 prize pool and is part of EA SPORTS™ FIFA 19 Global Series. They even managed to poach Manchester City's Kyle Walker to be part of their broadcast talent!
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/pgl
ESL Clash of Nations: Arena of Valor (March 2019)
Why you should go: Indonesia is crazy about their mobile games and the country will be thoroughly excited for this one. The Arena of Valor Clash of Nations 2019 will happen at the Jakarta International Expo from March 29 to 31. The winner will earn the lion's share of the modest US$50,000 prize pool and be crowned the best Arena of Valor team in Southeast Asia.
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/eslasia1
Vietnam Championship Series (May 2019)
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam + Taipei, Taiwan
Why you should go: Get ready to book your flights to the most accessible League of Legends event this side of the Pacific! Riot Games is bringing some of League of Legend's best teams to lovely Vietnam. The play-in stage will be held in Hanoi from May 1–7, while the group stage showdown will hit Ho Chi Minh City from May 10–14. If you're mad enough to want to catch the semifinals and finals too, you'll have to take a short flight over to Taipei.
Learn more: http://vcs.lienminh.garena.vn
The International 2019 (August 2019)
Why you should go: The biggest Dota 2 tournament on the planet is heading to Shanghai in August. Enjoy the sights and culinary delicacies of the Chinese megacity while getting a chance to meet the game's biggest stars at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in this multimillion dollar tournament with a prize pool that's growing by the day. ($25 million total at the moment, with the first place winners set to bag $11 million!)
Learn more: http://www.dota2.com/international/overview/ (Not yet updated with 2019 details as of time of writing)
2019 SEA Games (November–December 2019)
Why you should go: What a time to be alive as esports is set to become an actual medal sport at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games on November 30 to December 11. Alongside traditional sports such as swimming and basketball, athletes will now compete in an additional five medal events under esports for the 2019 SEA Games. As of writing, the official esports medal games are Dota 2, Starcraft II, Tekken 7, Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends.
The national flags from Southeast Asian countries at this event may remind you of a similar esports competition held last year in Singapore: Hyperplay. Held by Riot Games and *cough*cough* MTV Asia, it began with 10 ASEAN teams and ended with Vietnam's Super Star Destroyers being upset by Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Hunters, who bagged the trophy.
With national pride on the line, somehow the stakes are raised so much higher!
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/2019seagamesph/
Jakarta Masters (late 2019)
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/METEsportsID/
Why you should go: Get ready to whet your appetite for good Dota 2 with a side of beef rendang. MET Events, the organising arm of Mineski, is helping to bring Indonesian esports to the next level with another iteration of the Masters tournament. Following in the footsteps of 2017's Manila Masters, the Jakarta Masters will be bringing the best Dota teams from all over the world to Southeast Asia once again later this year.
So there you have it: from mobile games to hardcore MOBAs, 2019's got a little bit for everyone. Check out at least one of these events this year, and you'll have a killer story to tell your kids one day in the not-too-distant-future – when esports is bigger than any conventional sport. Game on!