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The wheels have already been turning for esports in North America. But the Western world still seems to be in the slow lane when compared with Asia. The top players and teams in many esports have their roots in South Korea and China. The Asian Games have emphasised that esports will emerge as a medal event in 2022. Though Hong Kong is not the epicentre of esports like Seoul or Shanghai is, it is anticipated that the conditions will change owing to a recent HK$50 million (US$6.37 million) investment from government-backed tech incubator Cyberport to work on esports venue infrastructure.
What you need to know:
As reported by the South China Morning Post, the $6.37 million investment in esports infrastructure is half of the total money allocated by the government to Cyberport for its 2018-19 budget, a testament to the significance of esports within the overall tech sector.
By creating venues across Hong Kong, the prime intention is to be a destination for international tournaments and regional events. In addition to hosting competitions, there will be areas for non-gamers to experience esports and media centres for broadcast.Yes Media, current holders of Pan-Asian broadcast rights to NFL and NHL games, has plans for a 30,000 square foot esports facility at Cyberport.
Esports venues in the West are popping up, mostly in California. Team Liquid and Alienware recently joined up to create one of the first esports training facilities in Los Angeles. In addition to Team Liquid, there is the Sandbox Esports Training Centre in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the facility inside the Sacramento KingsGolden One Centre.
At 8,000 square feet, Team Liquid has the biggest facility of the three, but that pales in comparison to the 34,000 square feet already accounted for in Cyberport. (Both the Kings and the Sandbox facilities are about 2,000 square feet). Government support for esports is not unique to Hong Kong. In 2000, South Korea created the Korea e-Sports Association that has been the managing body of all esports in the country since its inception. The goal of the association is to legitimise esports and push them towards classification as sports. The years of institutional support have no doubt had an effect on the success of South Korean esports athletes.
Source: European Gaming Media and Events