ONE Championship is investing $50m into esports expansion
ONE Championship is the name of Asia’s largest martial arts sports media firm – and so far, it hadn’t had much to do with esports at all. The organisation wasn’t affiliated with competitive gaming directly, which is why the huge investment came as a big surprise for fans of both Asian martial arts and esports.
Starting next year, the huge sum will be used in order to hold esports tournaments in the region of Asia – they will be streamed and broadcast live, and will piggyback on other, scheduled martial arts events hosted by ONE Championship. Martial arts tournaments are incredibly popular in many regions in Asia, meaning that the opportunities in combining the two are greater than it may appear to western audiences.
As if that wasn’t enough, the company is also partnering with Razer, a company that has, of course, been involved in esports for many years. Both companies will co-organise the events, and Razer Pay (Razer’s own payment system) will be used as the official method of buying tickets to these competitions.
The new initiative has – unsurprising given its magnitude – even got a name: One eSports it’s called, and it will also produce other esports-related content in addition to the live broadcasts, such as weekly magazines, documentaries and, according to rumours, even reality shows.
The big events will feature ‘multiple blockbuster games’, though the company hasn’t announced titles yet, games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Dota 2 and Overwatch have a pretty high chance of being on the event schedule.
There is yet another partner involved in the event – Dentsu, an advertising agency in Japan will be involved in the marketing aspect of things. The company is already the partner of the Japanese esports union, handling their marketing as well. This joint venture aims to both increase One eSport’s exposition and to draw Japanese esports players and fans into the rest of the Asian region, to use their potential better.
Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing esports markets in the world, but it’s mainly China, India and South Korea that lead the charge here – Japan, despite it’s huge potential and center-spot in gaming history, tends to fall behind other countries in the region when it comes to esports participation.
The inclusion of mobile gaming in the mainstream esports world is set to help change this – mobile games are insanely popular all around the world, but at the moment tend to not take part in most esports tournaments. If at all, they tend to feature as a side-event, the ‘also on’ of the schedule.
In Asia in particular, there are now efforts being made to change that – in many areas, people are far more likely to have access to and regularly use a smartphone than a desktop, especially for entertaining purposes. As such, it’s no surprise that advertisers and esports organisers want to target the huge potential that these gamers have, by including them, and giving them a platform within the thriving esports community.