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Exclusive: How Esports Has Grown Throughout APAC

Exclusive: How Esports Has Grown Throughout APAC

In an exclusive interview with Ministry of Sport, as part of the ‘Brand Break’ series, ESL FACEIT Group SVP and managing director of Asia Pacific Japan, Nick Vanzetti, discussed how the organisation has tapped into the APAC region and how esports has grown throughout Australia.

Popularity of different esports:

Commenting on the popularity of different esports in the region, Vanzetti said ESL FACEIT Group is primarily known for Counter Strike and Dota, which have been major staples for the past 10-20 years, where both games have created a large and consistent fan base.

“We do see new games enter the fray, and particularly in Southeast Asia mobile gaming truly is king. Some of those PC titles we mentioned earlier are still popular, but more so with an ageing crowd who might be in their late 20s or early 30s,” Vanzetti said.

“The youth of today are engaging most with their mobile devices and a big part of that is accessibility. It’s like everybody has a computer in their pocket, as opposed to having a gaming PC or a console, so we’ve seen games like Mobile Legends and Free Fire become extremely popular in Southeast Asia.

“However, there are some emerging PC titles like Valorant that are becoming quite popular in Oceania as well as the rest of Asia.

Investments in APAC esports:

On the investments they’ve made in the past few years, Vanzetti said they started 30-40 employees in Australia and now have over 120 across APAC and Japan, and reiterated their commitment to growing their base and brand in different markets.

“We have to bring the right products, and for us products are tournaments and events, as well as programs that run not just over one weekend, but across the whole year. So, trying to ensure that we have the most relevant game titles, for example, in Indonesia, it will most likely be a mobile title, as opposed to Australia, which might be Counter Strike or League of Legends on PC,” Vanzetti said.

Vanzetti also said holding events is part of their growth plans, with the organisation recently announcing DreamHack Japan, which is in partnership with Sony Music.

Events in APAC:

On Events being held in the region, Vanzetti said that 2023 will be the second year DreamHack Melbourne is held, after running the first edition of the festival in 2022 with the help of partners TEG Live and Visit Victoria.

“We also brought ESL One back, which is a global tournament with the best teams and players from all around the world, which we brought back to Malaysia for the first time since 2018,” Vanzetti said.

“We also do many different sized events across the region such as shopping mall events, which are a big thing in Asia. So, we’ll run an online tournament through a season, and we’ll have the finals at a shopping mall, where there’s a big stage in one of the atriums, and that can be packed with thousands of fans,” he said.

Financial viability of APAC events:

On the financial viability of APAC events, Vanzetti said they are definitely viable on various scales.

“When we’re launching one of the bigger ones, of course, we have a much larger business plan. That might mean a small investment case as we scale the event over time, but it’s never our goal to run events at huge losses, we want to be hitting breakeven, achieving our financial targets, and making them profitable,” Vanzetti said.

Bringing large scale events to Australia:

On deciding where large scales events are hosted, Vanzetti said there are several factors that go into whether they pitch to hold an event in a certain region.

“Even then, it’s not entirely our decision, Counter Strike’s publisher, Valve, is ultimately the decision maker in terms of who gets a major where. Of course, time zone can be a challenge and global audience is always one of those important factors that’s taken into consideration, and this is largely out of our hands,” Vanzetti said.

“In terms of what needs to be done and what’s within our grasp is to try and provide the best possible opportunity for a large scale CSGO event in an environment where the teams and players are super pumped to attend. For example, we had Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) in Sydney for three years and all the top tier teams like Astralis and Faze were just stoked to come out to Australia.

“So, we would love to bring another large scale CSGO tournament back to Australia, or somewhere else in the APAC region. We know that there’s a huge interest and there’s an incredibly passionate fan base, I really loved the IEM Sydney and even the Challenger tournament we had in Melbourne,” he said.

He also said that fans show up in droves and are massive supporters, but there is also difficulty in lining up with global calendars with venue availability, where the CSGO season is packed with events every weekend around the world.

“A few years ago we were very fortunate to be able to be in that position where we could hold IEM, but we’re always trying to work on bringing large scale Counter Strike events back to the region,” he said.

To read the previous MOS Brand Break, where Fanatics SVP of international business affairs and development, Matthew Primack, discussed the company’s ANZ expansion, click here.

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