By Jill Arul
Combine increasing mobile connectivity and a pandemic that kept everyone indoors for most of the year, and you have the recipe for a vibrant gaming community. Currently the fastest-growing regional market for online games, Southeast Asia is a rising star in the industry. This 2021, consumer data company Statista estimates that mobile gaming in the region alone is set to hit 250 million gamers.
With esports set to reappear as a medal event in the upcoming 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, the region’s thriving esports scene is certainly cause for celebration. Making its debut at the annual Singapore Media Festival organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, SuperGamerFest 2020 aims to bring the community together and serve as that celebration—albeit virtually for now.
Presented by PVP Esports and sponsored by Singtel and the Philippines’ Globe Telecom, SuperGamerFest 2020 was an online experience packed with exhilarating esports championships, inspiring interviews, hilarious celebrity showdowns and the first-ever SuperGamerFest awards.
The fully digital event took place over two weekends, from 5-6 and 11-13 December. For those who missed out on the action, we’re bringing the festival to you with five of the most exciting highlights from the inaugural SuperGamerFest 2020.
1. Making a mobile legend
SuperGamerFest 2020 kicked off with a bang—literally, as attendees were treated to two days of the intense nail-biting action of the regional championships of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. A mobile multiplayer battle arena and winner of SuperGamerFest 2020 Game of the Year award, Mobile Legends involves teams competing to be the first to destroy their opponent’s base.
The first day saw Gunadarma Tinfor from Gunadarma University in Indonesia defeat Faith College’s team Bravehearts from the Philippines to clinch the campus championships. Despite a rocky start, Gunadarma Tinfor took the lead with the first game, winning two out of three matches to take home the title.
“We were quite nervous at first playing against strong competition from the Philippines, but we’re glad that we were able to pull through in the end to win it for our country,” said team captain Mr Ariq “BeastZ” Arundaya Zaneta. “We’re already looking forward to the next one. It is my hope that we can continue training to become even better players than we are now.”
Proving the prowess of Indonesian teams, the finals of the open championships on the second day saw HFX Elite Pro from Indonesia take the title in a close match against Arkangel from the Philippines. Despite Arkangel’s ability to bring the game to a draw in the second match, HFX Elite pulled through to win 2-1, walking away with S$2,800 in cash and S$4,200 worth of prizes.
2. Showing up to the showdown
Any large-scale gathering of gamers would be incomplete without streamers and influencers in attendance. Establishing their names as go-to gaming content creators, streamers and influencers like Ms Ella Cruz from the Philippines, Mr Firdaus “MasterRamen” Hashim from Malaysia and Mr Alex “SynC” Ho from Singapore boast millions of followers on platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Instagram.
Working together to play a super ‘sus’ game full of betrayal, 10 streamers and influencers from across Southeast Asia joined SuperGamerFest 2020 for a live session of the popular pandemic pastime, Among Us, an online multiplayer game where players have to discover and vote out the imposter in the team before everyone is killed.
After a quick introduction, the streamers started doing what they do best—playing games and entertaining audiences. A master at deception, MasterRamen played the role of imposter twice—even taking the game for the imposters in the fourth round. On the other hand, the Philippines’ Ms Cruz was newer to the game and exposed herself as the imposter almost immediately after pressing the wrong button.
3. An exclusive look at esports
Behind the scenes of the billion-dollar industry of gaming and esports is a slew of industry giants like Sony, creators like Ubisoft and teams like Team Secret. In an interview with Mr John Yao, CEO of Team Secret, a successful global esports team with players from Finland to the Philippines, attendees were offered an insider’s view of the industry. He highlighted how Team Secret chooses players, hires talent and remains authentic.
“If a player has a certain journey or meaning behind each step that they take professionally, or certain ups and downs in how they play tournaments and how they approach their craft and their career, we want to tell that story as naturally as possible and see where that takes us in terms of audience engagement,” said Mr Yao.
Known to be selective when it comes to players and sponsorships, Team Secret looks for the most authentic talents and companies to work with, only accepting sponsorships for products their players use regularly and players who aim to be the best.
4. The best of the best
The inaugural SuperGamerFest comes with the first-ever SuperGamerFest Awards, honouring the best creators and esports professionals from the region.
Streamer of the Year, Akosi Dogie from the Philippines took home the highly coveted SEA Content Creator of the Year award. Known for his comical presentation and fun-loving online personality, Akosi Dogie boasts over 10 million followers and counting across his social media platforms.
In the esports category, RRQ from Indonesia and Buriram United Esports from Thailand were both awarded Esports Team of the Year in a tie, with both teams showing outstanding and consistent performance, sportsmanship and mettle during tournaments throughout the year.
5. Going forward with valor(ant)
The festival ended just as it began: with the crowning of an esports champion. Over 12 and 13 December, attendees watched as teams battled it out in Valorant, a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter game. The campus championships held on 12 December saw four teams from tertiary institutions across Southeast Asia competing for the title.
Ultimately, Tel-U Esports from Indonesia went up against the aptly named team Looking for Sponsor from Thailand in the finals. Despite their best efforts, Tel-U was dominated by Looking for Sponsor in the last match at 13-4, awarding Looking for Sponsor the game, the prize money and the title of regional campus champions for Valorant.
On the last day, Bren Esports from the Philippines were also crowned champions of Valorant’s regional open championships after taking the first two matches from Indonesian team XCN.