With hundreds and millions of hardcore gamers, both amateur and professional, and thousands of global tournaments each year, computer games are well on their way to become the world’s biggest sport. Esports, also known as competitive gaming or Electronic Sports, is the name for this particular phenomenon that is currently making giant waves around the world.
Over the last few years, the global eSports industry has experienced tremendous growth with more and more major tournaments being held around the world along with rocketed number of viewers. According to research, there were approximately 71,500,000 people who watched competitive gaming in 2013[i].
The number of eSports players has also grown drastically over the years, with the total number of monthly players of the world’s most popular online eSports game League of Legends exceeding 67 million in 2014[ii], which to put into perspective, is more than the population of France.
Esports in Vietnam
Esports is a strange term but not a strange concept to Vietnamese gamers. The eSports industry in Vietnam, while being relatively smaller than that of other nations in the area, has shown great potentials and has experienced significant growth over the last 5 years, earning recognition from the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF)[iii]
The origin of eSports in Vietnam can be traced back to around 10 or 20 years ago, but the booming growth of the concept only happened around 7 years ago when multiplayer online games such as Dota and CrossFire (known as Đột Kích in Vietnam) started to gain popularity in the Vietnam gaming community and breathe new life into the gaming industry of the country. From then, many gaming tournaments, both nationally and regionally, have been held annually in the country, along with big money prizes, to encourage Vietnamese gamers to sharp up their skills and compete with other gamers in the region.
Esports Viewership in Vietnam
In recent years, more and more Vietnamese people are starting to pay attention to eSports. The Vietnamese government decided to consider eSports as a form of sports, which will be encouraged to develop and grow like any other form of sports in Vietnam. At the moment, there are many websites and online communities for Vietnamese eSports enthusiasts to stream eSports contents and join discussions. Some of them are gamesk.vn, Vietnam Esports TV, eSportsViet.VN, etc. The country also has a television channel dedicating to eSports called ESPORTS: TV, broadcasting on cable television network HTVC from 7AM to 1AM the next day.
On the other hand, eSports tournaments are being held every year in Vietnam, providing opportunities for Vietnamese gamers to upgrade their skills while aiming to attract even more people to this form of sports and entertainment. In 2014, The Vietnam eSports Champions League, featuring 12 top teams from the Southeast Asia region, managed to attract a huge crowd of approximately 10,000 on-site viewers to cheer for the competing teams. This was rather surprising to the members of foreign eSports teams from Singapore and Taiwan[iv], who admitted that even though in their countries there might be bigger eSports tournaments, the audience is not as enthusiastic and eSports-savvy as the audience in Vietnam[v].
Vietnamese Professional Esports Teams
Is there any professional gaming team in Vietnam? The answers is yes. And not only that, the professional gaming teams of Vietnam have proved that their skills are nothing less than that of professional gamers from other developed countries by winning some notable eSports tournaments in the region.
Even though the number of professional gamers in Vietnam is smaller compare to other Asian countries, and Vietnamese professional video gaming teams are not that well-known in the global eSports scene yet, they have exhibit huge potentials to become massively successful players in official international eSports tournaments.
As of 2014, Vietnam is in the top ten list of the highest-earning eSports countries in Asia[vi] with 69 professional gamers. Some notable Vietnamese eSports teams are GeniusGaming (2nd place at World eSports Master 2010), Freedom (2nd place at WCG 2012), Saigon Jokers, Saigon Fantastic 5, Aces Gaming, etc.
[i] Warr, P 2014, “eSports in numbers: Five mind-clowing stats”, Red Bull, viewed on 17 Jun 2015, <http://www.redbull.com/ca/en/esports/stories/1331644628389/esports-in-numbers-five-mind-blowing-stats>
[ii] Riot Games 2014, “League players reach new heights in 2014”, Riot Games, viewed on 17 Jun 2015, <http://www.riotgames.com/articles/20140711/1322/league-players-reach-new-heights-2014>
[iii]Hai, H 2012, “IeSF đánh giá cao sự phát triển của eSport tại Việt Nam”, Game landVN, viewed on 17 Jun 2015, <http://gamelandvn.com/2012/08/21/iesf-danh-gia-cao-su-phat-trien-cua-esport-tai-viet-nam/gameland.vn>
[iv] My, L 2014, “Chúng tôi bất ngờ với khan giả eSport tại Việt Nam”, ICTnews, viewed on 17 Jun 2015, <http://ictnews.vn/game/chung-toi-bat-ngo-voi-khan-gia-esport-tai-viet-nam-115847.ict>
[v] Linh Sim 2013, “eSports ở Việt Nam phát triển mạnh”, VOV online, viewed on 17 Jun 2015, <http://vov.vn/the-thao/ra-mat-kenh-truyen-hinh-esports-tv-140346.vov>
[vi] TT & VH 2010, “Ra mắt kênh truyền hình ESPORTS: TV”, VOV online, viewed on 17 Jun 2015, <http://endgame.vn/tin-tuc/endgame-cafe/tin-10892/viet-nam-vinh-du-nam-trong-top-10-quoc-gia-co-thu-nhap-esports-cao-nhat-chau-a>