New Realms, New Possibilities: Singapore’s First Esports Academy
Days after the declaration that esports will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games, the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA) has announced the launch of a local esports academy (April 20).
Supported by the National Youth Council, SCOGA will collaborate with IT educator, Informatics Academy, as well as Twitch, the gaming world’s leading social video community platform and the National University of Singapore’s Evolution Innovation Lab, to identify, train and develop career opportunities for Singaporeans in the esports industry.
The esports industry is seeing explosive growth, and its estimated market value will reach US$1.1 billion and a global audience of 435 million by 2019. Its development has given rise to unprecedented professions in the form of competitive gamers, coaches and match commentators, besides new income generation through live streaming of esports matches and organising international tournament events.
A key focus of questions posed to representatives from SCOGA, Twitch and Informatics at the media Q & A post-signing of the agreements, concerned likely attitudes towards the esports academy in the general public. The gateway gaming entertainment industry and esports arena are heavily youth-centric and dominated, and as a still-developing domain with non-traditional skillsets and careers, fears are that there might be resistance from parents of potential students and trainees.
Nicholas Khoo, Chairman and Co-founder of SCOGA however said that he has been reassured by what is a growing number of parents who are open to growing their children’s talent and skills in the field but who have not found suitable outlets for their training and development. The academy will help fulfill that growing gap, and prepare youths for “the jobs of the future and [to] achieve their aspirations”, according to SCOGA’s President and Co-founder, Kelvin Tan.
Response to preliminary rounds of courses released by SCOGA has been enthusiastic, and the programmes (expected to be fully launched by June 2017), will be a mix of free and paid classes, including practice sessions and boot camps on game techniques and strategies by professional coaches.
A worthwhile consideration to note, is that in spite of a lack of professional training infrastructure and local recognition of esports as a serious competitive discipline (unlike counterparts in China and Korea), Singaporean talent have shown encouraging promise in the field.
Top-ranking players such as Ho Kun Xian, or “Xian” and Daryl “iceiceice” Koh, have made their mark in the international arenas, and a viable living of the business. Daryl is Singapore’s top earner in esports with winnings of over US$1 million in prize money, while Justin Bersamin, a SCOGA academy trainee recently drew over 4,000 views per session while live streaming—an income generation source that can earn professionals payouts of up to US$500,000, in China.