When someone identifies themselves as a ‘gamer’, there’s an imagery that comes to mind: someone who sits long hours at the computer playing games and eating junk food. But that has changed very quickly since large companies started getting on board with sponsorships.
An e-athlete is an actual designation given to a professional gamer. These individuals spend long hours practising with their teammates so that they can stay on top of their competitors, win serious prize money and lucrative endorsement deals with top computer brands. It may seem like a stretch to call it the world of e-sports, but that is exactly what it is. At the League of Legends World Championship in 2016, the event counted 43 million unique viewers!
In Brunei, the traffic count is much smaller when it comes to e-sports events, but that does not take the attention away from a dedicated group of gamers who put in the hard work to run their own e-sports competition.
Building an e-sports community through events
Take the Brunei E-Sports Tournament (BEST) 2017, which is the biggest gaming event in the sultanate in recent years. The event attracted more than 500 players from across the country, a majority of whom signed up for CSGO, Tekken and football game Fifa 18.
GameOn’s founder Amar Agus Din, who has been an advocate in developing the Brunei gaming scene, said that BEST 2017 aims to provide Brunei’s pro gamers with a platform to compete in high-profile leagues that could rival those in Borneo.
Amar also hoped that this annual event would help create public awareness on the massive gaming and e-sports industry.
Goodfellas and UNIKATS
The influx of support coming from both government and the private sector to fund gaming tournaments has led to a resurgence in local gaming teams that travel overseas to compete. One of the more prominent e-sports teams in Brunei calls themselves Goodfellas. In September 2017, the five-man team was crowned champion of the Borneo E-Arena Tournament 2017 in Kota Kinabalu after beating two teams from Malaysia in the famous first-person shooter game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO).
The team’s reputation for being Brunei’s top CSGO team is felt in the gaming community. Many have tried to beat them while others wished they could be part of this dream team.
Hawaii Yee, the team’s manager, said that the Goodfellas has been carrying the Brunei flag in many regional tourneys ever since the local elite gamers joined forces about four years ago.
They maintain their reputation by encouraging members to constantly push the limits. In doing so, it would inspire others to do the same.
Other notable gaming elites who have been getting a lot of attention in the community lately are the UNIKATS. This all-female ensemble has been a formidable opponent in an arena long dominated by males in both first-person shooter and strategy games, such as Defense of the Ancients and League of Legends.
While the events generate a lot of short-term publicity, a long-term goal would be to have an e-sports association to represent the growing community of competitive gamers. Yee said that this first step would allow Brunei to push further into the global gaming scene.
“In other countries like Malaysia and Singapore, the gaming associations provide support for their respective communities. If there is a match in the Philippines for instance, the association would notify its counterpart there that their team is coming to play,” he said.
The gaming community may not have their association yet but they are definitely going to get there one day.
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