Challenge accepted! October 2022 looks to be the battleground for all things video games, as two major events – Gamescom Asia and Dota 2’s The International (TI) – are seemingly line up against each other, but regardless of the winner, the ultimate champions are the gamers and the community.
First off, we have the big one: The International. As Dota’s biggest event on the competitive calendar, Valve’s selection of Singapore is a big coup as the host nation, especially since this is the first time that the event is taking place in Southeast Asia. While Singapore’s reputation as a video game nation isn’t as rich and endearing as say, South Korea, or Japan, this one single event will cast the world’s gaming spotlight on the Little Red Dot.
On the other end, we have Gamescom Asia, the satellite edition of Gamescom, the German video game trade fair regarded as one of the largest video games festival in the world. While the Asian edition isn’t as well regarded as the original, it can be the beneficiary of The International in October. At least, it should fare better than last year, when Gamescom Asia was held with the lesser known Gaming Matters to little impact. Both gaming events were held at Suntec City on the same days, which was something we questioned back then.
While there are no dates for TI this October, Gamescom Asia has already locked down the dates for their event, happening on the 3rd weekend of October, from the 20th to 23rd. While TI has no dates established, it will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and at the Suntec Arena. If we were to use 2021 as a point of reference, last year’s event was over 10 days, with the finals taking place on a Sunday. This means TI would likely be run between 6 – 16 October 2022, unless Valve wants to overlap with Gamescom Asia.
We figure that’s unlikely because of one organisation: the Singapore Tourism Board. STB is a partner for Gamescom Asia, and Geek Culture understands that STB had a role to play in luring Valve to host TI here, so it’s unlikely STB would want two gaming events to cannibalise each other.
Since Gamescom Asia will be held at the Suntec Convention Centre, it is likely that TI will take place before that to fit 10 days worth of competitive gameplay. These dates are optimal for the tournament as they would accommodate for two weekends in between. Combined, that’s three weekends of games, games and more games, with a huge focus on the gaming community here.
Given the strong attendance from the smaller gaming competitions here, there’s a huge chance that fans, players and enthusiasts alike will want to be present at Suntec during this time. And given the pedigree that TI attracts, we can be sure that international attendance will also be a strong presence, and knowing the camaraderie among the gaming community, everyone will want to gather and catch up in October.
Unless there’s a hiccup, so let’s just hope that last year’s brouhaha in Sweden doesn’t repeat itself.
Sweden was originally selected as the host nation last year’s TI, which saw a prize pool of US$40 million but due to visa restrictions, the event was moved to Romania instead. For anyone new to the competitive gaming scene, visa issues impact more than just the players, as the staff and talent are affected as well.
Visa approvals for all competing players have always been a thorn in the side of many professional organizations but given Singapore’s strength in hosting international events, including the likes of Formula 1, it shouldn’t be an issue. As far as visa requirements go, there’s actually a pretty short list of countries in which prior approval is required before entering Singapore.
At this juncture, the effort is two fold. Authorities would have to work quickly to ensure the visas are approved with minimal fuss. And it would require the teams to ensure their paperwork is in order upon qualification.
The spillover effect could see an upside for the local gaming community as well, in the form of esports teams establishing a home base in Singapore. It’s not unprecedented, as competitive gaming teams are moving, and in the case of reigning champions Team Spirit, they have relocated their operations to Belgrade, Serbia. Why not move here then to suss out the lay of the land?
Relocating to Singapore is one view that is also shared with Team Secrets CEO John Yao. In an interview, he explained his decision to relocate to Singapore and plans for esports in the region. Thus it might make sense for esports teams to make the best of their trip to Singapore to see if the island might be a viable location to set up shop to see how attractive it might be to figure into their future plans. For most who have visited Singapore, it’s hard to not fall in love with the country (no bias).
The only issue now would be the ever-evolving COVID situation. With the easing of restrictions in Singapore, most countries and visitors to the country enjoy quarantine-free travel as long as you’re vaccinated. And in the event COVID cases might rise, the Singapore government has given us the assurances these measures won’t be reverted to extreme measures.
But let’s never say never.
Should the dates match up, and the community gathers as indicated, this might be much needed shot in the arm to bring renewed focus to the regional gaming industry, which, while not TI’s forte, is something that Gamescom Asia is poised to help elevate.
What could really help is a meaty game announcement or global reveal to capitalise on the moment as millions of eyeballs would be trained onto Singapore. For the most part, the industry will need to have the resolve to seize this opportunity, especially for the relatively indie video game industry in Singapore.
For the big boys in the form of Ubisoft Singapore, there is the opportunity to get more gamers to sit up and take notice of the projects that the team has been working on locally. With the spillover traffic from the Dota community, this is a chance that studios should not pass up on.
If anything, the biggest winner of this all will be Singapore, which has been working hard to brand itself as a hub for all things cool especially on the events side. The folks at the Singapore Tourism Board would no doubt have their hands full with F1 2022 taking place at the end of September and leading into October as well.
Gerald currently straddles between his love of video games and board gaming. There’s nothing that interests him more than trying out the newest and fanciest gadget in town as well. He dreams of publishing a board game sometime in the future!