With a viewership that stands over 400 million people globally and continues to increase year over year, it simply cannot be denied any longer; Esports is big. The substantial growth that the sport has seen has also turned the heads of many within sports movement. And now on 16 December 2019, those two bodies are combining together to bring the sport forward with the worldwide launch of the Global Esports Federation.
The Global Esports Federation (GEF) will be the first-ever global governing body for the esports ecosystem. This will consist of athletes, sports organisations, commercial partners and other constituents.
GEF’s global launch was held in Singapore, with Singapore National Olympic Council secretary-general Chris Chan being formally announced to be President. Working alongside him will be Charmaine Crooks, a five-time Olympian and Board member of the Canadian Olympic Committee as well as Wei Jizhong, who is Honorary Life Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia. Both will be occupying the role of Vice President.
At the launch, Mr Chris Chan spoke about how Esports will be following the same values that have guided traditional sports. He hopes that with the launch of the GEF, these values will help legitimise the sport and give it credibility in a climate where he describes it to be “misunderstood”.
Helping him in this endeavour is Mr Edward Cheng, who is Vice President of Tencent, currently the world’s largest gaming company and also the parent company to Riot Games, developers of the wildly popular League of Legends which is a mainstay in the Esports culture.
Tencent will be the Founding Global Partner for the GEF and capped off the launch with the signing of an agreement between the two organisations. Mr Cheng, who will also serve as a Vice President of the GEF, further reiterated the commitment from Tencent and believes that this partnership “will unleash the unlimited possibilities of sports in the Digital Age”.
The event was witnessed by a number of important people, consisting of board members in the GEF, representatives from the global esports, sporting and commercial community as well as Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth — who is also no stranger to esports, having attended various esports-related events in the past.
With the launch of the GEF, the hard work starts now. Chief among them would be the creation of their flagship Global Esports Games, which would be an annual competition to be staged starting next year in 2020. Information is scarce at the moment regarding next year’s Games, with preparations still underway at finding a country to host the event.
Additionally, the GEF will also seek to establish an athlete commission whose objective is to ensure that the standards of fair play are kept to a high degree, along with following the anti-doping practices that is seen for traditional sports.
As of now, membership into the GEF is open to a number of organisations, including sports (national and international), commercial (publishers, developers, sponsors and event organisers) and non-commercial (cities and non-governmental organisations).
The Esports inclusion into the SEA Games has been seen as a watershed moment for the medium. Now with the formation of the GEF, Esports has now been thrust into the mainstream, and with this marriage with traditional sports, Esports will no doubt be even bigger than before.
Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC team.