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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Smart GIGA arena kicks off MLBB team tournament 

Philippines — Players and fans of the widely popular mobile game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang can now unleash their skills and take it to the next level as Smart kicks off a series of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Street League tournaments on its all-in-one esports platform, GIGA Arena at gigaarena.smart.

The tournament will run from May to December, and the series of tournaments are open to all players at all skill levels, giving participants a chance to win from a Php 50,000 prize pool.

Interested players need to create an account on the dedicated website for the tourney, and avail of any GIGA GAMES promo to earn tickets that will be used to register for the tournaments. The first wave of registration was open last May 27 for the first open qualifiers that happened on May 28. For succeeding tournaments, interested players must visit the dedicated website for the tournament (gigaarena.smart/tournament).

Smart GIGA Arena’s series of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang tournaments is in line with its long-standing support for Philippine esports to cultivate the passion, skill, and talent of Filipino gamers.

Aside from organizing the country’s biggest esports events and backing Filipino esports athletes, Smart also supports gamers with relevant data offers and services, such as the enhanced GIGA Games, a data-packed offer that enables Filipinos to play their favourite games, such as Mobile Legends.

Smart subscribers enjoy levelled-up gaming experiences powered by the fastest 5G mobile network according to Ookla, the mobile and broadband network intelligence.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

PH telco giant Smart launches GIGA Arena with ML exhibition match

Manila, Philippines – To celebrate the launch of Smart GIGA Arena, an online arcade and esports tournament platform, the Philippine-based telco hosted an exhibition match last 9 March 2022, which features some of the best Filipino esports players and content creators of mobile game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (ML).

During the exhibition match, the pro esports team Smart Omega took on the Smart Dream Team, which was led by cosplayer and gamer Alodia Gosiengfiao, as well as included streamers and content creators Dexie Diaz, Ghostwrecker, Nix, and Pabbie Gaming.

After tying the match at one game apiece, the pros followed that up by proving their mettle and professional pedigree in the third game. It was a competitive bout that lasted almost 20 minutes, and Omega took it to the Dream Team’s base again.

On top of the amazingly competitive three games between Smart Omega and the Dream Team, some lucky viewers of the stream also came away with special Mobile Legends skins just by watching and registering to Smart GIGA Arena.

The telco said, “Smart subscribers who are also gamers and esports enthusiasts can enjoy the same kind of intense and exciting Mobile Legends action, as well as more of their favourite mobile games, on Smart’s GIGA Arena platform.”

On Smart GIGA Arena, subscribers can link up with their friends and play in tournaments to rank up and win cash prizes. They can also play arcade games, buy diamonds and other in-game currency, and watch footage and streams of events on the platform.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

SG crypto platform Coinhako marks first-ever Ethereum-funded esports sponsorship

Singapore – With cryptocurrencies being well-known across mainstream sectors and industries, many organizations and brands across the world are slowly favoring these virtual currencies as part of the new economy. 

This is evident with the latest endeavor from SG-based cryptocurrency platform Coinhako as it made its first ever cryptocurrency sponsorship to esports team ALMGHTY using Ethereum, one of the well-known cryptocurrencies globally.

Ethereum is the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by means of market capitalization, following Bitcoin. Said sponsorship, which is also the first-ever cryptocurrency-funded esports sponsorship in Singapore, will run from July 2021 until the next esports cycle in July 2022.

The sponsorship will see ALMGHTY leverage the large regional fanbases of their players on social media to drive Coinhako’s presence throughout Southeast Asia. This will cover Twitch streams, Facebook and Instagram content by the ALMGHTY team and players. The official FY 21/22 ALMGHTY jersey for the players will also sport the Coinhako logo.

ALMGHTY, an esports team primarily playing Mobile Legends, is managed by global digital talent and marketing group Gushcloud International and its gaming talent management unit, Nixgen Entertainment.

The team is composed of 17-year old Gerrard Ng Zheng Wei(Nexqt); 18-year old Javier Tan (Sky); 19-year old Chai Mun Jun (Jun); 22-year old Foo Jieyu (Risen); and 17-year old Randall Tay Guan Pin (Bush). They enjoy a dedicated regional social media and live streaming following as a group, with more than 11 million fans in Southeast Asia alone.

For Yusho Liu, co-founder and CEO at Coinhako, the sponsorship will provide a boost in reaching a younger, mobile-first generation, and raising awareness through talented players in Singapore’s gaming industry. He added that this is part of the platform’s focus to move forward in making cryptocurrencies accessible throughout Asia.

“The decision to embark on the first cryptocurrency funded sponsorship in esports, and the first by a crypto firm in Singapore, wasn’t a difficult one to make as it merges two of the hottest topics of 2021, i.e. cryptocurrencies and e-sports. Furthermore, as a homegrown company, we believe in supporting local talents which make Singapore proud on the regional stage. The multi-talented ALMGHTY squad certainly embodies these elements and Coinhako is excited to embark on this sponsorship with ALMGHTY,” Liu stated.

Joanne Liew, chief studios and entertainment officer at Gushcloud, also commented, “ALMGHTY is proud to welcome Coinhako onboard as our first cryptocurrency sponsor in Singapore. Gaming and cryptocurrency share a lot of similarities, with a heavily tech-driven user base. In line with Coinhako’s position as the Lion City’s leading crypto trading platform, the ALMGHTY team is equally driven to emerge as winners, together reaching a younger audience base.” 

Collaborations between cryptocurrency giants and the sports industry have risen in popularity over the past few months, including Coinbase and first-player shooter (FPS) game CS:GO, mixed martial arts (MMA) company UFC and Crypto.com, to name a few.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

New report shows PH esports still grasping for mainstream success amid rising popularity

Manila, Philippines – While the esports scene industry in the Philippines has been thriving, thanks to a combination of local area network (LAN) gaming centers or more known as ‘computer shops’ and mobile gaming accessibility, the industry has seen its fair share of struggles maintaining mainstream focus, a new report from strategic advisory firm YCP Solidiance shows.

According to the report, the local industry has yet to prove that esports titles hold a lifespan long enough to support professional players’ careers, unlike traditional sports that have a long-proven history of consistent returns and established fan support. In contrast, international leagues such as The Overwatch League and League of Legends: League Championship Series have successfully proven their success in other countries, paving ways for a profitable future for the Philippine esports market.

On the other hand, while these esports tournaments have yet to see themselves ‘ripen’ in the local scene, the esports industry in the Philippines currently has over 43 million active gamers, a number growing steadily by 12.9% yearly since 2017. The country’s most played game, Mobile Legends, reached a whopping peak of 2.65 million active users daily (from data by the Google Play store in April 2019), and has shown consistent growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9%.

The report also suggests that in order for the esports industry to thrive in the country, they need to combine three elements: content, packaging, and accessibility. In the case of establishing an esports league tournament in the country, for instance, the Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) in the Philippines, they have one of the highest levels of Mobile Legends competitive play that is accessible today in the country.

“Even better is that it shows a marked improvement, exponentially growing the viewership number from the previous seasons, and a growing loyalty amongst its viewers as seen with the returning support after multiple editions of the tournament. Though more outside investments and direct sponsorship support is not yet prevalent, it stands to reason that future editions of the tournament will very likely catch the eye of many non-endemic sponsors,” the report stated.

They added that at the end of the day, it is a ‘delicate balancing act’ that requires concrete efforts on all ends to make sure all bases are covered. Such efforts require considerable investments, but when these are done right, successes such as the one Mobile Legends has shown is a definite possibility. 

“Especially now that Mobile Legends’ success along the way is converting many nonparticipants of esports into potential audiences of tomorrow, the esports industry in the Philippines has never looked more approachable and primed to succeed in the coming years,” the report concluded.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

PH telco Smart partners with game dev Moonton for MPL Season 7

Manila, Philippines – Philippine telecommunications company Smart Communications (Smart) has partnered anew with Moonton, a Chinese video game developer and publisher, to be its official telco associate for the upcoming season of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League (MPL), which is the largest mobile esports league in the Philippines.

The MPL Season 7 will see 10 of the country’s top Mobile Legends esports teams compete, namely Aura PH, Onic PH, and Cignal Ultra, as well as Smart Omega Esports, and the defending champion Bren Esports, among others.

The teams will battle in a round-robin format for a chance to win the coveted championship title and a US$120K cash prize.

The telco company will stream the matches live on its Facebook page. Smart subscribers and esports fans are encouraged to watch the live stream for a chance to win exciting prizes, as well as receive exclusive updates, and freebies throughout the season.

Smart has previously partnered with Moonton, where the telco hosted events and gaming treats for Mobile Legends fans in 2017. Earlier this year, Smart has also supported Moonton’s M2 World Championship, where Filipino team Bren Esports won the top prize.

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Platforms Featured APAC

AdColony wins sponsorship deal with Mobile Legends through game consultancy partnership

Singapore – Mobile ad platform AdColony has announced that it has struck a sponsorship deal with the popular mobile game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang through a partnership with Mana, a Singapore-based gaming and esports brand consultancy firm.

The partnership entails AdColony to offer brands in Southeast Asia a streamlined approach to sponsorship and advertising in esports alongside their investment in gaming. In addition, brands who wish to amplify its presence with mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League (MPL) esports can turn to AdColony as a one-stop shop, powered by its comprehensive expertise and offering in in-app advertising.

Furthermore, AdColony’s integrated advertising technology platform allows targeting and retargeting of consumers between esports and gaming properties, meaning brands can reach audiences at multiple different points of the marketing funnel, across different ad types and formats, even bringing e-commerce into play.

For Tom Simpson, SVP at AdColony APAC, their recent sponsorship deal will allow them to be “hyper-focused on connecting brands with consumers across gaming and esports”, noting that “this partnership is an important pillar for 2021.”

“Mobile Legends is one of the key games to unlock the esports market in Southeast Asia. This partnership with Moonton enables us to help brands interact more easily with the growing passionate and engaged mobile esports audience alongside their ongoing investments in broader gaming-focused advertising and communications,” Simpson said.

Such sponsorship deals speak to a larger demand brought by the esports industry nowadays. It is estimated that by 2023, it is expected that the number of frequent viewers of esports worldwide will hit almost 300 million, a vast increase from the 173 million in 2018. In addition, a report by consultancy firm McKinsey addresses the monetary growth in the esports industry as it has gone from $950 million in industry revenue in 2019 to an expected $1.1 billion after 2020.

AdColony notes that mobile tech and handset manufacturers, male grooming, soft drinks, and snacks are the most common and active brands in esports at the moment, and price wars have been prevalent in markets such as Vietnam and Indonesia for premium esports rights, as brands are willing to pay a premium to lock out their competitors for extended periods.

“AdColony aims to simplify this process of esports rights and sponsorships price discovery and sponsorship for brands,” Simpson said, noting that many of these esports sponsorship opportunities get locked out due to competition.

Esports tournaments are still in demand, and have migrated online due to the offset of last year’s pandemic. According to Moonton, the game developer behind Mobile Legends, viewership levels in 2020 have set a record level in Indonesia, peaking at over 2.8 million concurrent viewers with over 67 million hours watched in total. The Philippines MPL also reportedly had a peaked viewership of over 757,000 concurrent viewers and over 21 million total hours watched.

“This partnership with Moonton comes hot on the heels of the news that AdColony and Mana, the Singapore-based gaming and esports brand consultancy firm that connects brands with the gaming and esports industries, has teamed up to help brands simplify the way they can get involved in the global gaming and esports ecosystem”, commented Jamie Lewin from Mana

In November 2020, AdColony also signed an exclusive partnership with global in-game advertising platform, Anzu, to offer Anzu’s market-leading blended in-game advertising solutions across both display and video to brands and agencies in Asia Pacific.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Game dev Moonton unveils Manny Pacquiao as new ‘Mobile Legends’ ambassador

Manila, Philippines – China-based game developer Moonton has tapped Filipino professional boxer Manny Pacquiao to become the new face of the company’s game, Mobile Legends.

The campaign started out with a teaser on Mobile Legends’ YouTube channel, where the video shows boxing material elements like boxing gloves and punching bags, with an announcer voice-over revealing the new collaboration with “The fighting pride of the Philippines.”  

The teaser uploaded by Mobile Legends on November 13, hinting the inclusion of another in-game hero (Video Courtesy of Mobile Legends YouTube channel)

In a virtual press conference, Pacquiao shared his excitement with the new partnership, and took note of the growth of the local esports community.

“It is an amazing experience [since] I have seen how much the esports community in the Philippines has grown [and] how much the gaming community has embraced Mobile Legends Bang Bang, and with their skills, have elevated the game,” Pacquiao stated.

He added, “The dedication, the focus, the hard work that comes with building skills–these are present both in [actual] sports and esports. More importantly, that drive to succeed and conquer, as well as the spirit of camaraderie and fairness are also key threads binding the two.”

The recent company move is in line with its ongoing Project NEXT initiative, which seeks to provide “revamp” of the game’s original characters and improving them. As part of the campaign, Mobile Legends is launching a new hero based on Manny Pacquiao called “Paquito” which features boxing skills, with “damage” and “chase” specialty.

A Mobile Legends gameplay featuring the new “Paquito” hero, resembling Manny Pacquiao (Video Courtesy of OzaRess YouTube channel)

“Playing Mobile Legends has become a daily routine to all the [Filipinos]. The Philippine culture also provides a steady stream for the inspiration of in-game updates and collaborations,” William Mei, marketing manager of Moonton stated.