Hong Kong eS­ports fes­ti­val a knock­out for gam­ing fans

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Hun­dreds of youth­ful fans cheered on some of the world’s best-known video game play­ers as they com­peted in a cy­ber bat­tle dur­ing Hong Kong’s first ever large-scale eS­ports fes­ti­val Fri­day. The event comes at a time when pro­fes­sional gam­ing is gain­ing global trac­tion as an of­fi­cial in­ter­na­tional sport. It will be a medal-sport at the 2022 Asian Games to be held in China, the world’s sec­ond largest sport­ing event be­hind the Olympics.

Gam­ing vet­er­ans got a rock star in­tro­duc­tion as they were wel­comed on stage at the in­door Hong Kong Coli­seum Fri­day with a boom­ing py­rotech­nic dis­play, as fans went wild. The three-day tour­na­ment pits teams of ex-pro­fes­sional play­ers from Spain, Ger­many, China, the United States and Hong Kong against each other in “League of Le­gends” matches. Play­ers com­pet­ing in the mas­sively pop­u­lar on­line game con­trol char­ac­ters with dif­fer­ent fight­ing abil­i­ties as they take down de­fen­sive units and op­po­nents while try­ing to de­stroy each oth­ers’ bases.

Fans cheered for the play­ers seated on stage, whose im­ages were also beamed onto large screens to the sta­dium crowd at the event, dubbed the eS­ports and Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. Lead­ing play­ers, many of whom have gru­el­ing train­ing reg­i­mens, can make mega bucks play­ing in tour­na­ments which can of­fer more than US$1,000,000 in prize money. “You pretty much have no free time, your free time is League of Le­gends as well so you’re play­ing the whole time and think­ing about the game and watch­ing re­plays,” well known League of Le­gends player En­rique CedeÒo Martinez, known by his han­dle xPeke, said.

De­spite his team’s loss to play­ers from Hong Kong, Ma­cau and Taiwan in the three hour open­ing match of the tour­na­ment, a queue of fans formed to take selfies with the 25-year-old Spa­niard who has won mul­ti­ple tour­na­ments around the world. “In the end it’s not that phys­i­cal but it is as men­tally de­mand­ing as a sport is,” Martinez’s team­mate Lauri Hap­po­nen, from Fin­land, known as Cyanide, said. Video game fan and stu­dent Gabriella Le­ung, 20, who was at the event said the com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment in pro­fes­sional gam­ing made it a sport, but that peo­ple may have mis­con­cep­tions about it.

“What is im­por­tant is that peo­ple get to know eS­ports and that peo­ple won’t as­sume that those play­ing games are use­less youths or can’t study,” she said.

“Strip­ping away th­ese con­cepts is more im­por­tant than rec­og­niz­ing it as a sport.” The fes­ti­val, which ends on Sun­day and is ex­pected to draw up to 50,000 peo­ple, will also be fea­tur­ing per­for­mances by Korean pop stars in­clud­ing bands EXO and SU­PER JU­NIOR.—AFP

HONG KONG: Fans at­tend the eS­ports and Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Hong Kong.—AFP pho­tos

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