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How women are driving the growth of esports in South East Asia

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By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 18, 2022 | 8 min read

As part of Women’s History Month, The Drum speaks to Carlos Alimurung, chief executive officer of One Esports, to find out why women are driving the growth of esports, especially in South East Asia.

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As the number of women in esports and gaming continues to grow, marketers and content creators need to offer inclusive content / One Esports

Women account for almost half of the esports community in the South East Asia region today because of the widespread adoption of mobile phones and the rise of new players in the video streaming market, which have enabled easier access to more gaming titles and esports content.

One Esports recently hosted the first-ever Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational (MWI), one of the biggest events in the history of women’s esports.

The MWI championship finals generated 392,000 peak concurrent viewers, which – according to Esports Charts – set a new global record for women’s esports events.

Why are women driving the growth of esports, especially in South East Asia?

The female community is one of the fastest-growing segments in gaming and esports, particularly in South East Asia. This rapid growth can be attributed to the widespread adoption of mobile phones and the growth in the video streaming market. These factors have enabled easier access to gaming content, especially within the female community.

Women are making a big impact on the industry. Today, female fans account for 49% of the gaming and esports market in South East Asia. Our research found that 87% of female fans prefer mobile games, with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and PUBG Mobile being the top gaming titles played and watched among female fans in South East Asia.

The growth and penetration of mobile gaming in Asia have fueled the growth of the female community, and it has enabled mobile esports to break records. For example, the championship finals of the recent Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational (MWI) hosted by One Esports generated 392,000 peak concurrent viewers, setting a new viewership record and making it one of the largest events in the history of women’s esports, according to Esports Charts.

We expect the market to get more competitive as more triple-A game developers enter the mobile games market here, which will further accelerate the sector’s growth. Currently Arena of Valor, Call of Duty Mobile, Free Fire and Wild Rift are popular mobile titles among women in this region.

What is One Esports doing to reach out to women to bring them into the sport?

One Esports offers a full content stack for esports, and we help brands connect and authentically engage with the female community. We host some of the world’s biggest esports events. We also own and operate oneesports.gg, which is the biggest esports news site in South East Asia and top five globally, and we also have an analytics and insights team that publishes proprietary esports reports.

We partnered with Moonton to host the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational (MWI) to empower and celebrate women in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang esports ecosystem, with a platform to compete and showcase their skills, passion and achievements. The all-women event shattered records and became the most-watched women’s esports event of all time.

We have covered the stories of the world’s and region’s best female esports personalities and athletes. The editorial staff of oneesports.gg have always shared and celebrated the stories of strong female talent who draw our attention, capture our imagination and tug at our heartstrings.

Some women we have shone a spotlight on include Duan ‘Candice’ Yu-Shuang, the LPL host of the Chinese League of Legends Pro League at international LoL esports events for the past few years; Carla ‘FoxRots’ Vergara, a popular Filipina cosplayer; and ‘pindaPanda’ Dorji, a Bhutanese content creator who has been making a name for herself in the Dota 2. We have also published bigger features of influential women in esports, such as ‘Five women who are making esports history.’

As the number of women in esports and gaming continues to grow, marketers and content creators need to offer inclusive content that resonates with a wider audience. Understanding their needs, values, preferences and behavior is key to connecting with them and growing the community. One Esports is well equipped to help brands build a sincere relationship with this core segment.

One Esports’ analytics and insights team conducted extensive research and identified several key areas that set women apart from male fans.

Firstly, we found that bonding and recognition within the community are important to women. Women seek social interaction with the community, looking to bond with like-minded people and make new friends. Their motivation to improve is not only about rank advancement but also about gaining approval from their friends in the community. Furthermore, many women see esports and gaming as an avenue for self-expression. Some use cosplay to share their love for their favorite characters, while for others it is a way to showcase a different side of themselves.

The more we demystify the female esports community, the more determined we are to build the best esports content for this growing demographic. Female fans show distinct preferences for certain touchpoints and content compared to male fans, and One Esports is armed with the necessary data and insights to help determine the right platform, content and influencers to choose to attract them.

What are some key insights about women from Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational that marketers can learn?

One Esports recently hosted the first-ever Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Women’s Invitational (MWI) in partnership with Moonton. The online tournament serves as a competitive platform to empower women and encourage them to showcase their skills.

According to Esports Charts, the event is one of the largest events in the history of women’s esports, with the MWI championship finals generating 392,000 peak concurrent viewers and setting a new viewership record.

Our analytics and insights team gathered fan findings from MWI to track how fans responded to the tournament. Our research found that viewers had a positive event experience, with many describing the event as “exciting.” Some of the top reasons why fans watched the MWI were to support the sister team of their favorite MPL team, support women in esports and watch an all-women tournament. 89% of the survey respondents indicated that they have a more favorable view of One Esports for supporting women in esports. We also discovered that there is demand for all-women tournaments, with 91% of respondents hoping to see more of such tournaments in the future.

We also found that viewers had a favorable impression of our partners DBS and Petron with the willingness to recommend. After seeing them sponsor MWI, 89% said their impression of DBS improved and 88% said their impression of Petron improved.

There are countless opportunities for brands to engage this growing audience, and we welcome brands to join us on our mission to create opportunities for women throughout the esports ecosystem.

What are One Esports’ plans for women esports athletes?

We are always listening to what our fans and the wider community want, so you can certainly expect to see more all-women events coming up.

At One Esports, our mission is to share and celebrate the stories of esports heroes who ignite the world with strength, hope, dreams and inspiration. We are committed to empowering women by increasing access and representation within esports, as well as providing opportunities for them to break the mold.

We will continue to use our platform to shine a spotlight on the future female esports stars of tomorrow. We will also continue to conduct extensive research to better understand the needs, values, preferences and behavior of this community to better serve them.

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