2020 was a banner year for esports as gaming became the only ‘competitive sport’ with Covid-19 lockdown measures in place. Carlos Alimurung, the chief executive of mixed martial arts organisation One Championship-owned One Esports tells The Drum what the industry can expect from the organisation in 2021.
Pointing out that esports was born online, Alimurung says to a certain extent, One Esports’ ‘response’ was to execute the strategy that it had established pre-Covid-19. He explains the organisation stayed true to its mission to share and celebrate the stories of esports heroes who ignite the world with strength, hope, dreams, and inspiration.
“In 2020, we included more streaming-only competitions and more short-form and long-form storytelling,” he says.
“Last year, we were successful in providing our brand and distribution partners with the most complete, integrated, and effective media platform to connect and engage with the esports community.”
Alimurung notes that in tough times when budgets are being slashed because of the economic downturn, there is always a flight to quality by brands, with many looking to invest in esports. Janine Dietzel, the experiential marketing manager at Porsche Asia Pacific recently took The Drum inside the carmaker’s esports strategy.
In 2020, Alimurung says brands including DBS, HP, Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, Intel, JBL, Lazada, Logitech, Red Bull, Samsung, Toyota, Tumi, and Unilever, have chosen to partner with One Esports.
“Covid-19 hasn’t changed how we work with our partners. It always starts with learning and listening to their priorities, the stories they want to tell, and the values they evangelize. Then we collaborate with them on how ONE Esports can deliver the results they require,” he explains.
“We consistently hear from our partners that they like our working model, which arrives at the right combination of experiences and engagements, and our full-spectrum platform, which ensures that those experiences and engagements wow the right people at the right time.”
Since launching in late 2019, One Esports has invested heavily in an esports media platform, with its team and business designed to champion esports, its athletes, and its fans in South East Asia.
To win the hearts and minds of the esports community, the platform aims to offer an integrated experience comprising events, esports coverage on oneesports.gg, engagement on social media, and long-form and streaming content.
For example, One Esports consistently features fan-created art, videos, cosplay, and memes and promotes it across its platform. One Championship has also signed a partnership deal Facebook to distribute its content on the platform and promote its athletes.
The deal will see One’s content shown on Facebook Watch, create a Facebook Gaming channel in which One’s athletes will stream gameplay and gaming commentary. In addition, One’s virtual reality content to the venues app will be hosted on the Oculus platform.
Alimurung claims the company’s investment has enabled it to aggregate the most engaged and passionate audience within esports, noting its community spends more money on gaming, consumes more content, and games more intensely than the average esports fan.
“Our analysis indicates that a One Esports fan spends US$33 per month on gaming, which is significantly higher than the US$18 per month that an average esports fan in South East Asia spends,” he says.
“Furthermore, the average One Esports fan consumes 7.1 hours of gaming and esports video or streaming content per month versus the 3.8 hours of content consumed per month by the average esports fan.”
With Singapore entering Phase 3 where pandemic restrictions are eased, businesses are now looking to hold live events without compromising on safety.
In One Championship’s MMA event held in October 2020, which was Singapore’s first live event since the pandemic, the event used individual zones that acted as ‘bubbles’, with their own gate for entrance and exit, and bathroom facilities to separate different groups of event attendees.
The zoning was complemented by strict screening measures that required event attendees to undergo compulsory antigen rapid tests on the day of the event and then produce a valid negative test certificate before entry.
Alimurung says what makes a live event successful in the post-Covid-19 world is not too different than what made a live event successful prior to the pandemic and post pandemic, One Esports will remain committed to our mission to share and celebrate the stories of esports heroes.
“Yes, there will be more safety protocols, but the live experiences that are innovative, engaging, and interactive will continue to be attractive. For example, at One Esports, we define the fan experience broadly. We constantly challenge ourselves to integrate and enhance live events with the other pillars of our platform,” he explains.
“The future of live events, whether it is in esports or traditional sports, will integrate a wider set of content, experiences, and engagements before, during, and after the event. This will certainly require technology and connectivity, and the coming of 5G brings us closer to that reality.”