With countries around the world asking their citizens to stay at home to fight COVID-19, the gaming and e-sports (or electronic sports) industry has taken off.
However, even before the pandemic, there were expectations that gaming would grow exponentially not only in developed regions but also in fast-developing countries like Vietnam.
|Pro players like Le Quang Duy, also known as SofM, of the Chinese professional esport team Suning Gaming, is paid more than paid VND70 billion (US$3 million) per year. — Photo Riot Games|
Vietnam is an attractive growing market for the gaming industry because of high smartphone penetration, with more than 50 percent of the population using smartphones. High-speed internet coverage, including 4G networks, is also widespread, allowing users to play on the go.
Not just video games
Appearing in Vietnam nearly 20 years ago, video games have attracted many people thanks to the development of the internet and computers.
Do Viet Hung, general secretary of Vietnam Recreational and Electronic Sport Association (VIRESA), said that in order to be considered an electronic sport, there must be game rules, popularity, and competitiveness.
Out of millions of video games on computer or mobile platforms, there are more than 10 games recognized as e-sports, such as League of Legends, Mobile Legends, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds for mobile and personal computer version, Free Fire, League of Legends, Dota 2, Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA Online 4.
Once recognised, these games require competition rules and are widely available so that gamers can practice and compete according to the rules.
From there, it is possible to organise semi-professional and professional tournaments, and professional gamers, coaches, teams, and referees then gradually appear.
Mai Quynh Anh, head of the electronic department of Box Sports Joint Stock Company, said the company has five professional esport teams with more than 35 players. All of the athletes are professionally trained.
Beside training and the competitiveness of gamers, the organisation of tournaments is also carried out professionally.
In recent years, Vietnam has organised many e-sports tournaments at the provincial, regional and national levels.
This year, VIRESA plans on launching annual tournaments. The association will host professional and varsity level tournaments, Vietnam Esports Championship (VEC) and University Esport Championship (UEC).
VEC is designed with the purpose of recruiting Vietnamese representatives to compete in international arenas. Teams will have to register online at the tournament's official website and compete in city and provincial qualifiers before heading to regional and national events. UEC will be open to semi-professional players.
VIRESA has yet to decide which and how many games to include per league, but is considering 10 disciplines, featuring one PlayStation, and four computer and five mobile games.
Vietnam has also named esports as one of 40 disciplines of the 31st SEA Games, which is scheduled to be held from November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi.
Currently, the authorities are negotiating with representatives of sports delegations of regional countries to agree on the disciplines, with the desire to attract more national teams to participate.
Gamer is a job
Previously, games on PC or Mobile platforms were just games for entertainment, and players were called gamers. Now that esports have been recognised, professional gamers are also being recognised.
Nguyen Xuan Cuong, head of VIRESA, said that a professional gamer is a good job, but not everyone who can play video games can become a professional esport player.
It requires players to have standards such as sharp thinking and good health. Players must also go through the process of training and competition in a professional environment.
Professional esports players have a lot of benefits. They are trained and live in a highly disciplined environment, and learn to communicate and promote their image, and can get a high income.
Professional players include Le Quang Duy, also known as SofM, who plays for the Chinese professional esport team Suning Gaming and helped the team finish runner-up to DAMWON Gaming in the 2020 World Championship final in Shanghai in October.
After the tournament, the Chinese professional esport team re-signed the Vietnamese player for another season. He will continue to wear Suning Gaming's jersey during the 2021 League of Legends Pro League season.
According to NewsQQ, an online newspaper in China, SofM is paid more than VND70 billion (US$3 million) per year.
According to Cuong, esport professional players need to improve their personal achievements and add skills to build their social image. With such training, esports players will have an above-average income. VNS
The Vietnamese E-sport Championship and the University E-sport Championship will be held annually starting from this year, the Vietnam Recreational E-sport Association (VIRESA) announced on January 13.
Game distributors in Vietnam are focusing on eSports, which has had impressive growth rates in both players and viewers in the country.