E-Sports Culture in Asia

In major competitive games like Starcraft, Overwatch, League of Legends, and DOTA 2, players from Asia always seem to win tournaments with relative ease. Domination over the world’s best players is not achieved solely by coincidence. Instead, there are real social factors different from the western world that make Asian players so talented. 

According to newzoo.com, there are over 9.5 million e-sports enthusiasts in southeast Asia as of 2016. That number is expected to double by 2019. This is largely due to the fact that e-sports has already been engrained to the national culture in places like South Korea, China, and Taiwan.

South Korea in particular was the first to embrace competitive gaming as a genuine sport, and are largely responsible for ushering the sport into global popularity. The country got so into e-sports that business owners established internet cafes (also known as PC Bangs) so people can come in and play on high powered gaming PCs for a small fee. In the city of Seoul, PC Bangs are found on almost every block. Some regulars even spend the nights there, practicing endlessly on LoL or DOTA 2. Internet cafes are only beginning to sprout up in the US.

In tournaments, the top 3 earning countries according to esportsearnings.com, are China, US, and South Korea. What is misleading about this stat is that the US has over 8,000 players battling it out in tournaments, while both China and South Korea have less than a fourth of that number. This shows that only a small elite from Asian countries dominate when it comes to tournament winnings.

In one LoL tournament,  a South Korean team known as Samsung White were deemed as the clear favorites. They ended up winning the finals, but were criticized for not having one by a large enough margin. Asia’s cultural infrastructure that has been centered around e-sports years before anyone else is what makes them so feared and respected by other countries.