Leading Esports gaming team NKT are partnering with The Par Phuket Hotel to establish an Esports development centre which will strive to help youngsters better understand professional gaming and provide opportunity to develop their skills to the extent that they are able to compete on the world stage.
At an official press conference at the The Par Phuket Hotel in Kathu yesterday, President of the Phuket Sports Association Thammawat Wongchareonyot and Dumrong Chaisena, Office Director Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) Phuket Province, witnessed a memorandum of understanding signed between Pakin Rueksue, owner of The Par Phuket Hotel, and Jumpon Tuitan, CEO and founder of NKT, to establish and develop the centre.
The centre, to be located at the Par Phuket Hotel, will provide opportunities to Thai youths via an academy-style teaching course that provides an understanding on the industry of Esports and how a potentially lucrative career can be forged. It will also provide the opportunity for parents to learn more about the sport and how it can offer their children a professional career while helping promote Thailand and generating income for the country.
“It is good that The Par Phuket Hotel can be a part of the country’s human resource development and can be a place to help build understanding among youths and parents. I am very glad to take part in this project,” Mr Pakin said.
Mr Jumpon commented, “We are delighted to select Phuket as the venue for our first pilot project to teach the basics and focus on the development of careers in Esports.
“The Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization has given us the opportunity to organise this Digital Innovation Business and E-Sports Promotion Project that will create new business innovations and opportunities,” he added.
“Thailand is beginning to take more notice of the Esports industry and is increasingly encouraging its youth to become a part of it. It is a sector that can offer a very real career for its participants and that can generate significant income into the country. As the popularity of the sport continues to grow so does the revenue and opportunity attached to it.
“As such, we are committed to building an Esports learning centre to continue to grow the understanding and reputation of the sport while promoting digital innovation and building a team that is truly capable of competing and representing Asia in the global CS:GO (Counter Strike:Global Offensive) gaming league.”
Mr Jumpon added that he hopes the centre can also go some way to helping educate and change people’s perception of the sport where its participants are often unfairly tagged as “game addicts”.
“We want to create a new image more along the lines of businessman and professional athlete,” he said.
“Phuket is our launch venue but we hope to set up similar centres in Bangkok and Chiang Mai in the near future,” he added.
NKT has invested more than B140 million in the development of its gaming athletes from all over Asia to compete in the world renowned event of CS:GO, one of the most popular games universally. The majority of its athletes are Thai, many of whom hold top-level degrees from major Universities, although it also has members from Indonesia, Mongolia, South Korea and Singapore. The collective NKT team is ranked number 1 in Southeast Asia and sits in the top three in Asia with an impressive win rate of over 80% and win streak of 13 games in a row.
Global Esports revenues are expected to exceed US$1 billion (B33.8bn) this year, according to Newzoo’s 2021 Global Esports & Live Streaming Market Report.
The world’s richest professional competitive gamer is 28-year-old Johan Sundstein from Denmark who to date has earned close to US$7 million since turning professional in 2015.
The top-earning Thai player to date is Anucha Jirawong who has netted US$685,188 from his professional gaming career.
Whereas there is widespread criticism that Esports is not strictly a sport, participants claim they train to a similarly intense level as traditional athletes and require exemplary hand-eye coordination, dexterity, teamwork, and mental endurance.
There are ongoing calls for Esports to be included in the Olympics but thus far the IOC has rebuffed requests. However, they did lend support this year for the first-ever “Olympic Virtual Series” in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 games and has intimated that there may be a possibility it is included in the 2028 Games to be staged in Los Angeles.