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Singtel, Razer and partners to hold e-sports tournament in Singapore in October

SINGTEL will be investing further in the electronic gaming business, in a bid to grow its digital content business in the region.

It has announced a tie-up with partners such as video game company Blizzard, gaming tech brand Razer, online media group Sea Ltd's Garena and e-sports organiser MET from the Mineski Group, to hold an Asia-Pacific video game contest in Singapore in October.

E-sports will allow Singtel to produce and distribute new forms of content, Singtel international group CEO Arthur Lang told a briefing on Tuesday. He said that this could be through its over-the-top and linear-TV channels within its regional network and added that the company is "looking to talk to third parties" for distribution elsewhere.

He noted that about 25 per cent of the business now comes from non-telco operations and, citing the company's data analytics and broadband businesses, he added: "All these are very complementary to the gaming world."

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Singtel could, for example, potentially partner game publishers for marketing. Mr Lang said: "We know which games are popular among our customers."

Video games offer "a lot of possibilities in the core business", he remarked.

Besides "fundamental" contributions to revenue such as through mobile and broadband data consumption, e-sports might in future contribute to turnover through dedicated price plans or even events organising, he said.

But he added that such contributions look set to be relatively small for now.

Elsewhere in South-east Asia, Singtel's Philippine telco associate Globe and Indonesian associate Telkomsel have already kicked off e-sports initiatives. Globe unveiled its Globe Gaming arm in April this year, while Telkomsel backed the Indonesia Games Championship in March.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of a memorandum of understanding inked in May between Singtel and Razer to work together in areas such as e-sports and electronic payments.

Mr Lang said, when asked by The Business Times, that Singtel and Razer - which he called "our solid partner" - are "working very hard" on the e-payments collaboration but added that "there are some regulatory questions that we need to clarify with certain regulators".

The "PvP eSports Championship" will take place at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre from Oct 5 to 7, with a prize pool of US$300,000.

Razer is supplying hardware for the tournament, as well as S$100,000 worth of prizes separate from the pool.

Speaking for Singtel, Mr Lang said that "we’re not quite ready to share" the company's spending for the tournament.

The Singapore Tourism Board is supporting the event, which executive director of attractions, entertainment and tourism Carrie Kwik said in a media statement "will give regional e-sports fans another compelling reason to visit Singapore, as well as boost our status as an e-sports events hub in the region".

"We also expect it to further augment our range of quality events and reinforce Singapore's reputation as a leading destination for entertainment," she added.

Local qualifiers will take place in Singapore, as well as in Australia, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, organised by Singtel's regional subsidiary Optus and other associates.

The group is also looking to sponsor a homegrown Singapore gaming team. It said in a statement that it could establish this team "as part of the global circuit of annual e-sports competitions".

Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Business Times, is the official media partner of the tournament.