On Jan. 28, one Southeast Asian country will officially recognize esports on the same level as traditional sports like soccer and badminton.
The Malaysian government announced the formation of e-Sports Malaysia (eSM) earlier today. The new group is an official organization under the Malaysian Sports Commission that will recognize esports activities in the country on the same level as the nation’s physical sports. The step is a promising move toward legitimacy in a country that spawned the likes of famous competitive gamers such as Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung, Ng “Yamateh” Wei Poong, and Chong “Ohaiyo” Xin Khoo.
The organization was formed, no doubt, as a reaction to Malaysia’s bitter-sweet reputation with the world of competitive Dota. Chai and Chong turned the country’s rural areas into over-night viewing parties during Orange Esports’ remarkable International run in 2013, highlighting the small nation’s esports prowess. Unfortunately, the country then became the center of a Dota scandal in October of 2014 when Malaysian side Arrow Gaming was implicated in match-fixing, leading to the dissolution of the entire roster.
While specific details regarding eSM’s involvement in esports are reserved for its launch at the end of January, a Facebook post states that the organization will “spearhead and develop the esports industry in Malaysia.”
The announcement adds that the new organization “will signal the start of esports in Malaysia to truly become a national sport.” With players like Chai anchoring its legacy, it’s safe to say that eSM is laying down roots in fertile soil.