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You'd think that the most popular esports title to watch in Singapore is LoL or Dota, but according to YouGov, it's neither. IMAGE: UNSPLASH/@FLORIANOLV

Tech Talk: Singapore’s Surprising Esports Trends Revealed

Chances are, you probably have a friend (or a friend of a friend) who doesn’t sleep because they're focused on trying to climb the ranks in "Dota 2" or "MLBB" (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang).

The Singapore esports scene is big – let’s not forget that our Little Red Dot hosted The International (TI) at Suntec in Nov 2022, the biggest esports tournament by prize money in the world – and getting bigger.

So, when YouGov released an analysis on the local esports scene, I was extremely interested with their findings:

59% of Singaporeans aged 18-34 follow esports

That percentage makes up just over half of millennial and Gen-Z Singaporeans. Of this number, 67% are male, and 71% are working full-time. That probably means that the majority are working adults (like myself) with disposal income to spend on in-game items and power-ups.

It’s also awesome to see that 33% are female, and I’m sure that's not just with regard to gamers, but also those involved in esports through casting, coaching, or even game development – like these women around the world making their mark in the video game industry.

30% of Singaporeans generally spend >1 hour and <7 hours gaming on mobile/handheld console weekly

With the number of teens and young adults tapping away on their screens on the MRT, I thought this number would be way higher. According to the report, 17% play >7 hours and <14 hours, while 27% of Singaporean gamers play under 1 hour a week.

FIFA (now EA FC) is the most popular esports game in Singapore

You’d think it would be "Dota 2", "League of Legends" (LoL), or "MLBB" that would top this list, but no. YouGov’s survey found that 24% of Singaporeans love "FIFA" aka "EA FC", with "Call of Duty" (23%), "League of Legends" (21%), "Call of Duty: Mobile" (20%), and "Dota 2" (17%) following suit.

It's odd that "MLBB" did not even make the cut, considering the number of Singaporeans who make up the top spots in the game’s ranks. I asked my non-gamer wife, and she can name friends who play "Dota", "LoL", or "MLBB" but not a single person who plays "Call of Duty". AFAIK, it’s a more popular game in the US.

91% of Singaporean followers of games are aware of global leagues and events, while 82% are aware of regional leagues and events.

This isn’t a surprise, especially with the number of esports tournaments getting mainstream coverage.

What’s shocking about the results of the YouGov study are the global tournaments that Singaporeans surveyed listed: "Call of Duty League" (21%), followed by "Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship" (21%), "League of Legends World Championship" (19%), "FIFA Global Series" (16%), and "Apex Legends Global Series" (16%). "Call of Duty", again? I understand "FIFA" making the list, as Singapore did reach the knockout rounds of the FIFAe Nations Cup last year.

The survey results for regional tournaments paint a more familiar picture: "Esports Championships East Asia" (18%), "League of Legends Championship Series" (17%), "Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League" (16%), "League of Legends Champions Korea" (14%), "Garena Challenger Series" (14%). These are mainly tournaments for "LoL" and "MLBB".

It’s great to see support for Singapore’s own "MLBB" pro league. But where is "Valorant" in this list? Our homegrown team Paper Rex finished 2nd in Valorant Champions 2023, the game’s annual world championship tournament (winning US$400k) so I thought that that achievement would hype up the "Valorant" scene here.

Singapore’s fav global esports team is Cloud9, while our fav regional esports team is EVOS.

US-based teams dominate the top 5 global teams Singaporeans support. At the top is Cloud9 (13%), followed by Complexity Gaming (10%), Evil Geniuses (10%), T1 (9%), and Counter Logic Gaming (9%). The only non-American team is unsurprisingly T1; the South Korean side is undoubtedly one of the best "LoL" teams in the world.

On the regional side, no.1 on the list is Southeast Asian EVOS Esports (13%), then Damwon Esports (11%), DetonatioN Gaming (10%), DRX (9%), and Sandbox (8%). "LoL" teams dominate the list, and rightly so – but none of the pro "MLBB" SG teams made the list.

These low percentages might mean those surveyed shouted out a mix of teams. "Esports" could mean a variety of games, each with their own pro teams. Some top teams I can think of that didn’t make top 5 include Sentinels, Fnatic, JD Gaming, PSG Esports… the list goes on.

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