Hong Kong’s e-Sports and Music Festival shows how lucrative competitive gaming has become

A few days on and the dust has finally settled from Hong Kong’s most lucrative e-Sports event to date, the ICBC (Asia) e-Sports & Music Festival. The event, which was officially organised and promoted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and title sponsored by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, was significant as it represented the increasing recognition of e-Sports and its vitality to tourism in Asia. It also featured the biggest prize pool for an e-Sports competition in Hong Kong’s modest history with the growing industry.

With an impressive total score of 3320, North American team Cloud9 emerged as the winners of the weekend’s most exciting tournament, that being unsurprisingly the PUBG World Invitational which featured sixteen teams and a dizzying amount of play-styles clashing across the famed battle royale style game, with the goal being a cool US$75,000. They bested 15 other four-person teams across a total of eight rounds, including local team OMG who entered the tournament as favourites given their dominate performance at PUBG Corp’s Global Invitational in Berlin last month.

Just as tactical-based was the Zotac Cup Masters CS:GO 2018 Grand Finals, headlining the weekend and finishing the festival with a record-breaking prize pool of US$300,000. That attractive figure was shared by four semi-final teams, with the lion’s share going to winners MIBR from Brazil.

Rounding out the tournament zone of the festival, which occupied the top level of the sprawling harbour-side Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, was Return of the Legends 2018. Though it was the first tournament to kick off the festival last Friday, the game was given considerably less focus out of the three games despite drawing one of the larger audiences of the weekend.

Crowds were dispersed over the weekend with many bouncing between the tournaments and the generous Experience Zone, which featured various vendors including PlayStation (who were showcasing Insomnaic’s forthcoming Spiderman title as well as a host of others) and the ridiculously popular Mad Head Limited, as well as a solid number of upcoming VR titles and smaller e-Sports sessions for games like Just Dance and Overcooked.

Though sentiment in the air was divisive about the events move from the sloped Hong Kong Coliseum to the relatively flat Convention Centre, one big benefit from the switch was evident with the co-current Hong Kong Computer and Communications Festival , to which guests also had access on a lower level of the building. It also featured various – though much smaller – e-Sports sessions along with an enormous showcase of all things tech from brands both big and small. This proved essential for the value of ICBC, and it seemed many from both festivals would switch between the two throughout the weekend to make for one giant scope of the latest tech and gaming trends.

The music side of the festival was upheld by Korea’s popular DJ Soda, who performed twice over the weekend, and a Sunday performance from Malaysian singer Gin Lee. Various other street performers took to the much smaller stage over at the Experience Zone, including the very curious Mr Wally, a local artist who dresses up like the titular character of Where’s Wally?

For more information on the festival head to their official website HERE.

Feature image by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images for Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy-Editor-At-Large of the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.

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