How the small esports racing community in Singapore slowly becomes professional.
Photo credit: chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
On a small island between Malaysia and Indonesia we find the insular state of Singapore, a glamorous tourist magnet and important financial center in Asia. Even though Singapore is the smallest country of Southeast Asia in terms of its area, the republic is very influential within the region. Since 2008, it is also home to a Formula 1 Grand Prix. But how developed is esports racing in the shiny city state?
Singapore – an esports country?
Gaming is extremely popular in Singapore and with 84 percent of the population being internet users, the stage is set for Singapore to produce big esports talents. Just in August 2020, the Singapore Games Association announced the Singapore Esports Initiative to establish country-wide standards for hosting esports events. Another target of the initiative is to improve networking in the scene as well as creating publicity and recognition for the industry.
So far, Singapore has produced notable personalities across several esports, for example Dota 2 player Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice’ Pei Xiang, fighting games legend Kun ‘Xian’ Ho, and Fifa Online Pro Amraan ‘Amraan’ Gani.
But not only has esports become a big topic in the Asian republic. Traditional sports are rising in popularity, and racers play a significant role in this process.
Formula 1 races through the night
Excitement rose even beyond Singapore and enthralled all of Southeast Asia when Formula 1 held its inaugural night race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Since 2008, the annual Singapore Grand Prix has created a lot of memorable moments, with Sebastian Vettel being the record winner with five victories, thus being called the “Lion of Singapore”. Thanks to Formula 1, racing saw an increase in popularity in the insular state.
In 2010, two years after Fernando Alonso took the first F1 win on the streets of Marina Bay, an esports racing community slowly emerged in Singapore. Since then, online leagues became more and more popular in the Southeast Asian country. Today, there are various leagues across different platforms such as Race to Singapore and the Porsche Asia Pacific Forza Cup. Besides fragmented, privately organized competitions, there are also professionally organized tournaments, created by an official institution for Sim Racing in Singapore.
An association to become professional
The Sim Racing Association Singapore was registered in June 2019 as a non-profit organization, even though its members had already been operating within the scene for years. Founding the SRAS was a next step into professionalizing esports racing in the country.
Tonight concludes the first running of the Sim Racing Singapore Business Forum! We enjoyed the insights of some key players of the Sim Racing/Esports scene in Singapore, and we are excited for more developments to come! pic.twitter.com/krFX1ascBb— Sim Racing Association of Singapore (@simracing_sg) August 13, 2020
The SRAS sees itself as the “incubation pool for the Sport’s next generation of Drivers, Race Teams and Officials,” as an official press document says. With the help of an extended network, the SRAS aims to create more value for the industry and community by connecting racers, teams, sponsors and media partners.
In 2020, the SRAS has been supporting and organizing several competitions across various platforms like iRacing, Assetto Corsa Competizione and Gran Turismo Sport. For example, there is a competitive iRacing series based on the real-life Le Mans Series. But league racing for casual racers is also part of the portfolio. Several races are being broadcasted professionally like the SRA Assetto Corsa League.
Not only does the SRAS want to connect the community through tournaments. By organizing community get-togethers and even creating a community space with sim rigs, it encourages people with the same passion to come together.
Transnational competitions as a benchmark
A National Digital Motorsport Championship held by the SRAS is also currently in process of planning. But similar to other esports genres, Singaporean athletes do not only compete in national competitions, but also in transnational tournaments in the Southeast Asian and Oceanic regions.
The Porsche Asia Pacific Forza Cup, in which three Singaporean racers take on 13 other drivers from Oceanic countries, is one of the upcoming highlights for the region. Over three weeks, competitors accumulated points in time trial events which qualifed for the finals. While the three Australian representatives are heavily favored due to their dominance in the qualifying stage, it is still anybody’s tournament when the cup switches to actual races.
The Grand Final which takes place on Saturday, October 31 at 6 PM (GMT +8), features a really special prize: The overall champion wins an all-expenses paid Track Experience to the Porsche Experience Centre at Hockenheimring, Germany. Watch the Grand Final of the competition here.
Here’s the final weekly leaderboard for the Porsche AP Forza Cup. Congrats to all of our drivers! Keep a look out for your rewards. Get the overall standings over at https://t.co/d6NPLinWFC. pic.twitter.com/ihVIzBesNP— ForzaRC (@ForzaRC) October 23, 2020
As structures continue to form in Singapore, esports racing becomes more and more common and professional. The Porsche Asia Pacific Forza Cup could be a benchmark for the scene in order to see how competitive it is compared to its neighbors. Nevertheless, with all the effort the SRAS outs into encouraging the community, we are sure we will hear more from Singaporean esports racing in the future.
Which country’s esports racing scene should we highlight next? Tell us on Twitter at @overtake_gg!