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AIS committed to upgrading e-sports

Burgeoning e-sports industry seen as stimulating Thailand’s digital economy 

It is becoming difficult to over-estimate the size and the following of the e-sports industry, both in Thailand and around the world. 

Think of 495-million participants globally, and 4.1 million in Thailand.  Moreover, there is no sign that growth in e-sports will slow down, as it surges forwards on a tide of wireless and wireline high-speed internet, increasingly powerful gaming devices, and constantly emerging e-sports games that push vigorously at the bounds of human abilities.

Thailand’s digital-service leader, AIS – with its ultimate national network – has long recognized the importance of the e-sports industry. It sees an importance that goes well beyond the industry’s ability to expand internet demand: it also creates advancement for people working in the e-sports field and is even capable of spurring economic activities in Thailand, when the COVID-19 crisis is wounding the economy really badly.

AIS has been serious in its support for the e-sports industry since early 2019. Recently, it established a “studio” at the new Samyan Mitrtown in central Bangkok, where e-sport players, gamers, and new-generation people can meet, practice, and test the skills of others. The studio is contributing to the creation of a community of e-sport players in a way that complements the growing e-sport industry’s ecosystem in Thailand. 

AIS’s Assistant Vice-President for Strategic Partnership and Media Management, Rungtip Jarusiripipat, is the head of the organization’s e-sports project. She described for The Story Thailand her firm’s plan to support Thailand’s e-sport industry for the stimulation it will bring to the country’s digital economy.

Q: What does AIS think about the e-sport industry?

The e-sports and gaming industry has been growing every year. Forecasts suggest that the number of e-sports participants in the world will rise to 495 million – or grow by 12 per cent – in 2020. As for Thailand, it is predicted that the number of e-sports participants will rise by 24 per cent to 4.1 million this year. The gaming market, meanwhile, is expected to generate revenue of Bt27 billion in 2020 – up by 15 per cent from a year earlier. Forecasts suggest that the market will continue to grow at this rate over the next few years. It can be said that the market has very good growth potential. 

Q : How is AIS playing a role in Thailand’s e-sports industry and supporting its growth?

E-sports and gaming are relatively new as an industry. But the above figures show that the industry in Thailand has solid growth potential. When we talk about its huge potential, we also talk about its overall market value and the number of e-sports participants. Today, e-sports are not just “games”. The Thailand E-Sports Federation (TESF), the Sports Authority of Thailand, and the government, are now giving support to Thai children who are interested in becoming professional e-sports players. Thailand has already joined sporting events that list e-sports as a category for medal-earning contests. At the latest Southeast Asian Games, Thai children won gold medals in this category. 

AIS is working with many sectors: the government sector, the private sector, global tech leaders, and also the TESF, in efforts to push the e-sports industry to the next level. We are using strategies covering four areas: First is Connect, which leverages AIS’s status as a provider of digital infrastructure with fiber-optic internet, broadband internet, 5G technology and nationwide coverage. Second is Compete, which entails organizing e-sport events for beginners and professional players to practice and hone their skills. Third is Co-educate, which is done in collaboration with many Thai universities. Some universities are already offering courses on game development and marketing for gaming. AIS has stepped in to support networking and to develop relevant online platforms for e-sports. The last area is Community. AIS really hopes to create a true e-sports community in Thailand. 

Q :  What factors will drive the growth of Thailand’s e-sports industry?

One of the factors is definitely an efficient internet connection, which boasts high speed, low latency and solid stability. A strong digital infrastructure will encourage the growth of e-sports, and since AIS is the leader in this field, it can offer full help. AIS is now devoted to developing its network so as to ensure that Thailand has infrastructure that truly supports the growing e-sport industry.

Q : How will AIS contribute to the e-sports ecosystem?

First of all, AIS has its network – the key to all e-sports experiences. AIS also organizes e-sports competitions and supports the e-sports federation in its development of new e-sports players. Moreover, AIS is working with universities to contribute to the e-sports ecosystem, and in fact, AIS has even created an e-sports community. We have done all of these things to develop the e-sports industry. 

In our latest move, we have launched the AIS e-Sports Studio, with the aim of it becoming the first “E-Sports Community Hub” in Southeast Asia. The e-Sports Studio offers an immersive experience in e-sports to gamers and new-generation members. We intend that it will become a new meeting point for all gamers, regardless of their telecom network, and not just users of the AIS network. At the AIS e-Sports Studio, gamers can get network services for free, around the clock, and use our facilities at a cheap price. 

Q : AIS has created events, communities, and venues for e-sports. And now, AIS e-Sports Studio is opened up. How have things flowed to this point?

To date, we have twice organized the Thailand Game Expo by AIS e-Sports. It is a full-scale e-sports event, with both tournaments and distribution of e-sports games at special prices. Moreover, AIS is the first organization to hold e-sports tournaments for its staff. We call it the AIS e-Sports Thailand Corporate League. In 2019, AIS organized or sponsored more than 20 e-sports tournaments. Moreover, AIS has worked with the TESF to provide Thailand’s national e-sports players with communication-system support when they join e-sports competitions overseas. Our collaboration with the TESF has lasted more than one year.

AIS recognizes that to strengthen e-sports communities, there must be a physical place to accommodate e-sports people. That’s why we have opened the AIS e-Sports Studio. This facility is expected to be a tangible e-sports community hub, and to create positive growth for both the e-sports industry and society at large. AIS has met the full cost of constructing the AIS e-Sports Studio with aim of it becoming the e-sports community hub. The e-Sports Studio will be the place for “on-ground” activities while online activities such as content development and digital releases will be done via AIS PLAY and social media. To create a community, we must do more than just share content. 

This year, AIS will focus on creating the Community – one of our four strategies. This community will cover the whole e-sports ecosystem. To create this community, we will first join hands with the TESF in human-resource training and development, paving the way for participants to become e-sports players. 

Second, we will hold conferences to promote exchanges of knowledge among businesses in the e-sport industry. For the conferences, we will partner with Techsauce [Media]. Third, there will be “Professional Talks” on e-sports. We will invite e-sports players or e-sports veterans to share their experiences. Fourth, we will organize a Game Festival, which is going to be a hybrid event with both online and offline components. Last but not least, we will hand out Game Awards to honor outstanding figures. These accolades will give credit to quality people in the e-sports industry.

Q : How will AIS turn Thailand into Southeast Asia’s e-sports hub?

There are two key factors. The first is strong infrastructure. The second is the provision of forums for gamers to transform into professional players, since playing e-sports can be a profession. AIS trusts that Thailand has the potential and abilities to become a regional hub. We are, therefore, ready to support and strengthen the country’s e-sports ecosystem through collaboration with the TESF, leading universities, and our world-class tech partners as we pursue the goal of upgrading Thailand into Southeast Asia’s e-sports hub.

Q : How does your support for e-sports benefit your business?  

At this point, financial returns are not our main focus. We are currently focused on developing human resources for the e-sports industry. This development will pave the way for people to make a living in the field and for the industry to grow. If our efforts generate income for us too, that will be considered a by-product. When the e-sports industry grows, the network and related-equipment industries will naturally grow as well. 

Q : What are the differences between game-addicted children and e-sports players? 

Game-addicted children and e-sports players are significantly different. Players of e-sports are trained like athletes, with clear and well-designed practice schedules that promote their good mental and physical health. At ecosystem level, there are leagues to support competitions. E-sports players must develop planning skills, strategic thinking and teamwork. It is about playing games professionally, with clear-cut goals. 

Q : Can game-addicted children become e-sports players? If so, how? Does AIS play a role in this area? 

Of course, game-addicted children can transform themselves into e-sports players if they are given opportunities and proper training. AIS is ready to support their transformation, whether they want to play as professionals or join national teams. Our aim will be to foster their potential, develop their digital skills, encourage constructive e-sports playing, promote discipline and erase the game-addiction stigma. The transformation into e-sports players will give these children opportunities to become professional players who can generate income, set new standards, and earn acceptance both within Thailand and beyond. 

Q : What does AIS think about the e-sports industry’s potential for spurring Thailand’s digital economy? 

We see e-sports as digital sports of the “New Normal” era. We believe e-sports will help to revive and drive Thailand’s digital economy and generate its growth in a solid and sustainable manner. The overall e-sports industry involves several sectors. There are not only players, but also e-sports-event organizers, casters, and streamers, as well as Thai and foreign game developers. This means if the e-sports industry grows, it will benefit the country. The growth of the e-sports industry should be able to help revive the Thai economy. 

The promotion of e-sports by AIS and our partners will help to install Thailand as Southeast Asia’s e-sports hub in the future. With a clear vision, firm commitment, and Connect, Compete, Co-Educate and Community strategies, AIS is confident that our mission to strengthen Thailand’s e-sports industry will succeed in achieving a robust and sustainable revival of the country’s digital economy. 



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