Hong Kong’s first ever e-sports and music festival to feature international gamers and K-pop stars

League of Legends champions and SHINee to appear on stage in effort to draw younger visitors to city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 12:34pm

Hong Kong will host its first ever e-sports and music festival this summer, a three-day event featuring international players competing in the world’s most popular video game, League of Legends, and top K-pop stars in concert.

The event, organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board in an effort to attract younger visitors amid flagging arrival figures, will take place from August 4 to 6 at Central Harbourfront.

Board chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok said e-sports were gaining popularity around the world, especially among young people. “We aim to combine key elements such as e-sport, music and gourmet food to bring fresh experiences to the younger crowd.”

E-sports, commonly referring to competitive video gaming, have taken off as a form of entertainment in recent years, reaching a global audience of 226 million in 2015.

Hong Kong’s tourist arrivals fell 4.5 per cent to 56.65 million people last year from 2015, but saw a 3.2 per cent rise in the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year.

The upcoming festival will present 20 former players, all world champions in the game, competing in front of live audiences. Matches will also be streamed live to viewers worldwide.

Fans streaming in their millions to e-sports

“I am sure people will enjoy coming to the event in person despite the live streaming,” said Anthony Lau Chun-hon, executive director of the board. “It’s like watching football or Formula One. The live atmosphere is always much better.”

The e-sports contest will start on August 4, with the final on August 6, while a concert featuring singers and artists from top Korean entertainment group SMTown, including SHINee, will take place on August 5.

A festival with food trucks and other stalls will also be on offer.

The players will come from four regions based on servers hosting the game: China, Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan and Europe, which are confirmed, and North America, which is “nearly confirmed”. Hong Kong player Toyz will be on the Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau team. 

The government has provided HK$35 million in funding for the event, part of which will go towards the players’ travel and accommodation expenses.

The festival is part of the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China.

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The board will work with the Home Affairs Bureau to give out 200 to 400 tickets for each e-sports game and 2,000 tickets for the festival.

So how is League of Legends actually played? Dextor Wai Hon-ming, CEO of streaming company Avenger Production and a veteran e-sports commentator, said it involved two teams of five members each trying to destroy their opponent’s main castle.

“It involves a combination of strategy, skills and speed. That’s why it’s so popular,” he said. “It gives you a lot of satisfaction if you win!”

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said the event could attract a new type of visitor to Hong Kong. “I hope it can attract more international attention so that people know our city offers much more than traditional attractions like fireworks and Halloween.”