Hong Kong’s first e-sports and music festival debuts with gaming showdown
Event with K-pop performances is expected to draw 50,000 visitors
It was video game fever on Friday, with more than 3,500 fans flocking to the city’s first e-sports festival to watch top-rated players from around the world pit their skills against each other at the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom.
Organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board with HK$35 million funding from the government, the three-day event is expected to draw 50,000 visitors, including 10 per cent from overseas.
Team Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau beat Team Europe after a battle stretching more than three hours on Friday. They will go on to compete with the winner of the match between Team China and Team North America in the final on Sunday.
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“About 70 per cent of ticket holders showed up [to watch] the first competition. We are quite happy with the current attendance,” said Mason Hung Chung-hing, general manager of event and product development at the Tourism Board. All 5,000 tickets for each game were sold out.
Despite rain in the morning, Hung expected the weather to have a limited impact on visitor numbers, as sunny conditions were expected over the weekend.
“We hope that through the festival we will be able to make Hong Kong a destination for the younger generation,” he said, adding that one should not underestimate the spending power of young consumers.
Liu Shuo, a secondary school pupil from Guangzhou, made a trip to Hong Kong with his mother for a closer look at the world-class e-sports matches.
Unlike most parents, Liu’s mother has supported his interest.
“Kids nowadays are very busy with school work. I hope he can get a good rest during the summer holidays before the next term starts,” she said.
Mother and son pair intended to stay in the city for three days and visit other tourist attractions.
Zach, a 19-year-old American, came straight to the festival after seeing posters at the airport. As a fan of dance video games, he said he was happy to be in the city for his first Asian e-sports event.
“Seeing things live is just different. You feel the atmosphere,” he said.
He planned to stay in the city for about a week, with a budget of to US$500.
For local video game lovers, watching the professionals battle it out was an eye-opening experience.
“It was an exciting game. I was so nervous watching them making every move. It’s like playing the game myself,” said Maple Chan, a local secondary school pupil who was thinking of working in the e-sports industry in future.
Another secondary school pupil, Tsui Ho-lam, enjoyed the festival atmosphere, with thousands of excited game enthusiasts cheering and shouting together.
“The pace of the professional games is much faster than of the ones we play at home,” he said.
Brands selling gaming merchandise were also taking advantage of the festival to promote their latest product.
“We want to raise awareness in Hong Kong of e-sports being a proper sport,” said Jacqueline Chiu, assistant general manager of network business development at Sony Interactive Entertainment. The company set up a Playstation console outside the coliseum to let visitors try their hand at video gaming.
Organisers also deployed six of the city’s first batch of food trucks to the scene. However, their business got off to a quiet start due to the rain.
“I hope business will be better during the weekend,” said Conina Mui Lok-man, operator of the Ho Yuen Express food truck.