ONE Championship, the Singapore-based MMA promotion has announced ONE eSports, their first foray into the esports market. Partnering with Dentsu Inc, a Japanese advertising agency, they will be investing $50m (£37.9m) to create “Asia’s largest global eSports Championship Series”. While they haven’t announced which games will be featured, they’ve stated “multiple blockbuster game titles” will be included, with their events hosted “alongside ONE Championship martial arts events in 2019”.
ONE Championship recently outlined their event schedule for 2019, hosting 30 events across Asia. It seems that ONE eSports will be utilizing those events to host simultaneous esports events in the lead up to or during the matches.
Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship said: “We see a natural crossover between martial arts and gaming fans in Asia and an opportunity to bring them together under Asia’s home of millennial live sports. ONE Championship is committed to bringing its same brand of large-scale event production and live broadcast capabilities, unique world-class content production, global media distribution, storytelling expertise, and marketing experience to ONE eSports.”
ONE has also announced that their recently signed and ex-UFC fighter Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will work with ONE as their Chief Brand Ambassador for esports. Johnson is a partnered Twitch streamer, most recently making an appearance at Blizzcon playing World of Warcraft. He holds the UFC record for most consecutive title defenses at 11, recently losing his title to Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo and leaving the UFC in a historic trade agreement with ONE Championship.
Alongside Dentsu, ONE has also signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) with Razer and Singtel, utilizing their leverage and expertise in the market to boost the quality of their events. Min-Liang Tan, Co-Founder and CEO of Razer, said: “Like Razer, ONE Championship is at the forefront of a new digital entertainment revolution that delivers the sporting content that millennials hunger for, whether online or offline. This partnership will see us combining our respective areas of expertise and deliver unmatched cross-boundary experiences to our fans.”
Esports Insider says: This is massive news for the Asian esports region, especially for Southeast Asia and Japan. With Singtel and Razer’s recent announcements, this brings a greater clarity moving into 2019 as we have a major MMA promotion investing into esports with a clear vision of a circuit system in place to move alongside their own MMA events. Alongside a household name like Demetrious Johnson, ONE can very quickly establish themselves as a major player in Asian esports.