Esports Around The World is a series of profiles outlining the esports ecosystem in various countries globally. The series ties into ESI’s international esports business events, which take place around the world.
Whilst unbeknownst to much of the Western world, Indonesia has become a hotbed for esports, with its mobile esports scene in particular drawing particularly impressive viewership.
The country’s domestic Mobile Legends: Bang Bang franchised league (MPL ID) regularly generates over 2m peak viewers, and Indonesia also has a prominent fan base in Free Fire, PUBG Mobile and PC title Dota 2.
According to a 2022 white paper by SEA communications agency Vero discussing Indonesian esports, Indonesia ranks fourth in terms of smartphone users in the world, behind only China, India and the United States. This statistic alone highlights the power, and the potential, of mobile esports in the country.
Some of Indonesia’s most notable competitive players include Dota 2’s Rafli ‘Mikoto’ Fathur Rahman (Currently at Talon Esports) and Matthew ‘Whitemon’ Filemon (TSM), as well as many regionally recognised Mobile Legends competitors such as Nicky ‘Kiboy’ Pontonuwu, who was part of ONIC Esports’ MLBB Southeast Asia Cup 2023 winning roster.
The popularity of esports as a mainstream competitive venture in Asia has led to its inclusion in many traditional sporting spectacles, most notably the Asian Games and SEA Games. As an official medalled sport at the 2023 SEA Games, Indonesia was able to walk away with three gold medals and two silver medals in esports. This included victories in PUBG Mobile (team) and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (women’s team).
What separates most SEA ecosystems from Western countries is its localised esports approach. The sector primarily runs off the popularity of local competitions in PUBG Mobile, Free Fire and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, though these do feed through to global finals.
Creating local communities has become paramount to the success of esports ecosystems and organisations within Indonesia and Southeast Asia as a whole.
“What really separates Southeast Asia from maybe Western markets is there’s this deep level of localisation required, and that’s because of the nature and culture,” highlighted Jayf Soh, the Owner and CEO of Southeast Asian esports organisation RSG, in a 2022 interview with Esports Insider.
Whilst uncommon, this method is also starting to be seen in European countries following the growing popularity of Karmine Corp in France and KOI in Spain.
In 2020, the government’s Youth and Sports Ministry and the Indonesian Sports Council (KONI) officially recognised esports as a sport.
This allowed esports titles to be contested in official medal competitions, such as the SEA Games. Following the announcement, KONI also inaugurated the Indonesian Esports Central Board (PB ESI), an association built to hold competitions as well as foster athletes.
Prior to official government recognition, government institutions in SEA recognised the potential of esports by allowing the scene to be integrated further into its traditional sports ecosystem. This included featuring esports at sports tournaments, such as the Asia Games, in 2018. However, these were not official medal events at the time.
In 2013, the Indonesia E-sports Association (IeSPA) was also established. The organisation tasked itself to nurture Indonesian esports talents and help shape the sector.
Notable Tournaments & Leagues
As mentioned above, Indonesia has a large focus on local and regional competition. Local competitions such as the PUBG Mobile Pro League Indonesia, Free Fire Master League and MPL Indonesia dominate the ecosystem. Whilst these leagues do bleed into global events, the lifeblood of Indonesia’s competitive scene is through these regional competitions.
|PUBG Mobile Pro League Indonesia||Mobile Legends Development League (MDL) Indonesia|
|Free Fire Master League||SEA Games|
|Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) Indonesia||Dota 2 Bali Major 2023|
Notable Esports Organisations
Note that this is a non-exhaustive list and exclusion does not signify an org is not notable.
National Association(s) / Federation(s)
Note that inclusion in this list does not suggest any acknowledgement from ESI of its authority, works or official capacity.
Esports has become a highly regarded sector within Indonesia, as such there has been a push towards providing greater education opportunities. Esports Indonesia (ESI) works under the Indonesian National Sports Committee and in 2020 Esports Indonesia’s Indonesian Esports Executive Board (PBESI) was officially inaugurated and intends to incorporate esports into the country’s school curriculum.
Additionally, in 2022 PBESI launched the Garudaku Esports Academy, a project designed as an extracurricular activity for high school and university students in Indonesia. The academy aims to provide comprehensive learning and training materials. Moreover, the project has bolstered its operations through partnerships with Mobile Legends developer MOONTON and esports organisation EVOS Esports
The Garudaku Esports Academy also has a certification programme for participants wanting to obtain a license as an extracurricular coach of the academy.
This is a preliminary country profile and will be augmented with additional information over time. If you have any suggestions or feedback for this profile, please get in touch at [email protected].
First published: June 23rd, 2022. Updated as of September 13th 2023.