The Youth and Sports Ministry will establish an Esports League as part of efforts to develop the field which is growing in popularity, in particular among youth. (NSTP/ABDULLAH YUSOF)

IPOH: The Youth and Sports Ministry will establish an Esports League as part of efforts to develop the field which is growing in popularity, in particular among youth.

Its minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman said the move was timely, considering that there were already 14.4 million esports enthusiasts in the country.

According to him, the league would be played at various levels, and the ministry hoped it would be a platform to unearth new talents who could represent the country at international virtual sports events.

“We had this before but it was only one-off and not at all levels. By having an Esports League, a lot of improvements can be done,” he said, at a press conference after delivering his keynote address at the Esports Professional Industry Conference (EPIC) at Casuarina @ Meru Hotel here today.

Without divulging further on when the first Esports League would be held in the country, Syed Saddiq said the ministry was currently focusing on virtual games that would be chosen to represent the country at the 2019 Sea Games which would be held in the Philippines from Nov 30 - Dec 11.

A total of six esports games will be featured which are Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Arena of Valor, Mobile Legend, Tekken and NBA 2k19.

In order to strengthen the esports industry in the country, Syed Saddiq said his ministry had formed a special task force that includes professional esports players.

“By having this task force, we will set the rules and regulations on esports,” he said.

Syed Saddiq said the task force would look into all matters including parents’ perception towards their children being involved in esports, and the health aspects of the sport including issues on online game addiction.

“We must take the parents’ opinions on this matter since we don’t want to trigger addictive elements. But from what we see, our esports professional players are fit. They have their own routine to keep their health in check,” he added.

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