Thailand Government Officially Declares Esports as Professional Sport
Esports in Thailand has been a growing industry. Even American organizations have shown interest in Thailand and the SEA region. Yesterday, a tweet from the International Esports Federation announced that Thailand’s government had officially recognized esports as a professional sport. This declaration was published in the Royal Thai Government Gazette, a public journal of record of Thailand where initiatives and laws are typically announced by the Thai government, according to a report coming from The National Thailand. The announcement by the Thai government was posted to the Thai E-Sports Federation (TESF) Facebook page, which contains the entirety of the announcement and order made by the Thai government. This news is a pretty huge boon for the Thai esports industry, but what exactly is the Thai government planning to do when it comes to esports?
A Brief History of the Thai Government’s Involvement
The Thai government has actually been working alongside the TESF on a number of various government collaborations that have provided the necessary training to government employees to better understand the esports industry and assist them in organizing regional competitions.
Looking at Facebook posts from Facebook pages managed by the TESF and the Sports Authority of Thailand, we can see that the TESF has been working with the Phuket provincial government to better educate government employees on the esports industry, even providing human resources training tailored for the esports industry.
The Sports Authority of Thailand and the Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports have sponsored ESL One events for Dota 2, and sponsored ESL National Tournament events as well. The TESF has organized tournaments for a variety of different titles. Their 2020 tournament for Mobile Legends included companies like Razer and Samsung Galaxy as partners for the event.
A lot of esports organizations either have prestige as being some of the oldest existing teams in esports in general or having ties to the world of professional sports in Thailand. MiTH e-Sports (Made in Thailand) is one of Thailand’s oldest esports organizations. Founded in 2007, the non-profit organization has fielded teams in Dota 2, CSGO, Point Blank, Heroes of Newerth, and Starcraft II. Nowadays, MiTH focuses on FIFA and PUBG Mobile, while managing an active roster of streaming talent.
Buriram United Esports is the esports extension of Buriram United FC, Thailand’s top football club competing in the Thai League 1. Buriram United Esports has teams competing in League of Legends: Wild Rift, PUBG Mobile, and Arena of Valor. With over 200,000 followers on Facebook, this makes them one of the more popular esports teams in the region.
Hopefully, big things are in store for esports in Thailand. Whether cities like Bangkok become a premier destination for organizations like ESL and PGL to host their events, or the Thai national esports scene grows to international prominence, there’s a lot to expect from this region moving forward. Government involvement in Thai esports will help the scene develop and create pathways from amateur to pro that will help young competitors down the line. If what we’ve already seen from the TESF is any indication, it seems there’s a genuine interest and resolve to help esports grow in Thailand, and that’s something worth respecting.