Headquartered in Singapore, the Global Esports Federation (GEF) has just been launched today. Intended to promote esports vis-a-vis the traditional sporting community, the Global Esports Federation will also take on a governing, organising and educational role worldwide.
The foremost aim of the GEF is to act as global governing body for esports, establishing the credibility and legitimacy of esports. This will serve to elevate the acceptance of electronic sports and perhaps some day achieve a slot amongst the retinue of Olympic medalled events.
To this end, the GEF is made up of a diverse group of board members from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
The President of the GEF is Chris Chan, who is also Secretary General of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and Vice President (Asia) of the Commonwealth Games Federation. Vice Presidents of the GEF, Charmaine Crooks of Canada and Wei Jizhong of China are former Olympians and serve on international and regional Olympic organisations respectively.
With its focus on esports, the Global Esports Federation is also headed by a third Vice President, Edward Cheng. Cheng, who is also Vice President of Tencent, will bring the company’s foundational experience and know-how in the esports scene.
A Chinese internet company with a myriad of products and services like QQ and WeChat, Tencent also has a firm foot in the esports industry and his behind several mobile esports titles like Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battle Grounds (PUBG) and Arena of Valor.
“Tencent is an internet-enabled technology plus culture company,” said Cheng. “We believe that esports is a great example and a great integration of technology, of culture, of sports, and of social responsibilities.”
The Global Esports Federation will likely be first observed in the wild with the 2020 GEF World Games in the works. While no country host or other details have been revealed yet, GEF is optimistic about its role and the condition of the gaming and sporting communities.
The groundwork for the Global Esports Federation had started in China about a year ago, GEF President Chris Chan shared. What began as a casual conversation in Beijing soon sparked off plans like a “bushfire”.
However, on the significance of Singapore serving as the headquarters for the GEF, Chan shared some reservations. He does not believe Singapore’s role as host to the GEF has “any special significance”.
Even the sustained role of Singapore in the international esports organisation was cast in doubt from the get-go.
“I don’t think there’s meant to be any permanency [to Singapore’s role in the GEF],” Chan said. “For the moment, I think everybody’s quite happy that we [Singapore] have been behind the wheel and driving the formation of the GEF here – and we thought we’ll leave the Secretariat here.”
Other international esports organisations established earlier have been met with limited success. The World Esports Association (WESA) and International Esports Federation (IeSA) face limitations in terms of compliant member country associations and in terms of esports titles represented.
GEF representatives believe that the organisation’s wide representation across countries, sports and fields, esports and traditional, will make the difference. Olympians, IOC and regional Olympic Council members alike will lend the GEF and esports at large credibility to eventually gain wider-spread acceptance.
Tencent’s high-profile involvement is its other strategy. While not stated explicitly, the launch emphasised the internet conglomerate’s massive reach within the Chinese esports and gaming market.
“We’re here to galvanise the sport.” Chan said. “How better to do it than to have a major player in Tencent who has been involved in the industry for the last nine years?”