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Mobile Legends world championship to skip Singapore for now, as M6 event moves to Malaysia

MANILA – Fans of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) in Singapore will have to wait a while for the return of the game’s top-tier competition, with the M-series event to move to Malaysia in 2024 after the successful hosting of the M5 World Championship in the Philippines last week.

Singapore has hosted the M-series championship – M2 and M3 – twice, both in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The M2 event was held at Shangri-La Hotel with no fans in attendance owing to coronavirus restrictions, while the M3 tournament at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre drew about 1,000 supporters.

The subsequent M4 was then held in Jakarta before moving to Manila for the M5 edition.

Although Singapore is well-situated in the region and boasts the infrastructure for sports and other related events, organisers of the M-series are unlikely to pick the Republic as a destination any time soon.

Maximillian Tan, regional director of creative development at game publisher Moonton Games, said: “We actually want to find a place that can connect everyone, definitely Singapore is the best but we already hosted there twice.

“So we thought again and that is not fair for other regions and we need to take care of every region.”

There are other key factors when it comes to picking a host.

While Daniel Chew, Singapore head of e-sports at Moonton Games, did not rule out a return of the M-series in the future, he admitted he is “not confident to fill a venue such as the Singapore Indoor Stadium”, which seats up to 12,000.

He said: “The fans are there, but it’s definitely a smaller population. We have been building, it has been growing, but maybe not an exponential sum of the other regions.”

Home to marquee sports events such as the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix and rugby’s HSBC SVNS Singapore, the Republic has also played host to major e-sports events in recent years. It held the One Esports Dota 2 Singapore World Pro Invitational in 2019 and The International (TI) 11 in 2022, with tickets to the latter event at Suntec and the Indoor Stadium snapped up within an hour of going on sale.

The last major e-sports event that Singapore hosted was the Olympic Esports Week at Suntec in June 2023.

Stressing that there is “no perfect place”, Chew said: “While Singapore has very strong infrastructure, we are very well connected, high-speed Internet and top-notch technology, there are certain things that we struggle with.

“In the Philippines, the Department of Tourism are super strong supporters of the game. They know that it is a large lifestyle for a lot of the younger population and because of that, they push forward for a lot of things.”

Moonton Games is aiming for a bigger and better championship in Malaysia, which hosted the inaugural event in 2019.

Logan Shaw, Philippines’ head of e-sports at Moonton Games, said: “The M5 World Championship has been an immense success. In fact, it has already become the most-watched M-series of all time.

“However, there are still areas which we can improve on and fans should look forward to an even more polished M6 World Championship experience when we host it in Malaysia next year.”

Fikri Mahruddin, Moonton’s head of Malaysia e-sports business development and marketing, highlighted some factors that make it a prime destination.

“When Mobile Legends Professional League Malaysia and Singapore broke up for Season 7, we only had 70,000 viewers, but after five seasons, we have grown to 550,000 viewers,” said Fikri on the shared league between both countries that ran for six seasons until 2020.

“It’s really important for us to see what are the benefits for us to organise this in Malaysia. It is not just about having (a programme) at the end of the year, but what else we can supplement and enrich.”

While the wildcard phase of the M5 in Kuala Lumpur was hit by Internet connectivity and lag issues, the hosts stressed that measures are in place to ensure that the M6 event will run smoothly.

Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Adam Adli said: “We have done so much over the past year in Malaysia to improve the accessibility of the Internet and facilities used in sports, as well as the communication among all the people involved in organising these events.”

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