On 26th September 2019, the Ministry of Sports declared eSports as a national sport, making Sri Lanka the first South Asian country to officially recognise competitive playing of video games as a sport.
Competitive video gaming has been steadily gaining popularity in Sri Lanka with gamers from around the country participating in different competitions held over the years featuring different games. Over the years, Sri Lanka has seen the emergence of many gaming collectives and today, schools and institutions are setting up clubs and organising tournaments to propagate eSports in Sri Lanka.
Speaking about this historic milestone for Sri Lanka’s gaming community, Raveen Wijayatilake, CEO and Founder of Gamer.LK, said: “The Sri Lankan eSports community welcomes this development with excitement. Gamer.LK has worked tirelessly over the years to create an ecosystem for eSports and professional gaming in Sri Lanka. As the foremost organisation for eSports in the country, we are excited to see where this takes eSports in Sri Lanka. Already, every year, thousands of new members join the community and big brands, including multinationals are seeing the value in Sri Lankan eSports and its rapidly-growing millennial audience.”
The National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka has extended its support to the promotion of eSports in the country and has endorsed the Inter-School eSports Championship organised by Gamer.LK which was held recently for the 4th consecutive year with the participation of 150 schools, with the event drawing over 1,000 students to witness the best of Sri Lankan eSports talent.
The tournament featured some of the world’s most popular gaming titles including Call of Duty 4, League of Legends, PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, and Dota 2. Students from schools in all parts of the country competed as teams or solo to take game glory in their chosen game. The eSports movement in Sri Lanka is a growing phenomenon with schools now introducing games clubs and Gateway International School even awarding colours to successful eSports competitors.
Globally, eSports had a whirlwind year in 2018, which has continued into 2019, with a global audience of nearly 400 million people, with viewers spending 6.6 billion hours watching eSports videos online. Newzoo, the global leader in eSports analytics has estimated that the industry will generate more than $1.6 billion in total revenue with $1.3 billion coming from brand investments due to its appeal to a wide base of viewers from around the world.
With the gazetting of eSports as a national sport, Sri Lanka joins nearly 50 countries globally that have officially recognised eSports, setting Sri Lanka on the path to greater success in the international eSports arena.