Over the weekend, the publicly-listed Sea Group hosted its annual Garena World event in Bangkok. For people relatively new to the eSports industry (I count myself in this group), it was an eye-opening experience.

With nearly 300,000 people in attendance, the scale was unlike anything in the tech space and the enthusiasm of the audience was palpable. Furthermore, because of who it attracted, it was fairly common to see people playing games on their phones while they were watching the professionals.

A core takeaway from the event was the undeniable importance of mobile phones as the most important channel for games. New games are clearly designed to be played on mobile first, and then other “consoles” are the secondary consideration.

The trend is heavily on the mobile phone. It’s everything. We think, if you develop the game, it has to be mobile. If [gamers] have it on PC, they will have another on mobile,” said Nok Maneerut Anulomsombut. 

Also Read: Exclusive: Sea Group gaming arm eyes future in live streaming

Garena World 2019 was something to behold, so let’s have a look!

The scale

As mentioned above, the scale of the venue upon walking into BITEC was jaw-dropping. Thousands of people thronged a gigantic space and many of the games were watched by people willingly sitting on the floor.

The scene that greeted me entering the facility

A picturesque statue right in the middle

People were willingly sitting on the floor to catch a glimpse of the matches

The Arena of Valor stadium was a sight to behold

Gamers battle for glory in League of Legends

Kids playing on the sidelines of the event was a fairly common sight

It was also a fantastic opportunity to sell gear

While there were not a lot of demo opportunities, the few around were pretty epic.

The stages were so complicated they required their own broadcast teams.

The cosplay

While definitely not the majority, there were a decent amount of people who attended the event dressed in cosplay. They were not paid by Garena and only a few of them seemed have been representing individual companies. The rest appeared to be hardcore fans who just wanted to take the opportunity to show off their styles to a large amount of people.

Just slightly less effort than I put into my daily outfit

Do you want to fight him or get lost in his eyes?

A look that would strike fear into the heart of any man

She looks delicate, but we all know they are the most powerful characters

While there were certainly photo shoots, this kind of picture was far more common.

A seriously next level costume

The champions

Free Fire, the game developed by Garena, hosted its global championship during the event. It is a Battle Royale game that harkens to Fortnite or Apex Legends. The competition featured teams from as far away a Brazil and Colombia.

The winning team was EVOS Capital out of Indonesia.

Evos Capital celebrates their Free Fire championship

The two Free Fire emcees

The Colombian team celebrates a placing finish

All of the placing teams gather for a photo shoot