eSports have truly become a legitimate sport in the eyes of the world, and better yet is when it is combined with the biggest sport in the world: football. We sat down for an interview with Mr Mohan Rajaratnam of Retro Minds Network, whom are organising a FIFA tournament alongside the World Football Summit Asia.
Introduce yourself and your role in the EFC:
My name is Mohan Rajaratnam. I’m the CEO of Retro Minds Network and the CEO of the World Football Summit Asia. We have about 20 years of experience in organising expos and summits.
What is the WFS?
The World Football Summit, which has been happening in Madrid since 2016, has decided after 3 editions to come to Asia. A few other companies and our company Retro Minds attained the rights for 10 years, and the World Football Summit Asia is going to be an annual event and will be done throughout the region.
Why start this in KL?
This first edition will be done here in KL, and why do you ask? Well, number one, we are a KL based company. Number 2, the Asian Football Confederation HQ is located in KL.. So it is the best place to kick things off. The summit will take 2 days and we are expecting over 2000 delegates and participants from over 60 countries and 100 media worldwide.
Tell us more about the eSports tournament happening in conjunction with the WFS:
This tournament is known as the eSports Football Tournament, or EFC for short. We are getting the top 32 FIFA 19 players in Asia to come down for this 2-day event. Saturday will be knockout stages, and Sunday will be the finals. It’s never been done before, to have the top players from 15 countries, including Japan and Indonesia, to come together for an offline tournament of FIFA 19 on the PS4.
And how does EA Sports, the developers of FIFA involved in this?
We are endorsed by EA Sports themselves and they helped us in scouting the participants from their respective countries. Retro Minds Network is the first local organisation to receive such recognition by EA Sports.
What other organisations are fully involved in this endeavour?
We also have the official endorsement from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and support from a local game shop, Gamesbond. I met YB Syed Saddiq, and he’s excited for this and is looking for more people to get involved in this aspect of sport. Our tournament will be held annually and will be a great showcase of talent.
YB Syed Saddiq has spoken at length on eSports and he has since championed it as a legitimate sports platform. How are you contributing to the minister’s campaign?
There’s this negative connotation with eSports, with parents speculating that it will lead to bigger problems like gambling and the like. But on a global scale, you can see that it is a viable form of living and entertainment. That is why we are also organising workshops to spread awareness, to break down those negative connotations and see eSports in a positive light.
What plans do you have after this initial tournament?
After this tournament, we will have interstate, as well as inter-schools and college tournaments to be held here in Malaysia. We believe it will provide a good platform for youth to try out for eSports.
What excites you the most over this tournament?
I’m excited that I get to work with the youth. I may not be into gaming as much, but I get to talk to them and their experience, which is a great learning experience. I have two kids who are also into this, and it’s great.
What makes Malaysia the perfect spot for eSports tournaments?
Malaysia is known to be very warm to visitors - we’re very hospitable and nice. I want these international competitors to come back again and again for our tournaments. That way they can also encourage their fellow competitors back home to join in on this as well.
What other efforts are you making in finding the next big football or eSports star?We are working with an NGO known as Habitat, in a project called Project Kickoff. We’ll have football clubs around Asia to train the youth in impoverished areas, to find the next big talent. We are doing so for football as well as eSports. We are getting major corporations to get involved, get communities to help out, and to pitch in for this endeavour.
What are the prizes for the participants?
The prize pool will be 10,000 US dollars.
So when is the EFC?
The eSports tournament will kick-off this Saturday and Sunday, April 27th and 28th. It will begin at 11 am at Sunway Pyramid mall, at the Blue Atrium.
We would like to extend our thanks to Mr Mohan Rajaratnam and his team at Retro Minds Network for this interview. Find out more about the WFS and EFC right here.