ONE Championship, Asia’s best-known MMA organization, has recently set up its own esports arm, in a bid to conquer new audiences and to knock yet another opponent off the ring. In the vibrant, profitable market of competitive video gaming, the fighting outfit is quite prepared to make the necessary investment and participate in every major aspect of the developing industry.
ONE has just committed $50 million to spearhead a number of online and on-site tournaments and securing the participation of former UFC MMA champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson who is an avid professional gamer and as of now – ONE’s chief brand ambassador.
Esports are developing at a heady pace. Separate competitive video games organizations’ valuation has reached hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Forbes. Meanwhile, mainstream sporting bodies in the United States are already signing up with teams and game developers, and not least of all – bookmakers are beginning to accept wagers for esports competitions!
Although esports don’t necessarily have the same level of recognition as actual athletic competitions, an increasing number of sports personalities are turning to gaming, and not in just any form, but professional gaming.
From Mighty Mouse to Sean O’Malley, there seems to be an inherent link between athletic prowess and excelling at video games, whether it has to do with reflexes or some other yet undetermined link.
The ONE Championship is clearly capitalizing on the fresh market and wanting to use it not just as a conversion trick, i.e. bring more esports fans to MMA. ONE Championship is seeking to develop the segment as a stand-alone arm, and if anything, the organization will use its expertise in hosting MMA events to create more accomplished esports competitions.
Meanwhile, the company has been hiring new talent to fill out roles related to the overall running of the MMA outfit. The recent appointment of Miesha Tate as vice president has been an important milestone for the organization, which wants to be seen as more inclusive and open to new ventures.
The strategy seems to be working as ONE Championship’s popularity has been growing with the organization promotion values that resonate with a broader audience. Essential appointments as that of Ms. Tate only go to confirm it.
Meanwhile, esports are now promising to expand to the point where they will be generating millions worth of dollars by 2020 from brand rights alone, making it far more popular segment than any MMA match on record has ever been.
This and the higher interest in making wagers on the outcome of esports matches all spell an excellent future ahead of the entire segment. ONE Championship could potentially seek to capitalize on betting, but the organization so far seems determined to seek to genuinely encourage competition across popular titles in order to create buzz.
With Might Mouse as the brand ambassador, ONE is in a unique position to appeal to both athletes and gamers. And Asia is just a beginning, the majority of observers estimate.
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