ESports are played and watched by millions worldwide and have been gaining mainstream acceptance

Singapore (AFP) - Mixed martial arts outfit One Championship on Wednesday announced the launch of an eSports tournament next year in a venture worth up to $50 million, as it seeks to tap into the lucrative world of video gaming.

The “One eSports” initiative will see a number of events held in Asia alongside previously announced MMA events, Singapore-based One Championship said.

It did not say how many eSports events would take place or where. The company will stage 30 MMA events in 2019 in cities including Singapore, Bangkok, Beijing and Tokyo.

“We see a natural crossover between martial arts and gaming fans in Asia and an opportunity to bring them together,” said Chatri Sityodtong, chairman and chief executive of One Championship.

One eSports is a joint venture between One Championship and Japanese advertising agency Dentsu. Gaming company Razer will also work on the initiative.

One Championship said it planned to invest up to $50 million with other partners in the venture.

ESports are played and watched by millions worldwide and competitions have been gaining mainstream acceptance.

Tournaments of various styles of video games have grown in popularity, with shooting, strategy, and fighting for multiplayer teams evolving into major arena events.

Asia has led the boom, with China the world’s largest gaming market.

In mixed martial arts, One Championship is facing competition from Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship, which has started staging events in Asia.