M3 World Championship sets pace for MLBB’s future

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Shanghai-based publisher Moonton will launch the third iteration of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) ‘s World Championship, also known as the M3 World Championship, in December. The event takes place offline at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Center, which is attended by teams from all over the world.

The marquee tournament has a prize pool of $ 800,000 (~ £ 597,160), almost three times more than last year. With the MOBA mobile room heating up since League of Legends: Wild Rift arrived, the M3 World Championship is a major milestone for the scene and is expected to set both the pace and the tone for the title’s future.

M3 World Championship sets pace for MLBBs future - M3 World Championship sets pace for MLBB’s future
Image credit: Moonton

MLBB audience numbers keep rising

According to the Esports Charts, MLBB peaked at 3 million viewers at the M2 World Championship. At that time, MLBB took second place in the most watched esports event in the world, right after the League of Legends World Cup 2019, which it won 3.9 million Top viewers. However, that title is now held by Garena’s Free Fire which has been recorded 5.4 million peak viewers at the Free Fire World Series 2021 in May.

However, the MLBB’s upcoming M3 World Cup is likely to be a bigger event considering how their esports scene has developed in recent months with the official launch of the domestic MLBB Professional Leagues (MPL) in Brazil and Cambodia. MPL’s expansion followed the acquisition of Moonton Games by Chinese tech company Byte Dance for $ 4 million. By giving non-SEA regions like Brazil their own league, Montoon plans to expand MLBB esports to other parts of the world and create competitive regions that match the hype of MLBB in the SEA regions.

The recently concluded MLBB Southeast Asia Cup 2021 (MSC 2021) peaked with 2.2 million viewers. The tournament was won by Execration of the Philippines and had a prize pool of USD 150,000 (GBP 109,000). The exclusive event in the SEA region proves that this is the stronghold of the title. The eagerly awaited match between EVOS Legends and Execration in the final of the lower brackets brought overall 2,284,012 views according to esports charts, exceeds the number of calls to the Grand Finals. In addition, the last few seasons of the MPL Indonesia and the Philippines also recorded peaks of 1.8 million and 1.4 million viewers, respectively.

Earlier this month, the SEA’s best teams competed for a $ 100,000 prize pool at the ONE Esports Mobile Legends Professional League Invitational (MPLI). It had 1.7 million peak viewers and one cumulative 87 million views across all platforms, according to esports charts.

In 2019, Moonton held its first press conference Moonton Epicon 2019 where it featured M1, the first ever MLBB World Championship. The company announced its plans to add 8 more countries to the MLBB scene as the game was only dominant in the SEA region. This was followed by qualifying rounds for Brazil, Cambodia, Japan, Thailand and Laos, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam and the USA. Moonton teamed up for M1 with Youtube Gaming, which has serious competition to Facebook Gaming in the region.

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Roping up with local partners

As for the M2 World Championship, there were a number of big brands shaking hands with Moonton for the event. Samsung has been named the official sponsor of the Bahasa Indonesia Stream and Nimo TV has become the official broadcaster. Together with SMART, partner for the Tagalog stream, and Telenor, partner for the Burmese stream, Moonton has worked with Cathay Cineplexes, Mediacorp, Secretlab, Singtel, SUTL and Tumi for the English stream. MeWATCH took over the task of online transmission in Singapore. Later, it was Razor who entered the sponsorship list as the official gaming equipment partner for the event.

So Moonton has come back bigger and better with each new edition. While the M1 World Championship had a prize pool of $ 250,000 (~ £ 183,000,616), the M2 was at stake $ 300,000 (~ £ 219,000). M3 will be a big leap up for Moonton the winner alone claims $ 300,000 out of the $ 800,000 (~ £ 601,000) prize pool.

However, given the current landscape of the mobile gaming ecosystem, the real challenge for MLBB is how to create Wild Rift. Over the past few years, MLBB has built an established esports scene across Southeast Asia. The game has more than 75 million players, most of which come from the SEA region. But the rest of the world still lacks the buzz that Southeast Asia has for most mobile esports titles, let alone MOBAs. On the flip side, Riot Games is known for its strong esports structure and has successfully expanded to multiple regions with its popular esports titles like League of Legends and Valorant.

M2 world championship 2021
Image credit: Moonton

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Competition on the horizon

Riot has introduced eSports events as a launch pad for its mobile game and promised the player base a sustainable competitive structure. Recently, Riot announced and has its League of Legends: Wild Rift SEA Championships has partnered with ESL Mobile to host the event. The three-stage event is scheduled to begin on September 14th and will have 21 teams from Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand competing for a prize pool of $ 200,000 (~ £ 144,000).

Western organizations have also started to see the potential of MLBB, with Natus Vincere being one of the big names to appear at M3. However, the actual extent of the competition remains to be seen as the group stage goes live on December 6th.


This story was made in collaboration with. written AFK Gaming. AFK Gaming is an India-based esports media and content company dedicated to providing high quality and consistent coverage of teams, players, tournaments and competitive video games with a focus on the Asian region.

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