Korean Dota teams use S'pore to play due to its faster Internet speeds
Professional Korean gamers choose to compete in Dota 2 from S'pore, spending thousands just to reduce their gaming lag
These gamers are spending more than $13,000 to come to Singapore for a few days just so they can reduce their gaming lag by one-tenth of a second.
Two professional Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2) teams from South Korea will be here for a global competition worth millions in prize money.
The 11 members from MVP.Hot6ix and MVP.Phoenix are expected to land at around 2.30pm today.
The eSports, or electronic gaming, teams will be playing the qualifying rounds for The International, the biggest competition for popular computer game Dota 2.
They can play from anywhere in the world, including South Korea, where they are based, but they have chosen to play from here because they can cut down their online lag by 100 milliseconds (ms), or one-tenth of a second.
The players measure time in milliseconds (1ms is one-thousandth of a second).
One-tenth of a second makes a big difference to the teams eyeing the prize pool of close to US$10 million (S$13.4 million).
Dota 2 is played in matches involving two teams of five players.
Each player controls a character and focuses on levelling up, collecting gold, acquiring items and fighting against the other team to achieve victory.
The competition last year had a prize pool of about US$11 million. The champions took home about US$5 million.
MVP.Hot6ix and MVP.Phoenix decided to fly here on the recommendation of the only Singaporean gamer among them.
Mr Wong Jeng Yih, 25, better known as NutZ from team MVP.Phoenix, told The New Paper that the decision was made after they faced lag while playing in South Korea.
"It started with casual talks and we were complaining about the delays we were getting in-game," he said.
"And since I'm a Singaporean and the South-east Asia servers are based here, I promoted my country to them."
Mr Wong said the team gets about 160ms ping when playing in South Korea, compared to 30 to 60ms ping here.
Ping is a measure of network latency, which is the time it takes for an instruction from a computer to reach a server and for the server to respond back to the computer.
The two teams intend to be in Singapore till June 2. They will be playing the qualifiers this Friday and Saturday at Oasis Cafe in PoMo mall at Selegie Road.
The teams' flights and accommodation here are all being paid for by Team MVP, a professional eSports organisation from South Korea.
Mr Taewon Park, 27, better known as March from MVP.Phoenix, said it might be his last time playing for a spot in The International as he has to serve national service in South Korea soon.
"This is probably my last shot, so I am going to give it my all," he said, adding: "We spent a lot of time practising, we've never practised like this."
They practise for at least eight hours a day as a team and another three to four hours individually, Mr Wong said.
The teams will have a fan meet-and-greet session before the qualifiers, but he is not sure how many fans will go.
"I don't really know how many people in Singapore actually care about us," said Mr Wong, adding that the team would be greatly encouraged if they did.
The teams are confident of making it into the top four.
In gaming, every millisecond counts
Lag is a term commonly used to describe latency.
MyRepublic's network engineer Mark Chen said that in competitive gaming, even milliseconds (ms) in delay can make or break a game.
"In layman terms, latency is the measurement of time it takes for an instruction from a computer to reach a server and for the server to respond back to the computer," he said.
"Latency is typically measured in milliseconds.
"So, if a game tells you your latency is 30ms, it means your real-life actions are taking 30ms to convert into in-game actions such as moving the character."
In January, US-based Internet specialist Akamai Technologies' reported that broadband speed in Singapore is the world's 10th fastest, with Korea taking the top spot.
But it is still better for the Korean teams to play here, as the Dota 2 servers are located in Singapore.
"Distance affects latency," explained Mr Chen.
"The further the servers, the longer it takes for the data packets to travel."
He added that lag for Dota 2 players in Singapore is much lower as compared to others in the region.
"Most Dota 2 players on MyRepublic experience latency of 20ms," he said.
"Typically speaking, latency above 100ms becomes noticeable, though this really depends on a huge number of factors such as the game, the player, how the game's network deals with server lag and so on.
"The key advantage is, of course, the low latency.
"In competitive gaming, even milliseconds in reaction time is crucial and can make or break your game."