Case Study: Game on with Free Fire World Series 2021

Learn how Marina Bay Sands’ world-class venue capabilities and hybrid event management expertise helped bring Free Fire World Series 2021 Singapore, a closed-door tournament, to millions of fans worldwide during an ongoing pandemic.

When COVID-19 created a void in the events calendar and traditional live sporting events in 2020, the esports sector was not spared either, with many organisers feeling the impact due to postponed or cancelled events[1]. Still, despite travel restrictions, the esports sector is able to capitalise on its digital nature to livestream their events to millions of fans worldwide.

That was exactly what Garena, the developer and publisher behind the world’s most downloaded mobile game in 2019 and 2020[2], Free Fire, decided to do. The game continued to smash records in other ways. In May 2021, for the first time in its history, the Free Fire World Series transformed into a closed-door tournament without any audiences on-site. How did Garena do it?

The organiser had Marina Bay Sands as a venue partner. On 28 May, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, the duo pushed the envelope and leveraged on technology to deliver an unparalleled and unified onsite and online experience, complete with heightened safe management measures. From conceptualisation to execution, the team pulled out all the stops to make a lasting impression.


Photo Credit: Garena

Photo Credit: Garena


Set within two Halls at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, the team utilised the flexible space and high ceilings to stage a curved LED wall complete with a three-tiered seating stage. Each platform could accommodate up to four teams at a time. Each participating team's gaming area was fitted with LED panels, all synchronised with the main LED backdrop that appeared as one mega graphic on screen.

From the immersive staging within the exhibition halls to the meticulously orchestrated opening ceremony, the entire event was nothing short of spectacular. The organiser put together a riveting light show performance over the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade to kick start the tournament with a bang. Viewers were mesmerised by the mysterious countdown displayed on a 4 metre by 4 metre LED cube strategically placed in the middle of the waterfront. Using augmented lights and special effects, the countdown gave way to a single beam of light piercing through the night sky, revealing 300 drones working in tandem to form the iconic Free Fire logo and other game elements against the city skyline.

Over at Sands Expo, the team set the stage ablaze with sophisticated light and graphic designs to welcome and introduce the teams to the world. The breathtaking opening ceremony, playoffs to the finals were all broadcasted live to millions of fans overseas. To ensure a seamless and stable streaming experience, Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) devices, an open-sourced video streaming protocol, were used to reduce any delay in transmission. To mitigate potential bandwidth fluctuations, Marina Bay Sands provided two dedicated internet connections with speed of 500Mbps each.

Months of planning paid off, with the response from the Free Fire community far exceeding expectations. The tournament hit a peak of over 5.4 million viewers, making it the most popular tournament event in the history of esports[3]. And all that, with zero audience on site.


Safety of participants took precedence


Photo Credit: Garena

Photo Credit: Garena


The tournament, which took place during Singapore’s Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), prioritised the health and safety of gamers and their crew as well as on-ground support staff.

With 18 teams from 11 regions, some even hailing from as far as Latin America and Commonwealth of Independent States, the strictest set of Safe Management Measures (SMM) was implemented. Marina Bay Sands ensured that all 9,270 sqm of event space was safe and sanitised for the players, crew and its Team Members.

Throughout the entire event, all overseas teams had to follow a strict controlled movement itinerary. Extra precautions were also taken, including:

  • Daily Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) were conducted for all players, crew and vendors, to ensure that potential cases could be swiftly identified and isolated;
  • All teams were separated at the testing site, located within the Halls, to minimise risk of transmission;
  • Dedicated isolation areas were also identified at the testing site;
  • Additional transport arrangements were made to ferry participants from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel directly to the venue’s entrance to minimise participants’ contact with the general public;
  • Clear demarcations of walking routes to ensure a one-way traffic flow at the event;
  • Team Members and external vendors who were in close contact with all overseas participants also underwent post-event COVID testing;
  • Developed a cleaning and disinfecting schedule for all high touch point areas at Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

“The health and safety of all involved were our top priority throughout. We planned and executed the World Series under unique circumstances and had to constantly adapt as the global pandemic situation developed. We were grateful for all the end-to-end support offered by the Marina Bay Sands team. The entire team was adaptable, quick to respond, and offered professional advice, based on the experience holding and hosting past international events,” Garena’s spokesperson said. “Marina Bay Sands was among our top choices to host and house participants and crew of the Free Fire World Series 2021 Singapore, and we are glad we went ahead to do so.”

The conversations around esports are truly bigger than ever – esports organisers are getting more creative in driving their digital and social content while teams and players continue to engage their followers through their own streaming. With the successful hosting of its first esport event, Marina Bay Sands will continue to focus on supporting the evolving technological needs of this sector.



[1] ESPN News: How coronavirus is affecting esports and gaming events


[2] Garena Free Fire was the most downloaded mobile game last year


[3] Esports Charts: Free Fire World Series 2021 Singapore detailed viewers stats