The new sporting year is here and already underway. Every year fans look for some of the biggest prospects and athletes to follow. It has been shown time and time again that the big stars are Asian athletes and are typically more of a draw than the team names themselves and so the big standout names often have quite the impact.
This is particularly shown through betting markets like those listed at bet-md.com, which continue to grow but who are some names to keep an eye out for this year, and who could be putting up a big performance in the coming months that may win over a much bigger audience too?
Considered one of the best professional boxers of all time, it’s no surprise to see this boxer from the Philippines make the list. With a current record of 62 wins and 7 losses at the age of 42, many would expect he would be coming toward the end of his long and storied career, but it seems the fighter has different plans as talks with a fight against Terence Crawford later this year in Abu Dhabi is still taking place.
Whilst the fight was intended for last year, given the pandemic the plans had fallen through, and whilst some fans are a bit on the fence given the difference in age and physicality, it will still certainly be a very exciting bout regardless. Is Manny close to his retirement? Only time will tell, and this could certainly be the end of an era for fighting, but he’ll certainly remain to be one of the big draws.
On the other end of the age scale, the 20-year-old Japanese F1 driver is just starting out his career picking up a seat for AlphaTauri in the 2021 Formula 1 season. Placing 13th in his very first race in F1 at Bahrain this past weekend, Yuki has already started to break records and show that he definitely deserves his spot on the grid with Ross Brawn, the technical director for F1, stating that Tsunoda could be the “best rookie for years”.
This is certainly some high praise and many others suggesting he most certainly will become champion.
This grid he’s competing on is extremely tough, so that win may not come just yet, but he will certainly be a huge draw for Asian motorsport fans and shows a very different representation on the grid to follow huge Asian names in the sport like Kobayashi, Sato, and Suzuki.
The 31-year-old MMA fighter hailing from China broke into popular media following her last fight with former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in what has often been considered as the best fight in all of women’s MMA history.
The five round slug fest that came to a split decision was able to show just how tough Zhang is, and what a huge impact she could have on the women’s division in MMA. An upcoming fight later this month against another crowd favourite in Rose Namajunas, which will be a fight for the Strawweight belt will certainly be another huge crowd pleaser and bring in a huge audience too as the fighter has shown she helps bring in a huge Chinese audience, and a win over Rose later this month will certainly only strengthen that position too.
Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok
The world of esports is growing extremely quickly, and there’s no bigger star in the esports world probably than the 24-year-old South Korean League of Legends player, often regarded as the best player in the world having played in the same organization throughout his career starting in 2013. He had since taken a bit of a backseat as another player filled his role in the main team for most of the start of this year.
Recently playing once again, however, Faker was able to show that he still has what it takes to compete with the very best by putting up some huge performances, and his bigger return to the rift always brings in the viewers. With months of regular season play and big tournaments yet to come, Faker will inevitably make more appearances, and will likely continue to bring in huge crowds from all over Asia as he shows time and time again why he is the best.