eSports in Nigeria

October 6, 2017

eSports are booming in Nigeria, but compared to other nations like South Africa there are a few clear bottlenecks slowing their growth. The internet quality is abysmal compared to the best eSports nation in Africa, South Africa, and Nigerians are still catching up to other countries as far as investment is concerned.It’s a multi million dollar industry in Nigeria where players can make thousands of dollars in prize pool money. Recently I was sitting in front of a desktop, watching eSports spectacle involving African gamers that boasted a magnitude rarely seen with other sports in Africa. The opponents were screaming in both the ecstasy of victory, and agony of defeat, and tens of thousands of viewers tuned in from around the world to watch. Over 30,000 eSports fans including your blogger tuned online to watch the Africa’s best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams play.Those who don’t know, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a first-person shooter video game that essentially involves two teams of five battling on a virtual field where one side is attacking and the other defending. Each match consists of a series of rounds, each of which goes for a couple of minutes. In this short space of time, the attacking side needs to destroy the defending side’s objective, while the defending side wants to delay this attack until the time runs out. If one team can eliminate the other before the other’s win conditions is met, they win the round. 16 rounds wins the game and there are 30 rounds in regulation time.In Nigeria there are hundreds playing in the nation’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition.The physical element isn’t there like it is in a normal sport, but it’s definitely the same sort of dedication you put in the same sort of team work so it’s definitely a sport.It’s a fast moving industry and gamers in Nigeria will earn estimated USD $3 million this year, that’s up from $200,000 just three years ago.What Nigerian eSports stakeholders really hope to do is get students into the IT industry after they’ve done high school and maybe they can get into computer programming and juggle it with eSports.League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena, so popular that worldwide there is about 90 million people that play it and at least 500,000 of those are in Nigeria, compare that to Super Eagles, the country’s national football team with only eleven.Last year 1.1 million Nigerians watched the world championship online. eSports is definitely a career option for many Nigerian youths. What has been noted is that a lot of students actually have a passion for gaming across Nigeria and rest of Africa and it’s fun that could pay off handsomely in the future.

Just like in every sport, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is filled will competitive drama, gripping stories, and individual stars.Such narratives further supports the notion of eSports as a major disrupting force in traditional sports and media. In Nigeria, the rapid adoption of fibre and advances in computer performance led by hardware companies is changing the way millennials consume media and expanding the ways they can actively participate in their new sport of choice.eSports facilitator in Africa that includes Nigeria told your blogger that it’s an an honor to have been involved in eSports in the region and to have come so far.“I am very proud of my accomplishments in African tournaments. Participants have displayed outstanding initiative, sportsmanship, commitment and teamwork.“But the greatest honour for me is that we are leaving our mark in the progression of eSports and influencing the communities around Africa.” The facilitator started as a way to engage young eSports players and connect with schools, showing educators the benefits of pursuing careers in gaming. With several of his players heading off to join a pro team for a full salary in Europe, it only goes to show he might be onto something.Most of the events he has been involved were streamed live, thanks to it support from sponsors. He added that it was great to be involved in something that has taken off so much. “I have been thrilled to see how the eSports has taken off and am looking forward to seeing further expansion for the next competitions next year.” Colleges in Nigeria and across Africa are waking up to the world of eSports, with full tournaments becoming more prevalent.Schools interested in engaging their students in a platform they admire and supporting their tech-savvy gaming skills are putting forward teams to compete in local competitions and in countries South Africa teams are heading to Europe to compete in international events.The case for brands being involved in eSports in Nigeria and other parts of Africa is simple and compelling. Millennials are increasingly difficult to engage through mainstream channels, because delivering content that they love is expensive and hit and miss.It’s increasingly difficult to connect authentically with them and only way Tv stations will remain relevant to this demographic is through eSports. The way in which millennials consume entertainment, makes it tough to connect with them online in any one place. In South Africa, DSTV is airing eSports events on its sports channels and its continental competitor Kwese Sports is following suit. In Kenya, Zuku Tv is offering a dedicated eSports channel. Those playing eSports games in Nigeria can take it from me, the future is brighter than ever for gamers.

Contador Harrison