Life of a South African eSports player
As a millennial, eSports runs through my veins, from watching strangers play video games, to running tournaments to building eSports platforms, this multi billion dollar industry with geeks and non geeks audience is undoubtedly part of me. On this post, i’ll share my chat with an upcoming eSports player in South Africa. The industry in Africa combined with Middle East is estimated to be worth over $25 billion dollars. As I write this, there will be thousands of monitors, computers, keyboards and controllers scattered across row upon row of tables, all packed into different venues, most of them full of youngsters, expected to attend eSports events in the next few months across South Africa and middle East. The video game industry is booming, but in South Africa eSports is playing catch up with the rest of the world.eSports as a professional competitive video gaming and it has taken South Africa by storm. A high degree of skill and talent is required to battle it out in various games, as part of a team or single player environment.It is not only participation, but spectatorship of video game competitions that has seen a surge in past years. Popular competitive games include names such as Counter Strike, League of Legends, Dota 2 and Call of Duty.In reality, it is not only the interest in the industry booming, it’s likely to generate big bucks for those with professional leagues and tournaments. This year it is estimated eSports will produce a revenue of about $20 million in Africa with more than half of that in South Africa, according to a report from gaming research company. In spite of this, the African eSports industry has fallen behind the rest of world. Data available shows that professional players find it difficult to forge a career in the sector due to a lack of financial support and an inability to compete regularly on an international level. This i can confidently tell you is bound to change with new tournaments and leagues coming up in Africa, for now, i shut my beak until the cat is out of the bag. Days when young gaming professionals in Africa needed backup plans, attending college or working, or doing others jobs is soon coming to an end. This is because upcoming tournaments and leagues will offer employment security something eSports in Africa has so far been unable to provide. Their passion and love for the game that drives their commitment, training for hours comparable to that of any other traditional sports professional athlete will be rewarded.
Recently i had a chinwag with a professional gamer from Republic of South Africa, a League of Legends player who is competing as a member of a local eSports team. At 20 years-old, the young player is uncertain about his future in the gaming industry. Studying computer science, he juggles university and eSports commitments, an act that he told me sometimes prove to be increasingly challenging coupled with a recent changes in his life. He was forced to move into his team’s gaming house few months back, a living space he shares with team mates and a coach, that offers him an environment which allows deep team bonding and intense game training.Multi tasking the two is not rocket science as such. The youngster told your blogger that one of his team mates has just finished college and like him, he is also studying.Himself, has been involved in the professional gaming scene since he was 12 years old and four years later, he was eligible to play League of Legends competitively.“I have been playing games ever since I was a kid,” he added. Introduced to League of Legends by a Namibian friend, they used to play together after school hours. The youngster says he has since continued to improve as he spent more time playing the game until he was asked if he wanted to join a competitive team.“I had no idea of the existence of eSports at the time,” he revealed, “and thought it was quite weird people were being paid to play video games in South Africa.”He is now looking forward to attending bigger tournaments across Africa and get the opportunity to compete with best in the world.“It’s gonna be dream job for me,” youngster says. He also hope to one day be able to support himself financially by playing games like League of Legends in Africa, a reality not achievable in the current eSports environment. “A lot of players travel overseas from South Africa,” he says. There they can earn a salary from sponsorship and winning tournaments with prize money. “A lot of eSports players in South Africa like to say we are at least three years behind the rest of the world in terms of the eSports industry,” youngster says.“African eSports really didn’t get going until about a year ago, which is when I stepped in.”He also believes eSports houses like the one he lives in now, are the future of eSports in South Africa and even in Africa.“If professional teams don’t have a gaming house, they will simply be left behind, a step in the right direction for the advancement of eSports in South Africa.”The youngster says it is an exciting time for South Africa eSports, in particular the gaming scene.South African eSports in the last six months has moved in the right direction and is becoming more widely recognized.For him, playing video games began as a casual way to have fun with friends in Cape Town and fill a competitive need. As he became more passionate about the game, he began participating events as well as playing competitively as a way to try and help the eSports scene grow.The future of eSports in Africa as a whole is unclear, but for now in South Africa, it is on the rise, thanks to individual passion for the gaming scene which will push the South African industry to run faster to catch up with the rest of the world.