Local esports growth gaining traction
Electronic sports (esports), a form of competition using video games is showing signs of growth in the country, as the professional gaming circuit continues to gain steam.
Namibian Electronic Sports Association (NESA) chairman Flip de Bruyn in an interview recently said esports started in the country with one official event which was held at the end of every year. This event was called NamLAN – LAN of the Brave.
“Since then the sport has grown to host several tournaments throughout the year for different tiles on different platforms. Some of these tournaments, such as the Namibian national esports qualifiers, look for athletes to represent Namibia abroad in global events. Since 2017, NESA has sent athletes internationally to represent Namibia with a record number in 2021 of 12 athletes,” he said.
According to De Bruyn esports is but in its infancy stage currently in the country, so NESA has never really had the funds to properly grow the discipline in the capital, let alone the rest of the country.
“However, with the newly formed alliance with digital enabler, MTC, NESA hopes to bring esports to the rest of the country much faster. Since there are funds available now, we are currently planning activation events and other programs to get schools and tertiary institutions involved,” he added.
On Saturday 25 June, 66 top gamers had the opportunity to battle it out head to head for national colours to represent the country in upcoming international tournaments.
The games they battled in the finals included: CS: GO, DotA 2, eFootball2022, Tekken 7, MLBB, and PUBG Mobile.
De Bruyn said the winners will now need a lot of practice and guidance until the African Regional Games, of which they need to beat other African member countries of the International Esports Federation (IESF) to have a shot at playing in the World Esports Championship which will be held in Indonesia, Bali, later this year.
“I made it, even though it was very tough as I anticipated,” Hassel ‘Kaeizou’ Kabajani said, after shrugging off stiff competition to win the Tekken 7 finals.
“Next for me is representing the country in the African Regional games. In the regional games, we will face some resistance from the South Africans. They are very tough and are on another level,” he said.
Mauro “PoRRa07” Teles, an avid Dota 2 player who has represented the country at the international level told Xinhua that gaming in Namibia has been growing over the years and this year, it received a massive boost through the partnership between NESA and MTC.
“The popularity of the sport is getting better and better. It is on the rise. The new sponsorship has made it a more attractive sport and more people are getting interested. Look at this year’s venue provided by MTC. It is bigger better and has attracted a lot of followers,” he said.
De Bruyn meanwhile said that the biggest challenge is the mind of the population not recognising esports as a professional sport yet.
“It often takes a lot of educational sessions and practical events to demonstrate the level of professionalism that esports in Namibia operates on,” he explained, adding that esports, like any other sport, requires dedication and hard work.
To draw in more numbers in esports, De Bruyn suggested that avid gamers should consider becoming a part of the NESA community to see how tournaments are held and to connect with others that are interested in the same preferred game title.