Competitive gaming, also known as E-sports, is fast becoming a global craze. With huge events and tournaments that are watched by millions of passionate fans, many people are beginning to question whether playing video games can be considered a real sport. Even though e-sports may not be as physically demanding as traditional sports like football and basketball, the structure, strong fan base and the requirements to seriously contend in the competitive gaming legitimize it as a “real” sport. To appreciate this, it is important for one to gain an understanding of the complete picture of e-sports.
E-sports is essentially a short electronic sports, where players and professionals compete for rewards and more. In essence, the core of its existence ranges from hand held devices to consoles and to specialized gaming computers. Another way to think of Esports is competitive gaming being held together by its millions of fans worldwide. The industry is already a multi-million dollar one that does seems not to be kept up by the mainstream media today.
In a sense, these competitive gamers could be called athletes while they could merely be called ‘gamers’ as they compete solo or even on teams while practicing daily and regularly and playing the games they enjoy just as any other athlete. While other traditional sporting events generally physical activities that require conditioning, training, and pure hours of long practice, E-sports is merely competitive gaming. The biggest distinction between the two seems to be physical interaction and exertion.
E-sports is considered to be a fast growing sports and could even be considered a social phenomenon as it is talked about across the social media daily.
Video gaming in Africa is a market that’s enjoying explosive and exponential growth. According to Mordor Intelligence, spending on video games across the continent will increase at a compound rate of 8.5% per year between 2020 and 2025.
At present, this growth is being fueled by higher accessibility of game consoles, which are predominantly enjoyed by younger gamers.
Crucially, Africa is one of the few regions in the world that has a high level of population growth. In the next 30 years, the number of people under 24 will grow by 50% -meaning the demand for these types of devices is likely to increase.
Mobile gaming is also growing across Africa, with more than half of the continent’s population owning a smartphone. Research has shown that older demographics also enjoy casual games on mobile devices, meaning growth is likely across both platforms and all demographics.
While the African continent lags behind more developed video game markets like Asia, North America, and Europe today, it will likely catch up soon.
Ghana is currently the 8th largest video gaming market on the continent, behind countries like Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, and Morocco, all of whom have significantly larger populations and nominal GDP.
In 2018, gamers in Ghana spent US$23 billion (GH₵133 trillion) buying games, consoles, peripherals, subscriptions, and in-game content. This figure is expected to grow at least in line with the growth across the continent.
If you are the type of person who needs numbers to believe a point, here’s a big one: according to Newzoo (a company dedicated to market research in all things digital) highlights the following:
Global e-sports revenues will grow to $1.1 billion this year (2020), a year on year growth of +15.7%, up from $950.6 million in 2019.
In 2020, $822.4 million in revenues or three quarters of the total market will come from the media rights and sponsorship.
Globally, the total e-sports audience will grow to 495.0 million people in 2020, a year on year growth of +11.7%.
By 2021, revenues could reach over 1.5 billion dollars. It’s very much a growing industry.
The truth is that more and more people are getting to know what e-sports entails and, progressively, more and more football clubs are starting to invest here.
PSG could be considered the pioneer of European football’s ties with e-sports. Founded in 2016, PSG e-Sports has several players and teams that belong to their organization and compete in several competitions – not just in obvious titles like FIFA.
Manchester City are also innovators in this space when it comes to Premier League teams, and last year they became the first English top flight team to invest in the faster-growing e-sports market in China.
Aside from international e-sports events, some have been held in Ghana, including those organized by the Ghana E-sports Association that runs regular online and in-person events, with a focus on the EA Sports title, FIFA.
Other major tournaments in 2019 were the Ghana Master League and the MTN iFest Conquest. The Ghana Master League is the oldest e-sports competition in the country founded in 2017. In 2019, 80 gamers from across the country took part, all hoping to win the Ghana Ultimate Cup.
As a game fanatic myself from infancy, I noticed that the Volta region could come up with potential gamers and compete at the highest level. For this reasons, I sat down to think about how best E-sports could be at its best in the Volta region which gave birth to Eze Gaming Hub on Sunday 19th July, 2020. I started gathering gamers via my social media handles and brought them to battle against each other with a LIVE stream of FIFA20 -a football game on my personal online blog Eze1 TV on Facebook and on YouTube.
This caught the attention of many lovers of E-sports and even the President of Ghana Electronics Sports Association, Mr Kwesy Hayford who was glad with the initiative coming from the Volta region and encouraged me to keep it. Before Eze Gaming Hub came in with the evolution of E-sports, there are countless of game centers in the region which only looked at the business side of it than actually making Esports a healthy competitive sports.
Eze Gaming Hub got registered under the Ghana Electronics Sports Association and was given the approval to host the first ever competitive E-Sports tournament in the Volta region. Tagged as “VOLTA FIFA CHAMPIONSHIP”, it was launched on Friday 14th August, 2020 in Ho, Volta region, with registration opened for gamers across the length and breadth of the region given the opportunity to compete at the highest level of E-sports with the winner eligible to represent the Volta region at the national tournament with a chance to represent Ghana in Africa. After three (3) weeks of awareness and registration, sixteen (16) participants locked horns at the first ever E-sports tournament in the Volta region on Saturday 5th September,2020 under the kind patronage of the Ghana Electronics Sports Association, represented by its president and an executive member.
The tournament was a success with Maxline Kofi Ziddah becoming the first ever E-sports champion from the Volta region who will ultimately represent the Volta region at the national event before the year comes to an end. E-sports hasn’t enjoyed the same amount of investment in Ghana as in other countries where major tech brands like Intel and Logitech have been spending millions of dollars to organize and sponsor competitions to show off their gaming tech but what made the Volta region stand tall in the country as far as this tournament is concerned was how sponsors embraced the initiative and supported with fantastic prizes for the participants and the top winners going home with trophies, medals, a television set, mobile phone and so many home appliances including snacks for all who were present.
Getting sponsorship for events in this part of the country is a major challenge but with this start, we are thanking the sponsors who came on board (Victor Electronics, Foodtech Ltd, Tecno Ghana, 5 Star Pub etc…) and calling on more sponsors to support us in developing Esports.
Esports has become more than just competitive gaming. Through playing and studying others, players can communicate with one another through their thoughts and feelings while also having the ability to interact with one another on a global level.
This also allows the players and athletes to interact with one another and provide support as they can communicate through the web and streams that they provide. Another aspect that piques my interest in Esports is that anyone can become a competitive gamer, but not anyone can maintain their position as a top athlete without having to defend their position as so many new theories and ideas evolve and change the flow of the games that are played.
Overall, I feel the need to promote Esports in the Volta region and bring it to light as many seem to ignore it entirely or look down on it. After many years to develop and establish itself globally, Esports really is something we can not underestimate.
It is therefore a great privilege and would urge all of us to take Esports important, as historic as it is, as the first step in a long walk towards changing the face of E-sports, not just here in the Volta region; but in Ghana as a whole.
It is a great privilege for gamers in the Volta region to have the VOLTA FIFA20 CHAMPIONSHIP which has been approved by the Ghana Electronics Sports Association. Eze Gaming Hub will continue to promote and create the awareness of E-Sports in the Volta region with its initiatives such as E-Sports Youth Academy where kids can be enrolled for training sessions, Eze E-Sports Battle where personalities and celebrities are paired to play against each other in a television reality show, Volta Rep Your Hood, Volta Tertiary Open, Volta JHS/SHS Open which would all lead up to the annual Volta FIFA Championship, where we expect to see more talents from every corner of the region.
I can tell you, in all confidence that the Volta FIFA Championship has come to stay and the evolution of E-Sports in the Volta Region just got started!
Written By: Christian Chibueze