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Zimbabwe takes its first big steps into the world of eSports

by Staff Reporter
28 Feb 2019 at 10:50hrs | Views
Whilst many Zimbabweans quite happily play video games in a casual manner, there are a growing number of gamers in the nation who want to take things up to the next level. Over the past couple of years, many young Zimbabweans have tried their hand at becoming professional gamers by partaking in esports tournaments.

Esports is one of the world's fastest growing entertainment trends, and the industry as a whole is expected to bring in revenues of over $1 billion in 2019. Whilst the competitive gaming trend had its origins in South Korea, it has spread across the world to reach North American and Europe, and it has also had a big impact recently in East Africa.

2017 saw Kenya hosting Africa's first ever esports tournament. The Nairobi Comic Convention gathered together 16 gaming teams from Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, and these teams competed over an action-packed weekend. Whilst no teams from Zimbabwe were present at this event, it seems as though the esports trend is rapidly taking over the entire continent.

The launch of eSports Zimbabwe

However, gamers in Zimbabwe are starting to get organised. Recently, we have seen enterprising individuals like Thomas Arnold setting up the Zimbabwe Mind Sports Union that aims to promote and organise competitive gaming in the nation. Also known as eSports Zimbabwe, this organisation was founded in 2015 and have already hosted tournaments for the FIFA football simulator game in Bulawayo.

But eSports Zimbabwe has also been pivotal in organising special trips for the best gamers in the country. These have included visits to gaming conventions in South Africa, and whilst it may be some time before we see any Zimbabwean teams featured in the odds at esports betting resources such as, it seems as though something important has begun.

Zimbabwe's gamers get official recognition

Whilst it's easy for a few pioneers to start their own esports organisations, it can be much harder to gain official recognition from games developers and tournament organisers. Thankfully, it looks like certain esports companies have started taking notice of Zimbabwe's fledgling competitive gaming scene.

This was seen in late 2017, when eSports Zimbabwe were given a license by Electronic Arts. This is one of the largest games developers and publishers in the world who have delivered massive titles like FIFA and Mass Effect. By granting their license it meant that Zimbabwe's gamers could be permitted for entry into the 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup.

The FIFA eWorld Cup is one of the biggest esports tournaments around, and last year saw the Saudi Arabian gamer, Mosaad Aldossary of Saudi Arabia receive a healthy share of the $250,000 in prize money. With no less than seven million other competitors, it's clear that Zimbabwe's gamers were up against a tough challenge.

Thankfully there were real efforts made across the region to provide adequate gaming facilities to help Zimbabweans make the most of these gaming tournaments. From Talk City in Harare, to Bulawayo's King of Analogs, we started to see the growth of an important gaming infrastructure that should help esports grow in the nation.

Where does esports in Zimbabwe go from here?

From their offices in Beitbridge, eSports Zimbabwe have managed to do a good job in promoting competitive gaming across the nation. It was heartening to see Zimbabwean gamers taking on Ghana and Nigeria in their FIFA friendly matches, and eSports Zimbabwe have also mentioned how they plan to include other esports to their roster.

These will include popular titles like Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat, and with the likes of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six making up the roster, it seems as though there is plenty of hunger for gaming in the country.

Such demand has been helped by the rise of pan-African gaming tournaments such as the Africa Esports Championship. Plus with even traditional sports broadcasters like Kwese Sports getting involved in the promotion of such competitions, it seems as though esports could soon start to rival the popularity of other sports such as football across the continent.

Obviously there is still a long way to go. What's needed most are the sponsorship deals that can help Zimbabwe's tournaments, teams and gamers compete on a global level. With most pro gamers putting in over 10 hours of practice per day, and tournaments needing evermore sizeable budgets, it's clear that time and money are needed to help Zimbabwe compete with the best in the business. Despite this, there is little denying the hunger for competitive gaming in Zimbabwe.

Source - Byo24News

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