Gam­ing your way to some big bucks

Play­ing com­puter games is a se­ri­ous busi­ness, writes Devon Koen

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

FOR most of us, slog­ging away in front of a com­puter screen for hours on end is the way to earn a salary, but for hard­core gam­ing en­thu­si­asts it could also mean win­ning big cash prizes do­ing what they love.

eS­ports or “com­pet­i­tive gam­ing” is a new form of com­pe­ti­tion tak­ing the world by storm and rak­ing in mil­lions for those in­vested in the on­line world, says Charles Gre­eff, 36, founder of Port El­iz­a­beth-based gam­ing club Sec­tor 17 .

eS­ports mostly take the form of or­gan­ised, multi-player video game com­pe­ti­tions, par­tic­u­larly be­tween pro­fes­sional play­ers.

Gre­eff first be­came in­volved in the gam­ing world in 2011 and started the eS­ports brand, Sec­tor 17, be­cause of the com­pet­i­tive na­ture of the sport.

Sec­tor 17 was mainly based in Port El­iz­a­beth but as the sport grew “we have evolved and ex­panded our brand to other cities”.

Cur­rently tour­ing Thai­land “for gam­ing-re­lated busi­ness”, Gre­eff said he en­joyed “the thrills and the adren­a­line pump­ing, as it all comes down to that last play of the game”.

Gre­eff said although fi­nan­cial re­ward was im­por­tant, it was only avail­able to a “se­lec­tive few pro­fes­sional teams in South Africa”.

“As you start off your pro­fes­sion as an eS­ports gamer or com­pet­i­tive gamer you need to join a clan or start your own clan. From there you need to sign up your clan for tour­na­ments,” he said.

From there on you will be en­tered into a lad­der stage where your clan has to com­pete un­til it reaches di­vi­sion 2.1 and then premium level.

Af­ter reach­ing this level your team will be in­vited to the mas­ter leagues and only then will you qual­ify for se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial re­wards, Gre­eff said.

“Last year, Telkom DGl paid out over R1-mil­lion in cash prizes to gamers in the mas­ter league. There are other tour­na­ments in South Africa where you can win up to R20 000 for your team but there aren’t enough of these tour­na­ments around.”

East Lon­don-based eS­ports en­thu­si­ast Sher­aaz Nun­nian, who has been in­volved in the gam­ing world for the past 12 years, said games such as free-to-play, mul­ti­player on­line bat­tle arena video game Dota 2 had the high­est player prize pools which could reach $20-mil­lion (R260-mil­lion).

“Other games have com­pe­ti­tions and prizes to a lesser value. Play­ers also get en­dorse­ments from var­i­ous com­pa­nies.

“As with main­stream sports, the fi­nan­cial re­ward is aligned to your abil­ity as a player – the bet­ter you are the more re­wards you are likely to en­joy. There are also coaches, ref­er­ees and com­men­ta­tors who de­rive fi­nan­cial re­wards, so it is not lim­ited to be­ing a player alone,” Nun­nian said.

Pro­fes­sional play­ers and gamers could spend up to 42 hours a week play­ing or prac­tis­ing eS­ports, said Gre­eff, adding that although “eS­ports is fun and safe, like any­thing else it can be­come an ad­dic­tion”.

Nun­nian said: “On­line gam­ing is very com­pet­i­tive, so there is the nor­mal ri­valry and name-calling be­tween teams.

“It can also be very ad­dic­tive so it is im­por­tant to bal­ance time spent gam­ing with other ac­tiv­i­ties for your phys­i­cal well­be­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to Gre­eff, the top games cur­rently played in South Africa are Counter Strike and Dota 2 for com­puter for­mats, while for PlayS­ta­tion and Xbox, Fifa and Call of Duty are tops.

“Any­one can get in­volved if they are se­ri­ous about gam­ing and en­joy the com­pet­i­tive edge it pro­vides,” Gre­eff said.

How­ever, eS­ports could also be­come ex­pen­sive, he warned.

“It all de­pends on which level you like to com­pete in.

“It’s nor­mally the equip­ment that is the ex­pen­sive part but that is in all sports.”

Echo­ing Gre­eff, Nun­nian said par­tic­i­pants of eS­ports as in any other sport, could get cheap gear or ex­pen­sive gear.

“It all de­pends on your bud­get. You can get the gear that is suited to your bud­get to start with and up­grade as you go along,” he said.

Con­sid­ered a dis­trac­tion from re­al­ity, eS­ports and other gam­ing plat­forms have re­ceived some neg­a­tive re­views but ac­cord­ing to Colin Web­ster, who is the gen­eral sec­re­tary of Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA), eS­ports has the po­ten­tial to stim­u­late the coun­try’s econ­omy.

“eS­ports should not be seen as a dis­trac­tion, but as a way to get the South African econ­omy mov­ing. The trick is to get the var­i­ous South African gov­ern­ment depart­ments to ‘buy in’ and pro­mote all as­pects of the eS­ports in­dus­try so that South Africa could also be­come an ex­porter of games and be able to pro­vide more em­ploy­ment,” said Johannesburg-based Web­ster.

Part of the In­ter­na­tional eS­ports Fed­er­a­tion (IeSF), MSSA has, along with 46 other mem­ber na­tions, cam­paigned to have eS­ports recog­nised as an Olympic dis­ci­pline.

For any­one in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about eS­ports and com­pet­i­tive gam­ing, Gre­eff and other mem­bers of Sec­tor 17 will be at the an­nual Con.nect con­ven­tion tak­ing place at Bay­west Mall from Septem­ber 1 to 3.

GAME FACES: Gamers do­ing what they love best

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