We love games here at Hypertext but more than that we love watching esports.

Here in South Africa we have embraced esports with open arms thanks to folks like Mettlestate, VS Gaming, ESL and ACGL. Organisations such as these have championed competitive gaming and thanks to them and many others you could throw a dart at a calendar and hit a day where there is a local esports event taking place.

So with esports being as fresh-faced as it is in South Africa it’s wonderful to learn that the industry is undergoing a paradigm shift in that more female gamers are expected to compete in esports in 2019 according to Gareth Scott, coach at multi-gaming organisation (MGO) xTc Esports.

With that having been said esports doesn’t just happen.

As with any sport, esports players need to earn a salary because K/D ratios don’t keep the lights on. So for more women to enter the sport there needs to be more funding.

“Gamers need to focus on gaming, and they need that sponsorship to give them peace of mind, it allows them to focus on what they need to, to further boost this multi-million-rand industry,” says Scott.

What many people don’t realise is that being a competitive gamer isn’t just about playing games all day. While gaming is the focus, physical health is incredibly important.

xTc’s coach says that maintaining a balanced lifestyle is key to gamers performing at their optimal. That means sticking to a healthy diet, maintaining an exercise programme and staying fit.

“As a gamer you’re also spending hours in front of a screen, roughly 6-8 hours at a time, and that means you need to pay attention to your posture as well, don’t slouch. Above all else your mindset is important, healthy thoughts equal healthy actions,” says Scott.

Of course, none of this is possible without money and that is where sponsorships play a massive role. Prize pools do play a part but winning is never a guarantee.

“Sponsors take care of the big stuff, and that allows the gamer to participate fully without having to worry about any additional costs. That also means profit margin increases for the gamer,” Scott explains.

One such sponsor is Syntech which has been backing local esports organisations since 2015. Naturally Syntech co-founder Ryan Martyn agrees that for esports players to flourish, funding is needed,

“Distributors and key brands will continue to sponsor gamers and competitions while the market is showing growth,” says Martyn.

Prospective esports players should temper expectations though. Just because there is an influx of money doesn’t mean you’re going to be rich overnight.

That having been said, having the security that comes with stable pay allows gamers to pursue revenue from other channels.

“In South Africa, prize pools and sponsorships are unlikely to make any gamers wealthy, but they do provide enough security for individuals to develop their profiles and generate additional revenue streams via endorsements, streaming advertising and even participating in international events,” Martyn adds.

Competitive gaming is on an upward trajectory and it becoming more inclusive in 2019 is good news not only for gamers but brands as well.

[Image CC BY 2.0 – James Cao]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.