The COVID-19 has of course had a massive global effect on how we do business and most industries have needed to pivot. But some areas have thrived in this time of uncertainty, none more so than esports, or competitive gaming. More people have picked up a controller during this pandemic and the esports industry has taken note.
True, the pandemic has also presented challenges – from travelling to compete at events to large broadcast teams being largely underutilised –but it’s also opened the door for South African players to make their mark. FIFA, specifically, has seen a huge boom during the national lockdown, with a new game released in October 2020 and a large number of opportunities for players to compete on a national and international stage.
The launch of the new title in the popular football Sim franchise also heralded a change to the competitive aspect of the game in past years. With the pandemic affecting the globe, EA needed to change up the global competitions hosted in the past and move to a focus on virtual events. According to the League Operations Manager for FIFA Competitive Gaming Entertainment, Rushan Shekar, this meant a completely reimagined Electronic Arts (EA) Sports FIFA21 Global Series, with the focus moving to playing from home. This meant, for the first time in FIFA history, that South Africa was allocated three of its own qualifiers for the EA Sports FIFA21 Global Series.
Over and above this, more South African tournament organisers began to realise the large player base of the game and, with that, even more competitions were introduced, including the Vodacom Super Cup with Mettlestate in 2020 and the eLaLiga Santander Fan Cup – an international competition organised by LaLiga and EA. South African FIFA players locally and abroad rose to the challenge and have put on incredible performances. Here are three SA players who are dominating South African esports.