If you think this is about the disappointment of the UK High Commission not releasing the Nigerian contingent visa in due time for the inaugural Commonwealth Esports Championships in Birmingham from August 5th to 7th, 2022 then you got it all wrong. There were indeed loads of other fun and exciting moments to be celebrated in the over one week of amazing Esports Fiesta with thousands witnessing history being made than dwelling on that minor setback.
As I enjoyed the whole euphoria of this phenomenal achievement by the Global Esports Federation, GEF from the comfort of my office at the Lagos Esports Forum, LESF (a proud member of the GEF) in the heartbeat of the center of excellence, Lagos, Nigeria, I could not but pen down a few lessons to take home from all the glitz and glamour of West Midlands’ exciting hospitality.
Lesson 1: The GEF is Convening a Bright Future for Esports Globally.
Well is this still in doubt though?
From the virtual days of regional and national tournaments in December 2020 and April 2021 with the #worldconnected series to going live at the exhilarating 2021 Global Esports Tour in LA, Riyadh, and Dubai in 2021 which was followed by the hugely successful inaugural Global Esports Games 2021 in Singapore and already 2022 Global Esports Tour has set the stages in Dubai and Riyadh alight, it is no gainsaying that the GEF is setting the standard for Esports athletes to compete for glory either at a national level or professional level for their clubs.
This is indeed once again showcased in Birmingham with the Commonwealth Esports Championships which has been a worthy demonstration of a “Brighter Rewarding Future”, especially with the ongoing debate of Esports at the Olympics.
Big shout out to GEF President, Chris Chan and the entire board, CEO Paul J. Foster and the Executive Committee as well as Tournament Director, Kelvin Tan and the entire Organizing Committee.
Take a bow Team GEF!!!
Lesson 2: Money well spent Malaysia.
At the end of 2 days of fierce competition (4 days if we add the preliminary rounds), only those who are new in the Esports space will be surprised by the performance of Team Malaysia.
Under the dynamic leadership of its President, Dato’ Ananth S. Nathan, the Malaysia Esports Federation (MESF) has enjoyed the “full backing” of her government. Full backing here means the Malaysian government has in the last 4 years matched words with action.
In the last, 3 years the government has included over $10 million in its budget for Esports development – $2.4million in 2019, $4.8million in 2020, and $3.6million in 2021 (Still verifying what was allocated for 2022). So no surprise when they stormed to the top of the medals table with 3 gold medals at the CEC2022.
This shows that truly if governments all over the world can stop paying lip service to the development of Esports, there’s surely something huge to unearth within that ecosystem.
How best do you describe Return on Investment than the achievement of the Malaysians?
Lesson 3: Home Nations – Hidden Talents came to the Fore
Indeed before the Commonwealth Esports Championships 2022, we knew about the British Esports Association (now British Esports) under the leadership of CEO, Chester King with all the amazing work being done by the team across education, competitions, and collaboration.
All these made so many of us focus on England forgetting there was more to Britain and so with the announcement of Esports Wales, Esports Scotland, and Esports Northern Ireland coming to CEC2022 with their own teams, antennae were indeed up to see what they had to offer.
Indeed the Home nations did not disappoint with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland getting one gold medal each of the available 6 in addition to silver and bronze medals (except Northern Ireland) and Scotland with 2 silver medals all finishing behind overall champions Malaysia.
The big question going to the Global Esports Games in Istanbul, Turkey in December 2022 is, “Are we going to see these individual teams or they will come as one formidable TeamGB?” Fingers crossed.
Lesson 4: Africa – Connected But Still Work in Progress.
What’s an article from me without a mention of Africa (smiles)?
With Nigeria and Ghana missing in action, the burden of representation fell on the Kenyans and South Africans (playing as Team #worldconnected).
Good to see the South Africans make it to the big stage for the bronze medal match in the Rocket League open category which they lost to the Australians giving a good fight after a nervy start in the first 2 games.
Lots of work to be done around travel logistics and team preparations so we can have the best performance from our African gamers.
Honorable mention to my dear sister Malika Siheme “Queen Arrow” who was a resounding lone voice for Africa during the Commonwealth Esports Forum.
Lesson 5: Going to Victoria 2026
With the flag already handed to Victoria, Australia as the next hosts of the quadrennial Commonwealth Games, I sure look forward to something bigger for the Esports at the Games, chief of which will be to see it as an official medal sport.
No doubt that is the next phase of the conversation between the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Global Esports Federation and we will be here to celebrate it.
Written by: Sayo Owolabi – Secretary General of the Africa Esports Development Federation, AEDF (a body created by the GEF in September 2021 to support the growth and development of Esports in Africa).