TIME TO DEMYSTIFY eSPORTS IN ZAMBIA

When one talks about sporting activities, sitting in front of a television screen or a computer is definitely not the picture that comes to our mind. However, the 21st century has certainly changed this perception, with the growth of what is known as eSports.

So, what is it?

eSports – pronounced “e-sports” – is a general term used to describe video game competitions. Much like athletic sporting events, eSports games are often played before live audiences and may be broadcasted over the Internet as well.

As nerdy as the definition sounds, America’s WRUF reports that the eSports industry has exploded into a multi-million dollar business, complete with coaches, players, and sponsorships on the line.

For as long as eSports has been around, people have questioned the legitimacy of the medium and whether the various games constitute as a “sport.”

eSports tournament Evolution Championship Series (Evo)

“It is just a bunch of nerds playing video games with other nerds gathering to watch them.” That is what many people may think. However, according to the Sport Accord International Convention, by definition, a sport is “all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants.”

The definition of sports clearly speaks for itself. eSports are competitive games with insane amounts of organisation accompanied by impressive communities that enjoy watching the abilities of the players. So much so, in fact, that some players have landed sponsorships, have met with celebrities and others have gone into league-style drafts.

This sporting activity has been popular, particularly in developed nations since the 1980s when 8-bit gaming was at its peak.

In Zambia however, eSports has never really been taken seriously. You will hear things like, “video games are a sheer waste of time” or “video games make you unserious and less productive.”

This negative perception has slowly been decreasing thanks to the coming of Gematrix. Now, I know what you are thinking, “what on earth is a Gematrix?” Well, it’s not a what, it’s more of a who.

Founded in 2018, Gematrix is Zambia’s very first official eSports organisation and, believe it or not, one of Africa’s best teams in the Fighting category.

The team has gained international recognition on the eSports scene by winning various tournaments across the African continent such as the Mortal Kombat X Pro Series Gaming Tournament held in Nairobi, Kenya last year.

Okay, so they won a tournament in another country, big deal?

Well, this lead in an article done by Zambia’s Lusaka Times will explain it for you, “TwoZambian eSports gamers have done the country proud by winning big at the Pro Series Gaming Tournament in Nairobi, Kenya. Justin Banda won 1st place and K50,000 and Mwelele Zaza won 3rd place and K10,000, both representing Team Gematrix.” That’s two guys winning K60 000! That is way more than some people make in a whole year!

Team Gematrix at the Pro Series Gaming Tournament in Nairobi, Kenya (Picture Credit: Gematrix Facebook)

But wait, that’s not all!

Team Gematrix also participated in major tournaments like the 2018 Injustice 2 legendary league held in South Africa, the 2018 Injustice 2 Rise to Greatness held in Kenya and the 2019 Mortal Kombat 11 Pro Cup hosted by ACGL and sponsored by Warner Bros and GameFinity – held in South Africa.

In August of 2018, Team Gematrix became the first African eSports team to attend the Evolution World Championship Series (EVO) in Las Vegas, USA. This is a big deal and not many people are aware of it!

Mwelele Zaza of Team Gematrix (Picture Credit: Gematrix Facebook)

According to the team’s Facebook page, their main goal is “to promote eSports as a lifestyle and to create the most exciting moments for our fans/audiences.”

The current state of the Zambian Gaming Community is evidence enough that Team Gematrix are slowly achieving their goal.

How?

Well, ever since Team Gematrix came on the scene, other eSports teams have emerged. Some of these include Ai Gaming.

Justin ‘Mr. 5000’ Banda of Team Gematrix (Picture Credit: Gematrix Facebook)

Also, more eSports tournaments have occurred thanks to Team Gematrix. For example, on the 5th of October, there was an eSports tournament held at Mulungushi Conference Center called Betway Gaming Corner Tournament.

Team Gematrix are certainly the pioneers of professional eSports in the country. They have undoubtedly made every gamer in Zambia proud through their various achievements. They have done their part in making eSports a ‘thing’ in Zambia. I am doing mine. Will you do yours?

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