eSports in Ghana

At vantage points on the Ghanaian streets were shops or better put centers that housed young, energetic, and passionate Ghanaians for several years. Across the country, there were thousands of people who would walk into these shops with cedis and pesewas to exchange them for gratification and satisfaction. This was the time of video gaming in Ghana.

Although the concept is gradually fading out, it has not been a doom to young Ghanaians who still have the burning desire to enjoy video games. Fortunately for them, the apparent decline of video gaming has ushered in a new era, which comes with even better profits.

eSports in Ghana

Electronic sports, popularly known as eSports has since entered the frame, and young Ghanaians have not only had a new outlet to nurture for their passion but are now ever likely to receive rewards for their passion and hard work.

eSports in Ghana might not be able at the level of countries like China, the United States in terms of eSports development, but there is indeed hope for the country as the sports rise. In 2019 alone, the country has seen the organization of several tournaments and events and one major conference leading to the apparent rise of eSports in Ghana.

But how did it all begin, what has been the progress so far, and what does the future holds for eSports in Ghana? We find out in this detailed overview of eSports in Ghana with a particular focus on 2019.

Beginnings

While video gaming can be very distinct from eSports, video gaming according to a source has been a bedrock of eSports in Ghana and it will thus be unfair to look at the beginnings of eSports in Ghana without taking into account its relationship with video gaming.

Leti Arts, one of the top gaming developers in the country and across the continent, traces the development of video gaming in Ghana to around the 1980s, and it is within that period and the early part of the 21st century that eSports began to develop in Ghana.

The early beginnings of eSports in Ghana arguably began in the early part of the 21st century. The qualifiers marked the historic moment for the electronic sports world cup which was held in Paris in 2010. The qualifiers were to be held between February and May 2010 in 6 different cities, according to our sources.

eSports in Ghana

It was scheduled to take place on 8th February at Spintex, 20th February at Dansoman, 13th March at Tema, 27th March at Legon, 10th April at Adenta and 17th April at North Kaneshie before the finals on the 8th and 9th May at the trade fair, which we understand actually took place at the Accra Mall Silver Bird.

The qualifiers were championed by Alista Innovation and had other prominent cooperate bodies like Tigo Viasat 1, Joy FM,  Adom tv Coca Cola and many others. The games included counter-strike, Warcraft, Trackmania, quake, street fighter, Fifa 10, virtual tennis, Need for speed all for a grand prize of GH10,000, and a trip to Disneyland Paris for the grand finals.

After the organization of these qualifiers, the country has not looked backed and is gradually becoming better in this niche. Nine years on after the first video gaming tournament and Ghana has seen a massive change in the eSports scenery.

Progress

It is no surprise that the concept of eSports was not welcomed in the country right from the start. This again goes back to the relationship that it has it with its bedrock, video gaming. Gaming has been associated with gamblers and rascals in Ghana such that parents have been wary of allowing their kids to participate in it. Children and lovers of gaming have had to sneak their way in and out of gaming centers.

While the notion persists among most guardians, the reception of eSports has been phenomenal. With major corporate bodies and media houses getting involved, the trend is now changing. In an attempt to assess this progress, we will put 2019 in perspective by highlighting the tournaments and major happenings that has taken place in the year.

Tournaments

In the year 2019, several tournaments have been organized by different gaming/ eSports groups in Ghana, which has raised the value of the sport in Ghana. We have selected some friendly games, the Golden hour eSports tournament, the Ghana master league, MTN iFest conquest, and HitzFm RepUrJersey as the basis for discussion in this section.

1. Friendly games

While the focus has been mainly on developing the sports in the country, the prospect of developing ties with other countries has not been out of the equation. In January, eSports Ghana, one of the eSports groups in Ghana, organized a friendly between Ghana and Jamaica with Ghana emerging victorious and making a huge statement in the scenery.

Wonderkid who represented Ghana had a perfect start on the night as he defeated Killdem who represented Jamaica by a lone goal in the first match and continued his impressive start with a 3-2 win in the second match of the night.

eSports in Ghana

Killdem came in much stronger in the last game and won by a lone goal. Unfortunately, that was not enough for him to be crowned as the champion of the night as the damage had been done in the first two games.

Inopportunely, Ghana could not follow up with another victory after they were defeated by Trinidad and Tobago a few weeks later in another friendly.

2. Golden Hour eSports tournament

The maiden edition of the Golden hour eSports was held this year. The event was powered by Giiks Game city and could become one of the most competitive eSports tournaments organized in the country.

According to the Project Director of Giiks Game City (GGC), Yuba Rahamani, the 2019 edition of the Golden Hour was organized for the top eSports players from previous tournaments held by GGC, but other gaming communities will join in in subsequent editions.

eSports in Ghana

He told JBKlutse.com: “The Golden Hour is just like the UEFA Champions League.

“The tournament is powered by Giiks Game City (GGC) but will have other gaming communities on board. We want it to be a yearly event where the various gaming communities in Ghana will bring the winners of their tournaments to play in.

“So Golden Hour is not for just gamers of GGC. It’s going to be for all the gaming communities, but to set the ball rolling we want to use the top participants from our past events for this year’s edition. We will later write official letters to all the gaming communities and whoever is interested can join us for the subsequent editions”.

This year, six top players participated in the tournament. Wondhakhid and Aspect qualified for the tournament through the World Cup series while Kiki and Messi qualified for the tournament through the Tertiary eSports Series. Habib and Saint Starson also qualified for the maiden edition of the Golden Hour through the Champions League competition.

After over six weeks, Wonderkid was crowned the winner of the tournament after winning four matches and drawing just one out of 5 matches.

3. Ghana Master League

The Ghana master league happens to be one of the oldest tournaments in the country and has been running for three years now since its inception in 2017. Last year, about 32 players were relegated after the league to create space for the admission of new players for the 2019 season.

The relegation of the 32 participants necessitated the organization of the qualification matches which came off on the aforementioned dates. Each qualification saw the quarter-finalists, the last eight participants, qualifying automatically for the master league.

eSports in Ghana

The 80 participating players were grouped into 4 zones with each zone having 20 players. Each player played 38 matches in a home and away fixture with the other 19 players in the zone losing a game. All matches in each zone were played within seven days before the Ghana Ultimate cup.

4. MTN iFest

MTN organized the MTN iFest conquest with support from PopOut, Invent LLC and Virtual Union. The event was divided into two phases with the first phase taking place in Kumasi between the 14th and 15th June 2019, while the second took place in Accra between 21st and 22nd June 2019.

At the Kumasi edition, Kelvin Agyei-Agyare Asamoah emerged as the winner

The tournament formed part of MTN celebrating its internet festival. Fifa 19 and Mortal Kombat were the competing games.

MTN Gaming Conference

On 30th August 2019, the Accra Digital Center was painted with yellow and black colors, on a day that could become the most significant of days in the history of Ghana eSports. Hundreds of people walked proudly through the entrance of the digital center having smiled at the “MTN Gaming Conference” inscription at the entrance. They had traveled from all parts of the country for the MTN gaming conference- the first-ever gaming conference in Ghana.

eSports in Ghana

It was indeed a historic moment and one which will leave a deep footprint and an indelible memory in the minds of stakeholders in the gaming industry. The heads of various eSports groups in the country were exuberant. The athletes were in a buoyant mood, and the gaming developers and the lovers of eSports were jauntier than they could ever be as the conference began.

After ten years of striving and toiling, the MTN gaming conference could well be the savior which opens the door of greatness for the Ghana eSports industry.

Foreign Partners

In terms of exposure to the outside world, the country has also had a fair share. The country has been able to organize international friendlies with foreign countries with the one against Jamaica and being the most significant.

The organization of the MTN gaming conference also saw the country being exposed to the outside world with one of the famous esports personalities being part of the conference. Isaiah Triforce Johnson was one of the guest speakers at the event which could well become the savior of eSports in the country.

Talents

1. Wonderkid

Wondhakid has been one of the best prominent players in the Ghanaian scene and has continued his seeming dominance in the year under consideration. He was crowned the winner of the maiden edition of the MTN iFest conquest before being crowned the winner of the Golden Hour eSports tournament.

Earlier this year, we caught up with him to discuss the prospect of naturalizing for another country with the advancement of other eSports nations in mind.

eSports in Ghana

“If USA or China or any other developed eSports country asks me to play for them, I don’t think I would accept that offer,” he said. “Because in as much as it will be tempting to naturalize for the USA due to the superior facilities they have for eSports players, I wouldn’t want to let my country down. I would want to represent my country so that I can help my motherland and the African eSports industry get more recognition in international eSports tournaments.

2. Habib

Habib has also been a force to reckon with in the scenery coming up with some great performances in the MTN ifest conquest and the Golden hour eSports tournament.

He came up as the first runner-up was to Wondhakid in the MTN iFest conquest in the FIFA 19 contest. He then finished third in the golden hour eSports tournament to build up on what has been a fairly good career for him.

3. Asamoah

Kelvin Agyei-Agyare Asamoah was the winner at the recent e-gaming competition held by MTN Ghana in Kumasi — the MTN iFest Conquest 2019, Kumasi Edition. The event took place at the Kumis Hive.

eSports in Ghana

Two games were used for the competition: Mortal Kombat and FIFA19. And the cash price on the competition was a whopping GH₵ 12,000 — get a piece of that just by playing video games.

Projects

In terms of securing the future of eSports in Ghana, the gaming groups have not fallen short. ESports Ghana has been actively trying to set up what looks an eSports academy to help develop the sports.

The project in truth serves as a way of using eSports to help whip the interest of reading in children. We spoke to the president of eSports Ghana, Kwesi Hayford, for details of the project.

Ghana eSports academy is all about creating opportunities through eSports for the younger generation. The potential of eSports is huge as technology expands and we plan on taking advantage of this by using Ghana eSports Academy as a solid avenue to professionally train individuals to become eSports athletes, shout casters, coaches, administrators and many others.

Certainly, the setting up of the academy will create job opportunities for many people. Because we will need a management team, instructors, technical team and professional gamers as well. Also in the future when our studio is ready we would employ cameramen, sound technicians, and other production personnel so the eSports academy will provide job opportunities for people

Cooperate Cooperation

The development of eSports in Ghana has also not been without the support of cooperate bodies. In this section, we will look at the influence of MTN Ghana and Kwese Tv on eSports in the year 2019.

MTN

The influence of Ghana’s bets telecommunication network in the eSports scenery cannot be underestimated. Through the MTN iFest and the MTN gaming conference. MTN have shown their commitment to the growth of eSports in Ghana.

They rewarded winners of the conquest with a total of GH24,000 but went even further with the MTN gaming conference by giving so much to eSports groups and stakeholders alike.

KWESE TV

The popular station was influential in the organization of the Golden Hour eSports tournament by streaming live the matches for lovers to watch and help advance eSports in Ghana.

Federation/ Association

One of the greatest challenges of eSports in Ghana has been a lack of organization. For several developed eSports countries, federations or associations has been key to their success. The association has more often than not been the chief organizer for setting and laying down rules, organizing national and also promoting the reputation of the country outside the country.

In the words of Stephen Aggor, the President of Pyria gaming, the lack of eSports association which is technically termed as the industry has been hurtful.

Although the aforementioned groups are striving to fill the shoes of an association and make the sports a better one, they are undoubtedly failing.

What progress has been made with association formation

It is no secret that eSports groups in Ghana have been pushing to get the association in place. So far two sections are trying to bring the association into existence. One which consists of several eSports groups are pushing for what will be called the Ghana eSports federation and have even begun processes to get a constitution. Although there is a twitter account for the federation, there is no existence of the federation, and the move could be a preparatory move for the federation.

One of the worrying issues related to eSports in Ghana has to do with the lack of organization or the absence of a governing body to regulate its activities. In a recent interview with Pyria gaming, the President of the eSports group, Stephen Aggor emphasized on how important proper organization and a governing body is to the eSports industry.

He indicated: “I think there’s currently no gaming industry in Ghana and I would explain why. I believe that the keyword when it comes to the eSports industry is organization and that organization aspect of the gaming industry very much lacks in Ghana. Because of that we have been able to, like a tree, spread our branches in different directions but with no greater impact”.

The existence of a governing body for the eSports industry cannot be overemphasized and hopefully with the MTN gaming conference bringing all stakeholders together, and with MTN becoming a key player in the industry, talks could be held for the governing body to be established.

The other which has been termed as the Ghana ESports association has been in existence for a while and has promoted the sports very well.

It has to be clarified that in no way are these two sections having a banter but they are all pushing for the existence of a group.

Gaming Groups

The growth of eSports in Ghana has been all due to the relentless unremitting and assiduous efforts of gaming/eSports groups in the country. Concerning the organization of tournaments and seeking sponsorship for, groups like:

Madagastar eSports

The Madagastar Esports Arena is a pioneering and leading international eSports event in Ghana. During Madagastar events, gaming tournaments, bringing together the best players in the world and their fans, are organized and produced as entertaining shows.

Today the Competitons are held more than 5 times per year with champions’ selections organized at the Biggest Shopping Mall In Africa, West Africa Ghana.

During the past years, Madagastar Esports Arena has been contributing to the development of electronic sports, while aiming for universality, sportsmanship and the production of innovative and entertaining content.

MADAGASTAR, GHANA’S ESPORTS PIONEERED COMPETITION

Igor Tenousseh.B, current CEO created the Madagastar Esports Arena and subsequently Games-Services until now. The first two events were organised at West Hills Mall in Ghana. The unique and innovative showcasing of gaming matches, played out on stage in front of a live audience, with live commentated broadcasts, quickly made the Madagastar Esports Arena a pioneering event and a leader in eSport communities in Africa. Since then the Master League finals have been held at the West Hills Mall (Africa’s Biggest Shopping Mall)

Over the years, the Madagastar events have witnessed many sponsors coming on board to ensure that Gaming Community takes shape. Sponsors like Westhills Mall, Accra Mall , SilverBird Cinemas, GTV sports, isocial, t best, Newyork Sizzler, Pluzz fm, TV Africa, Graphic Communications Group, TV3.

Pyria gaming

It’s an organization focused on promoting eSports in Ghana primarily. Its sole purpose is to be able to spread the gospel of esports across Ghana with industries and individuals alike.

It’s supposed to show benefits and provide benefits to all game groups and factions across the country. Thirdly we want to be able to create a Utopia where these different factions and individuals can come together to participate in whichever competition regarding the events in games that they prefer and be able to represent the country as a whole outside the international face.

eSports in Ghana

Priya gaming actually started two years ago, that is in 2016, and that’s after I had cased around and supported lots of gaming events and gaming groups across the country and finally decided that there was a key niche when it came to gaming and eSports and I will like Pyria to be able to harness the benefits from that niche and be able to provide the same benefits I explained to you before to individuals and groups.

ESports Ghana

Ghana Electronic Sports (eSports) Association (eSports also eSports Ghana or Ghana eSports) is a non-profit organization that acts as a bridge between Government, various institutions, Digital Entertainment agencies  and the eSports Community so as to create an environment that encourages amateur and professional eSports practitioners in Ghana from grassroots initiatives through to full professional level competitive eSports and related technologies.

Alisxta Innovation, Virtual Union, 4Change and Playbox Ghplus Brand affiliates together form the founding pillars of eSports Ghana. They bring on board their diverse expertise and years of knowledge in a bid to make Ghana an eSports nation.

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