WATCH: Meet the new esports superstars

Esports is probably the biggest thing you have never heard of. Now meet SA’s new sports stars.

01 August 2017 - 06:32 By Scott Peter Smith

Gone are the days when teenagers spent hours in front of their screens playing games while their parents tried all sort of schemes to get them out of their rooms and “do something with their lives”. 

Today, those same teenagers, even in South Africa, are well on their way to earning more than the world’s top competitors in traditional sports. 

Competitive video games are changing the face of sports – either replacing those sports completely or marrying the two on and off the field in events such as the celebrity-focused e-football console tournament extravaganza held by VS Gaming on July 22 and 23 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

At that event, one non-pro player took home R500,000. A win like that from a R1.5-million prize pool gives esports players with latent skills a reason to step up to the plate.

And then, on Sunday, the prize pool was R550,000 once again at Dota 2, another tournament hosted by VS Gaming in Cape Town at the Electronic Gaming Expo (EGE). In short, it has been an exciting fortnight for esports.

In that light, meet Kyle “Frosty” Nortje, 16, who is one of the best under-18 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare players in South Africa.

His team, Energy eSports, won the grand final at the EGE on Sunday as part of the African Cyber Gaming League tournament, also at the EGE. He hopes to make a living out of gaming in the future.

South Africa is a little behind the curve, but in other parts of the world esports players are huge celebrities and gaming is their full-time job. Administrative sports bodies are even starting to recognise it as an official sport, with suggestions it may be included in the 2020 Olympics. 

And yes, it is a real sport. If millions of people are watching, and millions of dollars are spent on winnings and endorsements, it makes it one.