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Kenya set to launch e-sports league and take part in international competitions

Plans are at an advanced stage to inaugurate a Kenyan league for e-gaming in July, the first step towards the country participating in her debut international e-sports competition by the end of 2019.

Recently-registered e-sports Kenya Federation (ESKF) will soon unveil a 16- team e-sports Kenyan League.

Founder and CEO of ESKF Bavong Ojwang says although they are still a young federation, having been registered by the ministry of sports just 10 months ago, they were ready to roll out a national league and several other activities to popularise the sport.

“We are letting corporates own the league and run the teams to make them as competitive as possible and giving the athletes the chance to showcase themselves,” said Ojwang during a presentation to reward the winner of the ESKF logo competition in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The competition was supported by Flooks, one of Kenya’s leading gaming technology firms.

“We will be launching the EKL platform and once we launch the platform, we are going to ask the public to register. We will also give a criteria on how to do that,” added Ojwang.

On Kenya’s debut at the world e-sport stage, Ojwang said: “We are trying to comply with the international e-sports federation so that we can participate in the international e-sports world championships.”

He said the federation was burning the midnight oil to fast-track the affiliation process in time to participate in the 11th e-sports world championships which will be held in Seoul, South Korea, at the end of the year.

The 10th e-sports World Championships, held in 2018, featured three official titles, League of Legends, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Tekken 7, were played, with more than 459 players from 46 countries taking part.

“There has never been an African team and I have received so many calls since announcing our ambition. But I want us to get to the deep end of the pool and get the experience because I believe we can be the biggest e-sports nation in this continent,” he said.

Ojwang adds that, in addition to public tournaments, they also intend to collaborate with the ministry of education with a view to having the sport incorporated into the e-learning programme at primary school level.

“We have vibrant programmes to bring e-sports to the public. We want e-sports to be a game for everybody and not just one for kids in the bedroom but one they can also engage in with their parents. We are discussing with different institutions to introduce scholarships and bursaries for e-sport athletes as away of giving meaning to parents, allowing their kids to participate in e-sports.”

Kenya’s e-gaming potential has been valued at Sh4.9 billion, as per the independent survey on e-sports conducted in 2017.

E-gaming is massively followed in Asia and Europe, with millions of television audiences on mainly enjoying through online live streaming, while thousands pay top dollar tickets to enjoy e-sports competitions live.

The phenomenal growth of e-sports has seen big sports institutions, including football governing body FIFA, launch its own league while big football brands have set up their own e-sports teams.

Bundesliga sides Wolfsburg and Schalke 04 were among the big football names to launch their e-sports teams with West HamFootball leading the way among English Premier League clubs.

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