Esports in Commonwealth Games: ‘It’s a start of an incredible journey’

By Amos Joseph

Organised gaming popularly known as esports has made its debut in the Commonwealth Games with hopes of ‘changing the game’ globally.

The qualifiers playoffs kicked off at Confetti X multipurpose hall with media and board members of the Global Esports Federation in attendance.

Players from different continents defied the odds to attend the championship which is one of the pilot sports at the quadrennial international multi-sport event.

Defying the Odds
Team Jamaica has been training and coaching themselves for months because their coach caught covid, and obviously could not make it to Birmingham 2022.

‘It’s amazing being here,’ Alec Afflick whose gaming name is WhiteHawk29 said.

‘People from Trinidad, Barbados have been messaging saying, we are happy that you are representing us. The support has been amazing. Just to get here is an honour, and the whole team is excited.

Alec stumbled on Rocket League on television and could not lay his hands on the console because it was not free to play.

‘It’s indeed an opportunity to meet some of these pro players I’ve been watching and following. It’s amazing. We are still in the early times in Jamaica, we are not expecting to win but to show that where we can go is amazing.

‘I saw Rocket League on TV, and I was like, this is amazing, and wanted to play. I realised it wasn’t free to play and at the time wasn’t easy to buy in Jamaica so I couldn’t buy it until 2019 when I made an online purchase.

With just two years of experience playing Rocket League, Alec has taken his trade beyond the borders of Jamaica.

Team India’s captain Hargun Singh used to be a footballer but quit due to injury, and has since found true love country with Esports.

‘I feel like we finally got to this level after everyone else,’ 19-year-old Hargun said.

‘We have a bit of a disadvantage because these players have the motivation and have been preparing all these years.

‘It’s an honour to compete against countries like Wales and England who have all the professional players. In the beginning, I used to watch these people play rocket league and that’s what motivated me. Now facing them is a big opportunity and I believe.

Game Changer

Making it to the games ‘means a lot to our contingent,’ says Afiq Fadhli Narawi, Deputy President Malaysia Electronic Sports Federation

‘We have sent a team for DOTA 2 Women open and eFootball open. It is a very good opportunity for them to get exposure and experience on how to compete against a team from the Commonwealth because previously they used to play against Asian teams.

‘This is a golden opportunity for the players. We are here to win and we target a podium finish in this championship

Mark Chay, Executive Director, Community and Administration, Global Esports Federation & Head of GEF_house says it is great to see the vision come to manifestation.

Mark Chay, Executive Director, Community and Administration, Global Esports Federation & Head of GEF_house

‘We’ve brought about 20 nations together with more than 180 players and officials playing in the qualifiers.

‘We are all excited to see what the nations can do but most importantly coming together, representing the values esports brings, is amazing.’

Chester King, chief executive of British eSports and vice president of the Global eSports Federation, says it’s a tip of what is to come.

‘This is the start of an incredible journey and it’s a historic weekend for esports.’

‘It is a moment that we are proud of, and the significance of this weekend is of huge importance. We want to create heroes.

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