Online casino gaming has been a favorite pastime among African gamers for many years. Now, two Kenyans are leading the African charge into the world of esports. The first African to land a big-time sponsorship (Red Bull) was Thabo “Yvng Savage” Moloi from South Africa but the true explosion in esports engagement is coming from East Africa where two Kenyans are putting African esports on the international map.
Here the Grande Vegas no deposit bonus code site explores the story of two Kenyan esports stars who are responsible for making the world sit up and notice. Sylvia "Queen Arrow" Gathoni and Brian Diang'a, the "Beast" have achieved the impossible – defying the odds to make Kenya into a popular gaming hub for African esports. The local market is now projected to reach Ksh13 billion in the coming year despite challenges. Yet Kenya’s success at adopting technology and increasing internet penetration have given it a reputable status in the global arena of competitive video gaming.
Kenyan youth are responding to the opportunity to pursue gaming as a career by investing their time and efforts to enhance their skills so that they can represent Kenya in international esports tournaments. Companies such as Red Bull and Safaricom have become involved with endorsements and the organization of tournaments to help the sport grow in Kenya as well as in surrounding countries.
The Kenyan representation in the international arena is still centered on the country’s two best players but expectations are that by the end of next year, additional players will be competing on the global stage.
Sylvia Gathoni, also known as "Queen Arrow," is Kenya’s first female professional esports athlete and one of the two top esports competitors in the country. Her focus is on the Tekken 7 fighting game which she plays as she creates content at night after spending her days at law school.
Gathoni says that she is one of only a few female sports players in Africa, even though women account for about 35% of all gamers worldwide. She is determined to help change that. "We don't have many women, so you don't have a support system from people who share the same gender," Gathoni says. "I have to make sure that I'm an example to other women and other people who aspire to be in the gaming industry."
Gathoni has been creating content since 2018. Today, at just 22 years old she is ranked 13th in Kenya and is the first East African woman player to be recruited into a US-based esports team – XiT Wounds – making her the first East African pro gamer to be recruited into a major e-sports company.
As with women players in other areas of the world, Gathoni says that sexism is a major hurdle that she is trying to overcome in the male-dominated industry. "There's some men who do not like the idea that I've made it as far as I have," Gathoni told CNN. "They say that the only reason that I've gotten signed is because I'm a woman and it's not because of my hard work and my skill."
Long-term, Gathoni said that she intends to show that esports can be a career. “Right now, for a lot of people, it seems like we are just wasting our time, resources, and energy," she said. "I really hope that will change in East Africa, and here in Kenya."
She also intends to apply her law degree to help shape the future of the esports industry, including making esports more inclusive to women. “I hope to at least create some of the laws that are going to be used as the foundation for the gaming community and also create laws that regulate micro-transactions" (a controversial issue involving small in-game purchases of virtual items that are needed to succeed in a game).
Brian "Beast" Diang'a
Brian Diang'a, "Beast" was born and raised in the Kibera slum. He started playing Mortal Kombat as a youngster in a Kibera gaming den where, he says, he would go to escape reality. "We would go without food for days, (and) no water," Diang'a told CNN. "The whole of high school I was wearing one pair of shoes."
Diang'a became one of Kenya’s most celebrated Mortal Kombat players which, he said, brought purpose to his life. "The good thing about Kibera is you are low and you can't go any lower than where it is. The only place left for you to go is to go higher. So I just kept pushing myself and telling myself I don't have limits."
Diang'a studied by watching YouTube tutorials and watching other players online. He couldn’t afford a console but once he began entering local tournaments, his professional career took off.
Even while playing a significant role in growing Kenyan gaming industry, he is still involved in developing esports in Kibera. He continues to live there and runs gaming dens for local kids in the community.
Diang'a has been gaming long enough to see significant changes in the country’s esports.
"When the first tournament was held in Kenya, I think the registration at most was 12 people," Diang'a remembers. "Currently I work with Pro Series Gaming and every week we host tournaments for different platforms -- mobile, PC, and console." Diang'a says that today, as many as 50 players might register for such events.
African esports still faces significant challenges. The continent doesn’t have the needed infrastructure, there are heavy import duties on equipment which limits players’ access to needed devices and internet connections are slow. But the country’s esports competitors are convinced that African players can and will become global forces in the esports arena.
"The reason I'm in this space is I want to improve or help improve on what has already been done by the ones before me," says Diang'a. "And I feel it's my duty to make it better for those who are coming after me."