LIMA – Despite an adverse scenario with faulty Internet connections, lack of support and infrastructure, and being stigmatized by society, eSports in Latin America is growing 11 percent annually thanks to the passion and talent that characterize the Latino gamer.
Those factors stood out during Lima Games Week, which attracted more than 12,000 people to the Peruvian capital between Dec. 6-8, from professional gamers and casters (commentators) to analysts and new talents in electronic sports.
Standouts among those were Denmark’s Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, top star of the Dota 2 online video game and twice world champ with the OG team, who told EFE that Latin American gamers have a “unique style.”
He noted, however, that one of the great challenges of eSports in general is Internet connectivity and the hardware, and that he hopes Latin America will soon reach international standards in those areas.
“Passion is what moves the Latin American gamer,” the Spanish eSports caster Ramon “Shadow” Lopez, told EFE. He has been immersed in professional gaming for the past five years, the latter two in Latin America.
With that experience, Lopez said that many differences exist between Latino and European gamers, chiefly in the areas of temperament and training.
“When you dedicate yourself to a competitive level, passion is what moves you most, but there are differences between European players, who are more orderly, more structured in their approach, and Latinos, who are more spontaneous, who are continually switching teams and are a little more chaotic – but at the same time are more entertaining to watch,” he said.
The reasons for this chaos and apparent instability are rooted in the difficulties that face the average Latin American gamer when trying to become a professional, since for Lopez the infrastructure and the Internet are matters that are pending, as is the support of brands.
“The stigma of society still remains, since it doesn’t consider video games their sort of thing. Once that changes, we’ll be at a level more like Europe’s,” he said.
“With less than $1 in his pocket, Jimmy “JimmyCoff” Huayhuameza went from the time he was a kid to a cybercafe to play and dream of being a professional gamer.
At 18, he has just won with his team, Torus Gaming, the Peruvian national interscholastic tournament of Dota 2 and a university scholarship.
Now Huayhuameza has his own computer, a contract as a professional player and trains eight hours a day in a district of Lima.
“Passion motivates you to do better,” JimmyCoff told EFE.
Bejar “Iwo” Malinowski, a professional player since age 14, told EFE that “a gamer deserves pay, he deserves a contract,” because that’s “the only way he’ll be taken seriously.”
“Unfortunately for those of us born in Latin America, it’s a little harder for us in that regard,” Iwo said.
For Rodrigo Vasquez, director general of Lima Games Week, bringing together brands and community gamers is one of the parts of his work he likes best.
“We want an increasing number of people to learn the importance of community gamers and that there is an interest among brands to back them,” he told EFE.
Lima Games Week had record audiences watching the digital platforms that transmitted the contests, almost like those following a final of Peru’s top-flight soccer league.
The main exhibition game, for example, had a participation of some 17,000 users connected simultaneously on Facebook and had a streaming audience of 1 million people.
A recent study by the market analysis firm Newzoo estimates that the market for gaming in Latin America will produce $5.6 billion in 2020, a prediction driven by two simple forces: passion and talent.