Playing games? No, esports teams are making money!

Esports gaming can be a full-time career and income generator. According to esports Insider, a leading news source on video gaming worldwide, South Africa stands at the forefront of African esports. The publication notes that vital organisations, like Mind Sport South Africa and the Confederation of African Esports, are helping South Africa’s mobile, desktop and console gamers to rise through the ranks of the best in Africa and the world.

‘According to a report by analytics company Newzoo and gaming platform and publisher Carry1st report,’ the esports Insider article says, ‘South Africa is the largest market in Africa and has the highest consumer spending, at US$290 million. An estimated 95% of gamers play on mobile … underscoring the importance of mobile esports’ cheaper barrier to entry in supporting the region’s exponential gaming growth.’

Gamers making money

South Africa is home to some of the biggest teams in Africa, from ATK to Bravado Gaming. Influential gaming organisations have also looked to SA when acquiring new talent — most notably when Cloud 9 signed a South African duo to play Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) in 2020.

Nedbank recognises the impact of esports and its rise, and we’ve included it as part of our YouthX initiative in collaboration with leading esports team Goliath Gaming. At the YouthX Summit in Johannesburg recently, Goliath Gaming hosted an esports tournament that invited aspiring young esports players to receive online gaming training and take part in competitions to win prize money.

Money and esports are synonymous these days. Some of the world’s leading players earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in prize money and sponsorship deals. For example, Johan ‘N0tail’ Sundstein, a Danish DotA 2 player, has already earned more than US$7 million playing in 130 tournaments. He’s currently ranked the leading DotA 2 player in the world.

Finland’s Jesse ‘JerAx’ Vainikka, the world’s second-best DotA 2 player, has reportedly raked in around US$6.4 million playing in 68 tournaments. And the world’s third-best DotA 2 player? That’s Anathan ‘ana’ Pham from Australia, who’s earned about US$6 million playing in 26 DotA 2 tournaments.

According to, South African gamers also scoop up decent sums: ‘There have been 662 South African esports players awarded [a total of] US$1,465,475 in prize money across 349 tournaments. The highest-awarding game was Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with US$869,836 won, making up 59.36% of all earnings by South African players.’

The latest PlayStation and Xbox offer next-generation graphics for a fraction of the cost of a gaming desktop

Johnny ‘JT’ Theodosiou is the highest-earning South African player, having won US$136,617 in total prize money playing CS: GO.

How to start in esports in South Africa

Consider playing one or more of the 10 most popular esports games in SA:

1. Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)

2. Rocket League

3. FIFA 18

4. DotA 2

5. Hearthstone

6. FIFA 21

7. Apex Legends

8. Battlefield 4

9. StarCraft II

10. Assetto Corsa Competizione

There are several gaming associations, teams, parties – whatever you want to call them – that you can sign up for online. These groups usually host local area network (LAN) parties, but thanks to high-speed internet, most engagements happen online. You can join the movement if you have a suitable gaming device – a mobile, laptop, desktop or console – with a low-ping internet connection.

There are some leading esports teams in South Africa that you can join to learn more or start playing competitively, including:

As mentioned, you will need a stable, high-speed internet connection with a low ping to play competitively. Mobile gamers must ensure their devices have a high-speed processor, preferably with a bit of graphics processing power, like the newer iPhones and the latest Samsung Galaxy devices. If you game on a laptop or desktop, you’ll need the latest AMD or Intel chipsets and decent graphics computing power. Competitive esports players equip gaming rigs with the best hardware to keep an advantage. The better your equipment, the easier it will be for you to strike when a map loads, as you won’t be waiting for graphics to render.

Console gaming in esports may be the way to go

Consoles might be the best blend of price and punch for esports, as the latest PlayStation and Xbox offer next-generation graphics for a fraction of the cost of a gaming desktop. If you don’t want to get a console and you prefer to play on a desktop or laptop, remember that the more popular games are designed for Windows/IBM platforms rather than Apple iOS. So, if you want to play in the big leagues, you’ll most likely need to upgrade to a fully-fledged Windows-based gaming rig at some point. If you have a lot of bucks to burn, you could have the best of all worlds and go for an Origin, which combines a gaming PC with a PS5 and an Xbox Series X. You can also add a Nintendo Switch OLED if you like.

Esports is expected to become a significant revenue generator in Africa in years to come, and it’s ripe for the picking. If you’d like to learn more about the esports scene, contact one of the following organisations:

If you’re a gamer or know a gamer in need of gaming peripherals, you can find the latest devices like the PlayStation5, Xbox Series X or Nintendo Switch OLED on Avo SuperShop – along with gaming value combos and accessories that make great gifts. You can also use your AvoPoints or Greenbacks to buy gaming vouchers for PlayStation Network access, Xbox Live, Robux for Roblox, and Google Play.