Esports athletes now observed as ‘conventional’ ones
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Esports athletes now observed as ‘conventional’ ones

Esports athletes now observed as ‘conventional’ ones

Matthew Pickering, CEO, Power League Gaming discusses how esports athletes now have the same skills as conventional athletes, enabling them to compete at the highest level

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How do you see the growth of esports and gaming in the Middle East region, specifically the UAE and Saudi Arabia?
Power League Gaming (PLG) operates throughout the AIM region, with a focus on connecting our partners and their brand with MENA Gen Z audiences. Within this territory, Saudi Arabia and UAE have the highest adoption rates of new tech, mobile penetration, and percentage of the population identifying as gamers. Treating the two nations independently, 65 per cent of the UAE’s residents identify as gamers, while in Saudi 67 per cent of the population game at high frequency (four times per week or more).

Tell us about your company in brief. How is your organisation educating fresh talents in this industry?
PLG has been at the forefront of the gaming and esports sector in the MENA region for the past decade, directly shaping and influencing the way in which gamers, publishers, and brands interconnect. Throughout our activations, our objective has been to elevate the Arabic gaming and esports segment both through high quality experiences and actively educating fresh talents, providing them with career opportunities in the MENA region through various ways such as EMU (Esports and Media University) which is a part of PLG’s portfolio of education businesses. It is dedicated to surfacing, nurturing, and incubating fresh talent. It fosters real-world experience and provides downstream employment or internship opportunities to the next generation of content creators and gamers.

Furthermore, our online content IP named Stream School, provides the knowledge, tools and insights to the next generation of content creators through a series of episodes on how to become a successful streamer, from basics to mastery, publication to monetisation. Meanwhile, Miss esports is our platform dedicated to surfacing and incubating fresh female Arabic gaming talent. It provides an environment for female gaming talent to watch, play and learn, in a safe, secure and quality manner.

We also actively invite prospective talent looking to break into the gaming and esports space. Talent search – our monthly open house and talent scouting sessions provide a platform for rising stars of the esports and gaming segment to come and show their skills, both in front of and behind the lens.

What opportunities does your tournaments platform give to amateur players?
• ‘Pathway to pro’ – selection of talent to access teams and sponsorships
• A wide range of accessibility – high-value top tier tournaments with high prize value VS more
accessible environments for eSports athletes at the beginning of their careers
• Development of the PLG Schools Leagues, to surface and nurture the careers of regional student
talent, supporting their growth and giving opportunities to launch their careers within eSports and gaming content production

Tell us about your recent partnerships.
Amongst our recent portfolio of brands and partners include:
Pizza Hut: Creating a 360 social gaming and esports ecosystem for PizzaHutGamingME for the region.
Huawei: Creating virtual esports events for AppGallery through tournament creation, content and user acquisition strategy
Michelin: Intercontinental esports tournaments and virtual products launches
L’oreal: Female focused esports and gaming content creation, including sales promotion mechanics
STC Bahrain: an annual series of monthly tournaments across AAA console, PC and mobile platforms targeting Bahraini gamers.

Although there has been tremendous growth in esports, do you think the sector still lacks the deep roots you would find with conventional sports?
Within the last two years there has been a global shift in the classification of both esports and the sector’s athletes. Esports athletes are now observed as ‘conventional’ athletes with a broad spectrum of unique abilities which enable them to compete at the highest level.

While esports and gaming are still at a hyper growth stage in the region, we are observing stable and sustained yoy growth, attributed to both fresh brands entering the sector and increasing participation by Arabic gamers. This presents a considerable and expansive opportunity for brands and gamers alike, to collaborate in activations and experiences for mutual benefit. The appetite for players to access and participate in branded gaming activations and for viewers to consume and engage with entertaining and in some cases rewarding branded content which falls from these activations, is increasing in popularity each year.

Read: Abu Dhabi to host MENA’s first Amazon University Esports Masters Series

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