Globally, electronic sports (Esports) has been on the rise in recent years, raking in high sponsorship and viewership numbers. Locally, The Bahamas Esports Federation (BESF), the body recognized by the International Esports Federation (IESF) as the governing entity of Esports in the country, has been active during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is set to play virtually in the Skins Rival international event slated for July 31 to August 2.
BESF President Michael Armogan said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team will have to play online as opposed to traveling to a location to play.
“We have an invitation for late July or late August where there is an invitation from the Central America/Latin America countries that will be playing in three different games. We are happy to be a part of that and it will be done online,” Armogan said.
Team Bahamas will be up against countries such as Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico. The three games that will be played at the competition will be Valorant, League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics.
Trials for the national team were held from April 3 to 6 with 35 persons registered. The BESF will only have a team for League of Legends at the competition. It is the most popular Esports game played around the world.
The team comprises of Johnathan Kelly (JEK), Seth Sweeting (Aft3r1mage), Floyd Bethel (Riga), Robert Smith (Rubz), Tristan White (Focus) and Chaz Swann (Muffin).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, BESF members were active, trying to improve their skills.
“A lot of the events have moved more online. Some of our member groups, instead of having their physical activities, they’re moving into more weekly and bi-weekly events online. People have taken this time to try and revamp a little bit. It is almost business as usual to a degree,” said Armogan. “We had a lot of plans – anything pertaining to community outreach to working with students to dealing with tourism and building up Esports more to a proper industry. COVID-19 also threw a wrench into the international aspect of it because we build up our teams to compete internationally and go to world qualifiers and world tournaments. We had to revamp and reconsider how to go about doing that and if we should go about doing that.”
The IESF is looking to have regional qualifiers in October and then stage the world championships in Israel in December. The organization stated that it will keep track of COVID-19 restrictions, and that the dates of events may change to ensure the health and safety of all participants.
Locally, there are close to 200 officially registered Esports members. There are also a few who have taken it on casually, for example the Fortnite community that has about 145 members.
Armogan and his team are working on a national leaderboard for persons getting into Esports. Persons can sign up as individuals or as a group.
“I see Esports growing in The Bahamas once people hear about it because that is part of the issue right now,” Armogan said. “We still have not reached a lot of persons and that is something we are working on. Once people hear about us, more persons will become interested and sign up, asking how to go about joining the teams. I see our teams growing and I see Esports growing. I see teams, leagues, clans and organizations being created and a lot more competitive aspects come about. You will hear more about Esports.”
BESF Vice President Chris Dames is one of the persons behind the scenes assisting the federation.
“I create and continue systems to get things running,” said Dames. “Gaming-wise, I have always been a strategist so that translates very well for me here… In the gaming community you need persons to take a step back sometimes and help others to get to where they need to get to.”
Dames has organizational and business experience, so using that experience has helped out the Esports community. He has done a lot of competitive gaming.
The BESF is looking forward to working with some of the other federations, having previously worked with the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF).
“We are taking a look at FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) so we are looking to working along with the soccer federation. We are also working to try ensure that Esports is represented along with games like Madden and anything else that we can get our hands on that the community is looking [at], and also that it is being built internationally so it is not just something that is local but we can take persons internationally as well,” Armogan said.
The federation has ratified national teams for League of Legends, Call of Duty and Tekken. The popular games played are Fortnite, Call of Duty, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Street Fighter and Tekken. The federation is looking to create teams for Fortnight, Valorant and several other games as well. The main platforms used by the BESF are Playstation 4, PC and for games like Smash Brothers, the Nintendo Switch.
Interested individuals who want to become members of the BESF can register at besf242.org/individuals-sign-up/ and teams can register at besf242.org/club-signup/.