New Zealand eSports Federation president Ben Lenihan is calling for his organisation to be formally recognised so a national team can be sent to the e-Sports World Championships.
Lenihan and a group of business professionals have formed the national body, which is an incorporated society, to take advantage of the eSports boom that is being experienced in New Zealand.
“The gaming community needs a voice. It’s a family of passionate players and fans and the NZESF wants to build the infrastructure that allows young New Zealand eSports fans a shot on the big stage,”Lenihan says.
“The hand-eye coordination skill of gamers rivals that of the best athletes in any sport. Sure it’s different –but it most certainly is sport.”
eSports is one of the world’s fastest growing pursuits and is wildly popular in Asia, the United States and parts of Europe.
In New Zealand, 67% of the population play video games and 48% of those players are female, which shows it is a diverse activity.
The New Zealand eSports Federation (NZESF) wants to be the voice of eSports in New Zealand to support and grow the sport.
NZESF wants to ensure New Zealand isn’t left behind as this sport continues to boom on a global scale.
More than 27 million viewers tuned in to watch the League of Legends 2014 finals, which was more than the viewership (23.5 million) for Game 7 of Major League Baseball’s World Series in the same year.
NZESF is asking for an endorsement from Sport New Zealand and other relevant Government organisations in their bid to become a full member of the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF), which is the international parent body for electronic sports, similar to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
IeSF is recognised by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and 15 of their member associations, including China, Sweden and South Korea have received national endorsements, while 20 more are processing applications with their respective Governments.
“Developing a strong local federation to grow eSports and to represent our players is crucial in developing international opportunities for New Zealand’s best gamers to become world-beaters,” Lenihan says.
Some of New Zealand’s best eSports competitors will be taking part in a new amateur eSports league that starts in August.
The League of Legends tournament will feature four New Zealand teams and two wildcard teams.
The competition will run over six weeks with 17 broadcasted events and this will provide a pathway for amateur teams to progress to professional events in the future.
“The broadcast sports landscape is changing. More and more ‘niche’ sports are commanding interest from the next generation of viewers,” Lenihan says.
“eSports events are social events. Players and fans get to hang out and share their common passion. Bringing eSports to TV lets friends enjoy and share the experience and it encourages new fans to learn why it’s so much fun.”
This sport will only continue to grow and there are numerous benefits to being recognised on a national scale and a long-term vision of the NZESF is to host the e-Sports World Championships in New Zealand, which would bring great economic rewards to the country.
“Professional gaming is reaching some pretty heady levels in viewership, participation and revenue. The NZESF believes it’s crucial that amateur players, who are the building blocks of any sport or pastime, are represented and cared for.”
For more information, please contact NZESF president Ben Lenihan on email@example.com or +64 21 519 175