“My dream is to play for Chiefs”

Bevan Richards won the first ever Kaizer Chiefs esports tournament, which started on Friday and finished on Sunday afternoon. “This is fantastic,” reacted Richards, who plays under the name ‘Bevan’. “It’s my dream to one day play for Kaizer Chiefs’ esports team.”

Amakhosi hosted the FIFA 17 gamers at the Rush esports event that took place at the Sandton Convention Centre. The Chiefs event was organised in partnership with Vodacom and Nike.

After three days of intensive gaming, Bevan, Nimo77 (Naeem Williams), Ubaid (Ubaidullah Mahomed) and Zainy (Zain Mohamed) reached the semi-finals early Sunday afternoon.

Before the semi-finals, most games were held in The Cage, which had 20 gaming kiosks on which the gamers could play FIFA 17 in the various heats and knock-out stages.

Siphiwe ‘Shabba’ Tshabalala, Joseph ‘Tight’ Molangoane and Brian ‘Spiderman’ Baloyi followed it all from close by. “These guys are really good,” Molangoane commented, while watching the games attentively.

‘Shabba’ even went to practice his free-kicks in The Cage. “I am not so good in taking free-kicks at FIFA 17,” the Chiefs midfielder commented, “but I enjoy doing it. It’s like with soccer on the pitch, the more you practice, the better you become.”

Zainy, playing with Manchester United, won the first semi-final thanks to beating Ubaid (Real Madrid), while Bevan (Real Madrid) defeated Nimo77 (Barcelona) to reach the final.

Kaizer Chiefs Chairman Kaizer Motaung was also an eager spectator, saying with a smile on his face: “If I see this, I feel like I want to play.”

The final, like the semi-finals, was played on the stage, otherwise called the Chiefs Arena. Numerous spectators followed the game enthusiastically, while the shoutcaster commented on the game.

Molangoane was convinced beforehand that Bevan would win, while Tshabalala and Baloyi backed Zainy.

The final between Manchester United (Zainy) and Real Madrid (Bevan) was a tense affair and extra time was needed to come to a result. In the end, Bevan won 5-4.

“I fought hard,” Zainy reacted after the loss, “but it wasn’t enough.” However, he was more than happy to see Amakhosi getting involved in esports. “From South Africa, only two teams are part of FIFA 17, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.”

Zainy admits to being a huge fan of the Glamour Boys, especially liking the side of the early 2000s and he couldn’t believe to meet his hero, Brian Baloyi, after the final.

Meanwhile, Bevan was celebrating, winning R20 000 in the process. “I am not sure yet what to do with the money,” he reacted. “I have never won so much money. However, this is a great win and thanks to Chiefs for getting involved in esports.”

Bevan is also an Amakhosi supporter and a huge fan of ‘Shabba’. “I have seen Tshabalala play in so many finals and now he sees me play in a final, that’s very special,” Bevan commented.

The winner is happy that Chiefs have noted what is happening in the rest of the world and that esports is becoming immense.

That’s also why various clubs around the world, like Manchester City, West Ham United, Paris Saint-Germain, Wolfsburg FC, Schalke 04, Santos (Brazil) and Ajax Amsterdam have signed players to represent the club on FIFA video games.

Last year, Manchester City became the second Premier League club, after West Ham United, to sign an esports professional player, Kieran ‘Kez’ Brown, who plays at fan events, official tournaments and live streaming via Twitch, thereby creating content for the club’s official YouTube channel.

Of course, the FIFA video game players will never replace a club’s need to be successful on the pitch, but it is a new way of marketing itself locally and globally as well as an opportunity  to interact with the Chiefs supporters, many of whom play esports.

“This is exciting,” reacted Amakhosi’s Marketing Director, Jessica Motaung on the three-day esports tournament. “The business of sport is extending to the next level, getting a digital angle as well. It’s important for us to extend the brand into this new area, especially because many supporters play the FIFA video game.

“We encourage both digital and real football, as these two worlds can perfectly coexist and complement each other. This is the first time we were involved in an esports event. We are now looking at participating and have a team to compete at the international level.”

Amakhosi’s Digital Manager, Kemiso Motaung, was one of the pillars behind the esports event. “We have realised over the last few days the impact the Kaizer Chiefs brand can make in esports,” she says. “Our involvement in gaming also has the potential for new sponsors and partners to come on board.

“We, as Kaizer Chiefs, like to come up with new things to go forward and be ready for the future. This esports tournament is only the beginning. We will now start scouting for players.”