December the 14th, 2023 – With the popularity of eSports rising across the globe, could this country cash in on the craze? A Croatian eSports epicentre may just be a possibility.
As Jutarnji/Novac/Bernard Ivezic writes, the global eSports competition in the computer game Counter Strike, Blast Paris Major 2023, which lasted from May the 8th to the 21st last year, brought 22 million euros to the Paris economy. Twenty-four teams from all around the world qualified for the tournament, eight of which made it to the shortlist, the so-called Legends stage, where they competed for a prize pool of 1.25 million US dollars in total.
Joe Lovelace, head of communications for Blast, one of the largest eSports companies in the world, was present at the Beyond Esport conference, which took place recently here in Zagreb. He stated that large eSports competitions have a great impact on the local economy and bring potential.
“Almost half of the visitors to Paris during that period came to the city specifically to visit that event, and we have similar indicators for other tournaments we organise,” revealed Lovelace.
The potential for a Croatian eSports epicentre?
Nikola Stolnik, the founder of Good Game Global and the organiser of the conference, stated that their goal in Croatia is to repeat the successes achieved by some other metropolises. This means that a Croatian eSports epicentre might just become a reality.
“We have a huge desire to turn Croatia into one of the centres of eSports, just like Paris, Cologne, Katowice, Dallas and so on have managed to do,” revealed an ambitious Stolnik.
Tihana Sedlar Krauz, head of social media and eSports projects at Croatian Telecom/Hrvatski Telekom, added that they entered the world of eSports motivated by the need to connect their brand with the technology mad GenZ.
“At the level of DT in Europe, it was decided that we wanted to renew our brand and make the old corporate image associated with boomers more interesting for young people,” said Sedlar Krauz, adding that this is how they entered into cooperation with Good Game Global in the first place. First, they did so through the projects they worked on with the Croatian Football League, of which HT was a sponsor, and then through the creation of the league.
“Back during the coronavirus pandemic, everything changed, because the use of TikTok and YouTube increased, so we expanded the league to those channels as well. Our research now shows that we have the most active league with the largest reach in the entire region,” noted Sedlar Krauz, also making sure to mention the fact that HT is now recognised for this within the wider Deutsche Telekom group on a global level.
Croatian eSports are even being discussed across the pond…
“It’s a bit unreal to me that T-Mobile USA is asking us about Croatian eSports. They’ve been asking us how we did it so that they could try and achieve something similar, which is a great recognition of our efforts,” said Sedlar Krauz.
Vjekoslav Mikulić from Samsung revealed that the global coronavirus pandemic was one of the most active periods for them due to the significant increase in demand for hardware.
“Gaming helped a lot here, and we got into it early. Since 2017, we’ve been working on projects and developing gaming projects at the regional level, where we’ve noticed that gaming is not only something GenZ enjoy, but millennials and other generations also engage in it. We aren’t exclusive,” said Mikulić.
At Beyond Esports, Croatian esports competitors Niki Mamić – MaM1c, Toni Sabalić – Sacre and Leon Pesić – NeLo all presented their careers. All three have built their careers on a lot of practice and improvement, which largely depended on them and them only. The games they started out with initially are all different. Leon Pesić – NeLo, for example, got into eSports through Call of Duty 2, and today he plays professionally with League of Legends.
The world of eSports is becoming more organised
All three emphasised that in order to get to where they are today, they had to sacrifice a lot of their free time and human contact. That said, at this moment in time, eSports leans much more towards practicing from specialised locations, and not just from home anymore.
ESports must strive for training and organisation that requires work on location, not from home. At the same time, the benefit of working in a team is that it takes care of the mental and physical well-being of the members,” Niki Mamić – MaM1c added. What all three confirmed is that engaging in eSports shouldn’t be anyone’s top career choice, as it depends a lot on luck and opportunities, that is, the market, which is still developing.