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#worldconnected in action

“The great thing about Global Esports Games is the friendships you make”


Wander just about anywhere at the Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games (#GEG23) and you will see the same thing; athletes from a multitude of different nations connecting, making friends, and sharing their love of gaming. 


In an Arabian tent at the GEFestival are Vania ‘Croqueta’ Mardones and Catalina ‘Burbuja’ Anderson, both Dota 2 players from Chile, and their new amigo Debora ‘Debbie’ Ponce, a Dota 2 player from Argentina. 


They met at the Pan American Esports Championships a couple of months ago and bonded immediately. Being together here in person at #GEG23 means a huge amount to them. 


“We got to know each other in Santiago and although we are on rival teams, we became great friends with Debbie,” says Croqueta. 


“The great thing about these events is the friendships you make,” says Debbie. “Sometimes there are people you know from an online chat, but meeting in person is special. It is emotional and really nice.


“You strengthen your bonds, but we also share lots of things about how we play the game, and we learn about each other’s countries, too.” 


Croqueta adds, “We always ask each other about training, about strategy, about what their coach is saying. We were speaking to the Peruvians earlier, and having a think about their tactics, and how it can also help our team to get better.


“We know the players from Colombia, Venezuela, Kenya, Singapore, it’s really nice.


“We are really happy that the Global Esports Federation has organized this tournament for the athletes. It is a very high level of competition and a really great experience.”  


“You learn from people from all over the world” 


Inside at the athletes’ relaxation area, a furious game of table football is going on. Serbians Mihajlo ‘MikSa’ Jovanovic and Danilo ‘ChodEX’ Popovic defeat Turkish brothers Bahadir ‘G.T.I’ Koparan and Fatih ‘Stoic’ Koparan – but it all ends in smiles.

“We got to know each other playing Dota 2 online, but at events like this it is great to meet up in person,” says G.T.I. “It’s great to have fun together off stage.” 


His brother adds that the Global Esports Games is an idea incubator. “People ask about Dota in Türkiye, they maybe don’t know much about how we play. They’re surprised that we can come here and play well, and learn from people from all over the world. 


Popovic agrees. “It’s important and nice to meet up with people you know from gaming, it makes a difference. Online you don’t know people properly, how they look, how they act – here you can get to know them in real life. 


“It’s a good experience – I’ve got new friends from Kazakhstan, South Africa, Australia.”


There’s plenty of gratitude towards the GEF, too. “It is great to have tournaments like this, they mean a lot to us as athletes,” says Popovic.


“It’s amazing that GEF gives us this opportunity” 


The coaches can also see their players mature and develop in front of their eyes at the annual GEF’s flagship event. “The team has made friends with Brazilians and the Somalians,” says Navod Bopitiya, the PUBG MOBILE coach for Sri Lanka. “We’ve had some great advice from them because they are more experienced than us, and so they can help in lots of ways.

“That’s brilliant for the athletes and the coaches because we aren’t winning a lot and we are trying to develop. We aim to learn as much as possible, and the other athletes have been very open with that.


“They can give us advice on different phones, dealing with pressure, and everything to do with how the game and event works.


“The team is adding the other nations on the game, on WhatsApp, on Discord. People ask us about Sri Lanka – about our economic crisis, all sorts of things.


“It’s amazing that the GEF gives this opportunity to gamers worldwide. We haven’t traveled much, we don’t have a lot of tournaments ourselves, so to have this opportunity is huge. And to have the next three or four years planned out too, is good. It’s amazing to have such an organization in esports.” 


Wherever you look, it’s plain to see – #worldconnected isn’t just a hashtag. 


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