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Professional eSports in Brunei
January 13, 2020
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The country’s top CS:GO team is paving the way for professional esports in Brunei

The Goodfellas Gaming team seem like a group of likeable guys that just wants to play first person shooter (FPS) games and win weekend tournaments. That characterisation is somewhat accurate. They do like playing FPS—specifically Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), one of the best FPS games of all time.

The team has been the undisputed champions of CS:GO in Brunei for quite some time. But for all of their local accolades, this team has got bigger things in mind than just winning weekend competitions and a few hundred bucks of prize money.

From Gunpowder to Goodfellas

The story of the GoodFellas began in 2011 when a group of guys got together under the name of GPR BN (GunPowder Brunei). Four years later, the original team members felt the need for a change, so the team brought more new players and Yee joined as team manager.

The new team also came to a consensus—rename the team to Goodfellas Gaming.

“There’s not real reason for that name other than the fact that we were just being good guys that want to play CS:GO,” Yee said.

“The initial plan was just to play the game we loved as good friends. But the more we played, the better we got. Eventually, Goodfellas grew to become one of the most dominant esports team in Borneo.”

Putting Brunei on the map

For the Goodfellas, winning local tournaments isn’t enough. After all, esports is a billion dollar business with nearly 400 million tuning in for the whole of 2018 and revenues forecasted to triple US$2.96 billion by 2022.

The financial benefits are there, but Yee said that the team must get a lot better if it wants to get a piece of the pie. And that’s not something that you can achieve just by training three times a week.

Successful esports teams are set up just like any other sports team. Players are chosen based on potential and age. At Goodfellas, Yee said that they scout for potential players by running local competitions.

Players that show potential are then singled out and join an academy, where they train under the watchful eyes of senior Goodfellas players. To a regular person, training seems rigorous with many hours of video replays, strategy and practice. To Yee, this barely scratches the surface of professional esports.

A fully sponsored team usually spends a lot of time training in house that’s fully decked out with everything from high-end gaming PCs and high-speed internet to personal chefs that prepare healthy meals for the teams. And then there’s gym sessions to ensure that the teams are physically fit and mentally sharp to face their next opponents.

Despite being underfunded for most of the time, Yee and the Goodfellas continue to push on in every way possible.

“The main thing for us is still to put Brunei on the esports map by showing our potential in the country even if we have limited resources,” Yee said.

Changing public perception of esports

While esports has been widely lauded as the next big frontier, esports as a career option in still not seen as viable. The formation of the Esports Association of Brunei this year is a sign of progress but there is much more to be done.

“I think that public perception will improve over the years especially if they hear more stories about Bruneian teams or individuals winning tournaments overseas,” Yee said.

Organisations can also lend their support by financially supporting esports teams so that they can continue to stay focused on their craft.

Leading by example

For Yee and the Goodfellas, the objective to put Brunei on the map remains clear. The only way to do that is to keep training, competing and making the most of what they’ve got.

Right now, that means being focused on regional tournaments such as the World Electronic Sports Game (WESG) and the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Beijing.

“If we can do well in these tournaments, it will be much easier to get more sponsors to help us get funding for the things we need that will brings us closer to the professional level,” Yee said.

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