E-SPORT GAMING

Woman becomes first Kenyan pro-gamer to be signed by sports firm

In Summary

• Sylvia Gathoni was the first Kenyan to be signed to a major e-sports company.

• She says there's a wrong perception that gaming is for idlers.

Sylvia Gathoni was the first Kenyan to be signed to a major e-sports company.
Sylvia Gathoni was the first Kenyan to be signed to a major e-sports company.
Image: BBC

Sylvia Gathoni has become the first Kenyan to be signed to a major e-sports company.

In an interview with BBC Kenya's Connect programme on Monday, she spoke on why she loves being a professional gamer.

"When I held a controller in my hand for the first time, I just felt happy," Gathoni said.

"That's the best emotion I can attribute it to."

Sylvia Gathoni, or Queen Arrow as she is popularly referred to, is a professional gamer.

"I was taking a lot of losses, I won't lie. It's not like it's easy as a beginner. But it just spurred my drive to continue because I'm not one to back down from a challenge. That's for sure," she said.

"When I first got signed, I was actually overwhelmed by all the attention. At home, a lot of people regarded me as a hero. Like: 'Sylvia I saw you in the newspapers. What is this you're doing?' People are actually interested in what e-sports is."

E-sports gamers can earn millions in tournaments. A gamer can take on another gamer or compete in a team. 

Gathoni said she wants to show people that there is more than one path to the societal definition of success.

"It's very unconventional because video games are thought to be a child's or a man's thing. And here I am, a woman who is in a space that is male-dominated. It makes me feel good because I feel like I am making a difference," she said.

The global e-sports industry is estimated to grow to €1 billion (Sh114.4 billion) by 2020.

"You can make a living by being a professional gamer because it is not just the salary that comes from your team," Gathoni said.

She speaks of endorsement deals and being the face of a brand.

"If you want to be a professional gamer or a race sports athlete, you have to have an open mind in everything that you do because I have encountered this perception that gaming is a thing for idlers or people who don't know what to do with their lives. After that make sure you have lots of fun," Gathoni said.