Business & Technology

How an Egyptian Startup Became the Leading Esports Platform in the Middle East

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How an Egyptian Startup Became the Leading Esports Platform in the Middle East

GBarena team
Photo via Samer Wagdy

Gaming is mostly considered a pastime activity to many, and for parents especially, it is rarely seen as a solid business idea to start post-graduation.

But this was not the case for Samer Wagdy, Mustafa Zaza, and Bishoy Mesdary, three passionate gamers who co-founded GBarena. Their dream was to generate an impact for gamers and the gaming industry.

Photo via Egypt Innovate

GBarena, short for Game Battle arena, is a virtual platform where gamers compete and communicate, sponsors support tournaments, and organizers create events. GBarena offers gamers the opportunity to join online tournaments. The platform also stimulates game engagement through publishers and sponsors, as well as sponsoring gaming activities to increase brand visibility.

“It was pretty hard to convince sponsors of our platform when we first started because we started very early on, when there was no esports in Egypt,” Wagdy recalls.

Founded in 2016, GBarena was incubated by AUC Venture Labs, and selected for an intensive mentorship course at Silicon Valley by industry pioneers from the e-sports industry – from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google.

E-sports, short for electronic sports, is competitive gaming between players with online spectators watching.

At the start of their career journey, GBarena was selected among 10 startups from over 1,500 to receive funding from the French government. The Egypt-based gaming platform was honored by former French President Francois Hollande and Egyptian President Abdelfattah Al Sisi.

“In May 2018, we were convincing our first sponsor, Virgin Megastores,” Wagdy tells Egyptian Streets. “Their expectation was for us to create a FIFA tournament for 64 players competing against one another inside their newly-opened Mall of Egypt branch. When we organized the tournament, we got a turnout of 780 players. This was the type of validation that we were seeking, and a pretty big kickstart for us.”

Today, GBarena is the leading e-sports platform in the Middle East.

“We have over 350,000 registered gamers from all over the world playing in more than 6,000 tournaments on GBarena,” Wagdy explains. “Our platform is operational in the entire MENA region, with more than 50 sponsors from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, and many other countries across the region.”

Wagdy confidently highlights to Egyptian Streets that the e-sports industry has become bigger than the music and film industry combined.

A growing business, GBarena has held tournaments and collaborated with public and private entities, namely the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Arab League, Sharjah Media City, Orange, Etisalat, Huawei, and OPPO.

A platform that began with a passion for gaming became the region’s first e-sports and online gaming community powering thousands of tournaments for games, sponsors, and gaming events around the MENA region.

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A journalism graduate from the American University in Dubai who is curious, spontaneous, and often rebellious, Marina is a passionate Cairo-based journalist who aspires to become one of the most influential women in the Middle East. She likes to follow her heart and express that through words; her favorite form of expression.

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