What began as a way of entertaining gamers and filling the void opened by the postponement of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) during the Covid-19 lockdown, has led to Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) occupying a leading role in e-sports. The number of gamers on the Toyota eSports platform has seen phenomenal growth of 35%, with up to 3,500 sports fans registering online.
This expansion is due to e-sports picking up considerable momentum due to the rise in popularity of virtual racing in recent months. Anthea Martin, Manager Marketing Promotions at TSAM, explains that the platform’s growth strategy was informed by research, which indicated that in South Africa, 90% of internet users between the ages of 16 to 64 play video games on any device. Collectively, they spend an average of around 1 hour 13 minutes playing video games every day.
Right: Anthea Martin, Manager Marketing Promotions at TSAM
To engage younger audiences, it created the Toyota Gaming Engine to expand the world of gaming to the broader local public. It was also an opportunity to introduce audiences to realistic games based on real life, she adds.
“While e-sports may be seen as a niche activity to some, we’ve strived to create entertaining campaigns to invite the broader casual gaming audience to experience Gran Turismo, FIFA and Mobile Gaming tournaments,” explains Martin.
In the virtual world, celebrities and public figures interact alongside accomplished gamers to showcase their skills and compete.
“Also, as part of our expansion, we partnered with Sam Wright aka Tech Girl, and lifestyle celebs with an affinity to gaming such as Jason Goliath, Kwesta, Sandile Mahlangu, OK Wasabi and Tik Toker Troy Shepards, to test their skills at FIFA, GT7 and Clash Royale,” she adds.
As part of its expansion strategy, Toyota launched Season 2 of the TTGE Virtual Chief Challenge in collaboration with Kaizer Chiefs. Virtual Chief Champion, Zaid April, took on Nkosingiphile Ngcobo at KC Village for the title of Ultimate Chief of All Chiefs.
April has nothing but praise for Toyota e-sports. “Toyota is one of the best e-sport platforms in SA. Whenever there are tournaments, the money they put in is always high and that helps us because we always want to compete for the bag. Lots of people join in and have a healthy competition,” says April, who stumbled across the platform in the early days of its inception and was hooked.
“I learned a lot and also met the best players, who helped me improve my game,” he says, adding that Toyota has become like family to him, helping him with flights to attend a tournament in Johannesburg, where he got to meet Kaiser Chiefs’ players and also received kit.
Another winner, Liam Pisanello, has his sights set on becoming the absolute best at Grand Tourismo. The winner of the ‘GT Challenge, Survive to Drive’ has been gaming on the Toyota e-Sports platform since August 2022.
He says of the experience: “Toyota eSports is a great platform with a collection of people who share my passion. It was a match made in heaven and I had an amazing experience. I’m extremely competitive and aim to win the Grand Turismo and compete in the European seam.”
Pisanello adds that the prize for winning the Toyota challenge last year included a track day at Swartkops, a treat that went down well.
Gamers don’t need any fancy gadgets to get started, just a screen with good resolution, an internet connection, and a controller. What are you waiting for?
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