The 24-year-old made millions on FIFA

Every week, Zikoko tries to understand how people move Naira in and out of their lives. Some stories will be struggles, and some stories will be explorations. All the time, it will be exposed.


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In 2018, this week’s #NairaLife pro won his first ever FIFA match. It paid ₦100k. Since then, he has represented Nigeria in Côte d’Ivoire and Israel, and has made 5 million euros in a single day playing in FIFA.

When did you start playing video games?

Omo, I’ve been playing games since elementary school. I was the last to be born, and I have two older brothers, both when the PS1 and PS2 first came out, so we always play games at home. There’s Street Fighter, Pro Evolution Soccer, FIFA, Lord of the Rings, Wrestling, and more.

Obviously I started cutting Ls from the bros, but as I got older I got better because I played a lot.

Let me guess: Did your parents complain?

Ah, they did. I made sure I played every game until I was able to pass every difficulty level. So I started with the easiest and kept playing against the computer until I could beat the hardest levels.

As you can imagine, it requires a lot of play and my parents didn’t like it. In elementary school, near the exam, they grabbed the game console so I could focus on reading. When I was in middle school in 2008, they sent me to a boarding house, and sometimes because I didn’t “socialize”, I went to play games when I got home from vacation.

I didn’t ask about your earliest memory of money

During boarding school I had £1,500 a month for the commissary.

When did you start competing in competitive competitions?

2014. University—

Wait, what did you learn?

Electrical and Electronic Engineering. I wanted to study computer science because I liked games and computers, but my father thought engineering was broader and would give me more opportunities, so I switched.

What I really want to be is a football player.

but…

For youngsters who want to become Nigerian footballers, there are not enough opportunities to make it happen. I played football in elementary and middle school and a lot of football in college. I even joined an off-campus semi-professional football team to increase my chances. But someone on the team tried to trick me because he thought I was an omo butter with only money to give away. Like many other young Nigerian boys, the dream faded away.

I feel you. back to 2014

Many people in college play games on their computers. Me too. Naturally, we started playing against FIFA and it was clear that I was much better than most. When you beat a lot of people on FIFA, you become the person that everyone who thinks they are good wants to challenge, so I quickly became famous on campus. People from different dorms came to face me. I lost a few games but no one could beat me all the time. You hit me once, and I hit you several times.

During the trade show, we had a betting game. Everyone in the 16-player group will drop ₦1k, and the winner will get all. I’ve won so many times, my men and I just use the money to work around. This was the case until I won my first ₦100k in 2018.

tell me what happened

May 26, 2018, the day of the Champions League final. I can never forget. My friend told me there was a game somewhere in Leckie. It’s free to sign up and the winner out of 64 will get ₦100k. I was afraid to sign up because I didn’t trust myself that much, but my friend convinced me.

The game is played in a knockout format: two people face each other, the loser is out, and so on until there are only two people left. I only need to play five games and not lose. Gosh, I’m so happy when I win money. For the first time, I considered myself world class and decided to play FIFA professionally.

love it

I bought a PS4 with ₦100k so I can play better and also play online.

What about school?

During that time I was an intern at an oil company. The salary is ₦40k, the same as my monthly pocket money in college, so it feels normal.

That same year, I played another race in November. This one is more popular, with about 128 players all professional. I paid ₦2k to sign up. I’m not making excuses, but I know I’m not at my best because I’m nervous. I was eliminated in the round of 16.

have you tried

LMAO, thank you. After graduating in 2019, I went home and bought a router and started playing online to hone my skills. Then I heard about a company that organized gaming competitions and started going there. It’s more competitive so I don’t win every time. I remember finishing second at a big event and I was interviewed by reporters, but there was no prize money. I’ll keep playing until I win a big game.

Which?

National qualifiers for an event in Côte d’Ivoire. I won representing Nigeria.

Wow

Not just me sand. The second and third place in the competition also came from Cote d’Ivoire.

Did you bring money?

No, just a self-funded trip.

How was the game?

There are about eight countries and nearly 200 players. Other countries brought more than three players. Côte d’Ivoire has more people than all countries combined. I made it to the quarterfinals – the quarterfinals.

How does that feel?

I feel bad because I control the games I lose and somehow, I still lose. I know I deserve at least a semi-final spot. It’s also reassuring to go that far in the race. Remember how nervous I was when I was playing pro in Nigeria? Everything is gone. I went back to Nigeria and started winning games. In the same year, I won ₦100k, ₦50k, another ₦100k, another ₦50k and $1k.

What did your parents say about your gaming career?

They know very little about it because I don’t want them to know. You know Nigerian parents. Even if I go to Côte d’Ivoire, I don’t give them too many details. They knew I was traveling, but it was just, “Oh, hope you’re going with someone you can trust. Be safe oh.” I didn’t tell them until December 2021, when I won a lot of money.

Please no spoilers

LMAO. From January 2020 to September 2020 I was working as a support engineer in an IT company with a monthly salary of £30,000 because of the NYSE. Also in January, some companies contacted some of the best players in Lagos for invitations and they paid us P20,000 per game to thank you for accepting their invitation. I played three games and won. The winning prize was ₦50k, so I made a total of ₦90k. I added ₦90k and bought an iPhone in February.

Due to COVID, most of 2020 is online only. I win a lot, but sometimes I also get second and third. However, in late 2020, the annual LG gaming competition was held in different states in Nigeria, and I won the competition in Lagos. The prize is an LG TV worth around £700,000. I sold it for ₦680k.

love it

In 2021, LG has a grand finale in the 2020 competition with winners from various states. I finished second and won ₦500k and the winner won 1.5 million. I used that money to buy a PS5. I also interned for a few months at a fintech company. The monthly salary is ₦80k.

Then in November, I represented Nigeria at the World Esports Championship in Israel.

kindness?

The International Esports Federation organizes a world championship every year, but they don’t have anyone representing Nigeria due to the lack of qualifying events. So they just contacted me.

How are you doing in that area?

This is not a straight knockout. They group us first and then, if you qualify from the group, you have to play in the knockout rounds. Of the four-person group, only two were eligible. Well, I didn’t qualify from my group, but I’m not sad about it because the two who qualified went on to be the winner and runner-up for the entire tournament.

what!

I have to travel and meet new people, that’s the most important thing.

LMAO

In December, there is another game. People fly from places like Abuja to Lagos to play. A guy, a real pro, even from Dubai, so you can imagine the tension in the air.

In the quarter-finals, I faced the guy from Dubai, and it was the toughest game of the tournament so far. I beat him with just one small mistake. The other two I faced were not as tough, so I won the game.

How much?

₦5.4m.

Is this the one you told your parents?

Yes. My dad started calling me “big boy”. He doesn’t believe it. I gave him and my mom ₦100k each as a token of their love.

Has something happened in 2022?

This year, I won two contests for ₦500k and another LG TV that I sold for about ₦300k.

How much have you earned from FIFA in your lifetime?

I don’t have a specific number, but it should be at least ₦15m. In addition to competitions, I also take part in one-to-one betting competitions. Recently, I won ₦2m in one go because someone came and said they wanted to bet ₦500k per game. I won all four games. There have also been countless ₦100k betting games over the years.

Have you ever lost a bet?

Just one game. It’s online. I don’t like playing online due to the lag, I let that person know. As I predicted, the network was bad and he beat me, so I only paid him 20k and didn’t keep playing.

Any plans for the future?

I want to take my career to the next level. I’ve won so many times in Nigeria that when I show up in a game, people say, “Oya, give him the money. He’s already won.” I’ve been challenged by a lot of good players in Nigeria, but I want to put things Take it to the next level.

Recently FIFA made Nigeria eligible for the FIFA Global Series (FGS) so I hope to qualify. If I did, I would rank higher and I would eventually qualify for the official FIFA competition. So I’ve bought 5G internet and I’m trying to get better. I also live stream my games.

Lately, many organizations have been working hard to make the Nigerian gaming ecosystem bigger and better. Some Google-backed companies organize contests with ever-increasing prizes. So even though I’m trying to go global, now is still a good time to be a gamer in Nigeria.

What’s the one thing you want but can’t afford right now?

Moved abroad so I could attend FGS. Even if it comes to Nigeria, I know internet delays can happen because the closest FIFA server to us is in Spain. advantage in Europe.

What is your current financial situation?

I have $1.2 million in savings, $200 in foreign exchange and $500 in cryptocurrency.

Where did ₦5.4m go?

I don’t keep all the money I win. I have to fix my guy. I may keep 60% of any money I win. Also, I bought some stuff this year.

I bought a gaming chair for under 100k and I’m pretty sure I’m spending no less than 500k on parties and drinks this year.

What do you spend a month on?

On a scale of 1-10, what is your financial well-being?

like 7. I have the money to get anything I want anytime, and I don’t have to be in the office. I’m just playing FIFA to make money. awesome.

What if FIFA doesn’t work?

I’m sure it will, but I’m also learning how to program so I have extra skills.


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If you’re interested in talking about your Naira Life story, this is a great place to start.

Find all past Naira life stories here.

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