April 28, 2023

Time With Boban Toto — Secretary General, IESF, North Macedonia

Time With Boban Toto — Secretary General, IESF, North Macedonia

Esports continues to make its mark as its own entity/industry within the gaming industry, with careers gradually being built off of it, and corporations coming together to promote, market and sustain it. The input made has garnered a followership entering millions, global viewership in hundreds of millions, and revenue in billions of dollars.


For today’s episode we have the secretary general of the International Esports Federation, Mr. Boban Totovski Toto, in North Macedonia, speaking on the role of international esports organizations, narrowed down to the role of the International Esports Federation.


The transitioning from general director of an IT magazine to secretary general had Mr. Boban witness what will now be the impact of gaming in the lives of prospects and gamers at heart. He along with their team had come together to make a gaming club, influenced by the readers who identified as a gaming community from their magazine issues.

After bringing in kids from Macedonia (where he is from) to an esports event in Singapore, seeing the enthusiasm and joy on the team’s faces made him realize how impactful this can be if he pursues this quest to do more in this area [of esports]. 


The IESF was known to have begun in the year 2008, with about nine countries (including the countries Korea, Russia, Romania, Finland and Serbia) coming together to form the federation. They were a part of World Cyber Games, which fell apart because of the later charges they requested the national federations to pay for the IP World Cyber Games, as well as their sponsorship from Samsung (who were the main sponsors at the time) cut off. The federation has been running for the past fifteen years now, with 130 members (140 by the end of the year), a general assembly and having the members given the right to vote. 


The challenge with the recognition of federations is that some member states have two or more, and want to be the one representing their country, making it difficult for the federation to identify who exactly they will need to talk to carry out operations and establish agreements/bonds. This confuses the government and the federation on national and international levels respectively, as well as sponsors. The solution to that is mostly a merger, as Boban suggested, and some federations have eventually along the way. 


The main sponsor of the IESF is the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), covering the basic expenses. There is also an in-house marketing team, and a growing in-house competition team. This is to reduce outsourcing since it is a very specific field, and marketing agencies may not really grasp the esports concept like that. 

“Success stories from one country works in another. Not all of them, but you know they have different success stories.”  —Mr. Boban Toto, Secretary General, IESF


For qualifications, Boban indicates that team selections are done by the national federations, to represent their countries respectively. The challenge however, is that some teams are not doing the tournaments since the team members seem to be more of friends than pro or semi-pro players.

To ensure that this does not happen again (or often), warning letters are sent to the federations to make sure their dealings are professional in the next set of tournaments, providing players who are professionals, or semi-pro that can actually play the games. 


The federation covers accommodation, local transportation, and gift packs for the teams representing their countries. The teams’ only responsibility is for the visas. 


There is more being done by the IESF, including education and training programs for federation representatives as that will go a long way to helping them develop, invent new things and help their communities and players as they give them additional services. 


Esports has helped create jobs for lots of people. Interested in knowing about the business side of esports? Listen to the Gamers Change Lives Podcast! We get experienced guests from all around the world featuring. 

Gamers Change Lives Podcast

Written By Jeffrey Osei-Agyeman