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Brazilian Free Fire Independent League NFA on its Investments and International Expansion – The Esports Observer

As Free Fire continues to dominate the mobile esports world, its PC emulation competitive scene has also gotten investments and international initiatives. The Brazilian independent esports league NFA (National Free Fire Association) is an example of how Free Fire emulation competitions are thriving, as it announced its expansion to the Latin American market through NFA LATAM.

NFA is currently one of the biggest independent esports leagues in the world in terms of audience (peaking at 558,000 concurrent viewers in its finals in October 2020 according to Esports Charts), and has taken hold of the hearts of the Brazilian Free Fire community and fans across Latin America. LATAM teams also wanted to play in the league and the NFA administration saw the business potential of that. With the support of its investor BlueStacks, NFA took its first international step.

The league has already landed international investments. Since its foundation, the league has carried American technology company BlueStacks as a partner. The company, founded in San Francisco in 2009, is responsible for the Android emulator for PC used by NFA in its games. “BlueStacks has been with us since the conception of the project,” NFA co-founder and CEO Marcelo Camargo told The Esports Observer. 

Camargo also revealed the first investment made by BlueStacks into the league: $3,000 USD in 2019 for NFA to be structured. While Camargo had an extensive contact with Free Fire — he played the game since its Alpha phase and held constant contact with the community, including players and streamers from before fame. His contact with BlueStacks was facilitated by NFA co-founder Bernardo Assad, who had contacts in the company and was a known professional in the Brazilian esports scene when he worked with INTZ. 

Inspired by American leagues, NFA used a long-term partnership model similar to franchising in which the partnered teams receive monthly income for their participation in the league. It attracted some of the main Brazilian esports organizations such as paiN Gaming and LOUD to the competition. With relevant organizations involved, investments, a staff that understood the game and the community (some even hired from Free Fire developer Garena), and Free Fire’s growing popularity, NFA got big in no time.

The success attracted brands to sponsor the league, including the Garena-owned streaming platform BOOYAH!, and made BlueStacks increase its investments to a point that NFA got its own esports arena in São Paulo. The Arena Esports powered by BlueStacks was built with investments from the sponsor and targeted specially at emulation Free Fire competitions. “They saw the potential of promoting … stages of NFA in it, and also to promote other events in the arena for BlueStacks itself and its partners,” Camargo said. BlueStacks is also involved in the LATAM expansion of the league.

The CEO says that the next steps for NFA are to consolidate in the Latin American scene and also to explore expansion into other international markets. He said NFA is already known in some Asian and European markets. When asked about the competition that may rise in other countries or even in the domestic market (as the CPN circuit, created by the local esports superstar Bruno “Nobru” Goes), Camargo says that NFA does not consider the development of the emulation scene as a threat. 

NFA is currently in the last stages of its fifth season, with Black Dragons-owned team Dragões in the lead. In an agreement with Garena, teams that compete in the official Brazilian Free Fire League (LBFF) on mobile need to use other names for their emulation teams. That’s why paiN Gaming, for example, plays as “Faz o P.” The competition will qualify four teams to the America’s League (Liga das Américas), which will include teams from NFA LATAM.

To manage NFA, Camargo and Assad partnered with former Garena operations professional Samuel Gonçalves to found the agency ABCM in 2019, currently with 80 employees focusing not only on the tournament organization but also on gaming content production and marketing efforts.

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