The Neymar of Free Fire and the Biggest Streamer in the World: Meet Nobru
As Twitch has taken over the gaming live stream market, what is trending on other platforms has fallen out of the public eye. YouTube Gaming has been forgotten for a little while, even while big channels such as ESL are keeping their channels and broadcasts there and the audience is smaller than the one reached on Twitch. But the platform has enabled new streamers with new games to gain popularity and attract millions of fans and viewers. Brazilian Bruno “Nobru” Goes took advantage of this to become the biggest streamer in the world on August 2020.
Goes built his community playing Garena’s battle royale Free Fire on YouTube, but has recently signed a contract with Twitch to move his content and audience over there. The contract provides a transition period between platforms, so Nobru is currently streaming both on YouTube and Twitch. The total audience on both platforms was 14.8M hours watched in August; 11.3M on YouTube and 3.5M on Twitch, passing Canadian Félix “xQc” Lengyel’s 12.5M hours on Twitch.
Goes’ numbers in August were pushed forward by the Nobru Cup, a Free Fire competition organized by Bruno which reached 381K simultaneous viewers in its finals (according to Esports Charts) and had around $9.3K USD ($50K BRL) in its prize pool. The Cup was sponsored by delivery app Rappi, Razer Gold, and bank Next.
Having contracts with Twitch, Discord, Nike, the telecommunications company Oi, and the payments app Ame Digital, Goes, now 19-years-old, started his journey in the gaming world only a year ago. Like Brazilian organization LOUD, he is an indicator of the enormous popularity Free Fire has in the country and a demonstration of how its community is strong on YouTube. Garena’s game holds more than 7M subscribers on its Brazilian YouTube channel, while Riot Games’ official League of Legends channel in the country has only 1.05M. By signing Goes, Twitch shows a clear interest in bringing this audience to its platform.
But more than that, as a kid from the Campo Limpo community, a poor part of São Paulo city, Goes is an example of how games that do not require top-notch equipment can be inclusive and transform lives. Talking to The Esports Observer, he shared a bit of his path:
“Every kid from a [Brazilian] community has the dream of becoming a soccer player, and since I was little I trained for it, and it lasted until a moment where it started to work out when I started doing tests and playing in different clubs,” he said. ”But at a certain point, when I was 17, 18 years old, I started to wonder a lot if that was what I wanted for my life because many things had appeared as a barrier for it to take off.”
Goes then decided it would be better to focus on his studies. “I was always a good student,” he said. The decision generated some conflict at home, as Goes’ father, Jeferson Moreira had foreseen a successful life for his son in soccer. Goes got a 50% scholarship to study system analysis and development in a local college, but the family’s financial situation was an obstacle for him to cover the remaining costs of school. At home, Goes needed to occupy his mind with something. That’s when Free Fire appeared.
“People were talking about Free Fire at the school and on the streets, so I wanted to know what that was, to interact with it,” he said. “I wanted to know what was that, what was happening, and so I ‘borrowed’ my father’s cellphone, I mean, I got it and ran into my grandma’s house, which was close to my house, to play it.”
Goes says he didn’t have a phone, and tells a touching story: “When I was 10, I and my mother got robbed at the Morumbi area in São Paulo. They took my sneakers, my clothes, my cellphone, and it was a huge embarrassment for me, so I told my parents that they didn’t need to give me anything else, that I would work to get my things.”
Regarding how he got good at the game, and by “good” we mean “World Champion” good, as Goes won the World Series of Free Fire in 2019 being the MVP of the competition, he said that he is really dedicated with anything he does. “I always had something inside my head that made me give all of me on whatever I am doing. It was like this at school, on soccer fields, and it was also like this in the game. Then I started to get some recognition.”
Before starting his own channel, Goes gained recognition by appearing on the streams of Lucio “Cerol” dos Santos Lima, who today is also one of the biggest streamers in Brazil. They formed a strong squad and got recognition by the community, which pushed him to launch his own channel. The popularity reached by their squad, along with a good gameplay level and performance in open competitions, landed them a contract with the esports branch of Corinthians, one of the biggest sports clubs in Brazil and the organization that backed their run to the World Series in 2019.
Goes’ father started warming up to the opportunity available to his son through gaming as he learned more about esports. Jeferson supported his son and even helped with the purchase of streaming equipment. The father got so involved that, today, he is also a Free Fire streamer under the nickname “Jefão,” with 1.87M subscribers on YouTube.
Now, with the professional structure provided by Corinthians and the many contracts he holds, Goes says he could pay back all the investment made by his parents, and is able to maintain a steady income for his family even while helping other people. He is paying for his sisters’ education and providing a better life for his family. “For having the plans of becoming a professional soccer player before, my father always had worked my mindset to not feel the pressure or to not get dazzled by money or fame,” said Goes, who is now known by fans as the Neymar Jr of Free Fire. “My plans are now to help other people, because I feel the need to do it, to give other people the opportunities I had.”
In the meantime, Goes’ popularity does not stop rising. After the Nobru Cup, he played along even with the international pop star Anitta in a live stream, bringing in a new audience. As Free Fire gets more attention and investments in Brazil, Goes foresees a bright future for esports in Brazil as more brands, organizations, companies, and clubs see the potential.
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