Underdog SA team readies for e-sports champs

Cape Town – Despite a lack of cash, a South African team is preparing to take on the big guns of gaming at the International eSports Federation (IeSF) World Championships in South Korea.

The team is captained by Maryke “Ykie” Kennard, and comprises Nathan “StatiC” Anderson, Wynand “ViViD” Meiring, Taylor “elis” Rose, Matthew “Feno” Smith, Vasudev “Paga” Stringer and Cameron “SexyB” Tilley. Johan Uys is the coach and Ryan Boyes manages the group.

Despite e-sports being accepted into the Olympic Committee of Asia, preparations are hampered by a lack of funds.

“Unfortunately MSSA does not have huge cash reserves. Thus when the team is chosen, MSSA first chooses the captain who then recommends athletes to the Selection Committee,” Colin Webster, general secretary of Mind Sports South Africa told Fin24.

Kennard is a League of Legends player and members will also compete in StarCraft II, and HearthStone.

“An 'edge' largely comes from the teams desire to win. The team that MSSA has chosen for 2015 seems to have that desire. In eSports the 'edge' is too reinforced by the standard of play and the athletes having a greater technical knowledge of the games,” said Webster.

But the South Africans will be up against strong competition where near universal broadband grants wide access to gamers.

“It is incredibly hard to compare SA to Asia. Countries like Korea which have fibre to almost every home have a huge advantage. Thus, it is not surprising that South Korea and China are ranked as number one and two respectively,” Webster added.

He said that gaming events in Asia can attract a rugby stadium crowd of up to 65 000 whereas in SA, gaming events don’t usually get a mention.

The IeSF World Championships kick off in early December.

Do you think the SA team has what it takes to compete at international level? Let us know.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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