Paid to play: SA’s gaming champ


Well done! This is the gold writing on a framed photo of Robert “PandaTank” Botha. It stands on a coffee table in the living room of Robert’s parents’ home in Fairland, Johannesburg.

Margaret and Chris Botha are clearly proud of their 23-year-old son. Sure, he didn’t become an accountant, lawyer or even an IT specialist, but Robert is paid to do what he loves most: play computer games. Plus Mind Sports South Africa, the country’s controlling body for board games and e-Sport, has just named him as its Player of the Year for 2012.

The University of Johannesburg IT graduate had the choice either to do his honours or go to work in the IT field. He chose neither. Instead he opted for the world of gaming and took it to the next level by turning professional.

Cooler Master, a computer hardware company specialising in cooling but which also supplies accessories for laptops and games, is his official sponsor for 2013. It pays him a salary to play full-time and represent it at competitions. The company also provides him with the means to attend tournaments overseas.

Before the sponsorship Robert relied on his family for financial assistance. “They were very supportive of my decision and let me stay at home and paid for everything. Last year when I went to France and America they helped out with a lot of the costs.”

Read more of Katlego Mkhwanazi’s article in YOU 14 February 2013.

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