Yesterday morning an email was sent out by Mind Sports South Africa that, at first glance, seemed to be about selection of a national team.

In the email the organisation spoke about how important selection is for a team. Concerns were raised such as potential carrying weight when it comes to selecting the best for a team and South Africa’s distance from mainstream events making it difficult to know how teams would perform internationally.

Valid points we’re sure you’ll agree. But then MSSA set its sights on a multi-gaming organisation – Bravado Gaming.

“One only has to remember the 2017 WESG earlier this year where South Africa’s self-proclaimed ‘best’ team was slaughtered in both CS: GO and DotA 2. That is why, with MSSA there is no automatic selection to the team,” the MSSA writes.

Sure Bravado isn’t named directly but it was the only local team at WESG 2017 competing in CS:GO and Dota 2. It’s not much of a stretch to connect the dots.

This sent the local esports community into a tizzy.

The statement paints a picture that Bravado is not a very good MGO, but it is. Qualifying for WESG is not mean feat and Bravado had to fight tooth and nail to get to China. You can read more about the trials the organisation faced over on Zombiegamer.

Had that not been enough MSSA then sets its sights on events that offer up large prize pools.

“In my opinion a number of events, with their large cash prizes, do nothing to develop strength or depth. Such events seem to only promote the same old favoured few with no real eye to developing real gaming strength for the future,” writes the organisation.

Is “development” a dirty word in local esports?

So in an effort to find out what these events should be doing we contacted the MSSA.

Shortly before publication MSSA general secretary Colin Webster responded to our request for comment stating that he would respond to our requests for the comments made in the email on Friday.

We also contacted MSSA president Morizane Boyes who told us that the MSSA is handling the matter internally and will provide comment when it is able to.

So expect a follow up to this piece in the near future.

In the meantime, let’s look at what local events are doing and whether we can deduce whether they are providing any value beyond a burgeoning prize pool.

Rush is taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre this weekend and the aim of the event is to bring organisers together and host various tournaments across multiple titles under one roof. Orena and Kwese are just two of the organisations taking part hosting tournaments.

This is an event where various organisers host tournaments that are open to anybody with the will to participate. Sounds pretty gosh-darn developmental to us.

Perhaps the VS Gaming Festival happening at the same time is more focused on a huge prize pool rather than development then? Well, not really.

The VS Gaming Festival is being expressly marketed as way for non-professional esports players to compete in a tournament. Seriously, the only thing stopping me from entering is the fact that I suck at FIFA 17, but even then I could register to compete with no problems at all.

Sounds to me like VS Gaming is at least making an effort towards developing the scene as well.

The prize pool problem

Yes these tournaments have prize money up for grabs and rightly so, being a part of an esports team is not cheap and you need to pay rent somehow. Besides that, the easiest way to appeal to the general public to my mind is offering up some cash – or at least some sort of reward.

It also gives the teams something to fight for that has value. Bragging rights are great but as I mentioned, you can’t improve your rig, pay the rent or buy groceries with them.

All of these events, past and future have significantly increased the profile of esports. Even Supersport is getting on board for crying out loud.

I love esports and all the action from the local community and brands in recent months is incredible to behold. It feels like more South Africans are getting excited about “watching other people play games” and in this context I feel like MSSA should join the party.

What the problem is

Many will look at the MSSA’s thoughts expressed in the mail and brush them off as having no weight on the scene but they do.

It’s worth remembering that MSSA can offer school learners national colours in esports.1

We also fully support the MSSA in bringing esports into schools; it’s important and admirable work that grows the next generation of players. But mails such as the one sent out yesterday have the potential to do more harm than good.

The problem is that MSSA has a position of influence and mails such as this could possibly misinform those that aren’t able to keep up with what is happening in the local esports scene.

We should be introducing school teams to the best competitions, encouraging them to participate in as many tournaments as they are able to not writing off tournaments that have prize pools as not developing the sport.

In my opinion esports IS being developed in South Africa and at such a crucial time in its growth I believe we as a community need to unite.

To end off I want to appeal to the MSSA:

We aren’t fighting you, we believe your organisation has value in the local scene. But shouldn’t we all just work together toward the common goal of growing esports in South Africa? Can we present a unified front?


[Image – CC0 Public Domain Pixabay]