North vs South | The word from the South

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The opportunity of playing for your city, province or even country is something that many gamers in South Africa are not entirely aware of. It certainly does appear to be the case when meeting the parents of many gamers. In fact the concept appears a little lost on some of the gaming media in South Africa, and one that mainstream media is completely oblivious to.

After Friday the 19th of July, hopefully many more will at least become a little more aware of the MSSA and eSports in general, and that they (MSSA) are as interested in console gaming as they are perceived to be in PC gaming.

Yes, one could argue that the event appeared to be nothing more than a massive marketing campaign for both the MSSA and MWEB, but anyone who thinks that wasn’t in attendance, as the event was specifically aimed at giving the players a place to shine, and the mainstream media – which included five camera crews – the opportunity to access what they probably still see as a bunch of pimply geeks playing in their parent’s basement.

In the months running up to the event, a number of trials were held (in much the same way that any traditional sport holds trials for colours) to find the players to represent both Cape Town and Joburg in Black Ops 2 and FIFA 13.

On Friday, those players faced each other virtually with the Joburg players at the H.I.V.E. in Monte Casino and the Cape Town players at the MWEB Mcave. While there are valid arguments that having the players face each other in a LAN environment is the best way to go about it all, there are also the simple matter of finances. Console eSports in South Africa is not exactly showered in funding and sponsorship yet.

MC for the night, Carl Wastie

MC for the night, Carl Wastie

With around 20 spectators to go along with the invited media at the ‘compact’ MWEB auditorium and a number of spectators at the H.I.V.E., the truth is that there were probably already more spectators watching the first console Inter-Regional than any console event had managed before in SA. There was also the viewers who tuned in via the live stream of the games which were shoutcasted by Nick Holden, who was also joined by Francois van Schalkwyk for FIFA 13.

Good Hope FM DJ Carl Wastie was MC for the evening at MWEB and he got the crowd warmed up after the obligatory introductions were done. Yes, people were introduced and players were paraded, but to be fair, the majority of us gamers are embarrassed of the flash of cameras and would rather be anywhere but caught in the equivalent of the rabbit’s headlamps.

Back in the Mcave (MWEB’s gaming zone), the players looked more comfortable as they prepared to take on their opponent. Things got off to a good start – both logistically and for Cape Town. The FIFA 13 match went off without too much of a glitch unless you were a Joburg supporter. Mubeen Gaffoor beat Jason Terespolsky 3-0 in the opening game.

The FIFA 13 on Xbox 360 struggled to get going with both players struggling to connect. Rather than spend the entire night trying to get the match going, it was decided to get the Black Ops 2 match underway while a few others worked behind the scenes to get the FIFA 13 match going. The FIFA 13 eventually got underway, but was sadly not streamed. Yazeed Dollie from Cape Town beat Sean Terespolsky (Jason’s cousin) 4-0 to give the Mother City the overall win while the Black Ops 2 was still underway.

Nick Holden, the man behind the voice at the heart of the machine

Nick Holden, the man behind the voice at the heart of the machine

The Black Ops 2 match was proving to be a really close affair. Both teams featured players that had played for XtaZ in Los Angeles earlier this year, and that familiarity proved to be the great leveller. Cape Town took the Hardpoint round on Slums 250-134, but Joburg hit back quickly and secured the Search and Destroy round on Express 6-3. The overall lead swopped again as Cape Town took Capture the Flag 5-0 on Raid, and probably though they had gained the upper hand. With Hardpoint back, but this time on Standoff, things got really tight, with both teams looking like they were going to take it. Joburg held on to grab the mode with a nail-biting 214-204 score line.

With all to play for (although neither team appeared to know that Cape Town had won by then), the fifth round on Cargo got underway. Joburg got off to a great start, taking the lead in Search and Destroy 3-0. It looked like Joburg had all the momentum, but Cape Town really didn’t want to roll over and die. The blue team battled back and the mode swung around completely with them coming back with four wins in a row.

4-3 to Cape Town and a crowd on tenterhooks. Joburg then levelled matters again at 4-4. With the match proving a real crowd pleaser, disaster struck. The video stream seemed to fail in the MWEB auditorium (but not online apparently) with only Nick Holden’s running commentary to keep the spectators updated. As they say in the classics, “the show must go on” and it did, mainly because the players and admin were so absorbed that there was no way to know what had happened to the feed upstairs.

Thankfully, it didn’t seem to ruin anyone’s evening if the crowd’s reaction was anything to go by as Cape Town went on to win 6-4 and take the Black Ops 2 part of the evening 3-2, as well as an overall event whitewash at 3-0.

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While the celebrations were not yet the stuff of World Cup wins, it was still something to behold. There was a clear pride from both players and spectators that can only be understood if you harbor any kind of patriotism or regional loyalty. We’re pretty sure that for the Joburg players and spectators there was still the same kind of solidarity and support exhibited.

Feedback on the night was generally positive, and it appears that there may well be more of these events coming up, which are likely to feature other cities and other provinces.

Our thanks to the people and players that made the event a success – the continued support of the community is the reason these sort of events will continue to happen.

L-R: Richard van Wyk (Regional Director for Western Cape MSSA), Nicolas van Ysendyk (Xtaz Radical), Callam Stroud (Unleashed Psyco), Rory Burmeister (Adept Hazzards), Lee-Michael Bransgrove(XtaZ Eos), Glenn Alexander (Provincional Director for Western Cape MSSA)

L-R: Richard van Wyk (Regional Director for Western Cape MSSA), Nicolas van Ysendyk (Xtaz Radical), Callam Stroud (Unleashed Psyco), Rory Burmeister (Adept Hazzards), Lee-Michael Bransgrove(XtaZ Eos), Glenn Alexander (Provincional Director for Western Cape MSSA)

The Players:

Mubeen Gaffoor flanked by Richard van Wyk (L) and Glenn Alexander (R)

Mubeen Gaffoor flanked by Richard van Wyk (L) and Glenn Alexander (R)

Cape Town (Blue)

Black Ops 2

  • Rory Burmeister (Adept Hazzards)
  • Lee Michael Bransgrove(XtaZ Eos)
  • Nicolas van Ysendyk (Xtaz Radical)
  • Callum Stroud (Unleashed Psyco)

FIFA 13

PS3: Mubeen Gaffoor
Xbox 360: Yazeed Dollie

Yazeed Dollie flanked by Richard van Wyk (L) and Glenn Alexander (R)

Yazeed Dollie flanked by Richard van Wyk (L) and Glenn Alexander (R)

Joburg (Red)

Black Ops 2

  • Ashley Sloley (XtaZ Frostbite)
  • Alon Nitzan (XtaZ KB)
  • Jason Terespolsky (F34R J4S0WN)
  • Tahir Achmat (Slamsekid)

FIFA 13

PS3: Jason Terespolsky
Xbox 360: Sean Terespolsky

For more pictures from the event, please visit our Facebook Album.

Additional photos also available here (CT) – by Coldcat of Vinco Gaming.

Additional photos also available here (Jhb) – Colin Webster of MSSA.

Additional photos also available here (CT) – MWEB Gamezone.

You can view the gameplay from Friday on MWEB Gamezone’s Twitch channel.

MWEB and MSSA have also released a press release for the event. Click here to view it. »

First inter-regional eSports Championship in South Africa a success

North vs South Competed live for the title of number 1

The MWEB head office in Cape Town was teeming with excitement on 19 July 2013 as top gamers from Cape Town and Johannesburg clashed in the first ever inter-regional Electronic Sports (eSports) inter-regional championship in South Africa.

The competitors were put to the test as they battled it out in two of the most popular games, COD Black Ops 2 and FIFA13 for the number 1 title. Gamers clashed across the internet with the MWEB MCave hosting the Cape Town players and The Hive in Monte Casino hosting the Johannesburg players. Matches were streamed live from the MWEB network with commentary from Nicholas Holden and Francois van Schalkwyk.

The Cape Town FIFA13 gamers came out tops on the evening, winning the Xbox match 4-0 and the PS3 match 3-0. The Call of Duty Black Ops 2 match also saw the Cape Town team coming out triumphant, but it was a closely fought match that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats waiting until the fifth (5th) and final round to see the skilled Jo’burg gamers ‘pipped to the post’.

Governing Sports Body, Minds Sports South Africa joined MWEB Gaming in hosting this event and started the evening off by awarding local gamers their colours. MWEB Gaming manager Des Kurz said, “With eSports now recognised as a tier 1 sport, the online gaming community is now taken more seriously. Around the world eSports has audiences in the millions watching championships and recently comments were made that the sport would soon become as big as the NFL in the US.”

According to BMI-TechKnowledge online gaming is forecast to show moderate growth from 4.4 million users in 2012 to 6.9 million users in 2017, increasing market penetration from 42% in 2012 to 54% in 2017.” Kurz added that South Africa’s gaming community has seen phenomenal growth, “There are an estimated 4.426 Million gamers across mobile, console and PC in SA,” he says.

“Gaming requires a lot of skill and practice. Most gamers have been playing for many years and it’s awesome that our efforts are finally recognised, and that we have the support of MWEB and the Mind Sport South Africa (MSSA),” said local gamer Lee-Michael Bransgrove. Western Cape Director of MSSA, Glenn Alexander added, “It is events like these that prove gamers are not guys who just sit on the couch and slack off. The educational benefits of eSports and advantages of competitive gaming are widely acknowledged across the globe.”

A number of A list VIP media, celebrity and spectator guests came dressed in blue (Cape Town) or red (Johannesburg) colours to show their allegiance for the North or South.  The stadium type atmosphere and the energetic DJs from whatisfiction added an entertaining edge to the evening along with  MC Carl Wastie from Good Hope FM, as guests mingled between the cocktail area, photo booth and popcorn machine.

A gaming station was setup where media and celebrity guests could try their hand at COD Black Ops 2 and FIFA 13, where they soon learned that it’s not as easy as the gamers make it look. “I give those guys a lot of credit,” said Expresso Presenter, Katlego Maboe, “you really have to know what you’re doing.”

There was great interest from prominent media, including SABC sports who were just one of the five television camera crews covering the event. This is aside from a brace of other journalists from sites such as MSN online, New Age Gamer and BizCommunity.

The event was made possible with MWEB’s reliable and trusted uncapped unthrottled connection and providing gamers with the best local connectivity and local servers is something MWEB is proud of. “We know what is important to gamers and do everything we can to deliver a quality gaming experience,” said Kurz. “Since we are a tier 1 ISP, we are able give gaming traffic the highest priority and use our local servers to offer the best in latency and superior connectivity.”

COD Black Ops 2 and FIFA 13 were a sound choice for the evening, as they are the two top titles used in competitive gaming in South Africa and internationally.  EA Sports has called FIFA 13 the most authentic football game on the planet, selling more than 1 million copies in the first week of its release.  COD Black Ops 2 has been described by gamers as “incomparable” to any other first person shooter games in the competitive field.

“The MSSA has also received very positive feedback from gamers across the country. Other regions are now readying themselves to participate in this dynamic league. The Nkangala District (from Mpumalanga) and the Winelands Region (also Western Cape) are already gearing up to challenge the City of Cape Town Regional Team,” said Colin Webster, President of MSSA.

The two large screens in the auditorium displayed a stream of live gaming, enabling the audience to be right up in the action. Lucky winners of the “tweet for your seat” competition also got a chance to be a part of the fun, and cheered loudly.  There were awesome prizes up for grabs from Mat & May and Spoilt Hair & Nails salon for the best dressed fan and the most vocal supporter.  Jody Williams won the prize for best dressed, and Godfrey Eybers received the prize for most vocal. A night to remember, the quirky photo booth and amusing props kept guests entertained while they posed with the two themed FIFA 13 and COD promo girls.

“The evening was a great success and we definitely plan on having more events like this. It’s fantastic that we can give coverage to these competitive gamers who put in hours of hard work and dedication to get to the amazing skill levels that were demonstrated on the night,” said Kurz.

For more information on MWEB Gaming check out the new addition to MWEB GameZone site or join our community on @MWEBGMZ or https://www.facebook.com/MWEBGameZone.

**UPDATE**

The SABC 3 News coverage courtesy of Richard Coldcat Scott.

About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.