South African Gamers going to the World Electronic Sports Games

The World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) takes place between March 13th and 18th, and sees over 46 different nations competing across four competitive titles for a massive prize pool of $5.5 million (R65.8 million). This event takes place in Haikou, China and a large contingent of South Africans are competing at the event. This is one of the largest international events that South African teams have qualified for at this level, and it’s a huge achievement for those making the journey to China. Some of the best players in the world are attending this event, and it’s our hope our players will stack up against the best and bring home some great results.

In a recent article on W24 I reached out to one of the female players who unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the main event, Jana “SaltyMonkeh” du Toit. Despite ultimately not qualifying, our female representatives came pretty close to earning a spot in China. In this article I ask Ashley “BrinkeR” Groves about the South Africans who qualified for the WESG Main Event, and what their chances of success are.

Qualified South Africans Attending WESG Main Event

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: Bravado Gaming (Dimitri “Detrony” Hadjipaschali, Ruan “Elusive” van Wyk, Aran “Sonic” Groesbeek, Rhys “Fadey” Armstrong, and Johnny “JT” Theodosiou)
  • Dota2: White Rabbit Gaming (Ryan “ChiDoWi” Lancaster, Wesley “oDu” Rose, Travis “Castaway” Waters, Nicholas “schlinks” Dammert, and Charl “Welp” Geldenhuys)
  • Hearthstone: Jacques “SelfmoorD” Wentzel
  • Starcraft 2: Edwin “Drager” Williams

The Road So Far…

As it currently stands only Bravado Gaming (CS:GO) have made it beyond phase one, and all the other South African representatives have been eliminated from the main event. In their phase one group both Viva Algeria and Team Ukraine failed to attend the event. This means that Bravado Gaming and Team EnVyUs faced off in a match to decide seeding, which Team EnVyUs won 16-3. Both teams progressed to phase two.

White Rabbit Gaming (Dota2) started off showing huge promising, dispatching Romania in their very first match. Unfortunately they lost their following two matches against Pain Gaming (Brazil) and Keen Gaming (China). Elsewhere both Selfmoord (Hearthstone) and Drager (Starcraft 2) lost all three of their phase one matches and have been eliminated from the tournament.

Talking WESG Main Event with BrinkeR

Ashley “BrinkeR” Groves is a lifelong gamer, the owner of Amaryllis Gaming, and the captain of the CS:GO team. They also participated in the WESG South Africa qualifiers and came 3rd.

CH: How did you get into gaming?

AG: I got into gaming because of my father originally. He brought home a computer when I was around 11 or 12, and we were playing Medal of Honor together. My brother and cousins are also gamers, they were always playing Counter-Strike 1.6, which they brought home. That’s how I started playing Counter-Strike.

You’re also a working mom, so how do you find the time for competitive gaming on top of that?

It’s actually quite hectic! I’m also studying at work as well. (Laughter.) Luckily my son is in quite a good routine, so normally by 8:00 p.m. he’s asleep. That means I get the chance to start practicing with my team after that. We’re facing a few difficulties at the moment. One of our players is 14, so obviously she can’t stay up too late. We’re trying to make the best of the time that we have. We practice almost every day of the week to make up for any lost time.

That’s intense. I couldn’t do that!

Yes, I’m finding a balance. My husband helps a lot as well.

That’s amazing. Could you touch on why you’re part of an all female MGO and why all female qualifiers are important?

These aren’t easy questions. (Laughter.) There are a lot of female gamers that I see who want to take things seriously and they don’t quite know which step to take, which is why I decided to branch off into the more unusual titles like Overwatch and Dota2. It’s proven exceptionally difficult, actually. For WESG in terms of all female esports for our scene, it’s massive. The branding potential, the international investment, I’ve been saying this for a while. We have a better chance internationally because we don’t have that segregation of the sexes in South Africa that other countries have. Our female teams compete against the best guys, and learn how they play, and then take that into other events. There’s always been a difference in skill, and I don’t know if it’s because women haven’t been playing as competitively as men for as long as they have. We’re catching up quickly, and a lot of people in the community are more than willing to help. It just gives us a fighting chance.

Let’s talk about the teams that qualified for WESG. You’re super familiar with Bravado Gaming, who are competing in CS:GO. They’ve been competing in America for over a month as well. What do you think their chances of doing well are?

I definitely think they’re going to fare a lot better in this event now that they’ve been overseas for a month and a half playing against teams like Team Dignitas. We all watched that game. I think it’s really great in some ways that Team Ukraine has now dropped out, so that gives Bravado Gaming a better group. They still have to get through some quality teams, but I really think having that opportunity of playing in America on those levels for that amount of time will give them an edge that they needed. They were always good enough, they just needed that extra little bit.

Do you see them getting out of the group stages?

Honestly, I really do think they can get out of the group stages. In my personal opinion I think Team Ukraine was going to be quite a challenge for them. I’m keen to see how they play against Team EnVyUs. That’s going to be interesting. I believe they can do it, if they keep their heads about themselves.

What about the other South Africans at the event?

I’m not too familiar with those titles. I know a bit about White Rabbit Gaming, it’s a huge deal they’re going to China as well and they have our full support.

From your point of view, why is it important that more South Africans compete at international events like these?

Being an MGO owner I’ve been reaching out to brands to get them more involved in esports. It’s just not there, a lot of the brands are taking a little step back at the moment. They’re reassessing, especially with the economy, and we’ve obviously got a new president. Things are a bit hectic at the moment. But having these guys competing at this level, we can take this back to all the big brands in South Africa and say, “Look, we’re there. We’re on the map. We’re doing something. Invest in us and let’s show you what we can do.” It also shows the interest in titles like Dota2, Hearthstone, and Starcraft. Obviously a lot of focus locally has been on Counter-Strike. I feel this will bring a lot more focus on these other titles locally.

Thanks for your time.

Thanks for having me!

Follow the rest of the Tournament

To follow how Bravado Gaming are doing (as the last South African team still in the competition), you can watch some of the action on the WESG Twitch channel. China is six hours ahead of South Africa, so matches start early. Here is their schedule for Thursday 15 March (South African Standard Time):

  • 05h00: Bravado Gaming vs Space Soldiers
  • 09h00: Bravado Gaming vs ORDER
  • 15h00: Bravado Gaming vs TeamOne

Alternatively you can follow Bravado Gaming on social media for updates about their team directly from the event.

Image courtesy of the Bravado Gaming Twitter page