I’ve been covering Rob “PandaTank” Botha’s eSports career from January 2012. His unflinching dedication to making it as a professional eSports athlete has been both inspiring and daunting. In my last interview with him ”PandaTank gets le invite to Paris for the 2012 Electronic Sports World Cup” I asked the question, “Why was there no Sponsor standing behind one of South Africa’s best cyber athletes?
It is therefore with great joy that we share with him the realization of that dream.
PandaTank is the first South African professional eSports athlete (that I know of), that means, he is getting paid to play a game (StarCraft II). I will give him the honour of taking you through his journey.
How did you land the sponsorship?
A friend of mine who recently started working for the South African division of Cooler Master helped me get in touch and write a proposal to the company. They were impressed with my achievements and attitude; from there we negotiated a contract.
What is the scope of your Cooler Master sponsorship?
CM Storm is making it possible for me to comfortably play as a full time professional. They are providing me with a monthly salary, quality gaming peripherals and a travel budget which will help me attend international events.
Now that the financial pressure is less, what is your focus on for 2013?
My focus is to keep on improving inside as well as outside of the game. I also plan to attend some big international tournaments this year and achieve some great results.
What do you attribute your success to?
My work ethic (for those who don’t know the Panda, this means stfu and play the game).
What is your favourite Cooler Master product?
So far I have really been enjoying using the CMStorm Speed-RX Mouse pad, as well as the CMStorm Sirus 5.1 Headphones. I have used many different kinds of brands of mouse pads and headphones in my time, but the CMStorm gear has really impressed me the most in terms of quality and design.
What message would you give to aspiring eSports players that want to follow in your footsteps?
Work hard. You will always out what you put in. Although having said that, if you're South African, never put gaming ahead of your education. If you can't reach a grandmasters level playing part-time, don't even consider going full-time.
Will you play in the 2013 International eSports Federation world championships (IeSF)?
I will decide that closer to the time.
Does your sponsorship change your standing in Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA)?
Not at all. I will continue to represent the MSSA and South African team at all MSSA sanctioned events and I will represent Cooler Master in the others.
Who do you think can challenge your position as the no 1 National StarCraft champion?
It may sound arrogant, but no one.
The competitive game scene is rife with gamers who lack commitment, bitch and moan. PandaTank is known for his no nonsense attitude, lack of interest in flame wars and commitment to only one thing, StarCraft II. This dedication and throwing your energy into what actually matters has served him well.
MWEB GameZone wishes PandaTank all the best, thank you for making us proud! We also want to extend our gratitude towards Cooler Master for throwing in their weight with advancing eSports locally. Last but not least, we want to thank the MSSA for the part it played in advancing PandaTank’s career.
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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd