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UPDATE | The Southern Barbarians gear up for battle

ESL Nations Challenge.jpg

**UPDATE**

The Southern Barbarians kick off their campaign against Portugal on 11 February at 9pm and you can catch the match live on Twitch. The Southern Barbarians will also need to contend with Greece and Italy in the coming weeks before the group phase is complete.

We wish the team all the best in the attempts to regain their 2014 title.

**ORIGINAL**

In 2014 - almost while nobody in South Africa was looking - a team made up of South African Battlefield players beat their more fancied Finnish opponents in the ESL Country Championships 8v8 final to become the ‘champions of the world’.

Back then, while the other countries playing were using the name of their country of origin, the South Africans were playing under the name of the Southern Barbarians. The brief explanation behind the why of that is that the team was not officially selected or sanctioned by the MSSA and that the “the name ‘South Africa’ was intellectual property that belonged to SASCOC”.

However, that did not stop the team made up of South Africans from patriotically flying the flag for the local Battlefield team, and proving (quite rightly) that a team from South Africa can compete with the best, and not just hold their own, but walk away as victors.

The return of the Barbarians in 2015 was not by way of the ESL Country Championships (due to the organisation not hosting one) but in the Nitrado Nations Cup. Other than the ESL name, the tournament was still all about the top international teams battling it out for glory. However, unlike the 2014 tournament, the Nitrado tournament did not allow a ‘home and away’ style server option, and the team of South Africans were forced to play all their matches on international servers. The lag – understandably – proved to play a major role in the results and the Southern Barbarians ended a still credible eighth.

It’s all back with ESL again for 2016 (but named the Nations Challenge) and the server rule used in 2014 will at least allow for a more level playing field, making the very strong looking Barbarians team (predominantly made up of players from Aperture, PuLse and xTc, among others) very serious contenders again. I chatted with team spokesperson Stephen Fowler de Witt about the upcoming tournament and the chances of seeing another win for the team, among other things.

The last ESL Country Championships was in 2014. How confident are the Southern Barbarians going into the 2016 iteration?

While the last ESL tournament was in 2014, in 2015 an independent organization held a similar cup, but due to server restrictions (we had to play all matches on their servers at a 250+ ping) we only managed to make top 8.

This year ESL is back, with the same server rule they had in 2014, where we play 1 round on the international server, and 1 round on a local server to even things out. So I am feeling confident that the team will make top 3 realistically.

Many also feel this is the strongest Southern Barbarians line up to date, the team had their first practice match on Sunday night and absolutely dominated. The guys are feeling positive and confident!

The tournament this year is a little different to the previous one (10v10 Conquest) – will this have an impact on the team’s preparation for the tournament?

It makes a slight difference yes, making the format 10v10 actually makes the game more interesting. As an example, in previous years we wouldn't focus on our jet too much, we felt limited by only having 8 players so one or two people had to fill quite a few different roles.

With it being 10v10 now, players are selected purely by their strongest contribution to the team, so as an example, our jet pilot only has to worry about being in the jet now. Same goes for the rest of our armour and infantry players. More players, meaning more roles are covered and more focus can be spent on a singular task. I personally prefer this mode over 8v8

The 24-player squad selection was very community driven – give the readers a brief explanation of the selection process.

The selection process was done by involving the BF3 community and the DGL committee. We made a post asking the community to list their best possible players, and did the same within the committee. The committee focussed more on the top 4 teams from DGC, where the community also had a chance to list some of the "fan favourites"... We then made up a list of the 50 players who were mentioned the most by all. Split it into 2 groups of 25 players, 1 group more armour based and the other group more infantry based.

These 2 groups were made up by means of a straw poll, where we took the top 15 from each of the 2 polls, to make a final selection list of 30 players. The captains were then tasked with the job of selecting the final 24 players from this list of 30 voted for by the community. That's how we ended up on the 24 players we have today.

What made you feel this was the best way to go about the team selection (it is certainly a good way to ensure continued support for the team)?

Most of the community embers play the game competitively themselves, they know who the best players are for all the roles. Obviously not 100% of the community would agree, some wanted to see a friend or clan mate in the line-up. But the large majority of the community are really happy that we included them in the selection process. I feel the best way to pick a team to represent a community, is having the community help pick the team! It also ensures more support and backing from them, and believe me, the team really appreciates the support.

How many of the current players featured in the 2014 tournament?

7 of the current players featured in the 2014 tournament. 15 of the current players featured in 2015 and 9 new additions to make up the 24 players of 2016.

How will the final ten players be chosen for matches?

It will all depend on what maps are played. We will have a set list for each and every map. This list will be very different for every map on the list. Golmud railway as an example is dominated by vehicles and air. Meaning we will not be using many of our infantry players. Where locker is an infantry only map, where only our infantry players will show their worth. Every map has a unique requirement, that's why we have 24 players, each with a role in mind, each with a job to do. Depending on map of course.

The tournament is mooted to start around the middle of February. Will the local supporters be able to watch the team in action?

Matches will be streamed by the official ESL casters, and be available on the official ESL stream. This is the same stream and casters they use for ESL-One, so its massive exposure for our players. Anyone can tune in and watch the action live.

How can they generally show their support?

By liking the Facebook page, giving motivational posts or comments on the page, all the players look at the thread and appreciate any form of support!

Thank you for your time, and all the best for the 2016 Nations Challenge. Is there anything you would like to add?

No problem at all, I would like to add that 2016 is really a massive year for E-sports. And to many, the Battlefield title might not be as massive as CSGO or Dota2, but we have already shown international success in Battlefield, and would like to urge everyone, no matter what game you play or who you play for, if you are South African, please support this team. The matches will be really tough when facing international giants like Finland, Germany, England, USA etc. I would love to see the South African audience really make a noise for the team and show them some love.

The 24 players that will be representing the Southern Barbarians in the 2016 ESL Nations Challenge are:

APG-Jokerbb | PuLse-Mike22 | PuLSe-Grizzla | xTc-JordanL | APG-Mango | APG-DirtyPope | PuLse-Hackzor | xTc-Ghostfreak | APG-Whitchers | xTc-Couch | xTc-Chrono | PuLse-Bloodtronix | APG-Eddyz | xTc-Cruelz | xTc-Kierenblade | bvd-Scoper | Pew-KvTQuanTM | xTc-Lang-Slang | Euphoria | PuLse-HadoGenes | dM-Byohazard | APG-Renji | APG-Stats | Fearbb

At the time of writing there are 14 teams already registered for the Nations Challenge, so competition is likely to be tough this year. We would like to wish the team all the best for the tournament, and we will follow their progress as closely as possible. Drop the team a message on their Facebook page or below in the comments.

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