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eSports SA, when the ladies bring it home!

Once again Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) did South Africa (SA) proud at the 2012 International eSports Federation (IeSF) World Championship in South Korea. The IeSF had a woman’s bracket for the first time, and SA female gamers made their mark.

IeSF 2012.jpg 

Gabriela Isaacs came second in StarCraft II and Lyrene Kühn came fourth in Tekken. It has to be noted that the IeSF female StarCraft II division had a few entries that pulled out, leaving only Isaacs and StarTale_Aphrodite to compete in the finals. Isaacs is a mere 14 years old and she is already making waves as an eSports athlete. She is new to the competitive gaming arena, and still has a long road ahead of her, but she is showing tremendous potential as a female gamer. She was the youngest player to compete at the IeSF. With the MSSA we are able to train and support players from a very young age. The value of this is mind blowing and, in my opinion, the MSSA holds the key to the future of eSports in SA.

I caught up with these two ladies of awesome for a talk about the MSSA, eSports and gaming.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Lyrene Kuhn: “I am currently a second year student studying for my degree in Fine Arts in Bloemfontein. I am also a gamer and anime fanatic.”

Gabriela Isaacs: “Hi, I'm from SAHETI School, in grade 8 and 14 years old. I play Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty. I am the youngest female player as well as the youngest player to compete in the IeSF 2012.”

How does competing on an international level compare to playing locally?

Lyrene Kühn: “Wow, it’s really something else! The competition was on a different level, especially with the female exclusive. Locally I would usually get dominated by guy players, but this time the ladies gave me a run for my money. Yet it is an excellent experience. I have learnt so much just from the ladies and proven to myself that I'm not that bad a player.”

Gabriela Isaacs: “Competing internationally is harder, the players are more advanced and the skill they show is absolutely amazing. Furthermore competing locally doesn’t make me as nervous as when I compete internationally.”  

MSSA Ladies.JPG 

Lyrene Kühn (left) and Gabriela Isaacs (right) at the 2012 IeSF world championships.

Tell us about your experience at the IeSF.

Lyrene Kühn: “The experience was brilliant; one truly gets the sense of a worldwide community.  I have conversed with so many people from all over the world. The planning of the event was also executed very efficiently, one does feel special and welcome once arriving in that unknown city. The experience was foreign as well as incredibly authentic.”

Gabriela Isaacs: "Being at the IeSF was an amazing experience! it was absolutely phenomenal, meeting the best players in the world for Tekken, StarCraft and AVA, the people who participated were really awesome and being at the IeSF as a competitor is just an amazing experience."

What benefits have there been for you in being part of the MSSA?

Lyrene Kühn: “The benefits are evident, I have had the privilege to travel across the world and take part in the IeSF World Championships! One can't get more insane than that. I have received great treatment as well as experience of the competing gaming community with my involvement with the MSSA.”

Gabriela Isaacs: “The benefit of being able to have national Protea colours, wearing my colours proudly and representing my country makes me proudly South African! Moreover being a part of the MSSA also gives me a reason to stay on my computer playing games longer, I would never have thought that my mother and father would ever be encouraging me to play video games!”

What is your future plans regarding gaming?

Lyrene Kühn: “My future plans involve getting more involved. I truly want to get a female clan going in Bloemfontein so I'm trying my best to recruit, and also training. I want to stay in top shape (gaming wise) and try my best in the future to come regarding competition. Oh and also have fun playing some good old games. Devoting myself in front of the trusty PlayStation and gaming till I feel somewhat forever alone.”

Gabriela Isaacs: “Hopefully I qualify for the national team next year to represent SA in StarCraft. I will be doing more training for StarCraft and Warcraft and hopefully get better and come first place instead of second place next year at the IeSF.”

I also caught up with the MSSA president, Colin Webster.

You've been taking the SA team to the IeSF for a couple of years now. Would you say the team has been improving?

“I have been taking the team across every year since 2009. Unfortunately, my involvement in the team has been extremely limited as I have been primarily concerned with the Symposia and General Meetings of the IeSF. Nevertheless, I have always given the team all the support that they have asked for. However, over the past four years, there has been a remarkable improvement in the standard of the team, and the team's approach to the 2012 IeSF World Championships.

To be fair though, in 2009, the team did not really understand the level of gaming that would be found at the World Championships, and, under such trying circumstances Ruben de Freitas and Xola Magwaza did well against some very stiff competition.

The 2010 team of Abubakar Ebrahiem, Rolando de Aveiro, Matthew Putter, and Magiel de Lange were also instrumental in further building the foundations for future teams.

Of course, the real breakthrough came in 2011 when Robert 'PandaTank' Botha became the first South African gamer to get through the group stages. When Rob did this it seems as though mental barriers were smashed and all team members realised that it could be done. The success that Rob had was further developed by Jaco Engelbrecht who finished second in two games at the 2011 International e-Sports Meets of the Disabled (IeSMoD) in South Korea. The IeSMoD is for gamers with physical disabilities. Both Rob and Jaco proved that South Africans are good at gaming and can do well.

Thus the 2012 GIGABYTE eSports Protea Team result is a continuation of an upward path for SA gaming. Both members of the men's team cleared the group stages, and the members of the female team did very well indeed! I can only look forward with great anticipation to what 2013 will bring!”

  Colin Webster.jpg

The MSSA president, Colin Webster at the 2012 IeSF world championships.

Any of the MSSA plans for 2013 you can share?

“The MSSA's plans for 2013 are very much a continuation of its plans for 2012. The MSSA will intensify the roll-out of the school's league, the development of the eSports Schools provincial and national championships, the further development of Online championships, the continued maintenance of the Regional, Provincial and National LAN championships, and continued international participation. The IeSF has indicated to all members that it will advise which titles will be played in 2013. As soon as the MSSA is informed of such titles, the MSSA shall advise all members accordingly.”

Closing thoughts

We are honored to have gamers with such stature and talent in SA. We wish them all the best for 2013. I also want to extend my gratitude to Mr Webster. The MSSA and Webster in particular have not had an easy road with the SA competitive community. I want to thank him for his commitment to seeing eSports grow, in spite of all the opposition from the very people he is trying to help. I am thrilled beyond expression that your hard work is paying off. You are making significant changes in the eSports environment. Respect.

I leave the rest of our SA competitive gamers with this. When have you last competed on an international level and represented your country in an all-expenses paid overseas trip to compete against your international peers? With the MSSA this opportunity is an annual event, its the only eSports organization in SA that takes a team overseas. Maybe it's time to let go of the prejudice so many SA gamers harbor against the MSSA.

I recommend your give these articles a read, then re-evaluate your opinion.

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