PC eSports

StarCraft II Invitational Test Match: War of the Worlds

Saturday, 16 March, local gamers witnessed a test match for StarCraft II between South Africa and Romania. Two Grandmasters, Robert “PandaTank” Botha (South Africa) and Silviu “NightEnD” Lazar (Romania) faced off in a war of the worlds clash. It was a first of its kind for us.

And it was emotional.

Being part of the crowd, standing to sing the national anthem in preparation for a video game test match…I will never forget that moment. We have indeed come a long way with eSports in South Africa.


 So before I jump into the test match feedback from PandaTank, allow me to thank Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA), a driving force behind so much of the progress we have seen in competitive gaming. Secondly I want to thank Megarom Interactive, without their backing this initiative would not have been made possible. These two organisations are our pioneers, our visionaries and crucial for the continued growth of eSports in South Africa. Lastly,  PolarfluKe made sure the event ran smoothly, the infrastructure did not disappoint.

We thank you.

If not for gamers to take what organisations offer them and dedicate their lives to the discipline of eSports, all the effort would be in vain. Robert “PandaTank” Botha is perhaps South Africa’s leading example of such a gamer. Sponsored by Cooler Master Storm and MSSA's No.1, PandaTank is also our first professional eSports athlete. I caught up with him for feedback on the test match.    


Round 1 NightEnd had a quick victory, but in round 2 it was a very different battle. What changed?

The map changed for starters. Every game is going to look different. Game 1 he did a 4Gate into hidden nexus. That's probably the riskiest build you can possibly do in Protos vs Protos (PvP). That was the first time I had ever played Korhal City in my life, since the MSSA decided to randomly pick 2 maps without giving the players any say. If I had more experience on the map I would have been able to deduce his Nexus was proxied and been in a very big advantage. Game 2 was a lot more standard, that's why it lasted longer. However judging the close-ness of a StarCraft II game by the time it lasted is a completely pointless exercise.

Based on the IeSF standings, NightEnD is under the top 6 and you under the top 16. How big a difference is that in skill level?

No offence to NightEnD, but he is nowhere near the top 6 in the World. Likewise, I am nowhere near top 16 in the World. In the StarCrafft II community,  NightEnD is generally considered one of the top 25-35 ranked players in Europe. I personally consider myself placed in the 40-50 ranked position in Europe. I personally don't believe there is much of a "skill" gap between the two of us. The biggest difference between NightEnD and me is his experience. He has been a pro gamer for a lot longer and has gained valuable experience in his time with an established organization like Fnatic that can afford to send him to a lot of events.


Both of you used some of the new Heart of the Swarm abilities, especially in round 2. How have these abilities changed the strategy of the game when compared to Wings of Liberty?

In terms of PvP it has only made the game more random and given the defender an even bigger advantage. This was already a problem in Wings of Liberty in my opinion. The other matchups have generally been improved by the new units and abilities.

In retrospect, what could you have done differently to take round 2?

Pay closer attention to my army. I was looking somewhere else on the map for a second and got caught out of position. If that had not have happened I would have almost definitely won the game.


What is your schedule like for the next 3 months?

I can't really say yet. I'll be travelling abroad to some events, also perhaps returning to the US to train. Nothing is set in stone yet. Besides that, I’ll just be practicing every day as usual.

PandaTank Facebook / MSSA Facebook | Twitter / Megarom Facebook | Twitter / PolarfluKe Facebook | Twitter

Closing thoughts

When we combine our efforts, when player meets Organisation, dreams come true. If gaming is your passion, then throw in everything you got to reach the highest possible level you can.   

Where do we go from here? What do you want the future to hold for eSports in South Africa?

To get a taste of the StarCraft II Invitational Tournament, check out footage of the event from the Espresso show.

Keep an eye on MWEB GameZone for my interview with the little man from Romania,  Silviu “NightEnD” Lazar.

Han’s Twitter | Blog / MWEB Gamezone Twitter | Facebook

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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