Monday, 7 December 2020 saw Anneke Lourens, a teacher from Hoërskool Klerksdorp, crowned the Mind Sports SA (MSSA) national champion for Clash Royale.
eSports may not be as big in South Africa as it is in North America, Europe, and Asia, but when the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to most traditional forms of sports participation, a mature worldwide internet infrastructure stepped up to provide seamless real-time remote gaming.
As the healthcare ravages of 2020 forced the world into isolation, the Internet became the place we meet, virtually, and with the acute focus, digital solutions provided a robust safe harbour for an emerging sports code to take centre stage.
After existing in the shadows, eSports has found its time to shine.
This multibillion-dollar industry has turned passionate gamers into international celebrities, even as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) discusses including eSports in future Olympic events.
Throughout the world, streaming is credited with helping the eSports industry grow tremendously, and in South Africa, the streaming community mainly specialises in these leading games including PUBG, Fortnite, CS: GO, Dota 2, FIFA 20 and Overwatch.
With the rise of eSports in South Africa, Lourens chats to gsport about her love for gaming and how she got involved in the sport.
Hi Anneke! Congratulations on being awarded national champion! And thank you for chatting to us! Please tell us how you got into gaming.
I am playing games for a few years now, but only started playing Clash Royale last year, when I entered learners from our school for competitions. I decided to motivate them by enrolling myself as well. Playing games not only helps me to relax, but also improves my thinking and solution-seeking abilities.
How has the eSports world grown in South Africa since you have started playing competitively?
The eSports world has grown a lot, but there is more potential to grow. It is a young sport in South Africa and for the learner who cannot or is not interested in participating in physical sporting codes, they have an opportunity to participate in eSports.
What is your role at Hoërskool Klerksdorp?
I am the Information Technology teacher at Hoërskool Klerksdorp and responsible for the development for eSports at the school.
Who are the best female gamers in South Africa?
I do not know any female players except for those who play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) – a multiplayer first-person shooter video game. There is also Meldee Nel ‘Melicorn1991’ from Amanzimtoti.
For those who don’t understand the eSports world, can you give us a quick breakdown on how to get into it?
When you visit the Mind Sport SA website, you will find all the documentation you need on how to register. Once you find a suitable club, you register with a registered club in your area (these names of registered clubs are available on the MSSA website).
All the games that are hosted as eSports games can be found on the MSSA website. After that you decide on a game and download it. Then – practice, practice, practice! It is fun and it challenges your brain.
How favourable is gaming towards female competitors?
It is favourable, because although men and women play against each other, in the results, men and women are divided into two different categories.
What challenges did you face when you started getting into gaming?
Finding the time to practice, because you also need time to study the game in-depth! But you need to acquire your own gaming computer, and that was a challenge for me. Clash Royale specifically – eSports is still young in the country, so finding local participants was quite hard at first.
What advice do you have for any other young girls who would like to get into gaming?
Just start playing! Don’t be afraid to say you’re a gamer. Play against men and women – they will assist you to achieve your best. And don’t give up! You will win some and you will lose some, but whatever you do, just enjoy your new hobby.
What career opportunities are there for young girls in gaming, besides playing?
There are quite a few, including eSports umpiring during competitions, professional gamer, facilitator/mentor for learners, and developing and programming your own games.
There is no doubt that South Africa is fast becoming the biggest eSports community on the continent, which would attract the attention of global eSports brands, better than any other country on the continent.
With the attention comes investments to promote local gaming players from a young age, and what is even better is that gaming is completely inclusive, with many female gamers being born every day.
Photo Caption: Hoërskool Klerksdorp Information Technology teacher Anneke Lourens started playing a year ago to encourage her learners to enter competition, and has just been unveiled as Mind Sports SA (MSSA) national champion for Clash Royale. Photo: Supplied