Photo: The BOO! 2017 Protea Esports Team.
Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) never takes selection for a national team lightly.
Since being selected to officially represent South Africa for esports is the same as being represented by any other South African National Federation for any other sport, team selection must have great meaning to the esports players. The award of National Team status for esports also leads to comparisons from other sports as it is the highest level in esports, just as much as the Springboks are the highest level in rugby.
The selection process always has a dilemma as it is known that when choosing a team for international duty, concepts such as 'potential' does not have any meaning. Also, with South Africa being so far away from mainstream events, it is always difficult to relate how players who have performed well at regional, provincial, and national championships will perform at a international level.
With MSSA there is no automatic selection to the team.
Every player standing for selection has to reprove him/herself.
International competition is tough. Much tougher than anything that you will encounter in South Africa, and that is part of the problem.
In my opinion a number of events, with their large cash prizes, do nothing to develop strength or depth. Such events seem to only promote the same old favoured few with no real eye to developing real gaming strength for the future. Without a long-term view, South African gaming will never improve and South African teams shall, in my opinion, remain the whipping boys of the international community.
I am too reminded of when MSSA brought out SK Gaming's CS:GO and DotA 2 teams in 2008.
MSSA arranged, as a courtesy, a 'friendly' between SK Gaming's CounterStrike: GO team against a South African club team. The match was so one-sided, it was horrible. Since it was BO3, SK Gaming rather than thrash the local team again, just gave them the third game.
In conclusion, for South Africa to do well overseas, all teams must buy-in to a long-term development programme and not look to quick gratification. The average standard of play must be improved upon if players expect to improve the highest level of play.
While there are the exceptional cases of individuals who may achieve greatness inn spite of their surroundings, generally speaking, successful athletes are produced in successful environments which have successful coaches, expert administrators, and efficient administration.
Colin Webster l Mind Sports South Africa