The MWeb head office in Cape Town was teeming with excitement on 19 July 2013 as top gamers from Cape Town and Johannesburg clashed in the first ever inter-regional Electronic Sports (eSports) inter-regional championship in South Africa.
The competitors were put to the test as they battled it out in two of the most popular games, COD Black Ops 2 and FIFA13 for the number one title. Gamers clashed across the internet with the MWeb MCave hosting the Cape Town players and The Hive in Monte Casino hosting the Johannesburg players. Matches were streamed live from the MWeb network with commentary from Nicholas Holden and Francois van Schalkwyk.
The Cape Town FIFA13 gamers came out tops on the evening, winning the Xbox match 4-0 and the PS3 match 3-0. The Call of Duty Black Ops 2 match also saw the Cape Town team coming out triumphant, but it was a closely fought match that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats waiting until the fifth and final round to see the skilled Jo’burg gamers “pipped to the post”.
Governing Sports Body, Minds Sports South Africa joined MWeb Gaming in hosting this event and started the evening off by awarding local gamers their colours.
MWeb Gaming manager Des Kurz says, “With eSports now recognised as a tier 1 sport, the online gaming community is now taken more seriously. Around the world eSports has audiences in the millions watching championships and recently comments were made that the sport would soon become as big as the NFL in the US.”
According to BMI-TechKnowledge online gaming is forecast to show moderate growth from 4,4-million users in 2012 to 6,9-million users in 2017, increasing market penetration from 42% in 2012 to 54% in 2017.”
Kurz adds that South Africa’s gaming community has seen phenomenal growth.
“There are an estimated 4,426-million gamers across mobile, console and PC in SA,” he says.
“Gaming requires a lot of skill and practice. Most gamers have been playing for many years and it’s awesome that our efforts are finally recognised, and that we have the support of MWeb and the Mind Sport South Africa (MSSA),” says local gamer Lee-Michael Bransgrove. Western Cape director of MSSA, Glenn Alexander adds.
“It is events like these that prove gamers are not guys who just sit on the couch and slack off. The educational benefits of eSports and advantages of competitive gaming are widely acknowledged across the globe.”
A number of A list VIP media, celebrity and spectator guests came dressed in blue (Cape Town) or red (Johannesburg) colours to show their allegiance for the North or South. The stadium type atmosphere and the energetic DJs from whatisfiction added an entertaining edge to the evening along with MC Carl Wastie from Good Hope FM, as guests mingled between the cocktail area, photo booth and popcorn machine.
A gaming station was setup where media and celebrity guests could try their hand at COD Black Ops 2 and FIFA 13, where they soon learned that it’s not as easy as the gamers make it look.
“I give those guys a lot of credit,” says Expresso presenter, Katlego Maboe. “You really have to know what you’re doing.”
There was great interest from prominent media, including SABC sports who were just one of the five television camera crews covering the event. This is aside from a brace of other journalists from sites such as MSN online, New Age Gamer and BizCommunity.
The event was made possible with MWeb’s reliable and trusted uncapped unthrottled connection and providing gamers with the best local connectivity and local servers is something MWeb is proud of.
“We know what is important to gamers and do everything we can to deliver a quality gaming experience,” says Kurz. “Since we are a tier 1 ISP, we are able give gaming traffic the highest priority and use our local servers to offer the best in latency and superior connectivity.”
COD Black Ops 2 and FIFA 13 were a sound choice for the evening, as they are the two top titles used in competitive gaming in South Africa and internationally. EA Sports has called FIFA 13 the most authentic football game on the planet, selling more than 1-million copies in the first week of its release.
COD Black Ops 2 has been described by gamers as “incomparable” to any other first person shooter games in the competitive field.
“The MSSA has also received very positive feedback from gamers across the country. Other regions are now readying themselves to participate in this dynamic league. The Nkangala District (from Mpumalanga) and the Winelands Region (also Western Cape) are already gearing up to challenge the City of Cape Town Regional Team,” says Colin Webster, President of MSSA.
The two large screens in the auditorium displayed a stream of live gaming, enabling the audience to be right up in the action. Lucky winners of the “tweet for your seat” competition also got a chance to be a part of the fun, and cheered loudly.
There were awesome prizes up for grabs from Mat & May and Spoilt Hair & Nails salon for the best dressed fan and the most vocal supporter. Jody Williams won the prize for best dressed, and Godfrey Eybers received the prize for most vocal. A night to remember, the quirky photo booth and amusing props kept guests entertained while they posed with the two themed FIFA 13 and COD promo girls.
“The evening was a great success and we definitely plan on having more events like this. It’s fantastic that we can give coverage to these competitive gamers who put in hours of hard work and dedication to get to the amazing skill levels that were demonstrated on the night,” says Kurz.