South African esports players take off on the global stage
Despite COVID crippling international travel and forcing most esports players to compete online, these South African gamers have dominated international competitions recently - overcoming huge obstacles to still showcase the best the country has to offer.
Competing online can be tough. You need the best possible fibre line to ensure quick response time with decent upload and download speeds. But even the best connections can’t compensate for the physical distance that forces most South Africans into a disadvantage. The dreaded ping is a well-known foe for competitive players. Ping is better known as latency and it basically means the time it takes for data to be transmitted from your device to a server on the internet, and then back to your device. When playing gamers in Europe or the Middle East, the servers are physically further and thus it takes longer for this transmission to take place. We’re talking milliseconds, but for someone at the top level, that millisecond feels like forever.
Even with ping and lockdown restrictions - these esports teams and players have continued to fly the South African flag high on the international stage in the last few months:
Julio “Beast” Bianchi made history as the first African player to qualify for the FIFAe World Cup
Beast has dominated the South African FIFA scene for years and made history in June when he competed in the West Asia Qualifiers for the FIFAe World Cup. Facing off against some of the best players in the world, including a previous World Champion, Beast was able to fight his way through the lower bracket to claim a spot in the finals of the qualifier, which guaranteed him a ticket to the World Cup which will take place in August in London. Beast’s tenacity and spirit showed through in his dominating performance to make history - no South African or even African player has qualified for the World Cup before. He’ll be the first player to represent his country and continent at the most prestigious FIFA tournament in the world. He’ll be one of the 32 players competing for their share of the $500 000 prize pool!
South African Rocket League makes a mark on the international stage
Rocket League is a gaming title that has grown in popularity. The car football game has been included in the Intel World Open, which is an event supported by the International Olympic Committee. The event offered up an African qualifier, giving South African teams a chance to finally compete at an internationally recognised event for the title. South African teams dominated the African Qualifiers, with Pirates Exdee taking the eventual win. The Rocket League team, partnered with popular local football team Orlando Pirates, will now move to the next stage of the competition as the African representative - they’ll compete in the EMEA Regional Spots to earn a spot in the World Finals. The competition takes place on the 13th and 14th of July - with the team playing online against strong opposition. Their first matchup will be against the United Kingdom.
Apex Legends dropping in hot!
Apex Legends is steadily becoming one of the most popular battle royales locally, with players on Xbox, Playstation, PC and Nintendo Switch battling out each night to be crowned champions of the arena. The game sees teams of three dropping onto a map, collecting loot and working to be the last team standing. The fast-paced shooter combines teamwork, special character abilities and some big guns for exciting gameplay. Two South African teams continue, despite some of the difficulties related to ping in online competition, to go head to head with the best in Europe. ATK Apex Team and DNMK Esports' most recent adventure into the world of top-tier competitive Apex play was their participation in the Apex Legends Global Series Championship. While most teams were located together in Europe, because of travel restrictions, the South African teams dropped into the arena from their home bases and faced off against some of the biggest esports teams in the world - during the EMEA series. It was no small feat to be in this tournament, to qualify for the Apex Legends Global Series Championship (which has an impressive $1 000 000 prize pool), teams needed to qualify through their Winter Circuit Playoffs performance, last-chance online tournaments or via their cumulative ALGS points. While neither team progressed through the group stages, they put on a credible performance, laying the foundation for future South African representation in Apex Legends globally.
These South African esports stars continue to show that South Africa should not be ignored on the global competitive gaming stage. Our time is now!
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