What is Mind Sports South Africa?
Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) is a non-profit association that is the recognised national federation for board games, eSports, robotics and wargames. The MSSA is run purely by volunteers who are elected by the different member clubs at the Annual General Meeting. The Annual General Meeting is always held directly after end of play at the South African National Championships. As the recognised controlling body, the MSSA is the only authority for its codes in South Africa and is the only body that may legally award provincial and national colours. Thus it is the only body that can legally select teams to represent South Africa in international competition.
What is the MSSA Inter-school league?
The league is designed to legally bring competitive eSports into the school environment, in which schools pit their best players against other schools in order to determine the best school in the country as done for waterpolo, swimming, etc.
How does someone get their national colours for e-sports?
In order to get national colours for gaming, the gamer must first and foremost be registered as a member of a member club. Then, the gamer must participate in an accredited MSSA eSports event. However, participation alone is not enough. The gamer (and his team) must then finish in the top three, or the top twenty percent of teams in such event. Thus if there are six teams competing, the teams that finish in first, second and third places will qualify for trials. If there are twenty teams participating, then the top four will qualify, and if there are fifty teams participating, then the top ten will qualify for trials. When the Management Board has agreed to hold trials, all gamers who have so qualified are invited to participate. Then it it is at such Trials – which is always a LAN – that the team is selected.
I see that the MSSA is sending a women’s team to IeSF. How big is the market for women’s e-sports, and what is the local gaming scene doing to increase women’s participation?
Certainly the women’s market is not nearly as big as it should be. It is necessary that any sport that wishes to grow must accommodate women at all levels. Thus the MSSA has policies in place for trying to increase the participation levels in this regard. The sending of the women’s team is just the most visible aspect of this policy.
How are the official games determined?
The member clubs of the MSSA are responsible for choosing the games to be played at all MSSA events on an annual basis. The way in which this is done, is that the games choice comes up for review by the cub-committee, and all member clubs are requested to furnish their choices. Of course the Management Board may add additional games if they are required by the international federation.
What are the most popular e-sports games locally?
Popularity of the games in general can only be answered by the publishers and the retailers. That is not what the MSSA looks at. The MSSA concentrates on competitive gaming and providing an outlet for competitive gamers. Thus, there may be a game that is fantastically popular among the gaming community, but because the game may not lend itself to competitive gaming, the MSSA may not cater for it. In terms of our figures, the most popular competitive eSports game in South Africa are without a doubt, Counterstrike, DotA, StarCraft II, FIFA and TEKKEN.
How has console gaming grown in the country in terms of e-sports?
Console gaming has a number of advantages in terms of eSports. Because of its ease of access, lower cost, and standard systems, it has brought gaming to many who do not have the finances for computer gaming, and to many who do not have the know-how in terms of computer gaming. To start console gaming, all the gamer needs to do is ‘plug and play’. Thus console gaming has made huge strides in attracting many new gamers to competitive eSports who otherwise would have felt intimidated by the set up procedure. In the past three years, numbers of console gamers participating at MSSA events have doubled.
What’s the best way to become a professional gamer in South Africa?
In order to become a professional gamer, my advice is to start while you are in school. The gamer must first develop a passion for the game and for competing while, at the same time learning to be part of a team. It is important for gamers to then train properly for the game. Simply playing does not equate to training. Training involves examining every aspect of the game and pushing it to the nth degree. Remember, that mistakes made in practice are often carried through into competition matches. Thus it is important to practice perfectly.... Once a gamer has earned provincial and national colours, the gamer would have been exposed to the international circuit. It is then that the gamer is ready to start thinking about becoming a professional. However, to be a professional, the gamer needs solid sponsorships and needs to be part of a team of like-minded individuals. Often the professional gamer will have to put gaming above all else in order to secure any form of sustainability as a professional gamer. It should be noted that the professional gamer would also have to register with the tax authorities as a professional as any income derived while being a professional would be taxed in his/her hands. Of course, any expenses directly related to conducting himself as a professional gamer would then also be able to be deducted.
How have your experiences been working with local LAN organisers and online league organisers?
The MSSA has built up good working relationships with existing LAN organisers. The MSSA does not see itself to be a provider of LAN networks. Instead the MSSA is more concerned with helping existing LAN organisers to become more sustainable.
Why the decision to send players to IeSF and not to other privately owned events?
For a start the costs involved are very different, but so are the visions off the privately owned events and the IeSF. The privately owned events belong to companies that are essentially in business to make a profit. On the other hand, the IeSF is an association not for gain that is attempting to get eSports recognised as a fully-fledged sport. The IeSF is trying hard to get eSports admitted into the Pan Asian Games and to get eSports accepted by the highest authorities in international sport. As an association, all member federations are responsible for the running of the IeSF and making the decisions that will determine the future of both the IeSF and of eSports in general. Thus the IeSF is more in line with the MSSA’s own objectives, and the MSSA has a vested interest in making the IeSF work. However, that is not to say that the MSSA will not send a team to the other events if it can afford to do so.