Thursday, 29 January 2015

What does it take to be a truly professional eSports athlete?

Sitting in the shade of a stadium in Parow watching athletes pound their way around the track, and footballers all resplendent in their blue-and-white kit practice their daily drills, I sit and wonder where eSports in South Africa is going wrong to be so far behind the international competition.

The football team that I am watching specializes in preparing players for overseas clubs. The athletes that are training in the blazing African sun, are all of international standard.

Theses sports also have the same disadvantages that eSports has, perhaps even more so. At least in eSports, gamers can play more often, at less cost, that our physical athletes who have to travel vast distances, experience body-sapping fatigue when crossing time-zones and experience acid build-up due to long periods of being seated – all of which negatively affect the performance of the athlete.

The eSports athlete is luckier, thanks to the MSSA and to MWEB, the cyber athlete can play against top class competition from their hometown.

So what then does it take?

Looking at the athletes training it seems as though our eSports fall down in the following areas:
  1. Lack of proper coaching. Playing a game is not training. A training session must be properly structured and coaching sessions should be well structured. It is not enough to just practice, as practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect!
  2. Discipline. This is really part of a greater mind-set. It is not just being able to follow the rules of the game, the rules of the event, any contract which the gamer has signed, but also includes self-discipline. The gamer has to be aware that he/she is playing in an environment that is in itself a society and must therefore comply with the dictates of such society.
  3. Pride. The gamer should show the same amount of pride in his/her achievements and choice of sport as any other athlete. This pride will spill over into every aspect of the gamer as it will be reflected not only in his/her appearance but also in his/her commitment to training as well as his/her attendance of events, as well as the way in which the gamer generally behaves.
  4. Commitment. Commitment to any sport is paramount when creating a champion. It is the athletes commitment in terms of money, time and attitude that separates the 'wheat' from the 'chaff'. Athletes in the physical sports spend thousands of their own to pay for coaching, travel, entry fees, etc. Only when an athlete has reached the highest possible level do athletes then look for sponsorships. However, in South Africa, most gamers seem to think they deserve sponsorships – even though they have not achieved anything! As a result, most sponsorships are second rate and do nothing for development.
  5. Professionalism. A gamer does not need to be paid in order to be professional. Professionalism, more than anything, is a state of mind. It is when the gamers are truly competent that they are professional.
  6. Dedication. Often the true competitor will be able to take a knock, and then get right up again. It is not the score that sorts the winners from the losers, but the dedication of the few who continually keep on getting up and pushing themselves to greater heights.

I believe that when our gamers address the seven points above, or gaming will be on par with any other nation.

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