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Ladies of eSports SA
Blizzard’s team-based, first-person shooter game Overwatch is filled to the brim with (currently) 26 heroes bursting with personality and lengthy backstory. Twelve of those characters are female and they are as hard-hitting, if not more, than the war-torn male counterparts.
In line with this trend, our local eSports world has seen an increasing amount of female gamers join the community and many of them excel. The eSports Industry team chatted to 2CP Captain, VirgoLiz (aka Lizelle Smith), about her love of Overwatch and experiences within the South African arena.
What is your gaming background and why Overwatch?
I used to play single player games and then started online gaming in 2012. I played a lot of Smite which is a strategy, third-person, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game. That game was my life for about three years just before Overwatch came out.
Once Overwatch was released I put all my time and dedication into it as I found it more appealing. Plus Blizzard’s servers were much more stable compared to the Hi-Rez ones. Overwatch is more competitive and the ping (latency) is better.
What is your ranking in Overwatch?
A player’s ranking is represented as a Skill Rating (SR) between 1 and 5000 ranging from Bronze to Top 500. As a solo player I have reached high Diamond (3000-3499 SR) and am working on achieving Master rank.
Your opinion on the state of Overwatch in South Africa?
I would like to see it grow more. I am involved in all aspects of the local community such as the Facebook Overwatch group and TheBarnical’s (Christopher England) Discord server, so that I can meet other Overwatch players. A lot of people are scared of ping but in my opinion it is still very playable. We have players in South Africa that have reached the top 500 in Overwatch which is excellent. I believe the community has the potential to expand.
What has been your experience as a female gamer in South Africa?
At first I was too nervous to get directly involved with the SA gaming community but then I saw a post on the Overwatch SA group of a clan called Valhalla (the biggest all-female multi-gaming organisation (MGO) in South Africa.) They started this whole female gaming drive which is such a great idea as some girls are intimidated to play with the boys initially. Some women are just more comfortable to start playing in teams if they know that there are other female gamers in it. Obviously not all female players feel like this, many are just naturally more comfortable but others aren’t.
Myself, I was nervous in the beginning but I have completely changed my mind-set about the South African Overwatch gaming community. Everyone is very welcoming.
I think for the short term, all-female teams are great to get more females involved in the gaming community, but I hope that in the long term, genders can be put aside and it will only be about the individual’s skill set.
Tell us about 2CP…
We recently started a team called 2CP and we will be playing Overwatch competitively and participate in all the competitions. We have not been placed yet as we only formed after rAge in October 2017. We’ve been playing a lot of scrims and doing really well. We aspire to play against the top teams and we have already registered for VS Gaming League. I believe we have a lot of potential.
Are you aiming at the Overwatch World Cup 2018?
We really hope to qualify and the best way to get there is if we can get the stronger players to help the lower players climb. At the end of the day it is about your solo Skill Rating and if we can get more people into high Diamond or Masters, it will count towards our collective points.
How can local players improve their game?
My experiences on the local Discord server have been really positive. I joined TheBarnical’s Discord server and since then I have met so many South African online gamers. For anyone who just wants improve their game, you can send clips and people will help you with your gameplay. There is also Pick-Up Games or PUGS where only South Africans join in on a 6v6 Overwatch match.
How do you see eSports Industry helping the local scene?
By building relationships and assisting the players to get sponsorship as that is something that they really struggle with. Players and teams always need help with growing their networks and connecting with sponsors. Also by giving recognition to the players and our communities. Having our accomplishments showcased will definitely help build our communities.
What does the local Overwatch community need in 2018?
We need more competitions, currently there is only VS Gaming League. People love winning prizes. Even if it’s just a mouse pad – extra-length mousepads are now R800. If you get an R800 mouse pad just by playing a game, people will want to get involved.
What do we need to do to compete at a global level?
The current Overwatch League plays on a higher level and is dominated by Asian players. In the East, they embraced eSports as a genuine sport years ago – they treat it like we treat rugby in South Africa. From a young age they will be training with the right infrastructure, support, and financial backing to start their career. I think that is the biggest reason that we battle to compete at the very top. eSports needs to be acknowledged and supported better in South Africa in order for us to start levelling the playing field.
Join the Overwatch Facebook community: facebook.com/groups/OverwatchSA
Competitive Overwatch South Africa Facebook: facebook.com/groups/1573862059373407/
Play on the Discord Overwatch server: https://discord.gg/XhUuFrJ
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