The best Girl Gamer from South Africa (she happens to play CSGO!)
I’ve spent a good few months raving about South African eSports. There have been videos, there have been articles and every so often the name Sharon “ShazZ” Waison pops up. Bravado Team Owner Andreas mentioned her in a video I did with him, ShazZ contributed to my Overwatch coverage with some comments on the game and when you mention South African Girl Gamer, her name is always first on the list.
I actually met ShazZ about three years ago at the Telkom DGL Champs at rAge. It was downstairs, underneath the main event and we had a quick chat. It has been long over due but I finally had a chance to ask ShazZ some questions and get an opinion on eSports in South Africa.
It is an opinion I value highly. ShazZ has proven herself locally but, more importantly, internationally. In April 2015 ShazZ jet setted off to Copenhagen Games to join and play for Team Karma. Team Karma happens to be an all girl CSGO team, in case you were wondering. At that point ShazZ had never competed on the international stage. The Team went on to win the Copenhagen Games… so not a bad start to an international career.
ShazZ started playing Counter Strike 1.5 when she was 13. Now at 25 she is not only one of the most respected players on the local eSports scene but she will also be making an appearance at the Telkom DGL Masters Final at rAge 2016. She’ll be playing with Veneration eSports, one of the 8 teams selected to compete for the 1 million rand prize pool.
I had a sit down with ShazZ and asked her some questions I was dying to know. Don’t expect the usual Girl Gamer stuff – I was more interested in the professional player side. However, I’m desperate to sit down with ShazZ in front of the camera, so if you have any questions I’ve potentially missed in this interview add them to the comments below so I can ask her the next time we get to chat!
Okay, standard cheesy question, what got you in to gaming?
A lot of people don’t actually know why I got in to gaming. So here is the real story: I used to be extremely sporty when I was younger. I played every sport in school and loved it. Unfortunately at the age of 10 I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease called Lupus SLE. I had to stop all my sports as I was unable to be in the sun for long periods.
Being so competitive, I needed to find something that would replace my sporting needs and that is when I got in to gaming.
Why did you decide to focus on Counter Strike specifically?
I played a lot of games when I was younger. However, a friend of mine, Marc “Surge” du Plessis said to me that I should rather focus on one game, so I stuck with CS and have loved it ever since then.
Competitive gamers have to spend a lot of time behind their PC practicing and competing. How do you find the balance between your competitive career and your “personal” life?
Its really not that hard to balance life, as a lot of my mates are gamers themselves. However, my friends that are not gamers support what I do which is pretty awesome. I think it would be difficult to find a partner outside of gaming, unless they are pretty understanding of how much time you spend in front of a computer… but I wouldn’t know as I’m single.
You went overseas to play with Team Karma, competed in the Copenhagen Games and went on to win it. That’s a big one for any South African gamer. Most go overseas and struggle against the European competition. Why were you able to do so incredibly well?
I think it was a little easier for me to compete overseas as the female scene of CS is not as intense as the male side. I’m not saying that the girls are bad, I just think there is a skill gap between female players and male players. That gap makes it harder for South African male players to well overseas. But we are definitely trying our best to succeed on the international scene.
Coming back to South Africa with international experience – what do you think the local scene has to do to improve and ensure more players can cross the big pond and succeed?
I think we need more opportunities to go overseas so we can compete with the best teams in the world. At the moment South Africa is somewhat excluded from the rest of the world so we don’t have the ability to play all these international teams in order to get better. However, our local scene is definitely getting better every day. I’m really excited to see how eSports grows in South Africa!
Thanks to Orena for letting me use some of their pictures. Appreciate it!
I'd love to chat to you some more.
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