Oh here’s a surprise: there’s a female CSGO team heading to China for WESG AND there is a female CSGO player heading to China to play Hearthstone too!
Let’s rewind a bit to earlier this year when the Valkyrie Challenge happened. All female CSGO challenge, prize money, Esports etc. You can read about that here. I’m the first to argue that males and females are equal and should be treated as such BUT I also have a little theory. I really truly believe that a great way to get more eyeballs on SA Esports is to send a team overseas, give them the support they need to dominate and let them place in a big international competition against the heavyweights. Its a tried and tested theory – it worked for Brazil and Australia.
BUT, the skill gap between our local teams and the international big names is large. Not because we’re not good enough but just because they have years (and finances) on us. However, all female invitationals are a bit easier to crack. I said it at the beginning of the year and I’ll say it again: I think if we sent an all female Esports team to compete in a major invitational, and they won, it would really help develop the scene. And now we have a CSGO team AND a Hearthstone player heading to China in Jan to compete in the WESG APA finals and I’m all sorts of excited.
First up Jana “Salty Monkey” du Toit just won the African Hearthstone Qualifier so she is representing on her ace. You’re likely confused because she happens to play for Energy Finesse, an all female CSGO team. Turns out she also plays Hearthstone and has for two years. Only, the WESG qualifiers were actually her first competition. Seems winning at gaming things is in her blood. I’m actually busy writing a piece for Red Bull about Salty Monkey’s CS betrayal (kidding…not kidding) which I’ll share on my social at some point.
What I really want to focus on is the female CSGO drama
Look, that got you excited. The WESG CSGO qualifiers for the female division was interesting. For starters, when we announced Valkyrie, myself and the other parties involved got a lot of flack from a stack of females claiming to be in other CS teams and being upset we only did an invitational with two teams. I didn’t realise so many existed and felt bad. Yet, roll in WESG qualifiers and those vocal voices were well… not there? We had a total of four teams in the qualifiers. There was the two Valkyrie competitors: Amaryllis Gaming and eNergy Finesse. Then we also saw Voodoo Dolls competing, a team that was formed in September this year and is showing incredible promise and dedication. The final team we saw in the qualifier was LeetPro – a brand new CS team that was put together in October. Voodoo Dolls faced off against eN.Finesse and put up a good showing despite going up against their mentors, but Finesse did take the game. LeetPro beat Amaryllis and finally LeetPro and Finesse faced off in the final which LeetPro again, won convincingly.
They’re going to China.
But a few folk raised an eyebrow at the late addition of ShazZ to the line up (I’ve wrote a little “I think ShazZ is one of my favourite humans” pieces for Red Bull here, if you want to know why adding her to the line up is a big deal). So rather than feed the gossip I decided to chat to LeetPro captain Simone “Psymone” Eskelsen.
Here’s what you need to know: LeetPro’s female team came into existence in October. Psymone asked NatzZii and Angelwingzz (who used to sub for eN.Finesse if I’m not mistaken) if they were interested in forming a competitive team. She later approached Scorpie, who was one of the founding members of Amaryllis (I’ve done a video with Scorpie before which you can watch here) and Scorpie then made the move. According to Psymone, the team is still looking for a fifth member:
We’re still on the look out for a fifth player but will focus on that at a later stage. The team is currently very much focused on the WESG grind.
To play in a CSGO competition you need 5 members. My understanding is that Aaron “Slowye” van der Walt, who coaches Leetpro’s female team and is a well known name in local CSGO circles, approached ShazZ to join the team as a sub for the qualifiers and ultimately the WESG finals in China IF the team made it through. On chatting to ShazZ, she made the decision to sub for LeetPro because she said she really felt the ladies in the team have incredible potential and massive firing power. There’s the addition of her and Scorpie being mates for years. Also, I don’t think any of us would turn down a potential trip to China for an international Esports event. So fair game to her.
Now for the ‘controversy’
I trolled you and made you read all of that, but here’s the actual juice you want. On the day of the WESG qualifiers, ShazZ announces she is subbing for LeetPro. A few hours before the first match went live she tweeted it out.
So I will be standing in and helping out the @LeetPro_eSports female squad in the WESG Qualifiers!! Super excited to help these ladies out! 👍❤️
— Sharon ShazZ Waison (@ShazZkL) December 3, 2017
There are two ways to look at this: it could be seen as sneaky or a really smart tactic, depending on your competitive nature. ShazZ is currently the best female CSGO player in the country. I can say this because she is one of the only CSGO players (male or female) in this country to have gone overseas and won (winning 2015 Coppenhagen Games with Team Karma). She gets to own the title for now. Over and above that, ShazZ is one of the best and most well respected CS players in South Africa. Almost all the other ladies from those other teams will tell you that they hold ShazZ in high regard (and have likely approached her to play for their team, or had team members who tried to stop them approaching her – cause you know she’ll show the bullsh*tters up properly in game). I was so impressed with how Psymone handled our interview, damn this lady is good under pressure. I may have tried to bait her with a question about all of the above but her response was cucumber cool:
I think most people put one and one together before the qualifiers happened. However, there was no official announcement. It was part of our strategy.
Love it or hate it – it worked. LeetPro won the WESG qualifiers convincingly and they’re going to China. They also now have someone in their team who has played on an international stage before and who can help them handle that pressure. Plus, Scorpie has played at Valkyrie and is now also experienced in a booked out venue, dealing with press and the other pressures that come with competitions like this. Slowye also has vast LAN experience and is going to travel with the team. From a mental preparation point of view, they have the ability to hold it together.
I’m freaking amped about this. While some might argue with me about the ShazZ addition, I thought it was a mark of brilliance. I thought the team played damn well. I think they have enough experience travelling with them that they can keep their heads cool under pressure. My only hope is that building up to WESG the Bravados, Goliaths, Energy, Damage Control and Big5s of our CS scene offer to scrim with these ladies. If we, as a community, get behind them and help them prepare, if we make sure they’re at top level when they leave, they have a really strong chance of winning. If they win, that’s pretty damn rad for South Africa. Let’s get behind these ladies.