red bull kumite sam tech girl wright

Stage Host for the Red Bull Kumite Qualifiers 2023

South African qualifiers took place at Comic Con Cape Town and I joined the broadcast team!

South African qualifiers for Red Bull Kumite, one of the biggest global Street Fighter competitions, recently took place at Comic Con Cape Town. Qualifiers for this event used to be held under the Red Bull Hit The Streets banner. I’ve hosted the Hit the Streets events since 2019, when they began. When I look back it actually can be somewhat overwhelming – I’ve been able to craft these stories since the start.. of both my international esports career and Red Bull’s involvement in uplifting local Street Fighter. Since 2019 one player has won the qualifier every single time… said player was finally dethroned during Comic Con Cape Town which was a HUGE moment. Also a very emotional moment for me as I’d followed that player, JabhiM, since the start. I teared up a little when he was knocked out!

red bull kumite sam tech girl wright

Despite the emotions it was such a perfect moment for the Street Fighter community in South Africa. JabhiM’s story has been so inspiring and he was one of the catalysts that led to Red Bull Kumite 2023, the global finals, being held in South Africa… where he beat one of the world’s best competitors on home soul. For him to be beaten in the semi-finals of the qualifier the following year speaks to the incredible improvement in the local fighting games scene, the growth of the competitive community and what a great example Red Bull has set by investing and building this community from the ground up. I was so incredibly proud of being part of this project for so long. I’ve had the opportunity to weave these incredible stories and build on them year after year. If you want a bit more information about the event and the players you can read this interview I did with the winner of the qualifier, Mark The Shark, which you can find on redbull.com here. I’d like to use this space to chat a bit more about my role in the show and the weekend as a whole.

Too attached?

red bull kumite sam tech girl wright

As I mentioned I’ve been part of this project since the inception of Kumite qualifiers in South Africa. I was also afforded the opportunity to co-host Red Bull Kumite 2023 when it came to South Africa. My primary focus is FPS games and, in the last two years I’ve thrown all my weight into Counter-Strike. I’m by no means a Fighting Games regular and I am always extremely appreciative of this community welcoming me and trusting me to tell their stories. Many of the top players were starting out in 2019 when we began this journey. As such they’ve become friends outside of the event. I’ve also realised recently that I need to push my focus fully into CS and my career outside of South Africa. I made the active decision at the start of 2024 to be extremely selective of which local (South African) projects I take on from a commentating and hosting perspective. There’s a few reasons for this. The first is actually monetary, and while I always think it is crude to talk about money, for the sake of being honest, I will. With the experience I’ve garnered being privileged enough to work many top tier international events, my day rate for esports hosting and commentating is considerably high for South African brands, agencies and organisers. It is internationally on par with others who have worked similar events to me but when you convert that Euro or Dollar amount to rands, it starts seeming awfully untenable. I get that. Esports in South Africa is still very new and budgets aren’t readily available. However, whether I’m working an Esports World Cup or a local South African event, I’m putting the same level of energy and effort into the show. While I do have a “South African” rate it is considerably higher than others in the gaming and esports space locally who are trying to build careers as hosts or commentators.

I also made the decision at the start of 2024 to use down time between bigger events to rest. Accepting every offer that came my way, especially ones that usually were at a discounted day rate, just because I was desperately wanting to assist in the growth of South African esports had a tendency to burn me out. This is in part because a lot of these local events don’t always have the biggest staff contingents and many things are done last minute – ensuring a pretty stressful and exhausting environment.

Red Bull events do not fall into this category though. I’ve worked with the team for such a long time and their partners are always some of the best in the local industry, which means I can arrive and do the best possible job on stage without worrying about anything else. So at the start of 2024, when working out my work schedule for the year, any Red Bull opportunities were always ones I was willing to take and assist with.

The Red Bull Kumite Qualifier

red bull kumite sam tech girl wright

It was an absolute honour to return to the mic for the qualifier and also to attend Comic Con Cape Town for the first time. 

@techgirlza From the Streets of Mzansi to the Red Bull Kumite Global Finals coming to the continent! A look at the growth of Street Fighter in Southern Africa. #KnowAfrica #AfricanGaming #GamingOnTikTok @Red Bull South Africa @Red Bull Gaming ♬ original sound – Sam “Tech Girl” Wright

It was two busy days which saw lots of support and some great Street Fighter competition. It was great to see so many enthusiastic esports fans in attendance and I loved working with the incredible crew on this project, who were so passionate about putting on a hell of a good show – which I believe we did! The Red Bull team now feels like family and Cape Town is always a superb place to visit. I enjoyed the Qualifier immensely and now will turn my focus to come Counter-Strike work I have booked for the middle of May moving into June.




I'd love to chat to you some more.


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