The annual MSSA vs. South African community battle is under way

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Every single year the MSSA announce their new national teams, and every single year there is chaos over the teams selected. This year the drama unfolded on the CS:GO South Africa Facebook group as Ashton “Golz” Muller, a player in one of South Africa’s top teams, pointed out the new team captain may not necessarily deserve his national colours.

It’s true, a lot of the people who play for the national side are far from deserving of being called Team South Africa, but the fact is those that do deserve it, don’t really care about it. This means that a lot of teams and players who fall short of any real results in South African eSports choose to play in the numerous MSSA Qualifiers and then receive the call to represent our country. The argument is always the same: “You did not enter the qualifiers, therefore you have no reason to be upset, blah, blah etc.”

The fact is, and I stand by this, the South African community has every right to be upset. The body who governs these selection processes have very little knowledge of how the industry actually works. I don’t doubt their dedication, and really anyone dedicated to eSports usually deserves some recognition, but the undeniable aura of controversy which surrounds the MSSA is something we cannot get behind.

In the past, top teams have tried to aid the MSSA. In 2013 the MSSA fielded a Dota 2 team which consisted of some of the best players in the country. They were the national side, and we gave them their shot. The Dota 2 team’s run as the South African national squad ended as most things do in the MSSA, with lawsuits. Contractual disputes, transparency and regulations are any eSports team’s worst nightmare, and an organization which limits your participation in other tournaments is something we cannot abide by.

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Team Qube, current South African CS:GO National Team

The debate which sparked this year’s annual brouhaha was over the current team South Africa’s CS:GO captain, Jessie Joubert. While Jessie is perhaps a talented CS:GO player, community members immediately pointed out that he has achieved nothing other than his  MSSA colours, awarded to him for winning the qualifying competitions. The argument is not whether this team were the best at the qualifiers, but rather their overall standings in the ever competitive CS:GO scene.

 

A few years ago another competitor said they’d taken part for the free trip, and really, I don’t blame them. Travelling to a country, all expenses paid, and getting to play games is great. Why not abuse a horribly flawed system where the competition is close to none.

But the underlying question here, amidst all the drama, is are the MSSA eligible to hand out South African colours?

The Facts

According to recent information we’ve received, MSSA is currently suspended from SASOC. This means that at the moment they are not recognized by SASCOC, the controlling body of all performance sports of South Africa. According to the National Sports and Recreation Act 110 of 1998, an act often quoted by members of the MSSA, leaves room for debate.

National colours and incentives for sports achievers and recreation practitioners

11. ( 1) The Sports Commission must establish a national colours board which will consider all applications for the awarding of national colours.

(2) The national colours must be awarded in accordance with the applicable regulations.

(3) The Sports Commission may, from time to time, provide incentives for sports achievers and recreation practitioners.

Some members will argue that the MSSA are still part of SASCOC, but there is no evidence other than a cached link to a webpage that no longer exists in the SASCOC members list. We’ve reached out to SASCOC and other regulatory bodies for a comment on the matter.

This next clause in the Act I find extremely interesting. In laymen’s, essentially anyone can create an organization, become recognized by SASCOC and hand out colours.

Membership of Sports Commission

5. (1) Membership of the Sports Commission will be open to all those sport and recreation bodies who qualify in terms of the recognition criteria determined by the Sports Commission.

(2) No membership shall be granted to a sports and recreation federation which permits or tolerates a system or practice of discrimination based on gender, race, disability, religion or creed.

The continued support for the MSSA is troubling to say the least. It has been almost two years since we heard from the president of the organization. Instead we’ve had to deal with mislead information and blogs written by a pseudonym of certain members of the organization. eSports at a school, university, and national level are still heavily controlled by the MSSA, and nobody is brave enough, or has succeeded in pushing them out. A number have tried. Perhaps a concrete response from SASCOC will either condemn the MSSA, or prove us all wrong. For now, let’s just stay angry and argue on Facebook.

 

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Last Updated: July 4, 2016

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit's esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere - but my work here is independent of that.

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