Robert ‘PandaTank’ Botha has made name for himself by persevering in his StarCraft II career, taking the leap to competing internationally and putting S.A on the map of international pro gamers.
I call him a superstar for being one of the brave gamers in S.A to make up his own mind about things and putting himself out there irrespective of what any one thinks. In 2011, despite the general negative comments about the MSSA from the local gaming community he took a leap of faith with Polarfluke (local StarCraft II tournament organiser) and affiliated with the MSSA. By doing this he had the opportunity to compete at the IeSF against international players, officially representing South Africa and influencing the way we saw the MSSA. He showed that there is real benefit in dong so and that we do have the accessibility to leave our mark abroad.
He ranked in the top 8 at the IeSF World Championship in Korea that year and was also awarded the title of e-Sports Player of the Year. This year he once again represented South Africa at the IeSF as a part of the Gigabyte Protea team. Prior to that, he ranked top 8 in the WCS European Combined nationals in Germany.
We caught up with him to chat about his experience at the IeSF and some other StarCraft II related things.
Tell us about your experience at the IeSF.
South Korea is an amazing place in general and I had a lot of fun. There were a few disappointing factors about the way the tournament is run such as the lack of coverage and the format\rule set. But overall it was still a great and worth while experience.
Where did you place?
I finished first in my group and lost my first match in the bracket, therefore placing top 16 of the tournament. I feel on paper that result is very disappointing compared to what I was aiming for. However I still think that I played really well during the entire tournament. I barely lost to Sen in a 2-1 series, losing the third game by the smallest margin of one or two miss-placed force fields. Even though I lost I still feel pretty good about it because it gives me the confidence to know that I can play against some the best players in the entire world and still hold my own.
How do the international competitor’s gameplay differ from local gamers’?
It’s obviously a world of difference. In terms of SC2, you are comparing mid to high-mid masters players against full time professional gamers with a ton of tournament experience. It’s pretty much the equivalent of comparing your high school rugby team against the Spring Boks.
What is your favourite race to play?
What is your least favourite unit?
How many actions per seconds can you perform? How do you test it? And how do you improve?
I’m averaging around 160 APM lately. Which is rather slow by comparison to other pros, but luckily speed is not the most important factor in StarCraft 2. You can test your APM by simply viewing one of your replays. As far as improving goes, a wise man (oGsTheWind) once said to improve your speed in StarCraft you must simply play faster. It’s good advice.
What do you do to practise or improve in StarCraft II?
Most importantly play the game all day everyday. Secondly analyze your losses and constantly think of ways to improve your flaws and mistakes in game.
Do you think it’s necessary for our local gamers to go abroad in order to make a career out of gaming or is it possible for us to do so in our own country?
I currently believe that it is possible to reach an internationally competitive level fromSouth Africa, at least in games like SC2 and DotA2 which the ping is playable. However if you want to reach the level where you can actually win tournaments you will need to travel and train abroad.
What is your take on affiliating with the MSSA?
I believe the MSSA are doing and have consistently been doing the best job to promote and improve eSports within South Africa. I think as time goes on, more and more people will begin to realise this.
What are your future plans?
At the start of November I will be travelling to the USA to live and train full-time in a gaming house for a few months. If you want more info on my up coming events and endeavours you can follow me at facebook.com\PandaTank.
On 1 November PandaTank will be flying to Los Angeles,California to stay at the Razer Academy for three months. He will be training and streaming his games on US and KR everyday as well as playing in online tournaments and aims to compete in some offline tournaments too. He’ll also be doing analysis and create various StarCraft II related content for Razer.
We wish PandaTank the best of luck on his journey.
Last Updated: October 17, 2012