The international esports scene has not always been kind to South Africa. Over the years, teams that have gone overseas have often come back with very little to show. As a small scene that is still in its infancy, this is not surprising at all.
However, there have been beacons of light such as Bravado’s CSGO team that has evolved and is now owned by Cloud 9 after impressing whilst under the ATK banner. An impressive feat that can only be good for the local scene and serves to inspire many.
Another bright light in the local scene is Goliath Gaming’s esports teams. Their CSGO roster qualified for the DreamHack Delhi Invitational 2019 and though they didn’t manage to go all the way, getting out of group stages is more than most local teams can say in international tournaments.
Their FIFA roster is another in their stable of teams that flies the South African flag loud and proud. From the achievements of Julio “Beast” Bianchi who competed internationally and managed to beat the then 2 times world champion August Agge Rosenmeier to the recent squad of Kaylan ‘KaylanYT’ Moodley and Thabo “Yvng Savage” Moloi who competed in last year’s global qualifiers for the FIFA eClub World Cup.
There were 5 stages during the qualifiers and the pair (you can only compete in pairs to earn points) made top 2 in the first three stages. Everything looked promising for Goliath Gaming until trouble hit in Stage 4.
To begin with, whilst the pair were scoring 30 or more points in each stage, Stage 4 saw them only come away with 22 points, which put them in a precarious position. The top 6 teams would make it through to Stage 5 and Goliath Gaming was sitting on 7th.
They needed a player, The Royal, to lose his match for them to proceed through to Stage 5 as they had a better goal difference than his team POWR eSports and so would go ahead on goal difference rules. Kaylan brought to light the issue with this tweet which highlighted the match-fixing that had happened.
In short, The Royal had lost his match 0:1 and thus was out of the tournament. A few hours later, the match score was adjusted to 0 : 0 which meant that POWR got through with the extra point they needed to finish above GG.
Many players within the global FIFA community highlighted the match-fixing with Goliath Gaming emailing the EA SPORTS FIFA Competitive Gaming Team with all the details and their evidence. It took FIFA 3 weeks to address this issue, doling out disciplinary action to a host of other players who had violated various tournament rules. The full statement can be read here.
What’s important to notice here is that EA confirmed that The Royal did indeed fix the match and was subsequently suspended for 2 years. Their solution was to adjust the rankings but the same teams would still progress to Stage 5. The full statement can be read here.
If you’re scratching your head wondering how that was a solution, you’re not the only one. Instead of adjusting the rankings in Stage 4 where the match-fixing took place, they adjusted the rankings in Stage 5. As you can imagine, Goliath Gaming was none too pleased with this “solution” and despite numerous emails & follow-ups (I was provided with evidence of the mail thread), there has been no response from the EA team.
Goliath Gaming is not the only one protesting the way this was handled, with some top global teams also applying pressure on EA to escalate the issue. Nonetheless, the damage is done. Two promising players miss out on the chance to see if they could have gone all the way because EA took a soft stance on cheating.
Competitive integrity is at the core of esports and without that, it makes any tournament or league a complete farce. It’s a bad look for sponsors as well and risks the sustainability of any leagues.
South Africa is an esports infant, so opportunities of this ilk far and few between. To have such an incredible opportunity that looked so promising torn from Goliath Gaming is both heart-breaking and infuriating. And some will say that they could have played better and thus kept their fate in their hands but that is a total cop-out from the fact that serious cheating was treated with a slap on the wrist for the two teams involved.
I reached out to GG for a response. Gabbi Brondani Rego had this to say:
“We’ve attempted to reach out to the FIFA team from every avenue available to us and it’s really disheartening that it seems to have fallen on deaf ears with no one from FIFA’s side making any effort to respond to us.
All we were hoping for was a fair resolution to this issue – which is a pretty big issue at the highest level of competitive FIFA – not only for the two players representing under the GG banner, but for all other players from the region who were cheated out of an opportunity to represent at such an incredible global competition. We’re really hoping something positive comes of this to ensure no other players are robbed of such an opportunity in future and that FIFA chooses the most fair recourse in future as opposed to the easiest recourse.”
I also got a statement from Kaylan ‘KaylanYT’ Moodley:
“Week 4 of the competition was when everything went wrong, I’m sure you’ve seen that The Royal was banned for his action but we were still knocked out of the tournament because of them which was unjust[.] We were finishing a least 1st or 2nd until that week and I felt as if that was our big chance and it just got taken away because of a cheating incident.”
Once again, the international esports scene has not been kind to South Africa, but this time it is through no fault of the team itself. It’s a bitter moment for the players and Goliath Gaming itself, but there is only one direction for this bright org to go now. Forward.”
We’ve reached out to FIFA eWorld Cup for comment.
Last Updated: January 29, 2020