Magoo, RLX Writer & Proofreader
The question of whether or not South African competitive gaming (or esports) is in a shambles is a hotly covered topic in local gaming journalism. With various influential gaming personalities in South Africa never too shy to express their thoughts on the matter throughout their careers. Most recently, the South African born Esports Central website prompted great brain-overload and philosophical-posing-in-the-shower in the form of two opinion pieces by Michael ‘Axtrames’ Harmse, where much deliberation and confrontation took place – The elusive crossover esport & Sponsors in SA esports: A question of value. Another opinion piece by Richard ‘Beetle001’ Ferreira did not shy away from controversy and inclusion – Gaming – the hobby of the everyman. The local esports scene was criticized and praised, and ripped into with passion and empathy. The facts are frankly staggering and there are only a handful of such people who are less than empathetic about the dreams of South African gamers.
On one fine Thursday evening, I sat down with a couple of Rocket League players who have taken upon themselves a similar mind-set. And by ‘sat down’ I mean at the very edge of my seat as things got heated while we smashed through a few rounds of 4v4 rumble. Wolf Star Gaming (WSG) is their name and construction is their game! (No, not that kind of construction – you did not accidentally click on a thrilling Mining Weekly link.) Actually, I had to think long and hard to find one word to define said game, and I chose construction as it is the act of building, adding and piecing together. This is what Wolf Star Gaming aspires to do, and will continue to pursue in the local gaming community – and, more prominently – the SA Rocket League community.
Interestingly, WSG is not a group of white guys between the age of 16 and 24 – which, if I’m honest, is mostly the case in South African esports. HEY don’t look at me like that, white guy between the age of 16 and 24! I am onto you! No, WSG is, in fact, an ageless group of people from different races, cultures and backgrounds; and I feel that this is worth mentioning as it truly is a disgruntledly unique feat for a team in a nation with so many different types of people.
With me on that evening, were both co-founders of WSG, Marcaille ‘Papa_Capes‘ Fransman and Gabriel ‘Veihalis‘ Francis. Papa_Capes is also the coach and captain of Rocket League team Sirius, while Veihalis is the manager of the team. Along with them, were both Rocket League teams’ players of Sirius (s) and Amaroq (a): Jaco ‘Pro_Noob‘ Bierman (s), Imran ‘AMK12‘ Casoojee (s), Lorenzo ‘Mr_LoPizzle‘ Fransman (a), Khaya ‘Scripta‘ Mabusela (a) and Craig ‘Nuke‘ Simes (a). Also joining us, the promotional and social character: Headitor Matthew ‘Bubusz‘ Nicolle who works on recruiting and video editing. While demolishing, booting and disrupting each other in our rumble matches, we chatted about the organization that is Wolf Star Gaming, as well as a range of relevant and interesting topics. Alright, onto the sauce!
“… a very important aspect of WSG is our slogan: ‘A clan created by family, for friends who become family.’ That’s an aspect that we take very seriously in the recruitment process, in that it’s not entirely based on skill; it’s your character, it’s your personality, it’s your story..'” – PaPa_Capes
WSG started at the beginning of this year (2018) as a PS4 Rocket League team created by Papa_Capes and Veihalis. Upon recruitment of further players and identification of a ‘need’ within the gaming community, that need being proactive energy and action, WSG snowballed into what it is today. Says Veihalis: “With Papa_Capes being active within the esports community and especially Rocket League, and myself being aware of many aspects in the competitive scene, we just decided to do our own thing to revitalize the community. This is mainly a stepping stone in that direction.”
Not to discount the need for hands-on the administration deck, but to build on that, Papa_Capes adds: “For me there are two major points that played inspiration. Having spent a lot of time away from my family who are also gamers, a very important aspect of WSG is our slogan: ‘A clan created by family, for friends who become family.’ That’s an aspect that we take very seriously in the recruitment process, in that it’s not entirely based on skill; it’s your character, it’s your personality, it’s your story. How can you be an ambassador for the values that WSG carries?”
Wolf Star Gaming does not only accommodate Rocket League. In fact, they have teams and have actively recruited players for: Fortnite, Rainbow 6 Seige, Battlefield, Call of Duty and Fifa – and on all gaming platforms. “We are looking to grow in all aspects of the term ‘MGO’ with most competitive games and esports titles”, says Veihalis. Papa_Capes chimes in, noting that they have temporarily put a hold on recruitment, “…as we’ve reached the stage where we need to solidify our foundation with the guys that we have now, and to make sure that everybody shares the vision that we as the alphas of the clan have.”
This, in order not to grow too fast and incorrectly, or to burn out.
Then brought up was the highly controversial topic of Matthew ‘Bubusz’ Nicolle, who, although does not play in any teams, takes up many roles within the MGO. Likened, by Papa_Capes, to the ‘aunty of the office’ who has been with a company for 100 years and can do anything and everything behind the scenes. After much uncertain objection and a swift round of unanimous democracy, Bubusz was given the honourable title of ‘The Wise and Experienced Aunty of WSG.’ Sorry Aunty B, this is how the internet works. On the topic of recruitment, Aunty B had the following to say:
“Well, we’re still small, and considering the amount of attention that we’ve already received from players looking for teams, once we start recruiting again and have more content out in the form of entertainment and social media activity, I’m sure that there will be an influx of attention. That is, with the hard work having already been done for the most part.”
“… once we start recruiting again and have more content out in the form of entertainment and social media activity, I’m sure that there will be an influx of attention. That is, with the hard work having already been done for the most part.” – Bubusz
I was interested in the name ‘Wolf Star Gaming’, and asked the team to elaborate on why they chose this name. Papa_Capes fired away at the significance of it all:
“Well it’s actually kind of ironic as Veihalis and I despise each other and never agree on anything. Ever. Then he recently found out that I am very fond of Native American spirituality, and he was like ‘oh, so am I.’ I told him that I’m obsessed with wolves and he was like ‘OH, so am I!’ I have a wolf tattoo on my back and a wolf paw tattoo on my shin. I thoroughly believe in the pillars of Native American spirituality, so I wanted to use something along the lines of ‘Wolf Moon’, but Veihalis is actually an editor and writer – and a really good one at that, which I will never repeat so don’t put that in the article, [ed: whoops] so he added the ‘Star’ which allows for more creative freedom.”
WSG generate content like their best plays of the week
With what I assume was a stern smirk on his face, Veihalis added: “The wolf ‘Sirius’ is actually known as the wolf star in Native American culture. A legend that tells of a giant wolf that runs across our galaxy. This also embodies our gaming personas in a way that we both enjoy teamplay but often like to take our own lone-wolf approach to things.”
As The Jungle Book so elegantly sums it up, ‘BAAAARE NECESSITIES, THE SIMPLE B-‘ [whoops, that’s not it]… ‘The strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf.’ [yes, that’s the one.] An interesting piece of trivia: The WSG Rainbow 6 Siege team is actually named after the wolf that raised Mowgli – Raksha.
Wolf Star Gaming make a point of driving creative and interactive content. In one such way, part of the recruitment for Call of Duty and Battlefield teams were through acquaintances of Aunty B who are known for publishing content which is exciting, and engaging with their communities. WSG is sorely ambitious in getting players and community members to stop expecting and to start helping. That in the form of managing competitive platforms and creating the entertainment which they seek to consume.
“Tournaments, exposure, streams, production. Putting effort into these things as part of the community is the first thing that needs to be approached if we want things like sponsors and platform accommodation for our respective titles.” Says Papa_Capes. As Veihalis so eloquently puts it: “The aim is to take our gaming to all sorts of levels within the art collective. Videos, photography and maybe even talk shows at some point.”
“The aim is to take our gaming to all sorts of levels within the art collective. Videos, photography and maybe even talk shows at some point.” – Veihalis
Some other immediate goals of the organization, apart from content creation, include exposure in the form of showing up on leaderboards and featuring in third-party content such as the ACGL Top Plays. They are also keenly focused on placing high in the VS Gaming premiere division for Rocket League in order to qualify for a potential Grand Championship LAN at Comic-con. Another hot ambition is growing the communities within their respective game titles and revitalizing interest in dwindling games such as Battlefield. They seek to provide a platform where members have an immediate opportunity to engage and build on the infrastructures of their titles. One major milestone here is getting more of their players to start streaming.
Lastly, some heavy words from Papa_Capes on the team that became an MGO that became a family – Wolf Star Gaming.
“We are in no way a clan filled with big heads who are epic at games because they were gifted with parents who could buy them expensive gaming equipment at the age of 5, compared to the under-privileged who couldn’t game until they were earning money and could pay their own way. Everybody in the clan has a story, and most of the clan members tell their story through their commitment and their effort in the gaming aspect. Yes, it’s heavy, but there is so much judgement, criticism, disrespect and hatred in the world – and gaming is a platform where you literally befriend someone before you know what they look like. You get to know them over a microphone and a common interest which is the game that you’re playing. Whether they’re fat, skinny, black, white. Whether they’re disabled or have diseases. None of that matters in the time it takes to build a foundation that is not easily tainted. You can see that this is very apparent in WSG as we have people from many different races, religions, cultures, etc.”
After my odd decade in the gaming scene, this is something that I can truly appreciate and down-right respect, and I hope that readers can take this to heart and make an active effort to make esports and gaming more inclusive and accommodating for the masses of South Africa.