16-year-old wins R400,000 in FIFA esport tournament

The FIFA eWorld Cup is virtual football’s equivalent of the FIFA World Cup.

07 May 2018 - 21:55 By Scott Peter Smith and Zola Brunner
Thabo Moloi, 16 (right) took an early lead over 2017 champion to win the PlayStation 4 VS Gaming FIFA eWorld Cup qualifier champions on Sunday night.
Thabo Moloi, 16 (right) took an early lead over 2017 champion to win the PlayStation 4 VS Gaming FIFA eWorld Cup qualifier champions on Sunday night.
Image: Scott Peter Smith

South Africa may not be placed in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia but we are sending two players to represent the country and the continent anyway.

Thabo Moloi, 16, and Shiaan Rugbeer, 19, battled it out to beat over 1000 other qualified contestants in the VS Gaming FIFA qualifier this weekend at Monte Casino, Johannesburg. Each walked away with R400,000 in prize money out of R1.5 million.

We’ve shown FIFA the love and participation for the game in SA
Wanda Mkhize

Moloi represented the PlayStation 4 arm of the competition and Rugbeer, the Xbox One. However, the prize money, while the real deal, wasn’t the main attraction - this was an official FIFA certified competition where this regional winner travels overseas to compete internationally, perhaps going all the way to sit with the 32 best FIFA 18 players in the world at the eWorld Cup later this month.

At that event, the 16 best Xbox One and 16 best PlayStation 4 virtual footballers on the planet will compete for the World Champion title – and by the thrashing Thabo gave last year’s PS4 winner, Zuhair Ebrahim, he has a chance to take his own special football skills global.

Moloi said, “I’m excited to be representing my country at the World Cup. I really want to see what the future holds for me.”

VS Gaming, the esport subsidiary of Telkom, held their first accredited global series qualifier and their huge investment in the event again shows that fans can participate in their favourite game...

VS Gaming, the esport subsidiary of Telkom, held their first accredited global series qualifier and their huge investment in the event again shows that fans can participate in their favourite game and traditional sports are actively looking at esports in an important crossover.

Spokesperson Wanda Mkhize said that South Africa has over a million FIFA players and, “We really needed Africa to be in this space – and we got the bid.“

“I think it is really a testament to what is done in the previous year (VS Gaming 2017 competition).”

Concerning the size of the event, these local events are touted to be the second biggest in the world and Mkhize says, “It is the biggest in Africa – and we will continue to be the biggest in Africa.”

“We’ve shown FIFA the love and participation for the game in South Africa and we are looking at different ways that gamers can participate.”

All of this doesn’t just exist in the virtual world only, traditional football team Orlando Pirates had a squad of 10 at this tournament, hand picked from the 2017 top winners of which Ebrahim was one.

Joseph Bertrand, Orlando Pirates FC brand and sponsorship manager, explains their interest in esports, “As one of the top five teams in Africa we are always interested in following the trends. We want to show the way forward in Africa.”

“To have this tournament is amazing. It makes the sport grow. We want to make FIFA and esports grow in the country.”

Thabo Moloi, 16, and Shiaan Rugbeer, 19, battled it out to beat over 1000 other qualified contestants in the VS Gaming FIFA qualifier this weekend at Monte Casino, Johannesburg. Each walked away w...

And with the support of VS Gaming, both Bertrand and Mkhize are seeing the long-term development of the sport and with the support of investment from parent company Telkom, it provides an opportunity to keep pushing the envelope.

Before you get confused, yes, VS Gaming did hold a FIFA tournament last year but it was not accredited as an official qualifier. However, their holding of the event anyway in 2017, proved to FIFA their seriousness in getting involved in the global competition.

The FIFA eWorld Cup is virtual football’s equivalent of the FIFA World Cup. At the FIFA eWorld Cup, 32 players – all of who will have qualified for the event through the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series – will compete for the ultimate Grand Prize – the FIFA eWorld Cup title, a life-changing cash prize and a trip to the Best FIFA Football Awards. The tournament is hosted on the PlayStation and Xbox networks and can be accessed via EA SPORTS FIFA 18.

FIFA esport competitors battle it out in a quarter final late on Sunday evening at the VS Gaming FIFA qualifier this weekend at Monte Casino, Johannesburg.
FIFA esport competitors battle it out in a quarter final late on Sunday evening at the VS Gaming FIFA qualifier this weekend at Monte Casino, Johannesburg.
Image: Scott Peter Smith
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