The inaugural Stallions Cup esports tournament presented by RGB Gaming and hosted by Kyalami Schools at their Beaulieu College campus in Kyalami, Johannesburg, kicked off this past weekend with a bang!
I was lucky enough to be a part of this momentous occasion and chat to the parties involved about what this means exactly for the future of esports in South Africa, why esports integration into our schools is needed and how events like this will shape our children’s futures.
Who is RGB Gaming?
Before we start diving into the event, let’s have a look at the driving force behind this initiative. RGB Gaming is a “full service esports management and development company” that focuses on esports integration into the school curriculum. While that sounds like a mouthful, what RGB Gaming is doing in schools is groundbreaking.
General Manager, Jaco Sauer, is a big believer in creating a sustainable esports environment for students in a way that empowers and elevates children with different interests and skills outside of traditional sports offered by school programs. The RGB Gaming League is built to ensure a safe, integrated esports environment for students and players, in a structured way, all within educational institutions.
RGB Gaming teaches students best practices in an online and gaming environment in a “ground up” approach to the culture of gaming, from where to start through to professional career opportunities within the gaming sector.
RGB Gaming forms part of the ScadCo group, specifically working within the school environments to provide consultation, software and support to the education systems in our country. ScadCo is a Microsoft Gold Partner, affording RGB Gaming the opportunity to integrate Microsoft’s own esports vision within the education environment and promoting a 21st-century learning experience to students.
Why do we need esports in schools?
“Covid 19 had a big impact on everyone’s lives, including our schools and for the first time, many children and parents were exposed to not only online learning but also online socially. Through this process, online interaction, in general, was recognised as a valuable channel or mechanism for not only learning and development but also social interaction.”
– Jaco Sauer – General Manager, RGB Gaming
We can’t get away from the fact that the past couple of years have changed the way we live our lives. More people than ever have embraced a lifestyle that conducts not only social interaction but also business in a digital environment. Creating a platform and structured environment where we teach children from a young age how to conduct themselves privately and professionally digitally is an essential part of giving them tools to thrive in their future.
Esports is also a valuable addition to a school environment as an extracurricular activity, as one of the biggest stressors for children in schools is to find a space where they fit in, where their talents and skills are valuable. Not all children have an interest in physical sports or activities and esports in school can give these children an activity where they will feel comfortable and socially accepted. Esports is rare in that it is a fully inclusive sport, regardless of race, religion or gender.
Understanding an esports environment can also lead to new career opportunities for children that they previously had no exposure. Esports does not need to mean that children will only participate in the competitive arena where they play head-to-head with other students – They are also exposed to other areas of the esports environment such as casting and production, coding and level design, team and production management and content creation.
The Stallions Cup
“The day was novel and exciting for all involved but ultimately showcased just what can be expected when Esports And Education Meet. From the player participation to the parent support and competition between schools, the event was exactly like any other sporting fixture – full of excitement and fun. Kyalami Schools Group thanks the partners in the event; RGB Gaming, Minecraft, Microsoft, Lenovo, Scadco, Buzzbotics, Cricut, Beaulieu College and all the prep schools who participated. Well done to all the players and thank you to all who supported the event – we cannot wait to see you again soon!”
– Ian Wright – Group Head of Marketing, Kyalami Schools Group
As I explained earlier, I had the opportunity to be a part of this first school esports event and it was a real eye-opener. I’ve participated in many esports events before, but this was the first time being able to see an event like this from an educational and not merely entertainment perspective.
As with any sporting event, teams were full of school spirit and pride – being able to test yourself against other schools and showcase your skills. Since this was the first inter-school esports event, of course, the nervous energy was high amongst students. The team at RGB Gaming were patient and efficient, directing and helping the students (and their teachers and parents) to feel more comfortable and have a fun experience.
The many live spectators in the auditorium on the day made the event feel like a first-class sporting event – the cheers and support from their friends and family made all the difference to the players and gave them the boost of confidence to be their best. The whole event was streamed live on the RGB Gaming Twitch channel and spectators from all over the country spent the day cheering on their favourites and sharing their emotions with the teams.
“I was captivated by seeing students and their parents participate in their first esports tournament. Moms and dads were cheering their kids on from the stands and extended family and friends were watching on the Twitch stream. There was no difference between playing Minecraft in the esports arena to playing hockey on the field.”
– Mitchell Struwig – CEO, ScadCo
A particularly exciting boon for the event was to see how many companies in the South African gaming and technology industry have come on board to support the school esports initiative. Besides Microsoft and Lenovo Legion making the event possible, brands such as MSi Gaming, Cricut and PlayStation offered prize support for the players which made the day even more successful for the students.
It’s fantastic to see brands such as these at the forefront in support of something that has the potential to launch South Africa into the global technology and esports scene and wholeheartedly back RGB Gaming in their drive to provide a stable and sustainable school esports program.
Ten teams from five schools (Kyalami Preparatory School, Beaulieu Preparatory School, Holy Rosary School, Brescia House and Bryandale Primary School) battled it out on the day to be the ultimate winning team and take away the impressive prizes and the beautifully crafted Minecraft trophy.
“I was really impressed with the entry of the two all-girl schools, Holy Rosary School and Brescia House, as this shows just how inclusive esports can be”
Of course, at the end of any event, winners will emerge as someone had to carry that gorgeous Minecraft trophy back to their school’s trophy case (did I mention how cool that custom trophy was?).
After a hard day of speed runs on the intricate worlds built by the RGB Gaming team, the team of Enderdragons from Kyalami Preparatory School came out on top after being knocked into the lower bracket earlier in the day. All the teams played exceptional games and represented their schools really well. The top three results were:
- 1st place: Enderdragons (Kyalami Preparatory School)
- 2nd Place: Yellow Sheep (Beaulieu Preparatory School)
- 3rd Place: Legendary_Jebs (Holy Rosary School)
What does this mean for esports in schools going forward?
Esports in schools is definitely on an uptrend and for once, South Africa is not that far behind on this curve. Esports has been adopted in countries like Japan and USA and research has shown how scholastic esport programs and using tools such as Minecraft Education to enhance learning have a positive impact in a digitally growing world.
This study from NASEF (North American Scholastic Esports Federation) released data that documents significant positive learning outcomes for high school students because of their participation in NASEF’s scholastic esports program. At the moment, RGB Gaming are running several primary school level programs, with plans to expand into the high school and university levels soon.
“As RGB Gaming we realise that as part of hosting events like these, we have an obligation to conduct them in a way that is not only educational to an audience that may not be familiar with esports, but also in a way that builds up the sport and the industry. We feel that the event on the weekend contributed to both elements and therefore we are extremely pleased.”
– Jaco Sauer – General Manager, RGB Gaming
Hopefully, by promoting esports in a school environment, we also open up South Africa as a whole to the global market – not only for investment in technology and gaming but also to other aspects of the industry like professional esports, game development and content creation.
Article submitted by Sheree Buchholz