March 21, 2023 | in NUSF News
For Armand van der Colf from South Africa, esports is much more than many think, and the talented gamer shares a unique perspective on an increasingly prestigious sport that continues to grow in popularity around the world.
Having been a gamer from an early age, Armand’s competitive nature and constant need to improve made him watch videos on how to hone his gaming skills while spending many hours in front of the screen while continuing his passion.
Photos courtesy of Armand van der ColfHe is currently a sophomore computer science student at the University of Pretoria and has to balance gaming with study while serving as president of the university’s esports club where he tries to find more opportunities for like-minded student gamers. And all this amid constant power outages across South Africa, as hours without power due to the country’s energy crisis mean tough decisions will have to be made when power is restored.
“Competing in esports meant I really had to manage my time properly, schedule ahead of time, and keep track of how much time I really had,” says Armand. “It was extremely difficult, especially because of the load shedding [power outages]. This means I have to learn and do my job during load shedding and leave periods where I actually have power to train and compete.”
After successfully progressing through two provincial tournaments and national trials, the 20-year-old was selected to represent South Africa at the 14th IESF World Esports Championship in Bali. This is his second opportunity to represent his country on the international arena after earlier participation in the student championships in Russia.
“Being selected for the national team was an incredible achievement,” he says.
“I think the level of competition in Bali was a step above the Russian student champions due to the participation of so many teams. There were around 120 different countries represented so it was a very nice experience not only to experience the diversity but also to experience the way these different countries play.
Armand believes there are many misconceptions about players whose sport is often misunderstood.
“Before tournaments, I try my best to go to the gym every day because it helps keep me mentally and physically fit while also getting me six hours of play a day,” he says.
“Many believe that gamers are not interested in fitness and that they are complete nerds and that games are not sports and cannot get the same recognition and achievement as other sports. However, esports can get you international recognition as well as scholarships.
“Recently, I’ve seen an upward trend in esports with more and more teams competing, which makes tournaments a lot more interesting and competitive.”
Armand sees himself in the professional gaming scene in the future, but is confident that his degree will ensure that other opportunities are within reach.
“After graduation, I’d like to pursue a career in gaming,” he says. “But the games are very competitive; a career is always possible, but it’s all about how much time I have to practice, just like any other sport.
“Only time will tell what my future holds. There are many paths I can take, but one of them is definitely a competitive gaming career.”