At RAGE 2014, two all-girl teams will face off against each other in a mini expo/tournament. MaDHatters’ Alice’s Dystopia face off against Yordles of Love in a 3 match showdown.
Games take place on Friday at 1pm and Saturday at 11am and 2pm. All are welcome to spectate.
Ahead of this all-girl matchup, we caught up with Anneke “Zania” Le Roux and Jade “JadeQueen” Thomas to find out a little more about their team, Alice’s Dystopia, and girl gaming in general.
When I first set out to write this feature, I had this burning need to show the eSports community of South Africa how girls and all-girl competitive teams can exist neatly in a male dominated world without the need to be different or set themselves apart – how they can integrate with the existing status quo and become respected competitors. It was clear not even ten minutes into the interview though that the real story to be told here wasn’t how equal the all-girl League of Legends team Alice’s Dystopia is, but rather how different they are and how they celebrate these differences to create something altogether unique.
Stemming from the bigger gaming organisation of MaDHatters which formed after the 2013 DGL, Alice comprises of twelve members, currently split into two teams – Alice’s Dystopia and Alice’s Teaparty, but they are still recruiting, explains Jade “JadeQueen” Thomas. Average age of the team is around 22, with one member as young as 16. The team is spread out all over South Africa with members in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria. At the heart of the team’s bond is the love of League of Legends, a game they’ve dedicated themselves to learning and improving at under the watchful eye and guidance of their manager, Anneke “Zania” Le Roux, also the owner of the MaDHatters clan. While they’re not in the top league, Jade continues, their sights are firmly set on it with plans to enter next year. They’re still working on these plans with help from Anneke, who is their guiding light in getting the team get to pro level. “We’re just concentrating on getting to know the champions for now,” says Jade. “We don’t have a specific strategy but I think we have our own strategy that hasn’t been pinpointed or written down yet and it’s something special and I don’t think it’s something any male team has.”
And that’s where the real star that is Alice’s Dystopia shines through. They’re not trying to be another competitive League of Legends team. They’re trying to be an ALL-GIRL competitive League of Legends team, and that’s what sets them apart. There’s a special synergy that comes with having an all-girl team, and when Jade talks about her team you can feel it. “We want to try all the champs and we want to try what champions work together but we don’t want to go too far out where we feel uncomfortable. We want to still be able to feel comfortable with one another and still trust one another because the moment one person feels uncomfortable with a champ, we feel it with them and sympathise with them,” she explains.
Something is clearly working, because five of the girls have already received Protea colours for gaming.
The formation of the team came at the prompt of Anneke. “There are girls that play games and girls that want to compete, but they don’t come out and play. I just thought it would be pretty cool if we could get those girls to come and play. They’re shy and they needed somewhere that they could. Jade contacted me and things just started falling into place!” Anneke says. And they’re happy to report that the community has embraced the idea with open arms. “A lot of people have come to us and offered us help and assistance,” says Jade. “We want the girls to feel encouraged, safe, be the best and have faith in themselves. We don’t want them to have fear to play eSports competitively. Alice is about giving them the space to break out the mould (and the kitchen) and prove the guys wrong.”
“We are going to take over the world!” says. And you can’t help but believe it.
Of course the lure of girls hasn’t gone without some unwanted male attention. The girls laugh it off though – it’s clear they’re not in it for the attention – these are serious gamers looking at competing seriously. Their tri-weekly practice regime and ranked solo or duo match requirements are strict. They record the stats for analysis too. It’s clear this is a team aiming for the top.
Why League of Legends? “It’s just completely addictive!” jokes Jade. Since she got her first computer and first game (Aliens vs Predator), which she describes as a ‘tiny white framed computer screen with the big back’, she’s been playing games. But she didn’t start gaming by herself. “The only reason I started playing was because my dad wanted to play computer games and my mom wouldn’t allow him to, so he used to take me out shopping with him and buy computer games and tell my mom that I wanted them,” Jade recalls. “It was OK if I wanted them!” she laughs. It was all downhill from there until four years ago when her boyfriend introduced her to League of Legends.
“Our biggest inspiration is Zania, our Manager,” says Jade. “We completely and absolutely adore that woman. The way she is, the way she speaks and handles the team and the way she deals with things makes you feel so comfortable.” The respect shines through and the bond the team has with their manager is clear. It’s the kind of bond that it’s difficult to imagine a male team having. The bond doesn’t stop there – the team has the same closeness internally. “We know each other. We know what each other is going to do,” says Jade, with pride in her voice. “We’re comfortable with one another, we know our play styles, our strengths and our weaknesses.” The team even have a strategy to deal with their ‘shark week’, where extra care and attention is shown to the teammate during her ‘shark week’. The comfort with which Jade and her team talk and deal with each other is beyond compare.
On the surface it sounds extreme, but the more we learn about Alice’s Dystopia, the more we see what a huge difference it makes in this team’s infallible team dynamics and, ultimately, how much this all-girl team shines.
The Alice team members:
|JadeQueen||Jade Thomas||31||4 Years||Business Owner||ADC|
|Aphrodite||Ilanzi Zietsman||23||1 Year||Equine Science||Top, Bruiser|
|Bunny Destroyer||Irmari van Staden||23||2 years||English Teacher||Mid, Caster|
|RazrF116||Charne Visser||18||1 Year||Student||Jungler, Tank|
|LunaMeow||Mandé du Plessis||22||2 Years||Historian/Artist||Support|
|HarlyQuinn||Roxanne Oroszi||26||Few Months||Tech Support||Top, Mid, ADC|
|TmA Lu||Luna Phillipson||22||3 Years||Alt Model/Media Manager||Mid, Support|
|xXRageXx||Leana Jackson||26||4 Years||Mother||Mid, Support|
|WingsOfPix||Nadia Strydom||16||3-4 Years||Student||ADC|
|Tobi||Elaine Smit||22||1 Year||Student||Mid, ADC, Top|
|ROFLcakes||Kayley Keiser||14||Over a Year||Student||Jungle, Top|
“Gamers don’t know how to deal with adult problems,” quips Jade. “It’s because they’re disconnected from each other. They’re not in a boardroom and it’s that disconnection that makes gamers troll and rage and pick on one another. I think it’s sad that people do that. Me and the girls don’t deal with that. We deal with it as it comes and as best we can and in the most adult manner that we can. I think one childish mistake or comment could paint you for a very long time and the girls aren’t like that,” Jade boasts. They’re not stopping there. Jade is passionate about increasing the number of girls playing games competitively too. They to get male gamers to get their girlfriends involved and use social media to garner the interest of other girl gamers.
They have had so many requests by female gamers that they realised a third team was on the cards. League of Legends isn’t the ceiling either – Jade is currently recruiting all-female FIFA, Tekken, DotA, Starcraft, Smite and Call of Duty teams too.
Listening to the pride and passion with which Jade talks about her all-girl team and the time and attention they pay to their interpersonal skills and not just in game practice, it’s not difficult to believe it. This is a team that has the heart and mind to go far – but time will tell if they have the skill and ability too.
*nAvTV thanks Jade and Anneke for spending time with us and wish them and the rest of Alice’s Dystopia the best of luck on their goals in League of Legends.
He also hosts the nAvTV podcast and this here website is his domain.