Local gamers will use keyboards and computers when they take on Romania in a cyber battle involving the high-speed game Dota 2.

Cape Town - We are used to South Africa climbing the Test cricket rankings with bat and ball. But in the coming months a group of local gamers will be using keyboards and computers to make their mark on the international scene.

Romania, home of “the real Dracula”, has officially challenged South Africa to an online Test match in the action-strategy game Dota 2.

The high-speed computer game has teams of five fighting to destroy one anothers’ bases using a range of unique spells and abilities. More than three million individual users play the game every month worldwide.

While competitive gaming, or eSports, has received little mainstream exposure, games such as Dota 2 are growing in acclaim and popularity.

Last year, the world’s top 16 Dota teams squared off in the International 2 competition with the winning team picking up a million dollars in prize money.

The event attracted an unprecedented number of viewers and was streamed across the internet and television channels, with a peak of 550 000 spectators recorded during the grand finale.

South Africa did not feature in the event, but last year four local gamers managed to make an impression at gaming’s answer to the Olympics: the Ie-SF World Championships.

Gabriela Isaacs, 14, known as “Gabybear” to the online community, bagged second place in the women’s bracket for the fighting game “Tekken” at the event in South Korea.

Colin Webster, who heads Mind Sports SA, the organisation responsible for putting together local teams, said South Africa ranked a respectable 16th in the Ie-SF world rankings, while Romania was ranked third.

He said Romania would be tough to beat, but he believed South Africa could do it.

Trials will take place on April 6 to determine who will represent South Africa in the match. Teams from across the country will compete for the right to wear national colours. - Cape Argus