Brakpan gamer Edwin ‘Drager’ Williams, 21, will be representing South Africa for a third time in ‘StarCraft’ at the World Electronic Sports Games in China later this year. Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)
As a child, Edwin Williams’ parents gave him a hard time for spending too much time playing video games.

The youngster from Brakpan, east of Joburg, spent most of his time locked in his room playing.

“My parents weren’t happy with me at all,” says Williams.

“They often used to tell me that my eyes are going to go square if I spend all of my time in front of the computer playing games.”

For Williams, however, gaming was his life. Slowing down was never an option, despite his parents’ threats.

“I would go to school, come back and then sit in front of the computer until I went to bed. When it came to weekends, that is all I did, too.”

The former Hoerskool Stoffberg pupil was already behind a console at the age of 7.

“I was very young when I played my first video game. It was a game called Resident Evil. I played it with my brother on PlayStation One. I was instantly hooked. I was transported into a whole other world.

“My friends were into gaming as well and so I got even more addicted to gaming. When we hung out, that’s all we did. It was games and more games.”

Williams began dreaming of becoming a professional gamer.

“At the time my parents thought it was a crazy idea. It’s not very often that you hear people playing games for a living, so I understand why they thought I was kind of crazy for even having a dream like this.

“My friends had a hunch that I would be a good gamer. I’d normally beat them in every game, or otherwise I would be successful in most of the games I played.”

Williams would go on to win countless local e-sports tournaments and establish himself as one of the world’s biggest gaming talents.

Today, he is ranked among the top 150 gamers in the world.

This week it was announced that the 21-year-old had qualified to compete at the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), one of the biggest international e-sports championship tournaments, in China later this year.

Gamers from around the world will be vying for a whopping $5.5million (R78m) in prize money.

Williams, who goes by the nickname “Drager” in the gaming world, will compete in the military science fiction real-time strategy video game at the international tournament.

He is also part of one of the most successful e-sports organisations in the country, Goliath Gaming, and is the only person representing South Africa in StarCraft at the WESG tournament.

“I feel like I am ready,” says Williams. “In a week’s time, I am attending a boot camp at Goliath Gaming and they going to help me prepare for the tournament.

“Going in to the tournament I have to be confident, so I think I have a good chance of walking away as the winner. But it all will depend on who I am drawn with.

“The goal for me is to be in the top eight. That is where the money is.”

StarCraft is the game that ultimately persuaded Williams to chase his dream of becoming a competitive gamer.

“In 2011, my brother bought StarCraft 2 and I instantly fell in love with the game.

“My brother helped me build my first ever gaming computer and helped me out with internet so that I could play and that’s pretty much where everything started.”

Should Williams walk away the winner he will bag himself over R1m.

“There is serious money to be won in these tournaments. E-sports is huge all over the world. I guess in South Africa we are still playing catch up, but for many parts of the world gamers are sponsored and are earning big money to play games.”

His parents are now supportive of his dreams and goals.

“My parents are incredibly proud of what I have achieved.

“My mom goes and tells all her friends about how her son travels overseas to compete at tournaments.

“They see the potential in the gaming industry and the money to be made and so now they are really happy. They never moan when I play games all day now,” Williams laughs.

His gaming manager and mentor, Ashton Muller, believes Williams has the potential to be one of the best gamers in the world.

“He is insane. Edwin’s skill set compared to the local talent is way above anyone else in the local scene. He has a great future ahead of him in the esports world,” he says.