Thabo “Yvng Savage” Moloi, Red Bull’s first African competitive online FIFA player, made headlines when he won the VS Gaming FIFA Festival in 2018. However, it isn’t always simple balancing his time between school and gaming, with one eye on the future.
Thabo’s journey to the big leagues started with his first video game console, which his father bought for him along with a copy of FIFA 08. Oddly enough, he found the game off-putting because of how challenging it was. “I didn’t enjoy it at first as it was quite difficult,” he says. It was friendly rivalry, however, that piqued Thabo’s interest, providing him with a reason to hone his skills. “Playing against my friends is what made me competitive. When I started to beat them all, I decided to try and play online.”
On finding the balance between juggling school and gaming, Thabo admits that it started out quite tricky. “At first it wasn’t easy as I was used to spending my time at school. Becoming a professional was difficult because of all the practice I needed. Now, it’s easier because I’m used to the high level of play, which gives me more time to focus on school work.”
Thabo, currently in his final year of high school, says that COVID-19 presented a significant challenge that he’d never expected. “Having missed about five months of school, we missed out on half the work, but we are finally back and focusing on the current term’s work and the end-of-year exams.”
Weighing in on his academic future, Thabo says, “If I do end up going to university, my school subjects are business and economics, so I’ll probably go into the business sector.”
However, his real passion lies in esports, and he hopes to continue building on his promising career. One of his short-term goals is global domination. “With FIFA21 now released, together with the launch of PlayStation 5, I am hoping to qualify for the next international event, so that I can show what I can do on the big stage, when it matters most.”
When asked what lessons learned from school he can apply to both gaming and life, Thabo says, “Definitely to work hard. Dedication is everything because if you don’t study, you’re likely going to fail. In FIFA, if you don’t practice, you won’t be as good as you want to be. It’s all about timing and dedication.”
Young, ambitious, and with the world at his feet, Thabo has seemingly found the right balance. His next stop is international esports stardom.
Thabo’s Fact File:
Favourite Footballer: Cristiano Ronaldo
Favourite Teams: Manchester United, Kaizer Chiefs
Favourite Games: FIFA, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty