Telkom DGL 2016
Playing the fool with the leaders of the best esports teams in South Africa.

I wish South Africans would pay more attention to local esports stars

I’m about to break my cardinal rule and write a post about an event I attended. I’ve always said no one cares about those smoozy PR events we attend and I stand by that. But I need to give you some context. Last night I attended the Telkom Do Gaming League Launch for 2016. The Telkom DGL is South Africa’s local esport tournament that runs through the year with the finals taking place underneath rAge at the end of each year.

My brother played in the League for a year or two and did extremely well. In fact, my brother has been involved in esports for some years and, at one stage, was in the top 5 teams for Dota 2 in the country. He never told his family. He never told his friends outside the gaming fraternity. When I found out (purely by chance), I was shocked he hadn’t told us. The reason for his silence?

People just don’t get it.

Telkom DGL 2016
Dave from Super2bit and myself with the welcoming committee at the Telkom DGL launch.

But actually… they should. Here are some quick facts I stole from Telkom that should convince you:

  •  Gaming is the fourth largest entertainment industry in the world with revenue estimated at $91.5 billion, surpassed only by after gambling, TV and publishing.
  • In 2015, it surpassed the movie production and distribution industry, which dropped to an estimated US$89 billion in 2015 and is closing in publishing, which generated an estimated $103billion in 2015.
  •  The number of gamers in the world is approaching the 2 billion mark.
  •  PC Game sizes are increasing over the 50GB mark while console game sizes are pushing over the 40GB mark driving strong data growth of gaming globally.
  •  Gaming has a strong streaming culture with the gamer Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg or “PewDiePie”, 26, topping the list of most subscribed channels on YouTube since August 2015 – 41 million with Reported earnings of US$12 million in 2015.
  •  eSports generated more than US$747.5 million in global revenues in 2015 and eSports entertained 147 million viewers worldwide in 2015.
  •  One of Russia’s richest men, Alisher Usmanov, invested more than $100 million into professional eSports organization Virtus.Pro.
  •  The largest prize pool in gaming is the $18 429 613 total prize pool for 2015 The International 5 (TI5) in Dota 2 and the winning North American team, Evil Geniuses, took US$6 634 661 for first prize.
  •  Dota 2 is the highest awarding eSports title with more than $55,845,844.26 in total cash prize pool since its launch back in 2011.
  •  South African Trevor “Quickshot” Henry, multiple-time DGL winner, works as professional shoutcaster for eSports giant Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends, and shoutcasted the EU LCS Spring finals in Madrid, the Summer Finals in Stockholm and then the All Star Finals in LA.
  •  Gaming in South Africa is a R2 billion industry in game sales and hardware, with more than 4 million gamers across all platforms.
  •  Dota 2 is also the most popular game in South Africa with more than 207 different teams last recorded competing the DGL. – The largest Dota 2 competition in South Africa.
  •  The DGL is constantly evolving with more than 11,000 eSport teams created to date.
  • At the same time, the DGL has hosted more than 35,000 online matches.

I’ve grown up with Ashton Muller (better known as Golz to the CS:GO community), my brother’s friend and one of the top esports athletes in South Africa. Ash has competed overseas and is currently a member of Bravado Gaming, the best Counter Strike team locally. The guy spends all his free time behind his PC training with his team. They practice, they prepare and work on game play for their tournaments. Professional esports athletes overseas are sponsored and play full time. Gaming is their job. For Ash, he wakes up at 5am, leaves for work at 6am, gets home at 6pm and then has to try fit in as much gameplay and practice time in to that small timeframe in the evening. Yet, his team was still able to go overseas and compete with the best in the world. Granted, they got nailed in some matches, but in others they held their own… imagine what they could do with the right support?

Telkom DGL 2016
Posing with Ashton Muller (Golz) at the Telkom DGL 2016 launch.

That’s why I’m pretty damn stoked that Telkom is throwing huge amounts of sponsorship behind the Do Gaming League (DGL). Their new website allows casual gamers to set up gaming competitions and play as they want, they’re also offering the DGL which runs as it always has and then the exciting one: the DGL Masters Programme where SA’s top 8 esports clans will compete online in 2016 and then play their final in October at rAge.

Telkom is offering up a million rands in prize money for the Masters Programme where Aperture GamingBravado GamingCarboN eSportsDamage ControlIn-Finity GamingVeneration E-SportsWhite Rabbit Gaming and Xperts@Total.Chaos will battle it out.

Telkom DGL 2016
The announcement of the teams competing in the Telkom DGL Masters Series 2016.

That’s damn cool. You know what isn’t cool? The fact that the Telkom DGL is housed under rAge every year. Gaming fans at the main expo don’t even know it exists because it all happens a floor below the main expo. The majority of the media who are at the expo don’t bother to go downstairs. Hell, these guys should be on the main stage battling it out with game play broadcast on the big screens!

Last night there was a host of media at the launch. The majority, despite being tech and gaming, admitted on arrival that they had no cooking clue what the DGL was. I get to go to a stack of gaming and gadget launches which are usually filled with gaming media. You know what we need? The members of these top 8 local teams at these events. They are the true gaming influencers. They’re the ones South African gamers should be looking up to.

Telkom DGL 2016
Telkom bought in reDeYe aka Paul Chaloner to launch the League. He is one of the top shoutcasters and gaming commentators in the world!


I’ve grown up with Ash and a bunch of the other esports boys. Despite what some of the gaming sites will say, these guys are the best of the bunch, not only concerning gameplay but in their friendly and professional demeanours. They deserve our support. Telkom, I salute you for what you’re doing with esports locally. Watching the clan leaders take to the stage in sponsored sneakers, track pants and shirts, looking like the “best” and being treated like top class esport athletes was something that really made me proud. I know how hard these guys work to be there and I’m glad they got the recognition they deserve. I’m also glad they’ll be competing for decent cash.

Telkom DGL 2016
Photo bombing the top 8 teams competing in the Telkom DGL 2016 Master Series.

So here’s my challenge to every tech and gaming blogger or website in South Africa:

Let’s get behind our esports stars. Let’s help them get to the point where they can compete overseas with the best…. and they can, with our support.

I’m starting this one by offering any advice or help I can to any of the masters teams to help build their social following. If any of the clans or team members want assistance, for free, you can drop me a mail and I’ll help where I can.

Brands – the train is close to leaving the station, make sure you get on. There are some great influencer opportunities, creative content opportunities and ways to not only uplift the sport locally but promote your brand. There’s a reason the likes of McDonalds, Intel and Red Bull have thrown their weight behind esports internationally (again, between myself and Dave at Super2bit we have some cool strategies that we’d love to share with you. Contact me for more information).

I’ve put my money where my mouth is… what are you doing to help turn South African esports in to something great? 

  1. Righty, so here’s my 2 cents. Hubby used to play in those leagues during rAge when he was still at varsity. But there wasn’t any backing from proper companies, prizes, etc. They were essentially caged in, and no one could go and support them, or offer drinks / snacks / moral support where needed. Hell, of course he stopped going. What’s the use of competing if your peeps can’t support you?

    He still plays casually though… but he watches international DoTA games like others watch rugby.

    1. That’s a problem that plagued the international scene for a long time until Valve launched the first The International tourney. This takes time but its happening fast and I for one look forward to being able to walk into a bar and watch an epic fight break out outside the Roshan Pit as people lose their minds.

      1. Wi3sa that was the Nag LAN – downstairs for Telkom DGL (Telkom has been sponsoring that since inception) anyone can go in, stand behind players etc. The problem is – no one knows it exists!

      2. I have seen those prizes, and it’s friggin amazing. Best part? Mostly crowdfunded. (Well, the DoTA ones we watches). I will say it again, crowdfunded. Just imagine…

  2. What I’ve never understood is how people can say “how can you watch other people play games”, when those same people spend mad cash dolla on attending traditional sports events.


  3. “They are the true gaming influencers. They’re the ones South African gamers should be looking up to.”

    Here’s what I see as the flaw in this thinking – gaming is a huge industry and is growing fast, and the global growth of Esports has been enormous, but gaming and Esports aren’t the same thing. Many of us play games as a hobby, and are happy for it to be just that. I play games for fun – the thought of going to work to train all day playing the same game would put me off that game for life in a week. As a gamer who plays for fun, they’re not people I would want to emulate.

    In addition, these guys play Counter Strike and DOTA 2, because that’s what Esports is all about at the moment. I play a lot of different games, but not those two. I can totally respect the level of skill they’ve built up in those disciplines, but they’re pretty much irrelevant to my hobby. So the idea that they’re gaming influencers doesn’t fit with me. They may be able to influence Esports fans, but that’s a smaller subset. A fast growing subset, certainly, but it’s not the same thing.

      1. Local readers of local content, or of international content? You can’t compare Esport readers in SA who follow international news with local games media consumers who read local games media, you’d have to compare with the local readers of ALL games media.

        1. South African readers of South African gaming websites. I’m talking monthly uniques on those sites, not content specific. The majority of their readers aren’t coming from our country. Bottom line: The E-Sport community in South Africa is bigger and more engaged online on various platforms (specifically social media) – that is an audience brands should tap into. It would likely give them better ROI than banner ads (yuck) on a site that isn’t actually pulling a large amount of SA Gamers (E-Sport fans are gamers, no matter what game they play).

  4. Also, separate point, my perception of the local Esports industry is heavily tainted by the very visible online conflict between Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) and, well, pretty much everyone else but probably led by Telkom’s DGL. For Esports to truly grow in this country, that needs to be sorted out.

  5. “Their new website allows casual gamers to set up gaming competitions and play as they want…)

    How exactly do I go about doing this? Can’t seem to find the feature on the website. But if it does what I think it does, we can use it to arrange our own semi-regional and weekend tournaments and such. Which would go a long way to developing local eSports on ground level. You have to start somewhere right?

    1. Hey John, I can definitely find out (or do a how to post, wink wink nudge nudge Telkom). But yes, that is exactly what the idea is with casual gamers and it is such a fab move!

  6. While I respect these guys skill, I just cannot see myself as a part of their community.

    I enjoy a lot of games, and spend at least 2-4 hours a night playing games, but I don’t enjoy watching other people play games.

    I don’t doubt that esport is big, but I guess I am just not their target market.

  7. My son plays games ALL of his free time. I’m sharing this with him (although he probably knows all about it already).

  8. I get seriously annoyed when people say games are for kids and that’s it’s childish to own a console or gaming PC.
    Those people need to “SIT DOWN!” as they say in LANS to other players who are being a$$es.

    Anyways, playing games can be a hobby or for others a sport. I enjoy playing games and watching others play.

    I would like to take part in esports and have been approached by MSSA,but it’s mostly PC games that they focus on.
    In any case it takes real dedication to become the best or compete with the best.

    I support any platform of players in events, mostly VnCo.

      1. Really??Hmmm ok.I took part in one DGL,that was COD Ghosts,my team didn’t do too bad(all girls),it was quite fun and the other teams respected our efforts and skill on the battlefield.
        The only problem now is not all of them have XB1s and the games are so expensive.

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