It has been a minute since I last decided to do a piece focusing on South African Esports. I thought it might be time to give you an update on the goings on in the scene and all the important stuff you should know. If you’re not a South African Esports fan instead of screaming WHY I’ve decided to meet you in the middle and give you two tips to help your gaming. I know, giving like that.
Okay, if you’ve never watched South African Esports raise your hand. I’m constantly greeted by people who have no clue what I’m on about and cannot understand why they should watch competitive gaming or, why they should watch South African competitive gaming instead of the international streams they’re currently frequenting. I get it. My thought process with this piece is to try give you some insight into a world I love and help you move over to the dark side.
Competitions to watch
Everyone and their mom started the beginning of the year promising “big things”. Everyone and their mom is still promising big things. Here’s the actual big things:
ESL is coming to Africa. They’ll be at rAge. South African and African CSGO teams can try qualify to compete in the final. That’s big. So is the prize pool. The marketing has touted 2 mill but they are hosting two titles: CS and Hearthstone. So we’re yet to hear what the break down is. My understanding is that the money will be split over qualifiers as well. So teams might not get a giant chunk after all of it (unless you’re a team that wins everything. Then you’re likely smiling). We’ll wait for clarity on the prize money. If you’re new to Esports: ESL is the world’s largest Esports company. Imagine Loftus rugby ground. Imagine every chair in that stadium had a bum in it. Basically that is an ESL event in Europe. Bringing that sort of knowledge and expertise to South Africa is desperately needed and welcomed. So hopefully they’ll be hands on and we’ll all be able to learn from them.
The Samsung Galaxy CSGO Championship wraps up. I’m currently hosting this tournament on Mettlestate. 24 teams started competing and at the final on the 5th, 6th and 7th of May the top 8 teams will compete for their share of the R1 million prize pool. It is a biggie. I’ve been lucky enough to hang out behind the scenes and can honestly say I’ve never seen something this impressive locally. So I’m excited. You should be too.
The Telkom DGL Masters is still a bit confusing for all of us. Telkom was around way before the rest and showing support for a scene that very few invested in. They threw R1.5 mill in prize money behind CSGO and Dota 2 this year but then we heard very little else. It has been frustrating to say the least. Online qualifiers haven’t been streamed and we still don’t have dates for comps. They’ve released a Dota 2 competition that will happen at the Telkom studios in Midrand from the 19th to the 20th of May. We still don’t know when the CSGO will happen or what is going to happen at rAge. rAge is usually where the Telkom Masters Finals occur but ESL Africa is going to be happening at the same time at the same event. This will affect a few teams who may qualify for both (and is probably why the likes of Flipside Tactics pulled from Masters. Bet Bravado is smiling too). I’m speculating at the moment because we haven’t had any formal comments from either ESL or DGL. But if a team qualifies for both and has to choose, I think that is pretty awful for the scene. Even with the prize pools getting bigger, most of the players hardly have the option to pick and choose (and I don’t think they should). But we’ll have to wait and see if Telkom Masters announces their finals for rAge or if they plan to have them another time. I’m an optimist and hoping it all works out for the players in the end.
ACGL is the most regular provider of competitions. ACGL literally has comps running nearly every week and don’t just stick to the big two (Dota 2 and CSGO). They cater for CoD players, Halo and the list goes on. While yet to announce anything “big” I have no doubt these guys are going to offer up something special soon. In 2016 they hosted incredible competitions at EGE and rAge with more flash and showmanship than the “bigger” guys. So I’m watching them closely.
ESWC qualifiers will be announced in the next few weeks. We’ve not heard much from Orena lately but their website hints to a host of test events and ladders that they’re obviously experimenting with. No doubt they’ll announce qualifiers for the Electronic Sports World Cup in the next few weeks as that will be hosted at EGE. Again, speculating but I’m pretty sure it will happen and follow on from last year. Mega8 is also soldiering on with a Dota 2 tournament happening soon. From what I understand their long term goal is to host regular small competitions allowing a few payouts throughout the year rather than big lump sums. It is needed.
Games to watch
You know I love CS but we really do need more focus on some of the other titles out there. Dota 2 needs more love. Overwatch has the potential to be the rockstar. CoD has the best community. We need more focus on these titles. Keep in mind that launching soon we also have a few new games that could also provide competitive entertainment: Splatoon 2 is coming, Quake Champions, Tekken 7 is on the way and Injustice 2 launches soon. All of these games have Esports potential and could bring a new group of fans to the mix.
Broadcasters to watch
I’m biased BUT my three picks for Esports broadcasters are, without a doubt, the CSGO casting pair of Tiny and GeeMax as well as Succubus on Dota 2. Watch these three and wait for big things. Mark my works. I also think we’re going to see a lot more main stream celebrities enter the South African Esports fold. YouTubers trying their hand at casting and gaming celebs starting to dabble in broadcasts.
Players to watch
You know I’m CS mad by now so this is a bit CS driven. Watch JT and Sonic from Bravado. I think they’re two of the most talented players we have locally and have the potential to do incredible things. I also think it might be worthwhile to watch Massacre IF he can get his ego in check. The kid is also only 16 so I suppose we have to give him a little leeway. Finally watch Castaway if you’re a Dota 2 fan. Without a doubt one of my favourite South African Esports personalities.
And now for those tips
Yeah, I convinced you to read this whole article…. sorry about that (not sorry). Two tips to improve your game. The first is for CS fans. Head on over to this article I wrote for Red Bull. I interviewed a bunch of pro players and got some insight into customising your settings to improve your game. It should be pretty helpful. And then with winter around the corner you NEED to get your hands on these Reflex Warmers. These are common with hikers, cyclists and the like but they’ve recently seen growth in the gaming industry too. Basically they’re small bags that heat up to warm your hands and also control moisture. It costs R100 for a box of 10 and I dig them. Not just for playing games. They’re useful as well in the early morning chill before you get started for the day. They can also be disposed of as fertilizer. Winning!
Want your own box of Reflex Warmers? Let me know if the comments below if you think you could use these babies. Also be sure to tell me in the comments who you think we should be watching this year in SA Esports – organisations, players, games – share with me!