Project Destiny 2.0 for South African organisation Bravado Gaming?
Originally written for Red Bull but adding it here for esports enthusiasts
In 2018, South African organisation Bravado Gaming set off on a mammoth task to send an African Counter-Strike team to North America, to compete with the best in the world. While the team eventually disbanded, Project Destiny spawned the international careers of three internationally recognised Counter-Strike players and paved the way for other local organisations to attempt the same. More than four years later, Bravado has once again gone toe to toe with international competition and their new roster shows enough promise to potentially revive Project Destiny once again.
Last year, South Africa received an invite to an ESL Challenger event. These events are important, they allow Tier Two teams to test their skills, win prize money and potentially secure a spot in the illustrious ESL Pro League. For any Counter-Strike team, access to events that allow competition against the best teams in the world, are much sought after. International competitive opportunities much more so for South African esports players. With the country’s location it is extremely difficult to play against anyone outside of the country without facing impossible ping. Growth can be limited and thus international opportunities are highly valued.
For 2023, ESL Challenger Katowice offered up a spot to the Final event to a qualifying South African team. A closed qualifier was held in the country where Bravado Gaming, Nixuh, VYBN Esports and DNMK battled it out to try secure tickets to Katowice and a chance to compete in Challenger – the “little brother” of the ESL Pro League. The qualifier saw Bravado Gaming lose to Nixuh, 2-0, during the upper bracket final. However, the two teams would eventually meet in the Grand Finals where Bravado Gaming was able to change the scoreline in their favour – securing their trip with a 2-0 victory.
The team comprising of Aaron “SloWye” Van Der Walt, Jonathan “Doru” Fox, brothers Wiljahne “wilj” Smith and Marchahn “March” Smith as well as Kian “Triton” Gibson now headed to Poland to compete in ESL Challenger Katowice. Some of the best Tier 2 teams in the world would be in attendance. This included popular Finnish organisation ENCE, coming straight from a victory at IEM Dallas as well as Forze Gaming and paiN Gaming, two teams that had qualified and competed at the Blast TV Paris Major a few months prior. The biggest name at the event was Virtus Pro. The lineup that won the 2022 Rio Major would be attempting to prove their fall from grace after a massive victory was short lived.
Bravado Gaming drew a tough group with both ENCE and Virtus Pro in the pool (these two teams would go on to battle it out in the final). Bravado’s first match up was against ENCE. Leading into the event the South African contingent had been completely written off, with many fans expecting a quick 16-3, 16-4 victory for ENCE. Bravado’s young roster and lack of international experience was very much against them. Three of the five players had never competed overseas, while March had never even left the country before securing this ticket to Poland.
Despite this the Blue Avocados produced a near upset, going head to head with ENCE. They would eventually lose the best of one, 16-11 but they had put on an incredible performance which drew considerable attention. They’d later go on to play a best of three against American outfit, Party Astronauts, and secured a dominant map win before losing the last map to exit the tournament on a 2-1 loss.
The original roster of Project Destiny experienced similar near wins in their early days and, after Bravado Gaming financed a relocation to North America, the team was able to start upsetting international competition a few months in:
Project Destiny would eventually come to an end when the funding required to keep five players and a coach in the United States became too costly to continue. However, three players from that line up would go on to make their mark globally. Johnny “JT” Theodosiou remained in America and is now in-game leader for Complexity Gaming. A team you might be familiar with if you watched the recent Blast TV Major or Blast Premier Spring Finals. Aran “Sonic” Groesbeek was JT’s teammate during those BVD days and recently put up impressive numbers as a stand-in AWPer for Complexity in recent competitions. Tiaan “T.c” Coertzen was the original coach of the Project Destiny team and is now head coach at Complexity with his previous teammate.
JT, Sonic and T.c. all benefited from Bravado Gaming’s “experiment” into the USA and, based on the form of the latest Counter-Strike team from one of South Africa’s oldest and most decorated esports organisations, it may very well be time for another journey across the seas. Ideally a team this young and inexperienced would benefit highly from a relocation to Europe but Bravado Gaming is mum on whether the option is being explored. The costs are high and the time required to truly create a competitive line-up, extensive. With many of the tournaments and top teams residing in Europe it would make sense to head in a different direction, should Project Destiny be re-invigorated. The new line-up has the potential and the drive to continue the legacy written by previous players on Bravado Gaming’s CSGO team.
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