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rAge 2015 and the evolution of eSports South Africa

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The first rAge Expo kicked off in 2002 and the first Do Gaming League finals took place at the 2008 rAge Expo. Today, the DGL finals form an important part of the annual rAge Expo. For many of South Africa's eSports teams it's the ultimate test with players throughout the country competing for the ultimate prize.

A lot has changed since the tournament’s relative humble beginnings.

For a closer look at the evolution of eSports South Africa, and using the rAge Expo DGL finals as an example, we turned to Luca "Robohobo" Tucconi. He played for Ubersoldaten's Call of Duty 4 division at the first event, and played his last rAge DGL finals in 2013 for Bravado Gaming's Black Ops II division. In 2014 Tucconi launched Orena, a "premier eSports Battleground" for local eSports athletes. In just two years Orena managed to run tournaments for four eSports games, and went on to hosted the South African qualifiers for the CS: GO ESWC. The short of it; Tucconi knows eSports South Africa.

According to Tucconi around 32 teams attended the 2008 rAge DGL finals. Back then the event was held in the open LAN area, and moved to its own space only later. Over the past weekend a grand total of 80 teams plus 16 Hearthstone players competed. So in eight years the participants increased to almost three times the size of the first event.

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DGL finals rAge 2015: Bravado Gaming

Tucconi mentions another big, and extremely important change that we see with today's top eSports teams, namely sponsorship. Back in 2008 it was unheard of that an SA company would consider eSports important, let alone branding a team. Bravado Gaming are sponsored by two big names, Alienware South Africa and Apex Interactive. The Alienware sponsorship means that the whole Bravado team plays on top of the range PC's, and this year they've been able to fund the team's three trips to Cape Town, as well as the rAge event. Sponsorship is invaluable but it's earned through hard work and determination to excel in whatever you're doing - things Bvd owner, Andreas Hadjipaschali knows all too well.

South African eSports teams are starting to draw the attention of big investors, but we're still a long way from how overseas cyber athletes get treated. According to Tucconi SA eSports sponsorship has to move to the next level - from product support to financial support.

A lot of Bvd's success comes from Hadjipaschali's team management and his relationship with their sponsors. Back in 2008 teams rocked up and hoped for the best. Sponsors, figures like Hadjipaschali and Tucconni, event organizers and competitors do their part to bring about the changes needed in local competitive gaming. All our efforts are slowly but surely creating an environments were athletes can train like professionals and eSports teams are starting to operate more like a business.

You can check out the full interview in the video below. A big shoutout to Tucconni for taking the time to chat to us. We can't talk about the evolution of eSports in South Africa without thanking the rAge and DGL organisers. Your contributions to the growth of eSports in South Africa have been phenomenal.

Images and Interview Credit: Giverny Ives &Chris Smithard (Ives-Smithard Media)

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