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Update | The DGC network issues explained – A reason to rAge?

DGC hack.jpg

The Telkom Do Gaming Championships (DGC) at rAge 2015 had a plethora of network issues that affected the biggest local eSports event of the year. It is, without a doubt, a devastating blow to the growth of South African eSports. It is a touchy, hot subject in the local eSports community at the moment.

Although many players and spectators alike are upset about the DGC network issues, they need to understand what really happened. Here is an explanation and the effect the network issue had on players and spectators.

Update

We previously stated that according to a rumour the DDoS attacks started after one of the casters posted the server IP in the stream. It's come to light that it was "posted by a player on Saturday in game which was streamed out during the time. But the cause of the DDoS was actually not because of this either."

Why did the network issues occur?

There have been multiple rumors going around as to exactly what happened at the DGC with regards to the network issues. Talking to some local gamers during the event, I heard stories from teams “paying someone to hack the network when they were about to lose” to rumors that it was an attack due to “hate directed at Telkom”.

Instead of making potentially malicious and untrue assumptions, people should know the truth of what happened during the DGC and how well the admins managed to handle the situation. I personally went to five tournament admins and a network engineer to find out what exactly was going on during the event.

On Friday evening, both the rAge expo and the DGC section was hit with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which brought tournaments to a standstill for over an hour. Two of the attacks originated from inside the TicketPro Dome, while the rest came from international sources. The DGC admins, at that time, did not know what exactly was going on, but quickly learned about the attacks and informed players as well as staff. The admins blocked two devices’ MAC addresses that were used for the most powerful attacks.

Further, sitting behind the players I saw how most of the CS:GO games in progress was saved up to the latest round, which helped teams not lose any progress or advantage they might have gained during the minutes leading up to the attack. One DGC / rAge network admin was kind enough to give me a quote on what happened.

Due to the heated debate going on at the moment between multiple organizations, the admin requested to remain anonymous:

“The DDoS attacks Friday evening came from inside the dome and spread to international attacks as well. If you know how a DDoS attack works, you would know that it is almost impossible to stop. The best way you handle a DDoS attack is to turn of the target network and hope the attack stops quickly. Even then, the effects can be immense. Network issues due to attacks and users abusing the network continued on Saturday.

We did our best to sustain a level of stability, but at some points it was out of our hands. We employed countermeasures as best we could and set up alternative options so the tournament could continue.”

One thing you have to understand is that it is not the fault of the organizers. Even Valve’s The International was held up by DDoS attacks on the first day. It does not matter how much money or manpower you throw at the problem. Check out the video below for an explanation of how DDoS attacks work before blaming the  admins who moved swiftly to ensure that the tournaments continued.

Yes, it’s terrible for something like this to happen during the biggest local eSports even of the year and players have a right to be upset. However, they should be upset at the individuals who attacked the DGC / rAge and not the hardworking men and women who organized the event.

How did the attack start and why did it happen in the first place? One rumor seems to hold some merit, as the DGC admin I spoke to did not want to deny it. During a tournament game on Friday, one member of the casting staff (which shall remain nameless for obvious reasons) accidentally posted the server IP in the stream. Shortly afterwards, the attacks started happening. This doesn't mean the admin did it on purpose, or that the attack centered around this single incident.

Updated : It's come to light that it was "posted by a player on Saturday in game which was streamed out during the time. But the cause of the DDoS was actually not because of this either."

There are many people who are extremely upset about the network issues and the subsequent effects on players as well as spectators.

The effect on players and spectators

During the DGC tournaments, the streams lagged immensely even inside the area to the point where some critical games could not be shown. Obviously, spectators got extremely upset and voiced their concerns repeatedly and without mercy. However, the competitors are the ones that really suffered from the network issues.

Servers used to play the games on lagged out and games had to be paused / restored to the nearest points multiple times during Friday and Saturday. Network issues caused so many problems during games that players became irritated.  

2015 CS:GO champion Richard ‘Deviant’ Groves comments on how it affected his team:

“The delays obviously hamper the momentum of the games but every game was restored and not that much trouble was experienced by us personally. Waiting when we should've been playing but nothing was lost so it was handled and managed nicely by DGC admin staff.”  

DGC 2015.jpg

Photo credit: Bravado Gaming

As I walked past multiple teams, I could hear them discussing and even changing strategy during the extended pauses. In an eSports tournament, snap decisions can make or break a game for a team, so the long pauses could potentially have affected the outcome of certain games.

The DGC admins did an exceptional job of restoring games to the closest possible points. Unfortunately, some games had to be restarted and it is definitely not impossible that it affected the outcome of some games. Further, momentum is an extremely important part of games such as CS:GO. During a long pause, momentum is lost and a team who might make a comeback due to some excellent momentum in a round can be affected immensely.

Speaking to multiple competitors at the DGC, both the winning and losing teams mentioned how terrible the lag was and that the pauses affected their gameplay.

Closing Thoughts

It is of the utmost importance that everyone who reads this understands it is not the fault of the organizers and that the men and women did their absolute best to rectify and battle the network issues from the moment they started to occur. Although the incident was terrible, the DGC was still one of the most exciting events to watch.

Competitors negatively affected by the network issues have a right to be angry. We should all be angry that the DGC was attacked, but the anger should be directed towards the malicious individuals behind the attacks and not at each other.

What do you think about the DGC network issues? Did you compete or watch the games and how did it affect your experience? Let us know in the comment section below.    

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