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An inside look at Telkom's DGL Masters Series

Telkom DGL Masters.jpg

Last week, on 21 January 2016, the Telkom Digital Gaming League (DGL) announced the first ever R1 million tournament for eight of the top Multi Gaming Organisations (MGOs) in South Africa. The tournament will be known as the DGL Masters, and although received by most with praise for Telkom's gaming team, a few concerns were also raised.

Johann Von Backström from the DGL Management Company was kind enough to supply answers to some of those questions.

DGL Masters: Section 1

Will there be a qualification system for the 2017 season for MGOs not in the Masters and how will it work?

"The Masters is an invitational programme but we are looking at the option of broadening it to more MGOs in future."

Are MGOs currently in the Masters allowed to compete in other events & is there any exclusivity deal in the contract with regards to player / MGO brands?

"Yes, barring any scheduling clashes. There are contractual obligations as there are in any project of this nature. However, as mentioned, MGO brands may participate in other eSports tournaments as long as there is no scheduling clash."

How does the DGL plan to build the brand of MGOs participating in the Masters?

"We are working closely with the MGOs around building their organizations and will be offering on-going assistance to build their brands into the future."

What will the prize look like across the two eSports titles and the teams involved? Further, are you looking into hardware prizes on top of the R1 million cash prize pool?

  • 1st R 200,000.00
  • 2nd R 100,000.00
  • 3rd R 60,000.00
  • 4th R 40,000.00
  • 5th – 8th R 25,000.00 each

"Hardware options will be considered in addition to the cash prize based on sponsor participation."

Will additional eSports titles be added to the Masters in the future, for example League of Legends?

"Yes, additional titles will be considered for the Masters Programme in future."

Is there an official ruleset & tournament structure for the Masters and when will it be available?

"Yes, they will be made available before league matches begin in April."

DGL Masters Section 2

On Wednesday, January 27, we talked about "The DGL Masters - A closer look at the pros and cons." ." Two questions were raised in the comment section that warranted another talk with the DGL team. Han Cilliers caught up with them via Skype, herewith her feedback.

First question from one "Thanks": "Would a team be able to display a sponsor that was in direct competition with Telkom?"

"Branding requirements are currently being discussed and will be finalized prior to the start of the league," says Johann Von Backström from the DGL Management Company.

Second question from Rynier G Schoeman; "The only thing id like to know is why the name of the event?" The answer resulted in a lengthy discussion, so instead of a quote, I'll offer an explanation of what I understood.

The purpose of Telkom's Masters is to invest resources in MGO's that have shown they are able and committed to growing their brands to international standards. Let me just jump in here before you object - many say they have what it takes to do that, but few do. It's incredibly hard work and demands so many sacrifices that few MGOs last more than a year. It's a fact that we don't have that many local MGOs have a long track record that proves they're running their team at a professional level. It's unfair to expect Telkom DGL to invest R1 million, and then some - into anything less than MGOs they feel warrant such a commitment from them. I am not just talking money; I shudder when I think about the amount of time it's going to require from the DGL staff to assist with brand building and the MGO development they have in mind.

From our conversation, I gathered that at the heart of the DGL Masters Series beats the desire to elevate South African eSports to a level that will attract the attention of the world - of sponsors, of the public, of spectators - something we all want for our small competitive community. The Masters is Telkom Gaming's commitment to that vision.

To the MGOs that aren't in the current Masters - Why not see it as challenge accepted?

In closing, I asked the one question I've heard more than any other - why did Energy decline? Surprisingly it seems Energy didn't explain even to the DGL team why they rejected the offer. The last and only response was - we are consulting our lawyer. Energy later offered an explanation via Facebook. Remember, Telkom had a deadline to meet for organizing the official announcement. They also extended the offer to more than eight MGOs.

Thanks for the chat DGL! Hopefully more soon about that sponsorship dilemma ;)

Closing from Wessel

It is excellent news for local tournament organizers that the MGOs in the Masters Programme will still be able to compete in other tournaments as long as there are no scheduling clashes. Further, the DGL is working closely with the eight MGOs to build their brand, offering assistance. From personal experience with involvement in Bravado Gaming, I know it is extremely difficult to develop and maintain an MGO. Therefore, the assistance offered by the DGL is a massive step in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see which other eSports titles will be considered for the Masters Programme, and how MGOs will be able to join. The DGL team is still looking into options, so we have no additional information to share on these matters.

Lastly, the cash prize pool is truly a giant leap for local eSports tournaments. In comparison, the Do Gaming Championships (DGC) at rAge last year, the entire cash prize segment for Dota 2 was R50,000. The Masters Programme offers a whopping R25,000 for the teams that place fifth to eighth per eSports title. What this means is that even if a MGO’s Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) both finish dead last in the Masters Programme, the two teams will still receive R50,000 in cash. Seeing as hardware prizes will also be considered depending on sponsorship participation, the MGOs might get even more out of participating in the Masters Programme.   

The eight MGOs will duke it out online from April to October and in two regional LAN competitions, with the final planned for October 2016.

What do you think about the answers supplied by the DGL? Are there any other concerns you have with regards to the DGL Masters and the MGOs competing? Let us know in the comment section below.

Cover photo credit: Bravado Gaming

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