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Cape Town's Gaming Expo does have an EGE

Let’s start this with a disclaimer of sorts. Yes, I had a direct involvement (eSports section) in what happened at this year’s inaugural Electronics & Gaming Expo (or EGE for short), so you might view this article as lopsided. But that’s not entirely fair. The main concern for most people was whether the event would actually happen as promised – especially given the late confirmation and potential for a last minute cancellation – but it did happen, and while Friday may have seemed a little pedestrian when Saturday rolled around, the CTICC discovered that gamers did indeed live in Cape Town.

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Cosplay, glorious Cosplay everywhere

TGIF

Friday is never meant to be the glamorously busy day for most events - at least I assume that to be the case based on the slightly worrying average turnout on day one of EGE. The day was originally scheduled to be a ‘community’ focused one with exhibition matches on the main stage, school-focused tournaments and community access to the competitive teams who could be in attendance the day before their tournaments were scheduled to start.

Sadly, the school term schedule itself scuppered plans for the FIFA tournament, and school pupil attendance was pretty low in general. For those that did attend, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the teams accommodated the (slightly awkward) interest of the non-competitors with some teams going as far as to encourage them to try out their equipment and pass along advice. Of course, Friday is also a work day for many, so that also altered plans for the exhibition matches proposed for the main stage. The evil that is work, and the pretty unpleasant weather further scuppered attendance I can only assume, but the general attitude of the vendors was one of positivity and enthusiasm for the future of the event.

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Photo by Neal Strydom (for Zombiegamer)

Saturday Shined (More) Brightly

Little did they know that Saturday would mark the start of that very future with a record for the CTICC being tumbled.

In a conversation with Johnny Malherbe of Impact Exhibitions on Sunday he revealed that the show (on the Saturday) had produced record numbers for a single day of a debut show at the CTICC – a remarkable feat given the perceived lack of marketing in the run up to the show. Of course, the cynics out here probably think people just went there to see the gaming equivalent of a car crash, but general consensus as I ran (yes, really) around was one of excitement and the belief that the future events will grow into something truly special.

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Ohaida to some of the crazy TF2 locals. Photos by Nadia "Lilly" Botma

While vendor numbers – especially those selling hardware and games were – were low, PlayStation SA had a great stand as did one of the show’s big supporters Frontosa. MSI were there and their striking red and black branding caught the eye around the venue.

As did Saturday’s cosplay parade – catch the eye that is, and get around the venue. Like a few other things that were planned for this year’s EGE the addition of the cosplay was late enough to cause plenty of concern that attendance would be poor, but the Cape Town cosplayers heeded the call and showed up in their numbers to show off the outfits and attend a variety of workshops.

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Photo by Neal Strydom (for Zombiegamer)

I’d suggest however that the highest concentration of attendees per square meter were at the Learn 3D Game Development stand where the Oculus Rift was on display. Having watched around 90% of the participants stagger away on jelly legs while twisting their head vigorously after a session, I decided to avoid the opportunity to try the VR headset out. The length of the queue and the fact that there was the small matter of some gaming tournaments to look after contributed to the decision.

With around 800m² set aside for the gaming and eSports component of the event operated by the combined brains (yes, I said it) of Zombiegamer, Orena, Ehaven and Clan Connection, the space which felt oversized on the Friday seemed to burst at the seams on Saturday.

Ten of South Africa’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams started the battle for their share of R30,000 cash and hardware prizes in the Corsair CS: GO Championship. The Saturday focused on group phase matches and the quarter finals, and drew an expectant audience throughout the day. Bravado and Energy eSports found themselves in the same group and ended first and second respectively, while Eternal Conflict took top spot in their group. The three teams, along with iFG.dfeKt then secured their spots in the semi finals scheduled for the last day of the expo.

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Photo by Coldcat (for Zombiegamer)

Meanwhile, the console teams were also battling for their opportunity for stage time and cash in the Call of Duty Advanced Warfare tournament. 12 teams battled first through their group of six, and on to the quarter finals. After six matches, the four teams to emerge and book their spots to play again on Sunday were: GW Ventus, Exempt Gaming, eN_F34R and Astra Infinite.

For the solo players, there was FIFA 15 on offer, and a Mortal Kombat X tournament. The FIFA 15 was played over four pools (three on Saturday and one on Sunday morning), with the top two players from each pool heading on to the ‘Championship Bracket’ and their share of the cash prizes on offer. Pool A saw Jayson Morgan and Mubeen Gaffoor (aka Mobi) proceed to Sunday, and they were joined by Grant (aka Groen) Morgan and Cody Sebastian (Pool B), as well as Pool C’s Chad Smith and Danyaal Cloete in the Championship Bracket.

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How's that for making a statement?

Mortal Kombat X saw a total of 59 players compete on both PS4 and Xbox One. The two legs were kept separate from each other with the top two players on each proceeding to the grand final which featured a ‘home and away’-style match. A number of familiar faces were in attendance, including the Mortal Kombat Cup Western Cape winner D1GamerKid (aka Kim Petersen) who made it to the top eight of the PS4 leg where he was beaten by the PS4 – and ultimately – overall winner Sameegh Jardine who bagged himself a PlayStation 4 console sponsored by PlayStation South Africa.

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Photo by Neal Strydom (for Zombiegamer)

While all of this was going on throughout the day, over on the main stage (and the reason you would’ve seen a zombie running back and forth) a variety of exhibition matches and demos were being operated. Slight issues with power tripping in one section near the beginning of the day caused a delay to the start of things on the stage (and with the tournaments in general), but once it got underway the audience was treated to a Dota 2 match, an overclocking exhibition that featured liquid nitrogen and lots of oohing and aahing, a Halo 1v1 match between two of South Africa’s best players in Pupsky and VnCo Sharp and a League of Legends exhibition match. Thanks to the support of The Division, the PC titles were played on some juggernaut PCs, while the crowd were made (well, no-one actually held a gun to their head exactly) to watch in the action in some of the most comfortable beanbags in the world, and in the shadow of a giant 103” screen and some smaller siblings on the stage.

No Sun Sunday

There was still no sunshine in Cape Town on Sunday, but there was still an expo to attend (and attend to). Before the action (and my running) got underway again, I decided to see what was hidden around the venue behind the crowds on Saturday.

A number of food trucks (which to be fair, weren’t exactly unnoticeable from our demarcated area) offered attendees a surprising variety of food. There were also plenty of independent-style vendors, artists, crafters, board gamers and others that made me realise that maybe EGE was actually part ‘that other gaming expo in South Africa’ and part Free Comic Book Day (hosted annually by Reader’s Den who also made sure to support EGE this year). In fact, the thing that struck me (and was apparent the moment I started planning the gaming in conjunction with the others) is that generally, this was a Cape Town expo – put together, supported by and featuring Capetonians and Cape Town businesses (not exclusively of course, before Cpt. Obvious starts pointing it out). Cape Town wanted it, so Cape Town made it happen.

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Photo by Coldcat (for Zombiegamer)

But Gauteng and the other provinces did have their say as the two team-based tournaments hit their final stride, and featured their fair share of players from outside of Cape Town. The semi finals for both CS: GO and Call of Duty got underway *almost* on time (which for Cape Town is usually around 30 minutes behind schedule). The FIFA 15 saw Pool D kick off (and yes, I said that too) a little late as well, but with the final two spots in the Championship Bracket to play for, the players were off at full speed.

Speaking of speed, there was a Project Cars setup running too. The setup featured two seats with Thrustmaster 458 Italia wheels running the game on Xbox One, and conveniently, there was a console up for grabs too. Attendees had to complete a lap (the lap time was relatively unimportant in this case) to secure an entry into the draw for an Xbox One. Surprisingly, this proved a little too much for some, but in the end, 612 entries were received, and while the draw has now been done, at the time of writing, the winner was being verified before being announced.

The FIFA 15 tournament was moving to its final phase, and saw Yazeed Dollie top his pool and head into the top eight with Romario Da Silva completing the compliment of players in the Championship Bracket. The finals got underway at around 2:30pm and was a home and away playoff that offered all the players involved a share of the R7,500 cash prize pool. However, it was Mobi that grabbed the lion’s share of the cash when he beat Chad Smith 4-1 in the final to bag R3,000.

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Photo by Coldcat (for Zombiegamer)

Life’s a Stage

I have to say that for the Call of Duty players, the opportunity to play on the stage was probably a bigger driving factor than the cash that was up for grabs. The semi finals were (as with the CS: GO semi finals) played on the floor, with each title getting stage time for their respective finals.

Of course, there was the small matter of actually getting to the finals first. The Call of Duty semi finals saw GW Ventus secure their stage spot when they beat eN_F34R, where they were joined by Astra Infinite who defeated Exempt Gaming in their match.

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Photo by Neal Strydom (for Zombiegamer)

The finals of the Call of Duty Advanced Warfare tournament got off to a fine start with a very decent crowd watching (both live and on the stream). Both GW Ventus and Astra looked hungry but nervous, and the match proved to be a great example of competitive console gaming which went down to the wire when Astra Infinite took the final SnD map 6-5 to secure a 3-2 series win and R7,500 in cash.

The Corsair CS: GO Championship saw Bravado beat iFG.dfeKt in their semi final match, while Energy eSports joined the team in blue when they beat Eternal Conflict, and setup the final everyone probably wanted to watch.

Another big crowd was on hand (most likely brought on by the Corsair goodies being – literally – thrown around by MC Zaid Kriel) as the final got underway. Bravado Gaming looked pretty confident right from the start and took Game 1 16-10 on de_dust2. As Game 2 got underway, there were some expecting an Energy comeback in the best of three series, but Bravado kept up their moment from Game 1 and clinched the series and R15,000 (along with Corsair hardware) with a 16-9 win on de_inferno.

And with that, it was pretty much spot on closing time (in Cape Town terms of course), with Zaid Kriel wishing everyone well and asking them to come around again next year…

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Photo by Des Kurz (aka bosbvok)

A Personal Moment if I May…

While I might get some credit for what happened the weekend of EGE, it really was a team effort that started with Impact Exhibitions themselves, and continued with the other organisations and some fantastic people who sacrificed a lot of their time to make the event run as smoothly as possible. There were also sponsorships and partnerships that meant we could run the event with better than average prizes, and those companies (and individuals) are trendsetters in their support of the expo in general. To name everyone would take another 2,100 word article, so if I may simply say thank you to you all.

Now, can I sleep until EGE 2016 please?

Additional photos will be uploaded to the Zombiegamer Facebook Page during the course of this week.

Read more about the Cape Town Expo

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