Opinion PC

Let's discuss: The major changes from SA's biggest eSports players

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Arguably the two biggest Multi-Gaming Organizations (MGO)s in South Africa, Bravado Gaming and Energy eSports have recently some big moves, which could shake up the SA eSports scene. Over the years of watching SA eSports and following the Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) scenes, I’ve seen countless local players voice their concerns when a team is reformed or when a top MGO “takes away” one or two players from another team who shows a lot of promise.

The biggest concern being that a few teams have a stranglehold on local tournaments and no other teams can compete with them; but I think it will be the most exciting year for SA eSports yet and that player shuffles, mergers and players gaining international experience will actually help the SA eSports scene grow.

An exciting year ahead for SA eSports

To a degree, there is some merit to the opinion many fans and spectators have voiced; as we’ve seen mostly Bravado and Energy take top spots in a variety of tournaments for years, but there are exceptions and other local teams have shown that they can prevail. For example, at the Telkom Digital Gaming League (DGL) Masters, it was White Rabbit Gaming (WRG) who came out on top in Dota 2, defeating Bravado’s team in the finals.

However, one needs to understand that bringing in new up-and-coming players into a top MGO can be a good thing, as these players will receive some much-needed international experience when they join a team like Bravado and participate on an international level. When for example Bravado makes changes to their team like they did with their CS: GO squad, ex-Bravado players could move to another MGO, bringing a wealth of international experience with them.

Bravado recently announced big chances to their CS: GO squad, which sees their “entry fragger” Ashton 'Golz' Muller replaced by Carbon eSports player Rhys ‘Fadey’ Armstrong. But a Carbon player joining Bravado isn’t the only thing you should be looking at. Golz is joining Flipsid3 Tactics. Shortly after Golz left Bravado, Flipsid3 Tactics announced their new player, stating on their Facebook page that:  

“Golz has an incredible skill-set with great experience in top-tier competitive e-sports. Having previously played at WESG in China, we are excited to learn and adapt from his experiences, and grow as an even stronger team this year.” - Source

The quote above should be enough to prove my point. With Golz’s experience, Flipsid3 Tactics could very well become a top contender in the local CS: GO scene, but the examples don’t stop there. At the time of writing it is still unclear if Bravado will field a Dota 2 squad, but Veneration E-Sports have announced that Abdur-rahim ‘habibi_D’ Kamdar would be joining their team for the DGL Masters this year. Habibi is, without a doubt, one of the greatest support players in the SA Dota 2 scene and has attended multiple international events with Bravado, so there is no doubt he will play an important role in the Veneration squad.

Change is good and I think the recent moves from top MGOs will certainly shake up the scene. Arguably the biggest move comes in the form of a merger.

Energy and Carbon merger

Energy eSports and Carbon eSports are merging according to a press release by Energy. The press release states:  

“After some lengthy discussions between eN and cbN, we will now see players from cbN joining eN which will without a doubt strengthen the competitive eSports scene locally. Both MGO's bring new dynamics and offer positive input to the new look MGO which will once again allow eN to compete right across the board in many of the top eSports titles played in South Africa on PC.”

Energy eSports CS: GO Line-up:

  • Rieghardt "Flexi" Romatzki
  • Jan "Takbok" Theron
  • Trevor "Kani" Morley
  • Dominic "Domsterr" Sampaio
  • Stefan "Nefan" Smit (Captain)  

Energy eSports DOTA 2 Line-up:

  • Wesley “momo” Rose
  • Nicholas “strike” Cheng
  • Martin “plic” Rothschild
  • Darron “Chelsea)” Reinhardt
  • Andrew “c1” Ferguson  

Both the squads look extremely strong and I can’t wait to watch the compete in local tournaments this year; but the old players aren’t without a home. Aperture Gaming has announced that most of the old Energy eSports CS: GO players will be joining them for the 2017 season, stating that:

“After much deliberation we have negotiated the transition of the Energy eSports CS:GO line-up to our banner and will be putting our full support behind them for the 2017 season to further try and develop their skill-sets along with the addition of our only remaining player, Konvictcsgo.”

Top teams make changes, even more so on the international front. For example, massive player shuffles occur after regularly in the international eSports scene, with a recent example being the “Spring Shuffle” ahead of the Kiev Majors. Player shuffles is a part of eSports as much as any other sport. It will happen, and could result in tougher competition. Further, MGOs need to look out for their best interest, which means making some tough decisions.

About Bravado and the DGL Masters

One decision that came as a shock to many local eSports spectators last Friday is that Bravado Gaming announced they would not be entering the DGL Masters program. Well, not in the way you would expect. Instead, Bravado will enter the qualifying cups, a move that has left some fans to wonder if Bravado is abandoning the local scene for international aspirations and that it could damage the local scene. Bravado addresses these concerns:

“Some may say that since we won’t be competing much on the local scene (if our plans do go through) it may actually do damage to the skill development of our community as our players have had a ton of international experience throughout the last year. The truth is this: Although we might be missing from the local scene for a short period of time, this doesn’t mean that we’re not out there to help the local scene as well. Some of the long term effects and goals of doing well on the international scene can lead to the following:

  • Further investment in the form of finance from brands, events, corporates & qualifiers from event hosts, such as the ESL. We saw this in motion when Luminosity (now SK-Gaming) made waves, which in return helped a massive investment into Brazil, from multiple perspectives. Hopefully we can achieve the same.
  • Developing our skills further overseas, helps us directly translate these skills to other players when scrimming or competing against local teams.
  • Doing well on the International scene will build good credibility for South African gamers, showing the world that we can produce some top-class talent which may open multiple windows of opportunity in a variety of categories.” - Source

It’s not just about what is best for Bravado and we will very likely see them qualify for the DGL Masters through the qualification cups anyway. I would love to see a team from South Africa do well on the international stage and Bravado has, in my opinion, the best shot of doing so. They are already leading the way for teams from South Africa on the international stage. The local scene won’t suffer, I believe it will thrive through this move and Bravado’s players will pick up even more international experience, which they will bring back to South Africa; and when (or if) player shuffles occur again, some of the Bravado squad will bring their international experience to other MGOs, which is an extremely good thing as I have discussed earlier with the example of Golz in this article.

With all the moves on the chessboard that is SA eSports, I think 2017 will be the most exciting year yet for spectators. All the chances the top MGOs have made could open up the scene for some upsets and could deliver some interesting results.

What do you think about the player shuffles, the Energy eSports merger, Bravado’s decision regarding the DGL Masters and what the effects will be on the local eSports scene? Let us know in the comment section below.  

Image Credit: Bravado Gaming Facebook

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