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By day, he manages Vodacom’s social media and digital division in Cape Town; by night he's an avid gamer, Xbox ambassador, Minecraft fundi, and manager of Energy eSports. We asked GlenZA about the state of gaming in South Africa, and he highlighted three incredibly exciting developments.
1. The Big Bang
Two years ago the scene was dominated by Telkom’s DGL – now known as Vs Gaming. Today there are a lot more tournaments for players to participate in, says Glenn. The Vs Gaming League is still the big one, but two other notable tournament organisers are Mettlestate, who are hosting Africa’s World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) qualifiers next year (more about that below), and Rush, which takes the best of eSport from October rAge Expo and concentrates it in a weekend of gaming fury in July.
Also on the horizon are two newcomers: the African Cyber Gaming League and the Orena Championship Series, with R1.7m of prize money up for grabs thanks to Red Bull’s sponsorship. Even Orlando Pirates is hosting a tournament!
Speaking of prize money, players are no longer competing for vouchers and hardware – prize money for even some of the fringe tournaments is now in the R50 000 to R100 000 region. The Vs Gaming League has first-prize purses of R250 000, which gets divided up between teams of just four players for some games.
'Gaming is no longer just about the 16-year-old in his parents’ basement,' says Glenn, 'it’s become more accessible to the general population. At the same time, however, you actually see guys coming through who are pursuing a career in competitive gaming. If you’re a good competitor, there's an increasing chance that you could, one of these days, become a household name in South Africa.'
2. Project Destiny
Bravado has been dominating the local scene for many years, and now they feel like they need to spread their wings. In January 2018, Bravado Gaming announced 'perhaps the most exciting thing to happen in South African eSports history' – they were sending a team overseas.
Dubbed 'Project Destiny', the idea is to send a Counter Strike gaming team of six members to the USA to compete at an international level. Having qualified for the eSports Entertainment Association League in the USA, the team will have their sights aimed at several other major tournaments.
The six team members that will be living the dream in 2018 are:
- Aran 'Sonic' Groesbeek
- Dimitri 'Detrony' Hadjipaschali
- Ruan 'Elusive' van Wyk
- Rhys 'Fadey' Armstrong
- Johnny 'JT' Theodosiou
- Tiaan 'TC' Coertzen
It’s kind of a big deal. This is a huge step for gaming in South Africa. With their trip paid for, this is as close as any South African has come to a fully fledged professional gaming career.
'Another benefit of playing in the USA,' says Glenn, 'is that they will be playing against the best in the world more frequently and without the high latency and ping lag that we experience in South Africa [where reactions are slightly slower due to our geographic location and internet connectivity issues]. It will really put South Africa on the map in terms of gaming, so it’s a big one!'
Glenn can’t resist pointing out that his team – Energy Sports – beat the Bravado Team in a thrilling battle during the ESL Africa finals at rAge in October 2017.
3. Mettlestate hosting the WESG qualifiers
Several local organisers bid for the opportunity to host the World Electronic Sports Games’ Southern African qualifiers, but it was Mettlestate that came up victorious.
The WESG (not to be confused with the World eSports Games, or WEG) is a relatively new eSports tournament, hosted in Shanghai. The inaugural tournament had a prize pool of R66 million.
The difference between WESG and other tournaments is that this tournament comprises teams that draw their players from a single country, similar to the International eSports Federations’ World Games, which are something like the Olympic Games of eSports.
In other words, the WESG allows local teams and organisations to compete at an international level while also, to some extent, representing their countries.
'Any local gaming organization would like to have their name associated with the WESG,' says Glenn. 'But Energy eSports is hoping to facilitate some international teams to come over and do some exhibition matches in the near future – so watch this space.'