He’s an owner of nAvTV, a marketing manager for MSI Notebooks in South Africa and, possibly, South African gaming’s biggest fan, Miles ‘B4d R0b0t’ Regenass. We spent a very enlightening hour and a half interviewing Miles about the local gaming scene, talking MSI sponsorships, Aperture Gaming, team and personal branding, the growth of eSports in South Africa and a whole load more.
It’s way too much to fit into one article, we know how easily you all get distracted, so for now we’re just going to talk about taking South African eSports to the next level. More specifically, what local gamers need to be doing to take the scene to the next level.
Normally with our articles we like to tell you a story and mix in quotes and thoughts from whichever player, caster or local eSports personality we’re talking to. But for our series of articles with Miles we’re going to keep our writing to a minimum and let him tell the stories, because he tells them really well.
So, ladies and gentlemen, prepare your minds for one hell of a knowledge drop.
“I know a lot of the pro-gamers that are gona read this, they’re gona laugh at this next statement, but we need to make celebrities out of our competitive eSports players. That’s the next level. It’s the entertainment. That’s how we get to where Europe and North America and Asia are.
When people are interested in what our pro players are doing, and they start following them, and they start generating followers, and they start interacting with their followers.
I think a lot of guys get into gaming and they don’t think they’re good looking, or they don’t think people are interested in who they are, or for whatever reason they’re a bit embarrassed or shy to do it, so we have to push them to do it.”
It being anything from interacting with followers on social media or at events, to making their own videos to promote themselves, to featuring in content videos for their sponsors.
“It takes a bit of coaxing out of the guys. And sometimes it comes out and it looks funny, but you know what, that’s great. We can all have a laugh together at them. And once it’s done, it’s done. The more you do it, the more comfortable they get doing stuff like that.
If you go look on YouTube, olofmeister does a commercial for yoghurt, and it’s awful. It’s horrible. It’s him sitting at a desk talking about how he loves his little sippy yoghurt, and then he has a sip of his sippy yoghurt. But it’s a laugh. It’s cool, because it’s Olof and you get to see him goofing around in front of a camera. I think that’s the next level for eSports.”
Just to prove to you that we are actually doing some work in this article and Miles isn’t doing it all, we’ve gone and found said video for your viewing pleasure. Well done us. Enjoy. Or don’t because it really is terrible. It’s in Swedish, but you get the gist of it.
We can all agree it’s a terrible ad. But how cool is it seeing Counter-Strike featured in a national TV ad? We’ll tell you: it’s really cool. Seeing gamers and the games we love on TV makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and in a way also gives validation to all the times you told your parents that playing games isn’t a waste of time. Competitive gaming is an industry now, and people want in.
In the international scene we’ve seen the popularity and celebrity-like status of professional gamers skyrocketing recently. What is it about these people that make their stories and lives so interesting to us?
“We’ve got to understand that these competitive players, by the time they get to this level, there’s something about them, they’re not just your average Joe type of person. I think a lot of these players take it for granted.
They’re highly motivated people. They’re going to varsity, they’ve got jobs, they’re married, or whatever it is. They have a whole load of other things they’re doing and they’re still trying to compete at the highest level in their region. It makes for an interesting person and an interesting personality.
I think what’s great about the internet and YouTube, and all these content creators is, as a whole, eSports are not interested in a celebrity because they look good. We’re interested in you because you’re a great competitor and you’re an interesting person.
It’s tough for the guys because you’ve got to act like a bit of a model or actor or something, but ultimately it’s the work that needs to be done to help grow the scene. I’m looking forward to more of it coming out of the teams.”
So are we. As a local eSports brand (yes we are a brand, we have flat peak caps to prove it), this is exactly what we want from South African competitive gamers: your stories. They’re interesting and engaging. They’re what emotionally connect you to a player or a team. And as much as we all love watching a good game of Dota or Counter-Strike, or any other eSport, they’re even better to watch when you’re invested in one side winning.
“My concern is that, beyond a handful of teams in this country, the obvious ones like Bravado, Energy, and I hope by the end of the year Aperture, there’s a lot of work put into actually promoting the team, promoting the players, promoting the brand. I think a lot of other teams think, ‘We compete, and therefore we deserve a sponsorship’. And actually no.
Unfortunately the hard truth of eSports and being a competitor in eSports is that there are two jobs. One is being a brilliant gamer, and the other one is interacting and engaging with the users. And that’s a whole other bunch of work.”
So there it is in black and white. If you want to take your team to the next level, you need to put in the work. More than just the work you put into training. You’ve got to work at building your team as a brand. You need to make it desirable, because when people want it, they’ll pay money for it. Which means sponsorships and, one day, salaries.
With the right attitude from local gamers and the continued growth and interest in local eSports, there is no reason why the same trends we’re seeing in Europe, America and Asia, competitive gamers becoming celebrities, can’t be replicated here in South Africa.
And that brings us neatly to the end of this week’s article, while simultaneously letting you know what advice you can expect from Miles next week: how to turn local gamers into celebrities. Better start practising your duckfaces and Blue Steels. Just kidding, don’t do that. Seriously don’t.