Our last two articles have basically been teasers for this, our final chat with Luca Tucconi, where we’ve got some sweet details for you about Orena’s qualifiers for the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) and the LAN at the upcoming Electronics & Gaming Expo (EGE). If you don’t know anything about the Electronic Sports World Cup, let us enlighten you. It’s a world cup, like you get in sports, but electronic. Pretty straight forward. So why should you be excited about it?
Because one team from South Africa will be going to compete at the LAN event in Paris. That’s Paris, France. Not Parys, Free State. Everyone wants to go play video games in Paris, right? If you don’t then you might want to consider why you’re even here. Here on this page, not here on this planet.
Thanks to Orena and EGE that dream of competing at an international eSports event can be a reality. There’s just one catch, you have to be the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team in South Africa. But before we tell you how you can prove you’re the best around, let’s hear from Luca about the rise of Counter-Strike.
“In April 2015, Counter-Strike had 25million hours watched on Twitch. In 2016 they have 73million. When it comes to growth Counter-Strike has just been massive and I think that comes down to how easy it is to watch. It’s much easier than other games to understand at first. It’s aim, shoot, plant the bomb, 16 wins.”
We intuitively understand shooting games, because we’ve been exposed to them for so long. People have been playing shooting games since back in the day in the Wild, Wild West. Stand back to back, walk ten paces, turn and fire. Except when you got shot then you probably actually died. We’ve come a long way.
Another reason Luca mentions for the massive growth of CS:GO is that we’ve started to focus on specific games as eSports. The Call of Duty guys who played on PC have either moved to Call of Duty on PlayStation or CS:GO on PC. The same for Battlefield players, they’re either moving to CS:GO on PC or Call of Duty on console.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think we should have a multitude of games that are supported on a competitive basis. I think you should have a handful of titles that cater to the competitive community. You know they have the casual side, but they also have a team of developers that are dedicated to keeping the game up to date and to a competitive standard and that builds longevity in a game, it allows sponsors to get involved. It allows solid teams to form around the titles.
The games that are really being supported internationally are starting to grow, which is the right thing. Those communities are getting strong. It has, in a sense, killed some games. I’ll be honest, Call of Duty was my passion. I spent in excess of 11,000 hours on Call of Duty 4 alone. I played that game for four years straight and it is pretty much dead. There’s maybe a couple of people still playing, but all the rest have moved to CS:GO.
That has created a big jump in the industry locally. There are over 130 teams registered in the DGL leagues. We were able to host almost 20 tournaments last year with more than half of them being Counter-Strike.
That’s not purely our interest, that’s sponsor interest. We can’t say, ‘Hey, we want to get involved with Dota’. They want to sponsor the game that is popular. It was very frustrating for some of the Dota guys last year and I understand that. Thankfully itis changing this year with things being more spread out. So it might have been difficult for the other games, but in the long run it will help them.
It’s just cool to see how the scene is growing at the moment. It’s nice. Everyone getting involved and making that passion sacrifice. It’s difficult, but it’ll be worth it in the end.”
It wasn’t just a good year for CS:GO last year, it was also a good year for Orena. They hosted the local ESWC qualifications for the first time, something Luca had actually tried to put together in 2013, but because of funding issues he was unsuccessful.
He stayed in touch with the team at ESWC, so last year when SteelSeries approached him about hosting the local qualifiers they were more than happy to hand the reigns over to Orena. Luca’s exact words were, “They were like ‘awesome’ and just handed everything to us.”
“We had it at the Juke’s eSports Lounge. The venue, with the booths and everything, was a very cool idea, but at the end of the day the calibre of what we wanted to display, in terms of what ESWC represent, and what we are trying to achieve, in terms of a comparison to what we see overseas, meant we had to make sure we went a lot bigger this year.
I think having it in a larger scale venue with guaranteed access to all the feet at the expo means the players and the event itself will gain far more exposure. And added to the exposure, is the sense of “credibility” and “professionalism” that a venue like the CTICC provides.”
And that brings us very gracefully to the topic of EGE. We wondered why Luca didn’t look into hosting his own event dedicated purely to the ESWC qualifications. It would be more prestigious for Orena and, if they could pull it off, would probably make him more money.
But you have to remember that Luca started Orena to give gamers what he felt was missing when he was competing, reward for the time and effort they invest in their game. He always has their interests at heart, so that meant giving them the biggest stage possible to play on. Like a 600 seat arena for instance. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
“This year, we have an entire hall at the CTICC booked out completely for competitive gaming and the open LAN. The guys will be playing in a far more modern environment at the CTICC. It’s pretty much the premium venue in South Africa.
There was a huge focus on competitive gaming at EGE and that was a big pull for this year because it showed us that people are really keen on this and I think this will be the place where the players and ourselves get the most traction. Obviously first and foremost, the players themselves. We want them to get the most out of the time that they have put in. They come there and they experience guys screaming and cheering like we see on the streams overseas. That’s the sort of environment we want to create.
We have a plan, which is actually to get one of the auditoriums at EGE, which is a 600 seater. That’s still to be confirmed, but it’s looking really good. Elevated stage, large viewing screen, they have the sound and video equipment there, lots of seating. It’s going to be a fun setup over the next couple of months.”
Well looking really good has become is really good. Yesterday Orena announced that the stage for the semi-finals and final of the ESWC qualifiers would be in that 600 seat auditorium. Or should we say eSports arena? We should, because that sounds damn good.
If you take a quick gander at the image at the top of this page you can see exactly what the arena looks like. It might remind you of a similar arena in Seattle that hosted the Dota 2 International in 2013, Benaroya Hall. That was just three years ago. Look how far Dota 2, and all eSports for that matter, have come since then. Now they’re filling stadiums. Maybe we will be too, sooner than we think.
We asked Luca what he thought about the booths we all loved at rAge, and while he agreed that they were sick, his word, he thinks it’s better for the players and fans when they can feel each other’s energy more.
“There’s a far more emotive experience for the fans and players when the players are still a part of the crowd. So having players elevated on a stage will be one of the featured things at EGE. They will be able to enjoy the crowd and be far more a part of the experience at the LAN on stage, but they won’t be able to hear anything that is happening outside thanks to sound blocking headphones.”
So quickly before we wrap up, how do you get to Paris? Simple, beat everyone.
“We have an online qualification phase, which starts from mid-June. It will be an online cup with the top four teams from that getting automatic seeding into the quarter-final at ESWC qualifiers in July.
The guys that don’t make top four will have to play in our seasonal ladder, which is currently on-going, and the top 16 teams in that will get a provisional entry into the extra qualifiers that we will have at EGE.”
This is shaping up to be a big one and, this is going to sound cheesy, you don’t want to miss it. The online qualifiers have already begun and the finals are going down at EGE from 29 to 31 July. Tickets for a day are just R100. Get them. Now. Good Luck Have Fun will be there. We hope you will be too.