With all eyes turned firmly toward rAge next week, we chatted to caster and panel host extraordinaire Barry ‘Anthrax’ Louzada about the whirlwind year the local eSports scene has been through and what we can expect from the culmination of it all at the finals of the Telkom DGL Masters.
As much as we’ve all had reason to complain about their internet service, it’s safe to say that Telkom changed the face of the local eSports industry at the start of 2016 when they announced that the Digital Gaming League Masters teams would be playing for a mammoth R1million.
We all knew it was the start of something special and it may or may not have had a big influence on us getting off our asses and following through on our idea to start this very website. What no-one expected was just how quickly things would progress between Telkom’s announcement and the DGL finals seven months later.
We’ve had players kick ass at the World Electronic Sports Games Africa and Middle East Qualifiers, ESEA launched in South Africa, we had guys playing in Blizzard’s Overwatch World Cup and the Evetech Champions League raised the bar for local tournament production after they played their inaugural tournament in the country’s first ever purpose-built eSports studio. And those are just the highlights. The highliest of the highlights even.
It’s been, quite frankly, insane. We’ve done our best throughout the year to keep you in the loop, but sometimes it’s better to hear it from someone who is right in the thick of things, like Anthrax, who we last spoke to after rAge in Cape Town.
“Since then things have gotten a little crazy for eSports in South Africa. The amount of competitions for both the major titles CS:GO and Dota 2 have increased dramatically. The level of production and the quality of everything surrounding eSports is just so much better. I really am excited to see what is next for eSports.”
When we spoke to Anthrax earlier this year, he was pretty convinced it was impossible to make a career purely out of being a caster in South Africa. While he still isn’t quite ready to quit his day job, he’s getting pretty excited about the opportunities in the local scene.
“The straight answer is that this isn’t something I can currently replace my career with, although I believe it is getting there. From the last time we spoke in March I can tell you I am starting to see that this is slowly becoming something someone can start making a career out of as the tournaments and opportunities start to grow in South Africa.”
The focus on production value and reducing down time between games this year has seen the emergence of new roles and potential careers for people to fulfil. As a man with nearly as many talents as he has tattoos, we’ve seen Anthrax himself comfortably expand his repertoire to include panel host in 2016.
“I believe the panel host is crucial, like any good story you read or movie you watch, you need a beginning, a middle and an end. For me, when I host the panel, it is about telling a story and building the excitement and anticipation for the story that is about to unfold, setting the proverbial stage for players to become heroes or the villains of this story. For me it is truly a privilege to be a part of that journey.”
Besides crazy prize money and sick games between the best teams in South Africa, all eyes will be on the DGL Masters finals to see how they will answer the production gauntlet thrown down by the Evetech Champions League earlier this month.
“What we saw at ECL was just fantastic and it has most definitely upped the game with regards to the production level in South Africa. Ultimately it is what has been holding eSports back from really exploding properly in South Africa. I have no doubt that what we will see for the DGC Masters at rAge will be the best we’ve seen in South Africa to date.
The spectators want better production levels. And why not? People want to be entertained and the professional gamers that put in all the time to be so good and the sacrifices made to be able to compete, deserve nothing less.”
And he’s pretty confident they are going to be able to meet the challenge.
“DGL have already shown they are intent on making this world class by securing the likes of Paul ‘Redeye’ Chaloner, and it is this kind of constant raising of the bar that can only be good for eSports. I have no doubt that the benchmarks that get set will improve with each new comp.”
While much of this year has been about expanding his skill-set and knowledge of a multitude of games, obviously Anthrax has a very solid grounding in CS:GO, so we got his opinion on how that half of the R1million tournament would play out.
“Based on the previous competitions I believe it is going to be between Bravado Gaming, Carbon eSports and Aperture Gaming, but that being said xTc are on the rise and with them taking a map off BVD at the ECL Championships I believe their confidence will be high.
The inclusion of Massacre and Hackem for FlipSid3 is going to throw a lovely little spanner into the works there, so I am rather excited to see what happens this DGL Masters. It is set to be an absolute cracker.”
It certainly has been an unbelievable year and we can’t wait to see how it all goes down at rAge, but it’s also important to think about what comes next and if all of this is actually sustainable. So what does Anthrax think about the future of professional gaming in South Africa?
“If you want to be a part of eSports, do it. Just take the leap and get involved, now is the time.”
We’re working on convincing Anthrax to do a sequel to Shia LaBeouf’s super-motivational video to really drive the point home.