As part of our amazing trip to rAge and the Telkom DGL finals, we were given the immense opportunity to sit down with one Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner and have an honest talk with him about how the rest of the world sees the South African eSports scene.
You may have noticed a cheeky little quote from ReDeYe in last week’s piece about our experience at the DGL finals. Thankfully we didn’t have to stalk him around Johannesburg, eavesdropping with a recording device to get it. We got an official interview with an invitation and everything.
Now, it’s one thing for South Africans to get all excited about the growth of the local scene over the last year or so and pat ourselves on the back for hosting our first ever R1 million tournament, but it’s another thing entirely to get the perspective of someone who has quite literally been there and done it all.
Despite having a relatively short amount of time with him, ReDeYe had a ridiculous amount of wisdom to impart, so expect to be hearing from him a lot on this website over the next couple of weeks.
ReDeYe has been with the Intel Extreme Masters series from the beginning, when they were traveling around the world to expos throwing tournaments that very much resembled the Telkom DGL at rAge, to where they are now, selling out arenas. So he knows exactly what South African eSports has to do to continue to grow to a point where we can do the same.
It’s undeniable we’ve seen growth locally this year and it would be very grinch-like to not be excited by it. But like every mother who thinks their child is the most specialest boy or girl in the world, we are simply too close to it to be impartial. So how does ReDeYe think our eSports scene stacks up to the rest of the world?
“I think, in general, it’s smaller than most of the countries that I visit on an international basis, but I think that’s to be expected. A lot of them are well-established and they’ve been around for 15 years or more.
Sweden has it’s own association and it’s been established for many years. It’s got national television stations already covering eSports events on a regular basis. Same with Germany and a few other countries.
But not every country is at that level and I think, in some ways, South Africa is actually ahead of other countries.”
Even if we all kind of knew that already, it’s still pretty cool hearing it from someone like ReDeYe. Even the belle of the ball likes to be told she is pretty from time to time. With that in mind – it’s slap on the wrist time – if we are doing so well, why aren’t we making a bigger deal out of it?
“If you think about the fact that the national telecoms provider of the country is backing an eSports video game league – that’s pretty sensational right?
That’s the equivalent of BT (British Telecommunications) starting an eSports league in Britain. And I can tell you now, if they ever did that, there would be massive news about it. It would be on mainstream news, people would go crazy for that, because it hasn’t happened yet.
South Africa actually has something that Britain doesn’t have and yet, I think we are considered to be a much more advanced country, eSports-wise, than perhaps South Africa but, who knows, maybe we’re not. Maybe in some ways we are and maybe in other ways not.”
We’ve all had our problems with Telkom in the past, but they deserve a ton of credit for what they have done for South African eSports. They took a leap of faith in our community that is basically unprecedented in the world and all we need to do to pay them back is carry on being amped about gaming. That’s a pretty good deal.
There has been some fantastic coverage of the local scene, for Bravado Gaming in particular, post rAge. But, if we are honest with ourselves, there wasn’t nearly enough hype outside of the gaming community before the event. Everyone should get a chance to see how awesome this is. It’s time we made the circle bigger.
While comparing ourselves to IEM, Dreamhack or The International at this stage would be foolish, there are plenty of communities out there who are in a similar place to us that we can learn from and grow alongside, even if it does mean turning to one of South Africa’s traditional rivals.
“In terms of size, I think it’s kind of comparable to the Australian scene a little bit and it faces some of the same issues. Geographically challenged obviously and disconnected from a lot of international tournaments through lack of qualifiers because maybe events and organisers don’t know that there is a competitive scene in South Africa.
That is partly why I’m here,to show people: ‘Hey, South Africa does actually have a cool, competitive eSports scene and we should include them more in qualifiers and let them try qualify for some of these big tournaments’.”
Thanks Paul, (we’re on a first name basis now, no big deal), good to have you on our side.
At the end of the day, the future of the local eSports industry is down to us. The players and the fans, and on that front, we are doing pretty damn well.
“I think what overrides all of that, is that both times I’ve come here is the sheer passion and will to, not just win and succeed and play eSports, but actually take South African eSports out there and actually show people how good it is and how cool it is, and that’s what I really latched onto in January when I first came over here. That level of passion is just incredible, almost unrivaled really.”
Suck on that Australia. Sorry, old habits die hard.