He’s the man with the eSports plan, for the world (do your best Jeremy Clarkson impression here), Paul ‘ReDeYe’ Chaloner. Last week we posted an article with some of his insights into the South African eSports scene – an expert, outsiders view on the state of the local scene. This week we’ll be taking it a step further by sharing ReDeYe’s advice on how we can continue to grow our local scene.
One of the things that you notice when talking to ReDeYe is that he doesn’t talk about “your” local scene. He always says, “We need to do this” or “We need to do that”. It’s like wherever he goes he feels personally invested in helping develop eSports. Oom ReDeYe’s got our back. (For our international readers, if there are any, that’s Afrikaans for uncle ReDeYe, not ‘out of mana’.)
As we are all well aware, our distance from the rest of the gaming world is one of our biggest obstacles and ReDeYe stressed that we can’t underestimate just how big of a barrier it is at the moment. But he also pointed out that it won’t always be an issue.
With the roll out of fibre to the home in South Africa we’re already starting to close the gap to the rest of world and one day we’ll all be gaming on 1GB lines with 10ms pings and where you are in the world will be irrelevant.
But that is going to take time. So what we need to work on right now is improving ourselves, before we think about competing overseas.
“You can take a lot of the experience from what everyone else has done before and avoid making the same mistakes, which should, in theory, speed up the process. All areas need to grow, the league needs to grow, professional teams need to grow, the amount of players needs to grow and that only really comes from a focus on grassroots.
For me, it’s about making sure that the grassroots teams are able to compete with each other in the first instance, make sure there are plenty of online leagues, not just one or two, lots.
Make sure that if there is a competitive tournament that it abides by some simple principles and rules that allows players to come along and compete on a fair and even playing field.”
On that front we’re doing pretty well. The Telkom DGL leagues are always on the go, Orena have their online ladders, the guys from ACGL are always hosting tournaments, and we’ve got the Evetech Champion’s League now.
That’s just to mention a few. There are always smaller tournaments being played in loads of different titles. All you need to do is take a quick look at any of the Dota 2, CS:GO or Overwatch Facebook groups and you’ll see community run tournaments being advertised on a near daily basis. But there’s always room for more, bigger leagues and events. Bigger prize pools to attract the top teams and inspire the smaller guys to reach greater heights.
Leagues, events, prize pools, sponsors, for the everyday gamer who just wants to play games and watch eSports, that sounds like a lot of admin and work. And it is. Have no fear, the guys we mentioned above are working on all of that. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for the casual gamer and eSports fan in the growth of the local scene.
“Make sure that when you’re growing the professional side of it, that it is professional and players are taken seriously and admired for their skill, and promote that. Get it out there. Talk to whoever you can. If you’re an eSports fan in South Africa then tell everyone. Tell them how cool it is.
I think there is still a little bit of what we used to have five years ago in Europe, maybe 10 years ago, there’s still a bit of a hangover of ‘Oh these are just video games people. Oh, geeks, nerds’. Well newsflash: Geeks and nerds are now running the world, so we’re here. We might not be in every country, but we’re coming.
In South Africa, we need to get across that actually this is a cool environment. These aren’t basement-dwelling, pizza eating slobs. These are professional athletes. These are people that understand that if they go to the gym and stay fit then their mind stays fitter and they have sharper reactions. If they look after their muscles properly, rather than sitting badly and having bad posture, they can play for longer periods of time, practice longer and, ultimately, play against other professionals better.
All of that is about education across the board, not just players, teams and managers, but leagues, commentators and hosts, everyone that’s involved in any part of eSports, whether it be administration of these crazy big LANs or the spectators sitting out the front, everyone needs to be saying the same kind of thing and advertising to those that perhaps haven’t been exposed to it yet.”
Changing the mindset of people not talking about gaming and eSports is something we’ve been advocating for a while now. And loads of local eSports personalities are doing their best to get people talking about the scene. Hopefully ReDeYe is right and we’re still just nursing a hangover about it not being cool. People, gamers included, don’t want their non-gamer friends to think they’re nerds.
Well it’s time to take a Panado, get a greasy breakfast in you, and own it. Gaming has gone mainstream. It’s cool. And you can tell people that Jack Parow said so. You can say Good Luck Have Fun said so too, but that probably won’t help your case at all.
So, once we’ve taken care of business at home and got rid of our eSports babalas, how do we put ourselves on the map?
“Find the next superstars that can play in the Telkom DGL Masters, watch that tournament grow and start getting interest on TV and start getting on mainstream news, which we are starting to see.
Growing the scene as best as we can insularly with the hope that we can occasionally start to get some South African teams and players into the qualifiers for the bigger tournaments.
Once they start doing that, they can start producing a few shock results and that’s when South Africa will be put on the map. In the same way, a year ago, no-one thought China could play Counter-Strike, but TyLoo have now proved that they are a world class team.
Renegades two years ago, no one thought Australian Counter-Strike could win a single map. Last year they came over to Gfinity, they started taking maps off Na’Vi, off Virtus Pro, and people were like, ‘holy crap, these guys are pretty good’. And it puts Australia on the map, which then leads backwardly to companies like ESL thinking, ‘hmm, maybe we should go back and invest in Australia. Maybe we should make an Australian league’, and suddenly they have more professional tournaments.
It’s the same with South Africa. We’re just unfortunate that, geographically, we are a bit further away here so it’s going to take a little bit longer.”
On that exact note, shout out to Bravado Gaming all the way in Paris. They’re busy competing at ESWC trying to make a mark for South Africa on the international stage, so y’all better get behind them. And tell your friends to do the same.
Their first game is on Thursday at 10:30am against Team LDLC. You can watch the stream here. Or you can do whatever work you’re supposed to be doing. We know you’ll make the right decision.
Just in case that was unclear, the right decision is to watch Bravado and leave work for later.