This week we continue our series on the particulars of running a multi-gaming organisation in South Africa with Aperture Gaming’s owner, Theuns “Alpha-Renji” Louw, who tells us how to flutter your eyelashes just right to get your hands on a DGL Masters contract.
It’s safe to say that everyone wants to be in the Telkom DGL Masters. Apart from being recognised as a top-tier South African MGO, and the respect and support that comes along with that, it also gives organisations a shot at some pretty hefty tournament winnings. But all that good stuff doesn’t come for free.
We’ll get to the particulars of how to increase your MGOs chances of hopping on Telkom’s gravy train to El Dorado in a second, but first we need to understand exactly what is expected of teams that are contracted to the DGL.
“At this point in time they wanted to be treated as a sponsor as well as an event host. They sponsor teams to get to events, so they want to be treated like any other sponsor.”
A lot of us seem to think that Telkom just throws greenbacks at an event so they can put their name on it. But they are in fact team sponsors, and sponsors require bang for their many bucks.
“What that involves is sharing any content that you have with them; involving them with player line-up changes; helping come up with creative ideas to build articles and content around player movement and performance; and everything that goes with that.
On the marketing side of things they want you to help hype the event, whether it be on Facebook or Twitter; tagging them. It gets pretty arbitrary, but all these things add up if more and more MGOs do it. It really steamrolls.
You just have to do for them what you would do for any sponsor. Because at the end of the day, you need to support the tournament you take part in. Don’t just rock up, try get prize money, and leave.
That’s counterproductive. That’s not making it worth it for the sponsors that give the money to DGL’s prizemoney. It’s a team effort from the MGOs and event organisers to really show the value. In short, try and show the value at each corner – try get exposure.”
While turning up, getting some sweet cash dollar, and leaving does sound nice, Theuns is undeniably correct. If you do see yourself playing in the Masters in the near future, you have to be willing to put in work as an MGO.
“As dependent as we are on them for prize money and organising an event, they are dependent on us to get the word out there and get exposure for the event. It’s like one hand washing the other really.”
Basically, you need to be willing to scratch their back while they offer you a massage with R1million. If you don’t think you can do that, then maybe the Masters isn’t your gig, but that’s how the industry works and it’s the same all over the world.
If you are keen to leave the sandpit and go play with the big boys on the monkey bars, then you’ll need to know how to convince them to let you up. Thankfully, Theuns gave us some secret tips.
“There’s a lot of confusion around how to get into the Masters. The DGL hasn’t exactly put down a ruleset or requirement sheet about what it takes to get into the Masters.”
Obviously a given is the players in the teams. Are they consistent with regards to performance, are their line-ups consistent, are they swapping out players every week or every time they lose a game?
Management wise, how easy is it to work with your organisation. A good example would be: You acquire a player from another team, how quickly can you get an article out with some bullet points, just telling a writer at the DGL what has happened.
It sounds very arbitrary, but in a world where an MGO gets started by someone who is playing in the team as well, these things are admin, no one wants to do it. So you can easily see a player move and then two weeks after there is an article about it, but by then no one cares about it. You need to see an article about it the next day for it to have any sort of impact.”
What you always need to keep in mind is that this is a business deal between your MGO and the Telkom DGL. They’re going to want to make sure that you are as on top of your game, pun fully intended, as possible, as well as being a stable, mature organisation.
Everything you do as a Masters MGO comes back to them and their name. And they certainly don’t want to put that at risk.
“At the end of the day you do all sign contracts, so you need to have the right expectations going into this tournament. It’s not something you can just try out for a week or two and then be like, ‘Whatever, we tried it. We didn’t like it. We’ll leave’.
It’s a year commitment. So you have to be serious about it and have a good management structure in place for your MGO. And then also have a good understanding with your players on the direction you’re heading with your MGO. You need to really be determined, because like I said, it is a year. Once you’re in it you have to follow it through.”
It may come across as scary – that whole year-long commitment thing – and it should, to be fair. What Telkom is trying to do is enforce some structure on our local esports industry, otherwise it’s like the wild west out there, and if Red Dead Redemption taught us anything, that’s hardly the most stable environment.
Maybe the way it’s being done is not the best way, but at least they’re trying. We sometimes forget that this is year one of the Masters programme. It will need some ironing out. But one thing you have to admit is that Telkom and the DGL have done a hell of a lot to elevate local esports.
We all have to remember that esports is not actually about people playing games, it’s about people making money from people playing games. It’s business. There are rules. If you don’t follow them you get kicked out. And nobody wants that, because, let’s be honest, it’s the best business.
Now that you all know how to join the DGL Masters, we expect a shoutout during your first post-match interview.