If you want an honest answer to a question, ask the sponsor. After all, they have both their money and their reputation on the line, so they won’t beat around the bush. With that in mind, we went to Miles Regenass, marketing manager of MSI Notebook South Africa and director at nAvTV, to chat about some of the lessons to be learned from 2016.
There is a weird relationship between esports fans and sponsors. We all know how vital they are to the industry, but we’re pretty sure most people reading this article probably have adblock enabled. Not that we have any ads on the site yet, but most others do.
There seems to be a kind of reluctant acceptance of their presence, but what most people don’t understand is just how passionate many of the sponsors, Miles included, are about esports. And he has some pretty interesting ideas about what we need to do to take the industry to the next level in 2017.
“There’s a few things that we’ve got to continue to focus on. What we saw this year was a lot of live events, which is really good for the scene. Not only does it increase the level of gameplay and competition, but it also gives non-competitors a chance to meet the players. And I still believe that is something we’ve really got to focus on, making superstars and heroes out of these players.
So from a tournament point of view I’d like to see more events next year where the teams don’t have to take their hardware. I think that just adds unnecessary costs and logistical complexity when your team is already spread all over.
So more events like Orena did at EGE where they had desktops sponsored by ASUS, like nAv did with the malls and Vodacom Vodafest where they had machines sponsored by Gigabyte, and then MSI sponsored the machines at ECL, and at the Telkom Masters they had machines for the guys to play on. The evolution on that would be practise areas or elimination areas.”
Well those events and sponsors certainly just got a little more value for money, but we’ll allow the name-dropping in order to encourage more of this kind of thing.
However, he’s not just talking about providing PC’s on a big beautiful stage for the finals. If we want to create the most professional tournament experience for both the players and the fans, it needs to extend beyond that to the early rounds of the competition and possibly even the qualifiers.
“What I’m about to say is going to cause a lot of waves, but I think where the Masters messed up was, apart from the stage and the competitors on the stage, they didn’t change anything.
All those Masters teams were downstairs in the cave competing for a massive prizepool on their own hardware in an area that’s just filled with other gamers that are possibly there more for a social experience than a serious gaming experience.
And then I go and have a look at this Masters area and it’s cool, there’s seats, there’s lights, there’s the booths. And then there’s this Alienware experience area and I just think it was a missed opportunity, because all they needed to do to manage their schedule a bit better was start a day earlier and start in that area rotating teams through those machines.”
It’s not just criticism for criticism’s sake either, Miles is well aware that his side of the industry needs to come to the party too. We all have the same end goal after all: Better games, better tournaments and a healthy, growing esports industry.
“We need people like MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS and the event organisers to put more money into that, so that possibly even your qualifiers would be done at the venue on machines. And then you would still have your competition area. I think that would have a huge impact on the level of gameplay.
And obviously the end result of brilliant gameplay and brilliant games is more supporters and more fans.”
The players themselves are ultimately the lynchpin of the entire experience. To take an IRL example, people may support Manchester United or Real Madrid, but they tune in to watch Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo and be blown away by the magic they can produce.
“As a community we had quite a lot of success, but I personally don’t think I saw enough player profiles going out. I don’t believe I saw teams pushing their players into the user base enough.
And I think maybe there is a bit of a psychology there, where teams are all in that growth phase and so they want eyes on the team name and not on the player. At the highest level of competition it doesn’t work like that.
When the Air Jordan came out, who was Michael Jordan playing for? I know it was the Chicago Bulls, because I follow that sort of stuff. No one else knows that stuff. But we all know that Michael Jordan was one of the best basketball players ever. The Bulls didn’t take him there, Nike took him there.
The vendors, the sponsors, the team owners, we need to focus on creating some Michael Jordans in our scene. And we have a few. We honestly do. Aran [Sonic], he’s known internationally now. Detrony too. In Dota there’s the same thing. Internationally our Dota team is known, they are respected. International teams know that they have skill.
So as a community that should be our biggest goal for next year. That’s where our collective success will come from, is when these guys are heroes and stars.
It’s pretty straightforward and simple, but we’re all so busy trying to host big events and generate value to our partners, but I think collectively as a community we’re missing quite a few of the small steps.”
It’s been an incredible year for esports in South Africa and despite possibly missing some small steps, we’ve certainly taken some giant ones as an industry. We at Good Luck Have Fun have felt so incredibly privileged to be a part of it and cannot wait for whatever comes in 2017.
We can’t tell you what is in store for the industry next year, but we can tell you it’s going to be incredibly exciting. But don’t take our word for it, take Miles’.
“At nAv and MSI we had a lot of successes and a lot of failures, but at the end of the year I think we, and the whole community, came out on top. The question is, what are we going to do different next year to improve upon? And what are we going to do to leverage off the opportunities that are going to be available next year? Because there are going to be a lot of them, I promise you.”
Exciting times, but, until then, we wish everyone happy holidays, a merry new year and loads of time to play games.