It has been almost a year since we published our first article and in all the time we’ve only ever talked about PC esports. We often take a broader perspective and talk about esports and local growth in general, the game or platform is irrelevant in theses cases because the message and learnings apply to them all. But now it’s time to talk about console gaming. And who better to do that with than Nick Holden and Clint O’Shea from the African Cyber Gaming League.
So why the focus on PC? Well Dota and CS:GO were the games we knew a thing or two about. Well hopefully more than two things. And later on Overwatch. We knew about those games, so we were comfortable talking about them and talking to people about them.
But as Nick and Clint will point out to us all later in this article, if we just stick to the couple of games we know about we’re going to exclude a hell of a lot of South Africa’s esports potential.
If you haven’t heard of ACGL, they’re the guys on the ground spreading the word about local esports and taking it to places beyond the comfort of our keyboards. They run numerous events and tournaments around the country and internet, most notably the Call of Duty World League affiliated MAG Cup at rAge in 2016. Jack Parow rocked up and played games there. It was great.
But enough preamble. You’ve waited almost a year for this, so let’s get into it.
“Console gaming has been our focus for a long time. It’s not our sole focus. We obviously are interested in PC, but there is a lot of attention on PC already.
At the moment we’ve seen the trends through South Africa focus on CS:GO, as well as Dota. We are trying to cater to communities that really need attention and need growth.
If we continue to just focus on those two titles we, as a community, are going to be shooting ourselves in the foot as an esports nation.
People are actually starting to recognise console. Especially after what we did at rAge last year. We were actually on one of the stages there and we did, what we believe, was a really good production of console esports. And we need more of those.”
We believe it was a really good production of console esports too. A really good production of any esports really. ACGL nailed a few of the things that we’ve heard many local esports personalities calling for and the DGL and other PC events haven’t managed to get right yet. Things like entertainment between games and getting an international shoutcaster in to raise the level of production.
But that’s a story for another time. Part two of this interview, which we’ll bring you in the coming weeks. For now, let’s get back to the matter at hand, console gaming and the important role it has to play in the local esports scene.
“I think the reason why console has a place and why it can grow esports in this country is because the buy-in costs for a console and, quite frankly, the setup costs at an event for a console makes it a viable way to reach communities that do not have access to the kind of technology needed to play 5v5 in CS:GO or Dota 2.
We’ve got to start the introductions. And those introductions can happen by going to a school or something and setting up a FIFA tournament, as an example. It’s easy enough for a guy like me, I’ve done it before.
We walk into the school, we introduce esports as a very broad base to them at that point and some of the schools then become active in esports. They set up their clubs and they start to get in there. But it goes beyond the schools, then we start to talk at a community level.
We’re going to find some talented kids in that space and we need to start getting there. Consoles are kind of the easy buy-in.”
What Clint is talking about is basically the ground floor. It’s where people get their first taste of esports and noobs are born. It’s a tough job, but as they say: Somebody’s got to do it. Thankfully for all of us, Nick and Clint are happy to put in the work.
On that note we need to take a moment to acknowledge what said work can achieve. You may have seen, or even attended, some of the many FIFA events Clint has hosted through Zombiegamer. He’s been, almost single-handedly, growing that community.
And just yesterday, the Telkom DGL announced that they’re including FIFA in their Masters Programme. FIFA players around the country, we think you know who to thank for that. The DGL even acknowledged his efforts on Twitter.
So that’s what Clint has done for FIFA. Imagine what Nick and Clint will do for other titles with their combined powers. Here’s what they want to do.
“I think in the end what it really amounts to is if you are interested in esports on any level there is almost a guarantee you’re going to watch esports. But there is still a large pool out there who don’t realise what’s going on in this country in terms of esports.
If they are watching it’s international. I had a conversation with somebody and they were asking me about the South African scene. I kept saying that things are happening, but he said his sons keep watching MLG. And I was kind of like, ‘But your sons are South African, why are they not watching South African Call of Duty?’
We’ve got to find ways to access them, if it means using mobile, if it means using consoles, if it means using PCs. Whatever it is. And we should be working together to do it. Let’s use that as the endpoint on that. We all, over all platforms, should be working to do that. It isn’t really a console vs. PC war at all.
So maybe in the end a lot of our focus has become trying to find ways to develop larger player and spectator base.”
For where we are right now, there couldn’t be a more admirable goal. So the next question is, how are they going to go about achieving that goal in 2017? And the answer, is in part 2. A cliffhanger! Ooh, the suspense.
And although Clint told us upfront that he prefers to be the guy behind the scenes and not talking, he did most of the talking in this article. Nick talks more in part two we promise.