Stories. Everyone loves a good one. Heroes, villains, damsels, a little bit of distress. Maybe some romance and betrayal. Good stories have characters we bond with through respect, awe, love, even hate. They invoke emotion in us that attracts us to them.
And that’s one of the things that fans haven’t been getting from the local sports scene, good stories. There are loads of them playing out every week. Too many for the casual fan to possibly keep track of. And that’s possibly why esports enthusiasts aren’t bonding with the local teams and players as much as they should.
But fear not, we have a plan. And it’s quite simple really. We’re going to develop those narratives for you, our favourite people. Today, we’ll begin some stories and every now and then we’ll chat to some personalities from the scene about how they are playing out.
Our hope is that over time we can bring to life what is unfolding among the teams and players of South African esports. Together we will watch heroes rise and fall, villains find redemption, maybe even a damsel causing distress among her enemies. Admittedly these stories are light in the damsel department at the moment, but hopefully that changes over time.
Now, every good tale needs a handsome, charismatic narrator. Fortunately for us we managed to track down just such a narrator to begin our local CS:GO Masters story, Michael ‘axtremes’ Harmse. So let’s get the lay of the land.
“I think there’s a very clear top section of the field with Energy leading the way followed by APG, DC, F3, XTC and WRG – the teams that did damage in 2016 and Energy who are an amalgamation of previously strong lineups.
Vnr still seem to be lagging behind their rivals from 2016 and Ventus, Pulse and Exdee will similarly need to take plenty of crushing losses over the course of 2017 as the newcomers. There is possibly some light at the end of the tunnel for Vnr though with rumours of a pretty promising line-up change. Ventus do have some potential but Masters this year might be too early for them. Perhaps a team for 2018.
Let’s hope the bottom four teams become competitive quicker than Vnr – who still aren’t – and WRG who only showed signs of improvement after picking up the Virtue lineup in the latter part of the season.”
With Bravado leaving, Carbon being absorbed into Energy through what we can only assume was a very scientific process (Converting carbon into energy. It’s science.) and the total number of teams being increased to ten there are four new teams in the Counter-Strike Masters scene. So who does our friendly neighbourhood narrator think has the most to prove?
“Exdee have some players that have achieved a lot in other teams and a DGC winning Dota squad. They need to do well to mark their entrance into Masters and not be another cobbled together disaster like Vnr were. I did think their previous roster that did well at DGC showed a lot of promise, so it was a surprise to see it swapped out for this more experienced squad. They need to show something, but I predict they’ll be whipping boys. Hopefully for them I’m wrong.
Energy of course will want to stomp all opposition this season with what is an extremely strong team individually. They’ll be confident after beating Bvd in ESEA recently. They should dominate Masters, but it will be interesting to see if all the very strong personalities in the team are able to continue to work together all year. Any of the other top 6 teams have the skill to beat En, but I think they look good for winning the first leg.”
And those are our first stories starting to develop. Energy look good to beat all challengers at the moment, but have they got what it takes to actually do it? Can Exdee prove they deserve their place among the other Masters teams?
We’ve got some favourites, we’ve got some underdogs, and we’ve got some unlikely heroes that have something to prove purely based on the fact that they’re not really mentioned. Depending on what type of story you like, you’re now equipped to pick your favourite team.
But maybe you prefer characters to teams. Fear not, axtremes has some players for you to keep an eye on too.
“Flexi from En. He’ll want to make a statement with his performances to his former teammates that joined Bvd – particularly when they play each other in other competitions. He’s extremely skilled, highly motivated and a bit of a troll. Will be fun to watch him play this year – assuming we do see some DGL broadcasts eventually.
Golz from F3. He has a lot to prove after some extremely disappointing performances on the international stage. Let’s pull no punches here. He was woeful at times. Ashton needs to show why he was one of the premier entry men in SA back when he was in zerOchaNce’s Energy lineup. Now with the same in game leader, let’s hope his potential is again unlocked and he’s able to again perform at the top tier in SA.
Zeo and Kustom from Aperture. No longer in the Energy lineup after faithfully sticking with org last year despite not being in Masters. They now find themselves as opposition to the org that didn’t get them the glory either locally or on their overseas excursions. I’d image they’ll want to win rather badly.”
Those are the more developed characters, but what about the new kids on the block who have something to prove?
“Of course Flexi, the ultimate Facebook troll. I also think Massacre from F3 has huge potential and is more than cocky enough to realize it. Spazz from XTC is also one to watch. He’s quieter, but just as deadly a player. All very young and all with the particular set of skills and personalities to succeed.”
Finally, all good stories have moments in them that you never forget. Our local CS:GO narrative will have those moments too. It’s hard to predict exactly when, but axtremes has some thoughts about which encounters are most likely to produce the unforgettable.
“Energy vs Aperture. Probably the two most highly skilled lineups. There will be some extra motivation for Zeo and Kustom. Kani, Domster and takbok are also all ex-APG players. Should make for a gentlemanly matchup.
XTC vs F3. Two of the more interesting and innovative teams to watch from last year, both with an exciting blend of youth and experience. Both teams that have upset the bigger teams in the last 18 months. Should be delightfully brutal. By all accounts their encounter was just that in the first round, but unfortunately it wasn’t streamed.”
Games not being streamed – that’s a story for another time. But for now, we’ve set the stage. The players have their roles. They’ve got their costumes. They probably haven’t done their makeup, but they can work on that for the live events. Now it’s up to you, the audience, to watch closely, cheer, gasp, cry, throw roses, throw your underwear, and generally do what good audiences do – get involved.