If the names Emerald and Sapphire don’t remind you of a certain handheld console game involving monsters and balls, then you had a rough childhood and we feel for you. Sadly we’re not here today to talk about Pokémon, but instead we’re chatting to Chris ‘Sargon’ House about Telkom’s new wildcard qualifiers for the Dota 2 DGL Masters Cup. And, boy, can this man talk. The length of this article is proof enough of what happens when you finally give a journalist the chance to speak his mind.
For those of you who might not know what all this talk of precious gemstones is about, here’s a simple backstory: They are the names of Telkom’s new wildcard qualification tournaments. Anyone can enter the two feeder tournaments for each of the Emerald or Sapphire events, named Genesis and Do-Or-Die, with the top four teams from those two events moving onto the actual Emerald and Sapphire Showdowns.
Then the top two teams from both Showdowns respectively will have the chance to qualify against the bottom four DGL Masters Leg 1 teams in a Community Shield event.
Wait, did we say it was simple? Our bad. Turns out it’s rather complex.
“Telkom have certainly given this their unique spin. I feel that this is one of those moments where they’ve taken the right direction, but the spirit of the thing and the enactment of the thing have somehow got confused and have ended up on opposite sides of the road.
They have made this so convoluted that even quality teams are going to struggle to make their way up through all these events and challenge Masters Teams. What is more, the bottom four teams in the Telkom DGL Dota 2 Masters at the end of Leg 1 feed back into this system as well.
Which ultimately feels like the rest of the country has to go a heck of a long way just to compete against the worst of the Masters MGOs. Smaller teams stand little chance of winning as MGOs have more resources to call upon to ensure their almost certain admittance to the upcoming Telkom DGL Masters LAN events.
Is it a step in the right direction? Yes. Is it perfect? Hell no.”
So it turns out we’re not the only people who feel like it could have been a hell of a lot simpler. And like Sargon said, it’s a shaky shuffle in roughly the right direction, but it’s clear that there is tons of room for improvement.
But why have Telkom decided to make it so complex? Is there even a reason, or are we just giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’ve actually thought this through?
“Telkom have a problem with trying to overthink these things. And I think the problem stems from the fact that the people running the show don’t actually play in the tournaments. I’m not saying they’re clueless, but their lack of being competitors colours their judgement.
The answer here was clearly to adopt the format used by Valve. I mean these guys are the golden standard of professionally run esports events, why not just copy what they’re doing? It’d go a little like this: The top six teams from the Telkom DGL Masters Leg 1 progress directly to the LAN event. The bottom four teams have to enter the Wildcard event.
However, Valve’s event is a massive one-time week-long series of groups and knockouts. This makes the entire process distilled. It also makes it easier to cover from a media point of view. Telkom would actually be able to stream these and give the matches the attention they deserve. Instead they’ve gone for a convoluted series of tournaments they don’t even bother covering.”
There’s a ton to be said about the DGL’s new Pokemon-esque structure and the lack of streaming going on at the moment, but as we’ve mentioned before, Sargon has a lot more to say, so it’s time we move on to greener things.
The final of the Emerald Showdown saw Constant come out on top against Mythic Gaming, meaning that both teams move on to the wildcard qualifier event. Constant might not be the most well-known team in the country, with a Facebook page boasting 13 likes (GLHF: 14 now thanks to GLHF. Go show them some love people!), but they certainly had a little something up their sleeves if they managed to perform so well.
“That team has a clearly defined strategy which they take into each game, and they execute this very well. Simply put, it’s a case of putting in the time and effort, taking it all very seriously, and having that skill and that special something. I hope they keep up these positive changes. If they do they’re one of the strongest teams outside of the Telkom DGL Masters.”
And apart from the winners, Sargon had a couple of other teams he really wanted to see do well.
“My other top picks were obviously a lot of the Premier Div. teams. Mythic Gaming and HiVe Gaming both stood out. I play for Mythic Gaming and I coach HiVe Gaming. Both have come a long way and both looked strong throughout the pre-season.”
But winning the qualifier event for the qualifier event is a totally different video game to going up against a DGL Masters team. Naturally the underdog lover in all of us wants to see either Constant or Mythic (why not both?) taking it all the way to the DGL Masters Cup, but how likely is it?
“If they get one of the weaker teams, it’ll be totally different from going up against Aperture Gaming or White Rabbit Gaming. But remember, Mythic Gaming have Timothy ‘Kuhnchun’ Kühn. This is the legendary player who beat Travis ‘Castaway’ Waters in a 1v1 mid tournament in 2016.
With Pierre ‘PreciousPetunia’ Van Rensburg they already have two very high skill players. Add Alexander ‘Levi’ Burger to the mix, who isn’t as known as the other two but is performing out of his mind, and you have cores who can get the job done.
As for Constant, they’ve shown they’re one of the best outside of the Telkom DGL. But do they have the experience? More exposure to Masters teams is so important for the sustainable growth of competitive gaming in South Africa. We don’t want the gap between Bravado Gaming and the rest we had for five years running. We want a tight and engaging competitive environment. And I fear Masters all too often keeps these teams too far apart.
Let’s put it this way, I believe both Mythic Gaming and Constant have the potential to upset MGOs who end 6th to 10th at the end of Leg 1 of the DGL Masters. But in order to beat my personal rival Adam ‘Adastam’ Moore and his ilk at the top, that’s going to still be a year away for both these teams.”
Then there is hope for these fiery young pups against the smaller of the big Masters dogs. If Telkom actually decides to broadcast any kind of footage for the Community Cup on April 3rd, keep an eye out for them.
There is still the issue of the Sapphire Showdown to come though, with two more Community Cup spots available. The Showdown will take place on March 6th, and anyone can try their luck at qualifying, including teams that didn’t make it in from Emerald. So who should we watch out for?
“My opinion is that the current Premier Div. teams are going to be looking to make an appearance for the Sapphire stream of Pokémon Gym battles. They’ve really underperformed of late and will need to work their magic here.
And, of course, we’re still waiting to see what the hell Bravado Gaming has in store for all of us. That’s something every team looking at Sapphire will have to be worried about. Because whatever Bravado decide to do, you know they’re not recruiting Muppets.”
We couldn’t agree more, and as we said in a previous article with Devin ‘HellbirD’ Rigotti, Bravado have established themselves as winners, and are not going to come out with a team that can’t do just that. We’ll definitely be watching them any chance we get.