While many of us get caught up in the bright lights and huge numbers involved with the big-money esports events such as the DGL Masters and the Samsung Galaxy CS:GO Championship, Mega8 has taken a much more holistic approach to the future of esports in this country.
Written boldly, front and center of the Mega8 website is the mantra ‘…built from the ground up with only one person in mind – you, the gamer.’
But what does that mean exactly? Anyone can just write words, we do it all the time. So we took it upon ourselves to find out from Mega8’s Alex Schmid how much substance this new esports platform has behind their lofty ideals.
And it starts, quite literally, from the top.
“Vince Maher, the CIO of Kagiso Media and an avid gamer, started Mega8 out of passion, but also saw the potential that an esports company could be a self-sustaining business. The company was created with the intention of helping grow and develop the South African esports industry, to provide professional tournaments for the players and viewers and to supply gamers with a platform to realistically grow their esports careers.”
The key word here is ‘realistically’. While they acknowledge and appreciate the impact big-money events have on the local industry, their focus, for now at least, is on building up their brand’s profile organically until they are in a position to offer hefty prize pools of their own.
“I believe it’s great that so much money is being invested into the industry, both from an organiser’s point of view and from a player’s point of view. For the organisers, it helps us attract bigger and more influential brands into the esports market, such as MTN. These kinds of endemic brands are key to growing this industry. From a player’s point of view, it’s superb as it allows the top players to potentially go full time and become professional gamers. It also incentivises up-and-coming gamers to play more and train harder.
Mega8 will be producing bigger prize pools as the tournaments progress. Our intention is to sustainably grow our prize pool payout both in our tournaments and our leagues, with the intention of potentially getting to the level of million rand prize pool by latest the middle of next year. However, for this to happen the industry needs to grow in this country both from player base perspective as well as from a viewership perspective. We intend to help grow both.”
The Mega8 Autumn CS:GO Cup was truly a well put together and professionally run event (GLHF: More on that in a future article), but there were almost five months between their Dota 2 tournament and this one. Thankfully we won’t have to wait nearly as long for the next event.
“Thicker, faster and better. Our next tournament is already only seven weeks away, the Mega8 Dota 2 Winter Cup 2017. We have a set calendar for the year and already have 11 more events planned for the next 12 months excluding our upcoming leagues. So, you can expect a lot more from us in the coming months.”
To be honest, we were already expecting a lot from them, but now we have it in writing so we can hold them to it. But let’s get back to putting gamers first. You may have noticed him mention leagues a couple of times in the last few paragraphs, well Mega8 are planning to institute a tiered league structure with payouts available at every level. How amazing is that?
“Once our leagues begin in July, we will be putting funding back into the community by placing prize pools in all tiers of our leagues. Further, we will be hosting consistent tournaments throughout the coming year which will host bigger and bigger prize pools as we grow.
We came up with this model from engaging and talking with the players. (GLHF: Seems so logical when you see it written down doesn’t it?). Their response was that they would rather have more tournaments and leagues with decent prize pools over one big tournament with a huge prize pool at the end of the year. Teams winning consistent prize pool money allows them to sustain themselves going forward and develop their skills along the way.”
And, true to their word, it isn’t only for a select few professionals at the top either.
“For the players and teams competing in the lower divisions of our leagues, the prize pools will allow them to gain monetary compensation for the hours they have put into their developing esports careers, and will incentivise them to play more and train harder to ensure they can progress through the divisions for greater reward. It will also be nice for the players to be able to go to their parents and show them that they won say R10,000 with their team, it might help convince them that esports really is a potential career and will be the future of sports.
Further, we also intend to help gamers develop their esports careers in a twofold manner. First, by providing a platform that gamers can develop their respective skill sets and by providing consistent funding in the form of prize pools for all our upcoming tournaments and league divisions.”
Now if only we had an established esports league structure with a big corporate backer that could take some notes and we’d really be well on our way to establishing a sustainable industry.
“Mega8 will also be starting a developmental tournament called the WIP (Winners in Progress) project which will see coaches from the top major gaming organisations teaching players within a certain skill group how to improve their CS:GO talents over a period of eight weeks. A tournament will run at the end of the course, with the grand final being broadcast live.”
Hopefully the ‘certain skill group’ is Potato, then we could get in on that action. Jokes aside, though, we are incredibly excited about this idea and it’s implications for the local scene. Not only will it ensure that vital knowledge and skills are shared and retained, it will also help elevate the status of the professionals and get them more of that respect they so richly deserve.
We have to say, we are impressed. Mega8 are saying all the right things and, if the Autumn CS:GO Cup was anything to go by, they certainly have the work ethic to back up their claims. They’ve even teased there could be some controller-related action in the future and we can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.