In an age of million-rand esports tournaments featuring either CS:GO or Dota 2, it’s refreshing to see a big-money contest that caters to a completely different style of competition. We are, of course, talking about the VS Gaming Festival, a two-day R1.5million tournament taking place on 22 and 23 July where players will be go head-to-head in South Africa’s favourite football game: FIFA.
We managed to get in contact with Lenushka Parannath, Chief Commercial Officer over at VS Gaming to get a bit of insight as to why so much money is being thrown at a game that, if we’re honest with ourselves, doesn’t have anywhere near as big of a profile as the previously mentioned crowd favourites.
“FIFA is one of the most popular games in South Africa, and while it may not be as popular as CS:GO as an esport, we’re hoping to change that with this tournament.
We want to open esports up to a wider market in South Africa. While there are a lot of people playing games at home, few of them are playing them online. We believe that by hosting an e-football tournament we’re giving these players the game they’re comfortable with. Hopefully after this tournament they will be more confident or interested to play online on a more regular basis.”
Hold up. E-football? Does that mean CS:GO is e-cops-n-robbers and Age of Empires is e-history-class? We’re actually going to stop there, because we think Paul ‘Redeye’ Chaloner puts it perfectly:
oh my lord, E-Football now?
HOLD ME. https://t.co/q4yySxNGPu
— Redeye (@PaulChaloner) July 11, 2017
At least we can be thankful it wasn’t e-soccer. E-Shibobo would have been great though. Dubious naming conventions aside, the realisation that almost every person we can think of has played a game of e-football (GLHF: We feel dirty writing this, so will stop now.) at least once in their life goes to show that the FIFA scene is actually filled with untapped online, competitive gaming potential.
And VS Gaming is willing to take the R1.5million leap to try harness the potential of over 1,000 players, making it the largest football esports tournament in Africa and the second highest in the world. In the world!
“This is one of the biggest e-football tournaments ever held and we have designed the setup to make sure it can accommodate 1,024 players over two days as effectively and efficiently as possible whilst ensuring there is entertainment value from a spectator perspective.
There will be different sections to the setup where spectators can watch the action first-hand, or on the big screens overhead. We have professional casters for the weekend, Gavin ‘Gavi-G’ Vogel and Michael ‘Ulturism’ Oerder, as well as four of the shortlisted finalists from the shoutcasting competition VS Gaming is currently running.
We are aiming to make this tournament and festival as fun to watch as it will be to take part in. We have celebrity hosts and participants so it will be fun for the whole family.”
VS Gaming isn’t exaggerating, the event will be hosted by TV presenter Lalla Hirayama and radio and TV personality Somizi Mhlongo. There will be playoffs between a whole host of local celebrities from loads of different industries, and local rappers and DJs will be performing, keeping fans entertained throughout the day.
While FIFA may not be the largest esports title in the country at the moment, we believe VS Gaming is onto something with this event. Think about it: Fast-paced games over in a few minutes, individual skills that are directly relatable to a traditional sport many people play, the ability to control your football favourites – all of which create a general appeal to anyone even mildly interested in sports and competition. And as Nick Holden and Clint O’Shea from ACGL have said to us numerous times, FIFA is a great gateway esport to get new people into the scene.
One of the biggest deciding factors of a game’s popularity is its watchability. Just take a look Dota. People love watching it so much they are willing to spend money on in-game items to raise around $20million as a prize pool for their favourite pro players. And VS Gaming is sure that FIFA is very spectator friendly.
“We believe that this will be just as fun to watch for the spectators as some of the more traditional esports. What people may not realise is there is a tremendous amount of skill involved in playing FIFA, and this festival will showcase our unknown talent in this space.
The quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals will be streamed online and broadcast on SuperSport.”
Wowzers, there it is. It’s your chance to get your name in lights and on the big screen. On SuperSport, no less, next to the Tour de France and the highlights of Roger Federer winning at Wimbledon.
So, where do you sign up?
“The event is open to all enthusiasts who need to register on the VS Gaming website, to qualify for the 1024 available spots. General attendance is R100, and tournament participation is included in the cost. Tickets are available at Computicket outlets and the event is open to all members of the family.”
Before you go running off to sign up, a word of warning for the PS4 fanboys. VS Gaming has made a bold decision and picked a side in the Console War.
“Xbox is our partner at this festival so all of the games will be played on Xbox consoles.”
You can still take part, just make sure you wash the dirty Xbox off your hands thoroughly after each game. But don’t let it ruin the day.
The VS Gaming Festival is sure to be a weekend filled with good-value entertainment for the whole family. If you’re around the Gallagher Convention Centre in Joburg this weekend, make sure you go check it out and support the growth of a less-contemporary South African esports scene.
If you are looking for a more traditional esports event this weekend, you can head on over to the Sandton Convention Centre and spectate the inaugural iteration of Rush. You’ll find a bit of FIFA there, but you’ll also be able to watch Hearthstone, League of Legends, Call of Duty and CS:GO. It’s just really unfortunate that you can only pick between one of these premier events.
But speaking of growing different local esports scenes, we poked VS Gaming one last time to see if we could sneak some details about future ventures from them.
“VS Gaming is about growing the esports market and working together with other organisations to make it inspirational, profitable and professional. We have some exciting stuff lined up and we will keep you posted as soon as we can talk about it.”
It seems like everyone gives us the “just wait and see, you pesky kids” treatment these days.
Suppose we really will just have to wait and see. We’re hoping for a R1.5million e-imaginary-hero-brawl tournament personally (GLHF: That’s Overwatch, in case you missed it.).