The VS Gaming Championships LAN tournament is coming up fast, taking place at the rAge Expo in Joburg on 6-8 October. It’s the chance for some of the strongest competitive gaming teams in the country to prove themselves as the best in their respective titles. Needless to say, all the players will be putting in the long hours to make sure they’re at their fighting best before the weekend.
However, in an unfortunate turn of events, the Dota 2 team from the guild of Sinister5 (those cool guys who pay their players real cash dollar) will sadly be participating with only two of of their regular line-up. This is due to a technicality raised by the tournament hosts, VS Gaming, that excludes ex-Masters players from competing.
While the players, managers and stakeholders affected by this ruling could have behaved in true Dota-esque fashion by throwing their toys and abandoning the game, they instead decided to turn to their fans to help them flip the awkward situation into a PR masterpiece. We chatted to Sinister5 MGO owner, Ivo Tzanev, about remaining positive and turning this obstacle into an opportunity.
“At first we were a bit disappointed by the ruling. With rAge being one of the most prestigious events of the year, we would have loved to be able to field our first team.
However, thinking about the situation objectively, we do see where VS Gaming is coming from and we respect their decision.”
Diplomatic, and no doubt true. Sinister5 have been nothing but an exemplar of good sportsmanship, fair play, and great banter. So when Ivo says they respect the decision, he isn’t just spinning a tall tale for the irritating journos bugging him for text bites.
Sin5 received over 50 applications for the three spots in their team for rAge weekend, showing just how much love and support they have from the local gaming community. In an industry that is half skill-based competition and half popularity contest, Ivo is taking this response as a +1 for his MGO.
“All we can say is Dota 2 and esports in South Africa is very much alive and kicking! We were really pleased with the results of the campaign, and it was nice to put a positive spin on the rAge situation.
The one thing which has stood out for us during our short history is the amazing support from the community and fans, and we felt we had to give something back. This was a good opportunity to turn a dull moment into something crazy and exciting.
What was much more important though, is that the community and fans were given a voice. They came in numbers, they all showed hunger to compete and achieve, desire to be recognised, excitement and eagerness to participate in an esports event, to belong, to share their passion.
At the end, it all made us think that we should be doing even more to preserve and grow this culture.”
Sinister5’s Dota 2 captain, Tertius ‘Traxion’ de Bruin (one of the lucky ones allowed to play at rAge) is upbeat about the situation, managing to showcase the fighting spirit we’ve come to know and love from this team in spite of the challenge.
“I thought it was a really awesome idea. We’ve always been trying to improve the esports scene from the beginning, and it’s a really exciting opportunity not only for the fans but for us players as well. We’ve had lots of obstacles we’ve had to overcome this year, and this is just another one.
I think the fans will definitely be bringing their A game.”
Ivo and the team at Sinister5 have done exceptionally well to not only put a positive, constructive angle on a hard knock, but also involve and enrich the community around them. Any top-tier teams reading this could learn a thing or two from the genius stunt these guys pulled off.
It might even be worth getting yourself into a sticky situation just to spin it around and get some fan support. That’s a joke, don’t do that. Pretty sure that’s some form of match-fixing (GLHF: Fan-fixing?).
— Sinister5 (@Sinister5_SA) September 22, 2017
And Ivo isn’t just throwing them in the deep end, either.
“The three chosen fans are getting individual training on their respective positions as we speak. While Adastam, Dota_and_Die and Skaanet are helping with that, Aghanim and Traxion will arrange scrims to further train teamwork. Of course, they will get LAN experience as well as feel a bit of the structure in Sinister5.”
So let’s hear from our newest Sinister5 players. Our unlikely Defenders of the Ancients. Our Dragon Knights in shining armour. Our terrific trio. Our… some other thing.
“Sinister5 decided to have some fun and turned the bad situation into a good one. It’s amazing they’re giving fans a chance to experience DGC with them. I am hoping for top three, I have faith that we can do it.”
“Since playing in the DGL in 2013 I wanted to compete at DGC, now with this opportunity I can achieve one of my first competitive goals, play for the team I’ve supported since I saw them in second division dominating, and get to expose myself to other teams in the scene.”
He means expose his Dota skills, not his private parts. We think.
“I think Sinister5 giving their fans a chance is honestly the most engaging thing they could have done with the esports community. I applied, because DGC has always been a goal of mine and my team was unfortunately not able to attend, even though we had a spot.”
They’re all very enthusiastic. We wonder if their excitement is coming more from the opportunity, or the fact that they’re now being paid to play Dota. They are getting paid, right? They should totally get a paycheck based on how their MMRs compare to the players they’re replacing.
Sinister5 would have entered into the VS Gaming Championships as both a crowd favourite and title contender. Now this band of merry misfits is heading into the tournament hoping to cause some major upsets. Maybe we’ll see some true underdog stories coming out of rAge this year.
As 2.0 puts it, the Sinister5 team needs all the support they can get as they test their hastily-cobbled-together mettle against some of the best in the business.
“To all the players that didn’t make it to DGC, come support Sin5… Give us your energy!!!!!”
After all the goodwill they’ve shown us as fans, it’s the least we can do for them. Get down to rAge and show the Sinister5 gang some lovin’.