For this week’s article we used our global influence to organise an interview with Bravado Gaming’s in-game leader, Dimitri ‘Detrony’ Hadjipaschali, about settling into the USA and preparing for the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) in China, which starts tomorrow.
In the spirit of honesty and transparency, our global influence involved us pretty much begging Detrony to do and interview with us over Twitter. Turns out there was no need to embarrass ourselves by begging, he was more than willing to oblige, despite his hectic schedule and preparation for WESG.
Let’s move on from talking about how easily we’re willing to throw our dignity away and talk about ‘Murica. The Bravado boys have been there for a little over a month already and like any good gamers, they’ve barely stepped outside.
“The experience has been great so far, everything has gone smoothly and we’re finally well settled in. Our time in the USA has been literally staying at home so far, experimenting with some practice routines and trying to get in as many hours as possible leading up to WESG in China. We’ve had a few breaks here and there to explore Phoenix in Arizona, but nothing too much outside of the house yet.
We’re real happy, we’re getting along and growing so fast as a unit I feel. The overall team bond is even closer than it was previously and I think that is really important. It took us a very long time to make this happen, and a huge amount of effort, but I can say it’s been worth it, and it’s going to be worth it.
We all have the same goals, desires and drive to make something of this, and I feel this is what any local players or teams need to ask themselves: Do they want to play casually and socially or do they want to really work and get to the top? If the latter is the case, then there is no better option than to make this move, if it’s a possibility for them, considering the circumstances around trying to break into the international scene from South Africa.
Don’t get me wrong though, we’re doing this for ourselves, for Bravado Gaming and most importantly for South Africa by trying to simultaneously grow the local scene indirectly.”
You hear that? Detrony is ‘real happy’. Clearly the USA is already rubbing off him. Hopefully it has an impact on the Bravado team as quickly as it did on Detrony’s vocab.
If you’ve been following the team’s journey so far you’ll know that they’ve had a really good run of it in the Esports Championship Series (ECS), with a very notable win against Team Dignitas, before they eventually lost out to Team One. But that loss is only going to motivate them to get even better and, for that, the USA is the place to be.
“Naturally with a much bigger community this side the culture is different in the sense that esports and Counter-Strike in general are far more recognised as being closer to a sport. And therefore, there is more investment, there are more leagues, qualifiers and overall tournaments to participate in. Many people in general are also just more familiar with what esports is.
Everyone (in the American gaming scene) has been super friendly and welcoming. We were approached by a lot of teams, such as Optic and NRG (to name a few), to organise scrims and get practicing and this is exactly what we wanted.”
Literally the only thing keeping the Bravado Gaming players from training against some of the top names in the global Counter-Strike scene was the fact that they were in South Africa. It’s awesome that making the move has opened the door for them to train with the best, which undoubtedly will help them improve, but it’s also sad that our physical distance from the rest of the esports world is very clearly preventing opportunities and growth.
The American dream
Opportunities are what it’s all about in America. They literally call themselves ‘the land of opportunity’. And when it comes to esports it’s certainly spot on. Detrony has already mentioned how many more leagues and tournaments are available to them, but they’re not just getting quantity – the quality of Counter-Strike they’re able to play on a daily basis is better too.
“We are able to practise with a bigger variety and amount of teams and we can start earlier in the day (since opponents don’t need to finish their day jobs and aren’t limited to only playing in the evenings, as more people do this full time here).
Practice works very differently compared to SA. Playing a full 30 rounds is the norm around the world, but teams really aren’t trying to prioritise a win in practice. For example: A team will do the exact same drill or routine for 15 straight rounds per half, just to figure out, adjust or improve on a certain aspect of their game.
In general though, we have such a great selection of different kinds of servers at anytime of the day to work on our individual game too. It’s far more efficient, and improves us as individual players and as a team much faster than it would with the current circumstances in South Africa. You don’t have to sit around waiting for a pug for more than 20-30 minutes or know you’re limited to only a couple of retake or deathmatch servers that generally aren’t full anyway. We’re also never short of teams to practice against whenever we want to, teams with a much higher skill calibre than we are generally practicing against at home.
Playing against higher skilled teams allows us to get punished for mistakes far worse than we would be punished back at home, so we’re literally forced to adapt, and keep reviewing and working, which is good.”
That might be a bit ego bruising for some of the teams back home, but the reality for Bravado is that they hit the ceiling in the South African CS:GO scene. The only way to break through that ceiling is to get a new house. In another country. Like, say, America. (GLHF: That analogy worked out spectacularly.)
By playing against teams that are as good as them and better, and teams consistently throwing new strategies at them, the boys in blue are going to be powering up to a whole new level – as a team and individuals.
“I definitely feel like there are things I am improving on, and I will still improve on with more time being here. It is still early days here for us, we’re only one month in. My top priority, in all honesty, hasn’t really been to up my own individual game. I think 80% of my focus has been towards the team thus far, as I have the huge responsibility of being the IGL (In-game leader).
There is so much we need to fix as a team and with our general approach. We’re far more concerned about that than anything else and we will get there.”
Looking to the East
Now the time has come for Detrony and his team to turn their eyes to the East and the opponents awaiting them at WESG. Bravado have drawn a pretty tough group featuring EnvyUs and the star-studded Team Ukraine.
“I think duel-on-duel, any one of us on pretty much any given day can fight top tier international players one-on-one, and I believe many other South African players can too.
Our skill level as a team and how we approach the game together is what needs time and experience versus better teams. How we play different situations, how well we read the game and our opponents as a unit and individually, how aware we are, how, how, how. The list goes on, and this takes time and this is why we’re here, I guess, to build on this because we believe we have a high ceiling.
Our results against a couple of ESEA Pro League teams in official matches and just generally against tier 2 NA teams has been real good (GLHF: There’s that ‘Murica coming through again.), and I didn’t expect us to climb this quickly, but we have. Our confidence is good right now and we believe if we show up on the given days, we can do well, and maybe perform better than some people expect us to right now.
Even though we’ve been placed in one of the tougher groups, our first and foremost goal is to do what hasn’t been accomplished before: Qualify through groups.
If we qualify and break out the groups, I think progressing deep is definitely a possibility for us, depending who we come up against. We will take it game by game and I’m real (GLHF: ‘Murica!) confident we can do well and cause upsets.”
We love upsetting people. Not to hurt their feelings or anything, but for the growth of South African esports. So we really hope Bravado can cause some upsets. For South Africa.
Last year Bravado narrowly missed out on making it through the group stage, but hopefully a month of intense training in the USA has given them enough to do the business this time around. Either way, we’re real (GLHF: ‘Murica!) proud of you boys.