All it takes is a good LAN to remind us all what we’re trying to do with this whole esports thing. As gamers, we spend the majority of our time isolated from one another. Whether you’re gaming, streaming, writing, recording, watching, budgeting (GLHF: Someone’s gotta do the books.), or whatever it is you do for South African esports, you likely do it from the comfort of home with your circle of friends and teammates.
So it’s understandable that every now and then you may feel detached from where the local esports scene is going. And then RUSH happens. It brings all the little circles together and you’re reminded that if you’re into esports, and games, you’re far from alone.
LighteRTZ summed it up pretty well with his experience of the Counter-Strike competition, you just have to forgive his spelling. Which we do.
Just Wana thank every one who had a part to play this weekend at @rushcoza @Vodacom4u @Mettlestate event,it was breathe of fresh air from online😂,didn't think I had so many supports and fans i was overwhelmed but kept steady🙏🏽♥️,back to the grind every 🤙🏾I love eSports!😁
— Thulani (@LighteRTZ) July 2, 2018
While we’re all hopped up on esports and couldn’t be more excited about the local scene, there are a few things we think we can all learn from RUSH and take forward to keep getting better.
Local esports often gets a bad rap for not delivering big viewership numbers when it comes to live events. A large part of the problem is the size of the fanbase – we know it’s relatively small still. But another big problem is the lack of genuine pre-event excitement. It’s not enough to just let people know there is an event or game happening, you’ve got to get them excited or invested in the result.
Enter Samplayze (GLHF: Samplayze seems to have transcended the need for multiple names.) and Julio ‘Beast’ Bianchi and their FIFA challenge match. Samplayze called out the top South African FIFA players by saying he could take them down. Beast took up the challenge and in the weeks before the match, the two went back and forth on Twitter, rallying people to either side and generating some serious excitement for the game. More so than many events in the past.
It's official @GoliathGamingZA, be sure to come down to @rushcoza, 29th June – 01 July & be the first to witness the complete extinction of whoever this guy called @Samplayze is. ⚰@rushcoza, I'm coming. 🍭#TeamBeast #rushesports2018 @Samplayze https://t.co/ql1uzQPDcs
— Julio Bianchi (@TheBeastBianchi) June 14, 2018
That’s the sort of stuff that bonds you to one of the players and their story, and that gets you invested in the result. No one got anything out of this showmatch, other than pride. There was no massive prizepool on the line. No national title. No overly-blinged championship belt, sadly. But we really, really wanted to see who would win. Some people even called it the esports equivalent of Mayweather vs. McGregor (GLHF: Okay fine, we called it that. We stand by our comment.).
Imagine if tournaments and games with more on the line put as much into the build up to their matches (GLHF: Don’t just read that sentence, actually imagine it. The hype would be unreal.). Players calling each other out, posting videos of amazing plays and trying to get in each others’ heads. It would be entertaining and so engaging.
We always get excited when a new brand gets involved in esports, because we can’t wait to see what they’re going to bring to the scene. For Vodacom their role was simple: Fund a whole chunk of the competitions. That’s enough, you’ve won us over just by putting money into the scene and bringing esports to our eyeballs.
But the brands getting involved on a smaller level could be doing so much more, not just for esports, but for themselves too. If you’re spending money on something, you should really try and get the most out of it. But it’s not solely the responsibility of the brands, they’re not esports experts. We need to be taking them ideas and advising how best they can immerse themselves in the scene. And then push them to do it properly. That’s where the return on investment is.
Take Clorets for example. They came onboard as a sponsor of the CS:GO just before RUSH and donated some product to the players to get some free social media, probably not as much as they would have liked. The intentions were great, the execution could have been better if they had more time to prepare.
Here’s a brand that’s all about fresh breath, getting close to people, intimacy and avoiding awkward moments. They could have done SO much with that. Twitch emotes on the Mettlestate stream (GLHF: We know these take time, but the point is that we should be thinking about these sorts of brand engagements.), “Up Close” segments with players between games, “Freshest Play of the Day” highlights, caster challenges, team mate tests, fan interactions – SO MUCH! But those are all the ideas we’ll be giving away for free today.
These sorts of things are only going to enhance the esports experience for everyone and genuinely benefit the brands getting involved. So, to the new brands entering the scene and the tournament organisers, demand more of each other.
The more the merrier
We all love the games we play, often a bit too much. So when another game wanders over to see if it can get a little bit of time in the spotlight, we can get a bit protective – to put it politely. But what about all the people out there who don’t love a particular game as much as we all do?
Arguably the biggest issue facing local esports is the size of the player and fan base. Compared to the size of the country, these two things are miniscule. We need to attract these people and the more casual fans to the local scene.
What RUSH, and all the tournament organisers who have been spreading the love around as many esports titles as they can, taught us is, for the casual fan, variety is essential. They don’t have to sit for hours watching Counter-Strike, which they might find interesting, but not enthralling. They can watch a few rounds, go watch some FIFA, then see Gohan kick the pants off Vegeta, then watch some Fortnite, play some wizardy cards by a fireside, and so on.
When you’re an outsider the intense focus on one title can be intimidating. This isn’t Highlander, there’s doesn’t only have to be one. Being able to dabble a bit here and there makes the idea of getting into esports a lot less daunting. You’re also far more likely to find something you enjoy.
In the spirit of more being merrier, it was also great to see how many people got behind the female teams playing in their first open LANs. They all got knocked out in the first round, but just being on the stage would have shown tons of ladies around the country that gaming is for everyone. (GLHF: rayChil1, who we spoke to last week, got knocked out by her boyfriend, ZipZip. How awkward is that?)
Energy need less energy
Watching South African Counter-Strike at the moment is a bit like watching a movie where you already know the ending. In 2017 when Energy Esports and Bravado Gaming were battling out at the end of every event it was exciting to watch. But with Bravado having flown the coop, Energy have too much power.
When they dropped a map against Leetpro in the semifinals things got a bit more interesting. But Energy marched on to their inevitable victory.
Not knowing who is going to win is what creates tension and drama. And that’s what the viewer wants. You don’t want to know the end before you start. You’re definitely still going to watch, but you won’t enjoy it as much.
We don’t have the answer to this particular learning. Energy are damn fine right now. Almost too fine. Maybe all the other MGOs need to band together and rent them a gaming house overseas. That’s the only idea we’ve got, if you’ve got something better feel free to share it.
Don’t be kak, be lekker
Like Goliath Gaming and Ekasi Esports after their first round game in the CS:GO tournament. You can’t always win, so when you lose, be gracious and show some esportsmanship.
After @GoliathGamingZA beat @ekasi_esports 3-0 both teams still got together to pay respects and take a photo. This is SA sportsmanship at its finest.#SAesports #Esports #Rush2018 #Rushesports2018 #Humble #Sportsmenship #CSGO #Vodacom4u pic.twitter.com/9uI2gGB0F5
— Evo Media (@EvoMedia_ZA) July 2, 2018
In fact, we should strive to be more like Ekasi Esports, who, despite being knocked out early on, were a beacon of positivity throughout the weekend. Just because you’re out, doesn’t mean your work in the local scene is done.
The support we've been recieving is phenomenal considering the teams first ever @rushcoza #csgo_tournament participation. In celebration of good sportsmanship and overall support of all orgz, Myself and @SlimGosa are asking for selfies with all 15 teams on the event. Who's game?
— Ekasi Esport (@ekasi_esports) June 13, 2018
To quote their website: “At Ekasi esports we aim to break boundaries within the gaming industry, with the key focus on developing competitive and professional gamers from the township and rural areas.” We’d say you nailed it at RUSH.
Here’s to getting better and better.