Esports Central – Did SA esports grow too fast, too quickly?

8 May 2018

In short, I think so. I guess you could stop reading here if all you wanted was a quick soundbyte for twitter. It’s a very nuanced topic that requires some discussion and I’d love you to stick around and read the whole thing. I’d like to encourage you to engage in a discussion in the comments after you’ve read my column and have had a chance to form an opinion. Please bear in mind that this is mostly from a Dota 2 and CS:GO perspective.

The glitz and the clamour

Telkom DGL Masters heralded the age of the large prize pool esports events in South Africa back in 2016. The R1 million league and LAN final was announced with much fanfare at a spectacular launch event. Amongst the excitement we were treated to the rather bizarre occurrence of UK esports legend Paul “Redeye” Chaloner jumping out of a giant egg. Sorry Paul, I had to mention the egg! From then on, all the other tournament organizers (TOs) were trying their level best to outdo Telkom (now rebranded as VS Gaming). This was both in terms of the size of their prize pool, and the perceived prestige attached to their events.

Admittedly, it took the competition a while to catch up and find the sorts of sponsors that would enable that level of expenditure. In 2016, Masters was unmatched when it came to opulence in prize money and the lavishness of their stage at the rAge finals for CS:GO and Dota 2. The following year saw the rise of new contenders. First was Mettlestate’s R1 million Samsung Galaxy CS:GO championship, consisting of an online league stage and an impressive offline playoff stage. This was followed by ESL Africa’s multi-million rand online CS:GO league and LAN finals. The battle between VS Gaming and ESL culminated in both entities holding their playoffs at the same time at opposite ends of rAge in 2017. Interestingly both TOs had good fan support, with relatively full grandstands for the majority of the expo. Some of it would be down to expo attendees simply looking for a place to sit, but support still seemed strong from the rowdy local fans. At the time, things were certainly looking encouraging for the growth of SA esports heading into 2018.

Read the full article here.

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