Every January in South Africa, all gaming related media is bursting with positivity and excitement about the new year and new opportunities to take esports to a greater level in South Africa. This is an awesome mentality and as I sit here, I have a list of new and exciting opportunities and events that I really look forward to.
While that might be the case, there remains a shadow which has been following the local scene for a while now, greatly contributing to our stunted growth. It’s with the burst of international trips for local teams in CS:GO and DotA 2 that caused this shadow to reveal itself to me again and I feel that this is a topic which is not only incredibly important – but also surprisingly obvious if you think about it.
We spend a lot of time locally building brands, acquiring capital and other goods through sponsorships and creating content. The idea has always been to give the players what they need to succeed and to ensure that they have the space and freedom to focus solely on their gaming and not having to deal with administrative duties and other bureaucratic bullshit.
This isn’t always achieved as most players either have jobs, studies or other future-career responsibilities and therefore have a limited amount of time to put into practice and tournaments.
The scene is quantitatively small when compared to the North American and European scenes and due to our geographical situation, you rarely get significant offline tournaments in other places than Cape Town and Johannesburg. If you take these factors and mince them together, it is obvious why our local esport communities are close-knit and friendship based.
As a writer, the friendship factor makes life difficult and due to having known most of the players for quite some time and because I’m friends with a few, things can get a bit ugly when I choose to report objectively. I enjoy CS:GO and I love the local scene – which is why I write honestly and bring up the harder topics. This makes life difficult at times, as a lot of players take things personally and lash back at me for reporting the facts or for saying things that inconvenience them.
It is this friendship-relationship dynamic that forms the backbone of most of the decision making by teams and MGO’s. This has worked for the local scene up to this point, but I feel that our local scene has graduated and is heading to High School in 2017 and therefore needs to start wearing shoes.
South African teams and MGO’s in general lack professionalism. This professionalism is a blanket-term in this context and touches a lot of factors within these organisations – from the CEO’s down to the C-team’s 2nd reserve.
MGO’s such as Bravado has shown a lot of improvement in this regard and serves as the pioneer for professionalism in South Africa. A lot of you are probably tired of opening my page or any local esports page for that matter, and reading about Bravado, but as long as Bravado keeps winning tournaments and writing the book on professionalism and brand awareness in local esports, I’m going to write about them in my articles.
This includes but is not limited to:
Social media interaction by players and members of management
While everyone has a right to be themselves and certainly have the luxury of adding a disclaimer to their social media profiles which “does not share the views of the organisation”, it’s humanly impossible for people to discern between an MGO-owner and his organisation and will always assume that an owners’ personal opinion reflects that of the organisation, whether intentionally or subconsciously.
Team owners need to completely detach themselves from their personal opinions when on social media and act accordingly – rather aiming to inject local social media with knowledge, patience and respect than join the fray of the usual arguing and bickering by the casual community.
The same goes for players and it is shocking that teams locally still do not add clauses into player contracts that limit the ability to spew bile on social media. A good example would be the backlash from the Carbon/Energy/Bravado/Flipsid3 player shuffles where many top players were openly trashing each other for whatever reason.
I’m not saying that organisations should apply censorship, but rather to remind players that they are the face of esports locally and that younger players look up to them to be an example.
If I were a sponsor and I witnessed a player act toxic on social media, I would most certainly reprimand the team owner in a serious manner.
You wouldn’t find a single serious sport where teams don’t have strict rules regarding player decorum. Teams travel in matching outfits that are neat and players practice good hygiene.
It really pains me that this needs to be said but everyone is well aware of the nauseating stench we experience every year in the DGC area at rAge. It saddens me that something this obvious and elementary somehow slips the minds of many a gamer.
I remember overhearing two gentlemen at rAge a year ago discuss how unkept, smelly and unappealing the gamers are in the DGC section and how it seriously appals them. These two men were members of management of a sponsor that was backing a respectable local organisation and wanted to see where their money was going. Needless to say, this team isn’t sponsored by that company anymore and whether it was for the reasons stated above or not, I’m sure it had quite the impact.
Players should be clean, well-kept and dressed in matching team apparel – they should act and speak with professionalism and a certain amount of poise. You as a player have no idea who’s watching and what impact it might have on you, your team or the reputation of esport in South Africa.
Transfers will always happen and it is a sign of a growing and healthy community. Sometimes the solution to a team’s problems does lie in its composition and I’ve witnessed many cases of teams excelling after only swapping 1-2 players.
This season we saw had one of the bussiest transfer window yet and there’s a bible full of WhatsApp, Skype and Steam communication happening behind the scenes. It is there where new relationships are formed and teams are created.
Sadly, it is also the place where the most drama happens as players and team owners seem to do and say anything to get their way. This largely includes team owners and players insulting other teams and their owners in order to persuade a player to join them instead of the other.
I wrote a piece on the local CS:GO transfer window, but it never saw the light of day due to the upsetting amount of material I received where players and teams were cutting each other down. Publishing what I know would have been a bucket of oil on the fire, which I feel is a real pity, as that article was one of my hardest grafts to date.
Teams and players are generally still acting like children which severely damages trust between organisations, teams, players and sponsors. This also stunts the growth of the local scene from an amateur hobby to a professional sport.
I’m not sure if it’s the answer, but increasingly strict player/team contracts need to start surfacing which not only holds the players, but also organisations accountable for unsavoury behaviour. We’re entering an arena where certain rules need to be in place, otherwise there will be chaos.
The return of Bravado and the performance which they had overseas ripped this old sock from my drawer and almost confirmed my opinion on the matter.
Local South African esports teams are lazy and don’t practice the way they should. As much as people will scowl at me for saying something like this, I believe it is first and foremost the reason why our teams aren’t competitive and why only 3-4 of our plethora of Counter-Strike teams are able to compete for a podium spot.
A lot of players are in top teams due to friendships, and a lot of them due to the ignorance of team owners (whether due to negligence or not) who rely on team captains to “form” a team of capable players, with no knowledge of whether the team captain is actually building a good team or inviting his mates(also due to owners lacking knowledge of the local scene).
While looking at Master’s team demo’s from 2016 I was shocked at the high amount of players who do not know the basic smokes or fluffs it consistently. Some players openly played for KPD and disregarded their teammates, over-rotated, over-peeked, over-extended and a handful of other displays of an utter lack of discipline.
Certain teams seem to lose on the same maps to the same opponents who do the same strategies and hold the same positions at such a high frequency that I’m completely convinced that only 2 top teams in South Africa actually studied their local opponents in 2016.
There’s also by my count about 7 local players that has moderate to acceptable skill in the timing and general use of utility. The amount of players and teams that either depleted their utility too quickly or died with a whole backpack is alarming, especially on a level such as the Telkom Masters teams or Top 8 ESEA contenders.
Look, I really understand and grasp the financial and infrastructural challenges we have locally, including the fact that our players aren’t paid enough to be able to practice full time. These factors are real and in some cases insurmountable, but you can’t blame your bad internet or lack of money if you can’t do a basic execution smoke.
It’s a harsh bunch of statements that I’m making, but can you honestly disagree? Do you feel that the level and quality of South African CS:GO is at an acceptable level?
A lot of teams and players will argue that they’re putting in a decent amount of hours and you can go online and see many of them grind day in, day out. Playing 15 scrims a day amounts to nothing if you’re not actually practicing with your team and ironing out bad habits/mistakes.
It seems like our community is in a comfort zone of sorts – where experienced players know they simply need to pitch up on the server and occasionally show sparks of brilliance to stay in their team or to keep their team in the league.
If we want to become a force to reckon with, people are going to have to start practicing the way a professional sports team would. Practicing basic skills and specifics – teams learning do split executes with better timing, entry-fraggers studying their opponents to know common angles to pre-aim, support players learning to use their utility more wisely, in-game leaders who learn how to shift momentum in mid-round situations, AWPers who learn how to do proper scope-movement instead of trying to become KennyS.
There is a sea of aspects to the game of CS:GO which our local teams and players have not even touched and it’s not until teams decide to be more professional and commit to deliberate practice regimes instead of pugging, that we’ll see the general level of skill elevate.
Don’t get me wrong – there are immensely talented players locally and it’s those sparks of brilliance which tells me that players are capable of more than we are seeing at the moment, but a lot of introspection is required.
If teams make a concerted effort at improving, even if it means many hours of practicing boring aspects of the game, I will be the first person to call them professional gamers.
Until the day that we as a community make the effort to apply ourselves professionally in the way we act and the way we play, we can forget about more money or opportunities falling in our laps.
We live in a country where it is the norm to complain, point fingers and shift blame – but it’s high time we start acting the way we want to be perceived, as professional sportsmen and women.