Bravado Gaming – The hero SA needs or the one it deserves

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If you’re even vaguely interested in the local CSGO scene, you would have by now heard of Bravado Gaming’s new lineup for the tactical shooter, along with their plans not to participate in Telkom’s DGL Masters. Read the full press release here.

The former half of the announcement was controversial due to the fact that Bravado took two star players from a rival organisation and left the organisation with little time to react roster wise. The latter created controversy as Bravado, whilst not participating in the DGL Masters directly, will attempt to qualify through the wildcard route, effectively taking up a wildcard spot better served for a less capable, lesser known team.

Their reasons behind the organisation’s decisions were plainly stated: Bravado are looking at the international stage and feel that these changes will allow them to best compete in that regard. Nonetheless, the community’s reaction was swift and largely negative.

Accusations ranged from Bravado being poachers to destroying good teams to blocking the progress of smaller teams by “breaking rules” via the wildcard spot. Ultimately, the debate came down to this base question. Does Bravado’s latest actions hurt or benefit the local scene? The answer is a complex one.

Evolution of eSports in South Africa

I’ve written before about the state of our local eSports scene. We have come a long way since our first taste of international competition, but sadly it just hasn’t been enough. You look at what comparatively small eSports scenes have achieved, such as Brazil and South East Asia, and wonder if we’re really doing enough.

Bravado has been leading the way in the eSports scene for some time now. Their achievements and competitive level of play need no introduction. The manner in which the organisation is run and the domestic results they post make them the clear benchmark when it comes to top level play in South Africa.

Previously when I’ve spoken about levelling up the local competitive scene, I wrote about how we need to take our perpetual gaze off Europe and focus regionally. Bravado clearly feels differently and have placed their focus firmly on the blue and gold continent as they believe this is how they can take themselves, and to a degree the local scene, forward.

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The benefits

The most obvious benefit of Bravado’s focus on the international stage is exposure to high level teams and being able to learn from other, more established scenes. They will constantly be playing against arguably more skilled teams and that gives them a lot to learn from each match. This is paramount in growing the skill level of the team.

A by-product of this international exposure is that it also shines a light on our local scene and puts it on the radar of many, something Bravado themselves already illuminated in their press release. This opens the door for the rest of the scene to profit and be noticed.

With Bravado vacating the DGL Masters, the local throne is open for others to grab. It gives other gaming organisations a chance to build their brand and rule over the local scene. Admittedly, if Bravado doesn’t unexpectedly falter through their Wildcard route, the leading team will still have to face a difficult competitor but Bravado is still stepping away to a large degree from the local scene. This gives a new organisation a chance to fill the vacuum left in their wake.

The negatives

In the short term, the local scene loses a veteran team and that means one less team to raise the bar locally. Whilst this in no ways means the remaining local teams are not up to the challenge, initially a lot of talent will be missing. But as mentioned previously, this leaves the space necessary for new local stars to step up to the plate.

The player poaching behaviour of Bravado will leave a sour taste in the mouths of many. Whilst it is perfectly legal and well within their rights, taking two key players from a rival team that was clearly on the up hurts the whole scene initially. At the end of the day however, this is a competition and not a charity and Bravado did what they had to, to ensure their continued success.

A more difficult pill to swallow however is Bravado attempting to enter DGL Masters through the Wildcard route. The entire purpose of the Wildcard opening is to allow teams that are not as privileged or established, a shot at glory. It’s about creating an incentive for those outside of the local elite, a chance to make a name for themselves and exposure to high level play.

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It’s the equivalent of the English Premier League’s FA Cup, where a football giant like Arsenal rubs shoulders with an English minnow like Sutton. For Bravado to state that they are taking a step away from the local scene but then attempt to enter via the wildcard route is hard to stomach.

Ultimately, it will be up to the organisers of DGL to decide how to tackle this in the future. For the time being, they seem content to let things play out naturally and have seen no reason to block Bravado’s plan. But some serious consideration needs to be given to this precedent and its implications for the future.

Lastly, in their press release, Bravado stated that the learnings they get from playing high level teams will be passed on to local teams that they scrim. Whilst in theory this sounds like a benefit, the practicality of it remains to be seen. There’s a reason trickle-down economics is ridiculed. Only time will tell how much local teams really benefit from Bravado’s own experience against the European elite.

An imperfect decision in an imperfect world

Bravado has a lot of potential to really put South Africa on the map this year. They’ve shown serious ambition with the decisions they’ve undertaken and whether you agree with them or not, they’re in this for the long haul.

At the end of the day, South Africa is a scene that still has a long way to go and a lot of growth and investment needed to compete at the highest level. Whilst Bravado’s decisions may not be entirely popular to the community at large, it can be argued that they are a necessity in pursuing a goal we all want: a presence on the international stage.

Only time will tell if Bravado Gaming can be the hero we need and replicate their domestic form internationally. If their recent win over TSM is anything to go by, there is genuine reason for optimism. 2017 will certainly be an interesting year, for both the local scene and Bravado’s international run.

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Last Updated: February 2, 2017

Glenn Kisela

I’ve always loved video games as well as writing, so mixing the two together was inevitable. When I’m not doing that, I do photography and design. I’m also a big fan of English Cricket. Ask me about the ICC.

  • Dare I saw that the local scene needs an independent body making and enforcing the rules to resolve issues like this?

    Obviously the MSSA are completely incapable of being that body but a body that all real tournaments affiliate to would really help here. They don’t run the tournaments they simply ensure the over arching rules are adhered to and any unexpected problems, as above, would be referred to it for decisions.

    Hell the MSSA could actually be that body if Colin was kicked to the curb like the trash he is and people who actually have the future of eSports in their hearts be the ones who run it

    • Matthew Holliday

      tournaments affiliating with them, instead of forcing the players to do so and sign non-discolsure / ass kissing agreements, actually sounds plausible.

  • Matthew Holliday

    The local scene is saturated with ambitious amateurs.
    A scene that has so many lower tier teams and so few higher tier teams means that the top stay on top and the bottom stays at the bottom.
    BVD have consistantly been at the top of the games since like, 2012. Thats 5 years that the top 2 or 3 positions in any of our leagues are rock solidly occupied by the same 3 teams.

    so if one MGO decides growth needs to happen, then that growth can only happen outside of our scene.
    Otherwise the only option is for new organisations to commit to turning that top 2 or 3, into a top 5 or 6.
    Either way, the scene needs new blood. Going international seems like a good idea.

    The whole wildcard thing from them is utter BS though.
    If youre a top seed for the main event, you cant drop yourselves down and take the wildcard just so you can have an easier time.
    If they wanna move their focus internationally, then they can do that, but stuffing their boot in lower teams faces to get what you want is just not on.

    • I’m 99.9% sure that if Liverpool were seeded in the EUFA Cup draw they wouldn’t be allowed to remove that seed and enter in the lower tiers. Basic rules apply and Telkom should kick them to the curb and see how much they enjoy losing out on that prize money

      • Anthony Nell

        Nice analogy, pity it doesn’t even nearly apply here. This isn’t the premier league, nobody is going to the UEFACL, this is a small local scene where a team had to focus internationally to get the recognition for its efforts it believes it can get. And to do this they bowed out of a league that has a clause for first rights of refusal, which meant they would have to forgo large financial benefits if called at the same time to an international event, and entered into their cup challenge series.

        The seeding of first is not given to them by Telkom, it is the culmination of many successes over many titles and a long period of time, this is not some franchised league where they need to be beholden to a broadly skew sense of ethical practice. This is the least of a long list of mental shit that goes on behind the scenes, people like to bitch about it because it’s Bravado and they occupy much of the outwardly facing press.

        What Andreas said about you not knowing the half of it, 100% correct. You have no idea what happened, and neither do most of us. Just one of those things that gives people a perspective that isn’t accurate to the truth.

        No offense intended in this, just letting you know your perspectives are a bit skew, there are people out there you can talk to about what goes on behind the scenes. That whole pesky journalism thing ay 😛

        • Pretty sure you can see that I didn’t write the story so journalism digs mean nothing here :)…

          Also this constant excuse from the eSports people about “Stuff happens behind the scenes” is such bullshit.. Stuff happens behind the scenes in everything in life, if they didn’t manage to get their point across in their official press release then shame, no pity.

          I stand by the fact that if they refused the seeded entry into the Telkom Masters then they should be refused any entry. It’s disrespectful to the tournament, the sponsors and the audience.

          I’m 100% sure BvD has their reasons and from a business sense they are probably the right decisions to make. But to believe there won’t or shouldn’t be any blowback is arrogance of the highest order.

          South African eSports don’t need BvD and in the same respect BvD doesn’t need the South African audiences or income. But don’t whine like spoilt children when you kick sand in the face of local supporters and they hit back

          • Anthony Nell

            The journalism dig was directed at the “journalism” in general we are used to seeing from here. I use your site for many things, but your integrity to any story other than your own is not one of them.

            Stuff happening behind the scenes is not an excuse, it’s just a way for us to tell you politely that you just don’t know what you are talking about. If you actually asked some owners and players to talk about it you would know, but hey here’s that whole pesky journalism thing again.

            You cannot say the words “I stand by the fact” then state your opinion as fact, that is not how facts work. They refused a contract, not a seeded entry, if you had asked to have that explained to you, or spoken to anyone who has ever been involved in the process, you would know that. Also, could you please demonstrate how someone could be disrespectful to a tournament by following its rules and regulations to the T. I am unsure as to how they disrespected anyone at all in any manner, you haven’t actually demonstrated that.

            They didn’t think there would be this much of a negative response to something where the core community just didn’t give a fuck because it wasn’t a big deal, but the malcontents have a fanny wobble. It happens.

            “South African eSports don’t need BvD and in the same respect BvD doesn’t need the South African audiences or income.” I would beg to differ on both counts, but that’s just because I understand the current eSports industry pretty well, that is what happens when you stay informed. I’m happy to discuss my viewpoints on that any time.

            “But don’t whine like spoilt children when you kick sand in the face of local supporters and they hit back” Stone meet glass house.

            How about you act like a real fan and come support teams at events, get to know the fans and the community properly. Don’t just sit on the outside leveling your uninformed opinion at people while stating them as facts.

          • All I’ve found from the local eSports scene is that it whines when things don’t go their way.

            Far too many snowflakes running around thinking the world owes them something.

            Also why would I ask about the contract, I had NOTHING to do with this story. I don’t edit the stories or see them before they go live.. I’m literally a member of the community now

          • Anthony Nell

            Rofl snowflakes.

            Great arguments there.

          • Pretty sure I made my views clear elsewhere. You came attacking me as not a real fan and not knowledgeable.

            Yeah I called my opinion a fact, pretty sure everyone could quite clearly see that as my opinion.

            I don’t think an invited team should be allowed to reject the invite and then still enter via a wild card system.

          • Anthony Nell
    • RedRover

      Is everyone choosing to ignore the fact that there is now another team in masters that would not be there if Bravado had not made this decision? This team will now have a chance now to showcase their talents and obtain recognition. The wildcard route is a crapshoot at the best of times for teams and personally I think far to much is being made of it.

      • Anthony Nell

        Indeed. Anyone else is welcome to do exactly the same as well, like any other team or group of human beings. Not many of the team owners know why people are having a fanny wobble to be honest.

      • No one is choosing to ignore that, and hopefully the new team uses this platform now to go on to bigger and better things..

        However it’s not really related, in all likely hood if the new team does amazingly well then eNergy, BvD, White Rabbit or someone else will poach their players.

        I don’t think poaching players is wrong, I just think their should be rules in place to limit it. Most sports have transfer windows or at least rules.

        • Anthony Nell

          We have transfer windows and rules. Again, just ask someone what happened and how this all works.

          • I said I didn’t think the poaching was wrong? Quite clearly said that.

            All my comments are around pulling out of the masters

        • xeRa

          The dgc do have transfer seasons though… And pre masters high level players have always formed new teams just before the rage finals to qualify and took away spots for ‘new upcoming teams’. At the end of the day the masters is there for the top teams, as much as the mgos aren’t charities neither is the highest level competition in the county. If you weren’t good enough for the seed, or good enough to qualify then you aren’t good enough.

          There’s also the chance that bravado don’t even try qualify for it due to the possibility of an international event.
          Dgc set a rule in for the masters competition and that rule happens to work out in bravados favour.
          Put your tin foil hats on for the conspiracy if you will but everyone expects bravado to be a Saint but treat them as the devil it’s quite ridiculous

          • I agree that the Masters is there for top teams, my understanding is that BvD were invited to be a seed and rejected the opportunity but will try get through via the wild card.

            If you are invited and reject the chance then you shouldn’t be allowed to enter another way. It smacks of playing the system.

            And no one is treating them like the devil, we just aren’t kissing their ass for making decisions that they hope will benefit them.

          • xeRa

            As far as I know for the masters you need to have both a dota 2 squad and a csgo squad to be able to compete (as Both teams would play in their respective masters title)
            Bvd don’t have a dota squad anymore
            No where do they state they were given a seed, all they and Telekom said was that bravado have decided not to enter the masters league (though I do understand the assumption as they placed 1st and 2nd for both titles)
            The contracts dgl force you to sign to play in the masters is incredibly restricting towards teams (and honestly it’s ridiculous) and bravado realised that they wouldn’t be able to honor this contract even if they did have a dota 2 squad as they would want to go overseas at any given moment.

            If you feel that they don’t deserve to be able to enter it again, then that is your opinion and you’re welcome to have it. Dgl see things differently it seems and bravado would prefer to take that approach so they can realise their ambitions while being able to have a backup plan.

          • yeah eSports contracts are ridiculous, I’ve read some of them.

            there’s 2 scenarios I see here..

            1. they couldn’t enter because they no longer have a Dota team and won’t in time for the tournament . Great no problem, then apply as a normal team

            2. They are worried they won’t be able to play in the Masters due to them having to leave to play other tournaments – okay, well kick in the face but so be it

            What I don’t see as fair is the third option

            3. We may or may not be able to play so we’ll refuse our invite and enter as a wildcard so that if we do well overseas we can just pull out.. you can’t have your cake and eat it

          • Anthony Nell

            I see what has happened here, you haven’t actually read how the system works and you have a misunderstanding of how the wildcard system works.

            Because: “1. they couldn’t enter because they no longer have a Dota team and won’t in time for the tournament . Great no problem, then apply as a normal team” – That is EXACTLY what they did. The “wildcard”, as its used by Telkom, is not a wildcard in the traditional sense. It is a lower qualifying bracket through a cup series called the Challengers Cup.

            Nobody got a free ticket in, they still have to compete for the spot to make it through to the events. Just like every other team.

            Or is this still somehow an issue?

  • John V. D. Merwe

    Yeah… Complicated answer indeed. Look, I get that players who have made it to the top of their region want to see how far they can get internationally, keeping in mind the young age at which e-sports competitors retire. However, I’ve said many times before that the top South African teams have a responsibility to the local scene to help grow it, simply because we need all the help we can get, and they are in a unique position to do so. These decisions however, point to a lack of respect for the scene that made them who they are. There wouldn’t have been a Bravado if it wasn’t for the rest of us giving them something to compete against. I must admit… I kinda hope they get knocked out in the wild card stage by an actual wild card team. They can count on our support when competing overseas, because they’re a South African team, but when competing locally, they can’t count on that same support. They have to earn it. And it’s moves like this that make me think some other local team is more deserving of my support.

  • bvdcent

    Hi Glenn, thank you for the article.
    Although I agree that you have many valid points, there are a few that I believe are invalid.

    First and foremost, there’s a ton that goes behind the scenes with regards to the whole ‘player poaching story’ and I promise you, you don’t know half of it (no offense). Things aren’t as straight forward as they seem to you, although this is a story for another time, perhaps a book I’ll write one day. I think many people would be shocked.

    Regarding the ‘wild-cards’ for the Masters qualifiers, do you also realize that we gave up a spot for an entire Gaming Organization to be part of the Masters? To reap benefits such as financial support, player and organization, marketing and development?

    I would assume that if we never gave up that spot, that, that organization (or team in-fact – which is 1/2 squads you need to play in the Masters League) would enter these wild-card tournaments and most probably win them? Do you see where I’m getting at? Do you see the win-win situation?

    Also, it’s important to comment on where you state “Nonetheless, the community’s reaction was swift and largely negative.” – You do know that the majority of people supported us in this decision (and I really thank them). You do know it was mainly 3 or 4 individuals who went on a rant about the negativity?

    Look, before any decisions were made and before alot of things started happening in the background, I gave each and ever element a ton of thought, based on many, many factors.

    Again, I think you raise a-lot of valid points, but I thought I’d add this in here.

    Thanks.

    Andreas

    PS: I don’t normally post comments and although many people will probably comment and have different opinions about this article and our strategy, I’m not going to get involved – got a ton of other things to focus on 😛

    • “Regarding the ‘wild-cards’ for the Masters qualifiers, do you also realize that we gave up a spot for an entire Gaming Organization to be part of the Masters? To reap benefits such as financial support, player and organization, marketing and development?”

      Please don’t think people are so gullible as to do this out of the goodness of your heart. It was a business decision through and through and there should be consequences for pulling your proverbial nose up to the locals who are working their asses off to build eSports locally.

      “You do know that the majority of people supported us in this decision (and I really thank them). You do know it was mainly 3 or 4 individuals who went on a rant about the negativity?”

      You do know that as the head of BvD you are living in an echo chamber? People rely on your for their position, others hope to be part of BvD so you, by no fault of your own, get to hear the true feelings out there.

      It’s more than 3 or 4 people who are butt hurt.

      • bvdcent

        Whatever floats your boat dude. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, so let’s just leave it there.

        • Who cares if I know you? This isn’t about personal relationships ‘dude’. The article was reported well on the situation and far less harsh than I would have done..

          I’ve made my feelings clear and am happy to change them if shown to be incorrect

  • RedRover

    Personally I think crying over the “player poaching” issue is a pointless exercise. It happens at all levels of the game and I doubt there is a team out there who has not done it at some point or another so its very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black in my opinion. The only difference here is Bravado have successfully positioned themselves at the top and are fortunate to be in a position to pick and choose players. Also in this specific case has no one considered the changes that took place at Carbon without the 2 players leaving. It seems that there are more sides to this story than people are prepared to consider.

  • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd

    TL;DR … fucking hell people can get uptight in the comments section.

    Players where offered a position, players accepted … enough said.

    • If eSports wants to be accepted as a ‘real’ thing then it needs to be handled better than “enough said”.

      • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd

        Comparing eSports to South Africa’s eSports is like comparing America’s warheads to South Africa’s …

        Yes – things can be handled better but until our eSports is on the same level as the rest of the world, its every man for themselves here in SA.

        Players are attracted to the MGO that has the most success and jump ship to join when offered.
        This isn’t something new, we’ve seen it happen time and time again.

        Maybe an interview with the 2 recently joined players would clear everything up – it was their decision after all at the end of the day.

        • Honestly the players moving is understandable.. don’t see them or BvD doing much wrong there.. I think rules should be in place but they aren’t so there’s not much point interviewing them.

          They moved as it gives them a better chance to succeed.. Pretty obvious reasons

          • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd

            Indeed, indeed.

            And it will be great to see in the future where SA MGO’s can offer players contracts with “Listed Benefits” but also ropes them in for set time period.

            I guess that is the dream and goal for SA eSports.

            Anyways .. All Hail eSports!!!

        • RedRover

          And perhaps an interview with the DGL discussing the rules about eligibility to Masters and whether BVD would have even being eligible without a Dota2 team?

  • On my facebook wall I see Bravado vs Energy.
    In the comments section I see Gavin Mannion vs Anthony Nell.

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