DGC 2015–What went right, and what went wrong

9 min read
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You may have heard a lot about this past weekend’s DGC, or Digital Gaming League Championships, but I am here to tell you what really went down. First of all, before we get into the heavy stuff, let’s take a moment to congratulate the winning teams on their hard work.

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The annual DGC kicked off on Friday afternoon with the first round of group matches. This is where all those teams who played eight months in the league for no rewards, made their way to Johannesburg at their own expenses and were sent packing after day one. Nonetheless the tournament went on with its fair share of hiccups and upsets.

Competitive Results

Teams attend DGC with the simple goal of proving they’re the best. Each year players sit less than a few meters from each other screaming at each other. Naturally, each tournament needs a winner so on behalf of Lazygamer, congratulations to the winning teams and of course to those who did not make the cut, but sat around through endless problems and still managed to get a game or two.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One.

  • 1st Place: Al Carbon Astra
  • 2nd Place: Ventus Gaming
  • 3rd Place: Insane Gaming

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare PC

  • 1st Place: Altitude Kinguin
  • 2nd Place: Energy eSports
  • 3rd Place: Altitude Call of Duty

Battlefield 4

  • 1st Place: Aperture Gaming Blitzkrieg
  • 2nd Place: pULse.Evolve
  • 3rd Place: xTc.Legion

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

  • 1st Place: Bravado Gaming
  • 2nd Place: Energy eSports
  • 3rd Place: Altitude Gaming

Dota 2

  • 1st Place: Bravado Gaming
  • 2nd Place: White Rabbit Gaming
  • 3rd Place: Carbon eSports

League of Legends

  • 1st Place: Energy eSports
  • 2nd Place: Ventus Gaming
  • 3rd Place: New World Order

Hearthstone

  • 1st Place: Dale “Pand3m0nia” Pon
  • 2nd Place: Greg “GrazE” Bloch
  • 3rd Place: Jaco “MajorPAIN” Mostert

As mentioned above, the tournaments at DGC didn’t happen without their fair share of hiccups, and personally this was one of the most disappointing  Championships I’ve ever attended. Now that we’ve got the right out of the way, It’s time to dive deep into what went wrong at the DGC.

DDoS attacks and network issues

When you bring together thousands of gamers you’re bound to have a network issue or ten. In the past the Telkom team have handled them with ease, but this year a new foe reared its ugly face – the DDoS attack. On Friday evening Both the Dome and the DGC were hit by a wave of DDoS attacks bringing the whole competition to its knees for an hour or so. The worst part is the attacks seemed to originate from within the Dome or DGC area, coupled with simultaneous external attacks. This heavily affected the tournament, and some teams got the short end of the stick and faced elimination due to the issues created on the network. These issues continued over till Saturday, but by that time teams had already been affected and some were even knocked out.

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I must applaud the DGC network staff who quickly moved to alternatives to make sure the tournament ran continued, but it did not run all that smoothly. Players could feel that the network was not correct, and you could see it in competitive matches where at times the games’ servers would either drop completely or lag uncontrollably. It shut down the broadcasting during some of the most important games because they had to take such preventive measures to ensure no more attacks would stop play.

Tournament Structure

This was a big one. The DGC used a groups-into-double-elimination format for this year’s Championship. Great format, I agree, except the Grand Final for all tournaments (barring COD: AW PC) were best of three Grand Finals. Crazy right? Upon enquiry I was told “this is a popular standard in the world.”

No it absolutely is not. No tournament in the multiverse has ever had a double-elimination with a best of three Grand Final. Sure, they sometimes drop the game advantage, but it’s always a best of five. Think about it this way – The Winner Bracket Final is a best of three, if the two teams face each other again in the Grand Final, and the opposite team wins it means they’re tied both winning a best of three. It makes absolutely no sense at all.

However, I was looked in the eyes by the admins and told it’s the new world standard instead of them telling me they don’t have enough time to complete a best of five on Sunday because they have to leave the area by 13:00. Biggest League and Tournament in the country, sure.

Prizes

The DGC are still working on an age-old model which was acceptable five to six years ago. That model is giving away sponsored prizes to teams who win instead of just cash. Each year the DGC boast “R200 000 in prizes for DGC blah blah,” where the truth is the majority of those prizes are made up of gear; gaming merchandise, laptops, headsets et al.

This model worked perfectly a few years ago. The idea is big sponsors get involved and give away peripherals or PCs to the winning team with the idea that “DGC Champions are using Razer and Alienware,” which was great back then, but now top teams who are winning these competitions are now sponsored either by the brands or by competitors of the sponsors involved. So what do these guys do when they win? They sell the gear giving the sponsor no exposure at all.

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Why do they sell it? Because they need money, not computers. You can;t pay rent with a headset. The DGC are supposedly the biggest and best tournament in South Africa and you’re telling me they cannot proposition or at least strong-arm sponsors into giving cash prizes instead of stuff that will be sold on Gumtree the next day?

These guys play in the Do Gaming League for eight months prior to the Championships and then most of them pay out of their own pockets to make it through to the Finals in Johannesburg. Even the top teams who win the Grand Final are getting R5000 each on average, for eight months of work?

The Booths and Spectators

This year DGC did away with their spectator area, and turned it into the casting area including an analyst desk and player booths (which we will get to in a second).  This left us with the issue of little to no live spectator areas to watch. Sure, they had TVs at the end of each row where you could watch the extremely laggy stream (and don’t forget the awesome Telkom Stand where you can sit on the hard floor and watch a massive screen with no audio). The event was not spectator friendly at all, and many people voiced their opinions on that matter.

Back to the player booths. This year DGC built two really amazing player booths, filled with great PCs as well as 144hz monitors. The problem is, they weren’t properly tested and thus couldn’t be used at all. There isn’t much more to this other than poor planning, or some factors I don’t understand. The analyst desk and casting area were great and I must applaud the navTV team who, despite all the network issues and upset customers, did a great job at least try and keep everyone entertained.

In closing the best teams won in the end, and the tournament concluded but a lot needs to done. I’d like to see the DGL moving back to their cups and perhaps paying out players for the leagues as well. Their model is a bit out dated and I fear they will be left behind by other tournaments, Orena in particular. A good start is their recently announced Master Series, with its very own teaser trailer.

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Last Updated: October 13, 2015

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit’s esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere – but my work here is independent of that.

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  • Guild

    Sounds like it was a bit of a fuck up and not well planned

    • Hammersteyn

      0:34 Computicket bridge 😛

  • Brady miaau

    “Bravado Gaming” and “Energy eSports”, is it the same players who played in both sets of tournaments or different players? Or some small overlap? Interesting if it is the same players.

    • Josh

      Both of those MGOs have multiple teams, for different games

  • Robert Hart

    You’re a master of making assumptions Kyle. You clearly know very little about how things really work in this industry and I’m not really surprised.

    Tournament structure: It was bo3 because we did not have time for a bo5.

    Prizes: Sponsors cannot give only cash. There’s no way around it. For them it is far cheaper to give away promotional stock. In reality,what used to be worth R200,000 would go down to about R50,000 if we enforced cash prizes only. The SA industry is not yet there.

    The sound proof booths: These were never going to be used for official matches. The booths are for the Masters and we set them up at DGC to test them using teams who had been knocked out. It had nothing to do with planning.

    Spectating: Spectating at the DGC is done online. rAge Expo does not provide any form of seated spectating. Instead of a big stadium, we focused on twitch TV. In fact we banned any spectators from entering the DGC area. The TV’s were there so that COMPETITORS could watch games during their breaks with their 3 supporters. We made that very, very clear.

    Anyways Kyle, you seem to go out of your way to bash the DGL at every opportunity you get while we at DGL go out of our way to build relationships. That is why we are succeeding and building a real future for eSport in SA, while you are siting on the side lines waiting for your next hand out.

    • “Anyways Kyle, you seem to go out of your way to bash the DGL at every opportunity you get while we at DGL go out of our way to build relationships. That is why we are succeeding and building a real future for eSport in SA, while you are siting on the side lines waiting for your next hand out.”

      This made me smile. Because you’ve been a part of the DGL for so long does not make you special, at all. I’ve always respected what you’ve done Rob, and I’ve never ever gone after you personally. But if this is how far you’re willing to sink then, attacking me personally, then so be it. Almost expected really.

      • TimeToDie

        Classic ad hominem from these extremely incompetent Telkom employees. I enjoy how ‘they’ are starting to sound like Colin Webster. We know how this ends.

      • King ZA

        hey how do i contact you personally ?

      • Hammersteyn

        “They go out of their way to build relationships” If anything it seems the opposite happened

    • joh

      Joh shots fired, seems no opinions needed from DGL. Totally agree there needs to be more promotion of the streams to the masses, Telkom should put their money where their mouth is and instead of doing a gaming stand upstairs build a championship viewing area and introduce e-sports to the masses. Maybe then the sponsors would take the event more seriously!!! Inspire new generations and parents that would endorse and accept esports for their kids.

    • “Spectating: Spectating at the DGC is done online. ”

      Well that’s just the stupidest thing ever stated for an event being held at our largest gaming expo…

      Who cares if the competitors could watch, they aren’t the people the sponsors are trying to reach. Time for eSports competitors and organisers to get their head out their ass and realise that eSports doesn’t exist unless the mainstream gamers care.

      I’ve personally had enough of the local eSports community. It’s full of ego’s and assholes and not much else

      • RustedFaith

        I agree I was competing in BF4,firstly I couldnt take my 29′ 2560x1080p monitor with because its apparently to big (Even though there was clearly enough space and there was someone with exacltly the same monitor). So I had to borrow a 23′ 1650×1080 screen just for the comp which makes a huge difference.

        Then I wasn’t allowed to take my keyboard and headset with because no external power sources are allowed so I had to go and buy new ones just for rage. The worse part is this isnt stated anywhere in the DGC or Tournament rules but in the FAQ for the NAG Lan …

        We got 3 spectator passes per team although there are 5 players so you cant exacly bring your better half to come and watch, no reserves was allowed so if theres problems on that day or something happens to a player then its tough or you have to book the reserves into the nag lan and call them when you need them.

        We eventually used all our spectator passes for the reserves so that they could be in the same area as the team.

        Getting disconnected twice during our matches and once forced to play at over 120ms latency. Noting worse than getting pumped for a game and play 1 round then wait 30 minutes then resume the second round. This happened twice …

        Same crap different day not much changed since the quake days. South African eSports has always been a big joke. I will definitely be working on putting a professional league together next year as I know even with my lack of experience that I can do it better.

        • Robert Hart

          The network issues were all unfortunately due to DDoS attacks. Other than that, the network and internet was flawless.

        • Barry Louzada

          I’m really sorry but I have to disagree here, it is clearly stated in the DGL rules that no equipment requiring external power sources will be permitted this I can understand as they really can’t have people plugging 20 different things into power adapters. This has been a standard at DGL for the last 8 years. The monitor thing I also can also understand because there is also a limited amount of space to have people/teams sitting next each other and if people bring in 30″ monitors this doesn’t really help. Of all the ‘problems’ to point out I really do think these things to bring up are just nitpicking and really not justified at all.

  • HairyEwok

    All the same names as before, and the year before that, and the year before that. eSports in SA is like our currie cup now.

    • Xplosiv

      Yeah well they put the time and effort in. Look at battlefield top3 compared to last year is different except for apg

    • Johan Willemse

      Lmao , how uninformed are you ?

    • No offense but we see the same names as organizations. Not player wise. There are a lot of new people who attended the event and made it to top 6 or even were picked up buy a well settled and organized clan.

  • Bagel

    As NOT mentioned in the article. big ups to Internet Solutions!

    • Pls no shameless plugs here 😀

      • Bagel

        I hope this was a joke. 🙂

        • It was 🙂 But the article speaks specifically about the DGC, IS did a good job to stop the chaos upstairs

          • Kradenko

            Chaos upstairs? Did I miss something?

          • Oh sorry Dav, I thought upstairs was also hit with DDoS attacks. Seems I was wrong.

          • Kradenko

            Ah, the timeouts. There was a issue with one of the fiber modules on the LAN switches that seemed to have what looked like a memory leak, so every hour or so there would be a drop. From the expo side I know there was some issues which was caused by the exhibitors plugging in extra kit that messed up the IP pools. We corrected it on Friday, everything went smoothly after that. Power was also a bit unstable in the dome from what I heard.

            Learnt a lot this past weekend regarding the setup, next year will be bigger and better 🙂

  • Kyle Ogden

    Completely agree with everything in the article. It is insanely ridiculous that the public were given no means of spectating besides the online “We’ll be back shortly” streams for nearly every game. Having the spectator pass for the last two years to be told this year, “3 spectators per team” was an enormous let down especially considering the fact that we are attempting to improve South African eSports yet we fail to cater for the people who technically drive eSports, the viewers.

    • noxville

      Pretty sure this is entirely because of fire issues with the banquet halls downstairs – the fire chiefs won’t allow enough people down there to have infinite spectators; and there’s no place upstairs where they can put up screens for enough people (afaik there were some on the Telkom stand). This has been a huge issue in the past, they’ve had to rotate spectators per day, and keep counts of how many came in and went out. Ultimately, rAge just isn’t the most ideal situation for the DGC – but it’s also not entirely up to the DGL where the event will be hosted. That might change – and perhaps the masters will be more spectator friendly.

      • Which is why in my conclusion I said it’s a good thing they’ve introduced the masters.

        • Kyle Ogden

          I’d like to see growth in the community so hopefully the masters will be much more of a success!

        • noxville

          Yeah I was just clarifying why in the past there could be a bunch more spectators, and now there couldn’t.

      • joh

        There is plenty of the space if you put in your order, plan and buy space early. Like I said below Telkom should ditch their gaming stand and build a kick ass championship arena.

  • Black_Sage

    It was quite a fuck up in my opinion… And there’s still way too much bias for anyone to take eSports seriously in RSA. Rules seemed not to apply to half the teams and so many matches were brought down due to technicalities by DGC’s own convoluted rule set.

    I dunno, maybe the eSports scene in South Africa really is just like the rest of the country.

    • RustedFaith

      I agree 100% and I was there as a competitor.

    • Luca Tucconi

      Hit the nail on the head @TheBlack_Sage:disqus. Common South African business ethics have been negatively effecting the gaming scene for longer than these tournaments have even been around.

  • Estian Hough

    Finally met Kyle at rAge this year haha. Certainly looked stressed/tired.

    I’ve been meaning to write an article on the topic of following local eSports.
    I cannot agree more with how you pointed out that gaming gear is not what players/teams need to pay the rent – and I think that many sponsors don’t realize exactly how little it means should you consider that these teams put in an incredible amount of time every year to be at the top – Do you think they do it to stand a chance to win a fancy new headset? I think not.

    I was sorely disappointed to attend rAge this year for the first time, only to realize that it’s almost as if nobody cares about watching eSports locally. There was no dedicated spectator area, no stage… lacking audio, if of course you could hear through the noise of a thousand marching feet. No seats, no screens displaying scores, no roster. Nothing showing team standings, nothing to follow. I had to ask some of the Bravado guys/Kyle personally to find out what the hell was happening.

    When the finals of Hots was finally being streamed on the massive screen that was continually, seemingly doing nothing for the entire Sunday, it kept on showing horrible looking, jarry and disconnecting footage – with no audio for most of the duration.

    I cannot understand how Sponsors are boasting close to a R1 MILLION Rand prize pool (again… mostly in gear value) while at the same time they hardly care about who’s actually seeing the games being played. This to me (as someone who actually really TRIES to follow local eSports) seems like it’s more than a rAge issue though.

    The teams I’m familiar with are Bravado and Energy eSports. Then of course there are other teams I know of – but do I know ANY of these players?
    The connection a fan is supposed to have with a team simply doesn’t exist when they attend the same event to support/watch (in my opinion). This is because there is a severe lack of support from the get go – when the initial games start.
    When games are actually streamed throughout the year… Sorry… Wait… IF games are streamed throughout the year as buildup to the finals, they are riddled with disconnections, poor video quality and poor casting (I’d like to point out the League of Legends casting. I’m sorry but it was horrible.).

    Is/was there even a website that ranked teams/showed game results? That showed a live/updated team listing as games were played (like the Hots tournament that finished Sunday)? If there is, it’s certainly not being given priority. People don’t know about it. I found myself with nowhere to look or go when I wanted to find out who won/lost a match that was played 20 minutes ago.

    Am I fighting a losing battle here?
    It feels to me like sponsors, participating bodies and players in South Africa don’t give 2 shits about whether or not people are actually watching.

  • cnfuz1on

    This is what you get for putting the games on CS:GO Lounge xD DDoS for skins yo

  • razcalz

    “The best teams won”.
    You sure about that one mate?
    Because you can tell in a Bo3 final?
    Are you absolutely sure?
    Also no mention of the no map advantage for the winners of the winners bracket screw up for LoL.
    This was my first year at rAge and definitely my last.
    What a joke.

    • Mercury

      LOL RIP you guy

    • Mercury

      “LOL RIP you guys”- Kyle aka Xpecial

    • ScumbagKrepo

      Cant tell if its Razcalz who posted this or if ventus got roxxorman to do it

    • Wasn’t the Grand Final 2-0 to Energy eSports? Would a map advantage have helped?

  • Warwick Candle Parris

    I had 2 gripes with the competition.

    1. Staff who had affiliation to a specific team being granted decision making powers that would ultimately give their affiliate team better chances. CS:GO was where this took place where DC were forced to restart the match 0-0 against VnR after the game was postponed because DC were behind 6-2 however later in the competition when they played xTc, they fell behind, game was force recreated due to technical issues and the same admin who decided the first game should be restarted as 0-0 said that the ruling dictates that the game continues from where it left off. Low and behold in this situation DC were winning so again it was in their advantage. Complete lack of consistency from a rule front.

    2. Ventus LOL who came 2nd in the comp fielding an illegal player and no amount of appeals to the staff provoked any sort of reaction. DGL staff on the day simply let them play with an illegal player and at prize giving they were even handed the gear they had won. This just shows a complete lack of respect for the competing teams and bad leadership by the DGL league directors and year round staff who were overseeing the weekend staff.

    Personally think this event was a complete joke and DGL really need to sort it out going forward.

  • ScumbagKrepo

    I heard that ventus was using an illegal player, cant believe that DGC allows not only their rules to break, but also for Crimes such as identity theft to run free without punishment

  • SargonTheRebornBatpanda

    “No tournament in the multiverse has ever had a double-elimination with a best of three Grand Final.”

    Lol. Nowhere in the MUTLTIVERSE?! 😛

  • “Let the games begin!” – Nefarian

  • JJ Janse van Rensburg

    Such an event is a massive undertaking and things are bound to go wrong. 🙂 Great fun though, spare the gremlins here and there. I applaud your article in the sense that you are flexing your right to freedom of speech and providing your view point on things. I find it lacklustre that this is then in turn used to fire personal insults at you. I have for a very long time watched the going ons and the happenings and I am glad to see more “smaller” guys on the sidelines now stepping into the arena, competing side-to-side with the “Giants” its eSPORTS after all and a little competition is healthy. To approach this as a Monopolized market would be a dire mistake to make… Thanks again for the write up CongoK!

  • “This is where all those teams who played eight months in the league for no rewards, made their way to Johannesburg at their own expenses and were sent packing after day one.”

    This rather strange comment is, well, strange. It’s not like anyone forces anyone to play the DGL. This isn’t pre-primary where “everyone’s a winner” and must take home a prize for “participating”. Besides, people come for the vibe and the hype and the enjoyment of it, too.

    The thing is the DGL has been nothing but consistent. All these other tournaments come and they promise the world, but they fade out and yet the DGL remains. Year after year they’re slaving away, making things actually happen, and not just dreaming about it.

    As to some of the details, I’d venture to say that some of the upstairs streaming / spectator challenges have more to do with rAge than people probably think.

    Wasn’t there some cash-money given by Telkom to winners? This article makes it sound like there was none.

    Lastly, I do think some criticism of this piece is in order. There was zero journalism, really. No asking questions of anyone with quotations from organisers or even gamers who competed, or any solid substantiation for the opinion. Yes, maybe I’m biased to the DGL, but I’m also biased to some good journalism, and I was honestly hoping for more.

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