National esports – The dilemma local esports will need to deal with eventually

10 min read
24

Last week, the MSSA-endorsed national esports teams competed in the 9th IeSF World Championships in Busan. Of the various results the national teams posted, two stood out more than any other. The MSSA reported that the League of Legends team were “edged out” 23-7 in a sub 26 minute game. Meanwhile, their Counter Strike: Global Offensive counterparts were obliterated 16-1 in one match.

In defence of the LoL team, they were playing against the 2016 IeSF world champions, Korea, so it was always going to be an uphill battle. Regardless, one would be hard pressed to argue against the common sentiment that our national esports teams are in shambles.

A scene with aspirations

It’s no secret that those in the SA industry have massive goals for the esports scene. People have worked tirelessly to make big strides, from bringing in sponsors and creating awareness to developing and nurturing talent, both in game and out.

The results of all the hard work put in have been on display for everyone to see. You look at what VS Gaming and Kwese achieved at rAge this year and how impressive the whole setup was. That’s just the tip of the iceberg however, with other orgs such as ACGL, ZombieGamer and MWEB, amongst others, all doing their part to take the scene forward.

The constant thorn in SA esports, despite the resounding success stories, has been the national teams. The issues surrounding the national teams and the cause for all of it have been discussed in great lengths before (a simple Google search will reveal it all), so this article will not go in depth around that.

The short of it is, the MSSA has alienated the majority of the SA esports industry and thus prevented South Africa from ever being allowed to reveal its true power on the international stage – in country colours. Many may not feel this way, but it serves to undermine all the hard work of those dedicated and passionate about the local industry.

As previously stated, South Africa is a scene with aspirations of greatness and going toe to toe with the best in the world. It’s an enormous goal to set for such a small country, but that hasn’t deterred the passion and energy of the esports community. However, when a national organisation serves to undermine everything that is being built and worked towards, it’s difficult to simply dismiss it as harmless incompetence.

SA esports doesn’t have the luxury of a fumbling organisation representing it in any capacity. Numerous articles have been written around this national saga and the consensus is always the same – ignore it and move on. But what if the scene can’t afford to do that? What if, by ignoring it, local esports is robbed of an amazing opportunity?

A new hope

The most interesting aspect of the debacle surrounding the national teams was not so much their abysmal results, but rather the community’s reactions. The majority went the route of ridicule and amusement as these results were not entirely unexpected given the teams were fielding subpar players in relation to the professional scene.

Read  Try out Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for free right now

However, and this is where it gets interesting, a minority were annoyed, even angry, that the community chose to mock the players instead of support them. To be clear, no one should condone or encourage harassing the players representing our country. The blame for this complex issue does not fall on their shoulders, despite some arguing that these players are exploiting the situation for an easy holiday and quick fame.

Still the idea of supporting the national teams, given the political landscape, is one many reject wholeheartedly. Despite this, some argued that if the community wanted the results to change, they needed to do it from within the organisation. The strongest teams in the scene needed to step up and compete for the chance to represent the country. It’s an argument that has often been echoed by those leading the national esports scene. Is there some merit to this school of thought?

Whilst a lot of work has gone into the scene, there is still a long way to go and headaches that need to be dealt with. Whilst sponsors are coming into the scene, there is still hesitation and uncertainty which makes for skittish brands. On top of that, credible participants in the scene threaten the progress of the whole community with their actions.

There was the scandal around a local YouTuber “jokingly” threatening to rape a woman and many noted how pro players in the scene came to his defence. There is the more recent saga around Orena pulling out money from a tournament after the fact and they have yet to seriously address it. Following that, the public feud between xTc Gaming and its players reveals the volatility of the scene.

The learning pains aren’t just coming from those responsible for pushing the scene forward. The reality of local esports is that viewership and the lack of local support is a mounting issue and people are split on how to tackle it. It’s an issue that needs to be tackled sooner rather than later as sponsors need good returns on investment (ROI) and low viewership hinders that significantly.

For a scene with aspirations to compete on the global stage as an equal, these are serious concerns that can’t be overcome with passion alone. With that in mind, is it so farfetched to look to national esports as a new source of hope to help propel the scene forward and ultimately achieve the mainstream success and awareness it so badly craves?

It’s hard to argue against the merits that governmental support for esports would have. It would increase the credibility of the scene tremendously in the eyes of businesses as well as significantly increase awareness of what happens in local esports. Increased credibility and awareness means a larger viewer base and that in turn leads to more sponsors and money pouring into the scene. All of this is exactly the boost the scene would need to potentially tip it over and create a sustainable, highly successful industry that’s attractive to everyone.

Read  Ode Review – Random Access Melodies

The way forward

If there’s a benefit to having the national esports scene and the local esports scene working together, what are the steps that need to be taken to make this happen? The obvious route is to have people join and attempt to change things from the inside. With enough people, there could potentially be significant changes enacted that can clear the way for a beneficial future for everyone.

The biggest hurdle towards this route however is the current leadership of the national scene. It has shown it is willing to antagonise, belittle and attack anyone that does not buy into its vision without question. Those in the leadership team that choose not to attack lack the backbone to stop it. Together, it makes for a sombre display of leadership and with that, there is hardly cause for optimism.

There has been talk in the past of creating an alternative national esports organisation to push national esports interests in the right direction, but this would prove immensely difficult to do. An already established national organisation with all the right ties and connections, means trying to usurp them would take a lot of time and financial investment, both of which are already in short supply.

Of course, the final route is to continue on as we always have. Ignore national esports and those that lead it and carry on – business as usual. Continue to mock national teams and be dismayed at what could have been, had stronger, more serious teams represented South Africa.

It is not an easy issue to tackle and there will be many divided opinions on the best way forward. But a harsh truth needs to be acknowledge and that is, the community still cares. That national teams continue to be mocked and ridiculed shows that people do pay attention. It’s also undeniable that the benefits of having a functioning and healthy national esports scene would be hugely beneficial to the overall scene and propel it to greater heights. Korea has already proven that a highly engaged government and infrastructure makes all the difference in the world.

The local scene will continue to grow and those pushing it will commit to doing their best and put in 120%, but all the while, CS:GO scores of 16-1 will continue to plague the scene as the national teams implode and remain outclassed. For a scene with such big aspirations, is it truly too farfetched to imagine fixing that problem, despite the odds being stacked against it. Greater things have been achieved with less, this South Africa’s history is testament to that.

Like esports?
Check out our esports portal powered by ASUS

Last Updated: November 17, 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.

  • Admiral Chief

    Lost me at the four letter swear word

    • I read the article and it basically just confirms one thing. To me at least.

      Regardless of all the other ongoings, the MSSA is Cancer. I will not support them or the national teams. Period. I would far rather support Bravado, Energy, Southern Barbarians and the like. Which I do.

      I have personal insight into how BS the MSSA’s system is with handing out nationally accredited participation awards, free holidays and the spotlight that goes with it all. It’s easier to get national colors for eSports in South Africa than it is in ANY OTHER SPORTING DISCIPLINE.

      Imagine the Springboks rocking up to the World Cup and winning the trophy without even touching the ball or stepping onto the field. Imagine the outrage? That’s some of what the MSSA does, and the local eSports scene will not change at all until such time as the MSSA is properly managed, that Snake CW is booted and banned from ever being involved in any form of regulated eSport event and the organisation puts the country’s best players first, not it’s own interests.

      Colors are meant to earned, not given because you showed up.

      Further to note, certain schools refuse to acknowledge eSports Colors on their students’ blazers for these exact reasons.

      Disclaimer:
      This is my own opinion and in no way reflects the view of Critical Hit or its staff.

      • Admiral Chief

        Sadly, true

      • Magoo

        ^^^^^^^^^

      • Hammersteyn

        Exactly!

    • Lord Chaos

      Mweb or the other one?

      • Admiral Chief

        Well, I stopped reading after the first one, had no idea there was a second one that I also hate

  • Guild

    Also doesn’t help when you have a certain individual in MSSA who takes pleasure in belittling sponsored teams and bragging about how their LoL team is the best in the country. If I remember correctly there was shade thrown at Bravado at one of the international tournaments because of a poor scoreline. Looking at how the MSSA teams performed they got zero room to be throwing insults around.

  • @SargonDotA2

    Let’s all be brutally honest. There is only one person responsible for all of this. We all know who it is. Until then national esports will remain the joke it is. Well played to ALL the participants who represented South Africa at Busan. The systems you participate in are not your fault, and I applaud your efforts abroad. It’s just a pity we can’t have a more inclusive and competitive system that better engages players and prepares them for international events.

    • We are talking about Colin Webster. Until he leaves the MSSA there is no way we can take it seriously.

      • @SargonDotA2

        Agreed 100%

      • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd

        Doubt that will even make a difference.

        What is the new prez doing thats any different …

        Did one article with Techgirl and then disappeared …

  • brafester

    “given the teams were fielding subpar players in relation to the professional scene.” Is this in relation to professional SA scene or global professional scene? Please forgive any/all of my ignorance and naivety, I just always get confused/lost because some people sometimes refer to the professional scene as either of my aforementioned references.

    Because, if it is for the professional SA scene, that was/is the best League of Legends team in the country over the past two years. If it’s for the global professional scene, then, again, that would be and is the best team given that SA in general don’t have teams competing at an equal footing to the top teams in the professional scene.

    The main issues faced were adjusting to 13 ping (from 185 average) since there are 0 local servers, and even then, bar the Korean game, we were on equal mechanical footing to the other teams, and there’s a lack of development in the League of Legends scene so we have no local coaching assistance from anyone more knowledgeable than us (I’m aware other scenes might suffer from this, but let’s be real… We’re the bottom of the pits).

    Disclaimer: I only speak League of Legends, because that’s the only scene I have sufficient knowledge in to discuss and engage with peers. I try to follow some CS:GO and Doto, but I’m only human. Also, I speak for myself (?).

    (P.S. I looked good in Busan, I can send you a more recent IeSF picture)

    • brafester

      Also, since I missed it, our Tekken 7 dude made it out of groups and was then subsequently knocked out by the guy who went on to win the whole thing.

      • @SargonDotA2

        He made it out of groups due to a smaller group stage, and only beat Namibia to do so.
        Context is important.

        • brafester

          Context is definitely important. So can I hijack that comment for my original post? “”given the teams were fielding subpar players in relation to the
          professional scene.” Is this in relation to professional SA scene or
          global professional scene?”

          This article has our community finally discussing something seriously and wholeheartedly without memes, and clarifying that will help me/us.

          • @SargonDotA2

            LoL was the only title that fielded the top SA talent at the event. CSGO, on the other hand, was an absolute joke in comparison. CSGO was so far from the quality of the top local talent it was basically a joke. This article finally has our community dealing with that. That truism would hold for the majority of titles, while LoL is the very rare exception.

            Sadly LoL in South Africa makes up a very small proportion of the competitive community. While I personally would love to see a much larger LoL presence, that isn’t the case currently. As such, the MSSA only managing to get LoL right doesn’t bode well for local South African esports.

          • brafester

            Ah so it is still within the scope of the local professional scene. Thanks!

            I don’t know enough about everything else to discuss the rest, but I appreciate your time in giving me some extra scope.

            I’ll see if I can scour the various community groups for the happenings and get myself more up to date with it all. Have a good weekend!

    • B4d R0b0t

      @BrandonFester:disqus you guys just focus on winning games and getting better. LoL is a tough title to compete in, never mind the challenges facing a team located in Africa. Hopefully in time some of the issues you face will be solved. As to the drama surrounding your team I am sorry to say the more events you attend, the better you get, the more drama you will face but I think you know this :). Anyways just wanted to say well done and keep up the hard work.

      • brafester

        Godbless, finally some conversation. It’ scool that we got to experience competing on a lan where the ping is even and low for all.

        Some of the issues are definitely within our scope of fixing (heck, I’m ready to put money where my mouth is for an international coach next year), but I feel like without being exposed to low ping consistently it definitely puts us on a back foot.

        Luckily we were in the PC Bangs pretty much all day and night trying to adjust, but it’s still pretty crazy to have a team tire out before the event. My team’s approach before the general SA only tournaments is to not play 2 days before an event, but here we were trying to simply ‘relearn’ a game.

  • Danny Durham

    The problem of solving the viewership is easy….. Create A WEBSITE were ALL games, times, broadcasting details, results, etc are displayed before the games start. Tournaments as way to little advertised. Even if you want to watch the games, you can not find any details on them. This is especially true of DGL. Most of the time the games are not broadcast, there are no results broadcast or the broadcasts are on servers with poor ping and viewing experience. SOme of us have 10MB lines but still can not watch the streams in low res.
    Then also create better streaming services …. use Youtube for broadcasting, not Twitch unless they get a local server…….
    In my opinion the lack of advertisement of tournaments and schedules of games is totally lacking in South Africa. Fix that and you will have a bigger viewership and value for the sponsers.
    oh … BTW … drop this stupid tournament format of winners bracket plays BO1 and Loosers bracket plays BO3 with the final the BO5 with a one map advantage. Nobody can deny the excitement of the finals between Energy en BVD when there was a true BO5 final. Nobody in the world plays this stupid SA tournament format !!!!!!!!!!

  • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd

    The community has tried.
    They have tried and tried again, heck I even remember with “Gaming Inc” sponsored them and Bravado Gaming tried to play for them …

    It was a complete disaster.

    Could really type out a whole list of shit about the MSSA …

    Qoob Gaming … never forget …

Check Also

Twitch secures exclusive rights for the NBA G Leauge

Twitch TV, the most dominant online streaming platform, is taking the next crucial step in…