After a very slow start to the year for South African esports, it seems like things are finally starting to happen. I think to call it a very slow start fails to adequately describe its sheer lack of motion. Glacial. Excruciating uneventful. Those might be more appropriate. Never fear friends, both Rush and Mettlestate are here.
The first half of 2018
Let’s take a quick inventory of the esports events that have already taken place this year. There were Mettlestate’s WESG qualifiers in January for CS:GO, Starcraft, Dota 2 and Hearthstone. We had Crucial Ballistix Masters encompassing CS:GO, Dota 2 and Battlefield 4. The ACGL Minors for Call of Duty WWII and their other initiatives in myriad console esports. Valkyrie CS:GO league by Mettlestate. The usual VS Gaming Masters and lower divisions. VS Gaming’s FIFA eWorld Cup Qualifier at the VS Gaming Festival. There’s also been a number of smaller LANs, like Leetpro’s 1337 LAN. I’ve probably missed out a bunch of things and for that I apologise. This is just off the top of my head.
While there have been some great events this year on the whole, it’s been a fairly disappointing beginning to the year. Many players in the more popular games like CS:GO and Dota 2 have been complaining on social media about the perceived dearth of big tournaments. These are titles that have enjoyed massive prize pools and frequent tournaments in previous years, so I can understand their frustration. Even if it hasn’t always been expressed in a particularly diplomatic way. I tried to sum up my thoughts on the subject in this piece for Esports Central if you’d like to do some extra reading.
You would have probably read about Rush 2018 on this very website, but here’s a quick recap. While the new tournaments announced at Rush are not exactly the big glitz and glamour events of 2016 and 2017, they have injected some excitement into the local esports scene. An excitement that’s been missing of late. Rush is happening at the new Sun Arena at Time Square in Pretoria from 29 June – 1 July. The new title sponsors are Vodacom 4U, which I’m sure we’ll all agree is big for SA esports.
Under the Vodacom 4U banner, there are three tournaments to look forward to. There is a Mettlestate-run, 16 team CS:GO competition in the offing. ACGL will be hosting the much-maligned Fortnite 1v1 tournament on mobile as well as the FIFA 18 1v1 event on PS4. MSI and Evetech are presenting another two tournaments themselves at Rush. Dragon Ball FighterZ will be taking place on Friday, while on Saturday yours truly will be involved in casting the Quake Champions Tournament. That’s quite some variety for esports fans to take in over the Rush weekend. A number of us esports industry insiders were worried that Rush would be lacking compared to last year. So little news had emerged from them in the past few months. I’m extremely glad to have been wrong. Last year’s event in Sandton was a lot of fun. Rush 2018 should raise the bar even further.
Getting into Mettle
Along with Mettlestate’s activities at Rush in the form of the CS:GO competition, they’ve also announced a brace of other events. Their ASUS ROG Dota 2 Cup will be kicking off with the qualifiers on the 11th of June. That’s something the Dota 2 community has sorely needed for quite some time. Meanwhile, the Evetech Champions League that was last run in 2016, is being rebooted with a showmatch on the 10th of June. This CS:GO exhibition match will be between a local Legends team of veteran players and Leetpro, who won the fan vote competition. Presumably full details of Evetech Champions League will be released after the showmatch.
Pools. Of money.
You’ll notice I’ve left out prize pool details for all the competitions. You can go over to the press releases from the various tournaments organizers for that information. From where I stand, those amounts don’t matter. None of the prize pools are the massive mountains of cash of the past two years. The fact that they are happening is more important. It’s always been my opinion that smaller, more frequent tournaments are much better for growing our fledgling esports scene. Enormous events are impressive, but they are not sustainable in our country just yet. That time will come, but we’re not there yet. Regular competition in multiple smaller tournaments year-round is better for the longevity and sustainability of our competitive communities in CS:GO and Dota 2. I share the same sentiments for all the other esports too, but I’ll always lean towards alluding to those titles as the premier SA esports. As already mentioned, there’s of course both CS:GO and Dota 2 happening between Rush and Mettlestate. The additional variety on offer between FIFA, Fortnite, DBZ and Quake Champions is certainly welcome too!
Beyond Rush and Mettlestate’s recent announcements, we’ve got VS Gaming Masters at Comic Con Africa in September to look forward to. I’ve also heard rumblings of other things in the works from SA’s tournament organizers. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store. Somehow, I’m actually feeling optimistic about the second half of the year. You should be too!