It’s around the time where everyone is waiting for a new patch to drop so I find myself with time to write things about the South African DOTA2 scene. I am going to be covering online legs and local tournaments. I will make some bold statements but these are all my own opinion and will hopefully spark some good discussion.
I’ll start off by saying that the VSGaming online legs are destroying ZA esports. Before I get into my reasoning for this I want to provide some context. Firstly, this statement is only relevant to the higher tier of competitive gaming in ZA. VSGaming offer the opportunity to all individuals to play games on a competitive platform and they continue to do a good job of doing so. There is no need for the casual gaming leagues to change. My problem exists with the online legs at “professional” level where we have played a combined total (leg 1 & 2) of 115 days of online competition. That’s almost a third of the year to play 16-18 games. Let that sink in. There are several issues with this and I’ll try my best to address them all.
VSGaming holds a monopoly of the ZA scene simply by enforcing MGO’s and players to sign contracts. What this does is it forces teams and players to first play their DGL games over any other tournament games. This stunts the growth of the scene as persons who want to host a tournament must now dance around the VSGaming league and their unmovable schedule. Some people have managed to do this but the tournaments become too long and drawn out creating the same problem. The scheduling of the matches is poorly done. The fixtures come out with a few days to appeal any clash which a player might have. It is not fair for a person to predict a possible clash several weeks down the line and with only 2 wildcards to move fixtures (which must also be done before a certain period) it’s a recipe for disaster.
Orena have just done the same thing with a one game per week each team playing each other twice into a playoff into a group stage into a single elimination LAN final. Kill me. What is currently happening is teams aren’t even playing the Orena games anymore. Quite simply, teams are refusing to play because it’s a waste of time. In this case, there are no contracts forcing them to play hence no repercussions. Imagine teams not playing in DreamLeague or StarLadder there would be huge drama and that tournament/teams reputation would be trashed. The best part is I don’t even think Orena know about it and if they do why aren’t they going anything about it?? If you think about that in terms of ZA scene it’s disgraceful and I am one of these players. So, what does this all mean? I will provide some potential solutions. No mention of Orena failing to pay money after promising it either.
SHORTEN THE ONLINE LEGS (triggered). Mega8 was a great example of a well-run tournament. The group stage was swiss format and over 3 days. Short, simple and entertaining. Shortening tournament length makes it easier for viewers, casters to be arranged and streams to be set up. How many games are not casted and attract very little viewership?? Too many! VSgaming could literally reduce their online leg (each leg) into a two-week event. This would allow them extra time to boost advertising and arrange all that needs to be arranged. The benefits are clear. VSGaming, Orena or any tournament host will have additional time to create a good schedule, communicate this schedule, more time for feedback and rescheduling and players will know who, what and when they are playing in advance and can then make the necessary personal arrangements. Mega8 have just done this again for their summer cup. Everyone is always saying we need more local DOTA2 tournaments but frankly there is less than half a year to hold them due to the length of all these online legs. I do understand that Orena and VSGaming are heavily understaffed but I am quite sure this is do-able. VSGaming could really make the online legs super hyped with their production quality they showed at the LAN and if they allow for more tournaments to be hosted because they shortened theirs so what? If they set the benchmark for everyone else, they don’t have anything to worry about as they will still be the leading gaming brand in the country. So, I guess it’s all up to Mettlestate to host a DOTA2 tournament and show us how it’s done.
Shortening events and improving tournament structure is no doubt the right way to go but this doesn’t fix a problem which is becoming more prevalent as our scene grows. With more teams going full time (BVD, WRG, sin5), A LOT more Dota is being played. What this will result in is overlapping tournaments. Recently we saw Dota & Die tweet to Mega8 saying that they play JDL/ESL on Sundays, the same time Mega8’s games take place. So, what does this mean?
I think the majority of ZA esports enthusiasts will agree that we need international exposure to grow our scene with more views, sponsors etc. This would mean that teams need to compete in EU qualifiers but at what cost? Do local tournaments now have to adjust their schedule which could negatively affect the small viewership numbers? Do they risk the possibility of the biggest teams not competing in their tournaments? How do they prevent the two biggest teams in the country competing in another tournament in the same venue? Well I don’t know. It’s a strange situation. I wouldn’t say the full onus is on any party. Tournaments do need to communicate their schedule from the start e.g. Our games will be played on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 6pm onwards. It is then up to the team to make sure the competitions they enter do not clash with each other. ZA tournament organizers may need to be more flexible but also hold a firm foot on the ground and not be “bullied’ by the bigger teams.
I don’t think there is one solution for all and tournament organizers like VSGaming and Mega8 will have to experiment and adapt when these problems occur. With all this being said, these are good problems within the scene as it shows growth and development which promotes change and change does need to occur.