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Une chance pour l'Afrique du Sud

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Since last January, five Counter-Strike players and their coach moved to the United States in order to achieve their dream. They’ve come from a country that offers no chance to participate in a Major, and has never hosted an international event on CS:GO to this day: South Africa. Thanks to the Destiny project - implemented by their organization Bravado Gaming - Sonic, ELUSIVE, Detrony, Fadey, JT and their sixth man T.C have six months to prove their worth in the North American scene - and maybe get themselves a real future on Counter-Strike.

South Africa isn’t known as a reference on CS:GO. Only one participation to a Major, at the DreamHack Winter 2014 when Valve was still inviting teams from the smaller scenes to their tournaments. The result of this first and only trip to Sweden wasn’t very glorious, but logical: three rounds taken and two heavy defeats against fnatic, 2-16, and Cloud9, 1-16. The team also participated in several ESWC in 2014, 2015 and 2016 -  with ten defeats for one victory against the Indian team Overcome in 2016 - and went to China twice for the WESG without ever reaching the playoffs.

South Africa might also remind you of Robby "blackpoisoN" Da Loca, perhaps one of the most famous player of the country, who went to Sweden in 2015 in order to improve among the European teams. He ended up going back to his home continent a few months later.

On the international scene, South Africa does not make that much of an impression. Yet, the scene is alive and flourishing. Bravado, eNergy eSports and Damage Control give a buzz to this country that hosts the ESL African Championship finals, owns its dedicated qualifiers for several international events and hosts its own ESEA League, offering one spot to the Global Challenge worldwide finals to the winning team.

All those advantages still won't hide South Africa’s biggest cons: isolation. Too far from Europe, America, Asia and Australia, South African teams cannot compete against the best in order to improve. The few trips they've made around the world have helped to gain more experience, but are way too infrequent to improve in the long term. To get better, you must move. That’s exactly what Bravado Gaming's players did earlier this year.

With the “Project Destiny”, the team relocated for six months to the USA in order to compete against better teams, learn and improve. In order to experiment what it’s like to play against stronger and more experienced teams. The goal is to become good enough to be able to beat them one day.

The Project Destiny, “perhaps the most exciting thing to happen in South African Esports history”

The South Africans didn’t move for tourism. They won the 27th ESEA Main season, for their first try, while they ranked 1st with 15 victories and 1 loss. Next season, they will compete in the Mountain Dew League and try to get a spot for the ESL Pro League. In the meantime, they managed to reach the closed qualifiers for the ECS and ESL One Belo Horizonte by fighting hard against renowned local teams and even winning 2-0 against Renegades.

Bravado wanted to tell its story to the world. Its 6 players are currently writing it down. They will do their best to write as many chapters as possible.

Is CS:GO popular in South Africa? Is there an important community there?

Detrony : CS:GO is relatively popular in South Africa. There is a big community, however a far smaller “competitive” community compared to just the social gamers who play CS:GO only for fun, scattered all over the country.

Are there ESEA / FACEIT servers in South Africa? If not, are there other platforms of play modes available other than Valve’s Matchmaking?

Detrony : ESEA is one of the main platforms that exists in South Africa, other than that, most players stick to playing “Billosoft” matches which is a platform designed for players to pug and scrim vs each other, after that, most players and many of the social players use matchmaking.

Isn’t the geographical isolation complicated to handle? You are far away from Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania, how can you manage to play against teams from other countries to get better?

Detrony : This has of course been the biggest issue for South African players. It’s not really complicated, the sad truth is that players just simply cannot compete outside the country due to the distance affecting ping/latency. The only solution for a player/team seeking to compete or play outside the country and in Europe/NA/Asia/Oceania is to migrate, as we have done together as a team in order to compete, practice and participate in international qualifiers and tournaments.

Isn’t the national scene suffering too much from this isolation? Didn’t you feel “stuck” when you were the best South African team?

Detrony : Competition and room for improvement becomes very limited indeed. We have felt “stuck” as a team for a great amount of time up to this point. There were local international qualifiers for some tournaments happening once in a blue moon, and whenever we won the local qualifier, we would not be able to do well at the event internationally because we have never practiced vs the better teams outside of South Africa consistently, so our results were always disappointing and poor when competing overseas at these tournaments. Project Destiny funded by our sponsors being Dell, Alienware and Intel has given us the chance and opportunity to live together in North America in order to practice vs better teams more regularly, and of course to participate in more qualifiers and tournaments.

Are there international competitions in Africa? Is CS:GO developed in other sub-Saharan countries?

Detrony : International competitions don’t really happen that often, but have increased in the last year or so locally. For instance, South Africa hosted the finals of ESL Africa in October 2017. Other than this, we’ve had WESG South African regional qualifiers two years in a row. CS:GO is for sure growing in and around Africa statistically so. The lack of investment, sponsorships for teams, investment into more tournaments and growing the scene is the difficulty everybody faces right now. The numbers and opportunity is there and definitely exists though.

You are the only region to not have a Minor qualifier for the Major, how do you live it? What is the solution for you if you want to try to qualify for a Major?

Detrony : You move. It’s upsetting of course, but this has been our only solution. Eventually we want to try and qualify for a Minor, and one day perhaps a Major. Right now there are no options locally in South Africa and no possibility to attempt this.

You’ve been living in the USA since January, as part of the Destiny project. Can you explain to us what this project consists of, how it was born, who had the idea of this adventure?

ELUSIVE : Project Destiny is our journey to the States, with the goal of improving and establishing ourselves as a contender on an international level. The South African CSGO scene is very isolated, with few opportunities to compete against international tier teams. The opportunity to move to another country to play CSGO full-time is a dream we all shared, which is why the players, and our organisation, Bravado Gaming, worked towards making it a reality.


The six members of Project Destiny (click to enlarge)

Was there any reluctance or doubts before departing, or did everyone feel that it was “the chance of a lifetime”?

ELUSIVE : As a team, we knew that we wanted to seize this opportunity, so there was no reluctance or doubt about the venture.

At the moment, we can often see you in the last rounds of Open Qualifiers, or some leagues like the ESEA Main. What do you think of the level displayed by North American teams? Is it higher than the one you were used to playing against?

ELUSIVE : America has some of the best teams and players in the world. They also have an extremely large player pool, so there is a lot of competition. Some of the teams we've faced thus far are definitely at a higher level than the South African scene.

What are the main differences that you see between their playstyle and that of South African teams?

ELUSIVE : We've found that North American teams can have a playstyle that's more aggressive and fast-paced. They like taking duels and taking more risks - Whereas other teams play more methodical and safe.

After three months spent in the US, are you feeling any progress in your own level, any differences in your playstyle? If yes, in which aspects?

ELUSIVE : We've all had to step up individually to be able to compete at this level. We've changed roles and positions within the team since we arrived, so there's still a lot to learn. Playing well on a consistent level is something that we're all working towards.

What are your objectives in terms of results, when will you start being satisfied?

ELUSIVE : We'd like to progress to the point where we're frequently competing against high-tier teams. We want to qualify for ESEA Pro League, as well as qualify for some other tournaments. We've made it into two closed qualifiers since we arrived but unfortunately we've fallen short both times.

How long did you plan on staying, and what will your future be like afterwards? “Simply” returning to South Africa to your national scene?

Sonic : We planned on staying for an initial 6 months to see how we would perform and grow. If we reach our expectations or exceed them we plan on staying for an additional 6 months. We would like to return to our local scene to compete at some point.

Were you able to bond with some North American teams or players, that gave you pieces of advice regarding the game or living in America?

Sonic : The players here were very friendly toward us when we arrived, they respected what we were trying to do and the sacrifices we made in order to accomplish this.

Did coming to the US considerably change your lifestyle, or is it similar to your life in South Africa? If yes, what are the main differences?

Sonic : It changed quite drastically. Although We all had similar standards of living in South Africa, The main thing for me is the change in culture and the general outlook the people here have on life.

You’ve played the WESG Finals (some of you have played it for the second time) last March after winning the South African Qualifier, can you come back on this tournament? How did you experience a LAN this big?

Sonic : It was a wonderful experience and for some of us a huge stepping stone and learning experience. It's nice to be able to compete against some of the top teams and meet them in person.

ESL started organizing tournaments in Brasil, DreamHack has an international circuit, even Asia and Oceania have their important tournaments. Yet, there is still nothing in Africa. Why do you think there is no event like an ESL One or a DreamHack in Africa nowadays, particularly in your country? What are the main obstacles?

Sonic : I believe the main obstacle is the lack of development in Africa. Esports seems to flourish in technologically developed countries. Another thing is the lack of funding as well as there being no concrete system to develop young up and coming players.

Thank you for your answers! The last word is for you.

Sonic : I’d like to thank you all for taking the time to read this article, I’ve competed at the ESWC tournament in Paris before and would love to come back! I’d like to thank our supporters and our sponsors, Alienware, Intel, Sergio Tacchini and Vertagear.

Thanks to Bravado's members for their answers ! Thanks also to Miles, Stonz, Kudje and DurandalSword for the translation.

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