This is my personal response to a recent podcast by BlueOceanz, who was joined by Nicholas "Schlinks" Dammert of White Rabbit Gaming, Wesley "Odu" Rose of Energy eSports and Dota caster Kameel Chicktay to talk about the South African scene and the issues facing it.
If you have not seen the video, I highly suggest watching it first before reading on:
Needless to say, the reaction to this particular podcast has been a pretty strong one, for multiple reasons. Responses came from players, community members and others, and yet it wasn't until Christopher "Sargon" House's article on Zombiegamer that I feel someone finally touched on the point people should be taking away from this video. You can read the full article here.
In particular, it was the responses from Gabriella Brondani Rego towards the end of the article that really struck home when it comes to the scene, players and how people need to start thinking about things in general when it comes to Esports, because at the end of the day, if it is to be successful here in South Africa, it needs to be a conjoined effort.
Having two of South Africa's elite players talking badly about the local Dota 2 scene, using words like Clowny and Trash, may seem like fun pokes for the players themselves, but who knows who is listening to these things. If a sponsor or investor heard the people heavily involved in the scene speaking ill of it like this, what do you think your chances are of getting that sponsor on board? I think we all know that answer.
Then there was the amount of care and effort the teams are currently putting in, which to be honest, is not entirely their fault, due to the nature of the leagues and tournaments happening at the moment, which are incredibly sporadic. These means teams practice less, less games happen and the teams themselves don't actively work towards any sort of higher goal. Its not that they don't care, but rather, they care enough to get by and still benefit from the prize money currently flooding the scene.
It also baffled me somewhat that shortly after these rather "Doni-esque" statements they then seemed surprised that local streams don't do well, and that there seems to be no support for the local Dota 2 scene.
This, I feel, is where I want to make my point, because I feel like the players themselves don't understand or do enough to help this problem, where there is so much potential for stuff to be done and improvements to be made.
The point, is a simple one: Caring comes from the top.
Tournaments are now in place with some really impressive prize pools up for grabs, and there are countless people working incredibly hard to continue to improve esports in South Africa. When I was at the now dead Telkom Gaming (RIP 2500 articles) I made sure to try give all the teams I could some limelight, and make sure to always promote local streams where I could.
With that now done and dusted however, reporting on the Dota 2 scene now comes exclusively from Zombiegamer and occasional insights from Good Luck Have Fun, which is simply not enough. It is therefore imperative for players to realise that THEY ARE A BRAND, just as much as their team or MGO, and should go about business treating yourself as a business brand.
If you want to people to care about you, you have to make them care. Set up a Facebook fan page, engage on Twitter, post some pictures on Instagram. Make a video perhaps, explaining some Dota mechanic or a tip video, do some giveaways, play some pubs with people that like your pages.
These are just a few ideas off the top of my head that players can do to start building their own audiences, which in turn will start to build the stream audiences, because that's marketing, folks. Let's take a look at a scenario:
A Dota 2 match is happening this evening. It gets pasted once to the Dota 2 group by the streamer themselves, and may get a like or two, but in general, is not shared by other people at all.
A Dota 2 match is happening this evening. It gets pasted to the Dota 2 group by the streamer. The MGO, all 10 players involved in the game, the casters and streamers and tournament all share this post and stream to their respective pages, posted on Twitter and Instagram, and basically shared to hell and back so that people know this game is happening.
Which of these two scenarios do you think will get more views on the stream? I think its fair to say that B will win hands down, purely because the reach and amount of people that actually saw that post would be far superior to Scenario A.
And this, my fellow gamers, is what we have to do together in order to succeed. Set the ego's aside, stop calling us trash, and actually work towards a point where people actually give a fuck about you, so that we can start to grow our viewership.
This has to be an effort by all sides - players, MGO's, tournaments, and even sponsors, all need to play a part in spreading the word as often and as far as they can in order to build the local audience. Ask yourself the question: If you don't care, why should they?
Love you all <3