For the next couple of interviews I, Lola, will be talking to different people across the gaming community, covering a variety of subjects. My reason for doing this is to expose the “very secluded” TF2CSA to the broader gaming community. My first interview is with Yolanda ‘Lolita’ Green. Her popularity, contacts and knowledge of the SA gaming community make her a valuable source of information to draw from. Join me as I get Lolita to share her thoughts about competitive gaming in SA, what it takes to run a successful MGO and what TF2 needs to do to grow. Lolita has had an extraordinary journey in the SA gaming community, so by way of introduction, I will let her accomplishments speak for her.
Lolita’s involvement in competitive gaming started after rAge 2009. She jumped right into team management with clan Element’s first COD4 clan. With great dedication and skill this team, after having fallen off the map a little, made a great come back and would have started in the Do Gaming Premiere Cod4 League, but broke up early 2010.
After the demise of the Element COD4 clan, three of the Element players joined her and she created iMpulse gaMing. Lolita also recruited four of the 2009 Pandemonium players to fill up her team. Having these players enabled her to keep Pandemonium’s First Division rank in the Do Gaming League, where they achieved success.
She was then approached by Stephen ‘A|t3ri5’ Sun Lung and took over his COD4 team called [LXC] Eminence from the clan, “League of Extraordinary Chinamen”. The team changed names to “[iMg]Vigil” and went on to improve drastically. They beat Mint Gaming’s CoD4 team at the Do Gaming LAN in December 2010.
Lolita also took on a third team during the league, HSP (Hot Sponge Pudding). This was a second team, and these players were placed in other teams according to their skill levels. The clan “Villains” had also asked her to incorporate them into iMpulse, this team did not progress as well as expected.
In the 4th leg of the 2010 Do Gaming League of, Lolita joined the Vintage Oldschool team created by Tim ‘dece1t’ Thornton. This was primarily a a fun CoD4 team – a place for friends to jam together. Vintage also won all of their games except for one, versus Gameover, which was a team with Premiere League players in it.
Mixed Chicks (mC)
MC was created in May 2010 by Lolita and Daniela ‘Bubbles’ Rust. MC started with five girls and now have sixty members. It’s a place for girls to have fun together gaming, rather than having the burden of being pressured to perform or prove themselves in a more male oriented space. MC has received quite a lot of publicity to date, being the largest female clan in SA, being interviewed by Do Gaming, Mint Gaming, Gaming Inc and TF2CSA. MC was also mentioned in a Pulse YouTube episode and took part in the documentary ‘GG”, which covered the South African e Sports scene. They also have girls playing in many gaming genres: Quake Live, CoD4, CS:S, Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, Dota, Heroes of Newerth (HON) and Team Fortress 2 to name the most popular ones. There are also many lesser known games that the girls participate in. MC also hosts BOTS (Battle of the Sexes), with the girls and their partners.
Multi-Gaming Organisation (MGO)
I asked some of the TF2 clan leaders and competitive players to give me questions for Lolita regarding a few topics.
What is the broad definition of a MGO?
There is much debate in S.A about what an MGO is and what the requirements are and who maybe be viewed as an MGO.
Part of that is that the organization should have teams across different games such as Call of Duty 4 and Counter Strike onto RTS (Real Time Strategy) games such Dota and Starcraft 2; where as opposed to teams you have individual players. A debatable requirement in my opinion is whether those teams are fully competitive or not. I.e competing in tournaments, LAN competitions and leagues. Typically an MGO has their own website, sponsors and well managed IRC channel.
List of current top MGO’s in SA
- Bravado Gaming ~ http://www.bravadogaming.com
- Ventus Gaming ~ http://www.ventusgaming.co.za
- Mint Gaming ~ http://www.mintgaming.co.za
What sort of commitment does it take to create and manage a MGO?
When considering starting up your own MGO many things need to be considered. Firstly, you need a player base; if you do not already have it recruiting can be tedious and very time consuming. Secondly a website needs to be created and updated and managed on a regular basis. Not necessarily meaning it should be a gaming news hub such as Gamespot or IGN or even Do Gaming, but it must be something that can draw the community together.
When on a stable level the organization should look into obtaining some sponsors. The owner/leader(s) should make sure that the organization stays active. Competing in tournaments, leagues and LAN competitions is a big plus. Being an owner/leader of such an organization means that you need to make good on what you have promised your players, whether it is on sponsors or websites or whatever the case may be. Such an organization requires daily upkeep and players are high maintenance.
The third, but perhaps most important aspect of running an MGO is commitment. It takes a huge amount of time and effort to keep an MGO going. Consider the recent news that Pantheon Gaming, one of the driving forces in gaming and an inspiration to create MGO’s on our local gaming scene, is calling it quits, due mainly to time constraints. That being said, people grow up, life happens and it is no longer optimal to put in the amount of time required to keep such an organization running. Pantheon closing up shop is in no way an indication of failure or weakness, but rather, that life goes on and gaming, our passion, is just as much work and effort as any other sport or field of competition. So ensuring you have a steady player base of committed and loyal members plays a big, if not the biggest, role in the success of an MGO.
Does each game within the MGO have its own leaders controlling a particular segment?
It is massively advantageous to appoint responsible, initiative and active sub-leaders or administrators within your organization. For instance an admin over your Call of Duty 4 (CoD4) ‘division’. These admins should at least be on the same page as you and not just head off with his/her own agenda, regular meetings and open communication ensures a smooth flowing organization.
What role (if any) does sponsorships play in a MGO?
Sponsors play an important role for MGO’s who want to make it big in gaming, specifically when being competitive. Sponsors may sponsor good quality PC hardware for a team to improve their gaming or free bandwidth to continue playing the game of interest.
Further more should an MGO choose to host events or competitions sponsors are essential when providing prizes. Sponsors may also supply gaming wear such as T-Shirts for the MGO when entering a team into a LAN competition. Teams don’t just benefit from sponsors but need to give also. Wearing the gear or showing off what the sponsors have offered at a LAN event promotes the sponsor. Achieving success and popularity is also a requirement to promote and advertise your sponsor.
In your opinion, do MGO’s improve the gaming community? If so, how?
MGO’s do improve the gaming community immensely. They set the bar competitively, compelling and driving gamers to be more immersed and committed to gaming to try and beat the ‘big names’. This means, numbers are kept up in gaming. This contributes to growing community as opposed to a decline in players.
MGO’s obtain sponsors and this in turn provides educational opportunities for corporates or companies about what gaming is about and how potentially lucrative it can be. The net benefit of this is the potential for gaming to attract bigger and better sponsorship and financial assistance . MGO’s ensure a structured environment for gamers and also offer a more disciplined environment.
I can afford whatever I might win or earn in prizes and/or sponsorships and I already have all the resources at my disposal to make a good team. Bearing this in mind, what would be the point of my joining an MGO, besides as a community building activity?
Lessening your work load will be one of the advantages. Having a structured environment and bigger management team will surely make things easier. With most of our current MGO’s, obtaining popularity and reputation is definitely part of the deal. If you are aiming for personal gain, then you are completely missing the point. There are obvious benefits to a team or person when joining an MGO, but the goal should be to rather improve communities and appear more professional than just another team.
What would a clan be required to do, to get picked to be part of a MGO?
Teams who are successful in their field of gaming, commonly get scouted by MGO’s. Teams who are experienced, stable and are able to keep a steady line up and good track record are also good candidates.
Once picked, what roles/responsibilities would befall the clan?
There are many variables to consider when picked as a competitive team, it is your responsibility to stay active in your game, keep up your success rate and maintain your line-up. It is good to understand what the team wants out of joining an MGO before they sign on. Does the clan want to remain at the same level, keeping their reputation with no extra pressure. Or does the clan want to excel, obtain sponsorship and then have the associated pressure to continually perform at a high level, all-the-while keeping the clan’s line-up maintained? This will, of course, lead to greater popularity and news making which can also be a further incentive. Once you are clear about these things, then decide whether joining an MGO is for you.Also, scout out the various MGO’s and see what they offer, do they look like a suitable match to your clan’s ideals and culture?
What is required to manage a competitive team?
A good team manager has a good knowledge of the community and opponents in the field of gaming he/she is involved in. It is important when arranging practices to match up your team against the optimal opponents for where that team is at that moment in it’s development and ability. Choosing opponents may make or break your team, It influences the moral of the team. Breaking down your teams confidence when paring them with a team well out of their range to beat will surely break their confidence and make them less enthused and committed to their team.
Choosing an opponent that they are over capable of beating will create a false sense of achievement and confidence. Maintaining a good balance here is vital. The manager should always be on track and on time entering the team into tournaments and competitions ensuring that the team meat all requirements and that all information is correct. The team manager basically takes care of all the admin.
What makes for successful leadership in a team?
Strong leadership is a definite must. A good team captain will contribute to the success of the team. Open communication and fair leadership is very important. It’s also very beneficial to a team if the team captain has a vast knowledge of the game played, a good mind for strategy and knows the opponents’ strategies, players and how to beat them. The team captain should be able to read a game and adapt to it in accordingly. Knowledge of his/her team players’ strengths and weaknesses and how to play to the best of each of the units’ abilities is also beneficial.
What would it take to get TF2 into the broader competitive scene?
Team Fortress 2 needs to be properly introduced to the other communities surrounding it. If TF2 teams partake in leagues such as the Do Gaming League more people would notice it and view it is a serious competitive platform. Introducing TF2 teams to MGO’s makes it very much a part of the broader competitive scene.
COD4, CSS and a few other games are more popular competitively in South Africa. Why do you think TF2 isn’t as successful?
In my opinion and I stand to be corrected, TF2 is a strategically difficult game to play competitively. This makes the number of teams obviously less than in a easier game such as CoD4. Team Fortress 2 has more elaborate maps, more than 2 capture points and a bigger variety of classes to play.
The fact that is is run through steam might obstruct new players to join the community as many gamers are children and bandwidth usage is much more monitored by parents who do not understand gaming. This creates to some extent an advantage, keeping the community more mature but to the disadvantage not much progress in the amount of players joining the game.
In this case people might ask, but what about Counter Strike, it is popular and more competitive and also ran through Steam? The difference here is that Counter Strike has been around for a long time, it is one of the longest running competitive titles in our country, it also has a stable competitive community. As with Cod4 it also has simpler maps and less roles to play as in TF2. When new in TF2 it is quite a challenge starting to play the game online if you do not have any one to help you or explain things to you. Jumping directly into such a fast paced game may be discouraging to newcomers.
The fact that you need to buy the game is definitely an obstruction, unlike non-steam games TF2 can’t be pirated. I am not condoning or supporting piracy, but kids, who game predominantly and have a limited cash flow, can’t buy the game and will look at alternatives.
These points may be debated by the CoD4 and Counter Strike veterans, but it’s just how I see it.
Most of the top MGO’s in the world (namely: Complexity, Blight, Epsilon and Dignitas) have TF2 as a competitive game. TF2 is also represented in some of the top tournaments like ESEA & ESL. Why not here in South Africa?
Having not been involved in the TF2 community for a long time I cannot conclusively say at all. It seems as though if TF2 became more involved in the broader competitive scene it might once again be scouted or considered for MGO’s in our country.
What is your opinion on TF2 as a social game? As a competitive game?
As a social game, I find TF2 to be one of my favorite social games by far to play when it comes to FPS. It fun, interesting and more colourful than the dull war zones of some other games. The game-play is more multiplayer than in others and quite an experience to play with friends. That being said, even if playing it socially, you do need to some degree have a little talent for FPS games and be able to somewhat aim.
As a competitive game, TF2 is very complex in strategy and also very tactically oriented. Team work and strong leadership seem to be a must as these appear to be key to a team’s success.
This is the first time TF2CSA will be playing in the Do Gaming Cup, what would your advice be to the clans who entered?
My advice to these teams would firstly be, never give up! Where there is a will, there is a way, teams can always make a plan. Persevere through this tournament and things will start looking up for tF2 real quick. Always remember to book your games and servers in advance, don’t hesitate to ask any questions. Very importantly, try to let go a little and enjoy it too!
The way I, Lola, see it, one of the reasons we don’t see sustained growth in TF2CSA is due to the lack of proper clan management. The demand on a clan leader’s time to look after his players, organise clan matches, be on the lookout for new recruits and focus on improving his own game can be quite a tall order. Throw in the demands of daily life and the burden just grows. As a possible solution, I would suggest a TF2 clan joining a MGO. This would only work, though, if it could mean that a “play & pitch” policy is adopted, where the MGO handles the admin, and the players handle the aspects of game and skill improvement. Secondly I would say that as a community, TF2 needs more exposure to the larger South African gaming community. It’s therefore vital that we partake in competitions such as the upcoming Do Gaming Cup and the ESZ league.
In closing, I would like the community to inform us on why they think that TF2 has been struggling to keep a steady and increased player base, why clans keep on breaking up and why it is not as popular a competitive game in South Africa as it could be.
As a postscript, I want to thank all the clan leaders who helped with the interview, and extend a special thanks to our editor in chief, LikaLota for the hours spent on call… at least I had the benefit of hearing his baritone voice.