It might have come as a surprise to South African esports fans earlier in the year when ESL announced their African CS:GO Championship. Why would the world’s largest and oldest professional esports company be interested in our tiny competitive scene? Future potential growth would be an obvious answer. The other key thing to understand is the African part of the name. This isn’t just a typical South Africa only competition. This involves Africa as a continent rather than being a symbolic “African” tournament.

There is always something new out of Africa

Africa is the next great frontier in esports, just as it is the next great frontier on the world of business. As internet infrastructure improves, so will people’s access to and appetite for esports. The ESL African CS:GO Championship is aiming to be the continent’s premier esports tournament. ESL along with African broadcast partners, Kwesé, have set their sights on conquering the African esports arena with a long term plan to grow the community and grow the fanbase. Kwesé have indeed propelled the quality of African esports broadcasting another step forward. This is going to be a spectacle to watch!

ESL Africa Season One and Season Two

The initial season was for South African teams only with an online final which Bravado Gaming took after a breathless four maps in the best of five series against Energy eSports. For season two, the North Africans were introduced into the fray. The tournament was split into a North African and South African conference, with eights teams per region locked in battle. The objective was to finish in the top two in either conference to qualify for the LAN finals at South Africa’s cathedral of all things gaming. The shrine at which casual gamers and esports fans gather alike to rejoice in their mutual love of all things gaming; The Galaxy of Geek. rAge Expo 2017 is in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs at the Ticketpro Dome.

We had to wait until the final broadcast of ESL Africa Season Two’s seven week online group stage to confirm who the four finalists would be. Bravado had confirmed their qualification for the playoffs the week prior, but there was a small chance that Energy eSports could pip Bravado to first place by beating them 2-0 on the final broadcast. After several player-related delays (including both teams having to play with subs at various points), they were only able to manage a 1-1 draw confirming Energy as the second place finisher in the South African conference. There was an even more miniscule chance that Big 5 eSports could beat Energy to second place, but that would have taken a bizarre series of miracles to occur.

For the North Africans, the Algerians from were dominant throughout the regular season and were able to easily secure the overall top spot in their conference. Vibora however left it until the second last tournament day to confirm their participation at the finals.

Let’s talk money!

The online portion of ESL Africa Season Two was worth this much in US Dollars for the teams in both conference.

In addition to that there’s even more sweet, sweet dollar bills available for the Season Five Finals winners:

Broadcast Talent

Here is the broadcast talent for the ESL African Championship at rAge 2017!

Predictions with haz3, Ph4ntom, and Attiaz.

Rather than push my opinions on you, I thought it might be fun to delve into the brains of some of my colleagues from the broadcasts for their opinions on the matches in store for us this weekend.

Friday, 11am: Vibora vs Bravado Gaming
Matthew “haz3” Stott: I think that this is going to be a much more one sided contest. Bravado have the superior map pool by far as well as a big edge in terms of firepower. If Bravado keep to their structures, there will be very little room for Vibora to breath.
Vibora’s one lifeline would be to get get in Bravado’s faces early on and not show them the respect they may be used to locally. Cache will probably be the most closely contested map and it’s highly likely Bravado will let it through in the map pool. All five Vibora players need to step up to the challenge to take on Bravado, which will be no easy task. Bravado Gaming 2-0 Vibora.

Stephen “Ph4ntom” Cloete: Attiaz told me that Vibora had to change three players at the last minute due to some issues on their side. This leaves them in quite a predicament as they are facing up against the Bravado machine. Bravado Gaming 2-0 Vibora.

Bahaeddine “Attiaz” Attia: It’s going to be a massacre. I was talking on the flight to the team manager. Their objective is to make a good account of themselves and not be blown out. They are here to get experience. This is Vib first time playing on stage outside Morocco. They were forced to change three players because of some personal issues. The players that have come in, have not been active lately so they are coming in with low confidence. It will be an uphill battle. Bravado Gaming 2-0 Vibora.

Friday, 2pm: Energy eSports vs
Haz3: I think Limitless is the better of the two NA teams. In essence they have a better shot against Energy than they would against Bravado. Limitless have nothing to lose, whereas the pressure is firmly on Energy. When they play pressure free, you’ll start to see some really good things come out of these guys on the server. They will be a tough opponent for Energy. I think that the honeymoon period is over for Energy. This is a point at which they would expect a lot of themselves as they are capable of reaching their undoubtedly high potential. If they can play to that potential, they should have the game. Energy eSports 2-0

Ph4ntom: This is the semi-final to watch. Think this will give us an accurate reflection of top level NA vs top level SA CS. It’s going to be a slug fest and I think it’s going to be close. Energy are feeling really confident at the moment as they been putting in a lot of time at their bootcamp. Energy eSports 2-1

Attiaz: Should be the best match of the whole event. Both teams are at a similar level. This is the first international LAN for four of the Limitless players. Remiind has been at bigger events than this before, so he will the one keeping the rest of the players calm. If Limitless could the first map, they could win. If it goes to a third map, Energy should take it. The map veto will be critical and the problem is that Energy have a deeper map pool. 2-0 Energy eSports, or Energy eSports 2-1

Predictions for the Overall Winner of Saturday’s 2pm Best of Five Grand Final.
Ph4ntom: Energy eSports 3-1
Attiaz: Bravado Gaming 3-0
haz3: Bravado Gaming 3-1

So there you have it folks! Tune into or check out their Facebook page for the Facebook stream from Friday at 10:30am. It is going to be immense!

If you’d like to see myself and Profeci postulate about our opinions on the teams for this weekend, check this out: