Telkom DGL Masters programme announced with R1 million prize pool

DGL 2016_02

Telkom has announced their plans for this year’s DGL – and while somethings appear to be staying the same, many things are pretty different for 2016.

At an event hosted in Johannesburg  by international eSports shoutcaster and celebrity, Paul ‘ReDeYe’ Chaloner, and streamed live via eNCA (and embedded below for your viewing pleasure – if you dare), the new look DGL was unveiled.

The Masters Programme

The crux of the announcement – once the explanations of international eSports numbers were dutifully dished out – is that the DGL will feature three tiers of tournaments, with a ‘Masters’ programme featuring a prize pool of R1 million and eight invited MGOs. Yes. One. Million. Rand.

What the announcement didn’t make clear however is whether that prize pool is split over a number of titles and exactly how many titles that would encompass. Counter-Strike was clearly the most featured game, but according to the new Digital Gaming League website, there are at least five PC tournament titles this year, and one console title, with Rocket League being unclear. It’s pretty clear however that the console title is not part of the Masters programme and I would be surprised if Rocket League and Hearthstone form part of the programme too. Assuming the other four titles are part of the programme that would mean CS: GO, Dota 2, League of Legends and Battlefield 4 are each getting R250,000.

If my maths doesn’t fail me now, that’s… not actually all that more than the values of past DGC events per title, albeit those were more product based. But I am making an assumption on this as the press release – which you can view yourself below – isn’t that clear either (I will try and get clarity on the matter still).

**UPDATE**

While awaiting a reply from the Telkom spokespeople, MyBroadband apparently has an inside track.

Teams will play DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with the prize money split evenly between the two games.

All Masters players can expect to be paid for competing, with the cash prizes varying between R200,000 for first place winners, and R50,000 for the team that comes last.

Three Tournament Tiers

As mentioned, the DGL will be made up of three tiers. In an effort to pull in more casual players and introduce the idea of eSports in other realms, there will be “casual gaming competitions” with school and corporate leagues.

The second tier is pretty much the DGL as everyone already knows and will feature promotion and relegation across divisions from April to October.

And then there’s the DGL Masters programme which will also run from April to October online and at two regional LAN tournaments. In October there will be a final which the broadcast suggests will be at rAge.

All the tournaments appear to be using new tournament software which is still to be revealed.

Energy eSports_New Logo_01Erm. Where’s Energy eSports?

The eight MGOs were revealed for the 2016 Masters programme, and while they are all familiar names, there is one glaring omission, and that’s Energy eSports. Allow me to speculate, based on information that found its way to me. The Masters programme appears to have a contract in place for the invited teams and one source suggested to me that it may restrict who the teams have as sponsors. This may or may not be the reason Energy eSports are not part of the eight invited teams, but I am pretty willing to bet there are many within the eSports scene in the country scratching their heads at this rather strange occurrence.

Not that I aim to detract from any of the eight teams included for 2016, who are:

**UPDATE**

It appears as if the issue with sponsorships is indeed the reason for Energy eSports absence. In a statement to Lazygamer, Owner of Energy eSports, Kas Ahmad said:

“The Telkom Digital Gaming League Masters Contract presented a number of conflicts to our existing partners and players to whom we are obligated to protect.

Energy eSports sought legal advice in order to help resolve these and propose amendments that would find a mutual resolution. Due to the time of year and time afforded to us we were unable to commit in time.”

**UPDATE**

An oversight on my part was the exclusion of another MGO that has been part of the competitive landscape for a few years. Ventus Gaming are also absent from the list of invited MGOs. It would be fair to think that the League of Legends controversy last year caused the MGO to lose out on an invite.

Super(e)sport

During the broadcast – and between all the Telkom marketing going on – Telkom’s chief marketing officer, Enzo Scarcella, spoke about “improved spectator access and increased awareness” by way of streaming the matches live on the internet and TV, with a suggestion that the final of the Masters programme may be shown on Supersport. This appeared to be a wishlist comment as it doesn’t appear in the official press release, but if eSports in this country is to make an impact on a wider scale, it needs more mainstream exposure.

In the meanwhile…

While the announcement clearly needed to balance what eSports fans know with what pretty much everyone else doesn’t know about eSports, there may be a large portion of the old DGL structure wondering if they will be forgotten about in all this talk of the Masters programme. In that regard, I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you that the registrations for the first leg of DGL will be opening soon and closing 1 March, so keep your eye on their website.

**UPDATE**

Telkom replied to a number of questions I had. These are their responses:

Is the R1 million prize pool only for the Masters programme?

Yes.

Is it for multiple titles? If so which titles form part of the Masters?

Yes, it is for the two Masters Titles, CS:GO and Dota 2.

Will teams be able to gain promotion to the Masters from the League?

The Masters will initially be for the 8 MGOs that accepted our invitation to participate and we are looking at the possibility of expanding the Masters by inviting more teams in future.

Is there an official announcement as to why Energy eSports is not one of the eight teams?

The Masters programme is an invitational and teams were required to accept the invitation to participate.

**UPDATE**

The DGL has now officially detailed the 2016 tournament legs, and things are kicking off later with more – and shorter – events planned.

Supported DGL titles for 2016:

This year, the league will kick-off slightly later than usual:

Leg 1:

  • Pre-Transfer Window: Open until 25 April
  • Start Date: 25 April
  • Transfer Window: 8 – 15 May
  • End Date: 22 May
  • Post-Transfer Window: 23 – 29 May

Leg 2:

  • Pre-Transfer Window: 23 – 29 May
  • Start Date: 30 May
  • Transfer Window: 13 – 19 June
  • End Date: 26 June
  • Post-Transfer Window: 27 June – 3 July

Leg 3:

  • Pre-Transfer Window: 27 June – 3 July
  • Start Date: 4 July
  • Transfer Window: 18 – 24 July
  • End Date: 31 July
  • Post-Transfer Window: 1 – 7 August

Leg 4:

  • Pre-Transfer Window: 1 – 7 August
  • Start Date: 8 August
  • Transfer Window: 22 – 28 August
  • End Date: 4 September
  • Post-Transfer Window: 5 – 12 September

But don’t worry! The Telkom DGL will be hosting pre-season 64 player cups for all 2016 supported titles, with registration open on Sunday 21 February 2016 in preparation for the start of the cups onFriday 4 March 2016.

Please note: I have requested confirmation from a spokesperson about the prize pool and titles in the Masters programme, whether teams can gain promotion to the Master programme via the League and for an official announcement on the exclusion of Energy eSports. As soon as they reply, I will update.

Show Press Release: »

21 January 2016

Telkom launches SA’s largest eSports league with new tournament and R1 million prize money

Thursday, 21 January 2016 – Telkom is taking eSports to a new level with the launch of the new Telkom Digital Gaming League (DGL), previously known as the Do Gaming League. The new league will include a Masters programme for elite Multi Gaming Organisations (MGOs) with prize money totalling R1 million in cash.

Telkom has been involved with the Do Gaming League as a sponsor since its inception in 2008, and has supported gaming in South Africa for over 10 years.

With the new league, Telkom will enable the entire gaming experience through a three tier offering, providing high speed connectivity and local servers for gamers to play on. The new DGL league software will be provided to enable more participants across all three tiers.

The three tiers comprise the following:

  • Casual gaming competitions, including schools and corporate casual leagues, with the open division open to all;
  • The DGL league is for the best gamers in the country  which people can qualify for through the open division, with promotion and relegation through different divisions from April to October;
  • The DGL Masters programme, where South Africa’s top eight MGOs are invited to compete online from April to October and in two regional LAN competitions. The final is planned for October 2016.

“The Masters programme will become the pinnacle of eSports in South Africa where eight MGOs will compete for R1 million in cash, the largest prize pool in South African eSports history. At the same time, the DGL will develop the local eSports to bring in new gamers through casual gaming competitions, improved spectator access and increased awareness,” says Enzo Scarcella, Telkom’s chief marketing officer.

“Gaming has seen phenomenal growth over the past few years as players become ever more engaged. We already have more than four million gamers in South Africa. By professionalising the sport and developing new players, we can look forward to seeing more local talent compete on the same footing as international teams,” says Johann Von Backström from the DGL Management Company.

The DGL is the largest online league in South Africa with the largest player base and over 80 percent market share for eSports, having hosted over 35 000 online matches since its inception in 2008. Around 6 000 gamers take part in the DGL. Locally, the gaming industry is estimated at over R2 billion, making it a larger sector than both movies and music.

For 2016, the MGOs competing at Masters level are:

Coverage Elsewhere:

About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.