Telkom Digital Gaming League (DGL) | DotA2 Community Shield

Telkom Digital Gaming League (DGL) | DotA2 Community Shield

03 – 16 April 2017 | Preview

This week Telkom Digital Gaming League hosts its inaugural DotA2 Community Shield 1. This is a two week long double elimination wildcard qualifier tournament that promises to be full of action and excitement. Why all the fuss? Well, because the top 2 seeds at the end of this wildcard qualifier tournament book themselves direct passage to the upcoming Telkom DGL DotA2 Masters LAN Cup. As teams can win tens of thousands Randelas at this LAN event, competition for the final 2 seeds will be fierce. This final qualifier tournament is the culmination of both the Emerald and Sapphire stream of qualifiers and will see 12 teams competing against each other.

Of the 12 teams, 4 teams earned their place in the Community Shield by placing in the top 4 of the Emerald Showdown, 4 teams booked passage through finishing in the top 4 of the Sapphire Showdown, and the final 4 teams come directly from the bottom 4 placed teams after the recently completed Telkom DGL DotA2 Masters Leg 1. So that means this tournament pits 8 winners from the vanilla Telkom DGL DotA2 divisions (Ladder to Premier Division) against 4 losers from the elite and prestigious Telkom DGL Masters. I’m expecting upsets aplenty. We’ll outline why a bit later.

The scheduled fixture times for the Upper Bracket are as follows:

  • Round 1 Monday 03 April 20h00
  • Round 2 Tuesday 04 April 20h00
  • Round 3 Wednesday 05 April 20h00
  • Round 4 (UB Final) Monday 10 April 20h00
  • Round 5 (Grand Final) Thursday 13 April 20h00

And the schedule for the Lower Bracket is:

  • Round 1 Tuesday 04 April 20h00
  • Round 2 Wednesday 05 April 20h00
  • Round 3 Thursday 06 April 20h00
  • Round 4 Sunday 09 April 20h00
  • Round 5 Tuesday 11 April 20h00
  • Round 6 (LB Final) Wednesday 12 April 20h00

Teams | 8 Emeralds/Sapphires In The Rough

The Telkom DGL DotA2 Emerald Showdown (30 Jan – 06 Feb) Top 4 teams are as follows:

  • 1st Constant (update: confirmed not participating)
  • 2nd Mythic Gaming
  • 3rd/4th DotaAsX (aka ArmaGeddon)
  • 3rd/4th Sin5 Valhalla (update: confirmed not participating)

The Telkom DGL DotA2 Sapphire Showdown (09 March – 15 March) Top 4 teams are as follows:

  • 1st Sin5 AllStars
  • 2nd Pulse Gaming Reborn
  • 3rd/4th Aperture Gaming Academy
  • 3rd/4th Ventus Red

These teams make up the 8 very best teams outside of Telkom DGL Masters at the time these qualifiers took place. The majority of these teams come from across the spectrum of the Telkom DGL DotA2 divisions, but are without doubt thoroughly deserving of this opportunity. They’ve all made it this far, so how much further could one or two of these teams go? As we all know, rosters in esports are never stable (at least they’re consistently inconsistent). DotA2 teams in South Africa are no exceptions to this general rule of thumb. For instance, while the Telkom DGL Sapphire Showdown was still in progress we saw Sin5 shift players from Sin5 Valhalla (which had already qualified) into Sin5 AllStars. This meant that players who had contributed to Sin5 Valhalla qualifying, then contributed to Sin5 AllStars qualifying as well. Thus, due to considerable community outcry, Telkom DGL did the only thing they realistically could. They amended the ruleset post-Sapphire Showdown to ensure that something like this couldn’t happen again in the future.

The resulting rule change would require teams that qualified to field two original qualifying players in the upcoming Community Shield. As it stands, Sin5 will still have two teams competing in the upcoming Community Shield (the damage had already been done). Their changes to their team rosters in the past weeks have ultimately stabilised and there will be a clear Sin5 A and Sin5 B team competing (with zero player movement between the teams at least). (Update: Sin5 have decided to pull their B team, Sin5 Valhalla, from the Community Shield. We’ve heard that they have taken this path in order to show the community that they never intended to try and sneak two teams through to the Community Shield by way of exploits. I’d say this action goes a heck of a long way towards showing us that this is true, and it appears to be a pretty genuine move on their part to repair any lost trust in their organisation. Well played, Sin5.)

It wasn’t clear if DotaAsX (previously known as ArmaGeddon) were going to be active in the Community Shield, as their entire team had moved to Ventus Black (and even all then played in the Telkom DGL Masters thanks to some gaps in the Sister Teams ruleset). But they’ve recently shifted players back to DotaAsX/ArmaGeddon (for the most part, at least) and should be good to compete. Since Pieter Venter is now the manager (and thus owner of the team for all intents and purposes) of DotaAsX/ArmaGeddon, you can chalk this team up as just another of the many Ventus (Pokemon) teams competing at every level of competitive esports in South Africa.

Teams | Bravado Gaming Gets Denied

While this new rule didn’t force one of the Sin5 teams out of the Community Shield, as many had hoped it would do, it did have a peculiar knock on effect. You might have recently heard that Bravado Gaming acquired the eXdee Gaming DotA2 squad. In turn, eXdee Gaming acquired the Constant DotA2 squad. This left the Constant team empty, yet the team retained the qualifying seed.

It turns out that Bravado Gaming were hoping to snipe this seed and backdoor the entire qualification series in the 11th hour by shifting all five of their players into Constant (thus taking advantage of the seed). Of course now that isn’t possible, since 2 of the original Constant players would have to be in that lineup as well. This doesn’t look possible as the Constant players are already seeded in their new home with eXdee Gaming.

The addition of this rule by Telkom DGL was directly in response to the unforeseen problems experienced by teams and players in the previous Showdown qualifiers. But it’s addition also had the unintended consequence of stopping a potentially absurd chain of events that would have allowed Bravado Gaming to waltz into the Community Shield in the 11th hour, as they themselves pointed out via their own social media.

This would have been nothing short of a smoke and mirrors tactic had they been successful, because neither Bravado (nor any of its newly acquired players) were in any way involved in any of the early qualification stages (a requirement for every other non-Masters team). This is a really unfortunate turn of events for the Bravado Gaming DotA2 players, that’s for sure. It’s a devastating pill to swallow, and I’m really bleak for the players. There aren’t many teams who deserve to be at this LAN event more than they do. But this is sadly the price attached to their move from xD to bvd post-Leg 1. In the long run it’s going to be a fairly negligible price, especially since they’re now probably the most backed team in South Africa. Although White Rabbit Gaming might call me out on that one!

Teams | P[r]aying 4 A Seed

The Telkom DGL DotA2 Masters is made up of the very best ten teams in the country, but only the top 6 teams at the end of Leg 1 earned a direct seed/invite to the Telkom DGL Masters DotA2 LAN Cup. As such, 4 talented teams at the bottom of the Telkom DGL DotA2 Masters Leg 1 Log have to redeem themselves by qualifying through the Telkom DGL Community Shield instead. Since there are only 2 seeds up for grabs, we know that at least 2 of these Masters teams will not be competing at the Telkom DGL Masters DotA2 LAN Cup. That’s unprecedented, and goes a long way to explaining the pressure on teams/players in Masters right now.

The teams that placed 7th to 10th in Telkom DGL DotA2 Masters Leg 1 are as follows:

  • 7th Flipsid3 Tactics South Africa (update: confirmed not participating)
  • 8th Veneration Esports
  • 9th Damage Control
  • 10th Ventus Gaming

Teams will face their greatest challenge in F3 and VnR, as these teams are cut from a slightly coarser cloth than DC and Ventus. However, at this point anything is possible and I’m sure some huge upsets are incoming. DC have been making tons of changes to their roster in preparation for this and no doubt Ventus will have something up their sleeves as well. With their backs against the wall, who knows how these Masters teams will respond when they face the upstarts from the vanilla Telkom DGL Divisions? Either way, this is going to be a hugely entertaining wildcard qualifier series where all the pressure is on these 4 (or 3?) Masters teams!

Closing Thoughts…

Recently non-Masters teams have been chalking up match and series wins against their Masters counterparts, more often than ever before. If there was a time for a huge upset to occur, that time is certainly now. Yet it’s hard to imagine these Masters teams letting this final shot at redemption slip through their grasp, so it’s going to be a hugely challenging tournament for everyone. Of the 12 teams that earned qualification, at the time of writing this article, only 11 are confirmed as participating on the Digital Gaming League website. The one team not there? Veneration Esports. An administrative error or a tactical withdrawal to focus on the second half of the 2017 competitive season? You decide. (Update: Thanks to both the Telkom DGL website and some insider informants we’ve learnt a few things. VnR have been added to the tournament, so they’ll be participating. The team missing is in fact Flipsid3 Tactics South Africa, since they’ve apparently run afoul of the Telkom DGL administration. RIP predictions. As we thought, Constant aren’t fielding a team as they can’t be in two teams at once. We’re interested to see who VnR field though, as they’ve been suffering roster problems of late according to our sources.)

Our lighthearted (i.e. our attempt at a little humour) predictions for the inaugural Telkom DGL DotA2 Community Shield 1 are as follows:

  • Most likely to succeed? Flipsid3 Tactics South Africa. (update: it’s legitimately funnier now)
  • Unlikely outsiders? Insert biased comment about Mythic Gaming here.
  • Most likely to emulate the RSA cricket team? Pulse Gaming Reborn.
  • Fan favorite? Damage Control.
  • Prom King/Queen? Constant.
  • First to capture all three starter Pokemon? Ventus Gaming.
  • The [un]Official Telkom DGL DotA2 Community Shield 1 tagline? “Lose twice and you’re done!”

TL;DR 6x DGL DotA2 Divisions teams and 3x DGL DotA2 Masters teams duke it out for 2x seeds at the upcoming Telkom DGL DotA2 Masters LAN Cup.

About Sargon

Christopher House is an ex-DotA2 competitive player who works as an independent esports writer.