The World Electronic Sports Games Southern Africa #Dota2 qualifiers (hosted locally by Mettlestate) take place this weekend and some of the biggest names will be going ham in an attempt to win a seed to the main WESG event in China later this year. There’s also $2,000 up for grabs for the team that wins, as if teams needed the extra incentive! 20 teams registered for the Southern Africa qualifiers, but Goliath Gaming and Epoch Esports have both already pulled out. We’ve heard through our sources that Goliath Gaming have players combating illness, while Epoch Esports informed us they have had to pull out due to last minute roster changes.

With only 18 teams participating there are going to be a few byes in the first rounds. Due to the number of entries (above 16 but below 32) there will necessarily be a fair amount of byes early on, with things heating up towards the quarter finals. The first round starts on Friday the 26th of January 2018, with a stream only available on Saturday for the latter matches. Here is the schedule:

The full bracket of the matches are available on the Mettlestate website here. Some of the more notable teams include White Rabbit Gaming, eXdee Gaming, Sinister5, Bravado Gaming, and LeetPro. These are, in my mind, among some of the stronger teams in this qualifier. Many still expect White Rabbit Gaming to be the firm favorites for this online qualifier, but fan favorites Sinister5 along with the hyper-talented Bravado Gaming lineups will be looking to assert themselves to challenge for the title of best in South Africa. This is a cracking way to start off the competitive 2018 season, so be sure you tune in over the weekend to watch the games.

Preview and Predictions | Featuring Kaameel Chicktay & Nicholas “Schlinks” Dammert

Hey guys. Nice to have you both here. Let’s start off with you Schlinks. What is your team, White Rabbit Gaming, doing to prepare for the upcoming qualifiers?

Nicholas “Schlinks” Dammert: We’ve realized through playing a lot of EU scrims that we need to do some lane or role swaps in order to favor certain matchups, which we started implementing. There’s a lot of movement between my role, the pos 4, and oDu the pos 5, depending on which heroes we play. He plays some heroes a lot better than I do. We do whatever needs to be done, and whatever will give us the best footing in the game.

Kaameel Chicktay: I have to agree with Schlinks, on some pos 5 heroes oDu is really effective. In my opinion Schlinks is one of the best Dota players in South Africa, full stop. In a really skill intensive role like pos 4, I hope he adjusts to it. I’m happy to see him playing there, as well.

Schlinks: Thank you, dude.

KC: Pleasure sir, I’m a big fan.

Let’s talk about the WESG brackets. WRG have the favorable draw, but one could argue any side of the draw WRG are on they’d find favorable.

Schlinks: The only thing I would comment on is that playing against one of the top teams in South Africa in a best of one can be a bit scary. I’m glad we didn’t get seeded against any of the better teams, but it wouldn’t have changed much. If you think you’re the better team you’re not going to come up with a cheese strat. You’re just going to play your game. It doesn’t really affect us much, but obviously on the bottom half it looks like more of a struggle there.

KC: I agree with your initial statement. We can say, “WRG have an easy draw.” I think regardless they’d be making it to the finals anyway. I don’t think they’d stress much in that regard. The other teams in the bottom half of the draw that are making it through probably have, I would say, a little bit of an advantage as they get to prep against really good teams in high pressure matches before the finals.

Any stand out teams in that top half of the draw?

Schlinks: I’ve heard some of those names, like Nibble Horde. I think they’ll probably make it to the quarterfinals. This will be the toughest matchup for us in the top half of the draw.

KC: A lot of these teams I’m familiar with, Nibble, Dominus, and Ominous. I know a lot of those players, they’re pretty active on social media. I’ve seen them play a bit at the VS Gaming Championships last year at rAge.

Schlinks: I think the thing about these brackets, they allow some of the weaker teams to play up against other weaker teams and not the usual first seed up against last seed. It’s not all the top teams up against the weak teams round one. Some weaker teams get a really good matchup and they can progress to round two, and that must feel really good for them as well. That’s a good thing for some of the weaker teams in the top half of the bracket.

That’s a very good point. Let’s chat about the bottom half of the draw. Where do you guys see eXdee Gaming?

KC: I think they should have a competitive first round, but in the next round where they’ll probably meet Sinister5 I think they’ll get knocked out there. They’re not looking to comfortable at the moment, just in how they’re playing, their practices. It’s a new year, maybe they can rise up.

Has the loss of TKC been a huge blow to eXdee?

KC: Yes, I do think so. Losing my brother, who is one of the better players around, is obviously a huge thing. I feel the team lacks a bit of direction. You have all these young studs trying to figure things out. It’s been like that for almost more than a year now. If they had a little direction, maybe getting a coach, that’d be good.

Schlinks: It seemed like TKC was the player they would play around. Sure, Hunter would get farm, but I think the standout player of the team was TKC. The loss of him, it’s pretty huge.

Let’s talk about Sinister5.

Schlinks: They’re looking pretty strong with TKC on offlane. It’s definitely a different team. We recently lost to them in a scrim, but in a tournament setting it’s going to be different for both teams.

KC: TKC initial left eXdee to join Bravado, before Frank added him to the pizza party list. He was actually going to join as position 5 there and practiced for months for that switch, and then when he arrived at Bravado he had to suddenly make the swap to offlane instead. The way he played offlane at Bravado is quite different to how he plays in Sinister5. He’s adapted quickly and I’m impressed.

Let’s talk about how Bravado are looking, and the Doni addition. Any flashbacks to playing against him for WRG?

Schlinks: I think by now we’ve gotten over that hurdle. Yes, sure, it’s still a scary name to come up against. We’ve played them a few time in scrims. It’s gone either way. They look really strong. They’re one of the top contenders for this qualifier. I heard that they have a coach as well in the form of Scant coaching them, which is a huge boost to them. We had him as a coach in Masters. I’m predicting they’ll make it to the finals with us. I think they’ll potentially beat out LeetPro and Sinister5.

KC: I think this Bravado team is insanely strong. The motivation that Frank and Depi have at the moment is unbelievable. They really want this and that’s a huge factor. Doni’s team also disbanded. Since he’s Doni, Bravado Gaming picked him up. That’s a huge addition.

Let’s talk about another one of the really big fish in this tournament, the RDK led LeetPro team.

Schlinks: I think that LeetPro have been practicing a lot in EU qualifiers and training hard for this tournament. The match between Bravado and LeetPro is going to be amazing. I’m definitely going to try and watch that one. They look pretty solid. LeetPro and Bravado are pretty closely matched.

KC: I think this RDK stack is looking pretty good, especially with acg as a recent addition to that team. They have some really good names in this team.

Who do we think is going to advance through that top half of the draw?

KC: I think WRG can get all the way to the finals without having to reveal any strats. I hope to see them pick Chen and Bambi, and rush all these teams every game. (Laughter.) No offence to the other teams, but it’s WRG man.

Schlinks: I think we will. I think we’ll just play our game and the better team will win. We’re very experienced, we practiced a lot for this, so I don’t think there will be any troubles going up to the finals.

What about the bottom half of the draw?

KC: I think Sinister5 will get all the way to face Bravado, but that’s where their journey will end. I think they do have the potential to maybe take a game off Bravado if it’s their day. But I think Bravado is the stronger team in that bottom half of the draw. I’m looking forward to see these matches though.

Schlinks: I honestly think out of the three big teams in that bottom half, Sinister5 and LeetPro match up behind Bravado. I think it’s close and between these three teams anyone can take it on the day. It’s slightly favored for Bravado I would think, in these matchups. Then again, Bo1 or even a Bo3, things can happen on the day. Those teams aren’t out of their depth to beat Bravado either. That’s what I think.

Predictions for the grand final?

Schlinks: I would like us to win the final in a 3-0 stomp. I think realistically there might be a flimsy game or so. You can’t play perfect every game. These teams can punish mistakes, even if it’s us, and we’ve been winning everything or whatever. This is a whole new lineup of players on every team. Everything is reset. Specifically if we face Sinister5, we’re not at all worried. We’ll deal with them and prepare accordingly. Our toughest opponent I would say would be Bravado. They’ve exploited a weakness of ours in the past, but Dota2 changes and we change. We’ll also deal with them. If it’s LeetPro, you’ve just got to shut down RDK and you’ll be fine there.  

KC: (Laughter.) Typical RDK team, right?

Schlinks: Yes, he’s a stand out player so it’s how it goes I guess.

KC: I’m going to be very frank about this. If WRG meet Sinister5 or LeetPro in the finals, it’s WRG favored and they’ll take it. Straight up. Maybe they’ll drop one game. My opinion is Bravado is going to win this tournament. I think they’re unbelievably strong and beyond motivated at the moment. With the addition of Doni, I think Bravado are a scary lineup. They’re my favorites.

Schlinks: Alright. Alright. Interesting.  

KC: Bravado has the four best non-WRG players and one ex-WRG player. It’s very strong.

Who will be the player of the tournament?

Schlinks: Chidowi, for sure. He really wants this badly. He wants to go to China, and I think his performance will show that.

KC: This is a hard one. Usually I just do the bias thing and say my brother, but… (Laughter.)

Schlinks: Come on man, change it up for once. (Laughter.)

KC: I think Depi is going to be the standout player.

My last question. A little birdie tells me your brother is competing in this tournament, Schlinks?

Schlinks: His nick is Sangreal and he plays mid for New Text Document. Sinister5 face them in round 1, and he’s a really good player. He practices really hard every single day after work. I’m rooting for him, even though the odds are against him! He loves his one on one matchups. He’s really good at skillshot heroes, Mirana, Windrunner, Death Prophet, stuff like that. You never know what he’s going to pick. He’s the rock of that team. I’m keen to watch him play!

Thanks to you both for the interview, and good luck over the weekend!

Schlinks: Thanks.

KC: I can’t wait to cast these matches!