ELUSIVE: New events vital for growth
We sat down with Bravado's Ruan "ELUSIVE" van Wyk for an interview about the team's events in the near future, youngster Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek and the South African scene overall.
Despite wanting to prioritize ESEA's Season 22 Global Challenge, Bravado were forced to confirm their attendance at WESG Regional Finals (which clashes with the tournament in Poland) instead due to visa issues.
South Africa's number one team qualified both aforementioned events, as well as ESWC over their biggest competitor in the country, carboN.
We reached out to Bravado to talk about the Global Challenge problems, expectations prior to WESG Regional Finals for Africa and Middle East, 17-year-old up-and-comer Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek and the state of the South African scene at the moment.
Read below to find out what Ruan "ELUSIVE" van Wyk had to say on the various topics:
You've recently qualified for both the ESEA Global Challenge and WESG Regional Finals, which take place on the same dates, but you decided to prioritize the event in Poland despite having a chance to qualify for the big WESG finals. Why?
Well, first and foremost, the Poland event (ESEA) was announced before WESG, and we obviously had to play league matches throughout the year to qualify for our spot to go to Poland. Despite the teams participating at the WESG regional qualifier in Dubai, the calibre of the teams we would face in China at the main event would be far higher than the teams we would face in Poland for ESEA. Our chances of achieving success or causing an upset in Poland would be greater than in China, which is also a big reason why we would have preffered to attend it. Our current lineup hasn't played in an international event before, but despite our goals and aspirations, we know that it will take time to compete on the level required to beat these teams.
In the end you ran into visa issues despite applying for them as soon as you knew the location, and other South African teams couldn't secure one either, what happened? Is it generally an issue in your country or was this a one-time problem?
We essentially had 3 weeks to sort out our VISAS for Poland, and we started this process the day the ESEA lan was announced on HLTV. Throughout these three weeks, we tried to communicate with the Polish Embassy in South Africa via every possible method. We even got a third party to apply for us to see if they would get a response from the embassy. Unfortunately it got to the point where we qualified for WESG, and we needed to notify them whether we'll be attending or not, despite not having a response from the embassy about when our Polish visas will be ready. We decided not to risk the chance of not attending either international events, so we confirmed our attendance for WESG. The lack of communication from the Polish Embassy in South Africa meant that no South African team could get their visas in time. We have never experienced anything like this with any of our embassies before.
How do you think you'll fare in the WESG Regional Finals amongst other African and Middle Eastern teams? Do you have a good chance to qualify for the main event?
We have been practising and preparing for our first international event for quite a while now. We feel very confident in our ability, and we'll be doing our best to achieve a top three finish. We know the calibre of the teams we'll be facing, so we'll be taking every game as it comes.
Recently there have been more new tournaments in Africa, such as the two aforementioned events, what does it mean to you?
Two years ago, there were two local events a year that we had to look forward to. This year, we'll probably end up competing in eight local events, and three international events. The opportunity to compete at an international event is something that we all dream of. It's a necessary step for us to achieve our aspirations as players. The increase in tournaments, both local and international, also increases the level of CS in South Africa, which is vital for growth.
You were the first to qualify for ESWC, taking place in about three months, and it seems the event in Paris has fallen off in top teams' eyes and it'll likely become a lower-tier event. Does it make you more confident to prove your worth, seeing as the competition should be a bit easier?
At the end of the day, this is a new lineup, and this will be our first year attending international events. I think we're very fortunate to have the opportunity to compete against "easier" competition from the get-go, since a lot of teams with exactly the same dreams and aspirations often get thrown in at the deep end. We will always be confident going into a tournament, since it's essential to achieve success.
Your teammate Sonic, who is only 17 years old, recently caught people's eyes by dominating in your region. From a teammate's perspective, could he be compared to good players in Europe and North America?
The competition in Europe and North America is obviously at a higher level than in South Africa. Sonic is South Africa's prodigy, and he shows incredible potential. He also has the opportunity that few before him had, and I firmly believe that he can strive towards greatness in the right environment. Being as young as he is, and not having attending an international event, he's still inexperienced in a sense, but he's an incredibly fast learner, and I look forward to seeing him represent the future of South African CS.
Judging from the last events, carboN are currently the second best team in South Africa, how competitive is the remainder of the scene there? Do you and other teams have good enough backing to be able to play full-time?
The South African scene is mainly dominated by four teams, with intense rivalries amongst them. The rivalry between these four teams has definitely increased the level of CS in South Africa, to the point where either of them could be representing the country. Unfortunately the prize pools and investment in South African CS isn't at the level where players could be doing it full-time.