Project Destiny: Bravado's search for "real Counter-Strike"

LucasAM
November 30th, 2018 01:13

Ahead of DreamHack Winter, the first event for which Bravado have qualified in North America, we went back to the organization's beginnings in CS:GO and to how the team got molded into what it is today.

Bravado will compete at DreamHack Winter 2018, which marks the first event they have qualified for from outside of their home region. It isn’t the first time the South African organization will be in attendance at Elmia, however, as Bravado played the DreamHack 2014 Major—back when Majors still had invites—, although only one of the players from that lineup remains active today. A lot has happened for Dimitri "Detrony" Hadjipaschali and Bravado since that Major, a period of time with domestic success but with several international defeats and numerous roster changes. Bravado have spent the last ten months in the United States to put South African Counter-Strike on the map and follow the tradition of other teams from peripheral regions, such as Brazil's Luminosity or Australia's Renegades.

When asked about some of the most impactful moments in regards to the team’s composition, Detrony starts off by going all the way back to the days after that DreamHack Winter 2014 Major, when his brother Andreas "cent" Hadjipaschali decided to step down from the active lineup to run the organization full-time. “I had been playing with him in teams, mainly Bravado, from the early age of 16 or 17,” he says. "He always had me under his wing and taught me a lot, so it definitely took a toll on me.”

Detrony (center) at the DreamHack Winter 2014 Major

The South African team ended in 13-16th place at that Major, where they got crushed by fnatic, 16-2, and Cloud9, 16-1, in the GSL group stage. They placed the same at ESWC the following year—when that event was still in its glory days—with a renewed roster. One of the changes from the line-up that had competed in Jönköping was the absence of Robby "bLacKpoisoN" Da Loca, South Africa's most notorious player at the time, who had just moved to Sweden to try his luck in Europe. Upon returning from ESWC, which took place in Montreal that year, the seed of the Bravado we know today was planted when cent asked his younger brother what he wanted to do with the team. ”[He] offered to move me overseas to live and compete abroad to find or build a team,” recalls Detrony. "The other option was to come back home and create a line-up with the best available up and coming players in South Africa.”

Bravado then made one of its most significant signings to date, bringing on the then-16-year-old AWPer Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek, who had been tearing up the local scene while playing for eNergy, one of Bravado’s direct rivals. Not long after that, Ruan "ELUSIVE" van Wyk was also brought on board, setting up the core of the current line-up, and bLacKpoisoN was recalled upon returning home from his European stint. Shortly afterward, Tiaan "T.c" Coertzen was brought on as coach after he decided to leave his then team, eNergy. "I told the team that I was going to stop playing after the ESWC qualifiers in June and probably retire,” says the coach- “I was in my last year of medicine, but I was watching Bravado play at the ESWC qualifiers and I just thought that I could help these guys improve a lot. This allowed me to focus on finishing my degree while helping them in my spare time.”

Bravado jumped at the opportunity of signing Sonic in 2015 when he was just 16

Bravado plowed through South Africa, winning ESEA Open over Rhys "Fadey" Armstrong's and Johnny "JT" Theodosiou’s carboN to qualify for the ESEA Season 22 Global Challenge LAN, and the WESG South & East Africa Qualifier. They then came in second in the WESG Africa & Middle East Qualifier in Dubai—which they were initially going to skip as the dates clashed with the Global Challenge LAN, but ended up attending because they could not secure visas for Poland, where the ESEA event was taking place—to clinch a spot at the 2016 World Finals, in China.

That year’s ESWC once again did not go the way of the South African squad, who went out in 17-24th place following two losses to Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans’s LDLC and one victory over the Indian team Overcome in the group stage. They then traveled to the United States to play the following season’s Global Challenge LAN after winning another ESEA Open, but went out in an underwhelming 5-6th place in the eight-team tournament despite a good start with a win over TSM. They then fell to LDLC once again and lost their last match in California to Rogue.

Despite not getting the desired results, traveling to California ignited a spark in the Bravado players, as T.c explains: "The first time we all went to America was for the Global Challenge LAN in California and that’s pretty much when everyone said: ‘This country is awesome, we’ve got to move here!’ There is just so much to do, even when we’re not practicing or playing CS we’re always having a good time.”

2017 began with the WESG World Finals, where Bravado were unable to make it out of the round-robin best-of-two group stage, in which they tied to Signature, lost to Space Soldiers and Kinguin, and took a consolation victory over FIVE. That marked the last event for this roster as bLacKpoisoN and Ashton "Golz" Muller were replaced by the last two pieces of the puzzle, Fadey and JT. "My dream was to try to make it as a pro internationally, and when Bravado showed me that they could make that happen, there was no way of saying no to the opportunity they gave me," JT said.

When asked about parting ways with bLacKpoisoN, one of the organization's members from the early days, Detrony had this to say: “He brought a huge amount of value to both rosters in Bravado, before and after his return. He is an extremely talented player with a great understanding of the game, and he brought that back with him after returning from Sweden and playing FPL there for around a year. He injected a lot of this into our team and was a big contribution to the development and improvement of our performances. After WESG 2016, in early 2017, the team decided to part ways with him for some internal reasons which I don’t feel necessary to disclose and wish to remain private, but I can say is that he is doing a great job with eNergy, helping and developing the team and players. They have done great so far, and a lot of credit to him.”

The current Bravado lineup, with JT and Fadey, came together in early 2017

By the time they signed for Bravado, JT and Fadey were both quite young, 17 and 18, the former still in high school. “At first the mixture [of youth and experience] led to a few conflicts because the older guys in the team would see things differently than the young guns,” says T.c. "But we managed to learn how to work with each other, instead of against each other, and how to find common ground more quickly. I would say it actually counts in our favor now and it prevents us old guys from getting stuck in our ways.” At the time, Project Destiny, the name given to the venture of bringing Bravado to North America, was already in the works, but it couldn’t happen quite yet: “We wanted to make the move after Sonic finished school at the end of 2016/start of 2017, but then the whole lineup change happened, which left us in a similar situation with having to wait for JT to finish school at the end of 2017," T.c explains. "We were also a new roster and had to prove ourselves, so we weren’t really in a rush to make it happen.”

The team had some early struggles, like losing the ESL African Championship to bLacKpoisoN’s eNergy, although doubts were quickly dispelled as they were able to win their last ESEA Open Season in South Africa, sealing their move to North America as ESEA offered them a spot in the Main division in the new continent. This move has been opening doors for Bravado since the second they left, offering a much more vibrant scene for the South Africans to take advantage of. “I'm enjoying America so much, it is a pleasure to wake up every day and play Counter-Strike,” says Fadey, giving an example of the perks of moving to Arizona. ”In South Africa we could only get scrims at 7PM or 8PM and then after those scrims everybody had to go off for the night. It's very enjoyable being able to start scrimming from 2PM or 3PM.”

JT has been leading the team in-game for most of the year

When asked to compare South Africa and other regions that have managed to field teams playing in the international circuit, Fadey says: “South Africa is the most isolated region due to having a small population compared to Brazil and Australia. On top of that, South Africa has fewer people (relative to total population) that have and use their computers for gaming." JT echoes that sentiment, adding that "individuals can still push themselves to try to compete internationally the way we have. That’s actually what we’re trying to showcase.”

The announcement was made in January of 2018 and the team played their first match in North America the following month, right before heading to China to play at WESG 2018. In Haikou, Bravado became the first South African team to make it out of a group stage at an international event, technically, but that was only because two of the four teams in their group, Viva Algeria and Ukraine, had forfeited their slots at the tournament. The South Africans then lost seven maps to four rivals, Envy, Space Soldiers, ORDER, and TeamOne, but unlike previous international events where things had not gone well, the quintet stayed together and kept working on their goals in North America. The only change this time was that JT took over the team’s in-game leadership. “It’s definitely something I enjoy, but it’s also very stressful,” says the South African youngster. "It is a role I’m comfortable with and I’m learning, and, although I still make many mistakes, my team trust me and want me to lead.”

The team won back-to-back ESEA Seasons upon returning, one in Main and one in MDL, although unluckily for them it was one of the MDL Seasons that did not provide a spot in ESL’s flagship league. "We had a pretty shaky run last season, and we didn't expect to make playoffs by the end of it," says ELUSIVE, "When we made the playoffs we knew we had nothing to lose and we approached the games with little to no pressure, especially since it wasn't a move-up season. We were happy with the win, but the main goal is to become a Pro League team." During that time, Bravado also showed that they could consistently reach a lot of closed qualifiers, and they were granted a six-month extension from their sponsors to remain in North America and keep fighting to reach one of the top leagues in the region.

Bravado recently got eliminated from this past season's MDL playoffs by cantwinalan in a match that saw both maps go into double-overtime. “We approached this season with a different mentality and we were very confident," ELUSIVE explains. "The season went a lot better and we ended up with a good seed, but we fell short in the quarter-finals We expected to make it to the MDL LAN, but the pressure and mindset going into that game ended in a loss for us. Instead of treating it like any other game we treated it as do-or-die, and that was a mistake. We're very disappointed in the result, but we’re motivated to make up for it.” Sonic adds that ”it was a disappointment and it was unfortunate, but by no means will it hinder our progress as a team. Our focus is still there and there is always next season as well as many other events to qualify for. It’s not the end of the world.”

The South African team had already been rewarded for their efforts on American soil 15 days before the loss to cantwinalan, however, by qualifying for DreamHack Winter 2018. They did so in convincing fashion, beating teams like INTZ, Luminosity, and Rogue. With their last LAN event going back almost eight months, I asked Sonic what he thought about competing in Jönköping. "LAN is always a different story, the environment is more intense and the pressure to perform is overwhelming," he notes. "However, if we manage to keep our heads straight and our belts buckled, I feel like we can play our game and perform at the level we need to.”

For Detrony, going to the event with this team is particularly special. "We have been trying to qualify for an offline event outside of South Africa for some time now and we finally did it," he says. "Going through a tougher route than the other qualifiers we have played. It was also one of the last, if not the last, big online qualifier of the year, so the timing was perfect. It was very relieving that the work we have put in has paid off. DreamHack is also a special event for me since I have attended this specific one twice before and never achieved the results I wanted or intended to. I am hoping that there will be improvement and progress here. It also feels great being back at a prestigious event such as this, I can’t wait!”

According to T.c, Bravado have only been playing "real Counter-Strike" since they moved to America

Bravado traveled back home for a few days after the season in North America ended, and then to Sweden, where they have been bootcamping before the tournament. The South Africans will not have an easy time in Jönköping, as they have been put into the more stacked of the two groups, along with ENCE, G2, and OpTic, all well ahead of Bravado in the ranking. This time, however, Bravado already have a victory tallied, which is having qualified for such an event from one of the top two regions in the world. No matter how it ends, the journey they have taken to be here makes them perceive whatever comes next as bonus. “Our goals and dreams are what keeps me and my teammates motivated, and we’re not planning on quitting anytime soon," says Sonic. "We make one another happy by simply being friends, and seeing the man next to you motivated and full of fire raises spirits. We all love this game and competing. To be able to do that in an environment which is so saturated with industry leaders is a blessing which many take for granted, but not us.”

“We will have to wait and see,” says T.c, when asked about how the team will perform on LAN compared to online. “Look, to be completely honest, the team is ridiculously strong and on our day we can compete with some of the best. Unfortunately, on our bad days, we can also lose to teams that we really shouldn’t be losing to. We’re still learning and growing as a team and figuring out how to be consistent. I think everyone on the team will agree that even though we have been together since January 2017, we have only been playing ‘real Counter-Strike’ for the past 10 months, since we moved to America. Anything before that doesn’t count and you’re a fool if you think otherwise."

South Africa Ashton 'Golz' Muller
Ashton 'Golz' Muller
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.88
Maps played:
117
KPR:
0.62
DPR:
0.73
APR:
0.18
South Africa Aran 'Sonic' Groesbeek
Aran 'Sonic' Groesbeek
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.19
Maps played:
323
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.14
South Africa Johnny 'JT' Theodosiou
Johnny 'JT' Theodosiou
Age:
19
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
272
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
South Africa Rhys 'Fadey' Armstrong
Rhys 'Fadey' Armstrong
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
278
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.73
APR:
0.14
South Africa Andreas 'cent' Hadjipaschali
Andreas 'cent' Hadjipaschali
Age:
31
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.83
Maps played:
14
KPR:
0.52
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.14
South Africa Robby 'bLacKpoisoN' Da Loca
Robby 'bLacKpoisoN' Da Loca
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.15
Maps played:
139
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
South Africa Dimitri 'Detrony' Hadjipaschali
Dimitri 'Detrony' Hadjipaschali
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
338
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.14
Belgium Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
Age:
28
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
1289
KPR:
0.63
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.16
South Africa Ruan 'ELUSIVE' van Wyk
Ruan 'ELUSIVE' van Wyk
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.98
Maps played:
340
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.14
South Africa Tiaan 'T.c' Coertzen
Tiaan 'T.c' Coertzen
Age:
26
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.84
Maps played:
44
KPR:
0.57
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.18
#2
 | 
Poland wojteq__ 
nice
2018-11-30 01:14
#16
nEGRo | 
African Union ramrod 
Finally the African scene gets some exposure
2018-11-30 01:33
That's true
2018-11-30 09:24
Wow
2018-11-30 01:15
lul
2018-11-30 01:15
+1
2018-12-02 12:05
#7
 | 
United States m1santhr0pe3 
cool
2018-11-30 01:18
+1
2018-11-30 11:10
#9
m1cks | 
United States m1cks 
dont worry boys we're gonna win dreamhack
2018-11-30 01:19
We? Wtf
2018-11-30 13:22
#102
m1cks | 
United States m1cks 
im their analyst lul
2018-11-30 15:35
#105
fer | 
Brazil jmarcelo 
Lmao
2018-11-30 17:04
Tomorrow will be interesting to say the least. Also, blackpoison was kicked for being too toxic OMEGALUL
2018-11-30 01:27
Good article I've been enjoying these features
2018-11-30 01:32
I wished u the very best success
2018-11-30 01:39
#24
Lekr0 | 
Peru synergy_ 
+1
2018-11-30 02:07
nice article
2018-11-30 01:40
i remember was similar article about optic india LUL
2018-11-30 01:56
I guess I ve forsaken it ;)
2018-11-30 10:16
You know a game is dominated by whites when the best African team is all whites. (Not tryna be racist tho)
2018-11-30 02:07
#25
 | 
Brazil 9Rain 
Maybe black ppl are not keen on CS.
2018-11-30 02:58
clearly lol
2018-11-30 03:07
The only two decent ones I noticed are SpawN and refrezh
2018-11-30 03:25
#31
 | 
Brazil 9Rain 
SpawN was nice
2018-11-30 03:50
#33
ropz | 
Singapore Jewel666 
They are keen for real-life CSGO if you know what I mean ;)
2018-11-30 04:46
#46
gob b | 
Germany miinus 
Oof
2018-11-30 07:11
Lmao nice one
2018-11-30 14:05
#110
 | 
Germany zeolikk 
Hahahha
2018-11-30 18:44
Black kids parentes don't believe gaming is a future
2018-11-30 08:13
#139
 | 
South Africa j3k47 
Unfortunately this has some truth to it :'(
2018-12-02 05:12
that's because there's a big wage gap in South Africa, that's been leftover from the colonial era the whites live in a practically first world country but outside of the cities you have people literally living in mud huts still it's not that the blacks hate video games, they just are too poor to own computers
2018-11-30 17:26
ok thanks for educating me
2018-11-30 23:11
#23
Lekr0 | 
Peru synergy_ 
gl bravado
2018-11-30 02:07
#29
 | 
Austria goodyear93 
serious ?! who read the whole text ? i mean its intressting but cmon its way too much :D
2018-11-30 03:38
#47
gob b | 
Germany miinus 
+1
2018-11-30 07:12
#59
 | 
Indonesia linekerrr 
5 minutes is enough
2018-11-30 10:09
Have you ever in your life read a book? Because if this was too much, I really doubt you've ever finished a book. You should try it.
2018-11-30 11:39
#96
 | 
Austria goodyear93 
you dont understand my point. its to much for a team like bravado!
2018-11-30 13:47
Gl bravado!!! You guys need to stop being inconsistent though its you will win one week over good teams and then lose the next week to awful teams. Have better rounds win clean rounds guys not this 1 guy left crap
2018-11-30 04:05
I love the passion and dedication of these guys, good luck tomorrow Bravado! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wanna buy the best apples in HLTV? call me NOW: 011-1337-APPLE and get an 80% discount on your first 5 kilos!
2018-11-30 04:56
they aren't from south africa they're all white
2018-11-30 06:46
In south africa can be white
2018-11-30 06:58
#45
 | 
Germany zeolikk 
There are a lot of whites in South Africa
2018-11-30 07:18
still not original in their roots
2018-11-30 10:18
#111
 | 
Germany zeolikk 
So North American people secretly don't exist?
2018-11-30 18:45
so na cs ist mostly european cs too hahaha
2018-11-30 18:57
#114
 | 
Germany zeolikk 
Yea
2018-11-30 19:25
#48
gob b | 
Germany miinus 
Idiot
2018-11-30 07:13
#56
 | 
South Africa tsarbae 
autistic indeed
2018-11-30 08:31
Well written article and thanks HLTV.org for giving the South African scene also a bit of exposure.
2018-11-30 06:55
#49
rain | 
Norway SystRay 
Nice to read about the African scene, good job :)
2018-11-30 07:23
great story, hard work pays off, desire alone is unreliable. best of luck!
2018-11-30 07:40
"We want to find real Counter Strike. Hey, I have a good idea! You know that scene who's pro league is basically ESEA with good aimers? Lets go to the SHITTIER side of that scene!" Bad decisions were made that day
2018-11-30 08:14
#58
 | 
Sweden DEFENSE! 
Mad respect to this team
2018-11-30 10:01
#60
 | 
Ukraine petruska 
> REAL COUNTER-STRIKE > Brovado OMEGALUL
2018-11-30 10:09
how is that a 16yo kid's face, i dont understand
2018-11-30 10:16
he is 19 nowadays
2018-11-30 10:19
Sonic is so good sadly no one gonna sign him because he's from south africa
2018-11-30 10:53
Care to elaborate as to why?
2018-11-30 10:59
To why sonic is good or why no good team is going to sign him because hes from South Africa?
2018-11-30 11:00
The latter
2018-11-30 11:00
Do you actually think any t1/2 team watches South African cs and think "oh my god this sonic guy is really good maybe we should offer him a slot in our team?"
2018-11-30 11:04
I see what you are saying, but the way you worded it implied that because of where he comes from he wont be signed, talent is talent no matter where it comes from. I guarantee you now people where saying the same shit about the Ausies when they cwent over and you wouldn't say no international team wont sign an Azr or JKS (current form aside) now. Side note. they are playing in NA so they wouldn't have to be watching RSA cs to see them play.
2018-11-30 11:08
#87
 | 
South Africa BrucieBoi 
also he is better than allot of na bots getting paid big $ for being a space filler like that guy reltuc or hazed :>
2018-11-30 11:53
Sonic should join RNG one day tbh
2018-11-30 13:44
#124
 | 
Turkey rusty james 
agreed to most of your points but you could e given better examples tbh. first hazed isnt on a salary and he was as good as sonic and slightly better individually the past mdl season and he is not even on a proper team and cutler was always second fiddle to the top nacs guys that came from css and 1.6. but he always was talented enough as to play subtop invite since 1.6 and he is also dedicated enough and doesnt dick around like most of the teenagers do. dudes 30 and still grinds he also has some huge accomplihments. dude pulled the same stuff bravado pulled yesterday in 2014-2015.
2018-12-01 04:39
#86
s1mple | 
Poland Hell2k 
africa cs lul
2018-11-30 11:41
#112
 | 
Germany zeolikk 
Better than optic lul
2018-11-30 18:46
noone cares lmao
2018-11-30 13:20
That' not true
2018-12-03 08:38
FUCKING FINALLY
2018-11-30 13:43
#100
 | 
World word_exe 
Very interesting read, they did not do well at WESG that's for sure but time will tell how this venture pans out for them. Best of luck and have fun!
2018-11-30 14:26
Ayyyyyy
2018-12-01 19:21
#101
 | 
Algeria MagnumDz 
some kids trying to be funny and racist LUL .. grow up
2018-11-30 14:56
#103
blood | 
United States TREYWAY 
lol
2018-11-30 15:49
Impressed
2018-12-01 23:28
#138
s1mple | 
Turkey solfex 
Projecto D
2018-12-02 00:22
yeah
2018-12-02 12:04
#142
 | 
Cyprus TheVodkaGuy 
Sonic <3
2018-12-02 14:51
who?
2018-12-07 04:38
Project on how to be tier 1 matchfixing :))))
2018-12-10 18:14
Login or register to add your comment to the discussion.