South African Aspiration: The Story of Bravado Gaming
A core of South African players that has been together since the end of 2015 catches a big break after reaching the grand finals of DreamHack Open Winter 2018. In celebration of their breakthrough, Rush B Media presents you a brief history of Bravado Gaming’s journey.
Dimitri “Detrony” Hadjipaschali starts our story as the co-founder of the organization itself back in 2006, alongside his brother who acts as director and CEO of Bravado Gaming, Andreas "cent" Hadjipaschali. Since the departure of in-game leader and part time AWP player Robby “blackpoisoN” da Loca, Detrony also adopted the captain role of the team and acted as the mastermind behind the roster for almost two years now. These three names, alongside Richard “deviaNt” Groves, and Dane “racno” Friedman, would participate in the DreamHack Winter 2014 Major in an attempt to properly represent their country on the big stage. However, they were unable to put a dent into the internationally competitive fnatic and regionally dominant Cloud9.
Following their disappointing 13th-16th result with only three rounds earned, they spent the better portion of two years playing in primarily regional events and coming out on top more often than not, proving that they were able to maintain hold over at least their region. Multiple shifts in the roster would include blackpoisoN, who aimed to improve his individual game by moving to Sweden and joining European teams, featuring names like North’s current AWPing in-game leader Casper “cadiaN” Møller and Red Reserve AWPer William “draken” Sundin. He would depart the roster in January of 2015 and return in April of 2016.
In his absence, Thulani “LighteRTZ” Sishi would take his place and would soon be replaced by current team member Ruan “ELUSIVE” van Wyk in November of the same year. During their time together, they were only capable of taking control of regional events and couldn’t secure more than 15 rounds over the course of 3 maps in ESWC 2015. With these results came more roster changes, in the form of Aran “Sonic” Groesbeek and Ashton “Golz” Muller in place of Flarez and racno. This change would complete the core of the roster we know as Bravado Gaming today.
With the return of blackpoisoN for longtime member and former teammate deviaNt, the team would be tested on a few instances by teams like Space Soldiers and Team LDLC in the WESG 2016 Middle East and Africa LAN qualifier and ESWC 2016 respectively. They would prove unable to step up to the plate during these matches, as well as against names like Team Kinguin and the aforementioned Space Soldiers in the WESG 2016 LAN finals. This seemed to be a breaking point for the Bravado squad.
Bravado would soon be left in disarray with limited options, as one of their better fraggers in blackpoisoN, who acted as the team’s in-game leader, had been receiving multiple offers from North America and felt he should attempt to pursue them. Golz would also step down from the roster to make room for a package move. The departure of these two players would lead to the signing of a young CarboN eSports duo Rhys "Fadey" Armstrong and Johnny "JT" Theodosiou to finish the current five man roster of Bravado. The latest recruits would prove to be both an upgrade and a downgrade at the same time, with neither player being able to fill the shoes that blackpoisoN left to fill, however, both players seemed to fit the team substantially more than Golz had. More South African dominance came in the following year, with a few maps off respectable names here and there, but still a rather unremarkable reputation.
After more than three years of little opportunity outside South Africa, 2018 would be a year of promise. The organization had made a large decision to relocate itself and its roster to North America and broaden its horizons. This would prove to be what it took to elevate their play to the next level, as they would be pushed farther than they ever had been pushed before to find better means of improvement over time. A slow yet steady incline saw the team improve over the course of the year and begin contesting for minor event qualifications, such as the very DreamHack Open Winter they would make their mark in but 10 days ago.
A real underdog story saw Bravado get the better of prominent names in the North American scene like Luminosity Gaming, Rogue, and INTZ eSports in best of three series. In a convincing fashion, Bravado were able to qualify for the LAN to prove that they were now a force to be reckoned with.
The opening match of Group B saw the South African superstars squaring off against OpTic Gaming on Dust 2, who had something to prove in themselves as well. The Danes had been going through a rough patch in comparison to their regional rivals. The match began as expected, with OpTic taking both the pistol round and the follow up into the first gun round of the match. This, however, is where the expected results would end. Bravado end the half with a shocking 10-5 lead on their T side and managed to close down the match 16 to 14 before OpTic Gaming were able to close out their attempt at a comeback, winning four clutch situations to OpTic’s zilch. Bravado Gaming start the event 1-0.
They went into their second match against a recently “reshuffled” G2 Esports. This was another match that very few people could have anticipated the result of, with yet another upset going the way of Bravado. This map would consist of constant victories in heads up duels by the Bravado players in opposition to the methodical clutch wins they found in the OpTic match. A truly outstanding performance from ELUSIVE meant winning both a 2vs2 to secure the third round to break G2 economy as well as pulling back a 3vs5 scenario to put Bravado onto map point. They would win the following round to secure yet another upset win, 16 to 13 in scoreline, putting them straight into the playoffs with a flawless group stage.
The semifinals saw a rather convincing 2-0 win in the best-of-three series against the Swedes x6tence Galaxy, with a slight scare coming on the second map, Inferno. A few rounds were let through by Bravado unnecessarily, but were made up for by an overtime 19-17 recovery for the win to secure them their first minor-grade LAN grand final. This is where they would meet ENCE eSports and be ultimately denied a map victory in an anticlimactic fashion after their dominance in previous match-ups. They split the series in clutch victories 2:2, but the number of AWP kills, the damage output, the assists, and the number of opening kills from ENCE were too great for Bravado to overcome.
While they had not walked away the winners of the event itself, they ended up walking away winners nonetheless. Determination, perseverance, and the willingness to grow as a team is truly allowed for this team to find itself a place on the map. With these results, Bravado looks to qualify for the IEM Katowice 2019 Major via the Americas Minor in January and have already secured a place in the WESG 2018 LAN Finals in Chongqing, China in March. With their recently found success, a new sense of confidence and motivation should be ignited within these players to continue developing and challenging Counter-Strike’s international scene.