It is hard to talk about the South African esports scene without mentioning Bravado Gaming, with its teams competing at a high level both locally and abroad. Playing and placing well in tournaments is just a part of the puzzle though.

This became overwhelmingly evident following a recent chat we had with Bravado CEO, Andreas Hadjipaschali.

During our interview he touched on a number of topics including the Fortnite team it recently launched at last week’s Dell Technologies Forum, the roles of sponsors and how to find the right one, what he looks for when signing up a new team member, and how he’s aiming to evolve the organisation into a gaming brand.

This is what Hadjipaschali had to say.

Hypertext: You’ve been quite busy with Bravado Gaming of late. What are some of the plans you’ve been working on recently?

Andreas Hadjipaschali: Bravado has shifted to somewhat of a brand recently. It’s becoming a lifestyle brand and our call to action is to portray the Brando universe, and we use esports as the primary platform to aid that call to action.

Through that we’re building a variety of ecosystems around of esports, such as apparel, being ambassadors for Dell/Alienware, shoes in Europa Art. So we’re trying to bridge that gap between the social market and competitive gaming market to show that esports can be a lifestyle.

We’re trying to create a synergy between gaming and non-gaming, because we think gaming is the next wave forward.

Hypertext: We’re at the Dell Technologies Forum today for Bravado to officially unveil its Fortnite team. The game is wildly popular, but what are some of the other reasons behind creating this new team?

AH: One of the things we look at before bringing a team into Bravado Gaming is whether the title is esports ready or not.

There are countless games being released every week, but the question is how long those games really last for. You can look at games like PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) which is performing fine at the moment, but use to have a far larger following a couple of years ago.

So when we bring a team on, we have to make sure that there is a market for them in South Africa, there are competitions for them to compete in. If those elements are not in place, three months down the line you’d have to let the team go, and there’s a lot of inconsistency with that.

That’s why it is important for us to find games where there is good support for it, there are tournaments, and Fortnite ticks all those boxes.

Six or seven months ago we were still a little hesitant about bringing a Fortnite team on, but now that we know that the publishers (Epic Games) are looking after the title, it’s generating massive exposure in the country, and for that reason we’ve decided to bring on four players.

Hypertext: Although Fortnite is very popular, it’s still quite divisive among pro gamers. Do you think it should be taken seriously?

AH: I think all esports should be taking seriously, as they all hold value for the people playing it.

There are several benefits to a game like Fortnite in my opinion, as it can help in terms of your development as a gamer, give you a better understanding of the esports landscape, it allows you to connect with people and potentially make a career out of it.

There will always be naysayers, but I believe we should be focusing on the positives that the title brings.

Hypertext: When it comes to a title like Fortnite, any advice for those wanting to get better?

AH: If your child is going to get into esports, or play a title like Fortnite, making them good is not simply about playing as much as you can. It’s really about having a good balance.

Some of the things we’ve had at Bravado include nutritionists, psychologists, personal trainers, so game time is actually quite limited, as there are a lot of external factors that contribute to you getting good at a game.

It’s not just about getting into a server and fighting, there are actually quite a few more elements involved, and you need to be able to balance them all.

Hypertext: Over the next few months, do you have any specific goals in mind with the Fortnite team?

AH: Well events are starting to come slowly but surely.

There aren’t a ton of events in South Africa currently, but we’re hoping that more organisations will start to understand the value of Fortnite. There’s a massive social community for this game, so the question is how do we translate that into a competitive scene.

If you can get that right with a game like Fortnite, locally you’ll have an increase in investment and more tournaments.

So the next few goals is to communicate to people in South Africa that Fortnite is a top game.

Hypertext: You’ve just taken on four gamers. When Bravado does look at taking on a player, what are some of the intangible elements you look for, apart from just being good?

AH: When we sat down to discuss bringing on a Fortnite team, we looked at the same criteria we always do.

It’s not just about skill level and achievements. You can take someone who isn’t great and help turn them into something great, as long as they have the right character, vision, dedication, motivation and a desire to make it.

We’re not necessarily looking at the gamers who are placing first all the time. I’d rather bring in someone who is coming in the top 10 all the time, and has the desire to learn, wants to get better and has the right attitude.

All those factors play an important role, as they are not only representing Bravado Gaming, but also other gamers and partners, so character plays a big part in selection.

Hypertext: You mentioned sponsors. Can you expand on the role they play and what up-and-coming teams in need of a sponsor should do?

AH: We’ve had out relationship Dell, Alienware and Intel for the past six years, and our partnership has been able to extend into the META (Middle East, Turkey and Africa) region.

Having their support is fantastic, because esports is not cheap. Especially when you have to fly players to events, sort out their accommodation, ensure that they have the right products, and when you’re creating content, that it’s correct for everyone involved.

All of those aspects are expensive, so having Dell’s support is great because they see where the future of esports is heading in South Africa.

In terms of taking on prospective sponsors, it’s important that people understand that a sponsor is not going to simply give you product and money to place their logo somewhere.

There needs to be more value than that, including content, good social media interaction, so it’s vital to know that they players have the right mindset in order to head out to events and help their partners.

It’s also important to have some sort of content team in place, particularly when making videos and creating content on a consistent basis. With that consistency will come greater visibility, and it’s the most important element in anything you plan to do.