Electronic Sports, better known as eSports, is still a fairly ‘unknown’ term in South Africa, especially for the layman. Although Super Sport  and a host of other channels have started airing video game matches, and many local events have started to focus-on and build local esports, many people are still left wondering about what exactly it is all about. This is where RUSH comes in to play (literally and figuratively).

Designed by the same people behind South Africa’s premier gaming event, rAge (really Awesome gaming expo), the inaugural Rush event is a first for esports in South Africa and is set to become an annual showcase of all things esports. If you have ever wanted to learn more about esports, perhaps meet and talk to pro players, watch South Africa’s top teams compete, and maybe even enter a competition yourself and win some prizes; then Rush is an event you definitely do not want to miss.

Taking place between 21 and 23 July at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Rush will feature a variety of competitive esports tournaments; each of which will be hosted by leading local organisations across dedicated esports stages. Each of the events will also feature live shoutcasting (commentary) by some of South Africa’s top shoutcasters, and it will allow fans to watch some of South Africa’s best competitive gamers and clans compete live for the honour of taking home first place!

Lauren Das Neves, marketing manager for Rush, NAG and rAge, says that “Rush is an exciting, compelling showcase of everything that South African esports currently has to offer”. According to Das Neves, Rush has been created to offer a “unique experience that will appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers, and one that will serve as a visual introduction to anyone who doesn’t know what all this esports fuss is about”. Furthermore, she stressed that the event has been designed by industry professionals with more than 20 years of experience in the gaming industry and strongly believes that Rush will become “a great platform for us to build, empower and connect with new and existing esports communities”.

Those who attend Rush will have a pick of enjoying four main stages, each of which will be showcasing popular titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), FIFA 17, League of Legends, and Street Fighter V. Fans, supporters and enthusiasts will be able to watch all the competitions live on big screens, with dedicated seating areas at all the stages. In addition, visitors will even have the option of being able to take part in specialised esports events and tournaments across a range of games like Hearthstone, FIFA 17, Street Fighter V and Metal Slug. Naturally there are also some prizes up for grabs, so anyone with even a passing interest in video games is encouraged to come and take part.

Other than the stages mentioned above, what else will there be to do at Rush? Quite a bit, actually. Below is a rundown of what gamers can expect:

  • In terms of unique and specialised tournaments for fansit should be noted that Kaiser Chiefs will be participating at Rush, and have partnered with Vodacom and Nike to allow fans to battle it out with the famous team… on stage! Gamers will go head-to-head in the FIFA 17 tournament in a bid to be the ultimate winner! Anyone interested in entering the Kaizer Chiefs tournament at Rush should visit www.acgl.co.za/kaizerchiefs to sign up. Entry to the tournament is free.
  • For Warcraft and Hearthstone fans, Kwesé will be hosting a Hearthstone Fireside Gathering at Rush. Gamers who participate will be entered into a R30 000 prize pool across the weekend. Each daily “top spot” will also walk away with R5 000. Second and third place get R3 000 and R2 000 respectively. To sweeten the deal even more, there is also a gaming notebook from MSI up for grabs! All you need to do is shuffle those decks. In addition to the prize winning event, there is also a casual tournament for those keen for some arrive-and-play fun.
  • Other activities include PlayStation VR, arcade cabinets and retail stands, so there’ll be plenty to do while you’re taking a break from all the esports action!
  • If you’re a fan of old-school, arcade-style gaming, then be sure to visit the NAG Arcade / Eurasian Entertainment stand. Try your hand at Metal Slug, set a high score, and the player with the highest score at the end of the weekend will win an arcade machine that oozes retro coolness.
  • Matrix Warehouse will be running a fastest-lap challenge on their stand with mystery prizes up for grabs each day.
  • Orena is ramping up its Fight Night offering at Rush, with the casual Street Fighter V tournament set for an EFC-sized boost. EFC Worldwide welterweight champion Dricus du Plessis and bantamweight champion Demarte Pena will battle it out in an exhibition match in the OFN octagon at 11:00 on Sunday 23 July, with other EFC athletes waiting in the wings to challenge them! Gamers can enter the Orena Fight Night challenge and stand a chance of winning R20 000 by the end of the season.
  • Orena is also offering the chance to qualify for ESWC for CS:GO on one of the main stages. “The country’s best esports teams will be fighting it out in a world-class arena, for the opportunity to take on some of the best players on the planet” says Luca Tucconi, Operating Executive at Orena.
  • Pink-IT will hold its first annual summit at Rush over the course of three days. Pink-IT is designed to build a supportive and inspiring community for women in technology and foster a culture of sharing, collaboration, discussion and inspiration for female software developers. The first annual summit will bring together companies interested in hiring female software developers in South Africa, opening up opportunities for women in the industry. The summit will be a jam packed weekend  for all  female software developers, game developers, UX designers, graphic designers and animators who also want to learn how to build a mobile-based esports game using BlueMix.

Alongside this “high-adrenaline and hugely entertaining” line-up, one of the other exciting features of Rush is South Africa’s first Winter NAG LAN. That is right folks. Looks like it will now occur twice a year! The Winter NAG LAN offers an opportunity to experience multiplayer gaming with hundreds of likeminded gaming enthusiasts packed into a single venue. A NAG LAN ticket also gives you access to the Rush event for the full weekend. Casual competitions for Dota 2 and Rocket League will also be hosted in the NAG LAN, with hardware peripheral prizes up for grabs – which have been sponsored by Apex Interactive. A formal competition for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will also be hosted in the NAG LAN for 16 teams [on PlayStation 4] with a total of R19 000 in prizes to be won.

Tickets for the NAG LAN at Rush are available at Computicket. However, as part of the NAG LAN Rush launch offer, upon purchase of your NAG LAN Rush ticket for R600, you will automatically qualify for, and be guaranteed, a NAG LAN at rAge ticket, which will then only cost you R450. This once-off offer applies to any NAG LAN at Rush tickets that have already been bought.

If you, your friends and your family want to attend Rush and watch all the esports action as it happens, you will need to either purchase a Day Ticket (valid for entry for one day only), which costs R50, or a Weekend Ticket (valid for entry for all three days), which costs R100. Tickets are available at the door or at Computicket.

Owner, founder and editor-in-chief at Vamers, Hans has a vested interest in geek culture and the interactive entertainment industry. With a Masters degree in Communications and Ludology, he is well read and versed in matters relating to video games and communication media, among many other topics of interest.