South Africa’s Bravado Gaming moves to Europe

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South African esports organization Bravado Gaming will be basing their Counter-Strike team out of Europe from April 2024, in the hopes of elevating the team’s performance on the global stage.

Bravado Gaming Captain Johnathan “Doru” Fox at ESL Challenger Katowice 2023
Bravado Gaming’s Johnathan “Doru” Fox. Photo by Luc Bouchon

With headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a growing presence in the Middle East, the organization has committed to a two-year-long project with their current lineup of players with the goal of achieving a set list of six objectives. These objectives have been publicly shared and are an honest way to hold themselves and their players accountable. 

The name Bravado Gaming might be relatively familiar to you, especially if you followed the competitive CS:GO scene in North America pre-covid. The organization did a similar play in 2018 when they sent their then lineup to Phoenix, Arizona to compete. They dubbed the exercise “Project Destiny” and, it’s no surprise, that this time round they’ve gone for the very straightforward “Project Destiny 2.0” as the label for their latest endeavor. The original project surprisingly had incredible success for the players from a country that had struggled to compete on the global stage. The initial lineup notably placed second at Dreamhack Winter Jönköping 2018, won the Dreamhack Invitational Mumbai 2018, qualified for the Katowice Americas Minor Championship 2019, and peaked at number 21 on the HLTV world rankings. 

However, the Project began to unravel in January 2019 when the organization began a crowdfunding campaign to try to keep the team in North America. While the Bravado lineup dissolved, Project Destiny did produce three members who would go on to continue to play at the top levels. Johnny “JT” Theodosiou, Aran “Sonic” Groesbeek, and Tiaan “T.c” Coetzee all go on to find themselves at Cloud9 at one point. T.c and JT are now the coach and IGL respectively of Complexity’s CS team while Sonic most recently made an appearance at IEM Chengdu with Wildcard Gaming. 

Dimitri “Detrony” Hadjipaschali, co-founder of Bravado Gaming and an original member of the first Project Destiny attempt explains that Counter-Strike players can’t build a truly competitive team from South Africa: “We can’t compete from South Africa because, as many people know, we are disadvantaged when it comes to our latency and we are stuck in a bubble because of it. You have to be competing with the teams you want to beat in order to strive to be better than them?”

Project Destiny 2.0’s lineup is still lacking a fifth but currently comprises of:

  • Wiljhane “Wilj” Smith
  • Marchahn “March” Smith
  • Johnathan “Doru” Fox
  • Kian “Triton” Gibson
  • Daniel “LaBishop” Hufton (coach)

These four players formed part of the Bravado Gaming team that represented the Middle East and Africa Region at ESL Challenger Katowice 2023. They were also able to win the South African Open Qualifiers for the PGL Copenhagen Major before not finding form in the Middle East Closed Qualifiers and ultimately ending their Major run. 

Kian “Triton” Gibson from Bravado Gaming playing at ESL Challenger Katowice 2023
Bravado Gaming’s Kian “Triton” Gibson
Photo by Luc Bouchon

According to Detrony, the team has their eye on a selection of EU based players who they’ll approach and potentially trial thereafter once they’ve set up a home base in Belgrade, Serbia – which is where the team will compete from around mid-May 2023 until February 2026. 

Of course, the cynical Counter-Strike fan may ask how this particular iteration of Project Destiny 2.0 will fare any differently from the original strategy? Well, for starters, the organization has done this once before and will have likely learned from any speed bumps they hit in the past. The press releases around this announcement have alluded to support from the organization’s sponsors, namely Alienware, Dell Technologies and Intel, as well as a quote that mentions the financial requirements of such a project. So you’d presume they’re ready for the costs that come with a move like this. 

The move to Europe may also assist in this project playing out differently. “Europe is known to have become the most active and competitive region for Counter-Strike, especially with regards to the sheer amount of active leagues, qualifier opportunities and overall consistent levels of competition. It is by far the best way to improve as quickly as possible. Europe has historically always been the pinnacle of Counter-Strike competition and the ecosystems which have formed around that are second to none. The players will be surrounded by plenty of other teams playing out of Belgrade, alongside a great network of brands such as Relog, ENAT, and events such as the HLTV awards which have taken place. We feel there are a few options internationally that could rival what Serbia offers.” says Detrony. 

The organization has committed to a two-year endeavor and, with the competitive Counter-Strike calendar opening up in 2025 it is likely as good a time as any to really throw your hat in the ring. The organization has also publicly laid out two clear objectives for this move: Bravado Gaming wants to reach and maintain a top 30 HLTV rating and wants to qualify for a Major. 

Whether or not they achieve this will remain to be seen but for now, the zero to potential hero story may just capture the hearts of a few CS softies. 


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