You’d be hard-pressed to find an eSports event in Perth that isn’t just a stream party. Maybe there’ll be a couple of pro-level matches at RFLAN, but locally hosted events are a rare sight indeed. Unusual, but not unseen, and Flaktest Gaming has been hard at work to show that Perth isn’t as barren as we tend to think. I was able to attend the 2017 Flaktest Gaming League of Legends National Championships, and while I know nothing about LoL anymore, the event nailed what a local eSports event should be.

There’s no better way to spread the eSports love than through schools, but that doesn’t mean the event has to be a school dance. Flaktest has been running youth eSports tournaments for a couple of years now, taking kids from schools and pitting them against each other for glory. What’s interesting is that the organisers don’t do things in half-measures, pulling in the big guns like PLE and Corsair to help out. With that kind of support, it’s not surprising that the show had the setup most of us could only dream of.
 

Photo Credit: Paolo Gumina

Walking into the John Inverarity Music and Drama Centre over at Hale School, I was impressed to see something more akin to ESL than a high school computer lab. PLE had provided some tiny beasts of computers for the matches to come, and the lighting setup was top of the class stuff. There was a commentary desk to the side, and everything was being streamed up onto a projector screen for all to see. It was pretty impressive for something like this to be coming out of little ol’ Perth, but we hadn’t even gotten into the games yet!

The event was split into two main parts. First, there was a friendly exhibition map of the Hale School All-Stars, and it gave a taste of what was to come. I don’t know if it’s because kids at school have more time than us older folk, but hot damn, these guys knew how to play some LoL. Even for a warm-up match, the plays on show were right up there with the pros. Reactions, strategies and teamwork were all displayed within the first 10 minutes, and the commentary was just as well executed.
 

Photo Credit: Paolo Gumina

Off to the side was the commentary box, but don’t go thinking it was just for affectations. There were two colour commentators, Flaktest bred and tested, but to the side of them was local Radio host, Pete Curulli. With the presence of an experienced mic jockey on their side, these guys nailed the commentary for both noobs and experienced players alike. If you were a parent, Pete would have your back, but those already invested in the game got some wise insights as well. After punching through the first game, it was time for the real show to begin.

The main event was the grand final proper, but it wouldn’t be Perth teams going at it. The finalists were from Fairvale High School (NSW) and Roxburgh College (VIC), flown in specially to duke it out for us Perthians. I was surprised to hear that these guys weren’t doing the finals over east, because after all, that’s where the players lived. But no, Flaktest flew them over here to show that eSports have a place here in Perth, and when these guys got going, it made for some good viewing.
 

Photo Credit: Paolo Gumina

Again, the quality of matches on show was top notch. There was one especially great moment involving stealing the junglers’ buff right from under their nose, executed with perfect timing, of course. I don’t know anything about LoL, but I know good plays when I see them. After two matches, it was over, and the glory went to the Fairvalians, though no one left empty-handed. Both teams were given show bags filled with all sorts of goodies from Corsair and PLE, though you didn’t need to be on-stage to nab a new keyboard.

One of the great things to see was how willing the sponsors were to run giveaways. A raffle was happening throughout the day, and while I didn’t get a ticket, I could still appreciate how insane some of these prizes were. A chance at winning a new keyboard, mouse and headset all for coming along to an eSports event? Sounds like a good deal to me! Good games, good support, but if there was one thing that irked me about the event, it was in the execution.
 

Photo Credit: Paolo Gumina

A big issue with the day was that it took so long to get anywhere. The finals were scheduled to run from 1-7pm, but only the matches mentioned above were planned, and the formalities didn’t even begin until 2 pm. There were intermissions after every game, which was nice, but with the giveaways padding out the hours, I just wanted to get on with the games. There were only three or four games to be played, but I had to hang around for 5 hours to get through them all, and they weren’t without problems either.

If there’s one thing anyone knows about live events, it’s that things have to go wrong. For a sold-out event, half of the seats seemed strangely empty, but that’s what happens when you don’t set a price on the tickets. I had to point out to a friend volunteering that the scores on the stream hadn’t been updated after the first match of the finals. Perhaps the most significant issue of the event was when the capture card failed and broke the live stream for the audience, although it’s a bit hard to fault the organisers on that one. It’s the little things that could have been sorted out (like making sure the giveaway presentations didn’t awkwardly pause mid-raffle draw) that would have taken the event from memorable to legendary. Still, if you’re going to put on an eSports event here in Perth, Flaktest is setting a high bar.
 

Photo Credit: Paolo Gumina

While it had its hiccups, the guys at Flaktest offered up one hell of a show. Schoolkids or not, these guys were some high-level players, and they were treated to some of the best equipment around thanks to some serious sponsorship. Nothing about the event felt half-baked, and across the board, from venue to commentary, the event knew what it was about. Although it would have been a bit better if the CEO’s mum hadn’t won a Corsair keyboard (by accident, of course), but hey, even she was having a great time. I’m keen for what these guys come up with next, especially if it goes from classroom to industry.

Nick Ballantyne

Nick Ballantyne

Managing Editor at GameCloud
Nick lives in that part of Perth where there's nothing to do. You know, that barren hilly area with no identifying features and no internet? Yeah, that part. To compensate, he plays games, writes chiptunes, makes videos, and pokes fun at hentai because he can't take anything seriously.
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