ATK Signs South Africa's Top CS:GO Team


ATK in Cape Town has signed South Africa's top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, which had been training in the USA and achieving impressive global rankings before its earlier sponsoring organisation ran out of funding for the project, thereby threatening its ability to remain a top team.

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 10 April 2019
Category: Feature
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ATK's Warren Barkhuizen talks abou the team at the signing
Above: ATK's Warren Barkhuizen (standing) introduces the new ATK CS:GO team: Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek, Dominic "Domsterr" Sampaio, Robby "blackpoisoN" Da Loca, Tiaan "T.c" Coertzen, and Johnny "JT" Theodosiou. (Rhys "Fadey" Armstrong is obscured behind Barkhuizen.)
ATK, which runs ATK Arena in Claremont, Cape Town, a gaming and e-sports venue supported by Corsair and ASUS, signed its third e-sports team on Saturday during an event at the arena. The team is the recently reworked roster of South Africa's best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) team, which now comprises Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek, Rhys "Fadey" Armstrong, Johnny "JT" Theodosiou (the captain), Dominic "Domsterr" Sampaio, Robby "blackpoisoN" Da Loca, and coach and team manager Tiaan "T.c" Coertzen.

The event, which was hosted by Grant Hinds, saw all the team members sign the contract with ATK's Warren Barkhuizen before they autographed merchandise and participated in a Q&A with fans and the media. The evening ended with fans being able to play against them, and ATK Arena's Overwatch team, unIDentified.

The team is the best South African team in the world, having reached a global rank of 21 in January 2019 while it was still part of Bravado Gaming, which had sent it to the USA last year, under an initiative it called "Project Destiny", to enable the team members to train under better conditions, such as faster Internet infrastructure, and closer to a number of high-ranking teams and the North American CS:GO community.

Domsterr and Fadey watch blackpoisoN sign the contract
Above: Dominic "Domsterr" Sampaio (left) and Rhys "Fadey" Armstrong (right) watch Robby "blackpoisoN" Da Loca (center) sign the contract.
Unfortunately the funding ran out after a year, which left the team members faced with having to return to South Africa in January and lose their training edge or find a way to raise more money to stay longer. Initially they turned to crowdfunding to raise US$30 000, which would have given them three more months in the USA, and were running a successful campaign on Indiegogo that garnered major support from fans and a handful of top international CS:GO players before the campaign was suddenly terminated and the pledgers were refunded.

It turned out that USA organisation Denial Esports had offered to sign the team and four of the players - Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek, Rhys "Fadey" Armstrong, Johnny "JT" Theodosiou, and Ruan "Elusive" van Wyk - and the coach, Tiaan "T.c" Coertzen, took up the offer in late January, with Dimitri "Detrony" Hadjipaschali opting to remain with Bravado Gaming and return to South Africa.

Soon after it was announced that Energy Esports' Dominic "Domsterr" Sampaio, who was an original member of the team in 2016/early 2017 when it was still CarboN eSports, would be joining the players in the USA to test his suitability for becoming a permanent member again, which would fill the fifth spot in the roster, and then right after that Ruan "Elusive" van Wyk announced that he would be retiring from the team, which meant another player would have to be found to complete the squad. The team recruited Robby "blackpoisoN" Da Loca from South Africa and started preparing to climb the ranks again as the sponsorship and roster changes were beginning to take their toll: in the middle of February the team was ranked #48, then it climbed slightly to #42 at the end of February before dropping to a 2019 low of #50 in early March.

Controversy hit again, with Denial Esports' co-owner Zach Smith becoming embroiled in allegations of using homophobic slurs on social media. At the same time long time fans were disappointed at the transfer, not just because Denial Esports was an organisation from the USA, but, under previous management, it had been embroiled in non-payment scandals with other teams it had sponsored, some of which are ongoing.

The transfer seemed settled, however, so it was a surprise when it was announced last week that the team would be moving to ATK. It turns out that the negotiations with Denial Esports hadn't, actually, been finalised as there were certain areas in which the two parties couldn't come to an agreement, which gave an opening to ATK, which had quietly been negotiating with the team since January, to sweep in and bring it home (figuratively, more than literally, because the team will still be based in Austin, Texas).

Grant Hinds poses for photographs with the team
Above: Grant Hinds poses for photographs with the team.
As of this week, with ATK's sponsorship now giving the team members stability, which includes enabling them to return to the USA to train and compete, the team is ranked at #31. Its next major match is against INTZ during the ECS Season 7 North America Week 3 tournament on 26 April 2019, with the betting odds currently slightly in ATK's favour to win.

ATK CS:GO: HLTV Profile, Liquipedia Profile
ATK Arena: Official Site, Discord, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube


Tags: Games, South African E-Sports/#saesports


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