The MTN GameZBoost Challenge Grand Finale Tournament was held on the 2nd of November 2018 at the MTN South Africa head office in Johannesburg.
The morning started out as any, ready to enjoy a day filled with gaming. Except 8 lucky finalists were going to be walking away with their share of R680 000! Setting up for the event began a day before as there were lots to do to make this the perfect day for the Finalists and the staff. This continued till the mid-morning of Friday and can I just say WOW. As you made your way down the glass elevator, you had a 360 view of the magnificent MTN building. Looking over the event as it unfolds, the excitement starts to take over your body.
As you make your way to what looks like the coolest chill area, the first thing that caught my eye was a wall filled with donuts! If you think gaming was only for kids, let me just tell you something. You have stepped into a carnival type gaming event with every adult on a sugar high as if they were kids again. From the excitement and joy of the players competing to the staff and audience sitting anxiously on the sidelines as they watch them compete, while snacking on some fluffy candy floss and slurping on a delicious slush puppy. It was definitely a day for the adults!
So let’s just rewind a little, the 8 Finalists had been flown in from around South Africa. I’m sure their nerves were more shaken than the turbulence but determined to give it all they have. With everything set up, the MTN GameZBoost Challenge Grand Finale stand looked amazing. By the chill area, there was a donut wall with images of arcade games in the background, a table filled with sweet delights, a fluffy pink candy floss station set up next to the slush puppy machine. There were bean bags scattered everywhere, just waiting for you to sink yourself in, tables and chairs to chat, chill and eat and a large L shaped couch overlooking 3 flat screens, but wait. Above those 3 TVs was the largest Flatscreen you had ever laid eyes on, besides the cinema! It was made up of whopping 9 screens, I can’t lie and say I didn’t think of just taking it off the wall and taking it home hoping no one would see me sneak it out, I guess a girl can dream.
The MTN stand where the players were competing looked really cool as every player’s mobile device was synced to their own flatscreen placed above their head. This was so the spectators could watch in suspense seeing what each player does as they play. At each players station, there was a GameZBoost gift bag filled with great goodies as well as an MTN bag for them to take home with them. The audience, staff and players could take photos at the photo booth that had the most insane GameZBoost gaming backdrop! Filled with many of GameZBoosts great games, it was colorful, vibrant and would definitely create that perfect photo for social media.
The MC of the event was Nick Holden, an outgoing gentle giant that had a way of making the audience feel immersed in the tournament while commentating play by play and second by second of the very exciting and nerve-racking challenge. With a DJ playing some great tunes throughout the day, it was time to kick this event off. The 8 Finalists were all gathered outside as they got briefed on how the tournament would work. A single eliminator tournament, a 20-minute practice round starting at 12:00 – 12:20 with a 10-minute intermission so that the players could familiarize themselves with the game before the tournament starts. Then from 12:30-12:50 was the quarter-finals with a 10-minute intermission before the semi-finals took place from 1:00-1:15. After the semi-finals, there was a 15-minute intermission and the finals began at 1:30-1:45 with prize giving at 2:00.
Photos were taken of the players before the began to play their hearts out in this unknown game that they had not played before. A fun and challenging game called Castle Defense! The aim of the game is to protect your castle from all the enemies making their way to destroy you. Keep your health up and defeat these enemies that include monsters, bats and wizards by shooting at them before they reach your castle wall. You can upgrade your attacks to inflict serious damage and much much more. The longer you last in the game and the more levels you reach, the higher your score will be. This was the aim for the players, to get the highest score possible to make it to the next round.
Let the games begin, as the clock struck 12:30 players began to battle it off. Tapping away on the phones so fast it was as if you were watching a video in fast forward. Each player looked composed and calm as they tried to make it through every level, while the spectators looked on in excitement. This was the quarter-finals and players had 20 minutes to get the highest score in their pool in order to make it onto the semi-finals. There were 4 pools, Freedom against Lilo, Drifter against Heinrich, Slade against Boosted and MDI against MMN. In just your ordinary day, 20 minutes seems like a long time, but when there is a whopping R110 000, R210 000 and R310 000 on the line, time seems to run very fast! As it was down to the last few seconds players tried their best to do all they can to top up their score, 3, 2, 1 time up, phones down and it was over. Only 4 lucky players will make it to the semi-finals.
Lilo, Heinrich, Boosted and MMN were the players moving onto the semi-finals. Gasping for air to calm down their nerves, the players gathered outside for a smoke break and to just chat and gain their energy. While there was a 10-minute intermission, there was a staff tournament going on were staff members could play the fun game Monster Match. There were ipads situated on stands were the MTN crew could help the MTN staff sign in and participate in the tournament. Again the aim was to get the highest score as 8 members with the highest score would each win themselves a R500 voucher.
The crowd was building as more staff were playing Monster Match. Nick, the MC created that atmosphere where everyone was laughing, enjoying themselves and interacting with everyone. Engaging in both the tournament and staff challenge, everyone wanted to be apart of what was going on. It was now time for the semi-finals, the 2 pools consisted of Lilo against Heinrich and Boosted against MMN. As Nick kicked off commentating the semi-finals, our hearts began to race again. This time the players only had 15 minutes to try get the highest score. Every second of every minute got more intense as the crowd cheered on the players. Still remaining calm the players kept their heads down and stayed focused.
Spectators had their eyes glued to the leaderboard as the score kept changing every time it refreshed. No one knew who would take over their opponent and you would stumble behind. With the music in the background and Nick giving us a play by play on what’s happening, you couldn’t help but feel nervous for the players. The 2 players that will make it to the next round are guaranteed to win big big bucks so the fight was on, 3, 2, 1 and the game was over! With 7732 points, Lilo had defeated Heinrich and was going on to compete against MMN who scored 8,263 and beating Boosted. Beating Heinrich by just 230 points, Boosted came 3rd winning himself R110 000! With a grin so big, he was definitely a happy man.
It was now down to Lilo and MMN, they had just 15 minutes to regain their energy, calm their nerves and prepare for the finals. There was savory food for everyone to enjoy and there was never a moment where the staff and audience were not laughing, taking photos in the booth, eating donuts, playing the staff tournament and having a good time.
As Lilo and MMN took their seats they took a deep breath and the game began! They went straight to playing the game waisting no time, they were both in the zone and nothing was going to distract them. The players had just 15 minutes to give it all they have and push till the end. As the crowd began to get bigger and bigger, each player was on the opposite side of the MTN stand. On each side, there was a crowd cheering and supporting the players as they stood in suspense. A great show of camaraderie was that the other players that didn’t make it to the finals, were cheering on Lilo and MMN instead of sitting on the sidelines. The atmosphere was electric as time ticked away.
Their scores had only a couple of points difference and everytime the leaderboard refreshed, one would take over the other and then the other would take over again. Their scores were so close as they kept one-upping each other. Our emotions were going up and down like a yo-yo as we watched the tournament unfold. It was anyone’s game right now! Lilo, the only female competitor surprised many as she defeated many of the opponents with her high score. MMN continued to get the highest score throughout the rounds, but could he continue this in the final. It was down to the last few minutes left and it was still neck and neck, out of nowhere MMN gained the lead with just a few points ahead. It now ran into the seconds and the crowd was paralyzed with excitement as they started counting down with Nick 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and the leaderboard refreshed with the final score. MMN HAS WON!!
The crowd started jumping and cheering as he got off his seat realizing he had just won R310 000! The emotions running through MMN were shock, happiness, excitement and more. Just a few minutes ago he was an ordinary student from Greytown and now he has a whopping R310 000 in his pocket. A great act of showmanship MMN walked over to Lilo and shook her hand, giving her a hug congratulating her on her great gameplay. As the prizes were being awarded MMN, Lilo and Boosted got a chance to express their gratitude to MTN and GameZBoost as well as how they were feeling after winning their share of R680 000. The players that came in 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th still walked away winners as they each got R10 000! A great win for all.
To say that the MTN GameZBoost Challenge Grand Finale went off without a hit is an understatement. The atmosphere was electric, staff and spectators could indulge in sweet delights, pick at fluffy pink candyfloss while washing it down with a slush puppy. Relax in the chill zone or stand around the players as they compete. The MTN staff went all in as you saw them sitting at tables and standing around everywhere in deep concentration as they played the Monster Match game with 1 thing on their mind, fun and oh, a R500 voucher.
The event was commentated perfectly by Nick Holden as everyone knew what was going on at every moment. The main screen showed the leaderboard and scores as the players competed, everywhere you looked you were informed and updated, not missing a single thing. The players, the MTN staff and spectators had an incredible day filled with fun, excitement and on a sugar high.
I guess you could say it was a sweet success.
Below is a recap of the tournament format that was configured for the big FINALE!
- When: 2 November 2018
- Final Event Format:
- 8 Seats in Single Eliminator tournament format (also known as Olympic system, knockout, or sudden death)
- Ring-fenced – accessible to 8 participants only
- Most recent scores logged goes through (in event of tie/draw)
- Platform auto matches players for heats
- If users don’t play, then bye rule applies:
- The player that played goes through
- If neither play, then the system auto selects the player to go through
- Access: Live Event, with devices and network access provided by the organizers
- Prize: Total Prize Money a whopping R680 000 – Winner Wins R310 000 (+ R5 000 Prize from Qualifying Tournaments), Runner-up Wins R210 000 (+ R5 000 Prize from Qualifying Tournaments) and 3rd Place Wins R110 000 (+ R5 000 Prize from Qualifying Tournaments)
- Other: Play by Invitation only, network ring-fenced
- Tournament Page: TBC
- Grand Finale Duration: a 1-day Live event – each playoff round will run for a set time frame, with an intermission during each round:
- 1/4 Finals – 8 Winners from the Qualifying Tournaments Rounds – Game to be Confirmed at Live Event
- Semi Finals – 4 Winners from the Eliminator Quarter-Final Playoffs – Game to be Confirmed at Live Event
- Finals – 2 Winners from the Eliminator Semi-Final Playoffs – Game to be Confirmed at Live Event