Posted in Uncategorized

The great rivalry between the Titans: Team Secret vs Evil Geniuses

In 2014, Evil Geniuses wanted to revitalize their brand name. Up to that point, the Americas were seen as the immature slackers of the competitive Dota world, while Europe had a disciplined work ethic, all the championship players and all the top captains. EG met a fork in the road: on one side, a European squad, built from Puppey, KuroKy and Pieliedie, and on the other, an American squad made up of Fear, UNiVeRsE, zai and PPD. In the middle, Artour “ Arteezy ” Babaev.

EG.NA or EG.EU? The path of tradition, or the path of cultivation? Old world or new? In the end, Pieliedie wasn’t willing to part with Cloud9, which left EG with their North American option; Arteezy ended up on the NA side of the divide, competing with the team through a third-place win at The International 4.

But EG’s other possible future didn’t simply fade away. Over the course of the next two years, Puppey, KuroKy and Pieliedie would all play at some point for a much younger org, Team Secret. In many ways, Secret became the Evil Geniuses of Europe, just without the affiliation.

What seemed like an inconsequential moment in Dota’s long history of trading ended up laying the foundation for the deepest Western rivalry the game has seen. Team Secret versus Evil Geniuses is Dota’s War of the Roses, more than a family rivalry but not quite an all-out war, fought in fits and starts but never reaching a clear conclusion. They are Hatfield and McCoy, Montague and Capulet, Union and Confederacy.

A rivalry as ferocious as this couldn’t have come from just that one event. Rather, it’s grown over time as the two teams have fought for the highest stakes in Dota. For over a year, both were consistently ahead of every other team in the international field, except occasionally Vici Gaming, and both have robbed the other of key victories that would have cemented them as reigning international champions.

The competition hasn’t always been clean, either. Early in the 2015 season, Secret kneecapped EG by suddenly stripping away two of their star players, zai and Arteezy. If that wasn’t enough, they did it again in 2016, this time poaching Arteezy and UNiVeRsE just days before The International 6 roster lock. Although there’s surely respect between the players, it’s hard to steer past the animosity that has developed between the two teams.

TI4: Youth in revolt
At the heart of the rivalry between these two teams is a rivalry between two players. However, it’s not the two captains, PPD and Puppey, who are constantly at odds. Rather, it’s
PPD and his own erstwhile teammate, Arteezy.

Zai and Arteezy were both quite young when they joined EG; zai was 16 while Arteezy was 17. At first, this was a point of pride for PPD, who told Gamespot , “We have incredibly young players in zai and Arteezy. I think, like our potential is just getting started, which makes me so confident in our ability to succeed.”

But that optimism couldn’t last when egos clashed. Though PPD is acknowledged as one of the great captains of Dota, he has simultaneously earned a reputation for his faux-politeness, all-chat manners and general saltiness. Arteezy, meanwhile, is known for letting his emotions get the better of him. “We got so angry seeing Secret cheering after beating us. […] They were throwing headsets and high fiving,” he recalled after joining Secret in 2014 . “We looked at those guys and said we’re going to f***ing beat those f***ers.”

According to Arteezy, he and PPD often disagreed about how to strategize in Dota. There were arguments. “We just had a difference of opinion. This was not going to change unless we changed players,” Arteezy also said on his stream. After The International 4, where EG failed to take first due to a handful of mistakes — and arguably because Fear’s injuries prevented him from playing with his team — Arteezy would follow zai to Secret, leaving EG in the wind for the first (but neither the last, nor most egregious) time.

Arteezy’s departure wasn’t a huge surprise; after all, he had wanted to play with Cloud9 before sticking with Evil Geniuses, and he would have left in early 2014 if EternalEnvy had made the offer. Nonetheless, the incident irrevocably altered the tone of EG and Secret’s rivalry. After that, it was personal.

TI5: Blood in the water
Before Arteezy and Zai switched colors, the two teams had only paired against each other in a handful of series. Secret took the upper hand with a 3-1 match win record. Nonetheless, EG were regularly placing first at LANs, taking not only StarSeries over Secret, but also WEC, DreamLeague, and second at ESL One New York 2014. Secret had more game-to-game success, but they failed to take a single tournament win until Dota Pit Season 2, following Fly’s replacement with MiSeRy.

With two holes to fill on its roster, EG brought on Syed “ Suma1L ” Sumail Hassan and Kurtis “ Aui_2000 ” Ling, and bounced back with a major victory at DAC. Secret made similar headway with their new lineup, winning The Summit 3 and and ESL One Frankfurt. The two teams once again ran parallel tracks toward The International 5, but Secret came out just ahead, time and time again. Between DAC and TI5, Secret had a 2-1 win rate against EG. They claimed first in two-thirds of the events they entered, while EG took second in half their events (usually behind Secret).

Secret looked unstoppable heading into TI5 — but it was EG that came out ahead. While Secret’s all-star roster collapsed under the weight of egos and personality disputes, Evil Geniuses were skinning most opponents with expert drafting and superior technical skill. Barring a surprise loss to CDEC in the Winner’s Bracket finals, EG didn’t outright lose a single series throughout the group stages and tournament bracket.

That brings us to this season. In 2016, Secret Geniuses have had more inbreeding than the Targaryens. EG became the first team to kick a player after winning an International in order to bring back Arteezy (ironically getting rid of Aui, a member of the Cloud9 team Arteezy had been so desperate to play with the prior year). Six months later, Arteezy took UNiVeRsE to play again with Puppey, this time with EternalEnvy and Pieliedie. Finally, things had come full circle, and Arteezy had the chance to play on the would-be EG.EU with Pieliedie, Puppey and former Cloud9 carry EternalEnvy, with whom he had always wanted to play.
But the way the trade was made seemed intentionally designed to demolish EG’s chances at winning TI6. Neither Secret nor Arteezy gave EG any warning, leaving them only days to put together a world-class team. Puppey has always been a player known to break the game to his advantage — he’s famously admitted that Na`Vi used a fountain-hooking bug to win a match in The International 2013, saying, “In the end, we will do it if we have to to win.”
With no Position 1 carry or offlaner, Evil Geniuses turned back to Aui, desperately consuming his struggling project, Digital Chaos. Both EG and Secret hit the practice room with their new lineups, but the universe is not without justice — after throwing the Western scene into a scramble, both teams had their worst showings to date at the Manila Major. Naturally, they traded rosters again before the event had even finished, with UNiVeRsE heading back to EG while BuLba went to Secret, along with Aui, who will attend TI6 as a coach.

TI6: Shaky ground
Puppey, Pieliedie and EternalEnvy
Since the last International, these teams have faced off in the locker rooms, but not on the field. Despite their status as the world’s most prominent modern rivals, they’ve only faced off in ticketed matches at MLG Worlds and two of the three Majors. Their 7-3 series record since last year’s International still favors Secret, as does Secret’s superior showing at last weekend’s StarSeries.

The current metagame has not been particularly conducive to Secret’s especially greedy style of draft and play, which most frequently uses junglers and semi-cores instead of traditional supports to maximize farm advantage at the expense of laning-phase potency. Their matches historically go longer than average, both in wins and losses. EG more often run dual-core from the mid and safe lane, getting active later than many teams but holding their own until Suma1L and Fear are ready to engage.

Of course, either team could come into The International with radically different priorities; neither has been seen against comparable opponents since their most recent roster changes. Either team could come out ahead at The International, and either team could crash and burn. Secret has also been heavily prioritizing Dire-side matches despite a blatant statistical advantage for Radiant; this alone could indicate that Secret used StarSeries as preparation and have not yet unleashed anything close to their peak execution.

Last year, it wasn’t until the final event before The International that EG finally took first place over Secret. At the time, Puppey said, “Never think EG is a bad team, even if they lose 2-0 or something like that; they still can very well just jump back and refresh their minds. PPD is not a person that is, you don’t take that guy negatively. He is actually a very good player. All the players on EG are very potent.” At StarSeries, the last event before TI6 this past weekend, EG went down early to finish 5th-6th , while Team Secret went on to place second. But even that might not be a clear sign of what these two teams have in store for the year’s biggest event.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized

The UI That Could Help Make E-Sports A $100 Billion Industry

Activision Blizzard wants to make e-sports mainstream. How? By focusing less on the video game and more on the players.

image

With 2.2 billion fans worldwide and $124 billion in revenue, professional sports is big business. But ask Mike Sepso, senior vice president of Activision Blizzard Media Networks, and he says that’s nothing compared to the potential of e-sports. By 2017 alone, Sepso says, there will be 2.1 billion gamers on the planet, who between them will generate more than $107 billion in revenue—and just keep climbing from there.
The key word here, though, is “potential.” Right now, the e-sports market is worth $463 million—small potatoes compared to what a regular professional sports league generates (like the MLB’s ). There’s just not a lot of excitement around e-sports right now. That’s something Activision Blizzard is trying to correct with EVE (Event Viewing Experience), an e-sports broadcasting platform that aims to give gamers the equivalent of what ESPN gives to sports nuts.

UNPACKING THE E-SPORTS ECOSYSTEM
E-sports, otherwise known as professional gaming, is a purely digital form of athletics in which teams of video game players compete with each other in organized league play. E-sports has been around almost as long as gaming: Atari held a Space Invaders Championship all the way back in 1980. In the late ’90s, games like Quake and Starcraft became so popular that e-sports became formalized, eventually leading to the creation of the first e-sports league, Major League Gaming—which Sepso cofounded. These days, there are hundreds of competitions each year, where thousands of e-sports athletes compete in dozens of games for prize jackpots that can sometimes reach the high six figures. These competitions, in turn, are sponsored by gaming publishers and hardware markers, which treat the streaming video footage of these matches as a form of publicity.

THE E-SPORTS LEARNING CURVE
Although there are plenty of places to watch e-sports online, like YouTube or Twitch, the problem EVE is trying to solve is a complicated one. Viewers’ appreciation of sports is going to ultimately be dictated by their knowledge of the significance of what’s happening: Watching a game of baseball isn’t very exciting if you don’t know why all those fat guys with mullets are running around that diamond. But in the case of traditional sports, like baseball or football or hockey or basketball, a hundred years of cultural osmosis guarantees there’s probably someone in the same room with you who can explain what is happening, and why it’s important.
That’s not the case with e-sports. Even though the top players use a lot of skills that can be transferred across different titles, the popular games change rapidly, depending on what new games are published in a given year, what publishers are sponsoring a tournament. An e-sports player might be playing Counterstrike one day, Modern Warfare the next, and Overwatch the day after that, with each game having its own rules, goals, and levels. Add in different gameplay modes and variants—there’s a huge difference between Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, and Capture the Flag— and e-sports broadcasters have to spend all of their time explaining the rules of the game to the people watching at home.

WHAT PEOPLE REALLY WANT IS THE DRAMA
But broadcasters’ time would be better spent on narratives, insists Sepso. “Most people don’t really follow sports because of the technical capabilities of the players, or the strategy of the coaches,” he says. “They follow drama and storyline, heroes and villains. We love the story of sports.” Stuff like: Will Kevin Durant carry the Warriors to next year’s NBA championships? Is Kobe Bryant really retired or will he come back? Will Rex Ryan finally throw over the regime of Bill Belichick?
And so on. That story is something sports broadcasters only have the bandwidth to convey because they’re not spending all their time explaining the significance of what just happened in the game: The graphic overlays do most of the heavy lifting for them, keeping the viewer informed of data like player scores, team location, and stats. If it’s on the screen, it’s important.
That’s what EVE is. A graphical overlay system, like the one you might see on Fox Sports or ESPN. EVE works by tying right into the code of a game, spitting out real-time stats, facts, scores, and trivia about a given game or player, which are overlaid on a live e-sports broadcast. So if a player is making a run for the flag in Team Fortress 2, EVE might spit out some stats on how likely the player is to capture it, given his career performance; or if a player gets a headshot in Counterstrike, EVE could immediately tell viewers at home what percentage of headshots that player has made in the last 30 days. The overlay gives you the significance of the play immediately.
In practice, the interface looks a lot like what you see in an NFL or NBA broadcast, just layered over a video game screen instead of live footage. It can obscure some of the details of a game, true, but there’s a tradeoff: In many cases, EVE can explain more about what’s going on in a game than the game itself—especially since, in gaming, user interfaces are usually limited to the perspective of a single player, not all the players of the game.
By automating stat-crunching and putting it on screen, Sepso hopes that e-sports announcers can really delve into the drama of the game. “That’s what announcers are good at,” he says. “Are the players pissed at each other? Is this player on fire, or is this other player performing badly because his girlfriend dumped him 30 minutes before they match? That’s the kind of thing we want to know as fans.”

THE BUSINESS CASE
It’s also important from a business perspective: Arguably, e-sports hasn’t taken off the way physical sports has because the players “feel” anonymous. Compared to the strutting, posturing titans of the field or court, e-athletes are rarely seen on screen and their personalities aren’t often discussed. They just don’t have good branding. EVE opens this up, not just by making it easier for announcers to tell stories about the personalities involved in any given game, but by constantly putting a player’s physical face and reactions on the screen, alongside the game play.
Whether this will actually work is anyone’s guess, but Sepso seems confident that e-sports has just as much potential as physical athletics. “We think e-sports is a multibillion dollar industry. We think next year, there will be 300 million global viewers for e-sports in general. We’re at a tipping point, where e-sports are ready to be a business in and of itself.” The only question, as far as Sepso is concerned, is how much EVE can and will do to tip e-sports into the mainstream once and for all.

Posted in Clash Royale

Analyzing Clash Royale’s tournament feature: esports as a marketing tool

Supercell wants to get into esports. Per a job offer Supercell currently has up for an esports position:
“We believe that Clash Royale has the opportunity take eSports to a place it hasn’t quite caught on… mobile platforms. Today’s eSports experience is built for console and PC games, but with the massive reach and ubiquity of mobile devices, we believe it can become much more accessible and mainstream than ever before. Mobile gaming can take eSports beyond the hardcore gaming niche and turn it into something that everyone does, everywhere.”

After creating a competitive mobile hits like Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, and being valued at roughly $10 billion after the Tencent buy, we think Supercell has a pretty good chance of making quite a splash into the esports industry. And, as we said already, Clash Royale has the potential to be a great esports title.
Last week, Supercell went one step closer toward that goal with the addition of a “tournament feature” to its game. But while it brings an easy way to compete on an equal playground against others, it is more a promotional tool than an effort to actually build an esports scene.

A “tournament feature” for the casual players
Creating a tournament in Clash Royale is now extremely easy—an important area of focus from Supercell, who want to attract casual players:
The tournament format is a ladder automatically managed by the game, and can’t be changed. The only customizations possible are: password entry, tournament duration, tournament size, and rewards. Even even those are handled automatically by the game, so the tournament initiator doesn’t have to micromanage post-tourney rewards.
There is, however, one significant catch: players have to spend in-game currency to create a tournament. This addition makes the entire feature both useful in Supercell’s ever-present quest for revenue, but also questionable for the game’s future esports potential.

Money rules the world
To create a tournament, players can spend from 500 gems (roughly $5) for a 100-player tournament granting a first-place reward of 30 card, to 250,000 gems (roughly $1785) for a 1000-player tournament granting a first-place reward of 15,000 cards. Which begs the question: who will pay for these tournaments, and why?
It’s relatively easy to gain 500 gems, granted that you haven’t spent any and have played for a while. And, the first tournament you organize refunds you 500 gems—so the first tournament is basically free. This explains why the first week of the new feature saw many tournaments organized, though few with more than 100 players.
It remains to be seen, though, who will create these tournaments at a loss. There’s no avoiding the fact that those gems could be more efficiently spent buying chests directly from the store. Sure, you could make a tournament and go on to win it yourself, but who wants to go through all that work?
There is a very high risk of seeing this feature die out after the first wave of tournaments. Most likely, open tournaments will become very rare, and most players will only buy tournaments for their clans.
There’s also the fact that the new feature isn’t necessary to run a tournament for the game. In fact, already established tournaments like the Reddit MEGA Tournament and ESL , as soon as they needed a bracket, didn’t use the new feature last weekend.

A perfect marketing tool
All that said, a small community investment in the tournament feature wouldn’t necessarily mean that it was a complete failure. The tournament tool will be used as a promotion tool anyway. And indeed, Supercell did just that during its first week—including an official
Tourney Week event, where Supercell had some of its most famous streamers and Youtubers play tournaments on sponsored streams in sponsored tournaments.
This is a perfect tool to build promotional events, with seemingly huge prizes, without having to invest real dollars.
Those promotional tournaments were massive. For example, Clash Royale China has organized an event to be held in Shanghai in July 23rd . The qualifiers took place last weekend, spread out over 100 tournaments, each grouping 1000 players using the new tournament feature. The total cost to create these tournaments runs to almost $20,000—an astronomical number to somebody not working with Supercell to throw it.
That’s why this is all a win for Supercell. The cost of organizing these tournaments is very low for Supercell, since it uses an already-in-place feature and the prizes are in-game currency. It basically costs nothing for Supercell to create, yet to regular players, it’s a costly investment with little clear use.
This is a perfect tool to build promotional events, with seemingly huge prizes, without having to invest real dollars. It is also a potential new source of income from players that have already bought everything in the game and don’t know where to spend their money anymore, or streamers that want to attract viewers by promising a juicy tournament. But it certainly isn’t what will make Clash Royale a big esport.

All according to plan
Once again, Supercell is caught between a desire to build a great esports and its drive for profit. The real challenge is to make those two goals thrive together. If the casual player pays to organize their own tournament, its a nice bonus. But a free tournament option, possibly without any rewards at all, would be a very welcome addition.
For Supercell —and certainly all other successful developers in esports honestly—esports is more a marketing tool than an actual sport. And if you still need any more proof: the job offer in Supercell’s esports department is listed under the “marketing” category. Case closed.

courtesy: Esports Observer

Posted in CS:GO, ESL, Intel Extreme Masters, League of Legends

MTN DEW® and ESEA provide a path to the ESL CS:GO Pro League with the MDL!

In partnership with ESL, MTN DEW® and ESEA have created the Mountain Dew League to give thousands of amateur gaming teams the opportunity to qualify directly into the next season of ESL’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro League. MDL teams will battle for eight weeks and the top teams will face off at the Mountain Dew Championship in the hopes of joining the ranks of the CS:GO pros.

“MDL provides a unique opportunity for aspiring professional gamers to realize their dreams on a global stage,” said Craig Levine, CEO of ESL America. “With the popularity of esports exploding, we’re excited to partner with MTN DEW and find the next generation of Counter-Strike superstars.”

MDL will kick off with the Mountain Dew Last Chance Qualifier on August 27 and 28 where over 7,400 amateur players will compete in ranked matchmaking. The top 24 teams from the Mountain Dew Last Chance Qualifier will then play each other once a week over the course of eight weeks in the Mountain Dew League Season.

The action will culminate at the Mountain Dew Championship in December where the eight best MDL teams in North America and Europe will compete for the coveted slot in the following season of each region’s ESL CS:GO Pro League.

Throughout the tournament, DEW will be providing the competing gamers with top tools and training, including access to online tutorials and pro coaches. Fans will be included as well as they watch the competition unfold through livestreamed events, behind-the-scenes action, and real-time stat tracking via ESEA and Twitch channels.
“Esports is becoming an integral part of gaming culture. As instigators in this space, we want to push the boundaries of competitive gaming and enable everyone in this community to take part in the experience,” said Sonika Patel, Sr. Brand Manager at Mountain Dew. “Our partnership with ESL is unique in that it gives everyone a platform to participate on a level playing field.”

Courtesy: eslgaming.com

Posted in Dota 2

EU Challenger Series/2016 Season/Summer Playoffs

image

The 2016 EUCS Summer Playoffs will determine who will join the 2017 LCS Spring Promotion .

PRIZE POOL
1st            – € 9,000
2nd           – € 6,500
3rd/4th    – € 3,500

PARTICIPANTS

Epsilon eSports:
Satorius (Top)
Kirei (Jungle)
CozQ (Mid)
Woolite (AD)
NoXiAK (Support)

Huma:
Jwaow (Top)
Impaler (Jungle)
Caedrel (Mid)
Krislund (AD)
Wendelbo (Support)

Millenium:
Kaze (Top)
Djoko (Jungle)
Pretty (Mid)
Tabzz (AD)
masterwork (Support)

Misfits:
Alphari (Top)
Wisdom (Jungle)
Selfie (Mid)
Hans (AD)
IgNar (Support)

image

Posted in Twitch

TWITCH.TV STEPPING UP STREAMING GAME

Streaming is obviously Twitch.tv’s bread and butter, therefore it’s easy to see why they’re so keen on stepping up their game in this respect. They are now apparently looking to add an HTML5 video player, to make the streaming experience much smoother for their viewers. The announcement regarding this latest feature was made at last year’s Twitchcon, but the confirmation regarding the impending arrival of the player which makes use of this new technology, was only made the other day via Twitter.
HTML5 is the current standard version of HTML, and it is indeed well suited for streaming live content, having been optimized for such tasks in several ways. While the whole story is a rather intricate one, the bottom line regarding HTML 5 is that its processing models are ideal for streaming on low-power mobile devices, and indeed, these days, that’s where a sizable chunk of the Twitch viewership comes from. There are of course other features and perks included in HTML 5 that will allow Twitch to fine-tune its streaming, thus creating a much smoother experience for their viewers.
The release of the beta version of Twitch’s HTML5 technology had originally been scheduled for June 30, but to make a long story short: things just weren’t ready. The final product was apparently lacking in several key ways, therefore it was deemed “not up the highest standards”. The release has been pushed back to later this month and first a Beta version will land.
Those looking to give the new technology a try, have to register for Twitch Turbo, which – for the time being – will be the only way to access the Beta. Mind you however that it still has not gone live.
The bottom line is that despite its current woes, Twitch’s HTML5 move is definitely the future when it comes to live streaming especially in regards to gaming. It is indeed only a matter of time till the new technology goes mainstream.
image