Posted in Dota 2, The International

The International will stay in Seattle despite concerns over US travel ban

Photo via Valve

For the sixth year in a row, the largest Dota 2event in the world will be heading to Seattle.

That’s in spite of concerns over U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order temporary halting immigration from several Muslim-majority countries.

The news was inadvertently revealed in apress release focused on the International 7’s cosplay competition.

The fact that Syria and Iran were on the list of banned countries raised the ire of the international Dota 2 community. Team Liquid captain Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi is an Iranian citizen, while Digital Chaos midlaner Omar “w33” Aliwi has Syrian heritage.

A number of teams and players from regions such as Southeast Asia, China, and Eastern Europe have struggled to acquire visas to attend the International since its relocation to the U.S. In 2016, LGD Gaming’s Xue “September” Zhichuan missed the event altogether after his visa application was denied four times.

In an extended roundtable discussion with PC Gamer on Feb. 10, Valve’s Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson were asked whether the executive order would influence affect the tournament’s location. “Ideally we’d run it here [in Seattle] because it has a bunch of advantages being close to our office,” Johnson replied. “But the event’s going to happen. So yes, if it became too difficult, we’d find a way.”

Launched in 2011 in tandem with the beta-release of Dota 2, the first International took place in Cologne during the annual GamesCom expo. Since 2012, however, the mega-event has taken place in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall and Key Arena.

Posted in Clash Royale

Rock, Paper, Scissors – The 3 Decks of the Metagame in Clash Royale

Today, we are here to talk about the Clash Royale metagame. People often talk about the meta in terms of specific units, like “its a Prince meta” or “everyone plays Tombstones”, but this can be a shallow understanding of what is really happening underneath individual card choices.

The metagame is really the share of people who are pursuing distinct lines of play in order to win a game. While individual card choices matter, it’s more important to understand the fundamental sequence of interactions each style of play is trying to impose on the other. No matter what deck you are playing, understanding the strategic metagame helps you better make decisions and ultimately win more games.

The Clash Royale metagame breaks down into 3 categories. These are loose groupings of various decks by their methods of winning the game, you’ve probably played against each type several times:

Beatdown – Fights you on your side, beats your Towers down

Control – Waits for you to act, Fights you on THEIR side, combo-kills a Tower on your side

Siege – Stays on their side, pressuring you to come to their side or lose a Tower

The best decks tend to focus on creating lines of play to reinforce a single strategy. When you are building decks, ask yourself which of the above play styles suit you and try to select cards that help that strategy. Don’t play too many defensive towers, for example, if you want to play Beatdown decks since the towers will never help you knock down enemy towers.

Beatdown

First up, the first strategy everyone starts with. Come over the bridge and knock down your tower, usually by winning in combat. Beatdown decks tend to be proactive, spending their Elixir on Troops that are likely to generate a large damage-to-cost ratio if uninterrupted. They put the pressure on the other player to react, and throughout the game adapt to the opponent’s defenses as the game progresses.

Beatdown decks are filled with mixtures of different Troops with the intention of creating synergistic waves that deal lots of damage to Towers. An early example when you are rising in the ranks is Giant and Musketeer. Individually, neither unit is particularly threatening. But together they can crush a Tower and defending Troops. Finding Troops that work together and abusing their interactions are the key to a successful Beatdown deck.

Whether low cost waves (Goblins + Spear Goblins) or 10+ Elixir superpushes (Golem + Wizard), they are designed to force a specific counter. If the opponent can’t counter your wave, their Tower is going down. Some Beatdown decks try to force this outcome by playing so many cards of the same style that an opponent runs out of counters, and others are very diverse in their card types in order to adapt to what the opponent shows them. Don’t be fooled – Beatdown decks can be very strategically deep and satisfying to play!

Examples:

  • Swarm decks are filled with cards that trade poorly with Arrows. But when your deck is 6+ swarm cards and their deck only has 1 Arrows, there are a lot of opportunities to catch them without their trusty spell.
  • Superpush decks tend to play expensive tanky units by the back wall, supplementing them with supporting Troops when they reach the bridge. This creates a single wave of 13+ Elixir, which is difficult to counter even with a full Elixir bar.

Control

These decks are the natural reaction to seeing how trades work in Clash Royale. The first time you Tombstone a Prince or Arrows a Minion Horde, your eyes light up and think “what if I just did that the whole game!” Turns out, you can!

Welcome to Control decks, where you want to counter enemy attacks with Elixir-positive trades, then use a very specific 2-3 card line of play to take a Tower with your excess Elixir. This is usually the Freeze type of decks, though really any way to kill a Tower for 10 or less Elixir will work as a win condition.

The trick is playing Control is knowing when to deploy your Tower killing line of play. Having a good sense of how much Elixir your opponent has and what cards they have shown you is crucial to making optimal decisions. You might think a Control deck would always be defensive, but knowing when to switch into attack mode is the difference that sets great Control players apart.

For example, let’s stay you’ve just Tombstone’d a Prince and Arrow’d a Minion Horde. You are up 4-0 with a Hog Rider in hand. What do you do?

  • If you don’t have Freeze, play it right away. The Hog Rider will reach the Tower while they are at ~2 Elixir and likely won’t be able to stop the damage.
  • If you do have Freeze, wait until the Elixir is at 6-2, that way you can Freeze whatever is summoned for maximum effect Note that neither scenario calls to hold your Elixir until 9.5 like you normally would as a reactive deck. Knowing when to switch from defensively holding Elixir to aggressively spending it will be the difference in countless games.

These are the sort of decisions you’ve have to make dozens of times per game at the blink of an eye. Control decks are among the hardest, but most satisfying, decks to play.

Examples:

  • Hog / Prince, fast moving ground units that deal huge DPS to Towers if unanswered are a great card to drop in the opposite lane after your opponent deploys a huge wave.
  • Balloon / Giant Skeleton, trying to deliver a Bomb to the tower, simply getting there is worth the Elixir cost. Using Spells to keep the path clear or Freeze the defense can enable thousands of damage to go through.

Siege

Siege decks can often be confused with Control decks (as Control decks sometimes use X-Bow for their win condition, this is understandable) but they are distinctly different strategies. Control decks hold their Elixir and tend to play Troops and Spell reactively. Siege decks play Buildings proactively.

Siege decks set up a fortified side of the board that makes it hard to threaten a tower. Once ‘safe’, Siege cast damage sources from its half of the board that force an opponent to come to you or lose a tower. These can take the form of Barb/Goblin Hut, X-Bow, Mortar, or simply pockets of Rockets. The important thread that ties them together is you feel obligated to play aggressively into them or lose (whereas Control decks don’t put that same pressure on you).

The trick about Siege decks is that they tend to be very all-in on a single win condition (like X-Bow) so being a great Siege player is about skillfully placing your defenses to protect not just Towers but also aggressively-placed delicate weaponry. 90%+ of Siege deck wins are going to be close fought 1-0 bloodbaths, so if you enjoy decks where each decision can be worth hundreds of HP, then Siege decks might be for you.

Examples:

  • X-Bow / Mortar where Towers and cheap Troops are used to cover the Siege weapons. Mortar and X-Bow are the highest damage-per-cost cards in the game, protecting a single one for the duration of it’s lifespan is enough to win a game.
  • Barbarian / Goblin Huts cost a bit upfront, but generate far more Troops than their cost over their lifetime. Several Huts create an endless swarm that eventually overruns a Tower, especially in the last minute of the game.

Rock / Paper / Scissors

What’s the best? It ebbs and flows with each passing week. The trick is to get comfortable and know how your cards interact inside and out. You are better off picking a strategy you enjoy playing and exploring units within that strategy than going on tilt and switching your deck up too often.

Your chance of succeeding will always be higher with Troops that are well-understood than switching to unfamiliar strategies chasing some perceived meta. That said, understanding your favorite strategy and how it interacts with the others will help with each tactical decision you make.

Countering Beatdown:

Beatdown decks fundamentally want to come across the bridge and fight you. They must play their Troops onto the field and wait for them to cross. This gives your opponent a chance to counter your cards, and Control decks are designed to do just that. Control decks are the natural predator of Beatdown decks.

Beatdown decks can overcome this disadvantage by either being very linear (spamming similar units like Hog / Prince / Mini-PEKKA) to run the Control deck out of counters, or by using a diverse cast of Troops. With a diverse Troop choice, you can bait out counters then play a Troop safely after (for example, holding Minion Horde and playing Goblins until the Arrows come out, THEN playing Minion Horde immediately after)

Countering Control:

Control decks are designed to fight on their side of the board. Well, this is pretty awful when the opponent has no intention of crossing the bridge. Siege decks punish Control decks for their passivity by building defenses that require immense force to overcome, and Control decks usually skimp on the offensive weapons.

Control decks therefore either need enough offense to maneuver or overpower a defense (a single Hog Rider won’t do) OR some ability to prevent Buildings from staying alive too long (Lightning is a popular choice). You can also try to exploit the short lifespan of defensive buildings and time an attack during the downtime.

Countering Siege:

Siege decks have powerful defenses but tend to be the slowest to set up and execute their game plan. They are required to play their cards out in the open and hope to prevent a response. Beatdown decks, designed to power through defenses, are going to give Siege a hard time because with defenses on the field the Beatdown player can set up waves to overcome the tower AI.

Siege decks can overcome this by outsmarting the Beatdown player. Set up juicy traps, like an Inferno Tower near the river when you have Arrows in hand. Learn how to use buildings to drag Troops back and forth across the middle and disrupt their waves.

Mirror Matches:

Beatdown is proactive. Control defeats Beatdown. But Siege defeats Control, because Control struggles to be proactive. Beatdown defeats Siege because it can present challenging waves to defense. What happens when two decks of the same type meet?

Anything and everything, usually dictated by who draws what in what order. Golem-based Beatdown decks, designed to create an unstoppable wave, usually can’t stop a Golem themselves. Two Control decks likely couldn’t kill each other so it comes down to poker bluffs and human error to pull off a win. Siege decks usually draw, though excellent skill can steal a game.

If you find yourself struggling with a mirror match, try to find a spot in your deck for a card that you would hate to face yourself. The Golem deck with an Inferno Tower will probably win the mirror. The Siege deck with Lightning is delighted to see enemy Huts and Mortars. Keep in mind, that every card you replace for a mirror match is likely hurting you in another matchup!

What About My Weird Deck?

Invariably, someone will come up with a deck and claim it doesn’t fit into these archetypes. That’s probably true. Nothing is ironclad, there is room for weirdness. But I haven’t seen any deck like that have consistent success. Usually these decks are incredibly powerful at one thing, but once their weakness is exposed they aren’t able to compete.

For example, on the last day of the season several HKEsports players were playing Hog / Prince / Baby Dragon / Mirror / Lightning / Elixir Collector, which doesn’t fit in anything above. They definitely snagged a spectacular victory here and there, but it’s very one dimensional and inconsistent. By the end of the night people adjusted their decks and styles to account for it and the deck went away.

While I totally support experimentation, I truly believe that we will see the Clash Royale metagame begin to crystallize around these three core strategies. If your goal is to win, you don’t get bonus points for being clever.

Posted in Vainglory

6 Takeaways from the Vainglory Preseason Invitational

Six eSports organizations have recently plunged into the Vainglory scene. This has injected money, structure, and legitimacy into a professional scene which, to this point, has been like a generally peaceful Wild West community with the devs at Super Evil MegaCorp playing the role of benevolent Westworldian overseers. In response to the wave of new teams, and the resulting ripples throughout the rosters of many organizations, SEMC invited the new organizations to their headquarters in California for a showcase in the Run the Gauntlet Vainglory Preseason Invitational.

However, the Invitational was about more than showing off new teams; developers also took the opportunity to preview their newest hero, Grumpjaw. Even more interesting for the future of the game was a video of Game Designer and Creative Content Officer Captain Neato breaking down the foreseeable future of Vainglory. The whole stream was a well-timed and sleekly packaged performance for a rapidly expanding audience. There are a multitude of takeaways from this preseason teaser, but in honor of the six new organizations we will limit it to six big ones.

  1. Vainglory is sexy right now, and SEMC knows it.

Multi-esport organizations are flocking to Vainglory right now, and globally eSports teeters on the cusp of flooding into truly mainstream culture. The developers and team at SEMC are more than aware of this hype, and would be remiss to not seize the moment. Players of League or DotA who wouldn’t consider Vainglory last year can’t ignore their favorite teams making forays into a new and rising MOBA; capturing this new audience could result in an influx of rookie Vainglory players who are nevertheless hardened MOBA veterans.

  1. Coaches and Analysts will be in demand.

With only three players per team, strategy in Vainglory is inherently more limited, in certain ways, than a traditional five man MOBA. However, the universal introduction of a double-ban draft system in professional competition makes strategic insight more important than ever. Echo Fox clearly benefited from the pregame presence of their Head Coach, Foojee. What goes on behind the scenes with coaching and strategy is tricky to quantify, but the new organizations to the scene have created a bit of an arms race, and I doubt any team will want to enter this pivotal season without the industry norm in support staffing.

  1. Misfits were stand outs.

One of the less hyped of the teams competing in the Preseason Invitational, Misfits started fast and finished with an admirable 2-1 record. The team of King, IllesT, and Eeko proved versatile, hardwinning their draft against Fnatic and snowballing to a quick victory, only to turn around and grind out a comeback win against a very experienced Immortals team. As broadcasters were quick to note on stream, the players on Misfits aren’t inexperienced, just less well known. It would be no surprise to see these players thrive within an organization with more experience, structure, and tools to help them develop.

  1. Super Evil MegaCorp is super committed to not being evil at all.

The stream opened up with a prepackaged video of CEO Kirstian Segerstrale, and Sr. Director of Content and Esports, PlayoffBeard. In what felt like a message to those watching the stream who may be new to the scene and how Super Evil operate, they doubled down on past and present commitments to engage with and listen to the community at large. PlayoffBeard and Segerstrale presented the Vainglory community as a foil to the traditionally toxic and cynical MOBA scenes; no doubt they hope some players who have long battled trolls of all sorts in other games will seek safe haven in Vainglory. Now, Vainglory isn’t without trolls or toxicity, but as a player of the game and observer of the company, I have been given little reason to doubt either their commitment to real and tangible community engagement or their claims of generally widespread community unity. Kumbaya baby.

  1. On 5.

See what I did there? The announcement of plans for a 5v5 game mode generated enough buzz to make many doubt reports of a global bee shortage. Captain Neato was quick to note that no plans are set in stone and they are still a long way out from implementing a 5v5 game mode; however, it’s still a bit surprising that they would reveal eventual plans to do so with what feels like the biggest seasons of competitive play to-date just around the corner.

  1. Expounding on rounding said corner.

All of this was about hype. No one truly knows what the next year will hold for Vainglory; everything seems to be building towards the start of the NA and EU Vainglory 8 series on March 11. One problem when it comes to analyzing Vainglory as an eSport has been the relatively small sample size; however, consistent matches and structured seasons should help bulk up our understanding of how good all these teams really are. As teams play more games, figure out seasonal play, and establish unique styles, we will see if Vainglory is the eSport on the rise it claims to be, and, if so, which players and teams will rise with it.

Posted in ESL, Intel Extreme Masters, League of Legends, Player Rankings

The 10 highest earners in League of Legends

The MSI stage heats up

Prize money in League of Legends is not as famously ostentatious as Dota’s frankly ridiculous International prize pots, but earnings tell the story nonetheless. On top of that, many organisations play salaries close to their chest, but you can bet at least some of these players are earning many times their tournament winnings listed here, as tracked by esportsearnings.com. So here are the best earners in LoL:

10. Jang ‘Looper’ Hyeong-seok – $346,307.48

Looper made his name warming the bench for MVP Ozone, before being called into action during 2013’s World Championships. While not managing to keep his team in the competition, he stayed with Ozone through their eventual transformation into Samsung White and came back a year later (this time in the starting line-up) to sweep first place. In something of a LoL tradition, his year after winning Worlds was not as successful with White dissolving. After a disappointing 5th-8th finish at the World Championships in 2016, Looper has joined Echo Fox with veterans Keith and Froggen.

9. Ming ‘ClearLove’ Kai – $347,768.06

China’s top earner is, rather unsurprisingly, Edward Gaming’s longest serving member. After joining the organisation in 2013 (having already made a small pocket of winnings at the young World Elite LoL team) ClearLove has stayed with EDG as the team remains one of the strongest sides in the LPL.

8. Cho ‘Mata’ Se Hyeong – $371,621.02

Returning to our run down of the members of Samsung White’s winning 2014 Worlds team, Mata has fared only slightly better than his former team-mates. Joining DanDy in swapping to Vici Gaming after White’s dissolution, Mata too has had little luck in the Chinese LPL outside a third place NEST finish last year. When Vici Gaming failed to qualify for Worlds, Mata began plans to join Royal Never Give Up and eventually convinced Looper to join him from his unsuccessful ventures at Master3. He now plays for KT Rolster.

7. Heo ‘PawN’ Won Seok – $394,293.08

Rounding out the 2014 Samsung White roster we have PawN, who has certainly fared the best after his big win. After joining ClearLove as a mid laner with Edward Gaming, he has since joined his other old teammate Mata at KT Rolster. His dedication to the game is admirable, even leaving hospital while undergoing treatment for a back injury to help win a 2-2 tiebreaker against World Elite in the LPL quarter-finals. He works hard for the money.

 

 

6. Kang ‘Blank’ Sun-Gu – $419,260.80

We begin our run of players from 2016 World Champions SKT Telecom T1 with Blank. With Bengi only playing a handful of games during the Spring and Summer splits, Blank got the chance to shine as the team’s substitute jungler. However, that only translated into a few appearances during Worlds. Surely still worth it for that share of the money, though? He’ll remain with SKT in 2017.

5. Lee ‘Duke’ Ho Seong – $450,210.43

The top laner for SKT at Worlds 2016 sits just above his former teammate in prize money earnings. 2016 has been a standout year for both Duke and the entire SKT team, with a spattering of wins over the last 12 months. The future throws some mystery into the mix, though, as Duke left SKT in November and has now moved on to Invictus Gaming alongside Kid, RooKie, JackeyLove and Megan.

 

 

4. Bae ‘Bang’ Jun Sik – $631,239.89

Yes, it’s another SKT player. This time it’s two time World Champion and AD Carry, Bang. A career peppered with first place finishes, it’s clear to see why he breaks into the top half of this list. Wins at Worlds 2015 and 2016 are supported by a host of seasonal victories and podium finishes at Mid-Season Invitationals. He sticks as AD Carry with SKT for 2017.

3. Lee ‘Wolf’ Jae Wan – $635,741.13

And now for something completely different! Sorry, nope, it’s SKT again. A win at Worlds 2016 puts Wolf on equal footing to Bang with two World Championship titles. The South Korean support player will continue to play for SKT in 2017, although there will be another player leaving the nest…

2. Bae ‘Bengi’ Seong Ung – $810,683.00

As evidenced by their position in the list, our final two show that there is only one South Korean super team to outdo Samsung White and that’s SKT T1. While the former was a bright supernova of a team, bringing together some of the best for one perfect season before fizzling out, SKT endures. Bengi has been a big part of that sustain, providing one of the most consistent junglers in the LCK. However, that could now all change as he’s recently joined his former teammate, Easyhoon, at Vici Gaming for 2017.

 

 

1. Lee ‘Faker’ Sang Hyeok – $897,818.98

Clearly the Demon King of the Mid Lane will not be outdone. The most famous and successful of any eSport player is just as sharp now as he was during either of SKT’s first Worlds wins. He can now add a third win to that list after SKT’s victory in 2017. He’ll be staying with the team in 2017 where we can’t imagine him aiming for anything less than a fourth Worlds win this year.

Posted in Uncategorized

The 10 types of Dota 2 players

As you climb the MMR mountain you’ll meet many players – give these ones a shove.
Enigma is not a pick for panickers
Enigma is not a pick for panickers © Valve
 

Once Dota 2 gets its hooks into you, there chances are it will be hundreds, if not thousands of hours before you get anywhere near the upper echelons of the MMR scale, and even then most won’t make it past 3-4K.

While the quality of play and understanding of the game may increase as the MMR count rises, there are some things that every Dota player will experience, regardless of if they are in the 1K bracket or pushing to hit 9K. There will be throws, incredible comebacks and loads of Invokers (at least while 6.86 is still around). However,  the one thing that Dota players will experience more than anything is other players, and these are 10 of the most common types you will find.

Whether you want to hug them as they save you from a gank or curse them as they tilt their way to another victory for your opponents, you’ll have encountered each and everyone of these in pubs.

The perfect player

Quite possibly the most annoying type of Dota 2 player in the world, the perfect player truly believes that nothing is their fault. If they go for the first bounty rune alone and die, it was because the team wasn’t with them. If they get caught out in the opposition jungle while farming, it was because there weren’t any deep wards. When the team gets wiped it’s because the supports didn’t lock anyone down. Their delusion is so bad that if they give up first blood they assume there is no way the team can win without their star player being ahead from the start, and will call “GG noob team” in all chat. Then if the team manages to win, they tell everyone it was all because they did so well, despite ending 2-12-3 with only boots and drums on Spectre.

The slightly disappointed support

The nice guys of Dota, the disappointed support has a mindset of “I will pick a hero that the team needs” and always ends up having to pick a support as the other four players have selected four carries and are currently fighting over who goes mid. Disappointed supports dream of the day where their team-mates pick a good support pair straight away and leave them to be the position one, but the chances of that happening are less than the chances of Arteezy and Kuroky joining forces to win The International 7.

The rage against your machine

Dota is a game that makes even the most rational of gamers act in irrational ways. Someone who is by all accounts an amicable person face to face can turn into the most angry person in the world when they load into a game, even if things are going their way. “OH MY GOD! WHERE WERE YOU TEAM?” will boom through your headset as the angry one gets picked off in an unavoidable situation that won’t change the outcome of the game. What makes them worse is that even when a teamfight seems to go perfectly, they will take umbrage with the fact that one of the supports got a single kill, stealing it from them.

The tower diver

Anyone who has even played one full game of Dota knows that towers hurt, especially in the early game, and should generally be avoided. Now, there are times where diving behind a tower to secure a kill is a good idea, but the tower diver takes this to a new extreme, running past a tier-three tower at six minutes to secure a kill on a position five Crystal Maiden. Unsurprisingly, things generally don’t go well in this situation, but instead of learning from their mistakes the diver does exactly the same thing four minutes later. Regardless of how the game goes chances are they will have more deaths as a result of diving towers than due to the other team playing well.

The god of gamblers

There is a time and a place for picking a random hero when playing Dota, but randoming as a last pick in a ranked game when your team already has positions one through four locked in is seldom the best idea. Inevitably the other members of the team will ask why they randomed, and the only response they will receive is “I need to learn all the heroes”. Well that’s great and all, but some people actually want to occasionally win a Dota game, and hitting that random button and locking in Meepo when you have never played him before really screws your team over. Unless you are actually a god, in which case, fair play, but we’ve not seen many of those on mere mortal pubs.

The journeyman jungler

While Chen and Enigma are two of the most effective junglers in Dota, the journeyman jungler will pick heroes such as Axe and Legion Commander, because they only play carries. That’s how hot they are. Of course, if they had their way they would be in the safelane farming, but being left with the fourth of five pick meant they had to pick a jungler because supports are boring and having more than one support is pointless when there are neutrals in the jungle to farm. Sometimes their pick will work out, but often they will show up to mid-game fights with boots and an Iron Talon, or won’t show up at all because there are still neutrals to kill.

The ping spammer

One of the most important mechanics in Dota is the ping. When used effectively it can convey almost any piece of information, but the ping spammer seems to value a ping more than destroying the ancient. If a hero is spotted going for a rune, they will ping, if a hero leaves the lane for a second they will ping the lane instead of saying the hero is missing and if they want Zeus to ult they will ping the hero, despite there literally being a chat wheel option for “Zeus ult now”. By the end of the game you will most likely have tinnitus from the pings still ringing in your ears, and expect to hear one whenever you see a person walk round a corner on your way to work the next day.

The smurf

The smurf is clearly too good to be playing in your MMR bracket, so they must be on a smurf account. Or, you know if we think about it, they could just be having the game of their life. Either way they will carry any team to victory, and ruin their opponents day, ending with some ridiculous KDA on a difficult hero. More times than not they will be humble about it, but as they sit there admiring their stats post game you can’t help but be annoyed by them; after all, you wanted to be the centre of attention when you joined the game and they took that away from you.

The panic attack

We’ve all misclicked and accidentally popped our 10 second BKB while fighting against kobolds in the small camp – but it was an accident and a rare occurrence. For the panicker though, this happens all too often; once they sense danger or a fight kicks off their fingers become uncontrollable and mash every key possible. This usually results in all their abilities going off on the wrong target and accidentally starting to TP when they wanted to blink. Often their mistakes can be forgiven, but when they finally hit the perfect five man Black Hole only to self cancel it because they panicked, the inevitable facepalm emotes are more than warranted.

The silent support

“We need wards” is the bane of the silent support’s life. Every game they pick a support and every game they buy and place wards, yet “we need wards” is still constantly spammed in the chat, even though there are four of on the map and none left in stock. But despite the constant reminders to buy wards and questions of why they got picked off when trying to place a ward they remain silent throughout, choosing to avoid conflict and keep the team as peaceful as a pub team can be. They may feel annoyed inside but when they ‘accidentally’ stun the enemy carry a second too late so he can kill the person who has been demanding wards, everything feels much better.

Posted in CS:GO, ESL, Intel Extreme Masters, Team Rankings

These are the CS:GO teams to watch in 2017

Last year’s Majors were dominated by SK, but 2017 could see a number of teams reign supreme.

Top CS:GO team SK Gaming from Brazil lift the ESL Pro League trophy2017 may already be a few weeks old, but only over the last few days has the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive world woken from its holiday slumber. The ELEAGUE Major is practically upon us, and while WESG and DreamHack Leipzig gave us an early look at some of the contenders, many of the teams hoping to walk away as winners haven’t played an event for quite a while.

Predicting who’ll come out on top at the Major right now isn’t easy, but what we can do is predict which teams will have a stand out year over the next 12 months, and the ones that you should be keeping an eye on.

If we look back at 2016, it’s fair to say that SK/Luminosity dominated the first months and were arguably the best team in the world, but few people would have predicted that outcome this time last year. And as we saw in the latter half of the year, teams that have traditionally been in the lower tiers can easily come back and win the big events – in fact pro CS:GO has never been more unpredictable. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to pick out teams that we expect to do well in 2017 though.

NaVi

Natus Vincere had a very good 2016, and were certainly one of the best teams throughout the year, but they could never quite get it done when it mattered, apart from at ESL One New York. New York showed what the current line-up, with new superstar s1mple on the roster, could accomplish and with the season about to start up once again this team should shine.

2016 was just the start for NaVi; if they keep this roster and manage to fix the few issues that remain, they have a very bright future. They have the talent, they’ve proven that they can beat all comers, and they have a massive fan base to appease, so they really could become the best team in the world in 2017.

Astralis

Despite having a very tough second half to 2016, Astralis have set themselves up to have a great 2017, and their play style makes them one of the more entertaining teams to watch. Swapping out Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen for Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander revitalised the team and saw them take second at ELEAGUE and first at ECS. They head into the Major as a clear favourite and arguably the strongest team in the pack. If they can keep coming up with new strategies, and don’t fall into the old Astralis ways of feeling stale, they really could dominate 2017.

OpTic Gaming

Top CS:GO eSports team OpTic Gaming playing at ELEAGUE Season 2

NA CS had its best year ever in 2016, and while Cloud9 and Liquid were a couple of the most successful teams, OpTic Gaming is the one to watch in 2017. They had a great end to the year, winning ELEAGUE and taking second at ECS, and head into the Major with some impressive momentum. After more than a few roster changes, the green wall finally has a system that is working, and one that looks difficult to beat.

Their success isn’t quite as guaranteed as some teams on this list, but if OpTic do manage to keep improving, there’s no reason why we couldn’t see them as world beaters over the next few months.

North

As the year started to wind down, Dignitas finally hit the top of the CS world, with great performances and a big tournament win. Now with the backing of F.C. Copenhagen, under the new organisation North, they have all the tools they could ever want. The team is still young and developing, but has always been a hot contender, and look set to kick on to finally establish themselves as the best in the world. 18-year-old Emil ‘Magiskb0Y’ Reif also looks set to have a star year, and could end up in the best player in the world conversations.

GODSENT

The Swedish shuffle may not have worked out as smoothly as Fnatic or GODSENT hoped, but now things seemed to have stabilised and GODSENT are looking pretty good. They haven’t set the world alight just yet, but their performance at the ELEAGUE Major Qualifier showed what they were capable of. If they manage to play like that week in and week out then they’ll easily be at the top of the scene, and right now there is no reason that can’t happen.

They aren’t world beaters just yet, but after the Major they may well be, and even if they don’t have a great time, they’re still one of the brightest teams in the scene.

Immortals

SK may be the most successful Brazilian team out there, but sitting just behind them is the rapidly improving Immortals squad, who could replicate their countrymen’s success this year. They haven’t yet managed to beat all of the top teams, and they didn’t even make it to the Major, but they’ve shown signs of brilliance. Playing against the top teams in NA will only see them improve, and some much needed roster stability should give them consistency. It may be a few months before this call comes good, but Immortals could be in the conversation as a top contender for the second major of the year.

BIG

If Immortals was a bit of a left field call, then BIG sounds almost ludicrous, but we believe they have the makings of a top team. In their debut event they only dropped maps to the Major bound Flipsid3 Tactics and upcoming team Heroic, dominating everyone else easily.

BIG is a promising mix of experienced veterans and up and coming talents, which as we have seen countless times before, is always a great mix. It may take a while for them to pop up in the bigger events, and it may be a long time before they win a major, but they’re certainly one of the most exciting new teams coming into 2017.

 

Posted in Dota 2, The International

5 highest earning gamers in the world

Virtual gaming has evolved into one of the richest tournaments globally.

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Competitive video gaming has spiralled into a worldwide movement

Competitive video gaming, popularly known as eSports, has spiralled into a worldwide movement, garnering millions of spectators.

The virtual gaming platform has evolved into one of the richest tournaments globally, with the prize pool varying between $1 million and $20 million. To put that into perspective, the prize money for winning the Superbowl is USD 8.5 million, while the ICC Cricket World Cup is USD 10 million and UEFA’s Europa League is USD 9 million.

It’s also reported that eSports are likely to debut at the 2024 Los Angeles Olympics. Thus, with the increasing popularity, eSports has now attracted a number of participants from all across the world, all trying to perfect their craft. 

Here, we take a look at the five highest earning gamers in the world.


#1 Sahil Arora (UNiVeRsE)

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The Dota 2 veteran was also named the MVP by Redbull at the International 2015

American professional Dota 2player Sahil Arora, who goes by the alias ‘UNiVeRsE’ is the world’s highest eSports earner with total earnings of $2,720,623.84. The 27-year-old gamer is also the highest earner in all of the United States.

The biggest cash prize ever won by UNiVeRsE from a single tournament was $1,326,932.14 at the International 2015 Dota 2 Championships held in Seattle. His 1st place cash prize made up for almost 48.77% of the total prize money of the tournamenttal prize money of the tournament.

The Dota 2 veteran was also named the MVP by Redbull at the International 2015 (TI5) for his spectacular gameplay on Clockwerk and an incredible 5-man Echo Slam on his Earthshaker in Game 4 of the Grand Finals against CDEC Gaming.

On March 25, 2016, Sahil left Evil Geniuses (EG) to join Team Secret (TS). However, in June, Sahil left TS to join his previous team, after Team Secret finished last at The Manila Major 2016.

#2 Peter Dager (Ppd)

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Peter had a meteoric rise as he went on to win the TI5

CEO of the eSports organisation Evil Geniuses, Peter Dager, who uses the alias ‘Ppd’, stands second on the list of highest overall eSports earners with a staggering amount of $2,603,724. The acronym ‘Ppd’ comes from his alias “peterpandam, with which the 25-year-old gamer began his career.

Peter started gaming at a very young age, playing Heroes of Newerth, mostly with his older brother and friend. However, Peter had a meteoric rise as he went on to win the TI5 tournament as captain of Evil Geniuses. Eventually, he moved on to an administrative role in the Evil Geniuses’ organisation and later became the CEO.

Following The International 2016, he decided to leave active competition in order to prioritise his managerial role with Evil Geniuses. However, Peter has not officially announced his retirement as a professional. He has, in fact, joined WanteD for the upcoming Major as a part-timer.

#3 Sumail Hassan (Suma1L)

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Sumail is the youngest gamer to surpass $1 million in tournament winnings

Pakistan-born American gamer, Sumail Hasan is the third highest earner globally, with earnings of $2,401,560. Aged just 17, Sumail holds the Guinness World Record for being the youngest gamer to surpass $1 million in tournament winnings.

On February 9, 2015, ‘Suma1L’ reached the $100,000 mark after winning the $256,831.60 cash prize for finishing first at the Dota 2 Asia Championship in 2015.

Sumail was also featured in Time Magazine’s top 30 influential teenagers of 2016 and was the first ever Dota 2 player to be included in the magazine awards.

Sumail first started playing Dota when he was seven years old. However, it was UNiVeRsE, who was really impressed with his ability and pushed for EG to recruit him in January 2015. Following TI6, Sumail was rumoured to have departed from EG, but a few days later they announced that he had indeed re-signed.

#4 Clinton Loomis (Fear)

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Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis is an American veteran Dota 2 player from Medford, Oregon

Clinton Fear Loomis is an American veteran Dota 2 player from Medford, Oregon. The oldest Dota player until his retirement in 2016, Loomis is now a professional Dota 2 coach. Winning over a million dollars during his stint with EG, 28-year-old Loomis ranks fourth on the list with overall earnings of $2,372,459.

Chris also featured in the documentary ‘Free to Play’ alongside gamers Danil ‘Dendi’ Ishutin and Benedict Lim “hyhy” Han Long. However, following TI6, Chris retired from active gaming citing health issues and shifted his focus to being the team coach of EG.

#5 Li Peng (iceice)

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Peng achieved great success winning ESL One Manila 2016, The Summit 5 and the TI6

Li  Peng, who uses the alias ‘iceice’ is a Chinese Dota 2 player and currently, plays for Wings Gaming. Standing fifth worldwide with overall earnings of $1,980,996, Peng started his gaming career with team Big God.

In 2016, Peng achieved great success winning ESL One Manila 2016, The Summit 5 and Valve’s sixth International, the TI6. The numero uno player from China won his biggest cash prize worth $1,827,800.40 at the TI6 which made up 92.25% of total tournament prize money.

Li Peng is most famous for his characters ‘Rubik, the Grand Magus,’ ‘Zharvakko, the Witch Doctor’ and ‘Dazzle, the Shadow Priest.

Posted in Uncategorized

German games lobby demands esports recognition ahead of federal elections

Photo via Nicholas Raymond (CC BY 2.0)

Some of esports’ biggest players, including ESL and ActivisionBlizzard, gathered under the umbrella of Germany’s most influential lobbying group for digital entertainmentearlier the year. Now, ahead of the federal elections set to take place in autumn this year, they’re making some serious noise.

The group had formulated 10 claims to pressure German politicians from all parties to further support the games industry. Most notably, they’re demanding the recognition of esports as a sport. This way, esports would receive a multitude of benefits, ranging from tax relief to easier visa processes for its athletes. Several ministries, members of the parliament, and party experts received the list of demands in December.

The lobby, which goes by the bulky German name Branchenverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware (BIU), represents 85 percent of the German video games market, according to its own statements. The association is a joint organizer of the annual video games trade fair gamescom, and partner of the Deutscher Computerspielpreis, an annual video games award donated by the federal ministry of transport and digital infrastructure.

In June, the BIU announced the formation of a dedicated esports initiative, named eSports.BIU, to further establish esports in Germany, fight for its recognition, and ease visa procedures. It includes developers like Activision Blizzard and Riot Games but also esports-focused organisations like ESL and Freaks4U Gaming. The six members of its board are representatives from Microsoft, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, ESL, Freaks4U, and Wargaming.

In the past, several attempts to recognize esports as an official sport in Germany failed. Policy follows the guidelines set by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (GOSC) when it comes to whether esports are sports. And in the past, the GOSC has been pretty clear: they’re not. The reason? Esports lacks “its own motoric activity.” In other words: using mouse and keyboard or handling a controller isn’t considered to be a defining action, something every form of sport needs to be recognized following the Olympics ruleset.

Political forays to recognize esports, to date, were mainly supported by small regional factions like Berlin’s Pirate Party or Hamburg’s liberals, both of which were neglectable attempts.

If the BIU can increase the pressure on Germany’s political landscape ahead of the federal elections remains to be seen. Admittedly, when big games companies like Activision and Tencent unite under one banner, they’re a force to reckon with.

It’s unlikely, however, that esports’ recognition as a sport will become a big election issue, if it becomes a topic at all. While being an important business location for international esports—ESL’s headquarter in Cologne, Riot Games EU in Berlin, the Frankfurt Dota 2 Major, etc.— Germany’s political and public awareness clearly lags behind.

Posted in Uncategorized

Daigo is on a mission to save Street Fighter

To be labeled legendary in any competition means more than just winning. It means dominating at the highest levels and making it look easy. Basketball had Michael Jordan. Baseball had Derek Jeter. And in the world of competitive Street Fighter, no one is more deserving of being called a legend than Daigo “The Beast” Umehara.

But unlike the NBA and MLB, Street Fighter is in trouble. Despite a show on ESPN2 two weeks ago and a fighting game record $230,000 given to Team Liquid’s Du “NuckleDu” Dang for winning the Capcom Cup the day before, the uneven release of Street Fighter V earlier this year has many in the community questioning the game’s viability. Combine that with the fact that the top players lean toward the older side of the esports spectrum, and Daigo has made it his mission to keep his beloved game from dying off.

Daigo is a Japanese Street Fighter player and was on track to become a professional gamer long before professional gaming was mainstream. As a kid, Daigo struggled with what he wanted to do in life. His father didn’t push him toward traditional salaried careers, as many Japanese parents do. He just wanted his son to pursue something he loved and planted a seed that sprouted Daigo’s obsessive love of gaming.

When Daigo’s classmates would play sports, he chose to visit arcades. There, he practiced with the intent of becoming the best. Daigo’s philosophy was simple: practice three times harder than anyone else.

“If I didn’t play games, I couldn’t, like, stay still, couldn’t be calm,” Daigo said. “Now it’s my job. Back then it was my addiction.”

As Street Fighter continued to dominate arcades, tournaments invariably started to pop up. That’s when Daigo was finally able to showcase his talents on the world stage. In 1998, after becoming the Japanese champion in Street Fighter Alpha 3, he flew to California to play against the best from the United States. Once there, Daigo made a name for himself internationally and became the world champion, beating Alex Valle.

In 2002 and 2003, Daigo won the U.S. vs. Japan exhibition in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and took the Street Fighter II: Turbo title at the Tougeki fighting game tournament, both in Japan.

But the Evolution Championships 2004 cemented Daigo’s legacy. Playing against Justin “JWong” Wong, now with Evil Geniuses, Daigo had only one pixel of health left. Just one hit would mean defeat. JWong unleashed his Super Art, a barrage of 15 consecutive kicks. Daigo had only one option, to parry each kick with frame-perfect accuracy, and finish JWong off with a counter.

Daigo did just that, and the crowd went wild. The “Daigo parry” quickly became the first viral video hit for the Street Fighter community.

Interestingly, while Daigo defeated JWong, he didn’t actually win Evo 2004. The title went to Kenji “KO” Obata, but everyone remembers the moment when Daigo did the impossible and came back from certain death.

After a three-year hiatus, Daigo returned to competitive Street Fighter in 2008, with the release of Street Fighter IV. This began another era of domination for Daigo, as he continued to place high at tournaments. Yet in Street Fighter IV and its two subsequent iterations, Super and Arcade, he was ranked second to JWong and Team Razer’s Ai “Fuudo” Keita. It wasn’t until Daigo started competing in Ultra Street Fighter IV, the third offshoot of the base game, that Daigo once again became the world champion.

That was the heyday of Street Fighter. Daigo is now 35, a Red Bull Athlete and Twitch Global Brand Ambassador, and he’s trying to use his prestige and status to keep the game he loves from disappearing.