Colin Kaepernick Is Doing Nothing Wrong

Another blown-up media story and public outcry ensued after 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand up during the national anthem, one of our nation’s most patriotic songs, which plays before every NFL game.

Here’s the story in a nutshell: A man sat down during a song while the rest of the people around him stood up.  That is all the factual evidence; everything else – the song’s meaning, the song’s history, the context and significance of the song being played at a football game – is all human interpretation and perception.  And in a not so orthodox way, one can understand by listening to Kaepernick that by sitting down during the national anthem, he was honoring people, honoring those whom have suffered in his country.

Image result for colin kaepernick sits national anthem

Kaepernick claims he was making a statement, informing the NFL after the game that he wasn’t going “to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  He later specified that police brutality was one major concern he was referring to.  “People aren’t being held accountable and that’s something that needs to change…this country stands for freedom, liberty, (and) justice for all and it’s not happening ‘for all’ right now.”

Props to Kaepernick for not giving the ole generic cliches “gotta take it one game at a time” or “we’re all looking to get better” during an interview and actually sparking viewer interest.

My favorite moment of Kaepernick’s interview was when he cleared up any doubt that he has a grudge against American troops.  “I have great respect for men and women that have fought for this country,” he said.  “I have family (and) I have friends that have gone and fought for this country.  And they fight for freedom.  They fight for the people.  They fight for liberty and justice…for everyone.”

Furthermore, it’s like comparing apples and oranges to immediately assume that Kaepernick doesn’t respect our troops when he is concerned about oppressed groups of people.  Two different topics: respecting those who serve in the military and protesting a nation that treats certain people unfairly.  Apples and oranges.

He also mentioned another area for improvement: the lives of veterans.  “Men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for and have been murdered for the country they fought for.  On our land.  That’s not right…I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and affect change….I’m in a position where I can do that.”

Making these points should, at least, question critics who claim that Kaepernick doesn’t respect the military and should leave the United States.  Our focus should shift from why we now hate Kaepernick, to what he is bringing attention to.

Image result for colin kaepernick

This is America, land of (what should be) the free.  That freedom does not exclude sitting on a bench while a patriotic song plays.  But before I go too off topic and into controversial territory (if I’m not already there), I’ll expose Kaepernick’s point further.

The real disrespect lies in the reality facing us today.  Is it not disrespectful that black Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be shot and killed by police officers?  Is it not disrespectful that the gender wage gap is at 20%?  Is it not disrespectful that Native Americans have some of the highest rates of child mortality, teen pregnancy, suicide, poverty and addiction and are hardly receiving the help they deserve?

We were already conditioned many years ago to sing, or mumble, the pledge of allegiance before every class, presenting a pseudo-patriotic start to the day.  It’s not like Kaepernick was waving a confederate flag or a swastika or chanting derogatory language towards America, or yelling about how much he hates the military.  I don’t support disrespecting your country, but sitting down during a patriotic song that packs an emotional American punch is far from the worst thing Kaepernick could have done.

America has got to understand that we can maintain a balance between being thankful, happy and respectful for the country we live in, and possessing the hunger and drive necessary to improve and change the country for the better.  You can love America and still want to create a more love-based, equal-based society.  We’re ever-evolving social creatures and we’ve got a long way to go before we reach out full potential.  Many times we have changed as a human race to produce a more favorable and just result.

Kaepernick continues to inspire athletes from all levels and leagues to initiate similar actions such as linking arms, kneeling, or holding up fists during the national anthem.  You could even say that this form of anti-conformity/protest is becoming a national trend.

Image result for dolphins kneel during national anthemImage result for high school athletes national anthem

I think Kaepernick knows that his action won’t directly affect change, but it has certainly sparked discussion for change, and that is always a beneficial outcome.  And for NFL players to do anything more is very difficult since their lives revolve around football 24/7.  Now, let’s get back to football and judge what really matters: Kaepernick’s play on the field, or the sidelines for that matter.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Michael!

“From Our House to Yours”

 

Patrick Reed Wins The Barclays (Courtesy of Getty Images/Via wsj.com)

Reed Conquers Bethpage Black to Win the Barclays

The end of the first stage in the FedEx Cup Playoffs is over, and United States Olympian Patrick Reed came out victorious at the Barclays.

Reed sat atop the leaderboard after day two but fellow Olympian Rickie Fowler eeked his way into the leader position at 9-under-par after posting a 3-under in his third round. Poised to stay amongst the leaders, Fowler was 1-under through his first nine holes in his fourth round. It wasn’t until the 16th hole where Fowler felt his lead slip through his fingers.

Headed to the 15th at even par on the day after bogeying the par-4 11th hole ending his 55-hole bogey-free streak, Fowler would run into trouble after yanking his drive left and his second shot into a greenside bunker causing him to finish with a bogey on the 16th Fowler’s misfortunes weren’t quite over yet. Fowler would also double-bogey the par-4 16th after a yanked drive and duffed pitch shot into the greenside rough left him scrambling to save bogey.

Fowler did show grit in his final moments at Bethpage Black by knocking in a long birdie put on the par-3 17th hole.

Fowlers struggles continued, however, as he would go on to bogey the 18th hole after a third yanked drive in three attempts, paving the way for Reed to capture his first title of the year and the fifth of his career.

Reed’s successful weekend didn’t just bring home a nice payday, but it also catapulted him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings by scoring 2,000 points and earned him a spot on the United States Ryder Cup team.

Next week, the PGA Tour heads to TPC Boston where Fowler will try to shake off this weekend’s breakdown and reclaim his title, but until then here’s Justin Rose flaunting his Olympic Gold to finish his tap in on the 18th hole.

Is Hearthstone a Non-Competitive Esport?

I just moved to a new house and the internet is not working, so this time I decided to write about something which didn’t require me to play the game. I recalled that on Saturday I saw a Reddit post which stated that the Insomnia tournament channel had less viewers than some streamers. This was quite puzzling, tournaments used to have a lot more viewers than individual streamers, no matter who it was. I was curious to know why this was the case, and after reading a few of the Reddit answers a saw a lot of people claiming that they do not watch tournaments because they do not think Hearthstone is a competitive esport. In this article I tried to argue against this misconception, whilst I do think the competitive scene could do with an overhaul, I also think Hearthstone can certainly be a competitive game given the right circumstances.

The Importance of Deck-Building

The casual player will just watch games and when he sees a match decided by 50/50 Ragnaros RNG flip he will just think the one guy unlucky. Whilst this is partly true, there is another aspect to the game which is often overlooked: the decks which players decided to bring to the tournament. For example, in order to target a specific match-up one could tech Big Game Hunter instead of Feral Rage in Druid. This will change the win-rates on the whole quite a lot, in Hearthstone we have only thirty cards in our decks. Even a difference of just three measly cards means your deck changed by 10%!

There is also more general question to consider, questions such as: “should I put Leeroy in my Tempo Warrior?” are important, but if you want to succeed you also need to consider questions such as: “Should I bring Freeze Mage and Miracle Rogue in the same line-up?” The answer to the latter question is no unless you prepare for Warrior or Shaman with certain deck techs. This is because Rogue loses to Shaman, and Freeze Mage loses to Warrior, they don’t synergise well together. The reasoning behind which four decks you bring is extremely interesting as there are numerous different line-ups which can target different things. Additionally this also affects deck building, you might decide to tech all your decks with a Ragnaros if you think never banning Freeze Mage is a good strategy. When you build a deck you build it considering the metagame and the counter metagame you expect, Rosty did a long post on the competitive Reddit Hearthstone sub (you can find it here: https://www.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveHS/comments/4z8zav/the_proper_way_to_decide_your_deck_choices_for/ ) where he explains his thought process on how to approach deck choices. It is not as simple as people think.

Personally, every-time tournaments post deck-lists online I get excited. This is an essential part of the tournament, players spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to come up with the best tactic. Your deck line-up is the best edge you can give yourself, all top players usually know how to pilot the decks they bring. I remember hearing Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk say he has won Magic Tournaments just based on the fact he had brought decks which were stronger than the field. Fanboy note: I am a huge Reynad fanboy when it comes to deck-building as whenever I see him go through the process it is beautiful, you can see he is talented and has years of experience.

I feel too many players are evaluated solely on a performance scale and not overall. Piloting a deck is only a small part of the tournament, there is a lot of work behind deck choices players make.

It is a Card Game not a Videogame

Many of the people who play Hearthstone come from other videogames. I feel many do the mistake of assuming that, like in other esports, the stronger player should always win. This misconception is very rampant amongst the community, comments such as the following exemplify this: “x player is the best Hearthstone player in the world but has only a 60% win-rate, what a joke.” First off, if a player had a 60% win-rate in the tournament scene this would be insane, people which attend tournaments are amongst the best players in the world. If you can win 60% of the times CONSISTENTELY then you are probably a Hearthstone God, over a large number of games this stat would be insane.

The reason why the best player cannot always win in a card game is that there are many more variables to consider compared to other videogames. The way you draw, how the RNG flips go, all have an effect on the possible ways the game can turn out. The key thing to understand is that what matters in Hearthstone is making the play which will grant you the highest probability to win, this, over a large sample of games, should give you your “true win-percentage”. The decision trees of most Hearthstone games can be quite complex, even decks which attract a lot of circlejerk like Aggro Shaman are not that easy to play OPTIMALLY. We saw a few examples of this at the NA preliminary where some players played the deck really poorly. Overall there is a reason some players are top Legend whilst others can never reach it, the former player are consistent and play well over a large amount of games, the latter don’t play optimally and don’t win all the games they could have won.

A thing I wish more people would keep in mind is that five top four finishes in a row are much more impressive than one first place finish once in your life. Consistency, even if less flashy, is much harder to achieve than single victories. Continually grinding tournaments will mean that eventually you will win one, but making it to the end of a tournament multiple times means that you are much better than the average player.

RNG Flips

Being an online card game gives Hearthstone unique tools for different type of effect as the platform grants the possibility to have a computer decide the outcome of different events. Things such as the Discover mechanic would be impossible in games like Magic, you just couldn’t have all the card pool available and be able to select a couple of cards every time. When cards such as Yogg’Saron and Barnes win games people always joke about the fact that there is no skill involved in this game, you just play and pray. Whilst this is true to some extent, gathering statistics requires a large pool of information. Single cases don’t make the whole.

RNG is random in its very nature and to a certain extent uncontrollable, but this doesn’t mean that there not not correct and incorrect plays. What we have to accept in a game like Hearthstone is that playing statistics is not enough to win every time, it should only guarantee a positive outcome in the long run. Consider the following: a play keeps you in the game 90% of the time, this means only 10% of the time you will lose the game. Now Blizzard adds another card which keeps you in the game 90% of the time, if both cards are played during a match instead of having only 10% of losing now you have 19% to lose the game. As more cards with RNG are introduced in the game the percentage of games lost because of the effects rather than decisions increases. Thus whilst too much RNG does make a game less skill based, the question is if Hearthstone is at this point right now.

I will say that I personally think that we are slowly reaching a point of no return, I really dislike what the design team is doing with the game. Cards like Yogg’Saron and Barnes just make it harder to be consistent and are very annoying to lose to. This is the most RNG heavy metagame we have ever had. On the other hand as of now we don’t have enough RNG cards to justify claiming this is a purely RNG game, decisions still matter a lot in the competitive environment. Just watch at players like Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy play and you will understand.

Ideas to make Hearthstone more Competitive

The first idea is make longer series, or more Swiss type tournaments. People who do well over a large number of games should be rewarded, with these rules in place it should be much harder to get on a lucky streak. Maybe taking a slower approach to the game, where tournaments don’t have to be rushed over a few hours, could lead to a better situation for the esport side of Hearthstone.

Another thing tournament organizers could do is take a page out of Tempo Storm’s repertoire. I really respect Reynad for what he does for the competitive scene, he could make a lot more money by just catering to the casual players. Instead he lowers his profit margin in order to try to set up a healthy competitive scene for Hearthstone. From what I know, Tempo Storm sanctioned tournaments will ban Yogg’Saron, meaning that the card won’t be played at all. This will make it so that 0% of the games in these tournaments will be decided by a lucky Yogg and thus the RNG needed in order to win lowered. This consequentially means more consistent players should be rewarded.

The last thing I could think of, and this is very controversial, is to go back to having slightly more invite only tournaments. Obviously, nobody really wants to watch players who they don’t know compete, they want to see the big streamer names. People like Sebastian “Forsen” Fors attract masses. This though doesn’t mean that every tournament should be huge, just that having more casual tournament (that I really don’t like watching) could attract a larger audience to view tournaments consistently.

If you have any suggestions I would really like to hear what you think!

Concluding Remarks

Overall I think that Hearthstone is a competitive esport but that the Blizzard development team should think a bit more on which cards to print, this is in order to prevent too many Yogg’Saron’s from existing in the same metagame at once. Additionally it would be nice if Blizzard gave more of a heads up to the competitive community to ban certain cards from the official events, even if small we are a part of the community too. Finishing I believe that if you think that Hearthstone tournaments are purely RNG based you should try to see and understand the thought process that went behind the different line-ups. I heavily suggest you to look into which line-ups won and what they brought, this is a layer which few people usually consider.

If you have any thoughts on the matter I would love to hear your opinion, let me know on Reddit or write on the Game Haus forums. I promise I will try to reply to everybody!

 

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Could LeBron and Bolt Make It In the NFL?

With the most important week in the NFL preseason just getting started, my 2016 NFL predictions will have to wait until next week. For now, I wanted to do one last fun article before hardcore football season arrives. With the Olympics still fresh in the minds of most American sports fans, I started thinking about athletes from other sports who possibly could have made it in the NFL. I am sure there are more than a few, but two immediately jumped into my mind. This is purely hypothetical and just for fun.

 

LeBron James- Quite frankly, Ohio’s favorite son probably would have been successful in almost any sport. However, I have wondered about him in the NFL since he was a rookie in the NBA. I know it will never happen, but just take the journey with me for a moment. At 6-foot-8 245 pounds, he is capable of doing everything the game of basketball requires a world-class level. Most guys his height cannot shoot outside the paint to save their life or are a defensive liability. Obviously, neither is true of LeBron. Even at 31, he is still the fastest guy on the court most of the time. He is just a genetic freak, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible. I think he would be an amazing tight end in the NFL right now. Many have speculated on this before, but few have ever really taken a look at the possibility, until now. With the success of former basketball players like Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez and Julius Thomas have had in the NFL. If in some alternate universe LeBron ever decided he wanted to give the NFL a try, he would certainly have a long line of suitors. Given his height, weight and speed, I feel like he could out jump most defenders for any ball thrown his way. When that did not work, his positioning would. How many catches have we seen tight ends get from “boxing out” defenders like a basketball rebounder over the last few years? Again, it will never happen, but it sure would be fun.

photo from nesn.com

photo from nesn.com

 

Usain Bolt- This is more of a reach on my part, but anyone who is literally “The World’s Fastest Man” and a nine time Olympic gold medalist is an intriguing prospect for just about any sport. When it comes to football, Bolt’s potential is vast, but also limited. The only thing he really has ever done is run freakishly fast in a straight line. Granted, he has done it better than anyone who has ever lived. I think he would be a disaster at wide receiver or tight end. I doubt he could run a route or catch a pass to save his life. The kick and punt return game is where I could see him being dynamite. That part of the game is the closest the NFL gets a pure chaos. In order to tackle someone a defender has to see his target first and assume he is going to be in roughly the same spot a split second later. It Bolt is back there, I cannot imagine defenders grabbing anything but air. Several track stars have tried and failed in the NFL, but I would still like to see Bolt give it a go.

photo from nbcolympics.com

photo from nbcolympics.com

 

I hope you have enjoyed this look at maybe the two best cross over candidates in all of sports. Are there any other non-football athletes past or present that you think could succeed in the NFL?

 

 

NFC South: Can Cam & The Panthers Be Dethroned?

The NFC South division was formed in 2002 when the NFL realigned. From 2002 through 2012 there had never been a repeat champion of the division. That has since changed and for the past three season Cam Newton has led the Carolina Panthers to three straight division titles. It hasn’t been just because of Cam, but because of the great Carolina defense. The Panthers have a great team but this year they could be in danger of being dethroned. Here is how I think the NFC South will pan out this season.

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Patrick Reed (Courtesy of Eric Sucar and USA Today Sports/ via thescore.com)

Reed Holds Outright Lead at the Barclays

This week, the PGA Tour headed to Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York to open up the playoff race. Through two rounds at the Barclays, Patrick Reed has separated himself from the pack at 8-under.

Reed has found all of his success on the front nine in his first and second round scoring a combined 8-under and has had to claw his way through the back nine. On the back, Reed shot even par during both of his rounds but battled the Black Course’s last three holes on Friday afternoon going bogey on the 16th, birdie on the 17th, and bogey on the 18th.

 

Trailing two strokes behind the Reed are Emiliano Grillo and Rickie Fowler at 6-under. Much like Reed, both Grillo and Fowler have found a majority of their success coming on the front nine with both golfers each carding a 1-under on the back nine through their first two rounds.

 

The former FedEx Cup Champion Jordan Spieth currently sits tied for fifth at 4-under on the week. Spieth didn’t find much success during his first round shooting an even par, but that’s definitely better than digging yourself a ditch to climb out of. Spieth started to pick up momentum early yesterday carding three birdies and an eagle on the front nine, but a double-bogey on the 10th hole would hamper that momentum. Spieth would go stagnant for the next seven holes before recording a birdie on the par 4 18th to somewhat redeem himself on the back nine.

Jason Day currently sits at 4-under through his first two rounds. Day, like many others jumped on the gas and got to 5-under par through seven holes of his second round, but a collapse just at the turn would set him back a few strokes. A bogey on the par-3 eighth, a double bogey on the par-4 ninth and a bogey on the par-4 10th.

 

Live TV Coverage of the Barclays will start at 1 p.m. Eastern time on the Golf Channel, and then will switch over to CBS at 3 p.m., so if you’re reading this early enough, head on over and catch up on the latest PGA Tour action.

Why Your GREAT Fantasy Football Team Didn’t Win it ALL Last Year

Are you wondering just WHY OH WHY you didn’t take home your goofy home league virtual trophy and your nerdy little nephew did?

You did all the homework, you watched every Eisenberg miniclip online and stayed up into the wee hours in late night from the 4th of July until week 3 of the pre-season watching ESPN trying to obtain “inside” information.

How is it that you live and breathe everything FFL and still you ended up the butt of endless jabs from your friends and relatives that you play fantasy football with?

Chances are the reason lay in at least one of the following scenarios:

  • Injury issues
  • Draft muscle-memory
  • Draft ineptness
  • Draft hunches
  • Superabundant draft theory syndrome
  • Murphy’s Law
  • Lack of season interest

Let’s break those down.

Injury Issues  In 27 years of playing this wonderfully fulfilling pastime I have had my share (or what seems as more than my fair share) of early round season ending injuries from my studs. This is going to happen and cannot be avoided, and if you haven’t had that happen then email me on whom you are going to draft this year so I can avoid them as you cannot dodge Lady Badluck.

But many players have had this happen and still come out on top. How? Either with the foresight to utilize late round draft picks of round 1 and or 2 studs’ backups. You can bet that if I draft the Purple People Eater Adrian Peterson then I will later draft whomever (McKinnon/Asiata).  If you have not done this then you need to be a great in-season pick up artist.  Be quick to grab value that arises when it arises!

Draft Muscle memory–  You do all that great studying and analysis and then on draft day you unknowingly put all the information, planning and strategy in some dark corner of your brain as not to be able to retrieve it until the draft is over. When the commissioner or computer program starts that 10 second countdown until the first pick of the draft your brain goes into muscle memory mode in which it settles into that comfortable draft strategy you have used for years. Call it flying by the seat of your pants strategy or simply “I’ll just pick who I want to pick when it’s my time to pick” theory.   You just do what you always have done and the next thing you know the draft is over!   So much for all that prep work.

Draft Ineptness-  Its probably not you of course, but some people simply hit the 7-11 on the way to the draft and pick up a FFL magazine and wing it, be honest, did you do this last year?   Maybe rested on your laurels?  I’ll be honest….I’ve done it.

Draft Hunches- Deep down inside you just know that this is the year that Andrew Luck is finish as the number one QB in points, so you go ahead and pass on top WR and RB positions in the first or second round and draft Luck based upon that gut hunch.  How’d that work out last year?  I’m not picking on you as much as sympathize with you.  I too drafted Mr. Luck last year, but I picked him up after I had a stable of running backs and wide receivers.  One important aspect of drafting a stud is to be able to sit them if they are having an off season.  I still won the league in which I had drafted Luck dueto the fact that I sat him very early in the season and went a lessor “name”, but scored more consistent points.

Superabundant Draft Theory Syndrome-  Yes, that is a newly coined term I just invented for this article.  But the essence of it is something we have all dealt with in that we have done so much studying and research that all of the competing theories have come together all at once and created a gridlock in your brain.  “Draft a RB first as there are not many one running back backfields”. “Draft the best available in every round”.  “You must have an elite QB”. You get the idea, so what do you do?  In short, pick one.  But by all means you have to stay in touch and on top all season long no matter which you pick as all theories have some validity.

Murphy’s Law-  If anything can go wrong, it will.  Did you score 122 points only to lose to your brother-in-law who scored 124?   You start Dez Bryant on Monday Night Football due to his success in prime time, only to have back pains in first quarter?  Did you score second highest Total Points in your league last year only to not even make the playoffs?  Every league owner has had this happen if youhave played long enough.  It’s these bitter seasons that cause the more successful ones to taste that much sweeter.

Lack of Season Interest- Okay, you’ve lost four of your first five games and you’ve thrown in your proverbial towel.  You can’t even log in to the site as it makes you sick just seeing the trash talking andfun the others are having.  Well wipe your tears on your skirt buttercup…and put on your big boy pants. There is integrity in Fantasy Football, or at least there can be if those that are having losing seasons still try to compete and make it fun.  Don’t be one of those guys or girls.

A Wild Adventure with Priest

The last golden class I need is Priest, and since I wasn’t keen of suffering through the Standard Legend metagame I decided it was a wise choice to go farm my wins in Wild. It was the first time I ever played the format, I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it is. In this article I go into detailed discussion about my Priest deck as well as giving a general overview of what to expect if you venture in the Wild format.

The Main Deck

The final 30 cards.

The final 30 cards.

Whilst playing I switched cards in and out to try to find the list which I thought could do the best with. The picture on the left represents what was my most successful list against the Wild metagame. I will try to give a detailed explanation of what I wanted from each card in the deck list.

2 x Circle of Healing: There is not much to say about Circle of Healing, it can draw you a bunch of cards when coupled with Northshire Cleric and can also provide a great way to clear when coupled with Auchenai Soulpriest. The one thing I would say is that this card makes me really want to find a spot for Wild Pyromancer in the deck as this would increase the combo potential of the card by a big margin.

1 x Forbidden Shaping: This on is one of the weird choices of the deck, I will say the card performed really well. As a 1-of this card can help you go through bad draws, it gives you something to place on board if you lack a play. This is especially important as you play Velen’s Chose in the deck, you don’t want to end up with buffs stuck in your hands. Additionally in control match-ups casting this for eight makes it so that the deck packs a bit more punch, meaning that it is potentially possible to fight against greedier decks. Overall the card did perform well and as of now I wouldn’t consider replacing it.

2 x Flash Heal: I feel some burst healing is needed in Priest since the sustained heal is sometimes not enough to stabilize the board. Additionally the card can provide huge tempo when coupled with Auchenai, a one mana Fireball is great. Overall the choice is between Light of the Naaru and Flash Heal, I decided that the two more health/damage would help me more, five healing/damage is a better breaking point when compared to three, but the decision is very close. I could imagine running only one of these if Justicar Trueheart was to be put in the deck.

2 x Northshire Cleric: Core for the deck, it allows you to draw when you heal minons plus it is excellent against aggressive decks. It also gives an early body for Velen’s Chosen which is one of your win conditions. Unsubstitutable.

2 x Power Word: Shield: Cycle plus survivability for your early minions is an excellent proposition, the Priest Hero Power excels at keeping high health creatures alive. Additionally when paired with taunts it grants more survivability for the minion and can be very annoying to deal with. Like with Circle of Healing it really makes me want to play Wild Pyromancer in the deck!

2 x Zombie Chow: Running two Zombie Chows might be excessive since it is not a very good card to get back from N’Zoth, but on the other hand the amount of early game consistency that running four 1-drops and Deathlord gives you is invaluable. Additionally having two Zombie Chows also synergises well with Auchenai Soulpriest potentially enabling you to have insane surprise burst. Also consider that when coupled with Power Word: Shield, Zombie Chow will enable you to trade favourably with any minion which will come on board during the first three turns of any game. Overall I really like the card and I think the help it gives to any priest deck to transition in the late game is invaluable.

1 x Shadow Word: Pain: This particular slot changed a lot, it was Justicar, Elise and Excavated Evil at different points in time. I settled with Shadow Word: Pain because I felt an additional tool to control early minions could be useful. Additionally the fact that everybody plays Sludge Belcher in Wild means that Pain has always at least one great target to hit in most decks. I don’t want to play 2 of this card because I feel the deck has enough early game as it is, but if my Shadow Word: Deaths aren’t hitting many targets in the metagame I would consider switching one for second Pain.

Poor Hunter!

Poor Hunter!

2 x Deathlord: This card, when comboed with Velen’s Chosen, can lock out aggressive and midrange decks from doing anything in the early stages of the game. Additionally in Control match-ups it makes the opponents deck much thinner, making it very easy to fatigue your opponent. This is especially true if you can get the card back from N’Zoth. The main thing to consider is that sometimes the card does backfire, a Ysera or a Tirion turn 3 off your Deathlord will mean you will have to concede. On the other hand there are ways to play around this inconvenience as you might want to make sure to have an Entomb or a Shadow Word: Death before playing Deathlord against decks which run these big threats.

2 x Shadow Word: Death: One of this card is core for sure, you need it to be able to deal with big threats, but I don’t know if the second one is required. In my experience I never felt I was stuck with the card in hand too often, there is at least Dr Boom as a target in most decks and usually there are more. Overall I could see myself removing one Death in order to fit some more removal for wide boards but it must be emphasized that having the liberty to use the first Death is very nice as you don’ t have to save it for specific minions.

2 x Velen’s Chosen: This is the card I built my early game around, the trade power it gives minions is borderline overpowered. Without hard removal it is basically impossible to remove a Deathlord with Velen’s on top without trading for multiple turns, running Flash Heal makes it that much better. Overall I had a really good experience with this card as a two of in the deck, the trading power early game is exactly what Priest lacks in standard in order to be competitively viable.

2 x Auchenai Soulpriest: This card is awesome as it can fit in many different situations. Sometimes it is a board clear when coupled with Circle of Healing. Other times you need more reach to finish your opponent and you can pop your Zombie Chows and Flash Heal for extreme damage potential. Additionally the stats make it so that even if played on turn 4 it is not bad as it can contest both Piloted Shredder and Sludge Belcher, two extremely popular cards in the Wild metagame.

Love card advantage!

Love card advantage!

1 x Holy Nova: I decided to include Holy Nova because I thought that, in a deck that can get on board control, the heal plus the damage could be useful. Additionally I also thought that Northshire Cleric could benefit from Holy Nova as you can set it up to draw you a few cards. Lastly the synergy with Velen’s Chosen is decent, a 3 damage AOE hits a lot of good targets (most notably Piloted Shredder). Overall as a 1 of in the deck it performed decently but I don’t think I would ever consider playing 2.

2 x Sludge Belcher: This is one of the best cards from the Naxxramas set, so not playing it in any control deck would probably be a mistake. Additionally there is also to consider that playing N’Zoth makes the card so much better, as you can play a game winning 10-drop behind a ton of Taunts. Again another unsubstitutable card.

1 x Cabal Shadow Priest: The card is really good if you hit something with it and Wild has plenty of targets. In Paladin you have Shielded Minibot, in Hunter there is Haunted Creeper and in general nearly every midrange deck has some sort of good target. Overall the card can be rotated out of the deck but I like running one in my list as it gives me the possibility to set up really powerful turns.

2 x Entomb: If you are ever ahead on board Entomb will seal out the game locking any draw from your opponent to contest the board. Against Control decks adding cards to your deck is very strong, it makes the fatigue timer much slower for you. Against cards such as Savannah Highmane, Tirion Fordring and Dr Boom you can remove the minion whilst adding a threat to your deck, crazy good! Overall in a control Priest deck not running two Entombs would be a mistake.

2 x Lightbomb: The more games I play the more I realize that maybe two Lightbombs is too much, the card is very clunky against the Wild metagame. Sludge Belchers do not die to the effect, meaning that Lightbomb is never a clean answer to N’Zoth. Additionally there are plenty of Deathrattles that don’t get cleared by this 6-mana AoE. On the other hand the potential this card has if you have a slight board makes it so that I really do not want to take it out of the deck, it is a very valuable clear. Overall I might test taking one Lightbomb out in favour of Excavated Evil to see how the latter card performs.

Lorewalker Cho from Forbidden Shaping, I won and it was an interesting game!

Lorewalker Cho from Forbidden Shaping, I won and it was an interesting game!

1 x Sylvanas Windrunner: With the Whisper of the Old Gods nerfs and thus silences being rarer, Sylvanas is usually a pseudo board clear which allows to come back from difficult board states. This alone makes it an excellent card as the deck wants to control the board and exhaust resources from the opponent. Additionally getting it back from N’Zoth is usually enough for N’Zoth to get value, you really don’t need much more as the effect is really powerful.

1 x N’Zoth, the Corrupter: Since you run Belcher and the Deathrattles N’Zoth is a no brainer, it is the reason you build this Priest deck like this.

As usual there are certain cards which could be pretty strong but didn’t make the cut in my list. I will try to explain my rationale for the ones that in my opinion stand-out the most.

Wild Pyromancer: The reason I didn’t include Wild Pyromancer is that I believe the card would be anti-synergistic with the aim of the deck. Early game my list wants to get on board with Northshire Cleric, Zombie Chow or Deathlord and buff the minion with Velen’s Chosen. This is in order to extract loads of value thanks to the healing Hero Power. On the other hand Wild Pyromancer is more useful when you are behind on board than when you are ahead, the Whirlwind-like effects can clear wide boards with low health minions on them. I will admit that since the deck runs circle of Healing and Northshire Cleric there is some reason to play the card as you can set up some really good card draw turns. Additionally there is the support of Power Word: Shield and Flash Heal to give some sort of consistent activators for the card. If I were to put in 2 Wild Pyromancer I would probably consider taking out Shadow Word: Pain and one Shadow Word: Death. Other card which could be taken out include one Zombie Chow and Cabal Shadow Priest.

Injured Blademaster: It is a decent 3 drop and it makes Circle of Healing have more uses in the deck. I think that if one wanted to substitute Zombie Chows, Blademaster wouldn’t be the worst option. The problem I see is that it is too inconsistent to be played on turn three as you need Circle of Healing in hand to give it any realistic chance of surviving. I think that whilst it might seem appealing, cards like Wild Pyromancer and Excavated Evil are better inclusions for this deck.

Thoughtsteal: In classic Priest this card was used as there were slots to be filled, as of now I don’t think there is any more space for it. The card is really greedy, you sacrifice a deck slot for two unknowns from the opponent’s deck. Obviously against control decks it is a really good card, usually their card value is high enough that any two cards from their deck will trade for at least two of their cards making you go two for one. Overall the card wouldn’t be bad in a control heavy meta but I think you would just get steamrolled by the hordes of Hunter’s and Paladin if you include it in your deck.

Elise Starseeker: I tried playing this card but I felt it was overkill as the list has enough tools to deal with most Control decks. I did find it difficult beating Control Warrior which ran both the Brann Doomcaller combo and Elise, but I don’t consider those match-ups relevant as it is just silly to play such a greedy control deck on ladder. Additionally I don’t think Elise would actually help me deal with such greedy lists, double C’Thun plus Elise finisher is just excessive.

Excavated Evil: Originally I didn’t include this in my deck because it is really bad against control decks, adding cards to their deck is never a good idea. Additionally my deck wants to fight for board, so damaging my own minions doesn’t seem the best idea when playing towards this game plane. As I played more games I really felt that one last clear could help me as I have difficulties dealing with wide boards, my only reliable answer is Auchenai into Circle. Overall I would like to try this as a 1-of, but I feel that probably if I want more clear for wide boards Wild Pyromancer is probably a more reliable choice.

Justicar Trueheart: Healing for 4 is certainly good for Control Priest, the reason I didn’t include it in the deck is that my deck is more teched against Midrange decks. In order to beat a Midrange deck it is more important to get on board and contest their minions rather than trying to heal. Additionally I feel that finding the space to play Justicar on curve is hard, a 6/3 gets contested by too many minions. Overall it is not a bad choice but when I tried it in the deck it severely underperformed.

2nd Cabal Shadow Priest: When you hit a 2 attack minion with this card it is one of the strongest in the game, if you don’t hit anything it is an over costed Chillwind Yeti. I think that if one were to include Shrinkmeister in the deck then a second Cabal Shadow Priest would make sense, but since I don’t think it is a good idea to include the card, as I don’t think a second Cabal is required. Additionally even if there are quite a few targets to Cabal in Wild I think there are better ways to deal with those threats. Overall I was considering cutting the first copy of the card in order to make space to Wild Pyromancer, I don’t think that adding the second copy is useful for the current list.

Other honourable mentions include: Light of the Naaru, Doomsayer, Museum Curator, Dark Cultist, Acolyte of Pain, Piloted Shredder, Priest of the Feast, Shifting Shade, Harrison Jones, Darkshire Alchemist, Loatheb, Vol’jin, Cairne Bloodhoof, Dr Boom, Ysera. Consider that the Wild format gives you the possibility to play with many different cards, meaning that it is much harder to find the optimal deck-list, I will say I am happy with the list I conjured.

Statistics

Matches Played:

W/L = 67/28 (70% win-rate)

Not including game between rank 25 and 15: 54/26 (67.5% win-rate)

Representative Data (no data about match-ups which I faced less than 4 times):

Face Hunter: 6/0

The reason the Face Hunter match-up was so good is that most of the players I faced were quite low rank and misplayed hard. I think this deck has decent tools to deal with the aggression as you can create a wall of impenetrable taunts. Additionally there is also the advantage Face Hunter doesn’t play Call of the Wild, this card is extremely hard to deal with from a Priest perspective. Overall given the fact we have many early game tools it shouldn’t be too hard to lock out a Face Hunter out of the game.

Secret Paladin: 6/4

When Secret Paladins have the God curve from 1-6 it can be really rough to beat them. This is especially true if you can’t set up some board for yourself, Mysterious Challenger will just steamroll your face. On the other hand I found that with some ingenuity and thinking turns ahead there was always some ways to deal with their threats, usually you can find a way to put yourself in a decent position to win the game. Additionally the fact that Secret Paladin doesn’t usually run burst, makes it possible to stabilize at lower health totals. Overall the match-up is possible even if I wouldn’t call it favourable. If you manage to buff a Deathlord early you should generally win, Secret Paladins have a really rough time going through it as they usually don’t run Equality in their lists. Overall it is annoying to face Secret Paladins but they are not the worst match-up you will get.

Zoolock: 3/2

There were not too many Zoolocks on ladder, I believe this match-up should be favourable. My two losses were due to me not playing around Shadowflame, I didn’t expect this card to be in their decks. Overall if you manage to set up a decent clear turn you should be able to win the game, additionally a big minion early should also grant you a way to lock the Zoo out of the game. I think if Zoo was more popular I would for sure put Wild Pyromancer in the deck, the card just destroys decks which go wide.

Midrange Shaman: 5/0

The Shaman lists I faced were basically the ones that people play in Standard, I was confused to the reason why they were playing them in Wild. Those lists get destroyed by my deck. Given an average draw I will be able to fight for board and have answers to their threats for days.

Reno Mage: 5/1

I have so much of this statistic simply because it seems everybody around rank 12-10 was playing Reno Mage. I can understand this, the archetype is my favourite in the game. The match-up is good, Reno Mage will rarely have the ability to out-pressure you and you can Entomb his threats. The game I lost was due to a misplay, I entombed a Reno in fatigue with my opponent still having Ysera in hand. Not knowing what people play makes it slightly trickier to navigate the match-up. Overall the match-up is really fun and you really need to calculate how you will use your resources throughout the game. Usually fatigue is this decks best bet for a win-condition against Reno Mage.

Priest: 1/4

Against Priest this deck did really badly because all the people I played had insanely greedy lists with N’Zoth, Ysera and Elise. I will also say that whilst I know the Priest vs Warrior match-up really well, I played it a ton from the Warriors perspective, I am new to the Priest class, thus I have a slightly harder time navigating games. What I will say is that ideally you want to save Entomb for the N’Zoth and couple it with Auchenai Double Circle of Healing to nuke down the N’Zoth board, this is exactly 10 mana. Additionally be careful to not make the opponent steal too many Deathlord with their Cabal’s, as this will increase the chances of N’Zoth coming out from your deck and consequentially you not being able to play it. Overall the match-up is tricky and the deck is not built to beat Control Priest consistently, I feel you have a fighting chance but you are certainly not favoured.

Midrange N’Zoth Hunter: 7/6

I didn’t play against many until I reached rank 6, after that I felt there was nothing else on ladder. The match-up is really rough, I managed to be positive just because I feel the opponents misplayed a lot. The amount of pressure N’Zoth Hunter can dish out with cards such as Haunted Creeper and Piloted Shredder is insane, their on curve plays are nearly unbeatable. This, coupled with the fact that there is a N’Zoth in the Hunter list makes it really hard to stabilize the board, most of the time you are left hoping for a hole in their curve. The good thing is that most of the people don’t run Deadly Shot or Hunter’s Mark for lack of space in the deck, this makes it so that most of the times if you can coin Deathlord into Velen’s you can lock them out of hitting your face for a while. Overall a bad match-up which you should lose most of the times.

Control C’Thun Warrior: 4/1

Deathlords milling the Control Warrior!

Deathlords milling the Control Warrior!

The only loss against a Control Warrior I had was to the greediest deck I ever saw. This list rank Ysera, Doomcaller and Brann, Elise and Grommash. I guess my Priest cannot beat such deck-lists. Against more standard Control Warrior build you should be advantaged as you can Entomb their C’Thun and Sylvanas and out resource them in the long run. The only way you lose this match-up is if the Warrior manages to set up a kill before fatigue, this can sometimes happen. Overall the match-up can be rough to play but the fact I have a lot of experience from the Warrior side gave me an advantage over my opponents. Additionally I felt quite a few people were not playing their decks optimally, Control Warrior can certainly win given the right game plan.

General Thoughts on Wild

The start of the climb felt like stealing candy from kids.

The start of the climb felt like stealing candy from kids.

The first game of Wild I ever play I lost to a rank 25 thanks to my beautiful Priest draws, this triggered me. Overall though the games from rank 25 to rank 15 were basically me feeling really bad about destroying newer players which had access to less cards. I feel a lot of players use Wild ladder as a safe haven where they won’t get destroyed by experienced players farming their golden portraits. Once I hit rank 15 the games got interesting, until about rank 7 the meta was very diverse. I fought against a lot of insane decks, from Reno Dragon Priest to Dragon Token Paladin. It was certainly hard to play around decks you had no idea what they played but it was also very refreshing coming from the Standard meta.

The last few rank, 7-4, got more boring. All I was facing was Secret Paladins and Midrange N’Zoth Hunter, both of which have decent chances against Priest if they curve out well. This was especially true once I started the last legend push since from rank 5 to rank 4 was basically facing only these decks. Overall though the meta is quite diverse until you hit rank 5, not being that different from Standard. Rank 5 to Legend in Standard is littered with Dragon Warriors and Aggro Shamans, in Wild you have Secret Paladins and N’Zoth Hunters.

Rank 4 hype!

Rank 4 hype!

I will say that seeing all the staples from the past sets, such as Piloted Shredder and Dr Boom, didn’t bother me too much, there are always ways to deal with these threats. Additionally everybody has access to really solid cards, coupled with the fact Combo Druid doesn’t exist anymore, means you can deal with these cards at the right time without being afraid of the Force of Nature Savage Roar combo. What got quite old pretty fast was the amount of N’Zoth decks on the ladder. Obviously everyone knows the Deathrattles from Naxxramas and Goblin vs Gnomes were really strong, but basically 70% of the ladder was composed of these decks. On the other hand I was quite happy that there wasn’t much Yogg’Saron in Wild, I don’t particularly enjoy playing against that card.

The Wild experience also includes deck-building. I haven’t had this much fun trying different decks in a long time, the amount of options is insane! In this run I only played Priest but I think I played around 6 different decks just to see what I could do. Some of the decks I played were really bad! You can read about them later on in the article. What I will say is that if you are an experienced deck-builder you might just want to open your collection on Wild and theory craft about the decks you can make just for fun.

One thing I noticed is that it seemed the general skill of players at rank 5/4 was much less than in Standard. I saw plenty of misplays and missed lethals against me. An example of this was a Paladin which used Forbidden Healing on me when I was low on health and I had Auchenai on board, he didn’t realize how the interaction worked (it was at rank 5). An explanation for this is probably that given there are less players, it is easier to climb to the higher ranks. Additionally decks like Secret Paladin and N’Zoth Hunter are really strong and don’t require too much decision making to play decently, making it so nearly anyone can achieve at least rank 5. I also noticed that I was facing some really badly built decks, either being way too greedy or just having cards which don’t synergise well together. If I had to guess this has mostly to do with the fact that there are less players experimenting to find the most refined lists and the fact players feel less pressured to climb the ladder, they would rather have fun with home-brews they built rather than optimized decks.

The last thing I wanted to say is that surprisingly all the friend requests that were sent in Wild were by really toxic players which told me to go kill myself or that I cheated. I found that the Wild community was far more toxic than the Standard one. Maybe this has to do with the fact I played Priest, losing to my deck was quite frustrating. It also can be because younger players play this format, I don’t know but I was surprised that none of the 6 friend requests I accepted were genuinely nice people.

Overall playing Wild was really fun. In the three days I played I achieved rank 4. Given the fact I liked the experience I think I will try to push for Legend, this is to at least be able to say I did it once.

The Other Decks

At around rank 10 I tried playing with other Priest decks just to have some fun. Additionally Onyx Bishop had just come out and I wanted to test the card in Wild. All the decks were kind of a failure, with Dragon Priest pulling a little bit more weight than the others. I thought to include a small segment on them here just to give my complete experience of my Wild run.

Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest: This deck did ok, but it wasn’t that fun to play. Additionally the minions it plays have definitely a lot of problems considering the Wild meta. Firstly Wyrmrest Agents usually just get eaten by a coin Piloted Shredder, not good. Additionally whilst the minions are decently strong there are much better neutral options in Wild, cards such as Sludge Belcher are more consistent than the Dragon counterpart and don’t require the activation. There is also the typical Dragon deck problem that there are not enough good Dragons you actually want to play. This means that you can expect to very often be in a position where you really need a Dragon in hand for the activation but you are just lacking the cards. What I found myself doing in a lot of games is keep Twilight Whelp in hand any turn over turn 3 to guarantee I could activate all my other minions. Lastly the deck has a very decent turn 1 and 2 and decent turn 4 and 5, the problem is that you really need the deck to curve out you cannot just skip turn 3 when you are on the play. Overall the deck went 12/9 meaning that it wasn’t the worse, that said it is a pretty boring deck to play and I was playing it at rank 10.

There are a couple of card choices I wanted to discuss about this deck. Firstly I included Nova instead of Excavated Evil because you are an on board deck, you can make good use of the healing granted by Holy Nova. I included only one Entomb and one Lightbomb because I thought that since Dragon Priest is a more of a Midrange deck it should play on curve rather than trying to control the board too much. Probably the changes II would make in order to really use the strength of the dragons in priest is removing 1 Shadow Word: Death, 1 Holy Nova and 1 Cabal Shadow Priest in favour of a second Shadow Word: Pain and two 3-drop minions. It could also be ok if instead of the second 3 drop minion one decided to include Justicar Trueheart, healing for 4 can give you a really tight grip on the board.

Combo Priest.

Combo Priest.

Combo Priest: Went 3/5 with this deck, I managed to pull the dram off once! Overall against aggressive decks having Wild Pyromancer Shenanigans help, but the fact that even more aggressive decks such as Hunters play Sludge Belchers means that it is infinitely harder to pull anything off with this deck. Additionally the draw for the deck is really inconsistent, either you are

Trash Onyx Bishop Priest.

Trash Onyx Bishop Priest.

overdrawing because of Pyromancer, Northshire and Acolyte Shenanigans or you are just stuck with a useless hand, there is no middle grounds. Overall in the games I played I had fun playing it but I have more fun winning, thus I went back to N’Zoth Priest. What I will say is that probably didn’t play the deck even close to optimally as it is very difficult to master combo decks and I didn’t put enough games to really learn the deck. Oh yes, last thing: I am an idiot and forgot to put Faceless Manipulator in the deck!

Onyx Bishop Fail Priest: The deck went 0/2, it was really bad. The incredible thing is that I lost having the perfect opening both times, Injured Blademaster into coin Onyx Bishop just wasn’t enough. I concluded that if the best case scenario doesn’t work I doubt the deck in itself can ever climb. Additionally decks in Wild still play cards like Shredder and Dr Boom, thus you really need to have strong minions to counter these monstrosities! The idea behind this build was to have really strong minions and revive them, with the added potential of fatiguing late game decks with Deathlords. I think that N’Zoth should be included in this deck as in the metagame we live now you cannot just fatigue opponents, you actually need a finisher. Overall there is probably a way to build this deck, this is certainly not it!

Concluding Remarks

Overall I am glad I didn’t disenchant my Wild collection when Standard came out, I had a blast playing Priest in Wild. Probably I will play more Wild this month as I still have 200 Priest wins to farm before my last golden portrait is complete. I wouldn’t have expected it, but seeing Dr Boom and Piloted Shredder back in action made a little nostalgia kick in (even a bit of PTSD when bombs hit for four). The fact you have so many cards makes the format really interesting, it is really fun to experiment with different combinations of cards. Overall I would suggest to anyone who still has access to some Naxxramas and Goblin vs Gnomes cards to go in Wild and give the format a try, you won’t regret it!

Combo Theory: Fight Sticks

Hello and welcome to a less involved version of Combo Theory. I had originally planned on writing up some strategies for using Mira in Killer Instinct, but my capture equipment decided otherwise. This week’s article is a bit different and we’re going to take a look at some of the best products for getting started with fighting games. All the opinions here are subjective and none of the fightsticks below were supplied to The Game Haus. I have personally purchased and used each item below sans the Qanba Drone.

 

Q: What will a fight stick do for me?

A: Absolutely nothing. Fight sticks are simply one method of controlling your game. They do not make you a better player and they will not do away with your weaknesses. Play fighting games with what you feel comfortable with and what you can do the best with. Outside of Killer Instinct, I cannot play with a controller due to hand cramps which is why I use a fight stick. Just remember that Red Bull’s Oliver “Luffy” Hay won Evo 2014 with a modded Playstation 1 pad.

 

Q: What fight stick should I buy?

A: As far as recommendations go, do not buy a cheap fight stick. A fight stick is a luxury item and you should set aside at least 150 US dollars for one. Fight sticks take a lot of abuse and cheap sticks will buckle under pressure. Most quality sticks ship with Sanwa Denshi buttons and a Sanwa JLF Joystick. There are different versions of these parts depending on if you want an American, Korean or Japanese style stick. Most fight sticks do offer an easy way to change parts and stick art, but we’ll tackle that in a different article because most newer players should just stick with buying quality sticks with quality parts. I’m going to list a few sticks below at different price ranges and why you should consider them.

 

The best entry level stick on the market right now is the Qanba DroneQanba. The stick retails at 79.99 and is an excellent entry level stick. Qanba is a well known stick producer and while the drone doesn’t have stock Sanwa parts, it is easily modifiable and early buzz for the stick is positive. The stick is compatible with both Playstation 3 and 4 consoles.

 

The next stick on the list comes from Japanese manufacturer Hori with the HRAP 4. Prior to Madcatz entering the market, Hori was the default manufacturer of Playstation 4 sticks and even noHRAP4w the HRAP 4 is a fantastic mid-level stick. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Hayabusa buttons, but the actual joystick felt great and the buttons are easily replaced. There aren’t many customization options as far as art goes, but the stick is a well priced stick with excellent response time and feel. The HRAP 4 has been discontinued, but you can find them on amazon for around 125 US dollars with shipping. I do not recommend purchasing the HRAP 4 Kai or any of the HRAP V models as they have egregious input delay.

 

The last two sticks we’re going to talk about come from MadCatz and they are easily the best sticks oTES+TE2+n the market. The Madcatz TES+ and TE2+ are the official sticks of the Capcom Pro Tour and both have excellent response time, numerous features for PlayStation 4 users and high quality parts. Both sticks feature Sanwa Denshi buttons and a Sanwa JLF joystick. The TE2+ is a monster stick and the weight of the stick lends itself to staying put despite intense play. There’s a definite luxury in the stick with the numerous buttons and features, but the stick’s 225 dollar price tag is a barrier to entry. For those looking for the same level of quality for 40-60 dollars cheaper, I recommend the TES+. It has all the features of the TE2+ in a slimmer, more sturdy package. The TES+ lacks a lot of the customization options and is more similar to the sticks MadCatz put out in the PS3/XB360 era. The current model is decked out in a Shadoloo theme, but you can order a new plexi and art from the good folks at Tek Innovations. For what it’s worth, I personally use a TES+ and that stick has suffered through my gratuitous man hands and their abuse. Personally, I think the TES+ is the best stick on the market for the price and I highly recommend it.

Q: What monitor should I use?

A: The Evolution Championship series uses the BenQ RL2460HT and so should you!

That concludes this week’s Combo Theory. God willing, my new capture equipment doesn’t burst at the might of my PC and I can get back to teaching you Killer Instinct poorly.

Seth Hall has been playing fighting games for the last four years and writing for the last two. He can be found on twitter @themanseries and will be competing at The Fall Classic in Raleigh, North Carolina.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ them on Twitter. We also have our own subreddit. Be sure to check out TGH’s newly revamped forums if you want to discuss with Seth or any of the other writers!

 

 

 

 

BF Sword Gragas: Revealing the Importance of Teamwork through BM

Runic Echoes into Ohmwrecker into BF Sword into sell BF Sword for Zhonya’s to jump in the enemy fountain. William “Meteos” Hartman established this highly-meta breaking Gragas build in game four of C9’s quarterfinals playoffs against NV last weekend.

Is this build powerful? Certainly not. Is it troll? Most likely. Should Meteos be fined for unsportsmanlike-conduct? No.

Starting at the top of the standings and slowly having descended, Team NV has shown repeated weakness as a team when it comes to coordinating as five. Despite coming out the gates strong, the team dynamic within NV has slowly deteriorated as their competitors toughened. It is no surprise by this point that the three Korean players on the team ( Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong, Kim “Procxin” Seyoung   and Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo) synergize in a way that seemingly excludes their bot lane (Benjamin “LOD” de Munck  and Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent ). I can’t speak on behalf of NV or inner team dynamics, but at least the team prowess they demonstrated on the Rift does not resemble that of a fully coordinated ensemble.

Despite performing well in the first games against C9, NV pulled out an all-in-early-game-aggressive comp featuring Lee Sin jungle and Pantheon mid when faced with potential elimination. These two champions in particular exhibit playstyles that contrast the comps NV played in their first games of their series, and two champions that say, “I need to carry this #soloqueue style”.

Was NV’s final comp meant to come off as troll? Not sure, but there are definitely elements of cheese in these picks that propelled NV’s unprecedented aggression into their (final) game four. When these efforts backfired, C9’s Meteos pulled out his secret Gragas build for, what I presume, was an attempt at counter-cheesing their opponents.

Despite claims that Meteos’ build reflects poor sportsmanship, as C9 was quite frankly wrecking NV as proven by Jensen’s record breaking 20 kills on LeBlanc, this one match demonstrates the importance of team coordination as superior to individual skill level. While NV’s laners may be evenly matched to C9’s, the dynamic within the C9 crew proved to be far superior.

This statistic is not uncommon in the NA LCS. Take a look at the other game featured last weekend, TL vs CLG, and the same finding rings true: while Dardoch, Lourlo and Fenix may be stronger than their counterparts, CLG’s ability to play as a group dominated their quarterfinals match.

In fact, this past week Esports Writer Fionn posted a statistic on twitter revealing regional dominance across worldwide LoL:

https://twitter.com/FionnOnFire/status/765639126536159232

# of domestic champions:

Korea: 6 (7 if ROX wins)
China: 5
NA: 3 (4 if IMT wins)
EU: 3 (4 if SPY, H2k, UoL win)
Taiwan: 3 (4 if HKE wins)

This statistic suggests that the top teams create a monopolistic stranglehold on the regional playoffs. What exactly contributes to TSM, C9 and CLG’s victories season after season? What is the recipe for success that these few teams have found to LoL that newer teams with skilled players cannot break through?

I used NV as a case study for this article, but looking across other teams in the League, with TL being the loudest example, the lack of team coordination reigns as the premier folly preventing these teams from breaking through.

As always, please let me know your thoughts on the dominance of teamwork or Gragas builds in the comment section below!

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