Armada Secures His Place in History Winning Genesis 4

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/VGbootcamp

Adam “Armada” Lindgren cemented his spot in history, winning his third Genesis title. The win came over Joseph “Mango” Marquez, making it three wins in a row in a Genesis Grand Final for Armada. Armada’s run of dominance continues as he narrowly edges out Mango in the winner’s bracket and follows it up with one of his strongest finals performances ever.

Mango and Armada were destined from the start to meet again in Grand Finals. In four Genesis tournaments, no other players have made Grand Finals. It took Armada squeezing by Johnny “S2J” Kim in top 64 to even stay in winner’s bracket, and then avoiding losing 3-1 to Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman in winner’s finals. At the same time, Mango had one of the more difficult losers bracket runs to make this rematch possible.

After falling 3-1 to Armada, Mango went straight into a loser’s bracket match with William “Leffen” Hjelte, who fell into losers before top 8. In a rather sub-par top 8, Leffen vs. Mango stands out as a must-watch match. The intensity and stakes of this moment added the extra pressure, and made for a wild set. Mango took the 3-2 victory, but that’s after falling behind 2-1 in games, and even down in stocks on both games four and five. It was a set that will be remembered.

Genesis is known for its memorable moments. Mostly because of the rivalry between Mango and Armada that started at Genesis back in 2009. Four Genesis’s and still no other player has broken into the top-two. M2K had the best chance to break up the streak at G4, when he was up a stock on game four, up 2-1. But in the end, Mango and Armada found themselves facing off in Grand Finals.

The finals matchup that seemed as if destiny had intervened, felt lackluster in the end. Armada thoroughly dominated Mango, beating him in less than nine minutes, with a three-stock victory on game three. Armada went 6-1 overall against Mango, and a staggering 4-0 on Yoshi Island, which was Mango’s primary counter-pick.

Mango seemed to have used up all his mental fortitude just getting back to Grand Finals and wasn’t mentally prepared for the robot that is Armada’s punish heavy Peach. It was a showing of Armada’s consistency and mental strength, as even when he’s down 2-0 to S2J or losing to M2K, he never plays like he’s out of it. He always sticks to the game plan.

Here are the final results at Genesis 4:

1.Alliance Armada (Peach/Fox)

2. C9 Mango (Fox/Falco)

3. Echo Fox M2K (Marth/Sheik)

T5. Liquid Hungrybox (Jigglypuff)

T5. Panda Global Plup (Sheik)

T7. Tempo Storm Axe (Pikachu)

T7. G2 Westballz (Falco)

 

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Weaponizing Emotes Without BM

With no way to directly talk to the random foes you face on Ladder, there is only one way to communicate: the Emote system. These short six words or phrases may seem innocuous at first, but they have quickly developed into their own language; each one dripping with implied salt or sneer. Hearthstone is a game of information and bluffing, as well as identifying the mathematically optimal play. By utilizing the hidden meanings of emotes, you can steal wins from losing situations by exploiting your opponent’s hubris or paranoia; as long as you weren’t squelched in the process!

Thanks

What it means: “Thanks” is perhaps the most straightforward emote. Ostensibly expressing gratitude, it’s usually to taunt an opponent after they play right into your hand. They overextend into AOE? Thanks can hammer home their error as you flamestrike. They assume you don’t have Reno and set up two turn lethal? Thanks makes the “We’re gonna be rich!” that much sweeter.

How to exploit it: Outside of simple BM (Bad Manners), Thanks, like “My Greetings,” is a surefire way to express confidence, arrogance, and make your opponent unsure about their play. When your opponent emotes Thanks, they are usually trying to tilt you by highlighting the way you played into their hand. The best counter is to figure out exactly why your opponent is so smug and use it against them.

A classic way to utilize it yourself is after a Druid Mulches one of your minions. Emoting Thanks might make them think you got a spectacular random minion in return. This can lead them to hold back removal for no good reason. Another example is if your opponent gives you draws off your Acolyte of Pain in an effort to fatigue you. “Thanks” can encourage them to believe that they are helping out your game plan, implying you have a combo finisher or something that they will try and play around, when in fact you have none. Or they may just attempt to prevent future draws. On the flip side, when they draw voluntarily, emoting “Thanks” can imply you’re intending to fatigue them. They may then be unprepared for your unexpected burst or value-based combo. More traditionally, bluffing AOE by thanking them for each additional minion played can prevent them from giving you a board too big to deal with.

Threaten

What it means: Despite its tone, Threaten is the most impotent of emotes. Usually used in a losing situation as a futile expression of semi-serious rage, it implies you have little else to do with your hand. Sometimes yelling about how your magic will tear them apart is the only response to their overwhelming board.

How to exploit it: Since its use is typically from a losing position, try using it to press your advantage. Play around their remaining outs, and assume that the cards left in their hand are overly situational, or outright useless.

Implying you have no response can be hard to bluff, but incredibly potent. Typically the way to use this emote is by acting as if you have no response to a minion or board, when in fact you are holding back your most powerful answer in the hope that they go all-in and get destroyed by your perfectly timed counterplay. As well as obvious interactions with AOE, consider using it with hard removal: if you trade your whole board into their Ragnaros Lightlord while using this emote, they will hardly expect the Entomb on their Warleader or Tirion the following turn.

This card isn’t Grommash: but “Well Played” makes my opponent think it is

Greetings

What it means: Outside of its traditional use at the start of the game, Greetings is the supreme expression of confidence. By far the most BM-worthy emote, Greetings is used to infuriate and provoke your opponent when you are sure they have no counter to your devastating play. It is used before lethal, but often also before simply powerful plays, like dropping Harrison Jones into Doomhammer, or Alexstrasza after a tempo Reno.

How to exploit it: If your opponent uses Greetings, they are likely becoming overconfident. Look for awkward or risky plays that might unseat them; perhaps offer them a “well played” to lull them into a false sense of security before aggressively pursuing a risky but rewarding line of play they may not have the answer for.

Using Greetings yourself makes your opponent overestimate your position. They might look for low percentage chances at lethal, or Hail-Mary plays from Discover or other types of cards. Typically it makes them play overly aggressively to try and win, despite your perceived advantage. It can also cause people to play overly defensively if they fear you have set up lethal. If you discover a card, then Greetings can make your opponent fear the worst (such as Coldarra Drake in Reno priest, or Sacrificial pact against a warlock that seeks to play Jaraxxus). It’s best used in combination with a card capable of punishing an overly aggressive play, like lifegain or a beefy taunt. It can also be a value play that can punish overly defensive action (depending on context).

Wow

What it means: Wow, at its most basic level, indicates mild surprise or shock. This is usually relating to in-game RNG; a particularly bad or good hand, or outcome from a random event are usually the most likely inspirations. This is most typically used after the player in question is on the receiving end of bad luck (though it can also be used in a conciliatory sense after good fortune).

How to exploit it: If your opponent emotes Wow without anything especially noteworthy happening on board, they are usually indicating frustration at their hand. Use this against them by playing to your deck’s strengths, and perpetuating the current advantageous situation.

Using it yourself can, like Threaten, imply your situation is weaker than it is, allowing you to goad them into overextending or making an incorrect read. For instance, passing turn one without comment might indicate you are a Control Warrior; but emoting Wow whilst mousing over certain cards before passing over the turn might make your opponent believe you are a frustrated Pirate Warrior with an unfortunate mulligan

Oops

What it means: Oops is either used sarcastically as BM, or sincerely in order to indicate recognition of a misplay. Occasionally it’s used for BM purposes, but otherwise is one of the most sincere emotes.

How to exploit it: Your opponent recognizing their screw-up makes this emote harder to exploit.

Things get more interesting when you use it yourself, however. For instance, seemingly incorrect plays that in fact disguise a higher-level strategy can be passed off as a misplay. For instance, you might deliberately leave yourself with one, rather than two, weapon durability as a Rogue. This plays around Harrison Jones, but you can pretend it was a mistake. This could perhaps lead your opponent to save Harrison for a turn you don’t play around it (that, of course, will never come). Or, if playing one of the few remaining Warrior decks that incorporate Battle Rage, then your lack of Hero Power whilst undamaged can be passed off as negligence, rather than seeking to encourage your opponent to damage your hero for a future extra draw.

Well Played

What it means: Well Played is sometimes used mid-game, either sincerely to acknowledge a good line or spot-on read, or sarcastically to shame an opponents misplay. However, the overwhelming majority of uses of Well Played occur right at the end of the game, when lethal is all but assured.

How to exploit it: Most of the time, your opponent emoting well played indicates resignation if losing, and acceptance of victory if winning. If they use it unexpectedly, it’s often wise to play defensively.

Well Played is perhaps the easiest way to bluff lethal in the game; opponents are often hardwired into panicking the second they hear it. This can push them to adopt sub-optimal and overly defensive lines of play to play around anticipated burst damage. A perfect way to do this would be against any Reno deck while they are at a low, but not dangerous life total. Forcing them to Reno early can allow you to squeeze in extra damage that you otherwise miss. It can also give you the breathing room to stick a powerful minion. A classic move is while playing against a low-health Jaraxxus. A Well Played can bait out taunts or healing. You can then nullify before you draw your true combo that will actually win you the game. Fear is arguably the most powerful emotion, and as such Well Played becomes the most powerful emote to bluff with.

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Northwestern Wildcats Basketball on the Brink of History

The Northwestern Wildcats basketball team is attempting to relinquish one of the most infamous records in college basketball: Its record number of NCAA Tournament appearances. Standing at zero, they are the only power conference team to have never gone dancing.

The tournament consists of 68 teams and has included 64 since 1985.  With the number of Division I teams fluctuating every year near 340, that means approximately 19% of teams make the tournament every year. An overwhelming number of bids go to the power conference teams. Some of the big conferences have eight, nine, or even ten teams punch tickets in a given year. The Big East put in 11 teams in 2011, which is the current record. The fact of the matter is that there is a huge advantage for teams in a big conference.

Yet, even with all of this in their favor, the Wildcats have never made the tournament. Not winning a World Series for a century is bad, but when only one team completes the feat every year it pales in comparison to this. The men in purple have been close a few times but never able to get that signature win or finish the fight toward the end of the season.

Northwestern Wildcats Basketball

Chris Collins has the Wildcats moving in the right direction. (Photo courtesy of northwestern.edu)

Northwestern has not been ranked since the 2009-10 season and that was only a brief stint at the 25th spot. This year they are on the verge of entering the fray once again as they are receiving votes and continuing to win games.

Since Chris Collins took the helm in Evanston, the team has been trending upward. Last year the team finished with its best record since 2010-11 at 20-12. Their current record is 16-4 (5-2) after a close 74-72 win at Ohio State.

They are moving ever so much closer to solidifying a spot in the NCAA Tournament and also to the school record of 20 wins in a season.

With the Big Ten having a bit of a down year, there are not a lot of opportunities for Northwestern to get that statement win. Essentially, the rest of the year they will work to avoid a “fall from grace”. They are 38th in the RPI and have not lost any games to teams outside the top 50. They have a few more opportunities for good wins against teams like Maryland (21), twice against Purdue (27) and Wisconsin (24).

If the Wildcats take a must-win against Rutgers (130) and three others they will be guaranteed a .500 record in the Big 10. That should be enough to push them into the field, but another win or two would push them over the top. Obviously, winning the conference tournament would do the trick as well, but they have never accomplished this either.

An additional factor in their favor is that down the stretch they will not have to do a lot of traveling.  Seven of their last 11 games are at home. This includes two of their best opportunities for key wins against Purdue and Maryland.

A lot of things are in the Wildcats favor. They are currently in the field for many bracketologists including The Game Haus’ Joe DiTullio. DiTullio has them at a nine seed in his most current edition. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi agrees with their current placement in the field.

Northwestern has very little standing in their way at this point.  They just need to take care of business and finish the job. It is about time the program lift this weight from its shoulders.

 

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2017 MLB Season

Position Rankings for 2017 MLB Season: Third Basemen

The sixth installment of our position rankings lands us at the 2017 third basemen rankings. Third base is one of the most top-heavy positions in all of baseball. With steady veterans and young studs all around the league, let’s start our list with number five.

5. Adrian Beltre- Texas Rangers

Like a fine wine, Beltre just seems to get better with age. By the way Beltre has been playing, you wouldn’t know he’s entering his 20th season in the majors. He bested his career averages in 2016 batting (.300/.358/.521.) And while he didn’t earn an All-Star selection in 2016, Beltre was still able to finish seventh in the AL MVP voting by hitting 32 home runs with 104 RBIs. But it wasn’t just his offense that vaulted him into the MVP conversation.

Beltre’s defense has been spectacular throughout his time in Texas, and it continued in 2016. He posted 15 defensive runs saved and was a wizard with the glove down at third base. That fancy glove work and powerful offensive production makes Beltre a solid pick to make the top five. Although he will be entering 2017 in his late 30’s, don’t expect Father Time to catch up with him anytime soon.

4. Manny Machado- Baltimore Orioles

2017 Third Basemen Rankings

Many Machado will try to carry the Orioles to the playoffs in 2017. (Rob Carr, Getty Images).

At 24 years old and entering his fifth season in the majors, Manny Machado will be a mainstay on this list for years to come. Machado really came into his own in 2016, putting up career highs in batting average (.294), slugging (.533) and posting a OBP of .343. Machado was also able to continue to utilize his power in 2016, mashing 37 homers and driving in 96 RBIs.

Like Beltre, Machado was also in the 2016 AL MVP conversation, finishing fifth. Machado also proved to be pretty steady with the glove as well.

Coming up as a shortstop with the Baltimore Orioles, Machado has always been a great fielder. He has been able to utilize his defensive skills at the hot corner, posting 13 defensive runs saved in 2016.

Machado has found his power, and coupled that with an excellent ability to make contact, good batting eye, and stellar defense to up his game even more in 2016. The 2017 season should prove no different for Machado.

3. Josh Donaldson- Toronto Blue Jays

While Josh Donaldson was a great player in 2013 and 2014 with Oakland, he blossomed into a legit MVP player when he was shipped north of the border in 2015. He continued his offensive onslaught in the 2016 season, slashing .284, .404, .549 and launched 37 homers to go along with 99 RBIs.

While Donaldson did have a drop off from his 2015 MVP season to his 2016 season, it is extremely hard to improve on an MVP season. Donaldson also experienced a sight drop off in his defense as well in 2016.

Donaldson had 2 defensive runs saved in 2016, not spectacular, but solid nonetheless. As Donaldson enters the 2017 season, he will look to continue what he accomplished in 2015 and 2016. His glove and his bat are one of the best in all of the majors, and Donaldson has a chance to prove it in 2017.

2017 Third Basemen Rankings

Nolan Arenado has launched 80 plus homers in the past two seasons. (Ben Margot, AP Photo).

2. Nolan Arenado- Colorado Rockies

After two seasons of 40 plus homers, Nolan Arenado has officially cemented himself as one of the best players in the league. He put up a slash line of .294, .362, .570, career bests in average and OBP in 2016. He also earned an NL All-Star appearance, Gold Glove award and Silver Slugger award for the second year in a row.

Arenado has produced at a ridiculous rate in the past two seasons, hitting 83 homers to go along with 263 RBIs. He has certainly found his swing at the plate, but he has always had a stellar glove.

Arenado has been a Gold Glover for his entire major league career, earning the award each season he has been in the majors. And 2016 was no different. He had 20 defensive runs saved in 2016, an amazing number for a third baseman. He is without a doubt one of the best overall defenders in all of baseball, and 2017 will be no different. If Arenado can continue his torrid offensive pace and spectacular defense, he will be a perennial MVP candidate.

1. Kris Bryant- Chicago Cubs

With just two seasons in the majors under his belt, Kris Bryant has done things that many thought would never be done. He helped bring the Cubs a World Series title in 2016 and won the NL MVP in 2016 after winning the NL ROY award in 2015.

Bryant has put up monster numbers since being called up in 2015, batting .284, .377, .522 as well as blasting 65 bombs to go along with 201 RBIs in his career. He has also stole 21 bases in his time in Chicago, exceptional for a slugger like Bryant.

Bryant has also made his name with the glove. Coming up as a third baseman with the Cubs, Bryant was always a solid fielder. But his defensive prowess has grown since being called up to Chicago. He posted 4 defensive runs saved at third base in 2016, providing a solid glove at the hot corner.

But Bryant has also proven to be a solid defender all over the field. Logging time at third, the outfield and first base in 2016, Bryant has become one of the game’s most versatile player. Bryant is a once in a generation talent, and is just beginning his young career.

It is a golden age for third basemen, with multiple young players performing at a high level. From Gold Glovers to Silver Sluggers, the major league landscape is dotted with players who are set to put up monster numbers in 2017.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Players to Keep Your Eye On: Early 2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

With the 2017 Major League Baseball season quickly approaching, it is time to start talking fantasy. In 2016, we witnessed the most strike outs, as well as the second most home runs ever in a season. After an electric 2016 campaign, it is time to start preparing for a wild 2017. It is too early to release positional rankings, as it is only January. So I intend to inform you about early 2017 fantasy baseball sleepers.

What qualifies a player as a “sleeper”? 

First, a player must be undervalued.

To be undervalued, a player’s average draft position, or ADP, must be below the ADP of other players with similar statistics. In 2016, according to ESPN.com, Rick Porcello was selected as the 230th player off the board. He finished as the 6th best starting pitcher in 5X5 ESPN standard leagues. His teammate, David Price, was selected as the 27th player off the board, yet he finished as the 21st overall pitcher. Porcello was tremendously undervalued in 2016, and I intend to help find undervalued players that can help contribute to 2017 fantasy championship.

Second, a player must be overlooked.

Some people argue that players can be considered “sleepers” if they are drafted in the third round, but have first round value. I argue that this makes a player undervalued. To be a sleeper, a player must be overlooked and passed on until later rounds in the draft. In 2016, Jose Ramirez went undrafted in majority of leagues, and managed to finish as a top 50 overall player. Ramirez went overlooked in 2016, and I aim to inform you about players that cannot be overlooked heading into 2017.

David Peralta – OF Arizona Diamondbacks

In 2017, David Peralta will continue his ascension from mediocre minor league pitcher to impact middle of the order bat. Peralta, who was originally signed in 2006 by the St. Louis Cardinals as a relief pitcher, was transformed into a corner outfielder in 2011. He subsequently slashed .392/.429/.661 with 17 home runs, 81 runs batted in and 30 doubles in 85 games in the independent North American League.

Peralta’s first minor league experience came in 2014 with the Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate, where he batted .297 with 17 doubles and 6 home runs in 53 games. He was then called up to the bigs, where Peralta impressed, batting .286 with 12 doubles, 9 triples, 8 home runs, 40 runs, and 36 runs batted in.

In 2015, Peralta’s first full season in the majors, he slashed .312/.371/.522. He also lead the league in triples with 10, along with 26 doubles, 18 home runs, and 78 runs batted in. Peralta dealt with a lingering wrist injury in 2016, which limited him to only 183 plate appearances in 48 games played. When healthy, he has massive upside.

It is only January, but Peralta is currently being severely under-valued. His ADP on couchmanagers.com is currently 221, which means he is being selected as the 63rd outfielder. I believe that Peralta is easily capable of being a top 30 outfielder, as he is expected to rejoin a star-studded Arizona Diamondbacks lineup. He will bat clean up behind four-time all-star and two-time runner-up MVP, Paul Goldschmidt, and 2015 all-star and top 15 MVP candidate, A.J. Pollock. Peralta has shown his ability to hit for power and average and will help contribute to many fantasy championships.

Josh Bell – 1B/OF Pittsburgh Pirates

A former 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates’ second round pick, Bell was called up in early July to see his first major league action in 2016. He batted .273 with 19 runs batted in and 11 extra base hits in a mere 128 at bats. He will be eligible at first base and outfield in fantasy leagues next season.

Bell projects as a first basemen with limited power, although he has an uncanny ability to get on base. He spent two seasons at the Triple-A level, amassing 629 plate appearances, while slashing .306/.396/.476, hitting 16 home runs, 53 extra base hits, and 78 runs batted in.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Josh Bell looks to help the Pirates get back on track in 2017. (Courtesy of rumbunter.com)

He is projected to bat second in a star-studded lineup, ahead of former MVP Andrew McCutcheon, all-star Starling Marte, and budding star Gregory Polanco. For Bell, this is an ideal spot in the lineup, as he has excelled at getting on base at all minor-league levels.

According to couchmanagers.com, Bell is currently being selected as the 22nd first basemen off the board, with an average draft position of 202. This places him thirty spots behind unsigned first basemen, Mike Napoli, as well as eighty spots behind aging superstars Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols.

Bell has already dropped his weight from 248 to 225 to start training camp, which shows he is ready to tackle a spot at the top half of the order. Also, Bell could possibly steal a few more bases, as he only stole five bases through two seasons at the AAA level. His power can and will improve as he gains experience at the plate. I believe Bell can contribute across all hitting categories, and is being moderately overlooked and undervalued.

Greg Bird – 1B New York Yankees

Another 2011 draft pick, New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, was called up in August of 2015. He batted .261 with 11 home runs and 31 runs batted in, in only 178 plate appearances.

If this pace were to have continued over 500 plate appearance sample size, Bird would project 30 home runs and 87 runs batted in.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Greg Brid expects full recovery from torn labrum heading into 2017. (Courtesy of   thesportquotient.com)

He has impressed in his minor league career, hitting a total of 48 home runs, 192 runs batted in, while slashing .282/.395/.483 over 347 games. Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, exclaimed that Bird is “A patient, power hitter. Best young hitter in organization”.

Bird is recovering from undergoing season ending surgery for a torn labrum in 2016. The twenty-four-year-old will compete with veteran Matt Holiday and youngster Tyler Austin for the starting first base job.

When Bird is awarded the starting job, he will slot in to the middle of the order. This will give him a great opportunity to produce in a Yankees lineup behind the likes of Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner.

Bird’s current ADP is 260, which means he is currently going undrafted. This means you could take Bird as a flyer, which is a pick at the end of the draft for a player with lower value but possibly high upside. If Bird’s ADP stays stagnant, he will be unforgivingly undervalued and overlooked.

Keon Broxton – OF Milwaukee Brewers

Another player going undrafted in leagues is Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton. Broxton, a 26-year-old former 3rd round pick, will hold down the Brewers center field to start 2017.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Keon Broxton has high hopes for 2017. (Courtesy of fantasybaseballcrackerjacks.com)

He spent two seasons at the AAA level, batting .267 with 15 home runs, 68 runs batted in, and 42 steals over 566 plate appearances. Broxton projects as a five-tool player with plus speed and above average power.

During the 2016 season, Broxton had 244 plate appearances, slashed .242/.354/.426 with 9 home runs, 19 runs batted in, and 24 steals. In a 500 plate appearance sample size, Broxton would have been on pace for 18 home runs and 47 steals.

Broxton’s speed alone gives him value, as he stole 203 bases in 273 attempts during his short career so far. Now with the Milwaukee Brewers, who stole 42 more bases than the next best team, Broxton has an even higher floor, as he will be aggressive on the base paths.

He will be limited by batting at the bottom half of the order, although his above average power upside mixed with his elite speed will make him a reliable fantasy producer and top 50 outfielder.

 

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Brandon Ingram: Slowly Finding His Star

Brandon Ingram, the second overall pick in the draft, somehow has the privilege of being able to work through his rookie struggles quietly without the pressure of the “Right Now” conundrum. Coming into this season, many were comparing his game to that of Kevin Durant. His wiry frame, and scoring prowess led the comparisons. The two seasons couldn’t be any more different. Durant usage rate was much greater than that of Ingram. Additionally, the then Seattle SuperSonics drafted Durant to function as the franchise cornerstone.

via USA Today Sport Images

While unfair, the assumptions of what is game would be at 19 felt just in attribution. Why wouldn’t the player who averaged 17 points and shot 41% from three in his lone year at Duke be expected to have a Rookie of the Year campaign in the NBA? There was no reticence when discussing where Ingram would be taken in the draft – 2nd overall. It was what very intelligent individuals call a “no-brainer”.  Ingram showed all of the potential to become not only a great scorer, but a star.

The Los Angeles Lakers, after the departure of Kobe Bryant, were in prime position to capitalize on the budding promise of their youth movement. Hiring Luke Walton from the Golden State Warriors spearheaded that initiative. Bringing his repertoire, the front office made a heady move by hiring the former Laker. Walton wanted to play with pace and have the floor spread, something that an isolation scorer such as Ingram would thrive in.

Walton however, had different plans for the Duke product. By bringing him on slowly, namely off the bench, Walton has decreased the pressure of “Right Now”. Through the first 20 games of the season, Ingram started only three games – all three of which D’Angelo Russell sat out due to injury.

But even without being a part of the starting lineup, Walton made sure he integrated Ingram into the game-plan. In the month of November, Ingram averaged 27 minutes, second most on the team. Ingram did not produce on the court initially. In that same month he shot 34% from the floor per game, 30% from three, and only attempted a bit over two free throws a game ( a slight indicator of his level of aggressiveness on the court – or lack thereof).

Via USA Today Sports Images

Steadily though, the staff has increased his minutes. In turn so has is production, if only slightly. 30 minutes a game so far in January has pushed his overall minute average to 28 a game – most by any rookie in the league. 40% from behind the arc on three point attempts a game as his true shooting percentage has jumped from 45% in November to 53% in January. His free throw attempts have also increased – four attempts a game.  Getting to the line at a slightly greater pace has dropped his percentage. Which is probably nothing to worry about with a shooter of his potential.

Bringing the rookie along slowly and allowing him to find his place on the team has helped him tremendously. Not receiving the attention many thought he would, Ingram has progressively improved under the lights of Tinsel Town.

Eventually, he will break out and come onto the scene as the scorer and All-Star his college game foreshadowed. Until then, just watch him work.

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Symmetra Basics – Sassy Sentry Support

 

Photos Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Turret defense games. Most of us have played them. You place a turret and it kills things. Symmetra is no stranger to this mindset. Her rework makes her less reliant on specific situations, and much more capable of aiding her team, either offensively or defensively. Let’s take a look at her reworked abilities, and see how effective they can be.

Primary Weapon –  Photon Projector – 7 Meter Range.

Symmetra’s weapon pulses a short range beam which will attach to a nearby enemy, dealing damage over time. This little death beam has attachment issues. Dare I call it… clingy?

Ability 1 – Sentry Turret – 6 Charges, 10 Sec Recharge Rate.

Symmetra places a small sentry turret on walls, floors, ceilings, and many other objects. The turrets will automatically attack enemies within range. Any enemies hit will have their movement speed reduced temporarily. Symmetra can place up to 6 turrets at any time. Effectively placing your turrets can land some pretty sweet plays. It’s always fun deleting an enemy player with minimal effort.

 

Ability 2 – Photon Barrier – 10 second cooldown. 

Symmetra projects a floating, forward-moving barrier which absorbs a large amount of damage. The cooldown starts as soon as you use the ability. The range the shield will travel depends on whether or not anything is in its path.

 

Ultimate Ability 1 – Teleporter – 6 Charges – Health: 50, Shield: 350.

Symmetra places a teleporter down at her current location. The teleporter connects to another teleporter located in the teams spawn point. Players can use the teleporter near the spawn point to quickly return to battle. Be sure to place your teleporter strategically because it doesn’t take much damage to be destroyed.

Note: If a point is captured, the teleporter will be instantly refunded.

Ultimate Ability 2 – Shield Generator HP: 50 Shield: 350.

Symmetra places a wide range shield generator at her location. The generator provides a 75 damage absorb shield to all nearby teammates. The shield works through walls and other objects, as well as through terrain.

Note: If a point is captured, the generator will be instantly refunded.

These are just the basics for playing Symmetra. Effective placement of her sentry turrets, teleporter, and shield generator can land some pretty sweet Play of the Game’s, multi-kills, and a really enjoyable play experience. That’s all for Symmetra. Let us know what you think in the comments, I’m David from The Game Haus and as always, Good Luck, Have Fun!

Genesis 4: Smash Doubles Bringing the Hype

Photo courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/commons/images/a/ab/G4logo.jpg

The doubles events have delivered at Genesis 4, with upsets, new faces in top 8, and extremely high-level play. After a lackluster day one, with the Smash Crews somewhat falling apart with top players exercising their right to skip the event, doubles made up for it.

The lead story of the day is the brilliant play from arguably the most underrated team in Melee doubles: William “Leffen” Hjelte and Mustafa “Ice” Ackakaya. They took out the second seeded Swedish duo of Adam “Armada” Lindgren and his brother, Andreas “Android” Lindgren. The set went to five games, and the Fox-duo of Leffen and Ice combined the excellent team spacing and synergy with their constant ability to survive the Swedish brother’s team combos.

Ice and Leffen advanced to winner’s finals and will face off against the top overall seed, and hometown favorite, in PewFat. Kevin “PewPewU” Toy and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni had little trouble disposing of every team in their path. They beat Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma in a quick 3-0.

Afterwards, the most successful Melee team in history (M2K and Hbox) ran into another up-and-coming doubles team, with Jeff “Axe” Williamson and Justin “Plup” McGrath. The Pikachu and Sheik composition allowed for supreme edge guarding and the back-and-forth hits from both Plup and Axe. The estranged team only lost on game 5 to Ice and Leffen, so this team is a serious threat to make a loser run and win this event.

Unfortunately for Plup and Axe, they face Andorid and Armada first thing tomorrow morning. In the only other matchup between these two, the Swedish team got the better result. In winners, the question is: can anyone take out the world’s most consistent Melee team in PewFat?

PewFat’s strength is dominating individual matchups while always being in range to help their teammate. Ice and Leffen excel in the same areas, so this could potentially be a bad matchup for the top seed. The key in losers will be to take stocks from Android early and often, as we saw in the loss to Ice and Leffen.

Smash 4 Doubles Bringing the Hype

Unexpectedly, Smash 4 doubles has stolen the show at Genesis 4 day two. The meta-game is clearly still developing and the use of Cloud has almost become necessary in team compositions. Obviously, Cloud has the strongest follow-up finishes with his limit break, and teams are finding interesting ways to use him optimally.

The champions, Elliot “Ally” Carroza and Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Peres, had MKLeo on Cloud, ready for any of Ally’s Mario back throws. The win came over the Japanese team, Rei “komorikiri” Furukawa and Ryuto “Ranai” Hayashi, who managed to reverse sweep the top seeded team at Genesis 4 in Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrio and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada.

MKLeo and Ally took out the Japanese pair twice, once in winners round 2 and again in grand finals. It was a huge statement for both teams. Considering every player in grand finals was from outside the United States, it was also a huge day for international Smash fans.

 

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Genesis 4 Preview: Will The Top Seeds Run the Table?

The importance of the Genesis tournament series for the longevity and growth of the Super Smash Bros scene can’t go understated. It’s a legendary event that has produced arguably the best Smash sets of all time. It’s where the Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Adam “Armada” Lindgren rivalry began. Genesis is history, and more history will be made this weekend at Genesis 4.

Genesis 4 will be the biggest Genesis to date. Six individual Smash tournaments. 11 overall events that will be taking place, including Rivals of Aether and Street Fighter V. Two crew battle tournaments, one for Smash 4 and the other for Melee. It has something for every type of fan.

The main events will be Melee and Smash 4 top-8. The competition for the doubles tournaments and even Smash 64 will be fierce and deserve your attention though. 3,000 players are registered and ready to compete. Here’s a preview for every single event happening at Genesis 4 this weekend.

Smash 64 Singles

Smash 64 has significantly less entrants than the other two Smash games (185 for singles), but the story lines and competition is still top notch. Recently signed Daniel “SuPeRbOoMfAn” Hoyt, who won Super Smash Con to round out 2016, is once again the heavy favorite. In terms of dominating his personal game, no other player in the Smash community comes close.

The field has nearly every player in the top 10, so expect some of the more notable names to reach top-8. Boom won’t have an automatic trip to winner’s finals. Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett is a rising star and a real threat to take out the game’s best. His second-place finish at Super Smash Con showed his potential. Wizzrobe is slated to play Boom winners round 2 in top 64 which could be on upset alert.

Outside of those two, classic names like Isai, the Mexican players Arturo “Mariguas” Nunez Hernadez and Distrito “Dext3r” Federal, and the ever so dangerous Peruvian slayer Alvin “Alvin” Leon Hara will also be in attendance as the second seed. It’s a stacked field, but the real story will be whether Boom can win another Smash 64 major.

Winner Prediction: SuPeRbOoMfAm (sorry, he’s just too good)

Smash Melee Doubles

Don’t sleep on Melee doubles this weekend; the top five teams will be in attendance, and certain teams will be put to the ultimate test. PewFat, Kevin “PewPewU” Toy and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni, had a great 2016 as the year’s best team, but let’s see how they perform at an event with M2Box (Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma), team Alliance (Armada and Andreas “Android” Lindgren), and team Europe (William “Leffen” Hjelte and Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya).

Therefore, the winner of this event is nearly impossible to predict. Even Mango and Johnny “S2J” Kim could make a run. An event of this magnitude with players taking the doubles side seriously will result in some of the highest-level teams matches possibly ever. Most of the teams registered, who have a shot at winning, are combos of players who have teamed before and have chemistry. It will be a great gauge on the best doubles team in the world.

Winner Prediction: PewFat

Between Hungrybox’s hand issues, the northern California crowd, and the introduction of PPU’s Fox play for counter-picks, it just feels like it’s finally their time to take a Genesis.

Smash Melee Singles

Three Genesis events and three Mango vs Armada grand finals. Will it happen again? The biggest hurdles for the possible quadruple rematch is easily Leffen and Hungrybox. Hungrybox made huge strides in 2016, and despite a hand injury, can ruin everyone’s fun by winning. Leffen, on the other hand (get it?), missed last Genesis and is a huge threat to ruin the Genesis script.

Furthermore, this could be the event of the breakout star. Players like SFAT, Ice, Justin “Plup” McGrath, and James “Swedish Delight” Liu have been threatening to take out the top-six players for the better half of last year. Genesis 4, with the extra month of preparation, could be the event one of these names creates a Melee upset that will never be forgotten.

In addition, expect the brackets to be filled with upsets. A tournament with 80 of the top 100 players in attendance is sure to set off some unfamiliar matchups and results. Expect the unexpected; last year Michael “Nintendude” Brancato took out M2K before top 8. If I had to bet, I’d say a God falls before top-8.

In the end, the event will almost surely come down to if anyone is good enough to beat Armada. He has been on a tear of tournament wins in the winter months, and it’s unclear if the Swedish snipers reign of terror is ending. That said, Mango will be playing in front of a raucous crowd all cheering for him, and we all know what happens when Mango gets momentum and a crowd behind him.

Melee is the marquee event this weekend, with 1,700 players signed up. The matchups in top 64 will all be entertaining, from Ice facing off against Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, to the Evo runback of Jeff “Axe” Williamson against Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno. The story lines will be endless and the amount of high-level Melee waiting to be played is staggering. There’s a reason most Melee players consider Genesis the holy grail.

Winner Prediction: Armada

It’s hard seeing anyone beating this guy at the level he’s playing at right now. Mango can win this tournament but it will take some diligent play and making sure he gets a shot at Armada in Winners bracket.

Smash 4 Doubles

Smash 4 doubles is still in its infancy. The team that wins is usually the two best players, as opposed to the best strategy, character choice, and the most skill combined. Keeping that in mind, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada are clearly the best team. The only other team even on a comparable level is Elliot “Ally” Bastien and Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez.

It will still be interesting to watch the different team compositions and styles. Japan will have two of the more interesting teams: Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura and Takuto “Kameme” Ono, plus Rei “Komorikiri” Furukawa and Ryuto “Ranai” Hayashi. They will present interesting styles and a possible threat to the top players. Jason “Anti” Bates and Salem will be the other team capable of winning the entire event.

As is the case for every tournament at Genesis 4, the focus will be on if anyone can take out the top team. Nairo and ZeRo are incredibly talented players with chemistry. There are some serious contenders who could beat out those two, but it’s unlikely at this point.

Winner Prediction: Nairo and ZeRo

Smash 4 Singles

ZeRo is once again the favorite to take Genesis. He’s starting to return to form after a sporadic 2016. But with that, it’s safe to say Smash 4 is the widest open tournament of them all. It’s not out of the question to wonder if a player not named ZeRo can win Genesis.

MKLeo wasn’t at Genesis 3 or many of the 2016 majors, so this will be his first real test at a major. He has shown the ability to hang with anyone. Ally is another player who can win this event. He’s clearly not fazed by large crowds (Evo 2016 champion) but has unfavorable draw in bracket (he’ll face ZeRo in Winners Semifinals).

Even a couple years into Smash 4, the meta game still is developing. It makes these major tournaments more fun because the results can be random at times. ZeRo might be the clear-cut favorite, but the rise of Cloud players like Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Kimorikiri are lurking, waiting to pull off the upset. That’s not even mentioning players like ANTi, Salem or Larry Lurr who have taken out every single one of the top five players, including Zero.

Winner Prediction: MKLeo

This is MKLeo’s moment. Here is a kid the Smash world has been waiting on for the past two years, and he has finally got his chance. If anyone can take out ZeRo and run the table, it’s the versatile MKLeo.

I hope I provided fans with a guide to what to watch for this weekend. It’s impossible to predict what will happen. One thing is certain though, it will be entertaining to watch it all unfold.

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Bounty Hunter

Sunday Hero Spotlight – Gondar the Bounty Hunter

Welcome to the second Sunday Hero Spotlight. This week we will be taking a look at Gondar the Bounty Hunter. Bounty Hunter has the potential to be a menace in the early game, and can provide vision of enemy heroes through the use of his ultimate.

Bounty Hunters Lore

Bounty Hunter

Image courtesy of dotafire.com

“When the hunted tell tales of Gondar the Bounty Hunter, none are sure of which are true. In whispered tones they say he was abandoned as a kit, learning his skill in tracking as a matter of simple survival. Others hear he was an orphan of war, taken in by the great Soruq the Hunter to learn the master’s skill with a blade as they plumbed the dark forests for big game. Still others believe he was a lowly street urchin raised among a guild of cutpurses and thieves, trained in the arts of stealth and misdirection.

Around campfires in the wild countryside his quarry speaks the rumors of Gondar’s work, growing ever more fearful: they say it was he who tracked down the tyrant King Goff years after the mad regent went into hiding, delivering his head and scepter as proof. That it was he who infiltrated the rebel camps at Highseat, finally bringing the legendary thief White Cape to be judged for his crimes. And that it was he who ended the career of Soruq the Hunter, condemned as a criminal for killing the Prince’s prized hellkite. The tales of Gondar’s incredible skill stretch on, with each daring feat more unbelievable than the last, each target more elusive. For the right price, the hunted know, anyone can be found. For the right price, even the mightiest may find fear in the shadows.” [Courtesy of www.dota2.com/hero/BountyHunter/]

Overview

Bounty Hunter is a Melee Agility hero, that has a built in escape and is capable of nuking down enemies quickly. In competitive games and higher MMR brackets, Bounty is often played as a roaming Support due to his ability to move around the map unseen. In the lower skill brackets, it is often common to see Bounty in a farming position.

Skills

Shuriken Toss

Bounty Hunter Shuriken Toss

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Damage Type – Magical (Does not pierce spell immunity)

Damage – 150 / 225 / 300 / 375

Mana – 120 / 130 / 140 / 150

Cooldown – 10

Track Bounce Range – 1200

Bounty’s first skill is his main nuking ability. Shuriken Toss is a unit target ability that, upon connecting with the target, also applies a mini stun. It is often used in conjunction with Bounty’s ultimate, Track. Shuriken can be used to interrupt channelling abilities, including TP’s.

When a Tracked unit is within 1200 range, the Shuriken will bounce to them, causing them damage and applying the min stun. As such, when Bounty is trying to chase down a target, it is often common to throw the Shuriken at a non Tracked target so that the Shuriken will bounce to all the other Tracked targets.

Aghanims Upgrade – Shuriken Toss will bounce twice on each hero that is affected by Track.

Jinada

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Critical Damage – 150% / 175% / 200% / 225%

Move Slow – -15% / -20% / -25% / -30%

Attack Slow – -15 / -20 / -25 / -30

Duration – 3

Cooldown – 12 / 10 / 8 / 6

Bounty’s second ability is a passive that grants him the ability to crit and maim every 6 seconds when maxed. This skill allows Bounty to deal sizable damage out of nowhere early on in the game.

Shadow Walk

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Damage Type – Physical (Pierces Spell Immunity)

Duration – 20 / 25 / 30 / 35

Fade Time – 1.0 / 0.75 / 0.5 / 0.25

Bonus Damage – 30 / 60 / 90 / 120

Cooldown – 15

Mana – 65

Bounty’s third ability allows him to fade into the shadows and become invisible for a certain amount of time. When attacking an enemy from Shadow Walk, Bounty will deal bonus damage. The bonus damage will not be included in the calculation for Jinada’s critical strike.

Shadow Walk has a fade time, meaning that it is possible to get an attack off as Bounty fades into invisibility and then attack again whilst invisible to get the bonus damage.

Track

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Speed Radius – 900

Bonus Speed – 16% / 18% / 20%

Bonus Gold for Self – 150 / 250 / 350

Bonus Gold for Allies – 40 / 80 / 120

Duration – 30

Cast Range – 1200

Cooldown – 4

Mana Cost – 65

Track is dispellable.

Bounty’s ultimate is a Unit Target that marks any enemy heroes. This will provide True Sight of any Tracked heroes to both Bounty and his allies. As well as providing True Sight, Track will grant bonus gold to Bounty and any allied heroes near the Tracked enemies when they die.

Track provides bonus speed to Bounty and his allies when they are near tracked enemies.

Talents

Bounty Talents

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

At Level 10, 54% of players choose to take the +15XP Gain instead of the +157 Health. This is likely because Bounty prefers to have levels, and due to his play style, should not require the additional health.

At Level 15, 62% of players choose to take the +40 Attack Speed over the +15 Movement Speed. Interestingly, this seems as if it is the wrong choice, as the +15 Movement Speed talent has a 52% win rate in comparison to the 49% for the Attack Speed.

At Level 20, 73% of players choose the +100 Damage over the +8% Spell Amp. Most players choose the extra damage as it works in conjunction with Jinada, allowing Bounty to Crit for more damage. The Spell Amp talent has a +3% higher win rate in comparison to the Damage. This may come down to the lack of people picking the talent, or it could be that due to Shuriken Toss being a Magical spell and some players building Dagon, it can synergize well with Bounty’s skill set.

At Level 25, 65% of players choose the -5s Jinada Cooldown over the +20% Evasion. This choice seems straightforward in that if players are reaching Level 25, they will likely benefit from the 1s Jinada Cooldown. This will allow them to deal massive damage from right clicks alone.

Skill Build

Popular Skill Build. Image courtesy of Dotabuff.com

This is the generally accepted way of leveling up skills on Bounty Hunter. Choosing to max Shuriken Toss, followed by Shadow Walk, and then Jinada. This is generally the most common way to level up Bounty, as Shuriken Toss can provide good burst damage early in the game. Jinada is left until last as it does not generally show its value until the late game.

Play style Suggestions

Bounty is generally played as a roaming four position Support, who has the ability to cause great havoc in the early to mid game. As a Bounty Hunter, it is important to pressure the lanes where possible. Rotating often has its benefits and can often force Supports to buy counter vision to see the rotations coming.

If possible, rotate to between the Mid Tier 1 and 2 towers to have a chance at killing the Courier in the early game, which will provide your mid player with an advantage.

Getting Level 6 on Bounty is pivotal to being able to use him to his full potential. If a team is behind, a few Track kills can change the tide of a match.

For the best example of an excellent Bounty Hunter, check out this Youtube link to highlights of Maybe Next Time (MNT), widely regarded as the worlds best Bounty, playing for Ad Finem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LIQbxrtJ8c

Suggested Items

Image Courtesy of Dotabuff.com

When playing Bounty in a Support capacity, players will tend to pick up Arcane Boots, and then progress into Mekansm, followed by Guardian Greaves. This is generally because Bounty is happy to be an aura carrier who focuses on building utility items to help buff the core heroes on his team.

In pub games, it is common to see Bounty players rushing either Dagon or Desolator. Dagon provides great burst potential in combination with Shuriken. Desolator provides good damage, and also armor reduction, both things that Bounty can benefit from if focusing on right clicking and using Jinada to its full effect.

Final Thoughts

Reply from MNT regarding Bounty Hunter in 7.xx Patch.

Whilst MNT might think that Bounty is still viable in the current patch, the stats speak to the opposite. Currently, he only has a 46% average, which is below average. As MNT mentions, the addition of the Backpack has increased the ability for players to carry vision based items whilst not losing inventory space.

Bounty can be played in situational games where the enemy heroes are susceptible to early game aggression. In his Support capacity, Bounty eventually becomes more focused on providing Track vision / gold whilst also giving beneficial auras to his team.

Bounty may receive some buffs to bring him back into the Meta, but for the time being he is more of a situational hero.

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