Pokémon Best in Show – Unmasking Mimikyu

The Nightmare of Alola

The Pokémon VGC 2017 season rule set brought with it a plethora of bulky and slow Pokémon. This shifting of the speed curve has seen the rise of Trick Room tactics, as can be seen by the Porygon2 on almost every Trainers team. Do not let this fool you, however. While Porygon2 is a fantastic Trick Room setter and utility Pokémon, he is not the best of the format. That title goes to Mimikyu.

Once you get past Mimikyu’s frighteningly cute exterior, you will quickly realize the arsenal of tools and tricks it masks under its sheet. Whether it is scaring opponents with a Never-Ending Nightmare or constructing a Trick Room, when Mimikyu is summoned it must be dealt with.

Mimikyu Breakdown

Mimikyu stat chart

Image courtesy of Bulbapedia

Taking Mimikyu at face value, it seems like a somewhat underwhelming specimen. While its Ghost/Fairy typing leaves it with a single double-resistance to Bug, and three immunities to Normal, Fighting, and Dragon, its stats leave much to be desired.

Special defense it Mimikyu’s highest stat, boasting a base of 105. However, Mimikyu’s pitiful base HP of 55 means that it won’t have the staying power to take many hits regardless of how hard it tries. Rounding these out with an average 90 base Attack and 96 base Speed, and it is easy to see why Mimikyu can get overlooked.

Trainers who follow this line of surprise are in for a shock. Mimikyu makes its average stats absolutely workable by means of a great move pool and amazing ability. The combination of these two factors leads to a game winning machine.

Don’t be Fooled by the Disguise

What really makes Mimikyu such a versatile asset while team build is the tools it can bring to a team.

First is Mimikyu’s signature ability, Disguise, acts as a single-use substitute for Mimikyu. Basically, the first time Mimikyu would take damage during a battle, the damage nullified and the Disguise is broken. From that point on during the battle, Mimikyu can be damaged normally. Disguise does not prevent status effects.

Busted Mimikyu

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Disguise will basically give Mimikyu one free pass. This can allow it to do things such as set up Trick Room for its team or boost itself with a Sword’s Dance. It can also serve to give Mimikyu a free switch in. Whichever you choose to use Disguise, it is easy to see how effective this ability can be.

Moves to Die For

While focusing on Mimikyu’s Disguise can be tempting, forgetting about the moves it is packing can be deadly. Mimikyu is anything but a one-trick pony.

Here is a list of moves you can expect to encounter during the course of VGC17:

Offensive:

  • Play Rough – Physical Fairy STAB attack. Packing 90 Base Power and hitting most things for at least neutral damage. Play Rough’s only real drawback is its 90% accuracy rating.
  • Shadow Claw – Physical Ghost STAB attack. 70 Base Power and 100% accuracy makes it weaker, but more reliable than Play Rough. However, the two moves provide 100% neutral coverage.
  • Shadow Sneak – Priority Physical Ghost STAB attack. 40 Base Power and 100% accuracy. Shadow Sneak is good due to the fact it provides elevated priority.
  • Wood Hammer – High Power Physical Grass attack. While gaining no STAB, Wood Hammer provides a massive 120 Base Power at the expense of recoil damage.

Support:

  • Taunt – Prevents opponents from setting up. As well as shuts down status effect users, and protects. Great Trick Room counter.
  • Will-O-Wisp – Burns a Pokémon causing residual damage. Also lowers the opponent’s Attack, causing their physical damage to be lowered.
  • Trick Room – One of the greatest threats Mimikyu has on the right team. Reverses speed priority causing slower Pokémon to go first.
  • Swords Dance – Boost Attack stat by 2 levels. One Swords Dance will allow for immense pressure on the opposing team.
  • Thunder Wave – Paralyzes and reduces speed of opponent. Recent changes have reduced its accuracy to 90% however.
  • Curse – Causes massive residual damage to the opponent at the expense of 1/2 the user’s HP. Can be used to break walls.
  • Toxic – Applies poison damage that increases each turn. Another way to build residual damage and break walls.
  • Destiny Bond – Faints the opponent if Mimikyu faints. Paired with Ghostium Z, Z-Destiny Bond also takes on the redirection of Follow Me.
  • Protect – Standard VGC move

An Item for all Occasions

Depending on the moves Mimikyu runs, here are a few items you can expect it to be holding:

  • Ghostium Z – Dual use item. Use to either turn Shadow Claw/Sneak into Never-Ending Nightmare for serious damage. Otherwise, you can augment Destiny Bond to add the Follow Me effect.
  • Fairium Z – Used to turn Play Rough into Twinkle Tackle, providing Mimikyu with a great way to take out major threats.
  • Mental Herb – Heals effects such as Taunt and Encore. Especially effective on Trick Room builds as Mental Herb + Disguise can practically guarantee turn one Trick Room.
  • Focus Sash – Due to Disguise, Focus Sash isn’t as useful. On a Swords Dance variant, it can provide a second layer of protection to set up a sweep though.
  • Life Orb – Increase damage output and does damage to the user in return. Great item for a Swords Dance Mimikyu.

Whether you choose to run Mental Herb, or Ghostium Z, on your Trick Room Mimikyu, the options are plentiful. The ability to leave the opponents guessing is one of this Pokémon’s greatest assets.

Sample Builds

 

Mimikyu sprite

Mimikyu @ Ghostium Z
Ability: Disguise
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Trick Room
– Destiny Bond / Taunt
– Shadow Claw
– Play Rough

This is standard Trick Room support. Disguise works to give Mimikyu the leeway to make things happen on the first turn. Trick Room is used to give your team an advantage against faster opponents. While Destiny Bond or Taunt are taken depending on Mimikyu’s partners. Shadow Claw and Play Rough are just there for offense once supporting is done.

With Ghostium Z, the Destiny Bond variant can become particularly deadly. Using Ghostium Z will give the trainer an option to either launch a devastating Never-Ending Nightmare. Otherwise, they can power-up Destiny Bond. Adding a Follow Me effect to Destiny Bond, thereby allowing Mimikyu to redirect opponents and allow its partner to set up.

Mimikyu sprite

Mimikyu @ Ghostium Z / Fairium Z / Life Orb
Ability: Disguise
Level: 50
EVs:  252 Atk / 4SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly / Adamant Nature
– Swords Dance
– Shadow Sneak / Protect
– Shadow Claw
– Play Rough

Hyper offensive Mimikyu variant. The simple goal of this set is to use the safety of Disguise to boost with Swords Dance. If successful, Mimikyu can become a force to be reckoned with. There are few Pokémon in the VGC meta game that can take a +2 Twinkle Tackle.

With Mimikyu, You Can

No matter if you need an offensive pivot, a reliable Trick Room setter, or a supplementary support, Mimikyu has you covered. This is the Pokémon to consider if your team is missing that extra oomph. Whatever you do though, don’t look under its sheet.

Pokemon Mimikyu jump out

Image courtesy of Game Freak

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Call of Duty has a new Rivalry: OpTic vs eUnited

A phenomenal grand final at CWL Dallas was the latest matchup in Call of Duty’s newest rivalry. The match was almost an exact replica of CWL Atlanta’s grand final, except that this time OpTic Gaming, instead of eUnited, won out on last map after going to a second series.

The tournament was OpTic’s second win of the year, making them the only team with two major LAN wins under their belt.

OpTic breezed through pool play, going 12-1 in map count. The journey became more difficult in the championship bracket, where both Luminosity and Splyce took OpTic to game five. Their toughest opponent, however, was eUnited, who took them to two game fives after extending the series by winning the first one. Both teams, hungry for their second LAN win, put on a show that attracted over 100k viewers to MLG.tv.

CWL Dallas was stacked, with top teams from every region in attendance. Two European teams, Splyce and Red Reserve, even managed to place in the top six. Before this year, North American teams dominated the competition through and through. Now, more Europeans are seeing the light of Championship Sunday.

OpTic is a team that is no stranger to Championship Sunday. Since Advanced Warfare, they have been at the top of the podium more than any other team in Call of Duty, and all without making roster changes.

Along the way, rivals have risen to meet them, only to fall off. FaZe, who have stuck together just as long as OpTic, were a fierce rival in Advanced Warfare and look to be this year as well. They have only placed below 3rd once so far. On Black Ops III, Rise Nation was seemingly the only team that could stop OpTic. However, their roster this year has had varied performances.

eUnited Rises to the Occasion

With their current roster, eUnited appears to be the only team capable of hanging with OpTic through Championship Sunday. The grind wears teams down, and only those with the experience and skill to make it through reach the grand final. Twice now, eUnited have outlasted everyone else to meet OpTic in the grand final of a CWL event. Twice now, they have kept viewers on the edge of their seats.

Atlanta was where eUnited proved everyone wrong. They were “jetpackers” and “online warriors,” and that was the reason, supposedly, they started the tournament with a high seed. It was then that eUnited showed their worth, as they ran through the teams in their pool and won over several tough opponents on their way to the grand final. There, they met OpTic, who worked their way through the loser’s bracket after losing to Team EnVyUs earlier on. In that grand final, OpTic looked unbeatable. They were on fire, from their loser’s bracket run onward, and eUnited looked to be just hanging on. But despite the 3-0 thrashing they suffered in the first series, eUnited was able to bounce back and take the championship. It was a first for all members of the team.

eUnited’s roster doesn’t consist of superstars, or at least, they aren’t superstars yet. Team captain Justin “SiLLY” Fargo-Palmer is flanked by three players that few had heard of before this year: Alec “Arcitys” Sanderson, Preston “Prestinni” Sanderson, and Pierce “Gunless” Hillman. In fact, Arcitys and Prestinni, who happen to be twin brothers, only turned 18 two months before last year’s Call of Duty Championship. They quit their regular jobs to pursue a career in Call of Duty, and it’s paying off.

After Dallas, OpTic’s Damon “Karma” Barlow was impressed. “I wasn’t a believer [two] months ago but that showed how good [eUnited was],” he said.

eUnited is well aware of the rivalry they’ve gotten themselves into, and it reaches further than Call of Duty. Just this week, eUnited faced OpTic in the Gears of War Fight Night.

“Hey @OpTicGaming. We will get a Halo team if you get a League of Legends team. Then we can have a real rivalry. Deal?” eUnited joked on Twitter.

The rivalry between OpTic and eUnited was born in Atlanta but grew up in Dallas. So far, it’s created some of the most exciting Call of Duty in recent memory, and we hope to see more of it next month in Columbus when the Global Pro League begins.


Image: eUnited Twitter.

Josh Billy is a long time Call of Duty fan. You can email him at joshuatbilly@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Frostbite’s HWC 2017 Finals Predictions

We’re finally here. Three months of competition and grinding have brought us to this. Twelve teams will compete in Burbank, California this weekend and only one will walk away with the title of “Halo World Champion.” Here’s how I think it’s all going to play out.

 

9th – 12th: SoaR Gaming

Roster: Irving “Drift” Ramírez, Atzin “Atzo” Pulido, Carlos “Bullet” Marlasca, Gilbert “MuNoZ” Muñoz

MuNoZ, of SoaR Gaming. Courtesy of HaloEsportsWikis.

Qualifying through the Latin America Qualifiers, this squad is looking to improve their region’s standing in the Halo community. Mexico City proved that they are a very competent team that has the endurance to compete with other top tier teams in the region.

However, losing their star player Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez and using MuNoZ as a late substitute could damage this team’s performance. Moreover, these players, with the exception of MuNoZ, don’t have experience competing against North American teams and that will likely work against them. MuNoZ must lead this team perfectly for them to make the top eight.

 

9th – 12th: London Conspiracy

Roster: Rob “SeptiQ” Singleton, Andrew “Ramirez” Corrigan, Casey “Lunny” Lunn, Kristopher “Qristola” O’Keefe

Despite having several notable players on the roster, I just don’t think London Conspiracy have the firepower to deal with the other teams attending the Halo World Championship. With Team Liquid and Luminosity Gaming in their group, it’s hard to see them winning it, meaning they’ll likely be seeded into the loser’s bracket. With other teams such as Team Immunity and Supremacy likely joining them there, this squad has a tough route to make it deep into the bracket.

 

9th – 12th: Supremacy

Roster:  Norwen “SLG” Le Galloudec, Romain “PuniShR” Leroy, Sonny “Fragxr” Marchaland, Simon “SolaR” Racher

This squad has a similar story to London Conspiracy. In the same group as OpTic Gaming and Crowd Pleasers, saying “only a miracle could win this squad their group” would be an understatement. And then dropping to the loser’s bracket, this theme continues. Supremacy isn’t bad, they’re just not going to be able to contend with the other teams here, specifically the North American teams and FabE.

 

9th – 12th: Team Immunity

Roster: Aaron “Benno” Bennett, Teddy “Junior” Joe Jr., Daniel “Seduce” Franken, Matthew “Voltage” Barker

Benno, during his time playing Call of Duty. Courtesy of EGaming Network.

Right off the bat, I’ll say that this squad has already impressed me. The team has come out to Burbank early to get more practice against North American teams and they’ve been doing well for themselves. Scrim results show that they’ve taken three games off of Team EnVyUs, with several other winnable games. They even managed to win a scrim 7-6 against Splyce. However, they’ve also been picked apart by Str8 Rippin, with a 13-0 loss and only two close games.

Immunity does have an advantage in that this is the same squad that represented ANZ at last year’s Halo World Championship. They and OpTic are the only teams to have the same rosters. This built up chemistry could very well swing fortune into Immunity’s favor, but with both Splyce and NV in their group, they’ll need to catch fire quickly.

That said, I place them here reluctantly. Depending on how the bracket plays out as well as which teams come out hot or cold, this squad could very well slip into the top eight, possibly even top six.

 

7th – 8th: Luminosity Gaming

Roster: Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

Starting off in the top eight is Luminosity Gaming. With the slaying capabilities of Saiyan and Ninja combined with the support

Saiyan, the newest player on LG. Courtesy of Tommy Wilson.

work of eL TowN and Victory X, this squad is a potent combination. This was shown at HWC Las Vegas, where the squad nearly defeated Str8 Rippin and even managed to send Splyce home. Luminosity has proved that when they’re at their top level, they can contend with the best of the best. But therein lies the problem.

According to HaloDataHive.com, a website that tracks the scrim scores and stats of professional Halo, LG hasn’t had a scrim in over a week. Assuming this is a lack of practice, this could severely hinder the squad’s ability to repeat and improve upon their earlier performance. Scrim results prior to their absence don’t look bad, however, with a 6-6 scrim with Splyce and a 9-4 over Team Liquid. However, there’s also a 0-7 loss to OpTic as well as a 1-12 loss to NV. This squad has the talent to squeak into the top eight, but past that, this lack of practice will keep them from progressing.

 

7th – 8th: FabE Games eSports

Roster: Brandon “Respectful” Stones, James “Jimbo” Bradbrook, Perry “TuFoxy” Kenyon, Luciano “Mose” Calvanico

The top European team and arguably top foreign team have proved that they are legitimate contenders for the Halo World Championship title. Despite splitting scrims with other EU teams, when it comes to events, this squad has not faltered to any non-North American team. During the Fall Pro League season, this squad did play NA teams and was defeated by Str8 Rippin 4-1. Despite this, this squad has improved since then and the recent LAN experience against NA teams will play to their advantage. Joining them in Group D is Str8 Rippin and SoaR. With this in mind, they are very capable of winning this group if Str8 comes out flat, putting both them and most likely Str8 in the winner’s bracket. However, despite being a great squad, the next caliber of teams are just a step above.

 

5th – 6th: Crowd Pleasers

Roster: Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Brett “Naded” Leonard, Cory “Str8 SicK” Sloss, Daniel “Danoxide” Terlizzi

Carlos Ayala at MLG Regionals last year. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia.

This squad came out strong at Las Vegas, securing fourth. With crazy momentum-based slaying on their side, CP can just about cruise into the top eight before having real struggles. With OpTic and Supremacy in their group, they will likely take second and move into the winner’s bracket as well. The issue I have with this squad is that they are momentum based. All four players have been known to be extremely emotional and while this can play to their advantage, in the long run it is more likely to hurt them. If this squad runs up against a particularly tough match-up early in the bracket, they can tilt themselves all the way out of the tournament. However, if they can move on from losses with relative ease, this squad does have a chance to make top four.

That said, scrim results don’t paint a good picture for CP. Hard losses to NV, Splyce and OpTic shows that this team may not yet be able to stand with that category.

 

5th – 6th: Splyce

Roster: Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Michael “Falcated” Garcia and Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-

Bubu during his time on E6. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia.

Castro

We’re starting to reach that point where any of these teams can take the title if things go a little in their favor. Splyce,

despite a disappointing performance at Vegas, punched their ticket to HWC through the LCQ. Another squad of young guns, these players all have the potential to go off and absolutely take control of a game on their own. Shotzzy, being the youngest player at the tournament at the age of 15, has shown that age is not a marker of ability. Bubu and Shooter also have something to prove, as they unfairly lost their Pro League spots due to Cratos’ actions. Scrims have been conflicting for Splyce, with 5-8 losses to Str8 but 9-4 wins over CP. However, much like OpTic, Str8 and Liquid, this roster is much stronger at live events, Vegas being the exception. Expect a hot start and continuous momentum deep into the bracket.

 

4th: Str8 Rippin

Roster: Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Jonathan “Renegade” Willette

Richie Heinz. Courtesy of ESL.

This squad has been on a roller coaster of a ride since the end of HWC 2016. After Ace, APG, and Heinz were dropped from OpTic Gaming, they were acquired by Str8 Rippin, a legendary name in the history of competitive Halo. From there, this squad made a miracle run, going from the bottom of the standing to top four, just barely making it to the Fall Finals. Since then, they’ve picked up Renegade and have only gotten stronger. Despite scrim results being less than ideal across the board, this squad has shown that they are not to be trifled with. They are likely to win their group and proceed into the winner’s bracket, where they’ll likely stay there for another two rounds or so. Vegas showed that this team can contend with OpTic and they are more than capable of winning if Renegade is able to consistently put up huge numbers along with the rest of the team.

 

3rd: Team EnVyUs

Roster: Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese, Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Cuyler “Huke” Garland

“Hyoooook.” Courtesy of Cuyler Garland.

Despite Str8 being very strong, I do still think that NV are the better team. This squad is the only current squad to ever best OpTic Gaming on LAN. Since Fall Finals, NV has stumbled once the tournament slimmed to the top four. Despite consistently beating Str8 and other squads below them, Team Liquid has had them dialed in this season.

Despite this, scrim scores show a resurgence for this squad. This team has won nine scrims consecutively, with most of them being blowouts. This does also include a 7-6 victory over OpTic, although their last loss was to OpTic and was 9-4. It is completely viable for this team to come out hot and start knocking other teams into the loser’s bracket with sweeps. If this squad can manage to get past Liquid, they can take down OpTic and become World Champions.

 

2nd: Team Liquid

Roster: Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Kevin “Eco” Smith

StelluR at Vegas. Courtesy of Braedon Boettcher.

That said, any rumors of Liquid’s victories over EnVyUs being flukes have been silenced. Liquid has beaten NV three times at events. Two of those were dominant 4-1 and 4-2 victories. This squad is the strongest new team to come out of the Fall season and has contested OpTic the best so far. At UGC, both of the series that Liquid played against OG went to the final games and were close. At Vegas, Liquid lost 4-1 while Rayne played with a broken controller. If there’s a squad who can take out OpTic, this is the most likely.

 

1st: OpTic Gaming

Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Matt “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, T.J. “LethuL” Campbell

Beware this man in Blue Cave. Courtesy of Mathew Fiorante.

Back to back, two for two. Consecutive World Champions. This squad is going in already being at the top of the mountain and they have seen absolutely no failure this season. OpTic is the next dynasty of Halo and being the World Champs again will only solidify that. LethuL puts up consistently good numbers every game and does whatever is necessary to win his team the game. Snakebite is a similar story, consistent and overwhelming slaying with an insane clutch factor. Royal2 and Frosty have put up huge numbers repeatedly. Undoubtedly, these four are among the top 10 players in the game and it is likely that OpTic has four out of the five best players. As long as this team is playing their game, they will win and become the 2017 Halo World Champions.

 

 

 

We’re going to see the best Halo 5 competition yet this weekend. While it’s hard for me to picture anyone but OpTic winning, any of the last five teams listed here are more than capable of wrestling the title away from them. Be sure to check out the stream here!

Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know on Twitter or in the stream this weekend.

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These were too good not to include. Courtesy of “overuled” and “Chong” of the Team Beyond forums. Only the dankest of memes.

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Brood War HD

The Brood War Renaissance

The Brood War HD rumors are back again. And if you’re anything like me, your first reaction would have been to roll your eyes and move on without a second thought. For those that have been keeping up for the last year, this would seem all too familiar. We’ve been down this road before, and we know from experience it leads to a dead end.

The rumors originally started prior to Blizzcon in 2016, and at the time, why wouldn’t we believe it? The Afreeca Starleague (ASL),  had just completed her maiden season. Brood War was back in the spotlight for the first time in six years and the audience was there. And the legends that built, not just StarCraft, but all of esports, were slowly but surely returning to the frontline. The news from Seoul said the announcement would be made at Blizzcon.

Why wouldn’t we believe it?

Yet Blizzcon came and you could almost hear the grasshoppers chirping as the StarCraft community stared on in utmost confusion. We had assumed far too much and we were asses for it.

Brood War HD

Now four months later, here we are once again. You’d be a fool not to be skeptical. I sure as hell was.

Then a Reddit user by the name of Voltz found something. The Battle.net Store, ie. Blizzard’s official store, ceased sales of the original StarCraft Anthology. As of this posting, downloads of StarCraft and Brood War are still listed as “sold out”.

This came just as Blizzard announced a special event to take place at the season 1 GSL Finals in Seoul, the StarCraft capital of the World. An event that would be attended by the CEO of Blizzard, Mike Morhaime. And would feature a special showmatch between the “TaekBangLeeSsang”. Kim “Bisu” Taek Yong, Song “Stork” Byung Goo, two most feared of the 6 Protoss Dragons. Lee “Jaedong” the Tyrant and Lee “Flash” Young Ho, simply called God. Four of Brood War’s legends known as the most dominant of their respective races.

Very quickly, the burns of the past went out of mind and the realization of what was happening came crashing down.

 

The Second Coming

As exciting as the prospect of a Brood War renaissance seems, it’s important to remember this can still go badly. The second coming isn’t a given, it’s a work in progress that must be polished to perfection.

Balance

One of the more entertaining misconceptions among those that know of Brood War’s role as the progenitor of modern esports but have not actually watched or played it is that it was a well-balanced masterpiece of a game that StarCraft 2 never matched. The reality, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Brood War was and still is an imbalanced mess of a game. Cracklings are overpowered, Mass Recall is overpowered, Siege Tanks are overpowered. Every race in Brood War is horribly overpowered in some way or another. And this is something that should absolutely not be touched.

If Brood War’s balance is such a mess, why leave it alone? Because that’s exactly what made Brood War amazing. The game was like the world’s hardest equation that programmers were constantly trying solve. For this reason, Brood War went through several eras where on race or player would dominate for months.

One of the most famous moments in Brood War was the legendary “Bisu build” that solved Protoss vs Zerg. Protoss vs Zerg was a matchup that was previously heavily Zerg dominated. The Bisu build shifted balance back into the favor of Protoss eventually leading to the Era of the Protoss Dragons.

Brood War always has been a game of using your races’ overpowered crap to deter or counter your opponents overpowered crap. And Mapmakers played a crucial role in this by crafting areas of the map that each race could use to their maximum advantage. This is how Brood War was truly balanced, not by crunching numbers but by putting the onus on the players themselves to use what resources they had available in the smartest way possible.

 

Mapmaking Resources

With this in mind, it should be clear fostering Brood War’s mapmaking scene is critical to building a healthy second generation. Remastered models and textures are a given. But extending new textures and resources for mapmakers to build beautiful new worlds is important to drawing creators back. Brood War has very different art style to StarCraft 2 so the canvas is there to work with. They just need to be given the tools too.

 

Brood War HD

Abyssal Reef by SidianTheBard is a recent and beautiful example of what mapmakers can do if you indulge their creativity. Naturally, I’m not saying this should be the standard but just give them a fighting chance, their imagination is our greatest asset.

Mistakes of the Past

There are a lot of features that took a frustrating amount of time to reach StarCraft 2. This is something that absolutely must not happen again. Automated tournaments and micro-transactions immediately come to mind. But some issues require us to take a hard look at Blizzard’s design and structure choices. And why a lot of it may not still be up to date.

Prioritizing Accessibility

One of the most obvious grievances that has plagued StarCraft 2 is the first thing you see before you even start a game. I’m of course referring to the game client. StarCraft 2 features a client that is so completely overloaded with bells and whistles, that there have been reported incidents of the game menu putting as much as 3 times more strain the GPU than the game itself. Just to put that into context there have undoubtedly been incidents where there are players able to run the game itself but find the menu unworkable.

StarCraft 2’s beautiful but less than practical game menu. Featuring an animated background taking up the vast majority of available space.

And I can say this with certainty because I was one of these people. The laptop I used at the time could run the game but would suffer heating issues and fps drops attempting to navigate the menu. It’s for this reason that I actually switched to League of Legends as my esport of choice for several years before I eventually upgraded. And as grateful as I am to be back with StarCraft, it seems a bit ridiculous to say that I was driven away from a game because of the menu you have to navigate to play the game.

Now, this is of course my personal opinion but I genuinely don’t care about that massive animated background that is taking up 90% of the menu. What I care about is being able to run my Hello Venus playlist in the background without my game client having a seizure.

Brood War HD may be a re-mastery of a 1998 game but this is 2017. And a lot of the standards from then have gone out the window. Perhaps back then we would have stared at our menu screens and admired the visuals but now a menu is just a lobby that we tab back to just to queue for another game.

Brood War HD

League of Legends game client. Simple, un-intrusive design that prioritizes information and accessibility.

 

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment. Abyssal Reef designed by SidianTheBard.

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The League’s Explorers: A Retrospective

It’s hard not to look back on the League of Explorers expansion with rose-tinted spectacles. It came after the relatively non impactful Grand Tournament expansion that seemed to do little but introduce the much-maligned Secret Paladin, and following on the heels of a controversial Warsong Commander nerf. It provided a well-needed injection of variety and levity. Though the expansion added a number of exciting, archetype defining cards, it’s best remembered for its four eponymous Explorers. These oft-hatted adventurers weren’t just the thematic heart of the expansion; they each provided a powerful and lasting impact on Hearthstone’s history.

 

Sir Finley Mrrglton

This gentleman’s refined demeanor belied his aggro inclinations

Sir Finley heralded the rise of a whole new breed of aggro decks. Previously, many archetypes had been lumbered with an inherently defensive hero power. Classes like Warrior or Shaman could sometimes match Hunters with their quality of cards,; but the consistent pressure granted by the Steady Shot Hero Power made it the premier aggro class. Sir Finley Mrrglton single-handedly smashed that paradigm. He provided a decent body early-game, but mainly allowed a game plan synergistic hero power to replace an otherwise near-useless defensive one. Along with his one mana, 1/3 buddy Tunnel Trogg, he was a vital part in the rise of Aggro Shaman.

Steady Shot and Lifetap were of course the most coveted, but even Fireblast or Druid’s Transform were viable alternatives to the otherwise near-useless Armor Up and Totem powers. Whether or not this impact was healthy in the long run is a matter of perspective. In the short run, though, it contributed massively to an increase in the variety of Aggro. With Hunter on the ropes as a class, perhaps it’s best that Steady shot becomes unique to them once more…

What can we learn after Mrrglton’s Rotation? Well, for one, changing to another class’s hero power might dilute class flavor a bit much. Especially in the days when Small Time Buccaneer and Patches were ubiquitous, opening into the same few cards and the same few hero powers began to get monotonous. On the plus side, his voice acting and entry sequence were truly top-notch. On the other hand, allowing more variety in hero powers can help more viable decks flourish.

Brann Bronzebeard

Brann’s wild combos might be best suited to the Wild format

Brann Bronzebeard was an obvious addition ever since the likes of Baron Rivendare’s Deathrattle-doubling effect was introduced. His battlecry duplication ability with only minor stat costs made him a versatile inclusion in a wide variety of decks. From Dragon, to C’thun, to Jade, there were very few archetypes that couldn’t at least partially justify his inclusion.

While his incremental value was impressive, he could also inspire some truly broken combos. While Brann-Kazakus is the most popular now, few can forget the game-ending might of Brann into a Thaurrisan discounted Doomcaller. Barely any decks could withstand the onslaught of three C’thuns.

However, perhaps it’s for the best that he’s rotating out. As Kazakus has shown, he severely limited the design space for potent battlecry minions, or otherwise making certain archetypes and strategies far more potent than they had any right to be (see Jade Shaman). In that regard, Brann is a perfect advertisement for the merits of the Standard rotation system. While his potentially gamebreakingly powerful interactions will still exist to inspire and provoke wonder in Wild, they won’t pollute the carefully tuned balance of Standard.

Elise Starseeker

This card defined Control before Jade and Kazakus

Elise Starseeker was never meant to be anything other than a fun diversion. When she completely redefined Control decks, it was almost by accident. Together with Justicar Trueheart, she marked the temporary transition of Control decks from having heavy threats like Ysera in their deck to largely relying on her late-game value generation after reaching fatigue. The ability to swap out useless card draw and low-impact spells and minions for a cascade of huge bombs led to the evolution of Warrior and Priest decks. They could afford to go as anti-aggro as possible while still having a fighting chance in the control mirror.

The Golden Monkey itself provoked wonder, counter-play, and frustration in equal measure. While Legendary RNG decided many matchups, the variance was welcomed by adding unpredictability to the otherwise mathematically tedious calculations of Fatigue; and whilst she was powerful, there were numerous counterplay options. Most notably saving tempo tools like removal or Sylvanas for after the monkey hard replaced all comeback mechanics with clunky minions.

That said, the promotion of 20-minute plus games was perhaps an unhealthy one. Many players found it tedious and time-consuming facing decks that stalled out for dozens of turns before doing anything proactive. Still, Elise proved a powerful point; the promotion of potent proactive late-game strategies for control decks that don’t rely on replacing significant proportions of the deck with slow bombs could shake up otherwise stale interactions between late-game decks, while keeping their viability against aggro and midrange.

Reno Jackson

The fact that “Reno decks” are a concept tells of this card’s power

Few cards have been as impactful as Reno. This dapper member of the Explorers inspired multiple breeds of decks. Even the name Reno became a byword for singleton decks. His unique ability to provide incredible burst healing to classes that otherwise struggle with survivability, like Warlock or Mage, resulted in a new style of potent control decks. With the near-extinction of Handlock and struggle of Control Mage to find a raison d’etre after Echo of Medivh rotated out and Molten Giant’s mana was raised, the card provided a safe haven for those who wanted to play late-game oriented versions of those classes.

Kazakus provided a boost for singleton decks, making them the only option for Control after Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. This rise provided an additional spotlight on the less pleasant aspects of the class. By concentrating huge amounts of the decks’ power into a few key cards, decks tended to be exceptionally powerful, but horribly inconsistent, especially versus aggro. This made it especially frustrating when draw RNG was in favor of one player, as games often felt like a coin-flip.

Perhaps the best lesson to learn from Reno Jackson is to spread out the power cards for any given archetype over a decent number of deckslots. This will make games not as overly dependent on one draw-specific answers. The other, more positive lesson is already one that Team 5 has learned from; giving players reward for creative deckbuilding challenges pays off in terms of gameplay variety.

 

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

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2GGC Civil War – Team Ally Eyeing the Upset

SANTA ANNA, CA – THE Smash 4 rivalry has reached new heights. Gonzalo ZeRo” Barrios and Elliot “Ally” Bastien Carroza-Oyarce have always been rivals, dating back to the days of Brawl, but now all that will culminate into one massive event this weekend: 2GGC’s Civil War.

Photo via twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

The creation of this tournament is that of legend. Everyone’s favorite Smash player, Larry Lurr, presented the idea to the good people of 2GG and thus the Civil War was birthed into this world, a tournament centered around the rivalry of the best. Each team is comprised of nearly every player in the PGR top 50. A small proposal from Larry Lurr has blossomed into a super major with a $30,000 pot bonus and is now looked at as one of the premier events of 2017.

It’s known how dominate ZeRo’s run in Smash 4 has been since the game’s release. The few blemishes on his record led to Ally taking the spotlight, including his win at one of the most prestigious events in Smash at Evo 2016.

Thus, jealously and envy turned to action and now teams have formed around the respected players.

#TeamAlly or #TeamZeRo?

It’s a choice every player had to make before entering. Do players stick it out with the world’s best in ZeRo? Or take a chance with the underdog who can pull off the upset?

This fight could decide the fate of humanity…

Let’s look at the teams:

Team ZeRo:

It’s no secret: Team ZeRo is absolutely stacked to the brim with talent. Of the top 10 ranked players in the world, Zero’s team consists of six of them, including ZeRo himself who is a untethered beast. So, right off the bat, it’s going to be an uphill climb for team Ally.

The true weakness of team ZeRo is the second team. The roster does have strong players, but there’s no distinct advantage. The late addition of Kirihara, winner of Frame Perfect Series 2, will give the second team a definite boost with his Rosalina play. The strength in the second team lies at the top of the roster: Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young, and Chris “WaDi” Boston all have had tremendous success and could be the driving force behind a team ZeRo win on the second team.

Additionally, The one-two-three of ZeRo, Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, and Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez is arguably unbeatable. It’s tough seeing how Team Ally matches up against these three. It will come down to team decisions, on both sides, but if Ally allows one of those three to get hot, it will be an issue. Can anyone slow down ZeRo? Ally’s team has four players who have taken sets off ZeRo in the past (five including Kirihara).

Outside of the big three, Ally will have to deal with James “VoiD” Makekau-Tyson, Rei “Komorikiri” Furukawa and Jason “ANTi” Bates, who’re all serious tournaments threats with a variety of characters. The key is to take advantage of the less notable players. Freddie “FOW” Omar Williams is the best Ness in the world but he can be directly countered and Alberto “Trela” Miliziano hasn’t been active so his performance is up in the air.

Undoubtedly, Team ZeRo is the favorite, but Ally has the tools to make the upset happen.

Team Ally

Ally has a tough but doable task in front of him. The use of his top players with their more unorthodox play styles will be essential to victory. Takuto “Kameme” Ono is one player who will need to go the distance. His Mega Man can be a real problem for Team ZeRo as he’s taken sets off four of them (ZeRo, Kmorikiri, VoiD, and MKLeo). Couple that with Yuto “Abadango” Kawamura’s MewTwo and it coule be a problem.

Presumably, it seems as if Ally will have to go head-to-head with ZeRo to try his neutralize him. Ally has the most current set wins over ZeRo (five) and has a great way of dealing with ZeRo’s control game. The onus is most likely on him to beat the world’s most dominate player. The rest is manageable if they can get over that hurdle.

If Julian “Zinoto” Carrington and Marcus “Pink Fresh” Wilson can tap into that potential that we saw at events like CEO and 2GGT: KTAR Saga it could be a different story. Ally will have to make the right decisions with these two along with Tyler “Marss” Martins and Nicholas “Ned” Dovel, who have all taken sets off players on the other team.

Anyways, let’s not forget about the staying power of Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad and Dabuz who can be an annoyance to the top players on Team ZeRo. Both have also taken sets off ZeRo, so if Ally chooses to try and gain an advantage by putting himself up against anyone but ZeRo he’ll have a backup plan.

In terms of the second team, it looks to be another uphill battle with most members ranking below their opponents. Luckily, Captain Zack has had a renaissance with Bayonetta recently and has made himself a serious threat. He will be the headliner and the player to watch out for. If players like Eric “ESAM” Lew and Rich Brown play well it could be a different story for Team Ally.

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Soo vs sOs: Fifth Time’s the Charm?

At last, the series we’ve been waiting for has arrived: Eo “Soo” Yun Su vs Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin. A thunderous clash of style, smarts, and story. What a treat it was.

In one corner, we have Soo. This man has fought and clawed his way to the GSL finals for the fifth time, something no one else has ever done. Despite this fact, he has never won. Will this legendary Zerg confirm his cursed career as an eternal silver medalist, or stand as a shining beacon of perseverance?

Against him we have sOs, one of the most feared players of all time, and last season’s grand finalist. A man that has won everything under the sun but a GSL championship. Tastless called sOs the “definition of a winner.”

On top of their successes and history, we have a clashing of brilliant minds. Soo is a stone wall of Zerg. His macro is perfect and his speed and intuition are remarkable. He completely embodies Zerg. He sees everything, he has units everywhere, and when you try to attack him, his numbers are simply overwhelming. Soo has a keen sense of when and how to take fights, and has some of the best Zerg mechanics in the world.

On the other side of the spectrum is the scariest player a solid Zerg like Soo can imagine. sOs is most likely the smartest player in the world, and because of that, no one wants to play him. He has a thousand different builds and he may never do the same one twice. He has a seemingly endless bag of tricks, and he always knows which one will hurt the most. He’s thinking what you’re thinking he’s thinking YOU’RE thinking, then he’s doing the opposite. He’s throwing mind games and fake-outs around like other Protoss research Warpgate.

 

Game 1

Game 1 was like watching someone punch a brick wall. sOs came in with his “Harlem Globetrotters” moves, full of finesse and multitasking, juggling around his adepts and warp ins.

 

 

…But almost no drones died. An attack designed to kill at least twenty workers was crushed almost perfectly. Artosis rightly pointed out that Soo would probably just roll him over in a few minutes, and he did.

 

 

Game 2

In Game 2 sOs appeared to be going with the exact same build. Fast expand, one Oracle, one Phoenix, some Gateways. sOs came in with yet another Adept attack with the intent to cripple, but this time it worked. He used Soo’s memory of the first game against him, canceling shades he would have previously completed and vice versa. This attack killed 20 drones as intended, in addition to a few from his surviving Oracle.

 

 

By the time Soo launched his signature Hydralisk/Baneling sledge hammer of a push, sOs had some juicy Storms waiting. Constant Warp Prism harassment would keep Soo at home while sOs began a full air transition. With an economy too weak to build anything but Hydras, Soo’s final attack would get absolutely crushed by Storms and Interceptors.

 

  

 

Game 3

Game 3 began with a double Pylon block from sOs and evolved into the standard double Archon drop.

Soo’s kiting would prove too strong, and handily pushed back sOs’s multi-pronged Warp Prism pressure.

After sOs botched a retreat and loses critical units, Soo poured all his money into Ravagers. Some well placed Currosive Biles would separate the Protoss’s Immortals from their support units and close out the game.

Game 4

Game 4 was the best of the whole series. Both players finally had the chance to showcase their incredible improvisational skills and strategic wit. sOs took an early lead with a Sentry/Immortal/Adept attack. With some clever Adept shades and Force Fields, sOs killed the third hatchery and even a few drones while his own third finished up.

 

Artosis made a great point here; the old Soo would likely find his position irrecoverable and launch a complete all in. But this is the new Soo, a more confident Soo. He’d try for the catch-up game. Soo would stabilize with Lurkers, forfeiting map control to the Protoss. In response, sOs would pump out a high count of Immortals and Storm tech, the perfect composition to surround and flatten Soo’s impatient Lurker push.

 

aOs would have an untouchable ground army for the next few minutes, but played hesitantly and patiently. Little did he know that a greater spire was on its way to make his Immortal ball obsolete.

The real chess match began when Soo’s Broodlords came into play. Confronted with six Broodlords and enough lurkers to rule out a forward blink, sOs knew a fight was out of the question.

 

With no chance of an air transition or sufficient anti air force, sOs had to get creative. He spent the rest of the game putting on a master class on how to play against Broodlords.

Repeatedly, Soo set up his unstoppable army on sOs’s side of the map, and repeatedly sOs counter attacked. More so he coaxed Soo to follow with tempting pokes. SOs would kill a base, bring the Broodlords all the way back, and recall to a newly finished Nexus. Then he’d wait, rinse, and repeat. It worked remarkably the first three times, killing Hatcheries and running the Broodlords all around.

Soo wasn’t falling for it any longer. He cut down the Protoss economy with lone Lurkers and packs of lings. By the time sOs had finished his fourth bait-and-switch, sOs had no economy to jump back to, and had not even enough firepower to finish off the newest hatchery. GG.

 

Game 5

In Game 5 Soo got the sOs special with extra cheese. When you think of a StarCraft player that can whip out a never-before seen strategy in a crucial match, sOs is your man. The most standard opener in the PvZ matchup has been DT Archon Drops for months now. Sos was playing perfectly standard, right? Wrong.

 

Soo had fallen comfortably into thinking he was facing a build he’d dealt with countless times in practice. The DTs drop off in my main. No worries, I have a Spore Crawler. But this is SOS! Another Prism came in with another hit squad of DTs.

 

Before long, there were Archons and Chargelots killing the Lair while another force hit the third. The beating would not end there.

 

  

Grouping up at Soo’s new fourth, sOs would charge onto Zerg’s creep like a wrecking ball, boxing the Zerg into the corner and flooding with Speed Zealots.

 

Game 6

This was the most one-sided game of the series, even more than Game 1. A Pylon rush failed completely, largely due to a lack of focus fire on the Hatchery.

 

 

After the attempts to damage from sOs’s Adepts and Oracles were mostly wiped out, Soo would once again launch a deadly Hydra/Baneling attack. Once again, he would wipe sOs off the map.

 

 

This series puts Soo at one of (if not the) best Zerg in the world. Equal to Dark and maybe better, Soo showed some of the highest level Zerg vs Protoss we’ve ever seen. It was his minimalist defense against sOs’s warp prism play – the quality of his engagements.  Soo showed how to out-maneuver a quicker army and how to retain a high drone count in the face of blistering aggression. The question that remains is, does he have what it takes to go one step further?

Tasteless: He is the perfect range of Zerg, there’s really nothing he can’t do.

Artosis: Win a GSL?

 

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF AFREECA.TV

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EU LCS Group Draft format 2017

Thoughts on EU LCS Group Format

For 2017, the EU LCS adopted a new regular season format which involves two groups of five teams. These changes were put in place to resolve fans’ issues with the dual-stream and best-of-2 format. The new grouping would allow viewers to watch one best-of-3 stream at a time. But is it better?

Most LCS fans would agree that the best-of-3 format is vastly better than the best-of-2 last year. The murky nature of ties left many fans feeling unsatisfied. Having definite winners and losers in such a small league is much more appealing. It can also, theoretically, better prepare European teams for international competition by rewarding consistency and adaptation.

Best-of-3 seems to be the perfect balance between viewer satisfaction, player well-being, and proper preparation. In comparison, best-of-1s reward teams that can successfully cheese their opponents for one match, and do not necessarily allow EU to send its most consistent representatives to international competitions. Best-of-2’s and best-of-4’s create too many undesirable ties, and best-of-5’s can result in more fatigue for the players and an extended schedule that would strain the production crews and viewers.

Having a single stream is fairly beneficial, too. It is the most comfortable way to watch every scheduled series live, rather than choosing which to watch in a dual stream. There may be fewer match-ups to watch in a given weekend, but a viewer is able to see all of them without turning to VODs.

EU LCS weekly schedule format 2017

courtesy of eu.lolesports.com

The sacrifice, it seems, is regular series quality. Of course, the group format should not take the whole blame for this. There are other contributing factors. However, splitting the teams into two groups has resulted in regularly lower quality match-ups.

This split, EU LCS teams were separated into Groups A and B. Teams within Group A play each other twice; teams within Group B play each other twice. But they only play across groups once. This sounds like a small difference in play-rate, but it has huge consequences on viewer experience. For example, G2 and MSF will only face H2K, UOL, and SPY once each, but FNC, ROC, and GIA twice before playoffs. Since the teams were drafted to split their overall abilities evenly, this schedule has created gradients within each group. The gap between the top teams and bottom teams is huge. And just as H2K will only play G2 once, GIA will only play OG once.

Week 9 of the LCS is representative of this unfortunate reality. Previewing the match-ups is not possible because every single one is one-sided. SPY should beat VIT, G2 should stomp GIA, MSF should destroy ROC, and down the list it goes. Most weeks have featured one to three quality match-ups, while the other three to five seem pre-determined.

EU LCS promotion and relegation format 2017

courtesy of eu.lolesports.com

This group format, however, is sufficient for figuring out which teams should go to playoffs and relegation. The top six and the bottom two are extremely apparent. But week to week series are lower quality. There is less to analyze. There is less guessing or postulating.

If EU mirrored the NA LCS format, it may be a bit better. Sure, audiences would sacrifice the comfort of watching every match-up live, but they would receive much more frequent close match-ups. Teams would need to prepare and adapt against nine opponents, rather than four. And if they really wanted to allow viewers to see every stream live, then they would simply spread the series out over four days instead of three.

While this split’s scheduling and grouping format has been an upgrade over 2016’s, there are still issues that need to be addressed. The EU LCS could possibly allow for more teams in the league, such as 12 or 14 total teams (6-7 per group). This, again, leads to longer schedules over more days, but it may create more frequent close match-ups. As professional League of Legends becomes more and more popular, overall viewing experiences will need to be closely managed. Hopefully, moving forward, EU LCS tournament formatting will be able to strike the right balance between audience gratification, production value, player well-being, and quality competition.

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NALCS: Grading this Split’s Rookies

In my last piece I took a look at some of newest imports of the North American LCS. This week I’ll take a look at the rookies and how they’ve made an impact to their team this split. There are only four this split, but nonetheless every rookie has come onto their team and made an impact. Grading will be based on expectations heading in and how they’ve met them. Lets take a look:

Phoenix1 Stunt (Support)

 

Courtesy: Riot Esports

William “Stunt” Chen began this split as a sub on Dignitas. He also spent some time last summer on Team Liquid Academy playing alongside Piglet.  Little was known about Stunt heading in, as most didn’t even know he was a sub on Dignitas untill he subbed for a series against Envy.

He finally got his shot at LCS as a starter when Phoenix1 acquired him before the trade deadline. Their former support Adrian “Adrian” Ma was transferred to Team Liquid in wake of internal issues with jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh. Stunt came in as a brand new support who had never really had a starting role on an LCS team. Phoenix1 has not been phased by this at all, if anything, they’ve looked to have grown even stronger.

In the 8 games he’s played, Phoenix1 is undefeated and look to be catching up to Cloud 9 as the second best team in North America. Stunt himself has been performing quite well in this support meta. His champion pool is diverse, having played seven champions already in his short time on P1. Stunt currently has the highest KDA of supports at 5.5 and a spectacular 80 percent kill participation.

Phoenix1 seemed to have done a great job integrating Stunt into the team. Phoenix1 look like top contenders heading into playoffs.

Grade: A-

Cloud 9 Contractz (Jungle)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Juan “Contractz” Garcia came in as the next hyped upcoming challenger talent. He spent time on Cloud 9 Challenger and helped them qualify for the LCS. Many praised him as a solo que star being bred to take the NA LCS by storm. After a phenomenal week 1 performance many thought Contractz would pop off and propel Cloud 9 to the top team once again. That hasn’t really been the case as Cloud 9 have regressed as other teams around them have improved.

Contractz in particular has had his fair share of rookie mistakes that have cost his team. Sometimes getting caught out before big objectives or invading without the aid of his team behind him. Even a minor accidental slip up in champion select may have cost his team a close series against CLG.

Nonetheless, Contractz has played pretty well for a rookie Jungler in his first split. Expectations may have hindered how well he’s actually played this split. Contractz came in molded to be a somewhat supportive style Jungler helping his talented laners get ahead. He gets deep vision for the team and tracks the enemy Jungler.  He currently has the 2nd highest KDA among Junglers.

What’s worrisome is how much Cloud 9 struggles to make plays in the early game.  With so many talented players, their early game is still one of their biggest weaknesses. Contractz has the worst First Blood percentages among Junglers which speaks to the lack of C9’s play making in the early game. Often times their wins come off mid game fights.

 

Grade: B

Echo Fox Akaadian (Jungle)

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham came into the LCS with little to no expectations of him. Most expected him to be average at best and not make much of an impact. That was not the case as he stormed onto the scene in the first weeks as an extremely talented and aggressive Jungler.

As the split has gone on, some teams may have figured out his style. With teams around them getting better, Echo Fox has struggled to stay afloat. Akaadian went from having one of the best KDA’s in the league, to having one of the worst at 2.7.  Nonetheless, Akaadian has been one of, if not the best player on his team this split. His early game play making has often netted his team huge gold leads. It’s more of the team as a whole not being able to transition those leads into victories.

It will be interesting if he garners interest from other teams during the off-season. Any North American talent is crucial as it allows for imports in other parts of the roster.

Grade: A

Immortals Cody Sun (ADC)

Li “Cody” Yu Sun was an up and coming ADC fresh out of the challenger scene. He spent time on Dream Team last split where he stood out as a top performer. As a rookie, not much was expected from him and his lane partner Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. People expected Immortals to play mostly through their talented solo laners and Jungle.

It took awhile, but Cody Sun and Olleh are quietly becoming a bot lane force. Their first few weeks were a bit rough. As a rookie ADC being thrown into a meta where ADC’s were basically ult bots was a tall task.

As the ADC meta is slowly shifting back to meta carries Cody Sun has shown some great performances on Ezreal and Cait. He’s one of the underrated pickups during the off season as a North American talent who doesn’t take up an import slot. Moving forward, he’ll need to continue his growth for Immortals to perform at their highest level.

Grade: B-

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SHOUTcraft Kings: March

StarCraft Weekly Recall

Welcome to my fifth Weekly Recall, a recap of the major events in StarCraft over the past week.

 

Highlight Games

 

GSL Semifinals – Eo “soO” Yoon vs Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin (Abyssal Reef)

GSL Semifinals – Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob vs Kim “Ryung” Dong (Daybreak)

SHOUTcraft Kings – Joo “Zest” Sung Wook vs Tobias “ShoWTimE” Sieber

SHOUTcraft Kings – Stats vs Artur “Nerchio” Bloch

GSL Semifinals – Stats vs Ryung (Daybreak)

 

 

GSL Semifinals

 

 

soO vs sOs

 

Echo

Game 1 on Echo was an interesting idea from sOs. Here he attempted to keep soO on the defensive through repeated multiprong Adept harassment while teching up back at home. Instead he continually traded out waves of Adepts for very little return. By the time sOs had completed PsiStorm it was just too late. soO army easily overwhelming sOs in the end to take an easy lead to the series.

Whirlwind and Proxima Station

This game would set the theme of the series. Where sOs maintained the role of aggressor while soO’s defensive ability would be put to the test. sOs would break soO’s defense on Whirlwind, getting himself into a favorable mid game to tie up the series. Again on Proxima however soO’s defense would hold out against sOs’ series of aggression letting him take 2-1 lead.

Abyssal Reef

As they always do, things eventually did get interesting on Abyssal Reef. sOs took a massive economic lead early into Game 4. Taking out soO’s 3rd Hatchery with an Immortal drop reinforced by Adept Warp-Ins. From there soO maintained an airtight defense that allowed him to get back into the game. sOs would again take a massive lead after soO attempted to engage sOs’ from a choke point. soO would lose most of his Lurker based army in the engagement forcing him to retreat. A tech shift into Brood Lords would catch sOs off-guard letting soO again bring himself back into the game. Unable to fight soO in a head-on engagement sOs instead used his superior mobility to his advantage. While sOs played a strong tactical game for a while he was eventually cornered and without a base to retreat to. Putting soO at a 3-1 lead.

Cactus Valley and Newkirk Precinct

sOs went into Cactus Valley with a standard Dark Templar-Prism build. Following up with a second Prism and a second wave of Dark Templars sOs dismantled soO through multi-prong harassment. soO wasn’t able to recover from sOs’ early lead taking us to Game 6 on Newkirk Precinct.

It’s possible this match could have gone to a Game 7 had sOs’ play been up to standard. Or at least the same level we saw in Cactus Valley. Instead he went for a Pylon rush into soO’s third failing to kill the hatchery after a lackluster engagement. He would later attempt to followup with a massive Adept push but seemingly forgot to research Resonating Glaives. soO took a huge early advantage just by holding off sOs’ attempts at aggression which sOs would never recover from. Running over sOs in the inevitable counterattack, soO closed the series advancing to the finals 4-2.

SHOUTcraft Kings: March

Hatchery bleeding almost as heavily as sOs’ supply

 

 

Stats vs Ryung

 

Abyssal Reef

Stats had a rough start to Abyssal Reef losing his first Oracle to a Widow Mine. Shortly after his third was to cancel by an early push by Ryung denying any chance of early aggression. Stats and Ryung fell back into a defensive game for a short time to build up their tech. As both players entered their mid-game tech the game became a street fight.

Stats made the first engagement with an army of Colossi, Adept and Phoenixes. After trading out his Adepts for worker kills Stats was forced back and Ryung made his counterattack. Stats’ main was brought to its knees by Ryung’s bio-drop, having most of his expensive tech taken out. But Stats would retaliate with Adept harassment sending Ryung’s worker count plummeting.SHOUTcraft Kings: March

Behind the frantic attacks at eachothers bases Ryung teched into Ghosts while Stats built up his High Templar count. The final stage of the game was decided by EMPs and PsiStorms. While Ryung landed several solid EMPs Stats’ superior positioning let him deal crippling damage with PsiStorms deciding the game.

Act II

Echo was decided in just over 30 seconds where Stats found a gap in Ryung’s defense to land a Prism right behind the mineral line of Ryung’s main then cutting off Ryung’s army as he attempted to fall back. One game later on Cactus Valley, Ryung crippled Stats’ economy in the same way, exploiting a gap in Stats’ defense to make a massive drop into Stats’ 3rd base.

This put the series at 2-1 heading into Newkirk Precinct. Apparently not wanting a repeat of Cactus Valley, Stats’ defensive game was completely on point in game 4. Defensive play made all the difference in this game as both players made attempts at harassment. While Ryung had some relative success with a single Reaper, overall Stats’ was able to clear Ryung’s aggression taking very little economic damage in the process while dealing economic damage on the other side of the map. This created a huge economic gap that Ryung wouldn’t recover from.

The deciding moment of Proxima Station actually took place in the first few minutes of the game. Stats attempted a proxy StarGate but failed to do anything with it. After losing both his Void Rays while failing to secure any real economic damage, Ryung was given a massive advantage he never let go off taking the series to Game 6.

Daybreak
SHOUTcraft Kings: March

Well, you don’t see that everyday

Stats went for another proxy StarGate again on Daybreak. And if possible, this went just as bad as the last. While he did get some damage in, he would lose his Oracle for it. A widow mine drop into Stats’ base would level the game for Ryung and propel him into an advantage. From there the game entered a deadlock with both players seemingly determined to take the game as late as possible. Stats kept up his attempts at aggression while teching up in the background. Each took there own turns attempting to cripple the others economy. Stats focusing on small economic attacks. Ryung on the other hand went big, pinning Stats’ 6th base with a Tactical Nuke. At one point Ryung had as many as three silos available.

For all their tactics however, it eventually it came down to a final engagement. Stats having repeatedly picked off Ryung’s Ghost with Feedbacks and had the advantage with free use of PsiStorm. And after several Storms weathered down his army, Ryung was forced to tap out advancing Stats to the finals after a 4-2 victory.

SHOUTcraft Kings: March

 

 

 

SHOUTcraft Kings: March

 

SHOUTcraft King: Han “aLive” Lee Seok

 

Streaks

aLive: 4

Kim “herO” Joon Ho: 4

Stats: 3

ByuN” Hyun Woo: 2

 

 

Map Pool Updates

 

New Maps

• Ascension to Aiur by SidianTheBard
• Blood Boil by Avex
• Sequencer by NegativeZero
• Defender’s Landing by YoungRustler

 

Dropped Maps

• Newkirk Precinct TE
• Bel’Shir Vestige LE
• Cactus Valley LE
• Honorgrounds LE (Please for the love of Tassadar NO)

 

Mapmaking Community Discussion

 

 

 

 

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment.

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