Is there a new G.O.A.T. in Starcraft 2?

Last week we had one of the most anticipated finals in Starcraft 2 history – and my goodness did it come through. Before we get into just how significant of a win this was for Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung, let’s recap this incredible series.

Game 1

Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin would start out the series with a quick scout on Innovation’s tank push. Pumping immortal Sentry while a Warp Prism backstabbed with Adepts, sOs gained a sizable economic lead.

Minutes later when sOs forced the base trade, Innovation’s 4-medivak drop would only be able to wipe the Protoss main, while forcefields and overcharges protected the natural until sOs’s fearsome ground army could return home.

 

Game 2

“IS THAT THE STRAT?” Shouted Artosis as four Oracles razed not only every add-on in Innovation’s main but denied stim and combat shields as well. No big deal, just sOs revolutionizing the way we see PvT forever.

After a void ray picked off Inno’s forward Tanks by the skin of its teeth, sOs decided to go for a kill move, shading into the main and igniting his four green lazers. Despite inflicting heavy worker losses, widow mine hits and marines would eventually clean it up. The situation still looked great for the 3-base Protoss, but the feisty Terran would finagle his way into another base trade – but this time with an impenetrable Liberator force at his front door – gg.

 

Game 3

In Game 3 we got to witness everyone’s favorite strat – the Cyclone rush. Oh boy, how I enjoy spectating Cyclone rushes. Over and over, sOs dove on the “pew-pew vacuum cleaners” and over and over they melted. Nexus falls – gg. I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

 

Game 4

sOs said “Two can play that game,” in Game 4 – he made Adepts and murdered Terran. Not much else to say.

 

Game 5

My god Game 5 was cool.

“Hey Innovation remember when I killed you with that Adept all-in 5 minutes ago – this is that I promise.”

“It sure looks like it, sOs, I’ll be ready this time .”

 

 

sOs appeared to be going for a gold base all-in on Odyssey – something he has done many times. Whether a double-gold Oracle/50 Chargelot bust or a quick Adept bust, sOs is quite well known for these type of builds. sOs knew this and knew that Innovation knew this, so while appearing to go for a complete Adept All-in, he was actually double-expanding and building a Pheonix fleet.

When Innovation would march across the map to murder the post-cheese Adept army, he would have his mind blown open by a well-rounded and well-funded Protoss Army.

 

 

“HE JUST WENT ‘WHAT’ WITH HIS MOUTH – HE DOESN’T EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH – SOS MAKIN’ THIS KID SPEAK IN TONGUES TASTELESS”

The rest of the game would be a strategic dance of army positioning. Innovation for most of the game had an untouchable Air-Force of ranged Liberators, while sOs’s stalker force was minuscule.

Still, however, sOs managed to circumnavigate the Freedom Zones to kill bases and Blink on lone Liberators. Eventually, sOs’s commanding economy, with the help of a VERY crucial hidden base, would be able to force a base trade and kill Innovation’s Orbitals while a horde of Blink DTs turned Inno’s bio to shredded cheese.

 

Game 6

“It’s almost better to not even scout him” -Artosis

With his eye on his first ever GSL title, sOs chose Nightmare’s signature Charge/DT Blink bust. Unscouted, Innovation dropped a clutch early scan that allowed his first volley to turn the tides, wiping out the expensive Dark Templar. A few more attempts would prove increasingly wasteful, until sOs was forced to tap out.

 

 

Game 7

Oh please, anything but death by tank push – noooo not a tank push. I’m completely impartial by the way – no dog in this race.

Innovation set up a Seige Tank/Bunker line outside of sOs’s third against Colossus/Stalker. If you’ve played five games of TvP in your life you know how that ends. Innovation crushes the third. sOs tried for a hail mary recall to a newly built hidden base, got quickly overwhelmed by Vikings, Bio and SCVs at Inno’s 3rd, GG. I’m definitely not crying at all did I mention how impartial I am?

This win marks the 3rd GSL Code S title for INnoVation – tying him with Jung “Mvp” Jong Hyun… which begs the question…

 

Greatest of all Time?

 

                                 Mvp                                          INnoVation

  • GSL Code S x3
  • Blizzcon 2011
  • GSL World Championship 2011
  • WCG 2011
  • WCS Europe 2013
  • 2013 MLG Winter
  • IEM Season VII Cologne
  • 2011 MLG Anaheim
  • 2011 WC Seoul
  • Total earnings: $408,891.73
  • GSL Code S x3
  • WCS Korea 2014
  • WCS 2013
  • GSL vs the World 2017
  • IEM Gyeonggi
  • 201 Star league S1
  • IEM Gamescom
  • Total earnings: $445,354.79

 

MVP was, until very recently, the undisputed greatest player of all time. Only one young Zerg ever came close, he who shall not be named- screw that noise his name was Life and he was unbelievable. He’d surely be in the running for GOAT had he not made a terrible, unforgivable mistake two years ago. But that’s Life – badum tsss.

What does it mean to be the greatest?  I’d say there’s a bit more to it than results. Sure – you can’t even be in the conversation without winning 3 GSL Code S titles – but the GOAT of any sport didn’t just enter, dominate, and leave the sport how they found it – to be the GOAT you have to change the game forever.  MVP did that.  His finals against Squirtle changed the way we look at Best of 7s.  Not only was Game 6’s Archon Toilet arguably the most bad-ass moment in any Starcraft 2 game ever – he managed to top that by following up a Battlecruiser/Mass Planetary build with a freaking proxy 2 Rax SCV pull. MVP taught us that a best of 7 isn’t 7 separate games but a single series and ongoing mental game – and that sometimes you have to risk it all to achieve greatness.

 

So here’s the question: did INnoVation… innovate? He didn’t re-evaluate the way his race was played from the ground up like a Stephano. He didn’t revolutionize micromanagement like MarineKingPrime or Byun. He didn’t push the limits of strategical complexity like sOs… he crushed all of that with rock hard consistency.  What INnoVation brings to the table is unparalleled precision and mechanics, and an ability to do what he does every single time against any player.  Innovation accomplished what MVP did and he did it in the modern day, in a game that’s is harder than it’s ever been and one where there are more ways to suddenly die than ever before.  INnoVation knows when to cheese like MVP did, but more often than not he has no secrets – no tricks up his sleeve – just overwhelming numbers, perfect crisis management, and the cold calculating intelligence of a T-800 Terminator.

 

“1010110001” -INnoVation

For these reasons, INnoVation, in my humble opinion, is now…

The Greatest Player of All Time.

Good luck DeepMind.


Photos courtesy of AfreecaTV and The Terminator
Featured Image courtesy of HBO’s Game of Thrones

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Does cash rule everything? An in-depth look at the relationship between spending and winning in the MLB

As money continues to play a major role in professional sports, I decided to examine if cash really rules everything in regards to winning the World Series in Major League Baseball.

THE BASICS 

To understand spending in baseball, one must consider all the different ways that a team can create income. To keep it simple, there are four main ways a team can get money. One way, the sport, is the (according to Forbes) “portion of a team’s value attributable to revenue shared among all teams.”

Another is the market. In baseball, it is common for teams to be split up into two categories: big-market teams and small-market teams. Big-market teams are those who play in the nation’s consolidated statistical metropolitan areas (CSMA). Small-market is the opposite, as teams that play in smaller CSMA’s.

An example of big-market teams are the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees/Mets and Chicago Cubs/White Sox. Small-market teams are squads like the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers.

The big-market teams usually attract more fans, which leads to higher ticket prices. This usually leads to big-market teams spending more on players because they can afford to. All in all, Forbes explains how “larger ticket sales and higher ticket prices together increase a team’s revenue, allowing team owners to reinvest more money into their organization while still turning a profit.”

Tampa Bay Rays empty stadium. (Rays Index)

It is important to note that, just like in anything, there are exceptions. Sometimes, big-market teams cut payroll, while small-market teams increase theirs, in hopes of drawing more fans.

The third way a franchise can receive money is through their stadium. This includes their home games, premium seating and any non-baseball events that the stadium hosts.

Lastly, the team’s brand is of course a major cash cow. With all this being said, it is clear that certain teams will have way more income, in which they can spend on payroll to create a better team.

Unlike all other major sports, the MLB does not have a salary cap. This means that as long as a team can afford it, they can buy whatever and whoever they want. No matter what, the Yankees will always be able to afford anyone, unlike the Royals, who must intelligently create a winning roster with limited cash.

Let’s use the Royals and Yankees as an example to show the massive differential in payroll. In 2011, the Yankees payroll exceeded $200 million dollars. The Royals that year? A little over $38 million. Yankees star third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, made $31 million that year. One player made almost more than an entire roster.

nEW RULES

Some rules were created in the past to try to create a competitive balance. A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was created as a way to share revenue.  In this CBA, all 30 teams are, by definition,  “required to deposit a percentage of their local revenues into a pot at the end of the season. Luxury tax funds and a portion of the league’s “Central Fund”- comprised of monies from television contracts- are also put into the pot.”

The luxury tax is a specific amount of money chosen at the start of each year, and the teams cannot go over that said amount. If they do, they receive penalties.

First time offenders must pay 22.5 percent of salaries above the threshold. Second time offenders must pay 30 percent, third time offenders must pay 40 percent and fourth time offenders (and anything after that) must pay 50 percent of salaries above the threshold.

Then, the poorer teams receive the majority of the pot.

Sure, it redistributes the wealth, but it still allows the big-market teams to spend away. The Yankees have been number one in payroll 13 times from 2001-2016, while being taxed over $300 million dollars.

QUICK FACTS

  • Of the ten World Series winners from 2001-2010, six ranked in the top 10 in payroll.
  • During the 2001-2010 seasons, 61.5 percent of the league’s playoff teams were among the top 10 biggest spenders. 23.1 percent ranked 11th-20th in total end-of-year payroll and 15.4 percent were among the league’s poorest 10 teams.
  • In the 2016 season, nine out of the 10 playoff teams were in the top half of highest payroll spending. Of the top half of spending teams, only one team (Angels) were not in contention to make the playoffs in the last week.

TABLES

YEARWORLD SERIES WINNEROPENING DAY PAYROLL RANKINGEND OF SEASON PAYROLL RANKING
2000Yankees1st1st
2001Diamondbacks8th8th
2002Angels15th15th
2003Marlins25th20th
2004Red Sox2nd2nd
2005White Sox13th13th
2006Cardinals11th10th
2007Red Sox2nd2nd
2008Phillies12th10th
2009Yankees1st1st
2010Giants10th11th
2011Cardinals11th11th
2012Giants8th6th
2013Red Sox4th3rd
2014Giants7th6th
2015Royals16th13th
2016Cubs14th4th

 

YEARTEAM WITH LOWEST PAYROLL IN PLAYOFFS (OPENING DAY RANKING)FINISH
2000White Sox (26th)Lost in ALDS
2001Athletics (29th)Lost in ALDS
2002Athletics (28th)Lost in ALDS
2003Marlins (25th)WON WORLD SERIES
2004Twins (19th)Lost in ALDS
2005Padres (17th)Lost in NLDS
2006Athletics (21st)Lost in ALCS
2007Diamondbacks (26th)Lost in NLCS
2008Rays (29th)Lost in World Series
2009Twins (24th)Lost in ALDS
2010Rangers (27th)Lost in World Series
2011Diamondbacks (25th)Lost in NLDS
2012Athletics (29th)Lost in ALDS
2013Rays (28th)Lost in ALDS
2014Pirates (27th)Lost in NL Wild Card Game
2015Astros (29th)Lost in ALDS
2016Indians (24th)Lost in World Series

 

ANALYSIS

The first table consists of each season’s World Series winner, as well as their payroll ranking. The most striking statistic is the fact that 16 out of 17 winners finished the season in the top half in league payroll. Nine of these 17 winners finished in the top 10.

What does this tell us? It is clear that the World Series winner is almost always a rich, big market team. Since 2000, 94 percent of the World Series winners have been in the top half in payroll to end the year.

The second table shows us the less fortunate teams, who were able to advance into the postseason. I went back and looked at the last 17 postseasons and found that low payroll teams are still finding success. Of the last 17 postseasons, 15 of 17 have featured a team in the bottom 1/3 in payroll.

HOW THE 2016 CUBS (4TH IN YEAR-END PAYROLL) BUILT A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM

  • The 2016 NL Most Valuable Player happened to be Cubs third basemen, Kris Bryant. Bryant was drafted three years earlier by the Cubs. The first 3-4 years of a rookie contract are considered the pre-arbitration years in which the team decides what the player’s salary will be. This is usually around league minimum. Since Bryant falls under this, his 2016 salary was less than 700k. An MVP who hit 39 home runs made under a million dollars.

    Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo (The Fanatics View)

  • Their All-Star first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, was acquired in 2012 in a trade with the San Diego Padres. The Cubs were able to acquire Rizzo and one other player, for Andrew Cashner.
  • Jake Arrieta was acquired by the Cubs for Steve Clevinger and Scott Feldman. Clevinger and Feldman are two below average players at their respected positions. Jake Arrieta finished top 10 in NL CY Young voting in each of the last three years.
  • 2015 offseason: Signed Ben Zobrist (2016 World Series MVP) and Dexter Fowler, and both would go on to be All-Stars in 2016.
  • 2016 MLB trade deadline: Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman. Chapman went on to post a ridiculous 1.01 ERA in 26.2 innings in the regular season.

HOW THE 2003 FLORIDA MARLINS (25TH IN PAYROLL) BUILT A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM

  • 2002 Offseason: The Marlins signed Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, was signed to just a one-year deal. He hit .297 with 16 home runs and 85 RBIs in the 2003 season, which was good for 23rd in MVP voting. He hit .313 in 2003 playoffs, and was named NLCS MVP.

    Josh Beckett during the 2003 World Series (PBS)

  • Acquired rookie Dontrelle Willis in March 2002. In his first major league season, making under $300K, he was able to win the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year with 14 wins and an ERA of 3.30.
  • In the 1999 MLB June Amateur Draft, the Florida Marlins drafted Josh Beckett second. Beckett would go on to win the 2003 World Series MVP. On the biggest stage, in 16.1 innings, the 23-year-old allowed only two runs and struck out 19.
  • Acquiring infielders like Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo in previous years played a big role in defeating the Yankees. Lowell and Castillo, who both were All-Stars in 2003, made a combined $7.7M in that year. Two star infielders for the Yankees, Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter, made a combined whopping $27M.

CONCLUSION

As we can see, money plays a huge role in the MLB.  The teams with more money clearly have a better shot to win the World Series. Buying the best players will usually lead to success, but so will smart moves and good drafting. The latter part of that sentence proves that all 30 MLB teams have a chance to create a winning team. That being said, cash rules almost everything in the MLB.

 

Featured image by Zimbio.com

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“From our Haus to Yours”

Changing the Integrity of Competitive Call of Duty

Popular Counter-Strike content creator and analyst Mohan “Launders” Govindasamy recently stated that having a dominant team speaks to the integrity of the game. This set my cogs in motion and I began to wonder if this theory can be applied to the various titles in Call of Duty and how it can be used to improve our upcoming game, WWII.

Apply

Starting with everybody’s favorite: Black Ops 2. The title is hailed as the most balanced and competitive in Call of Duty history. Throughout its reign, we saw two dominant teams, which were Impact and compLexity. The former was undoubtedly the best team in the beginning of the game. They won the first five tournaments they attended, including the prestigious World Championship. The roster consisting of Christopher “Parasite” Durate, Adam “Killa” Sloss, Marcus “MiRx” Carter and Damon “Karma” Barlow were an innovative team who utilized much of the available weaponry to effectively play the map pool. This factor, combined with Parasite’s rotational knowledge and ability to anchor, guided them to many championship wins.

However, the art would later be perfected by compLexity. They built on that rotational knowledge and abused it with brutal aggression, suffocating whoever happened to be the opposition. Any one of Patrick “ACHES” Price, Ian “Crimsix” Porter, James “Clayster” Eubanks or Tyler “TeePee” Polchow could take over when needed, which was the key to their success. Following the World Championship, this team would go on to win seven LAN events with one second place finish.

Fariko Impact won the Call of Duty World Championship in 2013. [Source: Gamespot]

Compare

In Black Ops 2 there were four teams that won premier LAN events. In Ghosts, there were eight. This speaks volumes about the differences between the games and their competitiveness as a whole. While Black Ops 2 played host to Hardpoint, Search and Capture the Flag, Ghosts fielded Domination, Search and Blitz.

Hardpoint and CTF allow for more rotational play, spawn manipulation and synergy to effectively pull of these plays is much higher. My issue with Ghosts is that both Domination and Blitz required little to no rotational play. Teams could be punished too hard through losing the initial trades which resulted in one team being spawn trapped. The beauty of Hardpoint is that it gives the better team a chance to reset.

The weaponry was another difference. Black Ops 2 gave players the most diverse weapon choices we’ve seen with multiple assault rifles and sub-machine guns having their uses in particular instances. During the Ghosts era, the leading weapons were either the MTAR-X or Vector as they could be used effectively at any range. This is similar to one of the issues in CS:GO. Launders, is concerned that one of the weapons is lightweight and deadly at all ranges, leading to its abuse in competitive play.

There were eight premier LAN winners in CoD Ghosts. Team EnvyUs netted a win at the Copperbox Arena in London [Source: Redbull]

Contrast

Comparing past games to our current title, Infinite Warfare, we have had three different team winners in four premier events: Rise Nation, eUnited and OpTic Gaming (who have won two). Our current game modes are Hardpoint, Search and Uplink. Hardpoint, making its comeback after Ghosts, was obviously a big bonus with the following titles supporting the game mode well, up until Infinite Warfare, where the maps let the game mode down drastically.

The number of wall runs add a random element to certain gunfights and hill control. Scorch and Breakout spring to mind, some of the hills are in questionable places on these maps. In spite of that, I have to say that generally, the better team wins on Hardpoint, even taking those elements into consideration.

The other game mode, Uplink, is the biggest problem for me. Although it is popular with the fans due to its ability to produce entertaining games, it has become a brute force game type. One team scores points when they kill the entirety of the enemy team with very little tactical play. The passing element is a way that this could be improved. By reducing the movement speed of the drone carrier it would force players to have to pass the drone. It would make the game even more enjoyable to watch and would add tactical depth as teams could develop ways to effectively deliver the drone around the map.

The map pool in Infinite Warfare is lackluster in comparison to previous titles.

Weaponry in Infinite Warfare is also a problem, despite the recent increased usage of the ERAD, initially, players were restricted to either the KBAR or the NV4. The high fire rate and accuracy of the KBAR made it worthless to even attempt to use a sub-machine gun. Furthermore, the majority of maps in the map pool have very few close quarter gun fights, making the assault rifle the weapon of choice.

And when talking about integrity, we must also consider payloads. Active Camo, in particular, has no exploitable weaknesses. If one team can earn two camos in a game they are likely to win it. In this regard, we should just be glad that we don’t have multiple payloads with this type of game-changing ability.

Conclusion

For WWII to be the most competitive game in the Call of Duty series, I would like the game modes to be Hardpoint, Search and Capture the Flag. Until something better is released, these are definitely the best three available. Boots on the ground is also a better platform for these game modes, in that Hardpoint rotations take longer, therefore, making more decisive rotations important.

If there is a chance that some form of Uplink is added to the game due to its popularity, I could see this working in boots on the ground by throwing the drone into the portal, but it is a bit farfetched considering the era the game is set in.

The maps are one of the most crucial aspects since they also affect the effectiveness of the weaponry. Sticking to the three lane formula is a good start. Since Black Ops 2 our best maps have been built on this. For example, Standoff, Raid, Sovereign, Fringe and Detroit, to name a few.

I’m not sure what we could expect if payloads were to be added but I believe the best way to produce useful, competitive payloads is to make each one counter another, therefore meaning they all have value. I am hopeful about the next Call of Duty and maybe it is time for Activision’s redemption with competitive fans.


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The Evil Geniuses – Lost and Found

The most shocking result of the inaugural CWL Global Pro League has to be Evil Geniuses topping their group last weekend. The squad consisting of Jeremy “StuDyy” Astacio, Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler, Jared “Nagafen” Harrell and Colt “Havok” McLendon not only surprised the majority of the community and analysts by qualifying for the playoffs but also in the fashion that they did it. Despite being the last team to secure their spot in the Pro League, alongside starting their weekend with a 0-6 map count, they would turn the tide in their favor with a string or remarkable results.

However, since this Evil Geniuses line up was conceived, the team has finish eighth at best on LAN, leaving newer viewers wondering where this new form came from. Even though these players have only just regained the limelight, Evil Geniuses consists of a few of our most storied Call of Duty professionals. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the history of these players.

Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler

NAMELESS is the captain of this team, and rightly so. The man is a veteran player with his competitive history starting further back than Modern Warfare 3. Known for his aggressive assault rifle play, he has attained a championship in nearly every single iteration of Call of Duty. His most successful year was with Team EnVyUs during Call of Duty: Ghosts, where he had two first place finishes alongside second at the Call of Duty World Championship. Back in Ghosts, on maps such as Freight, he was able to apply pressure across the map using the Remington R5, the strongest assault rifle, so it’s no surprise that when he picked up the KBAR this past weekend the team started to gain more success. The weapon enabled him to play still play outside the hill but also in and around it where he can, as the leader, more easily affect the flow of the game.

NAMELESS built this roster for Evil Geniuses’ return to Call of Duty. [Source: Evil Geniuses]

Experience is a must have for any leader to succeed and it was on show in the Global Pro League. There’s no way a team comes back from such a defeating first day without a leader capable of calming his players’ emotions. It is clear that NAMELESS was a huge determining factor in his team’s comeback the following day.

Jeremy “StuDyy” Astacio

StuDyy first broke out in Call of Duty: Ghosts and quickly became a highly sought after player. This landed him a spot on Team EnVyUs where he would first join forces with NAMELESS. The then star player was a contributing factor in nV’s second place finish at the World Championship, only falling to the demigod compLexity roster. During the same season, he would take his only first place finish at UMG Dallas with a Denial squad packed with youngsters. The man has been gunning for a championship ever since.

Originally being a star player, StuDyy has become an inconsistent player who could reach incredible highs or simply not do enough. However, now that he has Havok on his team, he can take on a more consistent role. This means that he does not feel as if he has to be a playmaker and can play as a second star who will turn up when needed.

One of StuDyy’s all-time peaks was at MLG Anaheim in Black Ops 3 where he almost single headedly took down FaZe Clan in a shock result. It was a true display of skill and I hope that in Infinite Warfare he can give us more moments like these.

Jared “Nagafen” Harrell

A piece of the near Cinderella story at the Call of Duty Championship 2015, Nagafen seems to have been unlucky in love with his lineups since the humongous feat. Team Revenge broke up after being unable to qualify for the MLG Pro League and Nagafen has not been on a stable roster until now. He has had notable placings, but the championships still elude him. The exceptionally strong Search and Destroy player is well aware of his ability to outplay his opponents.

Within the Evil Geniuses team, as long as he performs in the SnD, Nagafen should be able to play a kind of support off-role in the respawns to attain his team the victory. This type of player needs time within a team to find his footing, and maybe that time is now.

Nagafen competing with Prophecy at Gfinity Masters where he placed second. [Source: Gfinity]

Colt “Havok” McLendon

The last puzzle piece is one of Call of Duty’s only premier Twitch streamers. Havok has come under flak before due to showcasing his talents on stream and not being able to translate it onto the stage. However, this is something that takes time and, similarly to Nagafen, is more likely to build up on a stable roster. Havok is a player that can do it all – Search and Destroy, Hardpoint and Uplink – he is so skilled that just his ability to out-aim can carry him through matches.

After winning smaller LANs with iSolation eSports in Advanced Warfare, Havok earned his big shot on Cloud9 in Black Ops 3, only for the team to continuously fight in relegation. Hopefully, by being in Evil Geniuses since the start of Infinite Warfare eventually, he can be a consistent player that can be relied on in big moments.

Havok was ecstatic to make it into the Pro League. Watch Evil Geniuses’ video below about their crucial qualifying match.

Conclusion

This Evil Genius team has always had potential. They have tier one players, it’s just that they were left out of the roster shuffle at the start of the season. It’s quite obvious that the likes of StuDyy and NAMELESS have never played with the style of Nagafen or Havok, and so it has taken them a lengthy amount of time to band together. After such a long time, and due to earning the first seed, it’s likely we’ll see a strong playoff run from this squad. These guys are never far from the top and there might even be a championship for them just around the corner.


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Death of Competition Part II

(Photo: Robert Reiners, Stringer)

(Photo: Robert Reiners, Stringer)

I have been a fan of the NBA for all my life. There is a trend that has been happening over the last five to seven years that is starting to make me sick. That trend is the death of true competition.

Wait…Does this sound familar? It should, because that introduction is word for word how I opened up my first “Death of Competiton” article at the end of March. I was angered at the time because rumors were swirling around about the possibility of LeBron James teaming up with Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. The thought of all these players teaming up was unfathomable to me. It was sickening. I knew that if they teamed up the NBA would be a cakewalk. At the time those were just rumors that had me boiling. Today the NBA changed and the result is competition left gasping for air.

Kevin Durant decided to take a knife and continue to stab the idea of competition- now leaving competition in the NBA in shambles. Kevin Durant decided to become the NBA’s biggest villain. Durant decided to join the Golden State Warriors. This is the most detrimental move a superstar has ever made to their reputation.

Naturally, people are going to try and compare Durant’s decision to LeBron’s decision in 2010 when he left the Cavaliers for the Heat. It is not the same. This is much worse. Although LeBron left his hometown team and by doing it on national television, he didn’t go to the Celtics. I only mention the Celtics because that was the team LeBron struggled to beat. It was the team that had eliminated him in the playoffs. LeBron received so much backlash because he left home when he had promised his city so much. He formed a super team in Miami that was deemed impossible to win against.

It was a move that many people believed was the easy way out. If you need proof about how easy it was here it is. He joined up to form a team that had three players taken in the top five of the 2003 draft. With LeBron, the starting five of the Miami Heat had three all-star players.

This was bad and destroyed LeBron in the eyes of NBA fans. Again, what Kevin Durant did is worse. Kevin Durant was 48 minutes away from reaching his second NBA finals, not once, not twice, but three times. He, along with the rest of the Thunder, blew a 3-1 lead against the Warriors. He had three games in a row to get the job done and failed. Failure is okay. Failure is necessary for growth. We all fail at some point at some capacity.

You don’t join a team who beat you when you were up 3-1 on them. You don’t join them when they went to back to back finals after they eliminated you. You don’t join the team who just won a record 73 games in one season. That is the definition of being weak. But if you can’t beat them you join them right? WRONG.

Michael Jordan struggled mightily against the Pistons over and over. He didn’t join them. He got in the gym and trained harder. He studied harder. He made it his mission to beat the team that kept giving him the pain of losing.

Reggie Miller is a legend who never won a ring. But we can respect him more for playing hard and fighting rather than running and joining the Bulls.

Carmelo gets heat for not having won a ring. The thing is, Carmelo can be respected because he doesn’t go running to loaded teams coming off of a finals loss.

It truly feels that Durant is trying to buy his way into the club. He is trying to buy a championship. He could have gone back to Oklahoma City and fought through the adversity. It is so much sweeter when you work for something rather than have it handed to you. If he wins a championship it will be tainted. Everybody will remember what he did to get it. Nobody will forget his fear of adversity, or competition. Now teams will have to assemble All-Star rosters to try and compete with the Warriors. There may be only two or three teams capable of winning a championship. The league created free agency to give more teams a chance at a championship. It was to create more parity throughout.

That is gone. Teams will play hard and try to compete but won’t have the talent to compete with the Warriors. Teams will beat them on nights they aren’t completely focused because nobody can go 82-0. Competition is dying. It pains me to know that the days of players like Magic, Bird, Jordan and Kobe are gone. Players would rather run and “buy” a championship in this day and age than work through the adversity.

Congratulations Kevin Durant, you made a business decision that will ruin your reputation. It will make fans all over the country curse your name. Never did I think someone could do something worse than LeBron did. Never did I think a player would become as big as a villain as LeBron was. I was wrong. You will become a bigger villain than LeBron. If you don’t win the championship NBA fans all over the world will celebrate like it’s their Independence Day.

The Game Haus Play Of The Week – 4/11/16

The NCAA Championship is the holy grail of college basketball. Athletes of college teams dream of the opportunity to join their team in the final game of the season. After all, it takes more than just a single person to guide their team there and a teams’ rank before the NCAA Tournament means absolutely nothing before that big game. Hence, the true meaning behind March Madness.
As teams start to advance within the tournament and fight for a spot in the final playoff game, it puts immense pressure on these talented athletes. It is here that the true and talented men of the NCAA shine through that edge their team to the next round. Those that get intimidated by such pressure, fall short and have to wait till next year. Nevertheless, it is surely a challenge to stay on top as teams’ communication will be tested and vital to their success.
The Villanova Wildcats are a pure example of that. I don’t have to tell you how close the game between Villanova and North Carolina was. In fact, with just seconds left, North Carolina was tied with Villanova 73-73. Expecting this championship game to go into overtime, Villanova got the ball back. As forward Kris Jenkins gets possession of the ball with the clock winding down, he gets a great look at the basket and shoots. He nails a three point buzzer beater to boost Villanova over North Carolina 77-73.
If you missed Kris Jenkins’ incredible shot, here it is in all of its glory:

If you would like to talk more about this incredible shot, come meet me and others in the forum.To nominate a play of the week, please post your entries on our FacebookTwitter or Instagram pages. Perhaps your selection will get chosen for next week’s “Play of the Week.”

Congrats to Total Sports Live for choosing this week’s play of the week.

Impatient Management Means Failure

30 teams reside in the NBA and 16 make the playoffs every year. The reality, like any sport, is only one team can win a championship.

Winning a championship is never easy. It takes hard work, dedication, talent and luck. A championship team also has great chemistry. The players and coaching staff all have to be in sync or you can’t win a title. It also takes plenty of experience to win. Most teams or players have suffered losses in the playoffs in past years before they get back and actually hold up the trophy when it is all said and done. With that said, front office management needs to be patient.

A championship team isn’t constructed in a day, a week, or even in a year. It takes time and growth and an impatient management is always the path towards failure.

Chicago Bulls

The fans of all teams in the NBA are probably shocked that the Chicago Bulls are 30-30 this year, sit at 10th in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs since 2007-2008, the year before they drafted Derrick Rose. Should the basketball world be shocked about this team’s performance though?

In the off season the Bulls fired Tom Thibodeau after six seasons with the Bulls. In those six seasons Tom Thibodeau went 255-139 in the regular season. He won coach of the year in the 2010-2011 season after tying the record for most wins, 62, ever by a rookie head coach. In his tenure in Chicago he never missed the playoffs, led the Bulls to two number one seeds and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Management decided it was time for a change because Tom Thibodeau was 23-28 in the playoffs. That change has doomed the Bulls to a team who currently is .500 and most likely going to miss the playoffs. There is no telling how good the Bulls could be if they had just stuck it out with Thibodeau, but now it looks like the once powerful contenders are heading for the lottery and a possible rebuild.

New York Knicks

Mike Woodson took over the Knicks coaching job during the 2011-2012 NBA season in which they made the playoffs for the second consecutive year. In his first full season after that he led the Knicks to a 54-28 record and they were the two seed in the Eastern Conference. He lasted just one more season and was fired after missing the playoffs by one game. In his tenure with the Knicks, Mike Woodson went 109-79 in the regular seasons and 7-10 in the postseason.

The Knicks management unrealistically expected championships right away. Derek Fisher then got hired for his first ever coaching job following the firing of Mike Woodson. His first season was horrible as the Knicks went 17-65 and had their worst season in franchise history. This current season was his just the start of his second ever season as a head coach and he led the Knicks to a 23-31 record through 54 games. There were 28 games remaining in the season and the Knicks had six more wins than they did in his first year.

He was showing signs of improvement, but it still wasn’t enough and he was fired. What was the Knicks front office expecting from him in his second year? A playoff appearance? A championship? The Knicks are impatient and it is hurting their chances of growing into a championship contender.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings provide the best example of any of impatience leading to failure. Since 2006 the Kings have had eight different head coaches with only 4 of those coaches lasting more than 100 games. I could list all the names with their records but can any coach be successful with such little time at the helm? There is no chance for the players because of the ever changing staff. Different philosophies and styles coming in on average every two years. The Kings management has no patience and that is why they haven’t made the playoffs since 2005-2006 and might not playoffs for another 15 years.

The Game Haus EST. 2015

Patience is required in sports if you want to build a successful organization. There needs to be stability or a team can’t be good. There are so many more examples that can be listed and it isn’t just in the NBA. I know owners care about making money from their team and nothing brings in money like a championship. That’s why teams like the New England Patriots, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers are some of the most valuable franchises in the world. Impatient management means failure.

When I Met Bjergsen

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

In the summer of 2015, my sister and I traveled to Europe to visit our cousin. We stayed in Paris for a few days knowing we also wanted to explore other places in Europe. Interestingly enough, one night we had a conversation about whether we would wait in a line to get a picture with someone. We unanimously agreed, that no one came to our minds for whom we would wait in a line to ask for their autograph, or to take a picture with them. Later that summer, we decided to go to Los Angeles to visit the NA LCS studio.
I had been a follower of Bjergsen ever since he arrived in NA. I thought he was the best Western player, funny, confident and humble. Since the moment we booked those tickets to Los Angeles, I had my eyes on Bjergsen. I jokingly repeated to my sister if she was ready to meet “Senpai”, obviously referring to Bjergsen.
Weeks of anticipation finally arrived on that Saturday morning. I woke up at 8 AM, which is pretty unusual for me, but with all the excitement, I ran downstairs for breakfast. Unfortunately, the studio did not open until twelve, and those were the three longest hours of my life. My sister finally woke up and I accompanied her for breakfast. I talked all the way through and my excitement was probably felt miles away until we got to the studio at 12:30.
As a Sports fan, I have been to many sports events. I have been to the largest sports stadiums around the world, but visiting the LCS was different. I was in the place where the broadcast of a show that I had watched religiously for a few years took place. To be in a place so special to me was completely surreal.  It was the realization how far I have come along into accepting Esports. It was the convergence of a lot of people I looked up to, with the realization that they are very down to Earth.
At the end of every match the winning team would step outside and take pictures with audience members. We took pictures with all the teams that showed up, but one stood out. As we waited until the line got shorter, the members of TSM looked annoyed by the fact that they had the longest line. When the line got short enough that we did not have to stand under the Sun, I whispered to my sister, “are you ready to meet Senpai?”
There were only two groups of people before it was our turn when we realized that Santorin and Bjergsen did not have their jackets on. At that point, we jokingly proposed each other to ask them if we could put them on for the picture, which we quickly dismissed thinking it was “too much” to ask. As the last group stepped out and it was our turn, I immediately asked them if we could use their jackets, to which Bjergsen replied, “as long as you do not steal them” in his usual sarcastic tone. I tried saying a few other things, but quite honestly, words did not come out of my mouth and I do not remember what else I said. I have never been in love, but I assume that the way that minute played out with Bjergsen is pretty similar. Time stopped, words did not come out of my mouth as I made several attempts, and he seemed like the funniest person on Earth. We put the jackets on, took the picture, and in a moment, they were gone.
Going to the NA LCS taught me a few things. Never think that you have complete control over your body. The best memories we will have are ones that initiated by stepping out of our comfort zone. Finally, League of Legends is the best video-game in the world.