The Rise of Crystal Maiden

The Rise of Crystal Maiden: Why cm has become popular and some tips

After a long history of buffs, Rylai the Crystal Maiden (aka CM) has finally become popular and the nerfs have begun. Having reached ‘peak CM’, it feels like a good time to look back and see just how we got here, why she’s so popular, and what to do to play her like the pros.

Crystal Maiden: The ‘how’

If we had to narrow down the emergence of Crystal Maiden to one thing, it would be the change to root mechanics. Making her effective against 17 heroes with mobility spells that were formerly not prevented by Frostbite took her from situational to first pick material. However, even before then she was already becoming quite strong against the rest of the hero pool with constant buffs, most notably:

6.87 Reduced Crystal Nova cooldown to 12/11/10/9. (was 15 seconds three patches prior).
6.84 Reduced Frostbite cooldown to 9/8/7/6. (was 10 seconds two patches prior).
6.82 Frostbite total damage to 150/200/250/300 (was 70/140/140/210).

For level 4 Crystal Nova and Frostbite, dividing the duration by the cooldown before and after the buffs reveals a greatly improved uptime on Crystal Nova and Frostbite from 30% to 50% each (calculations shown below). Another way to see the cooldown buffs is as a 67% increase in the uptime of Crystal Nova AND a 67% increase in the uptime of Frostbite.

uptime maths

Cooldown changes aside, the 6.82 Frostbite level 1 damage increase from 70 to 150 went a long way towards allowing CM to zone offlane heroes despite her slow ms and weak right click. This is right where the recent nerf hit:

7.06d * Crystal Maiden: Frostbite manacost increased from 115/125/140/150 to 140/145/150/155

Increasing the mana cost of Frostbite at level one from 115 to 140 weakened the hero in an area she probably wasn’t meant to excel in while maintaining her strengths. So far drafts at ‘The Summit 7’ have shown this to be a fair nerf, sometimes being picked in the first or second phase and at other times being ignored. The 25 mana increase can be thought of as 6.6 seconds of clarity regen, 13% of the 190 mana provided for 50 gold. In other words each cast of frostbite costs ~7 extra seconds and ~7 extra gold (a grand total of ~37 seconds and ~37 gold worth of clarity regeneration per cast). However since patch 7.06 changed the shrines to start on cooldown, the 25 mana increase is more than mitigated by the reduced regeneration available to the offlane hero being harassed.

Crystal Maiden: The ‘why’

Aside from these buffs, why has Crystal Maiden become so popular? Perhaps it has something to do with a shift in playstyle— from position 4 to position 5.

Crystal Maiden DPS vs important targets

image courtesy of /u/phoenixfire2001

While it’s fairly common knowledge that it can be advantageous for her to pop into the jungle to get a quick level 2 before helping out in lane, people have been getting carried away and trying to play her as a full-time jungle/roam position 4 for years.

It is easy to end up quite farmed, have one’s judgment clouded by some glorious freezing fields, and then become convinced CM is ill-suited to position 5. Not that she isn’t strong with farm, it’s just that in the late game CM isn’t able to do any damage until BKBs wear off regardless of farm. While as a position 5— CM stands a cut above the rest of the options and makes for a remarkably stable and flexible pick that can be taken early in the draft.

Despite her offensive power, it seems she is too immobile to roam effectively as a position 4 without an ability to gap close. Farming alone in the jungle can leave her vulnerable and she is often too squishy to be one of the primary initiators. Instead, professional players have been drafting tanky position 4 heroes that can go in and get things started with a hard stun like Sand King, Earth Spirit, Tusk, etc.

She was the most popular position 5 hero at the Epicenter LAN, and tied for most popular with AA and Dazzle at The Summit 7 LAN despite the nerf. Here are just some of the reasons why:

  • Decent ability to secure a lane by wearing an enemy down with Frostbite and some clarity potions, even though the level 1 mana cost was increased by 25, as discussed earlier.

    image courtesy of /u/dragon_atf

  • Can get vision on highground with Crystal Nova, allowing for more effective dewarding with sentries. At higher levels of play some of the most common observer ward placements are just outside the radius of a sentry placed on a ward cliff, but easily dewarded by a sentry placed on lowground. When it comes to playing the vision game, not being able to easily check high grounds is like playing with one hand tied behind your back.
  • Well suited to playing reactionary because she can secure the lane, then farm pulls while keeping mana up to react with a TP instead of walking around with 275 base movement speed.
  • CM is never in a situation where she NEEDS to leech lane experience, since she can always fall back to the jungle when she is not needed, when it’s not possible to pull, or when its not possible to help the carry. This flexibility makes her a stable pick, and in a stagnant game she can even farm for a midas and turn into a serious lategame threat.
  • Since CM can always pop into the jungle for some quick gold, she is able to buy all the support items without completely halting item progression or worse having to ask for help with obs/sents (this enables your pos 4 to become a core, especially when you consider that Arcane Aura allows the pos 4 to forgo mana regen items and being able to stay on the map/ save on clarities).
  • She compares favorably to other popular pos 5 options: more damage than Treant, shorter cds than Warlock, more reliable than Rubick, doesn’t require +1 to be a threat like Disruptor, harder to counter than dazzle, etc.

Crystal Maiden: The ‘what’

So now that we know how and why Crystal Maiden became so popular, heres what you need to know to play her like a pro:

  1. Freezing Field’s 30% move speed slow is applied regardless of the ice explosions and can enable your team to chase, which is great in those situations where just a little slow makes it possible for your team to catch up in the nick of time.
  2. Wand is invaluable for mana in team fights where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to cast multiple spells. Out of mana mid-fight? Hp getting dangerously low? Wand is your panic button:
    CM 7.03 Patch Notes

    image courtesy of twitter.com

  3. While leveling Frostbite for the insane 3-second duration 6-second cd at level 4 is great when you don’t need wave clear, consider picking up the 2nd point in Frost Nova first since it increases the slow by 50% of the level 1 values.
  4. Speaking of skill builds, remember not to skill level 2 Freezing Field until you have a mana item! Also remember that even though you aren’t going to be right clicking much in fights, the level 10 +60 damage talent is great for farming and dewarding.
  5. DEFINITELY get urn if you want to end early, it can be the difference between your team having to back after fights or taking objectives. Also, the armor is nice and the buildup is convenient, though it’s fine if someone else on the team wants to get it instead.
  6. If your allies already have invis you’re probably better off with Solar Crest or Eul. Solar Crest is a borderline OP item that gives you the tankability to transition into a Blink BKB build. While Eul is great for precasting in fights, buying time when you get jumped, and even though it costs a decent chunk of mana it increases your mana pool which is more than can be said of Glimmer.
  7. When you’re not sure what to get, you can’t go wrong with Force Staff / Blink Dagger though there is probably a slightly better choice that depends on the game at hand.
  8. Freezing field does slightly more damage at the very center and is roughly constant up to a radius of 485, falling off after that. (see image, note this is before magic resistance, top line is old aghs)
    Freezing Field average DPS graph

    image courtesy of /u/currentscurrents

     

  9. If you are a pulling support you can get an extra 66-70 exp by landing the deny last hit on your pulled creep wave, if you’re lazy just make sure you deny the ranged for 30 easy experience.
  10. For some extra coin, stack ancients to spawn the easily killed prowler camps and small dragons, then stand around a corner about 500 range from the camp and cast Freezing Field.
  11. For an ideal start buy tango, 1 obs, 1 sentry, courier, 3 clarities, and a tp scroll — then use the tp to get a quick lane ward down so you can see where they place their obs for an easy deward. After that try to have your carry push every other wave so you can pull the hard camp at 0:53 as much as possible, all the while chugging clarities and spamming Frostbite on the offlaner. Eventually he runs out of regen and goes away, leaving you with a huge hard camp stack to farm.
  12. Watch out for an opposing support with gap close ability jumping when you come up to harass with Frostbite (think Earth Spirit/ Treant/ Bounty/ Riki/ Monkey King).
  13. Consider picking a different hero or jungling against offlane heroes with high base region like Nyx/ Nightstalker/ Batrider who can go even without help.

That about wraps it up peeps, drop your CM tips in the comments below!


Featured image courtesy of entroz.deviantart.com

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image courtesy of dota2.com

DotA Update 7.06: 11 Changes You Didn’t Notice

DotA’s 7.06 update saw some changes everyone noticed like the jungle respawning every minute, Sven’s improved god strength, Windranger’s lvl 20 invisibility, Magnus’ upgraded shockwave, and Furion’s lvl 25 no cooldown teleportation…

In light of the Manilla Masters and the pair of minor tweak patches that followed, here are a few changes from the original that you may have missed!

 

 1. DAGON COUNTERPLAY VS SPECTRE & MORPH

dagon counterplay 7.06

Dagon active now 1-shots haunt/replicate illusions

Haunt can be a big problem… the illusion does significant damage, cancels your blink, and gives Spectre the option to get right on top of your hero. Now you can solve that problem for less than 3000 gold by quickly zapping the illusion.

Morphling’s replicate illusion is hard to kill because unlike other illusions it takes 100% damage. With a Dagon handy there’s no need to split up and follow Morphling & his replicate when he uses it while being ganked. If he already has a replicate back in a safe location, the Dagon could also be used to pop his Linken’s Sphere instead. On top of that it can be useful when he makes an illusion of one of your allies with a strong aura, like Shadow Fiend’s presence of the dark lord.

 

2. OFFLANE ENIGMA IS EVEN MORE OP

Now that denies give 30% exp, Enigma can get +27 exp for each range creep he denies with conversion.

Keep an eye out for Enigma to become even more popular as a result of this change, and all the extra jungle farm on the map. Even without a shrine available for the first five minutes, offlane Enigma is still hard to punish and insanely strong when opponents lack a BKB-piercing disable.

 

3. NEW URN ‘RECIPE’ GIVES SUPPORTS OPTION TO BUILD CHEAP ARMOR

cheap armor dota 7.06

image courtesy of aliexpress.com

Costs: raindrop (225)+ circlet (165)+ ring of protection (175)+ recipe (310) = 875 gold total
Gives: +2 all stats +2 armor +1.0 mana regen

Since Tranquil Boots no longer give any, supports will still be walking around with < 3 armor well into the mid-game, unless they delay core items for a Buckler/Medallion. A couple armor from Urn is a welcome option, especially now that it is effectively 225 cheaper since everyone buys Infused Raindrop anyways (just be sure to put it in your backpack when it’s down to 1 charge).

 

4. DEATH PROPHET LATEGAME BUFFED

Refresh now replenishes charge-based abilities.

As it stands Death Prophet is the only hero with a charge based ability for which refresher was already a common purchase. Spirit siphon heals DP up to 33% of an enemy heroes max hp while also dealing the same amount in damage (before reductions), with a 45 second charge replenish time. Now when DP uses refresher she gets up to four additional charges on top of refreshing the rest of her kit: exorcism, Eul’s, BKB, Shivas, Ghost, etc. That is the equivalent of what would have been three minutes of siphon recharge time!

death prophet dota 7.06

images courtesy of dota2.gamepedia.com

 

5. COMBO GHOST SHIP WITH LOWER LEVELS OF X MARKS THE SPOT

Ghost ship now spawns the appropriate distance behind Kunkka to travel the full 2000 units to the targeted location.

Nerfs to torrent’s damage and cooldown that made it less of a value point contributed to Kunkka being forgotten, but having to max torrent is less painful now that you can combo with lower levels of x mark.

 

6. NIGHTSTALKER GANKS FROM UNEXPECTED ANGLES

nightstalker dota 7.06

Everyone probably read “Hunter in the Night can now be activated during the night to grant 1200 vision and flying movement for 2 seconds” and immediately thought of the potential for dewarding, vision in teamfights, and escaping over terrain…

BUT this also means Nightstalker can wrap around over impassable terrain instead of giving the gank target and their allies time to respond while he is running in.

 

7. TIDEHUNTER BACKSTROKES INTO THE META

tidehunter dota 7.06

Gush manacost rescaled from 120 to 90/100/110/120.

Aside from this making support Tidehunter less terrible. This change means that if supports rotate to your lane before you have Arcane Boots you’re more likely able to use gush, since it only costs 90 mana at level one. Having this four second 40% slow more available in the early game gives allied supports more options, and thus makes them less predictable and more successful in their rotations. Furthermore, Aghanim’s upgraded gush now gives vision on units it hits, which is completely game changing for getting vision for contesting Roshan.

8. ZEUS 0.7 SEC STUN DURATION ON BOLT MEANS NIMBUS IS NUTS

Replaced Respawn Talent: +0.5s Lightning Bolt Ministun (Level 20)

Nimbus does not cast a bolt every six seconds like Zeus does, but rather every 2.25 seconds. With a 0.7 second stun, that means a lone opponent would be stunned 30% of the time.

With an Octarine it is every 1.7 seconds, which is 42% uptime.

With an Octarine AND Refresher, if the casts are properly staggered, a single enemy in two nimbus clouds would be stunned for 84% of the time —  and this is disregarding the bolts from your hero!

 

9. WHEN A LVL 20 WARLOCK DIES IT DOESN’T JUST SPAWN A GOLEM…

Replaced Respawn Talent: Summons a Golem on death (Level 20)

The patch notes are a bit unclear in this regard so some confusion is to be expected. Effectively the talent casts ‘chaotic offering’ at Warlock’s death location, but does not benefit from Aghanim’s Scepter. If you’re within the 600 radius watch out, you only have HALF A SECOND to get out of the radius or you will be stunned.

 

10. FORMER VLADS + DESO HEROES CAN GO MORBID/ MADNESS/ SATANIC INSTEAD

deso lifesteal dota 7.06

images courtesy of dota2.gamepedia.com

Desolator is no longer a Unique Attack Modifier.

This will almost certainly change ‘the build’ on Phantom Assassin, allowing for the Vladmir’s Offering upgrade to be skipped in favor of a deso 1175 gold earlier. Leaving a a casual Morbid Mask to be upgraded into Satanic later in the game. This works out to a huge buff when you also consider that both Vlad’s and Deso would have previously been replaced in the lategame to transition into an ideal 6-slot with Satanic. Now that Desolator is no longer a Unique Attack Modifier, you’re saving gold in the early game AND in the lategame.

 

11. MORE DIFFICULT FOR OFFLANERS TO PEEL CREEPS ALL THE WAY TO THEIR TOWER

Creep aggro duration reduced from 2.5 to 2.3
Creep aggro cooldown increased from 2.5 to 3.0

Although peeling creeps back to the tower eventually pushes your lane, in the short term it can be a great way to get some exp in an otherwise tough situation. Now that there is a 0.7 second downtime after creep aggro expires before it can be reacquired, pulling these shenanigans puts you at greater risk.

 

That about wraps it up peeps, let us know which are your favorite changes of Dota 7.06 in the comments!

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

What we learned from The Kiev Major

The 16 best teams in the world fought it out over a week to take home the Mystic Staff from what will be widely considered the best major so far. With The Kiev Major in the books, it’s time to look at what we learned from the event.

The Kiev Major Final Placings

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $1,000,000  33.33% OG OG
2nd $500,000  16.67% Virtus.pro/Virtus.pro Virtus.pro
3rd-4th $250,000  8.33% Invictus Gaming/Invictus Gaming Invictus Gaming
Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses
5th-8th $125,000  4.17% Team Liquid Team Liquid
Team Faceless Team Faceless
Vici Gaming/Team VGJ Team VGJ
SG e-sports SG e-sports
9th-16th $62,500  2.08% Mousesports mousesports
Newbee/Newbee Newbee
Digital Chaos Digital Chaos
Invictus Gaming/iG Vitality iG Vitality
TNC Pro Team TNC Pro Team
Team Random Team Random
Thunderbirds Thunderbirds
Team Secret Team Secret

Table courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017

OG prove once again they are the best in the world

Heading into Kiev, OG looked shaky. They were stomped by IG at DAC and had not won an event since The Boston Major. They were still a top four team, but many questioned whether they could take the Kiev crown. This fear was confirmed when they dropped their first game of group stages against underdogs SG esports.

Groups were worth forgetting for OG. Yes, they finished with a 3-1 record, but they did not look confident and also suffered again at the hands of IG.

OG The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/saadsarwar

Bracket play also started shakily as they eeked out 2-1 victories over Team Randon and Team Faceless. OG did, however, come into their own on the final day. They took a close 2-0 against EG, with both games going over 50 minutes. The grand finals proved to be one of the best series in recent Dota history. OG showed determination to come back from 2-1 down to take the series 3-2.

OG showed once again that you can have the biggest names in the scene, but if you cannot get them to work as a unit they will never win. EG finished top four at another major but couldn’t overcome the teamwork of OG. The star-studded Liquid roster failed again at a major event, raising more questions for the roster. The one consistency in the scene is OG. They have finished in the top four in the last nine events they have competed in. Of those nine, they have finished first in four of them and second in four. The consistency OG has shown has not been seen since Ehome during the Dota 1 era.

However, the only Valve trophy to add to the trophy cabinet is the Aegis of Champions, which OG will be looking to capture at The International 2017.

Let’s talk about Liquid

 

Team Liquid The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of reddit.com

Let’s rewind back to the end of February. Liquid had just won StarLadder and everything looked on the up for the roster. Many people, myself included, had Liquid ranked as one of the top five teams in the world. However, after a joint last place finish at DAC and a top eight finish at The Kiev Major, things look rough for the roster heading into The International.

During group stages, the team seemed to be falling apart. With constant role swaps between Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi and Maroun “GH” Merhej, things look rough for the squad. They could only secure victories against SG esports and Team Faceless, two of the weaker teams in the tournament. The two games that Liquid lost during groups were against Thunderbirds and DC, both teams Liquid should be defeating.

When the heat was on, Liquid evaporated out of the tournament and severely damaged their chances of receiving a direct invite to The International. Liquid need to take the time from Kiev to July to fix the obvious issues on the roster. Liquid is a team known for persevering with a roster, so a change seems unlikely. Fans will have faith that Liquid can sort the issues out and bounce back at the next event.

Brazillian DOTO best doto

SG esports at The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of br.ign.com

Heading into Kiev, I was unsure about what SG was going to provide to the event. I can happily say that I may have underestimated them a bit. They showed during the main event that they can hang with the best of them. In fact, they did hang with the best coming out of groups, Team Secret. Heading into the series, the majority of fans were predicting an easy victory for Team Secret. Instead, SG showed an amazing heart and managed to defeat Secret and take on EG for a spot in the top four.

The series against EG was one of the best, if not the best, series of the whole event. All of the games in the series went over 50 minutes and were back and forth battles. Even in defeat, SG fought to the last moments and was within inches of placing top four at the event.

The next couple of months will be important for SG as they need to build on the momentum gained from Kiev. In the same way that TNC did at TI6 and Ad Finem did at The Boston Major, SG captured the hearts and minds of fans and the community will be hoping that SG shows up to some more events.

Virtus pro put it all together-ish

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Different major, same story. Virtus Pro came into Kiev as a favourite for the event, in the same way as they were heading into Boston. Boston didn’t exactly work out, however, on their home turf, something was different. VP stormed through the swiss format winning all three of their games only dropping one game. VP played a high tempo game with the team fight and skill that they are famed for.

Bracket play was very similar to groups as VP amassed a 6-1 record on their way to the finals. Along the way, VP even took down DAC winners and favourites IG in a 2-0 sweep. The finals against OG was one of the best series in major history as they would eventually fall 3-2 to OG. VP came within inches of lifting the trophy and finally winning an elusive major title. VP showed that they are the real deal and the favourite tag they often receive was warranted.

With this strong performance at Kiev, VP will have likely secured an invite to The International where they can compete for The Aegis of Champions.

The Kiev Major Final Thoughts

This event was arguably the best major that has taken place so far. From the panel to the production, everything was top notch. The event had some of the best content of any so far, including this amazing gem.

Team Slacks Kiev Major

This is why Slacks shouldn’t be allowed near the production equipment.

The games were some of the closest in recent history, with 10 of the 15 main event matches going to three or more games. In terms of series to check out, the EG v SG quarter-final was absolutely amazing. All three games were back and forth with some amazing plays including a five-man dream coil. The Kiev Major has set the bar so high and fans should be excited for the next future of Dota 2 esports.


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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

Mascots in the LCS

As the world of esports grows, analysts, fans, and sponsors will be looking towards examples from traditional sports for inspiration. They will draw comparisons between the two to figure out where exactly esports are heading. Franchising in the LCS, for example, is one such move towards traditional sports, away from the relegation model League of Legends has become accustomed to.

A somewhat less important, yet interesting topic, is that of mascots. Do teams need mascots? Do mascots belong in the LCS? Will this be part of the scene in the near future? What would their purpose be?

Mascots in Traditional Sports

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Mascots are generally symbolic representations of the teams they tout. From the Phillie Phanatic to Benny the Bull to Big Red, most sports teams have a mascot. These mascots are a physical representation of the team’s name or logo. They are responsible for hyping up the crowd throughout a competition, during slow times, scores, or wins.

It is commonplace for baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and hockey teams to have mascots. They are out in the crowd. Part of the live audience experience usually includes getting a hug from or pictures with the team mascot. They sign autographs, and they provide immense brand recognition.

Merchandising around mascots is prominent. Slapping the mascot’s picture or logo onto items makes them collectibles. For example, many NBA fans can recognize Boston Celtics merchandise if it features “Boston” in green letters, shamrocks, Lucky the Leprechaun, or some combination of the three.

Mascots in LCS

The closest example of a mascot in the LCS is Unicorns of Love’s manager, Romain Bigeard. He generally wears a unicorn costume and dyes his hair and beard bright pink to support the team as they compete. Romain is an iconic member of the Unicorns’ team and brand, instantly recognizable.

Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

courtesy of Riot esports

There are plenty of opportunities for other teams to create mascots. Between North America and Europe, there are Phoenixes (Phoenix1), Immortals, Foxes, Aliens (Dignitas), Horses (Team Liquid), Ninjas (G2), Rabbits, Cats (Roccat), Giants, and Snakes (Splyce). The other teams’ mascots would be less straightforward, but something like “TSM Titans,” or “Fnatic Falcons” could be a cool way to expand their brand. The mascot can also be incorporated into creating new logos, jerseys, champion skins, and collectible merchandise.

Mascots could also help solidify a team’s fanbase. Many LCS fans get attached to players, rather than the organizations they play for. And since so many players switch teams in between splits and in between seasons, organizations have a hard time keeping a consistent base. For example, Immortals probably gained some fans when they signed their most recent jungler, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, and probably lost some fans when Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin left. Introducing a mascot onto the scene may be a small way to retain a fanbase by providing a consistent symbol to rally behind, rather than just a simple logo.

What Could Go Wrong?

Individuals who do not closely follow specific sports or teams may find mascots to be cheesy. It may seem immature to grow an attachment to some guy in a costume who peps people up at sporting events, like a Disney World character. Does esports really want to go there?

G2 esports fan with ninja logo mask

courtesy of Riot esports

Another consideration is the fact that League of Legends is a game packed with fantasy characters anyway. Would it make sense to introduce a G2 Samurai mascot onto the scene when similar characters already exist in the game? This could create some awkwardness or show that it is unnecessary for the LCS scene.

Cosplay, where fans dress in elaborate costumes of their favorite characters, is already a huge part of the competitive League of Legends experience. Bringing in mascots could be confusing or over-doing it. Cosplayers already act as League of Legends mascots, in a way.

cosplayers at EU LCS

courtesy of Riot esports

These mascots could also need to span over several esports. For example, Cloud9 has teams in League of Legends, Counter Strike, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Call of Duty, DOTA 2, and a few others. How can they create a mascot that makes sense in all of those venues? What if the organization has competitions for different games at the same time? Traditional sports do not run into this issue. Los Angeles is home to several sports teams, but they all have different mascots.

Conclusion

Mascots may not help a team win, and introducing them to the LCS scene may present some complications. But, overall, it could be an interesting experiment. Romain and the Unicorns of Love have proven that it can be done. Other LCS teams have straightforward opportunities to bring on their respective hype men.

A mascot could greatly help organizations solidify their brands by opening up new merchandising opportunities and retaining fans that may otherwise leave the team with a traded or lost player. Possibly the greatest gain from a mascot, though, is pure fun. Imagine the broadcast cutting to a video of a fox mascot hyping up the Echo Fox fans after Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham secures a First Blood. That could be pretty cool.


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Kiev Major Group Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage Preview

The first Major of the 2017 season is upon us and it looks as though it will be amazing. The Kiev Major will take place from April 24th – April 30th. The event will be split into Group Stages followed by a single-elimination main event bracket. Let’s take a look at the Kiev Major Group Stage.

The Kiev Major Prize Pool

The prize pool of the tournament is $3,000,000 USD.

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $1,000,000  33.33% TBD
2nd $500,000  16.67% TBD
3rd-4th $250,000  8.33% TBD
TBD
place 5 to 16
5th-8th $125,000  4.17% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
9th-16th $62,500  2.08% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017

Kiev Major Group Stage Format

For the first time at a Dota 2 event, Kiev will use the Swiss-system format. A format commonly seen at CS:GO events, it will be interesting to see if it creates better seeding heading into the main event.

  • 16 teams are placed in a single group where they play in a Swiss-system format.
    • Four rounds of matches.
    • All matches are played in a Bo3.
    • Opponents will always have the same Win/Loss record.
    • Teams will never play an opponent twice.
  • Round 1
    • Initial eight matches are seeded.
  • Round 2
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Winners of Round 1 (“high”)
      • Losers of Round 1 (“low”)
    • Teams will be drawn an opponent from their group.
  • Round 3
    • Divided into three groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-0 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-1 (“mid”)
      • Lastly, teams with a record of 0-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not played yet from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the lowest seed for the playoffs.
  • Round 4
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-1 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not yet played from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the 2nd highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the 2nd lowest seed for the playoffs.

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017/Group_Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage – Round 1 Thoughts and Predictions

The Kiev Major Group Stage Round 1 Matches

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/wykrhm

Team Secret v VG.J

In the first game of the first round, Team Secret will face off against VG.J. Both of these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack somewhere. VG.J on paper are the stronger squad. However, outside of the second place at StarLadder, they have yet to live up to the hype.

Both Team Secret and VG.J have a point to prove at Kiev, this will be one of the closest series of the group stages. When the dust settles, I think Team Secret will take the series 2-1. Mainly because VG.J have been inconsistent in recent times. This is also Team Secret’s return to the Major’s after missing out on a place in Boston. Team Secret will be the sharper team heading into round one and should take a close series.

Team Secret Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Invictus Gaming (IG) v Mousesports

No series on the road to a Major trophy is easy. However, Mousesports will be feeling unlucky with their round one match-up. Going up against one of the favorites and DAC winner, IG will be a huge challenge for the Greeks. This series will be the first that the former Ad Finem roster has played since the second place finish at the Boston Major. Since then they have changed orgs, failed to attend a single LAN and we have had a series of game changing patches. On the other hand, IG comes into this event in the form of a lifetime. A strong showing at DAC, which would eventually see them take home the crown, has catapulted them into a spot as favorites. IG and Mousesports are at opposite ends of the spectrum and IG should sweep the Greeks 2-0.

IG Kiev Major Group Stages

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Team Random v IG.Vitality

In the only all domestic match-up, Team Random will take on IG.V. This series looks to be another close match-up with both teams experiencing mixed form. Team Random, formerly Team Wings, are searching to recover the form they had leading up to TI6. IG.V are looking to establish themselves as a top team. Team Random have the stronger set of players but seem to out mind game themselves in most games. Team Random showed flashes of genius during DAC, but normally it was too little too late. IG.V, on the other hand, showed promise during DAC finishing in fourth place. At DAC IG.V started slowly and for this reason I am backing Team Random to take the series 2-1.

Team Randon Team Wings Kiev Major Group Stages

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

OG v SG esports

Favorites for the event OG take on newcomers SG in their first group stage game. For SG this series will be the hardest best of three they have most likely ever played. The current OG team are the most consistent team heading into the event. Since November, the lowest placing they have had is 3rd – 4th. Not bad for a team that everyone always rules out. SG will have to pull out a miracle to take the series from OG, think TNC at TI6. OG will come into the series full of confidence and will take it 2-0.

OG Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Liquid v Thunderbirds

This series is my one to watch heading into the first round. Two teams who have championship pedigree but are currently having some issues. Liquid are more up and down than a yo-yo. They place first at StarLadder and then finish 9th – 12th at DAC. Liquid are another team that on paper should be challenging for every title. However, for whatever reason, they are struggling to convert talent into ability in-game. Thunderbirds, formerly DC, have struggled since winning ESL One Genting in January. The team has been struggling in-game and out of it. With the team now leaving DC, it is possible that they will make a return to winning ways. Similarly to Secret v VG.J, both these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack. This is a difficult series to call, but I have Liquid edging it 2-1.

Liquid Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Faceless v Virtus Pro (VP)

Kiev will be the first LAN that VP have attended since January. Starting off with a series against Faceless will be a tough test for VP. Faceless come into the event the same as always, dominant in SEA, disappointing internationally. VP come into Kiev with strong domestic form in the last few months. This is series will set the tone for both teams heading further into the event. Will VP choke again, will it be same old Faceless? Faceless are on the cusp of a strong performance. However, VP are the team in form at the moment and I have them taking the series 2-1.

VP Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Digital Chaos (DC) v Newbee

In their first series as DC, the former Team Onyx squad will face off against Newbee. Newbee are one of the more consistent teams heading into the event with a first, second and third place finish in the three events they have attended in 2017. On the other hand, this will be DC’s first LAN event as a team. The nerves will be high for the new squad, especially with the controversy surrounding their move to the DC banner. Newbee are looking to go into the later rounds of the tournament and a strong performance in round one will set the tone. I have Newbee taking the series 2-0

Newbee Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Evil Geniuses (EG) v TNC Pro Team

EG v TNC on paper should be a relatively easy matchup for the North American powerhouse. However, if one thing is certain in Dota it’s that EG always start slow. EG come into the event with questions hanging over the roster. The performance at DAC raised more questions on whether the roster is strong enough to be consistently at the top. On paper EG has one of the strongest rosters in the world, they just can’t seem to click consistently.

TNC come into Kiev in the same spot they always are, underdogs. TNC have had an up and down 2017, which has included winning WESG. Furthermore, TNC have been hit and miss domestically, which is concerning considering the lack of tier one times in SEA. I have EG taking the series but it will be a close 2-1.

EG Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Kiev Major Group Stage – Final Thoughts

Every event since Boston has been building up to the Kiev Major. The first Major of 2017 will be hotly contested with at least five teams strong favorites to take the event. Near the top should be the likes of OG, IG, VP and EG. Teams like Secret, Liquid and Thunderbirds have questions to answer moving into the build up to TI7. At the other end, SG esports are looking to capture the hearts of fans as TNC and Ad Finem have done before them.

The new group stage format will provide more consistent seeding heading into the single-elimination main event. Teams that start slow will have the chance to repair things and get a decent seed for bracket play.

For more in-depth coverage of each region check out my Regional Roulette series:

South East Asia

The Americas

Europe and CIS

China

What are your thoughts on the round one matchups? Let me know in the comments below.

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A step in the right direction: Esports to be a medal event at 2022 Asian Games

Esports at 2022 Asian Games

Image courtesy of gamenationsa.com

In a recent announcement, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) have began a partnership with Alisports, the sports arm of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba. The partnership will see esports be featured as a demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, before becoming an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games. The Asian Games is the world’s second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics. This represents a major development in the expansion of esports and may eventually see esports featured at the Olympics.

In a statement OCA president Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah said “The OCA has always been committed to the inheritance, development, and improvement of Asian sports,” He went on to say “We look forward to the forward-thinking concepts of sports by Alisports, who will be helping us with their strength and experience in esports.”

The 2018 and 2022 Asian Games will be the testing ground for esports inclusion in major sporting events. Further to this, esports will also be introduced at this year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG). Several games will be featured including, Fifa 17.

The future is here, the future is esports?

Audi partners with esports team Astralis

Image courtesy of wwg.com

This announcement is the latest in a long line of advancements for esports in the wider world of sports. With games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive(CS:GO), League of Legends and Dota 2 attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers, it is no surprise that major companies are starting to invest in esports. Recently it was announced that German car manufacturer Audi will be sponsoring high flying CS:GO team Astralis. This was a big step for the CS:GO scene and has furthered back the opinion that it is time for esports to be considered on a similar level to traditional sports. In recent months, there has also been an uptake of professional sports teams picking up various different esports teams. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired long standing Team Dignitas. Whilst Dignitas continue to operate under Dignitas branding, it still evidences a major shift in the opinion of esports.

In a major move for the validity of esports, the University of Utah have also announced that it will begin awarding scholarships to players who make the school’s varsity esports team. It is said that this will be the first scholarship program for competitive gaming for a school in one of the NCAA’s five major conferences. AJ Dimick, the school’s director of operations of esports, told the Associated Press “Esports is growing exponentially in the world and it is, too, on the college scene.” He went on to say “Part of our motivation for doing this is we wanted to help other Power 5 schools and other bigger schools, kind of, see themselves doing it. We hope that us jumping over and getting into this will encourage some of those schools to follow suit. And we think they will.”

The Next steps

As esports becomes more and more excepted by mainstream sports, it may be time to refer to each competitive game in its own merit. Whilst it makes sense when explaining it to people and when grouping together the genre. Things may become difficult as more and more esports appear in general sporting events. For example, back in 2014 Call of Duty(COD) made its first appearance at the X Games. Whilst this was important for the esports genre, it was also important for Call of Duty as a whole. It may be that esports because a category of sports event, in the same way you can have track and field events.

Optic Gaming Esports organisation

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Esports has a long way to go to catch-up with traditional sports, not only externally but also internally. Let’s take a look at fan bases. In terms of traditional sports people generally align themselves with a local team which they will then follow. Often in the esports scene, fans will support a player rather than a team. This is something that needs to be changed as esports grows. One good example of this would be Optic Gaming, who have created a team that people have allegiances to.

Esports is still developing and it take time until it reaches the same level of validity as general sports. One thing that can be guaranteed is that esports is coming and mainstream media will need to be ready for it.

 

 

 

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7.03 Patch Notes Analysis - The Bladeform Legacy Update

7.03 Patch Notes Analysis – The Bladeform Legacy

Following the recent Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers, Valve has released the 7.03 patch. The Blade Form Legacy patch includes the much awaited Juggernaut Arcana, which we will get to later. Similar to 7.01 and 7.02, 7.03 is a minor balancing patch, so don’t expect anything dramatic in the patch notes. The majority of heroes have received minor tweaks, with only a small amount of heroes missing out. Let’s take a look at some of the larger changes and how they may affect the current meta.

7.03 Patch Notes – Major Changes

Rat Dota, Best Dota

Rat Dota Patch Notes

Image courtesy of twitter.com

If 7.00 was the resurgence of five-man Dota, 7.03 may well be the death of it. The new changes to tower armor seem geared towards solo pushing towers.

  • All towers base armor reduced by 4
  • Towers now gain 2 armor per nearby enemy player within a 1200 AoE

Whilst towers have lost four base armor, this will immediately be regained if you have at least two heroes pushing together. With this in mind, a five man push strat would grant each tower 10 additional armor.

The changes to tower armor are a direct buff to strong split-push heroes such as Lycan, Nature’s Prophet, and Broodmother. Will we see a resurgence in rat Dota? Will this be the return of Admiral Bulldog? Is Alliance ever going to be good again? These are all questions that will be answered in the coming weeks.

Please Use Scan.

Since introducing the scan feature into the game, it has remained widely underused. Icefrog has made it clear in this patch that he would really like people to use the feature.

  • Scan cooldown reduced from 270 seconds to 210

Taking a full minute off the scan cooldown will probably have little effect on its usage, considering many players are still unsure of how it works. This change will likely affect the pro-scene as teams can be more liberal in their scan usage.

The King Has Arrived

It has happened, Monkey King has been added to Captains mode. Don’t panic, however, as his addition to Captains Mode comes with a few nerfs.

  • Jingu Mastery buff now has a max duration of 35 seconds
  • Tree Dance night vision reduced from 800 to 400
  • Wukong’s Command duration rescaled from 13/14/15 to 13

The change to Jingu mastery is a welcomed one. Whilst it is still a very strong passive, you no longer have to worry about being one hit killed by a Monkey King hidden in fog. In addition, the change to Tree Dance makes chasing and scouting using the spell a bit worse.

The change to Wukong’s Command is minimal, although the reduced duration may be the difference between a kill and an enemy escaping on 1% HP. Expect to see lots of Monkey picks/bans in the upcoming DAC and Major tournaments.

Video courtesy of youtube.com/noobfromua

So I heard you Liked Support?

CM 7.03 Patch Notes

Courtesy of twitter.com

Playing Support is an art that only the most patient among us can master. Icefrog has decided that he wants to make Supports poorer than ever before.

  • XP required to go from level 1 to level 6 increased by 15, 300 total.
  • AoE hero kill Gold and XP bounties reduced by 10% (including comeback gold and XP)
  • Tier 1 Team Bounty reduced from 160 to 120
  • Passive gold income reduced by 10%

In the last few patches, Icefrog has added functionality to make the games easier for new / lower-skilled players. The changes to passive gold income and AoE hero kill gold and XP will have a severe impact on lower-skilled players. These changes will require Supports to maximize their time more efficiently and focus on stacking and pulling slightly more than rotating.

The changes to comeback gold and XP are welcomed, as in recent patches it seemed as if it was better to be behind in the early game. Whilst 10% is not a huge amount, expect to see a reduction in the number of large comeback victories.

Drums or Helm?

Helm of the Dominator 7.03 Patch Notes

Image courtesy of reddit.com

Drums of endurance 7.03 Patch Notes Analysis

Image courtesy of reddit.com

In 7.00, Helm received a rework, and it suddenly became the best item in the game. Helm became the go-to item for both Cores and Supports, due to its low cost, excellent stats, and making any hero into a better version of Chen. Valve has been redressing this imbalance since the rework.

  • Reduced All Stats modifier from +4 to +2
  • Recipe cost increased from 725 to 800

Whilst the item is still good, at a cost of roughly 2000 gold, it may see considerably fewer purchases than before.

On the other side of the coin is Drums of Endurance, which has received a much-needed buff. The item was nerfed in 7.00, and as a result was very rarely picked up. However, a reduced recipe cost may have made the item viable once again.

  • Recipe cost reduced from 700 to 575

At roughly 1700 gold, Drums is now a much more affordable item for supports or heroes looking to fight early. Players may now be wise to choose Drums over Helm in some cases.

7.03 Patch Notes – Quality of Life

Valve Pleases Everyone?

Patch Notes include new Jugg Arcana

Image courtesy of reddit.com/rdota2

When it was announced that Valve had realized a new patch, many people were surprised that the Juggernaut Arcana was finally released. However, once the dust had settled, many fans took to Reddit to highlight their displeasure with the new Arcana.

Whilst the Arcana has literally no effect on Jugg as a hero, many see it as a status symbol. The set looks like they combined Jugg and Io together in an attempt to please the community. Is it the nicest Arcana? No. Will it make Valve a lot of money? Yes. It’s as simple as that.

The only positive to the Arcana being realized is that they didn’t buff Juggernaut to make sure he is picked more. Reading through the patch notes, the only serious change received for Juggernaut is that his Healing Totem now grants 75 Gold and XP if it is destroyed.

Another New Model

In the 7.00 patch, Valve updated some of the older hero models. One hero that missed out was Jakiro. As fans read through the patch notes, they will be greeted by the changes to Jakiro’s base model that are well overdue.

For a full breakdown check out PurgeGamers full patch notes analysis here

What was the biggest change, and how have your favorite heroes been affected? Let us know in the comments below.

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Desk Host

How Important Is It to Have a Good Desk Host?

With ESL One Genting 2017 in the books, fans had a chance to see Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner return as Desk Host, following his absence from the Boston Major. Seeing ReDeYe back on the panel made many fans happy, including myself. ReDeYe seems to bring the quick wit, humor, and flame that he is well known for, whilst also displaying good game knowledge and being able to add to the discussions when required.

Image courtesy of r/dota2

The Desk Host Equation

Watching the panel at ESL One really reminded me of how important it is to have a good desk host, and how difficult it must be to balance the different members of the panel. However, I have never been a host, so I could not possibly hope to answer these questions. Instead, I decided the best person to ask would be the master himself, ReDeYe. Here are his responses:

How important is it to have good game knowledge when hosting a panel?

It’s important to understand the game and its mechanics, enough to be able to answer suitable questions which promote discussion, but it’s actually more important to understand the players, teams and history alongside. You don’t need the depth of an analyst or a commentator and in some cases it actually hurts a desk host because they want to put their opinions into the mix too (something a good host shouldn’t really be doing, but instead promoting the stars on the panel to shine).

How difficult is it controlling the panel?

Depending on the personalities involved. Some want to speak more than others and some have stronger opinions to air. The idea host balances this and ensures reasonable distribution of time for everyone to shine, but always balances what’s going on in their ear from the producer who generally drives the show format and will often be talking to the host on a regular basis asking them to move on from a subject for example. It takes skill, tact and understanding when it’s right to cut across someone in order to move the show forward, it’s not always a perfect science.

How much time do you spend preparing for each event that you are attending?

It varies drastically on a number of variables. For a game I don’t know very well, it could take weeks of playing, viewing vods or demos and learning the community. But for a game I am comfortable with, it generally takes about 20 to 50 hours of prep, watching vods and understanding meta changes, team movements, recent picks and bans or strategy changes. But then when we have a run of events in a row, it actually takes very little prep as you are so deeply embedded in the game you already know most of this. For an event like TI, you are basically preparing all year through your events attended, watched, and keeping up to date with the memes 😉

Image courtesy of ESL Dota 2

What has been your favorite Dota event that you have hosted?

TI6 for sure. We managed to pull off something special in the biggest event of all time, puppets, fun, serious, great mix of talent, amazing games, movement of the desk around the venue and outside, historic broadcasting from the top of the needle, draft desk, Purge’s weather segments, great commentary, and we were super well looked after by Shannon and her team at the event and the hotel throughout the time we were there. It was as close as I’ve come to enjoying a perfect event.

Puppet Paul as Host of the Puppet panel

The amazing puppet panel at TI6 – Image courtesy of twitter

What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a host?

Study sports hosts, learn how they introduce questions, transition to other segments or breaks and develop your own style. Try doing it on Twitch by hosting other channels and putting your voice over the top. Study esports hosts and read the book!

The book Paul is referring to is his free e-book “Talking Esports” which can be found here – http://redeyehd.co.uk/talking-esports-a-free-book-on-esports-broadcasting/

Apart from yourself, who is your favorite host for any event?

I really like Machine and I think he’s got a huge career ahead of him. He’s still young and raw and yet already better than I was with the same level of experience. For stage, I really love the Korean guys, they just put so much energy into it!

Host of the Boston Major - Machine

Machine hosted his first Dota event at the Boston Major – Courtesy of gosugamers.net

What do you normally do during games / when you are not on screen?

I watch the matches! We have to watch them all in order to be able to deliver great post game segments and understand how the tournament is panning out, but we’ll also chat with other talent alongside, have something to eat and get the dreaded make-up topped up.

Host

Image courtesy of twitter.com

 

Changing of the Guard?

At the Boston Major Dota events, fans were shown a glimpse of the future when Alex “Machine” Richardson was chosen by Valve to be the host. Seeing as the last time Valve chose to invite someone other than ReDeYe, things didn’t end so well, fans may have been anxious.

However, the history of the Shanghai Major did not come back to haunt Valve, and Machine slid into the panel and never seemed out of place. He was able to control the panel, participate in discussion, and also bring that British wit that fans are used to.

Fast forward to ESL One Genting and ReDeYe was back again on the panel. The interesting thing was that the similarities between ReDeYe and Machine were easy to see, maybe due to them both being British or both spending time working as a host for CS:GO events.

Overall, Valve and the Dota community are split for choice with both ReDeYe and Machine proving that they are among the best in the business. Let’s hope that the great hosting and top quality memes continue into 2017.

————-

Check out Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner on twitter

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Pokésports Pokemon esports logo

Pokésports IV: Pokémon Can Put The Everyone In eSports

The eSport For Everyone

Pokémon 20th anniversary logo

With the wide reach of its 20 year old brand, Pokémon not only attracts young and old alike, it gives them all places to play competitively. Currently, officially sanctioned Tournaments are divided into three groupings based on age. Due to this, all ages can compete against like minded fans for glory. Being able to entertain the entire family unit is very important. Just like kids have their favorite Quarterback or Goalie, kids being able to cling to a Pokémon or Trainer is crucial for future widespread success as an eSport.

Other eSports have also tried to reach out to a wider audience. League of Legends, most notably, is being played competitively in High School and College circuits. This type of forward thinking is fantastic! eSports are much more cost effective to pick up for a school then traditional sports. Building a venue and buying equipment can be very costly endeavors. However, eSports provide the same type of team building and competition, but in a much more feasible package. This can especially become appealing for schools such as charter schools and other private schools.

 

Accessible But Not Accessible

Pokémon finds itself in a unique position to exploit these facets of the new and emerging eSports market. One fatal flaw really stands in its way, accessibility. While the Pokémon franchise is totally accessible from a gameplay standpoint, it has a long way to go from a hardware standpoint.

Diagram showing steps to install a capture card into a 3DS

Image courtesy of 3DSHACKS

Fact is, the main series of Pokémon games can only be played on a 3DS, or one of the DS spinoff consoles. This alone means that anyone who is interested in playing Pokémon competitively must invest in a 3DS, even if they have no interest in any other game on the console. Furthermore, the 3DS prevents Trainers from being able to stream or compile otherwise interesting content related to the games without hacking or modding their console. Such restrictions really put a stranglehold on the competitive community.

Contrast that with the ease and openness of most of the popular eSports out there currently. DOTA and LOL both provide play with a free to play PC client, with modest minimum requirements. Pair that with the ease of streaming gameplay and hosting content such as Let’s Plays. Letting passionate fans share their experiences helps to spread the energy of the competitive community. This usually results in new people chasing a dream of playing in the top tier.

 

It All Comes Back To Money

Pokémon tournament trophies.

Image courtesy of Nintendo Life

Promoting a successful sport comes down to one thing, money. Providing enticing rewards provokes competition. This draws competitors, which can bring in viewership, which can then be marketed. Pokémon fails utterly and completely on this point, compared to DOTA’s million dollar prize pools. Such as the DOTA International 2016 where the winning team took home a prize of over nine million dollars. While Miguel Marti de la Torre, who took place at Pokémon’s European International, won a measly five thousand dollars.

That disparity in winnings just cannot stand if Pokémon is to be taken seriously as an eSport. There is no doubt that Pokémon is a lucrative brand, TPCI should open it up and share it with the fans. Maybe turn the World Champion into a figurehead of the Pokémon brand for a year. Let Trainers share their passion with their friends, and just make loving competitive Pokémon easier all around.

In the age of viral marketing, Pokémon’s place on such a restricted console really hurts it. Couple that with a lack of substantial rewards for the work it takes to compete and it is not hard to see why so many shun competitive Pokémon.

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Pokémon Squirtle giving a thumbs up

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Link’s Return to LCS

Welcome “Back” To Summoner’s Rift

In an unexpected move, Team Liquid has signed CLG’s former Mid laner, Austin “Link” Shin, as a substitute. They announced that they intend to play both Link and starter, Goldenglue, throughout the split.

The last time we saw Link it was with CLG Spring Split 2015, coming off a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Team Liquid in the first round of the playoffs.

Shortly after Link announced his retirement with the “donezo manifesto”, in which he brought out CLG’s team environment to light. Most infamously, he called out star AD Carry Doublelift, for being a selfish and poor teammate and mainly blaming him for the failure of CLG.

Link, himself, received a lot of hate from the community when Machinima’s video series, “Chasing the Cup” seemed to show his inability to mesh as a teammate. In the series you witness everyone’s tempers flare, as the team seemed to be regressing from its hot start.

Link refused to duo que with his own Jungler, Dexter. This seemed to translate to a lack of team chemistry on the LCS stage. His own work ethic was questioned even by the community. It seemed like Link was playing more Hearthstone than League of Legends outside of scrims.

During his time in the NALCS, most people would have rated Link as a subpar LCS Mid Laner. He was never known as a flashy playmaker or a main carry, but he was a consistent performer. He played what his team needed and was the main shot caller for CLG.

When C9’s Hai went down with a collapsed lung, they called upon Link to sub for them in the All Stars tournament. He held his own against legendary Mid laners like Faker and xPeke. For the most part, he played the role of shot caller well. Thanks in part to him, C9 was able to take games off of OMG, Fnatic, and TPA. This allowed them to get to the semifinals of the tournament. He praised C9’s team environment in his donezo manifesto, in compasrison to CLG’s.

Second Chances

Link gets a second chance with a fresh roster and under a new organization. Team Liquid has been around for awhile but just hasn’t found the right formula for success just yet. Obviously, he’s still been playing the game at a high enough level to be picked up by a new team.

Others on social media have noted that he had been playing Dota 2 at high level as well. It does raise the question of if being away from the professional scene for such a long time will be more beneficial or hinder his play starting out.

Photo courtesy of Gamurs.com

It seems Team Liquid is emphasizing a better team environment this split, parting ways with Dardoche. They also let go of head coach Locodoco and every player on the team seems hungry to improve off of last split.

They look to be modeling CLG in having five players that are all friends outside of game. Will they truly utilize the six man roster or will it be more like C9’s support situation last season?

If Link is able to play better with the other four members than Goldenglue, I don’t see why they wouldn’t eventually make him the starter. It will be up to Link to prove he belongs in LCS once again.  

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