Player Spotlight: Babybay

Courtesy of Babybay

Overwatch League Player Spotlight: Babybay

Every week here at The Game Haus we will be highlighting one player from the Overwatch League. This weeks player is Babybay of the San Francisco Shock.

Andrej “Babybay” Francisty is the main DPS/Flex player for the Shock. He is part of a very strong roster of talented players but Babybay manages to separate himself from his peers. He was one of the biggest stand outs from this years preseason where his Widowmaker play was simply something to behold.

Another reason he is able to separate himself is that he is American. Americans aren’t known for our Esports prowess. Babybay is more well known for his Genji, Mcree, and Soldier 76 which was part of the reason his Widow stood out to so many people. After the matches during the preseason he was interviewed and seemed to relish in the crowds cheering.

History of Babybay

The last time Babybay played in a LAN competition was the Overwatch Winter Premiere back in January of last year. That isn’t to say he hasn’t been competing for longer than that. His history in Esports runs fairly deep. The last team he was a part of was Kungarna. He was part of their roster on two separate occasions.

The Shock have two more players joining their roster later this season as they are ineligible to play due to the Overwatch League age requirement. Babybay and the Shock will look to keep up the high level play as they not only fight for the Overwatch League title but fight for California supremacy as they are joined in California by the two Los Angeles teams, the Valiant and the Gladiators.

Are you a Shock fan? How do you feel Babybay has started off the season? Let us know and be sure to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Youtube channel! Links down below and as always stayed tuned to The Game Haus for all your Overwatch League news!

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Overwatch League’s Uprising may cause some upsizing

Big numbers in Day two of the Overwatch League. Big numbers coming out of cities hosting watch parties 

Boston Uprising watch party at The Greatest Bar.

Upsizing not Uprising

This is a picture taken last Thursday at the Boston Uprising watch party held at The Greatest Bar (clever name, not my opinion.) inside the TD Garden where the Celtics and Bruins play. Over 125 people crammed into the two floors of a Boston sports bar.

Now I don’t know if any of you have been to Boston sports bars, I’m sure some of you have. This is the last thing anyone expected. Especially The Greatest Bar. Boston Uprising hosted the event and also had people there giving out free merch to fire up the crowds. To see people cramming themselves into a bar to watch video games gives me immense hope for this sport. For this league. For the next generation of geeks.

Watch parties like this have been held all over the country for the Overwatch League. San Francisco hosted one and had Sinatraa and Super, players who are currently ineligiable to play, there to meet and take pictures. Around 100 people showed up to watch that one.

Picture of Houston Outlaws watch party.

Houston, from all the pictures Posted around the internet had what appears to be the biggest watch party of them all. Over 600 people came out in support of the Houston Outlaws! That’s insane!

Some fans even drove across the country to the Blizzard Arena to watch their favorite teams complete.

These two guys drove 2,700 miles to watch the NYXL. Viewership on Twitch yesterday peaked at just about 250,000. I know it’s still early. I know it’s the “cupcake phase” or however you want to say it. It’s still new and exciting but even people who aren’t fans of Esports have to at least admit this is impressive.

Did you attend/throw any watch parties for your favorite team? Let us know! Also be sure to follow The Game Haus on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel! Links are down below!

Credit to The Esports Writer.

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Why Overwatch League Matters

How Blizzard can change the Esports scene in North America

Courtesy of Blizzard Ent.

 

I feel as though I’ve had to explain to multiple friends and family members what exactly Esports is. I have several friends who understand the basic concept of it but don’t understand how fun and entertaining it is. This is where the Overwatch League steps in.

After being announced over a year ago, January 10th was opening night. Twitch viewership peaked at just over 400,000. 400,000 people tuned in to watch a video game competition. In the grand scheme of things people gather to watch this number is relatively small, but also very big. Let me explain why Overwatch League matters.

Why does it matter?

The United States is known for a mulititude of things but Esports prowess is not one of them. In Korea they’ve been showing Esports on television since the days of Starcraft Brood War. TBS signed a deal with ESL to broadcast CS:GO on their station and I made sure I tuned in.

On January 9th Blizzard Entertainment held their first ever media day for the OWL and announced that they signed a deal with Twitch for a two year broadcasting agreement. It’s been reported but not confirmed that Twitch spent in the area of 90 million dollars to obtain exclusive broadcasting rights.

If you’re like me you tuned in to the games opening night and saw one of the best Overwatch matches I’ve ever seen played between the Dallas Fuel and the Seoul Dynasty. Seoul ended up winning the match but it was as close as they could be. Nearly to half a million people watched that game. It’s very early into the first year for OWL but from what I’ve seen online they’re living up to expectations. They loaded the booths with experts on the broadcast team. The analysts, shout casters, and production teams are insanely talented and above all engaging.

So why does any of this matter? Personally I think that it matters because this is giving the kids who were picked on for being a “nerd” or what have you a safe place to gather. The word nerd has lost its sting and gamer culture has become celebrated and cool thanks to sites like Twitch. Streaming has exploded over the past years resulting in communities of kids and now adults having a place to embrace our passion, gaming. The average age of an Esports fan in the US is 28 years old. Right on the nose for me and my friends.

Overwatch League can bring people together

Another reason OWL is important is it gives kids and parents something to bond over. Several of my friends have kids of their own and are always looking for a way to connect with them. This offers them that opportunity as well as a way to see if their passion will grow into something more than just a fan. Overwatch League is important because it’s helping to legitimize Esports as a whole throughout more of North America. If you told me 5 years ago that Robert Kraft was going to own an Esports franchise I would looked at you upside down.

I haven’t been covering Esports actively very long in the grand scheme of Esports itself but even in the “short” amount of time I’ve been around, the scene has flourished. There are major companies/sports franchises buying teams for video game competitions! Is this a business move? Yeah, probably. But even so it helps to legitimize this crazy thing we call Esports. While we’re only a couple days into season one of Overwatch League look for it to continue to do well and if things go the way they’re projected to, expand exponentially.

What do you think of the Overwatch League so far? Do you think it’s going to sustain viewership or will it die it over the season? Let us know and be sure to stay tuned to The Game Haus for more Esports news!

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Everything that’s been going on with the KeSPA investigation so far

Currently, the Korean Esports Association is appearing in the news along with allegations of bribery and embezzlement. Three people have been arrested and one person has been charged. One name that is most commonly seen is former President of KeSPA and former political aide to the president of South Korea, Jun Byung Hun. The reason why is related to his time as President of the organization. It should be noted that during his tenure he was also seated on the nation’s broadcasting and communications committee. Here are all the details that we currently know about what is going on.

Korean Esports association

KeSPA was created in order to overwatch the esports scene in South Korea and to make it an official sporting event. This was created after receiving approval from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism back in 2000. It was their job to make sure that esports became a more professional sport, one way was by making sure players were getting paid a competitive salary compared to traditional sports.

They were also known for stepping in when allegations of match-fixing were found to be true in the StarCraft scene, or when teams such as Longzhu Gaming allegedly failed to pay past players. They were at one point part of the Korean Olympic Committee where they pushed for esports to be part of the Olympics. After October they were no longer considered an official member due to several new rules put in place.

The allegations

Back in 2015 Lotte Homeshopping, the largest department store in South Korea, sent a payment of $300,000 to KeSPA right before the company went to renew its broadcasting license. The money was allegedly removed by two aides under Jun then family members of the former chairman started receiving large amounts of shopping vouchers from Lotte Homeshopping. The renewal process ended up failing in 2016 when it was found that Lotte Homeshopping had falsified information, this led to their chief being arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison. News of the payment to KeSPA did not spread until this year of November when KeSPA offices were raided by police forces.

The second allegation towards Jun was levied by Yeo Myung-Sook, the director of the games rating broad, who alleged that Jun was the “root of the corruption.” This allegation is related to the fact that Jun had major pull in the game industry and was criticized for not doing enough to regulate microtransactions, despite other elected officials voicing their concern. Now recurring payments by four major companies to KeSPA during the time Jun served are being looked up to see if there was anything illegal.

What next

Right now the prosecution office has issued an arrest warrant for Jun and the public will most likely to see him stand trial. Corruption is a big deal in South Korea to the point that they got rid of their last President for it. Most of the charges are stemming from the first allegation, but the public shouldn’t be shocked if more comes to light and more people are arrested.

For KeSPA, everything relating to sponsorships will be gone through with a fine tooth comb such as the second season of the KeSPA cup which was sponsored by Lotte Homeshopping. This shouldn’t negatively impact esports too much other than the fact that the scene is losing someone who championed it to be considered more serious. Esports has seen scandal from match-fixing to issues with money before and this in honestly will not be the last time.

 

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Cover photo by Jun Byung-Hun via Twitter

Overwatch Contenders Week 4: Group stage takeaways

We finally get the matches with the teams the people wanted. Ties, stomps, brutal come-from-behind victories and the occasional “well that just happened” makes its way to the front. The casting has grown to a rather fever pitch with everything becoming more comedic and punchy. Players and teams have settled into the tournament and are actively putting the pedal to the metal. The Overwatch Contenders tournament has been rough around the edges and maybe needs to retool itself, but there’s a working motor underneath this event and it finally got a chance to rev up a bit.

Let’s jump in.

Europe

If there was ever a need to have a guide on how to tie a match, just watch the VODs from Saturday’s matches. We finally get to see Vivi’s Adventure play against Singularity (Formerly Singularity Ninjas) along with 123 Squad smashing Alfa Squad. The uniqueness is that both matches involved ties. Oddly enough, looking at the map scores for Vivi’s, they tied on Anubis twice in a single day of play and if not for a tie with Gamers Origin might have ended up in a tiebreaker with RiP (Formerly Ninjas in Pyjamas).

The other story line is that the European scene has hit a few icebergs on its way through this tournament. Ninjas in Pyjamas released their one-time notorious squad (The Triple Tank inventors) and Cyclowns disbanded (and forfeiting every match this weekend), putting a small cloud in an otherwise strong showing from Europe. RiP qualifying for the final bracket and doing it under pressure speaks volumes for their commitment to playing. They could have easily just thrown their hands up and let it go but stuck it out, putting a hell of a stamp on their dedication mark.

A final thread to point to is Cyclowns. The talent is irrepressible, with the former players cropping up to save major teams. Boombox played out of his mind for eUnited against Team Expert, more specifically, in the match on Route 66 where his Winston play is the stuff of supports nightmares. destro helping push Movistar Riders over the hump after Finnsi’s depature, beating the tie against Alfa Squad which ultimately puts them into the final bracket. Cyclowns are dead but the squad still finds ways to influence the tournament.

Unfortunately, the group stages send home four of their teams with Vivi’s Adventure, GamersOrigin, Alfa Squad, ESPORATI, Ninjas with Attitudes, Team eSporters Cyberatheletes (Quietly Richard Lewis screams into a pillow) and Team Expert. Cyclowns’ demise ultimately begs the question, if the team had remained together could they have knocked off Movistar Riders? But like many hypotheticals, it’ll remain an unresolved question for the ages.

North America

Surprisingly North America’s showing was a bit more chaotic, it just took a long time to get through it. The matches themselves went till the wee hours of the morning. Call it a scheduling issue but the truth was that every match between teams seemingly took forever. Four maps played is a lot to order. In groups, this works because ties are a thing where as brackets need winners and losers. The merit however of having teams go the distance every time is fine. The issue taken is that matches need to be started sooner so viewership doesn’t drop towards the end of the night.

I just wanted to go to bed, thanks C9 and Kungarna

A good reason for so many maps played is highlighted in Liquid vs CLG. While it ended in a tie and made for some great plays on both sides, the idea of mind games lingered. Sure, they’re up two maps to one but they really suck at this map so a chance to draw presents itself. Kungarna drawing five times in groups and notching only two wins really speaks towards the power of draw games. Their final win was over Cloud9 in a winner take all best of one. Their tiebreaker match to cap off the night, Kungarna dug deep and buried C9 finally amidst the talk of the beef from the casters. A way better match to watch in the mid evening with some form of a snack. Suspiciously, Cloud9 was absent from the day’s streams despite their popularity. This harkens back to last week’s recap which highlighted the lack of strong teams being streamed.

Immortals, on the other hand, were essentially looking to run the table for their group until Arc6 (formerly YIKES!) pulled a Leonidas.

Arc6 can know they took the draw against Immortals and proved that their squad is beatable. While Immortals dropped maps, they did not drop matches until that one moment. If Arc6 needs anything to top its resume it’s proving that they were the only team to draw against Immortals. Their run came to an end sadly when FNRGFE won four to nothing. Toronto Esports and Counter Logic Gaming showed they could also hang with the big teams.

The NA teams that ended up leaving at group stages read like a mid tier tournament winners ticker line. Selfless Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Toronto Esports, Arc6 (Yikes), Cloud9, Tempo Storm, Hammers Esports (Happy Richard Lewis) and You guys get paid? all leave knowing they left an impression for other teams to look for. Sponsors are watching these tournaments and their actively looking for which teams are truly going the distance in their matches.

Conclusion

This is an open qualifier – the idea was more centered on proof of concept. The teams that did not qualify for final bracket showed they have formulas to win. Teams like Toronto Esports, Vivi’s Adventure, Team expert, Arc6, Cloud9 played incredibly close in their respective groups. If teams need to tell sponsors they’re getting exposure, look no further than this weekend. Contenders was strong this weekend and the finals are looming.

Check in later this week when I break down the upcoming matches for both North America and Europe!


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Overwatch Contenders Week 3: Group stage round one takeaways

It’s remarkable how much a tournament can twist around in a week’s time. Here are a few points to mention concerning the Overwatch Contenders tournament as a spectator.

One: The lack of streams on matches is becoming abhorrent

In group stages, there are 16 very strong teams that should be all drawing in major viewership from their respective fans. We get to see eight games over two days. That’s a quarter of the number of games played in that time, and it’s not good enough, especially without a replay feature. No replay feature means people can’t go back and watch the replays themselves or even have a VOD or two to browse.

During the Saturday European games, eUnited, who crushed the competition last week, had no games on stream. None. The single best team of the bracket and of the groups gets no coverage whatsoever. This is a huge tournament. Put the big teams out there. Close matches between two strong teams yield the best results.

Two: The group format is confusing

This is going off Team Liquid’s page here. Here’s what I can gather: every win is a point, ties are nothing and losses lose a point. Ergo, a team that wins every match finishes with 12 points at maximum. So the closer you play the game, especially with a two-two tie, means you theoretically have averted damaging the chance to continue but have also done yourself no favors. This shorter gap means matches become more important and so on and so forth. Every match that ends in a tie creates more pressure to win the next one. So the emphasis is on wins overall first, followed by how many maps are won. Losses are losses and ties mean absolutely nothing happened. There, this is the format explained as best as one can without any explanation from Blizzard.

For people who’ve never seen a group stage, this is confusing, and for a tournament to go from brackets to groups, this is even more confusing. Somewhere Blizzard figured group stages are a good way to measure teams metrics and yet they did brackets first. They could have done pools and used that to weed out a lot of the teams and then gone to brackets. Evolution does it every year with over hundreds of people and it gets sorted out rather quickly. Whatever the case may be for the tournament thus far, changing styles only made it worse. When group stages are over, the tournament seems to go back to brackets. So why did they do this in the first place?

Three: The shadow of the news cycle

One group has a team that disbanded immediately following the day’s matches. Cyclowns, who a week prior showed incredible poise and play under pressure, folded. What happens next week? They’re still in the groups, so do they just give the whole group a free point now by forfeiting? There are no rules in the tournament document I’ve found that has any info for this. To make matters even worse is the Defran suspension on Selfless which forced a switch and sub-in with Carpe. Carpe had a single day to practice with Selfless who also switched Kresnick for Midnight (a D.Va Main) and finished the night going for two losses and one win. The win was against FaZe clan which is considered an upset until you look at the group performance. The Carpe and Midnight storyline would’ve been a lot bigger if Blizzard had streamed more matches during the day.

Four: Matches that were streamed were not that good

Teams getting demolished on a stream is not fun to watch. Immortals, the absolute favorites to win this, only lost a single map the entire time. Sure great play and amazing teamwork is something to study and revere. It doesn’t make for good viewing, however. Another example is the Selfless/FaZe match which essentially turned into a real match. FaZe pulled a reverse sweep on Oasis that started entirely off of ShadowBurn getting a reflect kill off a McCree Deadeye. The whole match swung and suddenly everyone comes alive. The rest of the series becomes tense as a result. That wasn’t always the case in streamed matches over the weekend.

Final thoughts

Those are some serious gripes but I won’t lie that the overall production quality was solid. The casters have found some serious chemistry and it’s working great now. We have laughs coming out of them with good jokes and insight wrapped into a solid package. The observers are doing their absolute best to really work on their camera control. You see a lot of the action the moment before it happens and get a decent scope of who’s doing it. It’s a rough job trying to guess just who is going to be making the hard picks for people. This is their inaugural season and it’s not surprising they’re trying and testing out things as they go along. It does, however, start reflecting on the tournament as a whole when even the pro team’s players start dissing the tournament on Twitter before and after their matches though. If this does wish to continue for improvement, Blizzard needs to look into making a replay system for their matches. Valve and Riot have made it a requirement for these types of things and even Blizzard can’t make the excuse of no replay. Hearthstone and StarCraft 2 have it so why is such a key feature missing. Much like this tournament, it’s in development but it needs to hurry up and fast.


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Defran banned from Competitive Overwatch, suspended from Selfless Gaming

Defran banned from competitive Overwatch in all forms for the rest of the season.

Daniel “Defran” Francesca has been suspended from Comeptitive Overwatch for unsportsmanlike conduct pertaining to a stream he did on June 7th, 2017. Prior to the suspension, he tweeted out

Today however in a report put out by Blizzard,

“We have found that Dafran, from Overwatch Contenders team Selfless, has violated Rule 7.0 (Conduct) of the Overwatch Contenders Ruleset, which states the following:

All competitors and spectators are required to act in a respectful sportsmanlike manner at all times.

Due to this violation, as of June 8, Blizzard will suspend Dafran’s access to his current Overwatch accounts for one week, and from Competitive Play for the remainder of Season 5. Further, Dafran is disqualified from Overwatch Contenders Season Zero, will not be eligible for Overwatch Contenders Season One, and is disqualified from all future Blizzard-sanctioned tournament play for the duration of this competitive season. Dafran’s Overwatch Contenders team is still eligible to compete with a substitute.”

Tweet from Richard Lewis and Erik Lonnquist

Defran had been streaming the night of June 7, 2017 and had a rather colorful couple moments. While this writer is unable to access his vods which are currently behind a paywall, investigation into the matter shows several disturbing lines.

Jeff Kaplan recently said on Overwatch’s main message board they were going to take a more critical aim for Competitive griefing and throwing.

screen cap from Jeff Kaplan concerning competitive play.

Consider that statement and then what happened not even a couple hours later to be the enforcement of that statement. Blizzard has been notoriously slow in some cases to handle problems in their games in terms of balancing. From the looks of it, they do not hesitate to handle business when it’s a person or people.

Selfless Statement highlighted on it a bit more.

Our own Jared MacAdam even said “Be toxic in a scene with more talent than teams guaranteeing Overwatch League spots and see how quickly you get stopped.” It begs the question now of who will Selfless get to replace their DPS? Defran was no slouch on Tracer and with the dive comp meta still reigning supreme in major Tournaments. Suddenly, the question becomes a matter of immediate attention. Ultimately this falls as a blow to Selfless Gaming. Qualifying for one of the 16 spots for the Open Qualifiers in the Overwatch Contenders League in the North American bracket no less than week before this suspension. The shake up and the blending of a new teammate to replace Defran does not help the mounting pressure for the team to perform.

I used screen shots to show you what information I had a the time of writing this. Things change and text is easy to edit but images are not. If things do change, I will leave the images and have both the old and new information to leave up for speculation.

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A History of Trash Talk – Call of Duty at its Finest

For those of us with Call of Duty deeply ingrained in our blood, we know that trash talking is an integral part of the scene. Whether it be a simple public match, an online tournament, or LAN, players learn quickly and sometimes harshly that if you’re losing, somebody will be there to repeatedly remind you. After all, there’s nothing better than rubbing salt in the wound when you win, right? Despite being quite shallow in nature, trash talking in Call of Duty has given us some of our most memorable personalities as well as some of the best entertainment.

The future of Call of Duty is looking bright with the upped investment from Activision. The World League, which includes more lucrative open tournaments and Pro Leagues, gives the space a more professional feel. However, I find it imperative that we remember our roots and ensure that we don’t leave those memories behind.

Trash talk has always been at the heart of Call of Duty, so let’s look back at some of the most memorable insults:

Satisfaction

Beating your opponent is one thing, but ensuring they know you won makes it just that bit more satisfying. This one isn’t a throwback, but instead from the recent CWL Birmingham where Bradley “wuskin” Marshall, from the newly formed Fnatic, gives Team Supremacy a taste of England after annihilating them in their long loser’s bracket run.

A similar scenario from back in Ghosts features OpTic Gaming and Clayster, who after defeating their rivals Team EnvyUs in dominating fashion, had the crowd rampant with a hand sign that would later become one of Clayster’s signature moves.

The Call of Duty scene has become synonymous with ‘letting everyone know’ when they win, but it’s all in good fun. It definitely gets the fans involved and is part of the reason why organizations like OpTic and FaZe have such dedicated fan bases.

Psychological Edge

For long-time viewers, this trash talk clip is probably the one they’ll never forget. The culprit? None other than Adam “Killa” Sloss.

Recently voted the most delusional professional player, the man became a Call of Duty sensation built off of moments just like this. The abuse comes as a result of Damon “Karma” Barlow leaving Killa to join Team EnvyUs, whom Killa just so happens to be playing. The former World Champion runs his mouth in an attempt to throw his enemies off their game. It’s hard to say whether the outlandish tactic was the reason for the win or not. However, one can imagine it would be hard to start performing when this happens on top of already being behind. Without further ado, take a look at the infamous clip from Black Ops II.

Although coaching is rarely seen in Call of Duty, as you can see from the next clip even coaches like to get involved in trash talk. They might look like complete assholes, but they are trying to achieve the same outcome as Killa in the previous clip.

The two in this clip are coach Hilton “Hilton” Howell and player Anthony “Nameless” Wheeler. Another instance of coach trash talk is from compLexity versus Team Kaliber. The compLexity coach Matthew “Mr. X” Morello shows former player Clayster why he was kicked from the team.

It might seem slightly immature, and the Call of Duty scene has come a long way since most of these examples, but hopefully every now and again we get trash talking moments like these because as a fan myself, these are the memories that stick. The victory is marked by the victor.


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EnVy stands strong, C9 struggles: CWL GPL Week One Recap

The first week of the CWL Global Pro League has come to a close and with it, we’ve learned a lot. Week One featured North American teams EnVyUs and Cloud9, Splyce from Europe, and Mindfreak from the APAC region. Each team faced off against one another twice throughout the weekend with the top three placing teams moving onto Stage Two and the last place team facing Relegation.

1st Place – Team EnVyUs

Win/Loss – 5-1

Map Count – 16-7

Having a seemingly slow start that began with a 1-3 loss at the hands of Splyce on Friday, EnVy regained and started a warpath ending with them in the 1st place spot in Week One.

After their initial loss to Splyce, EnVy would not drop another series all weekend. On Friday, they took a hard fought 3-1 victory over Mindfreak. Saturday would see them steamroll Cloud9 3-0 and again beat MF 3-1. Surprisingly, their toughest match would come on Sunday where they fought tooth and nail to defeat a reenergized Cloud9 3-2, but revenge and their most meaningful matchup came against Splyce in the final match of the weekend.

To secure the 1st place seed, EnVy had to defeat Splyce 3-0, a feat in which no other team had been able to achieve. And just like that, EnVy proved their dominance and came out hot, beating the Europeans in the only 3-0 of the day. Every member of EnVy had a chance to shine throughout the weekend as they proved they are still one of the best teams in the game.

EnVy player Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov

2nd Place – Splyce

Win/Loss – 5-1

Map Count – 15-7

The curse of Sunday evenings has followed Splyce all the way from CWL Birmingham. Having coasted through Friday and Saturday, Splyce stood in first place with a 4-0 record, having only dropped two maps. However, like last weekend, Sunday proved difficult for the Europeans as they struggled to defeat Mindfreak 3-2 and ultimately lost 0-3 to EnVy. Splyce only needed to win one map against EnVy to secure their 1st place seed but choked when the time came. They were handed their first Uplink loss of the weekend during this series after looking untouchable in the respawn game modes.

Although they failed to secure 1st place this weekend, Splyce still looks like a formidable foe heading into the Stage One Playoffs. With the 2nd place finish, they now will likely play OpTic Gaming, FaZe Clan, or eUnited in the first round of Playoffs, a position any team should be nervous of.

3rd Place – Mindfreak

Win/Loss – 1-5

Map Count – 10-15

Mindfreak surprised everyone this weekend, coming out tough against the European and North American teams. After boot camping in Atlanta for the last two weeks, the Australians were able to make some noise and upset Cloud9 for the 3rd place spot. On Friday they caused the first big upset as they steamrolled C9 with a 3-0 victory to start off their weekend. They then fell 1-3 to EnVy after putting up a great fight in all three game modes. Saturday was another hard fought day for Mindfreak, that ended with them falling 1-3 against Splyce and Envy.

On Sunday, Mindfreak managed to take Splyce to a game five where they ultimately lost and then did the same against Cloud9, however at that point they had already secured their 3rd place finish.

Throughout the weekend, the unorthodox Search and Destroy play style of the Aussies enabled them to secure a spot in Stage Two and help them avoid Relegation. If they can spend more time boot camping in the US, Mindfreak stands to improve and cause greater waves heading into CoD Champs.

ANZ duo Fighta and Shockz played great all weekend.

4th Place – Cloud9

Win/Loss – 1-5

Map Count – 5-7

The struggles for Cloud9 continued as they entered Week One of the Global Pro League. The team has not been able to replicate their success at CWL Vegas back in December, and this weekend was no different.

After playing four matches over Friday and Saturday Cloud9, stood at a 0-4 record with a 0-12 map count. After choking multiple Hardpoint and S&D maps with significant leads, by the time Uplink rolled around they were so tilted the series was already over. The woes of weak mental strength plagued their weekend as they lost map after map. It was obvious by looking at the players they were not gelling, which reflected in their gameplay.

However, Sunday proved to the be a slightly different story. Needing to finish the day with a 2-0 record, Cloud9 would first play EnVy. But Cloud9 would fall 2-3 in a series they could have won at multiple points, cementing their 4th place finish. Miraculously, Cloud9 were able to defeat Mindfreak in a close fashion in their last match of the weekend, squeaking out at 3-2 victory. Unfortunately for them it was too little too late and now C9 will have to fight through Relegation for a spot in Stage Two. Many believe a roster change is on the horizon for this struggling squad.

Moving Forward

Week One of Stage One of the CWL Global Pro League proved to be a huge success for MLG and the CoD World League. More exciting matches are coming up within the next three weeks as we round out the Playoff spots and head towards CoD Champs!


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The Downfall of Lurking

The art of lurking is perhaps the most distinct role within Counter-Strike. Personally, I would describe the lurker as being the thorn in the enemy’s side. It is their job to apply pressure to the opposing team by being a constant distraction. These types of players commonly play based off of enemy grenade usage, sound cues, and information gathered by their team in order to catch the enemy off guard.

The most famous lurkers have truly ingenious instincts to play at such an incredibly high level. So let’s take a look at some of Global Offensive’s storied lurkers.

Cream of the Crop

GeT_RiGhT

Not only one of Counter-Strikes most famous lurkers, but one of its most famous players of all time is Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund. The Swede defined the role late in the 1.6 era and carried it through to Global Offensive. He joined the resurrected Ninjas in Pyjamas line up in 2012 and has stuck with them ever since.

GeT_RiGhT demonstrated the effect being a backstabber could have. Often, he waits for his team to secure the opposing bomb site, then, after he hears the enemies rotating, he comes in from behind and cleans up the remaining kills.

GeT_RiGhT made famous the position in apartments on Inferno where he is known to wait while his teammates attack B. This lurk, in particular, is extremely effective because it means the Counter-Terrorists have no knowledge of whether there are five terrorists ready to execute the A-bomb site or just one lurking. Once the terrorists have control of the apartments, it is usually too risky for the CT’s to take back.

Due to the dominance of Ninjas in Pyjamas from 2012 through 2014, opposing teams not only fear the physical lurk but also the mental presence. Just the idea that GeT_RiGhT  ‘could’ be in apartments can sometimes be enough to crack teams.

Happy

A player who built on the legacy started by GeT_RiGhT is Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer. Happy was a part of the LDLC/Team EnVyUs lineup that won two major tournaments amongst other premier LAN events. Much like GeT_RiGhT, Happy plays away from the team to create situations where he could kill enemies from behind. On the T side, he plays much farther removed from his team than GeT_RiGhT does, making it harder for the enemy to track him. However, it’s his daring flanks on the CT side where he times his push to perfection, executing the terrorists with deadly effect. On dust2, Happy waits for the exact right moment to push short or long, leading to a plethora of multi kills.

Hiko

The final player is a North American: none other than Spencer “Hiko” Martin. This is a player who, similarly to our favourite Swede, helped define North America early on. He was on the Complexity roster that achieved legend status at two major tournaments.

One of Hiko’s trademarks is playing at the squeaky door on Cache. He not only hides out listening to enemy sound cues but creates his own. He repeatedly opens and closes the door as well as spraying through it. This prolongs enemy rotations if his team heads to the B bombsite due to the fear that Hiko can flank. Furthermore, if his team is coming A, he causes panic in the CT’s minds because he will continue playing with the door during the full execute. You just never know when he’s going to jump out.

Double major champion Happy pictured at Dreamhack London (Source: pcgamer.com)

Decline of Lurkers

In recent years, lurkers stats have dropped dramatically, leaving the likes of Happy and Hiko to miss out. Many people are skeptical of whether these players are past their time or not. Part of the problem is that the majority of players have become aware of lurkers and how to counter them. On the older maps, it has become increasingly difficult for GeT_RiGhT and Hiko to innovate new ways to lurk, meaning that lurking on maps such as Cache, Inferno, and Mirage has stagnated.

However, I think the larger problem is that the modern faster meta doesn’t favour them. Since the introduction of the Tec-9 and more recently the UMP, teams have been able to win rounds more easily with limited equipment. A style introduced by none other than Happy himself, players abuse the power of the pistols and UMP by holding close quarter angles to pick up a kill. This subsequently reduces the round to a series of one versus ones making it much easier for the limited team to win. This fast-paced style has created a movement in which teams are now choosing five fantastically skilled players over playing with more defined roles. It’s not to say that lurkers aren’t amazing riflers, it’s that they peak when they get the chance and use their brain to win the round.

Happy was a loser in the most recent French shuffle, missing out on the chance to play with Richard “shox” Papillon and Kenny “kennyS” Schrub. Hiko is currently teamless after a brief stint with OpTic Gaming where they publically stated that he didn’t fit their style. If some of the game’s best lurkers can’t stay atop, is there any hope for the up-and-comers?

Hiko didn’t don the OpTic jersey for very long. (Source: dexerto.com)

What can they do?

Despite Hiko and Happy being unwilling to adapt to the changes, GeT_RiGhT has made efforts to try and recraft his artwork. In the current iteration of NiP, you can find him becoming the entry fragger on full executes. Since he is so fabled for playing away from the team, he has taken on this role to occasionally cause CT’s to wonder whether he is just lurking or whether there is a delayed execute of Ninjas behind him.

Another way lurkers could change their game is to essentially become support players similar to how Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth plays on Astralis. By doing this, the players would still be able to play from the clutch using their intuition to win. Consequently, it would mean that they wouldn’t take one of the star player spots and the resources of the team. In turn, they could recruit a younger superstar that’s more in line with the modern meta. That way they can funnel all their resources into the new star and bet all their money on them.

There is still hope for lurkers yet.


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