MLG returns to Halo and the HCS

Competitive Halo has had a pretty rough ride. I can’t really say recently, since the franchise and community started hitting some speed bumps back around 2010 with the release of Halo: Reach. MLG and more specifically Adam Apicella, Sundance Giovanni and Chris Puckett, along with several other noteworthy contributors, grew the competitive scene since the release of Halo: Combat Evolved. During Halo 2, MLG brought competitive Halo to new heights, with the careers of many legendary players such as Mike “StrongSide” Cavanaugh and many other players launching with this title. During Halo 3, many viewed not only the competitive scene but the whole franchise as an unstoppable juggernaut in the gaming industry as well as the fledgling esports industry.

Turns out, we were a little off the mark with that assumption.

When Reach released, popularity plummeted and MLG dropped Halo from the Pro Circuit. Halo 4 ended up being even worse and the entire community practically nosedived into a presumed grave with its launch. The Master Chief Collection brought a lot of hope to fans who stayed with Halo and those who had moved on. Unfortunately, it ended up being a broken mess, which at the time of writing this, remains in an unacceptable state.

A bird’s-eye view of the MLG Columbus venue.

Halo 5: Guardians initially started off well, with HWC 2016 being a pretty resounding success. However, things started to once again slide pretty quickly. Settings were never touched despite community outrage, post-launch content from a competitive standpoint was practically nonexistent and event production, with only a few exceptions, was mediocre at best. We heard excuse after excuse, issue after issue, so much so that they have become living memes. The “250,000 cables” one, 343’s catchphrase of “Soon,” HWC 2017 looking like a child’s birthday party rather than a million dollar World Championship tournament. People lost interest and viewership continued to drop. Many people stopped paying attention. I didn’t bother to play Halo 5 more than once every few weeks. and many others didn’t play at all.

Clean Slate

Thursday’s announcement has scrubbed all that. We have a full schedule for HWC 2018, with the majority of details included.

HWC 2017’s unimpressive venue.

Oh, and Major League Gaming will now be taking over the running of HCS events, at least for this season. Now, I haven’t shied away from criticizing 343 Industries, ESL and their running of the Halo Championship Series. But to Tashi, along with the rest of the HCS team at 343 and everyone else involved, I gotta say, this was a hell of a move, giving the Halo competitive community a pulse once again. Things aren’t perfect, nor will they ever be. But with MLG and Halo paired up again, we can get pretty damn close.

Keep a tab opened up with The Game Haus on it, I’ll be back to regularly writing about the HCS soon.

It feels good to be home, see you all at the HWC 2018 Finals in Seattle!

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @DS_FrostbiteXV2!

This article reflects the opinion of the author.

Images by Major League Gaming, Halo Waypoint and SportsGrid.

Four new organizations enter the NA LCS in 2018

NA LCS team identities following off-season roster upheavals

This year’s off-season has been extremely disruptive to the identity of each NA LCS team. Iconic, long-term and founding members of several rosters have switched to another team for 2018. Aphromoo is no longer playing for Counter Logic Gaming. Echo Fox is without Froggen. Hai has moved on from FlyQuest. TSM does not have Svenskeren.

Four brand new organizations are entering the LCS, while four previous organizations are no more. Immortals, Team Envy, Phoenix1 and Dignitas are out. Optic Gaming, Golden Guardians, 100 Thieves and Clutch Gaming are in. All of the narratives surrounding the dissolved teams no longer matter. Immortals’ fumbles domestically, and then their tragic World Championship; Dignitas’ return to the LCS and Summer Split run in the playoffs; Phoenix1’s roller-coaster ups and downs from Rift Rivals, MikeYeung and roster shuffles. All down the drain.

The incoming teams will create new narratives for fans to enjoy. Endemic organizations made big roster moves in the off-season, which will bring their own storylines. The other teams in the middle, like Echo Fox and FlyQuest, will continue to mold into their own identities. 2018 is a watershed year for creating new drama, rivalries and narratives within the NA LCS.

100 Thieves: Old Guard, Modern Marketing

Aphromoo joined 100 Thieves for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The roster and coach announced for 100 Thieves consists of Ssumday, Meteos, Ryu, Aphromoo and Pr0lly. Each of these members could easily help anchor a team with their veteran experience and knowledge. However, they find themselves together on a roster that could very well have the most combined professional League of Legends experience on any announced NA LCS team in 2018. The coaching role, every lane, and the jungle position is covered by an established personality.

The organization itself is rather novel, though. Matthew Haag, aka “Nadeshot,” is well-known in the Call of Duty world as a retired player and team owner. He is partnered with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers to build a brand and a League of Legends roster under the 100 Thieves moniker. With a standout logo and a merch store full of casual-wear, 100 Thieves will most likely bring a different marketing flavor to the LCS.

100 Thieves should bring a mixture of results on and off the Rift. Meteos, Pr0lly and Aphromoo are some of the most recognized personalities in North America, while Ssumday and Ryu rally their own sets of fans. Nadeshot and the Cavaliers may contribute new styles and promotions than League of Legends is used to. Combine the charisma of the players and staff with the creativity and flashiness of the brand, and 100 Thieves could pull a nice set of followers. Not to mention, if the team actually has synergy, then there is no doubt they can be contenders regardless of which AD carry they sign.

Cloud9: question marks

Svenskeren joins Cloud9 for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fans are filled with confusion and concern towards Cloud9’s off-season. With Impact and Contractz leaving, Cloud9 brought on Svenskeren and Licorice to join Jensen, Sneaky and Smoothie on the starting roster. Factions of the fan-base believe these members to be side-grades at least, downgrades at worst. Licorice has not been tested above the Challenger Series, while Svenskeren was not viewed as a key factor for TSM in 2017. While Impact and Ray had their low moments this year on Cloud9, there is no question that Impact’s high points were on another level.

Cloud9 still remains as one of the goofier, nonchalant organizations. Sneaky will still be the central personality, as the longest tenured member of the organization. Jensen, Smoothie, Svenskeren and even Coach Reapered and team owner Jack have had their fair share of memes and fun. Licorice will probably fall right in line with this theme.

However, the lightheartedness of the players only works if they are winning. Jokes and humor fall flat if the roster has issues clicking, or if results do not show. Despite standing out as an amusing team, Cloud9 actually has a strong League of Legends legacy. They have won two NA LCS championships, and finished runner-up four times. In 2018 Cloud9 will look to continue building on this success, while still playing the jester role off stage.

Counter Logic Gaming: the Nice Guys

Biofrost joins CLG for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

CLG took their first step away from their “Team Friendship” theme when they traded Xmithie for Dardoch in the 2017 mid-season. They took a step further this off-season by bringing on Reignover to start over OmarGod. Add Aphromoo’s departure, and CLG’s identity is reeling.

But look at the starting roster: Darshan, Reignover, Huhi, Stixxay, Biofrost. These are the nice guys of the NA LCS. This squad has charisma. None of these members have any baggage following them from a previous team, or lacks personality. When Stixxay is the most arrogant player on the roster, it is probably a healthy work environment.

CLG should have some concerns, though. Who will be the leader and shotcaller to fill the void left by Aphromoo? Is there enough fire in the team? And is the talent strong enough to pass the test of 2018? Stixxay has never played in the LCS without Aphromoo. Biofrost only played one split without Doublelift, and it was not nearly as impactful. Reignover has not shown a level of play akin to his days with Huni on Fnatic and Immortals. 2018 will be a huge test for these players’ improvement together.

Clutch Gaming: upgraded envy

Febiven joins Clutch Gaming for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Lira, Apollo and Hakuho made up three fifths of Team Envy in 2017, and they will make up three fifths of Clutch Gaming in 2018. Instead of Nisqy and Seraph, though, Clutch opted for Febiven and Solo. Unlike Cloud9’s, these acquisitions should definitely be upgrades. Nisqy brought a level of consistency to the mid lane, which Envy did not have prior to starting him. Seraph was a starter for the team over a longer period of time, but played much less consistently. Febiven earned first team All-Pro in the 2017 European LCS Summer Split, and Solo was a top performer in the North American Challenger Series.

Envy’s jungler and bottom lane were huge contributors to the team’s Summer Split success. They were able to secure a playoff spot, and took CLG to five games in the quarterfinals. With stronger top and mid laners, Clutch Gaming may be able to reach the next level and push even farther. They also brought on David Lim, who led Team Liquid Academy during their promotion into the LCS and Team Liquid during the 2017 Spring Split.

Beyond a possibly underrated roster, the Houston Rockets’ Clutch Gaming identity within the LCS remains unclear. Sebastian Park, their Head of Esports, seems confident in the team’s potential, and the organization has teased analytical tools for optimizing talent scouting, including a “pathfinding engine.” If these types of developments pan out, then Clutch Gaming could become the Moneyball team in the NA LCS.

Echo Fox: The Aggressors

Dardoch and Fenix join Echo Fox for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

List the most aggressive players in the NA LCS over the past two years, and several of Echo Fox’s reported members are likely to pop up. Huni, Dardoch and Fenix are well-known hawkish competitors. Altec and Adrian began building a similar reputation in the 2017 Summer Split, as well. Echo Fox has combined these aggressors into one squad to completely revamp into 2018.

Drama and tension are the other side of this aggression coin. Dardoch and Fenix had their fair share of issues while on Team Liquid in 2016, as showcased in Breaking PointAdrian had his own problems on Phoenix1 in the 2017 Spring Split. These types of off-stage obstacles could bubble up once again without the proper infrastructure.

FOX’s new look is also a departure from the previous Froggen-centric 10-man roster and the Stream Dream Team (Delta Fox). Echo Fox could never develop any synergy on their LCS roster during Summer Split, due to constantly rotating starters. Froggen’s status is still unknown (although Jacob Wolf reported that FOX plans to drop him), but even if he stays, he will no longer be the only voice on the team. This new Echo Fox will have the highest performance variance, as most of the members rely on emotional momentum to succeed. If this roster is able to mesh and remain problem-free, then Echo Fox could reap huge rewards from this huge risk.

FlyQuest: A chemistry experiment

Flame joins FlyQuest for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

One of the few fully announced rosters, FlyQuest is completely revamped for 2018. Following the trend of keystone figures switching teams, Hai is no longer FlyQuest’s mid laner. Balls, Moon and Lemonnation are gone, as well. Instead, FlyQuest acquired Flame, Anda, Fly and Stunt as starters. They also signed Keane and Shrimp, as well as Ngo, Erry and Jayj from the University of Toronto’s collegiate team. Wildturtle is the only remaining member from the 2017 roster.

Other than Flame, these players feel middle of the pack individually. Anda and Fly are untested in the LCS, but have played in the NA Challenger Series with varying success. Wildturtle can spike fairly high, but generally relies on his teammates to play around his style. Stunt was the on-and-off starter during his time on Phoenix1.

Unlocking these players’ ceilings will be FlyQuest’s greatest challenge in 2018. With the proper synergy, FlyQuest could certainly rise higher than their 2017 Summer Split. Communication problems are more likely, though. Wildturtle has veteran experience, but he may not be a loud voice to build a team around. The rookies, Anda and Stunt, will rely on Wildturtle to be a leader and gel together with the Korean imports, Flame and Fly. Keane and Shrimp are smart pick-ups, since they worked fairly well with Ssumday on Dignitas, and could bring that experience into FlyQuest.

Golden Guardians: Hai and Company

Hai joins Golden Guardians for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Hai kick-starts a new organization in 2018, Golden Guardians, and he is basically their only hope. The Golden State Warriors-owned organization has reportedly acquired Lourlo, Contractz, Deftly and Matt. This roster would be the only one in the NA LCS without any imported players. Golden Guardians also seem to have the least combined LCS experience. These two factors will leave many fans wondering what reasoning was used to construct this team.

Golden Guardians will live or die by Hai in 2018. He is surrounded by relatively young players who have never played for more than one previous organization. LCS fans were impressed with Moon’s performance on FlyQuest with Hai as a shotcaller, but that success was short-lived. If Hai is able to unlock Lourlo, Contractz, Deftly and Matt the same way, then Golden Guardians could surprise.

ESPN also reported Locodoco as the Golden Guardians’ head coach, which could be helpful. He has experience coaching younger players on Team Liquid and Gold Coin United, including Lourlo and Matt. It would be surprising if Golden Guardians kept these same five members as their starters throughout 2018. Without the pressure of relegation, this organization could be taking the opportunity to develop younger native talents with Hai’s proven leadership.

Optic Gaming: The HodgePodge

PowerOfEvil joins Optic Gaming for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

A true concoction, Optic Gaming enters the NA LCS pulling together a wide variety of talents. The “Green Wall” is an expansive organization spanning Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, Overwatch and other esports. They have announced their acquisition of Romain Bigeard, ex-manager of Unicorns of Love, and Zaboutine, former caster, as manager and coach. ESPN has reported the starting roster as Zig, Akaadian, PowerOfEvil, Arrow and LemonNation.

If all of this is true, then Optic is combining rising stars in top and jungle with an experimental European mid laner, an up-and-down Korean AD carry and an analytical, veteran support. The roster will be led by an eccentric manager-mascot and a French caster-turned-coach, and they will have the full support of an esports powerhouse brand. There are some strong pieces to this puzzle, but they are not necessarily a clean fit.

The Optic LCS team seems like it may sit somewhere between 100 Thieves and FlyQuest. Optic is definitely a well-known esports organization, and they should draw a fan-base. The first-person shooter edge and player recognition of 100 Thieves combines with the questionable roster synergy of FlyQuest. Romain is a promotional personality with a knack for creating content and winning hearts, so expect Optic to use him to full effect. There is certainly plenty of talent on this roster, but it may take a while for them to actually produce favorable results.

Team Liquid: Vengeful Spirits

Doublelift joins Team Liquid for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The hoarders of the off-season, Team Liquid emerges with a complete roster overhaul. After acquiring contracts for several different players, Liquid has most likely settled on Impact, Xmithie, Pobelter, Doublelift and Olleh. This five-man group feels much stronger and intuitive than Liquid’s team from 2017 Summer Split. Xmithie, Pobelter and Olleh are proven talents who made up three fifths of Immortals’ World Championship-qualifying roster. Impact had a mostly off year, but still solid during the high points. Doublelift comes to Liquid after being replaced by TSM.

Revenge is the overarching theme for Team Liquid going into 2018. Owner Steve Arhancet wants revenge for his last two years of roster troubles. The ex-Immortals players want revenge for losing to TSM in the Summer Split finals, then being denied from the franchised LCS. Most importantly, Doublelift wants revenge for getting nudged out of TSM.

With Cain remaining as head coach, Team Liquid should trend towards the top of the league. If this roster is unable to perform, then it will be a complete disgrace. All of these players have been victorious in the past. Each of these players have attended the World Championship, many of them as teammates. 2018 serves as a fresh start for Team Liquid and Steve, and they need to use their past frustrations as fuel. Dardoch is not an excuse. Piglet is not an excuse. Goldenglue is not an excuse. It is time for Liquid to put up or shut up.

TSM: the final boss

Zven and mithy join TSM for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Citing international shortcomings and issues with shotcalling and communication, TSM’s owner, Reginald, decided to replace Svenskeren, Doublelift and Biofrost with MikeYeung, Zven and Mithy. He also picked up Coach Ssong from Immortals’ dissolved team. The six-time NA LCS champions continue to adapt and reinvigorate their roster, and TSM will remain as the final boss in 2018. Every individual player on this team should be top three in their role at the beginning of the season.

MikeYeung is the only player worth questioning. He showcased an explosive Rift Rivals in 2017, but Phoenix1 fell off as a team afterwards. Fans will find out how meta-dependent MikeYeung is in 2018.

Hauntzer was the standout player at Worlds, and he had an all-around stellar 2017. Bjergsen continues to be an anchor in the mid lane, ever-present, ever-consistent. Zven and Mithy’s reputation precedes them, as they have been a package deal since their time on Origen starting in 2014.

TSM’s performance floor is higher than several LCS teams’ ceilings, because the consistency and experience on this team should be solid. Ssong obviously factored into Immortals’ Summer Split success. If he can produce even a portion of that improvement with TSM, then they have a fruitful road ahead. With so much volatility in the off-season, TSM is one of the only teams to maintain the same identity as the villain of the league. They are the team that assumes North American dominance, and shoots for greatness abroad. Franchising has opened doors for some others to compete financially and strategically, but will they actually have what it takes to dethrone the kings?

credits

Featured Image: Akshon Esports Twitter

Other Images: LoL Esports’ Flickr

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DreamLeague

DreamLeague 8: The competition

The second Major of the competitive season is upon us. Since the last major, the point totals have seen some shuffling, and the game itself has been patched. While Virtus.Pro has been sitting pretty at the top, the 1500 points that are on the line could change that quickly. Of course if Virtus.Pro wins DreamLeague as well, they will further cement their spot in TI8. They’re not the only ones with their eye on the prize though, so let’s take a look at their competition.

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

 

 

 

Liquid has shown no signs of slowing down after a dominant start to the season. Currently they are the only team to have won more than one tournament this season. Liquid continue to prove that they are a team to be reckoned with, and I doubt anyone would be surprised if they were the team to take the lead in the rankings after DreamLeague.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

 

 

Newbee is fresh off the heels of a victory at the Perfect World Masters tournament. It is clear they are not going to let their TI runner-up stigma effect their performance moving forward. Though soul-crushing at the time, they have bounced back well. During the Chinese Qualifiers for DreamLeague, they only dropped a single game. Newbee is clearly the pinnacle of Chinese DotA right now, and we can expect good games from them at DreamLeague.

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Team Secret is looking for redemption after falling just short of first place at the last Major. Fortunately for them, their second place finish at ESL One also puts them at second place on the current rankings leaderboard. Their chances at the Perfect World Masters Tournament was hamstrung by a personal emergency that left them without MidOne, but the gang is back together now and ready to give it their all.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 3 – Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Aurora

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

 

It has not been the best year for Evil Geniuses so far. As it stands, the team has only managed to secure a single third place victory this season. That being said, they pulled it together for the DreamLeague NA Qualifiers, and only dropped a single game. This could be a sign that they are trying something new, or getting more familiar with the patch. The team will definitely have to step up their game if they hope to perform on the main stage. So far though, their chances do not look the greatest.

Fnatic

ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao

Position 2 – Steve “Xcalibur” Ye

Position 3 – Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin

Position 4 – Djardel “DJ” Mampusti

Position 5 – Johan “pieliedie” Åström

 

 

Fnatic is the first team on the list without a single Qualifying Point to their name. Though their 7-8th place finishes at ESL One and Dota PIT earned them some prize money, that money will not help them secure a spot at TI. That being said, Fnatic have been looking better and better over just the last two weeks. They achieved first place in both the DotA Summit SEA Qualifiers and the DreamLeague SEA Qualifiers. I don’t know what possibly could have happened to warrant this 180 turn, but Fnatic may just be a real contender in this tournament if they can hold on to this momentum.

Infamous

PGL Open, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Alonso “Kotaro Hayama” León

Position 2 – Mariano “Papita” Caneda

Position 3 – Steven “StingeR” Vargas

Position 4 – Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña

Position 5 – Christian “Accel” Cruz

 

 

 

Not much has been heard from Infamous since their disappointing finish at PGL Open Bucharest. They succeeded in taking first place at the World Cyber Arena tournament in South America last month, but since then they have only been playing in qualifiers. This tells me that my previous evaluation of them may have been true. In the confines of the small South American scene, Infamous are kings on the playground. Unfortunately this does not translate well to success on the world stage. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a team from an underrepresented DotA scene succeed. Everyone can remember how hype Ad Finem’s run through the Boston Major was last year right? It makes me sad to say that I’m unsure if Infamous is the team to bring that hype back given their poor performance recently.

Virtus.Pro

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Roman “RAMZES666” Kuchnarev

Position 2 – Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko

Position 3 – Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov

Position 4 – Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk

Position 5 – Alexei “Solo” Berezin

 

 

The champions of the last Major are back to prove they can do it again. However, their DreamLeague qualifier performance does not exactly inspire the utmost confidence from their fans. They were only one loss away from being tied with OG at 7-7 and forcing a tie breaker. At the same time they recently crushed the DotA Summit CIS Qualifier by beating Na’Vi 3-1 when Na’Vi is looking strong. I have no doubt Virtus.Pro will make the top 4 at DreamLeague, but they need to bring their A game if they hope to win another Major.

Na’Vi

Na'Vi, i-League, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek

Position 2 – Danil “Dendi” Ishutin

Position 3 – Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini

Position 4 – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan

Position 5 – Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

 

 

I could gush about Na’Vi’s return to relevance in the DotA 2 scene for hours. This team has had a rough few years, but things finally seem to be turning around. Fellow Game Haus writer Eli Sherman already wrote a great article on the topic, which echoes many of my sentiments as well. You can find that article here.

DreamLeague Season 8 will take place in Jönköping, Sweeden from Dec 1st – Dec 3rd.


Featured image courtesy of dreamleague.dreamhack.com

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A look at the teams not in the NBA 2K League

17 teams are entering the NBA 2K League. That is more than half of the 30 teams in the NBA participating in the 2K League’s inaugural season. While a few teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers have deeper roots in esports than others, there are 13 teams waiting for their opportunity to enter the scene.

Eventually the NBA would want every team to join the NBA 2K League. I’m optimistic that it’s not a matter of if they’ll join, it’s a matter of when they’ll join. The NBA 2K League will thrive with more competition synonymous to the NBA. As a result it will present excellent opportunities for the community as well.

Who are these teams?

  1. Atlanta Hawks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Charlotte Hornets
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Denver Nuggets
  6. Houston Rockets
  7. LA Clippers
  8. Los Angeles Lakers
  9. Minnesota Timberwolves
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
  11. Oklahoma City Thunder
  12. Phoenix Suns
  13. San Antonio Spurs

Business as usual

While a number of teams don’t have any reported esports experience, they have the business experience to make the NBA 2K League a success. In a marriage between esports and traditional sports, it’s a transition that’ll help grow both industries for the world to see.

There are three teams that have their feet wet in the esports landscape and have created successful moves. But because these teams have esports experience doesn’t necessarily mean they’re locked in for season two nor does it mean that the other 10 teams are less likely to join either.

Denver Nuggets

One of the two Los Angeles teams in the Overwatch League. Courtesy of LA Gladiators via Twitter.

Josh Kroenke, Nuggets President, and his father Stan Kroenke co-own the Los Angeles Gladiators after securing a league spot in the Overwatch League. Blizzard set a $20 million fee to own a regional franchise in the Overwatch League and the Kroenke’s can pay the bill.

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment is a sports and entertainment holding company based in Denver with control over five professional sports franchises. The Kroenke’s own numerous Colorado sports franchises including the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids and the Colorado Mammoth.

With the Los Angeles Gladiators as their first venture into the esports landscape, the Denver Nuggets joining the NBA 2K League next season is a possibility.

Houston Rockets

Clutch Gaming has a spot in the NA LCS. Courtesy of Clutch Gaming via Twitter.

Tilman Fertitta, Rockets Owner, owns Clutch Gaming after securing a league spot in the North American League of Legends Championship Series. The Clutch Gaming brand coincidentally inspired from the nickname given to the Houston Rockets, Clutch City.

It also helps that Daryl Morey, Rockets General Manager, is an avid supporter of esports and joined the MLG Board of Directors back in 2013. In an interview with ESPN, he spoke esports as “[t]he 1950s basketball right now, where there’s that kind of opportunity.”

 

 

There’s enough esports involvement to believe the Houston Rockets will eventually make their way into the NBA 2K League sooner rather than later.

Los Angeles Lakers

Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson. Courtesy of Fox Sports.

Magic Johnson, Lakers President of Basketball Operations, is an investor for aXiomatic which has an ownership in Team Liquid. Johnson is no stranger to business and Team Liquid may be his first stop among many in his esports career.

Other traditional sports figures include former Lakers, Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal, who are making waves of their own. Both Echo Fox and NRG are continuing to grow and recruit the best talent in their respected esports.

Meanwhile both Northern California teams, the Warriors and Kings, are in the NBA 2K League this year. There’s a lot of opportunity in a large market like Los Angeles and we hope to see the Lakers and Clippers soon.

 

Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.

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Worlds

Impact denying SKT T1 offer has several meanings

Free agency is here for those involved with League of Legends and along with that comes plenty of news about who will be on what team in 2018. One of those free agents is Eonyoung “Impact” Jeong, the former top laner for Cloud 9 and reportedly the newest member of Team Liquid. Before any reports came out about which team he signed with, there was another report stating he denied an offer from SK telecom T1. While it’s not weird to deny an offer from any team, this is one of the best teams in the world that we’re talking about. There are several reasons why he might have denied their offer, one of them being money.

more money, less stress

impact

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

According to the ESPN podcast, Impact stands to make around $1 million with his new contract which would keep him in the North American League. While he could probably make that much and more if he went back to South Korea, it wouldn’t be without a lot of stress. SKT has just lost in the World Championship and lost in the final of the Summer Split. They are coming back next year with something to prove and that is going to be a lot of stress placed on the team as they chase glory. That might not sound so appealing to someone who is a World Champion already, is one year away from becoming a resident player and is placed in North America where franchising has begun.

Samsung galaxy

Samsung Galaxy, Impact

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Not only Samsung Galaxy, but Longzhu Gaming proved that you don’t need to be part of SKT to win anymore. While it might help immensely going by their past record, we live in an era where other teams have a good shot at winning. It’ll probably help a lot more to be part of the LCK to do so and even then the other teams that might beat SKT are slim pickings, that’s still a lot more than in the past. When a team known for constantly being the best go in a rebuilding year that’s when other teams get to shine. League of Legends will see another time where SKT rules over, but that’s not what is currently happening.

faker

Faker, Impact

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

As mentioned before, Impact has already won Worlds, he has the title forever attached to his name. He still has plenty of things to do now that North America has started to franchise. It wouldn’t be surprising if he didn’t want his name and his legacy always attached to Faker. It might seem like a trivial problem because who wouldn’t want the best player to have ever played League attached to their legacy, but fans have seen it time and time again. SKT does well in their region and crushes at Worlds, some players on SKT along with Faker get a lot of praise and then usually someone leaves to another team or region to strike out of their own. It’s one thing to be considered the best with Faker by your side and it’s another when you realize how far you can go without him.

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

The North American Challenger Series will revamp in 2018

How franchising will revamp the North American Challenger Series in 2018

The North American Challenger Series has operated for several reasons in the past. Established organizations sat in time-out, as they wait to re-qualify into the LCS. New players showcased their abilities on rag-tag teams. Veterans tried their hands at building a squad to relive the glory days. Others put together rosters hoping to challenge the bottom-feeders of the LCS.

2018 is going to be different. The NA LCS is franchising, which will remove the promotion-relegation system. Each organization is required to field a 10-man roster–five for LCS, and five for an Academy team. The CS will mirror the LCS as a double round robin of best-of-ones. Riot stated that their goal with this updated Challenger Series is “developing future stars of the NA LCS.” Here are the major steps towards fulfilling this primary goal in 2018.

expand the size of the league

The 2017 Scouting Grounds will introduce 10 new players into professional League of Legends

Image from lolesports.com

Since 2015, North America has fielded six teams for the Challenger Series. These teams won their way in through an open qualifier bracket, or by carrying over from a prior series. Starting in 2018 the Challenger Series will expand to 10 teams, one for each LCS team. This expansion will open up a minimum of 40 new spots for players to fill.

A shallow talent pool, a small financial pie and a lack of resources could have been problems in the past. However, with the revenue-sharing model of franchising, Riot and the 10 LCS organizations should be able to reconcile these issues. Teams will be more likely to offer higher salaries to more of their starters, pulling experienced players, like Cris, GBM, or Santorin, from CS into LCS. Investing into Scouting Grounds will further help increase the available talent pool, and this year each team is required to draft one player. League of Legends organizations must acquire 10 total players directly from Scouting Grounds. Riot can also incorporate incoming revenue from organizations buying slots into producing the higher volume of broadcasts necessary in a 10-team CS league.

Even if 16-20 players in the Challenger Series are already established, the broadened league would still present 30 or more slots for others to begin their esports careers. By simply introducing more young players into the system, Riot and the franchised LCS will develop much more talent for the future. This is just one element of the 2018 Challenger Series that will result in more North American star players.

Limit Veteran and Import Players

Riot will restrict veterans and imports in the 2018 Challenger Series

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

How can a team develop future stars when past and current stars are taking up roughly 50 percent of all Challenger slots (~16 out of 32)? If the goal of the CS is to advance players from the solo queue ladder into the LCS, then Riot will need to create clear guidelines regarding veteran and import players. They will also need to define these terms in a way that reinforces the CS space as a “minor league,” while avoiding limiting the full potential of these organizations.

Grza, Senior Manager of Riot Esports Operations, mentioned “there will be limits on the amount of veteran players and imported players that can play in Academy games,” while noting “there will be a lot of fluidity between game rosters.” For example, Riot may dictate that each Academy team must always start a majority of rookie and sophomore North American players. That would mean three of the five players in each match would need to have started one or fewer years of professional League of Legends. By this definition, CLG Academy and EUnited would be the only two teams from the 2017 Summer Split to meet the standards.

Otherwise, Riot could restrict each team to one veteran and one import, or only one veteran or import. These provisions would quickly disqualify many of the past Academy teams, but make room for several more inexperienced players. Riot should still allow imports and veterans in the Challenger Series, because playing with these players can guide budding stars in communication, out-of-game growth and overall maturity. It would also provide opportunities for talented imports to practice English or adapt to North American culture prior to entering the LCS. Veterans may get the opportunity to become leaders or gain team captain experience. Development is not only restricted to young American and Canadian players. This is all another way to develop talent in the new Academy teams.

Tie CS teams to LCS Organizations

Academy teams will be directly attached to LCS teams in 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Every Academy team will have a parent organization that is fit to operate an LCS team. This association brings numerous benefits. The Challenger Series will introduce new players to esports in a way no others have in the past. These organizations will provide the same high-quality financial, legal and professional resources to their Challenger players as their LCS players.

This connection removes any opportunity for shady businesses and unscrupulous owners to take advantage of inexperienced, talented players. Organizations will not fail to pay their players, or fail to give them proper housing, or fail to provide gaming equipment. The owners and managers will treat the players with all the respect of a professional, and this is the true opportunity for development.

LCS teams were able to have sister squads in the Challenger Series in the past. For example, Team Liquid and Cloud9 owned Academy teams in 2016, but used them in different ways. Five veteran players composed Cloud9’s team, and only incorporated Contractz when Rush decided to return to Korea. It was obvious they were farming a strong Challenger team with hopes of promoting into the LCS and cashing in on a buy-out. Liquid started almost exclusively rookies, until they benched Piglet from the LCS in favor of fabbbyyy. Dardoch, Moon, Goldenglue and Stunt promoted into the LCS from this roster, which is the point of the Challenger Series. Cloud9’s 2016 roster is an example of what this new minor league will avoid, while Liquid’s 2016 line-up would be perfect going into 2018.

Remove Relegation

Relegation is removed for the 2018 North American Challenger Series

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

In 2017, Team Liquid, Echo Fox and Phoenix1 already experimented with rotating starters and roster changes in the LCS. However, they took these steps to avoid relegation, rather than developing new talent. They were not bringing in properly vetted Academy players due to proper seasoning. The organizations demoted their starters due to poor performance and fear of relegation. Riot is removing relegation and promotion in 2018, which should end this unstable practice.

This is a momentous change in the history of North American League of Legends. Audiences watch at the end of every split, as teams battle to the death for the well-being of their organizations. If an LCS team demotes, then they almost certainly fail to bring in enough revenue. Relegation is a huge loss, and promotion is a huge win for organizations trying to curry favor with sponsors. Team Liquid, Echo Fox and Phoenix1 were scrambling out of anxiety towards relegation, rather than hope towards star players.

Riot will still maintain a certain level of competitive integrity, though. According to Grza, “if a team finishes in ninth or tenth for five out of eight splits, the league can remove them.” Under these circumstances, it would take four full years before the first team is relegated. Spreading the pressure of relegation over eight splits, rather than compressed into one, makes it much more tolerable.

Organizations can focus on the big picture–branding, infrastructure and developing talent. Teams can sign multi-year contracts with players that they hope to bolster into the next big North American talent. They can experiment with coaches and other staff to provide the proper guidance necessary for growth. Owners can invest in spaces and equipment to give their roster the edge over their opponents.

Combining the expansion of the Challenger league, limiting veterans and imports, attaching Academies to LCS teams and dropping relegation, the 2018 Challenger Series will provide a more optimized environment for developing future stars. The stabilized financial system will allow organizations to make longer commitments to young diamonds in the rough. There will be fewer instances of player mistreatment that might scare some away. More slots will open for the next tier of North American players to fill, instead of meme teams and others. Think of 2018 as a planting season. Riot and the LCS is investing into the seeds of today, hoping they produce a harvest in the future.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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Can Team Liquid finally break the “forever fourth” curse?

With the off-season underway, many roster moves have been rumored in the past few weeks. Most notably, Team Liquid has been rumored to be stockpiling North American talent. We already know owner Steve Arhancet isn’t afraid to pay with big dollars for players. With Team Liquid being accepted into franchising, even more money will be available for the team to spend on big name players.

becoming immortal

This may be a meme, but Team Liquid have been one of the most active teams this off-season. With Immortals being rejected from the NA LCS, many of their players were up for grabs. Team Liquid was quick to pull the trigger in acquiring 3/5 starting members from their roster.

Jacob Wolf first reported that they acquired the contracts of former Immortals players Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, Andy “AnDa” Hoang, Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Cody “Cody Sun” Sun. Xmithie, Pobelter and Cody Sun have built up synergy having qualified for Worlds last year and placing second with Immortals. AnDa is seen more as a project player who was a sub on the Immortals team.

Xmithie was regarded as the best jungler in NA during the Summer Split. His improvement was a major reason why Immortals qualified for their first World Championship after narrowly losing to TSM. The meta became extremely favorable towards his style and he flourished because of it.

Pobelter has often been regarded as the best mid lane talent actually from North America. He’s been in the scene from a young age and actually started out on team Curse. He is valuable as a talented player who doesn’t take an import slot.

Cody Sun may have struggled at Worlds, but during the regular split him and Olleh were one of the better bot lane duos. He’ll look to build off a solid rookie season in which we saw him improve vastly from spring to summer.

Adding more star power

Photo by: Riot Esports

We may have thought Team Liquid was done after acquiring most of the Immortals roster, but there was more. News broke  from ESPN’s Jacob Wolf that Team Liquid would be acquiring Cloud 9 top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. This is huge if it’s true. Impact has shown to be one of the best top laners in the world when he’s at his best. Having to sub out last year showed inconsistencies in his play, but if he’s a full time starter he can prove that he’s one of the best again.

Impact has been praised for his improved communication and mechanics. He also has one year left before he can become an “NA resident” player which could be valuable moving forward.

Lastly, Team Liquid have been rumored by The ScoreEsports to have acquired star ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Doubelift has been a star domestically. Arguably one of the strongest ADC’s in the west, acquiring Doublelift would be a huge addition. During his time at TSM, Doublelift has been heavily criticized for his international performances. Domestically, he’s a monster, but we’ll need to see that he’s not burning out as being one of the first pros of the LoL scene.

What Will the Lineup Be?

While Team Liquid have been in many rumors of adding loads of talent, nobody knows what their actual lineup will be. Does the addition of Xmithie mean the end for former star Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin? Team Liquid also acquired Korean mid laner Son “Mickey” Young-min towards the end of last split.

They’re also rumored to have two new ADC’s with Cody Sun and Doublelift. Does this spell the retirement of Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin? Will they stick to their “10 man” roster with the Academy team? No team has been able to successfully make six man rosters work outside of Korea. Team Liquid’s owner, Steve Arhancet, seems to be serious about winning. With these additions they might be able to finally break their “forever fourth” curse and find their way to Worlds.

With many new teams entering the scene, Team Liquid at least have the advantage of having been in the LCS for so long. They should know by now how to win and build a successful team. With the money available now more than ever, they’ll need to show that they can rise above the rest.

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

 

 

Pro Circuit

DotA Pro Circuit: Balanced or broken?

By now the new DotA 2 Pro Circuit system probably feels familiar, as if it has always been there. Finally though, we have a system that transparently dictates which teams receive invites to The International. Invites in previous years have been met with a wide range of criticism from fans who follow the scene closely. “But what about X team?” they ask. “They’ve won two of the past three tournaments they’ve participated in! Surely they are worthy of an invite.” Conversely, fans have questioned the inclusion of teams they considered unworthy of skipping the highly competitive qualifiers. The question now becomes, is this new Pro Circuit system the final solution? Perhaps it is just a step in the right direction.

Transparency is good

Pro Circuit

Image courtesy of dota2.com

Fans like to be kept in the loop. It is plain and simple. The lack of visibility into Valve’s previous selection criteria was problematic. It put some fans in a sour mood before the opening ceremonies even began. Though they undoubtedly enjoyed some high quality DotA in the end, Valve never wants their 20+ million dollar tournament to start off on the wrong foot. The new system definitely addresses these concerns. By the end of the final tournament before TI8, or maybe even before that for a few teams, the masses will know exactly who has earned those coveted invites to the biggest tournament of the year.

There are other benefits to this new system as well. Because the Qualifying Points are awarded to players and not to organizations, rosters are incentivized to stay together if they are performing well. Too many times in the past have we seen a team win a tournament only to immediately drop players for unknown reasons. Team Secret dropped Aliwi “w33” Omar and Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen after winning the Shanghai Major in 2016. Perhaps the most memorable instance of this behavior is when Evil Geniuses dropped Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling shortly after taking the Aegis at TI5. When points are attached to these winning players, these kinds of changes are far less likely. Hopefully this change will make the competitive scene less volatile, and thus easier to follow.

But there are always problems

Of course there are two sides to every argument. One could easily argue that despite good performance, any player creating friction in a team game can be mentally exhausting for all involved. This will undoubtedly hurt a team in the long run. Peter “PPD” Dager eventually went on to explain that no amount of winning was worth the stress he was going through working with Aui. Now I know that after TI, the point values will reset, but let’s play pretend for a second. If Evil Geniuses had just won a Major with Aui instead, would they have let him go? A DotA 2 Major is worth a whopping 750 points per player on the winning team. A loss of that many points could take a series of wins to make up for. This brings me nicely into my next point.

A victory at a Major is worth a full five times the amount of Qualifying Points as a Minor. This disparity seems incredible, especially considering that points are never awarded below fourth place no matter the event. Any team would have to win five Minor tournaments to even catch up to a team that has won a single Major. This disparity seems a little extreme, especially considering that many of these competitions see the same competitors.

Pro Circuit

Current Qualifying Points standings courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Say that Team Liquid, who has two first place Minor finishes and one third place Major finish, never win a Major this season. They need to win at least two more Minors to even tie Virtus.Pro, who won that first and only Major so far this season. Virtus.Pro is bound to continue participating in tournaments for the rest of the year, and their lead seems difficult to surmount. While a team of Liquid’s caliber might be up to the task, plenty of other great teams may fall short.

A great start

I am certainly not trying to say that this new Pro Circuit system is bad. Far from it! The Qualifying Points system makes seasons easy to follow, and informs viewers of tournament stakes outside of prize pools. However, the point disparity between Majors and Minors is alarming to me. Granted, the season is still young. We still have no idea how the greater part of the season is going to turn out. Everything could turn out fair and balanced, but I worry talented teams that succeed in Minors will find it hard to qualify without a Major win.

At the end of the day though, teams failing to earn Qualifying Points are not completely lost. Even if they do not manage to secure direct invites, they will still be able to work their way up through the Regional Qualifiers, or even the Open Qualifiers. Maybe that will be enough to balance the Pro Circuit. Only time will tell.


Featured Image from blog.dota2.com

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iBUYPOWER Masters 2017: The favourites

iBUYPOWER Masters 2017 starts today, with Cloud9, Liquid, Renegades, OpTic, Misfits, Luminosity, CLG and NRG in attendance. Only half of these teams have a chance at taking the title though. Let’s take a look at those teams.

Cloud9

iBUYPOWER Masters

Photo by: hltv.org

Cloud9 just came off a steaming hot victory at Dreamhack Denver, and even though the only team on their level attending was mousesports, they looked great. Aside from maybe Renegades, they look to be in the best form out of every team. Taking the wins (on LAN) that they should and not getting upset too much.

Placed in a group with Renegades, NRG and Luminosity, they are clear favourites to take the first seed in the group. And, unless an upset in Group B occurs allowing Liquid to face Cloud9, Cloud9 should have an easy path to the finals. The final will be a challenge regardless of whether it’s Renegades or Liquid; but Cloud9 should be the team to take the tournament.

Renegades

Out of the three victories that Liquid, Renegades and Cloud9 managed to get, Renegades achieved the best one. They got a victory at the Starladder i-League Invitational #2 over Virtus.Pro. Not only was it a victory, it was a domination. With a 2-0 over Virtus.Pro in the final, plus a Bo3 victory over HellRaisers, Renegades had a very impressive victory finally getting over their issue of choking away leads.

Renegades should end in the second seed for Group A underneath Cloud9, but there is always the chance for an upset sending them into the playoffs as the first seed. Although they’re not the easy favourites to win the tournament, they could definitely take the trophy at the end of everything.

Team Liquid

iBUYPOWER Masters

Photo by: hltv.org

Liquid have been looking weird since coming off of their double-final run after New York. Being unable to win a series at either ELEAGUE or EPICENTER, they went into the Americas minor with a couple question marks. They lost a Bo3 to Misfits but were able to come back and ended up taking the tournament.

In a group with OpTic, Misfits and CLG, it’s a possibility that Liquid could be upset or even eliminated in the group stage. With all that considered, Liquid should still make it out as the first seed, but it’s not guaranteed. Though, assuming the entire group stage is Bo1s, making it to the playoffs should ensure them at least making the final or taking the trophy.

OpTic Gaming

Being the only one out of the teams I’ve mentioned to not take a tournament in the recent future, they’re still one of the favourites just due to pure firepower. They have looked quite good online as well, although it doesn’t mean too much. They’re currently second in EPL although they’re only seventh in ECS. They did however qualify for IEM Oakland over Renegades.

Losing Bo3s against EnVyUs and Space Soldiers at the European minor means they’re probably unlikely to win against any of the three teams above in a Bo3 on LAN. But of course, since it is CS:GO, it is very possible for them to do anything. And, considering their firepower, they can definitely win matches with just pure aim.


Featured image via iBUYPOWER.

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ESL One

ESL One Hamburg: the competition

After Star Ladder and PGL Open Bucharest reintroduced competitive DotA in October, it’s finally time for the first Major of the year.  Unlike Minors which only award a total of 300 Qualifying Points, DotA 2 Majors quintuple that number.  The winning team of ESL One will earn more Qualifying Points than the total point pools of both previous Minors combined.  This will be enough to earn them a comfortable lead until the next Major drops in early December.  But this is a conversation for the future.  For now, let us take a look at the teams that will be competing in the highest stakes tournament of the year so far.

INVITED TEAMS

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

Liquid comes into ESL One on the heels of a victory at Star Ladder. Mineski proved themselves a capable team at the tournament, but not capable enough to triumph over the champions. As it turns out, Liquid hasn’t lost their touch in this patch despite taking a break after TI7. After all, they dropped only a single game in the entire tournament. At this point, Liquid seem to be the indisputable kings of the patch, but teams still have one last chance to change that. Regardless, Liquid are doubtless the favorites to win this tournament, and they seem poised and ready to do so.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

Newbee had a rough tournament at Star Ladder after being knocked out in the group stage by CompLexity and Secret. Though the team is comprised of great talent, Newbee seems to have lost their edge since TI7. Their second place finish there is doubtless what earned them their invite to ESL One, but after their showing at Star Ladder they are the team with the most to prove.

QUALIFIED TEAMS

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Though Secret managed third place at Star Ladder, they were eliminated in the group stage of PGL Open Bucharest. Their losses in the latter were to The Immortals and Infamous, South Korean and South American teams respectively.  Perhaps one can contribute their losses there to unfamiliarity with those two region’s playstyles. Regardless, they’re going to have to adapt if they hope to earn the lion’s share of the Qualifying Points from ESL One.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 3 – Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Aurora

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

Evil Genius showed us a mixed performance at PGL Open Bucharest. They made it to the playoffs, but proceeded to lose to LGD Gaming without taking a single game. More importantly though, EG showed us that they’re not willing to take some risks in the draft to earn a win. In their final game with VGJ.Thunder, an unorthodox offlane Bane pick coupled with a Drow Ranger strategy enabled them to dominate the laning stage.  Once the snowball started down the hill there was no stopping it. VGJ found themselves defeated after just over 20 minutes.

While EG finds wins with these “cute” strategies, they will need consistency to survive in this single elimination tournament.

Fnatic

ESL One

Roster:

Position 1 – Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao

Position 2 – Steve “Xcalibur” Ye

Position 3 – Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin

Position 4 – Djardel “DJ” Mampusti

Position 5 – Johan “pieliedie” Åström

Fnatic is a very different team than they were a few months ago. The departure of Mushi in February of this year lead to a volatile time for the team. After a series of additions and departures, this new roster sees EternaLEnVy taking the Captain’s help from DJ. Depending on how this succession of power occurred, this could be either a good thing or a bad thing for the team cohesion.

Say what you want about Jacky Mao, but he is an experienced player who knows his way around a game of DotA. His aggressive style could be the edge his team needs at ESL One. It could also lead to ill-advised team fights that turn into team wipes.

Keen Gaming

ESL One

Roster:

Position 1 – Jin “zhizhizhi” Zhiyi

Position 2 – Zhai “” Jingkai

Position 3 – Song “dark” Runxi

Position 4 – Jiang “佞臣” An

Position 5 – Chen “Rong” Jingwu

Keen Gaming may seem like an unknown brand, but they are originally an offshoot of the EHOME brand. This isn’t to say that the EHOME.Keen brand was especially popular or successful though. Nevertheless in September of this year the current roster of EHOME.Keen chose to part ways with the organization.

The truth is that some of the players on this team have been playing DotA 2 professionally for less than a year. Most would use that as an excuse to call their talent into question. One has to remember that they earned their spot in this major through the Chinese qualifiers. Now they just have to prove themselves on the world stage.

Virtus.Pro

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Roman “RAMZES666” Kuchnarev

Position 2 – Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko

Position 3 – Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov

Position 4 – Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk

Position 5 – Alexei “Solo” Berezin

Virtus.pro made a surprising announcement that they would not be changing their roster after TI7. Don’t get me wrong, their team is talented, but teams that have actually won major tournaments have dropped players in the past. Their decision to maintain the same roster shows their confidence, and to be fair they had a great showing at TI7.

The key to Virtus.Pros victory at ESL One is going to be young RAMZES. Not since SumaiL have we seen such a mix of youth and execution. While he can be overly optimistic in team fights, he has a tendency to get just the right kills to turn the tide.  He is definitely one to look out for in this tournament.

SG e-sports

ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Guilherme “FuckinEh” Costábile

Position 2 – Adriano “4dr” Machado

Position 3 – Rodrigo “Liposa” Santos

Position 4 – Thiago “Thiolicor” Cordeiro

Position 5 – Lucas “Bardo” Bardosa

SG e-sports managed to defeat Vici Gaming 2-0 at Star Ladder before being swept by both Mineski and Liquid. It’s hard to fault SG for those losses though, since Liquid and Mineski look like the two strongest teams so far this season.  While their win’s against Vici were far from one sided, they showed solid teamwork throughout the series.  It seems like they can compete with some of the big players in the scene. Hopefully they’ve been studying their defeats leading up to the biggest tournament of the season so far.

ESL One Hamburg will run from Oct 26th – Oct 29th.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Ben!

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