Songs of praise for 2017’s Call of Duty World League Championship

The culmination of every Call of Duty season is the World League Championship and this year was no different. It’s no secret that Infinite Warfare has been, let’s say, disappointing but I believe this championship to be one of the most memorable of all time in spite of that. In this article, I’ll pick out a few of the things that made this Worlds a pleasure for both competitors and fans alike.

A multitude of teams

Despite OpTic Gaming going into the tournament as favorites, it wasn’t as clear cut as previous years. Due to IW’s erratic nature, any of EnVyUs, eUnited, Splyce or Luminosity could have won the event on their day.

OpTic had to beat Anaheim champions Luminosity to get to the final. [Source: MLG]

When these teams clashed they produced amazing series worth re-watching while we wait for WWII: OpTic narrowly beating Splyce to defeat the seventh place meme, EnVy’s ridiculous comeback against eUnited and EnVy sending OpTic to the lower bracket, to name a few. Any times these teams had to face off against one another you could feel the tension. After EnVy forced OpTic to play against Luminosity, I’m sure Green Wall fans were worried their team would fall short again.

You even had Rise Nation and FaZe Clan making last ditch efforts to save their dismal seasons. At one point I thought a Team Revenge style run was on the cards. It made the majority of series thrilling to watch.

A beautiful venue

Last year was the first time Call of Duty had used an arena as a venue. At the time we were all in awe at how CoD could fill such a venue, but, looking back, that stage was nowhere near as beautiful as the Amway Centre.

At Call of Duty XP, the players were in towering booths away from the crowd meaning the fans couldn’t as easily see or hear the players. This, in turn, meant that fans were less likely to get hyped about huge plays and players less likely to feed off of the crowd’s energy. This year we got the open stage we are used to seeing, filled with an array of lights to make sure all eyes stayed focused on the CoD at hand.

From the stream, it also looked like the crowd was more tightly packed in this time. The upper rank and the floor looked pretty close, making it easier for quieter fans to get involved with the chanting when it’s going on all around them.  My final point is that the lesser amount of large venues this year made the fact that it was being held in this huge stadium all the more exciting.

Multi-stream, multi-stage

MLG’s decision to run four streams in the group stage on all of MLG.tv, Twitch and YouTube is something to be proud of. While there may have been a few hiccups with the audio and flickering video, for the most part it was solid.

The schedule was easy enough to follow using the graphic on the World League Twitter and meant that the tournament could be run with the best format with all the players having the same downtime between games. This is something other esports such as Counter-Strike and League of Legends have been ridiculed for. Maybe it’s time they took a leaf out of Call of Duty’s book.

Another surprise was the decision to give the Bravo stream its own stage, directly below the main one. This is the first time I’ve seen this happen in esports and I would say it was successful. Fans could enjoy the juiciest matches’ full screen and then watch the Bravo stream in-between the Alpha games. There were times when the loser of the game on the main stage would play the winner of the team on the lower stage, making it all the more exciting for fans as they could see both games as they were unfolding.

Four teams played simultaneously at the World Championship. [Source: Reddit u/theesportstv]

To the fans

And finally, thanks to the fans for showing up and supporting what they love. All the chanting, funny signs and talking down caster’s microphones only made the stream more entertaining for us stuck at home watching from our bedrooms. It’s amazing that even with such a lackluster title this year everyone made the effort to support the biggest event of the year. Hopefully, it’s a sign of even better things to come when we ditch the jetpacks in November.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of Astro Gaming.

RLXL

RLXL supports Doctors Without Borders

It’s time to support an international health directive with a bit of high flying, rocket-powered car soccer. RocketLeagueXL, or RLXL, is putting on The Open to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders. Psyonix is an official sponsor of the event.

RLXL

RLXL

Image courtesy of twitch.tv/rlxl

RLXL is a Rocket League supergroup of sorts. With nearly 30 different community organizations involved in The Open, RLXL hosts Rocket League tournaments with a charitable benefit in mind. The group has put on other benefit events in the past as well.

Extra Life is an organization benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Extra Life participants sign up for a 24-hour gaming marathon, on a day of their choosing, and ask for donations to the cause. RLXL raised over $10,000 during their Extra Life tournament. In another benefit tournament, RLXL raised over $3,500 in an effort to help a Rocket League caster and community member, Stephen “Shalthis” Perry, return home to his family. This has just been the beginning.

With The Open, RLXL seeks to continue their charitable impact, perhaps with their biggest event to date. Twenty-seven community organizations from five different regions banded together to make the RLXL Open possible.

The Open

The Open will consist of five separate regional tournaments. Each regional tournament pits teams and players against each other in their own unique, mostly nonstandard formats.

The tournament modes set the stage for the charity event. Since nonstandard game styles take away some of the competitive edge, it reminds players and audience members to keep it lighthearted. It is not meant to be a serious showdown such as the Rocket League Championship Series or other tournaments with large prize pools. The main purpose is to raise money for Doctors Without Borders and give the community some unpredictable and unusual Rocket League in the process.

Regional Formats

Here are the tournament styles for each region:

  • European players will come head to head in a one versus one recharge showdown. Instead of picking up boost pads, players’ boost will slowly auto-recharge.
  • South American players will compete in a standard two versus two match.
  • North American players are set to play three versus three no goal reset. In no goal reset, instead of being reset for a kickoff after a goal is scored, the ball is set back to the middle of the pitch and gameplay continues. The clock doesn’t stop and players kickoff from wherever they already are on the field.
  • Asian players are going up against each other in a two versus two Dropshot tournament. Dropshot is the latest
    RLXL

    Dropshot. Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

    official mode added by Psyonix, in which tiles on the floor become the goal. Played with an electrified ball, the intensity increases through three stages the longer the ball is kept in the air. When the ball touches the ground, tiles light up to show they are primed. Primed tiles are knocked out of the floor, to create gates, once they are hit a second time. Players aim to get the ball into these gates to score.

  • Oceanic players have perhaps the most intense, and certainly the most interesting, matches ahead of them. The OCE tournament combines two of Psyonix’s official game modes, Dropshot and Rumble, into a three versus three clash. Take Dropshot, mentioned above, and add in Rumble power-ups. For those who don’t know, Rumble grants every player one of 11 power-ups 10 seconds after kickoff. The game mode resets the timer to 10 seconds after a player uses his or her power-up, counting down until the next one.

When, Where and Who

RLXL

Image courtesy of rocketleague.com

The RLXL Open will take place on Aug. 4 and 5 at varying, convenient times for each region. A majority of the matches will take place Aug. 4. However, there is some overflow into Aug. 5 because of time zones.

Here is the schedule, listed in EDT:

  • Europe: 12-4 p.m.
  • South America: 4-8 p.m.
  • North America: 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.
  • Asia: 12-2 a.m.
  • Oceania: 2-6 a.m.

Although the tournament spills over into Aug. 5, matches won’t overlap with NBC’s Rocket League Universal Open. Rocket League fans can watch and donate to The Open on RLXL’s Twitch channel.

The tournament is open to PC and PlayStation 4 players. Registration for each region ends 15 minutes prior to the region’s respective start time.

Remember to tune in Aug. 4 and 5 to the RLXL Open. Help support a great cause with some great Rocket League.


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Rocket League World Cup

Rocket League’s first ever World Cup is set to take place summer 2017. The event is destined to be a huge new milestone for the competitive Rocket League scene, despite anyone’s personal grievances.

Event

The Rocket League World Cup will feature 16 teams, 48 players, each competing for their home countries. Along with featuring countries from the regions included in the Rocket League Championship Series, North America, Europe and Oceania, the tournament will showcase teams from Asia and South America.

League of Rockets is presenting the event and John “JohnnyBoi_i” MacDonald is producing it. In addition to being

Rocket League World Cup

Image courtesy of amazon.co.u

streamed on the League of Rockets’ Twitch channel, videos of every broadcast will be available at badpanda.gg.

Organizers haven’t revealed details about the bracket or tournament style yet. There is a $5000 prize pool, which will be divided among the top three teams. The prize pool pales in comparison to the RLCS and only the top three teams will get their hands on any of that money. That being said, the RLCS is a different beast entirely and the prize pool is formidable compared to other Rocket League tournaments. Along with the glory of winning in the name of your country, the prize pool distribution provides all the more reason for teams to put everything into every game.

Countries

Of the 16 countries invited to take part in the first Rocket League World Cup, 11 are from EU, two from NA, one from OCE, one from Asia and one from SA. The countries and teams are as follows:

Asia

  • Japan: ReaLize, Lime, Nemoto

EU

  • Denmark: Nicolai “Maestro” Bang, Nicolai “Snaski” Vistesen Andersen, Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen
  • England: David “Deevo” Morrow, Ryan “Doomsee” Graham, Dan “Bluey” Bluett
  • Finland: Joni “JHZER” Humaloja, Joonas “Mognus” Salo, Otto “Metsanauris” Kaipiainen
  • France: Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre, Victor “Fairy Peak” Locquet, Alexandre “Mout” Moutarde
  • Germany: Philip “paschy90” Paschmeyer, Sandro “FreaKii” Holzwarth, Alexander “Sikii” Karelin
  • Italy: Francesco “Kuxir97” Cinquemani, Mx22, darkpier96
  • Netherlands: Remco “Remkoe” den Boer, Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs, Niels “Nielskoek” Kok
  • Norway: Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim, Martin “Sniper” Wulsrød, Tormod “Reganam” Lien
  • Scotland: Mark “Markydooda” Exton, Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson, David “Miztik” Lawrie
  • Sweden: Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, Linus “al0t” Mӧllergren, Jesper “Flarke” Johannson
  • Switzerland: Nico “Stocki” Stockenberger, Kevin “Skyline” Carvalho, Oliver “Continuum” Meier

NA

  • Canada: Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman, Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda, Timi “Timi” Falodun
  • United States: Cameron “Kronovi” Bills, Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon, Jayson “Fireburner” Nunez

OCE

  • Australia: Phillip “Dumbo” Donachie, Michael “Bango” Eason, Jonathan “Express” Slade

SA

  • Brazil: Caio “Caio TG1” Vinicius, FirefoxD, Haberkamper

Theatrics

Anyone who has seen them knows videos in the League of Rockets series are filled with theatrics. And I don’t mean to imply any negative connotation when I say ‘theatrics.’

Rocket League World CupWhoever narrates the League of Rockets videos’ videos, going by the name of Sal, uses a voice changer, giving off a movie sounding tone. Add in high quality montages and well-timed background music and noises, and the League of Rockets videos are sure to leave you with goosebumps.

For example, take the Twelve Titans tournament. Rather than broadcasting the tournament live, League of Rockets released a video of the event the next day. Callum “Mega Shogun” Keir and JohnnyBoi_i casted the event, as any Rocket League tournament would be. But there was more to the video than that. It included cutscenes narrated by Sal introducing maps, players and rivalry history. Another noticeable feature was slow motion goal replays, really giving viewers a better look at the play that just previously took place.

While fans can stream the Rocket League World Cup on Twitch, videos of the broadcasts will be available on badpanda.gg post air. According to the site, “There will be additional exclusive content only on Bad Panda” as well. If the exclusive content is more of the League of Rockets theatrics, it may even be worth waiting for the video rather than watching the live stream.

Future

Rocket League World Cup

Image courtesy of mashable.com

Head over to Twitter and it isn’t difficult to find some less-than-pleased fans, agitated that their home countries won’t be represented in the first ever Rocket League World Cup. Although it’s easy to understand that sentiment, I implore those fans to look to the future.

This is the first of, hopefully, many Rocket League World Cups to come. So, your country isn’t represented in the first one, then that’s even more reason to support the event. Success of this event may be the catalyst for not only seeing a second World Cup, but an expanded version including more countries.

So, please, put your personal grievances aside and support the first Rocket League World Cup. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want it to be the last.


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Amazon subsidiary Twitch and Blizzard make a deal: Twitch to host APEX and Premier Series, Prime users get free loot

On June 20, Twitch announced a deal with Blizzard, owner and creator of Overwatch. As part of this deal, Twitch will host two of the biggest Overwatch tournaments: the APEX League and Premier Series, along with other Blizzard esports tournaments. Further, Twitch Prime users will get a lot of free loot.

This is a great moment for Overwatch players and fans. But this deal was not just created for them. When you look behind the curtain, you’ll find Amazon’s marketing team hard at work.

Twitch is currently a subsidiary of Amazon.com, who has been increasingly expanding into the esports market over the last several years. In 2010, Amazon bought Reflexive Entertainment. Two years later, it developed Amazon Game Studios as a subsidiary specializing in game development. 2014 saw Amazon make a strong commitment toward the esports industry. In that year, it merged Reflexive Entertainment into Amazon Game Studios in 2014 and it purchased both Double Helix Games and Twitch as well.

Twitch began almost as an accident, but in less than a decade it has become the go-to streaming source for esports tournaments, streaming, and other content. Currently, it’s viewing services are free to anyone, while a Twitch Prime membership is available at an extra cost. This membership allows viewers to skip past all the ads and receive special in-game content in several games.

But there’s a catch.

The Deal

You can only get a Twitch Prime membership with an Amazon Prime membership. Now that doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, Amazon Prime includes thousands of movies and TV shows, millions of ad-free songs, and unlimited free two-day shipping on all eligible purchases. Twitch Prime just seems like an added benefit. But Amazon now appears to be using this benefit as a marketing tool to draw esports fans to purchase its Prime service by offering a free Overwatch Gold Loot Box, which includes at least one legendary item to anyone who purchases by August 10.

As most players know, items in Overwatch rank as either Standard (White), Rare (Blue), Epic (Purple) or Legendary (Orange). Standard items are most common and Legendary are the least, appearing only 2.55% of the time. To be assured of a free legendary item is a big deal. Amazon/Twitch seem to be using this as a means of marketing to Overwatch fans. And the gifts/marketing don’t stop there.

Twitch Prime users will also receive 10 free Standard Loot Boxes over the coming months. These might not contain a legendary item, but it’s certainly another incentive to try out that free Amazon Prime membership they keep advertising. The current price of 11 loot boxes is $9.99, only $1 less than the $10.99 monthly membership of Amazon Prime. But giving away 10 loot boxes, or even more than that, won’t hurt Amazon in the long run. These are, after all, virtual products. No packaging. No shipping. No assembling. Just pure profit.

As the esports industry continues to expand, this deal between Twitch and Blizzard is not just meant to benefit long-time fans. It is a promotional opportunity for Amazon to market toward a growing demographic and give esports players and fans a reason to buy their monthly service.

And the deal goes even farther than Overwatch.

Blizzard is also the owner and creator of many other games which will be receiving the Twitch treatment. Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm players can also expect to receive free gifts and in-game content from their Twitch Prime accounts as well. And Twitch will be hosting 18 other esports tournaments including Heroes of the Storm Global Championship, StarCraft II World Championship Series, Hearthstone Championship Tour and Global Games, and World of Warcraft Arena Championship. These are some of the most watched esports tournaments every year.

Amazon has spent billions entering the esports industry, and they are going to do everything they can to make their investment pay off. Purchasing Twitch alone cost the company $970 million. The Blizzard-Twitch deal is just one of many avenues in which Amazon is slowing becoming a major player in this growing market.

By hosting their tournaments through Twitch and giving free virtual gifts to players of many different Blizzard esports, Amazon is poised to become a major player in the esports industry. With a large and growing influence over some of the biggest tournaments, Amazon will gain huge amounts of advertisement revenue during these tournaments with an increasing number of mediums. Even the longtime haters of Amazon may soon become avid devotees.


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Image: entrepreneur.com

Team USA annihilates Team Canada in E3’s Overwatch show-match, but was it a mistake?

On June 15, Team U.S.A. and Team Canada played against each other in a tournament hosted by E3, one of the largest gaming conventions in the world. An hour and 15 minutes later, Team U.S.A. had annihilated their opponent, sweeping all four games. But this victory was not without controversy.

While Team U.S.A. featured much greater overall teamplay, the organizers favored U.S.A. in subtle but important ways.

 

Teamplay: An Important Contribution to Team U.S.A.’s Victory

Matt “CoolMatt69” Iorio is interviewed after a crushing victory over Canada in game one. Courtesy of Twitch

Players chosen for international tournaments are the best of the best from each country. But being the best does not always mean you can play well with others. This was evident during yesterday’s tournament.

While Team U.S.A. worked as a cohesive whole, Team Canada did not. This was most evident when we look at how members of each team communicated with each other. Each player from U.S.A. displayed an immediate trust of one another committing themselves to objectives and targets that benefited the whole team.

Canada, however, featured a wide array of miscommunication. Instead of following through on clear objectives together, the players failed to communicate efficiently. For example, D.Va and Winston could not get on the same page, often leading to one of their deaths. Targets were not marked efficiently, and there was an obvious lack of commitment to the match and to each 

other.

 

Canada in the Shadows

Lack of communication was not the only reason for Canada’s loss. Hosted by American cell phone carrier T-Mobile, there seemed an obvious bias in favor of U.S.A. throughout the match.

And this was evident before the game even began.

When both teams were being introduced, much more time and attention was paid to U.S.A. while Canada was forced to sit in the shadows. This is not necessarily unusual. After all, the host country is often favored in international showings.

But the events that followed proved that there was much more going on than a little hometown taunting. For example, U.S.A.’s players were set up in a nice shady spot while Canada’s team was forced to sit in the hot sun. This left the Canadian player to deal with two disadvantages: the discomfort of the heat and the glare of the sun. As a result, U.S.A. had a significant and unfair advantage during the entire course of the tournament.

This could have just been chalked up to poor planning by T-Mobile and other organizers, but the list of advantages given to U.S.A. stretches even longer.

 

To Pause or Not to Pause?

During the pause, Mangachu expresses his thoughts.
Courtesy of Twitch

On Lijang Tower: Control Center, the last map in the match, Team U.S.A. requested a pause for Jay “Sinatraa” Won, who was experiencing some technical difficulties. This was normal enough as teams typically receive pauses to correct for such problems.

What was abnormal was that the pause revealed in-game chat in which Canadian player Mangachu was complaining about how U.S.A. received a pause while his country did not. While Mangachu may have been stretching the truth in some way, information that came in after the game suggests otherwise.

 

 

Can Canada Get a Break?

Roolf and Agilities swap roles on Dorado, much to the confusion of the casters

Team Canada’s disorganization may at first sight seem to be the result of poor decisions like switching Brady “Agilities” Girardi to healer while giving their star healer Randal “Roolf” Stark the spot of DPS. But this poor mistake makes much more sense given Lane “Surefour” Robert’s after-game comments when he revealed that Team Canada’s PCs were under-performing.

He stated that Agilities’ computer had severe FPS lag and that he could not play DPS at a pro-level. As a result, he gave the role to Roolf who had a playable framerate. Surefour claimed that each computer was running over 100 FPS less than the optimal amount.

With such a low framerate and a refusal by T-Mobile and E3 to grant a pause to correct the mistake, Team U.S.A.’s various advantages appear to be more than coincidence.

 

Conclusion

While the USA deserves credit for their victory over Canada, the advantages given to them by T-Mobile and E3 cannot be overlooked.

The Casters, Ster and Jason Kaplan, discuss what’s wrong with Canada.
Courtesy of Twitch

Still, it would be unfair to say that these organizers purposefully placed U.S.A. at an advantage. Nonetheless, these mistakes could have been easily avoided or remedied, and the failure to do so shows a lack of competence by organizers.

While we look forward to the upcoming Overwatch World Cup, we must be wary of such organizational mistakes. If esports are ever to receive the same respect traditional sports receive, our tournaments must be better organized. Perhaps as fans and players of Overwatch, we need to demand that Blizzard creates a set of rules or guidelines for future tournaments in order to maintain fairness throughout gameplay.


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Three takeaways from the HCS Summer League thus far

The third week of the HCS Summer League has ended, and the top three picture is starting to become clearer. These are three observations of the Summer Season before we enter the final week of competition.

 

Semantics Really Matter, Apparently

Fans who had tuned into the second day of Pro League week three play were met with an extended delay early-on. The match countdown timer had ended and instead replaced by a “We’ll be back” graphic. The series was set to feature teams Luminosity Gaming and OpTic Gaming, and likely would have drawn in a larger crowd. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins of Luminosity is a popular streamer on Twitch, and OpTic is the undisputed best team in Halo 5. Fans were eager to see how the new addition to Luminosity, Ryan “RyaNoob” Gettes, would perform in his second Pro League outing.

When the casters finally returned, some-30 minutes later, they explained to the audience that Luminosity would be forfeiting the match. The reason for the forfeit being that Luminosity had only requested a substitute player for one match, not two. The team is using the term “substitute” for RyaNoob, as he has yet to officially sign with Luminosity.

Ninja clarified his intentions on Twitter, which seem perfectly logical.

It’s disappointing, but surprising to see a match with the potential to bring in viewers be dealt with in such a way. OpTic probably would have won the series anyways, but that is beside the point. ESL have seen their fair share of criticism from the Halo community. Situations like this certainly do not help.

 

EnVyUs Should Avoid Game 5 Like the Plague

Team EnVyUs could be having a drastically different season right now. Currently at 2-3, EnVy is in a tough spot. They find themselves among two other capable teams in the throes of uncertain Pro League placement. It’s no question that EnVy is a better team than Evil Geniuses or Luminosity. But to an outsider, they may just seem like another average team taking up a middling spot in the top eight.

So just what happened, exactly?

In week one of Pro League play, EnVy squared off against OpTic gaming. EnVy had just embarrassed OG at HCS Atlanta, and was riding high. After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, the series looked all but over for OpTic. Except it wasn’t.

OpTic caught fire, and stunned EnVy with three back-to-back wins, taking the series. EnVy had every opportunity to close the series, but couldn’t. The loss put EnVy in a hole early, and set the tone for OpTic to win four more consecutive Pro League series.

EnVy’s face-off against Splyce in week three painted a similar picture, just without the demoralizing reverse-sweep. The series went back-and-forth, with neither team claiming too much momentum. The two squads eventually arrived at game five, where Splyce would narrowly emerge victorious.

If EnVy were able to take each series, they’d be at a comfortable 4-1, and likely tied for the top spot. A placement that provides a much clearer demonstration of their true ability. Although this isn’t the case, there’s no reason why it can’t be. EnVy plays both Ronin Esports and Str8 Rippin next week, who are the 7th and 8th seeded teams. Two wins against these vulnerable squads may elevate EnVy into the top three.

 

The OpTic vs. Splyce Showdown is Going to Be Epic

OpTic Gaming is a team that needs no introduction. They’re the back-to-back World Champs and the most dominant force in Halo 5. The roster monopolizes the “Top 5 Players” discussion, and they belong to one of the biggest orgs in esports.

Bubu dubu of Splyce. Image by FantasyHCS.

 

Splyce, on the other hand, is a different story. After having their Pro League spot essentially stolen, Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller and crew made a grueling trek through the amateur Halo scene, wiping the floor with nearly every AM team as they went. Splyce went on to place top six at the Halo World Championship and secured their place in the big leagues.

Splyce only got better with the acquisition of power slayer Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, who helped them secure a top four finish at HCS Daytona. Since qualifying for the Summer Pro League, they have all but demolished the competition. Both a hyper-aggressive playstyle and slaying prowess have carried Splyce to five straight victories in the Pro League.

When these two teams meet up next week, it will surely be the most exciting Pro League series thus far. While it’s nearly impossible to predict an outcome for the series, Halo fans can be assured that it will be far from boring.

 

Featured Image by TeamBeyond.net

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 Garrett! Get in touch with Garrett personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @gbSTATUS!

MSI Semifinals 2017: Team WE v. G2 Esports

MSI: Team WE vs. G2 Esports Preview

Saturday May 20, 2017, the second semifinals match of MSI will be underway. Team WE will face off against G2 Esports for a spot in the finals. Both teams have exhibited their fair share of stellar and underwhelming performances throughout the tournament. They will be doing their best to shore up the weak spots and study their opponents in order to reach peak performance. This best-of-five series will be all or nothing.

Team WE

The LPL representatives have made it through MSI with a 7-3 record, just below SKT. They dropped games to TSM, SKT, and GAM. Every player has had standout performances throughout the tournament. Team WE will be favored to win in this match-up, since they defeated G2 in both of their Group Stage bouts.

How They Win

WE outclasses G2 in almost every statistic. Gold difference at 15 minutes (+1,047/-342), first three turrets (80 percent/10 percent), dragon control (47 percent/30 percent) and baron control (54 percent/38 percent) all heavily favor the Chinese team.

In both of their victories against G2, WE drafted Ashe for Jin “Mystic” Sung-jun and Malzahar for Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. WE’s jungler, Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie, massacred Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun in the early game. Su “Xiye” Han-Wei played AP diver-assassins LeBlanc and Kassadin. And Ke “957” Changyu has been most impactful on tanky disruptors, particularly Kled.

All of these pieces come together to form a bursty pick composition. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen was most often caught out by Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Nether Grasp, Explosive Cask, or Chaaaaaaaarge!!! and deleted before he was able to output enough damage. Team WE should maintain this draft strategy and playstyle, because G2 does not seem to have an answer at the moment.

Both wins were secured between 28 and 31 minutes. Team WE took first turret in both matches, which led to the first three turrets in just under 20 minutes. They then proceeded to take baron between 21 and 25 minutes, which allowed WE to break G2’s base and win. In their first game, G2 secured one tower and one dragon. In the follow-up match, WE did not allow them to take any towers or dragons.

How They Lose

Karma and Nami are champion picks that stick out in Team WE’s losses. Xiye lost both games when taking Karma to the mid lane, and Ben lost both games when playing Nami support. 957 looked weak on top lane Jayce, as well. The individuals cannot be fully to blame, but it seems like a good idea to keep these picks on the bench for now.

All of WE’s losses came off the back of sub-30-minute barons secured by their opponent. Against TSM, the gold difference never rose to more than 2,000 until they took a baron. From there, TSM closed out the game, taking a second baron and only ceding 4 kills. Team WE was leading SKT by 2,100 gold at 22 minutes, but Han “Peanut” Wang-ho landed a baron steal. SKT broke their base, took a second baron and won. Team WE’s loss to GAM was mostly due to Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh’s Kha’Zix getting fed a triple kill around 10 minutes.

If WE gives over baron, their chances of losing are high. When viewing statistics for the four semifinal teams, their win rates align with their first baron rates. This objective is pivotal to their playstyle. Properly pressuring around baron was a main catalyst for drawing in G2 and picking off key carries. However, if WE is sloppy in clearing vision or shot-calling around Smite, then it could spell disaster.

Player To Watch

Team WE’s top laner, 957

Team WE’s victory will rely heavily on 957 in the top lane. They have won every game that he has drafted Kled, and he has maintained a 27.0 KDA with the champion. On the other hand, his single Jayce game fed TSM their first 5 kills. G2’s Ki “Expect” Dae-Han is not necessarily the same carry threat that SKT or TSM have. WE will rely on 957 to repeat the masterful disruption he exhibited against G2 in their prior match-ups.

G2 Esports

Making it into semifinals by the skin of its teeth is G2 Esports. The EU LCS representatives finished the Group Stage with a 4-6 record, only picking up wins against Flash Wolves (2), GIGABYTE Marines (1), and TSM (1). Seeing as they lost both matches against Team WE, they are the underdog in this best-of-five series.

How They Win

G2’s victories varied drastically from each other. Three of the four wins were secured 42 minutes or later, and allowed the enemy team to secure at least one baron. Two of those three late-game wins involved G2 falling behind 8,000-9,000 gold at some point. The only champions drafted in multiple wins were Caitlyn, Nunu, and Orianna.

In all of their wins, Zven had two or fewer deaths and had a gold lead on the enemy AD Carry. It is obvious that he is their primary carry threat. G2 lost both games that he drafted Ashe. Zven only has wins on Caitlyn, Twitch, and Kog’Maw thus, G2’s draft will need to revolve around these champions. Ivern, Lulu, Karma, and Orianna have at least 50 percent win rates for G2 thus far. Combining multiple enchanters into the draft may allow Zven to break even through the early game and fully carry in the mid-late game.

Luka “Perkz” Perković has also been a consistent source of damage throughout MSI. Mid lane is arguably the most stacked position at the tournament, and Perkz has been going toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world. He has been averaging 28.8 percent of G2’s damage, the highest among all mid laners (second highest overall behind Zven). Putting Perkz on a champion that can control side waves, particularly Fizz, could be a good back-up if Orianna is banned.

How They Lose

There are several situations that G2 should avoid. Keep Trick off of Lee Sin, he failed horribly twice on the champion. Also, they should not draft Ashe for Zven or Zyra for Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez. Zven needs to be able to output immense damage, and Mithy plays much better on protective champions. Even Tahm Kench or Braum are preferable to Zyra if Lulu or Karma are unavailable.

If Trick continues to have poor early games, then this will most surely be G2’s defeat. Trick has the second lowest KDA and the second highest death share of all players at the tournament. He also has the lowest average damage of all junglers at the event.

While their best strategy generally results in early deficits, G2 will need to play intelligently between 15 and 30 minutes. Team WE’s average game time is over 5 minutes shorter than G2’s, which means if they cede 4,000-6,000 gold leads, then it will be highly unlikely for G2 to win.

Player To Watch

G2 Esport’s top laner, Expect

Expect has been putting up some big games this tournament. He has maintained a 3.7 KDA while only contributing 11.9 percent of G2’s deaths. The top laner has secured wins on Jayce, Gragas, Shen, and Nautilus. G2 also released a video of the final shot-calling from their win over TSM, showing the team’s faith in Expect.

The flip side is that Expect has some of the lowest damage of the top laners at the tournament, and his kill participation is low compared to 957. G2 will need him to be more involved as a proactive member of the team, matching 957’s map movements. Perkz and Zven can pump out the damage. Mithy can shield and provide vision. And Trick is under-performing. Expect may be the biggest factor that could turn this match-up on its head.

Prediction

Unless the stars align, and G2 are able to draft a true “protect the ADC” composition, then Team WE will skunk them 3-0. Trick got steamrolled by Condi in both of their Group Stage games. Mystic and Ben have been performing well enough to keep up with Zven and Mithy. Expect and 957 will most likely be trying to execute similar strategies, but 957 has proven to be more successful up to this point. Perkz matches up against Xiye pretty well, but the synergy among the entire team is heavily in WE’s favor.


Player/Champion Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

All Images: LoL Esports Photos

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The Evil Geniuses – Lost and Found

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

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

Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler

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

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

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

Jeremy “StuDyy” Astacio

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

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

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

Jared “Nagafen” Harrell

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

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

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

Colt “Havok” McLendon

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

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

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

Conclusion

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


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ELEAGUE Being Nominated for an Emmy and What It Means for Esports

OpTic Gaming at the ELEAGUE Road to Vegas Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Championship, courtesy of Interantional Business Times

The Nomination

Counter-Strike may have the oldest competitive esports scene. It dates all the way back to 2001 with Counter-Strike 1.6. The Professional circuit has taken many forms over the years. The most typical being online tournaments and offline LAN’s. Among the most popular online gaming tournaments is ELEAGUE.

VP’s PashaBiceps, courtesy of Gfinity.com

If you were keeping a close eye on professional Counter-Strike, you will remember that earlier last year, Counter-Strike made huge leaps for esports. ELEAGUE made a deal with TBS, where TBS agreed to broadcast ELEAGUE matches.

It raised a lot of eye-brows when CS:GO finally made its way to television. In the beginning, many network executives were speculative of the interest and profitability in esports, and they saw taking this chance as an easy, low-risk way to text out the model.

I’m sure none of the executives would have expected in their wildest dreams to have the show nominated for an Emmy. The title they are being nominated for is: Outstanding Studio Design/Art Direction. Not necessarily for anything of huge importance, but the recognition alone is huge.

 

What It Means for Esports

Ever since competitive gaming has come around, it has seen small amounts of discrimination from typical forms of entertainment. Almost as if gaming was frowned upon as a “lower” form of entertainment associated with basement dwellers. What is amazing about this nomination is that it shows that people are ready to change and see esports in a better light.

nV’s KennyS, courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Not only will people begin to respect it more, but it encourages more esports television deals. ELEAGUE’s deal with TBS was mutually successful. This can be an example to look back on for future networks signing deals. More networks will begin to see the profitability in esports, signing more deals to get more games on the air.

Big companies are already beginning to see the profitability of esports and video gaming in general. Amazon recently purchased Twitch.tv (a popular video game streaming website) and have already begun monetizing the viewership with a new subscription service.

As time moves on, more and more organizations will begin to pick up on this source of income and will want to get in on it before it’s too late. These steps are huge for esports and can help cultivate a better community by helping it grow.

 

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Halo World Championship Finals Regional Preview: Australia and Latin America

The Halo World Championship Finals begin in just two short days. So far, this regional preview series has covered the best North American and best European teams. Because both Australia and Latin America are sending one team each, this final installment will merge both regions. At the 2016 Halo World Championship, both regions failed to crack the top 8. Both teams have spent the better part of a year practicing for their chance to win big. Is 2017 the year an Australian or Latin American team will raise the HWC trophy, or will these regions fall short yet again?

 

Australia: Team Immunity

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

Led by Australian Halo veteran Benno, Team Immunity will attend the HWC Finals with a roster identical to their 2016 showing. The team faced a crisis last year, with an injury sidelining former player Matt “Heff” Hefren. Just days before the biggest Halo tournament in history, Team Immunity was scrambling for a fourth player. The Australian squad hoped for the best, quickly acquiring rookie player Junior, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough.

Benno and Team Immunity. Courtesy of RespawnNinja

In the group stage, Immunity were swept by two red-hot North American teams, eLevate and Denial eSports. They failed to make bracket play, with their only win being a sweep over European team FAB Games eSports. Although disheartening given the circumstance, this shock lit a fire under Immunity for the 2017 HWC Finals. They were better than their placing, and they knew it.

Team Immunity’s road to the 2017 HWC Finals began in early 2017, with a series of online tournaments, concluding with an Online Regional Qualifier in Februrary. The eight-team qualifier featured the best Australian Halo teams, all fighting for one trip to the 2017 HWC Finals. With last years’ shortcomings on their minds, Immunity demolished all obstacles in their path.

The team swept their way into the Grand Final for a face-off with Gryffindor, but were not slowing down any time soon. A flawless 4-0 victory in the Grand Finals awarded Team Immunity with a ticket to the 2017 HWC Finals, and a massive weight off the shoulders of Benno and crew.

This weekend, Immunity seeks to build on their successes at home, and face the strongest competition in the world. Placed in Group C with North American titans Team EnVyUs, and LCQ Champs Splyce, it seems that they’ve got their work cut out for them. Look for Benno and the rest of Immunity to try catching these teams off-guard, as they battle for a spot in the Championship Bracket.

 

Latin America: SoaR Gaming

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

Munoz hopes to lead SoaR to victory. Courtesy of Twitter @elevateMunoz

SoaR Gaming, formerly Shock the World, has had an interesting week. First, the team acquired Halo veteran MuNoZ after losing Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez to visa issues. Then, the Shock the World roster was acquired by esports organization SoaR Gaming for the HWC Finals. Although MuNoZ brings leadership and experience to the team, can they adjust in enough time to perform well this weekend?

SoaR Gaming began their journey to the HWC Finals by competing at the Mexico City HWC 2017 Qualifier. After barely edging out MuNoZ former team, Aztek Gaming, in Winners Bracket Round 3, SoaR cruised into the Grand Final. A charged-up Synergy Gaming roster proved no match for SoaR, as they defeated the fellow Latin American squad 4-2.

The victory in Mexico City punched SoaR Gaming’s tickets to California, but has left more questions than answers. Will MuNoZ HWC experience be enough to keep team composure? Can SoaR overcome European powerhouse FAB Games, or NA veterans Str8 Rippin in Group D? Can the squad adjust without teammate, Tapping Buttons?

Chosen Squad, the 2016 HWC Latin American team, won only a single game in pool play. On the other hand, the 2017 Latin American team is an entirely new roster. SoaR gaming is well-aware that they are the underdogs heading into the 2017 HWC Finals. Look for the team to unite under MuNoZ as they try to make a miracle run this weekend.

 

Conclusion

This concludes the regional preview series for the 2017 Halo World Championship Finals!  As we approach the beginning of the action, the teams are making their final preparations. Which teams will fall short of expectations, and which will rise to the occasion? Be sure to watch the action unfold this weekend at twitch.tv/halo.

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