The Tyler1 Championship Series is coming soon

Four ways to get your esports fix in the League of Legends off-season

If you spend a significant amount of time watching professional League of Legends (like me), then you are probably starting to feel a void where the LCS, LCK, LPL and other leagues used to be. You have caught up on watching everything at Worlds. Maybe you even went back and checked out VODs that you missed in Summer Split.

But now there is no more League to consume. Worlds is over, and every team is taking a much needed break from competition. There have been several announcements regarding changes to leagues next year, but what about now? We have two months before any professional leagues restart. How do we get our weekly fix of esports in the meantime? Here are my top four recommendations. Hopefully one of them will work for you.

Follow your favorite players’ streams

This is the most straightforward option. While the professional leagues are on cooldown, the individual players will most likely still be streaming on a regular basis. This form of viewership has several benefits. It allows you, the viewer, to feel more of each player’s personality, since the stream is built around them. You also get to experience the game from your favorite player’s perspective, which allows you to analyze their mechanics, builds, etc. For example, here are links to some of the professional players, coaches and casters that were streaming at the time of writing this article:

Watch your favorite player's stream in the off-season

Screenshot of Jankos’ stream on Twitch

Search for your favorite talents’ social media pages, as they usually update their fans when they will be streaming. Consider following and subscribing to their Twitch channels, as any advertisements directly benefit them. These sessions provide a more intimate setting for viewers, and players that stream frequently generally enjoy interacting with their audience. Tuning into streams lacks the casting and third-party analysis that professional broadcasts have, but story-lines and drama pop up now and again.

There are also plenty of top level League of Legends players who simply do not play professionally. They may prefer the casual nature of streaming, have a large enough following that financially they can stream full-time, have retired from pro play or may be a rising star in the making. Preseason is an ideal time to watch those streamers, because they are probably innovating with Runes Reforged, item builds and strategies. You might be able to learn a thing or two and apply it in your own solo queue.

Look out for regional/amateur tournaments and Scouting Grounds

Last year's Tyler1 Invitational was a huge success

Image from Tyler1’s Youtube

While there are regular amateur tournaments for League of Legends around the world, not many of them are actually broadcast. Expect to see some in the off-season, though, as they will not need to compete with the regular professional leagues for attention. For example, CompeteLeague will be hosting the Tyler1 Championship Series, starting on November 18. Last year’s Tyler1 League of Legends Invitational turned out to be a huge hit, so they will be back this year for your viewing pleasure. It is not an entirely serious event, so it may not be appealing to every esports fan, but the teams that were announced include some of the top Challenger-level players.

Regional leagues are also sometimes broadcast during this time period. For example, Ogaming is currently hosting Challenge France, the French national league that qualifies into the European Challenger Series. While the French casting may not be for everyone, the actual gameplay should appeal to viewers of the European LCS and CS. Europe has leagues for the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland and others too. Be on the lookout for announcements to watch these if they have not already happened.

For North American fans, this year’s Scouting Grounds are announced for November 26 to December 3. Riot invites the top Challenger players from each position to create four teams and compete in hopes of being drafted into the LCS and Academy teams for 2018. This is an event that showcases rising stars who may be among the 10 players to join a team following the matches.

Try watching another esport

Overwatch is an alternative esport to watch in the off-season

Image from Twinfinite.net

Yes, there are other esports out there other than League of Legends. The media is building up a lot of hype around next year’s Overwatch League (OWL). Overwatch combines certain aspects of massive online battle arena (MOBA) games with first-person shooter mechanics and game modes. Blizzard recently announced updates to make Overwatch more spectator-friendly and to create larger distinctions between the two competing teams. If the action was difficult for you to casually follow before, now might be a good time to give Overwatch another shot.

If you need something third-person, and much closer to League of Legends, then maybe give DOTA a shot. Summit 8 is currently pitting teams against each other from all over the world for a $300,000 prize pool. The draft, map, role-based gameplay and other elements of DOTA should feel right at home for League of Legends viewers. There are four DOTA tournaments in November and December, which should be plenty of content to help get through the off-season.

Hearthstone could be an option for League of Legends viewers who may not enjoy watching other MOBAs or first-person shooters. It is an online card game from Blizzard, which boasts being “Deceptively Simple. Insanely Fun.” Much like other card games, each player has a deck of cards to play with in hopes of draining the enemy’s health to zero. Spectating this game is incredibly easy. DreamHack is hosting a Winter Grand Prix December 1-4, which will be the last Hearthstone event for 2017.

Put more time into your own game

Everyone should learn about Runes Reforged in the off-season

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Of course, this is the best time to play more League, rather than spectate others. Maybe this could be your first time downloading your replays in the client. Rewatch your games and figure out what you could do differently to improve for 2018. Clip some highlights to show your friends, or just have fun playing a few more ARAMs that you missed during the LCS season.

Preseason is the time to adapt and innovate. Study the new Runes Reforged, watch out for Zoe’s release and figure out where they fit in the meta landscape. If you do not learn these elements of the game in the next two months, then you may be caught off guard when players are drafting next Spring Split. Get out on the Rift, get a feel for who and what is strong and weak, and compare.

Even if you have no interest in grinding more games, watching other esports or tuning into streamers, you can still just enjoy a break. Invest those extra minutes and hours into some other hobby. Most people will turn to exercise or catching up on music, books, movies and television. That is okay, too. If the professionals are taking a break, then why not you? It will be a while before teams return to the LCS, so make the most of it.


Featured Image: LoLesports.com

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Deja Vu for RunAway in Game 7 of the Apex Final

Game 7. One game away from realizing a dream or living a nightmare. In RunAway’s case, it’s more like reliving a nightmare. The second heartbreaking Apex finals loss in the last three seasons comes at the hands of a team who had a similar uprising to the story of RunAway’s initial Apex run: GC Busan.

GC Busan after winning Game 7 over RunAway. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

GC Busan completes the royal road

GC Busan is the first team to run the gauntlet, or as they say in Korea, complete the “royal road,” to win their first Apex title. What that means is GC Busan entered the season as a brand new team that qualified through OGN’s challenger series and took the berth all the way to a championship. It’s remarkable what GC Busan and the City of Busan were able to accomplish in their first season. However, the success of the upstart GC Busan left one of the biggest Overwatch fan bases in disarray. RunAway started as a team of ringers back in season one. They also qualified through the challenger league. In a similar fashion to GC Busan, they seemingly came out of nowhere to be considered one of the best teams in Overwatch.

Now flashback to season two, a RunAway team still consisting of Stitch, Haksol and Kaiser, who at the time was one of the best Reindhart mains in Korea, took it to the established number one team in the world: Lunatic-Hai. In the finals, RunAway grabbed a 3-1 lead over Lunatic-Hai, a team they’d beaten in group stage two, only to drop the next three and lose on Eichenwald.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

Sound familiar? That’s because it is. It’s deja vu for the talented Korean squad, and it’s going to be a hard pill to swallow moving forward. A dominating 3-1 lead over Lunatic-Hai and a 3-2 lead over GC Busan. Both end in complete heartbreak. Two game 7 losses on Eichenwald is the only thing separating RunAway from being considered the worlds best.

RunAway’s Game 7 losses match up to history’s great choke jobs

So, is this the new version of the Buffalo Bills of the early 90’s? Or the Cleveland Indians surrendering seemingly insurmountable leads to lose in the most depressing way imaginable? It’s similar, but this is a team that’s story is just beginning. If anything, these two losses felt like flukes, but it’s something RunAway will have to focus on moving forward: closing matches.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

Nevertheless, I’m not here to diminish the accomplishments of both GC Busan or Lunatic-Hai, as both are well respected and talented teams, but something has to be said about RunAway squandering leads. Is it a lack of discipline when nearing the finish line? In my eyes, it’s their opponents finding another gear or a strategy that counter-acts everything RunAway is trying to accomplish.

In the case of GC Busan, that’s exactly what happened. The moment Hooreg and Profit switched over to the Tracer and Genji, RunAway had no answer. A team known for its strength in those two characters was surprisingly outplayed in every aspect. It was a complete 180-degree turn and something completely unexpected.

The main focus should be on the excellent team play of GC Busan and they’re decision making. It might feel like a fluke considering where this team started the season, but it was made clear early on that they were a serious contender.

Lastly, the future of Apex is uncertain. The Overwatch League is guaranteed to steal most of the talent, and the world of Overwatch’s focus will shift to North America. As for RunAway, it just a blip in the road. For RunAway players, two losses at the brink of a championship can change a person psychologically. It shakes a players confidence to the core and puts doubt in their minds, but the players on this team will continue to make an impact on the scene and over time the pain of these losses will fade.


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featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

What the NBA 2K league needs to succeed

A lot of people were excited and surprised when the NBA and Take-Two Interactive announced their involvement in esports by creating the NBA 2K League earlier in February. It’s an ambitious effort to bring basketball as a legitimate esports game. However, the NBA isn’t new to the esports space. Many owners and players have invested into esports organizations over the past few years.

The NBA is an enormous business behind the game of basketball. If there is any league with the resources to contribute more to esports’ growth, it’s undoubtedly the NBA. But there are key factors the NBA needs to capitalize on in order to succeed with the NBA 2K League.

Twitch.tv broadcasting

Founded in 2011, Twitch is a live streaming video platform that caters to over 100 million gamers worldwide every month. It’s also the hub for most esports events. The NBA 2K League can collaborate with Twitch and have their games featured or sponsored on their home page. By doing this, it’ll bring viewership and engagement which is the exposure the league needs because it targets its ideal demographic. The average age of Twitch users is 21 with 68% being cord cutters.

Brendan Donahue, Marketing Director of the NBA 2K League, discussed in an interview with Gameswelt about “[having] a streaming and digital option certainly” and perhaps “a linear television partner.” One possibility is games can be presented through ESPN or TBS as they recently extended their television deals. Another possibility they could take would be to broadcast on NBA TV, but it’s hard to argue against streaming on Twitch.

Production value

Team introductions in ESL One New York 2016. Courtesy of ESL.

In correlation to Twitch or any broadcasting deals, the production value needs to be on par with their actual NBA games. Production value can make or break a broadcast. There are a few ideas to make the broadcast fun. Being interactive, engaging, and including the viewers into the game. Whether it be introductions, commentators, or audience participation, there’s a lot of

There are a few ideas to make the broadcast fun: being interactive, engaging and including the viewers into the game. Whether it be introductions, commentators or audience participation, there’s a lot of potential to create quality entertainment. It’s important to make viewers feel like they’re part of something special.

Notable examples of companies in esports that have mastered production value are ESL, MLG, and Blizzard Entertainment. Lighting, sound, scenery and props must be taken into account to provide the best presentation. They do a good job providing on-screen information to help viewers understand what they’re watching. If the production value is anything like the NBA, with inspiration taken from successful esports broadcasts, it’ll be a significant step in the right direction.

Developer involvement

Content creators gather at the NBA 2K18 #RunTheNeighborhood Event. Courtesy of Ronnie2K via Twitter.

An important aspect of video games is the communication between the developers and players within the community. Listening to players can build a healthy relationship and trust in their product. Building a community starts with the developers by cultivating a space that encourages feedback. An example would be listening to their player’s feedback and balancing gameplay by releasing patches frequently.

It’s critical to show that it takes skills to play NBA 2K18 by making the necessary changes for everyone to be in a fair playing field. However, it’s more important to show that there are developers that are actually listening. 2K Sports, the publisher, and Visual Concepts, the developer, have the potential to take the necessary steps with the NBA to take the NBA 2K series to another level.


 

Featured image courtesy of ESPN.

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Trevor May: “Follow the money, it’s where the masses will look”

Trevor May

Courtesy of Twitch.tv

The sports and esports worlds are becoming more intertwined by the week. It was announced that Minnesota Twins pitcher Trevor May and his company Esports Lab were investing time and money to help relaunch Winstonslab.com.

This is just one of the latest examples of traditional sports individuals getting involved with esports. While many of these individuals are only investing because they see business opportunities, May, while also seeing similar opportunities, is following one of his lifelong passions.

As a child May grew up playing on a Super Nintendo with his older brother. They would play games like Super Mario and once the Nintendo 64 came out, games like “Ken Griffey Jr. Major League Baseball”. While he had his passions for traditional sports like baseball, his go to after a long day was video games.

One of his best friends growing up had a dad who built computers just for fun. May, always being a console man at this time, went over and saw the room full of computers.

“This was my first true lan experience, and I loved it,” May said in an interview with The Game Haus.

With this, May was shown another side of gaming, online gaming. He went over to his friends house to play until he finally was able to get his own laptop. Once that happened, he started playing games like the “Total War Series”, “League of Legends”, “Warcraft 3” and “World of Warcraft”. These games allowed him to immerse himself into the world of online gaming and he’s never looked back.

Competition

The one thing that intersects for May between sports and esports is the competition associated with it. As one may expect, he is a high-level competitor and always has been. Whether he is pitching for the Twins or trying to get that Chicken Dinner in PUBG, May is out there to win.

“If you are going to put any real time into something then you want to be good,” May said. “Otherwise you’re just wasting your time and I hate to waste time”.

May is dealing with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. This is a surgery that normally requires anywhere from 10-18 months to come back from. It is much quicker nowadays but that is still a long time to be off the field. For a competitor like May, it is especially hard to be off the field and since he is unable to pitch competitively, he has taken his time to jump into video games and streaming.

A few months back when May started to gain a following on Twitch, he was contacted by the esports organization Luminosity. He quickly joined their streaming team and has felt welcomed since day one. Luminosity and May are working together on a gentleman’s agreement, which means no contract is involved. This is due to May’s contract with the Minnesota Twins.

The Business Side

While he is sidelined, May hasn’t only been playing games. He is also getting involved on the business side of esports.

“I knew from a business standpoint that I wanted to get involved,” May said.

For someone who does not like to waste time, he felt that furthering himself in the business world would be a good thing to focus on. May believes that jumping into the esports scene while it is young is a great business decision.

Trevor May

Courtesy of wwg.com

During this time, he has also been working on his company Esports Lab. One of the company’s first moves was getting involved with Winstonslab.com in order to bring it back.

They had a good following but did not have the means needed to continue on. When May was contacted about the company, he realized that this website was very similar to the analytics in baseball.

He said the world is data-driven and that like advanced metrics in baseball, esports such as Overwatch should use them too. This will allow for people to have a better understanding of what is going on in the game.

He compared this to World of Warcraft. This was a game May had played for many years and spent a long time playing competitively.

“The best way to get advantages was to look for the small ones,” May said. “Whether it was slightly better armor or a better weapon you needed any advantage you could get”.

With this comes his belief in Winstonslab. Franchising for Overwatch is coming with the new OWL and teams will be doing whatever they have to in order to get that slight advantage.

Now that he is more involved with the esports scene, May realizes what esports franchising really means. There will be a lot more money put into the scene and it will continue to attract big time names and playmakers. He also believes that once players become more well-known and esports becomes mainstream, then more people will continue to watch it.

A Newer Generation of Two-Sport Athlete

Trevor May

Courtesy of twincities.com

When asked about people who either don’t understand how people could like both sports and esports, May said if you’re prestigious at something, you warrant respect.

“If you are in the top percentage of people at anything then you deserve respect,” May said.

He continued by pointing out that people who are amazing at anything deserve a chance at making a living off of it. Esports may not be there yet, but they will be. May believes that someday soon they will get their due.

 

Trevor May is showing the world that sports and esports can be interconnected and he is a big advocate for just that. You can watch his stream and hear him talking about this. While he has had the time off he has put a lot of effort into playing games consistently and yet is still able to balance his baseball life. Sadly he knows that his time streaming will decrease once he is healthy and the next season starts.

What May is doing is something that people will hear about more. The esports world is in its infancy but, it’s growing fast. More important people will continue to get involved from both worlds and the message of understanding and respect will hopefully grow along with it.


Featured image courtesy of the New York Post.

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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.


You can Like The Game Haus on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more esports and sports coverage. For more Rocket League coverage, you can ‘Follow‘ Ryan McElroy on Twitter.

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!

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