Overwatch League’s Uprising may cause some upsizing

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

Boston Uprising watch party at The Greatest Bar.

Upsizing not Uprising

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

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

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

Picture of Houston Outlaws watch party.

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

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

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

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

Credit to The Esports Writer.

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Why Overwatch League Matters

How Blizzard can change the Esports scene in North America

Courtesy of Blizzard Ent.

 

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

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

Why does it matter?

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

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

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

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

Overwatch League can bring people together

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

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

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

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Super Smash Bros Melee Evo 2017 odds

Evolution 2017 takes place next weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in classic Vegas fashion I’m here to present the odds for Super Smash Brothers Melee. Of the 1,493 entrances, one of these players on the list below will be Evo champion. Will it be a past champion or a new name that takes the title?

9/4 Adam “Armada” Lindgren

It’s been a long time since anyone other than Armada was the favorite heading into an event. The two-time Evo champion is still amid the best year of his career. For Armada, he’s already accomplished the Melee gauntlet of tournament wins in his career. The lone achievement missing from his mantle is a third Evo title, or the “threevo.”

The 2017 tournament will be his second chance to obtain the illustrious third title that Hungrybox ripped out of his grasp in 2016. Armada will be focused and prepared. It will take an inhuman effort, like Hungrybox last year to take out Armada.

13/5 Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma

Armada is the favorite, but Hungrybox has the most recent major victory between the two of them. Smash N’ Splash 3 presented another game five set and like Evo 2016, Hungrybox edged him out. If anything, Hungrybox will have the most momentum of any player. With the recent win and the fact that he’s a returning champion, Hungrybox must feel a wave of confidence.

The key match will not be with Armada, but with Mango. The play of Mango’s Fox could be a potential hurdle en route to another championship.

Armada and Hbox, Evo 2016. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

15/5 Joseph “Mango” Marquez

Mango has had two disappointing Evo performances in the last two years. After scraping out two Evo titles previously, much was expected of him the last couple of years and in both instances Hungrybox ended his run. It was a despairing couple of losses due to the anticipation of the “threevo,” which is a title not many fighting game players hold.

The reality is that Mango still has another Evo run inside him. His talents still show up, not as often as in previous years, but the potential to win is there. This aspect makes Mango such a dangerous player heading into this weekend.

6/1 Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman

M2K is the one of the top four that has failed to win an Evo. Historically, Evo has been M2K’s worst major of the year. Some of his worst career performances have taken place at Evo. He’s never made it past a fifth-place finish. It’ll be another difficult year to break through for M2K, especially if Leffen plays up to par.

6/1 William “Leffen” Hjelte

Leffen is the wildcard once again. Recently, he’s given Armada some trouble and has pushed players like Hungrybox to their limits. Leffen rarely wins the tournament, but on any given day he’s capable of beating anyone. There’s not many players with the matchup prowess and understanding of Leffen.

18/1 Justin “Plup” McGrath

Plup is coming off a third-place finish at Evo 2016. A performance in which he took out Mango. Well, guess what? Plup will play Mango and his tournament success could ride on that matchup and if he can rewrite the history between him and Hungrybox.

25/1 Zac “SFAT” Cordoni

SFAT has cooled off a bit in 2017 after a breakout 2016, but the Fox player still has enough winnable matchups to get him over the top. SFAT avoids his problem matchups in M2K and Armada and will get ChuDat, Hungrybox and Mango. All players he’s had mild success against. If he can somehow get a win over a couple of these players, he could carry that momentum into the top 8.

30/1 Weston “Westballz” Dennis

The return of the extreme punish heavy Westballz has seemingly returned in 2017. The defense is still there, but now he’s starting to hit harder again with his Falco. He matches up with Leffen, who he has had close sets with in the past, but could run into some problems down the line.

30/1 Jeff “Axe” Williamson

Axe will have his hands full with Wizzrobe and Armada in bracket. He’ll have to play extremely well to have a shot at top 8 winners. The secret advantage Axe possesses is having the raucous Arizona crowd, which is in close proximity to the Vegas area, cheering for him.  Let’s see if Axe has the Evo main stage magic once again.

35/1 Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett

Wizzrobe could be the one underdog to place your money on this weekend. It feels like a matter of time before he has another breakout performance. He can compete with the upper echelon players and he’s starting to win more of the 50-50 matchups. Wizzrobe now has the tournament experience necessary and is a threat to win an Evo.

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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

Summer Games Done Quick 2017 primer

Summer Games Done Quick 2017 is quickly approaching. The same group that raised $2.2 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation back in January returns with its summer event based out of Minneapolis. The charity event is once again poised to raise millions of dollars with one of its strongest run lists yet. The week-long marathon starts at 9:30AM on Sunday.

Here I will give my beautiful readers a look at the runs most people would say they are most excited for, a run that no one is excited for, and a game I’m personally excited for, for every day of the marathon. It will be a good primer headed into a busy week of speedruns.

Sunday

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/gamesdonequick

Crowd Favorite: NieR: Automata, Ending A Normal (1-handed). Yes, your eyes did not deceive you. Halfcoordinated will be running NieR with one handed rather than the usual two. A person is going to beat an entire game handicapped. Now this has been done before. I mean, Mike Tyson was beaten blindfolded, but in a game like NieR that’s so fast paced and hectic it seems like a difficult task. It’s also the first run of the entire event, so don’t miss it!

Underrated Run: Castlevania; Symphony of the Night, any% glitchless. I’m not sure this run should fit in the underrated category anymore because of its known presence at past GDQ’s, but I wanted to give it some proper attention. The best speed game in the Castlevania series goes against the norm by being more movement based. It always surprises people who have a different outlook on the Castlevania series.

Personal Favorite: Diddy Kong Racing, any%. One of my favorite runs of all time. A run that could fall under the underrated category as most people don’t give it enough of a chance as a speedgame. The racing genre isn’t necessarily popular in the speedrun community, but without game breaking glitches DKR is able to push runners with extra drift options and have it catered more towards speedrunners.

Monday

Crowd Favorites: Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (Ultimate) ran by Jcool114. There’s a reason Monkey Ball keeps making it back to GDQ’s. People enjoy a tiny monkey rolling around in what looks like a plastic ball, flying across levels to reach the goal. It’s maybe not as noteworthy as the Sonic block or Donkey Kong 64, but it still will have a rather large crowd.

Underrated Run: Ape Escape All Monkeys. The theme of Monday at SGDQ: insane monkeys on the loose. Ape Escape is another game that doesn’t get any love, but has an interesting speedrun. Fast paced and full of skill packed into an hour and a half.

Personal Favorite: Mirrors Edge, any% glitchless. The Mirrors Edge series was basically made for speedrunning. An entire game focused on movement? Yes please. Even without any glitches, the optimization through the game engine allows for incredible things to happen during a given run.

Tuesday

Crowd Favorites: Banjo-Kazooie by StivityBobo. Stiv has become almost a folk hero. The world’s best Banjo runner always seems to put on a great show at GDQ.

Underrated Run:  I Am Bread. Games with more skill are great, but how about being a piece of bread? Like Octodad, I Am Bread is a physics game that puts you in a world where you survive and move as a piece of bread. It will be a short ten-minute run, but get ready for the thrill ride of your life.

Personal Favorite: Half-Life. It’s hard for me not to pick being a piece of bread as the best run of the day, but there’s no way I can skip over one of my favorite runs of all time. Half-Life and Half-Life 2 are classic games with even better speedruns. The skill involved in precise bunny hopping and accelerated back hopping makes for an entertaining speedrun.

Wednesday

Crowd Favorite: Undoubtedly the Mega Man block will warrant the most attention.  Every year the Mega Man X races bring the most eyes, and usually is close enough to keep viewers engaged to the end. There’s three individual Mega Man runs, but they will all be from the X series. Fortunately, the X series is the toughest in the entire Mega Man collection and has the highest skill ceiling in terms of the speedruns.

Underrated Runs: Bucky O’ Hare ran by Garrison. First off, Garrison is a great speedrunner that has been featured at Games Done Quick for a long time. Secondly, Bucky O’ Hare is a great platform speedrun with interesting gameplay elements. It’s only been two years since Garrison ran this game at an SGDQ, but the run is so entertaining it’s no surprise to see it make a return.

Personal Favorite: Kirby Dreamland 2 ran by Zorlaxseven. Kirby games, despite Kirby being a giant, pink, puff ball that moves like molasses vertically, has a great library of entertaining speedruns. The NES game has plenty of glitches involved, but more importantly has a number of movement options based off the power-ups Kirby sucks up. The run is all about combining different elements to make Kirby move faster.

Thursday

Crowd Favorite: Tetris: The Grand Master 3. Tetris appeared at a GDQ and blew everyone away with their ability to think in milliseconds to make decisions. The game itself might not be more popular than the Zelda block also taking place on Thursday, but most people walk away from GDQ with Tetris on their minds. Check it out if you’ve never seen these Tetris robots in action.

Underrated Runs: Mario Kart 64 all cups with skips. Now, you might be thinking ‘how can Mario Kart be underrated?’ Well, the Mario Kart games are very much appreciated and popular but the speedrunning community is somewhat neglected. It’s also a good time to see a favorite childhood game get absolutely dismantled. Abney317 is running the game and rarely misses the execution on certain skips.

Personal Favorite: Portal Inbounds. In the blink of an eye, the level you spent hours on in Portal is being torn apart. The precision involved in landing perfect portal shots to get the right momentum to make it to the next step of the puzzle is fantastic. This run will leave the viewers’ jaws on the floor.

Notable mentions: Ghosts’n Demons ran by Aquas, Chrono Trigger by Puwexil and Bionic Commando by PJ.

Friday

Crowd Favorites: The Super Mario Series Warpless Relay Race. Without a doubt, this could be the most excited I’ve ever been for a GDQ run. A mix of all the classic Mario games coupled with the excitement of a relay race, and you have the most anticipated run of Summer Games Quick 2017.

Underrated Runs: Splasher by Gyoo. Picture a platformer that’s basically a mad sprint all the way till the end. Splasher is that game and though most people haven’t heard of this game, it’s definitely worth your attention. Some call it a Meat Boy clone and while it has certain gameplay elements that take from Meat Boy, it has enough uniqueness to differentiate it.

Personal Favorite: Thursday isn’t my favorite day on the schedule this year, but the day ends with Super Metroid low% and we all know what that means.

Saturday

Crowd Favorites: Super Mario 64 120 stars ran by Cheese. Cheese recently beat his 120-star world record and somewhat reinvigorated the speedrunning community over the last few months. Mario 64 has always been the poster child of the growing scene, as Siglemic moved the speedrunning world into the spotlight with his Twitch streams. Cheese is the best 64 runner in history and should bring lots of eyes and donations on the last day.

Underrated Run: Titanfall 2 any%. First time I watched an any% run of Titanfall 2, I got an experience I wasn’t expecting. The movement was crisp and there’s a strafing and bunny hop mechanic that makes it such an entertaining run. Most people will likely find something else to do during this time slot. Here’s some advice: DON’T.

Personal Favorite: Super Panga World. In case you haven’t noticed, I love old side-scrolling Mario platformers, and I especially love the insane mods created by the speedrunning community’s evilest, pain loving level creators. Panga is known for not showing any mercy to the people playing his hack and it’s even driven other speedrunners to make “revenge hacks” to get him back. Super Dram World, a hack created by Panga, pushed popular SMW speedrunner Link Dead to create his own hack in spite of Panga. Thus, we now have Super Panga World at a Games Done Quick.

Honorable Mentions: Earthbound by Ultimolce, Majora’s Mask all masks by TrevPerson and Rise of the Triad by Psychoripper.

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Featured image courtesy of YouTube.com/gamesdonequick

OGN Apex Season 2 Playoffs are Here

The OGN Apex second regular season has come to a close, as Fnatic and Cloud9 miss the playoffs. The west only gets one team in EnvyUs. After an exhausting decision making process, the round two groups have been decided.

Based on random drawings of the first seeds, the groups were decided. Lunatic-Hai got the first pick, and not only do they get to pick their group, but also their opponent. They chose the defending champions, EnvyUs. With all the Korean teams polled, most teams wanted to face the one foreign team.

  • Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ognglobal

The Group of Death 

For example, the challenger qualifier team, Meta Athena, beat EnvyUs 3-0 in the group stages. The top ranked team showed weaknesses and now has to play in the group of death. In the other match in group A, KongDoo Uncia will face Runaway. Uncia’s sister team, Panthera, had a strong showing against RunAway, holding them to only one point in the entire match.

Additionally, DNCE (Kim Se Yong), from Uncia said “he wanted to get it over with” referring to playing either EnvyUs or the other top Korean team Lunatic-Hai. One of the three best teams in the world will be eliminated before the bracket. The hope for foreign Overwatch all relies on the skills of Taimou (Timo Ketunnen) and HarryHook (Jonathon Tejedor Rua) who carried them to this point.

Prediction: Lunatic-Hai is the most well-rounded team in group A. The supports are possibly the best in all of Overwatch with Whoru (Lee Seunf Joon) playing the DPS role at an extremely high level. KongDoo Uncia will be the second seed. Uncia struggled against Cloud 9, but this team still has strong enough tank players to beat EnvyUs.

photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ognglobal

Group B

In group B, it will most likely come down to who can beat KongDoo Panthers. MetaAthena had a strong showing in round one by beating EnvyUs 3-0. It was the most shocking result of the regular season. MetaAthena had the best draft, avoiding three of the top four teams.

On the other hand, LW Blue and Afreeca Freecs Blue are no slouches. AFB finished second last year in Apex and LW Blue is highly regarded as one of the best teams. The prohibitive favorites will be the latter, but these teams can give them a run for their money. AFB had a rough regular season escaping out from group C by eliminating Cloud 9.

Prediction: it’s tough seeing anyone beat Panthera with their ability to adjust to compositions with excellent flex play. KongDoo Panthera wins the group. MetaAthena is clearly the second best team, Hoon (Choi Jae Hoon) is one of the best Zarya players in a sea of Korean Zarya’s.

The Disappointments
It was a sad day for western Overwatch. Misfits, Cloud 9, and Fnatic all missed the playoffs. Misfits and Cloud 9 had their chance to recover, but lost in the last set to miss out. Cloud 9 took a strong Uncia club to game 5, but ended up getting full-held on Eichenwalde. Each team finished third in their respective groups.

Furthermore, Korean teams like BK Stars and Conbox Spirit had a letdown season. As HarryHook said early on, “it seems harder to win this season.” The level of play has clearly gone up and the rest of the teams need to play catch-up. Squads like Cloud 9 and Misfits, who barely missed the playoffs, might need a retool. The rest might need a full-rebuild.

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Marvel Wins a Sunday Spot at Evo 2017 Raising $77k For Charity

All is right in the world as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 will be the ninth and final game at Evo 2017. After raising $77,000 for charity, the Marvel Community earned its way into Evo, barely edging out the second place game: Pokken. One of the most historic fighting game franchises will get its final sendoff Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Sports arena.

Mandalay Bay Evo 2016

The win, in large part, was due to the Marvel Community actively campaigning through different avenues to help raise funds. The names you’d expect to see rallying the troops to get their beloved game into the Super Bowl of fighting games. IFC Yipes (Michael Mendoza) held a fundraising stream, Angelic (Armando Mejia) was responsible for Undefeated 2017(a Marvel centered tournament), and Justin Wong dropped a spirit bomb to pull away in the last minutes of the vote.

In the same way, the entire Marvel Community helped donate. Marvel had less money on each donation, but almost twice as many donations as any other game. The community rallied behind a franchise that hasn’t not been at an Evo in 15 years. It was important for the entire fighting game community to get Marvel 3 in for one last hurrah.

Furthermore, the vote inspired the Evo staff to donate $10,000 to help Pokken tournaments in the future. Despite a valiant effort from the Pokken community, they unfortunately lost a close battle. But, this donation drive showed the love and compassion for that game. Finishing second isn’t what Pokken fans wanted, but it did legitimize their game and community. That won’t go unnoticed by the fighting game community.

From the start, it was clear the community wasn’t going to let Marvel fade slowly into the night. Everyone did a great job spreading the word and fighting for their game. It was a community effort and will give the Marvel Community a greater sense of purpose watching on finals day at Evo.

In the end, all the communities involved raised nearly $150k for charity. It wasn’t a perfect system. It pitted fighting game fans against each other, but despite a few hiccups, it was all done respectfully.

How to change the system?
This was the second go-around for the Evo staff doing a community funded vote. The first time was a unique idea that had never been explored. That idea also gave way to the Super Smash Bros Melee renaissance. It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it did inspire and bring together an entire community.

The question needs to be asked, will this do the same for Marvel? It’s yet to be seen, but when a community joins together for a common good, it strengthens the very foundation. The vote was never intended to divide fighting game fans. It’s a way to gauge which game the fighting game community wants represented at its largest event.

I have no answer for a better system. Games will always be left out. That’s the nature of Evo. In this sense, each community has equal footing. It’s not meant to be divisive, but passionate fans will sometimes go down that road. With all the new fighting game releases, Evo has to do something like this to, first, keep fans happy, and second, keep the games with most interest at Evo.

For now, Marvel 3 gets another shot before Marvel Infinite hits the shelves. It will be a great sendoff to a game that has brought us some of the best and most interesting story lines since its release. Will Evo do a vote in 2018? I don’t know. But watch the strength and resolve from the Marvel Community.

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Awesome Games Done Quick 2017: Does Speedrunning Have a Place in Esports?

Image via http://core0.staticworld.net/images/article/2015/01/gamesdonequick-100538610-large.png

Awesome Games Done Quick has transformed from a small, fairly unknown event, to the gaming industry’s leading charity event. It has attracted attention from industry giants, as well as the general gaming fan who peruses Twitch. It’s not only meant for Speed runners any longer, as the wide scope of the event has reached an entirely new level. But does it have a place in esports?

The event, if you’ve never heard of Games Done Quick, is centered around a week-long marathon where some of the most well-known and best speed runners of various games from around the world show up to show off their specific speed run. In the last three years, the event has completely exploded in popularity. The average number of viewers, attendees, and most importantly, donations, have sky rocketed in recent years.

I talked briefly to Mike Uyama, the creator of Games Done Quick, about the events history and future: “Our first marathon was Classic Games Done Quick in January 2010, which was inspired by The Speed Gamers. Long story short, the marathon ended up taking place in my mom’s basement and raised 11,000 dollars for international aid organization CARE,” said Uyama.

Since 2015, Games Done Quick has raised over $1 million in donations at each of the last four events (including Summer Games Done Quick). To put that into perspective, the NFL raises $3 million on average for charity. A niche community has nearly matched one of the worlds business juggernauts in the National Football League in terms of donation totals. That’s simply incredible and shows the power of speed running.

Speed running isn’t a new idea, people have been beating video games as fast as possible before the internet age.  It’s now just coming to light the sheer entertainment value of speed running. The skill and time dedicated to improving and optimizing these runs is incredible. Most of the top speed runners are often extremely talented gamers in general, and the skill sets transfer over to other aspects of gaming.

Here’s Dram55, one of the most talented speedrunners in the community, playing Joe And Mac 2 yesterday at AGDQ 2017:

Speed Running’s Place in Esports

Esports is a new, growing idea that’s just now starting to take on massive investors. It’s centered around competitive gaming and has formed an entirely new industry. Speed running started basically the same way as competitive gaming. It wasn’t started as a business venture, but to see if you were the best player at your favorite game.

Now, speed running, thanks to the invention of Twitch and Games Done Quick, has shown there’s plenty of interest in this niche hobby. Enough interest to the point where teams and investors might see the speed running community as a place to get exposure and make money. Runners like Mychal “TriHex” Jefferson, Clint Stevens, and Caleb Hart are just a few examples of players with massive online followings.

I don’t want to give the wrong idea here. The speed running community isn’t asking to be included in esports. Frankly, most speed runners could care less as that’s not the goal of speed running. But inherently, a community based around skill in video games and entertainment through someone else playing a game should probably be included in the esports side. It should be considered in the same vein as other competitive games.

“Speedrunning in five years might have tournaments, even more of it will be streamed, and maybe giant races will be broadcast.” Said Uyama

Speed Runs Live is a site that started as a platform to connect speed runners looking to race other speed runners. In this respect, Speed Runs Live applies directly to esports, and as Mike Uyama stated, races and tournaments could become a more prevalent part of the community. It’s unlikely the racing side becomes as popular as just the standard speed run, but it’s a sub-section of the speed running community that can’t be ignored.

Awesome Games Done Quick 2017 is currently taking place this week so make sure to watch and donate. As the industry grows, expect more emphasis to be placed on speed running. It’s an untapped market that has potential to grow. Its place in esports is unclear now, but the more research and eyes on the community will push future investors towards speed running.

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Pokésports Crest

Pokésports: The Power of a Brand and One Fans Plea

The Year of eSports

One of the big showings this year at CES Conference is eSports. Being a relatively new phenomenon, eSports is experiencing a surge of growth. Reporting a 2016 revenue of 493 million dollars. On top of that analysts project annual revenue to surpass 1 billion dollars by 2019.

Customers enjoying food and eSports at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Image courtesy of youtube.com user sapphiRe

Furthermore, recent studies have shown eSports rise in popularity. Now they are rating as high as Baseball and Ice Hockey among American Millennial Males. Turner Broadcasting is even getting in on the action with ELEAGUE, a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league. First being aired on TBS. Then picked up and shown in Buffalo Wild Wings throughout the United States.

Building a Brand

Half a billion dollars is still relatively small for a global industry. While poised for growth, eSports lacks a strong brand. That brings us to Pokémon. A 20 year old series revolving around Trainers capturing, raising, and battling monsters in the game world. Pokémon already has an existing competitive tournament series referred to as the Video Game Championships (VGC) with multiple tournaments each year culminating in a World Championship. However, Pokémon is generally not thought of as under the eSports umbrella. As an effect both Pokémon and eSports find themselves as somewhat of an odd couple. Both could benefit from being with the other, but neither will make a move.

The reason for the odd relationship between Pokémon and eSports comes down to marketing. The Pokémon Company International (TPCI) has not really worked to market the competitive aspect of the franchise. Even though Pokémon commands a massive following worldwide, competitive Pokémon still remains rather niche. While TPCI does little to nurture their growing competitive community.

Massive crowd cheering inside arena during Nintendo eSports tournament.

Image courtesy of Nintendo

Nintendo is showing signs of moving into eSports with the launch trailer debuting the new Nintendo Switch. The time has come for Nintendo, Game Freak, and TPCI to take a long and serious look at what they have with the Pokémon brand and its ability to translate into massive growth potential inside the eSports market. This would not only benefit the coffers of those companies, but serve as a springboard for the already fast growing eSport movement.

Perfect Match

The Pokémon brand carries a significant amount of weight. Generating 2.1 billion dollars annual revenue in 2015 and expected to report higher returns for 2016. Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game for Android and iPhone, launched in 2016. Going so far as to produce revenues of over 1 billion dollars in its first year. That’s right, a Free To Play app for smartphones generated double the revenue of the entire eSports industry, simply due to the Pokémon brand. Now consider an actual concerted effort to market Pokémon as the next big eSport.

I challenge you to imagine a world where Pokémon reaches its full potential as an eSport. A world where, just like football and basketball today, a kid can become a professional Trainer. Making a living mastering what is essentially a game of 3D chess, constructing teams out of 100’s of available Pokémon. The fanbase and brand power is undoubtedly there and I would hazard a guess that many corporations would get in bed with the Pokémon brand in the realm of sports. VGC Tournaments already look like what they show off in the Nintendo Switch trailer.

Large crowd gathers for competitive Pokémon tournament.

Image courtesy of Kotaku

This series I will dive into what it would take for Pokémon to become a respected eSports franchise, what that would look like, and the overall impact of such an event. Everything from the structure of the competitive community to the way matches are broadcast will be examined. With hope TPCI takes these points to heart and gifts the magic of Pokémon to future generations. A world of dreams and adventures with Pokémon awaits! Let’s go!

Opening scene from G1 Pokémon games.

Image courtesy of Game Freak

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Starladder i-League Finals: Na’Vi vs Vici Gaming R.

While only Vici bears the name “Reborn”, these are both two teams making their reappearance in the grand scene, and they offered quite a thrilling grand final series. Despite the 3-1 in favour of Vici, all games were played on almost equal footing, with no clear winner until the very end.

Game 1

Na’Vi VG.R
Enchantress Gyrocopter
Faceless Void Lion
Death Prophet Queen of Pain
Earth Spirit Earthshaker
Nature's Prophet Beastmaster

Na’vi had a better early game, shutting down the Gyrocopter pretty effectively, winning most skirmishes and gaining map control. However, during an unsuccessful Roshan attempt, they lost both the fight and the Aegis to the enemy, which evened the difference in net worth. After that, and despite the large number of team fights, no team could gain a clear advantage. Na’vi had a slight edge in winning fights, while VG had Roshan on their side of the river.

The Chinese decided they had enough, claimed the Aegis for their very farmed Gyro and went for the Throne. Na’vi threw bodies at them, and after a hardcore Spartan defense, VG were pushed back; not only that, Gyrocopter had made a questionable buyback and was unable to prevent Na’vi from getting two sides of rax. The ending of this epic game was marked by a 3-man Chronosphere, which resulted in Na’Vi’s final push and victory.

It won’t do this game much honour to discuss what decided the outcome; it was pure epicness all over the place, especially near the finale. Suffice to say though, perhaps that hasty buyback from Gyrocopter cost his team a lot.

Game 2

Na’vi VG.R
Puck Gyrocopter
Bounty Hunter Lion
Invoker Windranger
Enchantress Chen
Lycan Lone Druid

This one was a bit more straightforward. Gyrocopter had a great game from the start, participating in almost every kill early on and getting items fast. Lone Druid had his Midas+Radiance pretty early, and was ready to start eating towers. Na’Vi kept up with pickoffs, Track Gold and Dendi’s amazing Sun Strikes.

I believe Game 2 came down to the drafts. While both teams played equally well, Lycan is not a great Hero for direct clashes, he’s more of a pusher. From a point onward, it was plainly obvious he couldn’t face Gyro+Lone Druid head on. He didn’t have the space to split push, either, as even with him there, the fights weren’t easy for his team. Na’vi fought well, but when it came down to the mid-late game clashes, their carry just didn’t cut it. Slowly and steadily, VG pushed their way into the enemy base.

Game 3

Na’Vi VG.R
Nature's Prophet Gyrocopter
Oracle Witch Doctor
Windranger Queen of Pain
Chen Bounty Hunter
Faceless Void Batrider

Despite Queen of Pain having a really hard time in the mid lane and Na’vi getting a bit more pickoffs, VG Heroes topped the CS chart and quickly took advantage of it. Queen more than made up for her weak early game, getting kill after kill and reaching Beyond Godlike pretty quickly.

While Faceless Void had some good Chronospheres, there just wasn’t enough damage on top of it for Na’Vi to fight back. In team fights, they could just kill the supports, at best; Track gold didn’t make it easier for them, either. Even later on, when Nature’s Prophet and Windranger got some damage items, it was too little too late, compared to yet another beast Gyrocopter. The weakness of Na’Vi’s lineup showed, and VG grabbed the arguably easiest win of the 4 matches.

Game 4

Na’Vi VG.R
Batrider Juggernaut
Earth Spirit Vengeful Spirit
Queen of Pain Puck
Witch Doctor Enchantress
Gyrocopter Night Stalker

The early game here was more or less even. Juggernaught topped the net worth by far, followed however by 3 Na’Vi Heroes. Puck was picked off a bit too many times at mid, but Night Stalker applied a lot of pressure around the map to make up for it. Juggernaught went for a greedy farming build, investing a few of his skills points in stats and getting Battle Fury first. Perhaps because of that, Na’Vi had the upper hand if only by a very small amount in team fights.

Kills, however, don’t mean that much in Dota and VG had the Dire Roshan advantage for the 4th game in a row, plus the vision advantage from Night Stalker. From a point onward, Na’Vi’s minimap was pitch black and they were very hesitant in striding too far from their base. But, things don’t always go so smooth, and after Na’Vi convincingly winning a team fight and claiming Aegis and Cheese, they decided to get a Divine Rapier on Gyrocopter and walk down mid.

Perhaps in theory, that was the correct choice; Na’Vi were never going to win the vision/pickoff game, and claiming another Roshan wouldn’t be easy. The execution was heartbreaking for their fans though, to say the least, as Gyrocopter died twice and lost the Rapier to Juggernaught. After that, there was nothing stopping the Chinese from getting Mega Creeps and claiming the cup.