Here is why Esports Arenas will be coming to a city near you

The world of esports is growing very quickly. Estimations show that it will be larger than a $1.5 Billion industry in the next couple years. We are seeing more major sponsors for leagues and teams. With this, esports are switching over to a franchising system. This can only mean more money coming into esports.

With franchising comes the need for arenas. For a long time, esports were not taken all that seriously because many worried that either a certain esport wouldn’t last long enough or that esports would be unable to be franchised because they wouldn’t make enough money. Well, Twitch and other streaming services changed that. This grew the audiences to very high levels. What it also did, however, was bring about a new worry.

Would people go to games or would they just prefer to watch it online? After spending time at TD Gardens in Boston, The Fillmore in Miami for NA LCS, talking with other journalists, and following both League and Overwatch League closely, I can tell you that people will absolutely go to these games weekly.

What about all the other events that have come before this?

Counter-Strike Global Offensive in Esports arena

Courtesy of: CS:GO Betting

This is a valid question. The answer is that most events or even leagues can be categorized into two different areas right now.

  1. Most of these events are only happening maybe once a month as tournaments or major events that happen a couple times a year. Examples of this are CS:GO and Dota 2. What these events prove is that if there is a major event, people will come. The problem is that it doesn’t show that there are enough people who would go on a weekly or multiple days a week basis.
  2. The second area is that most leagues as of now are based in Los Angeles or other centrally located cities. Both the OWL and League are based in LA and the NBA2k League is in New York City. This is great for the people who live there or who travel there as they can watch their teams play. Everyone else is sadly out of luck.

The Fans

Fan bases for esports as a whole are growing substantially. According to Statista.com, there will be almost 400 million viewers by the end of 2018. This number will only increase as games like Fortnite, which are sweeping the world right now, are spreading to casual and non-gamers.

With the swath of viewers, there will be many who attach to certain players or teams based on their viewing experiences and what games they like. While this is great, many people often never have an event close enough to them to see their favorite team or player perform in person. Thus, they watch online.

Courtesy of: SportsTechie

With the new franchising leagues, esports are following traditional sports. Many people forget that traditional sports did not start off with teams magically appearing in cities around the world all of a sudden. Instead, a relatively small amount of teams traveled and hosted events at venues where large numbers of people could gather. This mirrors how esports have been the last few years. Now, esports are moving onto the next stage of development with franchising.

With teams representing areas and cities, people will more likely gravitate towards them as their team. Again following the traditional sports model, this will help fan bases grow, allowing people to become more attached to their teams.

As more and more people watch esports, they will be enticed to at least look at their hometown teams which should, in turn, build fans in those areas.

Franchising

As one could probably tell when reading this, franchising is a game changer. Like the NFL, NBA, and MLB, esports like League of Legends, NBA2k, and Overwatch are following in their predecessors’ footsteps. They are paving the way for other esports to jump on franchising as it offers stability and money.

Stability and massive amounts of money have always been what has kept esports from being taken seriously. There were relegations at such an early start for esports like League of Legends. This kept people and groups from feeling comfortable in investing. With franchising eliminating relegations, we saw an instant interest to the tune of up to $20 million in investments for spots in these leagues.

This is a much cheaper price than trying to buy an NBA franchise. Getting in on the ground level of anything this big is always more exciting.

With the money and stability comes the desire to make more money. Building an arena can definitely help in this area. The investment towards the future will pay off as they will be able to grow the fan base even more due to people finally being able to watch their city’s team in person.

“If you build it, they will come.”

This quote from the movie Field of Dreams, while it is about the traditional sport of baseball, applies to esports quite well.

Between other events, the fan bases, and the stability brought about by franchising, the next logical step is to start building esports arenas in cities. While there are some newer ones, like in Las Vegas and Arlington, there are plenty of teams and companies working out ways to create even more.

With the leagues that are franchising, there are even some cities that will already have a need for new arenas to host the multiple teams that are in them. You can check them out here.

All of these leagues will continue to grow and more esports will be franchising. Call of Duty announced their intentions to franchise, but not much more has come out since. With that, more cities will get involved and the need for arenas will increase.

Keep an eye out, esports and their arenas will be coming to a city near you.

 

Featured image courtesy of: Populous.com

 

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Does Stewie2k make SK better?

Stewie2k after a 1v2 clutch

 

 

SK Gaming fills their roster

It seem obvious now that Gabriel “FalleN’ Toledo and company were not only looking for fire power but looking to add a flashy awp player to the mix with the addition of Jake “Stewie2k” Yip. Last week we talked about the possibility of SK Gaming picking up Oleksendr “s1mple” Kostyliev and his current teammate Egor “flamie” Valsilyev. At the time this was more of a rumor than anything. As time went on it was realized that the deal to sign both players was closer than most anticipated. Finally, the deal fell through.

This makes a lot of sense as English is the only language that all of these players share. What makes this difficult to work around is that English is all of the players involved second language. Making basic communication a hurdle that the team would need to overcome. This would be no small hurdle as SK is known for their team play. Their ability to peak angles together with perfect timing on their CT(Counter Terrorist) side to get early information and picks was essential.

The core of SK, led by FalleN’s tactically driven mind, are very good with timing flashes over walls or throwing smokes at just the right moment to push into a bombsite. Every smoke, flash, molotov, and timed peak require planning, practice, and communication to pull off. All of this is made exponentially more difficult when you consider that there are several maps that need to be accounted and planned for.

While all of these players understand English and how to play the game at a high level it can be common for someone in a high pressure situation to revert back to their first language when making a split second call. Especially when said call has been made in SK’s preferred language hundreds of times in several different tournaments.

Another reason this deal may not have worked with s1mple was because of the distance. In January of 2016 he joined Team Liquid and quickly took them from an above average NA team to the best NA team. Playing a pivotal role in the teams run to placing 3/4 at the MLG Major Championship in Columbus, OH in April of that same year. Shortly thereafter on April the 21st, he announced he was returning to a European team due to being away from family and friends. He said this was a strain on him and the team. If his feelings are still consistent then this could be a reason for him not joining SK.

Stewie2k will change how SK plays

While the s1mple chapter of SK’s player search is officially over with the official signing of Stewie2k last night, another chapter begins with one of the most flashy players in the world. The discussion around the Stewie2k joining SK has been surprising to most. Considering Cloud9’s huge upset potential against every team in the world. They had become increasingly consistent with placings against top tier teams under Tarik’s IGL(in-game leading). Winning the Eleague Major in late January. This news being made even more surprising by the fact that Stewie2k had great performances against both SK and Faze. Forcing both teams to go to a stacked A site.

As someone who watches a lot of SK gaming and Stewie2k play I was a bit stumped on what exactly they were looking for in a player. After much analysis on how both of them play I have found an answer. The current rumor is that Ricardo “boltz” Prass will remain on SK for the near future. This is a good move as he is a system player. He relies on the players around him to draw attention away from him while relying on position rather than skill to get frags and be effective. This works well in the SK system but having two players do this can be costly. Enter Epitacio “TACO” de Melo,. TACO has played in FalleN’s system very well for a long time on T(terrorist) side but with him being such a passive player on ct sides it was costing SK rounds.

TACO is one of the best when it comes to letting terrorist get deep into a bombsite before engaging. This means playing a position that isn’t normally checked or playing close to the bombsite itself letting players come to him. This style of defense can do one of two things.

First there is a chance that TACO can go unoticed and peak when he hears the bomb plant. Killing one or two players then the bomb carrier. Which, given most situations, wins the round. Second, This can have a very negative effect as well on a defense late in a round. With this style being most effective late in the round it is imperative that he at least gets one frag to make it easier for his retaking teammates.

If TACO peaks and a T player is expecting him and he dies on site, more than likely the bomb is being planted. Because he lets teams onto the site willingly they have taken minimal damage and have complete control of the site. All while giving his teammates minimal time to rotate and help him because he has given up so much control. I think teams began predicting this against SK and abusing the fact that they could sneak onto a site and if they could simple trade him one for one then they would have the site with minimal lose of utility.

Ultimately why I think TACO was removed from SK was lack of information. What I mean by this is mid round information that can be gathered by pushing out of a site or playing a position where he can hold in front of the site. TACO rarely pushes out of a site to get kills or information. The gain of a kill or this information given to FalleN is worth the loss of life. If a player can push and get one or two frags plus information of where another one or two players are with a chance of seeing where the bomb is can be extremely useful to every one on the team. I think FalleN is looking for another player like Fer that can handle an awp.

Sending Fer into a group of unsuspecting T’s with Stewie2k in tow toting an awp for support would wreak havoc on opposing terrorist and gain an insane amount of information to boot. This would make FalleN’s job a lot easier in conducting his other two teammates around around the map. With a tag team of these two notoriously aggressive players roaming around the map together it will change the way teams play against them.

Teams may play slower, trying to counter their pushes. This in turn may lead to a time crunch later in the round forcing mistakes with the potential of not even being involved with the play. Even more dangerous is the fact they will likely be split up and play different sites. FalleN will also likely give each of them permission to move freely throughout a round. With the potential of either or both of them pushing early in rounds it will spread teams across the map before executes and force other teams to have a weaker default setup.

Having Stewie2k on SK also gives FalleN the ability to hand off the awping duties and play different positions himself. FalleN is known for being an amazing awper and can sometimes play very forward positions with the weapon. Although risky, he has been very successful with this in the past trusting the cover of his teammates. One thing I suspect will come from this change is Stewie2k will become the forward awper and let Fallen hang back for cover. This will take a lot of pressure off of FalleN as the awp is a high intensity weapon that requires a lot of focus and attention. With the IGL being able to play back with a rifle he can check his mini map more often and let him process where the opposing team may come from.

Even more helpful to the SK cause is that Stewie2k has in-game leading experience. I doubt FalleN ever gives up his rolse as IGL but it helps that Stewie2k understands this role and knows how important certain information is to an IGL and he can play accordingly. This can lead to better decisions all around for SK. Whether SK chooses to him an awp or simply turn him loose with Fer, SK just og t alot more exciting to watch.

 

Heath Dettwiller

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mousesports wins V4 Future Sports Festival

As the weekend draws to a close, so to does the illustrious V4 Future Sports Festival. With eight of the best teams in the game competing for a whopping prize pool of almost $600,000, the action was intense in the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Each of the participants brought their A game to the major. Teams were initially divided into two groups, where they played a round robin format. Group A saw FaZe Clan and HellRaisers emerge victorious over GameAgents and Dark Tigers. Group B saw mousesports and Virtus.pro triumph over eXtatus and x-kom Team.

 

Virtus.pro vs. FaZe

Virtus.pro and FaZe faced off in the first semifinal of the V4 Future Sports Festival. The first round went the way of the Polish side, as did the next two anti-eco rounds. Virtus.pro continued their hot start by winning the first gun round and the subsequent rounds. Then, in a shocking turn of events, the eighth round and the rest of the half went to a suddenly streaking FaZe; what was a 0-7 deficit suddenly became an 8-7 lead. In a thrilling second half, the two sides would go back and forth, with Virtus.pro narrowly winning 16-14.

 

Image courtesy of liquipedia.net

Virtus.pro continued their solid form and took the opening pistol round on Nuke, eventually grinding out an 8-7 victory in the first half. Although the second half saw FaZe take their first pistol round of the match, it was not meant to be for the European superpower. The Polish side won their force buy and rolled the rest of the half to win the map 16-10, shocking FaZe in the process.

mousesports vs. HellRaisers

mousesports and HellRaisers faced off in the second semifinal, with the former turning a 3v5 deficit into a surprising victory. The two sides traded runs before HellRaisers took the half 8-7. Krill “ANGE2” Kraslow’s 1v3 clutch in the pistol round saw HellRaisers extend their lead. This momentum came to a quick halt when mousesports picked up weapons, demolishing HellRaisers seven rounds in a row to hit 14 rounds. HellRaisers managed to make it exciting and tie the game at 14-14, before mousesports took the map 16-14.

Map 2 was Cobblestone, and HellRaisers began their pick with a victory on the pistol and anti-eco rounds. However, Martin “STYKO” Styk pulled off a 1v3 clutch to halt HellRaiser’s momentum and win the first round for his team. Each team would pull off multiple runs to end the half 7-8 in favor of HellRaisers. The second half began with three victories for mousesports and a 10-8 lead, before HellRaisers won the first gun round. Down 11-12, mousesports would go on a run and reach matchpoint, with Chris “chrisJ” de Jong eventually getting four kills to take mousesports to the finals

.

mousesports vs. Virtus.pro

mousesports and Virtus.pro kicked off the grand finals on Mirage, with the former taking the opening pistol round and the following anti-eco rounds. Virtus.pro then made things competitive, taking the first gun round, and holding their own against the favored mousesports, narrowly losing the half 8-7. The second half started with mousesports winning the first five rounds handedly. Although the Polish side was able to take a round back, the rest of the half went the way of mousesports, who took the map 16-8.

After getting smothered on Mirage, Virtus.pro looked much more convincing on Cobblestone, winning the first seven rounds. It would take three kills from Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný for mousesports to get on the board. Virtus.pro continued their run and took the half with an astounding 13-2 lead. The second half was much of the same, with Virtus.pro eventually taking the map 16-2.

The V4 Future Sports Festival grand final would come down to the final map: Train. Despite getting crushed on Cobblestone, mousesports won five of the first six rounds on Train. Once again, the two sides traded rounds, with the half ending 8-7 in favor of mousesports. The second half began with Virtus.pro overcoming an early deficit to win the pistol round and two more wins on the subsequent anti-eco rounds. Although mousesports were able to win the first gun round of the half, they immediately dropped the following round, forcing them to call a tactical pause. After some stunning play from Jarosław “pashaBiceps” Jarząbkowski, Virtus.pro held a 14-10 lead and looked ready to take the tournament. Then, in stunning fashion, mousesports won the following six rounds to win the map and the tournament.

image courtesy of liquipedia.net

MVP

Several players put on outstanding performances in this tournament, but none was better than Czech superstar Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný. oskar led mousesports to their second title of the year with a 1.28 rating and a +20 KDD in the finals against Virtus.pro. In addition, oskar had the third-highest tournament rating at 1.24, led the event in KDD (+63), AWP kills (134), AWP kills per round (0.47) and total opening kills (44). This is oskar’s second MVP medal, after previously winning at ESG Tour Mykonos.    

Tomáš 'oskar' Šťastný

Image courtesy of hltv.org

As Hungary’s first international tournament in the CS:GO, the V4 Future Sports Festival was one for the books. With Virtus.pro’s dramatic upset over FaZe in the semifinals and a thrilling three-map final that saw numerous lead changes, the weekend was certainly one to remember.

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Featured image from Liquipedia.net

SK could pick up S1mple and flamie

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S1mple (left) and flamie (right)

SK looking for a change

SK could pick up S1mple and Flamie. There have been a few floating rumors that SK gaming were looking for a change. Until now, there have been few solid reports of possible trades or player acquisitions. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo has made it clear that he wants Brazilian Counter Strike to grow and up to this point has had exclusively Brazilian players on his teams. Dexerto reports earlier today that this could be contrary to SK Gaming’s future team composition.

Who

Aleksandr “S1mple” Kostyliev and Egor “Flamie” Vasilyev are two of Natus Vincere’s premiere players. This dynamic duo is made up of the best player in the world in S1mple and a once top 5 fragger in the world in Flamie. Adding these two to any team would be a huge plus as far as fragging power. It seems as though these two are in SK’s sights in making a move to jump start the team after disappointing finishes in recent tournaments.

Why

SK over the last couple years have been a tactical nightmare for opposing teams. IGL(in game leader) FalleN has used his players in a system that seems to put everyone in the perfect position. For nearly two years his tactics dominated other teams and his player composition has stayed mostly the same throughout that reign. For whatever reason it seems as though these once supreme tactics have become predictable. Whether it be the players faults or FalleN’s system itself it is clear a change needs to be made.

With the rumor that S1mple and Flamie will join FalleN’s ranks we must think to ourselves why? SK has always relied on the unselfish plays of its role players. Adding these two big guns to the lineup doesn’t exactly scream subtle. Comparing them to the two players that they are predicted to replace it is obvious that they are not the same types of players. Both of these players are known for taking high risk high reward plays and maybe that is what the Brazilian legend FalleN is looking for in his players. Maybe someone that will take the fight to a team rather than wait for a teammate to make a play.

S1mply better

SK used to be one of the best eco round teams in the world. Adding two of the best pistol players in the world could make them more dangerous than ever with S1mple’s deagle play and Flamie’s AK like performances with the CZ. Having these two on either bombsite with the potential to turn a round into SK’s favor with a couple head shots from S1mple should have FalleN’s mouth watering. All around this team gets much better in the fraggin department with the addition of these two. I hope it does work out as this team playing a monster in Faze Clan could make for some insane finals.

 

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Is Fnatic a contender for the next major?

Fnatic.com

Is Fnatic back?

 

Fnatic is on the rise

Fnatic has been the gold standard when it comes to consistent winning teams throughout the short history of Counter: Strike Global Offensive. The organization has several big tournament wins starting from the games conception and has showed different periods of dominance ever since with various different lineups. Although Fnatic has fielded some of the most legendary teams to have ever graced the servers at Valve they have been somewhat quite over the last year only upsetting better teams rarely in big tournaments.

The Swedish team has had its fair share of team changes as well as injuries in the last year and the results have shown accordingly. With the most recent change in the lineup Fnatic has shown improvement and many are asking. Is Fnatic a contender for the next major?

Lekr0 (left) and GOLDEN (right)

Recent roster changes

In August of 2017 the roster picked up Mailkil “GOLDEN” Selim and Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson. Both players have a very specific set of skills that the Swedes have been lacking over the last year. GOLDEN has come on as the IGL or In Game Leader which is a huge gain for this team. With Golden taking over calling the shots and reactionary plays for the Fnatic team this frees former IGL Robin “Flusha” Ronnquist to return to his roots of being a master fragger.

The other change coming in the form of Lekr0 who has been about as good as you can been for a young fragger. He is great in the pistol rounds and is dangerous with just about any weapon in his hands. It seem as though he has taken to the experience of the veteran team around him and so far has made the best of it.

Changing for the better

Flusha is capable of some of the most electrifying plays possible in Counter Strike. He was in the top 10 of HLTV.org’s Top 20 players lists in 2014,2015, and 2016. Being very consistent when it comes to holding bombsites and having the potential to walk into any site with a dry peak (no nades to assist in the peak) and grab two kills for his team make him invaluable. Flusha upon taking the IGL role saw a drop off in his fragging ability which ultimately hurt his teams. He is considered a fierce competitor and willing to do whatever it takes for a win which landed him the role. This in turn hurt his teams ability to take bomb sites and defend certain rushes from tactile teams.

With GOLDEN taking over the more cerebral responsibilities of the game Flusha can return to what makes him such a great player and a hopeful return to HLTV’s list once more. As far as Lekr0 goes he has been the definition of a rising star the last couple of years rising from the ranks of second tier Counter Strike. Making a name for himself on smaller teams he has bounced back and forth between Fnatic and GODSENT for the past couple of years. It seems as though he has found a comfortable role within his team as somewhat of a utility player and pistol specialist.

What makes them a contender?

moving on from the aforementioned Lekr0,GOLDEN, and Flusha. We need to discuss the two other players of Fnatic being Jesper “JW” Wecksell and Freddy “KRiMZ” Johnasson. Both of them are legendary in their own right but over the past year they have not found top placings in big events. As of late they have performed up to their potential seeing KRiMZ hold bombsites by his lonesome and come up with huge clutch plays from a lurking position. JW seems to have found his confidence again taking insane peaks and getting away with some plays that some pro CS players only dream of. With these two returning to old form along with Flusha this team has a huge upside for upset potential.

The key to all of this success is GOLDEN. He has a great mind for the game and with the tools he has at his disposal he has beaten teams like Faze and SK on a regular basis. The biggest of these wins coming in 3-2 fashion over Faze Clan in Katowice for the Season XII IEM grand finals. This is a huge win as Faze is currently the number one team in the world and has a staggering amount of star power.

More impressive was earlier in the same tournament they gave Faze a clean sweep of 2-0. This plus their recent win of Wold Electronic Sports Games gives them a hot hand moving forward albeit the former had a weak field of teams. The stage seems set for this team to have a great upcoming year and I suspect that they will continue their string of top tier finishes.

Closing comments

Although the next major for CS:GO is a ways off it is important to note that this Fnatic team has only gotten better the more they have played. With the right system put in place by GOLDEN and the trust of his teammates to execute his plans this team stands a solid chance of lifting many trophies this year. As the year goes on we will dive further into what makes these teams tick and what does not. For all things sports keep it right here at The Game Haus and for all things Counter Strike keep and eye out for my name in the coming weeks.

 

Images from fnatic.com

 

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Fnatic top Space Soldiers at WESG 2017 in China

WESG 2017

This past weekend the WESG 2017 World Finals came to a conclusion. Overall, the tournament treated us to some stunning upsets, exhilarating comebacks, and high quality Counter Strike. 32 teams representing five different regions gathered in China to fight over the $1.5 million prize pool. Pool play whittled the field down to an elite eight: Team Russia, MVP PK, Space Soldiers, Team One, Fnatic, AGO Esports, CLoud 9, and GODSENT. These weakest links were forced to abandon, and the semifinals saw exciting play between Space Soldiers vs Team Russia, and Fnatic vs Team One.

Image from liquipedia.net

Semifinals

After stunning Cloud 9 in the quarterfinals, One hoped to pull off another upset against Fnatic. One started off with a decent first half, but ultimately ended up losing Mirage 16-7. Nuke began as a highly contested affair, but after winning 10 straight rounds in a row, Fnatic took the map 16-6, and the series 2-0. In the other semifinal, Space Soldiers took on Team Russia. The series began on Space Soldiers’ pick, Cobblestone, with a solid 10-5 victory for the Turkish side. Space Soldiers would go on to take the map with a dominating performance the second half, only allowing Team Russia one round. The next map, Nuke, began much the same way, with a 6-1 lead for Space Soldiers. Although Team Russia was able to narrow the gap and made the game even through 22 rounds, Space Soldiers were able to close out the map 16-11.

Grand Finals

The final was a nailbiter between Space Soldiers of Turkey and fnatic of Sweden that will go down in the books. The best-of-three grand final began on Cobblestone with a T-sided victory, but could not capitalize on the initial victory, and lost the half 10-5. Space Soldiers won the second half pistol round as well, but could not convert the pistol round win into any momentum, and lost Cobblestone 16-12.

The series continued on Inferno, which coincidentally, is where the series began to heat up. Fnatic got off to a hot start to take a 4-0 victory, before going on to take the half 8-7. Space Soldiers came out swinging the second half and extended their map lead to a commanding 15-12 lead. Despite having three map points, the Turkish side was unable to close out Inferno, and the map would head to overtime. There, the underdogs would sweep the Swedish side, and take the map 19-16.

The grand finals would be decided on Mirage, where Space Soldiers got off to a quick 7-1 start. The Swedes staged a rally and narrowed the gap to 9-6 by halftime. The second half began with a hammering, and Space Soldiers ran the score up to 14-7, two rounds away from winning the entire tournament. Down but not out, the Swedes pulled off nine consecutive round victories to win the map 16-14 and claim the championship at the WESG 2017 World Finals.

MVP

Throughout the course of the tournament, Freddy “KRIMZ” Johannson put up some monster numbers and was the catalyst towards fnatic’s victory at the WESG 2017. Boasting a tournament wide second best Kill to Death difference of +102, KRIMZ stole the show in Haikou. In total, KRIMZ featured in seven of the event’s stats leaderboards, including Damage difference per round, total opening kills, success in opening duels, 1+ kill rounds and total headshots, in addition to his Kill to Death difference. This performance would not go unnoticed, as KRIMZ was awarded the MVP for the tournament. This likely would have been his second in as many events, were it not for flusha’s godlike Aces in Katowice. Time will tell if KRIMZ historic start to 2018 will continue throughout the rest of the year.

Image from hltv.org

This past weekend was a thrilling display of Counter Strike with a fitting final between Space Soldiers and fnatic will be one for the ages. With the next large event being Dreamhack, approximately one month from now, we’ll have plenty of video to keep us entertained until then.

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Featured image from hltv.org

 

 

 

ELEAGUE Boston Major New Challengers Recap

 

This weekend brought about the beginning of the qualifiers for the final 16 teams of the ELEAGUE CS:GO Boston Major. Starting on Friday, 16 teams from across North America, Europe, CIS and Asian regions diverged on Atlanta to decide the final nine spots. Coming into this, G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, and Cloud9 were all clear favorites to go through this round and didn’t fail to live up to that with Cloud9 and G2 going 3-0 and advancing convincingly. FaZe dropped a map in quite in upset to Vega Squadron but still advanced with a 3-1 record. Vega Squadron and Space Soldiers, two teams who despite having decent rosters have yet to truly perform at majors. Space Soldiers were making their major debut and with the talent of Xantares and Calyx it was hard to write them off as going out in this stage and unsurprisingly they showed that they came not for experience to but to win something, putting up a 3-1 record after dropping a first day map to Sprout Esports. With Cloud9 moving on easily, North American hopes lied in Team Liquid and Misfits. Team Liquid are quite an experienced and talented roster, Elige, Nitro and Jdm were all apart of the the finalists of ESL Cologne 2016, whilst new additions Twistzzz and Steel have shown quality but due to roster change rules, Steel could not play with Liquid in Atlanta. Liquid resided in the 2-2 deciders after beating Flipside and Renegades and started their ninth spot qualifier against Natus Vincere, an experienced and talented roster who dispatched of Liquid in a convincing manner and put them in a last chance qualifier against Avangar, another very talented young roster from the CIS region making their major debut. Despite making it seem like they were going home Liquid pulled it back in overtime in a thriller on Mirage, 19-16.

With a weekend full of great CS came some obvious stand out moments, but none bigger than Quantum Bellator Fire and their path to qualifying for the final stages of the major. A debuting team from the CIS region, it featured the youngest roster in the major and so many people wrote them off as being a 0-3 team. In an interview with waterfaLLZ he made it clear that “We’re not here for experience, we came here to make the major and we did that.” The team saw victories against Flash Gaming, EnVyUs, and Avangar with a 3-2 record to end the weekend. Lastly Flash Gaming… A team who was added to the major on very short notice, didn’t neccessarily surprise anyone by going 0-3, but they did surprise with the way they played. All matches for them finished close, or rather closer than expected with a 16-11 on Inferno against G2, who were down 9-6 at half going onto the T side. The other matches for Flash included two 16-13 loses against EnVyUs and QB Fire. For a team added to the major at the last minute they did about what most people expected. They could’ve pulled realistically pulled two maps off QB Fire and EnVyUs but lacked that closing firepower and composure.

People can say what they want about them, and that Tyloo (the Chinese team who had to withdraw) would’ve done much better but in all fairness would they really have? The Swiss format (which implicates best-of-1’s for the early stages of the major) almost favors these smaller teams but if you go off that principle alone then yes Tyloo would’ve done better but Flash came in and realized that they’re pretty lucky to be here and that they should simply do it for the experience. Not only was this a major debut for the organization but also the players. Many of the debuting teams had players who have at least played at a major before.

The weekend can be summed up by the dominance of the CIS region. Four CIS teams came into this weekend with the ambitions of making it five CIS teams in the final stage, the other being Gambit Gaming. Despite three of the four CIS teams ended up in the 2-2 deciders, two still emerged from it, only Avangar didn’t make it through only after losing in overtime of the very last match. This weekend showed that this could be the year of the CIS region, the deep of quality emerging is remarkable and people can only be excited for what there is to come.

The ELEAGUE Major continues this coming weekend with the New Legends Stage of the tournament being played in Atlanta, Georgia at the Turner Studios and the elimination stages being played in Boston.

For ticket information visit: https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/01005351B55240B8?dma_id=220&artistid=2258528&majorcatid=10005&minorcatid=0#efeat4211#efeat4212

You can also watch the matches live on the ELEAGUE Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/eleaguetv

You can also watch live on the TBS channel.

ESL Pro League

ESL Pro League Season 6 playoff predictions

Coming into this tournament, it looked like it was going to be a thriller, and there have been some fantastic games through the group stage. While the playoff stage is perhaps not as stacked as it could be, there are some interesting fresh matches, and I think we could get some more good games out of this tourney yet. Here’s how I personally think the rest of the tournament will shake out from here.

Quarterfinals

Fnatic vs OpTic

This is a very interesting matchup, as there really is no clear winner. Other than the final, I think this could be the match of the tournament. In terms of likely four banned maps, I’d predict for Cache, Nuke, Overpass and Train to be removed. This one is a real wildcard though, as a team could switch things up easily. I would expect seeing a combination of Mirage, Cobble and Inferno for this match. Picking a winner is really tough, but I think I have to side with the Swedes on this one.

Fnatic 2-1 OpTic

Hellraisers vs Misfits

I expect this to be a white-wash. I personally love an underdog story, such as Gambit at the major; however, I don’t see Misfits, no matter the maps, finding a way to win against a good Hellraisers team. They are just thoroughly out-manned. Then again, that’s what we’ve been saying about them all tournament. There may be some dark horse potential here, as they have played well thus far, but the chances are so incredibly slim that I don’t see it happening.

Hellraisers 2-0 Misfits

Semifinals

FaZe vs Fnatic

To begin this tournament, Fnatic upset FaZe in thriller fashion on arguably FaZe’s best map, Inferno. While that match was awesome, and Fnatic competed very well in that game, there really is no chance that Fnatic beat FaZe two out of three times. Again, maps don’t really matter here as FaZe should just overpower Fnatic on firepower alone.

FaZe 2-0 Fnatic

SK Gaming vs Hellraisers

I’m going to be very clear, SK will not lose to Hellraisers. However, I actually think in a weird way this could be a close one. SK will remove Nuke, which isn’t a good HR map anyways. HR will remove Mirage. From there, I’d expect a Cache pick by SK, followed by an Overpass pick by HR. While I expect the Overpass pick, I think it will be a huge mistake for them too. The third map will probably be Inferno, but I don’t think we will get there. I expect a close 2-0, with a potential to go to a third map; although even if it does go to three, SK should be able to lock it down.

SK 2-0 Hellraisers

Finals

SK Gaming vs FaZe Clan

I expect an insane final here. This could go down as one of the best matches in Counter-Strike history. From the gate, FaZe and SK should stick to their guns and ban Cobble and Nuke respectively. After that, things get interesting. An Inferno pick by FaZe to start is not unlikely, and SK picking Cache wouldn’t surprise me in the least. From there I would expect FaZe to pick Overpass, and SK to follow that up with Mirage, leaving map five, Train.

The first map should be a stunner, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go overtime. I’m going to say that Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo has a big game on the AWP, and Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David does coldzera things, and SK take a 1-0 lead.

Map 1: SK 16-13 FaZe

Second up we have Cache, which should be another close one. I’m saying Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač, Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard and Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer, all fantastic Cache players, turn up and FaZe win SK’s pick.

Map 2: FaZe 19-16 SK

The pivotal game three, and it should be another thriller. While I don’t think it will be as close as the first two, I still expect to see a sick performance from these two teams; however, I think SK take the series lead with this one.

Map 3: SK 16-11 FaZe

As a fan and viewer I want map five. While realistically, you would expect SK to be able to win this map, FaZe certainly will have their chances, and because I love when best of fives come down to map five, I’m taking FaZe to edge out the Brazilians in this one.

Map 4: FaZe 16-14 SK

While I think Inferno would have been the best map five, I can’t complain about Train. This should be another tight one, but I expect a terrific performance from coldzera, which should push SK over the line, to win the ESL Pro League 3-2.

Map 5: SK 16-12 FaZe

Final: SK 3-2 FaZe

MVP: Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David


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best csgo player

Who is the best CS:GO player of all time?

A topic very hotly debated in all traditional sports, from the Tom Bradys to the Michael Jordans. Whether you’re a die-hard Derek Jeter supporter, or you don’t think anything beats the classic Babe Ruth, there’s something within us that just loves the debate of who is the best. I’ve always been one to break these conversations down into categories; that is exactly what I’ve done here for Counter-Strike Global Offensive. By all means though, feel free to disagree with my picks for each category, this is of course my personal opinion.

Category 1: Winning

Obviously a very crucial thing to consider, as it is the goal of the game we play. The thing I personally enjoy most about this category is that there is really no debating, it’s all proven. There is no ‘well at this point he was better but at this point the other dude was better’ talk. It’s all cold hard facts. At least that’s how it is in traditional sports; it’s a bit different in CS, but the idea still stands.

Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist

Notable Achievements:

3x Major Champion

1x Major MVP

5x Big event winner ($250,000+ prize pool, excluding Valve Majors)

Actually there might be some controversy here, as you could argue Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund deserves the top spot as well; although, three time major winner flusha, for me, is the pick. Quite honestly I believe he should be a two-time major MVP as he practically won fnatic that first map on Dust II versus the Ninjas in Pyjamas, which set up the upset. When people are throwing around serious cheating allegations about you, you are either doing something very, very right, or very, very wrong. I’d like to believe the former, as the whole idea of using external assistance in CS:GO makes the game less fun to talk about.

Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David

Notable Achievements:

2x Major Champion

2x Major MVP

5x Big event winner ($250,000+ prize pool, excluding Valve Majors)

The only real reason I push him below flusha is because of that third major. Flusha technically has a slight advantage in amount of big event wins (eight total vs seven total). While cold is unquestionably the better player when comparing individual levels of play, even going back to flusha’s prime, he isn’t the ‘winner’ in my winning category.

Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund

Notable Achievements:

1x Major Champion

4x Big event winner ($250,000+ prize pool, excluding Valve Majors)

87-0 LAN record in first 87 maps

The key here, despite that maddening 87-0 run, is that none of the events he won at the time were anywhere near the size of today’s events. I think it is ridiculous to call him the best winner, considering he has only won one major, and he didn’t even win MVP; although, admittedly he actually was the best player at that tournament, but friberg saved NiP too many times with ridiculous clutches to not have won the MVP.

Category 2: Dominance

Extended periods of dominance by a player, cementing their legacy as one of the all time greats; one of my absolute favorite things to watch in both sports and esports. Consistency is key in Counter-Strike, and these guys are the masters.

Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund

Period of dominance: 2012 – early 2014

It’s really hard to top being the unquestioned best player in the world for two years. He not only had the stats to back up that statement, but he passed the eye test with flying colors. He was the epitome of dominance in Counter-Strike, and not to mention, excluding a period in 2017, he hasn’t been bad at all ever since. In fact he has been a top 20 HLTV player every year.

Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer

Period of dominance: late 2014 – mid 2015 and ealry 2016 – wrist injury

The thing that is the kicker for me is his incredible return to form of being the best player in 2016, after dominating one of the most competitive eras in Counter-Strike history. In terms of the eye test, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a player turn up so consistently. He wasn’t the type of player that every single map you knew he would turn up, but you know that he would dominate at least one map out of three in a series, and more often than not he would dominate two of the three.

Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub

Period of dominance: late 2014 – late 2015

I don’t think I have ever seen a player dominate the way kennyS did. He was the type of player where any round he had a scoped weapon in his hands, you were better off just turning and going the other way. The thing about it that’s utterly unreal to me is he was still very good on the other weapons. He could still play well with a rifle in his hands, and was highly proficient on the pistols. He was one of my absolute favorite players to watch, as he frequently exhibited his dominance, series after series, map after map and round after round.

Category 3: Peak form

This category is the most abstract, as it relies heavily on the eye test for judgement of play. These are the players that fill up the highlight reels and stat sheets. While they aren’t as consistent, if they happen to be on point, there really is nothing you can do to stop them.

Richard ‘shox’ Papilion

He is unquestionably the best Counter-Strike player I have ever watched. He has never really had a period of serious dominance, though he was very good in early 2016. When he is in prime form, you’ll know it. He will impose his presence on you, and there is nothing you can do to stop him, besides try desperately to avoid him.

Mike ‘shroud’ Grzesiek

The story of shroud is a sad one. He had the peak of quite literally the second best player I have ever seen; however, he never materialized into the star player his peak in the summer of 2015 would have suggested. The thing with him is he just never missed. When he was on, he literally didn’t miss, it looked like he was using aimbot.

Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač

There are a lot of players who could’ve taken this spot for me. From Patrick ‘f0rest’ Lindberg, to Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga, this spot was very much up for grabs. The reason I went with NiKo here was because of his ability to literally win maps by himself. While analysts say that about a lot of players, he actually did it. On a god-awful mousesports team, he was the only driving force. He was dangerous, no matter if he had an AWP, an AK or a Deagle in his hands.

I should say again, this is my own opinion, and really at the end of the day, none of this is hard fact. Depending on what you value, any player could be the best for you. For instance, if you value death threats, Vito ‘kNg’ Giuseppe is your guy. Memes aside, this idea is really abstract, but also really fun to debate.


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immortals

Achieving immortality: a look back on the Immortals saga

This probably wasn’t what the organization had in mind with regards to its name, but it’s pretty much guaranteed now that the major-finalist roster of Immortals will forever be etched in the annals of esport history – not as a world-beating, unstoppable team, but as the one that’s associated with some of the most unprofessional behavior since the major system kickstarted the rapid growth of the pro CS:GO scene. It’s a sign of its growing pains in more ways than one – and honestly, I’m surprised it took so long for something like this to happen.

Are you sure you want to quit?

Perhaps the most explosive news of the whole CS:GO scene as of late involved the complete combustion of the Immortals lineup at DreamHack Montreal with three members of the Brazilian outfit failing to show up in time for the finals, thereby forfeiting the first map of a best-of-three series against North. They promptly lost the match right after in the following map. The events were juicy enough that they even made it to the Daily Mail, probably alongside a dozen new causes of cancer and a few adorable pandas.

And just as if it were a cheap paperback novel, this is where the death threats began. Vito “kNg” Giuseppe didn’t take a fellow player’s tweet about the situation particularly well, and proceeded to reclaim his lost honor by… threatening to kill the colleague in question.

No, not on the servers, but in real life. Apparently, he had to be restrained in the hotel where they were both located for the event. The justified outrage soon followed, and kNg was first benched and then released from the team. Normally, this would be the end of our juicy little story, but we do have an extra twist in the tale: thanks to the way the major spots are distributed, if at least three of the qualified players join a new organization, they automatically take their Legend spot with them.

Guess who joined ranks with our little harbinger of doom? The other two alleged partygoers, of course. At least some elements of this story are predictable!

Progress and perfection

There’s always been this weird allure of “professionalism” in esports circles, the idea that increased exposure and stability would somehow automatically mean a more mature environment and playerbase. (Of course, the literal definition of the word “pro” is already fulfilled once you’re playing your chosen game for a living, but people generally use it to refer to something more, be it behavior or gameplay quality.)

Thing is, we’re living alongside what I like to call the 0th generation of pro players: young people who haven’t grown up with esports as a viable and reliable career path, they sort of stumbled upon it and created the opportunities on their own.

There are no Williams brothers yet, who conquered women’s tennis basically on the orders of their father: the people in the highest echelons of CS:GO are players who have been playing the game for fun as kids. While this can add some sort of charm to the proceedings, it’s nonetheless important to note that whatever we think of “professionalism” is likely going to be more present in players who were purposefully nurtured to become the best of the best as opposed to those who liked playing a game so much that they turned their hobby into a career.

Can you imagine any other well-paying job where communication is so key and almost everything is organized in English where basic grammar is sometimes beyond the employee’s capabilities and so-called journalists are ramming their tweets into Google Translate to figure out what they really were trying to say? Just because we have six-figure prize pools flying around, that doesn’t mean we’re past the Wild West-period of esports.

It’s a good sign that players throwing around death threats are swiftly removed, but unfortunately we can’t treat this as a total aberration. Especially considering how a very specific group of people actually consider the presence of “bad boys” a positive in the scene: usually casters and commentators who would like to spice things up. Of course, their desire for a unique voice is understandable in a scene where a team can completely migrate from one organization to the next without any change apart from their branding (just imagine if something similar happened in football), but actively hoping for disruptive elements is simply self-defeating, no matter how good copy they would make.

Also, the perceived oversanitization of the esports scene – oh please, you haven’t seen anything yet – is due to most of its participants’ lack of social and interviewing skills. While this usually amounts to awkward silence and boring discussions, tweeting out threats and generally behaving like a twelve year-old is due to the same root cause and should likewise not be celebrated by any responsible member of the community.

On the spot

Putting all the drama aside, the real consequential element of the Immortals controversy is undoubtedly the fate of the coveted major spot. As things stand, the top 8 teams from the previous major are automatically invited to the next one as “Legends”, provided they keep the majority – at least three players – of the lineup. The issues are obvious: if some of the players want to leave or force a better contract, they can essentially hold the organization hostage.

There isn’t really a good solution here: do we prefer orgs hosting players hostage, or vice versa? The implementation of the current system is quite telling as it seems to imply that the organizations seem to be more expendable in the eyes of Valve. If we look at the checkered pasts of the VP or SK rosters, you could actually make a persuasive argument for that.

As things stand, Immortals will be refreshing their roster with Caio “zqkS” Fonseca (recently of Ghost), the trialist Lucas “destiny” Bullo and their summer signing in the form of João “horvy” Horvath who has been held back by visa-related issues until just recently. Is this going to make up for the brothers – Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles and Henrique “HEN1” Teles – requesting to leave? Will the organization get the million dollar bounty they are reportedly asking for them and the major sport? How will they cope without Boltz and Steel? We will have to see.

One thing is for sure: no organization will back a player that may or may not have spent the night before a final partying, then proceeds to show up late to the event and then follows all this up with death threats. No number of in-game frags can make up for even the possibility of a real one.

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