HWC 2018 top four predictions

Over the past three months, hundreds of teams have fought for the chance to appear at this weekend’s Halo World Championships in Seattle. Only sixteen have made it and come Sunday, only one will be left standing. Rosters have been set, groups have been seeded and the show is just getting started. Let’s take a look at some likely top 4 candidates for HWC 2018.

4th: Renegades

HWC 2018

Travis “Neptune” McCloud. By Halo Esports Wiki.

Roster: Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “aPG” Laws, Travis “Neptune” McCloud

The first roster to carry the Renegades banner since 2016 and the only roster to carry a single Brown twin into HWC 2018. This prediction specifically isn’t necessarily a confident one. Team Reciprocity, a squad with the services of Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Zane “Penguin” Hearon and Tyler “Spartan” Ganza can knock Renegades out of the top 4. In fact, at both MLG Columbus and Orlando, Reciprocity was the squad to beat Renegades into that top 4 spot. In head to head scrims, Reciprocity has won out by a significant margin.

Here’s the catch: The Brown twins, even if it’s just one of them, always show up at live events to play and this team has Lunchbox, one of the smartest and most clutch players in Halo history. He’s also one of the most hungry players, especially after missing out on Worlds last year. HWC 2018 is his chance to turn things around. If Renegades isn’t overwhelmed by Reciprocity’s pure slaying power, they can take the win in a head-to-head series.

3rd: Team EnVyUs

Image result for pistola halo

The Wizard is back. By MLG.

Roster: Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese, Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Joey “TriPPPeY” Taylor, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson

A very different roster from the last time NV was at a World Championship event. Only one player from the original NV squad that was the first to defeat OpTic Gaming’s (now Tox’s) dominant roster, remains. Despite that, it seems this is the best group that has ever been mustered for NV. At both Orlando and Columbus this roster placed top four, with one of those finishes coming alongside a 3-0 of Tox. A decent record to have going into the HWC 2018 Finals.

Saiyan has proven to be an absolute monster of a Slayer, posting dominant stat lines even in team losses. Not just in kills, but in damage dealt, assists and accuracy as well. The guy can shoot, there’s no doubts about that. TriPPPeY helps shoulder plenty of that load as well, being an excellent mobile damage-dealer that helps his teammates get easy kills. Combined with bubu dubu’s smart, lurking playstyle and Ola’s experience and wizardry, this squad is dangerous.

Even with all of that, it’s unlikely that they’ll make it to the Grand Finals.

2nd: Splyce

Image result for renegade splyce

Two down, one to go. By MLG.

Roster: Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro, Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher and Kevin “Eco” Smith

To say this squad is red-hot doesn’t even begin to describe their romp throughout the HWC 2018 season. They don’t even scrim other teams. They don’t stream at all. But without a doubt, this team by far has more young talent than any other in all of competitive Halo. Even despite a lack of experience in comparison to the reigning World Champions, they’re dominating. This team won both MLG Orlando and Columbus. Not only that, they did so with relative ease.

Throughout those two events, they played the reigning champions in four separate series. They won three of them. The single loss was a day after one of Splyce’s players ended up in the hospital. The 3 wins? A 4-2, 4-1 and sweep. A few of the games weren’t even close. This squad is quite possibly the future of competitive Halo. That said, they’re missing one factor that always comes to outrank everything.

Experience.

HWC 2018 Victors: Tox Gaming

HWC 2018

3-Peat. By MLG.

Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, and Tony “LethuL” Campbell, Jr.

There’s a great analogy for this squad considering the time of year. Ever watch the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoffs over the last few years? One team in that conference has a player named LeBron James, or “The King.” He has a habit of flipping a switch when it really matters and playing astronomically better than his usual excellent play.

That is similar to Tox. Regardless of any drama regarding OpTic Gaming dropping the roster, the community should be quick to remember what this squad can do. At the 2016 Worlds season, they lost to Evil Geniuses at the X-Games Invitational. They then proceeded to effortlessly roll through the 2016 Finals with ease. Last year, both Team EnVyUs and Team Liquid took series to seven games against them in the events leading to the 2017 Finals. In the 2017 Finals, this squad swept both of them on their way to back-to-back World Championships. There’s little reason to believe they can’t do the same this year. This squad has been the end-all, be-all of Halo 5: Guardians up to this point. In scrims, they’ve played well, with only a handful of teams being capable of taking more than a couple of games from them. All that said, on LAN and specifically at World Championship events, they flip the switch.

To be the man, you have to beat the man and Splyce is yet to do so at the event that is by far the most important.

I believe Tox will win this weekend at HWC 2018 and will become back-to-back-to-back Halo World Champions.

This event is going to be absolutely bonkers, especially with MLG running the show. Be sure to check out the stream on Twitch, Mixer and MLG!

Disagree with me, or have anything to add to the conversation? Catch me on Twitter and in the stream chats all weekend long!

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Header image by Halo Waypoint

 

Stage

A mixed stage for Boston Uprising

Stage 2 has not been easy for the Boston Uprising. They lost the first two matches 4-0 Which was a harsh blow to the Uprising’s confidence after a strong stage 1. Their first defeat was chalked down largely to Philadelphia Fusion playing incredibly well with their newly available player Josue “EQO” Corona, although it was clear there were still issues with the Boston side.

Boston’s next match was against a still strong Houston Outlaws team, and once again again Boston lost all four maps. Now the issues were clear. Boston thrived in the mercy meta because Kellex is very comfortable on mercy and they can’t play around mercy as much post nerf. 

The next week Boston did exactly what was expected of them. They lost 4-0 to a dominant NYXL and then won 4-0 against a Florida Mayhem that was still struggling. This was the first of three matches that YoungJin “Gamsu” Noh was to miss. The official statement was that he had to go back to Korea because of an illness. However esports insider and gaming journalist, Rod “Slasher” Bresleau claimed that the absence was due to infighting in the organisation and Boston allegedly  wanted to move towards a full western roster.  Adding fuel to Boston’s media fire was Support player Connor “Avast” Prince who “liked” the tweet.

With a bad record and disappointing performances from Boston, some fans on social media got understandably heated on social media. 

Quick to douse the flames of speculation was President of gaming for the Kraft group, Chris “HuK” Loranger. He dispelled all rumours via a medium.com Article stating:

“Here at Boston we generally have an open door policy as far as discussing any trades or sales, but we have never came close to selling or trading Gamsu, Striker, or Neko.”

Boston Start to put it back together

With the rumours mostly put to bed, Boston Uprising went back to what Boston did best, Winning. Gamsu returned to the starting squad, leading the team to a 4-0 victory over the Dallas Fuel. Continuing their streak of games that have gone 4-0 both wins and losses. Their streak would come to an end in the next match against the LA Valiant which ended 3-2 in favour of Boston. In the final week of Stage 2, Boston came up against the San Francisco Shock who had Jay “sinatraa” Won playing his second Overwatch League match since turning 18. Sinatraa is known for his tracer play, and is an incredibly talented DPS player. Sinatraa played well for the Shock and had a huge part in winning team fights, However Boston Uprising had Nam-Ju “Striker” Gwon on their side. On the whole striker won out the Tracer matchup in a tense and entertaining match which Boston won 3-2. 

Some close matches to close out

With playoffs no longer a possibility, Boston had far less to lose than their final opponents, LA Gladiators. The Gladiators had to win 4-0 against the Uprising to make it to the stage final. All hopes of glory were dashed by Boston in the first map when Uprising won on Volskaya Industries, maintaining their 100% win record on the map. In the end Boston won 3-2 and ended up 6th in both the stage and the season tables. 

Stage 2

Courtesy of: The Overwatch League

Overall it was a mixed stage from the Uprising and it was incredibly clear just how valuable Gamsu is seeing the team with and without him in the lineup this stage. We saw more play from mistakes and he was surprisingly good but not enough for a starting spot yet. Kellex was still playing Mercy throughout the stage but showed improvement on other heroes. And of course, Striker and Dreamkazper played incredibly throughout.

Looking Ahead to stage 3

Boston have a decent shot at placing high in the rankings in stage 3. With the next meta likely including Sombra. Uprising have an advantage as they have a dedicated Sombra player in Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov. Mistakes has impressed on Sombra so far, although Sombra will play differently in stage 3 due to the recent buff. 

Recently in Overwatch Contenders (which runs off the live patch) Tracer and Sombra have been played together to great effect. With a Tracer player like Striker, Its hard to see Boston ignoring this strategy. However they may not want to play it too often as Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez is too good and too flexible to sit on the bench. 

It’s hard to predict what the future holds for teams in the Overwatch League but so far with no signings or sales, Boston Uprising seem confident in their current roster and won’t have any initial teamwork issues with new players coming in. 

Map pool and first matches

The map pool for stage 3 is somewhat favourable for Boston Uprising. They are undefeated on both Volskaya Industries and Temple of Anubis which are the Assault maps in the stage 3 map pool. The Hybrid maps aren’t so good for Boston. They only have a 20% win rate on Numbani and Blizzard World has not been played in the league yet. It will be interesting to see what teams come out with on the new map. The control maps look decent for Boston with an 87% win rate on Ilios and 50% on Nepal. Finally Boston Uprising have a 40% win rate on both Junkertown and Route 66. Although Route 66 is a strong Sombra map so that is likely to increase as the stage goes on.

Week 1 of Stage 3 schedule is exactly the same as Week 1 of stage 2. Boston come up against Stage 2 finalists Philadelphia Fusion and a Houston Outlaws team that is currently an unknown quantity.

 

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CWL Birmingham: Predicting the top five

With CWL Birmingham coming up this weekend, it’s time to take a look at the top contending teams and make early predictions as to who we think will be in the top five. This wasn’t an easy list to make, since some teams aren’t consistently taking wins where you’d expect them to. But I think it’s pretty solid. Taking a look at the performances of each team in their respective Divisions during CWL Pro League play and how they performed at CWL Atlanta, here are my predictions for who I think will take home the top five spots in the CWL Birmingham open on March 30-April 1.

 

5. Optic Gaming

Optic Gaming is holding second place in Division A, just one win over the guys in Red Reserve. This team is an obvious fan favorite, but there’s a lot missing from the roster that they must have if they want to perform better at CWL Birmingham. Right now, they rely on Seth “Scump” Abner a lot. Don’t get me wrong, the other players are good, but they don’t hold up their end as strongly as Scump does.

I think that he will be the saving grace of any high placements that Optic Gaming is able to secure. If they want to see themselves rise higher up on the leaderboard, however, then we will need to see some better plays out of some of the other players.

If Optic can turn out some of their tactics that they’ve pulled out when they play Rise Nation in CWL Division A matchups, then I think we will see some solid results. They’re the only team that’s able to say they don’t have an astoundingly negative record against the guys in Rise, and hopefully they can turn it around. I know the fans of Optic will be hoping for an upset against both Rise and Red Reserve. But until someone else besides Scump decides to show up and play some real COD, then I don’t think we will see them rise up much higher then this.

4. LUMINOSITY GAMING

I originally thought the final battle for CWL Atlanta was going to be between the guys in Luminosity and Rise Nation. These guys are sitting at the #2 spot in terms of Pro Points and but I think they’ll land in the #4 spot at the next CWL open in Birmingham. Luminosity can deliver a lot of high octane performances, but it’s the consistency that will draw them back from winning. They roll out so many great plays, like when Johnathan “John” Perez was able to run a flag all the way back against a full Team Epsilon and score, all without his teammates there to support him. But, they also drop the ball a lot.

At CWL Atlanta we saw Luminosity get 3-0’d in their match up against Red Reserve. In the latest series of Division B matches, they took a 3-0 win over FaZe Clan, which happens to be one of the top teams, but take 2-3 dunking from Evil Geniuses. On top of this, we saw this 6-1 team Luminosity barely take the 3-2 win over the 0-8 Epsilon. Epsilon held on strongly and knocked the boys in Luminosity into a 5th game during their bout of S&D.

That’s not to say, however, that Luminosity doesn’t still win games. They do. You just might be holding on to your seat and begging a higher power that they don’t slip up. I’m hesitant to put them into the number 4 spot, to be perfectly honest, but they show up sometimes. So, if they come ready to win, then here they will be. If not, then they might be a little lower.

3. FaZe Clan

Faze Clan is good. Really good. Visibly the best in Division B. The only thing shutting them out of taking a higher position at the CWL Atlanta open was the unstoppable force existing in Rise Nation’s roster. That, and the 1-3 shutout that came from Red Reserve later the next day. Faze clan is one of the few teams, and the only team in Division B, that’s able to go 2-0 against Luminosity. There’s a lot of talent here, and it comes through. The only thing holding them back is their inability to overcome the color Red.

I don’t particularly think it’s the teamwork that pulls Faze Clan forward, though there is a good bit of it. I think it’s the success of each individual player. The players on Faze are phenomenal and can hold themselves to a ridiculous standard, like Dillon “Attach” Price winning a 1v3 playing S&D against the guys in Splyce. If this kind of consistency from each player keeps up, but we see them mesh a little bit better, to take down the strats of teams like Rise or Red Reserve, then we can see Faze become one of the top two, and not just in Division B.

 

2. RED RESERVE

This probably isn’t a fan favorite, and maybe one that others would choose against. I think that Red Reserve is going to take the number #2 spot. Again. Red Reserve knocked Optic Gaming out of the running for the #2 spot at CWL Atlanta by a decisive 3-0 victory. I would say that they deserve the #3 spot, but they showed up to play some serious video games in their last match against Faze Clan and beat them 3-1. Red Reserve can dominate, there’s no doubt, since they did come in second in the CWL Atlanta open, but Red Reserve faces the same issue many other teams face: consistency.

In the CWL Pro League Division A, Red Reserve is sitting in the #3 spot with a record of 9-5. That’s below the #2 Optic at 10-4, but Red Reserve proved at CWL Atlanta that Optic wasn’t a problem. Red Reserve sports an impressive roster with their best player being, arguably, Trei “Zer0” Morris. Zer0 will be, in my opinion, what gives Red Reserve the presence they need to overcome most challenges in their games at CWL Birmingham.

If Zer0 can show up to play, then I’d be willing to bet that the team holds a steady hand against the likes of Optic Gaming again. If not, then we will just have to wait and see where they go. Team Kaliber was their only other real battle in Division A, besides the obvious Rise Nation, but Reserve proved that they could overcome that challenge by taking a 3-1 win over TK on the final day of the CWL Atlanta open.

1. Rise Nation

Rise Nation is easily in the top spot for this upcoming competition. Ending their last week of CWL Pro League play at 13-1 and taking home the title at CWL Atlanta, they sport one of the most impressive track records in the league right now. Though it’s easy to see why. TJHaly, Looney, Methodz and Gunless coalesce to make one of the tightest squadrons in the league. No matter the situation, each player can be relied upon to carry themselves through it.

 

There isn’t a lot that needs to be said, as each player holds one of the best K/D records in the league. Methodz, featured in the clip above, obtained the record of MVP at the tournament. He was one the teams top performers right next to TJHaly who consistently put up positive numbers. Rise Nation has also gone 2-0 against every other team in Division A except for Optic Gaming where they are tied at a 1-1 record. We could see Rise Nation take the top spot in the league, in terms of Pro Points, from the leaders of yesteryear in Team Kaliber.

 

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Heroes of the Dorm is back

Blizzard announced Monday that Heroes of the Dorm, the aptly named college Heroes of the Storm Championship was coming back in partnership with Tespa in 2018. It will be available to every college in the country and they will be broadcasting matches weekly thanks to a new partnership with Raycom Sports on twitch and mlg.

It has been announced that there will be more than $500,000 of scholarships available and other prizes according to Blizzard’s official release. There will be regional play that leads into a 64-team bracket, which sounds similar to March Madness. These 64 teams will be seeded based on their regional records.

Blizzard has been making many esports moves in the last few years. With so much attention going over to Overwatch league, which is heading into its third week. This announcement for Heroes of the Dorm may come as a surprise to some. Blizzard and Tespa agreed to work together as Tespa already had a good foundation for college esports.

Heroes of the Storm has always been lurking on the fringes with viewership numbers putting them somewhere around 12th on Twitch.tv according to sullygnome.com.

In the past, Blizzard has seen promise for Heroes of the Dorm as it was on ESPN and it was actually controversial. People may remember the Colin Cowherd rant against esports when this was happening.

Some believe this was one of the last straws that broke the camel’s back for Cowherd as he left ESPN just a few weeks later.

Since then, Heroes of the Storm has taken a back seat to Overwatch and Hearthstone in viewers and seemingly overall until this announcement. It will be interesting to see if Blizzard leads the charge or if Tespa takes control. With college esports on the rise it is also possible that the viewership numbers go up. Also with the huge amount of scholarship money being offered one can imagine that the playerbase will also increase.

For anyone looking to sign up can at www.heroesofthedorm.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

mlg csgo major

Why MLG should be host to the first major of 2018

MLG Columbus was one of the best majors to date, if not the best. They didn’t have any ridiculously long delays or technical problems. They also had amazing community interaction, fixing anything a viewer found as an issue. On stream or live in person, it was great, MLG was great, and they deserve to come back.

Another MLG Major

MLG hosted their major in 2016 in the city of Columbus, Ohio. It’s a city that is easy to travel to from any city on the east coast and central area of the United States as well as the most populated area of Canada. It’s also not a hard place to get to from the most western parts of Europe. It’s probably the best location in North America for a CS:GO major, next to New York, Toronto or Atlanta, the latter of which happened to be the host of ELEAGUE’s major in January.

Aside from being an easily accessible city, MLG already has the Nationwide Arena in their hands for another event this year and they have plenty of equipment in Columbus. Granted they can reserve the space, it would take the least amount of trouble to host an event. They’ve also proven themselves to deserve another major with their production value, community interaction and respect for the CS:GO scene.

Photo by: hltv.org

One of the communities main concerns was the fact that MLG almost only hosts Call of Duty events. “Will they even know how to host a CS:GO major?” was a question a lot of people had. They answered with a “Yes”. Capital Y, of course, to answer it even better. MLG’s Adam Apicella was always asking questions and listening to the CS:GO community ahead of their 2016 major. MLG made sure to listen and take notes to get good feedback from the community.

The last point to mention is that North America has been host to some of the best crowds. Take IEM San Jose, ELEAGUE’s Atlanta, and of course MLG Columbus, as examples. Even outside of Team Liquid or Cloud9, the crowd always cheered, even roared. Virtus.Pro, Astralis, NiP, and Na’Vi have been favorites in not only Europe but in North America. They’ve been welcomed with open arms, and crowds would be absolutely ecstatic to watch these teams. And aside from Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas, venues were packed. North America has the audience, and they are willing to travel from all over to watch a major.

Reactions from the teams, talent and the community

When MLG hosts an event, players and talent always have something nice to say about the organizers. Duncan “Thorin” Shields actually said in one of his recent videos titled “Events worked in 2016” that MLG adapted and handled every problem like a boss and along with that said that MLG Columbus could possibly be the best major ever.

Whether it be in CS:GO, Call of Duty or any other game, MLG has always had positive feedback from those attending the event in any manner. They treat the players and talents like kings, they take note of problems said by the community, and always keep in touch with the community as well. What more do we need from a tournament organizer?

MLG deserves another major. They were host to one of the best to date and fans would like another.


Featured image via Major League Gaming

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Call of Duty Ghosts for dummies: Part two

This is a follow-up to my first article in which I had started discussing some simple setups for Search and Destroy. In this post, I’ll be covering Sovereign and Warhawk and then moving onto some perk choices. If you enjoy the article or think it could be improved please comment.

Sovereign

This map is a different beast in comparison to the two I’ve already covered. Unlike Freight and Octane, there’s no easy way of knowing when the enemy has bomb control.

Sovereign incorporates a three lane system, similar to most Counter-Strike maps. This usually means that the defense is spread thinner to cover all the lanes. However, with the setup I’m going to suggest for beginners, it should make locking it down much easier.

Defence

My strategy focuses on stacking the B bombsite. This is because it is much harder to retake since Remington’s can hold the flank from way back in spawn while the Vector players lock down the control room. Your Remington players have next to no chance of retaking B as they lose gunfights inside the map room 99% of the time. That leaves the round on your sub-machine gunners to win a series of head-on gunfights. It also gives you enough information on where players are if they do take the A bombsite, making the likelihood of you retaking much greater.

Players one and two have the job of holding the actual bomb site. Player one will play in the bomb room killing anyone attempting to plant. Player two will play on the stairs just outside watching B domination. If P1 gets pushed on bomb, it’s on P2 to get a quick trade kill. If the attackers try to grenade him out, P2 should counter-nade. It’s a strong setup because even player one dying can be good since they won’t expect another player so quickly and might hastily try to plant meaning you drop the bomb on spot.

Player three should hold snake and the cupboard. This player doesn’t need to be aggressive at all, he is there to ensure that no one gets on our side of the map through B. With the Remington, he should be able to pick up some free kills if they are daring enough to peek either of the positions.

Click to enlarge.

The linchpin of the setup is player four, who guards the underground and the push into range. This is from a sneaky spot just below blue catwalk. Should the enemy team plant A, this player can kill anyone who tries to cross from A bomb into range. If no one does, it makes the pinch onto the bomb site much easier since you don’t have to worry about that side of the map. Player two should also quickly be able to tell whether they have a player holding B domination or not. With that information, it means that their entire team is likely trapped between servers and zig making it easy pickings for your team.

Attacking

As with most maps you can go for the standard smoke Incog rush plants. On Sovereign, I recommend letting another player smoke the bomb and for the bomber to take Trophy System since grenading the bomb is so easy on this map.

As I mentioned in the defensive setup, it’s easy for defenders to see when attackers cross over to their side of the map. A way you can catch them off guard is to leave a player in snake while the rest of the team goes A. This means that the snake player can flank the catwalk player after he moves towards the A site.

For going B, I like to have one player climb up the ladder and hold the flank into the bomb room. Then I’d have a player on yellow stairs watching over the bomber. This can be the player with the smoke if you go for an Incog rush plant. Finally, have a guy on back catwalk initially watching a snake push so that ladder cannot get flanked then switching to holding the caution and full flank from the stairs opposite ladder.

Warhawk

Defence

Warhawk also uses the three lane system. On this map, it is fairly easy for the attackers to get control of both bomb sites. There are a number of spots that the defenders can use to their advantage to net free kills.

My default setup would be to have player one on the tank just outside the diner. This guy can see if anyone rushes mid or blue tarp. They can also see if any players come from A into the Z connector. This player can also quickly rotate to help back truck or water tower if enemies are spotted.

Player two is the truck player spotting the A push. His primary job is to get information of them pushing the bomb and focus on staying alive as opposed to making kills. Since the attackers can get to this site so quickly, it’s often the brunt of three or four-man pushes. The player can peek the fences from the barrel near veranda (I’ve never heard it called that but hey-ho) with thermal and call how many players he sees. He could also play more passive from the tree and wait for someone to peek back American, or garage as this site calls it.

Player three has the role of locking down the B site. This can be done from either the water tower or tin. I recommend using the thermal scope to spot players pushing into the back building or jumping on the bomb. One sneaky spot that can earn you kills is under the blue tarp at the tower. When the attackers try to plant bomb an assault rifle will often peek from loading bay giving you a free kill. Similarly to player two, the main job is getting the information that enemies are B. Once the enemies are called out you can ask for player two to come and help from tin.

Click to enlarge.

Last but not least we have player four. This guy is free to roam as the rounds develop. If the attackers are seemingly favoring the A bomb site he can sit in American and kill enemies that are trying to kill your truck player. Alternatively, he can rush post office on B and hit the flank fast. This allows for your tower player to quickly rotate to A. There are a number of options he has such as peeking mid more aggressively with a sniper or rushing blue tarp. I would say his role is actively trying to get first blood.

Attacking

Attacking on Warhawk usually ends up being four-man pushing either A or B. The smoke Incog pushes are particularly effective on this map since the thermal hybrid sight is a popular choice due to its long lanes. On Warhawk, I recommend the bomber using Trophy System again since it is easy to get good grenades onto the bomb sites.

The most effective strategy would be to have two people rush into American pre-firing the back door. If there’s a player there then he will either die or get traded by the second player. If no one is there the bomber can rush plant with his trophy system since the truck player will have no chance of killing him. This is effective since it puts pressure on the defense straight from the off since it only leaves them with forty seconds to retake.

When planting B, I think it’s best to wait for first blood before trying to plant. If the defenders spot no one A, they often get restless and flank early, which you can have a guy watching from the blitz portal or antiques. There is a little corner just below water tower where attackers can sit to get easy kills, I recommend trying to get a player there before planting.

Perk Choices

Before rounding out the article I wanted to make a little section on perk choices. This is because recently I’ve seen many players waste slots on unneeded perks. Firstly, you should always have Dead Silence and Focus. The latter is important as it reduces the flinch you get when hit and Dead Silence since almost all players will be using headsets and will be able to pick up on the smallest sounds.

A prime example of wasting slots I’ve encountered multiple times was quickdraw on the Vector. This shouldn’t even need explaining but the sub-machine guns aim down sights fast enough in this game and the difference isn’t great enough to warrant using up three create-a-class slots. You could have two grenades or Incog over that which is much more valuable.

List of all the perks and their cost in Ghosts. [Source: u/plokijuh1229]

Another is Sleight of Hand. In Search and Destroy there is no reason to use this perk, the MTAR and Vector have large enough magazines to confidently pick up three kills. If you’re using the Remington you’re most likely going to be far enough away that you have time to reload anyway. Obviously, it’s a nice perk to have and gives you peace of mind knowing you have a full clip but I’d take it as your first specialist bonus rather than two of your create-a-class points.

My final point will be that you don’t have to take Quickdraw on the Remington either. Although the increase in ADS speed is substantial on the assault rifles if you pre-aim the right places you should be able to get the kills regardless. Take playing truck on Warhawk for example, they can only push you from back American or from the open bomb site. Not having it definitely means you suffer on the retakes but it’s just something to consider. Perhaps you might take both Agility, Marathon and a pistol to fast peek the cross on Freight. It’s your choice.


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Call of Duty Ghosts for Dummies – Part One

With the CoD World League coming to an end with the World Championship there’s not much to do aside from wait for WWII. However, the professionals have turned to Call of Duty Ghosts, the competitive title from 2013-2014 in preparation for boots on the ground. With the rate at which esports are growing it’s needless to say that Call of Duty will have gained many new viewers over the past few years. If you never played Ghosts in its heyday and are interested in picking up a copy, here are a few tips for when you get started.

Weapon Choices

Assault Rifles

Starting with Assault Rifles, in which only one is used consistently, the Remington R5. Its high damage and low recoil make it the go to. The weapon’s only downfall is its low fire rate. Despite this, none of the other rifles can match it’s time to kill with the R5 consistently killing in three bullets.

The FAD assault rifle [Source: CoD Wiki]

At one point the professionals dabbled with the FAD. Due to its high fire rate and low recoil, it was tested as an alternative to the R5 on some of the shorter range maps. It was relatively unsuccessful since the low AR movement speed in Ghosts meant that it couldn’t compete with the Sub-Machine guns at medium range and was bested by the consistency of the R5 at long range. However, it is still an option if you aren’t a fan of the R5.

The most common attachments on Assault Rifles are Red Dot paired with Foregrip. The Red Dot is to free your eyes of the awkward iron sights. Meanwhile, the Foregrip simply improves accuracy slightly. On some of the longer range maps such as Octane, pros have been known to use Muzzle Brake as opposed to the Foregrip in order to keep the damage across longer sight lines.

Another popular attachment is the Thermal Hybrid Scope. It is used for its ability to more easily spot out enemies through heat signatures with the ability to switch back to a normal red dot. Giving you the best of both worlds but beware. Enemies can use the perk Incog so they become immune to thermal scopes making them very hard to spot.

Sub-Machine Guns

The Vector Sub-Machine Gun [Source: CoD Wiki]

By far the best gun in the game, the Vector CRB is the most common gun in CoD Ghosts. It’s high damage and fairly high fire rate means it more often than not kills in two bullets. Paired with a Foregrip and Muzzle Brake the Vector’s damage range is extended. Making it all the more deadly.

However, the Vector only became the best gun about two-thirds into Ghosts’ cycle. Before that, the MTAR-X was the most popular choice. The sub handles like an Assault Rifle with SMG movement speed. It’s fair time to kill means that some professionals stuck with it even after the Vector buff. It remains a good choice on maps like Warhawk and Octane where there are more medium—long range gunfights meaning the MTAR can best the Vector with its AR handling.

Popular attachments for sub-machine guns are Foregrip and Muzzle Brake. This is to extend their damage range whilst improving the already strong accuracy of the MTAR and Vector. Some pros prefer to use a red dot on the Vector. In my opinion, it’s personal preference as the Vector is already so strong you can clear up your vision by using it.

Sniper Rifles and Shotguns

That leaves us with the aforementioned, considering just about everything else is banned. There are two main snipers used which are the USR and L115. The USR has a slightly higher movement speed and handling than the L115 which makes it a good choice if you want to rush for first blood. However, it has lower damage meaning it gets more hit markers than its counterpart. While the L115 still gets hit markers from the knee down, it is a more consistent killing machine making it the more common option. Equipped with your sniper you might like to use the thermal scope to more easily spot out enemies.

The FP6 Shotgun [Source: CoD Wiki]

The most overpowered shotgun, the Bulldog, got banned halfway through Ghosts. More cunning pros tried out the pump-action shotgun, the FP6. While it wasn’t as potent as its predecessor it is still an annoying way to catch your enemies off guard. I find it particularly useful when defending the B bomb site on Sovereign.

Competitive Maps

For the sake of this article, I will just be looking at the maps used in Search and Destroy. Those maps being Octane, Freight, Sovereign and Warhawk.

Octane

I’ll start on the defensive side of Octane, which can be quite a challenge. How I like my team to setup is with two players holding the cross to the defender’s side of the map. You can have a player watching mid from the tank outside diner and one holding bottom broken. This frees up a player to play top pawn where they can repeatedly peek B bomb until they spot someone with the last player being free to roam. The fourth could rush motel or the B domination flag to get more map control. Or he could hold gas station to help the broken player if he gets rushed. If someone is spotted on the bomb from pawn then you can hurl a few grenades at them in an attempt to kill the bomb planter.

The attacking side is much harder since you only really have access to the B bombsite. A lot of players like to run smokes with Incog and try to get a fast plant. This is effective as the Remington players holding the likes of pawn and broken will struggle in motel’s close quarters. Other teams may rather hold to see if a guy rushes into the motel and pick him off before planting or doing everything possible to kill the player top pawn before they plant. This could be through grenades or sniping. There is also an explosive gas pipe which can be shot which can sometimes kill the player.

As aforementioned getting to A is a challenge. Sometimes teams go on an all-out rush to broken from the start of the round. Personally, I like to have a guy try to snipe the player pawn while the rest of the team rushes and tries to kill anyone playing broken. Another way is to play B as normal, kill the pawn player before rotating back and trying to cross again. As you can tell by now the pawn player is very crucial to the round as he has the most vision and can feed information to the rest of his team. With him dead it is much easier to cross to A as the only player that could spot it after that is the broken player, if he’s still there.

Freight

Defending on Freight normally involves heavily stacking towards the A bombsite. Since the attackers can only access B by crossing the train tracks or by breaking the underground gate, which makes a loud noise, it makes sense to focus your efforts on A.

If you catch the enemy crossing onto the bomb then it should be a free kill for someone playing in red. Players one and two should focus on holding red and the area between it and the bomb. Looking at the diagram I believe these are the optimal positions to play. All player one has to do is watch the main entrance to red. Meanwhile, player two can see the jump from the train into red, logs and B domination.

Player three should play in the Owens building and attempt to spot out the attacking assault rifle players. The emphasis should be on getting information for the team as opposed to getting a kill. Staying alive is more important as the Owens player stops players crossing from white to B bomb. Player four is free to roam, however, I believe he is best spent helping watch the cross. He can rush the electric box near the white train to see the entire cross or hold bottom Owens getting information from B domination and storage containers.

If the attackers do try to rush underground the bottom Owens player can watch if anyone pushes front while player three can watch the cross onto bomb from the second floor.

As you can tell attackers have a hard time on Freight. The most successful plays are usually explosive ones such as a double push red where you bait the first guy in to kill the red player. This is a favourable trade for attackers since red is such a pivotal point on the map. Similarly to Octane, you could try the smoke Incog rush onto bomb then your ARs can watch the defuse from Porter or White.

One unique strategy is leaving an assault rifle to get a pick from in base while three of you stack underground. Wait for the AR to hopefully make a kill then explode out of underground. This generates confusion since the AR will kill someone from spawn to A then all of a sudden the gate is broken. The defenders have to worry about being pinched while the main attackers focus on getting the bomb down.

Conclusion

Obviously, take these strategies with a pinch of salt. They are basic and mostly intended for newer players but it’s definitely a good starting point for anyone looking to incorporate more team play. Since this article is getting long, I’ll finish the remainder of the maps in Monday’s article. My paint skills aren’t great but if you find the diagrams helpful then I can make more. If there are other things you think I should bring up don’t hesitate to comment.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of callofduty.wikia, map layouts sourced from unofficialcallofduty.com

 

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

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

A multitude of teams

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

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

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

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

A beautiful venue

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

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

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

Multi-stream, multi-stage

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

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

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

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

To the fans

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


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

Ranking the biggest events in esports

In honor of it being the week of the International, I wanted to discuss the events that have helped legitimize esports. From DOTA to League, all the way to fighting games and Counter-Strike, each game has pushed the scene forward with events that not only grab the attention of esports fans, but even more importantly the general public.

The five events mentioned below have all played an important role in building up their respective scenes. They have not only been great for publicity but have also made careers in esports a reality. They have partially changed the communities in which these events take place. Here are the five most essential events today.

5. Call of Duty World Championships

Activision has made serious strides into making Call of Duty a premiere title within the esports landscape. The creation of the Call of Duty Championship, with prize pools over $1 million, along with the creation of Call of Duty World League, is the support this game needed.

It’s not only given fans more to watch each weekend but also gives them a reason to follow along as the season moves closer to the World Championship. In a short time, Call of Duty has become the premier console shooter and it’s thanks to this.

4. ESL CS:GO

Counter-Strike is different than the other esports. The scene doesn’t have one championship event that takes priority over the others. It’s an open landscape with many different events that offer plenty of payouts.

However, there’s one league that consistently puts together the most competitive and prestigious events. ESL has always been a major contributor to Counter-Strike dating back to 1.6, but in Global Offensive they’ve stepped up significantly. The one other event to rival ESL is Turner’s ELEAGUE which brought in a million unique viewers on Twitch alone.

For this reason, I have to mention Counter-Strike in this discussion. While it doesn’t have a keystone tournament like The International or Evo, the largest events in CS surpass any other event in terms of general interest. ESL is a great example of this, but there’s plenty of other tournaments that also take precedent in this argument.

3. League of Legends – Worlds

League of Legends wasn’t the first game to popularize the esports age, but it’s mostly responsible for the boom in popularity since the creation of the League Championship Series. The LCS has been a major success, in terms of growing esports, and has kept players interested in the game since release.

Continually, the League of Legends season culminates into the World Championships, a month long tournament that brings together all the regional champions. League is essentially the only title currently that has a system that funnels into a championship event. 15 days of competition while a litany of the best teams compete for millions in prizes on the big stage of Madison Square Garden and other stadiums.

2. Evo

By the same token, no other event comes close to the history of the Evolution series. Dating back to 1996, Evo has been the linchpin for all the growth in the fighting game community. Evo has single handily brought the underground community into the Mandalay Bay Stadium.

It’s hard to say that any other event matches the intensity that Evo cultivates. Once a player gets on that grand stage, it’s almost a guarantee that something amazing will follow. It’s also the one event that doesn’t require any knowledge coming in because of the simplicity of fighting games. Anyone can enjoy it and more importantly, anyone can feel the hype generated from the world’s most prestigious fighting game tournament.

In spite of the fact that Evo has a significantly lower prize pool than these other events, it’s still considered by many to be the most meaningful tournament for the players. Coupled with the history, an Evo trophy means something more than just a check. It’s a chance to cement a legacy as one of the greats.

The International 7. Photo courtesy of GosuGamers

1. The International

Finally, we reach The International. It’s an event responsible for bringing in a new generation of esports fans. It not only has the highest prize pool in esports, but in a short time has become the most sought after trophy in the entire scene.

It’s a life changing event. The rush of playing for millions of dollars amps up the intensity levels. Even as a fan, the adrenaline begins to pump. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and not one event has been a let down in seven years. Valve’s responsible for making it an event in every sense of the word. It’s no longer just a DOTA tournament, it’s a happening in the Seattle area.


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Is it finally S1mple’s time to become the world’s best player?

For some time now Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev has been tipped to become the best player in the world. Whether it was way back on HellRaisers after making the playoffs of Dreamhack Winter 2014 or after carrying Team Liquid to a major final, it was expected that he would eventually be the world number one.

Everyone believed after he joined Natus Vincere that his time was now. And it was, although rather short lived. The team won ESL One New York with s1mple taking the MVP medal. However, Na’Vi would descend into a string of early playoff exits or worse.

The recent roster shuffle brings natural born leader Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko home with a new coach in Mikhaylo “Kane” Blagin. Under Zeus’s leadership is it time for s1mple’s story to come full circle?

Hasn’t he already been the world’s best once?

Mechanically, s1mple might already be the best player in the world. He’s certainly in contention with the likes of Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, Marcelo “coldzera” David and Nicolai “device” Reedtz for that title. However, in last year’s top twenty players he was bested by two of those names, why is that?

S1mple was ranked number four in 2016 after spending most of his time on Liquid. [Source: Dreamhack]

The main reason is results. In 2016 Coldzera won two majors among other tournaments while Device consistently reached semi-finals with positive ratings at every event in that year. Secondly, these are regarded as complete players. They can play every role, rifle, AWP even support when need be. These are players that rely less on outrageous plays and more on strong decision making. They have also shown a willingness to work in a system and make sacrifices when needed.

Natus Vincere’s lack of top finishes and inability to find a working formula has put s1mple down the pecking order. The addition of Zeus should hopefully solve both of the problems starting with the latter.

How to best use s1mple?

It is on Zeus to implement a player like s1mple into his system and way of leading. My suggestion would be to let s1mple play outside of the system for the most part. He is best when he’s making wild plays based off of his own thoughts on the state of the game. Zeus could set the team up so that if s1mple wants to play X position on CT then there is a setup for that and if he dies then there is a set reaction from the team. Zeus could do this for a number of spots on a number of maps. This, in a fashion, is controlling s1mple’s aggression whilst allowing him to make his own plays. If it isn’t working reign him in and play a more defensive style holding from the bomb sites on maps such as Overpass and Inferno.

On the terrorist side you can use the same idea. The core four sets up for an execute while s1mple decides how to make an impact on said execute. That could be lurking on the other bombsite or actively trying to entry on the targeted one. I believe this would be an effective use of s1mple’s skill set whilst catering to the needs he demands.

Should he be the main AWPer?

With Na’Vi’s main AWPer leaving it is presumed that s1mple will take on the role full time. Some are skeptical as to whether using s1mple as the main AWPer utilizes his full potential.

Seized managed to keep his spot on Na’Vi despite initially being benched. [Source: cybbet.com]

My counter-argument would be that prior to the Ukrainian joining, Denis “seized” Kostin started playing as a secondary AWP. If s1mple is going off with a rifle then a flashy playmaking AWP shouldn’t be required. Give Seized the AWP and as long as he hits the shots he should hit then Na’Vi should have no problem allowing the two to switch on occasion.

This again gives s1mple more of what he wants but with the right resources to do so. There’s always a plan for if s1mple decides to change his style of play.

Conclusion

Despite the recent shortcomings S1mple has come leaps and bounds with Natus Vincere. His attitudes towards his team and its members have changed, with him saying that he will never leave and seemingly be showing more respect to his teammates. If Zeus can now come in and change his mindset towards the game in someway then we could see the nineteen-year-old join that list of complete players and cement himself as the best player in CSGO.

 

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