Fortnite Scholarship Program One of Many in new Collegiate Esports Push

In almost every conversation that’s ever taken place about the esports industry, there has been one driving concept.

For those invested in the industry, one goal to push towards. For those who were a bit more skeptical, one point of contention. For both, one major focus. Legitimacy.

People in the esports industry, above all else, want their work to be seen as legitimate. Players want to be seen as professionals, skilled laborers with something to contribute to society. Managers and organizers, tech guys and sound guys, writers and content creators (like me!) all want to be seen as more than a bunch of nerds wasting their time on video games.

Many of those people (like me!) are in college. Oftentimes, that makes things even worse. If you’re trying to balance going pro with managing your grades, you’re usually gonna have a bad time. That might be changing soon, though.

Play to Pay

Today, more than ever, colleges are stepping up to support these “nerds” in pursuing their passion. With the rise of professional esports leagues and increased esports visibility, universities across the country have introduced scholarship programs for budding collegiate esports stars. 

Photo Courtesy of UC Berkeley News

UC Berkeley, for instance, recently announced the development of an esports community center in partnership with local franchise NRG Esports. NRG’s Chairman and Founder Andy Miller also owns the Overwatch League’s San Francisco Shock.

In the same press release, Miller explained the logic behind these big moves. “By investing in this esports program, we’re investing in the future: technology, reinvented community, new learning models, and of course, the students.”

“Not only is UC Berkeley one of the most prestigious institutions for higher learning in the world, but it also runs the best collegiate esports program in the country. We look forward to the many things we can do together not just in our Northern California market, but hopefully throughout the esports community as well.”

Always an industry leader, Cal have also announced a partnership with League of Legends developer Riot Games. This agreement paves the way for Berkeley to launch the inaugural League of Legends Intramural Esports League this fall. More importantly, it gives Cal the chance to eventually provide scholarships for these new student-athletes, keeping them afloat as they balance academics and competition.

“We’re pleased to add another dimension through a new intramural league and scholarships,” Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton said. “We’re looking forward to advancing the potential of our students and of collegiate esports with this partnership between Cal and an industry giant like Riot Games.”

Accent on the “U”

Berkeley aren’t the only ones getting in on the collegiate esports scene, though. Ashland University, a comparatively sleepy college of 5700 students in a 20,000 strong Ohio town, are stepping up to match the Golden Bears’ efforts

Graphic Courtesy of Ashland University Esports

They’re offering prospective students up to $4000 a year to play for the school’s Fortnite team, and have programs in other major franchises like Overwatch, CS:GO, and League of Legends. On top of the scholarship, all the players get a full peripheral kit, complete with keyboard, mouse, and headset. With coaches and training centers decked out with the latest equipment, it’s clear that Ashland are in for a penny, in for a pound.

Ashland’s all-in approach has clearly paid off. With articles written by journalistic giants this level of visibility is unprecedented for a school so small. Yet here we are, talking about a school that may very well change the face of collegiate esports forever.

Collegiate esports as a stepping stone

What’s special about these new programs is not their novelty. It’s what their adoption represents in the overall esports picture. Universities big and small see esports as a chance to make money and bring recognition to their own brand. More importantly, they are recognizing esports as a legitimate enterprise for their students to pursue alongside a degree.

Now more than ever, collegiate esports can be used as a stepping stone to greater careers in the industry. Ashland University’s Overwatch team could field the next Overwatch League star. Cal’s intramural leagues could show us the next big League of Legends team, or the next big pickup in CS:GO. With a degree in hand, these new players won’t have to worry about what to do when their esports career is over. Skeptics won’t be able to sneer about their lack of education or life skills, either. They’ll have everything they need to succeed, in and out of the esports industry. I can’t think of anyone who loses in that situation.

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Smite Season Ticket Predictions

Smite Season Ticket predictions: Week 6

Moving into the last week of the Spring Split, we’ve got some interesting matches lined up.

On the EU side, it will be exciting to see how Obey Alliance will perform. After their upset against NRG, they’ve proven they have what it takes to stand up to Europe’s best teams. And with match-ups against Team Rival and Dignitas, we’ll know how they stack up against the best by the end of the week.

Over in North America, it’s still intensely even competition in the Spring Split. After finding their footing in week three of the split, we get to see how far EUnited has come. With matches against the teams that obliterated them in the first week of the split, Luminosity and Spacestation, EUnited has their chance at redemption.

With that, let’s go to the picks.

Tuesday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTeam Rival vs NRG EsportsSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Rival

Both of these teams are around the same skill level. However after dropping a game to Obey Alliance last week, I have to give this one to Rival.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsSK Gaming vs MousesportsSmite Season Ticket Predictions

SK Gaming

Mousesports are having some trouble finding their playstyle as a team. Everyone enjoyed watching their crazy picks at the beginning of the split. And while it may not have worked out for them in the short run, it’s better to be the meta definer coming up with new strategies if you aim to be a top team. In the past week, though, Mousesports have been picking fairly conventionally. And they haven’t seen any more success than when they were picking Janus Jungles and Chaac Mids. I don’t anticipate this being a good direction for the team, and I can’t see them finding their footing in the last week of the split.

 

Wednesday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsEUnited vs LuminositySmite Season Ticket Predictions

EUnited

While Luminosity took this match up 2-0 in the first week of the split, EUnited is stronger than they were back then. While I don’t doubt Luminosity’s skills either, I think EUnited can manage to pull a win this time.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsSplyce vs Counter Logic GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Counter Logic Gaming

Splyce is still having trouble finding wins in this split. And while they’re not a weak team by any means, CLG is still looking stronger right now.

 

thursday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTeam Dignitas vs MousesportsSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Dignitas

Again, Mousesports are having identity problems. If they can’t manage to beat SK gaming, there’s certainly no reason to change my mind in a match-up against the EU powerhouse Team Dignitas.

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTeam Rival vs Obey AllianceSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Rival

I want to believe that Obey can take these matches. They’re definitely the team to root for if you like underdogs. But I pick with my brain, not my heart, and my brain says Team Rival.

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsObey Alliance vs Team DignitasSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Dignitas

Again, I would love to pick Obey here. But with the information we have, Dignitas is just the stronger team.

 

Friday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTrifecta vs Counter Logic GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Trifecta

CLG has been underwhelming lately. They’ve fallen from grace after looking like the strongest team in the split half way through. On the other side of the spectrum, Trifecta has been fairly impressive. Taking wins off of both EUnited and Luminosity, Trifecta has had a strong showing in the past two weeks. Because of that, I have to predict Trifecta.

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsEUnited vs SpacestationSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Spacestation

This is another match-up where I want to vote for EUnited, but I just can’t. Spacestation has seated themselves on the throne of the SPL, and while EUnited certainly has a chance to take this I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsSpacestation vs TrifectaSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Spacestation

Just like with the last match, Trifecta is a strong team that has a chance. But it’s hard to deny that Spacestation is the strongest team in North America right now.

 

Summary

Team Rival > NRG Esports

SK Gaming > Mousesports

EUnited > Luminosity

Splyce < Counter Logic Gaming

Team Dignitas > Mousesports

Team Rival > Obey Alliance

Obey Alliance < Team Dignitas

Trifecta > Counter Logic Gaming

EUnited < Spacestation

Spacestation > Trifecta

 

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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com

Smite Season Ticket Predictions

Smite Season Ticket predictions: Week 5

Now that we’re done with rerun week, I can start actually predicting things instead of regurgitating last weeks results. Which would be more fun in a different SPL climate. But this split’s North American teams are so even that it seems practically impossible to make clear power rankings.

EUnited beat Counter Logic Gaming, Counter Logic beat Spacestation, Spacestation beat Luminosity, Luminosity beat EUnited… All of these teams are in the same tier. It’s great for watching games, but stressful for predicting them.

At least the European side is a little easier. There seem to be two distinct echelons of EU teams, with Rival, NRG and Dignitas being top teams and Obey, SK and Mousesports being lower. But if teams from the same tier face off in EU, it can be just as hard as an NA game to predict.

Oh well, you’ve gotta pick someone. Let’s get into the picks for week 5.

 

Tuesday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTeam Rival VS Team DignitasSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Dignitas

Rival and Dignitas are both great teams, and both could easily take this. But for my money, Dignitas comes out on top. Dignitas are still the standout team of the European Pro League, even if they’ve recently lost some sets.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsObey Alliance VS MousesportsSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Obey Alliance

Two of the weaker teams square off in this set. But Mousesports is too inconsistent, and their drafts can get a little too crazy. And while I like experimental drafts as much as the next guy, they don’t translate cleanly into wins.

 

Wednesday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionseUnited VS TrifectaSmite Season Ticket Predictions

eUnited

It’s hard to vote against eUnited in these match-ups after their Week Three comeback. Last week they looked as strong as they did in the World Championship. And while I don’t doubt that Trifecta could take this, the same could be said for the team I vote against in practically any North American match-up. They’re just too even.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsSpacestation VS Counter Logic GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Spacestation

On the opposite end of the spectrum, before eUnited’s comeback CLG was looking like the best team in the world. But after taking a loss from not only eUnited, but from Luminosity, they don’t look so tough anymore. Spacestation, on the other hand, is a consistently great team.

Thursday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTeam Dignitas VS SK GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Dignitas

This is the day where that short tier list I made starts coming in handy. Dignitas is in the top three, and SK is in the bottom, which makes this prediction easy.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsNRG Esports VS Obey AllianceSmite Season Ticket Predictions

NRG Esports

Thursdays in the EU SPL seem to be the designated strong team versus weak team days. NRG is good, Obey isn’t. Easy FP.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsNRG Esports VS SK GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

NRG Esports

I like the low stress environment Thursday is creating here. I don’t have to think very hard. But there’s also not much to write about. That tier list is pretty real; so far none of the lower echelon teams have managed to take even a game off of the top three, let alone a whole match. It would be exciting to be wrong about these matches. But it also wouldn’t be responsible of me to predict SK.

 

Friday

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTrifecta VS SplyceSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Trifecta

This is the battle of teams I’m not quite sure what to think of yet. Splyce has a number of talented veteran players that we haven’t seen in action for a while, and I’d love to see them find their footing in this match. But for right now, they’re not great. Trifecta in the short term is a pretty lukewarm team. They never seem to look that strong or that weak. But in the short term, I have to give this one to Trifecta.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsLuminosity VS SpacestationSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Spacestation

This is the match that I’m most unsure of. Spacestation is still a consistently strong team, but Luminosity had a strong showing last week. But when in doubt, vote for Spacestation. That way at least John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter fans won’t get mad at me.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsLuminosity VS SplyceSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Luminosity

I’m still reluctant to give Splyce my vote, and to repeat myself Luminosity has been looking incredibly strong lately. This is probably about as easy to predict as North American matches can get. And even here, I have no doubt that Splyce could take the game. It’s really anyone’s league in North America.

 

Summary

Team Rival < Team Dignitas

Obey Alliance > Mousesports

EUnited > Trifecta

Spacestation > Counter Logic Gaming

Team Dignitas > SK Gaming

NRG Esports > Obey Alliance

NRG Esports > SK Gaming

Trifecta > Splyce

Luminosity < Spacestation

Luminosity > Splyce

 

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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com

Smite Season Ticket Predictions

Smite Season Ticket predictions: Week 4

At first this looked like a hard week to start on. Not only am I late, but accurate predictions of NA match-ups are getting harder. With EUnited’s comeback, North American teams are so even that it’s nearly impossible to tell who will win in these match-ups. And Europe, while not as bad, is still harder to predict than past SPL seasons.

But looking at the next week’s schedule gave me déjà vu. Which is probably because they’re the exact same match-ups as last week. I don’t understand why, but it does make predicting the winner pretty easy. Just vote for the team that won a week ago. So let’s get into my Smite Season Ticket predictions for the next week of the Spring Split.

Tuesday, April 10

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsNRG Esports VS Team DignitasSmite Season Ticket Predictions

NRG Esports

Well, at least this whole rerun week makes the picks pretty easy. Remember last week when NRG beat Dignitas? I’ve used my expert deduction skills to decide that that will probably happen again.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsObey Alliance VS SK GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Obey Alliance

Both of these teams have been a little weak so far. And while Obey took this match-up last week, it was incredibly close. This game could easily go to SK as well. But Obey’s chances are still a little bit better.

 

Wednesday, April 11

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsLuminosity VS TrifectaSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Trifecta

Trifecta won last week, and I don’t see any reason to doubt them this time. Last week they won the set but lost game two. Trifecta learned a valuable lesson during that second game: Ban Nemesis. Even if she winds up in solo lane, you still need to ban Nemesis. And as long as they remember that, they should be able to beat Luminosity again.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsSpaceStation VS SplyceSmite Season Ticket Predictions

SpaceStation

After the last week, Splyce has been looking like one of the worst teams in the league. Meanwhile SpaceStation looks like one of the best. It’s not quite that simple, though. Splyce is full of team members that have been out of the SPL for a while. And as they continue to readjust themselves to competitive play and learn to work with their new teammates, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Splyce rise above SpaceStation. But that’s in the long term, and this match is next Wednesday. So I have to give it to SpaceStation.

Thursday, April 12

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTeam Rival VS SK GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Rival

Unfortunately for SK gaming, they just don’t stack up to Rival. Last time we saw this match it went 2-0 to Rival, and I don’t see any reason that would change.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsNRG Esports VS MousesportsSmite Season Ticket Predictions

NRG Esports

Thursday is going to be a whole day of strong team versus weak team. And unfortunately for Mousesports, they don’t give Fantasy Points for voting for underdogs.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsTeam Rival VS MousesportsSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Team Rival

It’s bad enough that Mousesports is having to face Rival, but they also have to play two matches in a row. And they’re likely coming into this match after losing to NRG. And they lost both of these matches 2-0 last week. This match will probably feel like a recurring nightmare for Mousesports. But who knows? Maybe they’ll win against NRG and bring that momentum into this match. That scenario’s a little too unlikely to get me to vote for Mousesports, though.

 

Friday, April 13

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsEUnited VS SplyceSmite Season Ticket Predictions

EUnited

EUnited proved last week that they’re still a powerful team, taking a decisive victory against Counter Logic Gaming. While this match was fairly close last week, EUnited are sure to be more confident after that comeback.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsLuminosity VS Counter Logic GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

Counter Logic Gaming

Don’t let their loss against EUnited distract you: Counter Logic Gaming is still a force to be reckoned with. And while Luminosity certainly isn’t a bad team, I don’t see any reason to vote for them over CLG.

 

Smite Season Ticket PredictionsEUnited VS Counter Logic GamingSmite Season Ticket Predictions

EUnited

I was really hoping that I would get the chance to play devil’s advocate and vote for last week’s loser at least once. But after the dominance EUnited showed in this match-up last week, I couldn’t possibly vote for CLG. The message of this game last week was clear: EUnited is back, and they’re still the world champs.

 

Summary

NRG Esports > Team Dignitas

Obey Alliance > SK Gaming

Luminosity < Trifecta

SpaceStation > Splyce

Team Rival > SK Gaming

NRG Esports > Mousesports

Team Rival > Mousesports

EUnited > Splyce

Luminosity < Counter Logic Gaming

Eunited > Counter Logic Gaming

 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Philip.

Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com

 

iBUYPOWER Masters 2017: The favourites

iBUYPOWER Masters 2017 starts today, with Cloud9, Liquid, Renegades, OpTic, Misfits, Luminosity, CLG and NRG in attendance. Only half of these teams have a chance at taking the title though. Let’s take a look at those teams.

Cloud9

iBUYPOWER Masters

Photo by: hltv.org

Cloud9 just came off a steaming hot victory at Dreamhack Denver, and even though the only team on their level attending was mousesports, they looked great. Aside from maybe Renegades, they look to be in the best form out of every team. Taking the wins (on LAN) that they should and not getting upset too much.

Placed in a group with Renegades, NRG and Luminosity, they are clear favourites to take the first seed in the group. And, unless an upset in Group B occurs allowing Liquid to face Cloud9, Cloud9 should have an easy path to the finals. The final will be a challenge regardless of whether it’s Renegades or Liquid; but Cloud9 should be the team to take the tournament.

Renegades

Out of the three victories that Liquid, Renegades and Cloud9 managed to get, Renegades achieved the best one. They got a victory at the Starladder i-League Invitational #2 over Virtus.Pro. Not only was it a victory, it was a domination. With a 2-0 over Virtus.Pro in the final, plus a Bo3 victory over HellRaisers, Renegades had a very impressive victory finally getting over their issue of choking away leads.

Renegades should end in the second seed for Group A underneath Cloud9, but there is always the chance for an upset sending them into the playoffs as the first seed. Although they’re not the easy favourites to win the tournament, they could definitely take the trophy at the end of everything.

Team Liquid

iBUYPOWER Masters

Photo by: hltv.org

Liquid have been looking weird since coming off of their double-final run after New York. Being unable to win a series at either ELEAGUE or EPICENTER, they went into the Americas minor with a couple question marks. They lost a Bo3 to Misfits but were able to come back and ended up taking the tournament.

In a group with OpTic, Misfits and CLG, it’s a possibility that Liquid could be upset or even eliminated in the group stage. With all that considered, Liquid should still make it out as the first seed, but it’s not guaranteed. Though, assuming the entire group stage is Bo1s, making it to the playoffs should ensure them at least making the final or taking the trophy.

OpTic Gaming

Being the only one out of the teams I’ve mentioned to not take a tournament in the recent future, they’re still one of the favourites just due to pure firepower. They have looked quite good online as well, although it doesn’t mean too much. They’re currently second in EPL although they’re only seventh in ECS. They did however qualify for IEM Oakland over Renegades.

Losing Bo3s against EnVyUs and Space Soldiers at the European minor means they’re probably unlikely to win against any of the three teams above in a Bo3 on LAN. But of course, since it is CS:GO, it is very possible for them to do anything. And, considering their firepower, they can definitely win matches with just pure aim.


Featured image via iBUYPOWER.

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Super Regionals

EU Super Regionals: Winners and losers

Elevate

Elevate have come into form at the exact right time this season. While looking decent for most of the season, this split they have come into their own. They started off the split really strong, with a string of solid victories. However they tapered off a bit towards the middle and end of the split.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Popular opinion probably marked them least likely to qualify for SWC out of all the European teams going. However, everyone had to reevaluate that after they took Obey to a game five in the semi-finals. Ultimately they managed to qualify through groups, proving that they are a very strong team and now a dark horse for the SWC.

The big story about Elevate is that they by far looked their strongest running double hunter and three guardians. This is the setup that got them an SWC spot, where they look capable of beating any team on the planet. The only question that remains is, by SWC, will other teams have figured out how to beat it, or will Elevate have any other strategies?

NRG

One of the big story-lines this season has been about NRG not performing to their usual high standards. If this time a year ago you had said that NRG would have gotten their SWC spot by coming through the Gauntlet and group play, not many people would have believed you. Yet here we are. NRG had to fight extremely hard to secure their spot at SWC this season.

While NRG by their own standards have been sub par this season, you cannot say that about their groups performance. They looked like the strongest team there and showed probably some of the best and most consistent play we have seen out of them all season. At least now we are in the much more familiar territory of NRG, looking like a very serious contender for Worlds.

Rival

Rival once again showed at Super Regionals that they are a far better team on LAN than they are online. If we are honest, what team wouldn’t want it to be that way? As long as you qualify who cares where you place online.

They no doubt looked like the best team at the LAN and must have given themselves a huge confidence boost heading into Worlds. On their way to winning Super Regionals, they beat what many would have called the best two teams in the world: Dignitas and Obey. If that doesn’t give you belief (something the Rival players have never seemed to lack), I don’t know what will.

Dignitas

What a sad story it is for Dignitas, so impressive all season long, just to completely crumble at Super Regionals when it matters most. Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling and Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo must think they are reliving a nightmare. As they went through a similar story last season with Orbit, looking incredibly strong online then not qualifying at Super Regionals.

It’s hard to say what happened with Dignitas. Everybody knows they are a far better team than what their performance at Super Regionals showed. Nobody would have expected them to only win against Noble; nobody really expected them to go into groups in the first place.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of team-dignitas.net

The only explanation people have had is that after that game two against Rival where they lost after taking down three Phoenixes, their heads dropped. Their confidence and morale dropped. Then, going into groups, they had two tough games early which they lost and thus deepened the problem.

Overall it is a shame to see a great team lose like that. Dig is a team full of players you would love to see compete on the world stage. Let’s not forget Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming set this team up with the intention of winning Worlds. That is why he left Obey, he didn’t see them as capable of winning at all. Trixtank and Qvo left their team because of the disappointment of not qualifying last year. So it must be gut wrenching for them to look so strong all year and then over the course of five days have it all fall apart.

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Top image courtesy of europa.eu

Gauntlet

Fall Split Gauntlet: Biggest takeaways

The three-peat is on

The biggest story coming out of the Smite Gauntlet was always going to be whether or not NRG were going to be heading to Super Regionals and possibly SWC after. There is no need to go into much detail about NRG’s season so far, except that it is falling far short of the incredibly high bar they have set since their entrance to the Pro League.

It was hardly the sort of performance that is going to fill NRG’s fans with confidence ahead of Super Regionals. This is mainly because of how much they struggled against The Papis, a Gauntletteam who only won three out of the 14 games they played in the Fall Split. Without being disrespectful to The Papis, if in six weeks time NRG are trying to prove that they are the best team in the world, they should probably be making lighter work of a team of The Papis’ caliber.

If one thing has been made clear from the Fall Split and Gauntlet it is that the switching out of Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov for João ‘maniaKK’ Ferreira has not been an immediate answer to NRG’s issues in season 4.

With all that being said NRG are still the best team the Smite competitive scene has ever seen. As Ryan ‘Aggro’ Bailey said, in Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross they still have the best player to ever play the game. So, it would be premature to say NRG’s days at the very top are done. But at the moment it looks like a lot needs to happen over the next six weeks if we are going to see Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone lift the golden hammer again.

Beware the NA Challenger team

Once again at a Smite Gauntlet the team from the NA Challenger Circuit had a great run and nearly caused a serious upset. SPL Gatekeepers had an incredible run last Gauntlet and this Gauntlet Salsa Squadron did the same. They knocked out two SPL teams and took Noble to three games, losing in an incredibly tight game three. Considering Noble went 2-0 against Vigilant to go to Super Regionals, I think it is fair to say that Salsa Squadron were not outclassed by any NA team there.

This does mean more than just the interesting trend that has developed from the last two gauntlets on the NA side of the bracket. Particularly in the context of the changes we are seeing to competitive in season 5, in particular the shrinking of the SPL to six teams instead of eight. Quite clearly there is a lot of talent in the Challenger Cup. However in season 5 there is going to be no direct route up to the SPL. While the changes are great in terms of providing stability and investment to the SPL, there is clear value in having a fluid league. I just hope that this is something that Hi-Rez bare in mind and a middle ground is found between stability and investment for the SPL and its players, while encouraging talent from the bottom up.

ALG and the end of an era

Gauntlet

Image courtesy of eslgaming.com

With ALG coming dead last in the NA SPL and then being knocked out 2-0 by a Challenger Cup team, it is hard to see that roster returning for season 5. Hi-Rez have come out and said they are going to be rewarding organizations with spots who have supported the SPL. So it’s not impossible to think that ALG the org could get a spot but I would be very surprised if Hi-Rez would be willing to boot out any of the rosters that placed first through sixth. Especially with the amount of hysteria that follows even the slightest mention of Kurt ‘Weaken’ Schray. With all the changes that Hi-Rez are implementing they are going to want to avoid any unnecessary attention.

This probably means it’s the end of the Weak3n and Jarod ‘Cyclonespin’ Nguyen jungle-solo partnership. While everyone knows twitch chats’ feelings about Weak3n, it should not be forgotten how incredible him and Cyclonespin looked in the AFK days. Cyclonespin’s Hun Batz from the solo is probably one of the most dominant things I have ever seen in the Smite pro scene, and Weak3n was a big part of that and more than impressive in his own right. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, because I am sure there is already a few teams looking at ALG’s squad with certain players in mind.

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predictions

RLCS playoff predictions

League play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series came to an end last weekend for North America and Europe. With that, it’s time to look at predictions for the upcoming promotion/relegation tournament as well as playoff predictions. Here are the RLCS standings for NA and EU after league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 6-1
  2. G2 Esports 6-1
  3. Ghost 5-2
  4. NRG Esports 4-3
  5. Rogue 3-4
  6. FlyQuest 2-5
  7. Allegiance 1-6
  8. Renegades 1-6

 EU

  1. Method 6-1
  2. PSG eSports 6-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 5-2
  4. Mockit eSports 4-3
  5. exceL 3-4
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 2-5
  7. Team Envy 2-5
  8. Team Secret 0-7
playoff predictions

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Seeds seven and eight for both NA and EU are no longer competing in season four. They are currently in the midst of fighting for the last two seeds moving into season five. The round-robin promotion/relegation tournament is underway. The top two teams from the RLRS in both regions are also competing in said tournament. Those teams include Fibeon and Out of Style for NA, along with Fnatic and The Juicy Kids for EU.

I’ll give you my predictions for the promotion/relegation tournament results before we move onto the rest of season four. In the end, for NA, I’m expecting to see Fibeon and Renegades in season five of the RLCS, with Out of Style remaining in the RLRS and Allegiance moving down to join them. As for EU, I expect to see Fnatic promoted to the RLCS alongside Team Envy retaining their spot, while The Juicy Kids remain where they are and Team Secret is relegated back.

These are certainly the safer predictions when it comes to the promotion/relegation tournament. That being said, they’re safe for a reason. I’ll throw all of you Brandon “Lachinio” Lachin fans a bone and say Out of Style has the potential to come out on top over Renegades, relegating them back to the RLRS.

Now onto the remainder of this season.

NA

The fight for top four in NA was a close one all season. With top two still up for grabs at the start of week five, each of the top four teams had a viable shot at clinching one of those spots. As we now know, Cloud9 and G2 are the teams that managed to pull it off. Cloud9 was no surprise, considering the incredible season they had. I admit, I wasn’t expecting G2 to clinch that other spot.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

We’re guaranteed to see Cloud9 and G2 at the world finals this year, but who will the other two NA teams be? Here’s what we’ll see in round one of the NA playoffs: NRG versus Rogue and Ghost versus FlyQuest.

These are certain to be close matches. That being said, my NA playoff predictions are NRG over Rogue and Ghost over FlyQuest. I’m picking NRG over Rogue simply because of the team chemistry here. NRG won the last three NA regional championships and I’m looking to see them pick up number four.

As for Ghost over FlyQuest, the decision is a bit more difficult. FlyQuest looked strong all season, despite ending with a 2-5 record. And let’s not forget Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri made it to every LAN from previous seasons. But, as analyst Michael “Quinn Lobdell” Behrouzi said on RLCS Overtime, there’s a first time for everything. And this might be the first time Sadjunior doesn’t make it to the world championships. I say that because Ghost has looked phenomenal in season four. Despite going in with the number three seed, they could have easily been a top two team.

EU

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of excelesports.com

As we’ve seen all season long, EU is a bit more of an emotional roller coaster for Rocket League fans. Team Envy, formerly Northern Gaming when they won the season three world championships, now sit in the seventh seed. Meaning their season is done. They’re currently fighting for their season five RLCS spot in the promotion/relegation tournament. Gale Force eSports and Flipsid3 Tactics, two other highly anticipated teams at the beginning of season four, are sitting in the number three and six seeds respectively. Needless to say, EU’s had an unexpected season.

That being said, there’s still time for Gale Force and Flipsid3 Tactics, as they look forward to playoffs. Here’s round one of the EU playoffs: Mockit eSports versus exceL and Flipsid3 Tactics versus Gale Force esports.

Now just because Flipsid3 and Gale Force are both looking to keep the dream alive doesn’t mean they’ll both get to. There’s only four EU spots at the world finals, meaning only two up for grabs. One of these two teams’ seasons will come to an end after this weekend.

Here are my EU playoff predictions. ExceL over Mockit eSports and Gale Force over Flipsid3 Tactics, and here’s why.

ExceL had a rough season three, under the name Cow Nose. However, in the off season, the squad dropped Danny “DanzhizzLe” Smol and replaced him with Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen. They came into season four by securing a spot in qualifiers, and they’ve looked strong ever since.

GFE versus F.3

As for Flipsid3 Tactics and Gale Force eSports, it promises to be nail biter. All six of the players that make up these two starting rosters are veterans of not only the RLCS, but the world championship stage. They’ll all surely be eager to make it back to that stage as well. Flipsid3 Tactics, time and time again, have come up through one loser’s bracket or another to turn their position in a tournament around. They are essentially in that same position now, securing the sixth and final playoff seed. However, I have to give this one to Gale Force.

This Gale Force eSports squad formed after season two. Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre left Mockit eSports after winning the season three regional championships. Had he stayed with Mockit and one other member of that roster from season three, he would have been guaranteed a spot in this season of the RLCS. Despite that, he left to join Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs on Gale Force. Their third, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, has a similar story.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of @GFEsports Twitter account.

Since then, they’ve been a force to reckon with. Although they had somewhat of a second place curse during the off season, until the NBC Universal Open, they were still coming in at least second consistently. Now they’re looking for yet another first place win in a LAN environment.

So, there you have it, here are the eight NA and EU teams I expect to see in the world championships:

 

 NA

  • Cloud9
  • G2
  • NRG
  • Ghost

 EU

  • Method
  • PSG eSports
  • exceL
  • Gale Force

 



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playoffs

RLCS: looking ahead to playoffs

The Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series are past the half-way mark for season four league play. It’s time for a peek at what playoffs may hold in store, as we move into the last two weeks of North American and European league play.

Standings

First and foremost, here are the current standings after week three of league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. NRG Esports 3-1
  3. G2 Esports 2-1 (7-5 games)
  4. Ghost 2-1 (6-6 games)
  5. FlyQuest 2-2 (8-8 games)
  6. Rogue 2-2 (8-8 games)
  7. Renegades 1-3
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. Method 4-0 (12-5 games)
  2. PSG eSports 4-0 (12-5 games)
  3. exceL 2-1 (7-3 games)
  4. Mockit eSports 2-1 (8-5 games)
  5. Gale Force eSports 2-2
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-3
  7. Team Envy 1-4
  8. Team Secret 0-5

As I predicted at the beginning of the season, Allegiance and Team Secret, then Emotion and Aeriality, have all but solidified their spots in the bottom two of the RLCS. Both sit at 0-5 with two matches remaining. These teams have their bye weeks coming up in week four and will return for their final matches of league play in week five.

While there is a chance each of these teams can clinch number six and move on to playoffs instead of their promotion/relegation tournaments, it’s not looking promising.

Playoffs Clinched

Three teams, across NA and EU, have already clinched their top six spot, guaranteeing a shot at playoffs as well as auto-qualification for season five of the RLCS. These teams are Cloud9, Method and PSG eSports.

Cloud9

playoffs

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net.

Cloud9 was perhaps the most highly anticipated newcomers to the RLCS this season. The Cloud9 roster consists of Jesus “Gimmick” Parra, Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda and Kyle “Torment” Storer, and of these three players, Torment is the only one to compete in a previous season of the RLCS.

Despite a lack of prior RLCS experience, Gimmick and, especially, Squishy, came riding into season four on a hype train. Squishy’s been prominent in the community for quite some time through streaming, known for his next-level mechanical skill. That being said, it was at DreamHack Atlanta 2017 that this roster really made a name for themselves.

Playing under the name The Muffin Men, these three showed up to DreamHack Atlanta to take on some of NA and EU’s biggest name teams. They took first place and were quickly picked up by Cloud9. At DreamHack Atlanta and since, Gimmick continues to build the hype around his name, showing the world that he’s ready to take on the top Rocket League players just as much, if not more, than Squishy and Torment.

Method and PSG eSports

Both Method and PSG eSports sit undefeated at the top of the EU leaderboard. With only three games left to play, these two tames have already guaranteed their top six position.

playoffs

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Many expected both Method and PSG to do relatively well, even considering the stiff competition in EU. They’ve managed to continue to perform above expectations.

Method is the only EU squad from season three of the RLCS to retain their entire starting roster. They’re showing everyone just how deadly that long-term team chemistry can be. PSG, on the other hand, is showing everyone just how deadly an untried roster can be.

Despite their 4-0 standings right now, these teams will finally meet up in week four, guaranteeing an end to at least one of their undefeated seasons. All things considered though, it’s looking more and more promising that these two teams will come out of league play with the number one and two seeds. It’s tough to predict, but I’m expecting to see PSG come out in the number one seed.

Promotion/Relegation

When Psyonix announced the Rocket League Rival Series, they also announced a Promotion/Relegation tournament which will take place the weekend after league play finish. The bottom two teams from each region of the RLCS will play a round-robin style tournament with the top two teams from the RLRS in their respective regions.

To no surprise, as mentioned above, the current bottom teams in NA and EU are Allegiance and Team Secret respectively. Both sitting at 0-5, it’s difficult to imagine either clinching a top six spot at this point. However, the real interest is around who will wind up in seventh for each region. Right now, that’s Renegades for NA and Team EnVy for EU.

Renegades

Although it’s somewhat surprising to see Renegades out of the top six currently, they were never expected to be a top two, or perhaps even top four, team. That being said, they aren’t in deep water just yet.

Renegades, 1-3, sit just behind Rogue, 2-2, on the NA leaderboard. These two teams will come together for a match in week four. On top of playing each other, Renegades are set to play Ghost and Rogue are set to play G2 Esports. If Renegades are able to secure a win against Rogue and Ghost, and Rogue falls to G2, then Renegades could easily move up to that number six spot. This isn’t an unlikely scenario, but Rogue certainly has other plans.

The current number seven seed across the pond faces some tougher odds than the Renegades.

Team EnVy

Team EnVy is the reigning world champion from season three, the roster playing then for Northern Gaming. One of their starters, Nicolai “Maestro” Bang, was unable to attend the world championships and was then on vacation for much of the off season. As a result, Team EnVy dropped Maestro and picked up Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim, whom they’d spent much of the off season playing with.

playoffs

Image courtesy of @TeamEnVyUs Twitter account.

There were certainly doubts when the iconic Maestro and Remco “Remkoe” den Boer duo split up. That being said, there was also a lot of anticipation for the addition of gReazymeister, as Remkoe, Maestro and gReazy made up the starting Northern Gaming squad in season one of the RLCS.

However, those doubts and concerns are winning out over the anticipation. Team EnVy sits at 1-4. Although they aren’t currently too far behind Flipsid3 Tactics, who sit at 1-3, Team Envy is the one win that Flipsid3 has so far.

Considering Remkoe’s Twitter responses to their losses after week two, I imagine this squad won’t stick together if they’re relegated to the RLRS. Even they do come out on top of Relegation/Promotion tournament, I still expect to see a roster change, since teams are only required to maintain two-thirds of their starting roster to retain auto-qualification.

Be sure to keep checking back for more info on playoffs and the world championships as season four of the RLCS and RLRS draws closer to the end of league play.


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week two

RLCS/RLRS week two recap: North America

It’s time to take a look back at week two of season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. From standings and upsets to the drama surrounding the rookie squad Naventic, let’s dive in and find out what’s been happening.

Standings

 

 RLCS

  • Cloud9 3-0
  • NRG Esports 3-1
  • Rogue 2-2
  • G2 Esports 1-0
  • Ghost Gaming 1-0
  • FlyQuest 0-2
  • Renegades 0-2
  • Allegiance 0-3

 RLRS

  • Fibeon 3-0
  • Naventic 2-0
  • Premature Superhero Cops 2-2
  • Radiance 1-0
  • Ambition Esports 0-1
  • Out Of Style 0-1
  • Incognito 0-1
  • Kinematics 0-3

There are some clear leaders in both the RLCS and RLRS at the moment. There’s still plenty of time for some of the lower ranked teams to make their way back, though. G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming, in the RLCS, have only played one series so far. The same goes for Radiance, Ambition Esports, Out Of Style and Incognito in the RLRS.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming

week two

Image courtesy of @G2esports Twitter account.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming are looking for a strong presence in the coming weeks of the RLCS. Since they’ve each only played one series, their opportunities to rise in the standings are still in front of them. However, they have some major hurdles ahead.

Coming up in week three, both G2 and Ghost are playing the only other undefeated team in NA RLCS, Cloud9. This means at least two of these three teams will no longer be undefeated after week three.

Both teams have a tough week ahead, playing the favorite, for many, to win the NA regional championships. On the other hand, they are also both playing teams that have yet to secure a win this season. All things considered though, I would say G2 has the tougher week three.

The other teams G2 and the Ghost are playing in week three are FlyQuest and Allegiance, respectively.

Flyquest

FlyQuest, despite sitting at 0-2, is a strong team consisting of some of the world’s best players. The lineup consists of Robert “Chrome” Gomez, Gabriel “CorruptedG” Vallozzi and Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri, all of which are RLCS veterans. FlyQuest lost their first series of the season by reverse sweep, in week two, to Rogue. They lost their second series, 3-0, to Cloud9. Although they were reverse swept and then swept in their first two match-ups of the season, they were playing two of the top rated teams North America. Allegiance, on the other hand, is not quite as star-studded as the FlyQuest squad.

Allegiance

Allegiance’s roster, formerly Emotion at the beginning of the season, consists of Braxton “Allushin,” Sebastian “Sea-Bass” Becerra and Ty “TyNotTyler” Helewa. Although Allegiance came barreling through the loser’s bracket of Play-Ins, they weren’t expected to make it to the RLCS.

week two

Image courtesy of halo.esportswikis.com

 

They upset Fibeon, a team expected to make it to the RLCS, during Play-Ins, relegating them to the RLRS and securing their own spot in the RLCS. They’ve yet to prove they belong in the RLCS, sitting at 0-3 so far. On top of this, they’ve only found themselves winning two total games throughout these three series.

So, it’s FlyQuest’s experience, coupled with Allegiance’s inexperience and inability to prove themselves so far that leaves G2 with a more difficult week three, in terms of climbing the leaderboard. Although FlyQuest has yet to prove themselves this season as well, each of the FlyQuest squad members proved they belong in the RLCS during previous seasons.

Upsets

As always, the RLCS is full of upsets so far, just take a look back at this article discussing Play-Ins and the beginning of season four. While Europe has been and continues to be the region of upsets, NA saw it’s first huge upset of season four League Play during week two.

In the second series of the day, NRG Esports faced off against Ghost Gaming. NRG won the previous three NA regional championships and continue to remain one of the top teams in the world, let alone in NA. Ghost Gaming took these goliaths down in a four-game series, however. NRG took the first game in the series but found themselves unable to secure any other wins against the Ghost squad.

Although this is Ghost’s only series so far, and NRG’s only loss so far, Ghost is certainly a team to keep an eye on during the rest of the season and potentially the future. This is no surprise, considering this squad formed for season four is full of RLCS veterans.

Naventic

A matter which is currently still in the process of unfolding…

After week two, Naventic sits just behind Fibeon in the standings at 2-0. Fibeon is currently 3-0. That being said, it’s likely viewers won’t be seeing this Naventic squad anymore during season four, or perhaps ever.

The team consists of Tanner “Dooble” Toupin, Adam “Kerupt” Stankovic and Jay “King Wizard” Kidston. As of Wednesday, Psyonix and the official esports coordinators for the RLCS have not made any official statements, but  here’s what we do know from Kerupt and Naventic’s Twitter accounts.

week two

Image courtesy of @Naventic Twitter account.

Naventic announced Tuesday, via Twitter, that “Kerupt, Dooble and KingWizard will no longer be representing #NaventicRL in the #RLRS Season 4 – more information will be released soon.”

With only this information, it may appear that the esports organization is simply dropping the squad. There’s a bit more, however.

Kerupt offered a bit more information on the topic in a tweet on Tuesday. He stated the team “had to either forfeit ro128 or risk using a sub not on the roster… chose the latter and played with atomic.”

Kerupt has since replied to Twitter users saying that a statement should be out soon regarding the situation.

Since the team used an illegal substitute during the Play-Ins, it’s likely they’ll be banned, for at least the rest of the season, for breaking the rules.

This could create an interesting rest of season for the teams in the RLRS. The Naventic squad was sitting undefeated in the number two spot of the standings. The top two teams from NA RLRS will play the bottom two teams from NA RLCS at the end of League Play in a promotion/relegation tournament. Not only that, the teams in third and fourth keep their spot in the RLRS for season five. Naventic potentially getting banned would, essentially, move everyone up a spot in the standings.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for week two recap of EU.


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