LoL community fan LCS

Those who play together, stay together: A look at the LoL community’s fan driven LCS

Whenever the off-season begins, community spaces tend to experience a slowing down in activity. The usual hustle and bustle wears thin as fans of the various NA LCS teams wait for the next season to start. Less people are posting and less people are chatting. During these slow times, the various communities have always seemed to need something to reinvigorate their fan spirit. Enter the Discord Community Championship Series (or DCCS for short).

Curing off-season blues

What if there was a tournament held between the fan communities of the NA LCS? An LCS for the average fan, if you will. Through this idea, the DCCS was born. The tournament was created with two goals in mind. The first goal was to allow fans of the various NA LCS teams to represent their community and deliver an LCS-like experience. The second was to drum up some much needed excitement during the slow period between the spring and summer seasons. This is exactly what event organizer and Echo Fox Discord moderator Adriaan “GeneralPancake” Schotte had in mind, stating, “We noticed that during the off-season the Discord died down a bit since there was nothing to talk about without LCS going on. We wanted to somehow give the fans something to get hyped for, so firewolf and I (another Echo Fox Discord moderator) decided to set this thing into action.”

LoL community fan LCS

Courtesy of the DCCS

Coming together

While there were some expected bumps in the planning stage, the event seems to be on track to becoming a hit with fans. The event has all the features of what one would expect to see from an NA LCS broadcast. It features casters, graphics, and an official Twitch stream. The teams held tryouts, selected coaches, and practice for their weekend of matches. What makes this all so special is that it is all run and organized by the fans, for the fans. Through this tournament, fans are able to come together and experience a much higher level of involvement within their respective communities. By being able to participate in an LCS of their own, fans are able to grow closer together through some friendly competition.

It remains to be seen whether the Discord Community Championship Series will be an annual off-season tournament or a one-time event. Adriaan, however, is optimistic regarding the DCCS’ future. Though it has only finished its first week, the DCCS has shown a peak of 200 viewers and seems to be stirring some fans from their off-season hibernation. While this is certainly not NA LCS level viewership, it is certainly a step in the right direction toward a closer and more enthusiastic community.

You can follow me on Twitter here: @masonjenkinstgh Also be sure to follow The Game Haus on Twitter and Facebook so you can get more and esports action. Also, be sure to follow the DCCS on Twitter and Twitch

Featured Image and images courtesy of the Discord Community Championship Series

A close look at the Smash Switch E3 Invitational

The Hype train just keeps on chugging. Nintendo recently revealed that they would be holding an invitational tournament at this years E3 showcasing Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch. With such a big announcement coming so soon after the reveal of the game, the hype is skyrocketing throughout the community. With E3 slowly but surely approaching, let’s take a look at why this is such a huge announcement.

Smash 5?

Ever since the reveal trailer for Smash Switch the community has been hard at work trying to figure out more details about the game. The discussion has been centered around if it will be a completely new game (Smash 5) or some sort of Smash 4 deluxe edition. no one knows for sure what exactly the game will be, but this announcement gives us a few clues.

We could see the inklings in action sooner than later
Youtube

The last time Nintendo held such an event was back at E3 2014 for the upcoming release of Smash for Wii U. This tournament showcased the games new gameplay and mechanics by throwing players right into the fray. Fast forward almost four years and here we are approaching E3 2018, and yet another Smash invitational. This could be the final clue we need to decide whether or not this is a new game.

As convincing as this evidence is we cant speak to soon however. If we are to draw direct comparisons to he launch of Smash 4, some things don’t line up properly. Smash 4 was revealed over a year before the invitational tournament, let alone launch day. The reveal for Smash 4 came with gameplay footage as well as a character reveal. We still haven’t seen any Smash Switch gameplay yet, which does not align with Smash 4’s reveal. Smash Switch also was revealed much closer to the games launch, coming in the same year. Either way we’ll definitely find out exactly what this game is at E3. But there is even more to look forward to with this tournament.

The inevitable return

I’ve talked about Zero’s retirement many times in the past so I won’t go over it for a millionth time. We all knew he likely wouldn’t be gone for long and this tournament being announced all but confirms it. This is exactly what Zero said could bring him back to the competitive scene. A new iteration of Smash with new characters, possibly even being Smash 5. As much as he has been enjoying his time streaming and being away from competitive play, he will be back soon. I think he might have just waited until the game released later this year to return but this tournament changes things.

This invitational tournament is definitely calling his name. Now he can get an early look at the game, and get a feel for its mechanics if it is Smash 5.

Could Zero make his return where it all began?
Youtube

It will be even more interesting if the game is very similar to Smash 4 or Smash 4 deluxe. I think that such a thing could tempt Zero to even consider returning to the current season. New characters would certainly shake up the meta and could be an irresistible offer to him. Lastly how fitting would it be for Zero to make his return on the same stage he started on. Zero won the first ever Smash 4 tournament back at the 2014 E3 invitational. It was the first of many tournament wins for Zero and started an amazing career. It’d be awesome to see him make his return, where it all began.

Who could we see

As much speculation as the community has been doing about Zero returning, nothing is confirmed. We still don’t know who Nintendo will be sending to the tournament just yet. But based on the past we can make some good assumptions. We know they will bring some prominent figures in the community. This always starts with some of the best tournament players. One player I’m sure will be on the big stage is NRG Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada. He is the undisputed king of Smash 4 streamers, and one of the communities most loved personalities.  I’m pretty sure Zero will be invited as well but it honestly could go either way. other than top players we should see some big Nintendo Youtubers on the stage. This is in line with how Nintendo usually handles events like this and I see no reason why this would change.

Lastly I want to talk about someone I would love to see at the invitational. This is a long shot, but I would absolutely love to see Desmond “Etika” Amofah in the tournament.

Etika would bring the hype to the invitational for sure
Youtube

This is a bit unlikely because Etika isn’t necessarily Kid friendly and could rub Nintendo the wrong way. Etika may have a history of being very vulgar and outlandish at times, but he would be a great addition. His passion and enthusiasm for Nintendo is unrivaled. He would bring a level of hype and excitement that has never been seen at a Nintendo event. He’s a wild-card, but if invited, Smash Switch will have even more hype surrounding it.

No matter what happens This tournament is huge. we all knew E3 was the next big event to look forward to for Smash Switch. But this tournament means that on June 11th we will finally have an answer to our many Smash Switch questions.

What do you think about the Smash Switch E3 Invitational? Feel free to let us know in the comments down below!

 

Featured image courtesy of Eventhubs.

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Prediction: NRG Nairo will Rank #1 on the next PGR

The PGR (Panda Global Ranking) ranks the top 50 Smash 4 Players every season. This season is much different than others, because the greatest player in the world (Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios) retired at the end of last season. With the top spot now up for grabs many (including myself) have speculated who will take the thrown this season. There are a few players that have been favorites to become the new “best player in the world” and rightfully so. But out of all these usual suspects on the PGR I believe NRG Nairo will rank number one this season.

The Fan Favorite

Nairoby “Nairo Quezada is a smash player who needs no introduction. Representing NRG Esports, Nairo is a very flashy player who is always a fan favorite. Don’t let his flashy play style fool you though, he is one of the most deadly players ever to grace the game. Nairo has been very consistent with his PGR rankings; placing 3rd for the past three seasons.

Nairo sporting his NRG Esports Jersey
SSB World

With his trusty Zero Suit Samus, he runs through tournament brackets and rarely places outside of top 8. One of the biggest reasons Nairo remains so consistent is how much he practices. You’ll find him streaming over on twitch almost every day, and his streams always attract a lot of dedicated viewers. He has such great game awareness which can definitely be chocked up to him practicing so much.

No matter the tournament, Nairo will almost always have the crowd on his side. This was seen most during what was maybe the highlight of his career back in 2015. During the MLG World Finals in 2015, Nairo became the first player to ever beat zero to win a tournament. This win ended Zero’s streak of over 50 tournament wins in a row. It was Nairo’s crowning achievement, but I believe that he will soon have a new accolade to add to his resume.

 

 

Over the hump

The closest Nairo ever got to being ranked number one on the PGR was when he was ranked number two back in the PGR V1. Since then he has been ranked number three every season, but I think that’s going to change.

The Day Nairo Ended Zero’s Iconic Streak
youtube

With Zero gone things are going to be a lot different, that’s for certain. Many speculate that Leonardo “MK Leo” Perez will be the next number one player, and rightfully so. MK Leo was one of the few players who could at least somewhat consistently beat Zero. Leo has been dominating as of late and definitely could become the next Number 1. But With Nairo already having a set win over MK Leo early in the season, I think he has an edge.

Nairo also gave Zero a lot of tournament trouble and has taken quite a few sets off of him. Now that we are in a meta where Zero no longer attends tournaments I think Nairo might just get over the 3rd best player hump and ascend to the top spot. This isn’t to say that he couldn’t do it if Zero was still playing; but the fact that Zero isn’t playing gives him a huge boost.

Nairo is one of Smash 4’s most clutch players and it shows every time he plugs his controller in. He plays so many characters at such a high level, that it’s almost impossible to counter-pick him. Nairo delivers impressive results and is rarely seen outside of top 8, sometimes coming from the depths of losers bracket to win a tournament. When you combine all of these factors with the fact that one of his toughest opponents is no longer playing; it’s not hard to picture him being crowned the best player in the world.

One of Nairo’s biggest achievements, defeating Zero in Brawl at Apex 2014.
Will he stand tall once again? Twitter

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Twitter.

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international

Locations revealed for LoL’s 2018 international tournaments

The locations for the international League of Legends tournaments for the year have been revealed.

Last year saw the game go to locations across the world. The first Rift Rivals tournaments were held in Germany, Chile, China, Russia and Taiwan. For MSI, we visited Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil. Worlds took place in China and went across the country at huge venues in Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

This year’s events will be just as spread out across the world, giving people the chance to see the best every region has to offer on an international level.

 

MSI

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • Play-ins and Groups at the LCS Studio in Berlin, Germany – May 03-06 | 08-09 | 11-15
  • Knockout stage at Zenith Paris La Villette in Paris, France – May 18-20.

 

RIFT RIVALS

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • North America vs. Europe hosted in North America.
  • China vs. Korea vs. LMS hosted in China.
  • Brazil vs. LATAM North vs. LATAM South hosted in Brazil.
  • Oceania vs. Southeast Asia vs. Japan hosted in Australia.
  • Vietnam vs. Russia vs. Turkey hosted in Vietnam.
  • The events will take place during the week of July 2-8
  • Venues will be revealed in the coming months.

 

WORLDS

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • The 2018 League of Legends World Championship will be held in South Korea.
  • Dates and venues will be revealed in the coming months.

 

ALL STARS

international

Courtesy of Riot Games

  • This year’s All-Star event will be hosted in North America.
  • The event will take place from December 3-9.
  • Venue to be revealed in the coming months.

 

CREDITS

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Smash at Xanadu is back

The final Xanadu wrapped up this past Sunday with a record turn out. The historic Baltimore competitive gaming site has hosted many tournaments over the years, but Smash was always the main event. There was a somber atmosphere throughout the Smash community this weekend with the imminent closing of the iconic venue. But just days after its closing; Xanadu is back.

A new home

The Xanadu streams always brought in the viewers
VGBootcamp

The Baltimore location may have closed its doors, but Xanadu is still alive and well. This Tuesday, venue host VGBootcamp announced that the weekly tournament would be returning in March at a new location in Laurel, Maryland, touting a venue three times larger than the original.

This is huge for the smash community for a few reasons. The most obvious reason is that the Competitive scene in Maryland will still be able to thrive. The other reason is much bigger however. This venue moving to Laurel MD means that many new players will be able to attend tournaments.

Baltimore will always have a special place in the hearts of players, but this move to a much more accessible part of Maryland means that more players will now have access to the venue. This gives many new players the chance to come out and show their potential. The new venue will certainly attract newcomers which is always good for the community. New competition is coming to the Smash scene in Maryland which will certainly make this season more interesting.

A sigh of relief

A classic Xanadu Moment
Smashdatabase

Above all the community is relieved that a their beloved tournament venue won’t be gone for long. Xanadu has been home to many iconic moments in Smash 4 and fighting games in general.

When VGBootcamp announced that Xanadu would be closing, people came out in mass to support the final event. They launched a social media event with the hashtag #ThankYouXanadu, calling for people to remember all the good times at the venue. With this announcement coming just two days after the closing, fans have more good times to look forward to very soon.

 

 

 

Featured image courtesy of abiosgaming.

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Dota Pro Circuit

Dota Pro Circuit: The standings so far

We’re almost at the halfway point in the Dota Pro Circuit for the season. In these past few months we’ve seen some clear leaders rise to the top of the charts. Others, however, performed worse than most fans anticipated. Though we are still a few months away from the final tally, it’s as good a time as any to analyze the teams seeing the best results during the first third of this competitive season.

Team Secret

Dota Pro Circuit

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Team Secret is on a tear that the brand has not seen since the TI5 season. 7.07 might just be their patch. Out of 107 tournament games they have played since 7.07, they have won 74 of them. This massive 70% win rate is more than a little unusual in a game as volatile as DotA 2.

It is also hard to pin down the particular thing bringing them this success. Team Captain Clement “Puppey” Ivanov has been known for being a master drafter able to adapt to his enemies over the course of a set. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard, while a newer member of the team, has shown his prowess in the carry position on aggressive heroes like Weaver, Huskar and Lifestealer. Adrian “Fata” Trink’s ability to engage as Tidehunter, Puck and Brewmaster often leaves enemies scrambling in team fights. There currently do not seem to be any obvious weaknesses in their line-up, or their gameplay.

However, though they are a thousand points ahead of the next team, it could only be a single major that costs them that spot. While this sounds tragic, in the end it doesn’t matter all that much. The only goal of the Qualifying Points system this year is to make the top 8. No one gets special treatment for finishing first vs finishing eighth.  With that known, it is difficult to imagine enough teams passing Team Secret on the leaderboards to take away their direct invite to TI8 even this early in the Dota Pro Circuit. Safe to say, we’ll be seeing them this August in the Main Event.

Team Liquid

Dota Pro Circuit

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

In many of my articles I have talked about Team Liquid as the TI winning team that hasn’t lost their touch. It is difficult to describe them any other way. Too often we see TI winning teams implode upon themselves shortly after claiming the Aegis. Either they have an immediate roster change, or they can’t seem to find their groove again after a much deserved break. Liquid did neither of these things. They continue to be a force to be reckoned with in any tournament they participate in. Though Liquid have played fewer games than Secret this season, their win rate is actually higher than Secret’s at 73%. More than that, they have placed in the top 3 of every single tournament they have participated in.

More than any individual player, this is a team that moves around the map in a way few others do. This team has been together for so long it feels like they know when someone needs help in lane before they even ask for it. Kuroky may be a solid drafter, and GH might always be where the enemy doesn’t want him to be, but it is how these individual pieces come together that makes this team shine. The next time we see Team Liquid will be at the Galaxy Battles Major in mid July. I’m willing to bet they place in the top 3 there as well. This year’s Dota Pro Circuit is looking bright for them as well.

Virtus.Pro

Dota Pro Circuit

Image courtesy of media.epicenter.gg

Though Virtus.Pro is not a member of the 70% win rate club, their results are still remarkable. Out of 90 competitive games they have won 60 of them, putting their win rate at a nice 67%. Though they were already doing well in the rankings, their recent victory at The Summit 8 provided additional padding to their points. Unfortunately, they did not win as many points for their lineup as they could have since their captain was on hiatus until the end of last year. Regardless they still have an incredible lead over Newbee in the spot below them.

I find it difficult to argue that Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev contributes the most to his team’s success. His hero pool recently has consisted of heavy farming late game heroes like Medusa, Morphling and Razer. Farming aside there is another thing that these heroes are really good at: not dying.  A late game carry’s greatest weakness is getting picked off early. RAMZES, however, is especially smart about the way he moves around the map to avoid these ganks. Despite not being overly aggressive with his farm, he finds enough to pull in the game winning items right when he needs to. Of course his team helps to create space for him to do so, but I’ve seen more popular carries get carried away by the pressure to farm and feed kills.

Don’t even get me started on RAMZES Broodmother games. For those, I have no words.


Featured image courtesy of blog.dota2.com

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Statistics for this article fetched from datdota.com

dota 2, galaxy battles, major, tournament

Galaxy Battles II Loses Major Status

Earlier today Valve announced it would be rescinding the Major status of Galaxy Battles II. As well as the qualifying points available at the event. You can read the full statement here. Valve cited player privacy issues as their reason behind this change. While also mentioning that they will be working with tournament organizers to put on another Major. Complete with prize pool and qualifying points.

Galaxy goes on

Intially, it’s obvious that this will hurt fans attending the event most. As many paid for tickets to a Major Dota 2 event in hopes of seeing elite teams battle for points on the Pro Circuit Leader-board. Though Valve was not clear on whether the prize pool would be changed. It is unlikely that Valve would contribute to the prize pool after rescinding its Major status. Without any contribution from Valve there is still $500,000 up for grabs at Galaxy Battles II. Which should still entice teams to bring their best strats to the events. As the scene has shown time and time again how much they value their fans attendance.

Valve cited player privacy issues as their main reason for removing the Major status associated with Galaxy Battles II. Looking around the Philippine’s website for their Department of Foreign Affairs did not provide any information that really stood out. One requirement for Visa that did raise questions was a requirement to submit pictures of the traveler’s passport prior to obtaining a Visa. This may be what Valve was concerned about as Passports contain a lot of personal information and having a tangible copy of one could pose a large potential risk.

Last year’s stage at Galaxy Battles (GosuGamers)

 

Rescheduling a Major could shake the Pro Circuit later on

What is really interesting about this is the timing that will go into scheduling another Major. The Pro Circuit schedule is jam packed this year with a plethora of Dota almost every weekend. Definitley not something to complain about. Though it presents a unique challenge in rescheduling with these specific teams that are going to attend Galaxy Battles II.

Majors carry an insane amount of qualifying points. A team that wins a Minor gains 450 qualifying points toward their total. A team that wins a Major gains 2,250 points toward their total. Finishing first place at a Minor gives players 150 QP each and winning a Major gives 750 QP each. The differences in these is glaring. On the bright side, Valve has stated they fully intend to hold another Major-style tournament to make up these Qualifying points so it is not as if they are completely off the table. Depending on when Valve decides to “redo” this event it could really affect the overall standings for a direct invite to the International. If this tournament was to take place closer to TI it could allow a team who was playing well at the time to grab a huge amount of Qualifying Points in a final push for Dota’s most prestigious event.

While it’s sad that teams will not be jockeying for position in the Dota Pro Circuit in Manila next week. There is plenty of money on the line and matches are sure to be hype. As the fans in the Philippines have gained a reputation as being some of the best in Dota. Surely they will still be in for a great tournament.

Featured image courtesy of TNC Gaming

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Captain's Draft

Captain’s Draft 4.0: The competition

What better way to start off a new year then with a DotA Pro Circuit minor? Even as far as DotA tournament’s go, Captain’s Draft is unique. The tournament gets its name from the game mode of the same moniker. In Captain’s Draft, the hero pool is randomly narrowed down to 27 heroes before picks and bans begin. This randomization forces teams and captains to improvise strategies, as optimal team compositions are not likely available. As usual, let’s take a look at the teams that will be participating in the first Pro Circuit Tournament of 2018.

OG

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Johan “N0tail” Sundstein

Position 2 – Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok

Position 3 – Gustav “s4” Magnusson

Position 4 – Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka

Position 5 – Tal “Fly” Aizik

 

 

 

OG won their first big tournament of the season at MDL Macau following a string of disappointing performances. The four time Major winners have been struggling despite their star studded roster remaining mostly unchanged. Their performance at MDL Macau was like a flashback to their glory days. After ending the group stage at the top of the leaderboard, they proceeded to win the playoffs without dropping a single game. Perhaps their luck is finally turning around.

Vici Gaming

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Zhang “Paparazi” Chengjun

Position 2 – Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang

Position 3 – Ren “eLeVenN” Yangwei

Position 4 – Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng

Position 5 – Lu “Fenrir” Chao

 

 

2017 was the year of “almosts” for Chinese DotA team Vici Gaming. Despite performing well in qualifiers, they never seemed to be able to claim first place. Their 3-2 loss against Liquid at the AMD SAPPHIRE Dota PIT League was the closest they came so far this year. Their 0-3 loss to Newbee in the grand finals of the Perfect World Masters tournament was probably even more painful. Nevertheless, these second place victories have put them on the board. As it stands now they still have a guaranteed invite to TI8. We’ll see shortly if they have the versatility to strengthen their position on the leaderboard.

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One, DreamLeague, Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Secret are now the team to beat. If you can beat Secret convincingly, no other team in a tournament should be as scary (except maybe Liquid). Liquid may have won more tournaments, but Secret has placed well at both Majors so far, giving them a clear point lead. At the most recent of said Majors, Dreamleague 8, Secret even proved that they could topple the TI winners not once, but twice. Two of the three Grand Final games were 60+ minute slug fests, but Secret came out on top in the end. This is the team to look out for this tournament.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One, DreamLeague. Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

Position 3 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen

 

Removing UNiVeRsE’s name from EG’s roster for this article proved painful for me. It is hard to believe that such a talented player was performing poorly enough to be removed from the organization. More importantly, removing UNiVeRsE caused massive structural changes to Evil Geniuses as a whole. Fear has taken the mid role from Suma1l, who will be filling in UNiVeRsE’s old offlane position. MISERY will play hard support while also relieving Fear of his captaining duties. I’m not convinced that these moves are the correct ones, but seeing how they play out at Captain’s Draft will prove interesting to say the least.

Minesky

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Kam “NaNa” Boon Seng

Position 2 – Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung

Position 3 – Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang

Position 4 – Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong

Position 5 – Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.

 

 

 

After a fantastic start to the season, Minesky has all but fallen off the map. After winning PGL Open Bucharest, the team has hardly been seen outside of qualifiers. The last time we saw them was during their disappointing 7th-8th place finish at Perfect World Masters where they failed to take a single game in the playoffs. If they can’t make a comeback here, it may be time to think about roster changes. The team is full of talented players, but something is clearly not working.

Pain Gaming

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – William “hFn” Medeiros

Position 2 – Danylo “KINGRD” Nascimento

Position 3 – Otavio “tavo” Gabriel

Position 4 – Heitor “Duster” Pereira

Position 5 – Aurthur “PAADA” Zarzur

Pain Gaming is a new face from the South American scene. If they don’t seem familiar, it’s because they have not participated in any Pro Circuit tournaments yet this year. It is also nearly impossible to analyze this team because they’re brand new overall. This roster was thrown together in early November, and has only played in qualifiers. As pessimistic as it might sound, I would expect Pain to perform similarly to the other South American teams. Historically speaking, South American teams have struggled on the international stage this year. This team’s inexperience together only compounds my reservations.

Team Empire

DAC Empire. Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Airat “Silent” Gaziev

Position 2 – Rostislav “fn” Lozovoi

Position 3 – Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk

Position 4 – Maxim “yoky-” Kim

Position 5 – Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov

 

 

Team Empire’s frequent roster changes make it difficult to follow their progress as a team. The team’s history on Liquipedia shows players leaving, going inactive, returning and getting signed by other teams all just weeks apart. Former team captain Ivan “VANSKOR” Skorokhod’s departure just a week ago must’ve hit the team hard. Miposhka is picking up the reins, but will the team be able to rally around him? The unpredictability of Captain’s Draft naturally strips away some of the more tenured team’s advantage. They certainly have an uphill battle if they want to secure an invite to TI8 at this point.

CompLexity Gaming

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin

Position 2 – Linus “Limmp” Blomdin

Position 3 – David “Moo” Hull

Position 4 – Zakari “Zfreek” Freedman

Position 5 – Kyle “melonzz” Freedman

 

 

I love rooting for CompLexity. It’s cool to see not just one, but two sets of brothers playing at such a high level together. I always enjoy watching Moo play the offlane, especially on heroes like Timbersaw. What I don’t love is the disappointment I feel when they fall short of top 3. After a third place finish at the first tournament of the season, they have not made it to the winners podium. I do believe however that Kyle is a competent drafter. He seems to have the kind of personality that could benefit from the chaotic nature of Captain’s Draft. We will certainly see soon enough.

Captain’s Draft 4.0 will take place in Washington, DC from Jan 4th – Jan 7th.


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Kobolds and Catacombs Day 1 Deck Theorycrafting

The next Hearthstone expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs, has finally been released. In the reveal season, we saw many powerful and fun cards that are coming out with the set. But, which of these cards fit into existing decks? What new decks are coming into the meta?

The Meta

Dragon Priest

KnC Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest Decklist

In past expansions, Dragon Priest has been an archetype that many people have toyed around with and played on ladder. In this expansion, we may see the rise of a Dragon-oriented Priest build similar to the Dragon Priest deck that was viable during the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion last year. The iteration I have theory-crafted includes a much more value-orientated game plan by including cards such as Lyra the Sunshard, Drakonid Operative, and the new Priest weapon, Dragon Soul. The deck can also be built to take on a more minion heavy route by taking out cards like Dragon Soul, Lyra the Sunshard, and Shadow Word: Death and replacing them with Cabal Shadow Priest, which synergises with Twilight Acolyte, and Twilight Drake.

 

The inclusion of Duskbreaker in this expansion really helps Dragon Priest’s historically bad matchup versus aggressive decks, which makes the new iteration of Dragon Priest that much scarier. On ladder, this deck seems like a solid choice for climbing at a high pace. In tournaments, players may elect to bring Highlander Priest instead because of its favorable win-rates versus slower decks.

 

 Zoo Warlock

KnC Zoo Warlock

Zoolock Decklist

In the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, we once again saw the rise of an old friend: Zoo Warlock. The early game minion package combined with Prince Keleseth proved to be the kick this deck needed to get back into the meta, and topping off with Bonemare and Bloodreaver Gul’Dan made Zoo Warlock scary in the late-game as well. This time around, Blizzard has given Zoo Warlock even better tools for taking the board early game and keeping it. The addition of Kobold Librarian helps keep your hand full, which is extremely important when having so many low mana cost minions in your deck. The main difference with this Zoo Warlock compared to the previous deck is that it cuts Prince Keleseth for the new 2-drop, Vulgar Homunculus.

 

With this iteration of the deck, I decided to add the Demon synergy package in the form of Demonfire, Bloodfury potion, and Crystalweaver. We have seen quite a lot of play with Bloodfury Potion and Crystalweaver in the past Zoo Warlock decks, but the addition of the Vulgar Homunculus makes these cards coming down on curve extremely threatening. Hooked Reaver also makes an appearance in this deck because of how solid its stats are when the Battlecry goes off, as well as its ability to synergise with the rest of the demon synergy in the deck.

 

The addition of higher-health minions and buff cards will help Zoo Warlock in the next meta mainly because of the predicted prevalence of Duskbreaker on the ranked ladder. In tournament play, this deck will likely be chosen for inclusion in aggressive lineups.

Big Druid

KnC Big Druid

Big Druid Decklist

The ‘Big’ archetype saw large amounts of play during the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion as a whole, especially during the later half of the set’s meta. Kobolds and Catacombs has not given Big Druid many other tools, but the core of the deck is strong enough to still see play. The only change I have made to the current Big Druid list is taking out Innervate and adding Arcane Tyrants. Innervate, once a staple in most Druid decks, took a huge hit from the nerfs that occured in the middle of the last expansion. It was included in Big Druid, but it was arguably one of the weaker cards within the deck. Two different cards were shown from the new expansion that could find a home in Big Druid: Greedy Sprite and Arcane Tyrant. I chose to include Arcane Tyrant instead of the Sprite because it is very similar to Kun the Forgotten King in the way that it makes your power turns even more powerful. A common way Kun has been used during the meta was playing it as a big free body to pair with Ultimate Infestation. Arcane Tyrant acts in a similar way when paired with Nourish, Spreading Plague, and Ultimate Infestation as well. Greedy Sprite could be included instead of the Tyrant, but the ramp effect is rather slow and your opponent can choose to ignore it. Although this is the case, ramp is powerful enough that Greedy Sprite might see play over Arcane Tyrant.

 

Big Druid seems to be the new go-to Druid deck. In the past, Jade Druid has held this spot, but Big Druid is able to make bigger minions faster and still keep aggression at bay, which may see the ‘Big’ archetype overtaking the Jade mechanic this expansion. Because of this, it is a solid choice for both ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Tempo Rogue

KnC Tempo Rogue

Tempo Rogue Decklist

Tempo Rogue swept the meta in dominant fashion when it was first discovered to be a powerhouse of a deck. With Kobolds and Catacombs, this deck gets even stronger with the inclusion of some slower yet highly valuable cards. One of these cards is the Rogue Legendary of the set, Sonya Shadowdancer. Sonya replaces the rather weak card of Shaku, the Collector as a card generation engine. Most of the minions in Tempo Rogue have such good effects or Battlecries that Shadowcaster saw a decent amount of experimentation and success during the expansion. Sonya is much cheaper than Shadowcaster, which makes its effect easier to pull off. The second card I have added to the deck is Fal’dorei Strider. Admittingly, a 4 mana 4/4 is rather weak as a tempo play. But, the potential for that minion to pull one, two, or even three additional 4/4 bodies is so powerful that it is worth the initial tempo loss. Even if only 1 additional body is pulled, paying 4 mana for 8/8 worth of stats is crazy powerful. There is also the potential to high-roll by creating a 4/4 on turn 7 to be able to play Bonemare onto after your opponent cleared your board the previous turn.

 

Fal’dorei Strider takes the place of Saronite Chain Gang, mainly because of Chain Gang’s vulnerability to an on-curve Duskbreaker. Overall, Tempo Rogue looks to still be a powerhouse deck next expansion, and I expect to see it played both on the ranked ladder and in tournaments.

 

Highlander Priest

KnC Highlander Priest

Highlander Priest Decklist

Highlander Priest has been at the top of the meta throughout Knights of the Frozen Throne, and it seems to still remain at the top during Kobolds and Catacombs. The Priest list I have selected to showcase only adds one card: Psychic Scream. In order to include the new Priest board clear, I chose to cut Mass Dispel from the deck. Mass Dispel is often times weak, so it made sense to take it out for one of the best cards of the upcoming expansion. This decision shows how good of a deck Highlander Priest already is. Another take on Highlander Priest is to go for a more minion-focused route by including a Dragon package with Duskbreaker. While this seems like a good idea, I feel the current version of the deck is much better. In the past, more value-oriented decks were tested. These decks included cards such as Elise the Trailblazer and Free from Amber. It was ultimately found that the faster and more burst-oriented Priest build was better. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to stick with the tried-and-true burst style.

 

Once again, Highlander Priest seems to be at the top of the meta. Expect to see a large amount on ladder and as a staple deck in many tournament lineups.

 

The Non-Meta

Combo Hunter

KnC Combo Hunter

Combo Hunter Decklist

For the past few expansions, Hunter has been struggling as a class. Blizzard keeps pushing control tools and weird cards for the Hunter arsenal, which leaves the class in an awkward position in terms of deck building because of how weak each of the archetypes are. With the new Hunter legendary minion, Kathrena Winterwisp, I thought it would be really interesting to build a combo-oriented deck using Kathrena, Charged Devilsaur, and King Krush. It is often not a combo that will instantly kill your opponent, but the amount of stats that the combo provides are truly ridiculous. This deck runs the Secret package to help fend off aggro, the Candleshot and Hunter’s Mark combo to deal with large threats, and Deathstalker Rexxar to create even more value in a late game scenario.

 

While the deck might not be top-tier, it seems extremely fun to play. Personally, I will be testing this deck in tournament play in a lineup that is attempting to target control decks. On ranked ladder, Combo hunter still seems weak to aggro decks and Highlander Priest, which makes it not extremely viable in the upcoming meta.

Conclusion

Overall, Kobolds and Catacombs sees both powerful and fun cards added to the game. While it may not be the best expansion of the year in terms of player attitude and hype, it will likely lead to a diverse and healthy meta both in terms of ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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DreamLeague

DreamLeague 8: The competition

The second Major of the competitive season is upon us. Since the last major, the point totals have seen some shuffling, and the game itself has been patched. While Virtus.Pro has been sitting pretty at the top, the 1500 points that are on the line could change that quickly. Of course if Virtus.Pro wins DreamLeague as well, they will further cement their spot in TI8. They’re not the only ones with their eye on the prize though, so let’s take a look at their competition.

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

 

 

 

Liquid has shown no signs of slowing down after a dominant start to the season. Currently they are the only team to have won more than one tournament this season. Liquid continue to prove that they are a team to be reckoned with, and I doubt anyone would be surprised if they were the team to take the lead in the rankings after DreamLeague.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

 

 

Newbee is fresh off the heels of a victory at the Perfect World Masters tournament. It is clear they are not going to let their TI runner-up stigma effect their performance moving forward. Though soul-crushing at the time, they have bounced back well. During the Chinese Qualifiers for DreamLeague, they only dropped a single game. Newbee is clearly the pinnacle of Chinese DotA right now, and we can expect good games from them at DreamLeague.

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Team Secret is looking for redemption after falling just short of first place at the last Major. Fortunately for them, their second place finish at ESL One also puts them at second place on the current rankings leaderboard. Their chances at the Perfect World Masters Tournament was hamstrung by a personal emergency that left them without MidOne, but the gang is back together now and ready to give it their all.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 3 – Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Aurora

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

 

It has not been the best year for Evil Geniuses so far. As it stands, the team has only managed to secure a single third place victory this season. That being said, they pulled it together for the DreamLeague NA Qualifiers, and only dropped a single game. This could be a sign that they are trying something new, or getting more familiar with the patch. The team will definitely have to step up their game if they hope to perform on the main stage. So far though, their chances do not look the greatest.

Fnatic

ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao

Position 2 – Steve “Xcalibur” Ye

Position 3 – Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin

Position 4 – Djardel “DJ” Mampusti

Position 5 – Johan “pieliedie” Åström

 

 

Fnatic is the first team on the list without a single Qualifying Point to their name. Though their 7-8th place finishes at ESL One and Dota PIT earned them some prize money, that money will not help them secure a spot at TI. That being said, Fnatic have been looking better and better over just the last two weeks. They achieved first place in both the DotA Summit SEA Qualifiers and the DreamLeague SEA Qualifiers. I don’t know what possibly could have happened to warrant this 180 turn, but Fnatic may just be a real contender in this tournament if they can hold on to this momentum.

Infamous

PGL Open, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Alonso “Kotaro Hayama” León

Position 2 – Mariano “Papita” Caneda

Position 3 – Steven “StingeR” Vargas

Position 4 – Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña

Position 5 – Christian “Accel” Cruz

 

 

 

Not much has been heard from Infamous since their disappointing finish at PGL Open Bucharest. They succeeded in taking first place at the World Cyber Arena tournament in South America last month, but since then they have only been playing in qualifiers. This tells me that my previous evaluation of them may have been true. In the confines of the small South American scene, Infamous are kings on the playground. Unfortunately this does not translate well to success on the world stage. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a team from an underrepresented DotA scene succeed. Everyone can remember how hype Ad Finem’s run through the Boston Major was last year right? It makes me sad to say that I’m unsure if Infamous is the team to bring that hype back given their poor performance recently.

Virtus.Pro

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Roman “RAMZES666” Kuchnarev

Position 2 – Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko

Position 3 – Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov

Position 4 – Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk

Position 5 – Alexei “Solo” Berezin

 

 

The champions of the last Major are back to prove they can do it again. However, their DreamLeague qualifier performance does not exactly inspire the utmost confidence from their fans. They were only one loss away from being tied with OG at 7-7 and forcing a tie breaker. At the same time they recently crushed the DotA Summit CIS Qualifier by beating Na’Vi 3-1 when Na’Vi is looking strong. I have no doubt Virtus.Pro will make the top 4 at DreamLeague, but they need to bring their A game if they hope to win another Major.

Na’Vi

Na'Vi, i-League, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek

Position 2 – Danil “Dendi” Ishutin

Position 3 – Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini

Position 4 – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan

Position 5 – Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

 

 

I could gush about Na’Vi’s return to relevance in the DotA 2 scene for hours. This team has had a rough few years, but things finally seem to be turning around. Fellow Game Haus writer Eli Sherman already wrote a great article on the topic, which echoes many of my sentiments as well. You can find that article here.

DreamLeague Season 8 will take place in Jönköping, Sweeden from Dec 1st – Dec 3rd.


Featured image courtesy of dreamleague.dreamhack.com

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 Ben!

You can follow Ben here – https://twitter.com/TheWholeShoe

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon