Press release: Kajaani, Finland 27.3.2017 – Critical Ops is a competitive first person shooter (FPS) predicted to be the next breakthrough game in eSports. The game, which has seen a soft launch for Android and iOS, has already achieved massive success via 15 million downloads and over half a million daily gamers. Critical Ops’ ideological forefather is the hugely popular… READ FULL STORY AT THEGG!
In the lower bracket semi-finals of the 2017 Halo World Championships, Team Envy and Str8 Rippin were fighting to stay afloat in the bracket. On match point for Envy, both teams’ players showed up in a stellar display of Halo ability. Advertisement After a long technical delay, the series resumed with Envy up 3-0. Str8 Rippin would need to hold it down on the Capture The Flag round if it wanted to begin to mount a comeback, and right out of the gate, it looked like it might. Str8 came out strong, seizing two flag captures on the back of the play of Bradley “APG” Laws, who chalked up the first Overkill of the round. Overkills are a special term for when a player gets four kills in four seconds or less, and the bread-and-butter combo of Assault Rifle and Pistol, Laws set the tone for the match. Envy weren’t content to cede the round, however, and two players took it upon themselves to shift the odds in their favor. First was Cuyler “Huke” Garland, whose own Overkill set up a flag capture for Envy. Then, with the score tied READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Last night was a fond walk down memory lane for any StarCraft fan. Between the announcement of StarCraft Remastered and the showmatches between old Brood War favorites like Lee Jae Dong and Lee “Flash” Young Ho, anticipation kept building for the night’s climactic battle for the Global StarCraft II League finals. Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob has been steadily rising in the scene this season, making the top four of almost every tournament he’s been to in the last six months. Signed under Splyce, Kim is the posterboy of Protoss—he’s effective, aggressive and knows how to micro-manage Adepts to win games. Sitting at the number-one spot in the WCS rankings, Kim seems all but determined to make 2017 the year he leaves a permanent mark on the StarCraft II scene. Advertisement Advertisement The audience favorite was definitely Eo “soO” Yoon Su, the eternal runner-up. Eo has set the record for most consecutive appearances in a GSL Code S final at four, and lost every single one of them. “soO has lost again!” is something of a meme in the Korean StarCraft READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
This what it feels like when somehow you beat the best Smash 4 player in the world with a miraculous, last minute combo. Advertisement The kid who can’t believe his eyes as he slides off his headset is Luhtie, a relatively unknown player who mains Zero Suit Samus and has never won a major Smash tournament. But today he did something even better than that. Even if he doesn’t go on to win 2GGC: Civil War, which he still likely will did not, Luhtie will leave this weekend as the person who gave superstar Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios his lowest placement in a tournament ever by far, sending the champ packing at 49th. Friend and mentee Nairo said ZeRo looked like he was playing without confidence, but anyone would be hard pressed to assert themselves against an opponent with counter-attack combos as punishing as Luhtie’s. It was a best-of-five series that went back and forth throughout, but what kept the Samus player in the money were devastating onslaughts in the air like these. It was all he could do to keep the veteran from edging READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
The “overflow” tent for the Halo 5 World Championship. Image credit: Frank. Competitive Halo’s biggest event of the year is going on right now but some fans are arguing about the venue and how many people are in attendance. The tournament has a prize pool of $1,000,000, but pictures on the ground tell the story of a more deflated event. Nothing screams esports quite like some deflated balloons blowing in the wind and a lone family homesteading on some abandoned bleachers inside a tent. One Twitter conversation about the images, approaching Beckettian levels of eloquent absurdity, went like this: Advertisement Advertisement “This can’t be real”“It could be worse. The mainstage could be shared with Just Dance.”“That is not worse than this.”“Even the balloons look like they don’t want to be there.”“Begging for someone to snip them loose.” The contrast was so stark it drew comparisons to the year prior when the Halo Championship was held in Raleigh Studios Hollywood with a prize pool of over $2,500,000. This year, the festivities are being held at the ESL America Campus lot instead. There’s been some READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
The 2017 Hearthstone Winter Championship is underway, and 16 players are competing for $250,000 and one of four guaranteed spots at this year’s World Championships. One Cinderella story may not only earn a ticket to the ball, but he took out a champ on his way there. Advertisement Canadian player Julien “DocPwn” Bachand is a fairly fresh face to the Hearthstone scene. With barely any professional games to speak of before appearing in the America qualifiers, he tore through the tournament 9-0 to make it to the Winter Championship. By comparison, Pavel Beltukov has a litany of wins, including his World Championship title from 2016. When the two met in the deciding match of their group, it was a David v. Goliath scenario, with Pavel quickly taking the advantage 2-0 in the series. It came down to the wire in many situations, like in game five, where a Holy Nova draw for Bachand came one turn too late, in a match that would end in Pavel’s favor and put him on game-point. Pavel, who’s known for reading his opponent’s face during matches, instantly identifies the late draw from Bachand’s poor poker face and even cracks a little smile. Still, Hearthstone…
Image credit: Nintendo This weekend’s global testfire for Splatoon 2 is live, and players are already picking apart the new changes in the squid-shooter sequel. A new change to the Charger is letting snipers hold their charges while squid-swimming, leading to some spectacular highlight reels. Advertisement Splatoon’s gameplay revolves around winning a turf war by inking the most territory with your shots, while also blasting the other team’s squid-kids with a variety of Super Soaker-style weaponry. The Charger is Splatoon’s version of a sniper rifle — long-range and a one-hit splat, its major drawback is having to build up a charge for each shot. In the past, you would lose your charge if you switched into squid mode (the squid-kids of Splatoon can morph like Animorphs, putting away their ink-guns to swim in their team’s ink at high speed). Advertisement In the testfire this weekend, Charger users can retain their charge while in squid form. This has led to some Call of Duty-esque highlight reels popping up of some of the better players zipping around maps, popping out to blast opponents with a stored-up READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Image credit: ESL. The spotlight this weekend belongs to competitive Halo 5 as pros descend on California for sci-fi carnage. Advertisement While OpTic remain the kings of Microsoft’s first-person shooter, their dominance looks as fragile as ever in the face of rising contenders on all sides. Elsewhere in esports, the best Smash players have two long days ahead of them while Hearthstone’s greatest minds work on their tans and Shaman combos under palm trees in the Caribbean-hosted Winter Championship. Below you’ll find where and when you can catch all the weekend’s biggest events in competitive gaming. Let us know what you’ll be watching in the comments or if you think there’s something we might have missed. Halo 5 The Halo 5 World Championship comes to a head this weekend with the best teams in the world facing off for $1,000,000 in prize money. While OpTic Gaming looks to defend its title from last year, other teams, like Liquid and Luminosity will do try to stop that from happening. Advertisement Matches resume today with the semifinals at 1:00PM EDT and will run through 10:00PM EDT tonight READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
The second season of the big APEX pro Overwatch tournament has produced all sorts of surprises, but few none have landed with as much “oomph” as Ryu “Kaiser” Sang Hoon’s Reinhardt. Advertisement Kaiser’s team, an unheralded org called RunAway, completed their improbable march to APEX’s grand finals by hammering down APEX S1 standout LW Blue. With the series evenly contested at two games a piece and an even split on the final map, the castle ruins of Eichenwalde, things were tense. LW Blue were on their back foot, but RunAway still needed to make something big happen. Initially, it seemed like LW Blue’s defense on the last point was too strong, and RunAway would have to pull back, draining precious seconds from the clock. On top of that, LW Blue clearly knew Kaiser’s ult—a giant hammer strike that would knock down anybody in range—was ready to go, so their own Reinhardt stuck to him like glue, ready to defend. Meanwhile, the rest of the team stayed cautiously out of range, biding their time and preparing to weather The Big One whenever it hit. [embedded content] Fast forward to 2:40:50 to see the play. Advertisement As Dot Esports points out, what…
Image credit: Valve Valve’s anti-cheating software, known as VAC, monitors public Counter-Strike matches for evidence of cheating, like aim assist or changing value modifiers. Traditionally, any pros found cheating have been barred from competing in tournaments, but one organizer has decided to let them back in. Advertisement ESL, originally Electronic Sports League, updated its Counter-Strike rulebook today, to allow VAC-banned players to compete in ESL-sanctioned events after serving two year bans. ESL runs several major tournaments in the Counter-Strike circuit, including the Intel Extreme Masters series, ESL One and Pro League tournaments. Players like Joel “emilio” Mako, Hovik “KQLY” Tovamassian, and Gordon “Sf” Giry—who have all VAC-banned in the past for cheats ranging from X-ray wall vision to possibly using aim assists—will now be allowed back into tournaments, as they have been banned for over two years. ESL’s new rules only apply to VAC-banned players; it specifies that players with standing bans from either the game publisher (Valve) or ESIC (Esports Integrity Coalition) will still stand in ESL. Match-fixers, for example, will still be barred from competing in ESL events. Additionally, Valve has confirmed to us that the Valve majors will still enforce VAC bans, so if ESL hosts a…
Overwatch team Meta Athena takes advantage of Bastion’s Sentry mode. In any competitive game or sport, the rules can change, and competitors have to adjust their strategies. But usually, rules change between seasons – not in the middle of one. Advertisement Blizzard’s Overwatch changes a lot, even by video game standards. The patches hit every few weeks or so. Sometimes it’s a little balance tweak, sometimes it’s a much more comprehensive update, like a new character or a new map. Last October, Kotaku pointed out that Overwatch’s frequent patches could negatively affect the burgeoning competitive scene, because a patch can suddenly make the character a pro plays stronger or weaker. In the past, every Overwatch tournament has had to take patches as they came, and participants have had no choice but to deal with them. That’s been the case whether Blizzard is co-hosting the tournament in question or not. Now, for certain Blizzard-hosted tournaments, that rule has changed. Advertisement The Overwatch Carbon Series, which Blizzard co-hosts, is still pushing through patches as soon as they drop. The Carbon Series began on February 22, and READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Overwatch’s quadrupedal African robot Orisa is so new that she’s not even allowed in the game’s official competitive mode yet. Despite that, a team decided to pick her in a pro match yesterday evening, hours after she came out. It did not go well for them. Advertisement The team? Renegades. They were up against Complexity as part of the North-American Carbon Series tournament, and things weren’t going super hot for them on the third map of a set on icy control stage Nepal. All evening, players across multiple teams had been troll-picking Orisa, only to switch off her once matches started. Since nobody had much experience with her, they didn’t want to risk getting trounced. By this point, Twitch chat and even the tournament’s commentators were losing their minds. People wanted somebody, anybody, to go Orisa, and the commentary team was happy to remind viewers and players alike that Carbon Series wasn’t using any kind of special tournament server, so Orisa was absolutely an option. They did not, however, expect anyone to actually listen. [embedded content] Fast forward to 3:31:46 to see the moment unfold. Advertisement READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Illustration by Jim Cooke Esports may be bigger than ever, but it can still be hard to take players seriously when their competitive names are things like Dr. Pee Pee, Balls, JesusStick, FruitDealer, and Rape. Yes, there’s a Counter-Strike player called Rape. Advertisement This piece originally appeared 2/11/15. There’s a disconnect with esports that doesn’t exist with real-life athletics, the kinds of activities we traditionally think of as “sports.” When watching a game of football, basketball, or hockey, the participants are physically represented on the playing field. When the football is caught by a wide receiver, it’s easy to connect the dots. This guy threw it to that guy, who caught it. Advertisement In esports, there’s some distance, as players are represented by avatars. Any number of competitors could be playing as the same avatar, too. Of course, in football and other sports, athletes do have nicknames, but nicknames aren’t screen names, and are nowhere near as ubiquitous. In esports, every player chooses his or her own nickname, and it goes on to function as their everyday handle. While it’s difficult READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Draws are the bane of competitive Overwatch players’ existence. All that work, and instead of the sweet taste of victory or the bitter agony of defeat, you get the sour milk breath of anticlimax. Late last week, Blizzard took the first steps to fix that. Some players, though, think they might have gone too far. Advertisement Blizzard’s currently testing a new tie-breaking system, which they describe as “very aggressive,” on the PTR. Here’s how it works, according to principal designer Scott Mercer: “A team no longer has to completely capture one more objective than their opponent to gain a win. If both teams have the same score and run out of time, we now compare the maximum capture% of each team on the last objective they were both trying to complete. The team with the highest capture% on that objective wins. This is not based on the progression points at every 33%, but is on a completely granular scale of 0-100%. The three ‘pie pieces’ still function as before, so if attackers take 50% of a map but wipe out then the minimum capture% decays down to 33%.” So basically, if both teams make it to the same point, the…