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Mar 13 2015

eSports Weekly (Week of 3/9-3/15)

This week, all eyes are on Katowice for the IEM and ESL One events. Also, Blizzard has announced new changes to Heroes of the Storm to go along with its new tournament for college students. This and more, including the winners of Halo Championship Series Season 1 and the NA Call of Duty Championships, in this week’s eSports Weekly.

Katowice Roundup

esl_one_katowice_2015The place to be this weekend is Katowice, Poland for the IEM Season IX World Championships, the ESL One Katowice tournament, and the ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series. Here’s an update on what’s been happening at one of the biggest weekends in eSports, as of 6pm EST.

Thursday was a full day of group play for the ESL One CS:GO tournament, with a couple of surprising results. The biggest surprise was that I went six-for-eight on the predictions I made for who would advance out of group play, which beat my expected result by six. Group A went as expected, with Fnatic and Na’Vi ripping through their opponents Vox Eminor and Flipsid3, with Na’Vi’s only loss coming from a 16-7 defeat to Fnatic. Group B wasn’t exactly what I expected, as I predicted both EnVyUs and Titan to advance. But after EnVyUs beat their fellow Frenchmen in the opening game 16-14, Titan got crushed 16-4 by PENTA, who were just smacked around by LBG 16-3. With the two losses, Titan was sent home, and PENTA would get its revenge against LGB in the deciding game, joining EnVyUs in the playoffs. Group C also took me by surprise, as I spent the most time deciding who would join NiP: Counter Logic or HellRaisers? Ironically, neither of them advanced, as CLG, who beat HellRaisers in a close 16-14 game, would follow that performance with back-to-back losses, capped off by a crushing loss on dust2 to Brazilian Keyd Stars, who join NiP in the playoffs. To no one’s surprise, Virtus.Pro made short work of their opponents in Group D, and my second place pick TSM made it through as well.

hearthstone worldsDespite their play in group stages, PENTA looked lost against Fnatic. Fnatic took map one against PENTA, but Fnatic and the Inferno map go together like Anders and CS:GO (congrats on the baby, Anders!) Fnatic took the second map against Cache as well, punching their ticket to the semifinals. EnVyUs and Na’Vi exchanged close games in their quarterfinal series, before EnVyUs tore apart Na’Vi on Cobblestone, 16-3, to earn their spot in the semifinals. If you thought PENTA had a tough match-up, try being in Keyd’s shoes, as they went up against reigning Katowice champs, Virtus.Pro. VP took the first game on Mirage easily, 16-4. Keyd rallied the next map on Overpass, up 11-4 at halftime, but a second half push from VP tied it at 15-15, sending the second map to overtime. VP went up 2-1 on OT, but Keyd responded with four straight to push the series to its third map, Nuke. VP dominated the CT side 14-1, and only took two rounds to clinch their semifinals spot, 16-1, in front of a raucous Polish crowd.

In the LoL IEM World Championships, GE Tigers showed why they’re the top team in LCK, defeating Cloud 9 and SK Gaming in group play to earn one of four spots in the main event. Tomorrow morning at 8am EST, SK will face yoe Flash Wolves for the second spot in the main event. East meets west continued in Group B as EU LCS team Gambit faced 2nd place LCK team CJ Entus, and NA LCS leader TSM faced IEM Shenzhen winner WE Gaming. CJ Entus defeated Gambit, capping it off with a huge Kog’Maw quadkill at the 41 minute mark. TSM would win back to back against WE Gaming and CJ Entus to earn a spot in the main event as well.

A major stop on the road to the Hearthstone World Championships will take place at Katowice as the ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series comes to Katowice with eight competitive players competing for a piece of $25,000 and 230 World Championship points. The winner will take home 100 of those points, and will go toward higher seeding in their respective regional qualifiers.

Heroes of the Storm: New Gameplay Changes and Collegiate Tournament

Blizzard released some new changes and additions to their Heroes of the Storm MOBA this week, most notably a new hero, a new map, and a new tweak to the player progression. The Dark Lady, Sylvanas Windrunner, queen of the Scourge, has been added to the collection of characters. In the specialist/assassin role, her abilities include a passive that shuts down enemy minions and towers with her auto-attack, a mobile burst damage attack, a damage over time attack that spreads among minions, and a choice of ultimates: she can either fire a damaging, silencing arrow, or can take control of mercenaries. Along with Sylvanas, Blizzard debuted a new map, the Tomb of the Spider Queen. If you’re unfamiliar with HotS, each map features its own objective that provides a bonus to the team that completes it. For Tomb of the Spider Queen, the team that collects enough gems from spiders across the map will summon the Spider Queen to help their team. Lastly, following feedback from the members of the HotS community, Blizzard made changes to the amount of base gold, and the amount of bonus gold earned at account levels 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40. Also, level 30 players will have access to all of a hero’s talents at hero level 1.

All of these announcements came following a huge announcement for HotS’s collegiate players: the Heroes of the Dorm tournament. The total prize pool sits at over $450,000, a number unheard of for a game that’s just recently entered its beta phase. A team of five players from a university can sign up for the tournament, and will all receive free beta access to Heroes of the Storm. This signup phase is available until March 26th. If your team makes it through online qualifers at the end of March, you’ll make it to the 64-team elimination bracket. The teams that make it there will receive a $40 Battle.net gift card. The top four teams, known as the Heroic Four, will go to the Live Finals Event, that will be televised live on ESPN. Each team that makes it to the Heroic Four will receive a powerful gaming PC for each of its players, and the trip to the event will be all expenses paid. The five players on the winning team will earn tuition for their entire college career, and fourth-year students can earn up to $25K to pay back college expenses. Can’t play? Then you can fill out fantasy brackets starting April 3rd, with the chance to win big prizes.

Radar Blips

  • LoL: A new Challenger has emerged! Veterans Alex Ich and Crumbz are teaming up to form a new Challenger team, according to an interview with team owner Chris Badawi. Alex Ich is known for his time with Moscow 5, NiP, Gambit, and many other teams. Crumbz most recently played as jungler for Dignitas, whom he had played for since 2012. The group hasn’t decided on a name yet, but look out for this team in the NA Challenger Series real soon.
  • Call of Duty: Optic Gaming won the North American Championships for CoD: Advanced Warfare this past weekend, punching their ticket to the World Championships in Los Angeles.
  • Halo: In the debut season of the Halo Championship Series run by ESL, Evil Geniuses won first place, taking home $50,000 and the honor of being the first HCS champions. Season two will open at the Iron Games HCS Atlanta event that takes place April 17-19. Counter Logic Gaming, who lost 3-0 in the season one grand finals against EG, will go forward without Heinz, who was released on Friday.

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