May 15 2015

eSports Weekly (Week of 5/11-5/17 2015) One Year Anniversary

Thank you for joining me for the very special One Year Anniversary Edition of eSports Weekly. There’s some mildly sappy stuff down at the bottom about how this feature came to be, what it’s led to, and what I’m looking forward to in the future, but that can wait, because there’s news to recap! This week we cover some massive LoL roster changes following the Mid-Season Invitational, Bliizzard’s announcement of the World Championships for Heroes of the Storm, and much more in this one-year-old birthday version of eSports Weekly.

LoL: All New Elements Roster and a Big CLG Shake-up Following MSI

17025297553_0568169ea2_zGoing into the Mid-Season Invitational this past weekend, there was a lot of hype surrounding Team SoloMid. Not only was TSM coming into the event as the reigning NA LCS spring split champions, after beating familiar playoffs foe Cloud 9, but they had a strong showing in international play just a few months ago at IEM Katowice, where they took home the IEM World Championship. But it wasn’t the strong showing TSM fans expected, nor the one they wanted, after an initial big loss to Fnatic was the first of four losses across five games in group play, as TSM failed to even make it to the bracket stage. Fnatic was the strongest of the LCS teams, making it to the bracket stage, and even contending with heavily favored SK Telecom T1 across five games. SK T1 were successful against Fnatic, but fell to eventual champions EDward Gaming in the grand finals.

Luckily for TSM though, it’s not their poor performance that’s the center of attention this week, it’s what’s going on inside the house of their rivals: Counter Logic Gaming. Earlier this week, it was announced that Link would be stepping down from his role in the midlane. What’s interesting is the methods CLG are using to fill the void, as they’ve signed not one, but two replacements at midlane, as they seek to create a more interchangeable and diverse lineup. Joining CLG are HuHi, of the now disbanded Team Fusion, and Pobelter, who recently departed from the relegated Winterfox lineup. But the move is drenched in controversy and drama, as Link took to the internet to express, at incredible length, the problems that have plagued CLG. The staggering 18-page document includes his history playing LoL, how the CLG roster came together, and several problems facing the most recent CLG teams. Much of the blame is directed towards AD carry Doublelift and former coach/current caster MonteCristo. Towards the end, Link goes through the strengths and weaknesses of all the players on CLG. Doublelift responded to Link’s post with one of his own, where he admitted fault regarding some of Link’s concerns, but disputed many of them as well. Many other players and notable analysts have chipped in with their opinions on the CLG drama, but rather than give you my opinion, I’ll leave you to read up on the posts as much as you want and form your own. All I can say is that I hope Pobelter does well with his new team, as he’s one of my favorite players to watch play and stream.

But while a single change in CLG has generated all these posts and stories and reports, it’s a massive multi-person change that’s in the headlines over in the EU LCS. In their first split under their new name, Elements followed their championship 2014 summer split with a disappointing spring split, finishing at seventh place. With the seventh place finish, they did not qualify for playoffs, but at least secured a spot in next month’s summer split. When that comes around though they’ll be competing with almost an entirely new lineup, as only Froggen remains as a returning starter from last split. dexter and Tabzz have moved from subs to starting, in the jungler and AD carry roles respectively. Filling the final two spots are Jwaow, who played most recently with MeetYourMakers, and promisQ, a promising support player from the Challenger leagues. Rekkles spent a very short time on the shelf, returning to the Fnatic team he spent years with at the AD carry position, moving Steeelback to the sub position.

Blizzard Announces Heroes of the Storm World Championships, Over $1 Million Prize Pool

heroes of the dormFor a game that hasn’t even been officially released yet, Blizzard’s MOBA experiment Heroes of the Storm is doing pretty well for itself in the competitive scene recently. Keep in mind this is a game that Blizzard themselves weren’t too confident about (per an insider report several months ago) but Heroes has made a lot of noise thanks to the amount of coverage received for their collegiate tournament, Heroes of the Dorm. eSports fans were pleased to see the game make it onto ESPN’s television coverage, long-time ESPN sports fans were confused, and one ESPN radio host threw together a poorly-researched and overly-dramatic rant about video games being on television. But as ESPN continues to cover the transition from college to pro in the upcoming drafts for the NFL, the NBA, and so on, so too does Heroes of the Storm transition from college to the big leagues with Blizzard’s announcement of the first World Championships for HotS. The World Championships will occur at BlizzCon, to no one’s surprise, on November 6-7. The main event in November will feature eight teams: two North American teams, two European, two Chinese, one Taiwanese, and one Korean. The entire proceedings, which includes the main event at BlizzCon and all of the regional championships, will feature a $1.2 million prize pool, with half a million of that on the line at BlizzCon alone. Each region features a different set of tournaments and qualifiers to determine its participants in its specific championship tournament. Hey, if that guy said he’d retire if he had to cover one of these events, I suggest crowdfunding a donation to a charity of ESPN’s choice if they make him.

The Nintendo World Championships Return After 25 Years

After two and a half decades the fabled Nintendo World Championships are making their grand return at this year’s E3 expo in June. Nintendo released an E3 announcement video earlier this week that featured Nintendo of America COO Reggie having an 80s style flashback of the 1990 World Championships during a business meeting, and taking a “leave of absence” to train for the upcoming event. The previous World Championships featured Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris, with players competing in all the titles, with a champion determined by who had the highest overall score at the end of the competition. There’s no word yet on what the format of the competition will be, or what games will be featured, but if you’re interested in competing, the qualifiers kick off on May 30th. Competitive favorites Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. are almost certainly going to be involved in the event. We may also see competition in Nintendo’s newest Wii U paint-themed shooter Splatoon. Regardless of what games are involved, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the return of the Nintendo World Championships, and it will be interesting to see which faces make an appearance as competitors.

Radar Blips

  • Dota 2: With the famed International just months away, Team Secret got its first big international tournament win this past weekend, winning the grand finals of the Dota 2 Red Bull Battlegrounds against Invictus. This was the first major tournament win for the collection of international talent, who were looking to rebound after a disappointing early exit from the Star Ladder Season 12 finals a few weeks ago.
  • CS:GO: Earlier this week, e-Frag and Hitbox announced that their upcoming CS:GO World Championships will feature 76 different countries from across the world competing for the grand prize. Yesterday, the captains for each country were revealed on HLTV.org. Some familiar faces includes pronax leading Team Sweden, allu captaining Finland, NEO leading Poland, and GuardiaN representing Slovakia, just to name a few. The first stage of the World Championships begin on Monday the 18th.

Streams to Watch

  • The ESL Hearthstone Legendary Series Redemption Tournament. Four redemption groups will each produce a winner to join the four players who have already qualified for the LAN finals of this season of the Legendary Series. Some of the biggest names in the scene are competing for these last spots in the main event, and you can watch all the action this weekend on the ESL Hearthstone Twitch Channel.
  • The Gfinity Spring Masters 2 tournament for CS:GO is this weekend, featuring some of the world’s top teams. Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic, Virtus.Pro, EnVyUs, Titan, Na’Vi, and more will all be competing for a portion of the $50,000 prize pool in London. Watch all the action on Gfinity TV.

Big Thanks

One year ago I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for feature ideas. It’s worth noting that I had been scraping for a while at that point. I needed to do something new. I was always intrigued by eSports, but I’ll admit I didn’t know too much about them. I started following some of the bigger ones I already knew about, mainly Dota 2 and LoL. The International and the 2014 Summer Split were coming up for each of them, so I learned as much about them as I could while I continued to write about what I knew.

One year later, and eSports Weekly is still going strong. While none of its entries have hit the huge view count milestones that a couple of my earlier features did, it’s the work of writing I’ve done of which I’ve been the most proud. Monitoring as much of the eSports scene as possible while being a full-time student and working a part-time job wasn’t as easy as I thought it was, but it’s far more enjoyable than I imagined.

I’d like to thank my Editor-in-Chief Matthew, and our Social Media Manager D’arcy for supporting the column. I’d like to thank the moderators and members of the eSports subreddit for providing a platform to host eSports Weekly. I’d like to thank the Ninjas in Pyjamas and PGL organizations for giving me opportunities to expand my eSports writing abilities. And most importantly, I’d like to thank you, the consistent readers. Thank you.

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