It’s the final week of the LCS summer split regular season! We recap the action in the European LCS, and preview the last weekend of North American LCS play. This plus more, including ESL’s new drug testing policy and Hearthstone’s new expansion, in this week’s eSports Weekly!
ESL To Begin Drug Testing for Major Events
A short interview a couple of weeks ago at the ESWC Finals has paved the way for one of the most progressive changes in the history of eSports. Current Nihilum and former Cloud 9 CS:GO player semphis revealed in an interview two weeks ago that while he was a member of the Cloud 9 roster at ESL One Katowice in March, he and the rest of the Cloud 9 roster were all on Adderall. In the interview, semphis says “The ESL [Katowice] comms were kinda funny in my opinion. I don’t even care. We were all on Adderall. I don’t even give a fuck. It was pretty obvious, like, if you listen to the comms. People can hate it or whatever.” semphis spoke to the New York Times after the interview, and admitted that while the use of Adderall may help CS:GO players hit their shots, it severely reduces the player’s ability to absorb directions from teammates. Cloud 9 owner Jack Etienne spoke out, saying “We don’t agree with Kory’s [semphis] statements about Cloud 9, and don’t condone the use of Adderall unless it was prescribed for medical reasons. The team is willing to submit themselves to drug tests prior to events if event organizers offer them.”
Well now, Cloud 9, as well as the other teams competing at ESL majors, will have to submit to PED (performance enhancing drug) testing. ESL announced on Thursday this week that it will now institute PED testing as part of its new drug policy, making ESL the first eSports organization to do so. ESL will be working with NADA (the Nationale Anti Doping Agentur) and WADA (the World Anti Doping Agency) to institute these policies. ESL, in the statement on their website, said that “updates on changes to tournament rules including the list of banned substances, methods of testing and potential disciplinary actions for players caught using PEDs and/or admitting to having used them will be provided to players via their respective team managers and/or owners.”
Personally, I’m glad that the policy is in place, but I’m curious as to what happens now to semphis and the members of Cloud 9, as ESL’s statement mentioned disciplinary actions to players who’ve admitted to using PEDs, but Cloud 9 were allegedly on Adderall prior to the policies being in place.
LCS: Series of Suspensions Leading in to Last Week of Regular Season
With just one week left in the LCS summer split, there are two different battles going on. In the NA LCS, we know the six teams who will go to playoffs: Gravity, Counter Logic, Team SoloMid, Team Impulse, Team Liquid, and Team Dignitas. These six teams are so close that these last two games have serious seeding implications. But in the European LCS, it’s a close fight between teams just trying to get into the playoffs.
One of those teams on the cusp is Gambit, who started the season very slowly, but despite turning it around in the second half of the split, went into this final week a man down, jeopardizing their playoff chances. FORG1VEN received a four game suspension for a high volume of recent toxicity on his account, prompting Gambit to sub in Moopz at the AD carry position. Despite outpacing Elements in kills and barons, Gambit still fell to Elements in a 63 minute match thanks to well-timed patient plays by Elements near the end. With that victory over Gambit, and with ROCCAT and Giants both losing day one, this set the stage for a critical day two, as all four of those teams were tied for fifth with 7-10 records. Giants got things going, defeating Copenhagen Wolves to move to 8-10. Gambit fell to H2k, who secured their third spot, with Gambit falling to a worrisome 7-11. Elements would be stomped by SK Gaming in their day two game, dropping them to 7-11 as well. With that loss, the table was set for ROCCAT, who just had to beat Origen to secure a spot in the playoffs. Thanks to a nice draft and some early pressure, ROCCAT stayed in control for most of the game, securing a win over Origen and a spot in the playoffs. With that finish, ROCCAT and Giants will face each other for the fifth seed, Elements will again finish seventh, meaning no playoffs but a secured spot in the next split, Gambit and SK Gaming will play in the promotional tournament, and Copenhagen Wolves will be relegated to the Challenger series. Finally, to end the regular season, we got our second repeat of the previous grand finals, Fnatic vs Unicorns of Love. Fnatic made it look easy, winning in less than 25 minutes, and becoming the first team in LCS history to notch a perfect regular season record: 18-0.
In the North American LCS, it’s real close and cozy up at the top of the standings. Gravity leads the pack with 12-4 record, with three teams at 11-5 behind them: CLG, Impulse, and Liquid. Behind them is TSM at 10-6, and Dignitas at 9-7. Team 8 sits at 6-10, meaning there’s no chance that they steal the sixth playoff spot, but are likely to earn a spot in the 2016 spring split. The teams to watch for this weekend will be the three teams tied for second, as whoever finishes second at the end will earn that first round bye, and an automatic place in the semifinals. Impulse goes into the last weekend undermanned, as XiaoWeiXiao received a suspension for ELO boosting. Impulse faces the more daunting weekend as well, having to match up against Gravity and Liquid in their last two games.
Hearthstone: New Cards and Mechanics Come With “Grand Tournament” Expansion
Earlier this week, Blizzard unveiled their new expansion to Hearthstone that’s set to come out in August, the Grand Tournament. The Grand Tournament will feature 132 new cards, per the official announcement on BattleNet, as well as updates to the arena rewards system, and the gameboard. But the biggest change is the overhaul of hero powers, the unique abilities to each hero class that cost two mana and can be played any turn.
Blizzard has revealed that several new cards will have drastic effects on a player’s hero ability. One is Coldarra Drake, a 6/6 Dragon that costs six mana, and allows the player to use a hero power multiple times during a single turn. There’s Frost Giant, an 8/8 that costs ten mana, but costs one less mana each time your hero power has been used. Justicar Trueheart is a 6/3 that costs six mana, and when he’s played, you can swap your hero power with a more powerful version.
Additionally, a new mechanic called “Inspire” has been added to several minion cards. Inspired abilities and buffs are triggered when a hero ability is used. For example, the Lowly Squire (1/2, costs one mana) gains +1 attack when inspired. Nexus-Champion Saraad (4/5, costs five mana) adds a random spell to its player’s hand when inspired.
A new mechanic is always exciting in any game, especially one with such a dedicated fanbase as Hearthstone, and it will be interesting to see how the enhanced hero abilities have an effect on competitive play.
- CS:GO: The highly expected French shuffle has happened. Following poor performances from both EnVyUs and Titan, the two teams made a two-for-two trade, with EnVyUs sending shox and SmithZz to Titan in exchange for kennyS and apEX.
- Evo: The grand prix of fighting tournaments, the Evo World Championships, produced a plethora of great moments and worthy champions this past weekend. The 17-year-old Sonic Fox claimed the Mortal Kombat X championship, his second championship in two weeks. The Melee tournament featured upsets and big moments left and right, but eventually, Armada of Sweden and Team Alliance came out on top over Liquid’s Hungrybox.