This week we continue our coverage of Worlds, as well as look at the development of an unofficial team’s union and the battle between Riot and G2A. This and much more in this week’s eSports Weekly, now with far less faith!
Worlds: Korea in Control, Faith Falters to the Flash after Two Days of Group Stage Two
Our coverage of Worlds last left off after the first two days of the first phase of group stages. Counter Logic Gaming were off to a hot 2-0 start, Cloud 9 and Fnatic both picked up wins in Group B, and SK Telecom were off to a non-surprising 2-0 start. But much has changed since then, and there have been a lot of surprises. Origen and Cloud 9 both got off to 3-0 starts, surprising many analysts and distraught Worlds Pick ’em participants after the first phase of group stages. C9 defeated ahq, Invictus and Fnatic, and Origen knocked off LGD, Team SoloMid, and KT Rolster. Origen will continue its group stage phase on Saturday, and Cloud 9 plays during the last day of group stage, on Sunday.
Another surprise has been the lackluster performances from some of the Chinese teams. Invictus Gaming only notched one win in phase one, and LGD shockingly went 0-3. Edward Gaming lost only to SK Telecom T1 during phase one, which is nothing to be ashamed of, or surprised about, but looked very sloppy in their wins against H2k and Bangkok Titans.
But all those developments have led us to the all-important phase two, where each day would finish all the remaining matches in a single group, thus determining who advances and who does not. For CLG, the age of faith came to a crashing and catastrophic close, losing to KOO Tigers in their last phase one match, and then losing all three of their matches yesterday during phase two. After a 2-0 start, CLG ended with a 2-4 record, out of contention for playoffs. On the other side, Flash Wolves out of Taiwan won all three of their games yesterday, turning a 1-2 record into a 4-2 record. This tied the Wolves with KOO Tigers, but because FW won both matches against KOO, they received the higher seed. The team that was 1-2 going into phase two in a group many expected CLG to excel in ended up as the top seed, I swear you can’t make this stuff up. Despite the early exit, it was a surprisingly strong showing for wildcards paiN Gaming out of Brazil, who picked up wins against Flash Wolves and CLG.
In Group C’s second phase, with SK Telecom continuing to be dominant, the story was H2k and Edward Gaming, who both went 1-1 in their first two games to set up a critical match-up between the two teams. If EDG were to win, they would secure the second seed. If H2k won, it would set-up a tiebreaker with EDG for that spot. However, EDG came out on top over H2k, and secured the second spot in the group after a self-described sloppy group stage. The first spot of course went to SK Telecom, who went 6-0. Edward advances to the playoffs, but a team once considered one of the favorites must take this week’s break to improve if they want to stand any chance at making a deep run.
With half of the quarterfinals participants determined, the stage is set for phase two of Group B and Group D. In Group D, Origen will seek to hold onto their improbable lead in the group of death, as KT Rolster is right behind them, as well as TSM who could suddenly turn it on in an instant. In Group B, Cloud 9 is solidly ahead of the rest of the 1-2 teams with their 3-0 lead. C9 can secure, at minimum, a tiebreaker with just a single victory during phase two. But as we’ve seen so far in this tournament, anything can happen.
Na’Vi CEO Announces Unofficial Team Union, Issues Standards to Tournament Organizers
In a move that signals great change coming to the realm of eSports, Na’Vi CEO Alexander Kokhanovskyy sent an email to several prominent tournament organizers, announcing an unofficial union of prominent eSports teams. The teams he listed as participants are Na’Vi, Fnatic, Team SoloMid, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Titan, EnVyUs, Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming, and Cloud 9. In the email, Kokhanovskyy details the standards that tournaments must abide by if they want these teams to participate. The first thing he details is that members of the union will decline “all Dota 2 and CS:GO pure online events (without LAN Finals) invitations.” The only exception is CS:GO online events in the U.S., purely due to the lack of LAN events in America, but those events must meet a prize pool minimum. Prize pool minimums are another important factor in the team union’s standards, as they demand that CS:GO prize pools be at least $75K excluding travel support, and Dota 2 prize pools must be $100K. Additionally, the email outlines requirements regarding issues like travel support, event transportation, hotel requirements, and even a stipulation that teams and players should not be competing in more than one best-of-three or best-of-five series per day.
So what does this union mean? Well, a few things in fact. First, tournament organizers will no longer be able to make tournament decisions individually. In the past, organizers could get away with setting whatever standards they wanted, and only requested feedback from teams if they wanted to. I imagine the urgency to establish this union was increased after the disastrous Gaming Paradise event. Additionally, this may pave the way for a player’s union. Because for one, many view a player’s union as an eventuality, and according to Richard Lewis, who broke the news of the union on E-Frag, most of the decisions made regarding the establishment of the union’s standards were made without consulting the players. None of the standards are anything a player would necessarily disagree with, but it’s unsafe to assume that an organization always knows what’s best for its players, and the players should strive toward establishing an organization that properly represents them.
Riot Drops Ban on G2A Sponsorship, G2A Very Unhappy
It’s a fight between the developer of the eSports title with the largest viewerbase and one of the largest games marketplaces on the internet, and neither are looking to back down. Just days before this weekend’s group stage action at Worlds, Riot requested that teams that were competing at Worlds sponsored by G2A should remove the website’s name and image from all of their merchandise. This is because of listings on the G2A website that sell leveled-up League accounts as well as elo-boosting services through a third party. Most recently, Team Impulse’s midlaner XiaoWeiXiao received a competitive ban until February for elo-boosting. According to J. “Sargonas” Eckert, the Developer Relations/3rd Party Ecosystem Manager for Riot, the developer actually issued a ban on G2A back in-mid September. Riot said that removing account selling and elo-boosting services was a requirement when negotiating with G2A, but G2A wouldn’t lament. Or so Riot says..
In a statement published on eSports Observer, G2A said that they had suspended account-selling and elo-boosting per Riot’s demands, but claim that Riot only imposed more and more demands for G2A to follow, including the removal of helpful player tools such as game guides. It comes down to this: Riot claims that G2A wouldn’t remove the listings from their website, but G2A says that they did. So someone is lying. Elo-boosting and account selling are both actively listed on G2A, which I don’t agree with, but it’s impossible to tell if those have been there all along or if they were taken down and then put back up.
- LoL: Team 8’s LCS spot and roster were acquired by Immortals, an eSports organization held up by venture capital and angel investors. Some of these investors include the co-owner of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, the chairman of Machinima, and a collection of other powerful people in the world of business. Their full press release on the acquisition can be read here.
- Dota 2: Team Liquid has returned to the Dota 2 scene, acquiring the 5JungZ roster, consisting of Kuroky, FATA, MinD_ContRoL, JerAx and MATUMBAMAN. This marks Liquid’s return to Dota 2 since their previous roster disbanded in the post-TI shuffle of 2014. I for one am happy for them, given that without the Dota 2 “Liquipedia” my job would be so much harder.