Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)

I remember simpler times when Dota and CS:GO items existed to give our wizards fancy hats and our AWPs hideous paintjobs. Now they’re used as chips in unofficial gambling. They’ve sparked lawsuits accusing Valve of enabling illegal underage gambling and seen scandals over YouTubers being secretly paid to promote skin gambling sites – or even secretly owning the sites they promoted. Oh dear. What’s new in the world of skin gambling this week? Well, Valve started sending “cease and desist” letters and more players and YouTubers became implicated in shenanigans.

If this sounds dry, don’t worry: someone named Karl Quackenbush is involved.

… [visit site to read more]

TF2 Blog

Thanks for all of your feedback over the last couple weeks. In our previous post, we talked about a number of issues with the Meet Your Match update and what we were doing to address them. Here's a quick recap on what has happened since then:


  • We have been working hard to improve the matchmaking system, greatly reducing queue times and eliminating most causes of errors when attempting to play. On average, queue times are now below ninety seconds for most players. There are still some issues with lower population regions and game modes that we are looking into.
  • We have identified and corrected several issues where players weren't being sent to fill empty slots for in-progress matches. There should be far fewer matches where this happens, and we will continue making improvements here.

Casual Mode:

  • Players are now able to specify the maps they would like play on when using matchmaking. However, it is sometimes the case that players joining in-progress matches (aka "late join") end up on maps they did not select. This will be fixed in an upcoming update.
  • Abandon penalties have been removed, which means players can come and go as they please.
  • Vote-kicking has been added. Players that are kicked retain the experience they've earned to that point, in order to reduce the likelihood of players using the system to grief others.

Next, we would like to give you a quick overview of the things we are working on, and go over some of the issues you raise as needing more attention and work.

Abandons in Competitive Mode:

  • We are going to make abandoning penalties much harsher. The current system increases matchmaking ban times based on the number of abandons over a period of time. We are making a change to more quickly move serial abandoners into really long ban times. We will also subtract the maximum number of rank points possible, per abandon. The amount lost will be far higher than what could normally be lost in a completed match.
  • In addition, we are investigating several options to offset the impact abandoners have on games that are in-progress. More on that when we have details to share.

Griefing in matchmaking:

  • We are working on systems that will give players with high numbers of in-game reports automated cooldowns from matchmaking, to discourage disruptive behavior.
  • As a side note, you can report players while in-game by clicking the "Report Player" button - located in the "Play" section on the main menu.

High ping and queue times:

  • There are still cases where players can wait longer than we'd like. This is more common in lower population regions and game modes in Casual Mode matchmaking, and the result is that players sometimes end up on a server where their ping is higher than normal.
  • One solution we are investigating is allowing matches to start with fewer than 24 players -- in cases where there are not enough available players to form a complete match, or when the players being considered are too far away. The system will instead prefer to start a smaller match more quickly, with a more appropriate ping, filling the remaining slots as more players become available.

Experience and incomplete matches in casual:

  • Right now, leaving a casual match results in no experience being earned. We are looking at changing this to avoid penalizing players for having to leave after investing significant amounts of time into a match, while still providing rewards for playing matches to completion.

We are monitoring the game around the clock, and we continue to read all your feedback and suggestions. Thanks again for taking the time to help improve TF.

PC Gamer

Photo credit: TaKeTV Media.

This might not be the busiest weekend in the esports calendar, but there's still enough to keep you occupied until Monday rolls around including CS:GO finals in China, the ongoing spectacle of the North American League of Legends scene, and StarLadder's Dota debut in Los Angeles. If you're into Hearthstone or enjoyed the HomeStory StarCraft series, you'll definitely want to be tuning in to SeatStory Cup V.

League of Legends: NA Championship Series

LoL's regular season play steps it up to cover for what is otherwise a quiet weekend. You can catch top-tier play in North America starting at 21:00 CEST/12:00 PDT on both Saturday and Sunday, with four best-of-threes being played on each day. You can find more information on the matchups, schedule and livestream on

Dota 2: StarLadder i-League StarSeries

The first StarSeries LAN in the USA takes place in Los Angeles this weekend with $300,000 on the line. This is a good chance to see a slate of top Dota 2 teams play ahead of the International in a couple of weeks. Play is ongoing today, and continues on Saturday starting at 09:30 PDT/18:30 CEST. The action starts on Sunday at 14:00 PDT/23:00 CEST with the grand final beginning at 17:00 PDT (or 02:00 CEST the following day in Europe). Find the livestream here.

Hearthstone: SeatStory Cup V

There are a number of top players taking part in SeatStory Cup V this weekend. It's the Hearthstone version of the legendary HomeStory series: a serious competition in relaxed surroundings, giving you a chance to see pro players in a different light. Play begins every day at 14:00 CEST/05:00PDT and you can find the livestream here.

CSGO: Pro Gamer League 2016 Summer

This weekend is a little short on CS:GO, but you can still catch the finals of PGL 2016 in Wuhan on Sunday. The roster is primarily composed of Chinese teams with a handful of almost-top-tier western squads. The finals begin at 05:20 CEST on Sunday, which is 20:20 on Saturday night in the USA. Sadly there's no English stream for this event, but you can find the Chinese one on each match's page. Here's the final.

PC Gamer

It s impossible to perfectly balance any game, but the money system in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has succeeded in making an astonishing number of weapons viable more so than in any previous version of the game. Most of the guns in CS:GO are useful in the right circumstances, but even so there are a few that aren t worth your precious dollars. In this article I ll go over the weapons I think are either bad or over-priced. Remember that these are my opinions: everybody s preferences are different.

The R8 Revolver

Those of us who played CS:GO when they first released this gun remember a game that was almost unplayable. It was so powerful that there was no point buying other weapons. Valve quickly realized their mistake and fixed the issue in a patch a few days later. The R8 s primary fire has a slight delay before it shoots, making it a lot slower than the Desert Eagle. Its secondary fire fans the hammer much like McCree from Overwatch except it s rarely useful in CS:GO. Here s what it looks like in-game:

As you can see it s highly inaccurate. I suppose if you give it some time, eat your vegetables and practice like there s no tomorrow, you can probably hit a parked bus from two feet away. With a bit of luck. But then you consider that the R8 costs $850, which is $150 more than the Desert Eagle. Even if they both cost the same, I can t find a good reason why anyone would prefer the R8.

Dual Berettas 

These guys may look cool, but twice as many pistols doesn t mean twice as good. They have high rate of fire and lots of ammunition, but they aren t accurate at all. If you want to invest $500 in a pistol, that money is better spent on a Tec-9, CZ75-Auto or a Five-Seven. Some of you might argue that Christopher GeT_RiGhT Alesund from NiP has used the Dual Berettas a lot in the past, but I would suggest that he would ve been better off with a different pistol.


The PP-Bizon s magazine holds 64 bullets, which is a lot more than any other SMG in the game. But it stops there. The PP-Bizon has inferior damage, accuracy and armor penetration, which are the three most important qualities you look for in a weapon. It s simply not worth investing in. All the other SMGs can do what the PP-Bizon can do but better, except shoot 64 rounds without reloading but by that time the player using the PP-Bizon is usually dead.


The AUG is an assault rifle used by the CTs. It has incredibly good armor penetration and its damage isn t bad. It s also pretty accurate if you know how to use it. Why wouldn t I recommend that anyone use it, then? Because it costs $3300. That s $200 more than an M4A4 or M4A1-s. You get a scope that gives you a smaller field of view when you can shoot just as accurately if not more with any of the M4s without the scope. The AUG isn t a bad weapon per se, but it doesn t make sense to buy one instead of an M4.

SG 553

The SG 553 or Krieg 553 is the terrorist counterpart of the AUG. It s basically the same weapon (give or take a few points here and there) but it costs a massive $3500 when you can get an AK-47 for $2700. In my opinion the AK-47 is the best assault rifle in the game. Compared to the AK-47, the SG 553 is an awful weapon that no one should buy. Ever.

Here s what the spread looks like when you burst:

Essentially, the SG 553 is a very expensive AK-47 that s a lot harder to control.

The M249 and the Negev

These are the classic troll weapons in Counter-Strike. Getting killed by any of these weapons means you just got owned. It s almost as bad as getting knifed, and no one wants to get knifed in CS:GO.

Both the M249 and the Negev have a lot of spread and high recoil. They do put out a lot of damage per second: if you spray. The problem with spraying with these weapons is that they re almost impossible to control. Admittedly the first bullet is pretty accurate, but that alone doesn t warrant a price tag over $5000.

What really makes them bad weapons is the fact that they slow down your movement more than any other weapons in the game more than the AWP, even. We all know that being mobile is the key to staying alive in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and you re not while you re using heavy machine guns.

Did I mention these weapons are used when you want to humiliate your opponents? Pro play is no different. Just have a look at this round by Nathan NBK Schmitt:

This time NBK accidentally bought the Negev but decided to keep it. All I can do is guess, but I think the guys from former Copenhagen Wolves wish that round never happened. As you can see it s still possible to make big plays with weapons you re not supposed to use. CS:GO is a skill-based game and if you re good enough you can make anything work. I do however strongly recommend that you stick to weapons that make more financial sense to buy. You ll simply win more games that way.

Find all of our other Counter-Strike: Global Offensive guides here:

Inferno Counter-Terrorist guideInferno Terrorist guideCache Counter-Terrorist guideCache Terrorist guideOverpass Counter-Terrorist guideOverpass Terrorist guideCobblestone Counter-Terrorist guideCobblestone Terrorist guideTrain Counter-Terrorist guideTrain Terrorist guideMirage Counter-Terrorist guideMirage Terrorist guideDust2 Counter-Terrorist guideDust2 Terrorist guideSupport role guideEntry fragger role guideLurker role guideAWPer role guideTeam leader guideSMGs guideSniper rifles guideAssault rifles guidePistols guide

PC Gamer

The CS:GO skin gambling saga continues. After declaring it would start taking action against a list of alleged guilty parties last week, Valve has now cemented its intentions by issuing cease and desist orders to over 20 different gambling sites (including one Dota2 site) for using their Steam accounts for commercial purposes. In turn, this breaches the terms and conditions of the alleged offenders' Steam Subscriber Agreements.

This has been a tricky story to follow, so allow me to recap: although skin gambling in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has existed for about three years, the topic was thrust into the spotlight just over two weeks ago when it emerged betting site CSGO Lotto was in fact owned by two YouTube personalities who d previously promoted the site without obviously declaring their involvement.

If you re unfamiliar with how CS:GO betting works, I d suggest checking out Evan s detailed overview. As players play the game, they earn cases which, when opened, grants them randomised skins for their weapons. In order to open said cases, you ll need to cough up actual money, and once acquired you can trade with other players. Ultimately the websites in question allow users to bet their skins against match outcomes, or use them to gamble in a variety of casino-style, browser-based games.

The short version is that Valve wants to stop this from happening, however to confuse matters further there s also a concurrent case running against Valve where one Michael John McLeod believes the blame lies not with the many CS:GO betting sites, but with Valve for enabling and supporting their existence. Whether this comes to anything is a matter of debate. Regardless, Valve has since denied any connection to gambling sites and last week announced plans to shut them down. (Evan also explored the impact this had on CS:GO skin prices.)

Anyway, the list of guilty websites noted above in its entirety was tweeted out by esports person Wykrhm Reddy last night, and appeared to be corroborated hours later by one of the sites listed CSGOBig who attached Valve s formal complaint. The letter is signed by Valve s general councel Karl Quackenbush and reads as follows:

We are aware that you are operating one of the gambling sites listed below. You are using Steam accounts to conduct this business. Your use of Steam is subject to the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement ("SSA"). Under the SSA Steam and Steam services are licensed for personal, non-commercial use only.

Your commercial use of Steam accounts is unlicensed and in violation of the SSA. You should immediately cease and desist further use of your Steam accounts for any commercial purpose. If you fail to do this within ten (10) days Valve will pursue all available remedies including without limitation terminating your accounts.

In response, CSGOBig suggests it is only shutting down temporarily and that it ll definitely be back soon." The wording of Valve s pretty explicit order, though, might suggest otherwise.

We ve contacted Valve for further comment and will update as and when we hear back.

PC Gamer

Allegations were raised earlier this week that James "PhantomL0rd" Varga, a Twitch streamer who according to PCGamesN has or had nearly 1.4 million followers, is also the owner of CSGO skin gambling site CSGOShuffle, which he heavily promoted on his channel without any sort of disclosure. The claims came to light after a hacker who was actually trying to rip the site off discovered Skype logs of conversations between Varga and CSGOShuffle coder Duhau Joris, which he provided to YouTuber Richard Lewis.

There's no photo of Varga standing over a body with a smoking gun in his hand, but Lewis says the exchanges between him and Joris heavily suggest, almost to a degree of certainty, that PhantomL0rd is the owner of CSGOShuffle, and on top of that, he has gambled exclusively with 'house money' taken from the business. The logs he presents in his video would appear to bear that out: Varga makes some rather large payments to Joris, seeks help winning bets, and appears clearly to be the man in charge.

The whole thing has powerful echoes of the recent CSGO Lotto fiasco, in that it appears all but certain that Varga was using his channel to promote a gambling site that he has a financial interest in. This is not allowed by either the FTC or Valve, and Twitch recently clarified its own position on the matter, which is basically that if a streamer breaks a third-party's terms of service, he also breaks Twitch's, and will be punished accordingly.

And that's what appears to have happened to Phantoml0rd, whose Twitch channel has been closed due to terms of service violations. Specific reasons for the shutdown aren't provided, and Varga himself seems to have gone to ground: He hasn't tweeted or posted a video to his YouTube channel since July 16, when he proclaimed ironically, as it turns out that his channel was about to undergo a big change. The CSGOShuffle website is also currently down.

I've reached out to Varga for comment, and will update if and when I receive a reply.

PC Gamer

Counter-Strike tournaments are rife with moments of incredible skill as players push themselves to their limits in jaw-dropping performances. These stupefying moments, combining just the right amount of skill, luck and bravado leave people talking for months. In a unique approach to the competitive scene, Valve has taken recognition one step further, immortalising events in-game through graffiti and signs. As CS continues to develop, these memorials embed the competitive history of the game within each map, offering long-term fans a nod of recognition while advertising key moments for new players to look back to.

The most recent commemorative addition to the game came from the recent ESL One Cologne Major, where Team Liquid s Oleksandr s1mple Kostyliev hit two unscoped AWP shots in a row to beat Swedish powerhouses, Fnatic. Entering the B-bombsite on Cache through heaven, s1mple eliminates one player while falling before flicking to a second kill at absurd range. Here's the video.

The moment highlights a spectacular tournament for both Liquid and s1mple, carving their path to a first North American major final. Map creator FMPONE was quick to post a design to twitter. The mockup, which shows an angelic counter terrorist descending while the scope falls from his weapon, has since been added to the game.

There have been many phenomenal individual plays in competitive CS, but SK s Marcelo coldzera David holds what could prove to be CS:GO s true standout moment. At a 15-9 scoreline, Team Liquid needed just one round to secure victory over the Brazilians (then Luminosity Gaming) at the 2016 MLG Colombus Major. With absolutely no margin for error, coldzera led a crucial AWP defence of Mirage s B-bombsite. Here's the video.

Quickly dispatching one player, cold follows up with an unbelievable, unscoped, jumping double-kill. Seemingly unfazed, he then finishes one more player with a sharp, reactive noscope. Such a performance was crushing to Liquid who proceeded to lose the match in a double-overtime. Luminosity, however, went on to win the Major. Tucked away by the van on Mirage s B-site you can now find a winged AWP, adorned by four red skulls taking the place of the gun s scope. The design proved so popular that cold commissioned a tattoo artist to replicate it on his arm.

Swedes Fnatic are no strangers to employing avant-garde tactics in the competitive scene, with player JW well known for his sawed-off shotgun dominance on Cobblestone. At Cologne 2015, Fnatic utilised an aggressive AWP play to push an overtime victory against French side EnVyUs. At $4750 dollars coupled with a lack of flexibility, it s rare to see teams run more than one AWP per round, with more than two all but unheard of. Here's the video.

However, having built an enormous bank of cash for the final round of the half Fnatic chose to empty their reserves. In what must have been the professional equivalent of a jump-scare for EnVyUs apEX, he stepped out to contest the centre of Dust2 only to find himself facing not one, but four AWPs. Gaining an early advantage, many of Fnatic even swapped back to AKs to overwhelm the French side. Resting high over the T s mid sightline, a grinning terrorist now watches over, wielding a ludicrous four sniper rifles.

CS:GO s molotovs are no joke, capable of delaying pushes, dealing serious damage and, crucially, denying bomb plants. With little time left on the clock, even an outnumbered player can make use of a well thrown molotov to win the round. Here's the video.

Would that threat stop Fnatic s Olof olofmeister Kajbjer Gustafsson? Not a chance. At 14 rounds a piece in the 2014 Cologne Major, the bold Swede wasn t about to let a little heat stop their run, completing a full five second defuse while burning, dying just a fraction of a second after the bomb was defused, much to the delight of his team and fans. In one of the first real nods to the competitive scene, Valve added graffiti of a Hazmat-adorned angel, defusing while wreathed in flames.

During 2014-15, Fnatic established themselves as the dominant force in CS, winning titles left, right and centre. Despite this, Fnatic haven t always proven popular. During the Dreamhack Winter semifinals of 2015, Fnatic revealed an outrageous boost against LDLC, stacking players on top of each other to gain an unprecedented sightline across the map. Having lost the first half 12-3, Olof s sniping dominated the bewildered French side into submission. Here's the video.

The boost proved so controversial that the match was put in for review to see if it violated any rules for the tournament. Sure to go down in CS history, the play resulted in countless analysis videos and the entertainingly terrible musical tributes. Extra controversy was raised after it was revealed Fnatic s coach had actively stifled knowledge of the spot through take down of YouTube videos. After heated discussion with tournament admins, Fnatic eventually forfeited their place, allowing LDLC to progress to the final. Valve acknowledged the exploit with the addition of a warning sign, reading gel nder bersteigen verboten! or surpassing the rails is forbidden! Combining memories of both bravery and infamy, it s little surprise Overpass is sometimes referred to as Olofpass.

CS:GO s map secrets have been known to acknowledge more than just competitive events. Tucked in the corner of Dust2 s A-bombsite is a rather unassuming goose spray which serves to honour Minh 'gooseman' Le, a co-developer of the original CS mod. The spray existed as far back as CS 1.6.

In recognition of one of CS:GO s more entertaining bugs, Train has a small sign asking players not to step on the birds, after the introduction of pigeons to the map allowed players to ride them out of the map boundaries.

In a game renowned for it s high skill ceiling and serious competition, It s nice enjoy a bit of levity through the surprising number of playful easter eggs. A personal favorite is the chicken followers, whereby If you press E on a chicken, it will follow you through the map until killed, even spawning with you in the following round.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alec Meer)

Phew, finally we get some new names in the Steam top 10 (previous weeks here’n’that), after the chokehold of the Steam Summer Sale is loosened. I did not expect that number 1, but I really> did not expect that number 10.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Matchmaking is a completely new experience for TF2. It combines the unfettered and wacky world of public play with some intense competition and small team sizes. From casual pubbers to competitive superstars, everybody will need to be aware of the differences and adapt to reach the top. Climbing the ranks from Fresh Meat to Death Merchant isn t easy, so here are some do s and don ts for both new players and experienced pros trying to excel in matchmaking.

Comp responsibly

The key to any good team is finding a composition that works. You need a balance of healing, damage, and mobility to win in matchmaking as in all 6v6. While the classic team composition in competitive TF2 has been one Medic, one Demoman, two Soldiers, and two Scouts, this has been turned on its head in matchmaking. Without any class limits or weapon bans, teams are free to run multiple Medics, while classes like Heavy can run amok with items like the Gloves of Running Urgently. The prevalent strategy at the moment in matchmaking is to run two Medics, two heavier classes such as Soldier, Demoman, or Heavy, and two Scouts. This gives your team a great balance, but teams can still succeed with a huge variety of compositions.

The most important thing to remember is that you need a Medic if nobody else is stepping up, take initiative.

Study the maps

If you re a diehard casual player dipping your toes into competitive TF2 for the first time, you ll need to learn the maps. Matchmaking omits maps suited for large teams (like Goldrush, 2fort, or Badwater) even though they are excellent in public play. Instead you ll find yourself on capture point maps such as the newly official Sunshine and Metalworks, along with Gullywash, Snakewater, Foundry, Granary, and more. Attack/Defend and Payload maps such as Gorge and Swiftwater are also featured, so it s important to have a good grasp on the maps before playing competitively.

Learning the names for areas as well as discovering all of the flanking routes is a necessity you should also use your new knowledge to flank your opponents and attack from alternate routes to gain an advantage in games.

Practice new skills

For any newer players, this is the perfect time to learn some advanced techniques. TF2 is a game with a lofty skill ceiling and many techniques that the best players use aren t obvious when playing casually. Matchmaking has also drawn in a broad spectrum of players with varied experience; if you want to get to the top then you ll need to know how to rocket jump, airstrafe, dodge, and aim like a pro. This will help you move around faster than your opponents, avoiding their shots and continuing to deal damage. While the game itself doesn t have tutorials for these skills yet, there are a wealth of guides online over eight years of them! With practice these techniques can become simple and the advantage they give you is staggering, especially in matchmaking where mobility is so important.

Don’t lose track of ubers

Due to its small team sizes, matchmaking revolves around the use of Ubercharges. Don t lose track of them, as your positioning and decisions to attack or defend should be based on which team has uber. Medics are the most important class in the game for both their healing and their Ubercharge, which give a huge advantage to the team. They can allow you to push through choke points, attack sentry nests, pull off a clutch defense, or destroy the whole enemy team. Be aware though that the same can happen to you, so it s important to roughly keep track of the enemy Medic s percentage as well as your own. Every 40 seconds, a Medigun uber can be built keep that time in your head and have a healthy respect for the German doctor and his patients.

Tweak your loadouts

All of the weapons that we in the TF2 competitive scene decided to ban are legal in TF2 s new matchmaking mode. If you believe a weapon is unbalanced and needs a nerf, there s no better way to demonstrate that than to use and abuse it. Using incredible individual weapons such as the Crit-a-Cola can be devastating, but also keep the synergistic weapons in mind such as the Disciplinary Action. Some classes practically require unlocks to be effective: the Reserve Shooter and the GRU spring to mind. Utilizing the right combination of these powerful unlocks can increase your team s abilities even without altering the composition.

Switch it up

Don t stick to a single class in matchmaking. While you may have a main that you love and adore, matchmaking is the perfect opportunity to test out your skills on a variety of classes. Only a few classes are useful all the time in matchmaking, and one of the core concepts in the game is switching up your classes to keep a good team composition for the situation. This doesn t mean you should play a different class every life, but like Overwatch, be prepared to switch it up to fit your team. The team needs mobility and damage at a midfight, a tanky defense when on last, and a lot of balance in between. Picking a class that fits those roles is a great way to start thinking about how you can best help your team to win.

Josh Sideshow Wilkinson has more than 7,800 hours played in TF2. In the last six years, he's climbed to the top of the competitive scene, placing 2nd in Europe last season with his team Perilous Gaming. Sideshow is also a writer, caster for, analyst, and tournament organizer.

Product Update - Valve
Battle Cup:
* Fix Battle Cup team setup UI bug causing confusion about number of tickets required
* Spectator delay on Battle Cup games increased to 5 minutes
* China Battle Cup has been rescheduled for Sunday, July 17, 12:00 GMT (Sunday 20:00 local China time)

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