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Blood for the blood god, it’s only the weekly Steam charts! These are the ten games which sold best on Steam last week.
The debate has raged for an eternity. The infinite dilemma that has defeated even humanity’s greatest minds.
Which is best: guns or swords? Today, I have a definitive answer for you.
For the first part of our guide covering the CN and SEA teams of the Kiev Major, click here.
The regional qualifiers for Valve’s Dota 2 Majors have lately been a source of controversy, especially in Europe, and the developers have certainly taken notice. Some massive changes have been made for the regions that we’ll be looking at today for the Kiev Major qualifiers.
Teams in Europe have argued that past qualifiers have been too cutthroat, and they’ve since advocated for separate qualifiers for EU East teams. Meanwhile, South American players often find it difficult to connect to their North American opponents, much less fight through them for a spot at the LAN event. These two continents’ issues clashed when teams in Europe switched to the Americas qualifiers for a better shot (with limited success) before the Boston Major. Valve approved the tactic, but only because there were no rules at the time stating that it couldn’t be done.
Valve likely heard these regions’ cries for help and have added two new qualifier spots, splitting EU East from EU West and South America from North America. In addition to solving some regional congestion issues, this move will put a new spotlight on regions that were previously lumped in with their neighbors.They have also implemented a three out of five rule, where three of the five players must reside in their qualifying region or else be disqualified. This may cause some confusion for multinational teams, but open qualifier admins at FACEIT plus Valve will likely step in to help with decisions.
So how will this affect the Kiev Major’s early rounds? Who will we be seeing in the regional qualifiers’ invites, and who will be invited to Ukraine without needing to suffer the regional struggle?
Here, we’ll look at the remaining regions’ squads, with consideration given to their performances at this past weekend’s Starladder.
Considered a hub for both LAN events and esports organizations, the Dota 2 scene in Europe has been especially tightly-contested the last few years. In previous years, it was considered a 'bloodbath' due to the mix of Eastern and Western European teams. Now, due to the split, teams have a bit more room to breathe—which isn’t saying much due to the high number of qualified teams in the region. Of course, there are some teams that stand out among the rest.
The shoo-in for this event’s direct invite is OG, the winners of the Boston Major, who have continued to show potential in the time since the Major and 7.00’s subsequent release. Despite their loss at Starladder to second place winners VG.J, they had a solid run at the event. The team’s experienced lineup and effective, smart captaining have make the team a force to be reckoned with.The bigger question on everyone’s minds is who will be invited into the regional qualifiers. Ad Finem, the Greek underdog who caused a fan movement in Boston, may be invited out of respect, but the question is their ability to qualify. Their performance has been relatively weak outside of the Major itself, but Valve may be willing to give them another shot, as there will probably be plenty of room in the regionals for them plus others.
Team Liquid will absolutely be a stronger contender here. Despite losing to Ad Finem in the Boston Major qualifiers, they kept working and, after one player swap, managed to qualify for DAC. Their Starladder victory will certainly be a golden frame on either a certain regional invite or a second direct invite, depending on Valve’s mood.
A new player-run squad called B)ears gave Liquid a run for its money in the DAC qualifiers. The mixed-nationality team hasn’t had any other chance to shine yet, but Valve values the quality of a team’s players as much as results, and the mix of veterans and fresh blood may make them a solid choice for a chance to fight their neighbors.
Although Team Secret has fallen out of favor due to scandal over its core players, they showed a bit of potential at Starladder and may be considered for an invite. Also fighting for a spot: Cloud9, formerly Imperial, who nearly won WESG but has been making the tier 2 rounds; Alliance, who make frequent appearances in tournaments with few tangible results; and ProDota, who have been consistently playing at the top of tier 2 tournaments.
It’s often difficult to talk about EUE teams without talking about the EU scene they used to be a part of. Still, the EUE teams have historically performed well internationally, so there’s quite a bit to look at for their region’s qualifiers. Virtus.Pro is the most stable presence in the scene. Despite their 5th-8th run at the Boston Major and lack of DAC qualification, they’ve shown up and performed well at a number of large and tier 2 tournaments with a solid roster.
At the very least, a consistent roster seems to be an important factor for Valve.Team Empire has made several major changes to their roster, but they managed to qualify for DAC through their EUE qualifiers. Working off this alone, they may snag a regional invite, but their hit-and-miss results may also make Valve unsure.
There are several other teams of note, including Effect, which revamped its roster and took second in the DAC qualifiers, and Vega Squadron, which has been training in the tier 2 circuit. Recently, the latter took down Team Empire in a tier 2 tournament. It’s unknown how many slots EUE will be given, though, as it’s an offshoot of the main EU qualifiers.
North America has always been a contentious matter in Dota 2, but strong showings by a select few teams have garnered a degree of international respect. Namely, Evil Geniuses will likely receive a direct invite after a notable Boston run and a win in China immediately after the 7.00 patch.
Digital Chaos is still powerful for their region, having won ESL One Genting. However, they took last in Starladder, and they were taken down by NP in the DAC qualifiers, so they will likely be less preferred over Evil Geniuses. NP may be a sure choice for regionals as well. They have presence and star power in the scene, perhaps without the results of DC and EG but certainly with enough strength to put up a fight. They were present at the Boston Major’s main event, and they qualified for DAC, so a regional invite to secure their Kiev spot may be in order.
Regional upsetters WanteD are centered around EG owner and ex-captain PPD, with a mix of nationalities playing. They registered in time for regional qualifier consideration and Valve's emphasis on players over team plus the limited nature of American qualifiers in the past are all factors in their favour. With that in mind, WanteD may be able to grab a regional invite. After all, if PPD knows anything, it’s how to play the metagame at every level.
There's a question over whether NA mainstay CompLexity will be able to find a full roster in time for invites, as one player left recently (though it seems they’ve found a strong temporary replacement). There is also the newly-formed Onyx, spearheaded by several notable NA players in a similar manner to NP. Depending on Valve’s mood, both CoL and Onyx may need to show their worth in the open qualifiers due to a lack of solid results.
Other than the above, a number of tier 2 teams are present to fill in the regional qualifier’s gaps, such as FDL, Freedom and Doo Wop. There’s also, of course, the classic personality/player wild card team and extreme crowd-pleasers Vegetables Esports Club. They could re-emerge for a shot at the prize.
The South American Dota 2 scene is highly unstable, but their perseverance has to be rewarded as they have one of the highest Dota 2 populations. The formation of a South American Qualifier will probably put their regional pubstars on their toes, but the new need for consistency and strength hasn't made the region any less prone to shuffles. As in many other regions, the top teams have undergone massive changes, so Valve may look for brand power as well as player ability.
The Peruvian brand Not Today has had some success, but the team underwent a full revamp since their last tournament. The players themselves have had varying degrees of success, though, with two players earning fourth at WESG as Infamous. Plus, with an influx of new members in the last few days, Valve may be keeping an eye on them.
Speaking of Infamous, the squad was somewhat strong before the facelift, but now their future remains uncertain due to the changes. The team’s captain has remained on board, and so there’s a chance that he can lead his new members through whatever qualifiers they may need to accomplish.
Other than these teams, very few are actually currently prepared to accept invites, and so it seems that only two will be directly invited to regional qualifiers. This means that there’ll be a massive fight for the open qualifiers spot, and new players or rusty vets can brush up and face more stable teams that have fought against more experienced squads. There’s hope that this will create a new burst of interest in the regional competitive scene—something the populous region needed.
Your CS:GO rank is a badge of honor. Some players agonize over their level within the competitive matchmaking system, desperate to escape 'silver hell' or push to the towering heights of Global Elite. But despite the intense focus on these status symbols, information about how the system works is scarce. Collated below is the best knowledge available to help you understand your competitive rank and what factors influence it.
, an independent analysis website provides a breakdown of the rank distribution, showing the percentage of active players in each rank over a day, week or month. This data is collected through randomly sampled matches, so extending the catchment period to a month gives a good idea of how the ranks spread out.
In the sample above we can see in February that the average rank was Gold Nova 2, with around 35% of all players sampled in the Gold Nova bracket. If you’ve earned your way to Legendary Eagle, congrats, you’re in the top 10% of matchmaking players. In fact, you might be even higher than you think. The site’s random sampling technique means that because higher ranked players will, in general, play the game more often, they are disproportionately likely to be sampled. But what does each rank actually mean, and how does the game determine where to place you?
Unsurprisingly, Valve has kept incredibly tight-lipped when it comes to the inner workings of its games, for fear that some players might game the system itself, prioritising their own progression over the success of their team. But back in 2015, a Valve employee that CS:GO initially based its matchmaking on the Glicko-2 ranking system, though it has since been adapted and improved, involving some heavy modifications.
Chances are you’ve heard of Elo ranking. Designed for player vs player competitions such as chess, each combatant is assigned a number to represent their rank. The difference between two competitor’s numbers indicates the expected outcome of the match, with the victor claiming points from the loser. Should the player of higher rank win, he’ll take significantly fewer points than the lower player would, outcome reversed.
Since the adoption of Elo, many variations have been designed to combat some of the system’s flaws. is one such alternative, assigning a Ratings Deviation (RD) around a base number. A player’s Match Making Rank (MMR) then becomes a range (e.g. [1000-2000]), rather than a single number (e.g. 1500). This improves accuracy; the system can then say it knows a player’s rank will lie within this bracket to a 95% certainty. The better the system knows your real rank, the smaller this range will be. Glicko-2 also takes into account a player’s 'volatility,' how much a rank is expected to fluctuate over time (increased through erratic performances, decreased through consistency).
However, despite Glicko-2 being an open system, clear limitations stop it from applying directly to CS:GO. Both Elo and Glicko were designed with 1v1 competition in mind. In a 5v5, team-based game, far more factors come into play. An individual player’s impact on a game is a difficult thing to judge. Sure, one player can earn four kills in a round, but that may only be because of an ally securing the bomb-plant, or placing a well-timed flash. From K/D ratios to MVPs, performance statistics are varied, and Valve has said nothing about how they’re taken into account with regards to rank. In response to this silence, some players have their own theories on how CS:GO’s ranking system works.
Back in 2014, Steam user RetriButioN of his experience ranking up multiple accounts. He's since updated the guide, acknowledging that all claims are based purely off his own anecdotal evidence, but it makes for an interesting read regardless. He proposes that ranking is determined on a round-by-round basis, adjusting all players involved to redetermine the expected winner. This method could explain why players sometimes rank up on a lost game, given a close scoreline. The chances of this occurring are extremely low, but multiple players have reported unexpected changes in rank—see Infamous_Blue’s comment as an example. However, these cannot act as hard evidence for a round-by-round system, as external factors (e.g. previous games being removed due to a detected cheater) can also influence your ranking during a match. These outside events are more likely to explain especially bizarre claims like
RetriButioN also goes on to claim that, aside from winning and losing the round, MVPs are the only factor to affect your ranking score. The logic behind this and the guide came from the use of console command, 'developer 1,' which revealed a ranking number that changed based on rounds and MVPs. However, Valve has dispelled this claim, confirming that files stored on the user-end no longer affect ranking. However, if MVPs previously played a role, there’s chance that they still do. Recently, reddit user dob_bobbs , covering the workings of the Glicko-2 system and suggesting that a high volatility may limit the loss or gain of points. The logic behind this is that a player may have an unusual bad patch or lucky streak, not indicative of their true skill, meaning that time to establish the trend is needed.
With many fan theories floating around, it can be easy to get lost down a rabbithole of guesswork, but there are some key takeaways from what’s been learned.
A wide number of factors affect your ranking, and it’s all stored by Valve.“All computations are performed on our matchmaking backend and multiple matchmaking parameters describing scientific set of rating variables of a player are represented to players as [their rank],” posted vitaliy_valve in response to RetriButioN’s guide. No matter how much data mining someone claims to have done, they cannot know the details of the matchmaking system. With a number of variables in effect, it’s better to focus on winning the game than arguing over factors like who gets to defuse the bomb, even if someone tells you otherwise.
The more games you’ve played, the harder it will be to change your rank.The nature of Glicko-2’s Rating Deviation means that the longer you play at a particular level, the more precisely the game will believe it has determined your appropriate rank. With a smaller RD, larger jumps in your MMR become improbable. If you’ve ever seen a popular streamer or Youtuber attempt to rank an account from Silver 1 to Global, you’ll notice that it usually takes a long time to progress during the Silver stages. This happens because the account has been intentionally deranked by a player losing repeated games on purpose. During this time, the rating system will believe it has obtained a good idea of the player’s true rank, and therefore responds slowly to subsequent victories. This isn’t to say you’ll never be able to climb the levels again. Given consistent hard work and competition with those above your level, your RD will widen again, allowing greater steps up.
A hiatus will reduce your rank’s certainty, but often leads to degradation.Quit playing CS:GO for a month, and you’ll find your skill group has vanished, requiring a draw or win to earn it back. If you stop playing for longer, there’s a good chance you’ll return at a different rank than before. It has often been suggested that MMR decays over time when inactive, but again it’s tough to find evidence to back this up. The most probable cause for degradation comes from increases in Rating Deviation.
The longer it has been since your last match, the less certain the game can be of your level, which means you could be matched against players of a wider skill range than you would normally. If you’re in the upper half of the skill groups, you’re more likely to be matched against those lower than you due to the larger pool of players. However, if you find your rank has dropped then it’s best not to worry, as your increased RD should allow faster recovery.
For more on the EU West, EU East, North American and South American teams of the Kiev Major, click here.
As the snow melts in the north, Dota 2 fans’ eyes shift towards western Europe, anxious but excited for Valve’s upcoming Kiev Major—and more importantly for now, for the invites to the LAN that are yet to be sent.
This tournament is one of two events sponsored by Valve in the time between the annual International. These Majors offer $1 million to the winning team and a guaranteed spot at the next event so long as the team’s lineup remains locked in. The Kiev Major is also, notably, the first official event in the CIS region, which is known for its large population of players and fans.
The invite process for the Major isn’t always clear, but Valve's commitment to including as much talent per region as possible is. The number of direct invites, or teams guaranteed to appear at the LAN event itself, has remained pretty inconsistent - even for their top-level events. For those that aren’t directly invited but worthy of consideration, there are also regional qualifier invites, where invited teams from several regions fight for a spot at the event. Within those are also the open invites in which any team - yes, even you and your recent MOBA converts - may participate for a chance at a spot in the regional qualifiers. Open qualifier teams have certainly gotten far: Peruvian team Unknown.Xiu was present at 2015’s fall Frankfurt Major, and some teams, suffering from shuffle deadlines, have had to fight back to the top - specifically for TI6.
In part one of this primer, we'll discuss about two of these regions: China and Southeast Asia. Each of these Eastern areas are hotspots for Dota 2 competition, with a large number of in-houses in the Chinese community and a fierce, dedicated circuit of Filipinos, Malaysians, Singaporeans, and more fighting across the isles.
Much will be settled after StarSeries Season 3 this upcoming weekend, where many of these teams will fight it out. The Dota Asian Championships’ recently-finished qualifying rounds may be an indicator for who’s strong at the moment, as only four teams were actually invited, and the rest needed to fight in similar regional qualifiers. Valve is surely keeping their eyes on these results as open and regional qualifiers draw near.
In this first part of two previews, we’ll peek at who in the East to look out for during the Kiev Major’s invite process.
As always, the Chinese Dota 2 scene remains highly competitive. The most recent international showing was at ESL Genting, where Newbee took out TI6 champions Wings. The latter was also knocked out fairly early in the Boston Major, and so Valve may not be keen to give them a direct invite. Meanwhile, Newbee has been giving a strong showing in the scene, and so they may be under consideration. If not Newbee, then perhaps IG.Vitality will have a shot: the team qualified for SL and will show their chops this weekend.
Also strong in the running at SL is the VG.J team, endorsed by honorary captain Jeremy Lin, which also qualified for DAC and is participating in Starladder this weekend.
IG’s primary team may certainly be under consideration as well, as they won the second Chinese spot in the DAC. While their tournament results aren’t spectacular, their appearances are fairly consistent, and it would only be fair to hand an invite.
Many other teams in the Chinese scene have faced roster swaps and mild performances, including Boston Major teams LGD.Fy and their main LGD squad, and haven’t shown up in international settings. Still, Valve likely has at least once source keeping their eye on the in-house and Chinese circuits, and so the slots will certainly be filled with a tightly-packed open qualifier round.
A label of “underdog” isn’t quite fitting for teams of SEA, but they’re often treated as such. With a bad reputation from public game behavior and connectivity issues, much of the community underestimates the power of this region, despite regularly consistent performances in official and/or major international tournaments.
For instance, Malaysian Warriors Gaming Unity took a 5th-8th place finish in Boston and have showed consistent top results in a number of tier 2 tournaments. However, their local rivals Faceless have been a constant presence in major tournaments, placing among the top international teams, especially impressive for their short existence. The two teams will likely be top contestants for a direct invite, and the other will certainly put up a fight in regionals.
After two major fall shuffles, Execration, hailing from fan-packed Philippines, seems to be doing well after recently curing three out of their five TI squad members. Showing consistent strength, TNC most recently won WESG and qualified for the upcoming SL tournament, and so they’ll more likely than not fight for a Kiev spot too.
Execration had been a regional powerhouse and received a direct invite to Boston, though they were tragically unable to participate due to visa issues. However, they won’t be appearing in Starladder nor DAC, and thus they won’t be able to show their strength. There’s a good chance Valve will give them another chance through the regional qualifiers, given their stellar reputation and massive Filipino fan base.
Also from the Philippines is esports organization Mineski, which has two squads, GG and X. Mineski.GG has had consistent top results in regional tournaments, and the latter has certainly been training. If Valve had to choose between the two, GG would certainly make the cut, though there may be room for both.
Normally, at least one iteration of Korean org MVP is given an invite, considering the respect shown for the country’s esports history and the consistent showing of the org at Valve events. However, their more renown Dota 2 team, MVP.Phoenix, split after Boston, and MVP.Hot6 hasn’t been given a chance to shine yet. Depending on whether Valve has their eye on other regional teams, they may have to fight through open qualifiers, but there’s no doubt that there’s potential in this team, given the mix of experience present.
The region’s most famous team, Fnatic, has had some rocky times lately. After failing to qualify for Boston, which was captured in Valve’s , captain Mushi left, as did many of their other members. It’s unknown if the org will pick up another group before at least the open qualifiers, but it leaves fans both local and international shaken for now.
Fortunately for Valve and regional fans, SEA has no shortage of teams aiming for the win. In other words, even if any of the above teams don’t make it, there are squads such as Geek Fam, Clutch Gamers and HappyFeet with extremely limited experience but solid potential to keep an eye on. If nothing else, these open qualifiers will certainly be entertaining.
The DreamHack Masters CS:GO tournament in Las Vegas came to an exciting conclusion last weekend, which saw Virtus.pro defeat SK Gaming 2-1 in a nail-biting final. League of Legends’ LCS continues to dominate the headlines, but there’s plenty of action to be had elsewhere. There’s drama from the Dota 2: StarLadder i-League to the Hearthstone: Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs. We even have the Smite SPL to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.
League of Legends: 2017 EU LCS Spring Split
In week five of the EU LCS we saw the leaders of both group A and B, G2 Esports and Unicorns of Love face off against each other. G2 took both games after they starved UoL of objectives and gold in the first game, while the second game was won thanks to Zven’s quadra kill in the mid-lane. Meanwhile, Splyce has improved tremendously and Kobbe’s Jhin managed to secure the team’s victory against Fnatic going 8/1/9. The competition is heating up and Misfits are still looking to rival G2 for first place. This week’s schedule and stream can be found over on .
League of Legends: 2017 NA LCS Spring Split
Team SoloMid have had another great week and their early game has improved considerably since the start of the LCS. In the third game in their series against Cloud9, Bjergsen’s Zed and Hauntzer’s Shen showed excellent control and synergy, which gave TSM an early advantage that allowed them to apply pressure all over the map. FlyQuest suffered an unexpected defeat against Dignitas when Hai picked Jarvan mid, while Team Liquid followed their same pattern of winning one game and losing the next two. Team Liquid may have been defeated by Counter Logic gaming, but they still have a chance to show improvements as we head into week six. The full schedule and stream can be found over on .
Dota 2: StarLadder i-League Season 3
The Dota 2 StarLadder i-League is kicking off this weekend and only the best teams will advance to the playoffs. The finals of the upper part of group А's bracket, OG faced off against Team Secret. In the first game both teams were extremely close but, OG began to snowball a lead and won more team fights. The second round of the series followed a similar pattern and OG took complete control once again. You can check out the , while the stream can be watched over on .
Hearthstone: 2017 HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Playoffs
Last weekend the Americas branch of the Hearthstone Championship determined which four players (DrJikininki, DocPwn, Tarei and Fr0zen) will be competing at the Hearthstone Winter Championship in the Bahamas. This weekend we’ll see which players have what it takes to represent Asia and be crowned the HCT Asia-Pacific Winter Champion. The matches kick off today at 18:00 PST / 03:00 CET, and continue the same time Sunday. You can find the weekend’s .
Smite: SPL 2017
The second week of the SPL will continue this Saturday where Elevate and NRG eSports will clash. Obey Alliance delivered a shocking blow to NRG when they beat them 2-0, but NRG will be hoping to put this loss behind them and beat Elevate this weekend. The last time NRG lost a set was to Paradigm at the Super Regionals in 2015, so the upcoming clash will certainly be interesting and could go either way. Make sure you tune into action at 10:00 PST / 19:00 CET. You can find the weekend’s .