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It's an understandably quiet weekend as multiple scenes enter their off seasons in preparation for major summer tournaments. Even so, there's plenty to watch: Dota 2, StarCraft, two different types of League ('Rocket' and 'of Legends'). Cap it off with some awesome charity speedruns and it'll be Monday before you know it.
Dota 2: Global Grand Masters
It might seem like small fry compared to the multi-million dollar International (only a month away!) but a number of top-tier teams will play in Global Grand Masters this weekend. Play starts at 16:00 CEST/07:00 PDT on Saturday and Sunday and continues through to Monday if you still need your Dota fix. Here's the livestream.
League of Legends: NA Championship Series
The NCA LCS continues with two days of play across Saturday and Sunday starting at 21:00 CEST/12:00 PDT. As ever, you'll want to check LoLesports.com for schedule, team and livestream information.
Rocket League: Qualifier 2 Group Stage
The second week of Rocket League qualifiers continues across both NA and EU this weekend. You'll want to check out the official Rocket League esports site for the key details and keep an eye on Twitch.tv for the main stream as well as individual player perspectives.
StarCraft II: Proleague 2016 Round 3
Team SCII featuring some of the best players in Korea. Play starts at 11:00 CEST (02:00 PDT) on both Saturday and Sunday, and you can find the English language livestream here. There are plenty of champions among the team rosters, including 2015 global champ sOs on Jin Air Green Wings.
Speedruns: Games Done Quick
Not quite esports and not 100% this weekend, but you should be watching Games Done Quick anyway. It's a week-long multi-game speedrun marathon supporting M decins Sans Fronti res, and it starts on Sunday at 18:30 CEST/09:30 PDT. You can find the full schedule here and the livestream here.
There's lots of competitive gaming to watch this weekend, from top-tier Hearthstone and Street Fighter V to the Dota 2 scene's frantic scramble to make it to this year's International. Skilled players will win thousands of dollars over the next two days: an impressive sum in and of itself if you're American, getting more impressive with every minute that passes if you're British.
Hearthstone: Americas Spring Championship
Starting at 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST on both Saturday and Sunday, this is a showcase of top talent in the American Hearthstone scene. There's $80,000 on the line, as well as a spot at the Global Finals at BlizzCon. Here's the stream.
Dota 2: The International 2016 Regional Qualifiers
Qualification for the remaining spots at The International begins tomorrow. Play begins at 18:00 PDT on Friday night/03:00 CEST in SEA and at 01:00 PDT/10:00 CEST in Europe. As Europe wraps up, expect play to begin in North America followed by China. It's a packed schedule, so check out GosuGamer's match page for the latest info and stream links.
CSGO: Esports Championship Series
FaceIt's Esports Championship Series concludes this weekend with a dramatic faceoff between the world's best teams in London. You can find the livestream and schedule information on the official site. Up-to-date schedule information is missing at the moment, but expect play throughout the day on British time (CEST-1).
League of Legends: NA Championship Series
Another weekend of play in the NA LCS. Games run today and continue throughout the weekend, starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST each day and continuing for four-five hours. As ever, the best resource for further information and livestreams is lolesports.com.
Overwatch: OG Invitational
One of the biggest events in NA Overwatch so far, the OG Invitational has a $25,000 prize pool and showcases the region's best teams. Play begins at 10:00 PDT/19:00 CEST and you'll find the livestream right here.
Rocket League: Qualifier 2 Group Stage
After a few weeks of open qualifiers, the pool narrows. NA is playing on Saturday starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST and Europe plays on Sunday from 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST. Here's the livestream.
Street Fighter V: CEO 2016
One of the liveliest events in the Street Fighter V calendar, Andi sung the praises of CEO in his column this week. It's a premier event, so expect a very high standard of play. You can find the extensive schedule here and the action will be streamed on Twitch.
In August, sixteen teams will compete for what is likely to be the biggest prize pool in the history of competitive gaming. While the majority of these teams will fight for their spot through a series of regional qualifiers, six of the best have now received their direct invite and, for the first time, the returning champions aren't among them.
OG, Team Liquid, Newbee, LGD Gaming, MVP Phoenix and Natus Vincere are the official invitees, with 2015 winners Evil Geniuses conspicuous by their absence. They've been relegated to the open qualifier, along with Team Secret, due to an eleventh-hour roster switch that fell outside of Valve's fixed transfer window. Breaking the rules means that they've got the longest possible road ahead of them in order to defend their title.
The spread of invitees demonstrates how dynamic and competitive the international Dota 2 scene is, particularly compared to other esports. OG is an independent squad that is less than a year old, handily earning their spot with two separate Major victories and another first-place finish at ESL One over the weekend. The new Team Liquid follow hot on their heels with a run of high-profile second place finishes and a win at Epicenter. Theirs is a similar story to OG a new team with veteran experience at its heart.
Newbee are one of two prior International champions to be invited, but this is a very different squad to the one that rolled over the competition at TI4. The new Newbee showcases some of the best talent in the Chinese scene, and they enjoyed an extraordinary undefeated run earlier in the year that was only curtailed when they encountered OG a team that has proved to be their foil more than once.
The new Na'Vi are the other former champions to get an invite to TI6, although only two members of that winning 2011 lineup remain Dendi and Artstyle (and Artstyle was absent for the bulk of the team's most famous performances.) Na'Vi have emerged from a few long years of scene-wide roster instability as the surprise hope of CIS Dota, placing consistently well at LAN more so than some of their better-regarded rivals.
Korea's MVP Phoenix and China's LGD are more questionable inclusions, but this reddit thread offers some sensible explanations. LGD's invite follows a recent trend of Valve inviting the top four from any official LAN to the next official LAN. MVP Phoenix, like Na'Vi, have a consistently strong record on LAN, which seems to factor heavily into Valve's selection process.
Teams without a direct invite will have to compete through four sets of regional qualifiers, with the majority of each region's best teams being invited to these instead: see the official site for the full list. Each regional qualifier has two open spots which will be filled through a run of open qualifiers taking place later this week. You can find more details about these here. It's well worth taking part particularly if you're in Europe or the Americas, where you've got a greater-than-zero chance of facing Team Secret or EG. And getting stomped by them.
Ooh – the direct invitees for The International 2016 (that’s the massive annual Dota 2 [official site] tournament with the eye-watering prize pool) have been announced. There’s also a bunch of information on how the qualifiers work so YOU, dear reader, could theoretically be in the running to scoop part of that $12.4m. Well. $12.4m so far….
Two-time Major winners OG are obviously going straight to Seattle, while star squad Secret and last year’s winners Evil Geniuses will need to work their way through the open qualifiers. That’s thanks to some roster swap action which means both violated Valve’s roster lock conditions.
Read on for the full list of direct invitees as well as who’s going to be duking it out in the regionals so far: