PC Gamer

Photo credit: ECS
Jordan n0thing Gilbert

Often reserved and camera-shy, professional gamers can make for unconventional interviewees. Cloud9 s outspoken and cheerful Jordan n0thing Gilbert is the antithesis of this. Backstage at the ECS Finals in London it s clear Jordan is a man who everyone knows, and who knows everyone, stopping regularly to chat or break a joke with players, casters and crew. After their victory over the Danish Astralis, Jordan sat down to share his views on North American CS and the weight of competing for his nation s hearts.

 The state of NA

Despite his youthful exuberance, Jordan is actually one of the most experienced faces in the North American scene, and as captain of Cloud9 he faces a lot of pressure for the team to perform. The rise of Luminosity Gaming has rocked the American scene, and while C9 no longer hold the top spot, they see LG s story as an inspiration.

I think it takes away some of our excuses, says Jordan. Because it shows that a team who not only came to North America without being ranked in the top ten, then also grinded their way to the top ten. That just goes to show that if you re hungry, if you re passionate and a tight-knit group of guys that really works together then teamwork is well there s no I in team right? It s actually pretty funny, I set my desktop background to a picture of Fallen s bedroom because they had to share a bed, him and Fer, and I literally have a big bedroom out in Cali. I used it as motivation because those guys came in and showed us that there s no excuse if you can be mentally strong and work hard as a team you can achieve anything.

With the likes of Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming and TeamSoloMid all vying for attention, NA CS has entered one of it s most contested periods, making for exciting viewing. American audiences dominate online, comprising a huge portion of discussion on sites such as HLTV and the Global Offensive subreddit. While this gives NA teams an enormous support base, it also presents a onus for success many players struggle to handle.

One of the toughest things in North America is the weak mentalities across the scene, Jordan begins. I feel like a lot of NA teams lose the psychological battle. In terms of mechanical skill the Europeans aren t dominating us, it s not like they have the best 3-point shooters in basketball. Most of it comes down to overall talent in teamwork and decision making. It s great to see more North American teams competing because we have that mechanical skill, we just have to up that psychological game. If we get there then the conversation can end and the stigma can go away.

Photo credit: ECS

 Haters gonna hate

The ever-present divide between North American and European CS the former often struggling to compete in spite of a vast player spectrum and monetary support has dogged the NA scene for years. American fans expect victory, so when things aren t going well, playing for one of your country s top hopes can be grueling. Far from being limited to Cloud9, the internet is rife with mockeries of North American failure. While the great majority is in good humour, there is also a significant amount of aggression.

It takes a certain mindset to realise that there s gonna be a lot of supporters and a lot haters, says Jordan. [We ve] gathered a lot of fans over the summer who enjoy watching our streams, so when they see us play if we don t perform up to the standard they re used to watching then they like to jump on us. I can t blame them for being upset but there s obviously a lot of immaturity. You have to kind of ignore that and hope it doesn t affect any members of the team.

The contrast between streaming and competition performances isn t an easy thing to convey to viewers, particularly those younger or new to the game. When individuals draw huge streaming audiences, it becomes very easy to disappoint on the stage.

That s shroud s biggest problem, Jordan says of his teammate. Because people on his stream watch him dominate singlehandedly. And the truth is, he doesn t care on his stream, he s having fun and purposely not playing like he would in a match. People are very hard on him because he s on reddit all the time with stream highlights. That crosses over into competition and people criticize him. A lot of it stems from jealousy but there are real fans who just want him to succeed.

Photo credit: ECS

 Positive communication

The semi-anonymity and speed of services like Twitter can lead to a real disconnect in people s attitudes compared to face-to-face interaction. Online abuse is in no-way unique to esports, but it remains an enormous issue in the competitively-minded landscape.

It s crazy to me that when I m on Twitter or anything and people are talking crap about me or my team, Jordan says. I reply to them and say hey, why would you say that and can you elaborate on your point? After that first malicious statement they say hey my bad I didn t mean it bro. I just wish you d played better. People don t realise that just because you re on twitter or behind a screen, there s no facade here, you re still a person just throwing words in the air.

The problem clearly frustrates Jordan, especially without an easy solution in sight. Nevertheless, with more outspoken and respectful players as role models, there is always the chance the community will evolve.

I hope people will start to take more seriously what they re saying, Jordan says. Even you and your friends can get confused texting each other, let alone a stranger. How do you expect people to not misconstrue things [online]? I just think people should start to be more respectful and thoughtful with the way we speak on the internet. As Counter-Strike s audience continues to grow, It s a lesson many could stand to learn from.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

A shorter than usual weekly Steam best-sellers chart this week, primarily because almost everything is explained simply by the words “Steam Summer sale”, but partly because I’ve already spent a chunk of today compiling a big list of Sale recommendations to help our beloved readers’ purchasin’ decisions. You can have a pithy and/or explantory line about each game next week, promise. Meantime: these are the ten best-selling games on Steam last week. Expect next week’s to look wildly different, thanks to the ongoing and regularly changing sale. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

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.

PC Gamer

The Steam Summer Sale is on! Lots of good deals to be had, including the famous team-based FPS Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is currently half-price that's $7.50/ 6. There's a catch, though, and it's kind of a strange one: If you buy it during the Summer Sale, you can't gift it to someone else.

The restriction came to light on Reddit, when a CS:GO redditor said he was unable to buy the game as a gift and asked if anyone else had experienced the same thing. A Valve rep quickly stepped in to confirm that everyone would experience the same thing.

CS:GO will not be giftable during the sale, the rep said. Our goal with sales is to grow the community and historically, during sales, the new users that stick around are mainly the ones that purchase copies for themselves.

That sounds to me like a nice way of saying that Valve wants to crack down on alt-accounts, which is understandable and even admirable, since it's effectively prioritize that over sales of the game. It's a bit surprising that there's no up-front warning of the game's current ungiftability, though; it's not like people are losing money on it, but a heads-up would go a long way toward avoiding unhappy surprises.

(And if you do actually want to gift it to someone? Just PayPal 'em the money or wait until the sale's over.)

PC Gamer

So you ve won the pistol round, and you re now looking to get an even bigger advantage over your opponent. It s enormously important that you manage your economy correctly at this point: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a game where you can lose a match because you bought too much or underspent at the wrong moment.

Having won the pistol round, the second round is when you ll want to start building your economic advantage. You do this by investing in SMGs. All of them except the P90 have a kill bonus of $600, which is twice as much as kills with pistols or assault rifles. Only shotguns offer better bang for your buck, with $900 per kill. While shotguns can be very effective at short range or in tight corridors, however, you ll find yourself in a bad position when either taking or retaking a bomb site.

For this reason, SMGs offer a better deal most of the time. One thing to remember, particularly on the T side, is to work together during this crucial round. If the CTs have bought Five-Sevens, for instance, they might headshot you before you get in close. This results in a valuable gun lost and a chance for them to win the round.

 When to use each SMG

The MP9 is exclusive to the CTs. It does low damage and has poor armor penetration but only costs $1250. However, it s easy to control while moving around and has insanely high rate of fire. Even if every bullet does little damage on its own, you can easily melt an unarmored enemy. Against armored enemies, the key is to stay very close.

If you win the pistol round but the Ts managed to plant the bomb, they re likely to save in the second round in order to go for a full buy the round after. In this scenario the MP9 is a great choice. Just make sure you have a teammate ready to clean up in case you get overrun. The MP9 is also good for aggressive play.

The T counterpart to the MP9 is the MAC-10. At $1050 it s the cheapest SMG in the game. Its properties are pretty much the same as the MP9 s, which makes it an excellent weapon to use if you re the first player in when you attack. You create distraction and spray down enemies who happen to be too close to you. This creates more space for your teammates with more powerful weapons to clean up the site.

The MP7 ($1700) has slightly lower rate of fire than the MP9 and MAC-10, but its first bullet accuracy is a little higher, making it possible to strafe and burst heads at medium range. Other than that you should use it like you use the SMGs above. It is a bit heavier, which slows you down to 220 units per second as opposed to 240 for the MP9 and MAC-10. You ll rarely use the MP7 as it s an awkward mix of the cheap SMGs and the UMP-45. It s more effective to have some players go for the UMP-45 and others the MP9 and MAC-10 than to go for a hybrid.

The UMP-45 is a badass weapon. If it weren t enough that it does a lot of damage and has great armor penetration, it also fires at 666 RPM. It s considerably slower than all of the above mentioned weapons, but it s a lot more accurate at medium range. If you expect your enemies to buy armor, the UMP-45 is an excellent choice. It costs $1200, which is insanely cheap considering you can hold on to it going into the first weapon round.

The P90 is by far the best SMG when it comes to killing enemies, especially armored ones. It does however cost $2350 and only gives you $300 per kill, which makes it a good choice for those rounds when your team wants to buy full but one player can t afford armor and an assault rifle. I strongly recommend that you use the $600-bonus SMGs in the second round even if you can afford something more expensive.

 SMGs on the first gun round

This topic has been widely discussed within the competitive scene. If you ve won all rounds leading up to the first gun round, the other team will go for a full buy. Should you keep your SMG or upgrade to an assault rifle? In my opinion it s often wise to stick to your SMG. Why? Because the more consecutive rounds you lose, the more money you get at the start of a new round (this caps out at $3400). The first round you lose will give you $1400, which isn t a lot.

There are two possible outcomes of the first gun round: you either win or you lose. If you win, that means you ll get $600 per kill and you won a round without investing in a new weapon. If you lose you still get $600 for every kill you get, but more importantly: the other team wins. Because you didn t buy an assault rifle you ll have more than enough to buy one following that lost round. If you manage to win that round it means the other team s economy has been reset and they ll have to force buy or eco. Basically, keeping your SMG going into the first gun round is a low risk, high reward gamble.

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 guide

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Like a man dancing to Belle & Sebastian, last week’s best-selling Steam games saw some shaking at the top but not a lot of movement below. IS YOUR FAVOURITE GAME HERE AND WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT YOU AS A PERSON IF IT’S NOT? … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

The latest update to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive includes the first in a series of planned improvements to the game's audio. The Negev, M249, and Mag7 have all had their sound effects punched up, and the smoke grenade sound has been changed to make it more distinct as well. But there's also an entirely new effect that's been added, a ratcheting sound signaling that the current magazine is just about empty. And that, according to Kotaku, has made some hardcore players awfully unhappy.

The complaints arise from the fact that, with this sound cue, it's no longer necessary to keep track of the number of bullets your enemy has fired in order to know when it's safe to stick your head out; instead, you can just wait until you hear the tell-tale click. That lowers the skill ceiling of the game, as this Reddit thread puts it, because you no longer require experience or familiarity with in-game firearms to know when your enemy has run dry: You just need to listen.

But that's maybe not as straightforward as it sounds. It's not as though a flashing neon sign will appear on your screen when the sound is triggered, and you'll need to be quite close to your enemy to actually hear it, as YouTuber Dinoswarleaf demonstrates. So it may be of limited value to begin with, and as one Redditor points out, most players aren't actually out there counting bullets in the middle of a digital firefight.

It reminds me a bit of the famous ping sound made by clips ejecting from the Second World War-era M1 Garand rifle: Legend has it that the noise was a deadly defect that signaled an empty weapon, but the reality is that it could very rarely be heard, and had no real value even when it was.

Whether or not it actually makes a significant change to the skill ceiling, the reaction to the sound has been intense, and has led to calls for a CS:GO public test realm, so Valve can give these ideas a trial run before granting them to/inflicting them on the full player base. Valve hasn't yet commented on the complaints and the sound effect remains. Give it a listen in the short video clip below.

PC Gamer

There's loads happening all over the world of esports this weekend, so let's get right to it. From Hearthstone in Asia to Heroes of the Storm, CS:GO, Smite and more in Sweden and Overwatch and League in North America, there should be high-quality play to watch wherever you are.

Hearthstone: Spring Championships Asia-Pacific

Hearthstone's next regional championship concludes tomorrow, with games beginning at 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST. This will determine which of the best players in the Asia-Pacific region will represent Hearthstone at the World Championship in November. You'll find the livestream at http://www.twitch.tv/playhearthstone.

Heroes of the Storm: Summer Global Championship

The world's best Heroes of the Storm players clash in Sweden with a $150,000 grand prize to fight for. Group play has been going on for a while, but continues on Saturday and Sunday starting at 03:00 PDT/12:00 CEST. Find the livestream at http://twitch.tv/blizzheroes.

Dota 2: ESL One Frankfurt 2016

Group play began today for this, one of the last premier Dota 2 events before the International in August. You can catch games starting at 01:30 PDT/10:30 CEST on Saturday and Sunday, and you'll find the livestream at http://www.twitch.tv/esl_dota2.

CSGO: DreamHack Summer 2016

The cream of the CSGO scene returns to Sweden for the next three days. Group play begins on Saturday at 06:00 PDT/15:00 CEST on Saturday, and continues at 03:00 PDT/12:00 CEST on Sunday and 01:30 PDT/10:30 CEST on Monday. Find the livestream at dreamhack.tv.

Overwatch: ONOG Operation Breakout

$15,000 on the line for the best Overwatch players in North America. Games begin at 17:00 PDT/01:00 CEST on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Europe) and you'll find the livestream at https://www.twitch.tv/onenationofgamers.

Rocket League: Open Qualifier 2, Week 2

Rocket Leagues latest round of open qualifiers takes place in NA and EU over the weekend. As with last week, these won't be officially streamed. Keep an eye on Twitch, however, to see if any players choose to stream their matches. You can find out more at https://www.rocketleagueesports.com/.

League of Legends: NA LCS

Another week of drama in the North American League of Legends scene. There's a full day of play on Saturday starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST with a slightly shorter day to follow on Sunday. Find more details and the livestream at www.lolesports.com.

Smite: Masters at Dreamhack Summer 2016

This is the climax of Smite's spring split, a $450,000+ tournament featuring the world's best players. You won't find higher-profile Smite than this outside of Worlds in January. Play begins at 02:30 PDT/11:30 CEST on Saturday and continues at 08:30 PDT/17:30 CEST on Sunday, with the finals taking place on Monday. Find the livestream at http://www.twitch.tv/smitegame.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

what, what? It's just a screenshot from HOV IV. What do you mean 'keep politics out of videogames?'

I am genuinely surprised by which game sold best on Steam last week (previous weeks here, btw). PC gaming remains beautifully unpredictable, doesn’t it?

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Photo credit: ESL/Helena Kristiansson

With the recent ESL Pro League Finals taking place at the O2 and the Esports Championship Series to conclude in the SSE Arena Wembley later this month, it s clear that UK Counter-Strike is on the rise. At the ESL Finals, two of the UK s most recognisable CS casters, Henry HenryG Greer and Lauren Pansy Scott, shared their thoughts on watching their home scene develop.

Television vs. streaming

HenryG

Henry ‘HenryG’ Greer is a caster/analyst for Global Offensive, usually partnered with the Canadian Matthew ‘Sadokist’ Trivett.

Though the UK scene is only just finding its feet in comparison to the mainland majors of Cologne and Katowice, this wasn t always the case. In the days of Global Offensive s predecessor, Source, the UK was up there with the best, fielding mighty teams like London Mint, Birmingham Salvo and 4Kings. While most tournaments at the time were smaller grassroots events, the Championship Gaming Series of 2007 hoped to up the ante with a bigger, more professional environment, acting as part of a push to have CS shown on national television. As a player for London Mint, Henry was directly involved in the first real drive, and subsequent failure, of mainstream esports in Britain.

They put hundred and hundreds of thousands of pounds into it and obviously we weren t ready for it at that point, says HenryG. This was when I was playing, we got flown over to America and we got to play in these amazing leagues. We played two seasons and it turned out no one really watched it in the UK, and this was prime time TV... It was very clear that esports wasn t quite ready for the UK market then.

While television may have seemed like the logical end goal ten years ago, the advent of streaming services such as Twitch has completely revolutionised esports media, freeing providers from the constraints of standard broadcasting services. Beyond the tournaments themselves, many players run successful (and lucrative) personal streaming services. For the dedicated, this offers the chance to directly connect with and support their favourite players.

Pansy

Lauren ‘Pansy’ Scott is an ESL-employed caster for Global Offensive as well as other titles such as Battlefield, World of Tanks and Dirty Bomb.

Originally back in the day, if you wanted to get to know these players it was through frag movies where you d watch one clip and be like that person is awesome , Lauren says. I think it s so great that you can be so personable with the players now. You can go to their Twitch chat, you can go and talk to them. Back when I started playing I thought well, I ll probably never get to speak to this player . Now I can go and subscribe to them and they ll probably be quite thankful and humble.

[Ten years ago] you had to have the game installed and connect through that to watch, says Henry. Getting 5000 viewers was a big deal. Selling that to a large sponsor company is difficult. Twitch has made that accessible. Everyone can watch on their phone or laptop wherever you are in the world. I feel like that s the reason esports has got to where it has.

As for for television? We just don t need it Henry says. We re so past that, why is it the ultimate goal? We re not restricted by adverts, we re not governed or restricted. We do our own thing.

London calling

As competitive gaming continues to soar in popularity, the changes are finally starting to take place, with dedicated UK arenas being established by both Gfinity and ESL. Clearly testing the waters, early events saw CS:GO sharing space with other titles such as Call of Duty and Super Smash Bros Melee at Dreamhack London. Since then the success of competitions like the ESL Pro League Finals have sent a clear signal: the UK has a committed audience for CS, and they are as passionate as they come.

The UK having events like this, pulling in an audience without any other games, I love that, Lauren says. It s a unique thing and it seems to be getting better and better. CS is a massive thing in this space and it s dominating it pretty well. The audience is actually very unique, very different and I love that about them. You get a different vibe at different events you go to and I think the CS one has a hell of a lot of personality and it s awesome to see it here in London.

Photo credit: ESL/Helena Kristiansson

Gaming as a whole in the UK has had this stigma attached to it in the sense that it s quite nerdy and geeky, says Henry. But now people are starting to realise that it s actually quite a cool thing to do, it s actually quite exciting. With these kind of events we re raising awareness slowly but surely.

People travel every weekend to see their favourite football teams, and now we re having that same thing for their favourite esports players, he continues. I think that s really cool. We re building up personalities and getting celebrities. It s all coming together through platforms like Twitch.

Where are the UK teams?

CS:GO broadcasting is overflowing with British talent. From Duncan Thorin Shields to Alex machine Richardson, you re all but guaranteed to see a UK face at any large event. Despite this, the UK has been painfully slow to establish itself in hosting tournaments. It s hard not to think that this is, in large, due to the lack of any presence from a local team. While the ESL audience showed no end of love for the French G2, a home side could draw an entirely different level of attention. Despite this it has been difficult to draw interest in sponsor support for a UK side. As a former player, this is clearly a topic close to Henry s heart.

The problem with the UK CS:GO scene right now is that there are great players, but there are no great teams, Henry explains. You can tell the fans are hungry for it. They want their hometown heroes. They want their Fnatics, their NiPs like the Swedes have. I mean you look at teams like Virtus.pro, even when they re losing at Katowice they have the whole crowd behind them. That s what the UK wants.

[Last year] I had my own company and set up a British team to go to events and we sent them to Dreamhack London, continues Henry. That was the first time a British team had made it to a big event. They took down the Australian Team Renegades. In London, taking down one of the bigger names for the events, it was a fairytale story. The problem is, once we finished that event we had nothing else to play for. We hadn t been invited to any big events and the team stagnated and dropped off. That was about a year ago and the scene has changed so much since then."

The problem with the UK CS:GO scene right now is that there are great players, but there are no great teams

Valve has since introduced the Minor system in order to encourage and nurture smaller teams. Accepting only sides which have not previously participated in Majors, the Minors offer both a $50,000 prize pool and the chance to compete in the offline Major qualifiers. So with the support finally in place, and increasing attention being diverted to hosting, is it finally time for a stable UK side to emerge? On that front, the jury is still out.

I hope so, offers Lauren. I won t say it s going to be any time soon if I m honest. I think there s still a long way to go. There are some incredibly talented players, it s just that the UK scene has a horrible history of rotating the same players in and out of lineups. Someone doesn t get on, or there s no support. They don t want to put in the work without the money being there. There s no middle ground for it. I think eventually the younger scene will break in, they ll get there and make it, but it s a long way.

When my team was playing we didn t have [the Minor system], says Henry. So I feel like maybe not 2016, but 2017 we ll have something, just one team we can be proud of. They don t have to be winning events, just to be competitive.

...

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