PC Gamer

You can still play the original Counter-Strike on Steam, of course, but perhaps you want to play it with the greater graphical fidelity and technological advances of the more up-to-date CS:GO? If the thought appeals, know that you'll soon be able to mash together both games, via the recently announced Classic Offensive mod for GO. On Steam Greenlight now, Classic Offensive (formerly known as CS: Classic Offensive, until Valve had a word) aims to replicate the experience of Counter-Strike version 1.6 in CS:GO, effectively uniting these disparate worlds in a way that should probably incite angels to sing overhead.

The creators don't want to be VAC Banned, so they say they're unable to replicate the more mechanical parts of 1.6 in GO—however, you'll still be able to play using the classic map layouts, using a "more simplistic" art style, and without the guns introduced in GO. (Less sweeping changes including scope and price tweaks will be present as well.)

It's a nostalgia mod rather than a slavish recreation of 1.6, and if that sounds like something you'd be interested in, best keep an eye on its Greenlight page for future developments. Or, if you want to play it now, you can grab the beta version of Classic Offensive here.

Ta, PCGamesN.

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

So often the bleeding edge of games tech, yet so often fundamentally the same underneath: there’s a reason we can’t get enough of pretend shooting pretend people in their pretend faces. It is a pure test of skill and reflex, a game about movement at least as much as it is about violence, and done right it is absolutely delightful>. And hey, sometimes you get a decent gimmick or story thrown into the mix.

These are our favourite 50 first-person shooters on PC, from 1993-2017. Your favourite is at number 51.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Photo credit: World Electronic Sports Games

This weekend, all eyes will be on China as the World Electronic Sports Games opens its doors. There’s plenty to watch, from top-tier Dota 2 to the League of Legends EU Challenger Series. We even have some top quality action from one of Hearthstone’s highest ranked players. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

Dota 2: World Electronic Sports Games

The World Electronic Sports Games event kicked off yesterday at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center, China. The LAN finals event is the last part in the race for the whopping $1.5 million prize pool. A total of 24 teams have managed to secure their place in the final stage after nearly five months of gruelling regional qualifiers. However, it’s not all about the money as the tournament marks a historic moment in the Dota 2 competitive circuit. The WESG is currently the only event to offer over a million USD prize pool to teams formed exclusively from five players of the same nation. The full weekend schedule can be found here, while the event can watched over on Twitch.

StarCraft II: World Electronic Sports Games

StarCraft II also has a fairly hefty prize pool up for grabs in China this week. The WESG will be giving out $402,000 in StarCraft prizes, which is considerably less than some of the others games, but it’s still a substantial sum. The quarterfinals start today at 22:00 PST / 07:00 CET, while the semifinals begin tomorrow at 19:00 PST / 04:00 CET. You can watch all the action over on Twitch.

CS:GO: World Electronic Sports Games

CS:GO also kicked off its group stage last night and will resume today. The quarterfinals start tomorrow, while the semi-finals and the grand final will be taking place on the same day, January 15th. There has already be an unexpected surprise as the Swedish CS:GO team GODSENT will no longer be attending the WESG grand final. GODSENT were set to compete against teams such as Signature, Team Kinguin, Space Soldiers, Bravado Gaming, and FIVE eSports Club before they bowed out. The full weekend schedule can be found here, while the event can watched over on Twitch.

Hearthstone: World Electronic Sports Games

Counter Logic Gaming is set to be the favourite for this year’s title, as North American esports organisation welcomed Sebastian “Xixo” Bentert to their roster on Tuesday. His most difficult opponent will likely be fellow European player Liam “Lbdutchboy” Brouwer from the Netherlands.  Xixo was the highest ranked Hearthstone player on the GosuGamers ladder last year, as he won the StarSeries Season 2 and defeated Jon “Orange” Westberg in the European WESG qualifiers. Make sure to check the WESG Facebook page to find the latest schedule times and streams.

League of Legends: EU Challenger Series qualifiers

League of Legends fans can tune into the European Challenger Series qualifiers today as the 12 teams from France, Spain, Germany and the UK as well as Fnatic Academy, will battle out for the final two spots in the EU Challenger Series 2017 Spring Split. The finals will be best-of-five series, with the winner of each advancing to the EU CS Spring Split. Games will be played on patch 6.24 and the tournament will be played under the old six-ban rules rather than the new 10-ban ones. Play kicks off today at 08:00 PST / 17:00 CET, while the playoffs start at the same time on Sunday. The event can be watched over on LoL Esports

PC Gamer

It's easy to take the little things for granted when gaming like, you know, having two hands. That's what Jason, better known online as 'OneHandFPS,' discovered when a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed in his left hand. In an instant, the WASD setup that we all use, along with dozens of other things, became impossible for him. But, amazingly, that hasn't come between Jason and his love of gaming. I would know. I challenged him to a duel in CS:GO and he kicked my ass with what might as well have been one hand tied behind his back.

Though his accident was only eight months ago, Jason streams his attempts to get back into gaming on Twitch. Unable to play by traditional means, he uses a Razer Naga MMO mouse—the one with 12 buttons on the side—to do just about everything I would use a keyboard for. He's still able to use the weight of his left hand to push a button or two on his keyboard if he absolutely has to, but everything from moving to swapping weapons is done on the mouse. If it wasn't for the second webcam pointed at his hands when he streams, you might never notice that Jason is only using one of them. That's how good he is. But getting there, he tells me, has been a struggle. 

The road to recovery 

What was supposed to be another day of riding motorcycles with his brother turned into a disaster when Jason lost control and steered into a wall, flipping over and falling 35 feet to the ground below. "I broke multiple vertebrae," he says. "I have a T5 [spinal] fusion in my back. I broke my scapula. I broke my right arm, my left hand was severely dislocated. They said I broke all of my ribs. My spleen also exploded, so that had to be removed."

In all, he spent nine days recovering in the hospital. But when his left hand still hadn't regained feeling, Jason worried something was wrong. "After going through a bunch of tests, they determined that I severed some nerves in my brachial plexus which is in my neck," he says. "So they think I pulled them out of my spinal column." The diagnosis wasn't positive. While there might be some procedures to restore a little bit of movement, Jason's left hand was paralyzed.

For Jason, who tells me he's been playing on the PC for years, that was hard to take. "Gaming is a huge part of my life, it's like my favorite thing in the world," he says. "I was like, how am I going to play games? Am I ever going to be able to play Counter-Strike again? Am I ever going to be able to play games with my brothers and my friends?" 

But Jason didn't waste any time trying to figure out a way. He very quickly figured out that a game like Diablo 3 could easily be played entirely using the mouse, so he started slaughtering demons to help pass the time he spent at home in recovery. Take one look at the most played games on his Steam profile, however, and it's easy to see that Jason is a Counter-Strike guy at heart. Eventually he longed for the sandy corridors of de_dust2.

After a somewhat successful attempt to play the Overwatch beta, he decided it was time to give Counter-Strike a try. "What I did was I went into a deathmatch—I didn't change any [settings]—and I just sat there. I let people come to me and I'd just kill them." It was hardly playing, but it was just enough to motivate him to try a little harder. "I was like, if people are missing this bad while I'm standing still, it can't be too bad if I try moving around," he says. "So I decided to try to rebind [the controls] of Counter-Strike."

With some experimentation, Jason found a setup that worked. And with each match he played, a sliver of his previous ability came back. In the time that we spent dueling each other, it was obvious that Jason is the better player. His aim is deadly, but movement is where he can stumble. Using his thumb to control his character means that he can't strafe and peek as effectively as most players. He also tells me that in hectic situations he'll sometimes switch guns due to hitting the wrong button. Still, that hasn't stopped him from ranking at Gold Nova III. "I definitely get frustrated," he says. "I know where I used to play at skill-wise, so sometimes it gets frustrating especially when I'm in a [competitive match]. I always telling everyone that the only reason that I'm probably where I'm at right now is because of what [knowledge] I have of the game."

But knowledge in Counter-Strike goes a long way. The first few times Jason came out on top, his brothers would always brag in chat about him pulling it off one-handed. When players didn't always believe them, they started encouraging Jason to stream himself playing. Though he was apprehensive at first, he quickly realized how sharing his story could be a positive thing. "It's been amazing," he says. "Through the streaming and whatnot, I've met a bunch of great people. It's helped me tremendously—talking to these people, talking about my accident, and not just storing it away."  

Becoming King of the Kill 

Months later and Jason streams just about every single day of the week. Though his audience is small, he delights in sharing his moments of triumph. Just over a week ago, he had what might be the most meaningful of those experiences. Out of the 150 people that stepped into a match of H1Z1: King of the Kill, Jason was one of two still standing. His opponent crouched behind a large boulder while he took cover behind a tree. Using a molotov for cover, Jason broke cover and rushed his enemy. Just as he closed in, his opponent opened fire but Jason proved to be the better shot. His reaction to winning is priceless. 

"I play with two hands and I've yet to win," writes one commenter. "You put me to shame."

"I'm super proud of myself," Jason says of that win. "That meant the world to me at that moment."

And already he says he's pushing himself towards his next challenge. Fans have been clamoring to see him tackle the will-breaking monstrosities hidden within Dark Souls, a game known for its difficulty but that's already been beaten with a guitar controller, the world flipped upside down, and using only voice commands. He sounds nervous when he tells me about it, but says he's willing to give it a shot. That kind of attitude is at the heart of Jason's message: "After my accident, the only thing I could do was be positive. When I started playing games again the only thing I could do was be positive and know that I would never play on that same level," he says. "I want to tell people that, yeah, this happened to me not too long ago, but we can still work through obstacles in our lives and we can still be positive."

Jason might never reach that same level of skill he had before his accident, but I don't think he minds all that much. And you know what? Two hands or not, he can still kick some ass. If you ever see him in a game of CS:GO, tell him I want a rematch. 

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

It’s the weekly Steam charts! These are the games which sold best on Steam last week. This week, it’s the first true> chart of 2017, as the last one covered the arse-end of 2016. All change, all change.

I’m even going to do this one upside-down. New year, new rules! And I don’t want to spoil the surprise right away.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

2016 is well and truly behind us and it’s time to look forward to what 2017 has to offer. There’s plenty to watch this weekend, from top-tier Dota 2 to the Overwatch Winter Premiere. We even have action from the Hi-Rez Expo as both the SMITE World Championship and Paladins Invitational are set to thrill fans. All the details on this weekend’s action can be found below. Have a great weekend!

Dota 2: ESL One Genting 2017

ESL is kicking things off in style with the first Dota 2 stop for ESL One in 2017, at the Resorts World Genting in Malaysia. The first ever Malaysian ESL One event will see eight of the world’s best teams battle it out for their chance to win the $250,000 prize pool. The event will take place today at 03:40 PST / 12:40 CET and will carry right through to Saturday, while the finals start very early Sunday at 02:00 PST and later at 11:00 CET.  The full weekend schedule can be found here, while the event can be watched over on Twitch.

Overwatch: Winter Premiere

Overwatch’s Winter Premiere kicked off Tuesday, with eight teams vying for their share of the $100,000 prize pool. The Premiere has already been filled with a few surprises as both Cloud9 and Fnatic made the decision to drop out of the tournament despite qualifying, while the Renegades took down FaZe Clan (Fnatic’s replacement) 2-0 in the first round of the group stage. Things continue to heat up as we enter day three of the group stages and there’s plenty of action to look forward to. You can find the tournament schedule and stream here.

CS:GO: ESEA Season 23 Global Premier Challenge

The last major CS:GO tournament of 2016 saw Astralis outgun OpTic at the Esports Championship Series in an explosive final at the Anaheim Arena. It was a great event and many of us will miss the frenzied firefights, but you needn’t worry as we have another CS:GO tournament to look forward to. Eight teams are heading over to Burbank, California to participate in the ESEA Season 23 Global Challenge for their chance to play in the in the Season 5 ESL Pro League. Semifinals begin Sunday 09:00 PST / 18: 40 CET, while the finals start later at 16:40 PST / 01:40 CET. Check out all the action over on Twitch.

SMITE World Championship

The SMITE World Championship at Hi-Rez Expo 2017 will once again feature the top PC SMITE teams from around the world. Players will compete for their share of the $1,000,000 prize pool and will battle it out to determine who the best team is in Season 3. The event will be held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. Make sure you check the schedule times and stream over on the Hi-Rez expo site.

Paladins Invitational

There’s a newcomer to the world of digital sports as the first-ever Paladins HRX Invitational started yesterday at the Hi-Rez Expo. The eight teams who qualified from regional tournaments in North America, Europe, LATAM/Brazil, Australia/New Zealand, and China will compete for their chance to win the $150,000 prize pool. Group play resumes today, with the first match beginning at 09:00 PST / 18:00 CET. The semifinals start tomorrow at 07:00 PST / 16:00 CET, while the finals begin the same time Sunday.  You can find the full schedule here and watch the livestream over on Twitch.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Valve capped off 2016 by revealing the year’s 100 highest-grossing games on Steam, which is a pretty interesting list. If you’ve been following Alec’s prolonged breakdown over the weekly charts you’ll not be shocked by revelations that Grand Theft Auto V and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are near the top, but you might not expect them to be joined by the likes of No Man’s Sky or the free-to-play Dota 2.

When I asked Alec if he fancied writing up this chart too, he began hissing “The Venga Bus is coming the Venga Bus IS coming the Venga Bus is coming to take me away ho-ho hee-hee ha-haaa” so you get me and my GIFs instead. … [visit site to read more]

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

Out with the old, in with the new. By which I mean ‘and our weekly Steam Charts, showing the ten games which sold best over the previous week, returns – replete with most of the same names as last year.’

SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT AND NEVER BROUGHT TO MIND?

Welcome back. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

The openness of PC gaming allows anyone to contribute, from modders, Twitch streamers, and two-man dev teams to the biggest game studios in the world. But with no real regulator at the helm to set and enforce standards, it also means that everyone has shared ownership of the platform, opening the door to abuse, troublemakers, and scandal.

Pour a glass of dramamine and revisit the finest flubs that graced PC gaming this year. From least-most controversial to most-most controversial, these are the stories that drew the greatest negative reaction from the PC gaming community in 2016.

Scorched Earth added a ton of new stuff: new creatures like the deathworm and the mantis, new features, over 50 new items, and the centerpiece, six desert biomes.

ARK: Scorched Earth

The pressure on Steam's Early Access program has only increased since its introduction in March 2013. Although Early Access has yielded excellent games like Darkest Dungeon, Don't Starve, Offworld Trading Company, Subnautica, Divinity: Original Sin, Infinifactory, RimWorld, and Kerbal Space Program, some PC gamers remain reluctant to buy into unfinished games and the uncertainty that the Early Access label sometimes carries.

In September, Studio Wildcard dealt a blow to Early Access' reputation when it released Scorched Earth, the first paid expansion for Ark: Survival Evolved. At $20, it was two-thirds the cost of the base game. Many fans were unhappy to see a game that was by definition unfinished getting post-release content. On the third most-popular post on the Ark subreddit ever, one fan criticized: "We paid for the developers to finish Ark: Survival Evolved, instead they took our money and made another game with it." Studio Wildcard defended its decision saying that implementing an expansion early would make the technical process easier for future expansions.

More reading: Ark: Survival Evolved dev responds to paid expansion controversyValve must take greater ownership over Steam's Early Access program

Nostalrius could accommodate as many as 11,000 concurrent players.

Nostalrius

Vanilla WoW (that is, a pre-expansion version of World of Warcraft) has remained a popular way to play the most popular MMO of all time. As Angus wrote in April, "Nostalrius is a time capsule: a beautifully nostalgic record of what a living world used to look like. It's a museum piece created by passionate fans with no official alternative." 

But it's against WoW's terms of service to operate an independent game server, even if that server takes no money from its community. In April Blizzard issued a cease-and-desist against Nostalrius, WoW's biggest vanilla server, which boasted 150,000 active players. The forecast was grim: Blizzard had shut down other vanilla servers before, and it felt unlikely that the internet petition that sprung up in response was going to reverse the action against Nostalrius.

The server owners complied, shutting down Nostalrius in April, but the fight wasn't done. Shortly after, they managed a face-to-face meeting with Blizzard to press their case for the value of vanilla WoW. "After this meeting, we can affirm that these guys WANT to have legacy WoW servers, that is for sure," wrote a Nostalrius admin.

The story continued to develop as members of the Nostalrius team, seemingly uncontent with Blizzard's lack of discussion about the issue at BlizzCon, announced their plans to bring back the server under a new banner, Elysium. Barring some change of heart by Blizzard, Elysium itself stands a decent chance of also getting shut down. But the resurrection of Nostalrius puts greater pressure on Blizzard to permit vanilla servers, lest it be embroiled in another battle with a big piece of the WoW community.

More reading: Inside the WoW server Blizzard wants to shut down

The revised victory pose.

Blizzard's buttroversy

Debate about the portrayal of videogame butts came to a head in 2016 when, in a lengthy post on the Battle.net forums, player Fipps complained about a victory pose for Tracer, Overwatch's speedy and spunky attacker.

“I have a young daughter that everyday when I wake up wants to watch the Recall trailer again," Fipps wrote. "She knows who Tracer is, and as she grows up, she can grow up alongside these characters. What I'm asking is that as you continue to add to the Overwatch cast and investment elements, you double down on your commitment to create strong female characters. You've been doing a good job so far, but shipping with a tracer pose like this undermines so much of the good you've already done.”

Blizzard agreed, and promised to amend the pose. “We want *everyone* to feel strong and heroic in our community. The last thing we want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable, under-appreciated or misrepresented,” game director Jeff Kaplan wrote. 

Then came criticism that Kaplan was caving to criticism, or worse 'censoring' Overwatch in response to a complaint. "We understand that not everyone will agree with our decision, and that’s okay," he wrote in a second update. "That’s what these kinds of public tests are for. This wasn’t pandering or caving, though. This was the right call from our perspective, and we think the game will be just as fun the next time you play it."

Lost in the pile of this was how civil the original critique was. "My main complaint is that there is no facet of Tracer's silly/spunky/kind personality in the pose. It's just a generic butt shot. I don't see how that's positive for the game," wrote Fipps in the original post. I continue to agree that the pose wasn't Blizzard's best. Really, the reaction to the reaction was bigger, as it fed into a wider conversation around sexualized characters, feminism, inclusiveness, player criticism and other issues in games.

More reading: Overwatch victory pose cut after fan complains that it's over-sexualized

We loved Forza Horizon 3, but not the UWP strings it's attached to.

Microsoft's UWP

Microsoft's latest courtship of PC gaming continues to be a mixture of good and bad. We loved Forza Horizon 3, liked Gears 4, and found Halo 5: Forge to be surprisingly great. But on the operating system side, things weren't all blue skies and green fields for PC gamers in 2016. 

In March, Microsoft asserted its plan to bring its biggest games to Windows through its Universal Windows Platform, a set of standards and restrictions meant to, in Microsoft's eyes, make it easier to publish applications across multiple Windows devices, improve security, and help developers write code under a more unified platform. Those modest benefits are outweighed massively by the danger of Windows becoming more of a closed platform.

Among game companies, Epic Games CEO and co-founder Tim Sweeney was the most outspoken critic of UWP. In March, Sweeney labeled the initiative "a closed, Microsoft-controlled distribution and commerce monopoly," and called for others in the industry to oppose it. Sweeney didn't miss the opportunity to level more harsh words later in 2016. "Slowly, over the next five years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken," he warned in July.

More reading:Epic CEO Tim Sweeney pummels Microsoft's UWP initiativePhil Spencer on Microsoft's PC plans: "I wouldn’t say our strategy is to unify"

CS:GO's in-game items sparked multiple scandals.

CS:GO skin gambling

The stage for 2016's skin gambling debacle was set three years earlier, when Valve rolled out cosmetic microtransactions for CS:GO. These items could be traded, sold, and bought through Steam for as much as $400—the maximum listing price on the Steam Community Market. It didn't take long for questionable, unlicensed third-party websites to realize they could use Steam bot accounts to automate item winnings and losings, and it didn't take long for dozens of flavors of skin gambling to spring up as CS:GO peaked in popularity.

The lowest point so far in a story that continues to develop, though, was the revelation that two very popular YouTubers showed themselves winning thousands of dollars of items on a site called CSGO Lotto without mentioning or indicating in any way that they were the creators of CSGO Lotto. Oops. Exposed, TmarTn offered a pitiful apology, saying that his relationship with had been "been a matter of public record since the company was first organized in December of 2015," presumably meaning that a public record existed of his co-ownership of the shady gambling website for someone else to uncover.

There's no definitive verdict on the legality of in-game item gambling at this time, but you can expect the issue to continue to be explored in 2017.

More reading:YouTuber owner of CS:GO betting site offers worst apology ever CS:GO’s controversial skin gambling, explained

A beautiful alien dinosaur that existed only as marketing.

No Man's Sky

It was a perfect, ugly storm of some of the least-appealing trends in modern gaming: unchecked hype, unfinished games, last-minute review code, bland procedural generation, and misleading marketing.

Before that, though, heavy, sincere anticipation had formed around No Man's Sky. Here was a game from a small studio with an impossible promise: 18 quintillion planets, procedurally-generated wildlife, infinite exploration. In trailers, it looked like a massive step forward for the stagnating survival genre. To help Hello Games achieve these lofty designs, it had the backing of a major publisher in Sony. And No Man's Sky was delightfully mysterious, so much so that we were still answering fundamental questions about the game a month before launch, thanks to limited access to code. At a preview event, Chris was allowed to play for less than an hour

Concerning signs came in the days before release. A significant day-one patch was on the way to fix major exploits. The PC release date itself wasn't announced until very late. A player who acquired a leaked copy of the game was able to reach the center of this allegedly near-infinite galaxy very quickly. And in a strange move, Hello Games wrote a blog warning players about the game one day before its launch on PlayStation 4. "This maybe isn’t the game you *imagined* from those trailers," wrote Sean Murray in a blog post that outlined, from his perspective, what the space game was and was not. "I expect it to be super divisive."

It was more than that. But initially, No Man's Sky became the biggest launch on Steam of 2016, hitting 212,620 concurrent players on PC. That's more than double the all-time peak of 2015 phenomenon Rocket League. In short order, the mystery unraveled. Two players, livestreaming simultaneously on launch day, could not see one another despite reaching the same location. The limitations of the game's procedural generation were revealed, as players shared screens and video of samey-looking aliens. And the hope that somewhere, cool, custom snake monsters were prowling the universe, disappeared. Players urged other players to seek refunds, and No Man's Sky's concurrent players sunk. Hello Games went quiet.

Our reviewer, Chris Livingston, recaps the rest of the saga perfectly in our lows of the year:

And then there was the reaction to the reaction: Hello Games went utterly silent for a couple of months. While I understand the reasoning—when everything you've ever said is suddenly under intense scrutiny, it makes sense to be careful saying anything else—the impenetrable silence only made matters worse, as fans felt they had been completely abandoned and ignored. At least things have gotten better recently, with new features added in the Foundation update, and the promise of more changes to come in the future.

There are lessons to be learned on all sides. Devs: keep in mind that no one ever forgets what you say during development, and while it's fine to talk about the elements you hope to put in your game, you're going to hear about it if those things aren't actually there when you release it. Plus, completely shutting off all communication with the people who have bought your game is a terrible idea. As customers, we need to remain skeptical of early E3 trailers, bullshots, pre-launch hype, and be especially cautious about pre-ordering games. And, we need to be patient. Even if developers aren't talking, they're listening, and adding new features to a game takes time.

Ultimately, it was a pleasantly chill, but underwhelming neon planet generator that became the poster child of many of the things we dislike. The lingering thought is how differently things would've gone if No Man's Sky had released in Early Access as a $20 or $30 beta.

More reading: The anatomy of hypeFive reasons game marketing can be misleading

PC Gamer

Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson/ESL

2015 had its fair share of spectacular moments, but this year has seen the combination of individual skill with copious amounts of luck taken to whole new heights. From airborne multikills to superb finales, here are some of this year’s standout moments for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Death has wings

If this year left you feeling cold, that could only be a good sign: as Luminosity Gaming’s Marcelo 'coldzera' David demonstrated. In the first half of this year, LG (now SK Gaming) were carving a path through the best teams in the world. Running into Team Liquid in the semifinals of the MLG Columbus Major, they hit a bit of a bump. At 15-9 down, coldzera was the sole line of defence standing between Liquid and Mirage’s B-bombsite. As it turned out, he was all the defence LG needed.

Landing a jumping double-kill noscope is an unlikely prospect at the best of times, but for coldzera to pull it off and another two kills to save match point at a Major? Phenomenal. The blow proved too much for Liquid, who went on to lose the game in overtime. The full final can be found here.

The event has since been immortalized on the map with artwork of a winged AWP. You can find it tucked in by the van on the B-bombsite. Coldzera was such a fan of the piece that he commissioned a tattoo artist to recreate it.

Simple sniping

The AWP sniper rifle is Counter-Strike’s most iconic gun, recognisable instantly by its thunderous boom. If you think yourself an expert, however, let Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev enlighten you with some less conventional uses.

Left in a 1v1 with his opponent holed up in Dust2’s B-bombsite, s1mple throws both caution and his AWP to the wind in an audacious play. By hurling a massive gun over the wall, his opponent is distracted just long enough for s1mple to push in and take the round with a pistol.

S1mple is no stranger to making bold plays and, clearly envious of coldzera’s success, he couldn’t help but pull of his own spectacular noscope kills. Taking an aggressive 1v2 fight, Simple drops from Heaven on Cache’s B-bombsite, sniper in hand. Hitting one player on the way down, he then follows up with an absurd unscoped shot on the remaining terrorist. Map creator FMPONE was quick to mock up some artistic graffiti for the level, a change since added by Valve. Matching coldzera, s1mple had the work tattooed onto his arm.

The best grand final: Luminosity Gaming vs. G2, ESL Pro League Season 3 

The best grand final: Luminosity Gaming vs. G2, ESL Pro League Season 3The ESL Pro League Season 3 Grand Final hosted Brazilians Luminosity against the French G2 in a sublime five match finale. Taking place in May, LG were still riding high off their MLG Colombus Major victory. G2—after barely scraping through qualification— produced an underdog tale for the books, dominating the group stage before besting Fnatic in the semifinals. The final heralded one of the best series in years.

Map five honoured Inferno with a fitting send off before its removal and eventual rework by Valve. Despite the map holding a heavy CT-bias, the two teams traded round after round in a brutal slugfest each half. Both sides so evenly matched, it took a heart-stopping overtime finish to establish a champion. Best of five series are extremely rare these days in CS, and the ESL Pro League proved just how much of a spectacle they can offer. If you’d like to start from the beginning, game one can be found here.

A first for North America: Cloud9 win the ESL Pro League 

Following the brilliant performance of SK Gaming, the standard of competition in North America (NA) has been driven to new heights. Everyone from Team Liquid to CLG has had their moment to shine, but none quite managed to capitalise on a large international win. Fortunately, when America needed a saviour, old favourites Cloud9 stepped up to the mantle. Ousting the defending champions SK gaming 2-1, they became the first NA team to win the ESL Pro League and claim the greater share of the $600,000 prize pool.

A recent acquisition for C9, Timothy "autimatic" Ta gave an exemplary account, rising to the challenge time after time to dismantle SK. Following C9’s success, OpTic Gaming have taken the ELEAGUE Season 2 crown, increasing NA’s foothold on the international circuit. With a foot firmly in the door, the American fanbase can anticipate an exciting year to come.

Fail of the year

For every success in CS there will always be an accompanying failure, and some provide far more entertainment than others. Topping the list this year could be no other than Splyce’s stand-in, Jaryd "summit1g" Lazar. At match point, 15-12, summit is left in a tense 1v1 against CLG’s FugLy. After a short exchange, FugLy falls and Summit needs only defuse the bomb to claim victory.  With the match all but over, the production cut to Splyce’s booth in time to see the team erupt with an outburst of confusion and hilarity. Cut back to the game and we find summit has somehow died, earning CLG the round...

Oh dear. Elated in victory, summit runs over his own molotov, taking a staggering 40 damage to kill himself.  Adding insult to injury, CLG then went on to recover the match, beating Splyce in overtime 19-16. He may be a successful streamer, but summit is also likely to be the only player who managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The full match is available here.

Unusual entertainment

2016 also saw a number of bizarre occurrences play out:

Running on RNG

2016 has also seen interest in CS rise in the Eastern market, with China’s Tyloo asserting themselves on the international stage by knocking world champions Luminosity Gaming out of the Dreamhack Masters Malmo. Making their way into the quarterfinals, Tyloo were met by the might of NaVi. At 12-8 down, Tyloo attacked Inferno’s B-bombsite, producing an incredibly unconventional and unquestionably lucky AK headshot to take secure the plant.

Jumping over the first set of boxes, Hui "DD" Wu annihilates Navi’s AWPer with a single shot. Likely just looking for positional information, DD rolled the dice and came out on top, though NaVi would later take the match. The full game can be found here.

Moments like this are unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon, but the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major is just around the corner in 2017. Pitting the top teams against each other for a million dollar prize pool, CS fans will soon witness what the best of the best can be expected to achieve in the coming year. 

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