Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

A rotating selection of special modes have arrived in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive [official site] with the launch of Operation Hydra. You’ll get to collect dog tags from enemies, play 2v2, fight in low gravity with snipers, only be able to buy each weapon once per match, romp around in a bomb suit, or other such fun. These modes are free for all players to try, as are the Operation’s new maps, though folks can buy the new 5 Operation pass to get new cooperative missions, new weapon skins, and all that jazz. … [visit site to read more]

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Valve has just announced its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 'Operation Hydra' event, which will take place on a weekly basis until September. These events will feature "twists on the classic game rules", and will play out on new maps across both casual and competitive.

These events will mostly involve the aforementioned "twists". For example, Wingman, is a 2v2 best-of-16 format, while Weapons Expert is a 5v5 best-of-30 match where the player can only purchase a weapon once. Other varieties come in the form of War Games, which includes Heavy Assault Suit – a bomb defusal round with the added twist that one player is wearing heavy armor. 

Meanwhile, Headshots Only is a War Game which does what it says on the tin; Hunters-Gatherers is a mode where each player drops a dogtag on death, which can be collected to win the game, and Stab Stab Zap involves only a knife, a recharging Zeus and grenades. There are more War Games, detailed over here.

Of course, you can buy an "all access" pass for $5.99 (US), which boosts the XP you earn, while also adding a new Guardian campaign where you and a friend play through a series of missions where, at a hunch, enemies will need to be shot. There are also the usual range of new weapon skins, cases and more. The full rundown can be read over here.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Oh my Grodd

The Mac Dad will make you jump jump, for, as always, these are the ten games with the most accumulated sales on Steam over the past week. It’s an odd old chart this week: the mainstays continue to stay, but random discounts remix things quite a bit. … [visit site to read more]

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion checks to see which ten games sold best on Steam over the past week. He just can’t sleep until he knows whether Prey made it to number one or not. … [visit site to read more]

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Photo credit: ESL

The Dota 2 Kiev Major wrapped up last weekend with OG defeating Virtus.pro 3-2 to take home their fourth Major crown and the $1 million prize pool. However, there’s still plenty of action to come from the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational to the CS:GO Intel Extreme Masters. We even have the Hearthstone China vs. Europe tournament to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: Mid-Season Invitational

The Mid-Season Invitational kicked off with eight teams battling for the chance to advance to the main event in Rio de Janeiro. GIGABYTE Marines will play this Saturday against the loser of the round two series between Flash Wolves and Supermassive. Meanwhile, the winner of Saturday’s match will advance to the MSI Group Stage, so both teams will need to be at their best. GIGABYTE surprised many fans this week when they managed to take two wins away from TSM, but they failed to take the series. Jungler Levi will be aiming to use his creative pathing once again this weekend, so expect plenty of jungle antics in round three of the Play-In stage. The full schedule and stream can be found on LoL Esports.

Rocket League: RLCS Regional Championships

The Rocket League RLCS Championships return this weekend and players will be fighting for their share of $25,000 prize pool and a spot in the Season 3 World Championship. The top two teams from NA and EU will also get guaranteed spots next season, which puts even more pressure on the teams this weekend. The action kicks off in North America this Saturday at 12:00 PDT / 21:00 CEST, while Europe closes out the weekend this Sunday at 09:00 PDT / 18:00 CEST. Tune into all the latest action over on Twitch to find out which team will punch their ticket to Los Angeles.

CS:GO: Intel Extreme Masters XII—Sydney

Day one of Intel Extreme Masters Sydney 2017 concluded with SK Gaming and Astralis taking the lead. SK Gaming lived up to expectations as they quickly dismantled ViCi by consistently outgunning them. ViCi struggled to produce a positive result against the competition favourites and SK closed out the series 16:6. Meanwhile, Astralis notched a victory over IEM’s local representatives, Chiefs Esports. Chiefs did find some success in securing bomb plants, but this was fairly short-lived, as Astralis started winning consecutive rounds. Astralis were on top form and they crushed the Chiefs in a dominant 16:5 victory. This weekend’s full schedule and stream can be found by heading over to IEM’s official site.

Overwatch: Apex Season 3

The Overwatch Apex Season 3 kicked off in Korea last week and Lunatic Hai are currently in the lead in the Group A bracket after they beat Team KongDoo Panthera 3-2. Rogue will need to land a critical blow to Mighty AOD if they wish to rival Lunatic Hai for first place. Team KongDoo Uncia will face X-6 Gaming at 03:00 PDT / 12:00 CEST, while Rogue will clash with Mighty AOD at 04:30 PDT / 13:30 CEST. Meanwhile, EnVyUs will start their journey on May 16th where they will battle it out against the likes of Meta Athena and BK Stars. Make sure to check out the full stream over on Twitch.

Hearthstone: Global Games

The Hearthstone Global Games tournament is well underway, and a few teams have begun to establish themselves in the early stages of the tournament. Group C’s round three matches concluded yesterday for US viewers,  but those of you in Europe can catch all the action today at 03:00 CEST. The USA are off to the best start out of anyone in the Global Games so far—securing seven wins in total and only dropping one game. It’s a long road ahead for the pros and every team will be fighting hard to secure the $300,000 prize pool. The full schedule and stream for week four can be found here.

Hearthstone: China vs. Europe

The fourth Hearthstone vs. China tournament began its group stage yesterday and will continue until May 10th. Europe was undefeated for three years straight before China retorted with a championship win last year. Bohan “Lovelychook” Zhang dethroned former champion Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh and drove home his Ferrari sports car prize. This year’s CN vs. EU has made the Ferrari winnable by all, so every player will need to be at their best if they wish to drive home in style. A mix of invites and tournament winners will represent the host nation, most notably Blizzcon semi-finalist Jason “JazonZhou” Zhou and reigning champion Lovelychook. Group play resumes today at 03:00 PDT / 15:00 CEST, so make sure you check out the stream over on Twitch.

Heroes of the Storm: Global Championship

The Heroes of the Storm Global Championship begins week ten of play this weekend and the top teams from EU and NA aim to continue their dominance. Gale Force will need to secure a decisive win over Tempo Storm and B-Step this weekend if they want to make a claim for top spot. Meanwhile, Dignitas will be looking to snag a win over Fnatic after being knocked down to second place. You can check out the standings for each region and view the tournament schedule for your area over on the Heroes of the Storm’s official site

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Did you know: the weekly Steam charts, in which we round-up the ten games which sold best on Steam over the previous week, are broadly the most-read articles on RPS these days?

That means I can never stop. Never. Stop.

… [visit site to read more]

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

French professional team Vexed announced in a blog post this morning that they were hiring Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian, a one-time staple of CS:GO’s upper echelons of professional competition. In his heyday, KQLY played for some of the game’s best teams, winning a couple sizeable tournaments and placing well in some massive events as part of French teams LDLC and Titan.

One problem: KQLY was banned for cheating back in 2014, prohibiting him from participating in official Valve-sponsored tournaments, the highest tier of competition in CS:GO. Due to recent rule changes made by ESL, one of CS:GO’s biggest tournament organizers, Vexed will be able to participate in some decent-sized tournaments with KQLY in their roster, but the game’s players and spectators have reacted negatively to the announcement.

Two of Vexed s existing players stated that they had not been informed of the potential roster change before it happened.

KQLY is likely the highest-profile player to ever receive a ban for cheating in CS:GO. At the height of his success, shortly after finishing in the top four at ESL One: Cologne as part of Titan, his team seemed poised for greatness in the latter half of 2014. But his squadmates’ hopes were crushed that November when KQLY was banned, and Valve announced that the whole Titan team would not be allowed to compete at Dreamhack Winter 2014. Eventually, KQLY was replaced and Titan carried on, but they were never able to achieve the success that had seemed inevitable before the ban, and eventually dissolved in 2016. In a farewell letter from the CEO, Titan alluded to KQLY’s misconduct as a large part of their inability to keep the team operational.

KQLY, as a member of Titan. (image via Fragbite.se)

The controversy damaged CS:GO’s reputation as an esport and made KQLY an unpopular figure, so Vexed’s hiring of KQLY to play for them in the upcoming ESL Championnat National tournament was bound to be poorly received by the community. But surprisingly, that negative reception extended to the team itself: two of Vexed’s existing players stated that they had not been informed of the potential roster change before it happened, and that they refused to play with KQLY in upcoming events. Vexed has now updated their roster at the bottom of the original announcement, removing all mention of the two dissenting players.

Other CS:GO professionals weighed in on the announcement as well. Veteran player and current LDLC member Ex6TenZ tweeted a sarcastic one-liner that implied Vexed would have a much harder time finding sponsors for their team now that they had a former cheater in their employ. Former Team Liquid player Hiko expressed similar derision on his Twitch stream upon hearing the news, exclaiming “KQLY’s back on a team again - gets VAC banned, but can join a team? Interesting. My boy [Braxton ‘swag’ Pierce, of iBuyPower] throws a match and he’s banned for life, but KQLY literally cheats in the game and comes back?”

In the latter half of his remarks, Hiko alludes to an old wound that the CS:GO community has been nursing for years now; he mentions that while the recent ESL rule changes allow anyone banned for cheating to play in ESL tournaments once two years have passed, the iBuyPower players who were banned for match fixing in early 2015 are still banned indefinitely. Much of the community believes cheating in the actual game to be as heinous of a crime as throwing a match for financial compensation, and that Valve’s failure to address this disparity in punishment has festered for an inordinately long time.

Vexed still won’t be able to play in the Valve-sponsored “Majors,” CS:GO’s most lucrative tournaments, since Valve maintains that no cheater will ever be allowed back into its good graces. In reality, that doesn’t affect a team like Vexed much; they’re not at the level where they would qualify for Majors, and since ESL has changed its rules, Vexed can still play all of the tournaments that exist at their skill level without incident. This stands in contrast to the fate of iBuyPower’s players, who are still banned by Valve, ESL, and any other tournament organizer who wishes to maintain their relationship with Valve.

It’s a sticky situation that once again has players questioning Valve’s philosophy regarding banned players, and has the potential to deal another blow to CS:GO’s reputation with sponsors and organizing bodies.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Last week didn't get off to a great start for Adam 'LoOp' Bahriz. The 17-year-old Counter-Strike player hopped onto the competitive Global Offensive ESEA league to play a few rounds while broadcasting to a tiny audience on Twitch only to be bullied and kicked from the match shortly after. Then, after Bahriz's story got shared on Reddit, the community banded together to donate thousands of dollars to pay for medical procedures and college while also boosting his follower count from under 5,000 to nearly 100,000. He's even been offered contracts with Twitch and some of CS:GO's biggest esports teams.

"I'm still absolutely mesmerized this is incredible," Bahriz wrote on Reddit.It's one of the most dramatic stories of how internet communities can often be toxic one second and heart-warmingly generous the next. And it all started because of a simple misunderstanding due to Bahriz's disability.

Bahriz was born with a condition that has left him legally blind, deaf, and unable to feel pain. It's known as hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 2, or simply HSAN 2. Despite his disability, he is still an incredible CS player and currently sits at Rank B on ESEA—a pretty damn good spot to hold for even able-bodied players. But his condition also led to needing his teeth and part of his nose removed. Understandably, this makes verbal communication a little trickier for him. That's why he graciously explained his condition at the beginning of the ESEA match.

"Sup guys I got a lot of teeth removed due to a genetic disease so I can't speak that properly, I can still call but be nice," Bahriz wrote in text chat at the beginning of the round. Bahriz then began using the voice channel to talk strategy with his team, but they didn't take him seriously. 

"Dude, we know you're trolling. Just stop," one player said back while the rest of the team trash talked Bahriz's speech impediment and began muting him. A few rounds later, they voted to kick him from the game entirely. Understandably, Bahriz was upset. His team was up 5-1 and Bahriz was trying to recover from a losing streak from previous games.

"At that point all I could think about was all the bullshit I’ve had to deal with on ESEA for the longest time, not because of a completely lacking of ability to talk, or mechanical skill, or anything like that, but just because of a small speech problem that is caused by something I have no control over," Bahriz told Kotaku.

At that point all I could think about was all the bullshit I ve had to deal with on ESEA for the longest time... just because of a small speech problem that is caused by something I have no control over.

The whole incident, including Bahriz's frustration following being kicked, was broadcast to his handful of viewers. One of them decided to take action. "This honestly broke my heart man," a user by the name of ch0med wrote on the ESEA forums, linking to Twitch clips of Bahriz being muted and kicked from the game. "This is absolutely disgusting how some people can be towards others without even getting a glimpse of some of the struggles people face. And they turn to gaming to get away from the real world, but still people just feel the need to ruin other people." 

Meanwhile, another viewer posted to the CS:GO subreddit, asking the community to "show him some love" because of what happened. And boy, did they.

Both posts immediately exploded, with the Reddit thread becoming the most popular on the subreddit within hours. Meanwhile, Twitch shared an incredible clip of Bahriz securing a clutch win for his team alone against five enemies. Because of this, Bahriz's popularity immediately exploded and by the end of the day his Twitch stream had upwards of 5,000 active viewers. 

Things get even better. With HSAN 2, Bahriz understandably requires a lot of medical care. As he told Kotaku, he needed eye surgery that his insurance wouldn't be able to cover. But thanks to an outpouring of donations that day, he's able to get the operation done and pay for it out of pocket. What's more, in a Ask Me Anything thread he created on the CS:GO subreddit, Bahriz explains he'll likely be able to pay for college and a trip home to Algeria.

Shortly after Bahriz's story exploded, two of his teammates came out on the ESEA forums to explain their side of the story and apologize. "We thought he was a troll…" wrote Adviko. "What would you think if someone came in with a bind text like that, people troll like that all the time. Instead he should tell the people to check out his Twitch. After I checked his Twitch I realized he was for real. I apologize but it was an honest misunderstanding. Lots of people troll in ESEA."

While their position is somewhat understandable, people didn't have too much sympathy considering how quick they were to judge Bahriz, even after he apologized and said he wouldn't talk. According to Bahriz, each teammate received a three day ban from the third-party league.

The community outreach around Bahriz since the initial flurry of attention has been heartwarming. Team EnVyUs, one of the largest esports teams who most recently took home $800,000 in the World Electronic Sports Games 2016, reached out to offer Bahriz a streaming contract. Bahriz has also since signed a Twitch partner contract. 

Bahriz now has over 97,000 followers on Twitch after everything that has happened, and his audience continues to grow. While he is stunned by the community's response, he also hints that things might've been taken out of proportion. "I couldn't give a single fuck that I randomly got kicked, 20 [minutes] of not pugging is no big deal," he wrote. "[In] other situations I would've probably not muted them and linked my Twitch but I was just tired of that shit at that point."

Still, it's a good reminder to always be mindful that people we meet online might have their own struggles we're not aware of. 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

We have a GIFbot in the RPS staff chatroom. GIFbot is a treacherous and unreliable creature, often offering wildly irrelevant or breathtakingly banal results when we type ‘/gif whateverphrase’ and then cope with whatever it randomly pulls from whatever reprobate corner of the internet it’s plugged into it. However, often enough its results are so irrelevant as to be perfection itself>. And so we shall keep it around for an eternity, and reach for it in our darkest hours.

For instance, in the absence of a better conceit for the latest Steam Charts. For these, once again, are the ten games with the most accumulated sales on Steam over the past week. Take it away, GIFbot. … [visit site to read more]

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