PC Gamer

The League of Legends LCS continues to dominate the headlines at the moment, but there are actually a fair few other events taking place this weekend. There’s plenty of action from the CS:GO: DreamHack Masters to the Heroes of the Storm: Global Championship. We even have the Hearthstone Winter Playoffs to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: 2017 EU LCS Spring Split

H2K Gaming bounced back from their tough loss against G2 by beating Team ROCCAT, while G2 Esports earned its sixth straight series win after sweeping Origen 2-0. The Giants and ROCCAT are still the underdogs of the tournament, but both teams are determined to improve their scores this weekend where they’ll face H2K and Splyce. The competition’s looking extremely fierce and we can expect to see some exciting games as we go into week five. This week’s schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

League of Legends: 2017 NA LCS Spring Split

Echo Fox had another fantastic week as jungler Akaadian snowballed his team with an early advantage that allowed him to apply pressure all other the map. Team Dignitas even managed to secure their second win when they defeated in EnVy 2-0. Meanwhile, Team Liquid narrowly lost their match against Cloud9, but Piglet and Reignover showed great potential with their jungle and AD carry plays. The full schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

CS:GO: DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017

Following the success of the first ever DreamHack Masters in Malmö, DreamHack has taken their explosive CS:GO tournament to Las Vegas. The World’s best CS:GO teams have been busy battling it out at the iconic MGM Grand and Garden Arena for their chance to win the $450,000 prize pool. The competition is set to be fierce and we will find out whether anyone has what it takes to beat the current titleholders Ninjas in Pyjamas. The full schedule can be found here, while the stream can be found by heading over to Twitch.

Hearthstone: 2017 HCT Americas Winter Playoffs

Last weekend the European branch of the Hearthstone Championship Tour kicked off and determined which four players (Pavel, Neirea, GreenSheep, and ShtanUdachi) would be competing at the Hearthstone Winter Championship in the Bahamas, as well as crowning Pavel the HCT EU Winter Champion. This weekend we’ll see which players have what it takes to represent the Americas and be crowned the HCT Americas Winter Champion. The matches kick off on Saturday at 08:00 PST / 17:00 CET, and continue Sunday at 09:00 PST / 18:00 CET. You can find the weekend’s schedule and official stream here.

Heroes of the Storm: Global ChampionshipSeven teams have booked their ticket to the Western Clash at IEM Katowice. Tempo Storm, Team 8, and Gale Force eSports from North America made the cut during week four of play. Misfits secured their spot after defeating Team expert 3-0, while fellow European teams Fnatic and Team Dignitas will also be joining them. Both NA and EU schedules can be found here, while the stream can be viewed by heading over to Twitch

PC Gamer

Anti-cheat software has a lot of weight to pull in the modern age, with few major games going to market without some form of online competitive mode. Detecting and smiting cheaters is a thankless task too, with most folk ignoring anti-cheat technology unless it stops working effectively. Typically enough, Valve has a new approach in mind.

During a discussion on the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Reddit page, one user asked why Valve doesn't implement auto-detection for spinbots – bots that literally spin on the spot, auto-killing every player in range. Other users posit quite reasonably that it wouldn't be hard to detect this supernaturally quick and effective player behavior. That may be true, but according to a Valve spokesperson writing in the thread, it wouldn't be the best approach.

"So some bad news: any hard-coded detection of spin-botting leads to an arms race with cheat developers – if they can find the edges of the heuristic you’re using to detect the cheat, the problem comes back," the spokesperson wrote. "Instead, you’d want to take a machine-learning approach, training (and continuously retraining) a classifier that can detect the differences between cheaters and normal/highly-skilled players."

That sounds simple enough if you don't know what's at stake, but actually, it's an approach to anti-cheat which ups the ante entirely: both in possible effectiveness and the sheer cost of operating it.

"The process of parsing, training, and classifying player data places serious demands on hardware, which means you want a machine other than the server doing the work. And because you don’t know ahead of time who might be using this kind of cheat, you’d have to monitor matches as they take place, from all ten players’ perspectives."

The spokesperson continued: "There are over a million CS:GO matches played every day, so to avoid falling behind you’d need a system capable of parsing and processing every demo of every match from every player’s perspective, which currently means you’d need a datacenter capable of powering thousands of CPU cores."

Apparently Valve has "started this work" and already has an early version of the system deployed to Overwatch – a self-regulated community dedicated to reviewing cheat reports in the game. The company will "continue this work and expand the system over time".

PC Gamer

Photo credit: Heather 'sapphiRe' Garozzo

As the bombastic opening to last month’s ELEAGUE Major demonstrated, esports have come a long way since the LAN parties of the ‘90s. Within this developing environment, more and more unique careers are emerging. While CS:GO’s casters and analysts rival even the players in popularity, a further selection of vital backstage roles are only just starting to gain attention. Chief among these unsung heroes are CS:GO’s observers.

What is an observer?

By controlling the in-game camera, the observer decides which player perspectives or camera angles are broadcast during the match. When you’re watching an online stream, every viewpoint is chosen by them. With the onus on ensuring that the big plays are captured each round, the difference between a good and bad observer is not to be understated. Experienced observers are few and far between, and as tournaments continue to expand, it’s a position increasingly in demand. I had the chance to speak with Heather ‘sapphiRe’ Garozzo, one of CS:GO’s most accomplished observers, on what the role entails.

“An observer is essentially an in-game director for a match,” Heather says. “There’s a main director who’s telling people when to go in game, when to look at the team, the analyst's desk or the host. Then there’s the in-game director which is the observer. My job is to direct the action in the game. Essentially I’m a storyteller. I’m telling the story of a round or the match.”

A former professional competitor, Heather has been playing CS since its initial release in 1999. Alongside her gaming career, Heather began covering CS:Source as a freelance writer, travelling at her own expense to cover various events. Eventually noticed by companies such as ESEA and ESL, Heather moved onto CS:GO coverage until, out of the blue, she was asked to observe a match.

“One weekend, former competitive player impulsivE said he needed an observer,” recalls Heather. “I said you need a what? An observer? I guess I’ll give that a shot. I was kind of nervous as I’d never done that before and hadn’t really thought of an observer as a thing. I used to watch hundreds of demos, thousands of demos of teams for analytical articles. It turns out I was pretty comfortable with it.”

As it happened, this match was part of the 2015 ESL One Cologne Major Qualifier and opened the door to a career that few playing the game were even aware of. Since then, Heather has worked at a great number of notable events including the MLG Columbus Major and ESL Pro League Season 2 Finals.

Know the players, know the game

Anticipating the key moments in each round is no easy task, with players often spread across all corners of the map. A good knowledge of the scene is therefore a great boon. Getting a grasp of which players are the main entry fraggers, AWPers and lurkers is just the beginning. Getting to know the players themselves is the real goal.

“I’d say what really sets me apart from the average observer is that, because I get to observe these guys so often, I know their style,” says Heather. “Like [EnVyUs’ AWPer] KennyS. He likes to play these very aggressive angles on Dust2. We’re watching the map most of the time, so we’re watching little dots on the radar. We’re not just clicking round through players trying to find something. When I see KennyS’s dot on that particular spot and I know he has an AWP? I’m probably gonna switch to him if I see a T approaching.”

“Another example is Stewie2K,” Heather adds. “He’s typically known for pushing through smokes. A lot of players see smokes as a wall. Not Stewie—don’t switch off him because he’s probably going to do something crazy. I think it really makes a difference for me, it allows me to be more reactive when I can anticipate the players.”

Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson/ESL

Caster relationships

This knowledge extends beyond those competing to the external talent. Another key part of an observer’s work is to compliment the casters. During a match, casters are often in direct communication with the observation team, making requests for specific viewpoints or statistics. Working in tandem over a number of tournaments, Heather has built up a rapport with CS:GO’s top casting talent, and is able to adapt her style to suit them.

“I have to work very closely with [them]” says Heather. “If you don’t have a good observer, the talented casters are going to be unable to do their job. They’re the narrators and I’m directing for them. I’m fortunate enough that I get to travel to a lot of different events. I’m seeing these guys every other weekend so I get to know them and build up a chemistry.”

“Sadokist likes to call things out that he wants to talk about, so I have to queue those up for him on the main screen,” Heather gives as an example. “Semmler likes to cover how many players lived or died on previous rounds so I need to dig into the scoreboard and damage done on players. It really helps to get to know their style. To the audience we want it to look like one complete package, not a bunch of different people.”

Photo credit: Heather 'sapphiRe' Garozzo

Rules of thumb

The level of involvement and prior knowledge required to reach the top might seem daunting, but Heather is quick to offer some basic tips to improve your observing significantly.

“There’re definitely a few rules of thumb. For example, in a 1v2 I’m almost always going to put the camera on the one person, because he’s always more likely to do something more impressive or pull off a clutch,” Heather advises. “When 5 Ts are pushing one CT, I could keep trying to guess which one is going to get the kill, but the better guess is to go on [the lone player].”An observer’s goal is to consistently find the most exciting part of the match. This can involve swapping between both sides based on the pace of a team or which segment of the round is occurring.

 “At the beginning of the round, you usually want to show the terrorists as they’re the ones that need to advance on the map,” says Heather. “What they’re doing is the most important thing on the map, unless the CTs do something special. Let that part unfold and then, when they’re about to execute onto a site, you often want to switch to the CTs.”

How to start observing

If observing sounds like your thing, the tools included in CS:GO make starting out easier than ever—but you’ll need to earn some experience before you hit the big leagues. Fortunately, Heather suggests, there is plenty of demand.

“I think of it as similar as the route to casting,” says Heather. “ESL is not going to hire you without some sort of experience, as you’re working with the directors and producers. Even after I got my start at ESL, I tried to do a lot of things on my own. For example on ESEA, or ESL and FACEIT there are literally hundreds of matches every night which go unstreamed, and people want to watch those. That’s a great opportunity to practice and build content on your Twitch stream. It’s as easy as firing up your stream [and posting the link] on a match page.”

An additional route is to work with those keen to get involved in other areas. The popularity of match commentators like Anders Blume and Henry “HenryG” Greer has led to many new faces keen to practice their casting talent. Most will be more than keen to work with an observer and ease their workload.

“I think that would be a great way to do it,” Heather says. “You have caster duos but I think it would be cool to have caster-observer duos. It’s really hard to cast and observe at the same time, so observe for them and you can both get experience.”

Photo credit: Heather 'sapphiRe' Garozzo

Deserving attention

By virtue of being an off-camera role, observing has been slow to gain recognition by the community—but times are changing. Last year’s ESL Pro League Season 2 Finals included observers among their talent announcement, and casters have even been making an effort to commend their good work.

“It’s such a nice feeling when they do that and it’s great to know we’re getting more attention,” says Heather. “I definitely notice that. Things as simple as that when the crew are picked up in the morning, we go with the talent. Casters are going to have preference for who they want to work with. Even on reddit too a lot of people get excited when a particular observer is announced.”

With most observers starting out as fans and players of the series, it’s fantastic to see their work gain appreciation in the audience. As esports evolve, here’s hoping these hidden stars continue to be acknowledged.

PC Gamer

Last year, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's Inferno map was given a fresh lick of paint before being offered to players to test out and file feedback. Check out our 'before and after' Inferno slider gallery over here to this end, and know that said makeover has now led Inferno to replace the game's renowned Dust2 arena—with the latter being removed from Active Duty. Dust2 is still playable, however retires from the competitive esports scene as it stands.  

Now "front and centre" on the Competitive Matchmaking map selection screen, Dust2 can still be enjoyed in deathmatch and casual mode, however the changes brought by Inferno's new look have seen it poke its nose in front.   

"In the wake of the ELEAGUE Major (congratulations Astralis), we’re making a change to the map pool: Inferno has returned to Active Duty, replacing Dust II, and will be featured at the next CS:GO Major," so reads an update post on the official CS:GO blog. "As in the past, the updated Active Duty pool is automatically selected when you enter Matchmaking." 

The post continues: "And in Casual and Deathmatch game modes, it’s now a bit easier to play your favorite maps. Map groups have been separated into additional categories: Active Duty, Hostage, Reserves, and Dust II." 

Let me now turn this over to our competitive Counter-Strikers: is the ascension of the reborn Inferno a good move, or a cartographic nightmare?

PC Gamer

This weekend, all eyes will be on the CS:GO ELEAGUE Major as the world’s best teams battle it out in Atlanta for their chance to win $1,000,000. There’s plenty to watch, from top-tier Overwatch to the League of Legends EU and NA Spring split. We even have some top quality from the Heroes of the Storm: Global Championship. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below. Have a great weekend!

CS:GO: ELEAGUE Major 2017

The CS:GO ELEAGUE quarterfinals begin today as Natus Vincere and Astralis take to the stage. We expect flamie will bring the firepower Navi needs to beat Astralis in the upcoming match, but we’ll have to see if his precise bursting and multi-kill capabilities are enough to stop their onslaught. The competition has already been extremely fierce as teams battle not only for progress, but survival. The schedule can be found here, while the event will be streamed live via the ELEAGUE channel on Twitch.

Overwatch: Winter Premiere

NGE's Winter Premiere tournament now has its top four teams, who will be advancing to the live LAN finals at PAX South: Immortals, Kungarna, compLexity and Luminosity Gaming. Many fans are excited to see how Kungarna handles themselves against some of the more established teams, as they are considered to be the underdog going into the semifinals. However, every team will be looking to snag their share of the $100,000 prize pool and claim this year’s title. Semifinals kick off today at 10:00 PST / 19:00 CET, while the finals start the following day. The event can be watched over on Twitch.

League of Legends: 2017 EU LCS Spring Split

Once again, H2k and G2 clearly showed their dominance and as they prove they have what it takes to battle it out at the grand finals. G2’s offseason training had greatly improved their performance on the Rift and this was shown when they defeated Fnatic and ROCCAT in week one. However, teams like Fnatic, UOL, Misfits and Giants have yet to improve and show their fans that they can challenge the top contenders. The full schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

League of Legends: 2017 NA LCS Spring Split

Both Cloud9 and OG Cloud9 AKA FlyQuest are currently sitting at the top of the table after what seemed to be a repeat of last year’s events. Echo Fox struggled to close out games and Counter Logic Gaming nearly gave their fans multiple heart attacks. However, most eyes were focussed on the rookie NA junglers and Korean import top laners who made their debuts in this year’s LCS. We’re even starting to see just how OP Camille is. The full schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

Heroes of the Storm: Global Championship

Week one was arguably Misfits most challenging week of their entire season. The team had spent a lengthy amount of time out of the public eye and no one knew how the team would perform, especially against Team Dignitas and Fnatic. However, Misfits managed to come out on top, proving to critics and fans alike that they’re still a top contender. Tempo Storm will face Team Freedom today at 14:00 PST / 23:00 CET. The full schedule and stream can be found here.

PC Gamer

As James Busby noted in his best pro gaming weekend preview, the group stages for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's biggest pro tourney of the year so far—the ELEAGUE Major—kicked off yesterday. Top prize is $1,000,000 (over £803,000), which is probably why players are pulling out all the stops ahead of the competition's January 27 playoffs. 

Players such as Team Liquid's Josh "jdm64" Marzano who, after losing team captain Spencer "Hiko" Martin, took on four of the opposing Team EnVyUs' players on his lonesome, and came out the other end unscathed in one spectacular round of top-class sniping and flash bang hurling.

I'm no competitive CS:GO expert myself, but it'd seem Team EnVyUs' decision to stagger their attacks made things easier for jdm64 here, however that's not to take away from his resolve and skill in this four versus one situation. The remainder of the match went into triple-overtime as a result of jdm64's class, however the rounds that followed saw Team EnvyUs retain the upper hand—eventually going on to win 25-21. 

Still, top backs-to-the-wall work from Marzano.  

Thanks, Kotaku Australia.

PC Gamer

The World Electronic Sports Games wrapped up in China this week, with Team EnVyUs taking home the $800,000 prize by defeating Team Kinguin in the CS:GO final. We even got to see TNC Pro Team defeat Cloud9 in the Dota 2 finals. It’s certainly been a busy start to 2017 and we’re not slowing down yet. There’s plenty to watch, from top-tier League of Legends to the CS:GO: ELEAGUE Major. We even have some top quality action from Heroes of the Storm. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: 2017 EU LCS Spring Split

League of Legends fans can tune into the European Spring Split today as the 10 teams from France, Spain, Germany and the UK, as well as Fnatic Academy, battle it out for their chance to represent Europe in the Mid-Season Invitational. We will find out if anyone has what it takes to challenge G2 for the crown. Misfits and GIANTS! Gaming kick things off today at 08:00 PST / 17:00 CET. The full schedule and stream can be found by heading over to LoL Esports.

League of Legends: 2017 NA LCS Spring Split

The NA LCS Spring Split also returns today and this season might be one of the most exciting to date. Top teams from the last split have all become a little bit weaker, especially TSM who lost their star player Doublelift and replaced him with Wildturtle. Cloud 9 have also acquired new coaching and player talent from South Korea and replaced Meteos with the talented player Contractz. Both these teams will be kicking things off today at 15:00 PST / 00:00 CET, while the full schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

Dota 2: Pit League Season 5

Eight teams will compete for the season five title and with a minimum prize pool of $125 000 on the line, plus the portion spent on chests and in-game tickets, it is sure to be a fiercely contested event. The tournament is scheduled for this weekend and the top teams are set to clash right from the beginning. Quarterfinals begin today at 01:00 / 10:00 CET and resume tomorrow at the same time. The event can be streamed over on Twitch.

CS:GO: ELEAGUE Major 2017

Sixteen of the best CS:GO teams will battle it out at the FOX Theatre in Atlanta, USA.  The group stage will take place from January 22nd to the 26th, while the playoffs begin on the 27th and end on the 29th. SK Gaming is set to be the favourites after they dominated last year’s headlines. However, the competition will be extremely fierce as everyone will want a piece of the $1,000,000 pie. The schedule can be found here, while the event will be streamed live via the ELEAGUE channel on Twitch.

Overwatch: OGN APEX Season 2

The star studded lineups have been battling since Tuesday in order to grab their share of the $180,000 prize pool. OGN APEX Season 2 has invited four Western teams to compete with the best Korea has to offer. So far the group B bracket has been the group that has received the most attention as it features Asia’s highest ranked team, Lunatic-Hai. However, Europe’s second highest ranked team, Misfits, will also be looking to reign supreme. It’s likely the winner of this group may go on to win the tournament. Group C will be starting their matches today at 02:00 PST / 11:00 CET, while Group D start at 03:30 PST / 12:30 CET. The event can be watched over on Twitch.

Heroes of the Storm: Global Championship stage

Heroes of the Storm’s HGC will see top teams battle for supremacy in regional professional leagues around the world. The best of the best will be tested in international clashes and a mid-season brawl as they fight their way to the finish at the HGC finals. The Heroes Global Champions will take home the crown and the winner's share of the cash prize. Europe’s first match between Team Dignitas and Misfits begins at 09:00 PST / 18:00 CET, while the North American match between Tempo Storm and Team Naventic starts at 14:00 PST / 11:00 CET. The full schedule and stream can be found here.

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.

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. 


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