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This weekend is extremely busy, with both the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational and the many attractions of DreamHack Austin vying for your time. You'll find esports of almost every stripe ahead, with only Dota 2 taking a break in the immediate aftermath of the Manila Major qualifiers. GL HF!
League of Legends: Mid-Season Invitational 2016
MSI is the talk of the League of Legends world at the moment, and expect that to continue for the next week or so as the action rages on in Shanghai. We're currently in the middle of the group stages, which will continue throughout the weekend play starts at 06:30 BST/22:30 PDT on Saturday and at 04:30 BST/20:30 PDT on Sunday. As ever, you can find loads more information, and the livestream, at LoLesports.
CSGO: DreamHack ZOWIE Open
A cross-section of American CS:GO go to war with a grand prize of $50,000 on the line as part of the ongoing DreamHack ZOWIE Open series. This is a chance to check in on MLG Columbus surprise hit Luminosity Gaming as well as CLG, Cloud9, Liquid and more. Play starts on Saturday at 21:00 BST/13:00 PDT and you can watch the games on DreamHack's CS stream.
StarCraft II: DreamHack ZOWIE Open/WCS Spring Circuit Championship
Talented StarCraft II players compete for a share of $50,000 and, perhaps more importantly, 5000 WCS points. It opens with a massive 96-player group stage, so there are plenty of opportunities for unknown players to shine (or fail horribly.) Even so, you might want to tune in later in the day to see the highest standard of play. The games began today and continue throughout the weekend, starting at 17:45 BST/09:45 PDT on Saturday and 18:30 BST/10:30 PDT on Sunday. Here's the stream.
Hearthstone: DreamHack Grand Prix Series
Another open event at DreamHack Austin, this time with a relatively modest prize pool of $27,500. They only plan to livestream the best of the Swiss round followed by the top 8 bracket, so Sunday's probably the day to tune in expect the stream to start around 17:00 BST/09:00 PDT. You'll be able to find the stream link through dreamhack.tv.
Heroes of the Storm: NA Summer Regional
There's $100,000 on the line at the HotS Summer Regional at Dreamhack Austin, along with a spot at the Summer Global Championship in June. NA is one of the most dynamic regions for Heroes of the Storm, making this a good place to jump in if you've not tuned in before. Play began today, but you can watch the second day (including the finals) on Saturday from 17:00 BST/09:00 PDT. Find the livestream here.
Smite: Spring Split
There's another weekend of top-level European and North American Smite ahead. On Saturday, Hungry For More formed from the ashes of Titan will take on both Paradigm and Team Dignitas. They've had a spotty record so far, and will be looking to turn that around. In NA on Sunday, Enemy's new(est) roster will take on Team EnVyUs and SoaR G2A. Games start at 18:00 BST/10:00 PDT on both days, and you can watch them here.
Street Fighter V: Capcom Pro Tour NA Ranking Event
The latest stop on the Capcom Pro Tour rounds out the packed Dreamhack Austin event. There are a lot of incredible players in attendance, including Justin Wong, PR Balrog, Brenttiscool, Julio Fuentes and others. It's an open event, so if you're planning on tuning in then the best time is at 21:00 BST/13:00 on Sunday that's when the top 8 begins. Here's the livestream.
Release your inner Ethan Hunt and bring out your sneakiest plays: it s time to talk about the lurker. Compared to the roles I ve covered so far (support and entry fragger), lurker is the most distinctive in terms of what you re supposed to do and how to get it to work within a team. It would be easy to say that the lurker is the player who sneaks around the map on their own trying to backstab people. In a sense that s true, but there s so much more to it.
The lurker is supposed to wander off by themselves and either secure kills or stall the opposing team s defenders rotation over to the site where the main attack is taking place. They should also scout ahead to let the in-game leader know whether it s a good idea to go for the intended execution or not. Let s say they re in apartments on Inferno (a moment of silence for our beloved and figured-out map) and they can hear that there s a CT on short as well as one in pit after you ve taken control over banana. In this instance, they know that the rotation is going to take a while and that it s probably wise to try to take the B-site. The lurker is also in a great position to kill the CT in pit once that guy realizes that the terrorists are swarming B.
Alternatively, the lurker could go down to boiler room and try to kill the player on short in order to stay closer to B so that they can assist his team during the post-plant situation. There s a lot of decision-making involved when you lurk: decisions that can either make or break a round. Let s say the lurker decides to go for the kill in pit but the CT manages to get out safely. Then our lurker is in a bad situation and can t be of much help for their team. On the other hand, they might secure the kill and put some pressure on defenders in CT spawn, making it a lot more difficult to retake the site.
I d say that there are two primary qualities that a good lurker needs: creativity and good communication. A creative lurker can come up with plays that most other players wouldn t even consider. Coming up with a play involves good reads of what your opponents are likely to do as well as understanding what they may or may not expect. I d say your lurker should be a player who trusts their instincts. When I ask the lurker on my team how he came up with a certain play, he often replies with I don t know, it just felt right . Lurking is a highly intuitive endeavor. It takes time to get it right, so don t beat yourself up if you re new. The only way to develop this skill is through experience.
The other part, communication, is probably the main reason why you want a lurker on your team in the first place. Your lurker needs to be able to assess the situation and provide good information. If they can t hear nor see a CT in a position where they expect a CT to be, they should alert the rest of his team as they might be about to walk straight into a meat grinder. Remember that knowing where the defenders aren t positioned will help you figure out where they are.
Also, it doesn t hurt if your lurker is a person who watches a lot of demos in order to learn how top players generally react to certain plays. How does the B-player on Mirage generally react to a smoke strat over at the A-site? Is it possible to categorize players in different groups? The players who tend to rotate early, players who stay for too long and players who half rotate over to a more defensive position closer to the market area? If so, will that knowledge help you identify what kind of player that B-defender is in a live game? I think so. Study the game and tendencies and you ll have a better chance of making good decisions on the fly.
It s also important that your lurker is individually skilled and can hold their own in a fight, as that s what they re supposed to do most of the time.
This round was played during the grand final of Dreamhack Masters in Malm , Sweden a few weeks ago. Christopher GeT_RiGhT Alesund from Ninjas in Pyjamas starts off the round by going off on his own towards B. He jumps down to lower tunnels and is lucky enough to find Ioann Edward Sukhariev out of position on catwalk. As Edward goes down, the rest of NiP know that there s one less CT remaining on the A-side of the map.
GeT_RiGhT proceeds by smoking off mid doors. At that point Na Vi have no idea how many players are around the mid area. As a result, they can t really start to rotate away from either site. Two flashbangs and a sneaky play through the smoke later and GeT_RiGhT picks up his second kill: Ladislav GuardiaN Kov cs.
After that kill, he waits for a second or two but no one tries to trade off the kill from the B-side of mid, suggesting that the B-player might have pushed tunnels for information. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I think that the smoke in mid served two purposes. The first one and the most obvious one is that it allowed GeT_RiGhT to go for the sneaky play with the flashes. The second one was that it, in a way, forced Na Vi to go for a peek in tunnels for information, because at that point they couldn t know where NiP was going to attack. Knowing that there was a possibility that they would peek and find that no one was there made Christopher realize that there was a chance that the B-player was going to attempt to flank him. His flawless read of the play secured his third kill of the round as he managed to pick off Egor flamie Vasilyev.
After that his job was pretty much done. He decided to stay in lower tunnels and make sure the last CT couldn t push mid doors. This time he missed the fact that Daniil Zeus Teslenko pushed short in an attempt to save his armor and CZ75-Auto. It s easy to see what an impact his lurk play had on the round. Not only did he kill three players, he also made sure that the defending players couldn t know where the main push was going to take place.
If you ve decided that you want to be the lurker on your team there s a lot of work to be done. The main area that I think you should focus on is your gamesense. Watch a lot of demos from your own games to find out how players on your level react to the things you do. How do the players on a certain site generally react to a flashbang thrown in a certain spot at a certain time. If you notice a pattern you should try to figure out what triggered the response.
The best way to learn these things is to play a lot of games. Preferably against other pre-made teams, so that you know that they will communicate. It s even more important that you focus and try to figure out how a specific opponent plays during the actual game and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage. If your team goes for an A-push and you throw your flashbangs and a smoke towards B, how long did it take for the B-players to get to A? Is it possible for you to play in a certain way to trick them into doing what you want them to do?
Because of the nature of your role, you should spend a lot of time on deathmatch servers. It s crucial that you get good at winning those aim duels. It s like that old Bruce Lee quote that s been cited almost too many times: I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times . If you spend more time working on the basics of the game than your opponent, you give yourself a greater chance to come out on top of any given situation.
When you play games for practice purposes you should try to mix things up as much as possible so that, over time, you build a solid repertoire of plays that you can use in different situations. However, it s important to remember that when you play matches you can lure your opponents into a false sense of security by going for the same exact play every single round. Usually those plays involve a smoke and two flashes. It s important that you re able to stay alive once they know what you re up to. After a few rounds they might think that they ve figured you out and when you throw your utility grenades they know that you re alone. All of a sudden you show up with your entire team and the CTs haven t started to rotate in time. GeT_RiGhT might not have been the player who came up with that style of play, but he sure was the one to make it famous. He s able to pull it off on a professional level because of his raw individual skill. Like I said, put a lot of time into practicing the basics.
As with all roles in CS:GO it s important that you watch the pros play if you want to improve. First of all, you should try to answer the most basic of questions: what exactly is this player doing? By keeping that question in mind you ll look for the information that s actually useful rather than to just notice the big kills and wish that you could pull off stuff like that.
Once you ve answered that question your next one should be: why are they doing what they re doing? Here s where it gets tricky. Look at what their teammates are doing and how the lurker s plays help them. Lurkers rarely just lurk for the sake of lurking.
So, who should you watch? One obvious choice is GeT_RiGhT, the best lurker in the history of CS:GO and Counter-Strike in general. Every CS player can learn things from him.
The next guy I recommend you to watch is Spencer Hiko Martin from Team Liquid. At the moment he s the strat caller for his team, so if you watch recent games you ll notice that he plays more of a support role than before. Take a look at a few demos from before the MLG Columbus Major and you ll find some useful stuff. His style is a lot more passive than GeT_RiGhT s, but he s really good at finding kills. Especially towards the end of rounds.
You can find both recent and older demos over at HLTV.org. Click Events and under Past events you ll find a link to their massive and awesome archive. There you can select specific events you want to watch and you ll have access to an almost infinite number of demos.
Study hard. Play harder. Get to where you want to be.
“These charts are supposed to be weekly, Meer.” “I know, but I keep having to go away for unhappy reasons.” “Oh OK, but you’d damn well better tell me what were the top ten best-stelling Steam games last week, or I’m going to spraypaint pictures of bottoms onto your house.” “Alright, alright, here you go.” … [visit site to read more]
Cheating in CS:GO is its own small sub-industry, a hard-to-kill parasite riding on the skin one of the PC s most popular games. Some ne'er-do-wells get off avoiding the notice of the VAC system for as long as possible. Others leverage cheating as a , offering premium programs and services. Some professionals have even used cheats during competition (with , career-ending ). For Valve, combating the risk of hacking is an endless war. Just last week, Valve s elimination of nabbed nearly 170 pro TF2 players. And last year, it dealt over to suspected accounts; with ownership counts likely exceeding , CS:GO likely represents a significant chunk of that figure.
Earlier this year, CS:GO player AndroidL was inspired to take matters into his own hands. In late January, AndroidL created and dispersed a pair of free hack programs on a popular cheat forum. Unbeknownst to their downloaders, the programs were time bombs. They d function normally for a set period of time before permanently skewing the user s view angle to an abnormal tilt and enabling a constant bunnyhop script huge, obvious red flags that would immediately trigger a VAC ban. Although clever, the first few hack releases earned modest attention roughly 1,000 downloads apiece, according to AndroidL s .
CS:GO has a cheating problem, AndroidL explained to me over multiple private messages. I don t think Valve is doing enough to prevent cheating; it doesn t speak publicly about VAC (for obvious reasons) or cheating in general. For such a competitive game with such an active and thriving community, Valve fails to at least acknowledge cheating is an issue in CS:GO which is appalling. Due to their failure to communicate, we aren't sure if Valve are actually attempting to combat cheaters or not. It's impossible to play a game of CS:GO today without suspecting someone on the enemy team of cheating.
AndroidL s hack took a more direct approach. It dispensed with timers and prompted a ban the moment a user would load the hack and enter a match by continuously topping off health, ammo, and armor values. Yet despite the almost instant effect, it achieved greater success, accumulating over 3,500 downloads.
Contributing to the hack s propagation was a simple testing method: I set the launch options of CS:GO to +sv_lan 1 -insecure which disables VAC (but consequently prevents me from joining any VAC enabled servers), AndroidL wrote. This means I can test the hacks without getting banned. I just played an offline game with bots where I was able to confirm the features such as editing my view angles along with health and ammo numbers.
Once the hack s usability was confirmed, AndroidL uploaded it onto the cheat forum through a VPN to stay anonymous. The forum account was only days old with no reputation, which would typically undermine the legitimacy of the hack. But to promote the hack, AndroidL went for a straightforward solution: I had a few of my friends post messages such as great, the hack worked! and so on until the comments overflowed onto a second page. Most hackers don t check the second page of posts; they ll only read the first few comments and then download the hack. As publicly released programs tend to last only a few days before detection by VAC, dummy nods of approval was enough to push the scheme in front of as many eyes as possible while it lasted.
And it worked. The hack s impact was magnified by its sheer efficiency; a cheater couldn t react fast enough between launching CS:GO and meeting VAC s awaiting hammer seconds later. As bans started snowballing, users flooded the host forum with of their sudden downfall. AndroidL feigned innocence by coming up with excuses as to why it wasn't my hack banning people to encourage others to download it.
Members of the CS:GO community could already participate in culling the cheater population through Valve s initiative for a few years now, but AndroidL s accomplishments demonstrate how one can more surgically hamper hackers with only modest extra effort. The victory could very well be temporary at best devoted cheaters can simply create a fresh Steam account and spend the $15/ 11 on another CS:GO copy but from AndroidL s perspective, the self-demise of those who sought an ostensibly easy access to a hack was worth it.
I think Overwatch is a very good idea, AndroidL wrote. It's another filter cheaters have to go through, but the only reason Overwatch exists is because VAC lacks the capabilities to detect all cheaters. Although I believe VAC is a good safeguard against cheaters, I don t believe it is a strong enough safeguard. There is little to no effort involved for a hack developer to bypass VAC it is a decent system to keep away the masses of people using public cheats, but other than that VAC is essentially futile.
I do have a plan with similar tactics and I probably will do this again sometime, AndroidL continued. It would be great if I could cooperate with Valve to get a larger number of cheaters banned. Taking cheating into our own hands seems to be the only solution right now, and I encourage others that have the skills to do this to create similar fake hacks. Furthermore, I want to put off those thinking about cheating. This wasn t the first fake hack, and it definitely won t be the last.
University provides a fantastic opportunity for students with shared interests to connect through societies. Perhaps most enviable of all, it offers the time and flexibility to truly invest in a wealth of temptations: sports, media and, of course, video games. With its ever increasing popularity, It should come as no surprise then that esports would find it s place too. As both player and spectator audiences grow, communities across the UK have developed to accommodate this new demand, with lecture theatres providing the perfect venues for League of Legends, Dota 2 and CS:GO viewing parties.
As a postgraduate researcher, I may not have the same freedom as I did during my undergrad years, but when I heard that an esports society had been created at Southampton University, I leapt at the chance to engage with players beyond my online team. I ve been playing CS for over ten years now, making it a not-insignificant part of my life. Despite my long relationship with the series, I d never really considered dabbling into the realm of competition beyond a few IRC-organised pick up games in the days of Source. Following a brief internal league however, I found myself on the shortlist to compete in the National University Esports League (NUEL) for Southampton s top team. Captained by Wildsam, and combining the might of Stubacca, Zack, Rennui and Ferno (myself), the 'Deadliners' were formed.
Started back in 2010, NUEL was designed to support students with a passion for competitive gaming. Though initially focused on League of Legends, the game roster has recently been expanded to include Hearthstone and Counter-Strike. With the CS league relatively unknown, It wasn t clear what level of competition we d be facing. At the time of entering I held the rank of Legendary Eagle which, according to current estimations, put me in the top 10% of players. Now while that s certainly something I m proud of, it s still a significant jump from the top 0.6% that comprise the Global Elite. If any universities were fielding players of that calibre, we d certainly have our work cut out for us.
Collected below are my experiences of each week of the league. I ll take you through our successes and setbacks, both in game and out. As a newly-formed outfit, Deadliners experience should provide a reference for what players new to the amateur competitive scene can expect. I can t guarantee your experience will match ours exactly, but hopefully you ll find the inspiration to take the plunge yourself.
The NUEL tournament consists of two stages. Teams play two best-of-one (BO1) games per week. The first two weeks are reserved for qualification. The top 16 teams enter a double elimination bracket in the subsequent weeks. The remaining teams are entered into the S-League and continue the BO1 format to compete for the highest possible position of 4th. Each week, the team dropped from the elimination bracket enters the top position in the S-League.
Anxiety and anticipation. Excitement tempered by trepidation. In the hour running up to our first match my mind was racing. Why hadn t we scheduled the time to practice beforehand? Who would our opponents be? What ranks should we expect? The degree to which a minor alteration to circumstance can change the entire weight of a match caught me by surprise. Though playing the same game as I would do any other evening, the added element of ceremony to a scheduled match brought a sense of unease I was wholly unused to. When it was revealed that we would be facing the previous winners of NUEL s winter season, University of Manchester, it s safe to say my aspirations for the match were stunted at best.
Like most maps in CS:GO s roster, Cache is generally considered to be CT-sided, that is to say the CT side is expected to win more rounds in each half. We were therefore grateful to open in the stronger position. However, while the map may favour CTs, we quickly discovered that our team did not. Unable to maintain control of the centre, adaptation proved difficult and the lack of experience together quickly became evident, costing round after round. I had offered to play as our team s primary sniper, but with our economy in tatters I found myself barely capable of affording an AWP, let alone performing with it. Scraping together only a handful of rounds toward the end of the first half, prospects looked bleak.
Fortunately, the half-time changeover provided a much-needed ease of tensions,finally allowing our team to relax into a pace that suited us. With a strong start, I was finally able to find my personal comfort zone, shifting location round-by-round to catch people off guard. Unexpectedly, we found the momentum shifting in our favour, finally allowing us to dictate the flow of play. When it finally came, victory was near euphoric. Had we really just managed that? If we could compete with the previous winners, how far could we expect to go?
With our next opponents ready to play we had little time to celebrate, instead rolling straight into our second game and imminent demise. Where UoM had been precise, carefully timing peaks and flashes, Bath A were relentless. Piling onto sites in five-man pushes, the change in tempo blindsided us, overwhelming our shaken defence. Reeling from the high of a win, we suddenly found ourselves in the aftermath of a bloody loss. It looked like things wouldn t be so simple after all, but if we could just claim one match in the following week, our chances of qualifying for the elimination bracket were still good.
Sadly I was unable to compete during the second week, leaving my team to find a substitute. Even so, the knowledge that we needed just one victory to qualify for the knockout stage kept me pinned to my phone during the evening of the match. The news that finally filtered through was far from positive. Confusion and disagreements betrayed the result: we had lost both matches and were likely relegated to the S-League.
Despite dropping to the lower league, I wasn t yet ready to give up, and together with my team resolved to give the remaining matches our all. The opportunity to play in a more formal setting and develop as part of a new team had given a whole new drive to my time spent in CS. I had already begun to see clear improvements to both aim and positioning, earning me a regular top spot in my matchmaking team.
The first week in S-League served as a polar introduction to NUEL s broad range of skill. First lined up against OX Gaming from Hull, we found ourselves comfortably surpassing our opponents and eased into an almost-casual 16-5 victory. The relaxed attitude this fostered left us utterly unprepared for the 16-3 bruising we then received from Swansea Green. Competitors in the winter tournament, they showed such confidence and ease together that we were taken aback to see them outside the elimination bracket so early. It s safe to say that we were thoroughly outclassed, but as tough as a heavy loss can be, there s a level of benefit to competing against a higher class of player and no shortage of insight to be gleaned. Expecting to suffer some humiliating defeats, I had made a mental effort to take positive factors away from each match. At the very least, our execution had been swift.
During the matches, we made a concerted effort to provide support toward each other beyond in-game actions. Our captain, Wildsam, was a constant voice of reassurance, never allowing the situation to shake him. Even while winning, it s easy for a player to set themselves off-kilter after losing a number of duels in a row. Usually found topping the frag count, Stubacca lost a series of contests early in the first match and was vocally shaken. However, support from the rest of the team meant it wasn t long before he was back on his feet. When playing as part of a team, it s important to make sure you re aware of your teammate s mental state and give them encouragement when necessary. After all, everyone has bad days.
Week four shall henceforth be known as the week of the food coma. There are some interesting lessons to be learned in competing around a fixed schedule, and one of those is to plan your dinner well. Much like physical sports, it s a bad idea to consume a vast quantity of food, no matter how delicious, before playing CS:GO. While not suffering the same stomach issues as a game of basketball would provide, my body had instead decided that reaction times and logical reasoning were unimportant when compared to digestion. As a result my time spent in the first match against Sheffield Hallam was spent staggering blearily around the halls of Cache. Fortunately, where I proved lacklustre my team was more than ready to pick up the slack, each member earning over 20 kills to secure a second S-League win.
In a fitting twist of fate, the second game lined us up against Portsmouth s 5 Noobs Who Don t Play CS. Southampton and Portsmouth hold a significant University rivalry, sparring off against one another in each year s Varsity sporting competition. The prospect of a grudge match helped shake me out of my stupor, keen to uphold Southampton s winning record against our rival. Contrary to their name, we knew that Portsmouth was fielding at least one player of Global rank, an intimidating prospect for a team of Eagles. Playing on Overpass, far from our comfort zone, the match was a tightly-fought contest. If not for a herculean 30-kill effort by Zack, the match would have gone Portsmouth s way.
Impressive individual performances can do a lot to boost morale in a tough match, providing a source of inspiration while easing some of the load for those struggling. However, repeated success can be a double-edged sword. If one member is seen to be consistently playing better than the others, it can lead weaker players to question their value to the team in general. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find that our top scorer would shift every week, and often led the pack by only a small margin. That we had such similar skill levels was a surprising positive, allowing independent highs to shine without anyone feeling that they were falling behind.
Unfortunately, this week also supplied its fair share of frustration, highlighting imperfections in the backend system for the league. Each week, match and server information was granted only within an hour of the scheduled time, causing some serious problems when the servers stop responding. After an exasperating 30 minutes of waiting and refreshing the NUEL site, we were all but ready to give up on playing when the information finally came through. Small failings like this are far from terminal, but marr the overall experience of an event, replacing anticipation with annoyance.
They found us. I thought the land of structured competition would be free of trolls, but still they come. HAHAHAHA they cry THE NEXT GeT_RiGhT? Within minutes of joining the server, chat was flooded and before long nothing intelligible was left. Then I remembered that CS:GO has a mute function.
It seems a sad truth that any competitive game will be marred by a sizable, unpleasant portion of the community. For every friend I ve made through online matchmaking, I ve had to wade through at least five vitriol-spewing antagonists. Combining a volatile mix of anonymity, young audiences and adrenaline-fueled competition, it s all too easy for players to approach both allies and foes with a hostile attitude. The most depressing aspect is that derogatory remarks can even prove rewarding. The right comment at the wrong time can do a serious number on a player s mental resolve. Placed in a tense environment requiring a great degree of finesse, it doesn t take much to push most people over the edge, and the further you fall down the slippery slope of frustration, the more difficult it becomes to recover.
That this kind of behaviour can be rewarding is infuriating to say the least, but to see it in a more serious competitive environment caught me off guard. You would hope that any team willing to commit to a weekly schedule would show some degree of maturity. Confrontational behaviour may sometimes provide immediate benefits, but it provides an unwelcome front for new players, and does little to progress the still developing realm of esports. Most competitive games have begun taking steps to punish abusive behaviour, offering temporary bans or time in purgatory but CS:GO still has a long strides to make in this regard. I should count myself lucky then that not a single member of my team took this approach. Even on the receiving end of our worst beatings, we stayed respectful. This resulted in a far more amiable environment.
To be fair to our opposition, UoL:A were far from directly offensive, simply filling the chat with endless, key-bound memes and lines. A brief check of the NUEL site informed that their team had in fact qualified for the elimination stage but fell out in the first round. Their team had even beaten Swansea Green, at whose hands we received a resolute 16-3 drubbing. It was in all probability that they had little interest in competing further, and after ending the first half 10-5 they all but collapsed. Likely hoping to be dropped from the remaining games, UoL:A even submitted an opposing match report following the game, contradicting our victory. The poor behaviour did little to sour our mood however, as four straight victories in S-League had put us within touching distance of a top ten finish.
I d love to say our NUEL experience ended on a high, conquering all odds to close our tournament run with a hard-earned win. I wouldn t be far wrong, but it wasn t quite to be. Following a loss to the capable but disrespectful Surrey Lions, we found ourselves pitted against Warwick CS in one of the closest games of the entire tournament. Our two sides went blow for blow against each other, trading rounds throughout the first half to end at 8-7.
With a strong pistol round, Warwick forged ahead, carving a five-round lead to reach 9-14. In what was probably my personal best performance of the tournament, both AWPing and rifling, we held the line. Clawing back round after round we finally brought the scoreline level. Then, just as it felt we had gained the upper hand, we were broken. A sloppy attempt to push onto Overpass B bombsite left our team in disarray. Warwick took the final round without competition. We had lost 14-16.
A win would likely have placed us around 10th out of a 60 team roster, and I found myself thinking back for days on how we could have changed the result. Due to conflicting schedules, our team had been forced to find a sub for Stubacca in the last hour before the match. While performing admirably, it was clear that our sub was a little out of their depth. If only we had the full team. If only we had pulled back on that last B approach. While I was devastated at the time, the better team deserved the win and I couldn t have asked for a closer match to round out the league.
Across the course of these twelve matches, each member of the team had gently gravitated into the roles that suited them best, and we found that we complemented each other well. Stubacca proved a competent solo player, more than capable of holding the B bombsite alone on maps that required it, while Rennui and Zack formed a stable rifling team to lock down control in a region. If I had to pick a weak point, it would regrettably have to be myself. Lacking in a dedicated AWPer, I had offered to play the role. Though I was more than capable of playing the aggressive T-side, I regularly struggled to hold the middle lane when defending. However, this trial by fire has since seen my sniping proficiency extensively honed, to the point where I can now comfortably say that the AWP is by far my best weapon.
For a team of strangers, thrown together a matter of weeks before the league, I m extremely proud of our performance. Over the course of a few weeks, we developed together on all fronts of our game, from coordination to moral support. It s clear that the NUEL system is designed from the ground up for inclusion. While the elimination bracket is the main draw, the existence of the S-League gives new or inexperienced teams like our own the chance maintain a presence and vie with those of a similar capability. Competing in a league, even just at the bottom rung, gives a drive and energy to the game that can t quite ever be replicated in standard online play.
Since the start of the league I ve been playing more CS:GO than ever before, even pushing myself into a higher skill group. Given the chance and time to practice, I would run it all again to aim for that elimination stage, and happily with the same team. The majority of Deadliners had entered the league unacquainted, but I wouldn t hesitate to invite any of them for a game in the future.
This championship marks only the second NUEL foray into CS, and the back-end side is still showing some clear teething issues. With match information given only briefly before the start time, it s no surprise that server problems could lead to frustration. Re-use of a limited server pool once led to players for the following match joining the server for our still-ongoing game. There s also no clear way of checking the standings of either the elimination bracket of S-League on the NUEL site. Weekly fixtures list matchups and winners, but only within a group of five teams. To this day I still haven t been informed what place we finished.
In truth, NUEL is a far cry from the bigger online leagues like FACEIT, but it doesn t really have to be. A large part of appealing to the student demographic is to encourage new communities and talent countrywide. With the backup of an S-league for drop-outs, NUEL gives newcomers a place to test the waters of competition before they dive into its murky depths. Would I recommend NUEL? If you re a university student and interested in CS, certainly. If nothing else, I can think of no better excuse to find a team and get practicing.
If any the above sounded like your cup of tea, the current NUEL season has just ended, leaving plenty of time to practice for the next. If you re not a student (or not based in the UK) there s no need to worry as plenty of alternatives are out there: the Electronic Sports League (ESL) run an open league at no cost of entry, while FACEIT takes online matchmaking to the next level, scheduling games against other teams and running regular competitions for prizes.
We ve got a relatively quiet weekend coming up as League of Legends takes a break ahead of the forthcoming mid-season invitational. Even so, there s some top-tier European Counter-Strike to watch and a lot of great Dota 2 happening at WePlay s Season 3 LAN finals (rubbish greenscreen staging notwithstanding.) Some of the world s best Hearthstone players will be putting Whispers of the Old Gods to the test in Korea, too.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: CEVO Gfinity Pro-League Season 9
There's some top-tier CS:GO happening at Gfinity's arena in London this weekend. Play has been ongoing since Thursday, but continues with semifinals on Saturday and the grand finals on Sunday. Play begins at 12:00 BST/04:00 PDT on Saturday and at 15:30 BST/07:30 PDT on Sunday and you can find the livestream here.
Dota 2: WePlay League S3 LAN Finals
There s two more days of play left in the WePlay League Season 3 LAN finals in Kiev. There s been some really exciting, fun Dota played so far although the tone of the event has been set by a run of Shanghai Major-style production snafus. From a comedically terrible greenscreen set for the analysis panel (see above) to arbitrarily cutting away from games during crucial teamfights, it s been a bit of a shambles. That s part of the fun, though, and reason enough to tune in. Play begins at 08:00 BST/00:00 PDT on Saturday and at 10:00 BST/02:00 PDT on Sunday and you can find the English language livestream here.
Hearthstone: Seoul Cup World Invitational
An array of top Hearthstone talent including Thijs, Ostkaka, Reynad and more will compete for a share of $22,000 in Seoul this weekend. It'll be a relatively quick, single elimination contest with play spread across both days. Hearthstone s latest expansion has done a number on the metagame, so it ll be fascinating to see what decks succeed at one of the first serious competitions since Whispers of the Old Gods launched (you can find some pro predictions here, incidentally.) Watch the English language livestream here, but bear the timezone in mind: play begins at 14:00 KST both days, which is 06:00 BST or 22:00 PDT on the day before.
There is an ongoing debate whether players should be assigned roles in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Some argue that there are no roles and that each player has his or her own way of playing the game—that a team s success comes down to chemistry and individual skill.
Others, myself included, believe that roles help you to systematise the way you approach the game. Anyone can throw a flashbang around a corner, that s true. But think about it: there are seven maps in the pool. Let s say your team practices five of those, and that each map has at least a hundred useful flashbangs, smokes and molotovs. Learning all of those grenades takes a lot of work.
Sure, every player should practice grenades, but doesn t it make sense to have that one guy on your team who specialises in just that? Someone who can flash you in from any angle on the map?
Here s what a defines a support player the way I see it: a support player should spend a lot of time learning all sorts of grenades and when to throw them. If your in-game leader says that your opponents tend to play from a specific spot, the support player should know a grenade that will make life harder for them in that specific circumstance.
Just like with all roles in CS:GO, communication is super important. The support should be good at adapting their play according to the information that their teammates provide. In my mind the support player should focus more on the tactical aspect of the game than most players. A lot of the time the support will carry the bomb, and it s their job to know whether it s best to help with clearing the site or go for the plant. Every situation is unique, but if you play and study the game enough, you will have a pretty good idea of what the best play is.
Because of the nature of the role, the support player will often be the last man alive, so it s important that he or she has good game sense and is creative enough to win 1-on-X situations.
Outside of matches, it s important that the support player spends time talking to the in-game leader so that they know what grenades they should spend the most time practicing. It s also common for the in-game leader to play a support role themselves, as they know exactly where and when they want key grenades to be thrown.
This example is taken from the Brazilian team Luminosity s game against the Poles from Virtus.Pro at MLG Columbus. Luminosity went on to win the game and, eventually, the Major. A much deserved victory after insane comebacks achieved with a smart, disciplined style.
The player making the support plays in this example is Lincoln fnx Lau. Note: he s not considered a pure support player, but this round in particular illustrates a lot of different things that I d like to see from a support.
There s a lot happening in this clip. First we see fnx stand ready with a flashbang towards upper park from playground. Gabriel FalleN Toledo peeks with the AWP. Should he spot someone pushing long, fnx would throw their flash and Marcelo coldzera David, FalleN and even fnx himself are ready to clean up.
This time no one s pushing, so they decide to take control over long. Coldzera throws a molotov over to the tree area. Then they wait for a second before fnx flashes. Following the flash, coldzera immediately jumps out to bait a shot from any snipers on long and then FalleN steps out with their AWP in order to either catch a player backing off from the tree out of position or—as in this case—to kill the sniper further back.
In the next sequence fnx briefly plays the entry role by jumping across the restroom entrance so that coldzera can pick up a kill if a CT stands there—which isn t the case this time. After that fnx tries to gather information as safely as possible towards the A-site by jumping, before he smokes off the chokepoint. As he moves closer to the site, he s lucky enough to find an extra flashbang. Before the smoke fades, he throws a molotov over to the corner to the left of the smoked-off chokepoint in order to clear another angle for their team.
As the smoke starts to fade, he pops a flash through it. At that point, he s in a great position to trade kills for their teammates. As soon as coldzera goes down outside restroom, fnx pushes forward, aware that he might need to make a play. After the site is cleared and the bomb is planted, he moves inside the bank for a great post-plant position and manages to kill a rotating Virtus.pro player.
This round shows a lot of good plays that we can learn from. As you could see, fnx did a lot of different things and even if you call yourself a support player it s important that you can adapt to the situation and do what s needed to help your team win the game.
The lazy answer is anyone . Anyone can throw grenades, carry bombs and pick up a kill every now and then. But let s return to my previous definition of what a support player is: a player is someone who is good at throwing grenades, is interested in the tactical aspect of the game, and can come out on top in clutch situations.
If you want a good support player on your team you should look for a highly intelligent individual who s good at reading the game and can adapt to different situations as the play develops. It s also important that he or she is patient and dedicated enough to learn all the necessary grenades. A support is a player who always puts their team first. These players are rare gems, in my book. Not everyone has what it takes to spend hours upon hours on empty servers trying to perfect grenade throws.
There s also a creative aspect to the support role. As you spend all those hours trying out grenades you ll find that you come up with new strategies and plays that can be useful to your team. I d say that support players are like bass players in bands. They re a key part of the system, but often they get a lot less praise than they deserve. If you think you can do all these things and have all these qualities you might be destined for a support role.
CS:GO offers an almost infinite number of ways you can practice and I won t be able to cover them all. First up, you will never be a good CS:GO player unless you re good at shooting and nothing can replace hours spent on deathmatch servers.
For the support stuff, however, I d recommend that you head to an empty server to practice grenades. YouTube is a great resource when it comes to tutorials, and I covered many map-specific grenade throws in my CS:GO map guide series: you can find links to allow of them at the bottom of this article. You can also try to come up with your own grenades. Find a spot you want to flash or smoke and try doing it from different angles. Get a friend to join and hold from different positions so that he can let you know if he got flashed or not.
One thing you need to ensure is that you re on a 128 tick server. If you play on 64 tickrate servers (matchmaking servers are 64 tick) the grenades trajectories will be slightly different. Normally that s not a problem, but for the more advanced throws it can make a huge difference.
Next I d recommend that you try to find so-called retake servers. On those servers the terrorists spawn on a bombsite with the bomb and the CTs spawn in different retake positions. You ll also be able to choose what weapon you ll spawn with. This is a great non-competitive environment to try out your grenades. It will also help you improve your decision making in clutch situations. Just like with everything else in life, you get better at what you spend a lot of time doing. If you ve been in a 1-on-1 situation on dust2 s B-site a thousand times and your opponent s been in the same situation a couple of hundred times you re at a massive advantage.
I went on a retake server to show you guys how it works. This one is a pistols only server on Mirage:
I came up through connector and decided to peek towards CT-spawn. When I saw that my teammate in spawn was battling it out with a terrorist on the minimap I decided to peek another angle. As soon as the CT in spawn died I knew there was a possibility that the T would peek from that angle so I checked it again.
The bomb was ticking away so I had no choice but to go for a play. I got lucky and timed the peek from the terrorist inside palace and I spotted another one on T-ramp. When my last teammate died I knew the positions of both terrorists so I decided to take the fight with the one in CT-spawn in order to bait the other guy to push up, which he did, and I managed to pick up another kill. Unfortunately I fell short on the last duel because of bad crosshair placement—and that I took too long before I went for a play earlier in the round.
That breakdown of my round brings me to my next piece of advice: record your matches and watch the demos afterwards. Try to look for the things you did well and determine the reason why those things worked. But more importantly, look at what didn t work and try to come up with things you could ve done differently. You can also let a more experienced player take a look at your demos and give you advice.
Another thing you can (and should) do is to watch demos of pro teams. Watching streams and VODs is great fun, but you won t be able to rewatch rounds from different perspectives like you can if you watch demos in-game.
A good resource for demos is HLTV.org. Find a match you want to watch and download the GOTV demo. Once you ve done that you launch the game and press ALT + F2 to bring up the demo UI—or you can type demoui in the console. Then press load , find the demo you want to watch and press play.
There s not a single pro player who plays support roles in every single round and on all maps, but there are some players that I d recommend you to watch. Freddy KRIMZ Johansson from fnatic is one. He s one of the smartest players in all of CS:GO. Andreas Xyp9x H jsleth from Astralis is another. He s great at throwing grenades and can find what looks like impossible clutch kills. Watch how they play, try to get a sense of their decision-making, and do your best to apply it to your own game.
Find all of our Counter-Strike: Global Offensive map guides here:
PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!
I wasn’t around to cover the previous week’s Steam Top 10 as per usual, so you’ll have to wildly imagine the shape of it yourself. I can take an educated guess if you like: I’m pretty sure Soldner was a shock number one, with Limbo of the Lost and Aliens: Colonial Marines hot on its heels. Strange that they’re completely gone from the latest chart, below, but that’s the fickle nature of the millennial digital consumer for you, innit?
Happy Lies Day, everybody! Hope you ve enjoyed a wonderful day of lies. It s time to bring the festivities to an end, however, and settle in for a weekend of extremely serious and definitely happening digital sports. CS:GO is hosting the week s highest-profile clash, but there s plenty of LoL, Dota 2, Smite and fighting to go around. If any of the below tournaments turn out to be April Fools jokes, I will not be accountable for my actions. Haha! A cheeky Lies Day lie. It ll be fine! Nobody need get hurt.
League of Legends: NA and EU LCS quarterfinals
There's an awful lot of League of Legends this weekend. The EU and North American scenes are both getting stuck into their quarter finals, with EU playing at 16:00 BST/08:00 PDT on both days with NA following at at 20:00 BST/12:00 PDT. You can find the stream at LoLesports. China's LPL and Korea's LCK are also playing this weekend: once again, check out LoLesports for stream details and a schedule.
Dota 2: Epicenter Qualifiers
There's top and mid-tier Dota 2 going on all weekend in the Epicenter Qualifiers running around the world. In particular, check out Invictus Gaming vs. Vici Gaming at 18:00 BST/10:00 PDT on Saturday. The easiest place to find a schedule and English-language stream is on Gosugamers' hub page for the tournament.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: MLG Columbus 2016
CS:GO has evolved a MOBA-style prize pool for this $1m Major tournament. It's been running for a while already, but this weekend is your opportunity to catch the dramatic final rounds (or just sit in chat and complain that you haven't had any loot drops.) Play starts at 08:00 EDT (13:00 BST/05:00 PDT) on Saturday and 10:00 EDT (15:00 BST/07:00 PDT) on Sunday, running throughout. Find the livestream on MLG.
Capcom Pro Tour: Hypespotting
As our FGC man Andi Hamilton reported earlier this week, the Capcom Pro Tour is coming to the UK this weekend at Hypespotting in Glasgow. There's competition across the fighting game scene, from Street Fighter V to Mortal Kombat X to Smash. The Hypespotting website is down, at the time of writing, but this tweet has more information about the schedule.
Smite: Spring Split
Smite's new season has begun and the round robin continues this weekend in both Europe and North America. Play begins at 15:00 EDT (20:00 BST/12:00 PDT) and runs for a couple of hours. The best place to find information on the teams and format is on Smite Esports and you can find the livestream on Twitch.
PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!
Chloe Desmoineaux isn t your usual Counter-Strike player. I ll cut to the chase: because she uses lipstick to play the game. As in make-up.
She calls it Lipstrike, and it uses a clever mix of basic electronics, key remapping and gun-based violence. I like it a lot.
Using a kit from Makey Makey, Desmoineaux hooked up the control board and some alligator clips to her lipstick. The mouse is used, of course: left click to move forward, right for aim-down-sights, scroll wheel to switch weapons.
But when she applies the lipstick, the connection in the Makey Makey circuit board is completed, which is linked via USB to input as a button being pressed... and the bullets start flying.
Desmoineaux explained her thinking in an email to Motherboard, pointing out it s not exactly a serious thing it s just interesting and funny:
Counter-Strike is one of those games that's mainly attributed to a male audience. Lipstick for girls, war games for boys. Fuck that! I can mix it up... If it visually works and the resulting effect is comical, maybe it s because we all use shortcuts and stereotypes embedded in our heads. It's in this spirit that I got the idea for Lipstrike.
You can catch up on Desmoineaux s performances over on her Twitch channel, and she ll be broadcasting new sessions over there until June.