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Traditionally, Valve have maintained impossibly motionless poker faces about what they have planned in the longer term for Team Fortress 2 [official site] updates – something which helped to build insane degrees of anticipation back in the day, as we prayed and begged for videos and comics and guns and hats. These days, Overwatch seems to absorb most of the air in the room, and in addition TF2 is so fatted with stuff> that it’s hard to get too excited about this or that being tweaked. That’s why the latest round of patch notes are semi-notable: they’re telling us what they’ve got in the pipeline before it gets sprayed into the game, as opposed to the usual after. … [visit site to read more]
Videogames that are a decade old tend to be pretty well locked-down, which is a nice way of saying that their developers stopped paying attention to them years ago. Not so with Team Fortress 2, however. Valve announced in a TF2 blog post that new balance changes are coming to the game in a "major update," and this time around it's actually telling people about the update before it goes live.
"In the past, we've made blog posts about changes we've already shipped or stuff we've tossed onto the smoldering scrap-heap of failed ideas," Valve wrote. "This time—based on your feedback—we're going talk about changes while we’re still working on them."
The list of changes, "based on online community discussions, emails, playtime data, conversations with players of all skill ranges, and play testing," is not complete, but is instead a "sneak peek" at what Valve is moving toward. Some changes, to both items and classes, are still being worked on and aren't "ready for review," and some that are listed may be changed prior to the update's release.
Valve is also "going deeper" with some classes than others. The Scout, for instance, will see a number of changes: The triple-jump enabled by the "Atomizer" bat, for instance, "is just too strong" because opponents don't see the bat and thus can't anticipate the Scout's enhanced jumping ability until it's too late. Because of that, the update will require that the bat be deployed, rather than simply carried, in order for the triple-jump ability to be used. It will also suffer a 50 percent "deploy time penalty" in order to prevent a "quick-switch by-pass."
The Engineer, on the other hand, is getting far less attention: The only listed change for that class is that the "Rescue Ranger" weapon will consume metal (at a 4:1 metal-to-health ratio) when used to make ranged repairs to buildings. Previously, ranged repairs with the weapon required no metal, which made it a little too powerful.
Ahead of the update, Valve is inviting player feedback as it tunes and finalizes these and other changes. "Hearing from you helps us prioritize our work and influences the direction the game moves in."
A rollout date for the latest TF2 update hasn't been set.
Time passes quickly in a packed esports season. It’s already been nearly two months since the Kiev Major, and if you blinked, you likely missed several important tournaments on the road to The International 2017. Now, the TI7 invites have been announced, with six teams grabbing the the honors: OG, Virtus.Pro, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, Newbee and Invictus Gaming.
Here’s a recap of what’s taken place so far—and what’s to come before the final fight for the Aegis this summer.
Dates: May 25-28Prize Pool: $250,000 USDTop Prize: Evil Geniuses ($125,000 USD)
A follow-up to the wildly successful 2016 event ESL One Manila, the esports event giant teamed up with local production company Mineski Production Team to bring Dota 2 back to the capital of the Philippines again. Held once again at the Mall Of Asia’s arena, the tournament boasted a $250 thousand prize pool, with $125 thousand going to the top team.
Teams present were decidedly some of the top in the world, with OG, Newbee, and EG among the ranks. North American team NP had a surprisingly strong presence as well, taking a respectable third. Ultimately, though, EG and Newbee took the respective first and second place spots at the tournament before going their own ways to new, separate events.
Dates: May 30-June 3Prize Pool: $100,000 USDTop Prize: Newbee ($50,000 USD)
The Taiwanese tournament felt small in scale and presence compared to other events, but make no mistake: the event had a $100k prize pool and strong teams including Newbee and NP. Still, at first glance, the absence of major tier one teams due to the upcoming Epicenter in Moscow can make it feel much less grand in the larger scheme of things. If it counts for anything, NP took a one-year ban from Dreamleague in order to be present.
The aforementioned teams faced off in the finals, and Newbee went home with the prize. The fact that NP came so close, though, could mean that North American competition may get heated as the season goes on. Teams such as the also-present Digital Chaos will have a lot to work towards this season.
Dates: June 4-11Prize Pool: $500,000 USDTop Prize: Team Liquid ($250,000 USD)
The Russian tournament was well-received after their debut in 2016, and now they’ve returned for another year. This time, though, they’ve ditched the double-elimination format for a riskier one: ten teams invited, four eliminated in group stages, and six proceed to single-elimination brackets with seeding based on group stage performance. If it sounds confusing, you’re certainly not alone, but it likely plays more fairly and meaningfully than Valve’s current all-in single-elimination format.
Teams present were some of the top performers in Kiev, including OG, EG, Team Secret and iG. Basically, the competition shaped up to be tough. As one of the last premier tournaments before the TI7 invites, each team fought tooth-and-nail for not just the prize, but Valve’s attention as well.
At the end, Team Liquid took a somewhat-surprising but well-deserved win, given their inconsistently strong performance the rest of the season. As the other finalist, Evil Geniuses certainly performed well, though, holding onto their reputation as the top North American team.
Dates: June 14-19Prize Pool: $100,000 USDTop Prize: Virtus.Pro ($42,500 USD)
The darling biannual tournament of Dota 2, hosted by grassroots studio Beyond The Summit, returns for its seventh iteration. It’s held in the house owned by BTS and features quirks such as “couch casting” (which is exactly what it sounds like), goofy features and a family vibe. It sounds odd, but the tournament itself is extremely serious, as it shows off the top teams in the world. With a $100k prize pool, teams have reason to take it seriously.
More importantly, it’s one of the two tournaments, along with Galaxy Battles, that sits safely before the estimated dates of the TI7 invites. Virtus.Pro had the opportunity to reaffirm their worth as the premier CIS team, as Team Secret had to for western Europe. In the end, VP took the crown with a massive range of unique heroes: 81 out of 85 picks were unique, and they got the invite.
Dates: June 15-19Prize Pool: $150,000 USDTop Prize: Newbee ($69,000 USD) (nice)
Also having taken place this weekend was the first iteration of Galaxy Battles, a Chinese tournament given a blessing by the National Electronic Sports Open, a major Chinese circuit. While it’s not as renown as The Summit, it still has a respectable mix of teams that can make for an engaging event.
It’s worth more in prize pool than The Summit, with $150k total, and again, like The Summit, it’s one of the last tournaments before invites may go out. This time, Newbee proved they were the top Chinese team in Dota, and they got the invite.
Dates: June 22-June 29th
Here, then, is the checkpoint and a turning point in the midst of all the chaos. Already, the dates for the qualifiers themselves have been announced. Now, teams that aren’t directly invited to the major event will have to face off in order to cinch the last of the spots, whether through the open qualifiers or an invite to the regional qualifiers.
From these qualifiers, though, it doesn’t end before the Seattle main event. A few more events between now and then can signal to fans who will perform well at The International, if the teams choose to play instead of train.
Dates: July 5-9
Held by the Chinese media company, the Mars Dota 2 League already has some of the top talent lined up, including OG, EG and the two arguably strongest Chinese teams right now, Newbee and iG. Originally to be held late April, the sudden announcement of the Kiev Major meant the event had to be rescheduled to its new time. That means, though, that fans can enjoy another event before TI7 kicks off.
This event will likely set the stage for the “east versus west” narrative that takes place each TI. With the flip between China and European/American countries taking the Aegis, fans are eager to see if China can break the streak.
Dates: July 7-9Prize Pool: $50,000 USDTop Prize: $21,250 USD
One of the biggest South American tournaments in recent years (if ever), The Final Match brings together the top local talent, including Kiev Major underdogs SG E-sports, plus international invites, the European team Alliance and Korea’s MVP HOT6ix. The region is usually pretty ignored for its perceived poor play, though after SG’s run in Kiev, many speculate it’s due to the high lag that team experience in cross-continental American gameplay. A LAN of this size should be entertaining and a great preview of what’s to come from the South American qualified team.
Dates: July 21-22Prize Pool: $175,000 USDTop Prize: $80,000 USD
DreamLeague is one of the longest-standing esports leagues out there, with Dota 2 held as a staple. This time, though, instead of its usual European setting, the event has been brought to America. While there are typically visa issues when it comes to American events, the event has offered TI7 training space for any well-known team planning to attend, meaning teams have a reason to obtain their visas early.
The Atlanta event already has some pretty big names lined up, including Team Secret and Epicenter winners Team Liquid. Rounding out the event are Vega Squadron and Planet Odd, each of whom won through the event’s online circuit.
So committed is third-party Half-Life remake Black Mesa [official site] to emulation of its much vaunted inspiration that it has now fully embraced ValveTime. Black Mesa was first released as a free mod in 2012, followed by a spit’n’polished paid version two years ago, but still with the notorious jump’n’fail alien world section from Half Life’s final act missing. Plan was to rethink rather than merely remake Xen, in a planned act of historical revisionism to make people think Half-Life was brillo all the way through. (Note: Half-Life was> brillo all the way through).
Last Autumn, the team declared the Gordon would finally be bouncing his away across fleshy coral oddities once away this summer. Well, no – there’s been a delay. The good news is, they are now showing off Xen’s great outdoors for the first time, as well as revealing a few changes planned for Black Mesa as a whole.
John has been writing these charts for just a few weeks and already he’s had to book a week off in order to recover. I am made of more sterling stuff, and while he’s gone it falls to me to share the details of which games sold the best last week on Steam.