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The International 2017 is closing in. The group stages begin August 2nd, with the main event taking place from the 7th, and the dust has settled from late June’s qualifiers.
Previously we , from China’s top achievers in Newbee to the Philippines’ best hopes in Execration and TNC Pro. Now, we move to the other hemisphere to talk about the best of the west and what they may bring to the biggest event in Dota 2.
First and foremost is Europe’s OG, the reigning champions of the Dota 2 scene at the moment having taken both of Valve’s Majors this season, plus two the season before. The team hasn’t shown its top shape prior to The International’s invite season, but that could change: after all, TI is a Valve event. A flexible hero pool, a well-versed captain, team chemistry and impeccable skill are the formula to a worthy Dota 2 team, and OG can check each box off without a second thought.
Returning from the Major is fellow direct invite Virtus.Pro, which earned second at the Kiev Major. They fell to OG in a 2-3 loss at the event, a rarity given that most LANs end in a four-game final, demonstrating that the team can put up a fight. Most famously this season they earned their invite immediately after their showing at The Summit, at which they played a unique hero for every match except the fifth and last finals game against Team Secret. With this momentum, they’ll be OG’s top match to look out for, but any match with VP versus a worthy team will be exciting to watch.
The third European direct invite is Team Liquid, which won Epicenter, one of the biggest events of the season. While not as consistent as China’s Newbee over the past year, the team has been able to show off their skill among the top teams in the world. They also proved that they’re far above any other stragglers in the pro scene, with persuasive first-place wins at StarLadder and this past weekend’s DreamLeague Atlantia. They can at least be a strong contender in Seattle if they keep their DreamLeague energy and bring it to the west coast.
Speaking of contenders, Team Secret is a potential dark horse for the event. They shocked the scene when they won every single game in the Kiev Major’s pre-bracket stages, including the qualifiers. Unfortunately, teams eventually figured out their shallow strategy, but since then, they’ve had time to improve. In fact, they’ve been improving over the past year, as they rose from not qualifying for Valve’s Boston Major to winning their stacked, challenging region for The International. Fans that have been through the team’s thick and thin will likely see the team at its top shape in years.
Last but not least from Europe is Hellraisers, formerly known as Planet Dog, which won after climbing through open qualifiers. Four out of five members were released recently from tier-two organization ProDota after internal conflict, and so this squad was assembled merely weeks before the qualifiers. Since their victory in the qualifiers, they were picked up by Hellraisers, which hasn’t seen a Dota 2 squad in years. The members aren’t new by any means, but instead, they’re a mix of players that have been grinding for years for this moment.
Next door, the CIS qualifiers took place for the first ever International event, including an absolutely-full open qualifier from which rose Team Empire. While the banner is familiar to long-time Dota 2 fans, the roster is full of relatively-fresh faces from the tier-two scene. That doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy, as this iteration has been showing up for online tournaments and training hard—before and after winning their TI qualifier, of course. The team does have a lot to prove to both its Russian and international fans, but they absolutely have the chance to do so in Seattle.
Returning to Seattle from America is Evil Geniuses, the champions of The International 5. Only two of the members from that winning squad are still active players, but that hasn’t stopped the team from remaining not only North America’s top team, but also a global powerhouse. They’ve shown up less frequently to events than other tier-one teams, but they took a first-place finish at the Manila Majors, and their second place at Epicenter is nothing to shake a finger at. Plus, they’ve had a strong showing at most Valve events, and they even came close at last year’s TI6, but they were no match for the outrageous hero pool of Digital Chaos. They can certainly hope that they become the first team to take a two-time TI win.
Much to the excitement of their biggest fans, Cloud9, formerly Team NP, will be at The International as the top qualifying team from North America. While esports veterans will recognize the C9 brand, Dota 2 fans know the squad for their leader, Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao, and the team’s anime-styled shenanigans. Fan familiarity aside, they’re a staple of high-tier events: they took a solid third at the Manila Masters and four that second at The Summit, and the roster is an all-star showing of veterans. Their performance breaks away from NA’s dire reputation, and they can potentially be a dark horse if they prepare well.
Also hailing from North America is Digital Chaos, formerly Team Onyx. They took second for the qualifiers, but sadly, their team has few results to show for their hard work up to that point. Still, the team has a lot of potential, as they’ve recruited names from across the world, including two former MVP players and 10k player Abed. It’s merely a matter of whether the players can come together and use their breadth of experience and skill in an effective manner.
Last but absolutely not least is newcomer team Infamous, the South American qualifier winner from Peru, formed by Valve Major alum Accel after his Frankfurt Major team Unknown.xiu disbanded. The SA region was thrust into the spotlight after SG Esports’s Kiev Major run, in which they took out Team Secret in their Achilles’s heel, showing that they could absolutely take on the world’s toughest team—if you keep them on an even playing field. Now, Infamous has a lot of pressure to follow up on that success, and it could certainly happen: after all, at the biggest event in esports, anything goes.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2 and other Source Engine games were all affected by a particularly nasty exploit until recently. Basically, by uploading custom assets into a custom map, hackers could use them to trigger a "buffer overflow vulnerability" which resulted in the victim PC being open to remote code execution.
"Valve's Source SDK contained a buffer overflow vulnerability which allowed remote code execution on clients and servers," OUP's statement reads. "The vulnerability was exploited by fragging a player, which caused a specially crafted ragdoll model to be loaded.
Multiple Source games were updated during the month of June 2017 to fix the vulnerability. Titles included CS:GO, TF2, Hl2:DM, Portal 2, and L4D2. We thank Valve for being very responsive and taking care of vulnerabilites swiftly. Valve patched and released updates for their more popular titles within a day."
For a demonstration of how it worked, this very short video tells you all you need to know. Death has never been so scary.
Our James ventured out of unranked solo queue and ended up on a Dota 2 [official site] team captained by a professional player and being streamed to thousands as some of the most famous casters in the scene commentated his efforts. No pressure, then! Here’s a little account of what happened and some advice for if you ever find yourself in this not-at-all-highly-specific situation…>
Last Thursday, Dota 2 production studio and general community hub joinDOTA hosted Beat The Legends, a rather unusual showmatch: while both teams would be led by a bonafide professional player, the remaining eight positions would be filled by members of the Dota-playing public, or at least those who entered and won the random draw. The pros would be Crescendo captain and on-again, off-again analyst Troels “SyndereN” Nielsen, and Henrik “Admiral Bulldog” Ahnberg, champion of The International 2013, former Alliance offlaner and Europe s most popular streamer.
One of the randomers would be, unfortunately for everyone else, me. (more…)
Following an Esports Integrity Coalition survey on "community opinion on the appropriate sanctions for those caught cheating in esports," ESL has announced a decision to lift its lifetime ban on players, including those of the former iBUYPOWER team, who were caught throwing matches.
The sorry tale stretches back to early 2015, when Daily Dot posted evidence of collusion between CS:GO teams iBUYPOWER and NetcodeGuides.com to fix matches and then place bets on their outcome. Following a deeper investigation, Valve issued an "indefinite" ban against the involved players, an injunction that both ESL and ESEA [Esports Entertainment Association] said they would uphold. Valve later clarified that the bans were in fact "permanent."
But the ESIC survey found that, while match-fixing is cheating and cheating is bad, the CS:GO community doesn't really see it as an especially big deal. "It is clear from the hundreds of 'FreeIBP,' 'FreeSWAG,' and 'FreeBRAX' comments that a very significant number feel that the lifetime bans handed out in the IBP and other historic match-fixing cases were too harsh and, while a significant number of comments support lifetime bans for such activity overall, many more are critical of the publisher’s decision in these cases," it wrote in its Statement on Appropriate Sanction for Cheating in Esports.
"ESIC is concerned that the community does not regard match-fixing as serious an offense as cheating to win. ESIC believes that match-fixing is as serious as cheating to win and is, consequently, committed to engaging with the community to try and persuade them that their current perception ought, perhaps, to change."
The community's willingness to overlook the transgression is not "the only view that matters," but combined with a review of the "publicly available facts," it led ESIC to recommend that the lifetime bans be lifted on August 1 of this year.
"Our reasoning here is that, whilst the players are clearly culpable and should have known better, the rules surrounding this sort of activity were not clear at the time, no education had been provided to the players, and the procedures used to sanction them were not transparent and did not comply with principles of natural justice," it wrote.
ESL said in its own statement that it and the ESEA held their own meeting with CS:GO pros in June, as part of the ESIC process, to get their perspective on the matter. As a result, ESL said it will "align its official stance on the topic with ESIC’s guidance": Rules for all IEM, ESL One, ESL Pro League, and ESEA Leagues and amateur events will be updated to reflect the recommendations, and "all indefinite match-fixing bans placed on players before February 15, 2015, have been lifted," including those of former iBUYPOWER players.
"We believe that integrity and fair play are of the utmost importance in esports, and our updated catalogue of sanctions reflects that commitment”, ESL senior vice president Ulrich Schulze said. The slate isn't being wiped completely clean, however: ”All of these adjustments do not apply to bans and punishments issued by Valve directly though, which will still be in place for all Valve sponsored tournaments run by ESL, such as Majors.”
Addressing the issue of unclear rules, ESL also announced that it will adopt ESIC's recommended sanctions for future offenses.
The above penalties will be applied for first offenses. For subsequent offenses, ESL and ESC warned that "participants should expect far harsher sanctions and, in the cases of (a) and (b) above, in all likelihood, a lifetime ban from esports."
ESL said in February 2015 that it would abide by Valve's bans against the players in question, "until these cases are reviewed by Valve." That clearly happened last year, when the bans were declared permanent—and while this might be backing into it a bit, that presumably opened the door for ESL and ESEA to chart its own course, and ultimately lift the bans. I've emailed Valve to ask if it plans to grant a reprieve of its own, and will update if I receive a reply.
Counter-Strike's AI bots are universally terrible—that's what most players would have you believe, at least. But during a ranked match on the third-party , one bot rose to glory by single-handedly killing every player on the enemy team. BOT Connor is his name, and shaming seasoned Counter-Strike players is his game.
Scoring an ace is a rare thing for even pro Counter-Strike players, but having a bot go all John Wick on the enemy team is practically unheard of. That's exactly what happened this weekend and Czech player '' was there to capture the incredible killing streak. Here's the video.
If you're unfamiliar with Global Offensive, bots will frequently fill open slots in teams when they are down a player. Aside from being a meat shield, they're not overly useful. They'll respond to preset commands and can sometimes get a kill, but as soon as a human player dies, they'll usually take command of the bot. But BOT Connor doesn't need a human puppet-master pulling his strings because he's a goddamn pro.
During the match on de_mirage, BOT Connor leads the charge to defend bombsite A. After tossing a flashbang towards the tunnel known as 't ramp,' he immediately rushes in. In the span of five seconds, he scores a kill against one of the terrorists, presses into the ramp, jumps in the air, and scores a second, mid-air kill. As the players on the counter-terrorist team lose their minds over what they just witnessed, BOT Connor scores a third kill. With that part of the map clear, he then turns around, climbs a ladder, and kills the remaining two players. All of this happens in the span of 45 seconds and it's absolutely savage to watch.
The counter-terrorists were down by one and the terrorists only needed another two wins, and this kill by BOT Connor tied the game up. I tracked down Kosta on Facebook and he informed me that BOT Connor inspired the team so much that they managed to come back and win the game. "I think that BOT Connor won this game for us," Kosta writes. "If you're losing and the bot wins this super important round, it's just insane."
"I thought it was hilarious," Richochetbang told me. He was another counter-terrorist player from the match. You can hear him laughing his ass off as BOT Connor begins his rampage. "Every time he shot a guy they were caught off guard."
While that appears to be true for a few of Connor's kills, most players aren't willing to cut the terrorist team much slack. This match took place on the third-party Faceit community league. Like ESEA, it's a place for more dedicated CS players to gather and features its own matchmaking, anti-cheat, and rankings. The terrorists' average ranking is 4.4, which is decent (Faceit ranks go up to 10). Considering these leagues attract a more serious audience, you wouldn't expect them to put up such a weak defense against a rogue AI.
But hey, we all have bad days. Some are just way worse than others.