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WASD feels inevitable today. Once mouselook became standard in 3D games, it made little sense (at least for right-handed players) to hold your left arm across your chest to reach the arrow keys. The WASD keys were more comfortable, and offered easy access to Shift and Space. But even though WASD seems like the obvious choice now, far fewer players used it 20 years ago.
Our favorite four letter word was never a foregone conclusion, and didn't become standard through some gaseous enlightening that spread to every PC gamer simultaneously. The new movement scheme took several years to catch on, and while we can t know whose fingers found their way to WASD first, we do have a good idea of who popularized the style: the greatest Quake player in the universe, Dennis Thresh Fong.
Fong made history when he took home John Carmack's Ferrari 328 after winning the first-ever nationwide Quake tournament in 1997. And when he won that tournament, defeating Tom "Entropy" Kimzey on Castle of the Damned, his right hand was on a mouse, and his left hand was perched over the four keys we now consider synonymous with PC gaming. But even then, not everyone played that way.
In the early days of first-person shooters, Fong says the keymappings were all over the place, and even the great Thresh had only just started to play with a mouse at all. Imagine him just a few years before, sometime around 1993, as a teenager losing a match of Doom against his brother Lyle. Like many Doom players, Fong used only the keyboard. Without the need to look up or down, it was a natural choice so much that using a mouse was even considered weird. His brother, however, was playing with a keyboard and trackball, and he was winning. It wasn t every game both were excellent players but Lyle won enough that one summer Fong decided he had to learn to play with a mouse. After that, he was unbeatable.
Right after I made that switch, my skill improved exponentially, says Fong. Pretty much, from then on, I never lost.
It took some experimentation including a strange attempt to move with WADX but Fong settled on WASD and has been using it since Doom. Did he invent the scheme? No, probably not. Others were also gravitating to the left side of the keyboard for Doom at the same time. But without Fong's influence, the default could have ended up different. It might have been EDSF, or stranger configurations like ZXC to strafe and move backwards, and the right mouse button to move forwards. Some early shooters bound movement to the arrow keys. In 1994, System Shock used ASDX, while Descent used AZ for forward/reverse and QE for banking (if you didn't happen to have a joystick).
Fong tells us he even knew a player who used ZXCV to move.
I m certainly not going to take credit for the creation of [WASD], says Fong. I stumbled across it. I m sure other people started using it as well just based on what was comfortable for them. I definitely think I helped popularize it with a certain set of gamers, particularly the ones that played first person shooters."
It s likely that he did. The very concept of a professional gamer was new at the time, and Fong was well-known on the west coast as the best player around. As Fong s celebrity grew, the one question everyone asked him was: What s your config? His answer could be most readily found in , which describes the WASD formation as an inverted T. And his guide carried weight. Even before his success as a Quake player, Fong was a Doom champion, and so people imitated him, just as the kids at the basketball court by my house spend far too much time trying to hit Steph Curry s 30-foot shots.
The evidence can be found on old bulletin board systems. In , a poster recommends using Q and E to strafe and A and D to turn. Another suggests using the keypad for movement, and someone else says they use A, Shift, Z, X. It wasn't the case that everyone simply gravitated to the 'obvious' choice of WASD or ESDF, and in , we see how Thresh's performance in the Quake tournament spread his style. His play was so impressive, the poster looking for his config speculates that it was impossible for him to turn so fast with a mouse.
Another legend, Quake programmer John Carmack, took note. Even when I was hanging out with Carmack, wherever, at E3, random people would come up and he would hear them asking me what my configuration was, says Fong. So he ended up building a Thresh stock config into Quake 2.
It was a relief. Not only could Fong sit down at any computer with Quake 2 and instantly load his configuration, every time he got the question, all he had to say was type exec thresh.cfg.
Convenient as it was, Fong doesn t think the inclusion of his config was the main factor in the rise of WASD, and I d agree. By the time Quake 2 was out, WASD was starting to feel like common knowledge. I used it, and I don t remember hearing Thresh s name associated with it at the time, though it s possible his configuration entered my consciousness two or three people removed.
And yet games, strangely, took a while to catch up. Carmack may have bundled Thresh s config with Quake 2, but when it released in 1997 the default controls were still arrow keys. A year later, though, that changed. If Thresh's Quake tournament win was WASD's first watershed moment, the second came in 1998 with the release of Half-Life. The Quake and Doom players at Valve perhaps influenced directly or indirectly by Carmack, Thresh, and other top Doom and Quake players included WASD in Half-Life s default keyboard and mouse config, which helped solidify it as the first-person shooter standard.
Valve engineer Yahn Bernier checked Half-Life's original config file for us and confirmed it included WASD. "I remember finalizing this file (maybe with Steve Bond) during the lead up to shipping HL1 but don t recall specifics about when WASD was settled on or really why. We probably carried it forward from Quake1 " he wrote in an email.
The same year, and less than a month after Half-Life, Starsiege Tribes also made WASD default. Quake 3 followed suit in 1999, and WASD's popularity grew even more. It was also the default binding in 2000's Daikatana, but Half-Life, Tribes, and Quake 3 probably had a bit more to do with its popularity.
There were still plenty of heretical control schemes in 1999 like System Shock 2's, which defaulted to WADX (and S for crouch). But WASD had momentum. If it wasn t already ubiquitous by 2004, World of Warcraft defaulting to WASD codified it for millions of PC gamers. Now it s in RPGs and MOBAs and even strategy games, controlling camera movement over maps.
Interestingly, Valve boss Gabe Newell doesn t use WASD. I personally don't like WASD as it takes your hand away from your typing home keys, he wrote in an email to PC Gamer. I always rebind to ESDF. Newell's not alone there. Do a little Googling and you'll find plenty of people arguing that ESDF is the more natural configuration.
More surprisingly, another Half-Life developer, level designer Dario Casali, also rejects WASD. Instead, he prefers ASXC. It feels natural to me, where WASD feels odd, wrote Casali. But lots of people scoff at my config.
What would PC gaming be like had EDSF or ASXC been Half-Life s default? No offense intended to Newell or Casali, but I shudder to think of it. ASXC just sounds bonkers to me. Newell's fairly commonplace ESDF is more palatable, but as Thresh echoes, it feels harder to hit Shift and Control while easier to mispress one of the surrounding keys. For me, Thresh, and millions of PC gamers, it s WASD for life.
You can read more about the history of Quake celebrating Quake's 20th anniversary. We're also celebrating by , and Thresh himself will be playing on our US-West server today, Friday, from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Pacific time.
Wes Fenlon also contributed to this article.
There's lots of competitive gaming to watch this weekend, from top-tier Hearthstone and Street Fighter V to the Dota 2 scene's frantic scramble to make it to this year's International. Skilled players will win thousands of dollars over the next two days: an impressive sum in and of itself if you're American, getting more impressive with every minute that passes if you're British.
Hearthstone: Americas Spring Championship
Starting at 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST on both Saturday and Sunday, this is a showcase of top talent in the American Hearthstone scene. There's $80,000 on the line, as well as a spot at the Global Finals at BlizzCon. Here's the stream.
Dota 2: The International 2016 Regional Qualifiers
Qualification for the remaining spots at The International begins tomorrow. Play begins at 18:00 PDT on Friday night/03:00 CEST in SEA and at 01:00 PDT/10:00 CEST in Europe. As Europe wraps up, expect play to begin in North America followed by China. It's a packed schedule, so check out GosuGamer's match page for the latest info and stream links.
CSGO: Esports Championship Series
FaceIt's Esports Championship Series concludes this weekend with a dramatic faceoff between the world's best teams in London. You can find the livestream and schedule information on the official site. Up-to-date schedule information is missing at the moment, but expect play throughout the day on British time (CEST-1).
League of Legends: NA Championship Series
Another weekend of play in the NA LCS. Games run today and continue throughout the weekend, starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST each day and continuing for four-five hours. As ever, the best resource for further information and livestreams is lolesports.com.
Overwatch: OG Invitational
One of the biggest events in NA Overwatch so far, the OG Invitational has a $25,000 prize pool and showcases the region's best teams. Play begins at 10:00 PDT/19:00 CEST and you'll find the livestream right here.
Rocket League: Qualifier 2 Group Stage
After a few weeks of open qualifiers, the pool narrows. NA is playing on Saturday starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST and Europe plays on Sunday from 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST. Here's the livestream.
Street Fighter V: CEO 2016
One of the liveliest events in the Street Fighter V calendar, Andi sung the praises of CEO in his column this week. It's a premier event, so expect a very high standard of play. You can find the extensive schedule here and the action will be streamed on Twitch.
The Steam Summer Sale is on! Lots of good deals to be had, including the famous team-based FPS Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is currently half-price that's $7.50/ 6. There's a catch, though, and it's kind of a strange one: If you buy it during the Summer Sale, you can't gift it to someone else.
The restriction came to light on Reddit, when a CS:GO redditor said he was unable to buy the game as a gift and asked if anyone else had experienced the same thing. A Valve rep quickly stepped in to confirm that everyone would experience the same thing.
CS:GO will not be giftable during the sale, the rep said. Our goal with sales is to grow the community and historically, during sales, the new users that stick around are mainly the ones that purchase copies for themselves.
That sounds to me like a nice way of saying that Valve wants to crack down on alt-accounts, which is understandable and even admirable, since it's effectively prioritize that over sales of the game. It's a bit surprising that there's no up-front warning of the game's current ungiftability, though; it's not like people are losing money on it, but a heads-up would go a long way toward avoiding unhappy surprises.
(And if you do actually want to gift it to someone? Just PayPal 'em the money or wait until the sale's over.)
So you ve won the pistol round, and you re now looking to get an even bigger advantage over your opponent. It s enormously important that you manage your economy correctly at this point: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a game where you can lose a match because you bought too much or underspent at the wrong moment.
Having won the pistol round, the second round is when you ll want to start building your economic advantage. You do this by investing in SMGs. All of them except the P90 have a kill bonus of $600, which is twice as much as kills with pistols or assault rifles. Only shotguns offer better bang for your buck, with $900 per kill. While shotguns can be very effective at short range or in tight corridors, however, you ll find yourself in a bad position when either taking or retaking a bomb site.
For this reason, SMGs offer a better deal most of the time. One thing to remember, particularly on the T side, is to work together during this crucial round. If the CTs have bought Five-Sevens, for instance, they might headshot you before you get in close. This results in a valuable gun lost and a chance for them to win the round.
The MP9 is exclusive to the CTs. It does low damage and has poor armor penetration but only costs $1250. However, it s easy to control while moving around and has insanely high rate of fire. Even if every bullet does little damage on its own, you can easily melt an unarmored enemy. Against armored enemies, the key is to stay very close.
If you win the pistol round but the Ts managed to plant the bomb, they re likely to save in the second round in order to go for a full buy the round after. In this scenario the MP9 is a great choice. Just make sure you have a teammate ready to clean up in case you get overrun. The MP9 is also good for aggressive play.
The T counterpart to the MP9 is the MAC-10. At $1050 it s the cheapest SMG in the game. Its properties are pretty much the same as the MP9 s, which makes it an excellent weapon to use if you re the first player in when you attack. You create distraction and spray down enemies who happen to be too close to you. This creates more space for your teammates with more powerful weapons to clean up the site.
The MP7 ($1700) has slightly lower rate of fire than the MP9 and MAC-10, but its first bullet accuracy is a little higher, making it possible to strafe and burst heads at medium range. Other than that you should use it like you use the SMGs above. It is a bit heavier, which slows you down to 220 units per second as opposed to 240 for the MP9 and MAC-10. You ll rarely use the MP7 as it s an awkward mix of the cheap SMGs and the UMP-45. It s more effective to have some players go for the UMP-45 and others the MP9 and MAC-10 than to go for a hybrid.
The UMP-45 is a badass weapon. If it weren t enough that it does a lot of damage and has great armor penetration, it also fires at RPM. It s considerably slower than all of the above mentioned weapons, but it s a lot more accurate at medium range. If you expect your enemies to buy armor, the UMP-45 is an excellent choice. It costs $1200, which is insanely cheap considering you can hold on to it going into the first weapon round.
The P90 is by far the best SMG when it comes to killing enemies, especially armored ones. It does however cost $2350 and only gives you $300 per kill, which makes it a good choice for those rounds when your team wants to buy full but one player can t afford armor and an assault rifle. I strongly recommend that you use the $600-bonus SMGs in the second round even if you can afford something more expensive.
This topic has been widely discussed within the competitive scene. If you ve won all rounds leading up to the first gun round, the other team will go for a full buy. Should you keep your SMG or upgrade to an assault rifle? In my opinion it s often wise to stick to your SMG. Why? Because the more consecutive rounds you lose, the more money you get at the start of a new round (this caps out at $3400). The first round you lose will give you $1400, which isn t a lot.
There are two possible outcomes of the first gun round: you either win or you lose. If you win, that means you ll get $600 per kill and you won a round without investing in a new weapon. If you lose you still get $600 for every kill you get, but more importantly: the other team wins. Because you didn t buy an assault rifle you ll have more than enough to buy one following that lost round. If you manage to win that round it means the other team s economy has been reset and they ll have to force buy or eco. Basically, keeping your SMG going into the first gun round is a low risk, high reward gamble.
Find all of our other Counter-Strike: Global Offensive guides here:
In August, sixteen teams will compete for what is likely to be the biggest prize pool in the history of competitive gaming. While the majority of these teams will fight for their spot through a series of regional qualifiers, six of the best have now received their direct invite and, for the first time, the returning champions aren't among them.
OG, Team Liquid, Newbee, LGD Gaming, MVP Phoenix and Natus Vincere are the official invitees, with 2015 winners Evil Geniuses conspicuous by their absence. They've been relegated to the open qualifier, along with Team Secret, due to an eleventh-hour roster switch that fell outside of Valve's fixed transfer window. Breaking the rules means that they've got the longest possible road ahead of them in order to defend their title.
The spread of invitees demonstrates how dynamic and competitive the international Dota 2 scene is, particularly compared to other esports. OG is an independent squad that is less than a year old, handily earning their spot with two separate Major victories and another first-place finish at ESL One over the weekend. The new Team Liquid follow hot on their heels with a run of high-profile second place finishes and a win at Epicenter. Theirs is a similar story to OG a new team with veteran experience at its heart.
Newbee are one of two prior International champions to be invited, but this is a very different squad to the one that rolled over the competition at TI4. The new Newbee showcases some of the best talent in the Chinese scene, and they enjoyed an extraordinary undefeated run earlier in the year that was only curtailed when they encountered OG a team that has proved to be their foil more than once.
The new Na'Vi are the other former champions to get an invite to TI6, although only two members of that winning 2011 lineup remain Dendi and Artstyle (and Artstyle was absent for the bulk of the team's most famous performances.) Na'Vi have emerged from a few long years of scene-wide roster instability as the surprise hope of CIS Dota, placing consistently well at LAN more so than some of their better-regarded rivals.
Korea's MVP Phoenix and China's LGD are more questionable inclusions, but this reddit thread offers some sensible explanations. LGD's invite follows a recent trend of Valve inviting the top four from any official LAN to the next official LAN. MVP Phoenix, like Na'Vi, have a consistently strong record on LAN, which seems to factor heavily into Valve's selection process.
Teams without a direct invite will have to compete through four sets of regional qualifiers, with the majority of each region's best teams being invited to these instead: see the official site for the full list. Each regional qualifier has two open spots which will be filled through a run of open qualifiers taking place later this week. You can find more details about these here. It's well worth taking part particularly if you're in Europe or the Americas, where you've got a greater-than-zero chance of facing Team Secret or EG. And getting stomped by them.
The latest update to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive includes the first in a series of planned improvements to the game's audio. The Negev, M249, and Mag7 have all had their sound effects punched up, and the smoke grenade sound has been changed to make it more distinct as well. But there's also an entirely new effect that's been added, a ratcheting sound signaling that the current magazine is just about empty. And that, according to Kotaku, has made some hardcore players awfully unhappy.
The complaints arise from the fact that, with this sound cue, it's no longer necessary to keep track of the number of bullets your enemy has fired in order to know when it's safe to stick your head out; instead, you can just wait until you hear the tell-tale click. That lowers the skill ceiling of the game, as this Reddit thread puts it, because you no longer require experience or familiarity with in-game firearms to know when your enemy has run dry: You just need to listen.
But that's maybe not as straightforward as it sounds. It's not as though a flashing neon sign will appear on your screen when the sound is triggered, and you'll need to be quite close to your enemy to actually hear it, as YouTuber Dinoswarleaf demonstrates. So it may be of limited value to begin with, and as one Redditor points out, most players aren't actually out there counting bullets in the middle of a digital firefight.
It reminds me a bit of the famous ping sound made by clips ejecting from the Second World War-era M1 Garand rifle: Legend has it that the noise was a deadly defect that signaled an empty weapon, but the reality is that it could very rarely be heard, and had no real value even when it was.
Whether or not it actually makes a significant change to the skill ceiling, the reaction to the sound has been intense, and has led to calls for a CS:GO public test realm, so Valve can give these ideas a trial run before granting them to/inflicting them on the full player base. Valve hasn't yet commented on the complaints and the sound effect remains. Give it a listen in the short video clip below.
There's loads happening all over the world of esports this weekend, so let's get right to it. From Hearthstone in Asia to Heroes of the Storm, CS:GO, Smite and more in Sweden and Overwatch and League in North America, there should be high-quality play to watch wherever you are.
Hearthstone: Spring Championships Asia-Pacific
Hearthstone's next regional championship concludes tomorrow, with games beginning at 09:00 PDT/18:00 CEST. This will determine which of the best players in the Asia-Pacific region will represent Hearthstone at the World Championship in November. You'll find the livestream at http://www.twitch.tv/playhearthstone.
Heroes of the Storm: Summer Global Championship
The world's best Heroes of the Storm players clash in Sweden with a $150,000 grand prize to fight for. Group play has been going on for a while, but continues on Saturday and Sunday starting at 03:00 PDT/12:00 CEST. Find the livestream at http://twitch.tv/blizzheroes.
Dota 2: ESL One Frankfurt 2016
Group play began today for this, one of the last premier Dota 2 events before the International in August. You can catch games starting at 01:30 PDT/10:30 CEST on Saturday and Sunday, and you'll find the livestream at http://www.twitch.tv/esl_dota2.
CSGO: DreamHack Summer 2016
The cream of the CSGO scene returns to Sweden for the next three days. Group play begins on Saturday at 06:00 PDT/15:00 CEST on Saturday, and continues at 03:00 PDT/12:00 CEST on Sunday and 01:30 PDT/10:30 CEST on Monday. Find the livestream at dreamhack.tv.
Overwatch: ONOG Operation Breakout
$15,000 on the line for the best Overwatch players in North America. Games begin at 17:00 PDT/01:00 CEST on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Europe) and you'll find the livestream at https://www.twitch.tv/onenationofgamers.
Rocket League: Open Qualifier 2, Week 2
Rocket Leagues latest round of open qualifiers takes place in NA and EU over the weekend. As with last week, these won't be officially streamed. Keep an eye on Twitch, however, to see if any players choose to stream their matches. You can find out more at https://www.rocketleagueesports.com/.
League of Legends: NA LCS
Another week of drama in the North American League of Legends scene. There's a full day of play on Saturday starting at 12:00 PDT/21:00 CEST with a slightly shorter day to follow on Sunday. Find more details and the livestream at www.lolesports.com.
Smite: Masters at Dreamhack Summer 2016
This is the climax of Smite's spring split, a $450,000+ tournament featuring the world's best players. You won't find higher-profile Smite than this outside of Worlds in January. Play begins at 02:30 PDT/11:30 CEST on Saturday and continues at 08:30 PDT/17:30 CEST on Sunday, with the finals taking place on Monday. Find the livestream at http://www.twitch.tv/smitegame.
The Dota 2 scene has had a hell of a weekend. The game's third Valve-sponsored $3m Major tournament came to an end in Manila on Sunday with a historic grand final between OG and Team Liquid relatively new rosters that have taken the international scene by storm in the last nine months. OG's victory makes them the first team in Dota 2's history to win two Valve events: an extraordinary first year record that only stands to improve at The International in August.
Meanwhile, the world's longest game of musical chairs continues between International 2015 winner Evil Geniuses and their foil, the would-be Dota supergroup Secret. EG's star offlaner Universe he of the $6m Echo Slam left the NA team in March to join Secret, his role being filled in on EG by their former coach, Bulba. With me so far? Well, mid-way through Manila after both EG and Secret turned in sub-par performances Secret announced that Universe had 'abandoned' them to return to EG, and that his role on Secret would be filled... by Bulba. Again.
Then, EG created a website explaining the entire transfer drama through an extended Frozen metaphor. Also, talented Swedish support player Zai formerly of Secret is now joining EG, replacing Aui_2000. This is the second time in the last year that Aui_2000 has been kicked out of EG.
It's a roster drama with more contrived betrayals than Game of Thrones, and while you try to untangle it consider this: both of the Manila Major finalists were teams that have stuck together even when tournaments haven't gone their way.
To cap things off, a surprise post-Manila balance update arrived this morning to upturn the pro metagame ahead of the International. Icefrog has turned Oprah this time you get a buff! And you! And you! And you!
Not you, Beastmaster. Nor Slardar, Phoenix, Lifestealer, Slark, Invoker, Bounty Hunter and a handful of others. But these are the oft-picked, oft-banned outliers in a patch defined by widespread buffs to almost everybody. Cooldowns are getting shorter, damage and stats are scaling better, and Hurricane Pike is quietly becoming Dota 2's most absurd item.
You can find the full patch notes here. Fans of Phantom Assassin the most-picked hero in Dota 2 pubs will be happy to note that she can now Phantom Strike magic immune targets. Could the game's most popular character now... actually... be viable in pro games? I guess we'll find out in the International open qualifiers.
Which Secret and EG will have to enter, because they changed their rosters after the cutoff. What a time to be alive.
With the recent ESL Pro League Finals taking place at the O2 and the Esports Championship Series to conclude in the SSE Arena Wembley later this month, it s clear that UK Counter-Strike is on the rise. At the ESL Finals, two of the UK s most recognisable CS casters, Henry HenryG Greer and Lauren Pansy Scott, shared their thoughts on watching their home scene develop.
Henry ‘HenryG’ Greer is a caster/analyst for Global Offensive, usually partnered with the Canadian Matthew ‘Sadokist’ Trivett.
Though the UK scene is only just finding its feet in comparison to the mainland majors of Cologne and Katowice, this wasn t always the case. In the days of Global Offensive s predecessor, Source, the UK was up there with the best, fielding mighty teams like London Mint, Birmingham Salvo and 4Kings. While most tournaments at the time were smaller grassroots events, the Championship Gaming Series of 2007 hoped to up the ante with a bigger, more professional environment, acting as part of a push to have CS shown on national television. As a player for London Mint, Henry was directly involved in the first real drive, and subsequent failure, of mainstream esports in Britain.
They put hundred and hundreds of thousands of pounds into it and obviously we weren t ready for it at that point, says HenryG. This was when I was playing, we got flown over to America and we got to play in these amazing leagues. We played two seasons and it turned out no one really watched it in the UK, and this was prime time TV... It was very clear that esports wasn t quite ready for the UK market then.
While television may have seemed like the logical end goal ten years ago, the advent of streaming services such as Twitch has completely revolutionised esports media, freeing providers from the constraints of standard broadcasting services. Beyond the tournaments themselves, many players run successful (and lucrative) personal streaming services. For the dedicated, this offers the chance to directly connect with and support their favourite players.
Lauren ‘Pansy’ Scott is an ESL-employed caster for Global Offensive as well as other titles such as Battlefield, World of Tanks and Dirty Bomb.
Originally back in the day, if you wanted to get to know these players it was through frag movies where you d watch one clip and be like that person is awesome , Lauren says. I think it s so great that you can be so personable with the players now. You can go to their Twitch chat, you can go and talk to them. Back when I started playing I thought well, I ll probably never get to speak to this player . Now I can go and subscribe to them and they ll probably be quite thankful and humble.
[Ten years ago] you had to have the game installed and connect through that to watch, says Henry. Getting 5000 viewers was a big deal. Selling that to a large sponsor company is difficult. Twitch has made that accessible. Everyone can watch on their phone or laptop wherever you are in the world. I feel like that s the reason esports has got to where it has.
As for for television? We just don t need it Henry says. We re so past that, why is it the ultimate goal? We re not restricted by adverts, we re not governed or restricted. We do our own thing.
As competitive gaming continues to soar in popularity, the changes are finally starting to take place, with dedicated UK arenas being established by both Gfinity and ESL. Clearly testing the waters, early events saw CS:GO sharing space with other titles such as Call of Duty and Super Smash Bros Melee at Dreamhack London. Since then the success of competitions like the ESL Pro League Finals have sent a clear signal: the UK has a committed audience for CS, and they are as passionate as they come.
The UK having events like this, pulling in an audience without any other games, I love that, Lauren says. It s a unique thing and it seems to be getting better and better. CS is a massive thing in this space and it s dominating it pretty well. The audience is actually very unique, very different and I love that about them. You get a different vibe at different events you go to and I think the CS one has a hell of a lot of personality and it s awesome to see it here in London.
Gaming as a whole in the UK has had this stigma attached to it in the sense that it s quite nerdy and geeky, says Henry. But now people are starting to realise that it s actually quite a cool thing to do, it s actually quite exciting. With these kind of events we re raising awareness slowly but surely.
People travel every weekend to see their favourite football teams, and now we re having that same thing for their favourite esports players, he continues. I think that s really cool. We re building up personalities and getting celebrities. It s all coming together through platforms like Twitch.
CS:GO broadcasting is overflowing with British talent. From Duncan Thorin Shields to Alex machine Richardson, you re all but guaranteed to see a UK face at any large event. Despite this, the UK has been painfully slow to establish itself in hosting tournaments. It s hard not to think that this is, in large, due to the lack of any presence from a local team. While the ESL audience showed no end of love for the French G2, a home side could draw an entirely different level of attention. Despite this it has been difficult to draw interest in sponsor support for a UK side. As a former player, this is clearly a topic close to Henry s heart.
The problem with the UK CS:GO scene right now is that there are great players, but there are no great teams, Henry explains. You can tell the fans are hungry for it. They want their hometown heroes. They want their Fnatics, their NiPs like the Swedes have. I mean you look at teams like Virtus.pro, even when they re losing at Katowice they have the whole crowd behind them. That s what the UK wants.
[Last year] I had my own company and set up a British team to go to events and we sent them to Dreamhack London, continues Henry. That was the first time a British team had made it to a big event. They took down the Australian Team Renegades. In London, taking down one of the bigger names for the events, it was a fairytale story. The problem is, once we finished that event we had nothing else to play for. We hadn t been invited to any big events and the team stagnated and dropped off. That was about a year ago and the scene has changed so much since then."
Valve has since introduced the Minor system in order to encourage and nurture smaller teams. Accepting only sides which have not previously participated in Majors, the Minors offer both a $50,000 prize pool and the chance to compete in the offline Major qualifiers. So with the support finally in place, and increasing attention being diverted to hosting, is it finally time for a stable UK side to emerge? On that front, the jury is still out.
I hope so, offers Lauren. I won t say it s going to be any time soon if I m honest. I think there s still a long way to go. There are some incredibly talented players, it s just that the UK scene has a horrible history of rotating the same players in and out of lineups. Someone doesn t get on, or there s no support. They don t want to put in the work without the money being there. There s no middle ground for it. I think eventually the younger scene will break in, they ll get there and make it, but it s a long way.
When my team was playing we didn t have [the Minor system], says Henry. So I feel like maybe not 2016, but 2017 we ll have something, just one team we can be proud of. They don t have to be winning events, just to be competitive.
The final weekend of Dota 2 s Manila Major looms for the remaining teams in Valve s $3m tournament. As MVP Phoenix, LGD Gaming and Team Liquid fight to stay alive in the lower bracket, OG take on Newbee for the first Grand Finals spot in the upper bracket. It s been a long road for all five teams since the group stages, and though they all started in the upper bracket, they ve had their fair share of ups and downs along the way. Here s the story so far, to get you ready to jump into tomorrow s deciders and the final showdown on Sunday.
MVP Phoenix didn t start out as a tournament favourite (coming through group D in second place behind LGD) but quickly gained traction with the home crowd. Their first match on the main stage saw them dump the analysts pick Team Liquid fresh off their runner-up placing in the same arena a month earlier at ESL One Manila into the lower bracket with a clean 2-0.
Liquid themselves are on a bit of a hot and cold streak. That ESL second place to a completely overlooked Wings team from China was a bit of a pride-denter, but victory at Epicenter weeks later showed their international strength. With teams like Evil Geniuses and Secret in complete disarray from frankly awful roster compositions, Liquid have seen their chance to claim the Best in the West title. That first day falter to MVP has only spurred them on as compLexity, Na`Vi and Fnatic have all fallen 2-0 to them in the lower bracket. They re not out of the woods yet, however, as they face the winner of MVP vs. LGD to continue.
LGD face MVP first thing in the morning and should hold the advantage over the South Korean side. The all-star Chinese team took a drama-free 2-0 over MVP in the group stages and have only lost a very close 2-1 series against Fnatic since then. Fellow countrymen Vici Gaming Reborn couldn t stop them either and, aside from upper bracket frontrunners Newbee, LGD are looking like the strongest East Asian side in the tournament.
Onto the upper bracket, where the final two undefeated teams in the playoff stages are Newbee and OG. Newbee are a remarkable case, having made it into the Majors through the China qualifiers after Kpii and Kaka joined in late March. This Saturday s winner s bracket final is a rematch between the two teams, as Newbee defeated OG 2-0 in their Group A match securing the top spot for the playoffs. Since the knockout tournament began, Newbee have sent American underdogs Digital Chaos and South-East Asian side Fnatic to the lower bracket where both have since perished. Perhaps the past few days have been a little too easy on Newbee and they ll be unprepared for OG after sitting on their laurels?
OG, by comparison, have had the rougher route through the upper bracket. First facing off against a resurgent Na`Vi followed by Liquid-slayers MVP Phoenix. Neither proved any trouble for OG, however, both succumbing to fast 2-0 sweeps. The final match against MVP saw zero casualties on OG s side in one of the most brutal displays of dominance ever seen in professional Dota. These are not qualifier teams, both direct invites with strong tournament placings in the past three months. It speaks to the skill of the team that mid player Miracle-, often hailed for his absurdly high solo MMR of 9000, has yet to die since playoffs began, at one point going 17/0/5 as Invoker against Na`VI.
Regardless of who makes it through the MVP-LGD-Liquid three-way at the bottom, OG is certainly looking like the team to beat at the top. Here are the matches to look out for and when to see them:MVP Phoenix vs. LGD Gaming (Lower Bracket) Saturday 10:00 PHT/03:00 BSTFriday 22:00 EDT/19:00 PDT
Newbee vs. OG (Upper Bracket) Saturday 13:20 PHT/06:20 BST/01:20 EDTFriday 22:20 PDT
Team Liquid vs. [MVP/LGD] (Lower Bracket)Saturday 16:40 PHT/09:40 BST/04:40 EDT/01:40 PDT
Lower Bracket FinalSunday 10:00 PHT/03:00 BSTSaturday 10:00 EDT/19:00 PDT
Grand FinalSunday 15:00 PHT/08:00 BST/15:00 EDT/00:00 PDT