Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

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 Faceit community league, 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 'Kosta' was there to capture the incredible killing streak. Here's the video. 

I think that BOT Connor won this game for us. If you're losing and the bot wins this super important round, it's just insane.

Kosta

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.

Dota 2

Every Monday, Build of the week highlights a unique rig from the web’s most dedicated PC building communities. 

It’s a good thing you logged on today, because we’re about to get our log on thanks to this cool computer made from a damn tree. Elemental Infusion is a scratch build put together by modder Kanishka Akalanka out of Sri Lanka using carved sections of a mahogany log to form a gorgeous chassis. This is the PC Gandalf has resting below his modular standing desk in his secret smoke-and-chill wizard cave. He calls it the Log Hog. It looks nice below the black light poster of himself.  

I believe it too, because it took some magic to put the Elemental Infusion together. The big stumpy cross section of wood was separated into three pieces so the components could actually fit, lending it a rough finish to that makes it look like a recently restored ancient artifact or something a rich relative would buy for their swanky-ass log cabin they visit once a year. Put it there, next to the raccoon taxidermy. No one will know it’s a Dota 2 PC anyway, except for a nephew or niece and one ‘cool’ uncle. 

But if you want to wash over the log-ness of the thing with LED lighting and show off the lovely tech powering the log, some flaps tilt down to allow for a look inside. Don’t stare too long though. It’s very difficult to log off. Log jokes! 

For more details about of Elemental Infusion was put together, including a ton of extra pictures, check out the official build log

Elemental Infusion components:

CPU: Intel Core i7 7700kMobo: Asus Maximus IX CODERAM: AVEXIR 16GB DDR4-28004GB x4GPU: Asus Strix GTX 1070PSU: Cooler master V850Cooler: DIY custom liquid LoopSSD: Avexir 240GB S100

Team Fortress 2

Last week I asked our community to share their sleaziest stories of scamming or being scammed in online games. I expected we'd get some fun tales that we could all laugh about, but instead the comments section filled with anecdotes of such absolute savagery that I lost hope for humanity. Not only are some of you unconscionable in your unwavering commitment to screwing over your fellow person (or friends), but a few of you also suffered dearly at the hands of strangers on the net.

I've sifted through hundreds of comments to bring back what I feel are the worst, sleaziest, most underhanded stories. Whether it's screwing over your best friends for a quick buck or falling for the same scam twice in a row, all of you should feel bad. Really bad. For better and for worse, here are your most underhanded stories of scamming.

Cat fishing anonymous 

It's one thing to use a silver tongue to trick someone into handing over a few items, but it's another thing to get your girlfriend to pretend to be a cam girl in order to scam some poor, lonely soul for 10 million gold. That's exactly what commenter Mugen did while playing Vindictus.

"I once scammed a guy from Italy out of 10 million gold in Vindictus," he explains in the comments. "I told him I was a cam girl and I'd Skype him if he transferred the gold to my character."

Apparently Sleepless in Italy needed a bit more proof before he was willing to part with his precious gold, so Mugen somehow convinced his girlfriend to play the part. "I got my girlfriend to go on Skype with him and she posted fake cam girl pics and pretended it was her," he says. "After we got the payment we let him know he shouldn't trust people online and then deleted and blocked him on Skype. I've never felt so horrible."

Mugen's comment doesn't offer more details, but I have a million questions. How does someone even convince their girlfriend to pull this off? I don't know what makes me more depressed: That someone would stoop so low for gold or that someone would actually fall for it.

Need a lift? 

You should never take a ride from a stranger—especially if it's in DayZ and there's zero reason why that person shouldn't break your legs and leave you for dead. It might not be a traditional scam, but FixTheBloodyGame (let's call him Fix) has a story so brutal that it's only made worse by the fact that they got nothing out of it.

"Back when DayZ was an Arma 2 mod, myself and two friends had become fully geared, had a helicopter, and basically hit the endgame without much else to do," they explain. "What we ended up doing was offering lifts around the map using our helicopter and arranging this via side chat. Needless to say, we had some ulterior motives."

I shot him in the leg with a DMR, snapping them instantly.

FixTheBloodyGame

They stumbled upon a freshly-spawned player trying to get across the map so he could team up with his friend. "We met up in Electro, got him to drop all his gear and loaded him into the chopper and set off flying northeast. After 3 minutes of flying, he got very confused and asked where we were heading. 'Just a quick stop at our base,' we said."

As Fix explains, in the far northeastern corner of the map is an island so small that no zombies spawn on it and most players don't even know it exists. "We dropped the guy off on the island and said he should follow us to get some gear from our 'buggy tents that go invisible.'

After watching this poor sap run around trying to find the invisible tents, Fix decided to get nasty. "I shot him in the leg with a DMR, snapping them instantly," Fix writes.

But it gets worse.

"We quickly bandaged him, healed him up (his legs were still broken) and got him to crawl across this island to our helicopter. As soon as he got close we flew away. After he started getting sad in side chat we flew back to him and fixed his legs—only to snap them and repeat the whole process again."

Fix explains it was only when the island was a tiny dot on the horizon that they fully realized what an ass they had been. "This poor guy just wanted to meet up with his friend. He now only had a few choices: Swim to shore (which would take multiple hours), starve to death (again, multiple hours in real time), or quit the server and never return. There was no suicide button and he had no gear to kill himself with."

"We got a lone message in side chat after all this, a simple ':(.'"

Reading this story, the optimist in me hoped that maybe Fix and their friends would find their conscience and head back for their crippled passenger. Nope.

"Our pilot got very sad for him, the rest of us laughed our arses off."

Sorry for your loss 

XyzzyFrobozz's story is legitimately infuriating and proves that EVE Online isn't the only MMO where you can't trust your closest friends. "I started a guild in Lord of the Rings Online on the Nimrodel server called the 'Rangers of Arnor,'" they write. "I worked hard at recruiting and raiding to the point where we were becoming a medium-sized guild of about 50 people. Word was spreading that we were active and friendly, and so we started getting quite a few applications." 

"A good friend of mine unfortunately took his own life. I had to travel out of state to be with his family and help with the arrangements, so I handed over some of the control of the guild to a 'trusted' friend in the game—specifically the ability to recruit or ban people from the guild. I explained what was going on and that I wanted the guild to continue growing by admitting people while I was away."

Apparently even a real-life tragedy won't stop some people from abusing power. Xyzzy returned to a terrible surprise. "When I returned I found the guild had grown by five players... and that my 'friend' had kicked me from the guild and taken it over as his own."

"I never played LOTRO again."

I don't blame them.

Insanity is doing the same thing twice… 

We received a mountain of entries involving Runescape. This MMO is a madhouse of skullduggery, but Jake Brandt's story stands out because he was so hilariously naive as to fall for the same scam twice in a row.

As he explains, his pride and joy was his full set of adamantium armor, which was the second-most powerful in the game at the time. Around that time, Jagex had released special sets of armor that had ornate gold or silver trimming along the outer edges. It was highly fashionable and Jake wanted some. "I had heard about gold trimmed armor but knew nothing else about it, so when a guy on the road offered to upgrade my armor I happily accepted his generous offer and handed over two pieces of my gear."

There's just one problem: there was no way to convert normal armor into trimmed armor. Instead of learning this lesson, Jake decided to roll the dice a second time.

"After a brief mourning period for my lost adamantium equipment, I kept walking down the road and there were a couple of people at a crossroads. One of them walked up to me and offered to add gold trim my remaining armor. I don't remember how I could have possibly thought it was a good idea to try this again, but I did. I even made him swear he wouldn't keep my armor like the last guy."

"And that's the story of the time I ragequit Runescape, never to return."

On the next page, someone gets the shit kicked out of them in real life.

Mistaken identity 

Zed's willingness to think on his feet is astounding. While playing Diablo 2 one day, he found an open public game named "Cody come" and decided to play a trick: He was going to pretend to be Cody. "I joined the match with a stupid idea in my head that I was going to pretend to be the guy's friend," Zed writes. "After joining the game I went to my stash checked out some items and was just doing my thing and the other guy in that current game said 'Hello' and I replied "Hey man, one sec gonna get a drink' and he said 'Cody?' I waited a minute or so and said to him 'Yeah this is my paladin account.' So at this point he was gonna either call my bluff or believe me."

But before the other player could decide, another player joined the game.

It wasn't Cody, but a random PvPer who immediately turned hostile and challenged the two to a fight. "I quickly invited the other guy to my party which he accepted and we ran out of town only to be slaughtered. We lost a boat load of gold and this guy was getting very upset," Zed explains. Then Zed saw his opportunity to strike.

"Now I knew what item he had because I was a dork and could tell if someone had an ethereal weapon. It was obviously one of the high end game rune weapons because we were in hell mode," Zed says. "I told my buddy that with my current build I could kill the amazon if he would just give me the item. I requested trade and to my surprise the trade window opened."

"'You better give it back dude, I'm not joking,' the guy said. I got the item and left the game."

Again, please don't give strangers your rarest items. Even if you think they're Cody.

Don't lose your head 

Many of the stories we received took place while playing games, but BunnyBot 5000 had the unfortunate experience of being scammed through Steam's trading interface. "Several months after Team Fortress 2 had gone free-to-play, my most sought after dream at the time was a Max's Head to accompany my rabbit-themed username, BunnyBot writes. "I had acquired the illustrious hat by way of birthday money, and was open in my flaunting of it."

"Now here's where it gets weird - I had, by this time, made several friends through Steam." As BunnyBot explains, one friend, "Andrew" lived just down the block from him. "Late one night, I began messaging with Andrew and he requested I trade the Max's Head to him as part of some sort of elaborate prank. In my tired, sleep-deprived mind, I figured that Andrew was the kind of guy to do this kind of stuff, and if he tried to skimp me, I could just walk down to his house and chew him out. In my moment of weakness, I traded him my most prized possession."

There was just one problem: BunnyBot wasn't speaking to Andrew.

As BunnyBot quickly realized the moment "Andrew" unfriended him and ran off with his Max's Head, "another one of my Steam friends had a very similar screen name to Andrew's."

When BunnyBot began messaging him thinking he was Andrew, "the sleazy fuck" played along with it and "pretended to be [his] friend."

"I traded this stranger my most prized possession and he immediately unfriended me and made off with his ill-gotten gains," BunnyBot laments. "I learned my lesson that day: Scammers are not always just some kind of weird broken-English bot that tries to add you out of the blue. They could already be on your friends list, lying in wait for just the right opportunity."

Keep your friends close 

Of all the stories we received, Jirka Týr's is easily my favorite. A common theme in most of these stories was that the scammer always got away without consequence, but Jirka paid dearly for his scam.

Back in 2006, Jirka and his four friends, barely teenagers, got into playing Runescape. As he explains, they knew very little about the game and spent a great deal of time on YouTube learning how to play. That's when they came across a video teaching how to lure people into the open-PvP Wilderness so you could kill them and take their stuff. They were very excited. "We were all around 11-12 years old so we had boners harder than steel."

I ended up with 5 really small open wounds, broken nose and few cuts on my face.

Jirka T r

Using computers at their school, the five friends decided to give the scam a try. "We tried pretty hard for a good hour and almost everyone looked through us and reported us," Jirka says. " After another four days of trying and no result, I was kinda pissed off it doesn't work—probably because English isn't my native language and all I could say back then was yes, no, hello, and bye. It was kinda hard and we were just copying and pasting every word we saw in the video."

Frustrated by his inability to trick other players, Jirka decided to turn on his friends.

"One day I started yelling that I finally got some guy and I'm going to kill him," Jirka writes. He explains that he convinced his friends to drop everything to come to his aid but only bring their cash so they had more room to pick up his victim's items. Except there was no victim.

Earlier, Jirka had used all of his cash to purchase a set of rune armor—some of the best in the game. When the first of his friends arrived, he immediately attacked and quickly killed him. "All I saw was his red, steaming face over the monitor," Jirka writes. "I kept my cool and tried my best to have the most serious poker face. He yelled at me 'Why did you kill me you dipshit?' And with all my skill I turned slowly on him, tilted my face a bit and said 'What are you talking about?' I said that couldn't be me because I was somewhere else—I was lying and all it would take to catch me was for him to come to my computer and look at what I'm doing."

Over the next few days, Jirka succeeded in pulling the same stunt on the rest of his friends, looting their dead bodies until he had over 100,000 gold. "I bought every single expensive thing I could find and what did I do when I had all this expensive gear and cosmetic shit on my account? I showed it to my friends!"

This would prove to be Jirka's undoing. Immediately his friends deduced who had scammed them and taken all of their gold. "They didn't react by calling me a swine or an asshole," Jirka says. "It was literally punches, kicks, hitting me with a chair…"

They beat the shit out of him.

"I ended up with 5 really small open wounds, broken nose and few cuts on my face," Jirka writes. He explains that this all happened at his school in the Czech Republic, and his teachers had to call his parents to come and get him. "After my mom saw me she nearly cried and my father was angry as hell."

At the time, however, no one knew that Jirka had broken his nose. "My nose hurt like hell so I went to my mom and told her about it," He says. "She just grabbed me by the nose and yanked it to the side. When it moved, it scared her to the death and I went to the hospital that night, we had no car at the time and even no driver license so we had to wake up all of our neighbours and ask them to drive us."

But getting beat up wasn't even the worst punishment. "My account was completely wiped out.

Nobody from those friends talked to me that year, and I looked like an ogre because my nose was four times bigger than usual."

I guess the lesson here is not to scam people who are within arm's reach of you.

Or, you know, just don't scam people at all.

Comments were edited for grammar and clarity.

Dota 2

Photo credit: Fnatic

Take the world’s largest crowd-funded tournament, the largest and most difficult MOBA, and 90 of the hardest-working and most talented gamers in the world, and put them in Seattle for two weeks. What you’ll get is The International 7, the biggest Dota 2—and esports—tournament, held annually by the game’s developers, Valve. 

This LAN is quickly drawing closer, and what is a tournament without its participants? Qualifiers for all regions have concluded, and the eighteen teams that will attend The International’s main event in mid-August have been decided. 

Six teams were directly invited by Valve:

  • OG (Europe) 
  • Virtus Pro (Commonwealth of Independent States) 
  • Evil Geniuses (North America) 
  • Team Liquid (Europe) 
  • Newbee (China) 
  • Invictus Gaming (China) 

 

Regions were given certain numbers of qualifier spots as follows: three each for China and Southeast Asia, two each for Europe and North America, one for South America and one for CIS. Here, we’ll be taking a look at the two Eastern regions, China and Southeast Asia, and the teams that are preparing to cross the world to fight for the Aegis of Champions.

If there’s any sign that the Chinese region has become quite competitive, it would be the regional qualifiers. Not unlike the years before it, some renown names and even top teams were pushed out in the group stage, including VG.J, which was one of the strongest squads several months ago, and EHOME, a famous regional banner. 

But first and foremost, there are the teams handed direct invites, which are the most likely choices among those battling for respect in the country. 

First, and most impressively throughout the 2016-2017 competitive season, is Newbee, with its entirely different squad than the banner’s TI4-winning run. With consistent appearances at the top events in the world, his fresh team has proven their year-round strength that clearly caught Valve’s eye. They’ve placed in most of their tournaments since The International, minus the Kiev Major 2017, where they fell to European TI7 direct invite Team Liquid in the single elimination bracket’s first round. Their main worry, though, is that they keep losing their top spots to other teams at events of the highest caliber. This doesn’t mean that they can’t pull it together for a winning push at TI, of course.

Photo credit: Newbee

Their strongest regional competitor is Invictus Gaming, which earned the other Chinese direct invite, similarly a former TI-winning banner with a revamped squad. In recent months, they’ve performed beyond expectations, especially with a solid victory against OG in the Dota 2 Asian Championships. While their performance hasn’t always been completely consistent, they’ve done well enough to be considered one of the top in the region. 

The qualifiers were as tough as the season itself for many Chinese teams, but there must be a winner. 

None other than IG.Vitality came first. The sister squad to IG has performed fairly well throughout the year, with star players such as InJuly and up-and-coming Paparazi giving the team a reputation as a powerhouse of its own. While they lacked the sort of strength that gave their main squad its invite, they’ve been present and held their own at many events throughout the year. It paid off, as they took the top score in the China Qualifier’s round robin stages, earning the region’s first qualifying spot.

For the first time in Dota 2, two Philippines-based squads will be attending the same Valve event

Soon after came phase two, where two teams under the same organization worked their way into the main event. First came LGD.ForeverYoung, a team well-mixed with up-and-comers as well as DotA veterans. In their most recent events, they’ve placed well, even rivalling their organization’s primary team, LGD Gaming. (Actually, LFY took the qualifier spot from LGD in both the Epicenter and Mars Dota 2 League qualifiers.) This banner also qualified for the Boston Major and continued to the second round of the single-elimination, but they shuffled in mid-May to much recent success. 

Their older sibling org, LGD Gaming, eventually caught up in the final part of the qualifiers. LGD recently won their first LAN in years at MDL, and it was no small deal. The other teams they had to take on included European squad OG, and that wasn’t even in the Grand Finals (they took fourth). LGD also managed to top LFY and Chinese top pick Newbee, which placed second and third respectively at the event, to take the win. While the team didn’t show up for the event, they qualified for Galaxy Battles as well, and so they’re likely going to be a threat in Seattle. 

With similar difficulty (and the same format) came the Southeast Asia qualifiers, stacked with teams and players passionate about—and fighting hard for—a spot in the main event. While none of the teams in this region managed to snag an invite, Valve has extended an invitation for three teams that can fight through the regional qualifiers. And, for the first time in Dota 2, two Philippines-based squads will be attending the same Valve event, though this is pending the question, and consistent issue, of USA travel visa acquisition.

Photo credit: Twitch

For SEA, the team that took the round robin phase was none other than TNC Pro Team, one of the premier squads of the region. TNC has been an international underdog since their TI6 run, and they’ve been a favorite of the passionate region since. Only three of their teammates remain today: Carlo “Kuku” Palad, Marc Polo Luis Fausto or “Raven” and Samson Solomon Enojosa Hidalgo or “Sam_H,” with Theeban “1437” Silva from Canada and Filipino legend Timothy “Tims” Randrup now helping to lead the charge. In what’s considered a difficult region, TNC has managed to assert their presence within the top tier of SEA squads, and so their TI7 qualification is certainly no joke.

The next to rise up is Fnatic. While European at the organisation's roots, the franchise has planted its Dota 2 fortress in SEA, where it’s had mixed but notable success. Now, the team has an international mix, with former two Korean MVP.Phoenix squad members, Kim Seon-yeop “QO” and Kim “Febby” Yong-min, along with two Malaysian players and a Filipino player. The team’s only been able to play together at the Zotac Cup Masters in June, but the fact that this team could qualify in such a difficult reason speaks volumes about their potential. 

Last, but certainly not least, comes Execration from the lower bracket. The organization has had its share of well-qualified players, but, much like other teams from the region, faced visa issues that prevented their team from success, specifically at the Boston Major. They were unable to perform well and shuffled just in time for the open qualifier. This newly-formed crew clearly worked well together, as they beat the former regional champions Clutch Gamers, and they even beat Team Faceless in the group stage. The team has a lot to look forward to during its big showing at TI7’s main event.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Photo via Evo.

Now that Rift Rivals is over, Dota 2 is once again dominating the headlines as The International continues to ramp up its prize pool. The tournament won’t start till August, but there’s still plenty of esports action to be had from the CS:GO: PGL Major Krakow to the Street Fighter V: Evolution Championship Series. We even have the SMITE: Pro League Summer Finals to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: LCS

North America’s Team SoloMid won the first ever NA/EU Rift Rivals tournament securing victory in the Finals against Europe’s Unicorns of Love in a clean 3-0 sweep. This sweep completes a near perfect tournament from TSM who only lost one game in the competition. TSM enters the second half of the summer split with a new-found confidence, which could give them the power they need to take the top spot away from Counter Logic Gaming. Meanwhile, Unicorns of Love will be aiming to put their disappointing finals performance behind them and use their international experience to crush Misfits in today’s match. Both schedules and streams for the EU and NA LCS can be found by heading over to lolesports.com.

CS:GO: PGL Major Krakow 2017

SK Gaming swept Cloud9 3-0 to claim the ESL One title last weekend, but the CS:GO action doesn’t stop there as we head to Poland for the Krakow Major this Sunday. The group stage of the major tournament will see teams from around the world battle it out in a best-of-one Swiss format. A total of five rounds will determine the eight teams who will make it to the quarterfinals. Once the group stage concludes, the teams will face off in a single-elimination, best-of-three playoffs bracket, so expect plenty of drama and frantic firefights. Gambit will be kicking of Sunday’s matches when they take on mouz at 02:00 PDT / 11:00 CEST, while Fnatic tackle F3 at 03:30 / 12:30 CEST. The full schedule and stream can be found over on major.pglesports.com.

CS:GO: DreamHack Valencia

Back in June we saw the conclusion of the European and North American closed qualifiers for DreamHack Valencia 2017. NRG Esports and Red Reserve took first place and consequently secured LAN finals placements. These two teams will now battle it out amongst the six prior confirmed teams in Valencia, Spain this weekend to determine who will secure the lion’s share of the $100,000prize pool. The group stage is kicking off today at 02:00 PDT / 11:00 CEST, while the semifinals kick off Saturday at 03:00 PDT / 12:00 CEST.  Be sure to check out the full stream over on Twitch.

StarCraft 2: 2017 WCS Valencia

The World Championship Series continues in Valencia where 80 StarCraft players will compete for the $100,000 prize pool. Neeb has won the last two events back-to-back, so he’s currently the favourite to win. The playoffs begin today at 03:15 PDT / 12:15 CEST and will pit the remaining 16 players against one another before moving onto the quarterfinals. The full weekend’s schedule can be found by heading over to DreamHack’s official site, while the tournament can be streamed over on Twitch.

StarCraft II: Global StarCraft League Season 3

The Global StarCraft League continues to heat up as Korea’s finest battle it out for their chance to win the $152,100 prize pool and a guaranteed spot for the champion in the WCS Global Finals. These matches will be the defining journeys in many StarCraft II pro players’ careers, so expect plenty of drama this weekend. Group D’s matches begin today at 21:00 PDT / 06:00 CEST and will continue throughout the day. The full weekend’s schedule and stream can be found by heading over to wcs.starcraft2.com.

Overwatch: Apex Season 3

Overwatch APEX Season 3 wraps up this weekend, with the conclusion of the monthly series and a $177,000 prize pool being awarded to the victor. The finals are taking place this Saturday and many fans will be eager to see whether KongDoo Panthera has what it takes to beat Lunatic-Hai. Last weekend, AF.Blue managed to obliterate Team EnVyUs in one-side affair that saw the team taking third place. The action will kick off at 03:00 PDT / 12:00 CEST, so be sure to check out the full stream over on Twitch.

Hearthstone: Global Games

The Hearthstone Global Games tournament enters week 14 of play today and every team has been fighting hard to claim the top spot in phase two. The Group of 16 matches concluded yesterday for US viewers, but those of you in Europe can catch all the action today at 03:00 CEST. It’s a long road ahead for the pros and every team will be fighting hard to secure the $300,000 prize pool in phase two of the tournament. The full schedule and stream for week four can be found here.

Hearthstone: Grand Prix 2017

The Hearthstone action doesn’t stop there as we head to Valencia for the DreamHack Grand Prix where players will test their mettle to see who is top dog. Notable participants include Cydonia, Fluffy, Maverick and Odemian. The turnout in 2016 was the largest amount of players the Grand Prix has ever seen and DreamHack aims to top this with their latest tournament. However, only the most crafty card connoisseur will take the title and the £25,000 prize pool. Make sure you head over to DreamHack’s official site to see the full tournament breakdown, schedule and stream.  

SMITE: Pro League Summer Finals

SMITE Pro League’s online phase wrapped up this past weekend and teams are now preparing for the the summer split: Dreamhack Valencia. The top four teams from the European SPL, the top three teams from the North American SPL and the top South American teams will be present at the tournament. The semifinals start today at 04:15 PDT / 13:15 CEST and only the best teams will advance to Saturday’s live finals. Along with the conclusion of the Summer Split, Hi-Rez will also announce the remaining events in Season 4, so make sure to tune into the action over on Twitch.

Heroes of the Storm: Global Championships Phase 2

Phase two of the HGC is well underway and teams from around the world will continue to battle it out for the $425,000 prize pool. Team Freedom has taken the lead in North America after they beat Superstars and Gale Force eSports last weekend. However, Roll20 will be aiming to stop Team Freedom’s dominant run this Saturday. Meanwhile, Fnatic continues to lead the European bracket and Team Liquid will be hoping to take down Zealots to close the gap. Each team has their eyes firmly set on the next Western Clash in August, so every victory will help increase the chance of taking the title. Make sure you head over to heroesofthestorm.com to find the schedule and stream for all the matches being played this weekend.

Street Fighter V: Evolution Championship Series 2017

The Evolution Championship series returns this weekend where more than two thousand players from all over the world will come together to beat the virtual snot out of one another. Evo is notorious for bringing in new talent, as last year Japan's YOUDEAL|Yukadon, surprised almost everyone when he managed to take third place. The road to victory certainly won’t be easy, but Evo will give ultimate fighting glory to whoever rises to the challenge. The full schedule and stream can be found by heading over to evo.shoryuken.com.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is an outstanding esport, and deservedly recognized as the top competitive shooter on the market. But despite the community’s best efforts, it didn’t quite make the shortlist for Steam’s coveted Best Use Of A Farm Animal award.  

If you’ve ever fired up CS:GO's deathmatch mode, you’ve probably noted an epidemic of chickens plaguing the server. Relegated to target practice in most players' minds, it’s about time these long-running birds got the recognition they deserve. From zombification to the time a chicken got a professional player killed, let's reflect on the ways our feathered friends have embedded themselves in Counter-Strike’s history.

Festive feathers

With the changing of the seasons, so too comes the inevitable swathe of holiday updates for our favourite online games. But where others run huge events, reworking levels or modes and adding unique player skins, CS:GO has, well, chickens. Since Halloween 2013, Valve has patched the little mascots to match the mood, festooning chickens with all manner of spooky or festive gear. Starting with an adorable, bed-sheet ghost costume, chickens have donned Christmas jumpers, pumpkin heads, antlers and more.

Each update included its own quirks, from bunnyhopping chickens at Easter, to death-confetti for CS:GO’s anniversary. The most impressive change came on Halloween 2014, when patch notes ominously listed: “When there’s no more room in chicken hell...” Players soon discovered that chickens no longer remained dead when shot, rising from the grave in ghoulish green to stalk both the battlefield and your nightmares. Okay, it was mostly adorable, but they’re trying their best.

A history of hens

Counter-Strike’s love-hate affair with these iconic birds stretches far back to the days of CS 1.6, where two chickens could be found feeding in cs_italy’s market. These early birds were incapable of moving, pecking on the spot until killed. However, despite their limitations, players quickly took a shine to them. Chickens returned in Condition Zero’s singleplayer, Deleted Scenes, which contained two hidden chickens as easter eggs. Sadly, upon the release of Counter-Strike: Source in 2004, the popular birds were nowhere to be found, and Counter-Strike’s mascot appeared to be plucked from the game forever. Until the 2012 launch of CS:GO. 

The long-awaited return was a clear point of celebration to the development team, who announced their appearance before release. It’s clear to see why, as the bold little birds had come far in the transition. Free-range, chickens could roam the map and react to player shots/movement. Now found on the competitive Inferno, Cobblestone, Italy, Militia and Rush maps, chickens will also spawn anywhere during deathmatch, and even score 1 point when killed. In homage to 1.6’s originals, two butchered chickens can be found hanging in Italy’s market.  Take a look through the offices of the updated Nuke, and you’ll find a message informing staff to “stop letting chickens in the facility.” Since release, chickens have also been included in many of the game’s Operations, requesting the player eliminate them through a variety of means. Even CS:GO’s bots appear to take umbrage at their smaller companions, voicing their disgust.

Valve has done much to accommodate the influx, patching a henhouse into Inferno’s T-side spawn, and even allowing players to claim chickens as their own. Press E on a chicken and she’ll follow you until death, even teleporting to spawn if she survives the round. When killed, your period of ownership is reported, letting you remember the good times spent together. 

Fowl play

The inclusion of livestock to the competitive world was always a risky proposition, and on more than one occasion they’ve interfered with professional play. When first added, chickens would run away and squawk when approached. In Dreamhack Winter 2013, this led to the death of Recursive’s star sniper kennyS, when a fleeing chicken caused his opponent to fire early.

Professional AWPers are trained to react with split-second timing, and the unwitting bird triggered Skadoodle to fire right as kenny prepared to peek, killing him through the corner of a wall.

When Keyd Stars faced rampageKillers in the R1SECUP, 2015, Fallen found himself a personal chicken bodyguard, casually blocking SHOOWTiME’s sight to soften the blow. Unfortunately, rampageKillers went on to win the round, proving this bird’s sacrifice in vain.

Following a number of professional’s complaints, Valve eventually patched chickens, reducing their responsiveness to player movement and the volume of their clucks, citing professional suggestions in the patch notes. When asked directly, however, professional opinions are mixed. While some only want to save their feathered brethren, others simple want to kill them all. Despite the complaints, some chickens still take that extra step for attention.

Popular poultry

The popularity of chickens with the game’s fanbase has inspired a plethora of entertaining fan art, in-game stickers, videos, and even mods. 1.6’s chicken attack mod transformed one side into bloodthirsty birds intent on pecking the opposition to death. Global Offensive’s offerings gave players the chance to race chickens, or attempt to defuse bombs strapped to them.

Source Filmmaker and the Saxxy awards sparked the creation of some amusing chicken clips, most notably the 2014 entrant, Defuse on the Fly (above), by Deviant Pictures Films. 

It would seem, however, that chickens don’t want to be limited to just canon fodder. Chiken, a silver ranked player, has gained legendary status by infiltrating not only a large number of big CS:GO streamers, but even a LAN tournament semi-final. Joining the lobbies, the infamous Chiken was initially friendly, stating that he only wanted to play. However, following the inevitable kicking that followed, chiken has become more ominous, finally leaving the message: “This is only the beginning.” With security measures tightened up, the return of chiken at future events remains to be seen. 

The inclusion of comedic birds in an otherwise realistically-themed competitive shooter has helped highlight the fun in what can often be a very silly game. So next time you see a chicken on the battlefield, think twice before you end its life.

Half-Life

Half-Life got a new update today, which is significant for only one reason: the game is old. Old to the tune of nearly 20 years. So it's cool that Valve is still supporting it, despite Valve clearly not pulling its weight in other areas (releasing or even working on Half-Life Fricking 3).

The update addresses some small bugs the likes of which don't seem too gamebreaking, but since Valve probably wants to keep this game evergreen on Steam, it makes sense to address them. 

And yes, I've read the patch notes several times and there's no clear or obscure reference to any much-anticipated third instalment. Just take my word for it. Don't waste your precious time on this earth deconstructing the below published patch notes.

Here they are:

  • Fixed crash when entering certain malformed strings into the game console. Thanks to Marshal Webb from BackConnect, Inc for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when loading a specially crafted malformed BSP file. Thanks to Grant Hernandez (@Digital_Cold) for reporting this.
  • Fixed malformed SAV files allowing arbitrary files to be written into the game folder. Thanks to Vsevolod Saj for reporting this.
  • Fixed a crash when quickly changing weapons that are consumable. Thanks to Sam Vanheer for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when setting custom decals
Half-Life 2

Cars, confirmed.

Earlier this week, we watched some SGDQ speedrunners surf and fly through Water Hazard,  Half-Life 2’s wettest level. Normally, you coast through with a boat, stopping here and there to shoot aliens and open gates. It’s a relaxing venture compared to Nova Prospekt’s turret hell. 

Ditching the boat makes sense if you’re trying to go fast, but modder WALLe’s anti-boat agenda runs deep. They’re redesigning the entire Water Hazard level to be playable from start to finish without a floaty friend. That doesn’t mean they’re just putting out a mod that lets Freeman fly or plops handy planks throughout the entire sequence. It’s being completely redesigned, featuring a small story, voice acting, music, and maps made for feet. See it for yourself in this early demo playthrough.

The footage doesn’t look too thrilling, but I suppose it’s the novelty of the mod’s intent that overrides what a quiet experience it might be. I mean, if you take the boat out of Water Hazard, I’d expect it to be quiet. There’s no boat making boat sounds. It’s boat-less. Er, BOAT-LESS. The capital letters are there to emphasize exactly how little boat there will be in the final release. 

We don’t have a word on a release date quite yet, so keep your eyes on the BOAT-LESS ModDB page for any incoming information.  

Dota 2

Photo credit: Riot Games

It’s been an action-packed summer so far and it’s that time of year where the eyes of the esports world turn to the Dota 2 International, which begins in August. However, there’s still plenty of action to be had from the League of Legends: Rift Rivals to the Hearthstone: Spring Championship. We even have the StarCraft II: Global League Season 3 to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: Rift Rivals

The LCS is taking a break this week as Rift Rivals continues to pit teams from all 13 regions against their closest rivals and re-open old wounds. Each tournament will vary in the number of invited teams, venues, and format—but every event will pair one region against each other. Back in 2013 Riot held its first ever Europe vs North America League of Legends competition, called Battle of the Atlantic. North America ended up winning this tournament, despite Europe coming out with a better record. Of the ten teams that competed at that tournament, only Fnatic, Cloud9 and Team SoloMid, will make their return to once again battle it out to secure regional glory and bragging rights. The full schedule and stream can be found by heading over to lolesports.com.

Dota 2: The Final Match

Dota 2’s Final Match 2017 is kicking off tomorrow in Lima Peru where the eight invited and qualified teams will be competing for a slice of the $50,000 prize pool. The tournament will feature Alliance, Team Spirit and MVP.Hot6ix as the overseas guests. Teams will be separated into two groups of four for the group stage and will compete in a one game series round robin format. The first and second place of each group will be seeded into the upper brackets of the main event, while the third and fourth place teams will go to the lower brackets. Meanwhile, the main event will take place July 8-9th, and will feature a double elimination round. Today’s group matches will see MVP.Hot6ix face SG e-sports at 09:00 PDT / 18:00 CEST, while Alliance will duke it out against Midas at 14:00 PDT / 23:00 CEST. Make sure to check out the full stream over on Twitch.

Dota 2: Mars Dota 2 League 2017

The Mars Dota 2 League is well underway and as of writing OG has topped the group with a 5-2 record, while Clutch Gamers fell to the bottom of the standings after only picking up one game. Rounding out one of the last LAN events before TI7, the eight teams will be fighting hard to show off their strengths and claim the lion’s share of the $250,000 prize pool. The winner’s final begins Saturday at 02:00 PDT / 11:00 CEST, while the grand finals start the same time tomorrow. Make sure to head BeyondTheSummit’s Twitch channel to catch all the latest action.

CS:GO: ESL One

This year's ESL One tournament will see 16 participants duke it out for $250,000 at the Laxness Arena in Cologne, Germany. Twelve of the participants received direct invites, while the remaining four teams were admitted via regional qualifiers. Team Liquid are currently at the top of the leaderboard and their dominance has landed them a place at the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Ninjas in pyjamas will be kicking today’s matches off at 01:00 PDT / 10:00 CEST, while the semifinals and finals start July 8-9. The full schedule and stream can be found by heading over to ESL’s official site.

StarCraft II: Global StarCraft League Season 3

The Global StarCraft League is the bedrock of competitive StarCraft II play in Korea, so expect plenty of drama this weekend. Season three of the GSL boasts a $152,100 prize pool and a guaranteed spot for the champion in the WCS Global Finals. These matches will be the defining journeys in many StarCraft II pro players’ careers and there’s certainly a lot on the line. Group B’s matches begin today at 21:00 PDT / 06:00 CEST and will continue throughout the day. The full weekend’s schedule and stream can be found by heading over to wcs.starcraft2.com.

Overwatch: Apex Season 3

Overwatch Apex Season three continues to heat up as we enter the final stages of the tournament. The finals are fast approaching and many fans will be eager to see whether KongDoo Panthera can take down Lunatic-Hai on July 29. Meanwhile, AF.Blue and Team EnVyUs will battle it out to see who will take third place in today’s match. The action will kick off at 03:00 PDT / 12:00 CEST, so be sure to check out the full stream over on Twitch.

Hearthstone: 2017 Hearthstone Spring Championship

The top 16 players from each region's spring playoffs will battle it out at the Silver Hall Expo Center in Shanghai, China. Players will battle in a dual tournament group stage, and the top two from each group will advance to the single-elimination playoff bracket. Only the best players will advance to the finals where they will have a chance to grab the $250,000 prize pool, so expect plenty of tense matches. The group matches concluded yesterday for US viewers, but those of you in Europe can catch all the action today at 04:30 CEST. The full schedule and stream can be found here.

Heroes of the Storm: Global Championships Phase 2

Phase two of the HGC is well underway and teams from around the world will continue to battle it out for the $425,000 prize pool. Gale Force eSports still remain on top and they will be aiming to take down No Tomorrow in today’s match. However, No Tomorrow are on the rise as they have currently gone undefeated in in Phase 2. Meanwhile, Fnatic continues to lead the European bracket and Team Liquid will be hoping to take down Tricked esport to close the gap. Each team has their eyes firmly set on the next Western Clash in August, so every victory will help increase the chance of taking the title. Make sure you head over to heroesofthestorm.com to find the schedule and stream for all the matches being played this weekend.

Rocket League: 7-Eleven Summer Series

The 7-Eleven Summer Series took place last Monday, and offered a unique glance at what we may have in store for RLCS Season 4. Eight teams were invited to compete in a single elimination tournament, but G2’s dominance saw them take the trophy. However, the action doesn’t stop there as the Rocket League Summer Series hops over the ocean to Europe, where Europe’s finest will compete for their chance to compete for a $6000 prize pool. You can catch the action on Sunday at 09:00 PDT / 18:00 CEST by heading over to Twitch.

Half-Life 2

It’s possible to ignore the boat almost entirely in Half-Life 2’s first notorious vehicle level, and speedrunner Woobly demonstrated it last night during his Summer Games Done Quick run of the classic FPS. Dubbed Boatless by the HL2 speedrunning community, the strategy isn’t exactly new, but for those who only hear about speedruns when the Games Done Quick carnival rolls into town and hate the Water Hazard chapter, it’s a revelation. 

A few tricks go into making the run possible, the most important of which is save deletion. It’s a method of creating and deleting saves to reset Freeman’s weapon inventory and health. Since most of Water Hazard’s water is, well, a hazard, it’s nearly impossible to swoop through the radioactive liquid without marooning yourself eventually. With save deletion, runners can just save, delete the save, and die to get healthy again. It will also spawn the boat nearby, no matter where the runner leaves it behind. 

Before save deletion was discovered, the run wasn’t possible even if players somehow survived the ordeal. Throughout the entire level, there’s a single trigger that requires the boat, and it’s right at the end. Gordon doesn’t have to even be there. Save deletion lets runners spawn the boat right at the end when it’s needed, so some NPCs can talk to it and open a gate. 

But to swoop around like a damn bird on a surfboard and fly over most of the map, runners use variations well known Source exploit to gain speed called accelerated back hopping. To do it, you need to jump forward, turn around in the air, and jump right when you land. The Source Runs wiki explains how this process actually gains speed: 

“When you exceed the game's speed limit, the game tries to slows you down whenever you jump, back to the desired speed. By default the game thinks that you're moving forwards, so when you exceed the speed limit, it'll accelerate you backwards. If you are facing backwards, this will only increase your speed. So, the faster you're going, the more you will get accelerated.”

By gaining speed and hitting certain surfaces at angles that don’t trigger damage, runners can treat level geometry like a stunt course. It’s just like real life, basically. 

As impressive as Woobly’s SGDQ run is, it’s nothing compared to the World Record run by Rainnt, set just under a month ago. To see their near perfect Boatless run, skip to the 20-minute mark or so. 

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