Portal - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

Every week we expose Brendan to the radioactive chemicals of the early access laboratory. This time, the time-bending puzzles of ECHOPLEX [official site].

I am stuck. There are 15 short levels currently available in ECHOPLEX, a first-person puzzler along the lines of Portal and Antichamber, and I am stuck on level 11. It is a toughie. The thing is, I m not sure if the game is working as intended. Bugs are part of the early access merry-go-round, for sure, but if they show up in the strict logic of a puzzle game they can be boldly destructive. But there s a bigger problem than that: I don t know if what I m seeing is a bug, or if it is simply part of the puzzle that hasn t been explained. … [visit site to read more]

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

We have a GIFbot in the RPS staff chatroom. GIFbot is a treacherous and unreliable creature, often offering wildly irrelevant or breathtakingly banal results when we type ‘/gif whateverphrase’ and then cope with whatever it randomly pulls from whatever reprobate corner of the internet it’s plugged into it. However, often enough its results are so irrelevant as to be perfection itself>. And so we shall keep it around for an eternity, and reach for it in our darkest hours.

For instance, in the absence of a better conceit for the latest Steam Charts. For these, once again, are the ten games with the most accumulated sales on Steam over the past week. Take it away, GIFbot. … [visit site to read more]

Dota 2 - Valve
* Fixed a bug with Lina's Fiery Soul displaying an incorrect duration when the effect is active while leveling up Fiery Soul.
* Added hero aliases for CK and TA in the hero selection screens.
Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Monday can be a slow, quiet day but I’m certainly invigorated by the yelling and explosions of competitive Dota 2 [official site]. Valve’s second big tournament of the season, the Kiev Major, kicked off its Group Stage this morning. This is two days of Swiss group battling to determine brackets for the Main Event, which will start on Thursday. How’s it going so far? Well! I can tell you that there were wizards, then the wizards fought other wizards, then there were fewer wizards. As ever, the competition is streaming on Twitch and Dota 2’s ace in-game spectator system. … [visit site to read more]

Dota 2

Do you enjoy playing ranked matches in Dota 2? Well, you better have a phone number ready because you're not going to be able to do that for much longer without one. Valve has announced in a blog post that it's now requiring all players to register a unique phone number if they want to play in ranked matches.

Valve is adding this requirement to reduce the number of players who use multiple accounts in ranked, saying it creates "a negative matchmaking experience at all skill brackets." Requiring a unique phone number for each ranked account will ideally prevent a noticeable number of players from doing this, resulting in a positive effect from players using their primary accounts.

If you're upset by this news and refuse to adhere to Valve's new rule, then you have until May 4 to enjoy all the ranked matchmaking you possibly can. After that, accounts without a unique phone number will not be eligible to participate in ranked matches. 

This is similar to what Valve has done with CS:GO's Prime Matchmaking, which offers higher quality matchmaking if you've registered a phone number. However, in that game, regular ranked play is still available without a phone.

Removing a number from your Dota 2 account after registration brings about a couple things. You can add a new number right away, but the number that was removed will not be usable for three months. Valve says this is to prevent someone from removing a number and immediately registering it with their alternate account. On top of that, Valve is not allowing numbers from online services to be registered. That means you likely won't be able to use your Google Voice number.

You can read the full blog post here, which goes into a number of other changes, including party changes, the return of ranked solo queue, and improved handling of nefarious behavior.

Dota 2

Photo credit: Riot Games

It’s another jam-packed weekend in the world of digital sports and lots of tournaments are reaching the finals stages. There’s plenty of action from the League of Legends LCS Spring Split Finals to the CS:GO cs_summit. We even have the Hearthstone Collegiate National Championship to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: 2017 EU LCS Spring Split Finals

Two-time defending EU LCS champions G2 Esports secured three straight wins against Fnatic in the semifinals last Saturday, winning the series and taking a spot in this weekend’s finals. Fnatic didn’t go down without a fight and they caught G2 off-guard in game one with aggressive roaming and early lane swaps, but G2 played safe and punished Fnatic’s over-aggressive plays. Meanwhile, Unicorns of Love took down Misfits in a tense 3-1 series. The final game saw UOL secure an early lead thanks to an explosive play in the bot lane, which gave them a 3-1 lead. UOL used this power advantage to quickly barrage Misfits’ bot-lane and secure a quick 23-minute victory. This weekend’s final schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

League of Legends: 2017 NA LCS Spring Split Finals

Team SoloMid made short work of FlyQuest in last weekend’s semifinals with a clean 3-0 sweep. Both teams will play in Vancouver this Saturday and TSM will face Cloud9, while FlyQuest will play in the third place match against Phoenix1 in the finals. The series saw both teams pick strong team fighting compositions, but TSM had a better frontline which they used to tank FlyQuest’s damage and snag objectives for a decisive sweep. The semifinal series for Cloud9 was also a one-sided affair as they dominated Phoenix1 in a quick 3-0 series. Cloud9 matched P1 point for point, but they always had the advantage in every skirmish. Phoenix1 desperately tried to make a comeback, but Cloud9’s superiority was shown in game three when they only gave up one tower and three kills. This weekend’s final schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

Dota 2: StarLadder i-League Invitational European Qualifier

The European qualifiers for the LAN finals of SL i-League Dota 2 Invitational are under way and eight teams will compete in the final playoffs. Cloud9 is kicking the quarterfinals off today when they face Team Spirit at 08:00 PDT / 17:00 CEST, while Natus Vincere tackle Effect later at 11:00 PDT / 20:00 CEST. The semifinals and finals will be broadcast over the course of the weekend, so make sure you head over to the official Dota 2 StarLadder site to find latest schedule and stream.

CS:GO: cs_summit

Eight teams will clash this weekend in a bid to secure the lion’s share of the $150,000 prize pool. Cs_summit offers an informal, relaxed atmosphere for participating players and is designed as a behind-the-scenes style event. Players will be able to take a more active role in the broadcast than what is normally seen at traditional live events, so expect to hear some top quality pro analysis. The semifinals kick off today at 15:30 PDT / 00:30 CEST, while the finals start same time tomorrow. You can check out the full weekend schedule and stream over on Beyond the Summit.

Overwatch: Rumble

The Spring Overwatch Rumble is back once again and the weekend tournament will see eight of the best North American teams clash. However, the pros will also be will be joined by eight qualifying teams, so anything could happen. The format for the tournament will be a round robin and only the top two teams from each group will advance into Sunday's double elimination bracket. The invited teams for this tournament are: EnVyUs, Immortals, Rogue, LG Evil, Cloud9, Splyce, compLexity, and Selfless Gaming.  You can check out the full schedule and stream by visiting Rivalcade's Overwatch Rumble page.

Hearthstone: Collegiate National Championship

After seven weeks of grueling group play, regional playoffs, and an elimination championship bracket, the Hearthstone Collegiate National Championship is coming to an exciting end this weekend. Live finals will be broadcast from the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, California where the remaining teams will battle it out for the lion’s share of the $160,000 prize pool. The Collegiate National Championship is one of the first Blizzard-sanctioned Hearthstone competitions to use the new standard rotation with Journey to Un’Goro in play, so expect plenty of primordial decks. The event will be kicking off tomorrow at 09:00 PDT / 18:00 CEST and will continue at the same time tomorrow. You can check out the full stream by heading over to Twitch.

Heroes of the Storm: Global Championship

The Heroes of the Storm Global Championship is wrapping up week seven of play this weekend and the tension continues to build up. Teams from around the world will be aiming to continue their journey towards the Mid-Season Brawl and secure a top spot in the regular season. Tempo Storm still remains at the top of leaderboard in North America, while Team Liquid are the team to beat in Europe. You can check out the standings for each region and view the tournament schedule for your area over on the Heroes of the Storm’s official site.

Rocket League: Championship Series

The Rocket League Championship Series returns this weekend and things are heating up at the top of the European and North American brackets. NRG have looked extremely strong so far, but G2 will be looking to secure a lead this weekend when they face their rivals tomorrow at 03:20 PDT / 12:20 CEST. Meanwhile, over in Europe Northern Gaming have taken third place and will be looking to take the top spot from Gale Force when they face Pocket Aces Sunday at 13:30 PDT / 10:30 CEST.  Make sure you check out the full schedule and stream over on the official Rocket League: Championship Series website.

StarCraft 2: GSL Super Tournament 2017

The three Global StarCraft League seasons are the pinnacle of competitive StarCraft II play in the Korean scene. This year’s tournament winner will receive $150,000 and a guaranteed spot at the WCS Global Finals, so the competition is expected to be extremely fierce. GSL matches are the defining journeys in many StarCraft II pro players’ careers and it’s likely that we’ll see some new talent shining through. The full schedule and stream can be found by heading over to the WCS StarCraft 2 site.

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Here’s a joke you can borrow for when you’re necking jars and dropping bantbombs with the lads tonight:

Q: What do Gargamel and Dota 2 Ranked matchmaking have in common?A: They both hate smurfs.

Steel yourself for some jolly vigorous high-fives from the lads there.

To crack down on Doters playing across multiple accounts, Valve will soon start requiring players register a phone number to play Ranked Dota 2 [official site]. Smurfs muck up the fun, you see, dropping into lower-level games with their higher-tier skillz. Ooo those smurfs make me sick! I must catch them! … [visit site to read more]

Team Fortress 2
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:
  • Fixed an exploit where players could remain bercharged beyond the normal time period
  • Added The Audio File for the Team Fortress 2 Soundtrack promo
  • Added the CappingTV Ultiduo Summer Brawl 2017 tournament medals
  • Updated the description for the Short Circuit to match the current behavior
Team Fortress 2 - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Fixed an exploit where players could remain bercharged beyond the normal time period
  • Added The Audio File for the Team Fortress 2 Soundtrack promo
  • Added the CappingTV Ultiduo Summer Brawl 2017 tournament medals
  • Updated the description for the Short Circuit to match the current behavior
Dota 2 - Ward


Today's update focuses on improving the matchmaking experience with the restoration of Solo Queue, the addition of Phone Linking, and multiple other adjustments.

Quality matchmaking is a core component of an enjoyable Dota session, and today's changes work to address several issues that can affect the player experience when queuing for a game.

LINKED PHONE NUMBER

The first major change is that players must register a unique phone number to their account in order to queue for Ranked matches.

Players using multiple accounts create a negative matchmaking experience at all skill brackets, so our goal is to add just enough friction to this process that the number of players doing this will be noticeably reduced. Having more players using their primary accounts will have a positive effect on both Ranked and Unranked Matchmaking.

There will be a two-week grace period from today during which players have time to register a number, but starting on May 4th, accounts without a registered number will no longer be eligible for Ranked play. If a phone number is removed from an account after registration, a new number can be added, but there will be a three-month waiting period before the removed number can be registered on a new account. This is to prevent using the same number on multiple accounts. Online services that provide phone numbers are not allowed.

SOLO QUEUE

With the return of the Solo Queue, solo players who enter Ranked Matchmaking can now choose to be matched only with other solo players. Any player who selects this option will be placed into matches where all ten players are queuing solo.

PARTY CHANGES

Starting today, if a player's Solo MMR is higher than their Party MMR, queuing in a party will result in the matchmaker assigning a higher MMR to that player. Effectively, these players will search for a match as if their MMR were halfway between the Solo and Party MMR values.

While the current Party MMR number generally reflects the likelihood that you’ll win a given match correctly, we’ve found that when a Solo MMR is dramatically higher than a Party MMR, the match becomes extremely volatile, resulting in an unpleasant and uncompetitive experience for both teams.

Simply having an even chance to win over the long run does not necessarily correlate to having competitive matches, but this change will make it so the matchmaker is able to take into account both the party teamwork skill component and the individual capability of the players on both teams. With both teams having this same mechanic applied to them, the chance for each team to win over a large sample will still be the same as before, but with reduced volatility on a per-match basis.

MATCHMAKING BEHAVIOR

This update also includes several changes intended to remove undesirable behavior from the matchmaking pool.

First, being marked for low-priority matches now results in a duration-based ban from the Ranked queue, in addition to the current game-count-based low priority requirement. The ban will start at a low threshold of a few hours, and increase up to four days for players who are very frequently in low priority.

Next, it should go without saying that while the wide variety of playstyles that Dota players bring to a given match will always be welcome, intentionally ruining games for other players is never condoned. To help address concerns in this area, we've also added better detection for clear cases of intentional feeding, and will be applying stricter punishments to those who violate this rule.

Finally, we’ve also added detection for users that are botting, and with this update have issued a permanent ban to a large number of recently-detected bot accounts. This should help resolve several areas in which these bot accounts have a negative effect on the experience of the Dota community.

REGIONAL CHANGES

Ranked Matchmaking will no longer be available in South Africa, India, and Dubai. We will update these servers as the unranked populations in these regions grow to the critical mass needed to be able to support splitting the user base into Ranked and Unranked queues.

While there are some players that used these servers for Ranked, the low populations made them prime targets for various Ranked Matchmaking abuses. For the time being, players in these regions will need to join Ranked Matchmaking queues in one of the other nearby supported servers.
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