Dota 2 - Valve
- Added Mechanics I for new players!
- Added 7 new item sets to the Dota store.
- Immortal and Tournament items can now be traded on the Steam Community Market.

- Clockwerk: Fixed Power Cogs pulling more than just heroes inside the cogs.
- Huskar: Fixed Berserker's Blood not stacking at the proper health thresholds.
- Keeper of the Light: Fixed Mana Leak accumulating mana loss during magic immunity.
- Phantom Lancer: Fixed an issue where illusions made by a player on the other team would create uncontrollable Juxtapose illusions.
- Tusk: Fixed a case where heroes with very small collision size could escape Ice Shards.
- Tusk: Fixed a rare bug where teleporting could cause Walrus Punched units to end up in odd positions.
- Fixed various aspects of Spectral Dagger logic being dispellable.
- Fixed sometimes being revealed if your projectile hits the target after you become invisible with Shadow Blade.
- Improved TP interaction with FoW
- Fixed being able to get units stuck with Telekinesis and Vacuum around the rune area

- Added the ability to examine chests.
- Added a Game History tab to the Team Profile.
- Added checkbox for filtering Live Games to just Team games.
- You can now click on Team names in Live or Recent games to view their team profiles.
- Added a post-game Match Quality survey panel.
- Added an icon to backpack slots if that item is currently equipped.
- Fixed the courier delivery icon popping when the courier collected stash items.
- Fixed courier delivery being delayed by 0.5 seconds if there were no items to get from the stash.
- Fixed courier move orders not clearing the transfer items buff icon.
- Players can now set a custom rich presence status that can be displayed on the UI.
- Fixed Lina's Fiery Soul buff not showing the correct cooldown if it was refreshed with 3 stacks.

- When a push is happening into a base, global desire to farm is significantly decreased.
- Fixed a case where bots far from the lane front could thrash into and out of Push Lane mode.
- Single-player bot games now run locally on the user's machine.
- Increased reaction time by about 50% in all modes.

- Updated Arc Lightning's visual effects and sound
- Updated Shadow Shaman's attack sound
- Updated Ether Shock's visual effects and sound
- Updated Mjollnir and Maelstrom visual effects
Dota 2

Every week two editors debate a new topic—it's a binary exercise we use to seek common ground conclusions or identify fundamental differences. The "my MOBA vs. your MOBA" argument is a heated one, so we reached outside our walls to SOE game designer and former PC Gamer Senior Editor Josh Augustine for his expertise. Josh was our resident League of Legends authority when he was here, so he's arguing on its behalf, while T.J. stands up for Dota 2.

Argue your own side in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Josh, you have the floor:

The Debate
Josh: No one can question Dota’s contribution to the genre—heck, it created it—but in the second generation of MOBAs, League of Legends is the king. It innovates where Dota 2 stagnates, and provides a much better experience for new players.

T.J.: Innovation and stagnation in MOBAs is almost an entirely different discussion. The real innovators are games like Demigod (as comparatively unsuccessful as they are). At the end of the day, both of the big dogs have way more in common than they do in difference. But when it comes to those differences, I think Dota 2 is the more engaging contender. What it lacks in mass accessibility, it makes up for in depth. I’d say the spirit of PC gaming favors the latter.

Josh: I’d love to hear what you think gives Dota 2 deeper gameplay. It’s certainly not skillshots or mechanical complexity, like being able to respond to opponents’ abilities. Like Dota 2, there are a ton of abilities in LoL that must be targeted at a location rather than an opponent. In LoL, most of these abilities can be blocked with skillful dodging, creep manipulation, or sacrificial leaps by allies. You know how many skills allow for that complex variety of reactions in Dota 2? One. Pudge’s hook. Every other “skillshot” hits everyone in its way with no regard for collision. There’s no counterplay.

T.J.: Dota is all about counterplay, way more so than LoL. Sure, there may not be a lot of collision-deniable skillshots, but that’s a very niche case to hang your argument on. A lot of Dota’s heroes are designed to counter other specific heroes, or kinds of heroes. It creates an interesting rock-paper-scissors meta. Except if instead of rock-paper-scissors, you had rock-paper-scissors-garden rake-tow truck-banana cart-.

Josh: It’s not niche at all! That ability to counterplay enemy skills completely changes the laning interaction, making it much more important to gauge your movement, and track the positioning of creeps and enemy champions.

I want some examples of counterplay that Dota 2 has that LoL doesn't. Other than denying (which, let's be honest, is kind of a stupid mechanic), LoL has all the counterplay Dota 2 has and then some.

T.J.: I’ll go ahead and say it: I don’t find denying particularly fun. But at a high, competitive level, it gives you more to do in the lane (especially early on). And if you want another example, just look at the subtle differences in the maps. Dota 2’s lanes have more variation between top and bot, more potential gank paths, and the distance between towers means you can’t just camp out and farm XP.

Josh: So I guess the question is: What do you want your laning phase minigame to be? It can either be a complex game of cat-and-mouse poking with the enemy players, using creep waves as mobile defenses, or it can be shooting your own soldiers in the head.

I’m happy to admit that Dota 2’s map has some very cool elements, including those gank paths and the ability for some heroes to cut through trees to make their own path. That’s awesome. But so is LoL’s brush, which allows skilled players to perform great jukes and manipulate vision in the field. Dota 2 has some of that with its height variance, but it’s not nearly as interesting or fun to play with.

T.J.: Not to pop a scroll and concede defeat here- I think we’ve both made an argument for complexity. But that’s only one of many differences. So much of what I prefer about Dota is apparent when you’re not even in a match. LoL gives you a very small pool of rotating champs to start with, whereas Dota unlocks every hero immediately.

Josh: Yeah, it’s awesome that Dota 2 unlocks all the heroes at once (for free, too, if it ever actually leaves beta), but Dota has to because, like you said earlier, it’s built on hard counters for every hero. Without access to the full roster, game balance would be broken. LoL, on the other hand, is balanced around team compositions—a late-game team, a poke-damage team, an AoE ult team, etc.

I’m not saying that it makes paying for every champion individually feel better on your wallet—LoL is a much more expensive game if you want to own every champion—but you can be completely competitive with just the free champions, if you wanted to. And you can buy everything but skins for free, with currency earned from playing game.

T.J.: But that’s part of the problem. I like the idea of thematic team comps, but I think it puts you in danger of having a patch-dependant metagame. Balance changes always lead to early experimentation, but the über-teams are almost always going to eventually find a “best” way to do each of the strats you described as a cycle progresses, which can mean a smaller percentage of the champs being in the meta at a given time. Dota’s hard counters mean you can’t ever really feel safe in a draft, and you’re less likely to see a dominant comp emerge in any given patch. Both games will have their no-brainer, god-tier, autoban carries and what have you, of course.

Josh: I do really enjoy Dota 2’s balance—those heroes have been around forever and have been carefully tweaked with consistent skills and items in mind. But that also makes it feel a bit stagnant to me—LoL’s balance and meta is constantly changing, so that a great team comp may be dominant for a few weeks, until someone figures out how to counter it, and then everyone’s experimenting again. They both have their merits in this regard, I think it just comes down to preference.

T.J.: Absolutely. It’s a matter of preference. It’s just that my preference is objectively better. You made a good point about Dota’s heroes having a longer balance history. And Riot’s business model forces it to keep releasing champions to keep making money—whether they’re ready for primetime or now. We also haven’t even addressed how LoL’s rune and mastery system keeps you in a stat ghetto until you've invested dozens and dozens of hours into the game.

Josh: The Rune and Mastery system adds a ton of depth to stat tweaking and theorycrafting builds at high levels, and the matchmaking system keeps you playing with people around your same level. It is a minor penalty when trying to play with max-level friends as a brand new player, but I’ll trade that for a massive boost to customization at high-level. Another win for LoL's depth.

T.J.: I don’t object to the concept of runes and masteries, I do object to having to unlock them over weeks or months. And the difference between a beginner account and a maxed one makes you almost re-learn each champ at certain milestones. You can’t just go look up a good jungle Warwick build, because they all assume you have certain runes and masteries. But I can look up a pro-level jungle Lycan. And while I may fail utterly in the execution, at least that’s my fault, and not some stat deficiency I have to grind my way out of.

Josh: You know what else isn't your fault, T.J.? The fact that Dota 2 didn't bother to tell you that it chose to recreate bugs caused by the original Dota’s RTS engine. Are you familiar with creep stacking, T.J.?

T.J.: Why yes, Josh. Yes I am.

Josh: Then you’re, no doubt, also familiar with the fact that it is absolutely ridiculous to expect players to know that if they pull jungle camps far enough away from their spawn points, the game will create a duplicate camp on top of it. Oh, and that you can only do it at the minute mark because that’s when the map checks most jungle camps, and respawns the ones it thinks are dead. Gameplay is balanced around this opaque, archaic design! That is some of the stupidest, most unintuitive, lazy game design I've ever seen.

T.J.: Josh, do you know what the following things have in common? Potato chips. X-rays. Velcro. Post-it notes. Silly Putty.

Josh: They’re delicious in small doses?

T.J.: Yes. But they’re also inventions that came about by accident, and we kept them around because people like them. Both in a limited culinary sense, and for their original purposes. You can call Dota 2’s mechanics “archaic,” but if they were such a bother, people would have all abandoned the game by now.

Josh: 70 million people have, according to Riot’s last released registration numbers, with 12 million of them playing every day!

T.J.: And “Call Me Maybe” had 367 million views online last year. I never contended that LoL isn't the more accessible, or even more popular game. Consoles also tend to have a higher install base than high-end gaming PCs, typically, and Call of Duty is more popular than Crusader Kings. And yet here we are on PC Gamer, because we love things that aren't the most popular. I’m saying Dota is the superior experience. I could go on and on.

The stronger abilities and items combined with smaller health pools make team fights more interesting. It feels like a high-stakes samurai duel, where one misclick can result in a triple-kill for the enemy team in the space of seconds. I've been in too many mid-game brawls in LoL where a couple people die, and the other eight walk away with lowish health to lick their wounds. That’s just not as exciting.

Josh: Fights are definitely faster in Dota 2. Getting one- or two-shotted isn't uncommon, and that goes back to hero balance: Dota 2 makes everyone overpowered and hopes you pick the right counters for the enemy heroes. It’s a different playstyle.

Unreal Tournament’s fast-paced instagib mode, where everyone wields laser rifles that explode the enemy in one hit, is a ton of fun when we play it casually in the office. But when I want a competitive, team-based experience that relies on working together with other people, I want it to be at a pace where meaningful strategy can be coordinated during the fight. There are still plenty of burst damage moments in LoL—you just have to work a little harder to make them happen.

T.J.: Yeah, that one pretty much comes down to a stylistic preference. I know it sounds silly to try to frame MOBAs in anything resembling reality, but I prefer games where the lethality is a little closer to how an actual such fight would work. Hollywood aside, most sword fights last a couple seconds, then someone gets stabbed. (That’s the only conceivable reason fencing never took off as a spectator sport.) It’s the same argument I make about shooters feeling boring when you can soak up bullets for a half hour.

Josh: I've never actually been gored by a rampaging minotaur, but I do concede that I probably wouldn't last very long.

T.J.: Speaking of rampaging minotaurs, how’s LoL’s solo queue treating you? Now, before we get into this: Both games have a higher than acceptable percentage of bad-mannered, text-based shouting matches. And I admire LoL’s Tribunal system. But the fact is that a game with as many players as LoL has is inevitably going to attract a lot of... less than mature community members. Same thing happens in just about every explosively popular game. WoW, Call of Duty, you name it.

Josh: Yeah, and being free-to-play certainly doesn't help either game. Riot’s done a lot to help improve the community beyond just the Tribunal, but there are still plenty of jerks clogging up the chat channels. There are friendly people in both games, and as long as you queue up with friends, you’ll be okay.

T.J.: Oh, absolutely. Both games are far superior played with a pre-made.

Josh: And my teams learn from watching the best teams, and this is an area I think LoL stands as the uncontested champion.

T.J.: *cough*Hero*cough*

Josh: ...Right, hero. LoL’s new league hosts 16 pro teams in NA and EU, pays them salaries and has them play weekly matches in a giant stadium in LA. Rivalries are developing, player stories are getting a spotlight, and it’s building a huge community around eSports, which is great for everyone.

It’s exciting to finally have reliable eSports scheduling. I've been watching at least 3 days a week and I can’t get enough. Ive learned a lot from the great commentary and play of the pros, and I've never been more motivated to play LoL.

Best of all, the entire thing is livestreamed in HD for free, while Dota 2 fans are often asked to pay real cash for tournament passes to watch tournaments in the game client. That constant entertainment is reason enough to choose LoL.

T.J.: Technically, StarCraft II has had regular eSports scheduling for years in Korea... but that’s beside the point. (Though I’d gladly argue “StarCraft II is the best eSport ever” any day.)

You’re right, though. I objectively can’t argue that LoL eSports has way more going on, more of an in-person tournament scene (which I think is a far superior format), and more viewership because of it. But part of that is due to Riot not having... really anything else going on. LoL has been out for a while, and their resources are dedicated to it. Valve has a lot more on its plate, including but not limited to a little thing called Steam. And their game isn't even out yet. Give it time.

Josh: That’s a good thing for LoL players—they get their dev team’s full attention all the time. As a gamer with choices, I don’t want excuses, I want the highest quality content as frequently as possible.

T.J.: And I’ll give you that one. In terms of how much eSports goodness you can get, and the regular spectacle of it all, LoL is a more fun scene to follow at the moment. But Dota 2 is like the early days of mixed martial arts, when it was all underground, and only a select, cliquish cadre of fans could see that it was going to be something bigger. It’s a microcosm of eSports itself. And the core part of Dota 2’s scene that really matters—the game—is superior. I think time will vindicate that, like a late-game tower dive on that jerk who’s been ganking you over and over.

Ultimately, I enjoy playing and watching both. The rivalry is almost silly, with how similar they are at the end of the day. I choose Dota if I have to choose, but I don’t see why they can’t coexist.

Josh: Yeah, I think both games are going to thrive and do well—and they should! We don’t have to forsake one for the other, and it’s probably better that we specialize in different games. You carry me in Dota 2, and I’ll get your back in LoL. Teamwork OP!

Follow Josh, T.J., and PC Gamer on Twitter to react to our debates as they happen, and see how the community responded to this one on the next page.

@pcgamer Dota. Hero roles are vastly more flexible and you're less likely to get flamed for "not following the meta". Also no region locks.— Alex (@alexg) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Dota while better from depth standpoint, lacks accessibility. And vice versa. But, I do prefer depth over accessibility.— Ian Nowakowski (@SW4Y1N) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer It always seems to be the first one you play, for me that was Dota— Charlie Webster (@LordWoley) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer LoL. Masteries, Runes, champion buying add character customization, persistence, progress. Way better than DOTA2 visual junk.— Jason (@TeslasButler) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Regardless of any other features included or excluded, DOTA wins by giving level playing field with full hero roster and no runes.— Trevor Christman (@Jaqenn) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Both have too steep a learning curve to put up with their abusive communities.— Ryan Romain (@RyanIsABigNerd) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Hard to say. LoL is easier for newcomers to the genre, Dota2 is hyper professional and balanced better. I say LoL becuase it's fun.— Mike Reilly (@ReilzSH) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer I prefer league, the UI in Dota 2 is horrible and i have no clear idea what's going on with stats or items.— Jonathan Freegrove (@JonathanFreegro) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Dota, because hats, and everyone I know has 12 copies— Arcon (@Arcon_) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Warcraft 3 DotA!— Břetislav Krejčí (@Darth_Dovahkiin) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Really depends on what you're looking for. I prefer LoL because its easier for non-MOBA friends to pick up & understand— DerekDennis/Halfblud (@KCallDay6) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer Whenever I'm feeling masochistic both games have perfect communities to erode my self esteem with verbal abuse!— djbriandamage (@djbriandamage) February 27, 2013

@pcgamer They cater to different overall play styles.Neither is better than the other. They just provide different experiences.— Raymond Harris (@DrD4nger) February 27, 2013
Dota 2
EVE Online Battle of Asakai

This week in eSports: EVE Online gets its first ongoing, competitive league. The IPL could be changing hands. And only the final four remain in the GSL Code S. Get ready to face-check your weekly helping of competitive gaming news. gl hf!

EVE launching Syndicate Competitive League

Organized, competitive spaceship scraps have been around for quite a while in EVE Online. Now, for the first time ever, the Syndicate Competitive League is framing structured PvP in an ongoing format with regular, live streamed tournaments, commentators, and rankings. The prize pool will be drawn from sponsors within the EVE community, such as Monocle Madness and EVE-Bet.

You can check out the official site for more.

IGN ProLeague looking to change hands
As part of the restructuring that was announced for IGN and its affiliated sites this week, Ziff Davis CEO Vivek Shah has announced his intentions to sell off the IPL. He revealed in an e-mail (via Polygon) that Ziff is "actively engaged with parties interested in acquiring IPL. IGN's role going forward will be to broadcast and cover a variety of eSports events."

IPL is a relative newcomer to the eSports scene, having launched in 2011 with a focus on StarCraft II. Their most recent season offered a $100,000 prize pool, with the top spot claimed by Leenock. If you havee a chunk of change sitting around and want to own an eSports league, this kind of opportunity probably isn't going to come around terribly often.

We're not sure how this will affect the IPL Season 6, still tentatively scheduled for March 28-31 in Las Vegas. We'll let you know as soon as we know more.

StarCraft II

Blizzard released its final preview video for Heart of the Swarm this week, focusing on eSports-centric features. Resuming games from the exact moment of a hardware failure and fully-customizable observer UIs are sure to change the way we watch StarCraft II over the course of the next year. And it's all coming just in time for some of the most intense events of 2013.

Upcoming Events
Four players remain in the GSL Code S: Symbol, Curious, TaeJa, and RorO. By this time next week, only two will stand. The most prestigious match in all of competitive StarCraft, the GSL Code S finals, are scheduled for March 9.

Watch it: GomTV

MLG's Winter Championship Showdowns have qualified five more players for the main event in Dallas on March 15: Ret, Creator, Mvp, Seed, and MarineKing. We're more than halfway through the Showdowns series, with the qualification matches of prominent players such as MC, TaeJa, IdrA, and HuK still on the line. MC vs aLive, this Sunday at 2 p.m. PST is a particularly anticipated match.

Watch it: Major League Gaming

Other Stuff
In a cosmic twist of fate, Day's recent Funday Monday (focused on Terran drop harassment) featured players "TheButcher" and "DaMilkMan," two current roommates who went to school with yours truly. In Johnson County, Kansas. Where Day also went to school, a couple years earlier and a very short drive away. And here I am writing about it.

He also released a Heart of the Swarm-focused Newbie Tuesday, for those of you looking to jump in/jump back in when the expansion releases in a few short weeks.

In StarCraft, I constantly have this problem where I'm trying to engage something, but I've forgotten the rules for doing so. Axslav has us covered again this week, as usual, with Rules of Engagement. Check out the high-level breakdowns of the ongoing Winter Championship Showdowns. MVP vs Curious is particularly interesting, showing off how a top-tier player uses Reapers in their new (and probably finalized for HotS at ship) role.

League of Legends

Curse is currently leading the LCS Season 3 with an undefeated 6-0 record, followed by Dignitas at 5-2 and TSM Snapdragon at 4-2. You can check out the full match schedule on Riot's eSports Pro Site. Check out some highlights from Week 2 put together by theoveNTV in the video above.

Other Stuff
New player looking to get in on the competitive LoL action but aren't sure where to start? Have a look at long-standing community resource site MobaFire. It's continually updated with guides for specific characters that are voted on by the community, and generally does a pretty good job of making sure things relevant to current patches and metagame strats are easy to find.

Dota 2

Eizo, prominent sponsors of DreamHack (possibly Europe's biggest eSports event) have announced a partnership with joinDOTA to bring their Eizo Cup to Valve's MOBA. 16 teams will compete every month for €1,750 in prizes. joinDOTA has announced coverage in English and Czech, with more languages provided by "all other streamers who are interested in broadcasting the matches." The fight begins Monday.

Watch it: Eizo Cup

The list of surviving teams in The Defense 3 is shrinking. Only Dignitas, Virtus Pro, Team Liquid, Mousesports, Evil Geniuses, and Fnatic remain. The next match is Liquid vs Mousesports in the lower bracket, scheduled for Monday.

Watch it: The Defense

Other Stuff
Valve has announced the addition of user-submitted Hero Guides to Steam. You'll be able to create, share, and browse strategies for specific heroes right from the Steam client, with more functionality than currently exists with the standard Steam Guides. You can read more in this blog post.

That's it for this week, eSports faithful. Let us know in the comments what you think of this week's stories, if there's anything to add, and what eSports events you're most looking forward to in the coming weeks.

Dota 2
Hero Builds thumb

Since their launch last month, Steam's user-guides have provided an invaluable resource for community help. Want to learn how to effectively punch shit in Skyrim? The guides have got you covered. There's some useful stuff in there too. Probably.

What those guides haven't done, until now, is integrate meaningfully with a game. Dota 2 is changing this with Hero Builds, subscribable character guides that you can overlay in your game, for a real-time lesson in the abilities you should pick and the items you should buy. And unlike your team-mates in chat, it won't surround each instruction with frustrated expletives.

A Q&A on the Dota 2 site explains their use. "A Hero Build is a way for players to gain knowledge about a specific hero. Builds provide helpful advice on which abilities to level up and when, and what the best items are for your hero. Builds also contain tooltips on strategies, tactics and any other knowledge the author saw fit to share."

You can create your own Hero Build from the Dota 2 website, or browse and subscribe those made by others. Builds can be overlayed with a new in-game option, fittingly called the "Hero Build Panel". While the scheme's still too early for effective ratings to be established, I'm sure the community will handle the task of judging each submitted Build in a calm and reasonable fashion.
Dota 2

DOTA 2's Art Is Like An Ice Cream Sundae For Your EyeballsI'm finding it increasingly difficult to get excited about DOTA 2, since my dalliances with League of Legends ended in me promptly uninstalling League of Legends, but I still check the game's blog every single day. Why? Because there's always the chance Valve will release more character art of the game's heroes, which are some of the best of their kind in the business.

We've looked at DOTA 2's art before, but if you can believe it the last time we did so was back in November 2011. Time for an update.

To see the larger pics in all their glory (or, if they're big enough, so you can save them as wallpaper), right-click on them below and select "open in new tab".
Fine Art is a celebration of the work of video game artists, showcasing the best of both their professional and personal portfolios. If you're in the business and have some concept, environment, promotional or character art you'd like to share, drop us a line!

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Dota 2 - Valve
- Added In-game Guides and Hero Builds!
- Players can now be a member of multiple teams.

- Fixed backswing behavior on some of Invoker's skills
- Fixed Last Word being dispelled by Purge/Cyclone/etc
- Fixed Last Word interrupting channeling spells if the initial duration ends during the channel
- Enabled Medusa in Captain's Mode tournament version
- Fixed Healing Ward not preserving its hotkey when leveled up.
- Added right click menu to the combat log with "Copy to clipboard" option.
- Added option to render the Co-Broadcaster's camera. Use dota_minimap_draw_cocaster_camera 0 to disable.
- Added new right click option to backpack items to equip the entire set the item belongs to.

- Added a large number of items to the random loot drop lists.

- Adjusted hero roles of Windrunner (fewer last hits) and Meepo (more last hits).
- Made Death Prophet bot more likely to use Crypt Swarm in teamfights.
- Made Necrolyte bot a bit more hesitant about using Death Pulse when laning.
- Fixed bots dropping thousands of TP scrolls at the side shops.
- Practice with Bots difficulty and team settings are now saved.
Dota 2 - (Jim Rossignol)

There are quite a few communities bustling away in the General Sociability forum, and some of those have produced of videos of their antics. I’ve embedded just a few of those below. There are many more, and I am sure others still I haven’t seen.

Are you> doing video stuff with the RPS community? Link your work/play in the comments! (more…)

Dota 2
World of Tanks 8.3

This week in eSports: which StarCraft II tournaments are making the switch to Heart of the Swarm, and which will hang onto Wings of Liberty a little longer? We've got the answers. Also, could World of Tanks break into the eSports scene? With an announced $2.5 million prize pool, it might be on the right track.

Get it? Tanks... and tracks... and... yeah, forget I said anything. Actual content below! looks to roll onto the scene
Earlier this week, World of Tanks creator announced an eSports tournament with a $2.5 million prize pool. Set to kick off some time in 2013, we're interested to see if World of Tanks might be the first non-RTS, non-MOBA to gain a widespread following as an eSport. With its huge player base, especially in the European market, it's certainly a possibility.

StarCraft II

The 2013 GSL Season 1 Code S has progressed to the quarterfinal stage, and both the MLG Winter Championships and the Intel Extreme Masters Season 7 World Championships are right around the corner. The next few weeks are going to be some of the most action-packed in StarCraft II this year, leading up to the release of the Heart of the Swarm expansion.

Upcoming Events
Only eight players remain in Code S for the 2013 GSL Season 1: INnoVation, Symbol, Curious, PartinG, Soulkey, TaeJa, RorO, and MC. The first quarterfinal match will take place Feb. 21, with the semifinals scheduled to start on the 28th, and the finals on March 9. Also of note, the GSL has announced that the Up and Down matches for the next GSL season will take place in Wings of Liberty, rather than Heart of the Swarm.
However, the Code A qualifiers will be making the switch to HotS.

Watch it: GomTV

The Intel Extreme Masters Season 7 tournament will run from March 5 through 9 in Hanover, Germany, with a $100,000 prize pool. IEM has announced it will be holding the championship in Heart of the Swarm, and is being advertised as the first global HotS tournament. The 24 qualifiers include MC, Grubby, Socke, Mvp, TLO, Stephano, and viOLet.

Watch it: ESL TV

The MLG Winter Championship's Showdown matches are wrapping up Week 2, with winners of each single-elimination match automatically qualifying for the Winter Championship itself March 15-17. New qualifiers since last week include Rain, SaSe, BabyKnight, Stephano, Bly, and ThorZaIN. Upcoming matches include Ret vs Feast, Creator vs NesTea, and Mvp vs Curious.

Watch it: Major League Gaming

Other Stuff
This week, we got a chance to interview pro StarCraft II casters Alex “Axeltoss” Rodriguez and Nick “Axslav” Ranish.

Day's Funday Monday segment gives the Zergs their turn this week, as he casts replays of fans operating under the restriction that they may only attack using Nydus Worms. If you're looking for something... marginally less cheesetastic, the Day Daily has spent a couple days this week highlighting one of my favorite players since the StarCraft II beta: Team Liquid's TheLittleOne.

Axslav continues to break down the MLG Winter Championship Showdowns in Rules of Engagement. Have a look if you want to familiarize yourself with some of the developing pro strategies in HotS, and want to make intelligent-sounding comments to the people at the BarCraft when the big tournaments roll around in the coming weeks.

League of Legends

In a push to foster more college-level eSports, Riot has announced their official Collegiate Program for League. Using a dedicated site, you can search for an existing club at your school, or start one if such a thing doesn't already exist. We're curious to hear from the university eSports fans out there: Where does collegiate level play fit in, in a scene where so many of the pros are college-aged (younger, in some cases) in the first place?

Upcoming Events
Two teams have established strong dominance in Riot's Season 3 so far. On the North American Circuit, Team SoloMid lead with 1875 Circuit Points, with CLG Prime trailing in second with 1150. In Europe, Moscow Five are showing even greater supremacy: they stand with 1400 Circuit Points, over the mere 650 of second place CLG EU. The season is just getting started, however, and anything could happen. Upcoming matches include Curse vs Vulcun, Dignitas vs GGU, and SoloMid Snapdragon vs Team MRN.

Watch it: League of Legends Championship Series

Other Stuff
The 3.0.2 patch (previewed in the video above) brings some chase buffs for Nasus, adds some more rune choice flexibility for Akali, some power scaling changes to Riven, and some changes to items that reduce ability cooldowns.

Dota 2

In a rare MOBA crossover, successful European Dota 2 (and CS 1.6) team Natus Vincere are planning on opening a gaming house in the U.S., and, they told ESEA News they're considering signing a (likely North American) StarCraft 2 or League of Legends squad. This announcement came on the heels of their Dota 2 team being knocked out of The Defense 3 in the lower bracket by Team Fnatic.

Along with Fnatic, Team Evil Geniuses still remains in the lower bracket, having been knocked down by Virtus Pro. They will have to best the winner of Mousesports vs Team Liquid for a shot at retribution. Fnatic's own fate will be decided when they pitted against the loser of Dignitas vs No Tidehunter, scheduled for tomorrow.

Watch it: The Defense

Other Stuff
Ymir the Tusk has become the latest Dota hero to make his way into the game's current incarnation. Billed as a durable initiator, you can get introduced to him in the video at the top of this section from DotaCinema.

That's it for this week, eSports faithful. Let us know in the comments what you think of this week's stories, if there's anything we missed, and what eSports events you're most looking forward to in the coming weeks.
Dota 2 - Valve
- Added Tusk!

- Lina: Fixed Dragon Slave hitting units behind you.
- Mirana: Fixed some backswing behaviors with her spells
- Templar Assassin: Fixed Meld not removing collision.
- Troll Warlord: Fixed a case where ranged Troll Warlord can bash when attacking while transforming.
- Troll Warlord: Added a "fast" attack animation that will only trigger when his attack speed is above 210
- Fixed Orchid disabling Dagger at the end of its duration even if it was doing no damage.
- Fixed a recent bug with Poor Man's Shield that could infrequently cause it to not block hero damage
- Fixed some wave speed issues with Crypt Swarm, Dual Breath, Breathe Fire, Dragon Slave, Illuminate, Sonic Wave and Shockwave.
- Enabled Silencer in Tournament lobbies.
- Team Matchmaking now uses the Tournament lobby rules.
- Two-player Mid Only games now automatically spawn a courier.
- Enabled Medusa in Captain's Mode for Latest Version (will be enabled in Tournament Version the following week).

- Updated look of the combat log and added language localization.
- Fixed bug where players who'd set themselves as Offline in Steam would still report their Rich Presence status.
- Players no longer display what hero they're playing in their Rich Presnce if they're in a private no-spectating game.
- Added a "Add Self to Roster" button that shows up for Team Admins that aren't part of their Team's Roster.
- The Game End panel now shows team names for games with teams.

- If Keeper of the Light dies with Recall active, the visual effect is now removed.

- Fixed PL not being considered a Hard Carry for lane-selection and last-hit-deferring purposes.
- Fixed VS bot not having a large enough item build list.
- Bots will no longer dust Doppelwalk because it's sneaky.
- Bots will no longer buy invisibility detection for an enemy's item until they see that item in an enemy's inventory.
- Made Zeus bot slightly more likely to use Wrath of the Thundergod.
- When a player connects, we now only disable/make invulnerable heroes on the opposing teams (not units with bots like the Warlock Golem).
Dota 2

This week in eSports: League of Legends Season 3 hits the ground running, MLG is already hosting competitive Heart of the Swarm, In Dota 2, only four teams are still standing in the upper bracket of The Defense 3.
StarCraft II

Heart of the Swarm creeps closer, and at least one major eSports organization is making the switch before it's even officially released. For the first time ever (outside of streams), you can watch high level play of both Swarm and Wings in the same sitting.
Upcoming Events
The GSL 2013 Season 1 Code S Round of 16 in Wings of Liberty is well underway, with Squirtle, MarineKing, DongRaeGu, and Bomber having been knocked out already. InnoVation, TaeJa, Soulkey, and Symbol have secured their spots in the playoff bracket, with the quarterfinals scheduled to begin on February 21. There are still two groups of four left to be decided, however, with the likes of MC, LosirA, Life, and PartinG competing for the final four playoff slots.

Watch it: GomTV

MLG is doing things a little differently for its Winter 2013 season, leaving Wings of Liberty behind in favor of the Heart of the Swarm beta. This has led to some controversy, considering the expansion isn't out yet, and balancing patches are still being dropped in fairly regularly. The format of the Winter Showdown throws each of the 56 players into a best-of-five match against a single opponent  The 28 winners will be guaranteed a spot at the Winter Championship at MLG Dallas in March. Qualifiers so far include PartinG, herO, and InnoVation.

Tonight's match is Rain vs Flying, beginning at 5 p.m. EST/1 p.m. PST.

Watch it: MLG on Twitch
Other Stuff
If you're looking to dip your toe into competitive play for the first time with Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard is trying to make it as gradual and painless a transition as possible. Here's how.

Day has carried his Sky Terran Funday Monday over to the Protoss, requesting that viewers send in videos of playing with only one Gateway and one Robotics Facility. Moral of the story: Phoenixes are really, really "balanced."

Axslav breaks down the HotS Winter Showdown matches between PartinG and Fantasy and RoRO vs. herO on Rules of Engagement. He'll be putting his usual weekly topics on hold to continue recapping these matches throughout the Winter Showdown set. If you're confused about what all these new units are and what it is they're doing, it's not a bad place to get up to speed.
League of Legends

Is Riot's Season 3 a "new beginning" for League of Legends as an eSport? The viewership numbers for Season 2's World Championships seem to suggest that competitive League has already pretty well begun. At the same time, 2012 and early 2013 were laden with player controversies. Though, to be fair, the same thing happens with athletes in just about every other sport imaginable... so it's possible that player bannings and ego trips are a part of the game's growing up. In any case, I'm anxious to see how much higher Riot's shooting star can go.
Upcoming Events
Season 3 of Riot's Championship Series is live. The kick-off was last night, with Counter Logic Gaming besting Team SoloMid and Good Game University, Curse taking a match off of Dignitas, and SoloMid defeating Vulcun. The action continues tonight with Curse vs CLG, SoloMid vs Dignitas, GGU vs Curse, and Vulcun vs Dignitas.

Watch it: League of Legends Championship Series
Other Stuff
In a continuing effort to reward positive behavior in the community, some changes are being made to the Honor Initiative. It's now easier to unlock the Great Teamwork, Leader, and Mentor crests, but more difficult to get Honorable Opponent. This change will retroactively remove Honorable Opponent from players who earned it under the old criteria. You can read about the reasoning behind this change on the official site.
Dota 2

Only four teams remain in The Defense 3 playoffs: Dignitas, No Tidehunter, the come-from-behind Virtus.Pro, and Evil Geniuses. Virtus vs EG will be take place on February 11, and Dignitas vs No Tidehunter has been postponed. Fan favorite teams that still have a shot at the lower bracket (and thus, the overall championship) include Team Liquid, mousesports, Na'Vi, and

Watch it:
Other Stuff
YouTuber ReevoHGames has put together a set of "visual patch notes" giving you in-game illustrations of the changes made in the most recent balance patch. Check it out at the beginning of this section.

That's it for this week, eSports faithful. Let us know in the comments what you think of this week's stories, if there's anything we missed, and what eSports events you're most looking forward to in the coming weeks.

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