Dota 2

Photo credit: Riot Games

The 2017 Hearthstone Winter Championship concluded in the Bahamas this week, with ShtanUdachi defeating Fr0zen to take home the winner's slice of the $250,000 prize pool. Meanwhile, the League of Legends LCS is heating up as we near the final stages of the tournament. There’s plenty to watch from the Dota 2 Asia Championships to the Overwatch: PIT Championship. We even have the Rocket League Championship Series to look forward to. All the details on this weekend’s events can be found below.

League of Legends: 2017 EU LCS Spring Split

The Giants had another tough week and they desperately tried to climb up from the bottom rankings, but G2 and Fnatic crushed their hopes of making it to this year’s playoffs. Meanwhile, Roccat managed to surprise everyone with their 2-0 victory over Misfits, which has given the team a chance to rival Fnatic for third place. Vitality on the other hand continued to prove that they are one of the most inconsistent teams in the EU LCS. They played extremely passive against Splyce, which resulted in two games with a lot of one-sided action. Vitality looked like a completely different team when they played their second series against H2k. Game one went in H2K’s favour, but Vitality’s managed to come back in game two by creating pressure around the map. However, a Baron throw saw H2K steal away game three and they broke open Vitality’s Nexus after a very close performance. This week’s schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

League of Legends: 2017 NA LCS Spring Split

Cloud9’s series against Dignitas was a close one, but a clutch teamfight and major plays from Jensen’s Orianna gave C9 the power they need to dominate Dignitas. Phoenix1 were next on C9’s hit list and they proved critics wrong when they beat P1 2-0, which landed them with a place in this year’s playoffs. Meanwhile, Dignitas managed grab their playoff spot by eliminating Immortals, and they’ll be looking to secure another decisive win against Phoenix1.

Meanwhile, Team Liquid tried to avoid relegation in week nine by picking up two victories against TSM and FlyQuest. Team Liquid’s managed to beat TSM after DoubleLift’s Ezreal obliterated TSM’s bot-lane and carried his team to victory. However, FlyQuest’s Hai managed to stop them dead in their tracks with his Talon plays, and he secured a playoffs spot for FlyQuest and a promotion tournament spot for Team Liquid. The summer promotion starts today and the full schedule and stream can be found over on LoL Esports.

Dota 2: Asia Championships

The Dota 2 Asia Championships group stage finished with Empire and OG taking the helm for the western teams entering the upper bracket, while Newbee and Invictus Gaming are the two Chinese representatives. The main event will feature a double elimination bracket, and the winners of each group will battle it out for a chance to land a place at the lan finals. OG and Newbee are kicking things off in the upper bracket today at 18:00 PDT / 03:00 CEST, while LGD.Forever Young will tackle iG Vitality in the lower bracket tomorrow at 02:00 PDT / 11:00 CEST. The full weekend schedule and stream can be found by heading over to the official championship site.

Overwatch: APEX Season 2

Lunatic-Hai faced Meta Athena on Tuesday during a tense semifinal match which saw the previous runner-up’s take Athena down for their third chance to win a major championship. Lunatic-Hai obliterated Athena on both Nepal and Eichenwalde, and they continuously punished their over-aggressive plays with decisive payload pushes. Lunatic-Hai will now face RunAway in the APEX finals on April 8th, but the APEX action doesn’t stop there as Meta Athena will take on LW Blue to contest the bronze title. The match begins today at 03:00 PDT / 12:00 CEST and you can catch all the action over on Twitch.

Overwatch: PIT Championship

The best Overwatch teams from Europe and North America have been busy fighting it out for their chance to claim the PIT title and their share of a $15,000 prize pool. Ninja’s in Pyjamas and Misfits are currently at the top of the European bracket, but this could soon change. SNG Ninjas and Movistar Riders are kicking this weekend’s action off today at 09:00 PDT / 18:00 CEST, while the North American branch will see Rise take on LG Evil later at 16:00 PDT / 01:00 CEST. Both the European and North American schedule can be found here, while the stream can be found over on Twitch.

Rocket League: Championship Series

Week three of the Rocket League Championship: Series is underway this weekend when NRG take on Denial Esports this Saturday at 12:00 PDT / 21:00 CEST. So far Selfless look to be the team to beat as they recently qualified for the playoffs with four wins. If Selfless can beat Atelier and G2 Esports this weekend, they can easily hang on to the top spot in North America. Meanwhile, European team Pocket Aces now sit at the top of the leaderboard after beating both Penta and Cow Nose in week two. The previous European leaders The Leftovers will be looking for a decisive win when they tackle Penta this Sunday. Make sure you check out out the full schedule and stream over on the official Rocket League: Championship Series website.

Dota 2 - Valve
- After nominating a hero to ban, that hero is no longer shown as your tentative pick.
- If the last player to pick does not select a hero during hero selection, that player is given an abandon/loss and loses MMR. The match is not scored for the other players.
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:
  • Added UGC Highlander Season 19/Season 20, UGC 6vs6 Season 21/Season 22, and UGC 4vs4 Season 8/Season 9 tournament medals
  • Added Gamers Assembly 2017 tournament medals
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:

  • Added UGC Highlander Season 19/Season 20, UGC 6vs6 Season 21/Season 22, and UGC 4vs4 Season 8/Season 9 tournament medals

  • Added Gamers Assembly 2017 tournament medals

Dota 2 - Valve
- Fixed a bug with Town Portal scrolls and Boots of Travel when moved into the backpack during casting.
Half-Life 2 - (Brendan Caldwell)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

I know what you re looking for. You re looking for a game that let s you be a janitor in a school riddled with drug dealers and class clowns. But also a game that will let you be a cop fighting robbers. But also a game where you are a soldier in World War 3. But also a game in which you are a prison guard keeping rowdy inmates in check. But also a game where you can be a footballer. But also– … [visit site to read more]

Dota 2 - Valve
- Fixed Lotus Orb reflecting Nimbus Lightning Bolt.
- Bristleback's Quills now point in the correct direction during Quill Spray.
Dota 2 - krAnk0r

The International Dota 2 Championship returns to Seattle's KeyArena from Monday, August 7th through Saturday, August 12th, once again gathering the world’s top Dota teams together to vie for the Aegis of Champions.

Tickets will go on sale Tuesday, April 4th at 10:00 AM and 10:00 PM PDT, with two ticket types available. The Midweek ticket—available for $100—will grant attendance to the first four days of the event, August 7th – 10th. The Finals ticket—available for $200—will grant access to the last two days, August 11th and 12th.

Fans with only the Midweek ticket are welcome to watch the final two days from a free outdoor viewing area on the KeyArena grounds.

Check out the Ticketing FAQ here for more information.

Tickets will be available via Ticketmaster. We recommend that you prepare your Ticketmaster account and log in before tickets go on sale to help ensure a smooth purchasing experience. If you are unsure when tickets will go on sale in your time zone, please use this time zone converter.

  • Seattle: April 4th at 10AM and 10PM
  • Rio de Janeiro: April 4th at 2PM and April 5th at 2AM
  • London: April 4th at 6PM and April 5th at 6AM
  • Berlin: April 4th at 7PM and April 5th at 7AM
  • Moscow: April 4th at 8PM and April 5th at 8AM
  • Beijing: April 5th at 1AM and 1PM
  • Singapore: April 5th at 1AM and 1PM
  • Seoul: April 5th at 2AM and 2PM
  • Sydney: April 5th at 3AM and 3PM

The International Qualifiers will be held after completion of The Kiev Major. Aspiring challengers will battle through the Open Qualifiers June 22nd - 25th, and the Regional Qualifiers will then follow on June 26th - 29th to determine the final contenders.
Dota 2

In a month, the top Dota 2 teams will descend upon Kiev, Ukraine, for the next in Valve’s series of official tournaments, the Majors. Modeled after the system introduced to CS:GO in 2013, these events began after The International 5 in 2015, each providing a $3 million prize pool and a $1 million grand prize. The event also introduced roster locks, preventing teams from changing rosters mid-season if they wanted to be given an invite to an event or its qualifiers.But the Majors also came with its own set of controversies and legitimate concerns. Namely, there are questions about how these Valve tournaments, regarded by the community as extremely important, have interfered with third-party events. 

For one, the roster lock was presumably intended to prevent organizations from abusing their positions and to protect players. Namely, roster locks reinforce the perception that “Valve invites players,” meaning that a banner doesn’t matter as much as the people who make up the squad. Stronger teams are more likely to stay together, giving players more stability. It was also a solution to the last-second shuffling of teams before The International or other large events, with the knowledge that banners were more likely to be invited to TI anyway. (For instance, Evil Geniuses, TI5 winners, were not directly invited to TI6 due to their frequent team changes; in previous years, the winner would be invited regardless of changes.)

Valve s lack of communication about large events has put many third-party tournaments on thin ice, particularly this year

A major side effect was how this weakened the post-event tournament circuit after each Major or International. These events were expected to be affected if they were too close to The International, but now they need to think about whether they want to risk being the first event after the Major. Massive tournaments now have to make the call about whether or not a squad should be allowed to play if a team locks in a different roster than its original. Plus, many players focus on Majors, and some may come to these other events exhausted or not at their 100% for other reasons.

Speaking of weakened tournament circuits, Valve’s lack of communication about large events has put many third-party tournaments on thin ice, particularly this year. The Boston Major was announced with just two month’s notice, notably affecting DreamLeague and almost affecting The Summit, a fan-favorite tournament. They did announce Kiev Major dates at Boston itself, but then they chose to change them, likely due to a mixture of factors: the stadium was being used for other sporting-related events, and the Dota Asian Championships were too close. DAC is hosted by Perfect World, which publishes Dota 2 in China, and it’s unlikely Valve would want to weaken relations.

Do the Majors affect tournament numbers? Two years in, it’s hard to tell quantitatively. Up until the “seasons” were implemented, there were more and more tournaments every year. In the 2014-2015 season, excluding Valve events there were 24 ‘premier’ and 38 ‘professional’ events, per Valve’s ticketing system, for a total of 62. The year before, 2013-2014, there were 20 and 48 respectively, for 68 total.

At a glance something has certainly happened, as in 2015-2016 there were 17 ‘premier’ and 22 ‘professional’ events for a total of 39. This year the scene is on track to reach similar numbers, though the elimination of a Major seems to have helped a bit. At this time last year, 11 premier and 14 professional tournaments had taken place since The International. The year before saw 11 and 14, and 2014-2015 saw 14 and 27 respectively. Still, as the Major system continues to settle in, we’ll see how it affects tournament production timeline-wise. There’s also the chance that outside investors don’t want to commit to Dota, given the increasing pool of esports that tournaments organizers can choose from.

Another tier down, meanwhile, smaller tournaments are affected by Valve’s lack of attention to unofficial events. While Dota 2 was originally acclaimed for hosting and being supportive of in-game tournaments of all levels, including during its beta years, in the past year or two several complaints had arisen from tournament organizers. The Reddit Dota 2 League, which has hosted many pros, including CompLexity’s Moo (and even professional actor Asa Butterfield) claimed that Valve had been ignoring its routine requests for in-game tournament hosting. Around the same time, other organizers reported similar issues, including UK’s BGL and a small university cup, and there have been other such complaints throughout the past few years.

If it s a change on Valve s side, one could speculate that they re trying to avoid too much money being drained from their own tournaments profitability

The issue likely began over two years ago, when the Dota 2 Canada Cup was informed by Valve that there were several changes to how tournaments were permitted to run. Namely, while tournaments ticketed as ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ were given similar permissions, Valve chose to restrict in-game item distribution to premier tournaments only. The Canada Cup wished to distribute a courier named Bearzky, stating “we felt this was the proper way to attract viewers, get sponsors, pay teams a fair prize pool in the North American scene and pay designers and casters, put the profits towards larger prize pools.” In this original PSA, some players did comment that they didn’t necessarily want to pay larger amounts to get the cosmetic, which was a trend among these tournaments.

In hindsight, meanwhile, there’s the chance that Valve also had an extra motive for slowing the distribution of in-game items: the Compendium system. Valve supposedly allows Compendiums for Premier tournaments that can boost the tournament’s prize pool, including DAC 2015, but the DAC 2017 Compendium has been the first since the DotaCinema Captain’s Draft in January 2016. (In 2014, when the system was introduced, there were five third-party tournament compendiums, and in 2015, when the seasonal Compendium by Valve was introduced, there were three.) Either Valve has been reprioritizing which tournaments should receive one, or tournaments aren’t focusing on the Compendium as a prize incentive.

If it’s a change on Valve’s side, one could speculate that they’re trying to avoid too much money being drained from their own tournaments’ profitability. And, if that’s the case, it likely affects the prize pool of these premier tournaments, as Compendiums alone raised hundreds of thousands of dollars—sometimes into the millions—for these events.

Of course, the Majors circuit can’t entirely be just about Valve putting out cash cows. Otherwise, Dota 2’s infamously vocal pros and fans alike would be more critical (though they certainly were after teams were given only three weeks for the first roster lock). Valve clearly wanted to make a tournament system that added longevity to the core professional scene, and it has largely accomplished that task.

The roster lock system, especially with this year’s new “drop/add dates,” has been increasingly praised for protecting its players. For its all its flaws, as mentioned, it succeeds in making orgs and players less casual about shuffling and dropping its players mid-season. 

The presence of multiple Majors distributes the pressure of professional play more evenly throughout the year. Teams would arguably prepare for The International alone (for instance, Newbee streamed RPGs for several months after their TI4 win), but now they’re given motivation to work year-round towards each Valve event. 

Similarly, fans may be more likely to understand what’s going on throughout the year when they’re given a consolidated, official series of events to follow, allowing for greater scene loyalty. This is likely enhanced by Valve’s in-game advertising and the Compendium’s promotion of the Majors, including the True Sight documentary. (And speaking of Compendium, workshop artists’ creations are pooled into the Treasures within the Compendiums.) 

All in all, for players and Valve itself, the Majors system is a mostly win-win situation: players are given a reliable tournament circuit with good cash and more predictable stability, while Valve is profiting off the Compendiums and tournaments. Of course, there’s no denying that the system must affect other parties, but it has yet to be seen how the dust will settle. After all, a system that spans a year may take several years to show its true impact on everybody involved.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - (Alice O'Connor)

Alec is still away, ostensibly on holiday but presumed dead. Ride in peace, Alec Meer. All that remains of last week’s chart caretaker is a selection of small bones John coughed up, so it’s my turn. It’s a good week in the charts!

We’ve some new games, some familiar faces, and at least one familiar face with a new game. It’s a shame Mass Effect: Andromeda’s Origin exclusivity keeps it out of this comparison. Not to ruin the suspension but: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the new early access Hunger Royale game, is riding high at the top of the hit parade.

… [visit site to read more]


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