Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba (often referred to as the Chinese equivalent to Amazon) in association with the social networking firm YuuZoo Corporation, announced that they will launch their own eSports tournament for various titles with a total prize pool of $5,500,000 which will be split among games such as Dota 2, CS:GO, StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone. The tournament is said to start in early April 2016.
Alibaba clearly recognizes the potential in eSports and will bring back the idea of the World Cyber Games. (WCG was an international tournament that started in South Korea and aimed to become recognized as the “Olympic Games” of eSports, including an official opening ceremony and medals. The first WCG was sponsored by the Rupublic of Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Samsung and brought together teams from 17 countries to compete. The tournament expanded and had tournaments across Europe and North America but came to an end in 2013. There was no official reason regarding the end of the tournament, but it was speculated that the low profits forced them to shut down.)
The tournament will run under the name “World Electronic Sport Games” and will have one of the biggest base prize pools in eSports history, with the potential of growing even bigger thanks to crowd founding. Alibaba doesn’t rule out the possibility of expanding the tournament outside of China for upcoming events.
Alibaba launched its sports division last year and with this new approach the company will continue their expansion now to include eSports. The company launched this division with the idea to expand their involvement and participation in the sports scene, and analyze the expansion potential in areas such as sports copyrighting, media, events and tickets.
The prize pool has room for expansion, but the base pool structure is as follows:
Dota 2 – $1,500,000
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – $1,500,000
StarCraft 2 – $400,000
Hearthstone – $300,000
This will be the biggest prize pool for a CS:GO tournament to this date. Valve expanded the prize pool money for the official sponsored majors to $1M earlier this year.
Day Two of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Columbus Major came to an end, and with it came a new CS:GO record for the longest match in CS:GO Major history. Day two was the first day of eliminations, and four teams were already sent home after losing their two first games.
Contrary to day one, not a single game was played on Train and the teams opted for banning this map on every occasion.
FlipSid3 Tactics vs mousesports:
The first Best of One game of the day was played between FlipSid3 and mouz on Cobblestone, and broke records in CS:GO Major history by being the longest map played, going into five overtimes and ending after 59 rounds.
The game began with FlipSid3 taking three rounds in a row, and continued that way leading into a 7:1 score before the German team called for a tactical pause to amend this problem. But that was not enough, as the Ukranians took the lead 11:1 just to drop two more rounds near the end, closing the first half 12:3
The second half pistol round went to mouz, keeping them in the game, and after an amazing display and effort the Germans managed to claim round after round bringing the game into a closed tie 14:14 that was pushed into overtime later on.
The overtime consisted of a back and forth tempo that went on for several rounds, but it was during the fifth overtime that the Germans gained control of the game bringing it to a close and winning it 31:28.
FlipSid3 is the first team out of the tournament after losing their first two games and ended in 13th-16th place.
FaZe vs Splyce:
The second Best of One of day two was played between team FaZe and Splyce on Inferno. Contrary to the previous game, this one ended quite fast after a dominating FaZe dropped Splyce out of the tournament.
FaZe started on the Terrorist Side and took nine consecutive rounds, bringing the score to 9:0 in their favor. After a tactical pause, the North American team Splyce managed to grab a round, but that wasn’t enough to stop FaZe, leaving the score at 12:3 before heading into the second half.
The second half came in fast and ended the same way, FaZe took the pistol round and the following rounds bringing the score to a final 16:4.
Gambit Gaming vs Team EnVyUs:
The third match of the day was played on Cache, and resulted in the elimination of EnVyUs after a painful game that keeps raising questions about the future of the French team. EnVy was invited to the tournament as one of the “Legends” after winning the Cluj-Napoca Major in 2015.
Gambit started the game strong and took the first five rounds, but the Frenchmen wanted to turn it around and managed to do so. EnVyUs claimed the following rounds and looked strong heading into the second half with a 9:6 score in their favor.
The second half was a sad one for EnVy, who kept losing rounds consecutively bringing the score to a 15:9. Gambit being one point away from securing the game, lost the following four rounds but somehow managed to find that last point needed to win the 16:13.
Cloud9 vs G2 Esports:
G2 won their second game of the tournament and beat Cloud9 on Dust 2, sending the team home.
The game went badly for the American team, and the score ended 12:3 in favor of G2 after the first half.
A beat-up Cloud9 failed to secure the second pistol round and with a broken economy ended up losing the game 16:3.
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Luminosity Gaming.
Luminosity shows once more that they can compete at the highest level and secured a spot into the Quarterfinals after defeating NiP 16:5.
The first six rounds of Mirage went back and forth and the teams kept trading rounds, leading to a 3:3 score. After that brawl was over, LG started to secure round after round and even claimed some important eco rounds. The Brazilians ended up securing the first half 10:5 thanks to a quad kill by Lincoln “fnx” Lau.
NiP was unable to claim the second pistol round and lost every following round to Luminosity as they struggled to establish a decent economy to contest them, ending the game 16:5.
Team Liquid vs Fnatic:
Team Liquid was the surprise of the tournament after defeating Fnatic and claiming the first qualifier spot for group B.
The game was played on Dust 2, and the Swedish favorites started on the CT side of the map and claimed the first two rounds in their favor. Fnatic continued to rally up and claim round after round establishing a strong economy and a 5:1 score in their favor. But after round six the American team channeled their inner force and turned the map around with an astonishing performance that lead them to a 5:10 score on T Side.
Liquid took the pistol round but lost to a strong Anti-Eco by Fnatic that helped them build a strong economy and tie the score 11:11, after that the two teams kept trading rounds. It was Liquid who (after winning two rounds in a row) managed to stay one point away from taking the first spot of Group B. Unfortunately Liquid was unable to secure the last round needed and Fnatic pushed the game into a double overtime. Liquid outmaneuvered Fnatic and won the game 22:19.
Astralis vs Counter Logic Gaming:
On Overpass the Danish team defeated CLG and secured their spot in the quarterfinals.
CLG secured the first three rounds but was unable to create a big gap against Astralis who managed to regain control of the game, but ended the first half 8:7 in favor of the Americans.
The second half showed a stronger Astralis taking control, and after securing the pistol round the Danish team pushed their advantage into a 16:9 victory.
Natus Vincere vs Virtus.Pro:
Virtus.Pro had an excellent day one by defeating G2 16:1, unfortunately they didn’t have the same luck on Day 2 and lost to Natus Vincere 16:4 on Cobblestone. With that score, the CIS team secured a Quarterfinal spot.
The last game of the day was all about Na’Vi, who took the first six rounds in a row, putting the score 6:0 in their favor. Virtus.Pro struggled to execute and was unable to stop the CIS team from taking a big lead. The first half ended 12:3 in favor of a T Side Na’Vi.
After winning the pistol round on the second half, Na’Vi made it hard for VP to comeback, and secured the first place of Group D with a 16:4 score.
It was the first day of the MLG Columbus Major, and while no team has been eliminated yet, yesterday’s events give a strong indicator of how teams stand for the rest of the tournament.
Train was the most played map for the first series and this will likely be a trend that will continue for the rest of the tournament. But once we get into the Best of Three games, we will finally get to see some more variations in the map pool mix.
Out of eight matches played, four of them where played on de_train, and all the matches in this (except for Astralis vs Gambit) ended on a big stomp.
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs FlipSid3 Tactics
Ninjas in Pyjamas played against the Ukranian team FlipSid3 Tactics, and the Swedish team had to play without their latest addition Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi. Pyth was unable to get his visa on time and will be missing the first game, and it is still unclear if he will be allowed to join his team for the rest of the games. Standing in for him they had NiP’s coach Björn “THREAT” Pers.
FlipSid3 started with a strong CT side but they were not able to keep the momentum going during the first half, letting NiP take nine rounds on their T side and leaving the score 9:6.
The second half started with NiP winning pistol round and after a back and forth display, the game went into overtime. After a great display by team leader Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, the team secured enough rounds to claim the match 19:17, putting them on the top of their group alongside Luminosity Gaming.
Luminosity Gaming vs mousesports
Luminosity Gaming played against the German team mousesports on Mirage. Luminosity started the match by dominating mousesports and keeping their momentum going, closing the first half with a strong 10:5 CT Side.
On the second half, Luminosity started giving away round after round, putting them in a difficult position and leading them into a double eco to set back their economy. The Brazilian team had a difficult first game but somehow managed to take the win 16:13, placing them at the top of Group A.
Team Liquid vs FaZe Clan
Group B started with a bang, and Team Liquid was up for a good start. The North American squad had a convincing T Side on Cache, closing the first half of the map 12:3 against FaZe.
The second half was a different story. The European Team managed to secure the pistol round, and with it, seven rounds in a row. Team Liquid was able to put a stop to it and close the game 16:11, placing them at the top of Group B.
Fnatic vs Splyce
Fnatic showed once more why they are considered the best team in the world. American team Splyce was unable to stand tall to the Swedes and only scored five rounds in total. This was the first time Train was plated during the tournament and Splyce was only able to score five rounds in their favor, and the 16:5 score left them at the bottom of Group B
Team EnVyUs vs Counter Logic Gaming
Another disappointing start for EnVyUs. The French team started the tournament with the left foot (as they did during Katowice earlier this year) and will need to win their second game if they want to continue in the tournament.
EnVy started their match on Cobblestone by winning the pistol round along with two more rounds, but after that the game turned into a constant trade, leading to a 8:7 score in their favor.
The second half was all about the American team. CLG took nine rounds in a row leading to a final score of 16:8.
Astralis vs Gambit Gaming
Astralis started on the Terrorist side on de_Train and picked up the first round of the game, just to drop five rounds in a row to Gambit. Astralis was not going to let Gambit take the lead that easily, and after a tactical pause the team claimed six rounds in a row, and then closed the first half 9:6 in their favor.
The second half started with Gambit securing the pistol round, but that wasn’t enough and the team ended up losing 16:10.
This was the only Train game that didn’t end in a big stomp, as the other matches played on this map showed dominating teams take the lead.
Natus Vincere vs Cloud9
Cloud9 started the game with a dominant display, taking six rounds on CT Side at De_Train. The American team lost their momentum after Na’Vi opted for a tactical pause, which lead to an incredible comeback in their favor and taking the first half 8:7 on T-Side.
The second half went in favor of the CIS team. The half started with three rounds in their favor and continued that way until the end. Na’Vi only lost two rounds on the second half, putting them at the top of their group after a 16:9 game.
Virtus.Pro vs G2 Esports
The day ended with a dominating VP. The match was a complete stomp and showed Virtus.Pro take the first place from their group and left the French team at the bottom of group D after a demolishing 16:1 game that will make them re-evaluate their strategy if they want to continue at this tournament.
Reminder: If you are watching the games on GOTV, Twitch or MLG you will be eligible for the famous “Souvenir package” drops commemorating the event. Make sure you have your Steam account linked to your Twitch or MLG account!.
For those unfamiliar with souvenir packages, they are cases that need no key to be opened and will grant you an item with stickers from the team participating on the event as well as the “Souvenir” quality.
When it comes to drops we know that not everyone is that lucky, so make sure to check Opskins.com as the cases will be tradeable instantly and you will be able to find it with us (or make some extra money by selling yours!).
28 year old Olzhas “Naiman” Batyrbekov has won the Hearthstone Europe Winter Championship after returning from a competitive ban in 2015.
Naiman was disqualified from the World Championship last year for violating the game’s terms of service. He originally planned to retire due to the ban, but his fiancée encouraged him to return to competition, and his championship run might just have a fairytale ending.
He elected to bring Face Hunter, Freeze Mage, Midrange Paladin, and Patron Warrior to the tournament. He only got the opportunity to play three of the decks however, as his warrior deck was banned by his opponent in every match.
Asia-Pacific Winter Champion
Out of all of the regions, Asia-Pacific had the most interesting and nail-biting matches. In the Americas and European championships, one player would often gain an early advantage and remain in control for the rest of the game. The complete opposite was witnessed in this tournament. With a larger prevalence of decks that included Elise Starseeker, competitors relied on top-decking random legendary creatures, and control of the game swung back and forth between the players.
South Korean Baek “DDaHyoNi” Sang Hyeon won the event in a very similar manner to how Amnesiac won the Americas Championship. He was dropped into the lower bracket after losing early in the competition, and eventually found himself in the grand finals facing off against, and overcoming the only opponent who had defeated him previously in the tournament.
Instead of bringing more experimental decks like Anyfin Paladin, DDaHyoNi played decks that have proven themselves to be solid. The four decks he competed with at the Asia-Pacific Winter Championship were Zoo Warlock, Golden Monkey Control Warrior, Freeze Mage, and Combo Druid.
Both players received $25,000 USD as well as 30 Hearthstone Championship points for winning the championship of their region. In addition, they will compete against Amnesiac and thirteen other players at the Hearthstone World Championship later this year at BlizzCon.
In a surprising move for the Dota 2 competitive scene, Evil Geniuses is saying goodbye to two of their most famous players, who will be joining Team Secret. Team Secret will be letting go two of its own players to make room for these new player additions.
Valve previously announced that all roster will need to be locked down by March 27th, after that date the teams won’t be allowed to change their rosters (without risking losing a direct invitation or participation on the closed qualifiers for future events sponsored by Valve) until after The International 2016 in Seattle in early August.
Team Secret seemed to be one of the teams ready to compete at the Manila Major with the same roster. They won the Winter Shanghai Major early March and seemed stable enough to continue as a group, and looking like they would to lock their roster for the rest of the Dota 2 competitive year.
Arteezy and Universe will be leaving Evil Geniuses and will be replacing Rasmus “MiSeRy” Flipsen and Aliwi “w33” Omar, who took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm leaving Team Secret. This roster change will be a major one, especially for offlaner Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora, who’s been with Evil Geniuses since September 2013 and won The International with this team last year.
Artour “Arteezy” Babaev is no stranger to Team Secret. He competed alongside them during The International 2015 and was part of the original line up and creation of the team before leaving for EG after TI5.
Arteezy will be finally reunited with his old teammates Jacky “EternaLEnvy” Mao and Johan “pieliedie” Åström. EE and pie were teammates with Arteezy in 2013 for team Kaipi. This was the first professional team that invited Arteezy to play, and it was also the team that granted him his first professional title.
With the roster lock deadlines set for March 27th, this left MiSeRy and w33 team-less and in a hurry to find a new team in order to compete in the Manila Major qualifiers and later on for The International 2016. On Twitter w33 confirmed he will be forming a new team along with MiSeRy, David “Moo” Hull (former player for Team Archon), Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok (former player from Empire and Digital Chaos) and Marin “Saksa” Sazdov (former player for Mamas Boys).
Evil Geniuses will need to rebuild their roster and lock it up by March 27th in order to be eligible for a direct invitation or a spot in the qualifiers for the Manila Major, and it leaves a question in the air regarding how these new changes will affect the direct invitations for Team Secret and EG going into the Manila Major and The International 2016.
For the moment there was no official statement released by team Evil Geniuses and it is unclear who will replace Universe and Arteezy.
After a long and intensive weekend for eSports, the Halo World Championship 2016 crowned Counter Logic Gaming as champions. HWC was the tournament with the highest prize pool in FPS history, reaching a whopping $2.5 million. The tournament took place in Hollywood, Los Angeles at the Raleigh Studios from March 18 to March 20.
Sixteen teams participated but only eight made it into the Quarterfinals. Team Elevate, along with Team Allegiance, Counter Logic Gaming and Denial eSports made it into the semifinals.
The finals were played between North American teams Counter Logic Gaming and Team Allegiance. CLG took the title home with a convincing 4-0 score, granting them the Championship and $1 million on prize pool. Team Allegiance took the second place and $500,000. Pro player for Team Allegiance, Brett “Naded” Leonard was voted by the fans as the MVP for the tournament.
The prize pool was initially announced at $1 million, but thanks to crowd founding through the in game micro transaction store, the prize pool reached $2.5 million.
The tournament consisted on 4v4 matches rotating between Capture the Flag (CtF), Team Slayer (TS) and Stronghold (SH).
With the $1 million prize pool, CLG became the first team outside a Dota 2 team to win a seven figure prize pool, and placed their team (this includes their other squads, along with CS:GO, CoD and LoL) as 20th on the list of the highest overall team earnings in the history of eSports. The Halo World Championship 2016 prize pool was the 8th biggest prize pool in eSports history, and it’s the first FPS tournament to surpass the $1 million figure.
This tournament marks the beginning of a stronger involvement by the Halo 5 developers into making the Halo 5 eSport scene bigger. The Halo Championship Series partnered with ESL and will be bringing the Pro League by the beginning of Spring.
Valve announced the release of the “Spring Cleaning” update for Dota 2. Along with it comes fixes for multiple in-game bugs, and new interfaces that will let you customize the game in a new matter that suits your play style and lets you develop your skills even more.
“The Spring Cleaning 2016 update has arrived. With a host of bug fixes and quality-of-life improvements, Spring Cleaning is an opportune time to address issues that sometimes get lost in the tournament and balance-update shuffle. You’ll see highlights of a few major features such as hero-specific ability bindings and camera control group hotkeys, and you can check out the comprehensive list of fixes and changes included below.”
Along with the usual bug fixes, Valve has implemented some new changes that will help people personalize the game even more, bringing new UI changes, gameplay fixes, economy changes and even more armory (inventory) slots!
The Dota 2 Spring Cleaning Update Changes
Neutral Spawn Indicators:
Yes, some may argue that good players will always know what the spawn boxes for the game are, but with this new implementation the “not so skilled” players will be able to learn how to block and deward creep camps more effectively – no more blocking your own camp trying to unblock it.
Minimap Icon Update:
The classic X minimap unit icons have been changed to arrows, this way you can identify which direction an enemy unit is facing.
Tower attack range and target indicator:
Selecting a tower will now display the tower’s attack range and its current target. This will help you prevent getting into tower range when trying to harass a player and will help you calculate your limits even better.
Camera control group hotkeys:
This is something that many players already used (especially to check runes faster) by using a series of binds and console commands, but with this new feature it will be easier for players to bind keys to a certain location on the map.
Armory organization and new settings menu:
The Armory has been updated, letting you control and visualize new items and your inventory as a whole. The inventory was also increased from 1080 to 10000. The Settings Menu was also redesigned, making it easier to navigate and understand.
Hero-Specific ability hotkeys:
This is a feature that many players have been asking to be implemented into the game for months (or even years). This new feature lets you assign hero-specific ability key bindings, that way you can play every hero the way you believe is more convenient for you and without needing to re-adjust your controls in between matches.
Independent Voice and chat muting:
You will now be able to mute a player without muting his communication fully. This way you can mute the annoying players with the open mic (playing awful music), without eliminating the ability for them to communicate with you through chat.
Over the last six few months we have seen Twitch begin to move back to its Justin.tv roots by introducing more variety into Twitch. Justin.tv was for a long time a site for the streaming of everything. It was the Wild West, people pretty much streamed whatever they wanted ranging from the video game streams we see on Twitch now, to illegal rebroadcasts of sports programming. Justin.tv quickly became the internet’s destination for video game streams and closed its doors to re-brand itself as the Twitch we know and love today.
Now we are seeing Twitch, intelligently, re-diversify. Starting a few months back with the addition of Creative Streams and the launching of the Bob Ross streams, we are now seeing Twitch double down on creative content. In what could be seen as an attempt to encourage even more variety among the creative streams to go along with the musical and artistic content we are seeing the content tab become lush with Twitch is introducing a 24/7 Julia Child cooking channel.
Some may be frustrated by these moves – mostly individuals who appreciate their walled garden of gaming content not wanting he site to get too far away from gaming. I however love the moves. We on Twitch are communities of people, and people have multitudes of interests not only in gaming but also in art, cosplay, programming, and yes – even cooking. I applaud Twitch for encouraging content beyond gaming and look forward to seeing what interesting things us can Content Creators think of next. What are your thoughts on the move?
On Sunday the 2016 NA LCS Spring Split came to an end, and after 18 rounds of games we finally have the official seeds heading into the NA LCS Spring Playoffs.
Team Immortals closed their run with a 17-1 record, claiming the first seed into the playoffs. The team ended their run by defeating Team Impulse, granting them a direct seed into the semifinals. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the team has been dominating the NA LCS for several weeks, only dropping one game to the second place team Counter Logic Gaming who ended with a 13-5 record.
Team Renegades won their last four games ending with a 6-13 record. Unfortunately for them this was not enough to secure Seventh Place, and with it, a spot for the Summer Split, leaving them battling for a spot in the LCS relegation tournament. Team Renegades had important roster changes by the end of the season, leading to better results. Unfortunately for them the changes didn’t come soon enough.
In Seventh Place we have Team Echo Fox, securing themselves a spot in the Summer Split with a 6-12 record.
The first round for the NA LCS playoff is going to be really exciting. Cloud9 finished the split in third place with a 12-6 record, placing them on the bracket against the team that won the 2015 NA LCS Spring Playoffs (and took their spot for the World Championship in 2015), Team Solo Mid. TSM ended in fifth place with a 9-9 record and will be facing Cloud9 in the first round of the playoffs.
Team Liquid ended the split in fourth place with a 9-9 record, followed by NRG Esports in fifth place (tied with team TSM) with a 10-8 record.
The NA LCS Spring Playoffs will be held at the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas, and will run from April 2 to April 17. Bellow you can see the Brackets for the NA LCS Spring Playoffs (and if you are not familiar with the LCS format you can read about it in our previous post).
MVP Phoenix won the Dota Pit League Season 4 and crushed Evil Geniuses on their way to the title, leaving the American team in second place after a Grand Final that ended 3-0 in MVP Phoenix’s favor.
When the Korean scene was originally formed it was seen as “weak,” and until The International 2015 the Korean teams didn’t have much success. In 2015, MVP Phoenix classified for The International 2015 through the wild card and ended up in 7th-8th place. During the Shanghai Major (the tournament that saw Team Secret win 3-1 against Team Liquid), the team had a good run and defeated LGD Gaming and Fnatic, just to drop to Evil Geniuses 2-0 on the Lower Bracket Round 5, ending on 4th place.
So it was time for MVP Phoenix to take vengeance upon Evil Geniuses for destroying their dream at the Shanghai Major, and after a convincing run defeated them to take $97,407 in prize pool money and the Dota Pit League Season 4 Champion title. This title is the biggest achievement a Korean Team has achieved in Dota 2 history. Until November 2015 the Dota 2 Korean servers were run by Nexon, but they were shut down, making it harder for the Korean scene to develop.
Evil Geniuses has had a difficult run in the last tournaments they’ve participated. In January the team ended second in both the MarsTV Dota 2 League in China and the SL i-League Starseries in Belarus, followed by a third place at the Shanghai Major.
MVP Phoenix on the other hand came to Croatia determined to win, and defeated OG and compLexity Gaming on their way to the Grand Finals. Evil Geniuses defeated Team Empire and Natus Vincere.
The tournament was filled with interesting and exciting games. Virtus.Pro, Team Empire, OG and Shanghai Major Champion Team Secret lost their first games respectively during the Quarterfinals.
The LAN finals were held at the Spaladium Arena in Split, Croatia, the same venue that hosted the Counter Strike tournament “Counter Pit” days ago.