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StarCraft II: The Spring WCS Series at DreamHack Tours

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Image from:

DreamHack will be the house for the StarCraft II Spring World Championship Series. The tournament will take place in Tours, France.

For the second consecutive year, Dreamhack will be choosing France as one of their key location for events. This year the StarCraft II Spring World Championship Series will take place from May 14th to May 16th.

“DreamHack Tours from May 14–16 will feature the third stop of the DreamHack ZOWIE Open, and will host the $150,000 USD StarCraft II WCS Circuit Spring Championship where the winner will earn a direct seed into the WCS Global Playoffs!”

DreamHack Official Announcement

32 of the Circuit’s best StarCraft II players will compete for a ticket to the WCS Global Playoffs and a share of the $150,000 prize pool. By participating on the event, players compete for a cut of 11,000 WCS Circuit points that can guarantee an invite to the 2016 WCS Global Payoffs (the top five point earners of the season get invited). The format and full breakdown for the 32 participating players can be seen below:

Regional Challenge

  • Two for Europe, Africa, or the Middle East
  • Two for North America (USA and Canada)
  • One for Latin America
  • One slot for China
  • One for Oceania, Southeast Asia, and Japan
  • One for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau

Server Qualifiers

  • Eight for European Server Qualifiers
  • Six for North American Server Qualifiers

National Qualifier

  • Two players from the French Qualifiers

WCS Standings:

  • Eight players from the WCS Circuit Standings as of April 11th

The Format

The 32 players will be seeded into a single elimination bracket, followed by best of fives games until the Grand Finals, consisting of a best-of-seven series.


League of Legends: North America Championship Series Standings Analysis


With only one week left in the 2016 Spring Split, the League of Legends season is coming to an exciting end.

The newly formed team Immortals has been dominating all split, only losing one game to CLG. Tied for second place, CLG and Cloud 9 have almost completely secured their playoff spots.

In fourth place, TSM is still hanging on by a thread and has an unlikely chance to snag a secured playoff spot. If they win the next two games against Immortals and NRG, and CLG or C9 lose their remaining games, then maybe it is possible. To everyone’s surprise, TSM is not performing strongly as they normally do. Usually TSM is the power house of NA, but the spilt is not over yet and anything can still happen.

Week 8 Day 1 was a very exciting day, with the last game of the day breaking League of Legends Championship Series records. Froggen, a former EU pro player now playing for team Echo Fox, was able to break a world record of highest CS (creep score) in a pro game with 764. Although the CS number shown on the LCS spectate game was not accurate, Gangplank CS was counting his explosive barrels. It was a truly impressive game, with Echo Fox making an incredible comeback with a last ditch effort for the back door, and won.

Week 8 Day 2 had its crazy comeback games also, along with one upset. TSM lost to the last place team Renegades indefinitely, and TSM cannot afford to lose any more games if they want a secured spot in the playoff semi-finals. The current first place team Immortals had an amazing comeback game against team DIG, showing everyone that team plays and objectives is what wins games, and not the score.

If you don’t know how the Playoff tournament brackets work, you can find a detailed description about it here. Basically the top six teams will battle each other for a spot to represent North America at the world championship. When a team has a secured spot in playoffs, as mentioned above, they are automatically in the semifinal bracket. Then the winner of the finals is the number one seat for North America going to worlds. The second seat representing North America is determined a little differently: the team with the most points, which is determined based on where they finished in the Spring Split and Summer Playoffs, will be joining the first place team to worlds.

Will your favorite team make it to worlds? Stay tuned this Saturday and Sunday to find out the results for the Spring 2016 LCS!


New Hearthstone Expansion: “Whispers of the Old Gods”

Image from
Image from

Blizzard has officially announced that the Hearthstone expansion coming out this spring will be based on the old gods from World of Warcraft.

What is known so far:

  • 134 new cards! – Gallery will update as new cards are released.
  • Four of the legendary minions from this set will be old gods.
  • There will be a promotional period where players will be given three free “Whispers of the Old Gods” packs.
  • In addition to these three packs, players will receive C’Thun, one of the old gods, and two copies of Beckoner of Evil.
Image from
Image from

This announcement just two weeks after an Italian website leaked the rumored expansion’s theme, name, and release date. Blizzard has not confirmed an official release date yet, only an estimate of late April or early May. The leaked information points to a release date of April 24th,  and although this date is not confirmed, the leaked information has not been wrong yet.

Blizzard had left us five clues hinting at the new expansion: the five cards that appear at the bottom of the Hearthstone home page were changed. The cards that normally appear are Bloodlust, Illidan Stormrage, Fireball, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, and Grimscale Oracle. This same method had been used to foreshadow the Blackrock Mountain Expansion, when the five cards were changed to Twilight Drake, Leeroy Jenkins, Core Hound, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Magma Rage, each of which have ties to Blackrock Mountain in Warcraft lore. This time around, it was a little more of a challenge trying to discover what these cards shared thematically.

Images from
Images from

Aside from the new cards, the release of this expansion marks Hearthstone’s launch of the Wild and Standard formats. More information on the new formats can be found here.

Some players may have even more reason to celebrate. On top of the shiny new cards and interesting new standard format, players will finally have 18 deck slots to work with. For quite some time, players have petitioned Blizzard to increase the number of decks that can be saved to your account from the current limit of nine. It has become somewhat of a meme among the Hearthstone community, a meme we must now lay to rest.


Aurelion Sol, the New League of Legends Champion

Image from: League of Legends
Image from: League of Legends

Riot has been teasing its fans with a new Champion for weeks now, releasing a teaser and leaking information, and now that the reveal page is finally up we can take a look at his abilities, key art and some insight about strategies and laning. You can take a look at Aurelion Sol, the “Star Forger,” at the official Champion reveal page.

Aurelion Sol will be the 130th Champion released, previously this year Riot released Jhin “The Virtuoso,” making Aurelion Sol the 2nd Champion released this year.

The Champion’s abilities revolve around the idea of great combos, a mid-ranged mage that will be able to take a big stand on team fights and will have a great ganking potential thanks to his E ability “Comet of Legend” which lets him fly across the map in a straight line, allowing him to locate himself to other lanes and places faster than the average Champion.

Aurelion Sol can stun his enemies with his Q ability “Starsurge” which consists on a linear “newborn star” which does damage and causes nearby enemies to get stunned as it travels. This ability along with his E “Comet of legend” lets him surprise his enemies and move between the fights more efficiently.

Aurelion Sol will bring some interesting gameplay thanks to his passive ability called “Center of the Universe.” The ability makes it so the Champion will have three orbiting stars around him at all times, the stars will cause damage upon collision with an enemy hero,  serving as a great zoning ability when laning and fighting. This ability works great with his W “Celestial expansion” as it lets him expand the stars surrounding him, serving as a great zoning out ability and a good defense mechanism.

Last but not least we have his R “Voice of Light.” When activated, it shoots a long wave of fire in a target direction, causing damage and slowing all struck enemies. Those who are within the ring of stars will be knocked back, serving as a great defense mechanism for those enemy Champions who might get a little too close for comfort.

As with all new champion releases, Aurelion Sol will come out with an alternative skin, in this case called “Ashen Lord.” It will cost 1350RP and includes abilities, visuals and the skin itself.

For the moment, Riot hasn’t announced any official released date, but on the official champion reveal it confirms we are just “mere weeks” away from his Rift debut.


Hearthstone Championship Tour: Winter Preliminaries

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Image from

The Hearthstone World Championship is the tournament that every professional Hearthstone player dreams of conquering, and earning your spot to compete at the game’s pinnacle event is no small feat. This will be the first opportunity of the year for competitors to secure their golden ticket to Blizzcon, to be held on November 6th and 7th at Anaheim Convention Center.

Blizzard has introduced changes to refine the structure for this year’s world championship. There are now three seasonal championships and a last call invitational for each of the geographical regions, excluding China. On paper it looks simple, win one of these four qualifier events in your region and you get to compete for the world championship, but advancing through dozens of rounds in tournament brackets while maintaining flawless plays game after game is daunting to say the least.

Rules for the winter preliminaries and championship are as follows: best of five conquest matches with one ban. This means every player brings a total of four decks, each for a unique class. Before the match, both players ban one of the opponents four classes, and they play with the remaining three.

Image from
Image from

Americas Winter Championship Qualifiers:

  • Fibonacci (Unable to attend, will be replaced by Nostam)
  • Wtybill
  • Chessdude123
  • Chakki
  • Snail
  • AlSkyHigh
  • Talion
  • Amnesiac

European Winter Championship Qualifiers:

  • DrHippi
  • Pokrovac
  • Nicslay
  • Diggen
  • Tars
  • Cereza
  • BunnyHoppor
  • Naiman

Asia-Pacific Winter Championship Qualifiers:

  • Staz (Southeast Asia Winner)
  • NaviOOT (Australia and New Zealand Winner)
  • The remaining six competitors are yet to be determined; they will battle for spots in the upcoming preliminaries in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

These preliminaries have been surprising to say the least, with many underdogs defeating well-known pros that we see competing much more frequently. Pros such as Kolento, StrifeCro, Xixo, Sjow, Zalae, Vlps, and even the reigning Hearthstone World Champion Ostkaka failed to advance through the preliminary stage in their respective regions.

Deck lists from the preliminaries can be found here, including some from those moving on to the winter championships.

Be sure to tune into the Hearthstone Winter Championships at

Hearthstone Winter Championship Dates:

Americas Winter Championship: March 11–13 beginning at 10 a.m. PST

Europe Winter Championship: March 18–20 beginning at 5 a.m. PST

Asia-Pacific Winter Championship: March 24–26 beginning at 9 p.m. PST


So I’m Banned? A Summary of Steam Bans

So you’re trying to buy or sell an item OPSkins, and you get an error message that says either that we couldn’t send you a trade offer due to a ban or cooldown, or you can’t accept the offer we sent you? You might ask, Why do I need to be able to trade in order to use OPSkins? Well, simply put, the only way to move an item between Steam accounts is to use Steam trading. Since we can’t move an item between your account and our bots if you can’t trade, you therefore can’t use OPSkins if you’re unable to trade. We don’t have any control over this – these restrictions are imposed by the Steam platform which we use to send and receive items.

There are quite a few reasons why an account can be unable to trade on Steam. Here are a few of them:

Trade Ban

This is the most obvious reason. If you’re trade banned on Steam, then you can’t trade. A trade ban is issued by Valve itself, and restricts your account from trading or using the Steam Community Market. Depending on the nature of the infraction which got you banned, trade bans may be temporary or permanent. After a trade ban expires, a banned account is usually placed into “trade probation” for some time. Both of these states are visible as red text on the Steam profile, even if the profile is private.

If you’re trade banned entirely, then of course you can’t use OPSkins since you can’t trade with our bots. We also prevent users who are on trade probation from using OPSkins, for the safety and security of all of our users. If your trade ban/probation has an expiration date, you will be able to use OPSkins after that date.

Locked Account

Whenever a major change is made to a Steam account, Steam automatically sends an email to the email address on file for that account. Most of these emails include a link that allows the account owner to “self-lock” their account. These locks prevent trading, purchases on the Steam store, access to VAC-secured game servers, and more. When an account is locked, it cannot trade and therefore cannot use OPSkins. Note that if you “self-unlock” your account, you may be further restricted from trading for 7 days.

Accounts can also be locked by Steam Support for violations of the Steam Subscriber Agreement. The same restrictions apply: locked accounts cannot use OPSkins since they cannot trade.

Steam Guard

This is the big one. You’re required to have a very specific configuration of Steam Guard settings in order to be able to trade. Firstly, if Steam Guard is disabled, you can’t trade at all. Once Steam Guard is enabled, you need to wait 15 days in order to be able to trade. This restriction applies to new Steam accounts (Steam Guard is automatically enabled when you confirm your email address, but that merely begins the 15-day waiting period) and also to accounts which disable and then immediately re-enable Steam Guard.

Steam Guard takes two forms:

  • 1. Email authentication
    • Under email authentication, every time you login from a new device or browser, you must enter a code that is sent to your email address.
    • Every time you authorize a new device, you begin a trade cooldown and are unable to trade on that device only for 7 days. After 7 days pass, you can trade on that device as normal, provided you hit no other restrictions.
    • All trades in which you lose items will be held for 72 hours (or 24 hours if you’ve been friends with the other user on Steam for at least a year). During a trade hold, all items in the trade will be removed from both parties’ inventories and be inaccessible. However on March 9th, Valve is extending this trade hold time to 15 days instead of 72 hours
  • 2a. Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator (enabled for less than 7 days)
    • If you’re using the Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator, but it’s been enabled for less than 7 days, then all of the bullet points under “Email authentication” apply.
  • 2b. Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator (enabled for 7 days or more)
    • When using the Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator, every time you login, you must enter a code that is generated by the Steam Mobile app on your phone.
    • There is no new-device cooldown.
    • Trades will only be held if the other party is losing items (you’re receiving items) and they haven’t had the mobile authenticator enabled for 7 days.

Trade Cooldown

It’s possible for a Steam account to enter a “trade cooldown.” These cooldowns are triggered by specific circumstances, and don’t necessarily indicate a ban of any kind.

When you have one or more Steam trades on hold, you are presented with a button that you can click to cancel all of your outstanding trades. If you use this button (and confirm a popup, shown below), all of your pending trades will be canceled (including those on hold) and you will begin a 7-day trade cooldown.

You will also enter a trade cooldown if you do any of the following:

  • Change your Steam account’s email address (5 day trade cooldown)
  • Reset your Steam account’s password via the help site because you forgot it: 7-day trade cooldown, or 30-day trade cooldown if your account hasn’t been used in 2 months. This does not apply if you merely changed your password from within the Steam client.


All of the above restrictions apply to trading across your entire account. However, if you have a VAC ban for any Valve economy game, you will be unable to trade in that game for as long as you are banned. VAC bans are nearly always permanent, unless there is a sweeping wave of false-positives across the entire community. Consequently, a VAC-banned account can never trade away or receive items for the game in which it is banned.

This means that if you’re VAC banned from CS:GO, you cannot buy or sell CS:GO items on OPSkins. You can still buy and sell items for other games, like TF2 and Dota 2.

In Summary

That’s a (relatively) brief summary of all of the different ways that you can be restricted from trading on Steam, and consequently, on OPSkins. If you’d like, you can try out this step-by-step wizard which tells you exactly why you can or can’t trade or use the Steam Community Market.

Happy trading!


DOTA 2: Team Secret is Your Winter Major Champion

Image from: Dotabuff
Image from: Dotabuff

The finals started with an amazing concert featuring some of the best videogame composers and sound editors of all times. The soundtrack for Dota 2 was played by Academy Award winner Tim Larking and Tommy Tallarico playing (along with an orchestra), and later on we saw an special appearance from Singaporean singer and songwriter JJ Lin.

The finals were played between two European teams, Team Liquid and Team Secret, and saw Team Secret come out victorious after a 3-1 score, and claiming $1,110,000 for their first place prize. Team Liquid took $405,000 for the second place.

Team Liquid:

It was an impressive run for Team Liquid, the team originally qualified through the European main qualifiers and who worked their way through the Upper Bracket, sending teams such as Alliance and MVP to the Lower Bracket. Team Liquid continued their run on the Upper Bracket until they met up with Team Secret on the Upper Bracket Finals. The game went Team Secret’s way and forced TL to play the Lower Bracket Finals against American team Evil Geniuses, but after a great performance (Winning 2-0 against EG), made their way into the finals.

Team Secret:

It was time for Jacky “EternaLEnvy” Mao to break his “second place curse” that has followed him to some of the biggest Dota 2 tournaments (including The Frankfurt Major and the ESL One New York in 2015).

It is the second time in a row that Team Secret makes their way to a Major’s finals, as last year the team lost to a determined OG 3-1 during the 2015 Frankfurt Major. This year the story was different, with Team Secret meeting up with OG in their first game for the Upper Bracket and with a 2-1 score, they dropped OG to the Lower Bracket. In round two Team Secret played last year’s International winners EG, but with a 2-1 score showed once more that they wanted to take the Mystic Staff  (this year’s trophy) home.

The Finals:

The finals started with Team Secret showing a dominant hand in what was initially drafted as a “late game-team fight oriented team,” that ended up being a team that controlled the map fully early on. Thanks to Team Secret’s support duo, they outplayed Team Liquid, taking game one in their favor.

The second game showed a dominant Team Liquid dictating the pace to victory turning the score into a 1-1.

Game three was a display of Team Secret’s mid player (Omar “w33” Aliwi) skills, going 14:0:11 by the end of the game, and taking the lead of the finals for 2-1.

Game four (and the final one) ended after only 25 minutes and was a complete stomp by Team Secret. The game started as a really passive one and continued to be that way with only a couple of fights taking place in favor of Secret. Through time, Team Liquid kept falling behind and was unable to hold the game any longer, crowning Team Secret the Champions of the Shanghai Winter Major.

Valve took to the Dota 2 blog to congratulate the winning team and to apologize for the poor quality and overall less-than-flawless execution that was displayed during the event, a tournament that disappointed many with the production and streaming quality overall.

“While there were amazing performances by all of the teams participating in the Shanghai Major, we recognize that the viewing experience and the overall execution of the event were very disappointing. Dota fans and professional players alike have high expectations for a Major event—expectations that we share—and it is ultimately our responsibility to make sure those expectations are met and exceeded.”

Dota 2 Blog

Rest assured that Valve will take the matter into their hands, and hopefully the next major in Manila will surpass everyone’s expectations so we can focus on the quality of the event and the games themselves.

“Disappointment should come from the elimination of a favorite team in a hard-fought match, not from the experience of just trying to watch a game you love. With that in mind, we will be increasing our involvement moving forward to ensure that future events deliver a high-quality experience.”

Dota 2 Blog

With the winners of the Dota 2 Shanghai Winter Major crowned, we turn our eyes to the next Dota 2 Major taking place in Manila, Philippines in early June.


IEM Katowice CS:GO Tournament: Fnatic Wins, Now on a 6 LAN Win Streak

Image from: ESL's Facebook Page
Image from: ESL’s Facebook Page

Fnatic continues with their LAN winning streak by claiming the first place at the Intel Extreme Masters X in Katowice. Despite winning the finals 3-0, their rivals Luminosity made for a difficult opponent and the results do not tell the whole story, with two games going into overtime (one of which was a double overtime).

What Luminosity did is nothing short of impressive, as the Brazilian squad came into the finals after beating Na’Vi for 2-0. The first game was an intense match on Overpass that dragged on for two overtimes (and showed some amazing boosts by GuardiaN). On the second map Inferno, LG showed once again that they are a team to fear, and beat the CIS team 16 to 12.

Fnatic went into the finals after a great performance, winning 2-0 to the local favorites Virtus.Pro, and dropping only one map to team Astralis on the semifinals (granted it was Luminosity who took a game from them during the group stage).

IEM Katowice Game 1 – Overpass:

The first map was Overpass. Luminosity started on the right foot and forced Fnatic to fight back from 12-3 on the first half. But the second half was all on Fnatic, who (after an amazing comeback) brought the game to a 14-15 score. Being one point away from winning, Fnatic dropped a round to Luminosity, pushing the game into overtime. Fnatic secured the map after a double overtime, with a 19-17 score.

IEM Katowice Game 2 – Cache:

In game two, Fnatic showed what they are made of. They took the first half of the map 12-3 on T-Side and when Luminosity didn’t manage to come back from it, they lost the game 16-3.

IEM Katowice Game 3 – Inferno:

Inferno was a similar story to the first map played. LG started the game with a 12-3 in the first half, but Fnatic was able to turn the game around after winning the pistol round on the second half. The game was 15-14 but LG was able to push the game into overtime, only to drop four consecutive rounds to Fnatic and with it, the game.

So Fnatic takes the IEM Season X World Championship in Katowice, claiming a prize pool of $100,000, and leaving Luminosity with the second place of $40,000. Katowice also hosted the ESL:ONE Katowice Major last year and saw team Fnatic victorious against team Ninjas in Pyjamas.

We are only weeks away from the MLG Major in Columbus, and this serves as a display of some of the amazing Counter-Strike we will have on the upcoming weeks. It also serves as a reminder for teams like EnVyUs  and NiP (11th-12th and 9th-10th position in this tournament respectively) that they need to up their game before heading to the Major as the competition is tough.


League of Legends: Drawing for Riot Points Celebration

Years ago, when Riot Games had a really small Player Support team, sometimes they were unable to resolve some of their support tickets. When that happened, the players would then quickly draw a cheesy/cute picture about League of Legends and hoped it would change their minds. Most of the time it did not work, instead they would give the players a small one-time gift of RP for their “art.”

This led to the players making support tickets and attaching their poorly drawn pictures in hopes of getting RP. If you ever played LoL and purchased skins, after a while you might be a couple points off from buying a new skin. The lowest amount you can purchase is only $5 worth of 650RP, so getting RP for these drawings enabled players to get smaller amounts, making up the difference they needed in order to get their skin without having to purchase more than they needed.

Riot Games told the first players who started this to not tell anyone, but word gets around very easily nowadays and they practically honored everyone’s RP Art. Now they have opened stash of saved RP Art and have displayed them for all to see.

Anyone can create and submit their own RP Art here, or just enjoy Riot Games gallery of personal favorites. Unfortunately Riot is not giving away free RP this time, but they are saving all of the pictures submitted and maybe one day your picture might be Riot Games new favorite. Read about the history of RP Art on the Riot Games website.

rito art
randomly generated RP art

A New Look for Nuke! Does that Mean it’s A… Newk?

Alright, ignore the crappy pun. But hey, it’s happened ladies and gentlemen. de_Nuke, one of the original maps since the beginning of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, has had a complete overhaul. Dare I say, it is looking absolutely beautiful. New textures, new routes, new props, new everything!

Screenshot by Hades |

Nuke was a map that dated long back in Counter-Strike history to the original Beta game, although it was a desert map back then until the Source days, and was in the competitive rotation for almost just as long. It has undergone many changes over it’s lifespan; in 1.6 it was a Nuclear Missile Silo out in the desert, and was a target of the Phoenix Connexion Terrorists who attempted to plant a bomb in the silo to destroy it and further their goals, while Seal Team 6 was deployed to stop them.

In Source it was a decommissioned Nuclear Reactor in a suburban area that was still housing spent fuel rods that were supposed to be picked up at a later date, and as such became a target for the Phoenix who wished to destroy it and bring chaos to the area, while SEAL Team 6 – who were tasked as guards – attempted to sneak in through the back entrance to surprise them. In Global Offensive it remained as a Nuclear Plant, and it’s story remained more or less the same as well, although it received a major overhaul in terms of looks in Wildfire.

Screenshot by Hades |

There have been a few changes made to the map in terms of game-play, some major and others not so much. First, the box truck at Terrorist spawn was removed, and replaced with a truck holding an actual box. There is also now a ladder that leads directly up to the roof in front of T spawn so it is easier to climb up on. The vent on the roof leading to Forklift was replaced by a doorway, so it is easier to drop down into. You can also get on top of Silo without the need for a boost, with the addition of a small platform you can jump to the pipes with. Catwalk has been extended to wrap around the building right up to Silo, which makes it easier for the Terrorists to go straight through to Heaven. Squeaky was made smaller though, making it much harder to move around if you are getting shot at, and harder to avoid hitting your teammates.

Screenshot by Hades |

Outside, Heaven, Hell, Ramp, Control, Trophy Room, Forklift, Hut, and Squeaky have remained more or less the same. Bombsite A has seen a few updates.

A ladder has been added to the side of Marshmallow, and it is now possible to plant on top of it.

Rafters has been made a little smaller, so you cannot go right around the room on it and watch Squeaky. However, a ladder was added in so you could get back up from the roof of Hut.

The left entrance to Vent on Bombsite A has been removed, as well as the right entrance on B, so there is only one way to A from B and vice-versa.

Tunnels to Bombsite B has been extended, and you can now enter from below Vents where Toxic was, and Toxic has been moved more towards Ramp.

With all these changes, the stacking for Counter-Terrorists has been shifted slightly. Instead of having two Counter-Terrorists on A, one in Heaven and one on Rafters, one more should now be placed Outside since it is so much easier to take Outside than it was previously.

That’s all for changes folks! It may not seem like much, but it is quite a change in game-play for both teams. Good luck, and have fun!