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OPSkins Marketplace Blog | CS:GO, H1Z1 and eSports News Posts

New to eSports: The Call of Duty World League Pro Division

Image from: Wikimedia
Image from: Wikimedia

Starting January 12th the Call of Duty: World League Pro division will bring the best of the best to compete against each other for almost three months, concluding in March with a LAN tournament and an impressive $3 million prize pool.

This tournament comes as an effort from Activision to help develop the competitive aspects of the CoD brand. This is not the first time a game developer gets directly involved in hosting a tournament – we’ve seen Valve done it successfully multiple times, and is something both SMITE and Blizzard do constantly.

By hosting a tournament and more important, a league, the developers show their commitment towards the fans and the teams. By providing with a stable platform for them to compete, the industry can develop their own fan base and attract more casual players.

30 teams were selected to compete on the Call of Duty World League Pro Division Stage 1 from the Pre-Season Tournament and the Online Qualifiers. The league will be divided on three main regions: NA, EU and ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) and the best teams will compete on the stage in March.

It’s important to note that at the moment they are not hosting any PC division tournaments. We know that after reading that some of you might be thinking “computer master race” and similar memes, but even without the PC tournaments this move is nothing short of impressive and I believe hosting a CoD League represents an important step for the CoD brand and eSports in general (even if it’s only for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on PlayStation 4).

Nothing prevents Activision from hosting a PC tournament in the near future, but by keeping it to PS4 only they can keep the focus on the game itself before wandering into the land of technical issues and tournament delays.

While the FPS (first person shooting) community mainly revolves around CS:GO, this year we started to see new games like Overwatch and Call Of Duty make their way into the scene. Getting more people exposed to the genre is an amazingly effective way to introduce them into gaming.

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Competitive Rank System: A New Balance in Matchmaking

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In-game Competitive Lobby – Screenshot by Hades | OPSkins.com

A few weeks ago there was a change in the Competitive Ranking System in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, one that had a mix of reactions from a variety of players. The curve in the ranks changed, and the center is now focused on the Nova ranks, the second lowest rank group. On one hand, top tier players were content with the update, as that means players with a lower skill level couldn’t be boosted (joining players with a higher skill level to gain a high rank in competitive) easily anymore. This means that they could play a good game without getting those players who barely knew what they were doing, whether on their team or not.

On the other hand, this meant that players in the low-tier ranks had to deal with the fallout of the changes. Mostly this consisted of various things: de-rankers (where a player purposely loses games in order to drop down to the lower ranks, although that has been a problem even before the changes), players who feel it is too much work to slog through to the high-tier ranks, or even smurfs (the players who stay at lower ranks even if they belong to a higher skill group).

While this update has its good and bad sides, it was much needed and overall brought a little more balance to competitive gaming. Now it requires more know-how than previously to get to the higher skill groups, which is a very good thing in the eyes of most professional players and the community at large.

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Competitive Game play – Screenshot by Hades | OPSkins.com

Again, this emphasizes the amount of care that Valve puts into Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and we can definitely look forward to more updates like this.

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Streaming Platform Exclusivity Issue Ends in JMIF’s Disqualification

A team was eliminated from a CS:GO tournament due to streaming platform exclusivity for what is believed to be the first time ever.

Team Just Make it Fast (JMIF) was  playing Cloud9 in a best of three for the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Game Show Global eSports Cup on January 13th 2016 when JMIF player Launders began streaming from his point of view on Twitch.

This is not typically an issue except in this case the tournament is sponsored by and intended to be streamed exclusively on Azubu.

Launders Ban Stream
After a warning Launders started his stream again

To Azubu’s credit, they did not disqualify JMIF on the first occurrence. They gave Launders a clear warning to stop his stream – which he did – just before starting it back up again. Upon this happening, Azubu pulled the cord and DQed JMIF from the rest of the tournament and gave Cloud9 the forfeit win.

This only got more interesting when the rule book was analyzed and it was found to NOT be against the rules for a player to stream their point of view on a service other than Azubu, which many on Reddit and elsewhere the internet called them out on. However, the tournament’s first rule states that “…we reserve the right to change, modify, or adapt all rules as deemed appropriate…”

I believe this is the first time we have seen a streaming platform (or any sponsor) step in to disqualify a team during a tournament, but I think it was Azubu’s right to do so. Since they are streaming with an exclusivity agreement with the Game Show Global eSports Cup, Azubu has every right to protect their investment as such. In the future I would like to see – and I would imagine others do too – a clear cut rule that players are aware of so that we can see these tournaments played out as they are meant to be, instead of disqualifications based on technicalities.

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Titan: Farewell to the Team and Hello to Newly Rare Stickers

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Sticker | Titan | Katowice 2015

On January 14th we bid farewell to one of the teams in eSports. Founded in the latter half of 2013, Titan focused their activities on CS:GO, SMITE and Dota 2. Economically, everything seemed on track by the end of 2014 but 2015 they had other plans in store.

Last year one of the players in the teams CS:GO division was banned, which caused a ripple effect on the sponsorship deals that the team was counting on. With fewer sponsors backing the team their coffers started to run dry, and this week it was announced on their website that the team would shut down.

This post is not meant to reminisce on the past of a promising team, we’ll leave that the community. We will, however, look at the future of their merchandise, more specifically, the weapon stickers that are sold on OPSkins.

As soon as their shutdown was announced, the volume of units sold for the Katowice 2015 skyrocketed from six on January 12th to 78 the next day. The price also went up from $4.47 to $7.68 in that same time span and considering that Valve will not be releasing any more stickers of the team in the future, we can safely estimate that the price will continue to go up because they will become a rarity in the CS:GO marketplace. This is only the standard sticker, the Holo and the Foil managed to climb up to $60.83 and $35.58 respectively.

Look at all the effects of one ban. Imagine everything that can happen this year with the most recent bans issued by Valve.

So anyone that wants to make a good investment this year, a Titan sticker is the way to go, specifically the ones related to their last tournaments in 2015.

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Titan Stickers Sale History
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New Year’s Resolution: Higher Resolution?

We have recently seen streaming service Hitbox.tv introduce 4k streaming into their platform. For those unfamiliar: 4k resolution is 3840 x 2160 – a big step above HD resolution which is typically 1920×1080 or 1280×720.

Rank Up Lawl
My own stream at a measly 720p

This is a huge improvement over the quality Twitch streamers typically see, where it’s difficult and largely frowned upon to stream at 1080p 60 FPS because of bitrate restrictions (restrictions made by streaming platforms that limit how much data you can upload to the servers to prevent eating up a ton of resources). While the community and content on Twitch is undoubtedly larger and more prevalent, these are the kind of improvements a streaming site can make over the typical formula to perhaps open some people’s eyes to what they are doing.

It would be much harder for a site the size of Twitch or Youtube to begin pushing out 4k resolutions due to the user base size of both broadcasters and audience. In the past we have seen smaller companies innovate and grow, while bigger companies settle and stagnate in many other fields. However this is also part of the beauty of competition: streaming on Twitch and streaming in general has largely been an activity done at 720p and 30 or 60 FPS, but with Hitbox innovating and improving their content to be streamable at 4k resolution we can maybe start looking forward to Twitch and other platforms making this level of quality possible.

Competition is the mother of innovation, and hopefully this competition is one that we can all benefit from. With 4k capable equipment becoming more readily available and cheaper, I would expect to see a shift towards this super high definition sooner rather than later. I’ll be ready when it happens.

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Dota 2: The Next Major in Manila, Philippines

The Shanghai Major Qualifiers have concluded and with two teams advancing from each region, we finally got the 16 teams that will participate at the Winter Major. The Group Stage will begin on February 25 and will be followed by the Main Event at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai from March 2 to March 6.

We are months away from the Main Event but to keep the excitement going Valve announced the next Dota 2 Major on their blog:

“Upon the crowning of The Shanghai Major Champions, the eyes of the Dota community will turn to the next Major, to be held in Manila, Philippines in early June. As before, established teams and upstarts alike will battle for the chance to join the rolls of The Manila Major to compete on the main stage in front of a sea of passionate fans.”

Image from: Dota 2 blog.
Image from: Dota 2 blog.

The Manila Major will take 16 teams to Manila to compete for the third Major and will be the last opportunity the teams will get to prove they are one of the best teams in the world, right before the The International 2016 kicks off in mid-August in Seattle.

The Philippines is the third and last confirmed Valve-sponsored event that lead to The International (also referred to as the “Summer” Major). We will see the same qualifying process from Winter Major – eight invited teams, and eight qualifiers spots (two for each region).

This will be the second big Dota 2 tournament being held this year in Manila, Philipines, just a few months after ESL One Manila 2016, this April 23 to 24 at the MOA Arena.

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What Happened on OPSkins in December? Valve Mobile Authenticator Caused a Roller Coaster Ride for the Skins Economy

Something unusual happened in our market in the last month of 2015. By the middle of December, the number of units sold for every skin on our market plummeted while the prices rocketed by about 15%. Between December 11th and 16th our market experienced its slowest days of sales. The highest selling gun (by volume) on our previous article went from selling 113 units on average on the previous four days, to selling only 64 units, while its price went from $2.95 on the 8th to $3.45 on the 15th. What caused the number of units sold to go down and the overall price to go up?

On December 9th, 2015 Steam’s Trade Holds went live. Designed as a measure to counteract scams on the marketplace, the Trade Holds introduced a new set of rules to the items trade for everyone involved in the community. They also required that everyone who wished to trade should have a Mobile Authenticator which is a software that when installed on your mobile phone enables steam to confirm that the person using the account is, in fact, you.

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Glock-18 | Water Elemental (Minimal Wear)

This meant that users who did not have an Authenticator for seven days or more would have all their trades delayed by three days. In turn, purchases on OPSkins went up on December 7th and 8th while prices dropped. After the 9th the effect was reversed because there were fewer users who were able to trade with our Bots due to the three day waiting period. As we said before, OPSkins prices are set by the relation between supply and demand, so when the amount of units available on the market is limited the vendors can increase the price because there is more demand. This in turn caused the spike on prices in the period of mid-December. After the 16th the volume of units being sold stayed at an average of 65 per day with the price reaching a record $3.61 on the 19th.

Everything that goes up will eventually come down – with the 20th and 21st as proof. The price nose-dived from the previous $3.61 to $3.19; that’s a decrease of 11.5% on average and if you remember from our previous post, handgun prices rarely move that fast. After that record low, the price began to climb again and everything seem fine by the 28th…

Enter December 29th with another price drop of 12.5%. What happened? Well on that day 172 units were sold which meant that most, if not all users had adopted the Mobile Authenticator which led to a flood on the market, plus the holidays were coming to a close and everyone wanted to get rid of their guns. Maybe they wanted to start fresh on the new year, or maybe everyone was home for the holidays and able to buy the hot new commodity that had been going up in price.

This brings us to the current month of January, which has seen the price drop from another high on New Year’s only to stabilize again and unit sales climbing back to their original numbers at the start of December, before we embarked on this roller coaster ride. All’s well for now in the realm of CS:GO weapon sales. Whew.

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Dota 2 Majors: The Qualifiers

The Shanghai Major is the second event (Winter Major) to take part on the Valve’s Dota 2 Majors Championships (announced in 2015). This series of four tournament events is sponsored by Valve and will be held annually during Fall, Winter and Spring, culminating in the Summer with the famous tournament – The International.

Eight teams received a direct invite, and eight spots were kept open for the winners of the qualifiers, two teams per region.

Now that the qualifiers ended, we bring you the list of participants that will compete for a prize pool of $3 Million:

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Open Qualifiers:

January 3rd was the first day of the Open Qualifiers, seeing well over 1,000 teams compete for two spots (for each region) to participate in the main qualifiers.

The America’s qualifiers saw Team Freedom (known to some as the ixmike88’s stack) and Elite Wolves (formed by famous Peruvian mid player SmAsH) prove victorious in group A and B. Special mention to Vegetables Esports Club, the team formed by profesional Dota 2 analysts and commentators, a team that had an impressive run and manage to get to the Semifinals before losing 2 -1 to the Peruvian team Infamous (former members of Unknown.xiu).

On the Chinese Open qualifiers we saw teams CDEC Avanger and TongFu work their way onto the two spots for the Main Qualifiers.

In my opinion Europe was considered one of the hardest regions during the Open Qualifiers – a region filled with potential. Many famous players and teams competed for only two spots to the Main Qualifiers. The Open Qualifiers ended with team Mamas Boys (Pajkatt and SexyBamboe’s team) and London Conspiracy taking the spots to the Main Qualifiers, after beating team Kaipi and Power Rangers respectively.

The Southeast Asian Qualifiers saw team Mineski-X (WinteR, Xtinct) grab the first slot for the Main Qualifiers, and Extremist Dota 2 battled their way on the second group (after losing to Mineski-X in group one’s finals) for that last spot.

Main Qualifiers:

12 teams fought for a spot into the main event, unfortunately none of the teams that came from the Open Qualifiers managed to get one and saw their dreams crushed.

On the Southeast Asian Qualifiers team Fnatic lead by Mushi crushed every game with a 2-0 score, leading to the first qualifier spot. The second spot was taken by the Koreans from MVP Phoenix.

TI4 winners Newbee and TI5 third place LGD Gaming, had a great run, and claimed the two spots from their region.

The America’s Qualifiers was an exciting one, where Team Archon secured the first spot into the main event after a well-timed base race.  Team compLexity Gaming took the second NA slot after defeating Digital Chaos and knocking Aui_2000’s team out of the tournament.

The European Qualifiers was nothing short of a surprise. Team Liquid had a great run and claimed the first spot to the event after only dropping one game to Team Spirit. But it was Team Spirit that had everyone talking, a team formed by two veterans and some new faces, defeating The Empire and it was on the back of Invoker’s Rampage (Iceberg) that they claimed the last spot.

The main event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China and will begin on February 2nd, with its finals being played on February 6th.

Will OG have what it takes to win two Dota 2 Majors in a row?

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A Small Update to the CS:GO Gloves and Arms

All Gloves Updated
All new gloves – Source; http://bit.ly/1RfF6t6

The first week of 2016 started off with a minor but very nice visual update for the arms and gloves of both the Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists, which could have new implications for the future of the Steam Market and OPSkins.com Market, or so some people theorize. Whether there will be new glove skins available for purchase or not is still up in the air until it is either confirmed or denied by Valve. Be that as it may, the new graphics are definitely looking good and are a fresh breath to the game.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive was in need of a graphics update for a while, since the game hasn’t received any since it was released back in August 2012. With the new visuals for the arms and gloves in addition to the new arming and defusing animations for the bomb, it seems like Valve has finally decided to start on that process. We will all wait and see with bated breath if the future brings more of these updates, hopefully bringing new life to the game. It is definitely heartening to see the care put into this game, despite it being almost four years old, and the community is bigger than ever with a peak of more than 800,000 players by December 2015. Counter Strike: Global Offensive can definitely look forward to continued success, in part because of the up-rise of its eSports scene, and also because of the popularity of the Market and wealth it has brought to both the users and the entrepreneurs that brought different services to the table (such as CSGOShuffle for gambling or OPSkins.com for it’s third-party market).

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In-game Screenshot – Courtesy of Hades | OPSkins.com

Aside from that, all we can do is just wait and watch to see how the game and community evolves.

 

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A 2016 eSports Calendar: Dota 2, CS:GO, League of Legends Tournaments and more

We’ve covered eSports in 2015, eSports tournament winning teams in 2015 and gaming franchises in 2015. Let’s focus on the future.

We are going to have an excellent year in the 2016 eSports scene and this year won’t disappoint us, with up to 4 majors coming for Dota 2 and plenty more for CS:GO.

Here are some of the events already confirmed:

Valve’s Regional Minor Championships- CS:GO  – January:

In an effort to generate opportunities for new teams to develop, Valve will be hosting four regional championships during the month of January with a prize pool of $50,000 and a chance for teams to compete at the offline qualifiers for MLG Colombus 2016.

SL i-League StarSeries – Dota 2  – January 13-17th:

12 of the best teams will compete at the Minsk Arena (Belarus) in a tournament with a prize pool of $300,000.

League of Legends Championship Series, NA LCS Spring Season – LoL – January 16-March 20:

January 5th will mark the biggining of the Riot 2016 Season Championsip Series, being the fourth season of North America’s fully professional League of Legends league.

League of Legends Championship Series, EU LCS Spring Season – LoL – January 16-March 18:

10 teams will compete in a round robin group stage, with the top six teams continuing to the offline playoffs.

DreamHack Leipzig 2016 – CS:GO and StarCraft II – January 22-24th:

Will run from the 22nd of January until the 24th at Leipziger Messe in Leipzig, Germany.

This will be the first DreamHack event in Germany, and will include Counter-Strike:Global Offensive and StarCraft II: Legacy of Void on their main show.

MarsTV Dota 2 League 2015 Winter – Dota 2 – January 27-31st:

10 teams will battle in China for a price pool of $250,000.

Cannes Winter Clash – Fighting games – February 26-28th:

The Cannes Winter Clash (France) is one of the largest fighting game tournaments in Europe including games such as Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros for WiiU, King of Fighter XIII and others.

IEM Katowice 2016 – CS:GO and LoL – March 4-6th:

The Polish city will be once again the home for a big eSports tournament. From March 4th to March 6th, the best CS:GO and League of Legends teams will compete at the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship for a prize pool of over $350,000.

The Shanghai Major – Dota 2 – March 2-6th:

The first Dota 2 Major of 2016 will feature 16 of the best teams in the world competing on a double elimination tournament for a $3 million prize pool.

Eight teams will be directly invited and eight teams will come from the Regional Qualifiers (it’s time to form your five stack and start feeding!).

MLG Columbus 2016 – CS:GO  – Mach 29-April 3:

Valve announced that their next CS:GO Major Championship will take place in Colombus, Ohio, featuring the top eight teams from DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca.

The six day event will begin March 29 and their finals will be on April 3. Columbus will mark the eighth Major Championship for CS:GO and the first Major held in North America.

DreamHack Austin 2016 – CS:GO and Fighting Games – May 6-8th:

For the first time ever the biggest digital festival will make their way to North America.

DreamHack will be the home for CS:GO, Super Smash Brother Melee and Street Fighter V tournaments.

OPSkins is based in the USA and Canada so if you make your way to this tournament make sure to say hi to our staff as some of us will be around enjoying the event!

ESL One Cologne 2016 – CS:GO –  July 8-10th:

Cologne will be (once again) the home for the largest CS:GO tournament in the world. The world’s best teams will battle for $250,000 at the Lanxess Arena in Germany.

 

It’s going to be a year filled with great tournaments and we can’t wait for it to begin, 2016 here we go!

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