Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Articles RSS Feed | Counter-Strike: Global Offensive RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Top eSports Teams of 2017: Who Is On Top and Who Is On the Rise Sat, 23 Dec 2017 11:00:03 -0500 Joseph Rowe

Who's on top? What's on bottom? Oh wait, this isn't e-bbot and Costello. We're talking about both the best and the most promising e-Sports teams of 2017 in this wrap-up of the year's competitive gaming scene.

Who's On Top? 


Counter-Strike in its various forms has been a staple of the competitive gaming scene for nearly two decades. The two biggest teams this year, according to ESL Gaming, are SK Gaming from Brazil and Faze Clan with players from Nordic and Slavic backgrounds. 

SK Gaming's team consists of FalleN, fer, coldzera, TACO, and boltz. This Brazilian team sits at the top both in terms of club ranking as well as power ranking on ESL Gaming. They won Blast Pro Series in Copenhagen, Dreamhack Summer, ESL One Cologne, and cs_summit as well as placing as runners-up in this year's Subaru Invitational and the North American e-Sports Championship Series Season 3. The video above features the grand finals between C9 and SK Gaming, where the latter team goes 3-0 in a shutout.

FaZe Clan is a much more international team than SK Gaming is. They consist of Norway's rain, Denmark's karrigan, Bosnia and Herzegovina's NiKo, Slovakia's GuardiaN, and Sweden's olofmeister. They placed first in season 3 of the Europe e-sports Championship Series, and were runners-up in season 4. They were second in both player and club rankings on ESL Gaming. They also won 3-0 against Team Liquid at ESL One New York.

DotA 2

DotA 2, the most hardcore of the MOBAs and the genre's origin source, is another staple of the competitive gaming scene. This year saw some great premiere events, with one prize pool being 24 million American dollarydoos.

Team Liquid is on top this year according to GosuGamers. They were the ones who took home the biggest piece of that giant prize pool at the International this year. The team consists of Germany's KuroKy-, Bulgaria's MinD_ContRoL, Finland's Matumbaman, Jordan/Poland's Miracle-, and Lebanon's GH. Not only did they win big at this year's International, they also placed second against Team Secret at DreamLeague Season 8. The video above features the finals match from the International between Newbee and Team Liquid.

Team Secret brought their secret sauce to the table this year and won against Team Liquid in the finals in DreamLeague Season 8. They consist of Denmark's Ace, Malaysia's MidOne, Germany's Fata, Jordan's YapzOr, and Estonia's Puppey. In addition to taking first against Team Liquid, they also came in second against VP twice this year, at ESL One Hamburg and DotA Summit 7.

League of Legends

While League hasn't been around quite as long as DotA, it was and perhaps still is the more popular of the two. It is one of the biggest games to help shape MOBAs as a genre. The two big teams this year that came out on top at the World Championships were Samsung Galaxy and SK Telecom T1. 

The official champions of Riot's World Championships for League of Legends this year were the members of Samsung Galaxy (not to be confused with the LA Galaxy). They took home a whopping 1.7 million for winning. This Korean team consists of CuVee, Ambition, Haru, Crown, Ruler, and CoreJJ. They won back in 2014 but struggled for a few years until they took the win in 2017. The clip above is of their matches against fellow Korean team SK Telecom T1.

SK Telecom T1 took second this year at the World Championships, but they are still as amazing as they were when they won two years in a row and three years total. They got shut out this year, but still managed to take home $620K. They consist of Untara, Blank, Faker, Bang, Wolf, and Effort. 

Who's on the Rise?


My favorite eSports team of the year is the Silver Snipers. Their ages range from 62 to 81. These senior Swedes surprised a lot of people this year by proving that age doesn't keep one from taking part in competitive gaming.

What's truly amazing about this team isn't just their age, but the implications of having older teams in the eSports scene. One of the biggest bummers of competitive gaming is that it has a rather steep age cutoff. Nothing prevents older players from competing, but many of them lack the reaction times, are too injured from their earlier competitive years, or do not have the time to dedicate to competitive gaming like they used to, and this leads to the main competitors in eSports being teens or people in their early 20s. However, if more senior citizens start stepping up to the plate, maybe we can see different age brackets at tournaments, which could lead to an eSports scene that's inclusive of all ages.


The biggest team to come out in 2017 that's worth looking out for next year is OpTic Gaming, previously known mostly for its Call of Duty team. This team is composed of members who were originally a part of another team that was formed a few months ago known as the Dire. The roster consists of Sweden's Pajkatt and zai, America's CC&C and ppd, and, at least for now, temporary stand-in Saksa from Macedonia. 80% of the team has been to the International, with some of them having won. This is a team made of incredibly talented players, and they're definitely worth looking out for in 2018. The video above features ppd back when he played for EG and won finals at the International. 

The other team to look out for is Fnatic's newer roster. The players include Canada's EternaLEnvY, Philippine's Abed and DJ, Malaysia's Ohaiyo, and Sweden's pieliedie and Xcalibur. The only player that isn't new to the team is Ohaiyo, who has been on Fnatic's DotA team since 2015. According to esportsranks, EternaLEnvY is a big gambler in terms of game plays; he either wins gloriously or fails spectacularly, and he is incredibly fun to watch. 

League of Legends

 Although not completely new, Longzhu Gaming (formerly known as Incredible Miracle) surprised a lot of fans this year when they beat out SK Telecom T1 at LCK Summer Season. Longzhu had been in a bit of a rough patch but managed to get to the finals, where they surprised everyone by winning out against SKT. The team consists of Korea's Khan, Rascal, Cuzz, Peanut, Bdd, PraY, and GorillA. Considering SK Telecom T1 were the second-place winners of this year's World Championship, and Longzhu Gaming managed to beat them over the summer, we might see them do better next year instead of losing to Samsung 0-3 in the quarterfinals.


That does it for 2017's roundup of top and rising eSports teams. Were there any big names I missed on the list? Any small names I might've missed for rising teams? Any teams from other games you think are worthy of getting recognition this year? Let us know in the comments!

Top 3 PC Games To Play On Your Own Server Sat, 20 May 2017 06:00:02 -0400 Edward Wills

Online gaming is dominating the industry, and it's not hard to understand why. I find it interesting because of its unpredictability. The AI in games can be smart, but there are so many things a human does while playing that always catches you off guard. And that’s why I love it – online gaming keeps me on my toes.

Usually when I play online, I join other people’s servers and battle it out there. This is always a lot of fun. But lately, I’ve thought that getting my own server might be even more fun. Having my own rules and choosing which players get to stay and who has to leave is a really interesting thought. There are a lot of trolls out there who give online gaming a bad name -- but in reality, the majority of us just want to play games fairly and enjoy them.

So, what are the best PC games to set up your own server for? Here are my top three selections.


A little bit of a kid’s game? Perhaps. But Minecraft has always been such great fun in my eyes. I love the freedom of creativity it gives, and the notion that anything is possible. There have been some amazing Minecraft projects over the years – particularly the recreations of Middle-Earth and the Death Star. And I think that if enough people get excited about a task, the results can be stunning. This is the ultimate game for private servers and team building!

ARK: Survival Evolved

Did someone say dinosaurs, weapons, and open-world gameplay?

ARK has a depth that not many games can match (No Man’s Sky tried and failed). The first-person aspect is something I really enjoy, especially as a fan of pretty much every major FPS franchise out there. There are plenty of private and survival servers in ARK already, so it's prime ground for creating your own as well.

Like Minecraft, exploration is the name of the game, and ARK rewards those who like to do more than simply run and shoot. I like the feeling of playing with a community and forming alliances. Plus, you get to ride dinosaurs – what more could you possibly want?

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

It’s not hard to see why CS:GO has been a firm favorite for many FPS fans for a long time. The game is relentlessly intense (in a good way), and always provides a solid match -- often with ridiculous headshots to boot.

Playing Call of Duty and Halo may have diverted some of my attention, but the graphics in this popular shooter are smooth, the gameplay is entertaining, and the weapons, maps, and characters are as good as you can get. CS:GO with your buddies is easily one of the most satisfying multiplayer experiences around. And it can only get better if you have great people to play with in your own server.

There you have it!

I’ll get around to making my own server for one of these games soon, as I really think it could take my gaming enjoyment to the next level. I still have a few things to learn about setting up a private server, but I’m nearly there.

The technical aspect may dissuade some people, and I get the feeling many shy away from having their own gaming server because they think it requires a lot of know-how. But in truth, online gaming has become far more accessible in recent years, with various options and setups available. You’ll find that creating your own server is easier than it was five years ago, both in technical and financial terms.

Once I have everything setup, I’ll be sure to write a follow up article on my process and how it’s going.

Till then, happy gaming!

Twitch Selling Games Is the No-Brainer Idea No One Thought About Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:00:01 -0500 Rob Kershaw

If you think about it, the recent announcement of Twitch selling games makes perfect sense. With over 1.5 million streamers being watched by hundreds of millions of viewers per month, there is an audience ripe for pitching games to -- and who better to advertise titles than other gamers?

The only real surprise is that this move took so long to happen.

Twitch viewers can now buy games from two different areas on the site -- the game's detail page and the channel page itself, with the purchase link tucked under the game being streamed. For partnered streamers, this offers another revenue stream -- 5% of all sales made via their channel will go into their pocket. Twitch will take a quarter of the proceeds and the rest will go to the game developer.

It's basically an all-round win for all concerned.

Gamers get paid to stream, and encouraged to improve their content in order to attract more visitors and potential buyers. Game creators get exposure of their game on Twitch as before, but now with the added benefit of an extra shop front tagged on -- and thus generating money. Viewers will have a quick link to purchase if they like what they see, and will be given a Twitch crate on top as a bonus. Finally, Twitch (and therefore their parent company Amazon) will obviously pull in 25% of everything sold.

It should also be noted that the games will be installed via accounts linked through Twitch, such as Uplay, rather than redeemed via separate keys. But like Steam, a separate launcher will keep buyers cocooned within the Twitchverse.

Why did it take so long for Amazon to implement this on Twitch?

There are a number of factors at play.

Firstly, this move puts them in direct competition with Steam, the behemoth of the PC digital download industry. This isn't something that Amazon were going to just roll out without thought or analysis. Furthermore, the service will be reliant on publishers signing up to allow this link between stream and shop, and since big names like EA have their own Origin service to sell titles, they are currently keeping away. Activision and Square Enix are also absent, though this may change in the future.

With Valve's absence, the likes of DOTA 2 and CS: Go will be off the table -- at least for now -- and League of Legends developer Riot Games has not signed up either, taking out three of the biggest streamed games on the platform. It will be interesting to see how Twitch addresses this.

Ethics may also be involved here. Amazon will have also considered how blurring the lines between game streaming and retail will actually affect Twitch. Now, the biggest streamers could potentially be incentivized to only play games from the publishers who are affiliated with Twitch, leading to a narrower breadth of game coverage -- remember Amazon Game Studios is around, and that Amazon does own Twitch. Publishers could try and influence streamers to play their games to the detriment of smaller titles, which in turn would be bad news for both smaller studios and viewers wanting to learn more about new, lesser known games. The move is yet another blow for physical retailers too, in a time where digital download sales now exceed boxed copies, and the number of game stores in towns and cities is dwindling.

Until we see exactly what is lined up in the coming weeks, it's impossible to say exactly what impact the changes will have on the way that both Twitch and its streamers operate. Whether Amazon will subsidize games sold through Twitch in order to compete with the frequency of Steam sales is another unknown, but gamers are savvy enough to shop around for the cheapest price and won't fork out fifty bucks on a game if they can get it for half the price outside of Twitch. However, it's a bold challenge to Valve's dominance of the marketplace, and one we'll be keeping a close eye on this spring.

5 Things We Learned During The Reddit AMA with Gabe Newell Thu, 19 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Will Dowell

Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve and one of the largest figures in the gaming industry, has just finished a Q&A session called the Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). In this Q&A, Gabe has shed further light on Valve development, future goals, and much more. Here are Five Things We Learned During The Reddit AMA with Gabe Newell.

Gabe Shows Aspiring Developer Important Techniques for Game Design

Passing knowledge to the next generation, Gabe Newell stresses the need of iteration cycles and constant changes. He states:

"The most important thing you can do is to get into an iteration cycle where you can measure the impact of your work, have a hypothesis about how making changes will affect those variables, and ship changes regularly. It doesn't even matter that much what the content is -- it's the iteration of hypothesis, changes, and measurement that will make you better at a faster rate than anything else we have seen."

This advice shares not only experience, but practical applications as well. Creating an actual method gives young designers guidance in the chaotic world of game design.

Valve Justifies Their Lack of Communication as Part of Their Design Structure

Valve has one of the most unique development structures, with developers self assigning to projects and creating freedom unheard of in the AAA space. Team sizes are fluid, increasing and decreasing in response to what needs to get done. This constant changing is one of the major reasons Valve is less open about its content than other developers. According to Gabe:

"Another way to think about this, and the way we talk about this internally, is that we prefer to communicate through our products. We are all pretty devoted to reading and listening to the community -- everyone here believes it is an integral part of their job to do so. And when it comes time to respond, we generally use Steam -- shipping updates that address issues or add functionality. Obviously this doesn't work for everything. Working this way imposes latency on our communication -- it takes longer to ship and update than to do a blog post. This can lead to the feeling of an echo chamber, where it seems like Valve isn't listening. We’re always listening. So sometimes the latency is rough for everyone, including us when we want to address issues quickly. On balance we think it's usually worth the trade-off."

The idea of showing the consumers updates and products rather than telling is a noble idea. As Gabe said however, the lack of response makes users feel ignored and can have larger backlashes if these updates don't go as planned. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive updates for example, frequently divide the fanbase with balancing changes and additional content that make fans feel Valve isn't listening to user feedback. Acknowledging Valve fans with programs like these do remedy the lack of communication somewhat.

Showing You the Games You Want Is Valve's Next Goal for Steam

In this Q&A, Gabe Newell constantly spoke about improving Steam's navigation and filtering systems so users can find the games they need. In response to games containing sexual content, Gabe Newell states:

"In principle, there are two problems to solve. The first is a completely uncurated distribution tool for developers. The second is a toolset for customers that allow them to find and filter content (and people are an instance of content most obviously in multiplayer) that is best for them."

This response is also similar to one involving quality control and the flood of games on the Steam storefront. Gabe Newell believes that there is "not a singular definition of quality" and instead Valve is focusing on making the storefront able to show the right games to customers.

New Valve Movie In the Works

Gabe also re-confirms that a movie in the Half Life/Portal universe made by Valve and JJ Abrams is still in the works, and that Steam's support is a primary focus. The movie was first announced in 2013 but no confirmation that it was still in development existed until now. JJ Abrams was the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and is considered a premier director/film writer. Hopefully it becomes the first truly great video game movie.

Valve is Working on VR and Source Engine 2 Titles

Currently, Valve has been working on unannounced titles using the Source 2 engine and plans on releasing the engine to other developers. They are also focusing on other VR games using their own VR controller. Not much is known about these endeavors, only that they're happening and to expect further announcements.

Counter-Strike: Global Offense has New Plans for 2017

Gabe Newell was not the only Valve employee answering questions in this event. Developer Ido Magal addressing the future of CS:GO in 2017 with this response: 

"As far as a roadmap is concerned, our priorities for 2017 are to replace the UI with Panorama, to make CS:GO available in more territories where a lot of Counter-Strike fans don't have easy access to it (like China), and anti-cheat. Of course, we're also planning on continuing to ship bug fixes and new features throughout the year, as in the past.

We plan to continue updating every week or two. As for Operations, there's no set schedule. We weigh that work relative to other work we could choose to focus on and other recent work seemed better for the product. For example, at the end of 2016 we chose to focus on shipping Inferno, improving spatial audio via HRTF, joinable public lobbies, and some long-term work that hasn't shipped yet."

CS:GO Operations are considered some of the best additions to the game and have been high on fan demand. Hopefully these updates satisfy their hunger for new content. He also addressed the use of the Source 2 engine with CS:GO, stating that the hitboxes would not be fixed with Source 2 and that they are unsure if the engine would be a good fit.

What did you learn in the AMA? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 5 Craziest FPS Maps in Competitive History Thu, 12 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Will Dowell


Number 1: Facing Worlds

Unreal Tournament

Considered one of the best FPS maps of all time, Facing Worlds is also one of the most creative. Taking a two tower capture the flag approach, Facing Worlds provides a sense of adrenaline as you speed through the huge towers in hopes of victory. Connecting these grand towers is two paths set in the grand nothing of space. With the UT beta available to download, you can once again experience this great map in all it's Unreal Engine 4 glory.


FPS games may seem generic, but there is creativity hidden amongst the sea of maps. What do you think the craziest FPS maps are? Let us know in the comments.


Number 2: Dorado


Overwatch is famed for its colorful maps and wide selection of characters, and this map is no different. In Dorado, players must either escort or destroy a truck sent to restore power to this beautiful city. Engage in intense firefights within city blocks while traveling among rooftops. What sets this map apart is the stunning city and the complex paths used to carry out your objective. Overwatch has never been more unique.


Image provided by Blizzplanet.


Number 3: Aztec

Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Continuing a more tactical challenge, Aztec is a classic map in Counter Strike history, providing a ruin rife for conflict. Through its twisting tunnels and dangerous bridges, Aztec provided a great challenge for T's and CT's alike. This level also provides some much needed nature to the FPS genre, trading in the industrial grey for a more lush environment. Stain the soil red with the blood of your enemies.


Number 4: Outskirts


Even though Battleborne faded into obscurity, its skillful maps provided a different challenge than the traditional high adrenaline kill fest. In Outskirts, players are pitted in city slums and must incinerate their minions to appease Minrec, someone obsessed with the recycling of minions. This makes defending your minions an utmost priority, leading to intense battles in hopes your minions will survive long enough to be incinerated. Betrayal has never been more common.


Number 5: Aquarium

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

When Call of Duty is not recycling the same industrial maps or remaking Nuketown, they can provide unique maps. As the name suggests, you fight in an aquarium, sliding from close quarters combat into ambushes from the water below. Fast paced action and the small map design means danger is around every corner. With a fresh spin on Call of Duty map design, Aquarium feels fresh and exciting.


While killing your fellow man in gaming is awesome, sometimes it can become pretty stale. It is only a matter of time until you grow sick of those military bunkers and alien spaceships you consistently wage war in.


With many FPS maps looking the same, it can become quite a challenge to find variety in all the slaughter. Luckily, there are certain maps that step out of the mold and provide new and satisfying experiences to all who are willing. These maps will whisk you to a different time, full of challenge and wonder. Without further ado, here are the Top 5 Craziest FPS Maps.

9 Stellar CS:GO Streamers That You Need to Sub to On Twitch Thu, 29 Dec 2016 19:00:01 -0500 Caio Sampaio


Subscribers: 3,980


Watch on Twitch


A newcomer to Twitch, Diamon is 25 years old and has been playing video games for 18 of those years. On a professional level, he has already competed for the following teams:

  • VATGaming
  • \n
  • Universal Soldiers
  • \n
  • Imperium Gamers
  • \n
  • Heroes Team
  • \n
  • \n

Although he remains without a team for 2017, he hopes to deliver good content on Twitch to entertain his audience and hopefully return to the professional gaming scene very soon. 


Video game streaming continues to grow and this scenario offers to players a powerful tool to learn from those who wish to pass their knowledge forward. 


Even if you are not looking for a serious time and just want to enjoy some frantic action, there is a streamer for you on Twitch.


Subscribers: 753,468


Watch on Twitch


Another streamer that has been playing since the halcyon days of the Counter Strike franchise, Shroud is only 22 years old, but he has 10 years of gaming experience under his belt. From playing CS 1.6 and Source competitively before the release of Global Offensive, Shroud has some of the best chops when it comes this beloved shooter.  




Subscribers: 174,455


Watch on Twitch


Another streamer devoted to helping novice players improve their game, andreN_tv constantly shares information about Counter Strike: Global Offensive with his audience and has a YouTube channel with tips and tutorials.


If you want to polish your skills in this game, the content this man has to offer is something you must check out. 


Subscribers: 221,985


Watch on Twitch


This is one of the most educational streams you can watch if your goal is to improve your gaming craft in Counter Strike: Global Offensive.


As he plays, Adam Friberg always comments on his most important actions and strategies, ensuring a good learning experience for the new players in his audience. And who knows, old players may even learn something, too! 


Subscribers: 326,598


Watch on Twitch


Steel_TV's professional gaming career started in the days of Counter Strike: Source; therefore, he holds extensive knowledge of the franchise, its mechanics and how to excel in the game. 


If you are a player who has recently started playing CS:GO, Steel_TV will provide you the information you need to learn every detail of the game. 


Subscribers: 218,676


Watch on Twitch 


He may not be the most skilled CS:GO player, but he is one of the funniest.


Embark on a tale of a former professional player and his cat as they attempt to win match after match after match.


As you watch, he does not only provide you with entertainment, he might as well give you some goods.


He does giveaways to his subscribers, so you may be one of the lucky viewers to receive something in exchange of watching him.


Subscribers: 782.501


Watch on Twitch


pashaBiceps plays for Virtuous.Pro, one of the most successful teams in the world, and he often streams his practice sessions for players to analyze before their own matches.


You can check his streams and learn from a master and also have a good laugh, as he also keeps his sense of humor and throws jokes while shooting his way through foes. 


Subscribers: 403,514


Watch on Twitch


From the balance between competition and fun of the last streamer, we now go to ScreaM, the man whose focus can deliver headshots as if he had aimbot turned on. 


The hands you see in the image above are weapons, not because he will attempt to punch you, but due to the quick reflexes they deliver. 


He does not speak much while streaming, but his kills and skills speak for themselves. 


Subscribers: 165,346


Watch on Twitch


Counter Strike: Global Offensive can be a pretty nerve-wrecking game, but that does not mean that you cannot have fun as you play. Some streamers find a way to add some humor to the match and fl0m is a perfect example.


Delivering good performance on the battlefield and a charismatic personality, this is a streamer you should check for a good time. 


Video games have become an important player in today’s pop culture, as millions of people are not only playing video games, but also watching them online.


Gamers rely on streamers when they want to improve their gaming skills or when they simply wish to have fun and laugh along with a charismatic streamer going crazy after landing the round-winning 360° no-scope headshot. Whew! That's just awesome.  


Anyway, one of the most popular games in online streaming is Counter Strike: Global Offense, which consistently occupies the top three rank of Twitch. If you are a fan of CS: GO and are looking for streamers to follow to either up your game or catch some killer action, then we have picked nine streamers that you must subscribe to on Twitch -- right now.


Grab your popcorn and let the round commence.   

Cloud9 Hits the Jackpot - Raises $2.8 Million From Unknown Investor Fri, 25 Nov 2016 05:38:50 -0500 KonradGamez

Can you imagine waking up one day and finding yourself $2.8M wealthier?

That's the reality for the Cloud9 Esports, Inc. organization after receiving this sum from an unknown investor, according to this U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the Esports organization.

C9 was created in 2012 after CEO Jack Etienne bought the League of Legends team from Quantic Gaming for $10,000 USD. Since then, C9 has grown its brand and expanded into other competitive titles such as CS:GO, Hearthstone, Overwatch and Smite.

With all the recent investments being made into the Esports scene, mainly by NBA franchises and associates, it was only a matter of time for Cloud9 -- a prominent name in Esports -- to receive some interest.

Cloud9 has won its fair share of splits in the NA LCS. While they have proven their status in North America, they have yet to show any promise on the LoL international stage.

We will have to wait and see how these newly acquired resources will be put to use.

Gift Guide for the eSports Lover in Your Life Mon, 28 Nov 2016 06:00:01 -0500 Lampstradamus


Buying for others may always be difficult but a gift is a gift.


Whether you buy the cheapest gift or the priciest gift, as long as you put in some effort and buy thinking of the other person, they're sure to enjoy what you get them.

Virtual Reality Headset

Price: $20-$799


Rating: 5/5


Buy it on: Amazon


A virtual reality headset can be a really expensive gift for an eSports lover, depending on what kind of headset you get. Now you may be wondering, "Why a VR headset?" Well, it's because in VR, you get an entirely different viewing experience.


VIrtual reality lets you watch Twitch streams inside of a movie theater while still sitting in your small apartment. Many people do not have large spaces or the ability to purchase large televisions, so a VR headset is a nice alternative. Plus, it's just a rad gift to have! 

Official Game-Related Merchandise

Price: $9.99-$49.99


Rating: 4/5


Buy it on: Amazon


Though fan-created and unofficial game merchandise might have a wider variety of gifts to choose from, you can't go wrong with official and professionally created merchandise.


Official game merchandise for the games that your eSports fan loves will let them show their support for the game and the eSport itself.

Fan-Created / Unofficial Merchandise

Price: $1.99 - $29.99


Rating: 4.5/5


Buy it on: Etsy


Some of the coolest merchandise for a game doesn't come from official sellers but from the fans. Many fans love the games they play and they have boundless creativity and skill to bring their love for the game to real life. 


On Etsy you can find a variety of fan-created merchandise for most games that your eSports loving fan may love. There is always something for someone, you just gotta look hard enough.

Team Apparel/Mechandise

Price: $9.99-$64.99


Rating: 4/5


Buy it on: ESL Gaming 


Like with sports fans, eSports fans also have teams that they love and follow. These fans take pride in the team that they follow and sometimes, they want to show off that pride. From T-shirts, to hoodies, to bags and posters, most teams have a great variety of items to choose from. You can buy things as cheap and simple as a keychain, or more expensive letterman jackets and headsets.


These types of gifts are more personalized and focused toward the interest of the eSports lover. As long as you know what team they root for, you can't go wrong.

Game Gift Cards for In-Game Items

Price: $4.99-$49.99


Rating: 4/5


Buy it on: Amazon


When it comes to many of the games that eSports lovers play, many of them have some form of in-game cosmetics or other in-game items to purchase. Whether it be League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone or Counterstrike, each game has something that you can buy and gift to your eSports lover.


These types of gifts are a good choice because it gives your eSports lover items in the game that they love. You can't go wrong with in-game items.


With the holidays fast approaching, the conundrum of what to buy for your friends or loved ones is always present. There are many things that you could get, but it is always best to buy something that falls into the interest of that special someone.


This guide focuses on those of us who have eSports lovers in our circle of family and friends. There might be many people out there who might know what to get for them, but there are many that might not. If you need some help, then this guide is here for you.

The Top 10 Most Prolific eSports Players in the Scene Right Now Sun, 13 Nov 2016 13:45:01 -0500 Lydia M

It's the argument older than eSports itself. Who is the best? Well, with hundreds of different games and tournaments to choose from, it's definitely hard to decide. For the most part, the decision is up to you. But combining talent and titles, it's simple to see who comes out on top. 

These 10 players have shown exceptional skill and dedication to their respective eSport over the years. Some may not have been as successful as others, but to fans, sometimes that doesn't really matter. 

Here's who we think are the Top 10 most prolific eSports players on the scene right now based on skill and popularity.

10. Armada
Super Smash Brothers: Melee
Team Alliance

Armada is regarded as one of the ‘Five Gods’ of melee, a group of five players in the modern competitive era who are the highest ranking and most skilled players in the world. There isn’t really an order to the Five Gods, as they all have the same talent to beat each other. Being a Swedish native, Armada’s U.S. tournament record from 2011-2013 is nothing short of amazing. He’s competed in the Grand Finals at every Apex he’s attended and dominated every tournament he’s been in in 2016, reaching at least the top two in 11 out of 14 tournaments.

Armada is also most known in the Smash scene for revolutionizing the playing abilities of Peach, as well as having amazing skills at maneuvering projectiles, dubbing him the title ‘The Swedish Sniper’.


9. Rich
Heroes of the Storm
MVP Black

Rich has helped lead MVP Black to an amazing record since joining their Heroes Team in January, never losing to a non-Korean team all year. Well, until they faced Fnatic at BlizzCon.

Rich has probably the strongest hero pool as a flex player but is best known for his melee assassins, especially Thrall. Being such an amazing flex player, Rich has been able to dominate just about every 1v1 he faces. He’s just scary to come up against. It’s not really possible to ‘carry’ a whole team in Heroes of the Storm, but if there was a way, Rich would be the player to do it. He also consistently holds the #1 spot on the Korean leader boards. So there's that ... 


8. Neeb
StarCraft 2

2016 has been a strong year for Neeb in StarCraft 2. Ending #1 in the WCS circuit with 5900 points, he represented America in the KeSPA Cup and narrowly became the first non-Korean to reach the semi-finals of a Korean StarCraft event since 2011. Not only that, but he won the whole event, and winning as a foreigner gained him a lot of respect from fellow StarCraft players. Along with KeSPA, he became the first American to make the WCS Global Top 16 -- although he lost in the quarterfinals at BizzCon.

Neeb is especially known for his strong PvT play online due to his intimate knowledge of the Terran race, although he now plays Protoss. With Korea dominating SC2 eSports, Neeb is loved by all as the most successful SC2 player to represent North America.


7. n0thing
Counter Strike: Global Offensive

As one of the most entertaining CS:GO players to watch, n0thing is also fairly successful on Cloud9. In the two years he's played for the American squad, he’s racked up four premier titles in 2016 alone. He’s a solid anchor for the team and one of the few players that has attended every Major so far, and one of the few American players to achieve Legend at a Major.

N0thing also earned the nickname ‘Iceman’, after he had an amazing performance at ESWC 2015, even with a high fever.


6. coldzera
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
SK Gaming

Representing Brazil on SK Gaming coldzera was named MVP at both MLG Columbus and ESL One: Cologne. With strong and diverse gun usage, instead of making amazing individual plays, he’s such a strong support player for the team and utilizes his skills to setup plays for everyone. Coldzera is also known as one of the better flash grenade users in the game. In 2016 alone he’s helped lead SK to four first place finishes and five second place finishes in premier tournaments.


5. Bengi
League of Legends
SK Telecom T1

As one of two League of Legends players to hold three World Championship titles, Bengi is certainly a powerful asset to SK Telecom T1. He isn’t necessarily known to make huge plays himself, but he’s able to keep up the momentum and set up plays for his teammates. He is highly regarded as the best Jungler in the world and was considered the MVP of the 2016 World Championship. While he only played in about half of the games for SKT at Worlds but his impact was certainly felt.


4. Suma1L
Evil Geniuses

At only 17 years old, and playing professionally for barely two years, Suma1L is one of the core players on Evil Geniuses Dota2 team. In February 2015 Evil Geniuses participated in the Dota 2 Asian Championships making it all the way to the grand finals. Those finals would establish Suma1L as one of the best mid-laners with a legendary Storm Spirit. Continuing to assist the team to victory, EG won TI5 making him the youngest player ever to surpass $1 million in eSports earnings. He attended TI6 for the second time under Evil Geniuses but only placed third. Later, In October Suma1L was featured in Time Magazine’s top 30 influential teenagers.


3. Dendi
Natus Vincere

Dendi is really THE professional when it come to Dota play. He’s stayed with Natus Vincere his entire career, since 2010. With the success of Na’Vi he’s also the only player in Dota 2 history to have participated in all six TI’s under the same organization.

Despite his success, Dendi always has a positive and goofy attitude that fans adore. He really doesn’t have any haters. Fans either love him or don’t really mind if he wins -- or loses.


2. UNiVeRsE
Evil Geniuses

Universe comes at an extremely close second on our list, as he is the highest earning eSports player of all time. As a key part of Evil Geniuses' continued success, Universe is known as the best offlaner in the world with high regards to his Dark Seer and Faceless Void. He’s been in all TI’s except the first, placing third at TI4 and winning TI5, both with the same team. Probably one of the most famous Dota plays in history was made by Universe at TI5, now dubbed the “6 Million Dollar Echo Slam.”


1. Faker
League of Legends
SK Telecom T1

Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. Faker is widely known as probably the greatest eSports player of all time. He joined SK Telecom for League of Legends when he was only 17 and has led them to three World Championship titles since. A feat he shares with one other player, his fellow teammate, Bengi. His success as a top eSports player comes from his hugely diverse champion pool, having played about 40 different champions.

Despite the mounds of popularity, Faker is extremely reserved and rarely shows any form or rage or tilt, instead letting his game play speak for itself. At 20 years old he’s the most successful League of Legends player and undoubtedly the most prolific eSports player right now.


This list could change any day, as quickly and progressively as eSports evolves. But to be the best, you have to BEAT the best and right now, these 10 players are certainly the best at what they do.

Agree with our list? Disagree? Who should be added? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Aren't Game Studios and Companies Sponsoring More Esports Teams? Thu, 03 Nov 2016 06:00:01 -0400 Aaron Grincewicz

To the casual gamer/fan, eSports can seem like nothing more than playing games for money. That may have been the case a few years ago, with limited league play available. Now, eSports and competitive gaming have grown to rival some professional sports.

With growth often comes complexity. The world of eSports is beginning to emulate pro sports leagues in many ways. The most important similarity could be the way eSports teams and players are sponsored, and exactly who is sponsoring them. To understand the situation a bit better, I'm going to dive into a few sports management topics.

The League/Franchise Model also applies to eSports

Let's use the NFL as an example; all 32 teams are franchises. The owners are the franchisees. In short, each team is like its own business, and as long as they meet certain guidelines they can participate in the National Football League. The same thing applies to other companies like McDonald’s; Not every restaurant is owned directly by McDonald’s. A lot of them are owned by entrepreneurs called franchisees. The NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL follow this business model (Major League Soccer follows a different structure with many similarities). Now, the pro sports league conversation has grown to include eSports.

Completely Different Structure 

The current landscape of eSports is chaotic at first glance. There are several leagues around the world, some focusing on one game franchise, others on several games.  Along with those leagues, there are dozens upon dozens of eSports organizations.  Some groups stick with one league, like Major League Gaming, while others participate in several leagues simultaneously. This is mostly because the concept of a franchise differs significantly compared to a typical sports team.  One eSports franchise can have several teams with each focused on one game.

Let’s say my organization, ASG Gaming has a Team CoD, Team LoL, and Team GoW.  Team CoD just finished a season in MLG, and now wants to start a season in another league. Once qualified, nothing is stopping them from doing so.  While Team GoW has never competed in the MLG. This is because eSports does not have one ‘Super Bowl', or a mutual agreement between leagues to determine a world champion.  Major League Baseball technically has two separate leagues, each with some minor rules differences (National and American), who have reached an agreement to have their best teams play in a World Series. Right now there is an open competition between leagues to see who will become the NBA of eSports. 

Neutrality: The Golden Rule 

The relatively unorganized system for eSports has managed to keep one major similarity to pro sports, and that’s the independently owned teams. The reason that leagues like the NFL don't own teams is that it creates a conflict of interest. They might occasionally take financial control of a team if it’s current owners violate league terms (default on loans, severe capital loss) but they often sell it to a new owner as quickly as possible. This has happened in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets were eventually sold and rebranded as the Pelicans. Was the NBA to maintain control of the team, how would it look if the team started winning a lot of games, or getting referee calls in their favor? Rather than even think about the problems and scandals that could cause, it’s in the league's’ best interest to remain neutral.

The rule of neutrality applies to eSports teams, too. Activision Blizzard might own Major League Gaming, but it’s really nothing more than that. MLG allows players to compete in games from some of Activision’s publisher rivals like EA, Microsoft, and Take-Two. Now, that’s a smart business move on their part. MLG has a credit system where you pay real money to access tournaments for various games, no matter the publisher. This will most likely continue until publishers decide to institute a contract system. EA could easily limit it’s eSports participation to its own league, with a set number of teams that have agreed to a league franchise contract. Should that happen, and be successful for EA, others will follow. Some publishers could allow their games to be played in multiple leagues with the stipulation being they send their best teams to a mutual championship match at the end of the season.

Should a league organization or publisher take sides with one, or several teams by funding them, the notion that they're being favored comes into play. There is a similar comparison in pro sports leagues with a salary cap. Basically, salary caps exist so one team cannot be unfairly stacked with the best players. With no system of checks and balances in place for eSports, one league could lure every notable team to it’s stable by supplying them with gear and paying them. As it stands, the prize pools are what attract the best teams.

Maintaining Integrity

If eSports is to continue its success, the leagues and publishers must preserve their credibility by remaining a neutral authority.  Offering the same prizes and opportunities to all qualifying teams without directly sponsoring them will reinforce this integrity. Not only is this beneficial to the leagues and companies directly involved in making the games, but also the businesses that sponsor teams. 

A company like Microsoft could easily fund a team and be the only sponsor on all their gear (like the Seattle Sounders). Without direct sponsorship, other companies are given the opportunity to display their logos on team jerseys, and just about anything associated with the team. As any business owner will tell you, that can be the difference between success and failure. It’s because of this that I realized just how many companies are creating products aimed at gamers. All those brands would have a much harder time fighting through obscurity were the big companies taking up space.

Maybe someday soon there will be courses and degree programs offered in eSports Management. Until that day arrives, I can only hope that everyone involved in eSports takes a page from those textbooks to make it at least as successful an entity as the NFL or NBA. The responsibility also falls to the teams and the owners of those teams. As enticing as it sounds, if a developer or publisher tries to sponsor one team over many, it’s in the best interest of the team to decline. Many, many companies will jump at the chance to put their logo next to your teams.

Do you agree that the game companies should remain a neutral authority? Would you major in eSports Management if it were offered? Does the idea of an ‘NFL of eSports’ appeal to you? Let us know in the comments below.

5 Badass Women in the Game Industry You Didn't Know Existed Sat, 29 Oct 2016 10:45:09 -0400 Aaron Grincewicz

We often take it for granted when we see a woman talking about an upcoming game at an event like E3, or hosting a game-related show.  In a lot of cases, you'd be right to assume that the companies send models or spokeswomen to events, and shows because they look good.  That said, there are many, many women in the games industry that the men can't hold a candle.  It's because of the male-dominated industry that they had to forge themselves into the badasses listed here. 

These women aren't listed in any particular order since they all deserve a number one spot on various lists.  So I'll start with...

Tanya Short

Why she is a badass:

Tanya co-founded Pixelles (along with Rebecca Cohen Palacios), a non-profit organization based in Montreal dedicated to empowering women to make and change games. Pixelles organizes free monthly workshops, a mentorship program for aspiring women-in-games, game jams, socials and more. 

If that's not enough, she also holds a Master's Degree in Interactive Media, with a focus on level design.  In addition to Pixelles, Tanya Co-founded Kitfox Games where she is their Creative Director.

Jade Raymond

Why she is a badass:

Jade is a former programmer, and currently a video game producer.  She founded EA's Motive Studio, and Ubisoft Toronto. Her resume includes; the G4 show The Electric Playground (miss that show), leading the creation of the first Assassin's Creed, executive producer of Assassin's Creed II and Watch Dogs, as well as a BAFTA Games Award for Technical Achievement (2009).

Lillian Chen

Why she is a badass:

Lilian is a former competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee player.  After competing, she co-founded The New Meta, a panel about gender issues women face within competitive gaming spaces.  She is also a designer, works for YouTube Gaming, has a blog:, and has been a featured TED speaker.


Alisa Simola aka Nulisa

Why she is a badass:

Alisa is the first woman to make the main roster of a Smite Pro League team. With so few women currently in eSports, that is no minor accomplishment. She is currently on Team eLevate.

Stephanie Harvey aka MissHarvey

Why she is a badass: 

Stephanie Harvey founded CLG Red, an all-female Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, which is a part of Counter Logic Gaming. She and her team rank among the top CS: GO players in the world. Stephanie also participates in panels to help grow the participation of women in eSports.

These women have already made an impact on several areas of the game industry like eSports, creation, design, gender equality, and more.  When someone says, "girls don't play games," or anything equally ignorant, now you can list at least five more names to educate the uninformed.

PowerUP: Reflex Training Only Works When You Do This One Thing Tue, 27 Sep 2016 05:10:56 -0400 Seth Zulinski

Welcome back to PowerUP: your source for every tip, trick, news piece, edge, and expert I can find to give you a spotter in your grind to the top. It can be a rough world out there in the new competitive gaming scene. Professional eSports is an untamed frontier, full of the best gameslingers in the business pushing through one showdown after another in an attempt to see who's quick -- and who's dead. 

While other games may be a matter of inches, eSports are more a matter of milliseconds -- while .24 seconds and .14 seconds are nearly indistinguishable to most people, each and every edge counts in the quickdraws, skillshots and noscopes of the gaming elite. A fraction of a second, imperceptible even to most of the viewers watching at home, can be the difference between a runaway victory and crushing defeat. 

Watching the professional scenes, it's easy to believe the big guns on stage are just in some other category than human. They always shoot first, always hit the weak spots, and they never seem to miss. How can an average human compete with that? 

Luckily, a lot of gamers all over the world have done some research on how to clear your holster a little faster. Come with me, and we'll get a clear line of sight on what works, what doesn't, and how you can start firing before your enemies are done saying "draw". 

Reflex training

If you need to be as swift as the wind in your gaming grind (tip: you do), one of the first things that ever comes up in research is reflex training. Usually they stumble across, a "training for gamers" website filled to the brim with a ton of programs designed to focus your mind on speed and accuracy -- two of the most important things in nearly any competitive gaming field. 

And, to be fair, they have a lot of positive testimonials - you'll often see people claiming increases of milliseconds, and sharp improvement in their ability to pop the little colored balloons quickly, and without missing. There's even a set of leaderboards of sorts for those who've registered accounts at the site, letting you stack your reflex training score up against the rest of the userbase. On the first few glances, it seems like exactly the kind of training that can help you click just a little quicker. 

There's just one problem -- it's not terribly effective at actually helping your game. See, aim programs all suffer from the insurmountable flaw of "not actually being the game you're playing". The physics are different, the speeds and timing are different, and while you can certainly improve at the actual game sets they offer, there's little to no guarantee that much of the skill you're gaining there is going to transfer. 

The brain itself is really, really good at adapting to circumstances. It's also not nearly as good at transferring this practice without...well, more practice. So when you log onto a reflex training or aim training sight and manage to grab some high scores popping blue balloons with virtual aim training program bullets, that's what you're practicing - not aim and reflexes, but aim and reflexes when it comes to shooting the blue balloons with the physics of the program. 

When you switch to, let's say Overwatch, not a lot carries over. Hanzo arrows have entirely different physics than the ammunition of aim400kg, and even the more forgiving shots of characters like Tracer (or either side of CS:GO) that calculate hits based almost exclusively on cursor position (rather than keeping track of an actual missile) when firing aren't quite the same. Junkrat isn't exactly a blue balloon, either -- and while your brain might have certainly gotten used to firing at those on sight, it's going to lose those precious gained milliseconds adjusting to a small man with supersaiyan hair throwing grenades and tires everywhere. 

Okay, so what know..."power ups"

When it comes to, "chemical enhancements" (ranging from caffeine to the controversial use of amphetamines like Adderall) we're not faring much better. First off, and I cannot stress this enough --

Under no circumstances should you use prescription grade medicine without necessity, and without the support of a licensed physician. Even if, in some strange world, Adderall did actually help your game on the overall instead of just shuffling pros and cons around, one should not use prescription grade drugs or chemicals in any manner other than the way they were prescribed. 

Luckily, stimulants are a double edged sword that winds up cutting ourselves deeper than our opponent, making an informed decision on this one easier than it was already. Stimulants may help boost reaction time (making your system run faster is what stimulants do, after all), but with it comes corresponding losses in other areas. Sure, your hand will move to the target a tad bit quicker -- but it will probably keep moving as you overcorrect, thanks to stimulants generally bringing anxiety, nervousness, and overstimulation along for the ride.

In easier terms: sure, you're faster - but you're also going to be shaky, especially if you're unused to stimulants and their effects. Whether it's coffee, prescription amphetamines, or an energy drink, it doesn't matter. Relying on stimulants is bad for your aim, bad for your game, and ultimately a lot of time, money, and health down the drain for very little in return. 

Case in point -- let's look at a real life experience with an FPS player that was on a hardcore stimulant playing a card game. He picked up a card, exactly the size and weight that he's handled countless times before, tried to toss it in a different game zone a few inches away -- and threw it across the room. 

Now apply that difference in movement and control to nearly any game. Is that the kind of precision that will win your competitive shootouts and showdowns? Is that level of control what will land headshots? Is that a good picture of a functioning nervous system for eSports competitors?

Not even close. 

So how do we power up our SPD stat?

The answer (both fortunately and not) is pretty simple, but time consuming -- practice the actual game you're playing. If that seems like an obvious answer to you,'s because it is. It's also the best possible answer around to excelling in your given title. 

As we went over above, your brain is very, very good at adapting to things as long as you focus on what's going on - games included. So if you want to improve your AWP shots, or shoot like your ult's always up with Soldier 76, the best solution is to listen to Shia LeBeouf and just do it. A lot. You will get faster, more accurate, and better at a given thing as long as you practice mindfully (which we went over here), and keep focused on improvement. 

As the best example around -- consider TSM's roster in League of Legends circa 2015. This is one of the best known teams in the world, and easily among the best of the best in the western hemisphere. Sporting huge contracts, incredible tournament payouts on the line, and supported by one of the most serious gaming houses in one of the largest eSports arenas, TSM and its players have access to nearly every cutting edge piece of research and training around. As some of the best in the business, they'd take any advantage they could any time they could -- their competition certainly was, after all. You know how much "reflex training" they did? How many "chemical supersoldier serums" they downed? 

None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Bazooper. 

You know what they did do in order to keep up with the skillsets, reflexes, and abilities of their competition? 

They played League of Legends. A lot. Upwards of 50 hours a week as a team, and even more by themselves or in Duo queues. They didn't use third party training. They didn't practice on aim training or reflex booster third party software. They played League of Legends -- because the physics, aim, timing...the everything...involved revolves around the way that specific game works. You wouldn't practice Overwatch to make you click faster in Dota 2, and you wouldn't run through a few games of SMITE in order to draw and fire faster in CS:GO

So why are we shooting little blue balloons, or clicking A or D when flashing lights and sounds pop, to get better at our incredibly complex video games? 

So get out there and stop splitting your focus -- we'll all need it in the games to come. Don't practice a thousand reflexes in a thousand games one time -- practice the right reflexes in the game you're playing a thousand times. Practice it over and over, and leave popping funny colored balloons with a mouse arrow to the competition.

Do that, and when it comes down to it -- when the tumble weeds are blowing past, the clock strikes noon, and the enemy makes their play...well. There's the quick, and there's the dead. 

We'll be plenty quick. 

PUGs and Ladders: Why the competitive grind is killing your game Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:03:29 -0400 Seth Zulinski

If you've played any games competitively (or even noncompetitively), you've probably heard one phrase a lot since you started. You've heard it whenever you started learning an instrument, lifting weights, trying sports, learning a new skill, or generally doing a thing or being around anyone who does. It's almost impossible to avoid having heard it at least once in your life. 

"Practice makes perfect". 

And, for a large part - that's true. Sure, sometimes you're just sort of naturally gifted at something. Sometimes you're a prodigy, and have a massive head start right out of the gates. In order to get better, though, you still have to practice. In order to improve, you train. Every person, every place, every time. In fact, a large part of PowerUP, my series right here on GameSkinny is almost entirely dedicated to helping you practice new and good habits for your climb to the top of the ranked ladder in whichever game you decide to dominate. 

That's the key though, isn't it? It's not practice itself that makes you better, it's practicing good habits and skills. Practicing bad habits is going to make you worse at whatever it is you're doing (or make you better at being bad, however you want to look at it) - and habits don't get much worse than grinding the Ranked/Competitive Ladder. 

I know, I know. The Ranked climb is how you know you're getting better, right? Learn things, practice, skill up, ranked up, shiny new metal for your Rank. The Ranked climb is your single ticket to the top. 

Except it isn't - it's usually a one way trip to the bottom, and here's why: 

They're usually team games - without a team

The end goal of practice is to be better at any given thing - and it's hard to find a more solid image of "better" at a pursuit than the professional scene. For many players, the end goal of practice is the professional scene. So when talking about the merits (or lack thereof) of the Ranked grind, it serves us well to compare it to the professional gaming scene equivalent. 

Take one of the major stars of the eSports world currently - MOBAs. Ranked ladders across most Battle Arenas are solo, duo, or sometimes triple queue - meaning you often can only queue competitively with one, two, or three people in your party. The rest are "pick ups" or "Pugs" (technically PUGs are pick up games, but the term has broadened to the randomly assigned players you find in said games as well). Half of any given game of 5v5 is just praying to whatever will listen, "Please, please let them have any idea what they're doing". 

Often, they do not. Just as often, they do - but even if they do, what they're doing might be on a totally different wavelength than what you're doing. Their skillsets, plans, and style of play are not only totally able to be completely out of sync with yours, but possibly out of sync with the game as a whole.

You know what many successfully professional teams don't have to do every game in their matches on the tournament stage? Deal with any of that. Adapting to the enemy, sure - but not your own team. At least, not after the first few games played together, after which the team will (usually) have gelled. Certainly not every game. 

Is learning how to work together on the fly a valuable skillset to have? Sure, in Ranked matches. Is it an applicable skill to the top tier of competitive play? Not in the slightest. It's like being able to deal with trolls in competitive games - useful skill, but one totally alien to the professional scene. 

The single most obvious and heavily practiced aspect of any current MOBA - quick team building - is nearly never utilized in the professional scene. It doesn't matter how good your Thor is, or if your Mid game might as well be Faker's, because we're given a few minutes to succeed at what professional teams allow themselves weeks or months to achieve. Every. Game.

We are spending hours, and entire games suffering through the learning process and consequences of a skillset that, if we're successful in our dreams of professional play, we will not use. You don't practice drums to get better at guitar - and you shouldn't practice with PUGs for competitive team games. 

Evidently, the professional scene at least somewhat agrees - which is why the professional/semi-pro "in house" community tends to be alive and well across most major competitive games, and team vs. team "scrims" are common to keep skills sharp.

Even single player titles are rarely the same game

This veers dangerously close to "meta" territory, but as team-based competitive ladders force prospective professionals into strange situations not found in the upper tiers, so too do many single player titles. The broken, dangerous "bait and switch" of Hearthstone's competitive ladder vs its professional tournament scene is a prime example of specifically this. 

In the simplest possible terms - Hearthstone's Ranked ladder, the cornerstone of competitive Hearthstone play worldwide and the main avenue of entry into premiere Blizzard tournaments, is not the same game as said tournaments. The "Conquest" style of play, wherein multiple decks are selected for each player, who then bans one of the opponent's decks before shuffling up until one player wins with all of their selections, is not found anywhere in the actual Ranked ladder. It is not available. Players cannot practice Conquest, the default mode of premiere Hearthstone tournaments, at all in their grind to Legend. 

As the ladder itself is best of one (and mostly grinding odds), certain decks are massively over-represented when compared to their tournament appearance - because they suit the ladder, the much different game of the ladder, far better than their Conquest counterparts. 

So, as possible Hearthstone professionals, we have to ask ourselves as we work towards that Rank 1 Legend - what exactly are we practicing? The answer, after you've achieved relative competence at basic game mechanics (which doesn't take long if you're actively attempting to learn), is "not much that's relevant". 

So what's the winning play?

The winning play in games with broken ladder systems (read: nearly all current offerings) is the same as any broken contest - don't play. Now, I don't mean don't play the game, mind you. If your goal is to become a top tier professional team or player in League of LegendsSMITE, CS:GO, Duelyst....anything, really, then by all means practice that game. Practice it until your hands go numb and eyes bleed from the glare of your computer monitor (note: please do not actually play until body parts go numb or bleed). Practice it so much you can play it blindfolded and drunk. 

Mostly importantly, make sure what you're studying is what's actually going to be on the test. If you're practicing in a 5v5 MOBA, get a team of 5 together and play against other teams as often as possible. Work on eliminating as much of the "out of game" elements as possible, letting you (and your teammates) focus on improving your mechanics and teamwork much more effectively. 

If you're playing a single player game, make sure that your practice experience matches that of the tournaments you'll be attending. If you're going to try to grind Conquest tournaments of Hearthstone, make sure to actually practice Conquest

In general, improving your odds at tournament performance and success can be achieved by following these three rules - 

1. If at all possible, practice with those who are better (preferably much better) than you are as often as you can. 

2. Recreate tournament conditions of play as accurate as possible. 

3. Isolate variables that need improvement as much as possible - practicing six things at once is going to leave your mental gains lacking compared to only practicing a thing or two consistently until you have it down. 

Now, ask yourself - 

Does your competitive ladder follow these rules? Does MMR calibrated to find players of around your skill level meet rule one? Do the constant format changes and PUG games meet rule two? Does the mad mess of ranked trolls, "testing" players, bought accounts, and complete lack of communication and teamwork meet rule three?

I'm willing to wager not. 

There's no bright light at the top of the Ranked climb - just an endless abyss of wasted time and salt at the bottom. We're going to need to practice smarter, not harder. We're going to have to think laterally if we want to bring our game to new heights. 

We're going to have to get off the ladder, and go play games that matter. 


Renegades CS:GO team get an extra life from a NBA player Wed, 31 Aug 2016 12:46:09 -0400 Jeffrey Rousseau

Recently, the Renegades, a Counter-Strike Global Offensive team, found themselves under new ownership via NBA Player Jonas Jerebko. The Renegades were previously owned by Christopher "Montecristo" Mykles. Jerebko reports that his acquisition of the team was an opportunity he couldn't refuse.

After purchasing the Australian team, they were moved to a training center in Michigan. Around this time, he has also created a Call of Duty team formerly known as Ground Zero. The team will play under the Renegade name and compete in the Call of Duty World League Championship in September.

The team was purchased for an undisclosed amount when negotiations for contract renewals failed with Mykles. The 29-year-old NBA forward's purchase of the team's rights includes their in position in WME | IMG's ELeague and in ESL. Jerebko originally had planned to become active with eSports in 2017.

Jerebko also intends to bring credibility to the sport and recognize the player's rights.

"The Call of Duty players we were negotiating with were under contract last year and weren't getting paid for three to five months," Jerebko said. "That's not going to happen with me. You get a paycheck on time.

The long-term plan will be to expand the Renegades to include teams for League of Legends, Halo, and Overwatch.

Fans of eSports can look forward to the renewed Renegades' performance going forward.

Valve Attempts to Stop Cheaters in VAC-Protected Games Thu, 04 Aug 2016 20:34:46 -0400 H3nleY

Valve is finally putting their foot in the door when it comes to cheaters. They have disabled the ability to store VAC and Game Ban enabled games in your inventory for trading purposes. Also, if you gift a game to someone and that person gets permanently banned, you will never be able to gift that game ever again.

Why Would They do Such a Thing?!

The reason provided by Valve is:

"When a user is caught cheating, their Steam account is banned from playing multi-player on secured servers. This creates an incentive for people who cheat to stockpile copies of games on one account and to gift them to low value accounts where they can continue cheating."

They also state that while the restrictions "may be inconvenient for some legitimate users", they believe that they will hinder the number of cheaters in their games. You can find the full statement on Valve's website here.


DreamHack Summer 2016: Tournament Results & Remaining Schedule Mon, 20 Jun 2016 09:21:05 -0400 Jeffrey Rousseau

As we speak, DreamHack Summer 2016 is taking place in Jönköping, Sweden. The event is a 24/7 festival that has both a Summer and Winter event. Since its establishment in 1994, DreamHack has celebrated all things nerd with LAN parties, cosplay, music, internet and gaming culture.

DreamHack is also host to many eSports tournaments. Some teams, like Panthera in SMITE and District 69 in Paladins, have already walked away with a shining Grand Champion title. But for others, the competition is still ongoing. Here are the standings for some of the games and teams in attendance.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 

Group A Winners: Team Immortals

Group B Winners: Team Nip

Monday, June 20th Schedule
(All times are CEST)
  • 10:30 - Show start
  • 11:00 - Semi Final #1 - GODSENT vs Immortals - BO3
  • 14:30 - Semi Final #2 - Astralis vs NiP - BO3
  • 19:00 - Grand Final - BO3



The grand finals for Paladins just wrapped up a few hours ago. After SoaR Gaming and District 69 faced off in an action-packed match, District 69 walked away with the Grand Champion title.


Reigning world champions Panthera took the Grand Finals stage with NA team SoaR in a best-of-five match. But after three straight wins, Panthera took the Grand Champion title and the prize money.


Heroes of the Storm

Semi Finals #1: MVPBlack vs MYINSANITY


Today's schedule
  • 12:15 - Preshow 
  • 12:30 - Semi Finals 1 - BO5
  • 14:30 - Semi Finals 2 - BO5 
  • 16:30 - Grand Finals - BO5
Street Fighter V 
  • First Place: BX3|Phenom (Necalli, M. Bison)
  • Second Place: RZR|Fuudo (R. Mika)
Super Smash Bros. Melee  
  • First Place:  TSM|Leffen (Fox)
  • Second Place: mYi|Ice (Fox)
Mortal Kombat XL
  • First Place: PxP|A Foxy Grampa (Mileena - Piercing)
  • Second Place: PLG|Tekken_Master (D'Vorah - Swarm Queen, Kotal Kahn - Sun God)
Pokken Tournament 
  • First Place: AngelDarksong (Blaziken)
  • Second Place: Justinpig (Gardevoir)

The eSports tournaments are still ongoing -- and if you're fan of the featured games, there's certainly much to be excited about.

"Click! Click!" CS:GO Gamers Not Happy With the Latest Audio Update Sat, 18 Jun 2016 04:29:27 -0400 SubMattomic

A new update has been released for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It is the first of many planned updates that CS:GO players can expect in the near future, and is already making waves in the Counter-Strike community. While there were some small tweaks made to the Negev, M249, Mag7, and the smoke grenade sound effects; there was one newly added sound in particular that many players are angry about. A 'clicking' sound can now be heard when your magazine is almost empty:


Players are concerned that with this new 'low ammo' sound, it is no longer necessary for you to keep track of how many bullets have been expended by your opponent. All that your opponent would need to do now, is listen for the clicking and know exactly when to pop out. This, essentially 'lowers the skill required' to beat the opposing team. 

Although there have been complaints from some players, others are saying that it has minimal impact and won't sway the game that much. Some argue that most players are not counting bullets anyway. Aside from that, you would have to be relatively close to your enemy to even be able to hear it.

Regardless of whose argument may be correct, the reaction to this change was much more than Valve anticipated. This may bring about a change in how quickly updates will be introduced in the future. Valve has yet to comment on the complaints, and the widely debated sound effect is still in place. 

The 5 Most Impressive Ways To Beat A Video Game Thu, 16 Jun 2016 16:53:23 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs


Without Pressing The A Button


For those of you who might not be aware, the A button is pretty important in most games. It's especially important in Mario games, because, well, it's the jump button and Mario is the jump man


That didn't stop Pannenkoek2012 from putting together a variety of runs on his YouTube channel where, through glitches, creativity, and pure player skill, he beats Mario 64 levels without pressing the A button. The great thing about his runs is that he explains what he is doing at every turn, allowing any gamer who might want to try a similar run to follow along.


Have you ever tried to beat a video game in a weird or unusual way? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!


With Voice Commands


We've told you about YouTuber Slimecicle before, and now seems to be a great time to bring him up again. He is well-known for a series of videos where he frantically (and hilariously) attempts to play video games using voice recognition software. 


While he never truly "beats" any of these games (at least, not in the videos), the voice recognition software is so buggy and works so infrequently that whenever any progress is made, whenever any small victory is achieved, that single victory becomes pretty much the most impressive thing anybody has ever done in the history of video gaming-- especially in a fast-paced game like Counter-Strike


With Donkey Konga Bongos


We travel back to the realm of Dark Souls for this impressive run using the best controller ever devised by man or beast: the Donkey Konga bongo controller.


The really interesting thing about using the bongo controller to beat a modern game is that it necessarily means you have to cut down your movement or attack options. You can see in the video-- gbbearzly really only has 6 buttons mapped to the bongos, while Dark Souls was designed for a controller that featured 13 buttons (and 2 joysticks). These kinds of runs value more prioritization and lateral thinking that one might think necessary at first blush. 


But at the end of the day, the appeal here is clear. It's always fun to watch someone beat a video game with bongos.




Rudeism's run of Dark Souls 3 might be a "blind run", but this run of Super Mario World by speedrunner PangaeaPanga is literally a blind run--as in he's blindfolded the whole time he plays. 


The impressive thing about this run isn't simply that PangaeaPanga beats the game blindfolded, but he manages to do it in under 30 minutes. It's simply astonishing to watch him speed through the game relying only on his memorization skills and the sparse audio cues the game gives him. So let this be a lesson to you: if you think you're good at a video game, try it blindfolded and be prepared to be proven wrong.


With A Dance Pad


The trend of using dance pads to beat video games that are not called Dance Dance Revolution has been around for a while, but streamer and YouTuber Rudeism has taken it to a new level by attempting to beat Dark Souls 3 with the pad alone.


Adding to the difficulty here is that Rudeism has never played Dark Souls 3 (or any Dark Souls game) before, so this is a truly blind run. He is currently streaming his adventures over on his Twitch page, and he has already somehow taken down 3 bosses since he began in late May. It's been a trying process for Rudeism, having died over 30 times trying to take down the first boss, but at least he's getting his cardio in!


Sometimes just beating a game doesn't cut it. And sometimes just beating a game faster than anybody else doesn't cut it either. Sometimes, gamers make their own rules and impose challenges on themselves in order to fully prove their skill. 


Popularized recently with players challenging the Dark Souls series of games with a wide variety of self-imposed rules and restrictions, the trend of gamers playing (and beating) video games in ways that the creators never imagined possible has hit the mainstream. So the least we can do is pay tribute to the creative, hard-working, and insanely skilled gamers who have beaten games in insanely difficult ways. 

Rick Fox Set to Produce Non-Scripted eSports Series Mon, 06 Jun 2016 08:28:28 -0400 Ian Ilano

The eSports scene just can't get enough of the Fox himself. Despite having multiple successful teams under his organization, Rick Fox has decided to continue popularizing the growing online gaming community. And for his next move, he plans to produce a new non-scripted eSports series.

The series will take a look at various athletes and stars in the eSports community, and he hopes that it will introduce mass audiences to the world of competitive gaming. The former NBA champion has teamed up with Propagate and INE Entertainment to develop and produce the non-scripted series.

Echo Fox

Pictured above are some members of the League of Legends Echo Fox team.

Rick Fox has been a talking sensation for being one of the more mainstream individuals to dip their feet into the pool of eSports talent. Since discussing how gaming reconnected him with his son, Fox has started high ranking teams across a multitude of games — with his League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams being the most successful.

It seems like his master plan behind growing the Echo Fox roster is finally coming to fruition. With numerous high-profile eSports athletes like Yuri "Keith" Jew, and the recently acquired Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman, all a part of the Echo Fox organization, the series is dead-set on becoming a hit to fans and eSports enthusiasts alike.

More news about the show's development should come in the next few months. 

Is Overwatch actually fun to watch? Sun, 29 May 2016 08:55:36 -0400 Joe DeClara

It’s only been a few days since Blizzard launched their new class-based shooter, and the world has already been set ablaze by Overwatch.

While some are singing praises for the game’s “perfect marriage of casual and hardcore FPS gameplay,” the more scrutinous are criticizing its surprisingly underwhelming “tick-rate.” However, one critic in particular is looking past the general hype and is rather focusing on the game as a potential esport.

In a discussion hosted on the ScreenWatchers Gamescast, David Kerner argues that Overwatch, while being a great game, lacks a certain focus commonly found in highly spectated esports. Making comparisons to games like Dota 2, Hearthstone, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Kerner outlines the common characteristics in these games which allow for an enjoyable experience on streaming platforms like Twitch.

A single thread ties together the top four most popular games on Twitch: legibility. A casual player, or even a non-player, of each game can generally understand what is going on at any given point...Overwatch lacks [this component], and I fail to see what spectate mode Blizzard can craft which can display all the relevant information in a cohesive manner. I have no doubt a pro scene will develop, but the inability to show viewers events that are happening across wide open maps between constantly respawning heroes seems insurmountable.

Apparently, these obstacles have not slowed down the rapid rise of Overwatch’s competitive scene. Yesterday, Esports Arena announced a new Overwatch tournament called Agents Rising, where all the top competitive teams in the world (including Cloud9) will be facing off for a $10,000 prize pool. The tournament is running all weekend long, and you can check out the live stream here.