Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm Articles RSS Feed | Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Starcraft II's latest allied commander is... locked behind a paywall Wed, 18 May 2016 08:33:48 -0400 David Fisher

Hello everyone! RR-sama here with some big Starcraft II news! 

Patch 3.3.0 for Starcraft II has finally been released, and with it came balance changes, bug fixes, and a new UI screen. Most important for casual Starcraft fans, however, is the addition of Abathur to the list of Allied Commanders in Co-Op mode. Here's everything you need to know about the mad alien (scientist?) before setting out onto the battlefield!

At least, this would have been what I started with if Abathur wasn't locked behind a $4.99 USD paywall...

$4.99 for next to no content? Madness!

That's right. Players who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the creepy crawly commander will have to dish out $4.99 USD to unlock Abathur in Starcraft II's Co-Op mode. While many players who trawl the blog posts to the very end will already know about this, people who skimmed through the Abathur blog post probably weren't expecting this.

While a $4.99 USD (about $7 CAD) paywall doesn't seem that bad, the price far exceeds the amount of content players would receive. For comparison, $4.99 is what some might expect to pay for a full indie game on Steam, or even the Dying Light Ultimate Survival Bundle that includes just about every DLC Pack for the game so far.

Meanwhile Diablo III - another Blizzard title - doesn't charge for content updates at all. To date several areas, seasonal content updates, and more have been released for free. Meanwhile, an in-game comparison for Starcraft II can be found in "Nova Covert Ops Mission Bundle". This short campaign which equals about one-third of a campaign's typical amount of content costs $14.99 while individual "Mission Packs" are $7.49 each. 

While this might seem like a bit much, the Nova Covert Ops mission packs provide interesting single player campaigns that feature new gameplay mechanics, full voice acting, animated cutscenes, and more. To make matters worse, anyone who has purchased Digital Deluxe versions of the Starcraft II expansions or the Nova Covert Ops Bundle won't be getting a discount on Abathur.

Considering the fact that Abathur is just one commander, and the price does not cover anything beyond this, it hardly seems fair. This is especially true when considering the fact that Karax - another commander - was released for free to owners of Legacy of the Void.

Karax was released for free as an update for LotV players. Couldn't Abathur have been released as a Heart of the Swarm bonus?

In retrospect, it should be expected of Blizzard Entertainment at this point. Heroes of the Storm sells its heroes for about the same price, if not more. However, one would think that Blizzard would take the hint based on search trends for the game that this might not be a wise route to take for Starcraft II.

"So what do you think about all this, RR-sama?"

While Blizzard has been making tracks with their upcoming release, Overwatch, it's clear they still don't know how to monetize their other IPs properly.

Based on my own assumptions of how their money is handled, I'd assume that World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm were supposed to be their main income earners. Meanwhile, Starcraft II and Diablo III were supposed to ride the cash flow of these games to create with free updates for otherwise one-time-purchase games.

The reason why Starcraft II is getting microtransactions now might be in part due to the declining player counts for World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm. Considering the fact that neither game has had a recent unique player count publicly released, I'd assume that the player bases have been abysmal compared to the years long since gone. After all, World of Warcraft hasn't seen a strong player base since Wrath of the Lich King.

(Image courtesy of MMO-Champion)

As clearly seen in the image above, subscriptions for World of Warcraft have been on a constant decline ever since Wrath of the Lich King. The short spikes that have happened since then have all been for new changes to the monetization system such as WoW Tokens or going Free to Play. I think we can safely say that if going Free to Play isn't saving your MMO, you're probably doing something wrong.

The decline in players in World of Warcraft has been the result of many things ranging from player disinterest, to a wider MMO market. However, the forefront of the issues is none other than the major gameplay changes that happened around the time the Cataclysm expansion pack was released.

It was the changes that this pack made in particular that spawned legacy private servers such as the recently shut down Nostalrius server. It really goes to show that Blizzard - or at least certain teams at Blizzard - don't understand their fan base. This in turn lead to a shortage of incoming funds, and likely the increase of microtransactions across their games in general.

This, of course, is all assuming that my theory on their money handling is correct.

Final thoughts...

In the end, one angry rant isn't going to change anything. Chances are that enough casual players who haven't really put the money into Starcraft II will buy the character regardless. In truth, I would have likely bought Abathur on day one if he was a bit cheaper - maybe around the $0.99-1.99 range. However, on a personal ethics note, I will not be paying $7 CAD (possibly more depending on credit card fees for foreign exchange) for a single hero that will take less than a day to level up to maximum.

Considering the serious lack of success their high-priced heroes have had in Heroes of the Storm, I would like to think that Blizzard will eventually realize that their prices are too steep. I remember in math class that there's a certain point where consumer satisfaction and prices meet to make the most profit. I'm no economist or accountant, but I don't think Blizzard has found that point, and they don't seem to be trying to.

What do you think about microtransactions coming to Starcraft II? Do you think Abathur's price is too steep? Maybe you think I'm just a cheapskate! Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Blizzard releases preview for new Allied Commanders map "Chain of Ascension" Thu, 24 Mar 2016 08:47:27 -0400 David Fisher

Patch 3.2.0 for Starcraft II is currently in testing, but Blizzard has already gone public with its latest co-op map "Chains of Ascension." This map will be familiar for Legacy of the Void players as it uses the same map mechanics as the "Rak'Shir" mission in which Artanis had to aid Alarak in his duel with Ma'lash. Instead of Alarak, however, commanders will be aiding his second in command, Ji'nara.

"Ji’nara, First Ascendant of the Tal’darim and Alarak’s second in command, has been challenged to the rite of Rak’Shir by a splinter faction that continues to worship Amon. If their mysterious challenger emerges victorious, Amon’s minions will be poised to seize control of the death fleet from Alarak and return its might to Amon’s grasp. Provide Ji’nara with the psionic support she requires to defeat Amon’s champion and put an end to this insurrection once and for all."

- Flavor text, via Starcraft II official blog

While the premise of the map is similar, the map is not. Various changes have been made to the original iteration of the Rak'Shir duel - much like how Lock & Load was changed.

The original "Rak'Shir" map from Legacy of the Void's campaign.

The new "Chains of Ascension" map. Note the expanded map size, higher unit density, and doubled natural expansions.

The concept of "Chains of Ascension" is simple. Build up an army, and keep as many units as possible next to the two Tal'darim combatants to push your ally to the end of the map. While the mission's description is easy, it is not as relaxed as it sounds as the enemy will likely send more than enough of its own units to push you and your ally into a corner.

Those who are feeling adventurous can also try their luck at slaying the Slayn Elementals. These creatures will roam the map, and if you are unfortunate enough to run into them while the enemy is pushing their Champion down the lane, you may be caught in the crossfire. Take these out as soon as possible for experience points bonus as well as an easier time commanding the action.

While an official release date hasn't been announced for patch 3.2.0 yet, it will likely be released alongside Nova Covert Ops on March 29th. Until then, stay strong commanders!

Nova Covert Ops is ready to roll out! Wed, 16 Mar 2016 04:34:15 -0400 Guillaume Joannette

Blizzard announced today via Twitter that the first episode of Nova Covert Ops is coming to StarCraft II March 29th. This is the first in a series of three episodes which are all set to come out this year. Each episodes will contain three missions for a total of nine.

The missions will revolve around November "Nova" Terra, a ghost soldier tasked to help Emperor Mengsk restore peace and unity to the Dominion. You will even unlock tech and equipment to help you in this endeavor.

Nova Covert Ops is currently available for pre-purchase at a discounted $14.99 USD, and all you need to play it is the StarCraft II Starter Edition --which is free. When you purchase the mission bundle, you receive a Nova Terra in-game portrait and a special skin for your ghost unit in StarCraft II.

All three episodes are set to release before December 1st of this year.

Allied Commanders 3.1.0 guide: Karax the Phasesmith Sun, 20 Dec 2015 06:10:23 -0500 David Fisher

Starcraft II just received patch 2.1.0. With the patch came a new mission, as well as a new commander looking to guide the Allied Commanders to victory. Karax the Phasesmith from Legacy of the Void has now joined the battle for co-op supremacy, and this guide will teach you how to make the most of his legion of mechanical monsters.

"Look at all the pretty buttons!"

Karax's splash art looks a little more intense than I remember him being...

Having become popular almost overnight, Karax has now become the latest addition to the Allied Commanders roster. While many of his abilities seem similar to Artanis' at first, Karax serves as the Purifier alternative among the Protoss commanders. He also puts the Spear of Adun to work, relying on it for a greater portion of the game compared to Vorazun and Artanis, which makes the Spear of Adun upgrades at the in-game Solar Core a necessity.

While Artanis worked on ground units, and Vorazun on specialty ones; Karax's focus is actually on Mechanical units rather than anything else. None of his units have a biological tag, and as such mechanical repair units are key to ensuring that he can maintain a presence on the map as long as possible.


All of Karax's units - except for Photon Cannons and Observers - are unique to him since Immortals get replaced with Dark Templar Annihilators at level 8. Sentinels act as his main infantry units, however, they cost 50 more minerals than traditional Zealots. In fact... almost all of Karax's units cost more than their counterparts from the other Protoss commanders with even the Immortals costing an extra 25 minerals a piece.

If it isn't already noticeable by looking at his unit palate alone, Karax excels at taking out ground targets. More than half of his units are able to make short work of light armor, and his defenses just scream "death to the infantry!" Unfortunately, this also means that his anti-air abilities are limited. As such, you will want to take full advantage of the Orbital Assault ability has a very low energy cost and no cooldown.


While Mirages are slightly more effective than Phoenixes, the emphasis is ultimately on the slight. Without heavy air-control, Karax can be defeated easily in missions such as Void Launch where aerial superiority is not a recommendation, and is instead necessary. Carriers can handle air units fairly easily, but they are so costly (even compared to regular multiplayer carriers) that you will be left crying before the first one makes it through the Stargate.

As a result of this weakness, Karax works best in tandem with an ally that has serious anti-air capabilities such as: Swann, Kerrigan, or Zagara. Artanis, Raynor, and Vorazun can do fairly well against air units as well, but the cost of their anti-air is so heavy that it generally isn't recommended.

If you find yourself in a situation where your ally also lacking in the AA department, don't rage quit just yet. Instead, upgrade the Solar Core Efficiency ability as soon as possible to compensate. This will allow you to have a steady supply of energy to use the Orbital Strike ability which can shred enemy fliers in seconds. This is due to Orbital Strike's bonus damage to Armored units - of which most aerial units are classified under.

All that is tainted must be purged! This is the way of the Purifiers!

Prior to unlocking the "Reconstruct" ability for the Sentinels, I would advise heavily against their use. They have absolutely no advantage over Zealots until Karax is level 4, and the extra 50 minerals (bringing the total cost per unit to 150) could easily go toward a number of more sustainable options. As an alternative, I suggest going straight for Immortals, and then back those up with Colossi to handle the light-melee units. Orbital Strike can protect you from early game waves until then.

Orbital Strike's per-shot cost and no cooldown makes it your best friend during the early-game. It functions similarly to Artanis', except for being completely manual, and can only be canceled by the right-mouse button.

Another tip that can save you in the long run is to team up with Swann from the get go. While Swann already benefits from Karax's Chrono Overload, both benefit from the level 7 passive: Reconstruction Beam. This heals all mechanical units on the field over time, and can lead to an almost unstoppable army of Goliaths and Immortals. 

Swann is also a useful character to team up with thanks to his ability to gather extra vespene gas for both players. The probes more than make up for the high cost of Karax's units, and will ensure a constant stream of resources to continuously grow your army.

On the other hand, avoid pairing up with Zerg whenever possible. Neither Kerrigan or Zagara truly benefit from Karax's aid, and you will suffer the consequences of a mutually unbeneficial matchup in higher difficulty settings. Arguably, Kerrigan can benefit from Chrono Overcharge to train Ultralisks, but the drawbacks greatly outweigh the benefits in this case.

Kerrigan can make for a useful ally at times, provided that the player takes full advantage of the Resource Assimilation ability. However, the vespene gas yields aren't good enough to fuel Karax sustainably in the long run.

My last bit of advice before closing this guide is to avoid playing as Karax on Hard or Brutal difficulty before getting to at least level 8. He simply isn't viable due to the lack of abilities on his units that clearly need every advantage they can get. You have been warned.

That is all you need, Executor!

Despite his flaws, Karax is a very rewarding commander to play as -- provided you don't mind being extremely economical compared to other commanders. Until the late game, Karax will have a limited army of maybe 10-15 units at most, so make sure your ally is there for you at all times. Otherwise, have fun playing as the Phasesmith, and be sure to check out the Lock & Load guide for tips on how to play on the newest Allied Commanders mission!

En taro Zeratul, Executors! May the light of Adun show you to victory!

Allied Commanders 3.1.0 guide: Lock & Load Tue, 29 Dec 2015 07:03:30 -0500 David Fisher

Patch 3.1.0 of Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void is here, and with it came a new Allied Commanders map, as well as a new character leading the allied armies to victory. This guide will inform you on how to proceed through the Lock & Load mission without getting overwhelmed!

Lock & Load

General Strategy

Lock & Load acts as the Allied Commanders' version of the Temple of Unification mission from Legacy of the Void. It is a slightly larger map compared to what Allied Commanders players are used to, and will provide a bit more of a challenge than the standard missions. Why? Because unlike previous co-op missions, Lock & Load requires that both armies be present while capturing the targets.

As is clearly visible in the above image, this map is at least twice the size of the typical Allied Commanders missions. With enemy bases on either side of the allied base, one can expect to be attacked at any time by enemy waves. It is generally ill-advised to attack the main enemy bases on the southeastern most part of the map as it is heavily guarded - in contrast to previous maps where an entire enemy base could be wiped out on easier modes.

The goal of Lock & Load is to secure the Celestial Locks (seen to the right). Amon's forces will constantly send out waves of troops to claim the Locks for themselves, slowly adding to a timer found on the top-right of the screen. If the enemy force holds any of the locks for too long, then the allied players will lose the game.

When it boils down to it, Lock & Load is a countdown map. All you need to do is make sure that your army is big enough to take on a small to mid-size base, as well as any enemy troops that will come your way. The enemy waves are also much more powerful - and larger - than any previous Allied Commanders map. Even on Normal mode, players can expect to be overwhelmed if they do not build up a force fast enough to fend off attacks.

When taking locks from the enemy, be sure that both players are present. Even if you have to send a worker unit in place of a soldier both players have to stand on the point to secure the lock. That said, you can leave one unit (from each team) at the point and still secure the lock. The enemy typically sends a recovery wave every 2 minutes or so. As such, any lonely troops that are securing the locks can do so without worry of retaliation. Just make sure that your ally understands this, and you will secure victory without any problems.

Lock & Load is a brutal map on harder difficulties. In the above image we managed to capture the last lock only seconds before the overload gauge filled up and our main base went up in flames.

Bonus Objective

The Xel'naga Construct - seen above - is an enemy unit that can be destroyed to receive a whopping 3000 XP. It can be somewhat tricky trying to balance destroying the construct with securing the Locks, but it can be done.

Just remember to micromanage your units so that only a single ground unit is standing by the locks at any given time. By doing so, you can free up the rest of your remaining troops while the Locks are being purified. The Construct has a fairly large HP pool, so be sure to bring enough backup to destroy it in one go. If you don't, it will recover Health and Shield points until you return.

That's all there is to it!

Well, that's a bit of an understatement...however, as long as you remember your Starcraft II basics and follow this guide, there should be fairly slim odds of you failing to finish the mission with a "Victory" screen. Just remember: only one of each team's units needs to stand by the Locks to purify them, and the enemy will only reclaim the locks every 2 minutes or so. Otherwise, play this map as you would any multiplayer or campaign map and you should be fine!

Also, if you're looking to get used to Karax as a commander, you can find the all-you-need-to-know guide here!

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void patch 3.1.0 has been released Wed, 16 Dec 2015 07:43:16 -0500 David Fisher

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void has just received patch 3.1.0, and with it comes a trickle of new content, as well as a couple more bug fixes left over from 3.0.

The bug fixes address things like some saving errors, the activity window preventing interaction with the login dialog, and several other minor tweaks. Other general changes include a new "Archon Co-Op VS A.I." in the Game Variants dialog, as well as an improvement in document limits for Arcade authors.

There has also been a filter option added to the Arcade which will allow users to search through games by name, genre, or game mode when searching for active lobbies.

karax now in starcraft 2 allied commanders

However, the biggest news today is the addition of Karax to the Allied Commanders roster. Karax is the Phasesmith from Legacy of the Void's campaign mode, and serves as an experienced player variant of Artanis.

Unlike Artanis, Karax's play style revolves around the more expensive units in the Protoss army, including (but not limited to): Immortals, Colossi, Mirages, and Carriers. He also has access to buildings such as the Starcraft: Brood War Shield Battery, and the Legacy of the Void campaign's Khaydarin Monolith. His Spear of Adun abilities

His Spear of Adun abilities are also quite similar to Artanis's, albeit with slight modifications that allow for more controlled bursts instead of a set energy cost.

lock and load full map starcraft 2 allied commanders

Released alongside Karax is the Lock & Load Allied Commanders map that will feature a scenario similar to that of the Temple of Unification campaign mission from Legacy of the Void. This mission allegedly requires actual cooperation as opposed to simply holding out like in previous missions, so make sure you communicate this time around!

That's it for the patch notes highlights this time around. If you want to browse through a more detailed version of the notes, you can find the official blog post here. I'll be working hard at grinding a few Karax levels so that I can cover Karax in an upcoming guide. In the meantime, you can brush up on your Allied Commander know-how in the meantime with this guide.

All of Blizzard's cross-game goodies collected in one convenient place! Tue, 15 Sep 2015 20:07:03 -0400 David Fisher

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor - Digital Deluxe

Personally, I've never understood why anyone would pay to play an MMO like World of Warcraft. However, if World of Warcraft is among your collection, then I guess you might as well pick up the digital deluxe. However, the rewards for this are abysmal compared to other digital deluxe packs. In my opinion the Hearthstone card back, the Diablo III pennant, and Starcraft II portraits perfectly reflect what I think about World of Warcraft: it's a $80 rip-off.


But hey... if this tickles your fancy, go for it. Who am I to judge?


This marks the end of the cross-game rewards currently available to users! Feel free to check back in the future for any changes if Blizzard announces new games or content!


Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void - Digital Deluxe


This digital deluxe also comes with the Starcraft II Anthology, but it comes with significantly more than the Heart of the Swarm bundle. Cross-game rewards in this bundle include: a card back for Hearthstone, a probe and Protoss-themed armor for Diablo III, Zeratul's ship as a mount for Heroes of the Storm, and an Archon battle-pet for World of Warcraft. It's once again $40 to upgrade to Digital Deluxe, but it's well worth it if you're missing the digital deluxe bonuses for Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm. It's also great if you're just pre-ordering Legacy of the Void.


Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm - Digital Deluxe


At this moment the only way to get the Heart of the Swarm digital deluxe is by getting the Starcraft II Anthology Digital Deluxe. This comes with a hydralisk and zergling banner sigil and the Queen of Blades's wings for Diablo III, and a baneling pet for World of Warcraft. While the rewards are nice, they're hardly worth forking out $40, so only get this if you really want it.


This marks the end of the freebies, but there's still more content to go! It's time for the Digital Deluxe and Collector's Edition bonuses!


Hearthstone x World of Warcraft


This one's a simple one: play 3 rounds of Hearthstone to get a free mount for World of Warcraft! The Hearthsteed Mount is not the greatest mount you can get in the game, but once again: it's free, guys!


World of Warcraft x Heroes of the Storm


World of Warcraft players who have reached a player level of 20 in Heroes of the Storm will recieve a free Grave Golem combat pet to aid them in their heroic endeavors across Azeroth. On the other hand, if you reach level 100 in World of Warcraft with any character you will get the Ironside Dire Wolf mount for Heroes of the Storm.


Hearthstone x Heroes of the Storm


While there are no rewards for Heroes of the Storm coming from Hearthstone, you can get a nifty card back for your Hearthstone deck by reaching level 12 in Heroes of the Storm. Sure, it's not the greatest card back in the world, but it's free and retroactive like all other cross-promotion rewards!


Diablo III x Heroes of the Storm (Part 2)


Players who get to a player level of 12 on their Heroes of the Storm account will receive a free pennant and portrait frame in Diablo III (PC and Mac players only). This is retroactive to anyone who has already hit level 12 in Heroes of the Storm so don't worry if you already passed that level during beta!


Diablo III x Heroes of the Storm (Part 1)


While you can't get a free Diablo hero for Heroes of the Storm anymore, you can still get the Malthael's Phantom mount in Heroes of the Storm by reaching level 70 with a seasonal hero in Diablo III on PC and Mac. This is retroactive if you already have a level 70 hero in any season after Season 4 of Diablo III.


Blizzard has released multiple cross-game rewards (both free, and paid), and I think it's about time someone put them all together in one convenient guide! Whether you're a completion, enthusiast, or just have a lot of time and money on your hands, this list will be your go-to source for all the currently available cross-promotion goodies! There's a few of these so let's get started with the freebies right away!

Cute But Deadly: Carbot Animations Crowdfunding "StarCrafts" SC2 Arcade Mod Sun, 31 May 2015 08:05:14 -0400 CallSignDriver

Visual overhaul mods are really cool. There's a mod that makes Starcraft II look like a new installment in the Warcraft series. There's a mod that makes Watch_Dogs look... well... the way it was supposed to look. And now, there's a mod on the horizon that makes Starcraft II look and feel like something out of a Newgrounds cartoon, and I think that's pretty awesome.

StarCrafts is an animated YouTube series by Jonathan Burton of Carbot Animations, whose artistic style is akin to something out of a Dan Paladin flash game (his zerglings remind me of Alien Hominid). The goal of "the Starcrafts mod" is to bring that art style to the game, converting all of the game's assets to match the theme of the cartoon.

Making a mod of this scale, however, will be no simple task. To replace the game's 3D assets with 2D art, Burton will have to design new sprites to overlay over each of the game's structures and units, drawing every frame by hand. To accomplish this task, Carbot Animations has taken to IndieGogo in order to crowdfund the project. Once completed, "the Starcrafts mod" will be available for free in the SC2 arcade.

For more information, and to support Carbot Animations, please check out the IndieGogo page.

StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void's Archon Mode Will Feature Two-Player Co-Op Fri, 07 Nov 2014 18:26:32 -0500 Michael Falero

Better grab a friend who likes Zerg as much as you do.

Fans learned at Blizzcon on Friday that StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void, the upcoming expansion pack to the series, will feature a multiplayer "Archon mode". Two players will be able to control the same side and work together to beat their opponents, in what amounts to a 2x2 matchup with two shared teams.

News about Archon disseminated from Blizzcon attendees via Twitter and Instagram throughout the day.


A photo posted by Jimmy Blocksom (@djtyrant) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:08am PST

There will also be no restrictions in terms of units or actions either player can take. Austrailan gamer @inFeZa was present at Blizzcon when Archon was introduced:

Attendee Alexandre Verrier explained that Archon Mode was also available for demo at the event:

StarCraft 2 continues to lag behind in user growth versus competitors like League of Legends and Hearthstone. Friday's Twitch stream for the StarCraft Global Finals hovered between 48,000 and 55,000 viewers, far behind the concurrent Hearthstone World Championship's 97,000 viewers. Blizzard likely hopes innovations in SC2 gameplay combined with the new Protoss campaign will attract new players to make up for those it has lost in the last few years.

While StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void still doesn't have a release date, Blizzard now has a beta sign-up page on the game's website. 

Blizzard To Take Legal Action Against StarCraft 2 ValiantChaos MapHack Wed, 21 May 2014 13:01:52 -0400 Danielle Marie

It's almost as if Blizzard Entertainment, the video game company responsible for some of the largest titles in gaming history, has an enormous target on its back. 

For years World of Warcraft, the world's most subscribed to MMORPG and one of Blizzard's most successful games, has been a victim of malicious hackers, miners, "bot"ers and many more general cheaters bent on violating the terms of service in every which way he/she is able. 

(This is personally painful for me, my WoW account was once hacked around 14 times in the course of a single month).

What The MapHack Actually Entails

This time StarCraft 2 is the computerized casualty in the ongoing war against big, bad internet bullies and scammers. The hack, developed by ValiantChaos and thus named ValiantChaos MapHack, includes features such as:

  • A camera lock to look around the map without being detected.
  • Displayed player selections and clicks for everyone in game.
  • Alerts to warn players before he/she is attacked.
  • Auto-creating and starting units.
  • The ability to give yourself achievements
  • Instant win against A.I., and unfortunately so much more.

For honest and hard-working StarCraft 2 players, this is simply outrageous. To spend so much time, money, and energy to become superior at the game, and climb ranked ladders, just to have others cheat their way to the top is disheartening to say the least.

How Blizzard is Taking Action

The MapHack is being sold for around $60, which is even more than the game itself. Culprits have been identified selling the hack on multiple websites, hacking forums, and even on the StarCraft forum located on Blizzard's own website. 

The company has made a court filling stating that “hacks, mods or any other unauthorized third-party software” are prohibited by StarCraft 2's terms of service and above all else, it would like "to protect the sanctity of the StarCraft 2 gaming experience.” 

“The competitive aspect of StarCraft II’s multiplayer environment is one of the driving forces behind sales of the game. In fact, the StarCraft game are played as a competitive sport around the world, with professional or semi-professional players competing for national and international titles. Additionally, the ability to play the game against skilled human opponents keeps the player experience fresh and interesting, thus ensuring that players return to the game frequently.”

Will Blizzard Efforts Be All For Naught?

According to an article at, Nintendo previously took legal action against Game Genie. Instead of ruling to keep the game fair for all users, the judge presiding over the case declared that “people have a right to experiment with the product,” and ruled in favor of Game Genie. 

With a bleak history when it comes to game modifications and hacks being taken to court, there's a chance that Blizzard employees will likely have to stick to banning ValiantChaos MapHack users on their own. 

However, Blizzard is arguably one of the largest game developers in the world, which could give it the upper hand in an immoral situation such as this. Another important difference sits on the notion that Game Genie neglected to effect any multiplayer games.

Considering that this MapHack effects more than just the user's game, it disrupts the opponent and any other players involved as well, the court may lean more heavily towards Blizzard's claim.

A Post-Patch Perspective: Roach Baneling ZvT (Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm) Sat, 25 Jan 2014 19:34:37 -0500 TheOnlyShaft

Until the most recent patch, I, as well as most other Zergs, had a serious issue with Widow Mines. They were built quickly, and provided an unpenetrable defense at most stages of the game. Once a large enough number of Mines are produced, they could be easily switched into an offensive unit, as well. With just a handful left at home, entire armies could be decimated during run-bys at key choke points.

The Widow Mine nerf changes everything drastically. Terran players are now scrambling for any kind of build order meta-game that will allow them to stay alive against roach baneling aggression, especially in the mid-game.

In comes sir Taeja, who shows Terran players that Widow Mines are still devastatingly strong, but that gas openers are the go-to thing now--incorporating Reapers, Hellions, and oftentimes Banshees as well. These units are great at defensive postures against Roach Baneling, and allow for the Terran to limit creep spread and contest the Zerg third. Ultimately, the Terran can then tech switch into Stimmed Marines with Medivac and Widow Mine support, using constant drop tactics if the Zerg skimps on anti-air.

Eight Pool, Three Giraffes... (Starcraft 2) Tue, 28 Jan 2014 22:22:28 -0500 TheOnlyShaft

CoreGaming's Edge competes in a ZvZ where he opens with an 8 pool into spine crawler rush. Will Luka have the micro and multi-tasking necessary to stop this rush or will Edge gain a victory from the cheddar factory?

Luka is a player from Deimos esports who must be a fairly recent acquisition due to the little amount of information on him. However, he plays an amazing game, with lots of epic action!

I thought this was a great game with a lot of playful back and forth action. Sometimes, it's great to take a break from super-standard and remember that Starcraft 2, while being one of the most competitive sports in existence, is still just a game, and should at its heart be fun above all else.

The Clan EAT Casting Crew is an organization of casters that specializes in bringing you high quality Starcraft 2 entertainment at any cost. Please check us out on Twitter, FaceBook, or TwitchTV as well: @TheOnlyShaft.

Kevin "QXC" Riley Explains Why He Put A Career On Hold To Play StarCraft II Thu, 12 Dec 2013 17:35:34 -0500 John Gaudiosi

Kevin “QXC” Riley is one of the top U.S. StarCraft II players. A member of compLexity Gaming, the Terran player is known for his unorthodox play and experimentation in virtual combat. Riley is committed to eSports. He graduated in 2012 from Harvey Mudd with a degree in Computer Science. Rather than joining the work force as a potential video game designer, he’s competing against the top pro gamers in the world in tournaments around the globe. Riley talks about his career and explains the secret to his success in this exclusive interview.

What do you think selling out the Staples Center in an hour means for legitimizing eSports?

This is helping prove to others that eSports can be popular and far-reaching and monetized in a way similar to other more conventional sports. While in the past this has not been true, it appears that the previous lack of popularity may have been due more to a smaller interest base rather than an issue with the medium itself. A game that appeals and is available to as many people as possible is critical to achieving the far reaching success that other sports enjoy.

What advice would you give to aspiring pro gamers who think they're good at StarCraft II?

Take it slow. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to forget about the rest of your life to squeeze out those extra results. While sacrifices must be made, balance is more important to maintaining a healthy life style that will allow for consistent peak performances.

What's the biggest misconception about pro gamers?

That pro gamers are antisocial slobs who live in their parents basement. People have a misconception that pro gamers fit the old stereotype of gamers which by and large doesn't really make sense at all anymore. Make no mistake, pro gamers are some of the most competitive people you will meet. Just because it's a computer game doesn't mean we don't take it incredibly seriously and with a great deal of heart.

What similarities do you see between cyber athletes and real athletes?

Both have an incredible competitive drive. We hate to lose and love to win. Sometimes we play for the fans, often we play for ourselves. We compete to show the world our strength.

What does it take to be a pro gamer today?

Perseverance and balance. A pro gamer must not give up, but they must also balance their life to optimize their practice and find the improvements necessary post results.

What's the secret to your success in StarCraft II? 

I never give up and I consistently seek to improve my game, as well as the way in which I approach the game in terms of food, exercise, sleep, stress and more.

What are your thoughts on the fan feuds that seem to occur out there between League of Legends and StarCraft II?

Many see league of legends as edging StarCraft out of competitive eSports bit by bit and so this naturally causes tension. The coexistence isn't something really established in a scene so new and many people have a particularly strong affinity to one game or another. When people's interest seems threatened, there's bound to be some degree of clashing.

How did you get involved in eSports?

I've always enjoyed playing computer games since I was young. I played Command & Conquer Red Alert with friends as a kid and moved from game to game since then. I played StarCraft Brood War for some time but didn't really stick with it until I got into college. In my second semester about five years ago I decided to try and take the game more seriously while studying. From there I saw a great deal of improvement and pushed to where I am today.

How have you seen opportunities for new gamers in eSports evolve since you began as a pro?

The scale of everything has increased greatly. There are many more tournaments all across the world with a much larger prize pool. Stream numbers consistently increased for a long time allowing certain players to make a living that way. 

What have you sacrificed to get to where you are today?

Friends, money, time. I've spent a long time alone in front of the computer grinding games away. A lot of my relationships suffered because of it. As a recent computer science graduate I also could've pursued a much more lucrative job. Except at the top, there isn't much money to be made in this profession. 

What's your life as a pro gamer like?

I work my own hours and compete when events present themselves. I do a lot of self management and practice. I play almost every day for several hours working to improve my builds and such. In my free time I pursue other activities such as Ultimate, rock climbing and jiujitsu. I don't do any of these much but they are an effective break and help keep me healthy. 

What do you want to do after you retire from eSports?

Perhaps a game designer or entertainer (Stream/YouTube). I haven't really thought that far.

How Marcus "djWHEAT" Graham Became The John Madden Of ESports Sun, 08 Dec 2013 08:22:04 -0500 John Gaudiosi

The success of the thriving eSports business owes just as much to the shoutcasters, or casters, as to the professional gamers who play games like Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft II, Riot Games’ League of Legends, S2 Games’ Heroes of Newerth, Microsoft’s Halo 4 and Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Casters are the equivalent of sportscasters in the athletic sport world, many of whom are former pro gamers who have retired and moved on to providing color commentary and play-by-play for matches to millions of fans tuning in through livestreamed events. On camera and sitting in a two-man booth, these casters have TV screens to watch the virtual action and provide insight into the fast-paced decision-making that pro gamers tabulate as they play in live matches in front of thousands of spectators.

One of the early innovators in casting is Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, who many in eSports consider the “John Madden” of pro gaming. Graham began playing competitively in 1997 during the early days of eSports, long before it became an actual career option for hundreds of pros with multi-million dollar tournaments being held on a regular basis. As a pro Quake II, and later Quake III player, Wheat and his friends would drive by car to tournaments from the Midwest to New York with the hopes of taking home the $800 top cash prize, not minding that the trip itself would cost $1,200. This was also long before sponsors like Red Bull, Intel, and Qualcomm stepped in to cover not only travel expenses but also in many cases provide Gaming Houses to live in free of rent.

“I loved playing so much that the fact that we could go and win some money was just a bonus,” said Graham. “I would say I blossomed as a gamer in Quake III and started playing more seriously. I ended up starting and being a part of the top North American Quake III team, clan519 in Team Death Match, and we went on to dominate in North America. Eventually we went over and played in Europe for a major event. We got our asses handed to us, but it was an amazing experience. Through all this I realized that I have a very deep love and passion for this competitive atmosphere that eSports was creating. It really was no different to me than when I played volleyball at school or ran on the track team. ESports invoked the same emotions. But over time I realized that winning $800 and splitting it four ways was not going to start paying the bills, so I took a job in IT.”

Graham didn’t leave pro gaming. The Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), which entrepreneur Angel Munoz launched in 1997, brought larger cash prizes to the table and some organization. When he wasn’t working at his day job, Graham was coaching a team or pro players. He accidentally found a career in casting as a coach. He’d record his team’s matches and use a microphone to offer commentary on how they could improve their Quake III gaming. One of his players suggested he just do this live. And that led to an online radio gig at the Team Sportscast Network (TSN), where Graham and other early pioneers would shoutcast Quake III, StarCraft, and Counter-Strike matches to audiences as small as 25 and as large as 5,000 fans. 

Those audiences steadily grew around the world as gamers from every nation followed big events like World Cyber Games, which Graham compared to the Olympics of eSports. Live tournaments now featured multiple big PC games like Quake III, Counter-Strike, and StarCraft with players from around the globe competing for a $300,000 prize pool. The advent of connected consoles ushered in games like Halo and Call of Duty, as well as a slightly more mainstream consumer audience. Organizations like Major League Gaming (MLG) entered the fray, providing another avenue for pros to begin thinking about making a career out playing games professionally, and giving new work opportunities to casters.

The real breakout for eSports casters occurred with the one-two punch of YouTube and the livestreaming service, which is now called Twitch. Casters like Graham were able to first share videos directly with fans seamlessly through YouTube. And with the livestreaming phenomenon, casters were, and are, able to call live matches and connect with millions of fans around the globe with video and audio. This has changed the dynamic of eSports by turning the top players and casters into international personalities from events that take place almost monthly in exotic locales like Moscow, Shanghai, Cologne, Singapore, Seoul and Sao Paulo. Livestreaming has allowed eSports to bypass television, although there have been numerous attempts to make it work.

MLG had worked with ESPN in its early days to get eSports into one of its morning shows and even purchased air time on USA Network to show condensed matches. G4 TV followed eSports events for several years, long before it transitioned to the non-gaming Esquire Network. Graham worked for three years with DirecTV on the Championship Gaming Series (CGS), a pro gaming series that attempted to turn eSports into a mainstream viewing experience.

“ESports doesn’t need television because I got to experience firsthand for three years how difficult it was to take a video game that could take 60 minutes to play and try to turn it into a 10 minute segment,” explains Graham. “They ended up butchering the game and taking away everything that made it great. In three different instances, rules had to be changed in order to facilitate the time in which advertisers run in relation to live television. This is a really big problem. It’s very difficult to take the content and the method in which these tournaments and competitions are happening and turn it into a production or television broadcast. The other issue is that television broadcasts effectively kill 60 percent of my audience because we’re cutting out many markets.”

Graham credits Twitch as being the number one driver of eSports globally as a true sporting event. That livestreaming service attracts 38 million unique viewers per month. The ability to stream live events to a captive global audience has forever changed pro gaming, and opened up new opportunities for casters to capitalize on. Just as pro gamers can turn on Twitch and have as many as 20,000 fans watch them practice, casters like Graham have become online media moguls. He runs the network OneMoreGameTV on Twitch, which has four weekly shows that are sponsored by companies like Monster, Razer and Astro Gaming. He also works with companies like Red Bull to cast private events like the Red Bull Training Grounds, as well as big tournament organizers like MLG and Riot Games (LCS) to provide commentary and hosting for live matches.

At the end of the day, Graham is emulating and building upon the lessons learned from decades of traditional sports television broadcasting. As a caster, it’s his job to put the viewers into the thick of the competitive battle. The fact that this sport happens to be virtual is beside the point. Although he has a much shorter history to draw from, he dives into previous matches between teams or players to illustrate the story of this competition. Although a keyboard and a mouse are the tools of eSports, it’s still a match between minds and a skill set that requires advanced hand-eye coordination. The beauty of casting is to bring these skills, along with all of the action, to life just as Madden and many other fabled broadcasters have done with traditional sports like football, basketball and baseball. And like Madden and the other greats, Graham already has a second generation of casters who have emulated him and followed in his path, including brothers Sean “Day9” Plott and Nick “Tasteless” Plott. The future of eSports looks bright, and it’s no small part that Graham has played in this emerging playing field.

Conan 'Suppy' Liu Discusses StarCraft II: Legacy Of The Void Tue, 26 Nov 2013 19:40:17 -0500 John Gaudiosi

Conan "Suppy" Liu plays StarCraft II competitively for Evil Geniuses. The American Zerg player recently competed in the StarCraft II World Championship Series Finals at BlizzCon 2013. The former University of California Berkeley student, who’s also known as Superiorwolf, talks about the growing popularity of eSports in this exclusive interview.

What are your thoughts on the new StarCraft expansion Legacy of the Void?

I think Heart of the Swarm has been a really good expansion for StarCraft II.  I think the game has been a lot more dynamic and fun to watch with Heart of the Swarm and it’s always changing.  Wings of Liberty was starting to get stale towards the end of it, so it was a pretty good expansion for Blizzard.  With Legacy of the Void, we don’t know too many details about it, but I’m really hoping that when it’s released, it’s really going to reinvigorate the scene and get more people back into StarCraft.

What impact do you think it will have on eSports?  Do you think it will be as big as Heart of the Swarm?

I think Legacy of the Void has the potential to get a lot of people back into eSports and to StarCraft, if done correctly.  I think Blizzard will have to make a lot of big changes, work on the social aspect of the game and make it not so lonely and isolated. I think a lot of people -- if there are big changes -- will come back and start playing again.

What role do you feel League of Legends selling out the Staples Center has had in legitimizing eSports?

I think the Staples Center selling out in an hour for the League of Legends Worlds is yet another example of eSports growing every single year.  The International for Dota 2 was also huge, and I think esports events are just growing every single year.

What impact do you feel the US government giving League of Legends gamers visas just like real athletes has had on pro gaming?

The visa application that gamers can have now just really legitimizes eSports as an actual competition. It’s not athletic physically, but it’s still a competition that’s just the same as any other sports competition.

What advice would you give to someone interested in eSports?

What advice I’d give to other StarCraft gamers is just train as hard as you can. To become a pro gamer today I think it really just takes passion.  You’ve got to really love the game you’re playing and you’ve got to be willing to sacrifice things like going out with friends to train and practice and learn more about the game.

What’s the biggest misconception about pro gamers?

The biggest misconception about gamers is that we’re just basement dwelling nerds that are drinking Mountain Dew and eating chips all day, yeah Doritos.  I think that was the stereotype of old, but it’s really been changing ever since then…especially as it become more and more popular. We’re just normal, competitive people and we want to do well in whatever game we’re playing.

What similarities do you see between cyber athletes and real athletes?

The similarities between cyber athletes and regular athletes is that we both train a lot. We fight and compete in tournaments all around the world.  We have fans that we sign autographs for.  I think it is very similar. We’re sponsored and we have to do promotions for our sponsors.  It’s definitely very similar to the regular athlete.

What drives you to become better?

I think one thing that pro gamers have that drives them to be better and motivates them to be better is the ladder system and the ranking up system. I don’t think traditional athletes really have that. They just go to tournaments and competitions and see how well they do, but we consistently have some sort of feedback that’s telling us we’re not doing well in this area or we’re not doing well against this race. You ought to improve in these areas of your game. 

Benjamin "DeMusliM" Baker Believes StarCraft II Is More Challenging Than League Of Legends Wed, 20 Nov 2013 02:30:40 -0500 John Gaudiosi

Benjamin “DeMusliM” Baker has been playing games professionally since the age of 15 in the United Kingdom. The former WarCraft III player burst onto the scene in 2005, taking first place at the World Cyber Games. He eventually moved to StarCraft II and focused on the Terran race. In 2011, Baker joined Team Evil Geniuses and currently lives at their Gaming House. At the World Championship Series Finals at BlizzCon 2013, Baker took some time to talk about eSports, and explains what it takes to compete at the top level today in this exclusive interview.

How did Wings of Liberty impact the eSports scene?

I think StarCraft II Wings of Liberty changed the eSports scene. That was the true driving force that eSports needed to set the path. Then League of Legends popped up and Dota 2, but I do believe Wings of Liberty led the way, so to speak.

What do you think Riot Games selling out the Staples Center in an hour means for legitimizing eSports?

It’s really cool. Esports is growing at a phenomenal rate and has been for a while now. If I think back eight years ago when I first started, it wasn’t anything like this. It is becoming a full-time real thing. It is awesome. You can make money from it. There’s a lot of joy in it. Esports is great.

What impact do you feel the U.S. Government giving League of Legend gamers the same visa access as pro athletes says about eSports?

They’ve had that for a long time. It’s nothing new. League of Legends just chose to talk about that as if it was something new, so no comment on that.


What advice would you give to aspiring pro gamers who think they’re good at StarCraft II?

Keep on working at it. I don’t recommend dropping out of school for it unless you’re exceedingly talented and good. But let’s say you’re a mid-range player and you believe you have what it takes, most players that are professional to some degree got that good from very little practice. So unless you are that good, I honestly recommend just enjoying what you do and keep on studying.

What’s the biggest misconception about pro gamers?

That we’re all fat and greasy. Look around here at BlizzCon. The majority of people are gamers.  You have lots of professional gamers here, and there’s not one chubby guy in sight. This is a really healthy community. I think that’s the biggest misconception. 

What similarities do you see between cyber athletes and real athletes?

Both are exceptionally dedicated. You have to love what you do. Athletes are in love with the sport that they play or whatever they do; track or what have you. I believe video gamers are in love with what they do, too.

What does it take to be a pro gamer today?

Sacrifice. A lot of sacrifice. You have to give up a lot of things such as friends, a lot of your social life. You have to really treat it like a job. This is no longer fun and games. This is work.  This serious business.

What’s your secret to your success in StarCraft II?

I guess my secret is I talk the talk and walk the walk. But if I’m honest, I just spoke big, had a pretty big personality on that, and that allowed me to get picked up. So besides being good at the game, I worked a lot of that. I managed to have a personality with it and in eSports, right now, that propels you a long way.

What do you think of the rivalry between League of Legends and StarCraft players?

I don’t believe there is a rivalry. League of Legends players are benefiting from a really good organization behind them with Riot. You have certain players that call out other players from other games such as InControl and Reginald, but there isn’t a rivalry. For StarCraft II players, our game is way harder. League of Legends is flourishing.  Maybe we are a little bit sour about that, but there’s no hard blood.

StarCraft II Pro Gamer Jens "Snute" Aasgaard Talks ESports Fri, 08 Nov 2013 12:49:07 -0500 John Gaudiosi

NEW YORK CITY -- Jens "Snute" Aasgaard, a professional StarCraft II player from Norway who plays Zerg for Team Liquid, was at Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) in New York City to play against the best gamers in the world. 

A native of Oppegård, Norway, Aasgaard got his start playing StarCraft: Brood War. After a detour with competitive Dance Dance Revolution tournaments (he was the Norwegian champion in 2004), he moved on to StarCraft II. In 2012, he left Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim to play SC2 pro full-time. He graduated from Team Gamersleague to Team Liquid. He talks about his journey and looks to the future of eSports in this exclusive interview. 

How did you become a professional StarCraft II player? 

It started off with local competitions in my country Norway where I was just playing the game for fun, but as I attended more and more national competitions I was also able to qualify for international competitions. As I attended competitions around the world I got more and more into it and got a desire to compete and win tournaments. So that’s how I got into it. 

How popular are eSports in Norway? 

In Norway it’s quite popular. We don’t really have the same history as many other countries like South Korea or Sweden, where eSports truly is established, but we have a small scene and it’s growing steadily day by day, year by year, slowly but surely. There is a decent amount of interest, but it’s not as much as in South Korea. 

Can you give us a sense of what you feel you sacrificed to become a pro? 

That’s quite a lot of things. I went to university and even if I felt like the course didn’t really fit me or my studies really didn’t fit me, I still had to give up my education so to speak.  I used to have a quite normal life before with a full-time job. I had a girlfriend. So I sacrificed quite a lot of time with friends and family. I spent a lot of time on this game. 

How much time do you end up in a normal week playing StarCraft II? 

During the times I practice the most it can be as much as 10 hours per day, but on a regular basis I’d say I practice about eight hours per day. Apart from that there’s traveling, competitions, and you need to interact with your fans and people asking questions. There’s always something to do in addition to all the practice and all the competition, so it’s a full-time job. When you don’t play your mind is still focused on the game. You think about how to improve and you thing about the strategies to use later in tournaments, so it’s always on your mind. 

What’s it like when you’re in that booth knowing that there’s so many people out in the crowd watching? 

It’s really special. It’s really easy to get a bit nervous, but it’s something that you have to work with and eventually if you’ve been to enough competitions then you get used to the feeling. But every time I go to a tournament like IEM I’m always grateful for all the fans that appear and cheer for the players. It’s such a truly amazing feeling because we spend so much time at home just practicing and practicing to show our skills on stage and when the crowds appreciates our play then it truly means a lot to us professional gamers. 

What do you feel separates Comic Con as an eSports venue from anywhere else you’ve played? 

It’s not too different actually from other eSports events. It’s very common for tournaments to be held at convention centers.  

But a lot more costumes. 

Yeah, you can say that. That’s not as common. Usually the conventions are about technology, but costumes not so much. That’s the first time I’ve been to a StarCraft II tournament that has so many cos players going around. 

What impact from a big picture perspective do you feel League of Legends selling out Staples Center will have on eSports, especially with the mainstream that aren’t familiar with it yet? 

StarCraft II used to be the major eSports title, but League of Legends has easily claimed that afterwards. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad development because more and more people are getting into eSports. I always like to think it’s like music. Some artists might be less popular than others, but people always follow what they like. If more people start listening to music as a result of some popular band, or more people start watching eSports because of how popular League of Legends is, then that’s also going to impact StarCraft II positively. It doesn’t really matter to me how big League of Legends is in comparison. I just think it’s great that more and more people are getting into eSports. 

What impact have you seen the expansions for StarCraft II have on eSports? 

From what I’ve seen every time the expansion is released there is a bit of hype around it and new viewers are actually pulled in. From what I know it definitely has a positive impact on the amount of viewers. The last year the viewer count has been somewhat stable, maybe slightly increasing. The fact that Blizzard is releasing new expansions for the game definitely helps the game so that it doesn’t stagnate, so that there’s always something new, something fresh. It’s definitely very good for the scene that the games are updated frequently. 

Where do you see eSports five years from now? 

I think it’s only going to get bigger from here as more and more people get into it. Computer games have always been big and eSports might not be something that a lot of people are familiar with, but I think with broadcasting services like Twitch TV and streaming online the accessibility of eSports has just improved because of more and more people getting broadband connections. Ten years ago we didn’t even have connections powerful enough to watch each other play online. In five years even more people will be into eSports. Even more people will be playing games, broadcasting their games. I think there will be even more tournaments, even more viewers and more fans and even more hype. It’s going to be great.

BlizzCon is Coming Tue, 05 Nov 2013 17:36:00 -0500 Rothalack

Blizzard fans such as myself and from around the world are already beginning to gather in Anaheim dripping with excitement. My flight is Thursday, and the day just won't come fast enough! This will be my first BlizzCon and I have the honor of walking around with a press pass! The number of things I get for attending as press is amazing and I will be sharing it all with you, here, on GameSkinny. I think I might even be able to get my hands on Heroes of the Storm!

I've got my schedule all planned out, and it is going to be two days of endless Blizzard. I couldn't possibly be more excited.

Events I plan to cover are:

Friday Nov 8.
  • World of Warcraft: What's Next - What I really hope to see from this presentation is what is planned for the next WoW expansion. (Fingers crossed)
  • HearthStone: Fireside Chat - This panel will have some of the HearthStone developers and designers discussing the development of the game, current meta that is beginning to form and future cards and features.
  • WCS StarCraft and WoW Arena Global Invitational Coverage - I will try my best to cover the on going tournaments throughout the convention.
  • Heroes of the Storm Overview - This is exactly what you would think, it will be our first look at HotS. The mechanics, the hero roster, and reward systems.
  • Cosplayers of course!
Saturday Nov 9.
  • WoW Live Raid - This is the first thing scheduled for Saturday and I'm just excited to see how it goes. I will most likely filming crowd reactions. I'm expecting lots of screaming of "B REZ!"
  • WoW Gameplay, Raids, Quests and More - I really enjoyed the mechanics of the latest bosses in Seige of Orgrimmar so I'm really excited to see what they plan to do next.
  • Warcraft Movie Presentation - 'Nuff said. This is going to be awesome.
  • Meet up with BlizzPro - They are having a get together at the meeting stone. I'm really excited to use a meeting stone in real life, seeing that I haven't used one in-game since 2006!
  • Heroes of the Storm Live Match - We get to see how HotS might turn out in the competitive scene for the first time. I'm expecting a very entertaining match and we can get a sneak peak of what the future holds for HotS and eSports.
  • WoW Q&A - See what Chris Metzin has to say, Epic!
  • Grand Finals (SCII and WoW Arena) - They are both scheduled for the same time, this will be a difficult decision.
  • Blink 182! - I got to see Blink 182 about 4 years ago. When I went to see them all I was thinking was what a great chance I got, I will probably never get to see them live again. Well here we are now and I'm seeing them again. Epic x 2.

Follow me here or on my Twitter to keep up with me live from BlizzCon!

Next you'll see me, I'll be paying my respects to Illidan.

Dario "TLO" Wünsch Talks ESports Global Reach Sun, 27 Oct 2013 21:22:18 -0400 John Gaudiosi

NEW YORK CITY -- Dario "TLO" Wünsch is a StarCraft II player from Leipzig, Germany who made his first trek to the United States at New York Comic Con to play for Team Liquid at the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM). The former Brood War and Supreme Commander player has amassed a global following, in part, because of his unorthodox tactics in SC2. He’s also as solid playing as Terran as he is playing Zerg in the game. TLO stands for “The Little One,” and his older brother is “The Big One.”

The pro gamer, who has had to take time off in 2011 as a result of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, continues to impress in the international stage. He also takes time to use his eSports celebrity to give back to the community. He played StarCraft for 24 straight hours to raise $2,487 for “StarCraft Without Borders,” a charity event that raised money for Doctors Without Borders. The stream peaked at 26,000 live viewers, showing his global pull.

Wünsch currently resides in South Korea, where he’s able to hone his skills in the ultra-competitive eSports country. The pro gamer talks about the popularity of eSports today and explains how he ended up in The Big Apple competing against the best players in the world today in this exclusive interview.

How popular is eSports in Germany and Europe?

Especially with PC gaming, Europe is a little bit bigger than America even. PC gaming is more of the niche in America. People recognize you on the street from time to time if you’re a professional gamer and it’s becoming more and more mainstream. I think over the next couple of years it’s just going to be in every single media outlet.

What kind of reaction do you get coming to Intel Extreme Masters in New York?

New York Comic Con is interesting. It’s the first time I’ve been to America and New York. It’s pretty cool. The seats filled up very quickly and it’s nice to always introduce new people to the game. I met a lot of people here who are seeing StarCraft II for the first time.

How you’ve seen eSports grow in the United States over the last few years that you’ve been involved?

It just went through the roof.  If you look back five or years even, it didn’t really have a lot of streaming technology. The fact that everybody can just broadcast their games now on the Internet from their home rigs is just absolutely amazing. Honestly, I can just see it grow from here.

When it comes to the U.S. recently the government said that eSports athletes get the same Visas as real athletes. What impact do you see that happening on eSports moving forward?

It definitely makes a lot of things easier because right now, especially people from countries that have issues with America like Eastern European countries or China, they’ve been hindered a lot by the fact that eSports isn’t recognized as a proper sport. It shows eSports is a global sport and getting rid of boundaries is just good for us.

What type of cognitive thinking and hand-eye coordination is required for playing StarCraft II at a pro level?

The best comparison is to see eSports as a mix between really fast-paced physical sport like a martial art and chess. You have to make really quick decisions. You have to have fast reflexes, but you also need to think about the strategy in real-time. In chess you have a lot of time to make your move. In StarCraft II you need to make maybe 100 moves a minute and need to be able to process in your brain as precise and as quickly as possible.

How did you end up becoming a professional?

I’ve been playing video games ever since I can remember. When I was three years old I probably had already touched my first PC game. I did learn reading and writing from video games back in the days of Monkey Island. It was a natural process for me because I have three older brothers, so we’ve been very competitive when it comes to gaming.

In 2002, I went to my first game convention, which was Gamescom in my home town. And ever since I saw people playing on stage I realized that becoming a gamer can become a job. I was mesmerized by the idea to the point where I eventually become a pro gamer myself.

What do you feel you’ve had to give up to become a professional?

I don’t think I really had to give up a lot. Of course, I had to put my education on hold because I was in university. But considering what I gained in return: the opportunities, the places I’ve been to, the people I’ve met, and also the skill sets I gained, it’s definitely just a positive thing for me.

Nick 'Tasteless' Plott Believes ESports Will Be Mainstream Within Five Years Sat, 19 Oct 2013 20:41:00 -0400 John Gaudiosi

In the world of eSports, there’s no more famous pair of brothers than Nick “Tasteless” Plott and Sean “Day9” Plott. The former StarCraft pro gamers now run their own separate mini-empires as casters and video entrepreneurs.

Nick Plott can credit his brother for getting him into the casting business. After Sean beat him at the 2005 World Cyber Games US Finals, Nick stepped in to cast for Radio ITG and ended up sticking with the burgeoning profession, in part, to feed his love for travel. He also happens to be really good at it. For the record, Sean went on to win it all at that WCG event and he too is one of the most famous casters out there today for StarCraft II. 

“Tasteless” discusses the rise of eSports and offers his opinion on the rivalry between League of Legends and SC2 in this exclusive interview.

How did you end up getting involved in eSports?

My mother eventually got Internet in our house when I was about 14 years old, which introduced my brother and I to online gaming.  The popular game at the time was Starcraft.  We got sucked in to first being the best in our school, then our neighborhood, then our state and finally our country.  I never expected eSports to be where it is today.

What was the competition like growing up between you and Sean?

We're both very competitive people by nature, but I don't think there was much competition between us when it came to Starcraft.  If one of us did better than the other we were always happy for whoever succeeded. We were also playing tons of other games competitively that the other one had no interest in.  

What are your thoughts on how Day9 has taken off?

It's awesome! I'm glad we are both doing what we love! I think it's a rare thing to see two brothers both kicking ass on such a new and competitive industry.

Why did you pick the name Tasteless?

I was 14 and had to make a new Starcraft ID because I had joined a team. I didn't know what to name myself so I took a dictionary, closed my eyes, flipped it open and put my finger on one of the pages. My finger landed on Tasteless.

What are the challenges of casting and is it a fair comparison to say it's similar to an NHL commentator?

At the moment I'd say it’s harder than casting NHL (although that's obviously not an easy job) because the industry doesn't have professional writers and stats analysts.  There's tons of down time that needs to be filled when casting an eSports event and that's usually handed to the caster. We are also speaking for longer periods of time with less commercial breaks.

What are your thoughts on the growing popularity of League of Legends in eSports?

It's great! The more games that gamers can make a living off of, the better.

Why do you think fans of StarCraft II and League of Legends seem to not get along?

I find it surprisingly similar to teens preferring punk over metal or hip hop over rap.  Most of the adults and professionals I know are fine with both games.  There will always be a chunk of gamers who will overreact or behave childishly about other games, just like there are always crappy football or basketball fans.

How important are multiple big games for the future growth of eSports?

It's necessary because different gamers like different games. There can never be only one eSport game because that will never match the appetite of every gamer.

What role do you see the growing number of Gaming Houses playing as eSports evolves?

If non-Koreans want to be competitive they need to adopt the Korean model -- get proper training houses.  They function to get the player motivated and focused, as well as surrounding the player with other top-level players with the same ambitions.

How did you get involved with eSports Management Group (EMG)?

They contacted me and pitched their vision for me about the future of eSports.  My goal as a caster is to focus on being the best possible caster I can be.  The focus of a professional gamer is to be the best possible gamer they can be.  EMG handles the rest.

Where do you see eSports five years from now?

It should be bigger than almost anything in five years from now.  Everyone my age or younger plays games. And that's not going away.  Esports should end up becoming as mainstream as gaming itself.  

With the popularity of streaming, what role do you see television playing for eSports in the future?

The old TV model seems like a dying market.  It's all about Internet TV now.  If I'm in front of my PC all day anyway, why would I watch anything on cable TV.  In general, I feel the old television model is going to have to adapt to the new generation.

What do you do for fun away from gaming?

I love reading. I read for at least an hour every morning.  I also love to travel.  It's actually how I initially started casting. I realized I could be paid to travel somewhere I wanted to check out anyway.  Beyond that, I just go get drinks with friends.