The Week in eSports (3/16/12)

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Rob Zacny at

As we head into the last weekend before the MLG Winter Championship in Columbus next weekend (and hot on the heels of the IEM tournament) a small group of players are gathered at Full Sail University in Orlando for the Red Bull LAN. It's one part mini-camp, with high-level StarCraft players working on ways to improve their game and get ready for upcoming competitions, and one part exhibition tournament. Quantic's Kim "SaSe" Hammar and Johan "NaNiwa" Lucchesi will be there, along with Evil Geniuses' Lee "Puma" Ho Joon and Park "JYP" Jin Young and a number of other strong competitors. Sean "Day[9]" Plott and Marcus "DjWHEAT" Graham will be there as well. You can read more about the Red Bull Lan over at Team Liquid, where Day[9] gets into a little more detail.

I've never seen one of these, and I'm really interested in the "training camp" aspect of the Red Bull LAN. As I've watched more competitive gaming, what I find most impressive is the mental endurance and resilience on display at the highest levels of play. Playing brilliantly in a match is one thing, but having to sustain that over the course of a weekend and dozens of matches is another. I'm hoping the coverage coming out of the Red Bull LAN gets into that a bit.

Oh, and if you have some time to kill, why not watch the SC2 final from IEM last week, between MC and Puma, posted at the top.

NaNiwa Leaves the Penalty Box

Speaking of NaNiwa, the GSL gave him a Code S seed for the start of Season 2. Code S is the highest level of GSL competition, and it represents a second chance for the Protoss player.

NaNiwa was effectively dropped from Code S after throwing a match against one of his rivals, NesTea, at the 2011 Blizzard Cup. With both players eliminated from championship contention, NaNiwa ended the match by rushing his probes into NesTea's base, basically refusing to play. The GSL saw his conduct as disrespectful and contrary to the spirit of the sport, and dropped him from consideration for a Code 2 spot for Season 1. Now NaNiwa appears once again to be back in the GSL's good graces for Season 2.

Tough Love for CS:GO

Earlier this week, Tomi “lurppis” Kovanen, the former captain of the Evil Geniuses Counter-Strike team, had some harsh words about the current state of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Evan interviewed him to find out more about what bothers him about CS:GO.

It's a good write-up, and the whole incident neatly captures the challenge Valve faces as it attempt to reinvent a competitive shooter with a long history.

Kovanen made one remark that explains the stakes for CS:GO and the pro community. “I believe in eSports. And if there are a lot of people who enjoy the game like I have enjoyed CS 1.6 over the years, good for them. I’m sure there were people who disliked 1.6, yet it has played a big part in how the last seven years of my life, so I’d hope other people get to experience something similar in their lives. I hope it will be successful, but with the way the game currently is and how I believe it will end up without listening to us, I don’t think it can be successful. I wouldn’t be surprised if it got picked up for one or two years at most, and then FPS games got dropped out [from tournaments] as a whole because of lack of CS:GO popularity. The ironic thing is all the pros would wanna help to try to make it a decent game because they all know there would be more money, more tournaments, and so on if it was a good game and everyone switched.”

Speaking of Counter-Strike, this would be a good time to watch the Final between ESC and Na`Vi from the IEM tournament last week.

As always, this is by no means comprehensive, and be sure to call out highlights from the week in the comments below. Any other events happening in the next week that you're excited about?