What to Watch: The Week in eSports (February 15-21, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: which StarCraft II tournaments are making the switch to Heart of the Swarm, and which will hang onto Wings of Liberty a little longer? We've got the answers. Also, could World of Tanks break into the eSports scene? With an announced $2.5 million prize pool, it might be on the right track.

Get it? Tanks... and tracks... and... yeah, forget I said anything. Actual content below!

Wargaming.net looks to roll onto the scene

Earlier this week, World of Tanks creator Wargaming.net announced an eSports tournament with a $2.5 million prize pool. Set to kick off some time in 2013, we're interested to see if World of Tanks might be the first non-RTS, non-MOBA to gain a widespread following as an eSport. With its huge player base, especially in the European market, it's certainly a possibility.

StarCraft II

The 2013 GSL Season 1 Code S has progressed to the quarterfinal stage, and both the MLG Winter Championships and the Intel Extreme Masters Season 7 World Championships are right around the corner. The next few weeks are going to be some of the most action-packed in StarCraft II this year, leading up to the release of the Heart of the Swarm expansion.

Upcoming Events

Only eight players remain in Code S for the 2013 GSL Season 1: INnoVation, Symbol, Curious, PartinG, Soulkey, TaeJa, RorO, and MC. The first quarterfinal match will take place Feb. 21, with the semifinals scheduled to start on the 28th, and the finals on March 9. Also of note, the GSL has announced that the Up and Down matches for the next GSL season will take place in Wings of Liberty, rather than Heart of the Swarm.
https://twitter.com/Khaldor/status/302337090199379969
However, the Code A qualifiers will be making the switch to HotS.

Watch it:GomTV

The Intel Extreme Masters Season 7 tournament will run from March 5 through 9 in Hanover, Germany, with a $100,000 prize pool. IEM has announced it will be holding the championship in Heart of the Swarm, and is being advertised as the first global HotS tournament. The 24 qualifiers include MC, Grubby, Socke, Mvp, TLO, Stephano, and viOLet.

Watch it:ESL TV

The MLG Winter Championship's Showdown matches are wrapping up Week 2, with winners of each single-elimination match automatically qualifying for the Winter Championship itself March 15-17. New qualifiers since last week include Rain, SaSe, BabyKnight, Stephano, Bly, and ThorZaIN. Upcoming matches include Ret vs Feast, Creator vs NesTea, and Mvp vs Curious.

Watch it:Major League Gaming

Other Stuff

This week, we got a chance to interview pro StarCraft II casters Alex “Axeltoss” Rodriguez and Nick “Axslav” Ranish.

Day[9]'s Funday Monday segment gives the Zergs their turn this week, as he casts replays of fans operating under the restriction that they may only attack using Nydus Worms. If you're looking for something... marginally less cheesetastic, the Day[9] Daily has spent a couple days this week highlighting one of my favorite players since the StarCraft II beta: Team Liquid's TheLittleOne.

Axslav continues to break down the MLG Winter Championship Showdowns in Rules of Engagement. Have a look if you want to familiarize yourself with some of the developing pro strategies in HotS, and want to make intelligent-sounding comments to the people at the BarCraft when the big tournaments roll around in the coming weeks.

League of Legends

In a push to foster more college-level eSports, Riot has announced their official Collegiate Program for League. Using a dedicated site, you can search for an existing club at your school, or start one if such a thing doesn't already exist. We're curious to hear from the university eSports fans out there: Where does collegiate level play fit in, in a scene where so many of the pros are college-aged (younger, in some cases) in the first place?

Upcoming Events

Two teams have established strong dominance in Riot's Season 3 so far. On the North American Circuit, Team SoloMid lead with 1875 Circuit Points, with CLG Prime trailing in second with 1150. In Europe, Moscow Five are showing even greater supremacy: they stand with 1400 Circuit Points, over the mere 650 of second place CLG EU. The season is just getting started, however, and anything could happen. Upcoming matches include Curse vs Vulcun, Dignitas vs GGU, and SoloMid Snapdragon vs Team MRN.

Watch it:League of Legends Championship Series

Other Stuff

The 3.0.2 patch (previewed in the video above) brings some chase buffs for Nasus, adds some more rune choice flexibility for Akali, some power scaling changes to Riven, and some changes to items that reduce ability cooldowns.

Dota 2

In a rare MOBA crossover, successful European Dota 2 (and CS 1.6) team Natus Vincere are planning on opening a gaming house in the U.S., and, they told ESEA News they're considering signing a (likely North American) StarCraft 2 or League of Legends squad. This announcement came on the heels of their Dota 2 team being knocked out of The Defense 3 in the lower bracket by Team Fnatic.

Along with Fnatic, Team Evil Geniuses still remains in the lower bracket, having been knocked down by Virtus Pro. They will have to best the winner of Mousesports vs Team Liquid for a shot at retribution. Fnatic's own fate will be decided when they pitted against the loser of Dignitas vs No Tidehunter, scheduled for tomorrow.

Watch it:The Defense

Other Stuff

Ymir the Tusk has become the latest Dota hero to make his way into the game's current incarnation. Billed as a durable initiator, you can get introduced to him in the video at the top of this section from DotaCinema.

That's it for this week, eSports faithful. Let us know in the comments what you think of this week's stories, if there's anything we missed, and what eSports events you're most looking forward to in the coming weeks.