Editorial: If SOPA passes in its current form, it will be a disaster for gamers and the games media worldwide

Tim Edwards at

In the next week, the US congress will return to Washington for a bit of work. The first item on the agenda is to debate and pass the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. SOPA is intended to give media owners the tools to act against those who infringe their copyright in all forms of media, be it audio, video or text. Be it the movie industry, the music industry, the publishing industry, and yes, the games industry.

But the legislation is awful, and it affects gamers worldwide. Under SOPA, e-sports is under threat. Game streaming is under threat. In-game voice chat is under threat. In-game text chat could be turned off. Gaming forums are under threat. And the gaming media (us!) will no longer be able to exist in its current form.

The powers SOPA will grant if it passes are broad and troubling and spell doom for certain sections of gaming. Copyright holders will be allowed to seek court orders against infringing websites, and in its current form, against companies that provide services for them. That means that under a SOPA order, a copyright holder could demand restrictions from not just the site itself, but partner companies and clients such as the hosting domain, the advertising networks that provide ads, payment facilitators and search engines.

E-sports on the rise: MLG and Dreamhack scoop record viewing figures in 2011

Tom Senior at

E-sports' growing popularity among spectators shows no sign of slowing down. The MLG have posted some remarkable figures from the 2011 season. Around 3.5 million unique viewers in total have tuned into MLG Pro Circuit weekends this season. The Pro Circuit National Championships in Providence, Rhode Island drew more than quarter of a million concurrent viewers at peak times, from 175 different countries. MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni says that in the 18-24 age range, "MLG now pulls in larger audiences than several traditional television cable networks."

Starcraft 2 region linking incoming. Quicker matchmaking, wider audiences, more friends

Owen Hill at

As reported on Blues News, Blizzard are planning on combining some of Starcraft 2's region-specific servers. It'll result in an improved player experience no matter where you're playing from.

GSL and MLG join forces to trade StarCraft II players and strengthen e-sports

Rich McCormick at

South Korea's Global StarCraft II League and the USA's Major League Gaming represent the twin peaks of global e-sports. Through a new league exchange system, those peaks are beginning to merge together to one glorious, truly international mountain.

The system kicks into gear in June, with MLG's Columbus leg. Four Korean players – up and coming stars ST_Bomber, IM.LosirA, SlayerS_MMA, and ex-Warcraft III hero FOXMoon – will be added to that show's lineup to compete for the title.

Watch this Starcraft 2 game NOW

Rich Stanton at

Fans of e-Sports rejoice! We've got lots of exclusive coverage coming up in the next few months. Keep your eyes on the site for updates. But, just to get you prepared, here's a teaser: one of the best Starcraft 2 matches we've ever seen.

Great sporting moments are also great human moments. Tears, incredible fightbacks, and skin-of-the-teeth survival in the face of overwhelming odds – this Starcraft 2 match, from the semi-finals of the GSL's World Championship, has it all and then some.

Best of all, it's free to watch. But fair warning: the World Championship has now finished, and if you haven't watched past the quarter-final stage and want to avoid spoilers, don't click through. If you're up for some incredible action, though, join us through the link.

Heads-up: Major League Gaming finals on now

Rich McCormick at

The Sunday night question. How to wind down your weekend? Slippers and a giganto-cup of hot chocolate before drifting happily into slumberland? Or HARDCORE COMPETITIVE GAMING FOR MONEY?

The second one, obviously. Fortunately, if you're at a loose end now, you're just in time to tune into the Major League Gaming Dallas StarCraft II finals. The games have been rumbling on all weekend, with some of the world's best professionals going mouse-to-mouse, casted by delightful talky men Day[9] and djWHEAT. We've included a stream of the games below. Tune in right now, and you'll catch the second set of semi-finals, with the finals to follow at 7pm CST.

New to e-sports? The 10 best Starcraft 2 matches to watch now

Rich Stanton at

At GDC last week Dustin Browder, Starcraft II's lead designer, talked about how Blizzard's development was intensely focused on making the game an e-sport. One of the most interesting points he made is that an e-sport can't just work for its players: it also has to be interesting for spectators.

“We did anything we could to make this a more watchable viewing experience,” says Browder. Anyone obsessed by the intricacies of Starcraft II, and PC Gamer is guilty as charged, would say mission accomplished. But what if you're curious rather than obsessed? Don't know a drone from a battlecruiser? Where to start?

Over the following pages we'll take you through ten awesome games of Starcraft II, old and new, where you'll never see the same strategy twice. They showcase some of the world's top players, commentators, every race combination, and the majority of each race's units. Some of our favourite matches are on GOM.tv, but they require a paid-subscription to watch. Our picks are free for everyone.

We've taken the liberty of preparing a basic glossary, but we'll leave the rest in the capable hands of the casters. No excuses: stick the kettle on, sit back, and let's get ready to rumble.

Browder hints at Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm updates. Emphasises importance of e-sports

Owen Hill at

Blizzard designer Dustin Browder has given clues into what we can expect from Heart of the Swarm - the first expansion to Blizzard's Starcraft II. He also stated that the expansion will have as much of an e-sport focus as Wings of Liberty, and made a plea for gamers to embrace the new breed of spectator sport.

The £55,000 GSL StarCraft 2 final is about to start, here's where to watch

Tom Francis at

The final of GomTV's second Global StarCraft 2 League is about to kick off - at 10am GMT, 2am Pacific Time. It's free to watch live, but if you miss it, you need a season ticket to watch it later ($20, likely reduced once the tourney's over).

Both in terms of prize money and the talent it attracts, the GSL is the biggest StarCraft tournament in the world, and one of the biggest e-sports tournaments ever. The English commentary is done by my personal favourites Tasteless and Artosis, who make high-level play easy to understand even for noobs - season one of this tournament is what turned me around on e-sports. Grab breakfast or a midnight snack, depending on your time zone, and check it out.

Great moments in Modern Warfare 2 commentary: "Sandy Ravage is VISIBLY UPSET"

Tom Francis at

Here's a ridiculous kill streak in Modern Warfare 2 by player Sandy Ravage, commentated with hilarious enthusiasm by El Presador.

A while back I was singing the praises of StarCraft 2 pro-gaming commentators Tasteless and Artosis - their nerdily smart insights and zealous enthusiasm are perfect to make a frantic RTS comprehensible. I think El Presador's thunderously macho bellowing and hilarious improvised lingo is just as perfect for the merciless bloodbath of instakills that is Modern Warfare 2 online.

Professional gaming is finally fun to watch

Tom Francis at

E-sports are boring, I've always felt. I wanted to follow them, have a favourite team or know who any of the players are, but almost every time I watched a game, I just couldn't keep up. It looked like there was skill involved, but I couldn't really relate it to my own experience of those games. But the scene has changed, and I've changed my mind. I think professional gaming has come of age.