The world's best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams will compete for a $250,000 "community-funded" prize pool at ESL One Cologne 2014, Valve announced today. The prize money was raised through last year's Arms Deal Update for CS: GO, which directed proceeds from sales of a special eSports weapon case toward larger prize pools and greater visibility for competitive gaming.
As an outsider to the MOBA scene, I'd kind of assumed that harassment and verbal abuse were pretty much the entire point of the genre. Apparently not, as Riot's esports team have made the decision to permanently ban IWillDominate, a pro-gamer signed to Team Dignitas.
The League of Legends Tribunal shared their decision on the game's forums. They point out that, while they do not tolerate any unsportsmanlike behaviour, IWillDominate - real name, Christian Rivera - was particularly notable because of how "severe and consistent" his behaviour was.
The American eSports fan faces a dilemma tonight. Do you brew coffee and stay up until the Intel Extreme Masters finals start at 3 AM Eastern (9 AM Central European Time), or do you go to bed early and wake up in time to watch the games? Or do you do none of the above and catch the replay? The day starts with Counter-Strike, ESC v. Na`Vi, then moves on to StarCraft 2 and PuMa (Terran) v. MC (Protoss) at 6:15 AM Eastern. Finally, it's the League of Legends final between M5 and Dignitas, and even that, if the last few days have been any indication, will have a far, far larger audience than either StarCraft or Counter-Strike. If you need to be caught-up on what you've missed at the IEM, you can check out the video archives here.
As dilemmas go, choosing how to enjoy the IEM finals is not a bad one to have. Especially when you compare it to what the Evil Geniuses team is dealing with right now.
Just when you think you've finally got your head around defending a 1/1/1 push and locked down your warp prism/immortal micro, Blizzard are adding a set of new units to StarCraft II's multiplayer armies. But what happens to SC2 tournaments like MLG and the GSL who've built their empires around Wings of Liberty's multiplayer? Will they be forced to move over to Heart of the Swarm half way through their season?
In about eight hours time, MLG Anaheim will bring the world's best StarCraft 2 players together to compete in front of a global audience. The first match, Naniwa vs. Huk, is set to kick off at 5:30 PM PDT / 1:30 AM GMT. You can find the full schedule on the MLG site, and watch matches live, for free, on MLG TV. Gold and Silver subscribers will be able to watch HD streams of every match.
If you're new to e-sports and want an introductory taste of the StarCraft 2 competitive scene, we rounded up videos of ten of our favourite matches. For more on pro-gaming, Rich recently wrote about why he loves watching StarCraft 2.
The final of one of the biggest StarCraft 2 tournaments in the world will be held outside of Korea for the first time this year. The GSL final will take place in front of a live audience at Blizzcon 2011 in Anaheim. Anyone with a Battle.net account will be able to log in to Blizzcon.com for free and watch the best StarCraft 2 players in the world do battle live this October.
I love e-sports. I mean, I really, really love e-sports. I love e-sports so much that when IMNestea played the then-named BoxeR in the Global StarCraft II League's season 2 final, I woke my girlfriend up at some unearthly hour in the morning and crowed at her about marine splitting until she had to physically leave the room. I've organised parties based solely around the activity of watching other people play games, many thousands of miles away. I say it here, on this wide internet, and I don't care who knows – I love e-sports.
But I didn't always love e-sports. If I went back in time to exactly one year ago, found myself, and said “YOU WILL LOVE E-SPORTS IN A YEAR'S TIME!”, year-younger me would've scoffed in my face. I've been aware of e-sports for as long as I've been a PC gamer: I lived through the false dawns of the early 21st Century, the Sujoy Roys and the Jonathan Wendels coming so close to pushing the activity of pro-gaming into the spotlight, then falling short at some intangible hurdle. Time and again I was promised the rise of Quake, or Counter-Strike, or some other competitive game in the televised market; time and time again they failed to ignite among the wider gaming community.
I could well have reacted like Kotaku's Jen Schiller did, when she repurposed an interview between Team Dignitas' David 'Zaccubus' Treacy, and top-end PC hardware types Alienware. Her post treats e-sports as weird and unnatural: a vestigial limb on the wider gaming animal that we'd all do better to hide under a coat. She makes her feelings about pro-gaming clear:
“Don't get me wrong, I love watching people who are better than me at video games play them for money, especially when I don't know those people.
Oh wait. No I don't.”
Jen penned another response, after seeing the reaction her original post dredged up from the e-sports community. Jen defends herself by claiming ignorance of the scene. A year ago, I could've claimed the same.
Remember those TV shows that tell you to not try this at home because the people you see on the screen are professionals? Yeah, that same rule applies to pretty much everything in this post. When a country is as passionate about StarCraft as Korea is, you better believe that their top players are going to have money thrown at them and hot Korean ladies fainting in their wake. These guys are total videogame-playing badasses and they know it.
Nobody loves StarCraft more than South Korea does. That's a simple fact of life that should be taught in schools alongside arithmetic and how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. While most nations revere movie stars, athletes and deities, South Korea efficiently turns their best StarCraft players into all three and worships them like the button-mashing wizards they are.
Today is about honoring the fine people of South Korea, who love this game with a fiery passion and are probably freaking out right now because the release of StarCraft II is less than 48 hours away. So grab some kimchi, pull out your Korean-English dictionary and get ready to learn a thing or two about the most extreme StarCraft II fans in the world!