This week in eSports: League of Legends Season 3 hits the ground running, MLG is already hosting competitive Heart of the Swarm, In Dota 2, only four teams are still standing in the upper bracket of The Defense 3.
Heart of the Swarm creeps closer, and at least one major eSports organization is making the switch before it's even officially released. For the first time ever (outside of streams), you can watch high level play of both Swarm and Wings in the same sitting.
The GSL 2013 Season 1 Code S Round of 16 in Wings of Liberty is well underway, with Squirtle, MarineKing, DongRaeGu, and Bomber having been knocked out already. InnoVation, TaeJa, Soulkey, and Symbol have secured their spots in the playoff bracket, with the quarterfinals scheduled to begin on February 21. There are still two groups of four left to be decided, however, with the likes of MC, LosirA, Life, and PartinG competing for the final four playoff slots.
Watch it: GomTV
MLG is doing things a little differently for its Winter 2013 season, leaving Wings of Liberty behind in favor of the Heart of the Swarm beta. This has led to some controversy, considering the expansion isn't out yet, and balancing patches are still being dropped in fairly regularly. The format of the Winter Showdown throws each of the 56 players into a best-of-five match against a single opponent The 28 winners will be guaranteed a spot at the Winter Championship at MLG Dallas in March. Qualifiers so far include PartinG, herO, and InnoVation.
Tonight's match is Rain vs Flying, beginning at 5 p.m. EST/1 p.m. PST.
Watch it: MLG on Twitch
If you're looking to dip your toe into competitive play for the first time with Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard is trying to make it as gradual and painless a transition as possible. Here's how .
Day has carried his Sky Terran Funday Monday over to the Protoss , requesting that viewers send in videos of playing with only one Gateway and one Robotics Facility. Moral of the story: Phoenixes are really, really "balanced."
Axslav breaks down the HotS Winter Showdown matches between PartinG and Fantasy and RoRO vs. herO on Rules of Engagement . He'll be putting his usual weekly topics on hold to continue recapping these matches throughout the Winter Showdown set. If you're confused about what all these new units are and what it is they're doing, it's not a bad place to get up to speed.
Is Riot's Season 3 a "new beginning" for League of Legends as an eSport? The viewership numbers for Season 2's World Championships seem to suggest that competitive League has already pretty well begun. At the same time, 2012 and early 2013 were laden with player controversies. Though, to be fair, the same thing happens with athletes in just about every other sport imaginable... so it's possible that player bannings and ego trips are a part of the game's growing up. In any case, I'm anxious to see how much higher Riot's shooting star can go.
Season 3 of Riot's Championship Series is live. The kick-off was last night, with Counter Logic Gaming besting Team SoloMid and Good Game University, Curse taking a match off of Dignitas, and SoloMid defeating Vulcun. The action continues tonight with Curse vs CLG, SoloMid vs Dignitas, GGU vs Curse, and Vulcun vs Dignitas.
Watch it: League of Legends Championship Series
In a continuing effort to reward positive behavior in the community, some changes are being made to the Honor Initiative. It's now easier to unlock the Great Teamwork, Leader, and Mentor crests, but more difficult to get Honorable Opponent. This change will retroactively remove Honorable Opponent from players who earned it under the old criteria. You can read about the reasoning behind this change on the official site .
Only four teams remain in The Defense 3 playoffs: Dignitas, No Tidehunter, the come-from-behind Virtus.Pro, and Evil Geniuses. Virtus vs EG will be take place on February 11, and Dignitas vs No Tidehunter has been postponed. Fan favorite teams that still have a shot at the lower bracket (and thus, the overall championship) include Team Liquid, mousesports, Na'Vi, and Fnatic.eu.
Watch it: The-Defense.com
YouTuber ReevoHGames has put together a set of "visual patch notes" giving you in-game illustrations of the changes made in the most recent balance patch. Check it out at the beginning of this section.
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.