Last Week in E-Sports: The Electronic Olympics

Last Updated August 9th, 2016

The Olympics are on and professional gamers and fans alike are asking, “Why can’t we be a part of that?” Luckily, many organizations are looking to give e-sports competitors the Olympic experience. Last week, we saw the e-sports community mirror the Olympic community in many ways. The WESG is kicking off its Olympic-style competition, player residency policies have been changed in League of Legends, certain tournaments were criticized as popularity contests, and tons of players were acquired by quickly growing teams. Maybe one day we, too, will have our spot on the Olympic stage, with all the honor and scandal that comes with it.

World Electronic Sports Games Announces Qualifiers

The World Electronic Sports Games, or WESG, is looking to be the Olympics of e-sports. It’s a multi-game, multi-national tournament featuring events in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, DOTA2, Hearthstone, and StarCraft 2. Twenty-four teams will compete in the finals of each game, which will be held in Shanghai, China this December. Over $3.7 million in prizes will be paid out across all events.

Qualifiers for the tournament have just been announced. They will begin on August 13th and will include 9 different stops in 9 different countries. The first qualifier will be for teams from Africa and the Middle East only. $75,000 will be awarded in the qualifier alone.

Unfortunately, the WESG has a particularly controversial policy of only allowing teams with a single nationality of player to compete. This is complicated for many top teams that field their players from around the world. E-sports teams have always been more dedicated to brand than country.

However, Stepan Shulga, Executive Producer at organization Starladder, has said this rule “could help e-sports to be recognized as official sports and potentially included in the Olympic games.” By abiding by this rule, the WESG is hoping to make their competition seem more like a legitimate sporting event. But is it worth splitting up some of the world’s greatest teams? Aren’t multi-cultural, multi-national teams a good thing?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

FORG1VEN Invited to Participate in Overwatch World Cup

Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou has recently been invited to participate in the Overwatch World Cup. FORG1VEN is one of the few competitors that can bridge the gap between genres. He is known as one of the most talented League of Legends players on the scene, but his Overwatch performance has shown that he is not a one trick pony.

As amazing as it is to stand as a model of the multi-talented player, his dual e-sports careers are causing him some problems. It’s rumored that FORG1VEN will be participating in the playoffs of the European League Championship Series with H2k-Gaming. If the team qualifies, then he would not have the time to compete at Blizzcon in November. For now, it is unclear whether or not he will accept the invitation.

Unlike traditional sports, e-sports seasons tend to perpetually overlap each other. While, in theory, a professional football and baseball player could compete in both the World Series and Superbowl, professional gamers tend to have to choose a single game simply due to time constraints. Fans and players alike have called for a more staggered calendar of events in the past, but there is little reason for leagues and tournament organizers to comply.

Controversy Strikes LCS as Cloud9 Challenger Demolishes Competition

The LCS is ready to decide next season’s competitors. Both the European and North American League Championship Series promotion tournaments concluded this past week. In Europe, the Misfits took a win over FC Schalke to secure their slot and send Shalke into relegation.

In North America, Cloud9 Challenger demolished their competition to secure their slot. However, Cloud9 already has a team in the LCS. As a result, they have to sell their spot, which is exactly what they planned to do from the start. They stand to make over one million dollars on the sale. 

This has caused some controversy in the League of Legends community. Many think that Cloud9 prevented up and coming players from participating in the tournament in their attempt to make a profit. Fans have been calling for the rules to be changed in order to prevent situations like this from arising in subsequent seasons. However, allowing Cloud9 or any organization to have two teams in the tournament vastly increases their chances of bringing home a prize. For now, no rules changes are planned.

Riot Games Tightens Residency Policy for the League Championship Series

League of Legends Championship Series teams have player restrictions based on residency. Three of their players have to be from the same region, while two others can come from any region. Players used to be considered a “resident” of a region after living there for just two years. However, the regulations have recently changed, doubling the residency period to four years. Future players may even have to attain legal citizenship in order to be considered a resident. A number of players will be grandfathered into residency status, however.

The change comes as a way to prevent teams from stacking their rosters with import players. “Without change,” Riot’s announcement said, “under the current system it’s likely that by the end of this year, 4 out of 5 starting players will be imported players on many teams in certain regions. Lengthening the time requirement for a current non-resident to become an IMP resident will help prevent this from happening.”

DOTA2’s The International Hits $20,000,000 in Prizes

The International 6 continues to break records throughout the e-sports world. The two week long tournament in Seattle has reached a staggering $20,000,000 prize pool, the biggest it has ever seen. This is especially impressive considering that only $1.5 million of that prize pool is donated by Valve, the rest is all crowdfunding.

We recently reported that The International would be skewing prize pools to favor first place finishers this year. This inflated the first place prize to eight million dollars, well over the six million dollar prize we saw last year. But the quickly growing prize pool has now boosted the first place award by another million dollars! The top four placers will take home over $15 million of the prize pool.

CSGO Lounge Goes Legit

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling scandal has taken an odd turn. The people behind CSGO Lounge, one of the gambling sites that received a cease and desist letter from Valve, have decided not to shut down but instead go legit.

Yes, this means they are going to be treated like a legitimate gambling service. They are in the process of acquiring gambling licenses in a number of countries. Services will be shut off in any area that they can’t get a license in. Users will still be able to withdraw skins after the shutdown, but will be unable to place new bets. It’s unclear whether or not Valve’s cease and desist letter would still apply, and it’s possible that CSGO Lounge would still have to stop using Steam accounts to do skin trading. For that matter, Valve can still attempt to shut down the site if it’s actions, no matter how legally legitimate, are unsatisfactory for the use of their IP.

If CSGO Lounge does stay in business, this will be a huge development in the world of e-sports gambling. It would be one of the first instances of sanctioned online e-sports gambling. Currently, it is estimated that the e-sports gambling scene is worth several times more than the actual e-sports scene. Being able to conduct business without the threat of a cease and desist or other legal action could open up numerous business opportunities for other gambling sites and services.

Should Tournament Slots Be Assigned By Popularity?

Two teams will qualify for the upcoming season of the ESL Pro League not by proving themselves in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but by winning a popularity contest. One North American and one European team will be given a “wildcard” spot in the tournament via fan vote on social media. The European teams include Virtus Pro, ENCE, Godsent, and Gambit Gaming. Luminosity Gaming, Team SoloMid, Echo Fox, and Team Kaliber are the North American teams up for consideration.

The teams will still have to prove themselves in part. The top two most popular teams will face each other in a best of three and the winner will take the slot. However, the rest of the teams won’t even get a chance to compete.

Unfortunately, popularity contests inherently weigh the competition toward past competitors. It also weighs the competition toward teams with more money to run social marketing campaigns. It seems fairly certain that Virtus Pro will be one of the top voted teams in the European division, while SoloMid and Echo Fox are likely to win in North America. And while these teams certainly have some of the best players on the scene, fans argue that there’s no reason their name recognition should factor into being awarded a spot at all. If the ESL continues holding popularity contests like this, it’s unlikely we will see the biggest name teams ever leave the league.

Trades, Acquisitions, and Team Changes

  • Pain Gaming has signed the former AlienTech CS:GO team just days after they parted ways with their parent organization. The team consists of Brazil Willian “LuL4” Elias, Brazil Ricardo “s1” Shinji, Brazil Guilherme “dukeN” Góes, Brazil Caio “zqk” Fonseca, and Brazil Felipe “fbm” Mengue.
  • Fnatic’s LCS head coach Luis “Deilor” Sevilla has stepped down. Assistant coach Nicholas “NicothePico” Korsgård will be taking his place. Fnatic has been shaking up their roster quite a bit this season, yet their repeated trades have given them only limited success. “Rebuilding our lineup for the second time this year proved to be more challenging than expected,” the team said in a statement. “Because of recent results and in order to give the team the best chance moving forward, Luis and the Fnatic management team mutually agreed that him stepping down is the correct course of action.”
  • EHOME has signed a new Overwatch team consisting of top ranked Korean players. One player of note is Geguri, the 17-year-old girl who was so good at playing Zarya her competitors accused her of cheating. Her accusers retired form e-sports in shame once her name was cleared. Here’s hoping her recent signing will give her more opportunities to make her opponents resign in shame.
  • Fade 2 Karma has announced that it will shift its focus away from competitive Hearthstone in order to focus on streaming. Simultaneously, the team has released Dimitris “Dethelor” Theodoropoulos who has said he still wants to compete at the highest level.
  • Luminosity has signed three high ranked Hearthstone players: Keaton “Chakki” Gill, Frank “Fr0zen” Zhang, and Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam. All three were free agents before signing, despite their incredible tournament records.
  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev has joined team Na’Vi’s Counter-Trike: Global Offensive roster. He will be taking the place of former team captain Danil “zeus” Teslenko.
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas has signed on Finnish Overwatch squad SG-1. “It’s no secret that Overwatch, Blizzard’s new behemoth of an e-sports title, has taken the world by storm with its fast paced action and team based gameplay,” NiP said in a statement. “We at Ninjas in Pyjamas have been involved in Counter-Strike since the beginning, but have not been afraid to break new grounds in other games such as League of Legends and DotA2. Now it’s time for a new chapter in NiP history as we welcome Lauri “mafu” Rasi, Kalle “hymzi” Honkala, Antti “kyynel” Kinnunen, Joonas “zappis” Alakurtti, Joona “fragi” Laine and Joni “seita” Paavola to the NiP family to complete our Overwatch roster.”

The Big Winners

  • We recently saw the conclusion of the Rocket League Championship Series. Over 6,000 teams signed up for the season, but it was iBuyPower Cosmic who ended up taking first place over Flipsid3 Tactics with a 4-2 victory. $55,000 was distributed among the top eight teams, which doesn’t seem much compared to other major e-sporting events, but is incredibly impressive when you consider Rocket League’s indie nature.
  • Day 3 of MLG Orlando’s Call of Duty tournament has concluded. OpTic Gaming managed to take home a victory versus Team EnVyUs in a best of five. EnVyUs forced a run-back after a strong performance in the loser’s bracket, but fatigue hit the team hard in their championship set, with OpTic taking three games in a row to secure the $40,000 prize pool.
  • The qualifiers for the Overwatch Atlantic Showdown are complete. Europe’s top four teams were Misfits, REUNITED, Creation eSports, and Rogue, while North America saw EnVyUs, Cloud9, Fnatic, and Team SoloMid come out on top. These winners will be given slots in the $100,000 main event, which will be held at Gamescom on August 20th.