Last week in e-sports: Playing with cheaters

Last Updated March 28th, 2017

Last week in e-sports was all about team distribution. We finally got to see what Blizzard had in mind for its new Overwatch League, and we got to see previously banned teams make their way back into the ESL. We also saw new team sponsorship deals, an old team break up, and, of course, the never-ending roster shuffle that never seems to stop.

Overwatch League Unveils Vision for Team Distribution

One of the major selling points of Blizzard’s Overwatch League was its organization. The plan was to have teams based in major cities, much like in traditional sports. We haven’t heard much from the league since it’s official announcement at last year’s Blizzcon, but recently the League’s commissioner, Nate Nanzer, unveiled a plan for the league at the Sport Business Summit in New York.

An image in his presentation called the Overwatch League a “global city-based league.” It would, in fact, operate much like the NFL does, except that the major cities it would operate out of wouldn’t be restricted to the U.S. The cities he referenced in his presentation consisted of Los Angeles, New York, Boston, D.C., Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Miami, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Shanghai, Toronto, Seoul, and Mexico City. If this list is anything to go by, the league will still be heavily anchored in America, which is surprising since so much of Overwatch’s professional talent lies overseas. However, it does not appear as if there will be many restrictions on which player can play for what teams, so expect many U.S. teams to bring in overseas talent.

Schalke Appears To Be Dissolving

After only a year in the competitive League of Legends scene, German soccer club Schalke 04 may be calling it quits. While they saw an amazing performance in the regular season, boasting an incredible win streak and solid gameplay all around, they were defeated by Misfits Academy in the European CS Semifinals. Now, it appears as if Schalke 04 is looking to sell its slot in the Challenger Series, and many of its players are looking for new opportunities. No official word has been given on the state of the team, but it certainly does appear as if it’s closing its doors.

ROCCAT Enters New Partnership With Lagardere

European sports media conglomerate Lagardère Sports decided to reach out to the e-sports world this January by entering into a partnership with Unicorns of Love. Now, they are expanding their reach by entering into another partnership with ROCCAT. The partnership will assist them with marketing and sponsorship opportunities, though the official details are not yet known.

“The character of ROCCAT in the gaming world is unique,” said Robert Müller, managing director of Lagardère Sports Germany. “Both the close ties of the fans to Team ROCCAT, as well as the company ROCCAT, open up numerous possibilities and new ways of sponsorship activation.”

Cheaters Can Now Play in ESL Events

In a recent change to the ESL rulebook, VAC-banned CS:GO players can now compete in ESL events – and this is rubbing some fans and competitors the wrong way. VAC stands for Valve Anti-Cheat, meaning anyone banned by this system has, by definition, attempted to win a game through illegitimate means. Many competitors think that this is reason enough to keep them out of high levels of competitive play.

The ESL’s reasoning, however, is that a punishment is in order but a lifetime ban is too strict. Now, VAC-banned players can and will be banned, but only for a maximum of two years after the ban has been issued.

But according to the ESL, this is just a clarification of a policy that was already in place.

“Our policy regarding players caught cheating by our systems has always been the same, namely a 2 year ban from participating in any ESL competitions, which we adopted based on industry best practices in many professional sports,” the company said in a statement. “So that VAC bans can also be included in this consistent overall framework, we therefore recently updated our competitive rulebook to bring our treatment of them in line with these policies.”

Many fans have found this explicitly disappointing because the provision only applies to VAC-banned players. Other players are still receiving lifetime bans, arguably for less severe offenses.

CEO 2017 Joins the 2017 Pokken Championship Series

Believe it or not, Pokken isn’t dead. CEO, one of the biggest fighting game tournaments on the East Coast, has become an official tournament venue for the 2017 Pokken Championship Series. It will host the North American qualifier, sending its top four players to attend the $20,000 World Championships. The qualifier itself will feature a $5,000 prize pool and the top four finishers will have their travel expenses paid to attend Worlds in Anaheim later in the year.

The Big Wins

  • Immortals have taken home the gold in the Overwatch Caron Series grand finals. Facing off against LG Evil, it was a match between two teams with perfect records, all coming down to tense match on Dorado that Immortals won via attrition.
  • Misfits Academy and Fnatic Academy have both advanced to the EU LCS Promotion Tournament, giving them a shot at a slot in the primary EU LCS. They will have to face off against Origen and Giants Gaming to make their way into the tournament proper.
  • The two teams to qualify for the upcoming DreamHack Austin CS:GO event were HellRaisers from Europe and Luminosity Gaming from North America.
  • Virtus Pro recently became the Dreamhack Las Vegas CS:GO champions. Prior to the event, Virtus Pro’s owner Anton “Sneg” Cherepennikov promised Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas a Mercedes-Benz if the team took gold, and he kept his word. TaZ is now the proud owner of a new Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV.
  • OpTic Gaming have won the Halo World Championships, defending their title for the second year running.
  • Alexey “ShtanUdachi” Barsukov emerged as the Hearthstone winter champion, besting the last official tournament in the Year of the Krakken. He brought home $60,000 and a trip to Worlds next year.
  • MGK|MenaRD took first place in the second event of the Capcom Pro Tour, Game Over.

The Roster Shuffle

  • Flash Gaming has added Malaysian AWPer Andrew “kaze” Khong to their CS:GO squad, finally finishing out their roster for the 2017 season.
  • Yaman “yam” Ergenekon has stepped down from the Renegades, citing personal reasons. Michael “Uber” Stapells will be stepping in as his temporary replacement.
  • Spencer “Hiko” Martin will no longer be playing for OpTic Gaming. Ryan “freakazoid” Abadir will be taking his place.
  • Jacob “Pimp” Winneche will be leaving Team Liquid after a request to be transferred. His new home is, as of yet, unknown.
  • Dota 2 veteran Lee “kYxY” Kong Yang, as well as former Fnatic support Nico “eyyou” Barcelon, will both be joining DOTA2 team Mineski alongside legendary player Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung.