IEM Oakland – The CS:GO Grand Final Overview

The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) grand finals took place on the 20th November. The Oracle Arena, Oakland, hosted two of the biggest teams in CS:GO, SK Gaming and Ninjas in Pyjamas. We have a look at the teams competing in the grand finals and who became the champions of IEM Oakland 2016.

Grand final – Ninjas in Pyjamas vs SK Gaming

The grand final featured the all Swedish team, Ninjas in Pyjamas and the Brazilian powerhouse SK Gaming. It was a clash of the titans in this three map thriller. The players to watch:  Forest, FalleN and ColdZera. Forest and ColdZera played consistent high-level CounterStrike throughout the tournament. Whilst SK Gaming captain FalleN was on fire with the AWP from the previous series versus Astralis. But how would he fare against the different beast that is NiP?

Game 1 – Train

Recently named the best Train team in the world SK Gaming went into the map with confidence. Despite SK’s recognition on train they lost the opening pistol round. NiP took the round from their CT side, after successfully denying the bomb plant from SK. Although NiP won the first round, Get Right made a huge blunder totally mis-spraying from the B site. As a result SK answered back straight away with FER catching the enemies whilst disadvantaged using only the Tec-9.

Despite this, Forest managed two M4 frags early to give NiP hope, the veteran took the Swedes score to 2-3. SK saw the momentum starting to swing so therefore decided to take an early timeout. The timeout played a huge role, gaining the correct information and using it effectively. The score was now 5-3 to SK Gaming. ColdZera won an easy 1v2 due to his skills and higher hp. Whilst Pyth and Forest were playing well SK remained in full control of the first half. The Brazilians led the half 11-4.

coldzera
ColdZera (courtesy of HLTV.org)

Half time

The Ninjas had a mountain to climb, in addition SK Gaming are highly regarded as the best team in the world on their Train counter-terrorist side. Similarly the Brazilians took the pistol round in impressive fashion, ColdZera and FER putting in noticeable performances. However NiP continuously got the bomb plant for the added money bonus. Although the bombs were being planted the Brazilians shut them down every round. The first map was incredibly one-sided. SK Gaming lived up to their reputation on Train. They never dropped a single round on their CT side. Equally they stomped NiP, the map ended 16-4.

 

Game 2 – Cache

The opening round was extremely interesting. Forest and FER grabbed back-to-back USP headshots to their enemies until it eventually came down to a 1v1 duel. FER came out the victor of the duel to put SK ahead. With the game at 2-2, NiP went into the next round with all AK47s across the board. The Swedes managed to lose the round, regardless of having the better arsenal. The map was very back and forth that was until Get Right began warming up by taking more favorable duels.

Round 10 was an imperative one as SK went for a high risk buy with FalleN and ColdZera both on glass cannon (no armor) AWPs. But the high risk buy didn’t pay off, it resulted in a lost round. Nonetheless, SK never learned their lesson from this. The Brazilians then went for an even more dangerous buy-in with two AWPs and an auto sniper. The result of this was the same, a loss. At this point NiP had a huge lead with the map at 10-3. Pyth’s fragging transitioned well from Train to Cache and this time Forest joined him. The first half ended at 10-5 to NiP. SK managed to cling on picking up an extra two rounds.

Half time

A great headshot from Forest gave NiP an instant advantage, from this they grabbed the pistol round. However ColdZera responded immediately with fantastic headshots on two of the NiP players each of them taking only one bullet each in quick succession. The world class Brazilian helped bring the score to 6-12, then continued on to win a 1v1 to close the gap further to 7-12. ColdZera put in a top tier performance winning yet another 1v1 clutch, despite the amazing plays the Swedes led 12-9.

Xizt
Xizt (courtesy of HLTV.org)

The Ninjas in Pyjamas had their backs against the wall. The Brazilians were beginning to breathe down their necks. When they needed it most Forest confronted an on-form ColdZera and won out. At round 26 the map started heating up. ColdZera, Forest and Pyth were all playing incredibly well. Likewise Brazilian captain FalleN began hitting his targets. The score was 14-14, the map came down to the wire. NiP snatched the huge 29th round with a clutch double kill from Pyth. Xizt came alive with the auto sniper in the final round of the map with a deadly headshot to FalleN. The map ended 16-14 to Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Game 3 – Cobblestone

NiP came out firing in the pistol round in the third map of the IEM Oakland grand final. Additionally with all the advantages the Swedes continued the momentum and went 3-0 up. However it changed during the first buy round for SK Gaming, FNX shut down the last remaining NiP player. Regardless of this NiP were firmly in control of the game. The map looked promising for the Swedes lead by Xizt who had eight kills and only one death in the opening six rounds.

Taco grabbed three crisp P250 kills to put SK at 2-5. Equally important was ColdZera’s 4k a round after, whilst on an eco round. In spite of the small hiccups the Ninjas kept a handle on their lead, even though the tension for them increased. Round 15 saw SK Gaming at a slight disadvantage in their arsenal with FER only on a CZ. However a great round from FalleN rendered the CZ purchase a non-factor for the team. SK remained behind by five rounds, at 5-10.

Half time

Pyth
Pyth (courtesy of HLTV.org)

The Brazilians barely took the second half pistol round as Pyth put the team under immense pressure. The Swede almost managed a sneaky defuse but was eventually spotted out. SK continued to sweep the Ninjas in Pyjamas, only losing one player in the 18th round. At round 21, SK were on the heels of NiP. Again they lost only one player and were closing the gap at 10-11. The all Swedish side struggled to cope with a red hot ColdZera.

 

Round 23 was tense for the young Brazilian Taco. The rifler clutched out a 1v2 on the terrorist side whilst the CTs had to defuse the bomb. Dropping two rounds behind NiP had to come up with something. Xizt on the auto sniper was that something. He picked up three kills with the Scar 20 to bring the score to 13-12 to SK. Despite being in the lead, Forests form began to intimidate the Brazilians who decided to take a couple of timeouts.

Similar to the previous map the score was at 14-14 in the grand final. Get Right, Forest and Friberg pulled it out of the bag for the Ninjas, everything connected for them when it mattered most. SK went into the final round of the map with Tec-9s in the hopes of taking the map to overtime. For the Brazilians beating NiP with only Tec-9s was too much to ask. After picking up a kill and managing to get crucial information before going down, Get Right sat nervously hoping he’d done and seen enough. Friberg and Forest benefited the most from Get Right’s efforts and they closed the round. The Swedes won 16-14 and were crowned IEM Oakland 2016 champions.

NiP lift IEM Oakland shield
Ninjas in Pyjamas – IEM Oakland Champions 2016 (Courtesy of Yahoo Esports)

IEM Oakland – The CS:GO Semi Finals Overview

The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) semi finals took place on the 19th November. The Oracle Arena, Oakland, hosted some of the biggest teams in CS:GO including SK Gaming, Natus Vincere and Ninjas in Pyjamas. We have a look at the teams competing in the semis and who progressed to the grand finals.

Semi final teams:

  • SK Gaming vs Astralis
  • Faze vs Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP)

Semi final game 1

Astralis vs SK Gaming

The first game of the semi finals was between the all Danish team, Astralis and Brazilian giants, SK Gaming. SK were coming into this game red hot after hard-countering G2 esports in the quarter finals. Similarly, Glaive was proving to be a great addition to Astralis.

Game 1 – Train

SK Gaming set out, determined to intimidate the Danes by living up to their execellent reputation on train. However Astralis knew they’d be making a huge statement if they were to defeat the Brazilians on their most dominant map. SK stayed true and easily took the opening round. The economic advantage put them comfortably ahead 3-0, with the help of a 4k from ColdZera. After a success execute of flash bangs between the middle of the trains on A site FER got an imperative double spray on Device and Kjaerbye. On round six Astralis could finally afford to go toe-to-toe. SK were shut down when they got introduced to Device and his friend the AWP.

Device
Astralis’ Device (Courtesy of HLTV.org

The Danish star’s opening round AWP frags caused SK a lot of problems. The score was 5-2 to SK, but at the same time Device was becoming quite content especially with the support Glaive provided. A nice double kill by the newcomer got Astralis their second round on the board. Device’s early frags were key to getting Astralis warmed up, the game was tied at 5-5. The Danes were on a hot streak now, winning eight rounds in a row. Despite the streak SK managed to make a healthy recovery, they’d brought the game to 7-8 at half time.

Half time

Astralis won the pistol round on their terrorist side. Two more flawless cleanups by the Danes put them at 11-7. SK clearly were on the back foot. Round 22 was an important one for SK who had become the victors of it after FNX and Taco successfully closed out the 2v2. After round 26, SK began to hit their stride. Astralis’ poor economy forced them into an eco buy. This only aided in clarifying the amazing CT side of the Brazilians. Their high win rate became very apparent, FER’s clutch quad kill put SK in front at 15-14. In final round SK Gaming stole the game from Astralis in an extremely close back and forth battle. Although Astralis had lost they could certainly go back to the drawing board with their heads held high.

Game 2 – Mirage

SK took the opening round from their CT side. The next few rounds were straight forward the Brazilians led 4-0 punishing Astralis’ poor economy. A good pistol round by Xyp9x gave Astralis some hope, 2-4 the score at round six. Going into round nine the game was tied at 4-4 an impressive AWP performance from FalleN kept SK Gaming in the lead. A beautiful flank by FER on round 12 bagged him three kills. SK stretched their lead going four rounds up. The beautiful CounterStrike continued Taco came up big gaining three AWP kills whilst defending A site. Taco’s short hot streak helped the Brazilians finish the half seven rounds ahead, it was all going their way.

Half time
Fallen
SK Gaming’s Fallen (Courtesy of HLTV.org)

Yet again SK took the pistol round, but this time FalleN and ColdZera closed the round in a tight 2v2 battle. With their backs against the wall Astralis answered back. Xyp9x’s impressive triple kill during the teams eco round was very much an inspiration. The Dane continued to win them yet another round after a second triple kill. At the 22nd round the score was 13-8 to SK Gaming.

Momentum carried for Astralis as they were catching up. As a result the Danish side were reading SK’s T side play very well, although the score still sat at 12-13 to SK. Nevertheless the early reads couldn’t contain the firepower from the Brazilians. SK’s back to back wins put a stop to the streak. FalleN and ColdZera’s clutch plays had the Danes rattled. Taco’s amazing 2v1 clutch closed the game and the series for the Brazilians. His great rifling earned them place in the grand finals.

Semi final game 2

Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Faze

Lead by new in-game leader Karrigan (formerly of Astralis), Faze put in a good showing at this tournament. For NiP they were welcoming back Pyth and ready to resume activity after a painless victory versus Immortals in the quarterfinals.

Game 1 – Nuke

Faze took the opening round with a sneaky defuse from Allu. Despite the cheek, Forest got NiP their first round on the board with a smart play to get the bomb plant and the winning pick. However NiP were not winning many round yet were still buying into each one. Faze punished the constant buy-ins from NiP. Karrigan came up huge with a lovely wallbang headshot to Pyth with his low-cost scout. Faze were up 4-2. Unfortunately it slumped from here, Allu was clearly under-performing. The Finnish player only managed one kill in nine rounds. Whilst Forest and Xizt began carrying from the terrorist side. NiP gained a huge economic advantage. The Faze clan struggled to keep Forest at bay.

Round 12 was a bit shaky for NiP who were beginning to get comfortable. Consequently they’d underestimated the skills of the Faze individuals. Rain hit a couple of beautiful scout shots and instantly took two players out of the round. The Ninjas made a narrow escape to take the round, despite the bad early start. The half finished 10-5 to NiP led by veteran Forest, who was on fire winning almost every duel. Faze’s good early start was cut short.

Half time

The Swedes continued to add the heat coming into the second half. Pyth’s incredible USP pistol 4k had the crowd on their feet. However Faze managed to cool NiP down after the pistol round. They played passively choosing their moments to strike. Faze clan took the rounds from 5-10 to 11-11. Aizy stepped up and gave the Swedes problems on their T side. As a result, with the game tied Pyth took down Kioshima in a close 1v1, NiP had their lead back. Cracks started to show in Faze’s T side now. Ninjas in Pyjamas completely shut down Faze without losing a player. Their lead extended to 13-11. Despite the small set back, Faze showed no signs of letting the game go, the back and forth continued. Although NiP were in the lead for most of the map, suddenly Faze were on map point at 15-14.

Faze failed to close out the game, therefore the map continued into overtime. NiP star man Get Right chose the auto sniper but the focus wasn’t on him. Xizt stole the spotlight when his search for information ended up being much more than he bargained for. The Swede picked up two easy frags, a perfect introduction to overtime. In similar fashion it was the Xizt show picking up multiple frags every round during OT. As a result, NiP closed the game flawlessly giving Faze no room to get any overtime.

Game 2 – Train

The five man Faze side put up a solid defense on their CT side in the opening round. Furthermore the financial boost meant Karrigan could assert his dominance with a nice famas spray to kill three NiP players. An amazing grenade thrown by Allu took down two from the terrorist side to secure their 3-0 lead. Faze arrived firing on all cylinders this map. However the first full buy round was upon them. This round was exhilarating as Faze went for a successful panic defuse. It was a close shave for Kioshima who was clouded in smoke whilst Forest’s bullets whizzed past his chest.

Meanwhile Karrigan and Allu began hitting their targets with their AWPs there wasn’t much NiP could do. The mixed European team were dominating train. So far NiP had only a single highlight, Friberg’s impressive sneak bagged him two easy headshots. Despite Friberg’s ninja like moves the score was 6-2 in favour of Faze. Afterwards the hiccups from Faze persisted, Forest began warming up. The impressive frags from the veteran were nostalgic. Despite Faze becoming unbalanced, they reverted to a double AWP setup. With the Faze clan at 7-5 the expensive buy had to pay off for them. It did, the Ninjas were defenseless. The last round of the half was secured by Kioshima’s auto sniper the counter-terrorists were sitting pretty at 10-5.

Half time
Karrigan
Faze’s Karrigan (Courtesy of HLTV.org)

In addition Faze’s commanding presence carried through to the second half with a pistol round win. While failed eco rounds forced NiP into a high-risk full buy in an attempt to go toe-to-toe. However nothing was gained from this, the lost round for NiP was soul destroying. The Swedes were nine rounds down on budget buys. Although Forest was putting in an MVP level performance the 1v2 clutch was too much to ask. Faze led 15-5 and NiP were staring defeat in the face. Nevertheless Forest was unwilling to give up so easily, punishing the terrorists when NiP had scraped the money together for an AWP. But the gap was too big to close resulting in a defeat for Ninjas in Pyjamas. The map ended 16-6 to Faze.

Game 3 – Overpass

Determined to put the last map behind them NiP storm into Overpass immediately taking the pistol round as terrorists. In addition NiP remained in full control of the game with a 3-0 lead including successful bomb plants. Despite the healthy economy of the Swedes, Faze were ready to prove themselves in the Oracle Arena. Kioshima turend up and won a brilliant 1v4 clutch. Wrong footing Forest in a critical 1v1 to take the defuse. Furthermore, inspired by Kioshima’s play, the Europeans progressed to take two more rounds. Although Faze managed to win rounds NiP were having no problems entering the sites. At 6-4 to NiP, they decided to switch up their tactics, consisting of a late rush. To their dismay running down the clock never paid dividends. As a result the Xizt was unable to plant the bomb in time.

Half time
Forest
NiP’s Forest (Courtesy of HLTV.org)

Faze lagged behind, they had a constant string of low budget buys. However thanks to Allu’s well-played round they snatched the last round of half time. The half ended 9-6 in favour of NiP. Forest’s nice USP 2k led the team to a pistol round win. NiP punished Faze on their important first full buy. Xizt and Forest shut down the opposition, the score 13-6. Finally Faze executed a well thought out plan and were closing in. Rain came up with some beautiful AK 47 spray transfers, including a double kills whilst the enemies were in smoke. The Norwegian was attempting to match the level of Forest.

On the 25th round NiP were forced into an eco, however they luckily managed to save an AWP. Ultimately, the saved AWP, saved the Ninjas. Armed with the sniper rifle, Pyth bagged three crucial kills to put the Swedes on map point. Desperate to remain in the tournament Rain beat out Xizt in a heated 1v1. Faze gained rounds on NiP, the teams healthy economy put NiP on the back foot. The European mix of players clinched three extra rounds before succumbing to defeat. Losing only Pyth and Forest in the round, Get Right, Friberg and Xizt banded together to close the game. NiP progressed to the grand finals of IEM Oakland winning 16-13.

Overview: Gfinity’s CSGO Tournament at EGX

This year I attended EGX in Birmingham, UK to cover the Gfinity CS:GO Invitational. For the CS:GO fans that missed the event here’s a chance to catch up on all the important details. 

The Gfinity CS:GO Invitational consisted of four European teams. These four teams were 2015 winners Team EnVyUS, Mousesports, GODSENT and Epsilon Esports. These four teams battled hard to take home the $50,000 first place prize. On Friday 23rd September the tournament begun with the first match on LAN, all French side Team EnVyUS vs Epsilon Esports. The next day we’d see Mousesports against GODSENT and Sunday, the grand final.

Team EnVyUS vs Epsilon Esports

Mousesports vs GODSENT

Grand Finals

 

Team EnVyUS vs Epsilon Esports

 

Epsilon Esports CSGO Team
Epsilon Esports – left to right. BARBARR, disco doplan, freddieb, REZ and draken.

For the underdogs Epsilon this was an opportunity for a big break. However, Team EnVyUS had other ideas coming into the first map Mirage. The map was over before it had even begun. The French roster strolled into a 3-0 lead on the T side after taking the pistol round. They were only contested once Epsilon were able to complete a full buy. This recipe for disaster left Epsilon trailing behind 5-10. After another comfortable pistol round Team EnVyUS closed the first map 16-5.

The next map was Cobblestone one of Epsilon’s best maps. Draken starting landing important AWP shots becoming a threat to EnVyUS’ CT side. The Swedes lack of experience held them back from winning the game in a convincing fashion. EnVyUS were playing patiently, picking their moments to strike and capitalising on the enemy mistakes. The game got to an astonishing 10-10 after Epsilon took both pistol rounds for themselves this time. EnVyUS’ smart timings on when to force buy was keeping them in the game, especially Happy’s desert eagle shots. At 14-14 the game started growing in intensity.

Epsilon Esports
Epsilon celebrate after disco doplan clutches the game-winning round vs Team EnVyUS.

When the pressure was on, Epsilon’s superstar had arrived. EnVyUS committed to another force buy but were punished by disco doplan this time, getting an amazing three kills in a 2v4 clutch to end the game at 16-14 to his team.

Moving onto Cache Epsilon showed no signs of slowing down. Their solid pistol round resulted in a 6-2 lead. Draken impressed with an amazing AWP flick shot to win a 1v2 clutch. The great plays of the team’s main AWPer extended their lead to 12-3 at half time. But the Frenchmen were not swayed by the scoreboard. Epsilon were put on the back foot immediately, losing the pistol round and ecos that followed. Team EnVyUS went on to win seven rounds in a row. The lead that Swedes had worked for began to diminish. Eventually the semi final was decided in double overtime, DEVIL ended the game with a demoralising ace.

 

Nuke was the next map in the schedule. Epsilon lost the pistol rounds, which resulted in detrimental eco buys. The first half ended 9-6 to Team EnVyUS with a few easy rounds for the French side. REZ’s nice pistol plays couldn’t save them. EnVyUS asserted their authority only dropping one round in the half. KennyS produced the goods with many AWP kills. The EnVyUS AWPer couldn’t be contained by the Swedes. Epsilon lost the game 7-16.

EnVyUS and Epsilon shake hands
Team EnVyUS progress to the final.

 

Mousesports vs GODSENT

 

Mousesports
Mousesports – left to right. chrisJ, oskar, NiKo, Spiidi and Denis.

Saturday’s action brought us Mousesports vs GODSENT, with Cache the first map. In common CS:GO fashion the pistol round winners claimed an early 3-0 lead. GODSENT took the lead, however it wasn’t without any first half hiccups. Mousesports’ starlet NiKo was always going to be a problem for the Swedes. The Bosnian’s consistent high level play put Mousesports ahead 9-5 at half time. GODSENT found weaknesses to expose against the mixed European side. Oskar, Mousesports’ new main AWPer struggled to put up respectable numbers. GODSENT capitalised on his poor performance and costly mistakes. The all Swedish roster managed to come back and close the game at 16-11.

NiKo and Spiidi
NiKo and Spiidi celebrate after the game

The second map had everyone hyped, Mirage. According to analysts this was the best map for both teams, it was expected to be an exciting game. This did not come to pass. Mousesports were firing on all cylinders from the T side. NiKo, again was stretching the defence of GODSENT. The Germany-based team led 12-3, GODSENT were getting completely rolled over and Oskar all of a sudden wasn’t exploitable. The Swedes were prolonging the inevitable, as NiKo was impossible to stop at this point. Mousesports made a clear statement closing GODSENT’s best map 16-5.

On the third map Dust2 it was a much closer affair. Mousesports’ CT side wasn’t as solid as the prior times. The first half was incredibly tight between both teams. Spiidi and Denis most surprisingly keeping the European team in the game. After a back and forth first half, the game eventually steadied at 14-14. JW and KRIMZ managing to keep GODSENT in contention and bring the game to overtime. Their efforts were short lived as the oldest member of Mousesports chrisJ stepped up to take the game 19-17.

GODSENT struggle
GODSENT can’t find an answer for NiKo.

Overpass was where GODSENT looked to improve after their demoralising defeat. GODSENT’s experienced players were able to get a few rounds in the first half due to their good positioning and overall team strategy. Their weakness was their communication in skirmish scenarios. The Swedes struggled to win rounds where effective communication was imperative like 2v2 situations. ChrisJ was even allowed to grab a 1v3 clutch to extend Mousesports’ lead. The mixed European team managed to finish the half 11 rounds in front. At 13-2 GODSENT began to realise the harsh reality they facing. GODSENT never won any rounds in the second half of the Overpass map, the game ended 16-2 to Mousesports. Mousesports progressed to the grand finals with a 3-1 series win.

Grand Finals

Four teams became two for the Gfinity Invitational Grand Finals, Team EnVyUS vs Mousesports. The first map going into the final was Cache. EnVyUS were the first out the gate to get a lead with their force buys paying off. Mousesports struggled against the Frenchmen. EnVyUS dealt with Mousesports even with their risky all-in buys. They finished the opening half 11-4. Coming into the second half the tides turned for the mixed European side. Mouz had gained full momentum after taking the pistol round, steadily catching EnVyUS to bring the score to 11-11. NiKo yet again had the Frenchmen scratching their head at how to control him, however a switch in tactics helped them close the game in overtime. Good performances from Happy and apEX meant the game ended 19-17.

Mousesports took pistol round going into Cobblestone, however they never capitalized on it. As a result EnVyUS punished Mousesports with force buy antics. Most noteworthy was Happy and apEX pioneering the French to a 5-1 lead. While NiKo did all he could, his flashes of brilliance couldn’t restrain Team EnVyUS. Although he achieved multiple kills in some rounds, Mousesports’ economy constantly got reset. The first round of Cobblestone finished 5-10 in EnVy’s favor. Team EnVyUS kept up the pace going into the second half, yet it was the young Bosnian again keeping Mousesports in contention. NiKo provided the team with a more stable economy to apply pressure, while EnVyUS waited it out for a full buy. The full buy paid off, Happy’s AWP 3k gave his team the win.

Happy
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Happy.

The German-based team came out all guns blazing and all shots on target in Dust 2. ChrisJ and Denis had the most notable pistol performances giving Mouz a 5-0 lead. As a result the boosted economy meant the team had much more freedom, especially relevant was NiKo and ChrisJ’s clutch 2v4 situation to take the score to 9-2. Team EnVyUS desperately tried to find something but the first half ended 4-11 to Mousesports.

When in serious need of a pistol round, EnVyUS had found it. The Frenchmen took the momentum forward, while Mousesports were continuous forced to ecos. These budget purchases meant EnVy could slowly get back into the game. The mentality of the major winning players came into full effect. KennyS was a man on a mission and his AWP shots were on target now, at the deadliest time. At 14-13, Mousesports cracked under the immense pressure EnVyUS put onto them. Spiidi and Oskar were nowhere to be found now, whilst KennyS and apEX were more than accustomed to the situation. However it was DEVIL that stepped up to bring the game to a close, with a triple kill to take the Gfinity trophy. Team EnVyUS won the game 16-14 and the series 3-0.

Team EnVyUS lift Gfinity Trophy
Team EnVyUS lift Gfinity Trophy

 

Please follow me on Twitter TheEmpress00 and PixelFire Gaming. All pictures taken by me.

My Interview with James Bardolph

jamesbJAMES BARDOLPH IS THE VICE PRESIDENT OF FACE IT MEDIA AND ECS COMMENTATOR AT FACE IT LTD.DIRECTOR OF ARMSHOUSE TV, ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FIGHTING GAME BROADCASTING COMPANIES AND TOURNAMENT ORGANIZERS.

I received quality answers from the esports businessman that I thought were worth sharing. I managed to get his opinions on PixelFire’s tournament the Hitbox Challenger Cup. Additionally advice for young people wanting to get into the esports industry. James Bardolph is an expert in the esports industry with a lot of solid business knowledge.

Some questions during the interview maybe specific to the United Kingdom, as it is the location of James and I.

1. HOW DO YOU LOOK TO IMPROVE THE UK CS:GO SCENE? TO GET MORE PEOPLE INTERESTED ETC (NOT JUST CALL OF DUTY / FIFA).

Depends on what you mean specifically, as it is a question thrown around a lot, mainly in reference to lack of a competitive team in CSGO.  On lower levels the scene is good in my opinion, and that is from someone who attends LANs themselves (I attended i55 LAN with a team). If you mean getting more people involved in CSGO, I think more large scale live events like the ECS finals at Wembley will encourage people a lot. Also a great opportunity for people who have met and played together online to meet in person and forge stronger relationships with each other. Perhaps events like that can help expose people to the existence of LANs in the UK like Insomnia and epicLAN. I think a lot of it is about exposure, both to people playing now who may not be aware of their local competitive scenes and also to a mainstream audience who would find it interesting.

2. WHO IMPRESSED YOU THE MOST DURING ECS SEASON 1 FINALS AND ESL ONE COLOGNE 2016?

I think it has to be Shox’s G2 who impressed the most, they beasted everyone. They were written off as a team following the exit of Ex6TenZ, and what a great way to prove people wrong. Shox playing towards the top of his capability, and ScreaM finally finding the way to unleash the beast. Everyone likes an underdog as well. The way they ran over FalleN’s team on maps the Brazilians have shown strength on was amazing.

At ESL One Cologne for me it was Liquid’s run to the final. They beat big teams to get there, tons of exciting individual play, and everything was against them. After the horror stories from their previous major where they lost multiple huge leads, the storylines from Hiko’s video as well and his CSGO career to this point, s1mple’s farewell Liquid tournament it was something beautiful to witness to watch them make the run. Such a great story. Was an honour to commentate some of it.

3. WHAT ARE YOUR OPINIONS ON THE HITBOX CHALLENGER CUP AND THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SMALLER TEAMS?

I like it – it’s a small cup so viewers can easily understand the storylines and follow all the teams in the tournament, and it also gives exposure to teams outside the usual suspects which is great and important for the ecosystem. We’ve seen through FPL that increased exposure to more players leads to more opportunities for everyone which is fantastic.

4. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ESPORTS JOURNALISTS?

If you are a budding writer wanting to get into journalism, don’t get stuck doing basics like interviews. Look at Richard Lewis, Thooorin, Lurppis and real articles on various websites. Be informed about your chosen subject to write about and check and double check your information. When I had more time with photography, I always wanted to do documentary photography, however I never got beyond taking photos at protests/marches (the easy stuff) so indeed I was a basic bitch in that respect. Don’t make that mistake. Much sure you educate yourself on what makes a good journalist. Perhaps get a copy of the book ‘Essential English for journalists, editors and writers) especially if English is not your first language.

5. WHAT ARE YOUR OPINIONS ON GINXTV COMING TO SKY SPORTS?

The more exposure the better. Our ECS finals were on Ginx and a chap I used to work with randomly tuned in and saw us on there which is pretty cool. I know people who have worked with Ginx a bit and I think they are a good company to work with to give esports more exposure. Going up to the first question about the UK Scene this will definitely help! Hopefully journalists will pick up on this soon and ask more questions (ideally not ‘is esports sports’).

6. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LESSER KNOWN ESPORTS CASTERS?

Get demos/replays of games and commentate them yourself, ask commentators you respect for feedback. When you think your commentary is to an acceptable level at the very least, start uploading commentaries to youtube on your own channel, then email every org you can think of and offer your services. Tell them who you are, where you live and your general availability. If you are able to stream yourself let them know, if your connection is not good enough let them know you can be a secondary online commentator or you can commentate in person. I would have started commentating Counter Strike much earlier but my home connection still to this day has .7 upload.

7. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF GAMING LOUNGES SUCH AS MELTDOWN BAR AND OMEGA SEKTOR?

I’m very familiar with Meltdown Bar, when my main job was still commercial real estate I actually helped them find their premises. It’s another great way for people to get involved and meet people, also if you have a crap PC or connection these bars are a great help. Every city I go to, if I have time I seek out a gaming cafe to play some CSGO and see what the community is like. I’ve recently found lots of smaller community-run gaming cafes which are great to see. The more the merrier.

I would like to thank James Bardolph for taking the time to answer our questions. You can follow his twitter page and my twitter.

Overwatch: A worthy eSport?

Written by Joanne “TheEmpress00” Watson. Date: 03.08.2016.

This FPS has a competitive mountain to climb.

Turner Broadcasting have recently announced an Overwatch Open. As ELeague will now include Overwatch in its television broadcast, a critical look will be taken at how engaging this will be for the spectators and analysts of the game. After a successful first season of ELeague, broadcasting Valve’s CounterStrike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), there are a lot of changes Blizzard would have to make in order to consistently gain a respectable amount of viewers.

“It’s too casual!”

A statement Overwatch fans have heard on too many occasions. For eSports fans it became quickly apparent that there were downsides to watching competitive play. Blizzard were forced to make changes such as limiting each team to one unique hero each to prevent duplicates. Good move. However advocacy for competitive Overwatch is whittling as most games are complete chaos that lack depth. Unlike a game such as CS:GO that requires one less player (five) on each team and is approached in a careful, much more tactical matter allowing for new viewers to follow and become easily engaged. Currently Overwatch is a mess as the camera cannot keep up with the amount of actions being performed simultaneously, routes a player takes and when they use their abilities for example. The spectator mode features no demos, no different angles to view the game from and no replays. No addition of a mini-map hinders the experience too. A player’s position on the map can be used to predict an area of focus for the camera before it’s too late. Currently the focus is during the action, making it difficult to see who initiates the attacks etc.

“Give us the numbers!”

Statistics are imperative to anything classified as a sport or eSport. Having barely any data to analyse at the end of a competitive game is simply detrimental to it.
Fans and people within the eSports industry need to know the following information at the very least:

  • Damage done
  • Healing done
  • Damage blocked
  • KDR (Kill to death ratio)
  • Objective time

From here averages will be calculated. Based on the information so many different decisions can be made such as purchasing a player, making predictions, writing a feature article and determining who the best player is.

Due to this Overwatch will have a very tough time portraying itself as an eSport via television and online. Although it’ll be good for the exposure of the game, the total pandemonium in the end will hold it back. Adjustments need to be made by Blizzard and fast.

When Sports and Esports Collide #1

Written by Joanne “TheEmpress00” Watson. Date: 15.07.2016.

I take a look at how sports and esports are coming together.

For sports and esports fans, here is a guide that keeps you in the know of professional sports teams and players that are entering (have entered) the space. This is making esports much more exhilarating as the industry develops and matures. Professional sports teams are much more organised and already have a general idea of how to manage players to ensure a comfortable environment and security. This exciting combination gives the esports industry a lot more exposure to general sports fans who might not have known about esports beforehand.

We’ll look at the teams specified below and their involvement within esports:-

 

FC Schalke ’04

schalke

The second biggest German football club entered eSports after purchasing the League of Legends team Elements. They decided to takeover the team after analyzing the professional gaming scene’s growth for some time. The former Elements team now play in the FC Schalke shirt featuring the addition of the word “eSports”. The Bundesliga club looks set to confirm their place in the eSports world.

VfL Wolfsburg

wolfsburg

Along side FC Schalke in Bundesliga stands VfL Wolfsburg who are making a name for themselves by stepping into competitive FIFA. Seems like its becoming the next innovative step for professional football clubs to take. Wolfsburg signed one of the best FIFA players in the UK, David Bytheway. David stated that he doesn’t think it will be long until English Premier League teams start following suit, he was correct in his statement. The German team said that they saw the potential in eSports and wanted to be one of the first professional sports teams on board.

Beşiktaş Club Gymnastic

Besiktas

The Istanbul based team Beşiktaş were the first professional sports club to step into eSports with the acquisition of Aces High eSports club. The Süper Lig (Turkey’s highest football league) champions have a League of Legends team playing in the Riot owned Turkish Champions League. A representative at Beşiktaş stated that they always want to be at the forefront and want to be the first to do something revolutionary in the history of Turkish sports. For a well established team like Beşiktaş this is a new way to draw in the younger generation to support them going forward both on and off the pitch.

Manchester City FC

mancity.png

Last month English Premier League side Manchester City signed professional FIFA player, Kieran “Kez” Brown. For the northern side this is their first entrance into eSports. Kieran will be representing the club during major tournament and fan events. It’s becoming clear that football teams would like exposure in more than one field as the popularity of the competitive gaming scene begins to rocket year upon year.

West Ham United

WHU

The Hammers also picked up a FIFA player in Sean “Dragonn” Allen. Sean will represent the East London side during FIFA tournaments and was given a custom West Ham shirt specifically for events. For professional sports clubs this is definitely an excellent way to gain global exposure.

Santos FC – Santos Dexterity

santosfc

Last year the Brazilian football club Santos requested partnership with the eSports team Dexterity. Dexterity, a multi-game eSports organization decided to put pen to paper with Santos FC to form Santos Dexterity. The legendary football club that famously nurtured the likes of Pelé, Robinho and Neymar Jr now have an eSports team in the following games:
– CounterStrike: Global Offensive
– Heroes of the Storm
– League of Legends
– Call of Duty
– Smite

Saski-Baskonia

baskonia

This Spanish basketball team has also incorporated an eSports division into its infrastructure. Baskonia eSports is starting by creating a team for League of Legends, CounterStrike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, FIFA and NBA2K. Picking up the veteran jungler Alvar “Araneae” Martin to coach their League of Legends team. Mario “Mariodela” Lorente a top Spanish Hearthstone player has also been welcomed to represent the Liga ACB (highest Spanish basketball league) team.

Echo Fox

Echo_Fox_logo

Former NBA basketball player Rick Fox decided to create an eSports organization with influences from his days as a professional athlete. Rick stated that he is passionate about eSports and its a scene he was eager to get into. Echo Fox is an eSports team competing in League of Legends, CounterStrike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. It is exciting to see where eSports will take us with such sports talents becoming so heavily invested.

NRG eSports

NRG.png

NRG eSports came into action in late 2015 owned by the co-owners of the Sacramento Kings (NBA). Other notable owners came in March of this year these included NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, designated hitter Alex Rodriguez formerly of the New York Yankees and Jimmy Rollins a professional baseball shortstop who retired after playing for the Chicago White Sox. With such a noteworthy backing NRG look set to rise up and the ranks to becoming one of the best organizations within eSports. At the moment they have teams within League of Legends and CounterStrike: Global Offensive.

Rise Nation Gaming

rise

Young NFL star Rodger Saffold is a huge fan of competitive gaming and with Call of Duty being one of his favorite games he decided to invest. The St. Louis Rams offensive lineman was hooked on watching Twitch.tv and started to watch MLG events. Shortly after, he bought Rise Nation Gaming which for now is primarily focused on Call of Duty.

 

Back to the top

Tournament Incoming: JoshOG’s Overwatch Invitational

Written by Joanne “TheEmpress00” Watson. Date: 17.06.2016.

$25,000 prize pool Overwatch Tournament

The incredibly popular CounterStrike: Global Offensive streamer JoshOG has announced that he will be hosting an Overwatch tournament. The tournament is set to go ahead sometime later this month. We are yet to receive any information on who will be competing or when the exact date of the invitational will be.

With over one million followers on his Twitch.tv channel it’s clear to see JoshOG is a successful streamer. Twitch.tv has come a long way since 2011, with over 100 million visitors per month. As JoshOG is organising the $25,000 prize pool tournament alone it displays the popularity of game-streaming and the levels of success that streamers can reach.

JoshOG is a committed streamer that’s currently entertaining his followers with Overwatch content. As the game’s player base continues to increase so does the level of competition. It’s going to be exciting to see who decides to partake and when the tournament will begin.