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EA know eSports isn't stopping - and want to get involved

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EA know eSports isn't stopping - and want to get involved

Sports! The generalised, foam hand-waving, anything-with-a-ball sense of the term. That’s the world new EA CEO and triathlonite Andrew Wilson came up in, as chief custodian of FIFA, Madden and the NHL games. It’s a world he understands.

But now somebody’s gone and stuck a new vowel to the front of the word, and it’s become an entirely different beast. Companies who aren’t EA are filling LA stadiums with baying video game fans, and Wilson and friends would like a slice of that pie chart to show to their shareholders, please.

To that end, the CEO is eyeing up the publisher’s series’ as potential eSports candidates - and not just the ones about men in shorts.

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Even esports had a montage: watch the Katowice 2014 highlights

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Even esports had a montage: watch the Katowice 2014 highlights

Katowice, Poland played host to one of the biggest esports events to date, recently. Intel Extreme Masters World Championship finals featured both Starcraft II and League of Legends, while the EMS One finals pit Counter Strike: Global Offensive players against each other for a prize of $250,000. It was won by Virtus Pro, who walked away with $100,000 of the sizable prize pool. 

If you missed the live streams, you can catch up with the highlight reel ESL has put together. Take a gander below. 

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Hard times for Protoss in latest StarCraft 2 balance patch

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Hard times for Protoss in latest StarCraft 2 balance patch

Blizzard’s latest balance patch for StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm attempts to address the disparity between Protoss and Terran, which has become one of the biggest issues in the game.

In keeping with Blizzard’s cautious approach to balance, they’ve made some significant tweaks that will hopefully address the major problems without radically overhauling the way the factions play. Still, there’s no getting around it: Protoss are hit hard with this patch.

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Let’s check the replay: GOM eXP are releasing three years of eSports for free

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Let’s check the replay: GOM eXP are releasing three years of eSports for free

Do you remember exactly where you were during the WCS finals of 2011? Or perhaps that blindingly great match during the GSTL in 2012? Now you can relive those moments thanks to GOM eXP’s YouTube channel, which is now home to every season of eSports they’ve covered for the last three years. And whatsmore, you won’t have to pay a penny. 

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Our Spotlight units plug content our journalists have made, that our advertisers want to promote. Sometimes the promotion is paid for, but the content they go to is always independent with no client oversight or approval.

How Gfinity are trying to level-up UK eSports

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How Gfinity are trying to level-up UK eSports

The UK is not generally known as a major eSports hub, but the young Gfinity eSports company are hoping to change that with an ambitious set of eSports events in 2014 and regular broadcasting to go with it. While Gfinity have mostly worked with Call of Duty in the past, they’re now getting into the broader eSports market with Dota 2, Counter-Strike, FIFA, and StarCraft 2.

We talked with Gfinity’s COO Paul Kent about who Gfinity are, why they’re trying to make the UK an eSports hub, and how they’re going to succeed.

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IdrA leaves the game he hates: No more Starcraft II streaming from Greg Fields

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IdrA leaves the game he hates: No more Starcraft II streaming from Greg Fields

Greg "IdrA" Fields today revealed his intention to stop streaming Starcraft II and go back to school. "Over the last 6 months or so streaming revenue has been nearly nonexistent, in part because of awful ad rates and in part because of continually declining viewership," writes Fields. "Casting sc2 tournaments pays very poorly, when considered a significant part of a full time job. A couple thousand dollars for a weekend of talking about a game seems nice, but when it happens maybe once a month it is not a good way to live."

Although he might get involved in e-sports again, for the time being he's taking a break. "I'll be going back to school. I have no plans to stream dota, or any other game right now, as I get very few viewers for it and I feel dumb inviting people to watch me be bad at something."

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Starcraft II tournament being sponsored by Ender's Game on Blu-Ray, of all things

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Starcraft II tournament being sponsored by Ender's Game on Blu-Ray, of all things

Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment are sponsoring an upcoming Starcraft II tournament to plug the Blu-Ray and DVD release of sci-fi romp Ender's Game. It's a first, a movie studio sponsoring an e-sports event, and it's a little bit peculiar. 

The tournament, awkwardly titled "The Ender's Game on Blu-Ray Tournament", will be broadcast on Twitch and MLG.TV between February 5th and 22nd with 32 participants and $20,000 in prize money up for grabs. You can vote for the final 4 of 16 competing in the MLG leg of the tournament between February 3rd and 5th.

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Riot fine League of Legends pro Bjergsen $2000 for poaching another team's players

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Riot fine League of Legends pro Bjergsen $2000 for poaching another team's players

Remember that whole fiasco between progaming teams Ninjas in Pyjamas and Lemondogs as they attempted to trade an LCS spot between them, only to have Riot quash it with a rules change?

Today, Riot added a new twist as they fined Ninjas in Pyjamas’ former mid laner, Soren Bjerg, $2000 for his role in the affair. They found that he was guilty of poaching members of the Lemondogs team, which is odd because it’s usually teams and not players who do the poaching. So how did Bjergsen find himself in the middle of all this? Hint: eSports aren’t always wildly professional.

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As progaming team Quantic implode, a new installment of a sadly common eSports story

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As progaming team Quantic implode, a new installment of a sadly common eSports story

Ko "HyuN" Seok Hyun is a tremendous professional StarCraft 2 player who enjoyed an incredibly successful 2013, during which he won DreamHack Valencia, finished second at MLG’s spring championship, and racked up a slew of semifinals appearances in other major tournaments. He should be be at the top of the world right now, except that he may never see a dime of the $23,000 he earned in prize money and salary. Now, with his Quantic team unraveling and his CEO gone missing, one of the best Zerg players in StarCraft may be depending on the kindness of strangers to continue his career.

What’s surprising about this story is that it’s happening to a major player in StarCraft 2. But when it comes to the basic storyline — an absent manager, vanished prize money, financial defeat from the jaws of progaming victory — Hyun’s story is a depressingly familiar one in the world of eSports.

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Shakeups in StarCraft as star players Bomber and MC leave their respective teams

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Shakeups in StarCraft as star players Bomber and MC leave their respective teams

In a pair of ambiguous announcements, Choi “Bomber" Ji Sung announced that he was departing the StarTale StarCraft 2 team while SK Gaming revealed that they were parting ways with their sole StarCraft 2 star, Jang “MC" Min Chul. Neither player’s plans are entirely clear yet, and it’s just the kind of news that will have people guessing about their own intentions and the overall health of StarCraft 2 eSports.

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Discovering Infinite Crisis - How Turbine are building a superhero MOBA with a soul of its own

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Discovering Infinite Crisis - How Turbine are building a superhero MOBA with a soul of its own

Over lunch, Turbine’s Adam Mersky, director of communications, puts it this way, “We have a little experience of going into markets with 800-pound gorillas."

He’s making the case for why Turbine are ready to to succeed in a MOBA market dominated by Valve’s Dota 2 and Riot’s League of Legends. Turbine have historically been an MMO studio, never the team behind the genre-defining smash hit of the day, but surviving several booms and busts with highly-regarded games that speak to a passionate fan base.

“Everyone called characters in Lord of the Rings Online ‘toons’ [old WoW slang for player-characters] for like, the first eight months. But then once they play, they understand and ...start forming their own culture around it. But at this point, you need a point of reference, right?"

Infinite Crisis’ point of reference, for both its potential audience and often for its own developers, is League of Legends. But its guiding inspiration is the the DC Comics universe. It should be a match made in heaven, but first Turbine need to find a way to reconcile their two major influences. Infinite Crisis’ first battle is being waged daily by the development team, as they attempt to define it on its own terms.

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Evil Geniuses' League of Legends team splits, EG to North America, Alliance forms in EU

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Evil Geniuses' League of Legends team splits, EG to North America, Alliance forms in EU

One of the oldest rosters in professional League of Legends, the five-man Evil Geniuses squad of Snoopeh, Froggen, Krepo, Wickd, and Yellowpete, has finally broken up amidst some odd rebranding and an apparent restructuring of the way the Evil Geniuses business works.

The entire story is a little hard to parse, but the bottom line is that Evil Geniuses' European squad has effectively ceased to to exist. Instead, three of its members are heading to LCS North America to compete as the Evil Geniuses team while two remain in Europe under the EG-affiliated moniker, Alliance.

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Riot restrict streaming for League of Legends pro players, ban certain games outright

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Riot restrict streaming for League of Legends pro players, ban certain games outright

Yesterday, eSports-focused editorial site OnGamers broke the news that in the contracts for the 2014 season of LCS, pro players will have certain restrictions on what they are allowed to stream. Unsurprisingly, Riot don’t want their top pros to be streaming (and effectively advertising) other MOBAs on their public streams... but neither do they want them playing Hearthstone, Diablo, or World of Anything At All.

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2014 WCS changes - How Blizzard are improving professional StarCraft 2

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2014 WCS changes - How Blizzard are improving professional StarCraft 2

Here at the sharp end of the 2013 eSports calendar, we can start to see what the next year of StarCraft will look like. In the past few weeks we had the WCS Global Finals, the DreamHack Winter StarCraft 2 Finals, Red Bull Battle Grounds, IEM Singapore, and the finale of the World Cyber Games. It’s been a packed schedule, but also a diverse and entertaining one.

It’s also hopefully a sampling of what awaits us next year as Blizzard make some much-needed and long-awaited changes to their World Championship Series. If they bear fruit, we should have a 2014 competitive season that is easier to follow, more enjoyable to watch, and features a more diverse set of tournaments and players.

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Esports Apocalypse 2013: DreamHack Winter, World Cyber Games, and IEM Singapore all in one weekend

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Esports Apocalypse 2013: DreamHack Winter, World Cyber Games, and IEM Singapore all in one weekend

Stop stuffing that bird and listen, dammit. You may have thought this was a holiday weekend or, if you’re from the UK, a week where Americans celebrate their Pilgrim forebearers and appropriate Native American symbols while indulging in a little familial gluttony. Maybe you thought you’d do some holiday shopping.

Well listen up: eSports doesn’t care about what you thought this week was about. It cares about one thing and one thing only: making sure that this final weekend of November is packed with round-the-clock eSports. Tonight, IEM Singapore strikes under the cover of darkness at 3 AM GMT / 10 PM Eastern. Then the World Cyber Games follow at 5:30 AM GMT / 12:30 AM Eastern. Then, just when you’re recovering from that, DreamHack Winter bursts on the scene tomorrow at 12:30 GMT / 7:30 AM Eastern..

What madness is this? What should we watch? I’ll tell you.

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The must-watch StarCraft match of Red Bull Battlegrounds - Bomber vs. Scarlett Game 3

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The must-watch StarCraft match of Red Bull Battlegrounds - Bomber vs. Scarlett Game 3

There was a lot of great StarCraft at Red Bull’s New York Battle Grounds event, but no series was as tense and dramatic as Sasha “Scarlett" Hostyn’s slugging match with Choi “Bomber" Ji Sung. Their third-game was an emotional roller coaster as perennial fan favorite Scarlett took on one of the best and cockiest Terrans in the game. It was a shoe-in for the best of 2013 highlight reel.

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Red Bull Starcraft finals playing out right now

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Red Bull Starcraft finals playing out right now

Eight players are duking it out in Starcraft II for a tasty prize of $50,000 at the Red Bull Battle Grounds NY this weekend, with Day[9] and Totalbiscuit providing commentary. Here's a breakdown of all eight competitors, if you want to find your favourite or get initiated. Today's the final day, so it's sure to be filled to the brim with dramatic, desperate clashes. 

You can watch the whole thing on Red Bull's Twitch stream right below. 

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One game of StarCraft: Jaedong and Dear at Blizzcon, and the meaning of competitive StarCraft

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One game of StarCraft: Jaedong and Dear at Blizzcon, and the meaning of competitive StarCraft

The moments after a closely-contested sportsmatch always find me feeling shipwrecked. Like a spell has been broken, the fever-pitch intensity melts away. A place that was invested with meaning and excitement turns back into a large arena full of empty seats, stage lighting, and discarded cups of beer and coffee.

Walking back through the crowd at the WCS Finals at Blizzcon, moments after Lee Jae Dong had just beaten a strongly-favored Baek "Dear" Dong Jun, I couldn’t stop pondering the meaning of what I’d just seen. It wasn’t the end of the tournament, there were two semifinals and a final left to play. But I also knew that, barring a miracle, their five game series was the best and most important thing I’d see at Blizzcon.

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