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NA LCS Expansion tournament concludes this weekend

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NA LCS Expansion tournament concludes this weekend

For the last four teams hoping to join the North American division of the League of Legends Championship Series, this weekend represents the moment of truth. A mix of eSports hopefuls and veteran League of Legends players are fighting for two spots in the 2015 spring split.

For some of them, it would be a dream come true. For others, it would be a last chance to get it right.

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The 2015 WCS StarCraft 2 season begins, but is it too much of a good thing?

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The 2015 WCS StarCraft 2 season begins, but is it too much of a good thing?

Following eSports sometimes feels like going to Hell’s Ironic Punishment Division, where you’re force-fed your favorite things until you go mad. “You like eSports, Homer? Have all the eSports in the world!" This weekend, with three major StarCraft tournaments concluding on the same day, is one of those times.

But eSports scheduling clashes are nothing new. What’s surprising this time around is that these tournaments all have championship implications for 2015. Less than a month after StarCraft crowned its world champion, the 2015 campaign has already begun.

I’m not sure I like it.

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Why pro StarCraft 2 has rejected the classic maps

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Why pro StarCraft 2 has rejected the classic maps

If you tune into any StarCraft tournament this month or next, you’ll note that everyone is playing on the same map pool we’ve had since midsummer. In fact, just last week, the DreamHack Open Twitter account reassured viewers that DreamHack winter would be decided using the Season 3 WCS map pool.

What’s striking about all this is that every single tournament organizer has rejected Blizzard’s Season 4 ladder map pool, which was compiled via fan vote from a list of StarCraft 2’s oldest and best-known competitive maps. While fans might wax nostalgic about the days of Daybreak and Ohana, the pro scene seems to be saying that the past is best left to memory.

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David Kim and the impossible balancing act of StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

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David Kim and the impossible balancing act of StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

Blizzard designer David Kim is “the balance guy" for StarCraft 2. His name is at once a curse and an incantation, the Godot of StarCraft. If something is broken — and something always is — it is Kim’s fault. But Kim will fix it. Kim will make it worse.

It’s easy to parody Kim. His role is one of inherent conservatism. He’s constantly dealing with the physics of avalanches. His goal is to try and ensure that each race can beat every other race roughly 50% of the time, all other things being equal. But then he must also look at how those games are being won and lost, and ask whether StarCraft remains an entertaining and rewarding game to play and watch.

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Smite's European teams duke it out this weekend for a spot in the World Championships

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Smite's European teams duke it out this weekend for a spot in the World Championships

Smite’s still building up to the MOBA’s World Championship event in January next year, and this week will see European teams clash in Cologne, Germany. It’s the final hurdle for the Europeans, and the top two teams will secure a spot in the World Championships.

The European Championships kicks off on November 15th, at 5pm CET. 

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Radical changes for WCS StarCraft in 2015 — the full rundown

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Radical changes for WCS StarCraft in 2015 — the full rundown

Speaking of StarCraft’s Global Finals, Blizzard have just announced some fairly comprehensive changes to the way the WCS is going to work in 2015. Gone are WCS Europe and America and in their place is a single league for non-Korean players. Meanwhile, Korea is rolling out a brand new individual league alongside the storied GSL.

But as with any and every change to competitive StarCraft, the real question is whether these changes reflect a dying game and community, or the dawn of an exciting new era for the venerable RTS? The answer, of course, is yes.

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WCS StarCraft 2 Global Finals round of 16 starting now

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WCS StarCraft 2 Global Finals round of 16 starting now

StarCraft’s 2014 WCS series is in its closing stages, and the Global Finals are kicking off right now as the sixteen top-ranked players in the world compete for a $100,000 grand prize. Today’s round of 16 is just getting under way, and features some absolutely fantastic matchups. Those who survive today’s best-of-five matches will move on to the quarterfinals at BlizzCon next weekend.

It’s a very long day of StarCraft, however, and not everyone will want to buckle in for 12 hours of play. So here are the must-see matches of the round of 16.

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Business of eSports panel: eSports big brains drop knowledge tonight

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Business of eSports panel: eSports big brains drop knowledge tonight

It’s a bit mind-blowing to consider the rapid growth of competitive eSports. It really wasn’t all that long ago that the scene was made up almost entirely of amateurs setting up LAN matches in caves, but now pro players and international competitions bring in audience sizes that rival traditional sports. Like any sport, though, making a career out of it is not a walk in the park. You’re sitting down for a lot of it. 

With the Red Bull Battle Grounds Grand Finale impending - it kicks off this weekend - Georgetown University is hosting a Business of ESports panel, starting shortly. Panelists from Twitch, ESL and eSports journalism are joined by Sean “Day[9]" Plott to discuss and offer advice on how to navigate the waters of eSports, making a career out of competitive video gaming. 

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A Region Reborn - NA League of Legends Championship Series Playoffs crown TSM

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A Region Reborn - NA League of Legends Championship Series Playoffs crown TSM

The five game final in the North American playoffs between Team SoloMid and Cloud9 was all about pride, and getting the best possible seed at 2014 Worlds. But while TSM won by the skin of their teeth, both teams’ reputations were secure. They remain the clear masters of the North American LCS division, and their real test is yet to come.

But for Counter-Logic Gaming and Curse, the playoff season was one of heartbreak and disappointment. Despite the two teams’ tremendous efforts to change their fortunes this season, and surprisingly strong showings from both of them over the course of the 2014 campaign, the bitter end of the season crushed both teams’ high hopes.

It also showed that, for these once-proud American teams, the road back to the top of competitive League of Legends is a lot longer than one season.

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Esportsify wants to make the business of eSports easier

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Esportsify wants to make the business of eSports easier

This year’s Dota 2 International saw over 2 million concurrent online viewers drinking in the competitive spectacle, while teams from across the world fought for a prize pool of $11 million. It was even broadcast on ESPN, with the network saying they were “delighted" with their own undisclosed figures. 

During Gamescom, at ESL One Cologne, 856 years of Counter-Strike: GO was consumed by nearly half a million people. The tournament broke viewing records for the game by 160 percent. ESL One Frankfurt had over 12,500 people filling up the arena each day, while millions watched the streams. 

As the success and popularity of eSports reaches new heights, greater levels of professionalism and organisation are called for. Communities need to be managed, brands need to be developed and funding - for those trips all over the world - has to be found. This was the impetus for Esportsify, an eSports community platform developed by Xfire’s Gavin Weeks.  

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Hearthstone pro joins Blizzard as associate game designer

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Hearthstone pro joins Blizzard as associate game designer

As eSports have become more prominent, the question of what the hell one does after they stop pro-gaming has been getting raised more. Riot’s even got a rookie camp that aims to not only teach League of Legends players how to market themselves and conduct themselves during interviews, but also prepare them for a career after eSports. 

In the case of Hearthstone player Ryan "Realz" Masterson, a job at Blizzard was where his career has taken him. The ex-Mana Grind leader took an associate game designer position with the Hearthstone and World of Warcraft developer after enjoying several tournament victories and becoming a notable streamer. 

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Last chance to make the finals: Red Bull Battle Grounds Detroit has begun

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Last chance to make the finals: Red Bull Battle Grounds Detroit has begun

Red Bull Battle Grounds Detroit kicks off today after last month’s event in Atlanta. Once again, 128 StarCraft II players will send their forces against each other in hopes of making it to the final in Washington DC this September. 

Seven players have already secured their slots from the previous Battle Grounds, including last month’s Atlanta winner, Choi “Bomber" Ji Sung. You can watch this weekend’s fights below.

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ESL One Cologne: 856 years of Counter-Strike was watched by nearly half a million people

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ESL One Cologne: 856 years of Counter-Strike was watched by nearly half a million people

EMS One Katowice was a pretty big competition, pitting Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams against each other in one of the largest eSports tournaments at the time. But that was back in March, and ESL One Cologne recently broke records for Counter-Strike viewership, outdoing Katowice by almost 160 percent. 

Viewership, both in-game and through Twitch, reached a whopping 409,369 people, all watching world-class teams compete for the $250,000 prize pool. 

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Riot wants to help eSports players plan for old age, otherwise known as mid-twenties

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Riot wants to help eSports players plan for old age, otherwise known as mid-twenties

ESports is a young person’s game. While retiring fairly young is common in sports generally, it’s even more pronounced in eSports, with mid-20s being the average for retiring from professionally playing League of Legends, for example. 

But Riot’s trying to prepare pro players for a career once they hit that age bracket. 

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ESPN "delighted" by Dota 2 viewing figures; expect more eSports coverage in the future

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ESPN "delighted" by Dota 2 viewing figures; expect more eSports coverage in the future

While there were a few people who tuned into ESPN’s coverage of the Dota 2 International and became distressed, confused and, in some cases, downright angry, the sports broadcaster was “delighted" with how the coverage went. 

The apparent success of ESPN’s International schedule has, a source close to the broadcaster told The Daily Dot, led to it looking to expand coverage of eSports.

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IeSF opens male-only Hearthstone tournament to all genders, changes policy for good

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IeSF opens male-only Hearthstone tournament to all genders, changes policy for good

The wider news world tends to discourage public u-turns by punishing politicians for ‘flip-flopping’. But a turnaround at the right junction can be a win for all: the replacement of a gross negative with an unmitigated positive.

So it is here: the South Korean eSports organisation which previously prevented women from competing in Hearthstone has revised its rules. Its designated male-only tournaments will henceforth be open to all - and they’re keeping their female-only events in an effort to “improve representation".

If you're some how not playing the elegant CCG, you should read our Hearthstone review and find out why you really should.

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Dota 2 tournament ESL One Frankfurt had over 12,500 spectators in the arena each day

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Dota 2 tournament ESL One Frankfurt had over 12,500 spectators in the arena each day

ESL One Frankfurt 2014, the recent Dota 2 tournament, was the largest eSports competition in Germany and one of the largest worldwide. More than 12,500 spectators crammed into the Commerzbank-Arena to watch the matches each day, while ESL says millions more watched the streams.

We really do need more of this sort of thing in the UK, something Jules championed in regards to League of Legends live events earlier today. As someone who only goes to see the occasional rugby match, I don’t often find myself getting the chance to enjoy passionate crowds roaring and cheering as teams and players clash.

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2.4 billion hours were spent watching eSports in 2013

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2.4 billion hours were spent watching eSports in 2013

eSports saw significant growth last year as more time was spent watching the likes of League of Legends, Dota 2 and Starcraft II battles. Despite mainstream news and sports coverage in the US, it’s still presented as fairly niche outside of the industry, but a report from IHS Technology claims it is anything but. 

The report states that hours spent watching eSports rose from 1.3 billion hours in 2012 to 2.4 billion hours last year. This includes watching eSports online through platforms like Twitch as well as on TV. 

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eSports Titanics and financial icebergs - What ESGN's problems mean for eSport

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eSports Titanics and financial icebergs - What ESGN's problems mean for eSport

Last week, OnGamers broke the news that the ultra-ambitious eSports venture ESGN (eSports Global Network) has run into massive financial difficulties after less than a year of operations. With staff still waiting for overdue salary and a possible strike looming, the future looks shaky for this much-hyped organization that promised eSports their first sports network.

But the truth is, ESGN’s difficulties say little about the health about eSports and a lot more about the types of ventures eSports attracts. From the first, ESGN were another eSports Field of Dreams. Now, with the promised audience yet to materialize, that dream is in danger. In eSports, reality must always have its due.

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