June 30, 2007

LANDodger’s List of Things You’ll Need Before Reading or Writing 64 Predictions:

1) A case of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. We want to get through this alert, not drunk.
2) A bathroom stop before attempting to conquer the mountain. Either that, or a catheter.
3) Some helpful distractions. You don’t want anything that will draw you away for too long, but something to give you a nice two-three minute rest.
4) Gumption.
5) Lots of time.
6) A tranquilizer gun, just in case somebody tries to bother you. Or in case you need a quick nap.
7) An undying love for lame jokes, puns, and pop culture references.
8) More Gumption. And MORE COWBELL.


The bell tolls for thee. (I'm not sure if that's in context.)
If you think you meet these requirements, read on. If you need some time to prepare, I don’t blame you. Step away, get yourself gumption-ed up, and come back. 

I tried to give you a little background on all the teams, but let’s face it, there’s a lot of information here.  If I didn’t spend much time on your team, I promise it’s nothing personal. If you're looking for information on the tournament, go here. I just started at the top of the bracket and I'm working my way down. Good luck to all the teams, and hope you guys enjoy reading the preds. (If you get through all of them, you get a gold star.)


Serious Gamers vs. IThinkTheyreGoingLongAYatheyre@A – This is the first of a few matchups that seem staged. There’s no way the randomized drawing could produce Serious Gamers playing the longest, most ridiculous CAL name I’ve ever seen, right? There has to be somebody with a sense of humor behind this. Either that, or SkyNet is evolving a sense of humor.

That being said, it’s actually a solid match. SG is 4-0 in CAL-O, and ITTGLAYT@A is 3-1. I won’t pretend to recognize all the players, but I know of gamb1t on SG and he’s got some high-level experience. They’ve had an easy time in CAL-O thus far, and I’m going to give them a win here.

I just hope SG has strats that don’t revolve around Long A, because clearly the other team is ready for that strategy.

SG > ITTGLAYT@A 16-10


Creation of Destructive Entities vs. The Bill Cosby Seakings – I think these both of these double as garage-band names, too. I don’t know what a “Bill Cosby Seaking” is, but if it’s anything like a Sea King from One Piece, it’s large, a threat to ships, brightly colored, and probably striped or polka dotted. 

Both of the teams are 2-2 in CAL-O, which means it could end up 16-1 or 19-17. There’s just no telling. TBCS have a 29-1 victory on their record, so that’s a little impressive. CODE has a FF win and an overturn win, so I’m going to go with TBCS based on the results from one match.  I’m desperate, okay?

TBCS > CODE 16-12


Enemy Down vs. Fragtech – Rather than play against each other, they should probably combine and get both of their jobs done better. Clearly, Fragtech is a gaming company dedicated to helping you frag, and Enemy Down is a team busy fragging enemies. It just makes sense.

I’m not sure where the name Fragtech came from, because they’re pretty much the old n3mesis roster. n3m was a CAL-Main playoff team in Central a few seasons back, and although Enemy Down has some impressive wins in CAL-O, I don’t think they’re going to hang with Fragtech here.

Frag > Enemy Down 16-6


Dismay Gaming vs. ROFL Gaming – Seriously, this can’t be possible. This is not random. I was only a little worried about SkyNet before, now I’m ready to order a fallout bunker, extra food and water, and possibly some frozen DNA to repopulate the Earth. I’ll hide it in a canister of shaving cream.

They’re both in CAL-O, Dismay is 4-0 and ROFL is 3-1. I’m going to give it to Dismay based on the strength of their wins, nobody has gotten more than eight rounds against them yet.

If ROFL takes some Zoloft before the match, they might be able to beat Dismay though. Just a warning.

Dismay > ROFL  16-11


ToySoldiers vs. recKoning – You know what I just realized? This is already 700 words long, and I’ve only done four predictions. Only sixty more to go, and at this pace we’ll have about 10,000 words. That’s a good length for a college essay, not a set of predictions.

recKoning is CAL-I. ToySoldiers is CAL-O. That’s good enough for me.

recK > TS 16-5


Some Cool Name vs. Recon Syndicates – SCN is a 4-4 CAL-Main team, and Recon Syndicates is 4-0 in CAL-O. I’d usually give a huge boost to the Main team, but Rsyn used to be a CAL-Invite team. I’m not sure if the roster looks anything like it did before, but I recognize a couple names at least. I’m going to go with the upset here.

(On a side note, Rsyn needs to get some names that don’t start with J on their roster. Twelve total members, including Joe, James, John, Josh, John (2), Jerard, and Jesse. Did Jesus turn them down? Couldn’t find a Johan?)

Rsyn > SCN 16-13


PROclivity vs. Three Times Blessed – From this point on, any team that has the word “pro” in their name has to capitalize it. It just looks awesome, man.

It’s a battle of the 4-0 CAL-O teams. 3xB gets points for a cool tag, PRO loses points for PRO being capitalized. Plus, 3xB was in Main some season ago, and that has to count for something.

3xB > PRO 16-10


Bananas in Pajamas vs. Kaution – Kaution lost 1-29 to a team in CAL-O. I’m sorry, but I can’t, in good conscience, predict a team to win if they lost 1-29 and the other team is undefeated. 

Also, there’s another guy named gambit on BiP. Whatever happened to Wolverine being the most popular guy on X-Men? Do people like gumbo and explosive cards that much?

BiP > Kaution 16-8


Hypocrite Gaming vs. Impetus-#wootgaming
– Hypocrite lost 2-28 to a team called “ERFQUAKE!” There’s nothing I could say here that would be funnier than saying “ERFQUAKE!” over and over again.

They also have a 3-27 loss on their record, and Impetus has done a little better, going 3-1 in CAL-O. I’ll give it to them.

Impetus > HG 16-8


Team.fa vs. volatile – Volatile is a 2-5 CAL-M team, and team.fa is 3-1 CAL-O.  My socks are securely on my feet even after seeing the 2-5 record, but I have a hard time imagining them losing in the first round to team that’s not dominating CAL-O. 

Plus, I think Heather Mumm (volatile) might be Jon “juan” Mumm’s sister. I’m not sure, Mumm is a pretty popular name and I didn’t confirm that. But we all know Juan is CAL-I, and CAL skill is a dominant gene. That must mean she’s CAL-I, too.

volatile > team.fa 16-6



Smeagol, seen here before the evil-deagol corruption.
Vagary vs. Premium Gaming – We’ve got a 1-4 CAL-IM team (Premium) going against a 3-1 CAL-O team (vagary). It’s a tough match for two reasons. 
One: I know absolutely nothing about either of these teams.

Two: a 1-4 CAL-IM team is approximately equal to a 3-1 CAL-O team. 

It pains me to predict against a team with a guy named “Smeagol and his Deagol” on it. It’s a name that not only appeals to my love of corny jokes, but also my love of Hobbits. Still, I’m – aw, heck, who cares. Long Live Smeagol and his Deagol!

Premium > Vagary  16-14


Panty Raid vs. 5150 – 5150 is 5-2 in CAL-M, and even though Panty Raid has a great tag, I can’t go against a Main team for a 4-0 CAL-O team.

5150 > PR 16-12


The Real Untouchables vs. Fingers
– The bunker is looking good. I ordered a bunch of stuff online, just in time. Untouchables and Fingers. This is too much.

TRU is a CAL-Invite team, and all of those teams should be able to make it past the first round.

I hope so, anyway, or else my predictions are screwed.

TRU > Fingers 16-4


Kinetic vs. Cyber Phenom – Kinetic is having a decent season in CAL-IM (3-3), but again, CP is CAL-I. Even though I think they should bring back the “Chaotic Penguins” name, I can’t predict against them.

(Seriously, just do it, guys.)

CP > Kinetic 16-4


Total Chaos Gaming vs. Mom’s Perfect 5 – Insert “your mom said I was a perfect five … IN BED” joke/flame/story here.

Mom’s Perfect 5 also sounds like a Futurama reference. In fact, we could combine the two jokes, and end up with the episode where the Professor has to seduce the nine-hundred year old corporate tycoon. On second thought, let’s not. Scary, scary images.

mp5 is tearing up CAL-Main, and TCG is doing alright in CAL-IM, but they shouldn’t threaten Mom’s group.

mp5 > TCG 16-5


Legerity vs. Impossible Is Nothing – If impossible is nothing, and then getting 16 rounds on Legerity must be nothing, too. For anybody that loves math:

If “Impossible = Nothing”, and “16 Rounds on Legerity = Impossible”, then “16 Rounds on Legerity = Nothing”.

Who said I didn’t pay attention in fifth grade math?

Legerity > i2N 16-3


Fragout vs. itsamassacre – This matchup sounds like something a surfer would say. 

“Dude, look at that guy fragout. Itsamassacre, man.” 

Either that, or somebody that’s high. It could go either way.

IAM > Frag 16-5


carb0n vs. HURRICANE – Did putting a 0 in carbon really make it cool? Really? Come on, now. It’s freaking carbon. If they changed their name to carbonite, then we’re talking. That stuff’s great, you can freeze stuff, bring it back to life, and watch it stumble around because it can’t see anything. (Excellent for torturing insects and small mammals.)

HURRICANE has a decent record in CAL-IM. And being from Florida, I’m afraid if I predict against them, I’m risking the wrath of real hurricanes. Believe me, that’s no fun for anybody.

HURRICANE > carb0n 16-9



This is a picture preview of the PhuKt-Gaming/obsceNe! match.
PhuKt-Gaming vs. obsceNe! – Again, this seems like too much of a coincidence, but even SkyNet wouldn’t go this far. I’m blaming CAL|Gancorz. I think he took the funniest matchups and did those manually, and then he randomized the rest. It’s the only logical explanation. PhuKt-Gaming vs. obsceNe! Puh-lease.



By the way, is there any team in CAL-O that has a losing record? All the teams I’ve looked at have been at least .500, and I’ve been checking out some of the defeated opponents, too. I haven’t found a single 0-4 team yet. Did CAL sweep them all under the rug out of embarrassment?

obsceNe has much better results thus far, and I think they’ll take this match pretty easily.

obsceNe > PG 16-8


Dirt Nap Squad vs. {OSK} – I’ll let you in on a little secret: when you’re on the 20th prediction out of 64, despair starts to set in. To keep morale up, I suggest playing a little game with yourself. To illustrate, I will now play the “Make the shortest possible prediction while still making sense” game.

Dirt Nap Squad is a better team.

DNS > {OSK} 16-11


emptyshell vs. iue5
– IUE5 has a better record in CAL-IM.

IUE5 > emptyshell 16-9


Wild Purple Smash vs. Check-Six – Wild Purple Smash is:

A) The mascot for Wild Purple High School
B) The name of a rare STD found in grapes
C) The nickname for the Minnesota Vikings’ defense
D) A new drink from PepsiCo. (Tagline: “It’s Smash-tastic!”)

No matter what you answer, you can’t go wrong.

x6 shouldn’t lose for the first few rounds.

x6 > WPS 16-2


Checkmate! vs. Just Cause Project – Isn’t that fun? I even went overboard for “Wild Purple Smash”.

Again, jCp is in the same league as Checkmate! and they have a little bit of a better record. They’ve only got one loss, and that’s to a 5-0 team.

I really want to make a “I think it’s only check, not check-mate” joke here, but I’ll spare you.

jCp > Checkmate! 16-10


More predictions are coming, but I thought I’d publish these and give people a chance to read them. There should be around 23 predictions in this batch, so we’re over 1/3 done! Hooray! 

Stay tuned if your team doesn’t have a prediction yet!


 
June 30, 2007

Now I know what Sauron feels like. My freakishly large eye was so focused on CAL that I forgot to make sure plucky adventurers weren’t sneaking CEVO information past me. They almost got away with it. Thankfully, the Internet (a series of tubes) is bigger than Sauron’s ugly mug, and I caught this story before it was gone forever.

So, if you missed it: CEVO decided to let all the CGS teams into CEVO-P, even if they didn’t qualify in the Placement Tournament. This affects four teams: the NY3D, the CHImera, the Venom, and eXploit gaming. (eXploit didn’t get drafted into the CGS, CEVO just needed an even number of teams.)


"I used to be the Evil King of Middle Earth. Now I'm doing carnivals just so I can afford Fourth Meal from Taco Bell.

I have mixed feelings about this. As a fan, I’m excited about any chance to see the top teams play each other. They bring the best competition and the biggest rivalries. But something about the arrangement seems under-handed, like letting your buddies into an exclusive club through the back door. You’ve been there before, you know they’re cool enough to be in the club, and you just want to save them the time of waiting in line. But just by using the back door the whole operation seems dirty. Thieves come in through the back door, not people that belong in the building.

This quote from CEVO Stevens doesn’t help, either:

To make sure there isn't confusion of misconception, although we have adapted a format similar to that of CGS's, this does not mean that we will be mimicking everything they do. CGS has an entirely different set of objectives than CEVO and we do not plan to run our Source operations as if we were somehow one-in-the-same. The teams that qualify in CEVO, will play in CEVO, and those teams that get drafted, will get drafted. Simply because they are drafted does not mean they deserve a spot in the Professional Division. Although they may be professional, all teams have their priorities. If those priorities are not somewhere in the ballpark of CEVO, then it will be proven in the Placement Tournament.

I think he might want a do-over. Not only is it the direct opposite of what just happened, but it puts the Placement Tournament on a pedestal. They’ve built up the PT as The Path to CEVO-P. If you want in, you go through the PT. There are no move-ups, only invitations to the tournament. Basically, they didn’t leave themselves any leeway for special exceptions. Now that there’s a need for special exceptions, it seems illegitimate. It wouldn’t be a problem at all if they just left some wiggle room.

The other thing I thought was interesting relates to CAL. Namely, if CAL did something like this, what would the reaction be? 

Let’s say Check-Six and Devastation, two current CAL teams, played in the CAL-PT and didn’t make it because they were focusing on CGS preparation. Then, after they got drafted as taxi teams, they had extra time and wanted to play in CAL again. Given their history and talent, CAL lets them back in. I think the community would be in an uproar. I think people would talk about admin corruption, favoritism, and bending over backwards for teams that aren’t interested in CAL while slighting “loyal” teams. There wasn’t much complaining on GotFrag about the CEVO news, though. Most people seemed to react the way I did: happy the best teams were playing, but admitting it was a little shady.

Part of the reaction is probably due to the caliber of the teams. It’s a lot different if you let 3D, the Venom, etc, in as opposed to a couple CEVO-Main or CAL-Main teams. But CEVO still essentially misled the participants by saying that the PT results are The Way to Professional. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, and like I said, I’m happy that I get to see those teams. I think it was worth noting, though, and it’ll be interesting to see if CEVO still places the same emphasis on the PT in the future.


 
June 30, 2007

Group A (zomblerz, n3mesis, No-Namers)

zomblerz > No-Namers 16-8
zomblerz > n3mesis 17-7
No-Namers > n3mesis 15-9

Zomblerz: 2-0, 33 RF, 15 RA
No-Namers: 1-1, 23/25
n3mesis: 0-2, 16/32


Group B (Upper, eMg, Tired of Winning, UNGAH!)

Upper > eMg 13-11
Upper > UNGAH! 18-6
eMg > UNGAH! 19-5
eMg > ToW 23-1
UNGAH! > ToW 19-5
UPPER > ToW 21-3

Upper: 3-0, 52/20
eMg: 2-1, 53/19
UNGAH: 1-2, 30/42
ToW: 9/63


Group C (Pandemic, Revived, Fuel, Fire)

Revived > Fuel 21-3
Pandemic > Fire 22-2
Fuel > Fire 13-11

P'emic:   8   9   17
Revived: 4   3   7

P'emic:  11  11   22
Fuel:      1  1      2

R'ived:  9  11   20
Fire:      3  1      4

Pandemic: 3-0, 61/11
Revived: 2-1, 48/24
Fuel: 1-2, 17/55
Fire: 0-3, 15/57


Group D (inRage, Sharks wit Lazers, Carnage, Cyber Phenom)

inRage: 9  8  17
Sharks: 3   4  7

Carnage:  9  5   14
Cyber P:   3  7   10

inRage:     5  6   11
Carnage:  7  6   13

inRage:   9  3  4 (OT)   16
Cyber P:  3  9  2 (OT)   14

Cyber P:  10  10   20
Sharks:   2      2    4

Carnage:  10  11   21
Sharks:      2    1    3


Group E (Turmoil, Brotherhood, Digitial Uprising)

Turmoil:  10  8   18
Brotha:  2  4   6

Brotha:  10  7   17
DigiUp:  2  5    7

Turmoil:
DigiUp:


Group F (Hyper, High Self Esteem, Gamings Elite, Team Dick)

Hyper
HSE:

Hyper:
GamE:

Hyper:
TDick:

HSE:
GamE:

HSE:
TDick:

GamE:
TDick:


Group G (Eximius, eGe, Slaughterhouse 5)

Exim:
eGe:

eGe:
s5:

Exim:
s5:

Tags:

 
June 30, 2007

After a long wait, we've got the CAL-I stats page up. Thanks to x6-Misty and CAL|Shawn for being the driving forces behind this project. I can't say enough about all the work they put into it, and I'm just happy I get to host them.

I added a link to the sidebar on the far right, but in case you're too lazy to mouse over there, here's a direct link.

Enjoy!

Tags:
CAL, LD News

 
June 29, 2007

I updated the Source rosters (again.)

Changes:

- Split the old PK roster into PK and Dumb Luck.

- Updated the Mug 'N Mouse roster.

- Added FL!pStYleZ to LucK's roster.

- Updated TRU's roster, including the proper national flags.


Many thanks to Jeff "FL!pStYleZ" Neilan, David "zDk" Figueroa, and Justin "Peace0ut" Mezzetta for the e-mail/forum messages!

Tags:
LD News

 
June 28, 2007

The CAL season is taking a little break while the eMazing Tournament (CAL forums) runs its course, so we’re having a little shift in focus at LD, too. 

I’ll be covering the tournament while it goes on, but the CGS is starting and I think that’s worth a little coverage, don’t you? Other than that, I’m going to be updating the Tournament Results and Upcoming Events pages, as well. If anybody would like to help me out and send me some LAN results, it’d be much appreciated. If not, I’ll dredge the murky depths of the internet looking for the right documentation.

As part of the upkeep, there are new Source Rankings out! I basically reset all the ranks since they were pretty old, and I expanded the list from ten teams to twenty. I thought the talent pool was deep enough, and more teams = more fun. In my opinion, anyway. I’ll also be adding CGS power rankings for the six CGS franchises. Those will encompass all the games rather than just focusing on the CS:S teams.

There will be some other updates in the near future, so stay tuned and hopefully you guys like updated content and the changes.

Tags:
CAL, CGS, LD News

 
June 28, 2007

You’ve just become one of the first six General Managers in a new league. Your first draft is starting. Everything is going smoothly. You aren’t hoisting the championship trophy yet, but there haven’t been any major wrenches thrown in your plans.

Then you make a really tough decision. Now you’re taking a Boo shower, a whole community is pissed off, and you’re dodging hate mail while defending not only your competency, but your sanity. How do you get yourself out of this predicament?

The answer is both strange and simple: you fire yourself.

That’s right. Give yourself a pink slip, explain that the company is going in a different direction, and clean out your desk by noon under orders from yourself.

(Are you listening, Mr. Dolven? I hope not. You should be reading this, not hearing it.)


This is an actual product from wavyhands.com. I think anybody you're firing might not appreciate the joke, though.
One caveat: don’t announce it as a firing. Simply hire somebody else to take the General Manager position, and take your rightful title of “owner”. That’s what you are, anyway. You’ve been given the reigns of a franchise. There is nobody higher than yourself; you are El Jefe. You may fire and replace little peons on a whim (especially if George Steinbrenner is your role model). So replace yourself, claim the ownership, and move on.

This would have a couple effects. First, you instantly regain credibility in the community. It takes a big man to publicly admit a mistake. It takes a Paul Bunyan-sized man to fire himself. And we, as a culture, forgive people who admit mistakes. Guillermo Mota took steroids, got suspended, admitted it, and he was cheered when he came back to the mound. Kobe Bryant has almost completely rehabbed his image. As long as somebody doesn’t keep letting us down, we’re willing to overlook a few hiccups; we’ve all made mistakes.

By adding a GM, you also have another trusted opinion on player evaluation. Instead of having a little voice inside your head saying, “this might be a bad move” you now have a person looking you in the eye and saying, “are you out of your @$*(%# mind”!? Plus, four communities are hard to keep track of. A franchise needs to know about all the prospects, undervalued players, over-rated players, etc. I think that’s too much for one person to handle. Having a GM would add valuable brain space, especially if you get somebody with a really big head. More head = more brain space. Just like a filing cabinet.

The weirdest thing about taking the new title is you’re one of the only people qualified to have it. You now have more combined knowledge about Dead or Alive, Project Gotham Racing, Counter-Strike, and FIFA than most people simply from being at the combine. Nobody would question your qualifications, just like nobody questioned them after you were originally announced as a GM. 

The best part about the whole thing: nothing really changes. An owner still has to approve all the moves a franchise makes. So you’d still hold the power over roster transactions, just like you do now, you have a smaller chance of making bad picks based on person bias, and you have a helpful helper to helpfully help you run the organization. Let’s review the best case scenario.

Bonuses

1) More credibility
2) Less stress
3) Less bias
4) Better title
5) Less death threats (possibly)

Negatives

1) Finding a competent GM
2) Being fired
3) Listening to a eSports blogger yell “I WAS RIGHT” every time he sees you at a LAN.

Now, the worst case scenario:

Bonuses

1) None. I think that's the least amount of good news you can get.

Negatives

1) Nothing changes. You’re still hated by the Source community, there’s no image rehabilitation, and you’ve fired yourself.

In other words, in the worst case scenario, literally nothing changes. In the best case scenario, you’re well on your way to putting out the fire on those flaming bridges. There’s only one thing left to do.

(By the way, Mr. Dolven, if you’re looking for a new GM … )


 

Notes before the predictions: EXTREMITY died since the last round of predictions, and Riot Squad isn’t scheduled due to some roster complications. They should be back on their feet soon, but the schedule is being altered so Check-Six is playing itsamassacre instead of RS.

I’ll have more on EXTREMITY later in the week. For now I will shed a single tear, wave a fond farewell, and move on with the predictions. Good luck in the future guys, hopefully we’ll see you back in CAL-Invite or at LANs in the future.


Check-Six vs. itsamassacre – Good news: itsamassacre gets to play a match this week instead of not playing EXTREMITY.

Bad news: they’re playing x6, a team that just moved to 5-0 and picked up BadappleS, a very talented player. 

I’m all about playing matches, don’t get me wrong. I’d rather every team played every match. But I’m also in favor of cheap wins when the alternative is crushing defeat.  IAM isn’t a bad team, but I think x6 is a little bit out of their league. 

x6 > IAM 19-11



When the LucK bandwagon looks like this, it's time to find other modes of transportation.
LucK vs. Cyber Phenom – In the LucK matches I’ve seen since teky played well on Dust2, he’s been missing.  Somebody find teky, please! I would like to see more teky! It’s not that they’re bad without him, they’re just better with him.

Speaking of being better, I was just looking at LucK’s roster and it appears messiaH, formerly of Visual Gaming, has resurfaced. I’m not sure if he’s just joining to help out for a season or what, but if he’s going to play for them it’s a huge pickup. I’m sure it has something to do with Allbrook being on the team since they played with each other on Forbidden and are currently roommates.

CP has played every match pretty close, and I think they’re going to lose another close one here. I think their chances here lie in the role players. Demonic can’t carry them by himself. If they get a good game out of TerroR or iNs, they’ve got a much better shot. 

I’m still on the LucK bandwagon, though. After two straight losses it feels like I have a little more elbow room, but I’m riding ‘til the wheels fall off, baby.

LucK > CP 17-13


Mug ‘N Mouse vs. PK – This was going to be a community match, but two things happened. 

One: nobody sent me anything. I can’t express my surprise in words. I lobbed up a pitch for some aspiring predictor or comedian to knock out of the park, and nobody even stepped up to the plate.

But that’s okay because of the second thing: PK underwent some kind of major roster change which would have made any predictions pointless, anyway. I don’t know what happened. I do know the effect of what happened: they’re a completely new team, and I have absolutely no idea how good they’ll be.

(It’s not a good sign for your team if four starters wake up one day to find they’re not on the roster anymore. I believe the proper line is: “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” Are Cool Hand Luke references lame? )

Although, it did bring up fond memories from my 1.6 days – namely, finding a “help me, I removed my whole team” forum thread every once in a while. I loved those things. The team leader gets drunk, or impaired in some other way, comes home and decides to become an army of one. Sometimes accidentally, sometimes as a “joke”, always after the roster lock. Since the rosters are locked, the person always had to crawl onto the forums and beg for mercy, basically. And I'd just sit back and wonder how somebody could "accidentally" remove five people from a team, considering it's a two or three step process for each player. People amaze me.

PK played against x6 with the new roster and held the match tight, but I’m not going to read too much into that. They’re still a new team, basically, and MNM has been playing really well. I don’t see PK winning against a top team until the new car smell is gone.

MNM > PK 19-11



Welcome back, jaywizzle. Now get back to work and win some matches.
electrify! vs. Hyper – I’m going to keep this one short since there isn’t much new information, and I think everybody is tired of TMNT jokes. 

Hyper is still 3-0, which they’ve been for some time. I still think they’re an upper-echelon team, but it’d be nice if we could see them play some more matches. (I’m not sure it’s their fault, it’s not like all the other teams have been playing matches on time.)

Only one thing to report for electrify!: Jaywizzle is back from vacation. They’re hoping to get more active, but I don’t think they’re going to take down Hyper without more than the occasional scrim. They barely lost to the new PK roster, but again, I’m not sure how to gauge PK yet. I’m going to give Hyper a slight edge. I think electrify! has the talent to win, it’s just a matter of how comfortable they are on Inferno. If they’ve been practicing more, or have natural chemistry on the map, they could pull off an upset.

Hyper > electrify!  17-13


Featured Match

The Real Untouchables vs. ajnin – I got a chance to watch ajnin during their victory against LucK, and I was a little surprised. I thought LucK would take that match, but ajnin played well. It seems like they have a few solid players and one or two guys that can dominate.  (n1x1n is one, and DoC was holding down CT side like a champ during the match. I’m not sure if that’s par for the course or not.) 

I haven’t seen TRU play since they lost dc, they had a 17-13 win over MNM, which is pretty impressive.  The 21-9 loss to x6? Not so much.  They’ve got a couple new faces on the roster, as well (blazed and bahrain). The good news is that CT side of Inferno isn’t very complicated. The rotations and setups aren’t complicated. The bad news is that the ease of the CT setup makes T side that much more complicated. You need total coordination for a strat to work, and that’s something that comes with time and practice. I’m not sure if TRU has had enough of either to be comfortable with the new players.

I think the match will come down to DoC’s AWP. If he can do as well as he did on Contra, ajnin should be able to hold down CT side and get enough rounds on T to win. If TRU can neutralize him, they’ll be able to get away with any potential chemistry issues. I’m going to give ajnin a slight edge, but it should be a good match to watch. 

ajnin > TRU 16-14


Legerity vs. eMg – Legerity is a good team, and I’m still stunned about the 26-4 beating eMg took. You don’t shake that thing off easily as a player or a predictor. Every time I predict them, it’s going to be in the back of my head, just like TMNT and Hyper.

At the very least, I’ll need to see a win or two before I give them the benefit of the doubt in a prediction.

Legerity > eMg 19-11


Devastation vs. reckoning – My upset pick from last round, LucK > Devastation, didn’t turn out so well. It was a 17-13 win for Dev, so at least it was close. I count that as a moral victory. Whenever I stick my neck out, even just a little bit, I’m relieved if it doesn’t get completely chopped off. 

I don’t know if this is a new development, but Grant “Griff” Hall is on Devastation’s roster now. He’s a top-flight player, and if he’s active he’s probably filling in for dubs during his suspension. That makes Dev a lot more dangerous. 

LucK also beat reckoning earlier in the season, and with Dev’s recent victory I’m going to give them a little edge here. I’d be a lot more confident if I knew Griff was going to play, but I’m assuming he’s on the roster for a reason, and it’s not just to say he was CAL-I. (I think he’s got that covered, already.)

Dev > recK 17-13


Warning! Side effects of these predictions may include: good luck to all teams, the predicted winners winning, and the predicted losers proving me wrong.


 

Quick update: I pointed out that GotFrag posted the regular season schedule for the CGS with an error.  Here’s the correct schedule, from the CGS site.

I’ll save you the trouble of comparing them; the problem is on July 22nd. GotFrag has New York playing Dallas, while the CGS schedule says the real matchup is San Francisco vs. Carolina. That puts everybody at twelve matches, which is probably a good thing.

Although, I’m sure some people will complain about having to see Carolina twelve times instead of eleven.


 

A lot of people have been wondering what the CGS schedule would look like. Wonder no more.

One problem: the schedule is wrong. Using my mega-uber-super reasoning and counting skills, I instantly noticed that the San Francisco and Carolina franchises were only scheduled for eleven matches, and New York and Dallas were scheduled for thirteen. 

(I don’t really have mega-uber-super counting skills, just a lot of time on my hands.)

Despite that, I’m sure it’s close. Which brings up the question: what’s the rush? There’s only twelve matches in the regular season. The Cubs play that many games in two weeks, and there’s another twenty weeks of pure misery after that. Basically, professional teams play as many games as physically possible. In football, that means once a week. In basketball, it’s a game every other day (approximately). Why not do the same thing for the CGS?

I can understand leagues like CAL and CEVO having a relaxed schedule. They’re not offering enough compensation for gaming to be a full time job, and having three or four matches a week would be ridiculous. People go to school, they have jobs, they go out at night; the vast majority of teams play in online leagues for fun. Even on the professional level, there isn’t enough compensation in CEVO to make CS a full time job.

The CGS doesn’t have that problem. The teams are totally committed, and if they’re not, they should be. I can’t think of anything the CGS gains by having such a short schedule except saving on production costs. But there’s nothing forcing them to televise all the matches, either. People outside the community won’t care, and people inside the community will still follow it online or watch on SourceTV. 


Note: your dog doesn't like broccoli any more than you do. He just loves you enough to take the bullet.

I know they have other scheduling concerns, namely what comes after the U.S. playoffs (remember, this is just Region 1 of 6). There’ve got the postseason, finals, an international tournament, and I think a “Gamers of CGS” swimsuit calendar shoot (unconfirmed).  It seems like they’re rushing through the regular season to get to the good stuff, like some kid feeding his dog broccoli so he can stuff his face with Ben & Jerry’s.  Personally, I’d prefer the regular season to have a little more emphasis. It builds rivalries and it shows which teams are versatile. Making adjustments is a huge part of professional sports. Just ask any pitcher that came up to the majors for a month and then started getting hammered. You’re not going to win doing the same thing week after week, except when there's only three or four weeks in the season.

The only good thing about this is the Carolina Core. Dolven said they’d be fine with four to five weeks of absolute bootcamping. I hope they had more luck with their Delorean's plutonium supply than I did, because it's only been a couple weeks since the draft. By the time they're done bootcamping, the regular season will be over.

Bottom line: these are the best teams in the country. They’re going to provide the most exciting series of matches in the history of Counter-Strike. (I’m not counting LANs because there are usually a lot of duds thrown in with a dozen really good games.) Why aren’t we seeing them play each other more often? coL and 3D will play each other twice. I don't think I'll be the only one disappointed by that. It's arguably the best rivalry in Counter-Strike, and they're playing as many times as LucK played EXTREMITY in the Central CAL-Main playoffs last season. No disrespect to those teams, I'm a big fan. But they don't exactly carry the excitment of a coL/3D matchup.

Thankfully, as a Cubs fan, I'm used to disappointment. I'll just apply our Fan Motto: there's always next season.

(And hopefully next season is a little longer.)


 

CAL Predictions: Week 4-1

We’re going to have a new feature here at LANDodger: I’m going to pick one match to be predicted by the community at large. I won’t do it this week since the predictions are already published, but we’ll start it for week 4-2. Send in your thoughts on the score, any jokes you have, inside information, anything. It doesn’t have to be long, even a final score would be fine. Send it all to jefe@landodger.com. (Use that e-mail address so I know you’re okay with me publishing your comments.)

The 4-2 Community Match will be: PK vs. Mug ‘N Mouse. Let me know what you think. 

For now, the 4-1 predictions:


Featured Match

Check-Six vs. Hyper (Turtle power!) – We’re jumping straight into the featured match.

So, here I am, thinking about what to write for the prediction. I check out x6’s roster to see if Carson “classified” Holt is still suspended for using the CEVO GUI, and what do I see? Why, it’s Mr. badappleS on the x6 roster! Where’s GotFrag with this momentous news!? Good luck with your new team!

That being said, I’m not sure where he fits in yet. They’ve got a solid starting five. Maybe he’s just a backup for now, or they plan on going with some kind of rotation. Either way, I don’t think adding a player of that caliber is ever a bad thing.

Hyper should be able to give x6 a run for their money, but I don’t think they have enough oomph to pull out a victory. They’re 3-0, but I just don’t think they have as much talent as x6. That being said, I think it’s the most exciting matchup this week, and it’s the match I want to watch.

x6 > Hyper (TP!) 18-12



With dynamic pricing on, the ray-gun is $16,500. Sorry guys.
ninja .sv ytiregeL – See how I did that? See how I made everything backwards, so ajnin wasn’t backwards anymore? (In my head, I hear Stewie from The Family Guy saying that. Blast!)

(For those that don’t have the special decoder right, the matchup is Legerity vs. ajnin.)

Legerity is only 1-3 on the season, but I think they’re a lot better than that. They had a close loss to MNM early in the season, and they just lost an overtime match to Hyper. If they get a little lucky, grab and extra round or two, they’re 3-1. It won’t be a blowout, but they should be able to pick up a solid win over ajnin.

Legerity > ajnin 18-12


Cyber Phenom vs. EXTREMITY – Animal trainers always stress the importance of rewards and positive feedback. When your dog doesn’t poop on the couch, he gets a cookie. When your significant other finally remembers to put the toilet seat in the proper position, he gets a cookie. So, I’d like to offer an electronic cookie to all the teams that have completed at least five (out of six) matches: Mug ‘N Mouse, CP, LucK, EXTREMITY, recKoning and itsamassacre. Good work guys, keep it up!

For everybody else: an electronic wag of my finger. Itsamassacre has only been in the league for two weeks, and they’re already tied for the lead in matches played! At this rate, they’ll play about 30 matches. That’s what I call dedication.

EXTREMITY and CP are old foes from Central Main last season, and there isn’t much doubt about this match in my mind. EXTREMITY placed higher in the playoffs, and they’ve been better than CP in the regular season thus far. They should take the match unless Demonic can put CP on his back, and they can somehow keep Kluwe from dominating. It would take both for CP to win, and I don’t think that’s likely.

EXT > CP 19-11


LucK vs. Devastation
–At full strength, you can make an argument they’re the best team in CAL-I. But one of their starts, Joe “dubs” Wishnia is suspended. Without him, I still think they’re easily in the upper echelon, but they struggled against CP earlier in the season when they had to use a backup/manager (16-14 win).

Last week I said to watch for the “Dev wins, Dev wins, Dev wins” trend. This week, I’m flip-flopping like an asphyxiating fish. LucK has been playing well thus far, going 4-1, including wins over EXTREMITY and reckoning. I think they’re going to take advantage of the suspension and pull out a close win. I’m not sure if they’d be considered a favorite by the community or not, and the pick could certainly backfire, but I’m sticking with my gut.

LucK > Dev 16-14


Riot Squad vs. The Real Untouchables – At some point, I think there’s only so much you can say about a team. RS hasn’t played any matches since the last set of predictions, and I’d rather not point out their roster problems again. Instead, I’m going to talk about a long forgotten friend that reminds me of Riot Squad: the shield.

I hope everybody remembers the CT shield from 1.6. That was perhaps the greatest thing ever put into the game. It was awful from a competitive standpoint, but it was so much fun!  There were about three million bugs when it first came out, and 2,999,999 of them involved becoming invincible or completely crashing a server. (This is one of those things that gets funnier with time, it wasn’t quite so enjoyable at the time.) The thing I miss most about the shield is using it during pregame. People always forgot about it, and then you’d get everybody to buy one while you waited for people to connect. I know that the CS models aren’t animated this way, but I swear you could see the surprise in their eyes. The hesitation, the “what the hell?!” moment, was priceless. Good times.

TRU is a good team, they should be able to take care of Riot Squad and their roster problems.

TRU > RS 18-12



Every member of Riot Squad needs a shield. Its purpose: protect them from eSports groupies.
PK vs. electrify! – When I started doing predictions, I was a little worried about people taking it badly — I predict a team to lose, they call me stupid, send me death threats, and hold my pets hostage. Tit for tat, you know? I never bothered to consider people would criticize me for picking their team to win (CAL forums)! Yet here we are, PK. To be fair, it wasn't really criticism. I’m just sayin’.



There’s some good news for electrify! in this match: the map is Inferno, which means a strong AWPer isn’t critical. You can easily play five riflers and have a strong offense and defense. I bring this up because I mentioned the AWPer in my last prediction, and it was confirmed (CAL forums) by one of their members. This is important because very rarely do I get confirmation on my thoughts for team strengths/weaknesses, and I felt the need to share this special occasion with everybody.

This is a tough match to predict. If electrify! was a little more active, I think they would take it. But I’m going to give it to PK in a close match, and I hope they have a SourceTV up.

PK  > electrify! 16-14


eMazing Gaming vs. itsamassacre
– Every good predictor needs some rules. Never bet against Michael Jordan (especially if you’re Rip Hamilton). Don’t pick the Cubs to win the World Series. My first rule: any team that loses by more than twenty rounds automatically loses in the next prediction. There’s just no way I can pick them.

What would it look like if I did? “Well, I know they lost by only twenty rounds, but it was a lot closer than it looked. They were down 25-0, and then they went on a good run at the end of the match. It was a moral victory, and they’re going to carry that momentum into this match and win 18-12.” No. It’s not happening. Sorry, eMg, a 4-26 loss is just too much.

itsamassacre > eMg 17-13


Mug ‘N Mouse vs. reckoning – The team on the good side of the 26-4 pasting was MNM. Clearly, zDk’s suspension played a big role in that disappointing match. They only got 26 rounds without him. They’ll need to step it up if they want to make the playoffs.

Clearly, I’m kidding. I’ve been really impressed with their play, actually. 26-4 is ridiculous, and they just had a solid win over Devastation. I don’t know if they’re the best team in CAL or not, but they’re certainly one of the hottest (and they’re actually playing matches, so that’s a bonus). 

reckoning has been decent so far, but I’ve been cooling on them after their performance in the CEVO-P placement tournament. These teams have been heading in opposite directions on my mental list, and I think MNM should move to 5-1 with another win here.

MNM > recKoning 18-12 


Predictor’s Motto:
May the winners always win,
Losers prove me wrong.


 
June 23, 2007

I wrote about this earlier as part of a larger article on the different overtime policies, but it’s time to revisit the CGS OT setup. There’s a very good for doing this: I was wrong. (My only consolation is that it’s not all my fault.)

First, a brief recap of the timeline. The overtime issue came up during the Buy.com LAN, which was in early April. They used the CGS round format: first team to 10 rounds wins, and OT is a one round sudden death. It’s a horrible, stupid policy for LANs because the overtime didn’t necessarily reward the best team. If you draw CT side on Nuke, you’re far more likely to win because the map favors that side. That’s not good.

The problem, and the reason why I was wrong, is that the CGS is a completely different beast. I had no way of knowing it at the time because the CGS didn’t announce their scoring system until June, and I wrote the article in April. (Curses! If only I had enough plutonium for my Delorean!) But basically, instead of rewarding wins and losses, the CGS implemented a point system to reward dominance. In CS, the scoring is one point per round. If you shut somebody out 10-0 (you suck, newbies!), you’ve got a 10-0 lead in the standings. A 10-9, overtime victory and a 0-10 loss to the same team doesn’t mean you’re tied in the standings at 1-1. One team is winning 19-10.

The point system completely changes the fairness of the overtime.


"I can throw a match 300 yards ... as soon as I put this pebble down."

If the CGS used the overtime format from CAL or CEVO (6 or 10 rounds per overtime), it’d be horribly imbalanced and inherently unfair to the other teams. A simple example: there are two teams fighting for a spot in the postseason. The leading team has an 11 point advantage on the second team, but the second team has one more match to play. Let’s say their last match is against the worst team in the league, and it’s a team they’re going to blow out 10-5 or so. 

Unfortunately, a 10-5 win doesn’t get them into the playoffs. They fall one point short. So the smartest thing for them to do would be to throw the match after they get 9 rounds, force overtime, and then get four more rounds (points) from a close overtime victory. I think we all see the problem there. You just can’t use the round/point system, as it is, and have two teams playing 18 rounds, and another two teams playing 24 or more.

So, upon further review, the CGS overtime isn’t as horrible as I thought. Was it still horribly stupid for the Buy.com LAN? Definitely. The LAN rewards wins, not rounds. But the league itself is going to be completely different, and I’m actually relieved that the competition won’t be compromised because of a silly overtime policy.

So relieved, in fact, that I don’t mind looking a little foolish for jumping the gun.

Tags:
CGS

 

The internet is too big.  Nobody can see it all (can God create an internet so big even He can’t see it all?), but I thought I had the gist of it. I was wrong.

I’m talkin’ bout Rick Rolled.

If you’ve never been Rick Rolled before, allow me: omg, LANDodger is writing for ESPN!

Ha ha, I trixed you! 

Now, the idea of misdirection isn’t new. That I can understand, although usually the link goes to a picture of something so disgusting even Mike Rowe would be impressed. But Rick Astley? What in tarnation?! Rick James?  Rick Pitino? Rick … alright, there aren’t many good Ricks out there. 

There have to be some better candidates, though. Astley peaked in the late 1980’s, when most of the people Rick Rollin today were still amazed by the Big Toy and four-square was the height of competition. He had one good song that most of us probably heard five times our whole lives: three times on the radio when the local 80’s radio station was the only thing in English and not on commercials, and two times at some crappy Junior High dance. 

I think we need somebody a little more popular. Part of the humor is Astley’s randomness, but there’s also crushing disappointment.  When I click on a link that says, “ESPN to cover the CGS” and I get sent to a crappy music video, I’m pretty ticked.  I’m not wasting any more time watching the damn thing. If we went with a figure that’s a little more popular, though, there’s a better chance that the Rick Roll-ees won’t be quite so turned off, and they might be more likely to pass it on. 

Even if we just limit ourselves to 80’s musicians, there are some good candidates.  How about “Whit Whacked”, for a Whitney Houston video? She’s famous, she was a popular singer, and she’s got the modern-day relevance because of “Being Bobby Brown.”   We could go with “Bono Bombed”, U2 was popular back then. Although, since they’re still popular now, that might disqualify him.  It still needs to be a fairly random person. 

All I’m saying is: I think we could have picked a better candidate. If you’ve got any ideas, send them in. Personally, I propose a switch to Rick James. Once something like this gains momentum it’s hard to change, so we could still keep the term Rick Rolled. That’ll help. Plus, he passed away in 2004, so it’s a little bit of a shout-out. It’s always nice to have some meaning behind these things, you know? Adds a little depth. Plus, his music videos are still random even though he's so popular. At the very least, if the music videos don't cut it, we can just link to that Chappelle Show skit.







(Rick Rolled, Beotch!)

Tags:

 

As always, clerical issues first: snowmen, the team previously know as fever, is now the team previously known as snowmen. They’ve joined the Mug ‘N Mouse organization, adopting their third name this season. Somebody should host a pool for their next name change. I’m reserving June 31st.

That’s the only big change this week, so here’s the good stuff.


Cyber Phenom vs. ajnin – Judging from their scores against itsamassacre, this should be a close match. CP won 16-14, and ajnin won 19-17 (OT) against IAM. This could really go either way. Thankfully, there’s a predictor to tell you how all the matches will end up. He’s amazingly intelligent, gifted with foresight, and strikingly handsome. Unfortunately, he doesn’t start until next week. You’re stuck with me.

When it’s a close match, I think it helps to look at which team has the most dominant player. That team won’t always win, but I think they have a better chance of winning because that player can have a bigger impact in close matches. I’m going to go with CP based on the play of demonic. 

But it’s going to be so close, I’m predicting an overtime match -- something I’ve never done before.

CP > ajnin 19-17



Admit it, as soon as I said strikingly handsome, you were hoping for George Clooney.
eMazing Gaming vs. Mug ‘N Mouse – Mug ‘N Mouse beat Devastation, which was surprising to me. I’m not sure if “dubs”, a player for Dev, was suspended before or after the match, or if it had an impact on the game. 



That was the round I didn’t do predictions, but looking back I would have given it to Devastation. Maybe I underestimated MNM a little bit. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially considering we haven’t seen eMg play at all with their new lineup, and their results weren't impressive while they were known as 50 Cal.

MNM > eMg 18-12


Legerity vs. Riot Squad – I don’t see Riot Squad winning too many matches without a stable roster. So, until I hear about a stable roster from my sources (the CAL forums), predicted wins will be few and far between.

I think it’d be a close match even if RS had a stable roster, but I’m going to give Legerity a comfortable win considering the circumstances.

Legerity > RS 18-12


Itasamassacre vs. LucK – LucK beat them 16-10 in the CAL Placement Tournament, and I think LucK has only gotten better since then. They’ve adjusted well after being pasted by Visual Gaming in the second match of the season. I don’t see any reason to switch the results.

Specifically, I think Gutter and Loose Cannon have been playing a lot better. They had a rough couple matches to start the season, but they both did well in wins against electrify! and reckoning. As long as they’re contributing, LucK is going to be a very good team this season.

LucK > itsamassacre 18-12


PK vs. Hyper – Has somebody ever told you a story that ended with something like, “and now, every time you hear about building a mountain out of pop cans, you’ll think about me”? And sure enough, when you’re watching CNN later in the week and they’ve run out of things to say about Paris Hilton, they cut to a story about Pop-Can Mountain and you think of that person? 

That’s what happened to me and Hyper. Every time it comes to their prediction, I’m still stuck on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle connection I made a couple weeks ago. It’s inescapable. You’d have an easier time breaking the connection between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. And I’m scared that if it continues, it’s going to qualify as a man-crush just because of the sheer amount of time I’ve spent thinking about them.

(Struggling to regain focus … )

(Fighting the urge to yell “TURTLE POWER!” … I can do this … )

I originally gave the win to PK, then I switched it up. I thought Hyper’s wins were a little more impressive. Then I flipped it back to PK again based on their domination of 50 Cal early in the season and their close loss to recKoning. What does that mean? It means I’m still having a hard time gauging PK, just like in the Placement Tournament. It’s entirely possible they’ll win 25-13 or lose -2 to 16. We haven’t seen much action from either team (only 5 out of 10 possible matches thus far), but I’m picking PK and that’s final.

(TURTLE POWER!)

PK > Hyper 17-13



Donatello? Is that you? You seem different than I remember ...
Check-Six vs. The Real Untouchables – Over the next couple weeks, you’re going to notice two trends developing. The first one is: x6 wins, x6 wins, x6 wins. Right now, I just think they’re on a different level than almost all the other teams. I don’t know if they’ll actually win every match, but you don’t pick against the Patriots or the Colts very often, do you? Not unless you’re crazy.

TRU is a pretty good team, and they lost 12-18 to Devastation, which is nothing to be ashamed of. x6 is coming off a win at Showdown LAN, and they should put up a similar score against TRU.

x6 > TRU 19-11


recKoning vs. electrify! – reckoning has been surprising, but not in a dominating way.  They played so well during the CEVO-P Placement Tournament that I bumped their stock up a couple notches. Funny how a 2-3 start in CAL-I can bump you right back down, isn’t it? They went from “omg, they beat 3D!” to “3D didn’t really care about CEVO”, basically. Still a good team, but I think I got a little bit in front of the bandwagon (read: there was no bandwagon).

electrify! has been just about what I expected, though. A good, but not great, team that’s going to hover around .500. They’re just a good team, all around. Good players, good strats, good execution. They don’t have a LeBron James to lead them, but they don’t have an Eric Snow dragging them down, either. My only concern is their lack of a dominant AWPer, and that could hurt them on some maps. They should be fine on Contra though, and I think they’ll take a close match.

electrify! > recK 16-14


Featured Match

EXTREMITY vs. Devastation – The second theme you’ll see developing is: Devastation wins, Devastation wins, Landodger wins. (Just making sure you’re still paying attention.) They’re the other team, along with x6, that’s on another level right now. 

x6 and Dev need to play each other during the regular season and, hopefully, in the Finals. Just like the Suns should have played the Spurs in the NBA Finals based purely on excitement for the matchup. They’re both CGS taxi teams. This needs to happen, even if CAL has to rig the playoffs. David Stern would do it.

Then again, EXTREMITY isn’t a pushover. They’ve started the season 3-1, with impressive wins over eMg and reckoning. I have to say it’s been a little surprising. I expected them to do well, but right now you could make a strong case they’re the third best team in Invite. I’m not ready to make that case based on just a good start, but I’d listen if somebody else took up the cause.

I’m going to give Devastation a win here because they should be one of the teams above EXTREMITY. But it won’t be easy. 

Dev > EXT 16-14


The predicted winners will win. The predicted losers will prove me wrong. Everything I say is true, except for what I just said. Good luck to all!


 
June 19, 2007

If you came for the CAL predictions, I'm not going to be releasing them tonight. I've been busy with some side projects and haven't had a chance to do them yet. Rather than try to do them half-assed tonight, I'm going to release them early tomorrow along with some other things I've been burning to write.

Sorry for the delay, and I'll be posting the predictions in the forums, as usual. Hopefully they're worth the wait!

Tags:

 

I’m hopping back aboard the Pandemic train for one more stop.  Choo-choo!

I thought everything regarding the selection was over. He made the pick, people were outraged and took to the streets (read: forums) to complain, and some people, including your resident eSports blogger, wrote about it. That’s usually the end of it. eSports “stories” have a way of dying due to a lack of coverage and follow-up. I don’t know if it was the CGS influence, but this story evolved and grew some legs! 

The legs comparison is apt because there were two follow-ups. One was a question in a GotFrag interview, the other was part of a draft recap that Mark Dolven wrote and posted on the Carolina Core website. (For the uninitiated, Mark Dolven is the manager for the Carolina Core. He picked his old team, Pandemic, over some more deserving choices during the CGS draft. This made him the “Bane of the Week” on eSports forums, displacing acne, last week’s title holder.) 

Here’s the GotFrag interview, I’ll cut out the interesting portions for reference, but I suggest you read the whole thing. Same thing for the Carolina Core post. To really get the context, read it; I’ll be referencing it heavily. The two important paragraphs are near the end, next to the picture of the five CS:S players holding up their jerseys.


GotFrag Interview

Give them another two weeks, and then 4-5 weeks of absolute bootcamping, and I think that there's no way they're not going to be one of the best teams.


You WILL one deag that DEFUSER, SON! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!
They don’t have 6-7 weeks to get ready. The regular season, aka the smack-down, gets started in July. There’s no 4-5 weeks of absolute bootcamping available.

Shouldn’t they have been prepared for this event? Was this not the biggest opportunity for any gamer hoping to make a salary? They shouldn’t need to bootcamp for 4-5 weeks after being drafted, because that should have been done before the Combine, in my opinion. It worked for United 5 and Devastation, who both had amazing tournaments after practicing for four or five hours a day. 

I do have an open challenge to Pandemic, the guys that I just drafted who are now the Carolina Core, that if they aren't having a winning record by the end of the season, I will cut them and bring United 5 up.

The open challenge is good, but in the end, I don’t think it should be necessary. It should be understood that if the team isn’t performing, and somebody else is doing a better job, the underperformers won’t have a job for very long.


Carolina Core Post

Before I get to the CS:S portion, I want to give some props for the actual article. It was by far the most interesting post-draft reaction to read. His player rankings for the games were great. The draft commentators did a good job of laying out some of the questionable picks during the live stream, but this was the first list I’ve seen that really tried to rank the top ten players. Kudos to that, and if you’re interested in finding out more about how all the players might fare against one another, I suggest you take a look.

Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.  Regarding Pandemic:

It got to the point where I knew that I would have to throw the combine results out the window in my selection process.”

I think the chances of that being true are lower than the chances of me becoming a billionaire in the next ten seconds, and then being hit by a meteor five seconds later. First of all, we all know even the best CS teams won’t win all the time. Just like the Yankees, the Patriots, the Spurs, etc, don’t win all the time. It just doesn’t happen. 

If he really threw out the Combine results, Pandemic wouldn’t be ranked because they’ve never played Source at a major LAN before. They didn’t even qualify for the Combine officially, they kindof “walked on”, so to speak. Evil Geniuses would not have been fourth, because the large portion of their Source experience came from a disappointing CEVO-P season. Check-Six wouldn’t be seventh. They had a great Combine that bumped them up. Forbidden would be higher than eighth, because they’re basically the verGe team that dominated the Source scene before the 1.6 teams came.

I could even go on. He might believe what he said, but I think the Combine results definitely played a big role in at least some of his rankings.  

One of the biggest factors in managing a Counter-Strike team is learning what makes a team tick and how to maximize their results. With such a limited amount of time before the start of the season, the team that I already knew how to manage was Pandemic. Dave, Jason, and Alex had all chosen their respective previous teams, so by not having to focus on learning how to manage my Counter-Strike division, I didn't fall behind these guys early on.

I thought this was a really interesting comment. It struck me as odd because the comment isn't about the team, it's about himself. But the bottom line is the the pick isn’t about well he can manage, it’s about how well they can play. There's a disconnect somewhere. Personally, I don’t care if you can get a CAL-Open Public Clan to reach their full potential by pushing their buttons, or making them tick. I’ll still take compLexity, thanks.

Even if we give him that,, what takes more time: finding out how to motivate a team, or having that team reach their full potential? If we go back to his comment in the GotFrag interview, he said 4-5 weeks of absolute bootcamping. I think it’d take a lot less time to get used to a new team. 

Another factor in my choice of Pandemic is that I know these guys will play hard for me because they already respect and trust me. In the back of their minds, they did not expect to be drafted. By picking them up and giving them a second chance, their motivation and desire only increased.

The counter-argument to this is pretty obvious: United 5, Check-Six, or EFG wouldn’t have played hard because they didn’t know the General Manager as well as their old managers? Somehow, I doubt it. In fact, on some level, they’d probably realize that he just passed over his former team to pick them, and they’d probably be thankful for it and want to justify that faith. It goes both ways.

If it's one thing I've learned over the years about these guys, it is that when their backs are against the wall and they have something to prove, they step up.

How can we explain the Combine performance, then? I think they had something to prove there as well, considering they didn’t play Source before and didn’t qualify for the Combine. 

You know what makes this whole thing really fun? All of the things I just pointed out are exactly what we would say in his situation. We’d point to Pandemic’s 1.6 history, their potential, the familiarity with the team and knowing what they’re capable of. So in a sense, all of these things are expected, too.

And they’re expected for a reason: Dolven isn’t stupid. A lot of the flames against him have called him that, but I don’t think that’s fair. He just made a bad pick (in my opinion). That’s a huge distinction to make. Danny Ainge isn’t dumb, he just made a bad decision to give Doc Rivers an extension. The Atlanta Hawks aren’t dumb, they just passed over two point guardss when they have nobody else to play the position. I’m not dumb, I just … okay, I confess, I’m pretty dense. But one decision doesn’t make somebody an idiot or a genius. You need a long track record, longer than one CGS draft.

In fact, it’s possible we could look back on it as a great pick. Pandemic could turn their performance around. I don’t know how likely it is (my guess: not very), but there’s certainly a chance. I’ll repeat what I said in the first post: in the end, he made a bad business decision. 

The risk in taking Pandemic is that they won’t get that much better, and that you’ve alienated a large portion of your potential fanbase. The reward is they might contend for the title. 

The risk in taking x6, United 5, or EFG is that they’ve reached their potential, and you’ll have a very good team (maybe not up to coL’s standard), and you might have alienated some of your potential fanbase. (It’s harder to gauge how upset the 1.6 community would be because the stats back you up in this case. I don’t think many people would blame Dolven if he didn’t draft Pandemic because of their 1-4-1 record.) The reward is that x6, u5, EFg, etc do have enough potential to challenge for a title, they just haven’t reached it yet. 

I know which one I’d choose, and it's not the team they have now.


 

A few quick notes before we get to the predictions. 

Sorry about the lack of predictions for Week 2-2, things got a little busy around here with the CGS action and “real” work. 

Visual Gaming disbanded, and they’ve been replaced by itsamassacre. This means two things. One: the schedules got shifted around a little bit. Two: I get at least three more angry, red underlines from Microsoft Word, complaining about my bad grammar and spelling. If Microsoft Word was a person, I think it'd look like this.

Lastly, Devastation (San Francisco) and Check-Six (Dallas) just returned from the CGS combine. Personally, I think both teams could have gone higher in the draft, but being selected as a taxi team is still something of an honor. And there’s still an opportunity to get moved up this season, or become a franchise team next season, so all hope isn’t lost. Congratulations on being drafted guys, and good luck in the future!


electrify! vs. Devastation – I’ve mentioned brawwwr a few times as being an under-the-radar AWPer, but Funshine deserves credit, too. His AWP was sick in the CGS match against United 5 on Nuke. Actually, I was impressed by their whole team. Sauce, dubs, and Kwick aren’t household names, but they’re all good. (Don’t send me angry e-mails, Sasquatch is good, too – I just didn’t list him because he’s fairly well-known.)

Devastation should be prepped from the Combine, and they probably have a little chip (read: huge boulder) on their shoulder after not being drafted. I think they’re going to come out with a big win.

By the way, if you’re interested in watching a match, electrify! is probably the place to look. This is the first match of the week, so there might not be a SourceTV (due to possible strat-stealers), but you’ve still got a better chance with them than most other places. Many thanks to jaywizzle for setting that stuff up for the community.

Alright, I admit, that was partially just sucking up because I’m about to predict them to lose. But I do appreciate it.

Dev > e! 19-11



Click it or ticket: campaign slogan, or something a parrot would say?
The Real Untouchables vs. snowmen – It remains to be seen how well TRU will play without “dc”, but I think we can expect a little drop-off in their play. The other guys are good, but I always thought of him as the clubhouse leader of that team, so to speak. I think they’re going to miss his leadership against a good team like snowmen.

That has me leaning towards snowmen, but nothing is that easy. One of their starters, zDk, got banned for using the CEVO GUI, which is a minor no-no in CAL. I think CAL needs some kind of catchy slogan to prevent things like this. “Click it or Ticket” is sweeping the nation, maybe we can have a “Use Default or it’s Your Fault” campaign. “CEVO GUI, say bye-bye”? 

If you’ve got something better, write in and I’ll post the good ones. (And I think somebody out there does have something better, because those stunk.)

As for the match, I think TRU is a little bit of the underdog, but I’m going to take a chance. Maybe they’ll win one for the gipper.

TRU > snowmen 16-14


Check-Six vs. PK – Check-Six: CGS team. PK: non-CGS team. PK is good, but I don’t think they’re on the same level, and x6 also just beat some version (not sure what the roster was) of PK 16-9 at the Showdown LAN. I’m going to give this to x6 and move on. If they put up a SourceTV, spectate brawwwr and hope he does something crazy.

x6 > PK 18-12


Riot Squad vs. eMazing Gaming – We meet again! These two teams should be familiar with each other, considering they met in the placement tournament.

Well, maybe not. This isn’t the same eMg team. And lord only knows who’s playing for Riot Squad – they’ve had problems getting the same five people on. It’s a shame, too, because if they could get a consistent five, they could be a great team. It’s not hard to see the talent when they play, but it’s also not hard to see the problems created by the roster instability.

On the subject of RS, one of the most entertaining SourceTV demos I’ve seen in a long time was their week 2-2 match against electrify!. (Thanks again to jaywizzle for providing the demo.) You don’t realize how boring demos are without the ingame chatter until you watch one with it. I imagine people felt the same way about color TV back in the day. Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re missing. (Wow, the grass is green!) And the electrify!/RS match was especially entertaining. Let me put it this way: any demo that has somebody saying “meatloaf secured” will get at least a B in my book. 

As for the actual play during the demo; RS went 0-3 during their triple-header, and that was one of the matches. I don’t think they’ll be able to pull out a win here, either. Teamwork and communication are key on Contra, and those only come with practice. Sorry boys, hopefully you’ll get your roster stabilized soon.

eMg > RS 17-13



We're under attack! Protect the meatloaf! ... Meatloaf secured.
recKoning vs. EXTREMITY – This seems familiar. Maybe it’s because I just did a prediction for them in week 2-1. I think this was a product of the schedule adjustment. Or, I could be going bat-shiat insane. Personally, I really hope it’s the schedule, but I’m open to the fact I might be a little off-kilter.

In the EXT-recKing prediction (v 1.0), reckoning still hadn’t finished a match. Now they’re 2-0 after pulling out a close win against PK and smooshing Legerity 20-10. I predicted EXT to win the 2-1 matchup, and I’m going to keep that, even though there’s a part of me (shut up, rational mind!) screaming to switch the pick.

I’m sticking to my guns, and hoping I don’t shoot myself in the foot.

I’m going with the bread and butter, and hoping the prediction isn’t toast.

I’m … out of lame things to say.

EXT > recKoning 16-14


ajnin vs. LucK –
Got a chance to watch LucK play again – this time against electrify!. They didn’t have teky, and they pulled out a big win against e! on Nuke. Some of it was lucky; namely having two e! members lag out or crash during the match, but they were playing well even when both teams were at full strength. In fact, I was surprised at how well they did without teky, who carried them the last match I watched.

Loose Cannon and Allbrook did a lot better the second time around, and if they can get another effort like that, I think they’ll pull out a win against the reverse ninja team.

LucK > ajnin 17-13


Legerity vs. Hyper – There is a 100% chance that I thought of Hyper as Repyh because I just referred to ajnin as the reverse ninja team.

Hyper was at the CGS Combine as well, although they didn’t fare nearly as well as x6 and Dev. I will say this: they didn’t get a win, but they did tie a team that got drafted. Let’s call that team, oh, I don’t know … cimednaP. Good job, Repyh.

A Legerity player got suspended recently for mm1* violations/unsportsmanlike conduct, which is eSports’ version of being suspended for kicking dirt on the umpire. (Sweet Lou was sour that day.) I don’t know if he was a starter or not, but it adds another little wrinkle into the matchup. I’m not really sure what to make of either team. Their talent doesn’t blow me out of the water, but at the same time, I can’t ignore their results. Legerity placed highly in CAL last season, and Hyper did make it to the Finals in CEVO-P. But I’m still a little wary of Hyper because we haven’t seen them in action against any of the CAL teams yet. 

I could go on for a while, but let’s just say I’m on the fence, and I’m leaning slightly towards Hyper. But not leaning so much that I fall off the fence. That would be painful.

Hyper > Legerity 16-14

*(To the one person that reads the site but doesn’t know about CS: mm1 stands for message mode one, which sends text chat to all teams. mm2 (team-only chat) is usually required in league play because mm1 leads to things like trash talking, insults, etc, during the match. And you don’t want to type your strats where the other team can see them.)


itsamassacre vs. Cyber Phenom – (Roll opening credits.)

(Roll title screen.)

(Enter Troy McClure, stage left.) “Hi, I’m Troy McClure, the spokesman for itsamassacre. You may remember me from such tournaments as ‘CAL Season 8 Placement Tournament’, and ‘CAL Season 7 Main playoffs’. I’m here today to talk to about our first match in Invite."

Troy McClure, you sly dog. Is there any kind of video you haven’t done?

Welcome to Invite! For your first match, you get to play the team you beat in the placement tournament on the same map you played them on. Funny how things work out like that, isn’t it?

CP got their first regular season win against Riot Squad, which brings them up to 1-3 on the season. Their biggest loss was only 18-12, which is a little surprising. I thought they would struggle more initially, but it seems like they’ve been adjusting well. I know they lost to IAM in the placement tournament, but it was a close game and I think they’re going to squeak out a close win this time. Just a feelin’.

CP > IAM 17-13


Before I forget, a quick thanks to Robbie “$tyro” Mueller for a roster update regarding reckoning. If anybody else has a roster update, send it in!

And as always: good luck to everybody; may the predicted winners win, and the predicted losers prove me wrong.


 

Let’s fire up the Way Back machine for a second, and head back to the article I wrote when the AC Client was released. You don’t have to read the article, but a portion of it got me in some hot water.  Here’s the passage:

"The only thing I’ll say is that the happiest group of people might be the AC admins. There will finally be more to say than just 'I don’t think he’s hacking.' A little hard evidence will go a long way towards easing their workload and their credibility."

Basically, it was a gross oversimplification of the anti-cheat process. I don’t think it was wrong, per se, anymore than calling writing “throwing a bunch of words on paper” is wrong. The problem is there’s a LOT more to each process – much more than one sentence, one paragraph, or one page can begin to encompass. When you dedicate a lot of time to it with almost no reward, it’s not surprising that a comment like that would rub you the wrong way.  I’d feel the same way if somebody else did, in fact, do the same thing for writing.  So, if anybody, especially the admins that work so hard, were offended, I apologize. CAL is the oldest online league, I believe, and it wouldn’t have made it out of a single season without the people working behind the scenes.

Thankfully, this article isn't about me; we have somebody much more interesting to talk to. Tonight I have my interview with CAL-ac|Parkhill, the new AC Head Honcho for Counter-Strike: Source. (Head Honcho is probably not his official title.) As always, I'd like to thank Parkhill for taking the time to answer my sometimes ridiculous questions.


1) How long have you been an AC admin?

CAL-ac|Parkhill: Just about four months now. I was hired by Barelds in the early part of Season 7.


2) How long have you been a gamer, and what are some of your favorite game titles?

Parkhill: I've been a gamer going on ten years now. I started with Age of Empires as my very first game. The first FPS I ever played was Rainbow Six and it is quite possibly still one of my favorite games to date. A good friend now roommate is the one who got me into Counter Strike back in 1.5 and I have been playing it since. As for a list of my favorite games from first to last I would have to go Rogue Spear, AoE2, CS:S, 1.5, BF1942, and then 1.6.


3) Onto the AC questions … how many disputes have you been a part of, and how many demos have you reviewed?

Parkhill: Sometimes it seems like too many. I dont know the exact number but easily over 100 disputes so far. As for the demos once again just way too many to count.


4) How many disputes does the CS:S division get every season?

Parkhill: Too many. I honestly dont know this answer but from my perspective way too many.



You think they have a lot of work now? This is what AC looked like back in the old days.
5) What are some of the qualifications needed to become an AC admin? Do people need previous AC experience? How much does competitive experience factor in?

Parkhill: I look for a person with the willingness to do the job and has the understanding that its a lot of work. If you have AC experience its always a bonus. As for competitive experience factor, I dont know if you can judge someones capability to do a job based on how competitive they have been in the league. Personally the highest my experience goes is on a mediocre Main team, now IM, and a few midwest LANs in the two years I have been playing competitively. I look more at your understanding of the game and the ability to understand peoples playstyles. And of course you must be 18+.


6) What goes into training new AC admins? Do veteran admins review demos with the new admins to help show them what to look for or give some tips?

Parkhill: We have lots of reading for them to do when they get hired. Normally between one to two hours of it. After the reading portion we have a test setup to test their skills and ability to be an AC admin. When a trainee is done with all the reading and provided they pass the test they are assigned disputes. We dont have them review specific disputes with admins who have been there longer simply to avoid any bias. If they have any questions regarding disputes however they do know they can ask questions to my Assistant AC Manager William Lake, the other Senior Admin, or myself.


7) Are there any “training demos” so to speak, that are used to help train admins? For example, CAL makes a demo where they know exactly what rounds a person toggles on. A prospective AC admin watches that demo, and then the senior admins compare that report to what they know about when the person toggled.

Parkhill: CAL doesnt specifically make demos with someone toggling on. We do have a test setup that is not only used by CAL but by other leagues as well. There is a surprisingly large amount of cooperation between different leagues AC departments in regaurds to certain things that we use.


8) It seems like ventrilo could hurt the review of a demo – is a person prefiring because his offscreen teammate saw the enemy’s foot, or is he prefiring because he has no walls? Has CAL ever thought about making ingame chat mandatory (or ventrilo recordings) so you can hear exactly what calls are made and at what time?

Parkhill: I dont know the specific answer to that. I'm sure there has always been talk of it but as of right now I haven't heard anything. Programs like Ventrilo or Teamspeak really dont have a barring on what we do. The AC Admins that are hired have a great understanding of the game. They are more than qualified to to be able to tell the difference between a prefire because of a call, radar, sound, or even a slight movement as to those that are often done by someone who is cheating.


9) Sometimes there are people that get disputed a lot: five times, ten, or even more. Are those demos assigned randomly every time, or do some of the same admins watch them? It seems to me like part of the problem in catching hackers is sample size. Is that player just having a good match (in “the zone”), or is there something fishy going on? Whereas if one admin watches five demos from the same player, he could get used to that players tendencies, responses to situations, etc. (Obviously there would have to be some kind of corruption protection, so one friend doesn’t keep clearing his buddy). Do you think a system or idea like that has any merit?

Parkhill: It is quite possible that the same admin my handle more than one dispute regarding a specific player, but it isnt as likely has it may seem. We assign disputes as they come in to the admins as they need more so there is always that chance. The only time an admin reviews several disputes of the same team/player is when it involves other admins. But at the same time those disputes tend to go to the most qualified and unbias admins. As for corruption protection there are only two people this season that are allowed to close out a dispute, those being William Lake and myself. This goes beyond keeping admins from just closeing out disputes at will but to make sure every possible bit of evidence is looked at.


10) Can you give us a brief description of the AC process?

Parkhill: The disputes come in, they get assigned to an admin, and we do our stuff. The average dispute is done between one to two hours after they have been set to In Progress, others take a little longer.


11) How is that process going to change with the implementation of the AC client?

Parkhill: Along with the client we are also increasing the amount of random demo pulls being done this season. Other things have been changed in retrospect to the ACS but those cannot be talked about.


12) How often do people send in screenshots that clearly show them cheating? What’s the reaction like when that happens?

Parkhill: Its only happened once since I have been an admin and the general reaction to it was just laughter and amazement.



Dear User, you've been caught cheating, and are now banned from competition for one year. Oh, and Spider-Man is on his way to pick you up.
13) Which crimefighter would make a better AC admin: Superman, Batman, or Spiderman? Personally, I’d go with Superman. I think X-ray vision could be helpful for peeking over somebody’s shoulder … or through somebody’s wall … to see if they’re hacking.

Parkhill: Spiderman simply because when he catches you he can hang you from a skyscraper with his web as a punishment.


14) What’s the most common misperception about AC admins or the AC process?

Parkhill: The most common misperception? That would have to be that we don't take the time to look at everything, and that we are out to get everyone.. Last season with the push to get the playoff brackets out on time we took our weekend and did nothing but disputes. Most of us put around 24hours of work into the disputes non-stop and a few put more than that. Personally I took a sick day off of work that monday to ensure the disputes would be done by our 5pm EST deadline. We are a very hard working group of people who actually enjoy what we are doing and do it to the best of our abilities. In the last three weeks there have been multiple occasions where the person involved believes they should get leniency. When I dont do this I'm all of a sudden out to get that specific person, and thats just not the case. Once we make an exception for one person everyone else starts to expect one and we just won't have that happen. Have mistakes been made? Yes there have and they get corrected. I will admit to making some mistakes since I took the position of AC Manager. But I can honestly say I've corrected each and every one of them.


Quick Points

– I think everybody would agree that an infallible admin would be great, but considering that’s impossible, I’m glad that he’s able to admit, and correct, mistakes.  I’d rather have somebody that is open to new evidence, considerations, and the possibility of his own imperfection than somebody who puts on a strong front and never considers other options or advice.  (This is true in the political world, as well. Wouldn’t you rather have somebody that has an opinion, and then changes his mind when contradictory evidence comes in?  They just get labeled as flip-floppers. I never understood this.)

– He rated 1.6 as his least favorite game in that list (question two)!  1.6 Fans, ATTACK!

– His “brief” description of the AC process didn’t disappoint.  “We do our stuff” reminded me of the Seinfeld episode about “yada, yada”-ing through important information. I’m sure he couldn’t go in-depth, I’m just sayin’.

Thanks again to Parkhill for the time and effort, and hopefully you guys enjoyed the interview.

Tags:
CAL, Interviews

 
June 15, 2007

I covered the Pandemic storyline already, but there are certainly other things worth noting from draft night. 


Ben Stein on his happy day. Wait, that might be a wax statue. Hard to tell.

They was a big surprise on their broadcasting team: Ben Stein! I didn’t know he was so knowledgeable about gaming. Wait, that was Fatality? Well, I guess he came off as a little stiff. I’d call it a case of the Mondays if it was Monday, but for now I'm calling it early jitters. I really hope that's it, anyway, because if it’s an accurate portrayal of things to come … we, as listeners, are in trouble. I think he’ll come around though, he’s definitely got enough knowledge to be a good broadcaster. 

His best moment came when he was honest with the viewers – as he was distracted by the Playboy Bunnies that were hanging around the pool. He was more relaxed, and spoke with confidence. Of course, everybody without that view probably didn’t notice that change because they were too busy being jealous. Luckily, after three decades of training with lunar monks, I’m impervious to such petty emotions. 

There were some small production issues that got sorted out as the draft went on. The announcement for the first pick had to be delayed because the booth guys were too busy talking, but they did a much better job of interrupting the discussion to announce the players in the later rounds. Overall, I think they did a good job with the stream. The announcers weren’t bad, the production was enjoyable, and the woman that interviewed the players after they got drafted was acceptable. Her English was good, she didn’t speak poorly even though she didn’t seem totally comfortable speaking the language (she’s asian). Her speech was actually too formal, a little stiff, but everything was clear so I didn’t think it was a big deal. It was good work for a first broadcast, where there are bound to be some kinks. I give it one thumb up, and one thumb sideways.

Which is one more thumb up than the GMs get. It was downright ugly up there, and I'm not talking about physical appearance. I’m not sure which was worse: the failed draft strategy, or the failed draft picks. To put it another way, they did a worse job drafting than the Yahoo! autodraft option, which is guaranteed to draft three hopeless backups, two injured players, and at least one player guaranteed to halve his statistics from last season. What was so bad? Two GMs drafted players that were already drafted, and another couple picks were used to fill spots nobody else needed during the draft, while possibly missing out on a better player in another game.

If you need to fill a Project Gotham Racing and a FIFA ’07 spot, it doesn’t make sense to draft a PGR player when all the other teams are set. Nobody is going to steal your player. You draft a FIFA player, and then grab whichever PGR person tickles your fancy. But no! There were one or two times when the teams didn’t follow that logic. And, kudos to the announcers, they picked up on it and pointed it out.

Then there was the drafting of drafted players, which even Yahoo! would consider a bad move. How can that happen? All the spots are accounted for before the draft; the GMs knew going in exactly how many players from each game were going to be picked. It’s not like they only ranked their top ten DOA4 players, and then had two teams draft nothing but DOA4. There were laptops sitting right in front of them, for pete’s sake. In the end, I don’t think it cost the teams that much due to the depth of the talent, but it seems like a silly mistake that could have been prevented with a little more preparation.


This picture is here purely for eye candy. Drink it in boys, drink it in.

My other big impression from the draft was how small Counter-Strike was. The CS community is insular, and we all knew other games were going to fill a large portion of the draft, but it was still shocking when it happened, somehow. Like seeing a really bad movie on TV. The movie got ripped to shreds in the reviews, everybody told you it’s bad, and you’re stuck watching in on TNT a month later because the only things on TV are reruns of The Golden Girls and VH1’s new series, “The 50 Most Disgusting Piles of Vomit.”  And even thought you’re totally prepared for the suckage, it’s still appalling. There are just some things you can’t mentally prepare for, and being part of the CS community, having the teams I’ve come to know and write about take a back seat was a little strange.

It’s going to be interesting to see how they blend all the action together. There’s generally been a huge rift between PC gamers and console gamers. Each platform has their own games, their own news sites, their own shows/plans, and that’s only starting to change recently (GotFrag/MLG, and now CGS using both platforms). Is there going to be any way for PC gamers to watch the console action if they don’t have DirecTV? Highlights? Replays? Obviously, the same questions apply in reverse. How will console gamers be able to appreciate a game played on the PC if they don’t have it installed? 

Basically, it’s a problem of making sure fans follow the franchise, not the individual players or teams. Even if the Chicago Bulls literally traded all their players, I’d still follow the Bulls because I’m a fan. But if coLAngeles (I'm sticking to my guns!) traded the CS:S to the Carolina Core, I don’t think fans of the compLexity CS:S squad would follow the LA franchise anymore. Ditto for NY3D. Over time things might change as we get used to the idea of franchises, but I think it’s a concern in the meantime.

I don’t know about you guys, but after months of waiting and thinking about the CGS, I’m finally getting excited to see the teams in action. The draft is over, the league’s gearing up for action, and it’s time to think about which of the six CS:S teams is going to represent the US in the CGS Finals. Life is good.

Unless you’re just getting back from the Playboy Mansion. In that case, you probably miss the view.


 
June 14, 2007

I got two e-mails that I wanted to respond to, so here they are. (I abbreviated the names to protect their identity from all those crazy stalkers out there.)

Hi Mike,

Just wanted to point out a few of my Canadian brothers for your roster page:

ajnin
n1x1n
chucktaylor
Eli

CP
NabstAR

recKoning

backstabber

Gaming Revolution
ph1l

Thanks,
Joshua

This is the best e-mail ever.  I don’t ask for much, I swear! 

Also, in hindsight, I probably could've assumed a person with the handle “Eli.ca” was Canadian. In fact, I’d feel really bad if he put the “.ca” in his name specifically because he was tired of being mistaken for an American.  Forgive me, brothers to the north! 

If there are any more mistakes people have noticed, send ‘em in and I’ll be more than happy to fix it, make fun of myself, or even accept some scathing insults.


Interesting story regarding JACK THOMPSON... with a positive look on things...

I thought you might get a chuckle from reading this!

Jack Thompson - American Hero
http://www.spawnpoint.com/feature/78/Jack_Thompson_-_American_Hero

-Thomas


O Canada, we stand on guard in bombsite A for thee.

If Jack Thompson is an American hero, Paris Hilton is a Nobel Laureate. That being said, it was actually too over-the-top to sincerely laugh at. I did chortle angrily, though.

It started off so innocently, too. All the article did in the first few paragraphs was talk about how we shouldn’t sell violent video games to minors. Then, in the span of two paragraphs, we went from that to people “training” on video games before going on killing sprees. And he didn’t bother to support any of those claims, which was convenient.

Anyway, I don’t want to get involved in that discussion for now. There’s just too much information to cover on both sides. Instead, I’ll say this: if Jack Thompson believes you can train on video games to commit heinous crimes, I can only assume he believes you can train on Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney to help pass the bar exam and prepare yourself for a case before the Supreme Court.

Still more to cover today, so stay tuned!


 
June 14, 2007

Just so you’re properly warned, this post will have little to do with eSports. But I think the news was too strange (read: funny) to ignore.

First, the non-funny portion: LeBron James’ girlfriend, Savannah Brinson, just gave birth to their second son. Punchline: they christened him Bryce Maximus James.

What, Decimus was too outdated? Or maybe it’s just the opposite: all the new parents in their neighborhood already used it, so the James family was stuck with the fifth Decimus on the block or the first Maximus.

Part of the humor is the juxtaposition of the two names. It’d be strange if he named his son Maximus Decimus, but Bryce Maximus is definitely funnier. Every name has a certain “feel”. Vinny, Tony, and Rocco are Italian mobsters. Maximus is strong, and if I had to make a list of names that have exactly the opposite feel, Bryce would probably be in the top five.

What does this prove?  I think anything is possible when you’re naming children. Parents have even named their kids ESPN or Espen. One day we might be talking about a baby named John Frod Doe.

I suppose it doesn't matter in the end, as long as you don't name your child John Landodger Joe. That would surely be a sign of the apocalypse.

Tags:

 
June 13, 2007

So much happened tonight, I feel like I need some blogging minions to help sort it all out. I’m thinking something less creepy than Oompa-Loompas, but more helpful than the workers at Planet Express. Send in your applications!

Disclaimer: I’ll probably just hire some of my old friends that don’t care about the job, aren’t as good as you are, and proved both of those within the last three days. Can you tell I’ve been taking lessons from Mark Dolven?

If you missed the news, there was a big controversy when Dolven, the General Manager for the Carolina Core CGS franchise, selected Pandemic to become their Counter-Strike: Source team. Why is it controversial? I'm glad you asked! Let me summarize the argument for picking Pandemic, and then the argument against them.


Pick Pandemic, They’re Grrrrrreat!

1) They were arguably the second or third best team in the US 1.6 scene.
2) They’re good guys, they don’t run their mouths. (Post-Publish Note: both of the first two points are under contention. I think the first one is still applicable. The other teams in contention are 3D/coL/JMC, and I'd probably rank Pandemic third, above JMC, but some people considered 3D over-rated and might have put them second. As for the second point, considering the backlash, it's safe to say they run their mouths more than I thought. Thanks for the correction, chalk up another point (or two) for the "Don't Pick Pandemic" side.)
3) Loyalty – he was Pandemic’s owner before becoming a GM for the CGS.

Don’t Take Pandemic, Stupid!

1) They were the last major team to switch to pick up Source.
2) They didn’t play in CEVO-P last season, unlike JMC, united 5, 3D, coL, x6, Devastation, and verGe.
3) In possibly the single most important stretch of their CS careers, they went 1-4-1.
4) Their roster has changed since their 1.6 dominance.
5) The Source community will hate you.

I don’t want to rag on Dolven too much because I think he’s a good guy. In fact, I think he pretty much proved that by staying loyal to his former team. The problem: it’s a business. If you follow professional sports, you’ve probably heard that enough to wish it wasn’t a business just so you could stop hearing about it. But it’s repeated because it’s true, and Dolven made a bad business decision. 


This is the expression of a man that, even if he cures cancer, know's he'll always be "the guy who played Harry Potter".

First, he ticked off everybody in the Source community. It wouldn’t be an issue if Pandemic played well at the combine, but they didn’t. Period. Even Harry Potter couldn’t put a positive light on their performance. They finished at 1-4-1, tying a team that went 0-3 against everybody not named Pandemic, and beating, arguably, the most disappointing team at the Combine (Forbidden). For comparison, here are the records of three other choices at his position: x6 (6-2 with a win over Pandemic), EFG (8-2, and still available at that pick), Devastation (5-3 with a win over 3D, the tournament winner). Insert here: snarky comment about winning being the most important thing in sports.

(Quick note about team performance: Alex Conroy picked his former team, JMC, and nobody cares because they’ve been playing really well. It doesn’t matter that Dolven picked his old team, it’s that he passed up so many deserving players to do it.)

Dolven even acknowledged Pandemic’s uninspiring play, supposedly, by telling them they were in danger of not being drafted. (This tidbit came from one of the CGS commentators after the pick.) Which, in the end, had as much truth behind it as telling your children their faces will freeze that way if they keep making funny faces, or if they eat too many cupcakes they’ll turn into one.

The way I see it, there are three outcomes from this:

1) Pandemic continues their poor play, and Dolven sticks with them.
2) Pandemic continues their poor play, and United 5 (the taxi team) replaces the underperforming players, or even the team as a whole. 
3) Pandemic turns things around, and finishes with a respectable (or good) record.

In the first two situations, the Source community still hates Dolven for picking them over Source teams (and hate is not too strong of a word). And in the third example, they still hate Dolven for the same reason, because the majority of the people won’t go back and change their initial impressions based on Pandemic’s performance. When they remember the draft, they’re going to remember their own shock, the silence of the crowd, and the vitriol of the forum reaction. It’s not right, because we should take Pandemic’s CGS record into account, but it just doesn’t work that way.

So basically, to use a poker term, he didn't leave himself any outs. If he picked a different team (EFG), and then took Pandemic with the first taxi choice, there’s no issue. He’s still supporting Pandemic by giving them a shot despite their record, and the Source community doesn’t hate you because you took EFG. And you’re in a better situation, anyway. If Pandemic picks up their play, your loyalty is rewarded. If they don’t, nobody blames you for taking them because it was a pick based on potential, and you still have EFG, a very good team. The problem comes when you’re picking Pandemic based on potential and other teams have at least similar potential and a better record. 

I don’t blame Dolven for wanting to take his team. It’s hard to part with people you’ve been with for so long, especially when you’ve seen the amazing play they’re capable of. But separating business from your personal relations might be the most important skill a GM can have. You can find a job if you have horrible fiscal management (Isiah Thomas, CBA), and you can find a job even if you have bad talent evaluation (too many bad contracts for me to list). You can’t have both, and letting your emotions get in the way of running the franchise leads down that road. In short, if an Oompa-Loompa sent in a better resume, had better references, and wanted less money than my brother … sorry bro, you’re fired.

(Please don’t punch me on Christmas.)


 
June 12, 2007

Finally, the deed is finished. (I can’t believe how long this has taken already, even before the writing.) You know what that means? Two things. One: prepare yourself. This is long, strong, and long. You don’t need one snack. You need two or three, at least six sodas, and probably a catheter if you want to read it in one sitting. And an indefatigable love of everything Counter-Strike wouldn’t hurt. The second thing? No more intro. We’re getting straight to business: the CGS, Counter-Strike: Source Mock Draft.


I don't think you'll need this much, but a little caffeine might do you good this time.

Sadly, before we get to the players, I’m going to lay down some of the thought process behind the picks. First, marketability is obviously a big consideration. There were only a couple cases where a person’s attitude or history really hurt their stock. That’s because a guaranteed salary, and especially the prospect of losing it, will get a person to shape up pretty quickly. After the draft is over, every player that didn’t get picked is going to want your spot, and believe me, there are plenty of talented people left for GMs to take a chance on. You don’t want to talk yourself out of your job.

I tried to make the teams realistic, as well. A team probably wouldn’t draft shaGuar, fRoD, Ksharp, brawwwr, and foogz, even if they could. Why? Five AWPers do not a team make. So I took previous players into consideration, as well as team needs regarding a strat caller/AWPer, impact rifler, etc. 

As for talent, I tried to evaluate it the best I could. There are a couple problems regarding talent. One, there aren’t many Michael Jordans, but there are plenty of Scottie Pippens and Toni Kukocs … Kukoces? Kukocii? Anyway, the point is it’s hard to look at people objectively. It’s easy for a player to look bad when his team is getting slaughtered, or like a superstar when his team is rolling. Is Scottie Pippen one of the fifty greatest players of all time, or was he only that good because he could play off Jordan? It’s impossible to totally separate a player’s performance from that of the team.

The other problem regarding talent is determining a player’s ceiling. Name me the top five “prospects” in Source. Name me one. I don’t think we really have “prospects” per se, because there’s no system in place for recognizing and evaluating talent. I’m not going to get too deep into the subject, because it’s deserves a full post on its own merit. Suffice it to say that there might be some strange picks based on what I think a player’s potential is if they’re put in the right situation, with the right teammates, and the right people teaching or giving them tips.

The last thing I want to say is that I go into this with my eyes open. Nobody is going to be totally satisfied by any Mock Draft like this, but I had fun doing it, and I hope you guys have fun reading it and thinking about it, even if you disagree with the picks. I tried to include as many players as I could, as you’ll see in a minute (I use the term "minute" very loosely here). There were a lot of really hard choices, but I think that the rosters turned out pretty well. 

Quick draft note: I did a snaking draft (1-2-3, 3-2-1) because it doesn’t give any inherent advantage to a specific draft spot.


Round 1

1. Marcus “zet” Sundström – Let the compLexity and 3D portion of the draft begin! Simply put, those teams have the most marketable players based on their history, and they’re arguably the most talented players as well. It’s a tough combination to beat.

Zet gets the honor of the first pick for a couple reasons. First, he’s got the Yao Ming/Ichiro factor. That is, he’s got the fan support of a whole nation. Well, at least their Counter-Strike fans, anyway. And granted, Sweden isn’t as big as China or Japan, but still. When you’re starting a franchise, it's a huge advantage. The second big thing: he’s arguably the best CS player, anyway. Even if he didn’t bring that extra market into the picture, you’d have to consider him for the first pick.

Skill and Swedish fans: a double whammy you can’t ignore.


2. Kyle “Ksharp” Miller – Might not be the second best player, I think that honor goes to fRoD, but you can market the bejesus out of him. (If there is any bejesus in him to begin with, any way.) He’s got a CS history a mile long, he’s still an excellent player, and he’s not going to be in the tabloids, so to speak. It was a really tough choice between Miller and fRoD, but in the end I think they’re close enough in skill that Miller’s history and likability, both in the community and outside of it, put him over the edge.

Plus, we know he's a dominant AWPer. And every team needs an Alpha AWP.


3. Danny “fRoD” Montaner – Well, if it was a narrow gap between Ksharp and fRoD, I think we all know who comes next. Again, this fits the need for the Alpha AWP, and he’s definitely a player you can build around. That’s really the goal in the first round. You need to get a stud, a player that can carry your team if you need him to. You could make a case for fRoD as the first pick, so getting him at #3 would make any GM a happy camper. Of course, if your GM is camping out at the draft, your franchise might have other problems.


4. Ronald “Rambo” Kim – He’s not the traditional fragger, but he’s got the pedigree (coL, 3D) and the ingame smarts. He’s a great strat-caller, and he might be one of the best clutch players in history. 

I think the bonus his name value gives, and his leadership, make him the choice over other riflers. He’s still a guy you can build a team around, he just won’t always be on top of the scoreboard while doing it. Think Derek Jeter. 


5. Michael “Method” So –
He might be the gold standard for riflers. His AWP is good, too, but I think he has a more consistent impact with an M4. Again, you put him in a spot, and you build around him.

As a bonus, there aren’t any character issues. He’s quiet, reserved, which is actually something to be wary of in later rounds. Every team needs a motor. They don’t need to be loud or scream at everybody, but they need to be able to drive a team. Method can dominate the action, but I don’t think he’s really an emotional leader for a team. If Rambo is Derek Jeter, then I think Alex Rodriguez is an apt comparison for Method.


6. Sal “Volcano” Garozzo – He’s really similar to Method, in my opinion. Dominant rifle, above average AWPer, impact player, good guy. Maybe not a team leader, but again, it’s a small concern that can be addressed later in the draft.


Round 2


6. Tyler “Storm” Wood – Storm and Volcano on the same team? It’s not much different than Volcano and Method, and it’s a great combination. Here’s an example of what he can do. (Note: it's a little hard to read, but the score is 17-2.)


5. Nick “n0it” Nowakowski – Finally, the run of coL/3D players is over! The reason those teams have so many players picked first is because were the most established teams in the US: 

A) They could attract the best talent because they had the most to offer
B) Because they had the best talent, they also had the most exposure, so their players are well known and respected. When you’re building a team, those commodities are worth a lot.

A vicious cycle if I’ve ever seen one, and one you could see coming from a cyber-mile away. 

That being said, this is probably one of the most controversial picks. 1.6 fans will probably hate it because he’s a “Source” player, and even Source fans will probably question it because his team played poorly at the CGS. To those people I say: get your own blog, and do your own mock draft. I love his AWP paired up with Method, and even though Forbidden didn’t do that well in the CGS competitions, I think their players are among the most talented. 

There’s also a marketing angle here: whoever drafts the first Source player is going to be welcomed by the Source community. Even though it’s smaller than the 1.6 fanbase, it’s still something to take into consideration, and that plus his AWP is enough for me.

(By the way, you don’t have to get your own blog, I was just kidding around. Stop glaring at me.)


Rodney "|\|0 r35p3(7" Dangerfield.


4. Matt “Warden” Dickens – The sick thing is you could put him right after Storm, and nobody would complain. He’s probably the most overlooked player on coL. fRoD’s the AWPer, Rambo’s the leader, zet’s the big import, Storm’s the glue, and what does Warden get? The fat jokes. He don’t get no respect, I tell ya, no respect!

His teammates might have more name value, but he can hang with the best.


3. Matt “bl00dsh0t” Stevenson – Best thing about Stevenson? This part of a GotFrag Interview:

GotFrag: what is the story behind your alias?

Stevenson: Stevenson was bestowed upon me by my father. The other alias that I have used in the past, "bl00dsh0t", came from the mind of a 14 year old gamer. Suffice to say that when I first began playing Counter-Strike, it was the coolest thing I could think of. Around that time, "1337" speak was being introduced (at least to me) and as a result, I concocted one of the most original and intimidating nicknames out there. Watch out gaming world.

Watch out gaming world -- classic. Bonus points for use of the words: bestowed, suffice, and concocted. And for the self-deprecating humor, which is a LANDodger favorite. All around, an excellent answer. Well said, sir.

As a player, he’s another guy in the Volcano/Method/Warden mold. Primarily a rifler, but a decent AWPer as well, and a humble guy.


2. Josh “Dominator” Sievers – In my opinion, the biggest mistake 3D made during their roster changes was letting go of Dominator. I don’t know if there was some kind of fallout with the other members, but the man can flat out frag, and he’s good at getting everybody pumped up. In short, he’s exactly what 3D was missing the second he left. Ksharp came back, and he filled the AWP role that shaGuar left behind, but they didn’t have an answer for what Dominator brought to the table. 

Now he’s working his mojo for JMC, and he’s a beast.


1. Mike “paradox” Stanowski – It’s another Forbidden member, and I’m expecting to get nailed by EFG fans at this point (don’t worry, your players are coming soon). Rather than bore you with more praise about how good he is and how awesome he is with an M4, I leave you instead with a paradox. Enjoy.


Round 3


1. Yazan “clowN” Ammari – See, I told you they were coming. By the way, can we get over calling these guys “Source” or “1.6” teams yet? They’re all playing Source now. It’s done. In fact, it’s been done for a while now.

Calling clowN, paradox, or n0it a Source player while you call Ksharp a 1.6 player makes as much sense as calling clown a member of Heroic. He was on that team for about two days. (And what a pair of days it was!) We might as well call them all Doom players, I’m sure they played that game, too. 

If he did, he was probably great at it, just like CS. On a side note, that brings this team to: clown, paradox, and zet. Or, if you’re keeping track by last name: Ammari, Stanowski, and Sundström. Where’s a “Smith” when you need him? They’re still lacking an Alpha AWP and a strat-caller, but the three rifles are all excellent.


2. Garret “grt” Bambrough – He’s joining Ksharp and Dominator thus far. Grt is an interesting case because he’s been calling strats, at least occasionally, for Evil Geniuses. I thought that was tr1p’s duty on EG, but in some of the CGS action I watched, it was Grt filling that role. To be fair, I haven’t seen all their matches so I’m not sure if it’s a fulltime gig or not. But apparently he can do it, so he’s going to do it for my mock team.

Congratulations, now tell Ksharp and Dom where to go so they can kill things.


3. Bobby “kEEN” Aihama – kEEN is an interesting player to me. He reminds me a little bit of Dominator in that he doesn’t get a lot of publicity, and I don’t know why. Every time I see him play, he’s hitting great shots and playing well.

He’s a consistent player, and I think he fits in well with fRoD and bl00dsh0t1337. (I added an extra 1337 just to make it extra intimidating.) He won’t need to carry, he can just sit back and do his thing.


4. Eric “brawwwwr” Neer – Meet the best AWPer you’ve never heard of. He plays for x6, and I hope they get drafted just so I can see him play against the top competition. 

In this mock draft, I have him on a team with a couple coL guys: Rambo and Warden. It probably won’t go down well with 1.6 fans, but I don’t think you lose much, by replacing fRoD with brawwwr. There might be a little more of a dip at the start, but I really think the sky is the limit for Neer.


No word on if Eric "brawwwr" Neer is the Llama Whisperer, but I think he is. +}


5. Jimmy “liN” Lin – The “fifth” team already has Method and n0it, so they have the Alpha AWP covered, but they needed a strat caller and I think that makes liN the choice here. He calls for 3D, and he’s been their primary AWPer, but he’s good with an M4, as well. He’s a jack of all trades – or a Jim of all trades, anyway.(Please keep the groaning to a minimum.)

(I’m not even half done yet, and those are the jokes you’re getting. Better hunker down, it’s gonna be a long night.)


6. Mohamed “mOE” Assad – More EFG! He’s here to be the AWPer for team Storm/Volcano. He’s solid, and probably the best AWPer left. 


Round 4


6. Jon “Juan” Mumm – Like mOE, he’s filling a specific need: strat caller. That brings this team to: Storm, Volcano, mOE, Juan, and that’s really solid. They’ve got all the bases covered, all they need is another solid piece.


5. Trevor “p0s” Randolph –
Solid rifle here, to pair with Method, n0it and liN. Another AWPer was out of the question, and I think he’s the best option because he has the least amount of questions, as we’re about to see.


4. Benedict “STRuK” Kaminski – STRuK might be more talented than p0s, but I don’t know about his “intangibles”. Forbidden played poorly as a team, and Kaminski was no exception, but what worries me are the rumors surrounding his character. To be fair, I’ve only heard things on the forums or word of mouth, so who knows if it’s true or not. But I don't think the difference between him and p0s was big enough to take the risk. 


3. Kevin “aZn” Wang –
The questions about the next two guys aren’t character, it’s whether they really love the game or not. I’m pretty sure aZn has gone on the record saying he hates Source. He’s still a great player, but I don’t think you can play at your full potential if you don’t love what you’re doing. Even if he considers this just a job, he’s still a great player, and potentially an excellent value in Round 4. 

It’s not like he’d openly tank, but at the same time, if I was drafting, I’d be wary that he might not really love the game. 


2. Hoang “sOnNy” Tran
–He doesn’t have the same name recognition as aZn, but he’s every bit as good. And, in terms of how much he enjoys Source, very similar. So again, the same concerns here. 


1. Jimmy “foogz” Koller –
He comes with a bit of an attitude (again, from what I hear), but he’s talented, and to be honest there aren’t a lot of overwhelming picks in this spot. I feel like the riflers dropped off after sOnNy, which makes his AWP a little more valuable.

He’s also an AWPer and a strat-caller, which team 1 still needs. 


Round 5


1. Sam “Devour” Chamma – Filling out the starting roster is devour. He’s good with a rifle, and he’s been one of the best players in the Source scene for quite some time. It’s a good way to complete a team.  


2. Corey “hanes” Hanes –
Same thing does for Hanes, except he was a big name for a long time in the 1.6 scene. I heard a rumor that Jockey was going to pay him to change his name, but Hanes let him go to the photo shoot with Michael Jordan and Kevin Bacon, so he kept it.

Wait, you didn’t hear that rumor? 


3. David “zid” Chin –
They still needed a strat-caller, so here he is. He’s also an AWPer, but that’s not a bad thing. He and fRoD can leave the rifling to Keen, aZn, and bl00dsh0t13371337. (There I go again, adding more 1337s.) 


This song is guaranteed to be stuck in my head for at least two days.


4. Brandon "Dirtysecret" Smith –
Let me know that I’ve done wrong, when I’ve known this all along. I go around a time or two, just to waste my time with you. Tell me all that you’ve thrown away, find out the games you don’t wanna play. You are the only one that needs to knooooooooooow.

I’ll give you my dirty little secret.
Don’t tell anyone or you’ll be just another regret.
My dirty little secret.

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)


I think anybody that gets wrongfully banned from a league for hacking automatically has to be considered one of the best players, right? Well, that’s DS. A handful of people watched his demo and thought he played so well there was no way he was playing legitly. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

Except the getting banned and having your name tarnished in the community part. That probably sucked.

(Who has to know?)
(Who has to know?)


5. Cyrus “org” Habibi – Habibi is famous for hacking as well, but in a different way. There was a fantastic hack movie made of him back in the day. I say fantastic only because I think all hack movies are fantastic, because it turns out he actually wasn’t hacking. In fact, a lot of well-known people showed up and pretty much shred the movie, and its maker, to tiny, tiny pieces.

Again, people think you’re hacking … you’re probably pretty decent at the game. 


6. Griffin “shaGuar” Benger –
I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t leave shaGuar off the list. In fact, it probably would have been an oversight so grievous it’s considered illegal in at least one state. Again, this gives team 6 a couple AWPers, but shaG’s been around the block long enough to know how to use a rifle. Leaving him off a team would have been unforgivable. 


Round 6 (backups)


6. Carson “classified” Holt – He really impressed me with his play for Check-Six during the CGS, and I really think he’s one of the perfect examples of what you want in a backup or a player on the taxi squad.

It makes sense for teams to draft a person like shaGuar because he’s more marketable and a proven commodity. Then you can take risks on the taxi players with players you have hunches on. There’s only 30 players being chosen, it’s a little silly to reach for somebody that might be great one day when there are two more players that are very good, and more recognizable, right now. 


5. Stephen “sasquatch” Csikos –
I really wanted to find a place for him in the starting rosters, but I just couldn’t squeeze him in. He’s not that much worse than org, if at all, but org has more of a pedigree because he comes from 1.6. Is Csikos worse? If he is, it’s not by much, and he can both AWP and rifle. 


4. Mike “Deciple” Baker –
See: Holt, Carson. (Except Deciple played for Gaming Revolution.)


Sasquatch's dirty little secret: his name is Stephen Csikos!


3. Corey “tr1p” Dodd -- I consider tr1p an insurance policy for z1d, on this team. If his strats aren’t meshing with the team, tr1p can step into that role easily. He called for coL for a long time and did a great job of it. 

In general, I don’t think he’s an impact player in the mold of somebody like Volcano, but he’s still a valuable piece on any team. 


2. Gary “Funshine” Laurita –
He’s another guy that stood out in the matches I watched, but he’s an AWPer. In fact, I was just as impressed by his AWP on Nuke as I was with brawwwr, the only difference is that I’ve seen brawwwr do it before and Funshine is a little newer to me.

But there’s a reason Devastation played really well in the tournament, and he was definitely a big part of it. Sadly, I couldn’t squeeze him into the top 30, but he’s somebody to keep an eye on.


1. Chad “daffsta” White – Just like z1d, he’s insurance for this team. He’s a good backup for foogz because he can call strats for the team. Even though it would leave them short an Alpha AWP, paradox can AWP when the situation dictates, and so can Daffsta. 


That leaves us with:

Team 1: zet, paradox, clown, foogz, devour, daffsta (6th)
Team 2: Ksharp, Dominator, grt, sonny, hanes, Funshine (6th)
Team 3: fRoD, bl00dsh0t, keen, aZn, zid, tr1p (6th)
Team 4: Rambo, Warden, brawwwr, STRuK, Dirtysecret, Deciple (6th)
Team 5: Method, n0it, liN, p0s, org, sasquatch (6th)
Team 6: Volcano, Storm, mOE, Juan, shaGuar, classified (6th)

Personally, I like Team 4 the most. If brawwwr and DS are half as good as I think, they could be far and away the best team. I don’t like how Team 5 turned out, but I don’t think the picks were bad. I just don’t know if that team would be anything special, but you never know. What do you think?

You think we’re done, don’t you? Wrong, there’s more! 

I couldn’t just end it there, could I? Who was the 37th pick?! Well, I’m not telling. But I did go through and select the next 36 most interesting players and put them on “taxi teams”, as the CGS is calling them. There are rumors they won’t be doing a full team of five, but there were so many people I wanted to mention that I decided to do a full team with a backup.

I didn’t go through and “draft” them, I just took all the players I thought should be in the discussion and mashed them all together with no regards for chemistry, strat-callers, or AWPers. Quite frankly, I think we’ve all had enough analysis, anyway. So, here’s the group (in no particular order).

Taxi Teams:

Team 1a: hahN, Griff, Drew, jthabuddha, rectOOOOr, AC
Team 2a: Nikon, KG, Cannon, Warmach1ne, Sauce, railm0
Team 3a: exodus, remix, forester, anger, misty
Team 4a: gn0me, Mustang, beN, Badapples, vertigo
Team 5a: Messiah, i0nZ, deppy, sunman, cbz, masternook
Team 6a: octane, smp, Kwick, dubs, elusive, Helix

I started off with the best of intentions, but I’m afraid I don’t have much time for editing. One pesky thing about player handles: keeping the right capitalization every time. I’m sure there are plenty of errors in that department, but hopefully you got through it. 

Two quick notes before I’m finished. There were a couple teams signed up with six players, notably EG, and I wasn’t sure where the sixth fit in. (I left blackpanther out, but he could have been added to the taxi teams easily, and probably the draft itself.) 

The other consideration was NightFall. I have no idea where he fits into the whole picture, but he has enough talent to participate in the CGS if he can latch onto a team. He’s like Gollum. I don’t know what role he’s going to play, but I feel his life and eSports are inexorably intertwined. For now he’s just lurking in the shadows, biding his time, and looking at people with spooky eyes. (And, possibly, eating raw fish. Yum!) I left NightFall out, as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was a factor at some point, even if it’s just on the rumor mill.

And now that I have successfully pushed down the site content about ten pages, I really need to sleep. I’m sure I’ll have visions of Counter-Strike drafts in my head to a sound track of All American Rejects.

Who has to know? 


 

So, here’s something nobody’s talking about regarding the CGS: franchise names. 

coL and 3D have already been drafted into the league as the Los Angeles and New York franchises, so I’m going to use them as examples. Call me crazy, but “The Los Angeles Complexity” and “The New York Desire, Discipline, Dedication” just don’t sound good.  The Dallas Pandemic? Charlotte Forbidden? Same thing. 

I’m honestly curious to see what their official titles are going to be. There’s a good psychological reason for putting the city names in: it helps fans identify with the team and it makes a team “theirs”.  It’s why Barry Bonds stills gets cheered in San Francisco, and why he gets booed in New York even while they’re cheering for Guillermo Mota, a guy who was caught using steroids and admitted he did it. And it’s why baseball ended up with “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”, a name so ugly and bulky that the only thing powerful enough to create it is money.


Rest easy, I had to look up his name on Google; I'm not that big of a nerd. GLAVIN!

Basically, a fan in LA is more likely to listen to a segment featuring the Los Angeles X instead of the California X. And a hybrid like “the compLexity of Los Angeles” is just too lame. Nobody in eSports, a place of 1337, n00b, and unicorn (a random swear-filter replacement on the CAL forums) could get behind a name like that.

Really, the problem is “3D” and “coL” are already franchise names, and just sticking a city in front of them doesn’t work. We need something else, something creative.  If you like bad puns and weak jokes, breathe easy. I’m on the case.

My first suggestion, one I’m dead set on, is NY3D. It rolls off your tongue, it’s got all the information you need to know, and it’s a shout-out to the NYPD/NYFD. And, if you take 1337 into account, it could even stand for NYed. As in, you got New York-ed – I’ve seen worse trends on the forums.  Really, what else could you ask for?  It’s short, to the point, and it’s got meanings coming out the wazoo. That’s why, even if the CGS doesn’t adopt the franchise name, it’s going to be their official name on LANDodger until the end of time. Or, until the CGS disbands, whichever comes first.

coL is a little stickier.  There isn’t an easy solution here.  compLexity is pretty long, especially with Los Angeles attached. compLAxity isn’t good, even if it sounds like something Professor Frink (the Simpsons scientist) would say. The “LA” gets run over as part of the word, and to be honest, it also sounds like a medical problem you might see a proctologist for. I also though, briefly, of Compton-Lexity. Even though they’d have a natural rivalry with the NY3D, I don’t think that’s the kind of organizational branding they were hoping for.  (And it certainly doesn’t represent them as a team; their players are never in trouble and never publicly run their mouths.)

The best I could come up with: coL Angeles, or coLAngeles. It doesn’t quite have the same ring, but I think the team/city emphasis is pretty good, and it’s not too much of a chore to say. If you’ve got a better idea for their franchise name, send it in, and I’ll use that instead.

Until then, it’s coLAngeles, NY3D, and four franchises without a dorky LANDodger name … yet.

Tags:
3D, CGS, coL

 
June 11, 2007

One good thing about eSports people don’t mention: movies. I’m a huge fan of Counter-Strike movies. I have yet to find a movie that really disappointed me. Even if the editing sucks, the frags are usually good. And if the frags suck, the movie maker usually knows it and makes sure the editing and the music is good. You can’t lose. Plus, you’re almost guaranteed to run into new music, which is never a bad thing. 

The interesting thing about CS movies is that I don’t think you can do anything like this in a professional sport. Can you imagine what a Barry Bonds highlight reel would look like?

Crack! … Homerun! 

Crack! … Homerun! 

Watch as Barry's head expands! (Not really. That would be on the bloopers.)

It’d be the same swing over and over and over again, with a defensive play or two thrown in. Football has a little more variety, but isn’t it basically the same thing? Running back A darts through Team B. Does the same thing to Team C. Does it in the snow. Does it in the rain. There’s a little more variety than baseball, which is probably the same reason you see more video highlights of people like Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, and other dynamic players. Ditto for basketball, but there are still really good players you could never make a movie out of. Game footage of Dennis Rodman would be fun for about two minutes, but only because he’d take some three point shots at the end of blowouts. Ben Wallace has some nice blocks, but you’d have to turn his movie into a blooper reel for his shooting. Even a star like Tim Duncan … how many times can we see a bank shot before it starts to lose its luster? 


I don't mean to imply Barry's head has ballooned in size, but this balloon is actually the size of his head.

There’s only so much you can do because the situations are usually similar, and you can only do so much at one time. You can only score one basket at a time, no matter how hard you try, and the action is always at the same place: the three point line, the end zone, home plate. That’s a little simplistic, but basically true. And then think about gaming. Before a round starts, you never know where the action is going to be (which is also part of why it’s so hard to broadcast live). It could be at Long A, it could be at B, it could be in mid. And even if it starts at one side of the map, it could be at the opposite end by the time the round is done. How many times does the action in basketball start at one end, move to the other, and then come back on one possession? Even when it does, it’s not a good thing because somebody ends up shooting a forty foot three-pointer, and it’s usually the most awkward person on the team because he’s the only open guy.

eSports, and CS in particular, just lends itself to making highlight reels. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the same situation and the same result in more than two movies, and the only repetitive clips come from spam spots. You have flashbang kills, nade kills, spam kills … awp shots, deagle shots, rifle shots … clutches, rushes, aces … and, if you have a sense of humor, team kills. And it’s all on six or seven different maps, just in case you’re tired of all the other variety.

Then you have to consider that makers can take the movies in other directions entirely. Pubmasters (Google Video) was probably the first ones to do it, or at least the first great movie. The intermission was something I’d never seen before, not to mention all the ridiculous strats. Running stacks? Sign me up. AFK strat? I'll take two. If you translated those to "real" sports, I think you end up with “The Flying V”, and I don’t think you’re going to find it on any highlights. Maybe an Emilio Estevez “best hits” video, if such a thing exists. It’s probably more like the eSports equivalent of a blooper reel, but again, there’s only so many times you can watch somebody fall down while kicking a punt, or set fire to his teammates shoes before you get bored. 

Alright, I admit, flaming shoes never get boring. But you get the point.

What brought on this post about movies? I’m glad you asked. 

rSports (x6) Movie

ajnin Movie (25 minutes!)

Watch and enjoy, e-friends. I’ll be releasing my CGS CS:S Mock Draft tomorrow, and I’m sure I’ll be hitting the CGS coverage hard the next couple days as the combine and the draft wrap up. And trust me, you need to watch those movies. Grab a snack, watch ‘em, and then thank me later.

Tags:
Media

 

A few quick notes before we get to the predictions. A few teams are at the CGS combine, which means if you’re interested in watching their matches, they won’t be happening tomorrow. The teams are: Devastation, Hyper, LucK, PK, and Check-Six. PK isn’t a full team, so their match might still be played on time, but just a heads-up to any potential viewers. And good luck to all the guys at the Combine. I’m sure it’s a dream come true for a lot of people, so I wish you happy fragging, and hopefully you’ll earn yourself and your team one of the four remaining franchise spots.

There were a couple LD updates today, as well, so if you’re coming over from a direct link on the CAL forums, feel free to check them out here. One was just a small post on the eMazing Gaming Tournament, but the other was a somewhat important update about LANDodger and what’s going on, so I suggest you read that. 

On the horizon, there’s plenty of CGS commentary, along with a CGS Mock Draft. GotFrag did their version, but I’m taking it one step farther – I’m going to break down what I think a Counter-Strike: Source draft would look like if they drafted player by player. So, basically, thirty rounds of mayhem, jokes, and crazy LANDodger team picking. It's gonna be a blast, I hope you'll join me.

But for now, it’s time to put on the Predicting Hat. Let’s roll.



Prediction: people will laugh at me if I wear my Predicting Hat.
Hyper vs. snowmen – Hyper is all busy, like, trying to make a living off of Counter-Strike or something. I think they’re at this thing called the Combination, but who knows. I’m sure it’s really small time.

snowmen had a close win against Legerity in the opening match, but I think Hyper is a little more talented, as shown by their Combine entry. They also made it far in the CEVO playoffs, and they pretty much breezed through the CAL placement tournament. All in all, I think it should be a close win for Hyper, and April O’niel will have the scoop after the match.

Hyper > snowmen 16-14


eMazing Gaming vs. Check-Six –
A quick note: eMazing Gaming merged with 50 Calibre, which is why they’re back in CAL-Invite. Goodbye 50 Cal, we hardly knew ye!

It’s probably not a bad thing, 50 Cal’s performance was pretty underwhelming through two matches. Fifteen rounds? I might have slightly overestimated them during the placement tournament. And now they’ll probably have to get used to the new players, which is never a good thing during a season. 

You can get away with roster changes at every other level, even up to CAL-Main, depending on how talented your members are. But a polished, top tier team like Check-Six is going to punish any lapses in communication or chemistry. Coming off preparing for, and playing in, the Combine, they should be ready for anything eMg has to throw at them.

x6 > eMg 19-11


EXTREMITY vs. recKoning – I’ve been touting recKoning the past week based on their recent play, but who knows when they’ll actually play a match. Their “recent play” isn’t so recent anymore. It doesn’t change the fact that zuH is a really good player and they’re a really good team, but still. They’re a little bit of an unknown quantity.

On the other side, we have EXTREMITY. They’ve played both their matches and gotten off to a good 2-0 start. I admit, it was a little surprising – you can tell that by my predictions against them. (No takebacks? Damn!) In my last prediction I said Dust2 might have been Kluwe’s map. He was kind enough to send me an e-mail in which he corrected me by saying, “DAWG EVERYMAP IS MY MAP”. 

It’s hard to argue with confidence like that.

EXT > recKoning  16-14


ajnin vs. Visual Gaming –
Funny moment from the Luck/VG match: Badapples standing at the site entrance to B tunnels and unloading a clip and some pistol rounds at a guy in the back of the site, then laughing over the mic when somebody else got the kill as he sat crouched in disbelief. It wasn’t the most impressive display of marksmanship, but I say that in the most respectful way possible. Especially because I couldn’t do better, and he seemed to have a good sense of humor about it.

He actually didn’t play that poorly, but it was Fallen and Reffner that impressed me from that match. Fallen had some wicked shots picking mid as a CT, and Reffner had some really dominant rounds. I think Reff was their VG also played really well on Nuke in the placement tournament, and it was one of their two wins during CEVO’s PT.

ajnin has started the season off 0-2, and I don’t like their chances here. n1x1n is capable of dominating a match for ajnin, but I don’t think they’re going to have enough firepower in this one.

VG > ajnin 19-11


PK vs. LucK –
First impressions from LucK’s last match: teky is really, really good. I don’t know if he should be filling out his application for 3D yet, but the man can play some Counter-Forces. The rest of the team didn’t have such a good run, losing 9-21 to Visual Gaming, but teky was definitely impressive.

One thing I wasn’t impressed with: LucK’s AWPers. That could hurt them on Nuke. An AWP at ramp isn’t as advantageous as it was in 1.6, but it’s still pretty common to have an AWPer play outside, and I think that’s going to be the key. If their outside players can step up (with an AWP or Colt) then I think they could hang with PK. If not, it’s going to be a long match.

Based on what I’ve seen and PK’s start to the season, I’m leaning towards another win for PK.

PK > LucK 18-12

Cyber Phenom vs. Legerity –
CP’s had a rough start to Invite, going 0-2, but I think they’ve been handling it well. LANDodger’s key to winning is never losing. But barring that, the next best thing is to try and learn from every loss. To do that you need a good attitude, and it seems like CP is keeping their heads up and they’re committed to learning from their mistakes. 

Unfortunately, one of the problems with adjusting is that you have to do it on every map. Things you learn on Dust2 aren’t always applicable to Nuke, and I think they’re going to have go through the learning process again after facing Legerity.

Legerity > CP 19-11


The Real Untouchables vs. Devastation – Devastation is one of the teams at the CGS Combine, and they’re off to a great 3-0 start. It’s still early, but so far, so good for them. One of their matches was a 10-6 win over United 5 on Nuke, which just happens to be this week’s map. United 5 has been one of the hottest teams in the Source scene, so a win like that is nothing to sneeze at.

TRU isn’t part of the combine, and to make matters worse, they just lost one of their best members. DC played his last match (more on this later) against electrify!. (Ending a sentence with electrify!’s team name is a punctuation nightmare, by the way. Microsoft Word’s grammar check is crying inside, trust me.) DC went out in style with a 19-11 win, and he was a major part of that. I was impressed by ZarkO’s AWP when I watched them play, and a good AWPer is a bonus on Nuke, but I simply can’t imagine them winning with Devastation playing so well.

Dev > TRU 18-12 



Is a funny caption even necessary?
Riot Squad vs. electrify! – On the “Top Ten Signs CAL isn’t High on your Priority List” List, where does playing a match drunk rank? It’s gotta be a solid eight, right? Right above listening to reruns of Dirty Jobs while playing (curse you, Mike Rowe, for being so entertaining!), and below going AFK for every cell phone call or text message.

That’s not a bash on electrify! – as long as they’re having fun, more power to ‘em – I’m just thinking out loud. 

They’re still a good team, and to their credit they did split a double-header with that slight handicap. Riot Squad has been plagued with their own problems, and I don’t think they’re going to be in top form when the match rolls around. They’ve had a lot of computer and roster problems, and at this point it wouldn’t surprise me if all of their equipment spontaneously combusted, leaving nothing but ashes and a shattered prediction behind.

electrify! should be able to capitalize on RS’s roster problems when match time comes, and I think they’ll pull out a narrow victory.

e! > RS 17-13


With that done, I want to get back to TRU for a second.  DC was also one of the really good guys in eSports. He was very well respected in the community, and I’ve had the pleasure of playing against him a few times. I don’t think he’s ever been on a team other than TRU, and that’s pretty rare. Loyalty and maturity are two qualities hard to find, as anybody building a team (or reading the forums) can attest. So, DC, good luck in your future endeavors, and fare thee well!

As always, good luck to everybody. May the predicted winners win, and the predicted losers prove me wrong.


 

This is what happens when a league gets an anti-cheat client! You can afford to run a tournament with prizes and not attract hackers like you offered money for the best pub score on a server without VAC on it. I’m not going to get into too much detail on CAL’s tournament since things are just getting underway, but my initial reactions are guardedly optimistic.

Some of the choices for the tournament might seem curious, but I think we have to look at it more as an exhibition than a competition. This isn’t a major event for the best teams to strut their stuff, it’s more of a promotion for CAL and eMazing servers. Let’s face it, if they wanted it to be the best possible competitive product, they wouldn’t have limited the number of teams from Invite and Main, the top two divisions. In fact, they wouldn’t have limited it to teams registered for CAL. 

If we keep the exhibition mentality, the division limits, the fact that a lottery will be used to determine which teams are selected if they run over the 128 team limit, and using the old format makes more sense. The only division using the modified CGS rules is Invite, which accounts for 1% of the players in CAL. And we all know the immortal words of Spock: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

I wouldn’t quit your day job, even if it’s at McDonalds, to chase the first prize of $500. But if you want to play, enter the tournament and have some fun. I’ll be interested to see if any Open teams can pull off a big upset as the underdog. As for coverage, I’ll be putting up a 128 team bracket … somehow … and I’ll be picking up predictions once the field gets narrowed a little bit. I’ll keep an eye on the early action for any notable outcomes, of course, but I don’t expect anything too intensive for the first few matches.

Predictions for CAL-Invite Week 2.1 are still on the way, and hopefully I’ll have those up in a couple hours. Stay tuned!

Tags:
CAL

 
June 9, 2007

Pardon the interruption, but there’s some breaking news that doesn’t involve gaming coverage. If you haven’t noticed, LANDodger is undergoing some changes. And I need your help.

First of all, I wanted to say how thankful I am for all the support I’ve gotten. I love writing about eSports, CAL, my stupid Starcraft strats, and even how much the Cubs break my heart. The community's reaction has been just phenomenal, and I can’t thank you guys enough for that.

Right now, I’m juggling a couple responsibilities: writing and upkeep on LANDodger, and making money. And I really want to focus more energy, do more things, with LD, but I also need groceries. So please, send me non-perishable foods so I can sustain myself.

Kidding, of course. But you will notice a few changes as I try to make LD profitable enough to provide a living. The first change, one that’s already started, is adding affiliate ads to the site. For those of you that aren’t familiar with them, they differ from regular advertising in one major way: I don’t get paid just for having them on the site. I get a small percentage or fee when people follow the links and buy a product. That being said, I want to make one thing absolutely clear:

I do NOT want you to buy things you can’t afford or are “meh” about just to support the site. Repeat: DO NOT BUY THINGS BECAUSE OF ME OR THE SITE. 


Why retire or recycle your old equipment when you can smash it, instead? Meet Sledgy.

But, if you have a particularly bad match and crush your mouse with a sledgehammer, thus putting you on the market for a new Logitech g5, I’d be thrilled if you would follow one of the affiliate links on the site to purchase your replacement mouse. Of course, I’ll tailor the affiliate ads to things I think the eSports community would be interested in, or popular sites: Newegg, Amazon.com, and Buy.com, etc. I’d love the support, but again, I don’t want to force this down your throat. Feel free to completely ignore all the advertising; we’re trying to make it both noticeable and not completely overwhelming (right now, they’re just text links under the “Support LD” portion of the sidebar). And thanks again for all the positive feedback thus far.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about content: things I do, and how to improve them.


Team Rankings

I’ll be releasing new team ranks this weekend, but I have one question for you guys: how do you want me to do them? Simply put, Source teams are spread out more than the jewel shards in Inuyasha. Some teams are going to be in CEVO-P, some in CEVO-M, some in CGS, some in CAL, basically ensuring no team is going to play all the other teams on the rankings. And since these are more like Power Rankings (who’s hot) than World Rankings (who’s the best team), it’s hard to gauge exactly how the leagues translate. Is a 4-0 streak in CAL better than a 2-1 streak in CGS, which, theoretically, has the six best teams in Source?. So, the way I see it, there are two options: mix all teams, or keep the CGS teams separated.

Personally, I’m ready to tell caution to take a hike and mix all the teams together. But, if the community wants one list for CGS teams, and another list for CAL/CEVO teams, I’d be willing to do that. It wouldn’t be much more work. What’s really important is you let me know what you guys want. E-mail me.


Tournament Results, Upcoming Events, Team Rosters

I updated the Source team rosters yesterday to include your favorite CAL-I teams, and I’ll be going through the Tournament Results and Upcoming Events pages, as well. The problem here is that the amount of information is prohibitively large. 

When Rambo leaves 3D, it’s major news and I can make an update easily. But when the 15th place team in CAL-I loses a backup, it doesn’t get much publicity. If you guys have any roster updates, or even teams I should add, send ‘em in. I’d love to put them up, but keeping track of all the teams takes a lot of time. 

And the same goes for Tournament Results and Upcoming Events. There are a lot of smaller LANs that don’t get publicized, and I’d like to add them here. If you see anything you want added, or if you’re organizing a LAN and you want some publicity, I’ll be happy to add it. Even a link to a forum thread would be extremely helpful.

(One last note about the rosters: I’m trying to limit them to starters and backups as much as possible. I simply refuse to put twelve people under a roster when only seven are actually playing. Usually the rest are just roster riders, inactive players, and the apocalyptic backup – the guy that you call when seven other people can’t make it. He doesn’t have IRC, he has to download two hours worth of updates for the match in thirty minutes, and when he’s finally in the server, he plays so much WoW he talks about casting grenades and refers to baiting as tanking.)


Mailbag

The last thing I really want to do with the site is a mailbag. Here’s an exampleSend in your random questions, comments, thoughts about anything – doesn’t have to be eSports. It could be a brutal Cubs loss, another injury to Mark Prior, a good movie moment, a crazy anime scene, anything. I don’t care what it is, providing it has these two qualities: it’s funny (or we can make fun of it), and it’s not painful to read. I won’t be that picky, but if you write about the sublime pleasure of watching grass grow and half your words are misspelled, it might not make the cut. 

Honestly, if none of these things happen, it’s okay. I’m not going to shut down the site because I didn’t get enough questions for a mailbag, and I’ll do my best to keep all the rosters updated, add tournaments and results, and balance that with writing. Some of those I could do better if we ran on a 36 hour day like the twins from Men in Black. I'd appreciate it if somebody could let Superman know that he should fly into space and change the Earth's rotation, like he did in the original 1978 movie.


Whatever happens, I want to thank you guys again for the support thus far. Hopefully this is just the beginning, both for me as a writer and LANDodger as a site.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Coming up, we have the first post of LANDodger’s coverage on the eMazing Gaming Tournament, and today is Saturday so that means CAL predictions, as well. 

I’ll try to do better the next time. Goodnight, Canada.

Tags:

 
June 7, 2007

We have a new installment in my ongoing quest to interview every CAL admin the league has ever had. At this pace, I should finish around the same time the NHL gets popular. Or the Cubs get good. Or people like Barry Bonds.

I could go on, but I’ll spare you … this time.

Tonight, CAL|Shawn, the Counter-Strike: Source CAL-Invite Division Manager is in the spotlight. I believe that’s CSSCIDM, for short. Thanks to CAL|Shawn for taking the time to answer my questions, and I hope you find his answers about his gaming career, map rotations, and the placement tournament enlightening.


1) So, I think we should start with a hard hitting question: if your real name is Chris Davis, how the heck did you end up with CAL|Shawn as your CAL handle?

CAL|Shawn: Great question and I’m sure many people are curious too. It was just bad timing I guess. When I became a CAL admin in October of 2005, there was already a CAL|Chris and a CAL|Davis. So they suggested CAL|ChrisD and I responded with my middle name, Shawn, instead. About a season later CAL|Davis became free, but I had already put in a lot of time as Shawn and I didn’t want to lose any potential community credibility I had gained with this name.


2) If the name Shawn was already taken in CAL, what would your name have been? Would they have let you make up a name, like, say … CAL|Grabthar’sHammer?

CAL|Shawn: It's CAL policy to use your first name or last name, so if CAL|Chris, CAL|Shawn, and CAL|Davis were all taken, I would have probably had to do something like CAL|CDavis, eh.


I hear Grabthar's Hammer grants you +10 avenging, +10 strength, but -15 layability. Oh well.


3) How long have you been a gamer, an admin, and what’s been your favorite parts about both?

CAL|Shawn: I've played single-player games since jr. high school, but I don't recall playing multi-player games until my senior year of high school, which was about 8 years ago. One of the things I've enjoyed most about being a CAL admin is the fact that I am in a position to help change the direction or environment of the gaming community if I give enough effort. I think one example who most people are familiar with is Wim Barleds, how his savvy knowledge of the game and its components rewrote the book on AC policies and exploit variables, just to name a couple things. Another person who made a significant impact was Mike Sek, who helped thoroughly update the CS:S ruleset and established a strong admin community and structure, something I didn't feel we had until he took the position of GM and held for 8 or so months.


4) One more question before we get to CAL. I want to focus on one of your other jobs: being the manager for the Check-Six Source team. I’m sure neither of those really pay the bills, so have you ever had problems juggling both of those duties, in terms of time or a possible conflict of interest, and do you think there are any similarities between managing a team (for x6) and managing sixteen teams (as an admin)?

CAL|Shawn:  These days they’ve learned how to handle themselves responsibly in all regards I don’t really have to do much for them anymore. I advise them from time to time but they pretty much make their own decisions. I’m almost reluctant to use the term “manager” anymore. As for conflicts, I don’t ever recall having to make a CAL decision that affected the team even indirectly. They’ve been in Invite for some time and I was only this season appointed to manager the Invite division. Conversely, there have been moments sporadically in the past where I had to keep them motivated in CAL and I’m grateful they at least respect that request.

I think non-playing managers can make great admins because for both, you have to be able to see the bigger picture. Grover, the former AC manager for example, was also the manager of his Invite team. There are several other current and past admins who have been leaders of upper division teams and in nearly all cases they help bring stability to their teams and the league. I think it’s a good thing.


5) Alright,onto CAL questions. There have been huge changes to the league, and the Invite division specifically. Is this just the first step, or have you implemented most of the things you envisioned and now you just have to tweak it as you go along?

CAL|Shawn: There are a couple things to consider. The first is the state of the game as a whole by mid-August, and my guess is that even after dozens of teams are sent home following failed attempts at becoming one of the contracted CGS teams, the interest in playing by their match settings will still be high. On the other hand, if the last 4 spots in CGS go to 1.6 organizations when it is obvious that some should not be selected, the Source community could be appalled and infuriated and want to reject all things CGS. So that we'll have to see about.

The second is that it's difficult to tell what the extent of my control over such matters will be for Season 9. A lot of the changes I announced in late April were my own policies, but I have no idea how my successor will want to run Invite next season. De_cpl_maps might be used again, or the returning starters rule might be reset to 3, I don't know. Plus, there are other people helping me this season and it's hard to say if those people (such as you, Mike) will have the same rapport with the next admin. Hopefully I can smoothen the transition but we'll have to see how it goes. I'll be around until the next Placement Tournament, so I'll be pushing for increased season prizes next season, but other than that I can't really think of anything major to happen that I wasn't able to implement this season.


Don't let the blue skin fool you, Grover was a heck of an AC admin. Wait, what do you mean this isn't the right picture?


6) Obviously this is going to be the first season with the new changes, do you foresee any problems as teams adjust or do you think everything will run smoothly for the most part?

CAL|Shawn: I think teams are adjusting fine. Some people were concerned that it would be such a big change from the traditional CAL rules to the mr15-CGS config in Invite, but honestly, what upper-tier team hasn't already played with the CGS config? I think a larger percentage of the Invite teams this season are used to consistently playing two CAL matches a week than it has been in previous seasons. I am, however, hoping that teams don't overdo themselves in committing to too many leagues. Along with CAL, CEVO, and CGS, two more leagues are opening up in TGL and CGESA. It can get pretty crowded.


7) You mentioned that you’re going to be the Division Manager for one season because of a temporarily relaxed work schedule. Will you stay on with CAL in any kind of capacity (advisor, etc), or do you think it will be a complete exit?

CAL|Shawn: Well unfortunately, there is no shortage of people who want to tell admins how to do their job, yet there are never enough mature, qualified, active people to actually fill all of our administrative vacancies. During my two months off, I did stay in touch with some admins and helped periodically, but to me it always felt like the phrase "In for a penny, in for a pound." I don't think I'll be involved at all once I leave, and hopefully the staff will have been replenished at that point so that my absence won't be felt. I just got my masters degree and I'm continuing on for my doctorate, so I think this would be a good time to start focusing on my work and career.


8) One of the huge changes was the addition of a placement tournament, and I was to focus on that for a second. From what I know, there are a couple different ways to do placement tournaments. Professional soccer leagues demote/promote only a couple teams every season. In contrast, anybody that didn’t make the semi-finals in CEVO gets thrown into a tournament (only four of 16 teams were given guaranteed spots in CEVO-P). This season CAL promoted eight teams from the tournament while giving eight teams an auto-berth into Invite. Do you think that number will be smaller in future seasons, like the system pro soccer uses, or do you think it will be more similar to CEVO?

CAL|Shawn: The optimal number of teams in CAL-Invite is 16, while in CEVO-P it's less, around 10-12 (there were more teams last season due to the late adding of 1.6 transfers). So as I see it, roughly the same number of teams are invited to the top division via the Placement Tournament, only there are fewer auto-berthed teams in CEVO to begin with. As for CAL-Invite Season 9, I have to wait to see how the situation is at the end of this season first. There are a couple of things I know will be improved and then a few things we just have to wait to see how many vacancies there are in Invite before the PT even starts.

Another thing that's really hard to tell right now is how everything is going to pan out after the CGS teams have been selected. Right now there are about 2 dozen teams out there that are only concentrating on CGS and maybe CEVO, and if you take CGS out of the picture for them, they might want to turn to CAL. Who knows, we might have prizes more appealing to the upper-tier teams next season. So I think it's safe to say that the next PT will be similar to this last one, but it will address and improve upon the concerns people had about various things.


9) Staying on that topic, some people were miffed about a few teams in the PT; specifically, why teams from Open and Intermediate, the two lowest divisions, were given spots. What was the thought process behind that?

CAL|Shawn: The first concern I had was that I didn’t want to devalue the Season 7 Main playoffs, so only the top placers were given a chance to play along with some Invite teams. But there were still some spots left and since this tournament was only open to existing teams, I had to expand beyond Main and Invite and in doing so I spoke to my colleagues and picked a couple teams we felt could compete the best from the lower divisions. In future seasons, we can look back on how this went and make changes where necessary, but we ended up making this PT somewhat of a CAL-wide event and I’m happy with the way things turned out.


10) Why Prodigy for preseason? Was Aztec considered too T-sided?

CAL|Shawn: I thought it would be funny to see the terrorists try to get to a bombsite in 1 minute and 20 seconds. I know that no one will practice for the map so we might as well try something fun. I would have thrown in a map like cs_assault or cs_office, but I know the teams would just shoot the hostages and camp out in the closets just to be funny. I’m sure we’ll hear of some interesting things on de_prodigy but hopefully nothing quite so…happy.


11) What considerations go into choosing a maplist for the season? Is there any rhyme or reason (splitting up CT-sided maps, for instance) that go into it, or is it just whatever provides some change from the schedules of previous seasons?

CAL|Shawn: There's no pre-existing formula on how it's done. Seasons 6 and 7 were synchronized with CEVO but this season we released our maplist first so it looks like only 3 or 4 maps overlap. Back in Seasons 3-5 when Ruth was the GM, he felt that we shouldn't have two de_cpl_maps back to back anytime in the season. I think every season we try to end with a popular map, such as de_train, de_nuke, and de_cpl_mill as has been done in the most recent seasons. Newer maps to the CAL rotation never seem to be last, and the more pub-friendly maps always seem to be toward the beginning of the season. So yea, this is probably more information than you needed.


12) The WSVG announced a deal with CBS broadcasting and the CGS has DirecTV. Do you think that online leagues will gradually be phased out as the action moves more towards LAN play? Or do you think there is always going to be a place and usefulness for CAL, CEVO, etc, as a place where people can play for fun instead of playing to “go pro”?

CAL|Shawn: I think there will always be online leagues and that its importance will remain high. For one, gamers who do not meet the age requirements for some of these LAN and TV-broadcasted competitions, or players who are too young to be traveling to LANs, will still need places to have fun in competitive environments. For the older and more professional players, it wouldn't be that wise to enter into LAN events without online preparation because without it, a team could think they are incredibly strong, only to travel a long way and pay a lot of money to be pummeled in LAN competition. Teams have to know where they stand as a unit before they commit to such conditions.


In case of emergency, your seat can be used as a flotation device. Laptop? Not so much.


13) Lastly, it wouldn’t be a LANDodger interview without a crazy question that makes readers question my sanity. With that in mind, if you were stranded on an island with a solar-powered computer, what game would you have on it? And when you’re escaping from the island in a raft, and you had to choose between your laptop or your only companion – a volleyball named Milson – which one gets left behind?

CAL|Shawn: One of my favorite games of all time is Deus Ex, and if I had to pick only one game that would probably be it. But I'm a practical guy... when escaping the island I don't think a water-dead heavy laptop would do me much good. The volleyball might not be much better, but I'd still go with it.


Quick Recap

– I totally forgot about Deus Ex, but that was a really fun game. 
– Maybe we should have fun maps every preseason. Bring back Aztec, Tides, Port. Convert Scouts’n’Knives into a de_ map. How could that not be fun?
– CAL|ChrisD, one of the alternate names he listed, has a nice rhythm to it for a CS rap.
– And lastly, if you’re ever stranded on an island with CAL|Shawn, I hope you float better than a laptop.

Just kidding. You only need to be a better companion than a volleyball. That's not so bad.

Tags:
CAL, Interviews

 

There’s major news afoot and the silence is deafening. For those of you that haven’t heard: MLG “acquired” the best, biggest eSports site, LANDodger. Wait, no. That was just a pipe dream I had.

They did acquire that eSports site, but it's GotFrag. And where are the news pieces? It’s not even on Amped yet, and the story’s already more than a day old. You would think that the biggest eSports news site being acquired by a major gaming league would get more coverage than your local CAL-O match. Maybe the problem is there wasn’t enough compensation. MLG acquired GotFrag, but what did we get in return? Cash considerations? Salary cap relief? A first round draft pick – Greg Oden!?

(Probably not, although if Greg Oden wants to forsake the NBA draft to start a LANDodger basketball team, I’d like to state, on the record, that I’d be happy to have him. I believe his going rate is about 3,000,000 CS lessons – the equivalent of his rookie salary. Call me, Greg. Or force a trade to the Bulls – either one is good.)


If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you dream upon a pipe
As dreamers do.

Alright, Greg Oden is a pipe dream too, but there are a few things I’m sure we’re getting in return: console coverage, console coverage, and Halo – played on the console – coverage. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I don’t have anything against console gaming. A flick shot in Halo isn’t any less exciting than a flick shot in Counter-Strike. And if you ever get a chance to see their broadcasts on USA, tune in. They’re well edited and the commentary is good, which is more than I can say about some other professional broadcasts.

(Excuse me while I mentally glare at my most hated MLB and NBA announcers.)

The acquisition is a really interesting development for a couple reasons, one of which I’m really excited about, and the other I’m concerned about. Happy news first: it’s a huge move for the MLG, and I think we have to admit there are three major leagues fighting for dominance in eSports. Who has the best product and the best medium for it? Which league has the biggest inherent fanbase, and which the biggest potential fanbase? I have no idea, but here’s the way I see it:

MLG has the console market, which is huge even though PC gamers don’t pay as much attention to it. Really, the most prevalent game on TV is Madden Football – and obviously that’s a console game. We don’t tend to think of it as a competitive game, but the fanbase is huge, both because of console gamers and football fans. Before the CGS was offering guaranteed salaries, MLG players and teams were already signed. Throw that in with their broadcasting deal with USA, the biggest eSports website, and you have a league to be reckoned with.

The WSVG has (arguably): the most popular video game ever (WoW), the hottest title on the hottest console (Guitar Hero 2, Nintendo Wii), and the most successful deathmatch title in competitive history (Quake). It's hard to gauge all of those things, but I think we all agree they're at least in the discussion for those categories. And they’ve got the only broadcast deal with a non-cable channel: CBS. 

Then, of course, we have the CGS, and I think we know what they bring to the table: DirecTV and Counter-Strike. Their other games get overlooked, but we shouldn’t discount them. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and they could draw in some soccer fans with Fifa ’07. Can’t forget the racing crowd, either, and they’ve got that covered with Project Gotham Racing. And two words: guaranteed salaries. Still a huge selling point, even if MLG was there first.

What a mess! It’s like Risk, eSports edition: the battle for e-world domination! (Which means the CPL is Antarctica, I believe.) I have no idea who’s going to come out on top, and, more importantly, with what games. If the CGS doesn’t cut it, one of the other leagues would be crazy not to pick up CS. Ditto for the WSVG and WoW, or MLG and Halo. Even Miss Cleo thinks the future is cloudy

All that’s great, and I’m genuinely excited to see what happens with the three leagues. But there’s another aspect to the story: what happens to GotFrag? Their letter to the community, at least the “what this means for GotFrag” portion, basically said four things:

1) We’re getting more backing and access to MLG events
2) We’re adding more console coverage, but we’ll still be dedicated to PC gaming.
3) Our standards and content won’t change that much.
4) MORE. And BETTER.


How blind is Mr. Magoo? This is his small monocle.

The first two are pretty obvious. Even Mr. Magoo could see those coming. The fourth one seems to be the talking point, as seen in the title, “Letter to the Community: More and Better”. The third statement? I’m calling shenanigans, because there’s a pretty big conflict of interest.

Let’s look at things in a different way. It’s the start of a normal day. You wake up, collect fresh eggs from your chicken coop, make an omelet, have your cleaning robot, Rosie, take care of the dirty dishes – the usual. After putting on your silk robe and alligator-skin slippers (yes, you eat breakfast in the nude to show off your finely tuned abs), you hop on the internet and check out ESPN.com. And you find out it’s been bought by … oh, I dunno … Major League Soccer. On the front-page is a notice about the news, and a letter claiming nothing is going to change except there’s going to be a disclaimer about the ownership in all MLS articles.

I don’t know about you guys, but I wouldn’t be putting much stock in their objective analysis on things like the David Beckham contract, disclaimer or not. 

Another quick example: MLG and the WSVG both finish up major events on the same day. The final results come in within minutes of each other. Who gets the massive headline graphic, and who gets the top link on the news section? Again, I don’t think we’re going to be blindsided by which one they’d choose. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good that GotFrag is being up front about a possible bias. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the fact that the bias is there, or pretend it won’t ever show up. It’s one thing for a media outlet to have a partnership with an organization. Both of them benefit from the extra coverage and exposure – it’s a major part of journalism. It’s another situation entirely when a league is cutting the checks for a media outlet. We call those sites MLB.com.

Would GotFrag intentionally lie to the readership? No, I think only the Bush administration does that. Will I stop reading or enjoying their content?  Absolutely not. I’m still going to do both of those, just like usual. So in that sense, not a lot will change. But let’s go into this with our eyes open. It’s naïve to think their coverage and commentary is going to be the same as it was before the MLG acquired them. I’ll be keeping the salt grains ready for whenever I’m reading their articles, even if Pepsi tastes horrible with salt in it. And I'll double the dosage when the news could have some kind of impact on the MLG – directly (their events) or indirectly (CGS news, etc). 

That’s the bad part of the effect this will have on GotFrag, and as you can see I took the third point very seriously. But we can’t just ignore the last point: it’s entirely possible their coverage will expand and get better from having the financial backing of the MLG. Really, I’d be surprised if it didn’t. I don’t know what they have planned, but they have more resources now than they did before. Maybe they’ll be able to pay their writers. Maybe they’ll be able to cover even more international events than they already do, or send more writers and staff. Maybe they’ll develop a new, even better Gamesense. Who knows, but when you consider how big the MLG is, it’s not hard to see this having a positive effect on GotFrag as a whole. Any possible bias could turn out to be well worth the price. 

Everything’s a trade-off. And you can bet that if the MLG came calling for me, I wouldn’t hang up the phone based on a possible conflict of interest. It would weigh into the decision, sure, but there’s a great chance I’d end up doing the same thing GotFrag did. I can’t blame for the decision, and this post isn’t meant to be a flame towards them at all. They’ve done more for the advancement of eSports than 99.9% of the community, including myself, and I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work and dedication. But I don’t think it’s right to let the conflict of interest pass by the wayside while we consider all the good things about the move, even if there will be plenty of positive things about the acquisition. So I’m going to take that disclaimer to heart, even while I continue to read and enjoy the site. And I think you should, too.

Tags:
CGS, MLG, WSVG

 

What’s up with only five matches from the first date being played? I know we all have busy schedules filled by dates with supermodels, fights with Chuck & Chuck (Liddell and Norris), and tryouts for the Olympics, but aren’t CAL matches more important? Get your priorities straight!


Worst logo ever? I think it says Zoiz. Or Zor. Or zomg we're dumb and can't make a logo.

Don’t send me angry e-mails, I’m just kidding. We got a little bit of insight into teams from the first week, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch any of the matches because I was traveling and couldn’t have watched the SourceTV even though I wanted to. I’m settled back in at home now, though, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to catch at least a couple of the matches for Wednesday or the three that haven’t been played from Sunday. 

But for now I’m still in the dark, or at least the dusk, for a lot of the teams and it could be a rough week for accuracy. On with the preds!


EXTREMITY vs. 50 Calibre – Both of these teams gave me a rude welcome to CAL predictions. I missed the 50 Cal prediction by nine rounds (whoops!), which makes my EXTREMITY prediction look like a close call – which it wasn’t. There’s nowhere to go but up. 

(Except for down, but I try to stay positive.)

I was going to go with 50 Cal here, but the more I look at that 8-22 score … that’s a pounding! Maybe it was fluky, but Dust2 could also be a bad map for 50 Cal. EXT, on the other hand, had a pretty convincing win over ajnin, and for whatever reason I’ve seen a lot of screenshots with Kluwe playing well on D2. Could be coincidence, could be a good map for him. In any case, I’m going to give them the nod here in a close match.

EXT > 50 Cal 17-13


recKoning vs. Check-Six
– x6 pulled out a win against Visual Gaming in their first match, but I think it cost them Carson “classified” Holt – he got suspended for using the CEVO GUI.  Not a major suspension in terms of gossip, but he’s a very good player, and I don’t think they’ll be able to take down reckoning without him. recKoning hasn’t played yet, but they were on fire in the CEVO placement tournament.

The X-factor is Eric “brawwr” Neer. If he gets hot, we know he can dominate a match. He showed that a few times at the Buy.com LAN. I’m not sure how good their sixth man is, but if brawwr can get in the flow they just need him to be adequate. I still can’t predict them to win, but it’ll be interesting to see if Neer can put them on his back one more time.

recK > x6 18-12


Featured Match

LucK vs. Visual Gaming – Hook me up with the SourceTV IP. That’s all I ask. I don’t even care if the prediction is wrong; I just want to watch the match.
Of course, that’s a lie. I want the prediction to be right, and I think Visual Gaming is going to win. But LucK has a good roster and they did well in the placement tournament. VG just came off that tough loss to x6, and I think we might see that matchup again somewhere in the playoffs. It won’t be easy for Visual Gaming, but I have to go with Messiah, Badapples, and Co. for the victory.

VG > LucK 17-13


The Real Untouchables vs. Hyper – TRU hasn’t played their first match. Hyper hasn’t played their first match. When will this one be played? The only thing I’m sure of is that it won’t be on Caturday.

Something totally unrelated to the match: I was perusing Hyper’s roster, and April O’niel can’t be that person’s real name, right? Nobody with the last name of O’niel would name their child after the reporter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And even if they did there’s no way that person would end up on the same CAL-I Source roster as a player named “Shredder”. I hope it’s a conspiracy, because if it’s coincidence, clearly the planets have aligned improperly and the end is nigh. Just tell me it’s a conspiracy, please, before I spend thousands of dollars on non-perishable food and a fallout bunker.


Will the real reporter please stand up? Did Splinter miss the roster lock? Do you pay full price for late pizza?

TRU doesn’t have nearly as much name synergy, and I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up in the match, either. Hyper should be in contention for the title at the end of the year, and I don’t think TRU is on that level yet.  As Michelangel would say: bummer, dude.

Hyper > TRU 19-11


electrify! vs. Cyber Phenom – CP just barely lost to Devastation, and that was a much closer match than I thought it would be. I know Dev used a manger, but I'll have more on that in a moment. For now, I was still impressed with the way CP played, I was expecting a wider margin.

electrify should be pretty close to Devastation in terms of skill (when they're not using their manager). electrify hasn't played their first match yet, but they did beat NoPression on Dust2 in the CEVO placement tournament, and NP was a talented team from Season 3 of CEVO. I think e! will be able to get a victory here, despite CP's strong showing against Devastation.

electrify! > CP 17-13


snowmen (Fever) vs. Riot Squad – Just so we’re all on the same page, Fever decided to join the snowmen organization. I haven’t confirmed this, but I think they also got a new manager: Jack “Old Man Winter” Frost. I heard he's a real blowhard and he's pretty cold to all the players, but maybe my information is wrong. (Corniest joke ever?)

Even though it’s really early in the season, this could be a big match for Riot Squad. If they win, we have to consider them one of the top teams. If they lose, it makes those losses to eMg in the pre-placement tournament stand out a bit more. The whole situation leading to their entry into the tournament was weird, and it’s hard to get a read on them after they lost to eMg and then eMg was subsequently knocked out. My gut says they just had a bad day, and the RS that ripped through the Lower Bracket is more indicative of their skill level. If they can get a stable five they should be able to compete for the title, but for now they’ll have to settle for handing the defending champs their first loss.

RS > Snowmen 16-14


Devastation vs. Legerity – Devastation beat Cyber Phenom even when they used a manager, but it was by the smallest margin, and CP was leading late in the match. It seems like they just couldn’t close the deal. 

As a general note about managers playing, I know they’re not supposed to be as good as the “real” players, but they’re not total noobs, either. Are they as good as the regular starters? I’d hope not, or else they should be starting. But it’s not exactly the same as Lou Piniella striking you out or Jim Leyland hitting an inside-the-park homerun (feel free to insert your favorite old, slow, graying manager in place of Piniella or Leyland). It’s not as much of a big deal as people make it out to be.

Funshine did a good job of picking mid in the second half, which seemed to throw off CP a little bit, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough this time. They’ll need their starters if they want to beat Legerity. I don’t want to split the prediction (one pred with starters, one pred with a manager), so I’m just going to assume they’ll have their starters for this match. If not, I think Legerity will win, but for now …

Devastation > Legerity 17-13


ajnin vs. PK – This is the fifth time I’m predicting a PK match. I’ve underestimated them in every other prediction – most notably I predicted them to lose two close matches which they ended up winning 16-4 (CAL placement tournament) and 22-8 (last week). 

So that makes me want to predict PK to win – it’s clear they’re a better team than I’ve thought. Then again, these teams met in the Pacific Finals last season, and ajnin won that matchup fairly easily. I should choose ajnin. But wait, I used that logic as part of a prediction last week, and ajnin lost 19-11 to EXTREMITY.

Sigh. (Or sai, if you’re still stuck on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.) Whenever I’m in a tough situation and I don’t know what to do, I look to world leaders for words of encouragement and wisdom. So tonight I go to the wisest of leaders, President Bush, for this nugget: “Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

Amen.

PK > ajnin 18-12


And just like last week, good luck to all the teams. May the predicted winners win, and the predicted losers prove me wrong!


 
June 5, 2007

Part of the problem with titles is they don’t get room for qualifiers. It’s a headline, and it should capture the gist of what’s written in the ensuing article. Usually it doesn’t matter, but I think it needs to be explained a little bit this time.

First of all, I do mean it as a question. It’s something to think about – I’m not predicting doom for CEVO in the next week, month, season, year, or maybe ever. The second thing I have to mention: as of now, I’m providing coverage for CAL, aka the only other online league worth mentioning. So I can see how this would be a little conflict of interest. Of course the guy writing for CAL would think CEVO is in trouble and needs to change, it’s good for business to say so! But, I don’t think I’m that jaded yet, and the same things I say here about CEVO could be said about CAL-Invite. In fact, it’s already happened in CAL, just on a smaller scale.


This is a mayfly. It lives for 24 hours. That's 24 hours longer than the NEL survived.

Remember when CAL was the only online league worth playing in? UGS was alright before it became the NEL (and the DEAD quickly after that), but it was never the main focus for professional gamers. CAL-I was still offering higher CPL seeds as part of winning the division. That’s a huge draw, like offering soccer fans free beer. CPL was THE LAN.  

Then two things happened: CEVO came along and offered cash money for playing online, and other LANs started popping up. The LAN effect wasn’t huge by itself, but cumulatively it helped to devalue the CPL’s product a little bit. It was still a huge LAN, but the difference between the second seed and the tenth seed wasn’t as big because you could prove your worth, and earn money, in other events. The WSVG ran international competitions, and before that the ESWC and the WCG did the same. Those extra LANs, along with CEVO offering money, made CAL’s seeding bonus look like ... not money, that's for sure.

We all know what happened after that: the grass was greener (monier?) on the other side of the hill and the big (professional) teams left CAL to focus on CEVO. If they could have played in both leagues, I’m sure they would have, but four matches a week was too much to handle. Even if they were on the same map, it just doesn’t leave much time for actual practice. (Yes, we talkin’ ‘bout practice, man. What we talkin’ ‘bout? We talkin’ ‘bout practice, man! Practice, not da game, man. Practice.) No matter how good you get, you always need to iron out kinks, new strats, small conflicts, etc. Doing that while playing against fRoD or Ksharp is, perhaps, not the best path to success. 3D, coL, Pandemic, and a couple other teams just dropped CAL. When they had to make a choice, they went to where the bigger rewards were.

Which leads us to this question: what happens when somebody offers bigger rewards than CEVO – like, say, the Championship Gaming Series? (I’ll take “Guaranteed Salaries” for $30,000, Alex.) We can’t forget the CGS is going to prohibit teams from participating in events that conflict with their schedule, too. At this point it’s unclear exactly what that means, but if the CGS does well it’s easy to see teams practicing for that and dropping CEVO. Professional teams will follow the money, just like when they dropped CAL.

If the top teams do end up leaving or focusing less on CEVO, what happens to a league that’s based on competition? Both have the same result: less interest in watching the matches. CAL could survive because their biggest constituency is the casual/semi-serious gamer (CAL-Open/Intermediate level). They limped along, wounded, but with their core intact. CEVO might have to make changes to the whole league.

If the sponsors are still willing to put up some money, there will always be talented teams willing to play for it. The hardest part, the reason why CEVO will need change, will be making sure people still care about the matches. Their 1.6 division took a hit when coL and 3D left, and there isn’t as much interest – from both fans and media. Everybody follows the big teams, even when they play a different version of the game. After those same big teams switched to Source for CGS, I think you’d have a hard time finding people who know more than five teams in CEVO-P 1.6 outside of 1.6 players. (Off the top of my head: Revoltados, Turmoil, x3o, uh … does Check-Six have a team? Are JMC or EG still playing? I had to check – the answer is "yes" to EG. The first four teams I mentioned are playing, along with EG, Backfire, EMG, eMg.dz, Extreme Team Six, Mug N Mouse, Talent, and West Coast Rockers.) Now that the top teams like coL, 3D, JMC, Pandemic, EG, are gone there’s a lot less interest across the different genres. Who wants to watch Backfire or Extreme Team Six? No offense, I’m sure they’re good teams and they earned those spots, but they’re not going to draw fans (or sponsors) like 3D, coL, etc. How is CEVO going to remain relevant when there’s better competition and better prizes elsewhere (CGS)?


Sports and education do go together: alma mater is latin for "nourishing mother."

The most likely thing, in my opinion, is that CEVO will expand into other games and competitive areas: things like having a CEVO LAN, getting involved with other LANs (like they did with the WSVG recently), or even (GASP!) starting a WoW division. The LAN scene is nice, but I think shifting focus away from Counter-Strike will net the biggest gains for the least amount of expense. The WSVG (which uses WoW) doesn’t have the exclusivity or rigorous schedule that the CGS does, and as my pappy used to say, “eight million accounts can’t be wrong.” There are other games coming up besides WoW, too. Add Unreal Tournament 3 (provided it’s a good competitive game), throw in a dash of Starcraft 2, and CEVO's future looks a lot brighter. And we know they’d jump all over Promod if/when it comes out. That brings us to, possibly: WoW, Starcraft 2, UT 3, CoD 2, CS (version unknown). It might not be appealing to CS players, but as a whole that league would have a huge fan base. Basically, instead of competing against the CGS with a possibly inferior product with less rewards, I think they’re going to change what their product is – much like what the WSVG and CPL World Tour did.

I could be, and often am, wrong. There’s one thing I do know: if the CGS does prevent the best teams from playing (or focusing) on CEVO, they won’t just sit around and watch their league die. Right now they have a few big things working for them. The CGS is starting small – only six franchises – so there’s still talent to go around if those franchised players can’t participate in online leagues. Even if people are a little less interested, the product would still be okay. Not great, but exciting enough to help ease the transition into other games. If the CGS ends up expanding to eight or ten teams, things start to look a little murkier. The other thing in CEVO’s favor is, though it seems strange, fans are often willing to overlook the quality of play in favor of entertainment. Game, Set, Match: The Chicago Cubs. Horrible team, packed seats. A large scale example is the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. Nobody’s crazy enough to argue the NCAA has better athletes and teams than the NBA, but people love it even if the skill level is lower. They feel like the college players compete with more passion, pay attention to the fundamentals, and of course they like to root for their alma maters. Skill level is only part of what makes sports entertaining.

Will CEVO die? I doubt it, and I hope not. They’ve done well as a league, and a lot of people love playing on their client and for prizes even on a non-professional level. I enjoy following the league as a fan. But if they want to remain as prominent in the community as they are now, I think some changes are in order.

Tags:
CAL, CEVO, CPL, WSVG

 

So, here I am, writing a post I’ll finish up in a couple hours and listening to “Mike and Mike in the Morning”. Mike and Mike is a radio show that’s simulcast on ESPN2 from 6 AM – 10 AM every weekday. Great program, very funny, and a good way to wake up in the morning. Or, a good program to watch before you go to sleep, depending on what hours you keep. I’ve done both.


On the court: peace, love, championships. Off the court: Starcraft duels to the death!

They're discussing recent NBA news and they had David Robinson on as a guest. They asked him how great Tim Duncan is, and he mentioned that Duncan is ultra-competitive and works really hard, etc. How did he illustrate this point? With a freakin’ Starcraft story!

Apparently they both loved the game, and when Duncan first joined the Spurs they’d play each other and Robinson would destroy him. Just kill him. And he said that one day, after barely winning a match in their history, Duncan came in and completely turned the tables by massacring Robinson. Hence his competitiveness, desire to win, work ethic, all that good stuff. (Also, Duncan's love isn't limited to Starcraft.)

Of course, as a gamer, I was still stuck in “whoa, David Robinson and Tim Duncan play Starcraft!” mode. I wonder if either had to do the “Great Probie Escape” – a strat where you’re getting run over by your enemy, so you take all your Protoss Probes and flee for the hills. Or an allied base, if one was available to you. And hopefully you had saved up enough minerals to build another Nexus after the exodus. (I’m telling you, send me your Starcraft stories! You don’t want to hear more of my lame strats!)

Good times all around. Maybe they’ll rekindle their rivalry with Starcraft 2, or maybe they’ll team up with Gilbert Arenas to form a multi-game clan. Starcraft and Halo make a pretty good combination, we could call them the Arerobincans. Or the Gilbertimavids.

But not the Gilbertimavid Arerobincans. That’s just crazy.

And yes, I'm rooting for the Spurs now.

Tags:
Starcraft

 

Season 8 is upon us! Sorry for the late posting, I’ve been traveling the last couple days so my schedule has been a little hectic. In the future I’ll be releasing predictions the day before each round: Tuesday and Saturday.

So again, I apologize for the late posting, but hopefully most of you will still be able to read these before the matches are played. Tune in Tuesday for the Week 1.2 predictions. For now, on with the show!

Devastation vs. Cyber Phenom – I like the guys at CP, and they had a good road through the placement tournament, but I don’t think they’re going to be able to take down Devastation in their first match. Devastation has played in CEVO-P and CAL-I for a few seasons now, and they should be able to dispatch a team that just took the step up. Every level of play takes adjustment if you haven't been there before.

In some ways, it’s like the difference between playing in AAA and the majors. Even if you’re played against some major leaguers before while in the minors (like scrimming in Counter-Strike), playing in the majors is another beast entirely (matches). By the end of the season, new Invite teams like CP should be able to make the adjustments. But for now, Dev has an advantage because of their experience.


Classic example of a player that couldn't make the jump. I think his name was Babe Rooth or something.

Devastation > CP 19-11


Visual Gaming vs. Check-Six
– Visual Gaming is in a little bit of the same situation, coming from the tournament, but the difference is they’ve been at this level before. Unfortunately their opponent isn’t some newbie squad, it’s the old rSports roster. Those guys did more than enough to prove their skill with the new CGS rules by placing second at the Buy.com LAN back in April.

VG isn’t going to be a pushover by any means, but for the season I think Check-Six is going to be one of the two or three best teams this season. (On a side note, I’ll be releasing a team-by-team preview in the coming days, as well, so you can see exactly what I think of every squad. And then laugh at me when all my predictions end up horribly wrong.) x6 should be able to take the opening match and start their season off on the right foot. If not, let the ridiculing start early!

x6 > VG 17-13


Electrify! vs. The Real Untouchables
– Both of these teams competed in Invite last season. TRU finished a mediocre 6-5, but Electrify! didn’t do that much better, if memory serves – and that’s another thing I don’t understand about eSports. Why does memory have to serve? Why don’t we have better documentation about league records and placings? Once the season is over, everything is erased like a drinking binge that ended up in some shameful situation involving you passed out on a couch and devious friends with a bunch of Sharpies.

Wait a minute … I have a website, I can’t complain about this stuff and not do anything about it. After this season, I’ll be adding the online results for each season to the Tournaments/Results page, and I'll hunt down whatever finishes I can find from previous seasons. If I remember. And considering I have the memory of an amnesiac goldfish, it might not go so well, but I’ll try.

As I was saying about the match – Electrify didn’t do much better. I think they ended up with a couple forfeit wins (unfortunately), but I also think they had good results against TRU. If that isn’t true (pun intended, sadly), I think they should turn their luck around. And if they did beat TRU last season, I see no reason for that to change.

E! > TRU 18-12


Ajnin vs. EXTREMITY – It’s a matchup of CAL-Main winners from Season 7:  Ajnin won the Pacific Division and EXTREMITY the Central. It’s hard to gauge how the teams compare against one another since they’re from different divisions, but  I was impressed by the way PK played in the placement tournament and Ajnin beat them handily in the Season 7 Finals. The Central teams didn’t dominate quite as much, so I’m going to give this one to Ajnin.

It should be a really close match, and hopefully there’s a SourceTV to watch after the fact. I’m excited to see what the Main winners can do in Invite this season.

Ajnin > EXT 17-13


recKoning vs. LucK – LucK did well in the placement tournament, and I they’re a good team. I believe this is their first tour of duty in Invite, although they should be here for many seasons to come. Unfortunately, this is recKoning’s second season in Invite. Oh, and they just beat 3D, JMC, zEx, and eMg in CEVO’s Placement Tournament.

My only concern for this match is that recKoning might have been too busy with CEVO. It’s hard to balance two leagues at once, even when the map schedules are synchronized. There’s just less time to work on problems or try new things, and there’s always a chance of burnout.

Unfortunately for LucK, it’s too early for burnout, and recKoning’s recent wins have been really impressive. Both good teams, but I’m going with the hot hand here.

recKoning > LucK 19-11


Don't laugh. Wait, what were we not laughing about? Hey, look at the cute fishy!


50 Calibre vs. PK –They’re from difference regions, bringing us back to the Ajnin/EXTREMITY problem, but this time they were equally impressive in the tournament.  So how do I choose between them? I do my President Bush impression: I go from the gut.

50 Calibre will win. Why? Because I think they're the better team, and their players are good.

I AM THE DECIDER!

50 Cal > PK 17-13


Fever vs. Legerity – So, if you approached a person who didn’t follow CAL closely and gave them a list of teams for Season 7 of Invite, how many would guess that Fever won? I’d be guessing not many – most would probably be guessing rSports, Check-Six (old squad), or Devastation. They’re certainly bigger names in the community, but those guessers would be wrong. Heck, I followed CAL and I didn’t even remember Fever won (goldfish memory, duh). 

And if you don’t remember that Fever finished first, you probably didn’t remember Legerity finished fourth. They were no slouches. But these two teams clashed in last season’s playoffs and Fever came out with a 16-9 win. It might be a little closer now that teams have to play out to thirty rounds, but the end result should be the same.

Fever > Legerity  18-12


Featured Match

Hyper vs. Riot Squad – This is the match to watch. Riot Squad is made up of former Invite players, so they’re another experienced team, and Hyper is still incredibly talented despite losing Badapples, Warmach1ne, NightFall, ClowN, and Foerster. That’s a whole dominant CAL-I roster that split away, and it’s impressive they could take a loss like that and still play at the level they’re at. Granted, there are new faces, but that’s not different than most Source teams, including RS.

Basically, I think this game is going to come down to momentum. With CAL’s tweak on the CGS rules, 30 rounds instead of 18, means save rounds will still come into play, and if one team can get on a roll and force the other team into a bad money situation, that’ll be the difference.

Hyper is the bigger name of the two (thanks mostly to NightFall’s era of drama), but I’m going to go with Riot Squad on this one. They’re the home team, which means they’ll be Terrorist side first, and I think they’ll be able to get the early momentum and use it to their advantage.

RS > Hyper 16-14


I’m looking forward to watching some demos after I’m finally done traveling – almost as much as I’m looking forward to being done traveling itself. Man cannot live on Steak ‘n Shake alone.

Good luck to all the teams – may the predicted winners win, and the predicted losers prove me wrong.


 
June 2, 2007

First of all, hearty congratulations to the teams that ended up making the cut for CAL-Invite Season 8. The list from the placement tournament goes as follows (with their seed entering the tournament):

2. The Real Untouchables
5. Hyper
6. PK
9. Luck
10. Riot Squad
11. Visual Gaming
12. 50 Calibre
16. Cyber Phenom

The lesson from the seeding? Double digits aren't so bad! And, at this point I have to issue a personal apology to eMg. I backed them all the way back in my original PT post, and they came out with a win over Children of the Sun. I really thought they might avoid the LANDodger curse after that, but they promptly lost their next two matches. Blame me, I deserve it. For the next tournament, I only make one humble request: throw in some random team that has no chance of winning so I can lay the curse on them. It’s just common sense.


The Chicago Cubs trophy case. At least it doesn't take up much space.

If you want to view the finished bracket, it’s all updated. I'll add it to the Counter-Strike: Source tournament results page in the near future (along with some other general housekeeping), but here’s a direct link for now. As a general note, you’ll notice that page is about as full as the Cubs’ trophy display. If anybody has results from a LAN they’d like to send in, I’d be more than happy to add them to the page. I’ll be keeping up with the big events, but there are results from small LANs that never see the light of day. Just e-mail them to Mike@LANDodger.com, and I’ll post them as they come in.

Here’s a list of my winners and losers from the tournament.

Losers

3. It’samassacre – They’re not here because they played poorly, more like they just had some bad luck. All three teams they played made it into Invite, and one of them was against Riot Squad, who made it into the tournament after a beatable Pure.gaming team dropped. Would IAM have beaten Pure to advance? Impossible to know, but I think they would have had a good shot, and that’s gotta sting a little bit.

2. eMg – For some of the reasons stated above, but also because they were the third seed. They got there by beating Riot Squad in the pre-tournament, and now RS is in Invite and eMg got the bump down to Main. Whoops! If that wasn’t enough, don’t forget the eMg organization is sponsoring CAL-Invite this season, too. I’m sure that was a great day in the virtual clubhouse.

I’m trying to think of some kind of comparison, and the only thing I could come up with is beating your friend in rock-paper-scissors for a ticket to Game 5 of the Cleveland/Detroit series in the NBA Conference Finals, only to have your friend buy a fake ticket from a scalper, get there ahead of you and sit in your seat, make friends with the gorgeous woman in the next seat, and then having them pretend to be a couple as you get kicked out by security for having a fake ticket. Then he gets to watch LeBron drop 48 points in one of the most dramatic playoff games ever, and you’re sitting in Auburn Hills with the real ticket and nothing to show for it. 

Two quick notes: if you missed that game, do whatever you have to do to find a copy. If you have any shred of passion for basketball or transcendent athletic performances, you’ll love it. And if the previous ticket situation has ever happened to you, you have to be the unluckiest person on the face of the Earth, and you have my sympathies.

1. XPC – Ladies and gentlemen, our fourth seed! Coincidentally, that’s also as many rounds as they won in the tournament. Ouch. Four rounds, two losses, one forfeit. Bad times all around. I think the only thing that could have guaranteed a worse performance is if I not only predicted them to win, but actually played for them, too. That would have been an even more complete massacre.


Winners

(Really, all the teams that made Invite are winners, but because people (including me) love rankings, well, let’s do ‘em.)

Honorable Mention – CAL. The tournament went smoothly, and as a bonus there weren't any complaints about their new Anti-Cheat Client. Granted, they’ve already had a client in place in their other games, but there are almost always problems when something new comes out. Somebody, somewhere, is still playing on a Voodoo card, getting 20 FPS, and the new client makes him lag out completely. Or something is running their game on a Nintendo DS, and the client won’t load properly. There’s always some source of lag or conflict, except this time I didn’t hear much of anything. Whether the thing actually catches cheaters or not, who knows. But at least it doesn’t lag 90% of the people while trying to do it.


3. Cyber Phenom – As part of a LANDodger investigative exclusive, we’ve obtained the highly secretive, highly confidential, totally fictional Cyber Phenom seven-step plan to fame and fortune. Here, in this very cyber space, it’s public for the first time:

Step 1: be a pre-tournament entry. 
Step 2: become the 16th seed. 
Step 3: lose the first match.
Step 4: beat the eight and seventh seeds.
Step 5: make CAL-Invite after being the 16th seed.
Step 6: have people create a big fuss on the CAL forums.
Step 7: profit.

Okay, profit not so much. But mad props to the guys at CP for hanging tough with the worst seed and getting a berth in Invite for Season 8.


Here lies an NBA basket -- slaughtered by a ridiculous LeBron James dunk on 05/31/2007. Rest in Peace.


2. Riot Squad
– The only team with a more improbable run than CP was probably Riot Squad, as somewhat detailed in the “Losers” section. Pure.gaming dropping out was a stroke of pure luck for them, and really unlucky for the two teams they ended up eliminating. 
But, in general, there’s nothing quite like seizing an unexpected opportunity, whether it’s a bench player become a star after a starter got hurt or, in this case, a whole team moving up a level after another team dropped out. So congrats to those guys for making the most of it.


1. 50 Calibre and Visual Gaming
– I wasn’t sure how to split these guys up, so I didn’t. Great how stuff like that works out, right? I wanted to include both of them just because it seemed like they ripped through the tournament.

50 Cal had a minor setback to Hyper, losing 16-14, but Hyper went on to paste their next opponent 16-4. So that loss to Hyper isn’t much to be ashamed of, and the 16-7 victory over eMg was mighty impressive. I thought these guys were good, but even that might be an understatement. They have a chance to make noise in Invite – not like “eight seed, one and done in the playoffs” noise, but “legitimate threat to win it all” noise

As for Visual Gaming, well, they beat eMg 16-4, and beat PK 16-13. That latter victory was made a lot more impressive after PK went to the lower bracket and gave up eleven total rounds in four matches. VG played really well, and we should see plenty of victories coming in Season 8.

As a general note for both teams, I picked them over, say, Hyper and PK simply because of their seeding. Hyper and PK were the fifth and sixth seeds, which means we basically expected them to win. 50 Cal and VG were the eleventh and twelfth seeds – according to the seeding they weren’t expected to make Invite. Hence their victories were a little more impressive.


And finally, a last congratulations to the teams in Invite. I’m looking forward to a lot of exciting matches.

For the teams that didn’t make it, whether through bad luck, unfortunate opponents, or anything else, I hope you stick it out and get even better. One of the biggest problems for teams isn’t talent, it’s chemistry. Sticking with the same roster and gaining that familiarity is surprisingly more efficient than picking up a marginally more talented player and learning how to play all over again. May we meet again next season.

Tags:

 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for a TV screen – especially when it might be showing Counter-Strike.  Everybody that loves gaming wants to see it broadcast into as many homes as possible, as long the game isn’t Duck Hunt or Counter-Strike: Source. And I know a lot of people would choose Duck Hunt out of the two.

So you’d think the announcement that the World Series of Video Games reached an agreement with CBS is a good thing. After all, even if CS isn't one of their featured games, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And it is, but it’s not the smashing success once you look at the games CBS will actually feature. Let me explain.


Two shades of green! Such technological wonders do my eyes behold!

First, we have to go back a couple months. It was a dark day for CS fans, so I’m sure we all remember when the WSVG announced they weren’t going to use CS as a primary game. Instead, they were using Fight Night 3, Guitar Hero 2, WoW: Arena, and Quake 4. Lost in the hubbub was part of a GotFrag interview with Matt Ringel, the President of the WSVG. GF asked him about the decision, and this paragraph was part of a larger answer:

“Counter-Strike was a challenging issue for us, because we do want to do more coverage with broadcast network television-- not satellite, not cable, but broadcast. Keep in mind we were the only entity to do this last year, which put us in 104MM homes in the United States. Network standards and practices are different for, say, CBS than they are for, say, DirecTV. Graphic shooter content is problematic for the network.”

I didn’t pay much attention to that paragraph while I was reading the interview. I didn’t dismiss it like foreign intelligence from Nicole Richie, but it wasn’t exactly gripping news. (If you’re wondering what that kind of intelligence would like, I think it would go something like this: wine shortage reported in France, Germany is stockpiling Guinness of mass destruction, China is developing a new form of nuclear cocaine.) I wouldn’t be surprised if most people didn’t read too much into it. Ignoring the violent content seems to be a systematic viewpoint, not just a crazy LANDodger perspective. At least, I hope so. We’re all vaguely aware CS is rated M (FOR MATURE!), but that’s about it. We enjoy the gameplay and we think other people would, too.

The media doesn’t share that opinion, and you don’t have to be sued by Jack Thompson to know that. And although it’s certainly not as big of a crisis as some people make it out to be, it doesn’t matter because the perception is already there. Whether violent video games make kids more violent or not, if games like CS are going to be shown on broadcast stations like CBS, the community is going to have to fight the view that they do.

Fast forward to the recent announcement with CBS. What’s missing? If you didn’t forget the title, I’m pretty sure you figured out it’s Quake 4. Here’s part of the announcement from the CBS/WSVG press release:

Each episode will include segments on the competitors, as well as extensive competition footage for the featured titles, which include “Blizzard Entertainment®’s “World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade®”, Activision’s “Guitar Hero II™” and “EA SPORTS™ Fight Night Round 3.”

Quake 4 is still one of their featured games and the press release didn’t even mention the game, let alone have coverage information. So my initial happiness about the deal was tempered a little bit. I’m comforted by the fact that Halo has been broadcast by the MLG, but it wasn’t exactly on primetime – the one episode I saw was on at 7:00 AM on USA. That’s mid-afternoon for most gamers (me included), but it’s not the mainstream coverage we’re all hoping for.

There’s been a lot of talk about how to get CS on television and what’s holding it back: lack of a broad fanbase, a connection to the average person/non-gamer, problems with the pace of the action, and the presentation. Maybe we’ve all been looking in the wrong place – the biggest obstacle to mainstream CS might be the fact it deals with guns and blood instead of mad riffs and wicked chords. It obviously won’t totally prevent exposure – DirecTV doesn’t seem to mind very much. But the lack of Quake is still a little bit of a wet blanket on an otherwise big announcement.



LANDodger