August 31, 2007

There are things in life you can’t learn through lectures, logic, or even fortune cookies. I know, it’s hard to believe; if 3, 13, 17, 24, 25, 26, and 32 aren’t my lucky numbers, than what are they!? But it’s true. There are certain things you have to learn through experience, and there’s no other way to do it justice.

Watching remix, PR0D, and AnwaR on LAN is one of those things.

I’m going to tell you what happened, and you’ll completely understand what I’m saying and still have no clue what it’s really like unless you’ve been hiding at the CPL. Actually, you probably could have been anywhere in a ten-mile radius and you would have heard them yelling. It’s that insane.

G3 played Hyper on Dust2 and quickly fell behind. Everything was going wrong for them, and Daemos was leading Hyper with a 12-1 score at one point late in the half. It’s strange to see teammates openly berate each other in the middle of the match, but that’s what we had. I don’t even like thinking about some of the things that were said, and I’m pretty sure you’d get in a fight if you said them to random people on the street. And possibly thrown in jail for disorderly conduct.

But it worked.

g3 completely changed in the second half, and it was their turn to shut down Hyper on CT side. All the jeers and criticisms about mistakes became confidence-building shouts of … something. I’d call it “joy”, but that doesn’t quite fit. Insane Ecstasy? Their play as a team had a huge increase, and Hyper just couldn’t get any momentum. They changed their setups, they didn’t fall into any defensive patterns. They were hitting shots, communicating, and their rotations were on time almost every round. It was a completely different team. The only thing that stayed the same was the volume.

Every pick brought a yell of congratulations, every call was practically a shouting match, and I don’t think Hyper was intimidated, but g3 was certainly invigorated. It’s hard to single out one player on their team, but it was certainly a sight to see.

Just make sure you're here next time, so you know what I mean.


August 31, 2007

CP vs. inRage promised to be one of the best matches up to this point. It lived up to the billing.

CP is well known as a CAL-Invite team, and inRage was looking to join them before a player got caught not running the ACS during the CAL-M playoffs. Thankfully for them, the ban doesn't apply to the CPL BYOC, because they needed everybody in top form to get a victory.

Unfortunately, every match must have a loser, and CP ended up in that role. Demonic played well, and I don't know if clwn hacks or not, but I can tell you he plays very well on LAN. All-Star, 3D/coL material? Probably not. But he's not going to drag you down either, and he was one of the most active talkers for CP.

The first half saw CP go down 3-9 before mounting a great comeback on their CT side. They actually had a chance to win the match up until the very end, sporting an 8-2 lead on their CT side. All they needed was two more rounds, but they couldn't quite hold on.

OT saw both teams struggle again on T side, and CP went down pretty quickly. In the second half of overtime, NabstaR came up with a big three-kill round to set the tone, and CP took the second round as well. They got some momentum back, and inRage was on a save. All the signs pointed to a second overtime, but inRage got entry kills on their eco round and left demonic in a 1v5. He killed one with a deagle headshot at the inner bombsite before two guys took him down, ending the match and possibly CP's hopes for the double-elimination round.

Great game to both teams, and gl the rest of the way!


August 31, 2007

We have scorebots up in #landodger and #caleague-css, if you're interested in following along!


August 31, 2007

I've got most of the rosters up, I'll be adding their real names as soon as I get around to it. There are only about three teams missing from the list, just follow the link on your right.

There's also a comprehensive list of scores there, and I'll continue the more in-depth coverage soon.


August 31, 2007

It's interesting to see the different kinds of teams here. I'm not talking about good and bad, or varying levels of seriousness in their gaming, it's actually more fundamental than that. When you watch a team like Upper, Gamings Elite, or some others, they're aggressive vocally. They're pumping each other up, or giving criticism just like the other teams, they just do it about ten times louder.

Compare that to teams like zomblerz and eMg, who tend to be more reserved. It's not that they don't get loud, just much less often. It leaves you wondering how much those different styles affect different players; it takes a different kind of person to respond to shouting than it does logical arguments/encouragement.

One of the biggest jobs a team "leader" has is figuring out who responds to what. I think I only need one example: NightFall. Love him, hate him, or don't care, some people think he's a great leader, and some think he's terrible. Personally, I think he's somewhere in the middle, you just have to make sure you can take the style of advice he gives.


August 31, 2007

I've got to grab some lunch. There are four matches going on right now, and I'll update all of those as soon as I get back. I'm also going to try to put the rosters in one spot for everybody to look at, and update those as soon as I can. Stay tuned, and sorry for the break!


August 31, 2007

UNGAH! vs. Tired of Winning (de_train)

UNGAH is up 10-2 at half, they just finished their CT side.

Zomblerz vs. n3mesis (de_cpl_mill)

Zomblerz > n3m 17-7 (8-4, 9-3)

Impressions: Heatwave went 18-5 on the zomblerz' T-side, by far leading the team. Carson got shanked on the 23rd round, and it's our duty as gamers to constantly make fun of him now. Fair warning.

eMg/Upper is going LIVE (Train)


eMg: Deciple, Brex, Dirtysecret, gn0me, PhilCo

Notes: Upper started on CT side, and eMg has been struggling to pick up some rounds so far. PhilCo had a good round to bring it to 2-3, but Upper came right back with a save round win. They pushed outside to T middle and ladder, and forced eMg to push inside where they had an AWPer.

eMg came right back with a round win, and we sit at 4-3 in favor of Upper right now.

eMazing got a bomb plant inner but couldn't hold the site. PhilCo had a couple kills in a 1v4 but couldn't pull off the miracle. It's 5-3 Upper right now, but it's not a bad score for T side of Train.

Big eco round for eMg as they rushed ivy and picked up some guns. They got it down to a 2v2 with the bomb planted inner, and PhilCo made a good move to win the round.

6-5 now, and PhilCo is leading eMg on their T side with a 15-7 score. The match is paused temporarily because one of the Upper players crashed, but we'll get underway soon. I'll hunt down some more scores in the meantime.

Pause wasn't short enough to get other scores. Abort! Abort!

Brex gets the last three kills of the half, and eMg is up 7-5 going into their CT half. This has the potential to get out of hand, but we'll see what Upper does on their T side.

It's 3-2 for Upper so far on their T side. If they can keep this up, we could have a big comeback in the works. Deciple is leading eMg so far, with tech doing some damage for Upper.

haqshot is having a good half for Upper as well, leading them with an 11-2 score.

eMg picks up 2 much needed rounds on solid team play, bringing the score to 11-9.

Oh my goodness. Upper wins out four straight rounds to make the comeback official with a 13-11 win. Deciple played very well for eMg, but their CT rotations just didn't seem crisp enough. Upper had good positioning by the time eMg rotated, but it was a great game to watch. Good shots on both sides.

FInal Score: Upper > eMg 13-11


August 31, 2007

eMg is just concluding their first match, and they're set to play Upper next. Once we get a little break for lunch, I'll make sure to consolidate all the scores so it's not so spread out, but keep your dial tuned here as I follow specific matches LIVE with more than just a score. Next up we'll have eMg vs. Upper. Zomblerz will be playing n3mesis, andTired of Winning will play UNGAH!, and I'll keep those scores updated as well.



I'll be following this match closely, but there are a couple other matches going on that I'll update, as well. Nothing has started yet, but it looks like we'll get underway in a couple minutes, and then I'll keep updating this post as the Zomblerz match goes along. I'm sitting right next to Misty, so I'll have a bird's eye view of all Misty-related action, which might include tabbing out to post a gross picture on the CAL forums.

Upper vs. UNGAH!


Upper: Shad, phatts, haqshot, scurvy, tech
UNGAH!: Miller-1, chaRlieYYY, Blank, str, b.hop

Impressions: Upper pretty much dominated right from the start, which wasn't totally surprising. UNGAH put up a good fight, but Upper was never really threatened during the match.

Final Score: Upper > UNGAH 18-6 (9-3, 9-3) on Dust2.

Zomblerz vs. No-Namers
is Live -- Zomblerz is CT side on Train, and they're up 2-1


Zomblerz: Misty, classified, badappleS, heatwave, brawwwr
No-Namers: Cronus, DreaM, genesis, wade, nayr

NoNamers was on an eco rush outside, and they got two entry kills before Carson took out three guys for the Zomblerz. Those were critical kills, and they got the defuse to go up 5-2.

The eighth round brought a win for No-Namers on the back of some AWP picks.

Ninth Round: zomblez picks up an eco-round win, misty had a nice kill pushing up ladder from outside to get himself an AK.

9-3 Zomblerz at half, the zomblerz defense on outside really tightened up with some good teamwork between misty and badappleS. Another note about BadappleS: how the heck did Hyper drop this guy? You can win with this guy on your team, period.

First round of second half, and Carson just had a disgusting pick on a guy awping from bomb train. I'm pretty sure he just AKed him in the face from across the map, with the obligatory boast afterwards. Unfortunately for zomblerz, No-Namers picked up the round.

3-1 In favor of no-namers now, the rounds have been close and each team just refuses to give much ground. Cronus just teamkilled genesis with an AWP. That's probably not a good thing.

Sick round for heatwave from Zomblerz, he got three kills after a bomb plant in a 3v4, and Carson got the last guy with an absolutely nasty deagle shot near ladder over one of the train hitches. They just picked up another round after that, and in the next round Misty got a pick on DreaMM at upper inside.

Zomblerz ends up picking up the win, final score to be determined!

Final Score: 16-8


August 31, 2007

Second half: 3-3 n3mesis so far, with fmy and Demonocracy on top of the scoreboard for n3m. Genesis seems relaxed for No-Namers. He's let out a couple impressive belches. I'd rate them as a 6, with a bonus points for happening during a stressful time. The USA Judge scores a 7.

Cronus scores a very nice round for NN with an AWP on a B take and what looked like a half-broken, half-adjusted strat. 4-3 for No-Namers now.

No-Namers takes the next two rounds for the victory. The score is 13-8 right now, and they're playing out for the rounds. I'll give you the final score when it's in!

No-Namers > n3mesis on Dust2

Final Score: 15-9



The match started off good for n3m on T side of Dust2. Kindof. They were able to get into the bombsites,  but No-Namers has had massive retakes excellent retakes, including a defuse during a 1v1 on the first round. That’s been the general theme of the first six rounds. No-Namers is up 5-1, and most of the action has come on retakes.

n3m has had success, they just can’t seem to hold anything. It'll be interesting to see if they can do better on defense; it doens't seem like it's a lack of skill that's holding them back right now, just a small lack of coordination. They’ve even gotten two entry kills without losing a player and they still can’t hold the site. genes.s has been playing very well for No-Namers, including spearheading some of the retakes.

First half: No-Namers > n3m 7-5


August 31, 2007

If it’s information you seek, look no further! The Great (read: lame) LANDodger has come to the rescue, with the aid of the hardworking CPL staff.

I’m working on getting the rosters finalized, I’ll keep working on that tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll be able to release a full list around noon. If you’re at the CPL and reading this, I cordially invite you to e-mail your starting roster to me and save me a trip!

As for the action, the matches start tomorrow at 10:00 AM. There’s one small consideration with the groups: some teams are planning on arriving tomorrow. If it was a straight-seeding, like in past years, it’s not as much of a problem. One team doesn’t show up, their opponent advances or they bump up the seeds if somebody cancels early. Groups take a little more planning. We couldn't have all the small groups play early and then have a team show up looking for a spot.It’s not a problem, per se, just something to keep in mind when you look at the arrangement and the times.

The maps for the first round are Dust2, Train, and Mill. Two matches will be played at a time (when possible), and I’ll cover some of the tournament rules in a second. For now, here’s the full list of the groups and start times.

Group A (10:00 AM)

1. Zomblerz
2. No-Namers
3. Team Nemesis

Group B (11:00 AM)

1. eMazing Gaming
2. Team Upper
3. Tired of Winning
4. Ungah

Group C (1:30 PM – One hour lunch break)

1.Just Type Kill
2. Pandemic
3. Fuel Gaming
4. [Fire]

Group D (3:00 PM)

1. Cyber Phenom
2. inRage
3. Carnage
4. Sharks with Lazers

Group E (4:30 PM)

1. Turmoil
2. Brotherhood
3. Digital Uprising

Group F (7:00 PM – One Hour Dinner Break)

1. Hyper
2. High Self-Esteem
3. Gamings Elite
4. Team Dick

Group G (8:30 PM)

1. Eximius
2. Electronic Gaming Evolution
3. Slaughterhouse 5

As you can see, there are two late groups with a spot open. There are two unconfirmed teams that might show up, and those are their "reserved" slots, so to speak. It’s also important to note that the times aren’t adjusted for the smaller groups. If the team you’re following plays after a small group, there’s a chance they could start early.

There were a lot of questions from players during the setup, and by people interested in following, so I’ll address some of those concerns here:

Each group winner will advance to the second round, along with five wildcard teams. The wildcards for the double-elimination will be determined by rounds won. In the case of groups with three teams, they’ll take the average rounds won and add it to the total. It wouldn’t make sense to penalize a team for being in a small group.

The CAL ACS will be used during the matches, even though admins will also be spectating.

Bunnyhopping (without a script) is LEGAL. (No word on crabwalking.)

Fade to black is enabled, and the use of ventrilo is prohibited.

For anybody interested in the CAL-Invite Finals, those will be played before lunch on Saturday. Eximius (formerly recKoning) will play Turmoil (formerly Flow, formerly Devastation) on Nuke. Turflodev has T side first, which means it’s the same situation these two teams found themselves in earlier in the CAL-I playoffs. You can bet I'm interested in seeing that match.

If you guys have any questions about the action, rules, or posts, send them to I’ll keep updating the blog tomorrow with match results and recaps, and I’m sure we’ll have more information about the tournament structure, brackets, seeding, and all that other technical stuff that makes the whole tournament work.


August 30, 2007

It’s hard to pinpoint the biggest problem in eSports. Is it the lack of one game to market? Maybe it’s a general lack of interest in the general population. What about all the immaturity and shady “sponsors”? That’s got to factor into the equation of “things holding back competitive gaming”.

All those are true, but I also think that one stands out more than the rest. The biggest group of problems in eSports is getting the public interested in watching the product. Leagues are trying to solve that in different ways. The CGS played around with the game rules a little bit, and they’re introducing a more recognizable league structure, among other things. MLG delays their broadcast to provide the best commentary, replays, and effects they possibly can. The CPL … I don’t know what they’re doing. There’s a McDonalds booth here, does that count as trying to help gaming go mainstream?

Joking aside, I think we tend to overlook one key problem: replicating the communal experience.

Before we go further, it’s worth mentioning that there is another way to engage a wide audience: living through the player. The pocket-cam did this for poker. We all know it was the catalyst behind the game’s success, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. Our hearts beat faster with every big bluff, and we die with every suck out on our favorite player. Particularly if your favorite player is Phil Hellmuth and you have to listen to him whine for ten minutes after busting out.

I don’t think that approach will work with eSports. The action is too alien, and so are the emotionless ingame avatars. You can cut to and from player reactions, but it’s not nearly as exciting to see that after the fact, and cutting away from the action isn't a good solution, either. I don’t think there’s a way to make it anything more than fun sidebar, like watching to a manager when the second baseman makes his third error in an inning.

You could argue that people just aren’t ready for gaming because they haven’t grown up with it, and maybe that’s true.  But I’ve grown up with gaming, and watching HLTV feeds is approximately one-trillionth as fun as watching 3D beat Pandemic 16-1, 16-2 at WSVG Kentucky. And those weren’t even “good” matches; it would be like watching an NBA team win by fifty points. Not the most gripping action. Getting a more vocal audience is the way to go, in my opinion.

A person is incredibly influenced by the people around him/her. There's a famous experiment in social psychology where people were asked to watch a speech with or without the audience reaction. One person would watch the unedited speech, with laughter after the jokes, and one person would watch all the jokes “bomb” because the laughter was edited out. As a whole, the people that watched the speech without the reaction rated the speaker and the speech as much less humorous. The participants that watched the unedited copy rated those aspects more highly.

You see similar things in professional sports all the time. If you watched any of Golden State’s home games during the NBA playoffs, you know what I mean. Or if you followed the New Orleans Saints in their first season back after Katrina. The games are more fun and more exciting, for fans and players, when there’s a huge crowd cheering you on.

There are more examples I could bore you with, but I’ll spare you the agony. The underlying ideas behind them are the same, and they might be summed up best by Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” When we’re in a crowd, we tend to act like the people around us.

Where does that leave eSports?

If we really want to advance the “sport” we have to figure out a way to enhance the communal experience we see in other sports. Actually, “enhance” is getting ahead of ourselves. We need to have it before we can work on making it better. A thousand lines of text in SourceTV isn’t more exciting than one line of text, it’s just more annoying. LANs are cool for everybody there, but people on the outside are left in the dark. Considering that’s where we’re trying to expand, I think we should try to figure out how to turn the lights on.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any solid answers. Good broadcasters (shoutcasters) are a step in the right direction, but we can do more. A fun, but probably impractical, idea would be to set up some kind of canned background noise. Sit-coms use canned laughter to make their shows seem more entertaining, it’s not a total stretch to think eSports could use that thought to make it seem like you’re watching an event with 20,000 other people. That’s not the solution (unless I’m Nostradamus), but it’s something to work with and think about.

Until somebody solves that problem, I'll be enjoying the CPL.



After months of anticipation, flames from all sides about which players are “online”, and maybe one constructive argument, the CPL is finally underway. LANDodger is here to cover the action!

When something interesting happens, wake me up.

I’ve been here for a couple hours, and I’ve only seen three fights. Come on guys, we can do better than that! Truthfully, I haven’t seen any fights (yet), but it’s early and I'm still hopeful. We're off to a slow start in all regards. It looks like there’s twenty-six tables with ten seats each in the BYOC, and I’d say a good ten percent are full. The BYOC tournaments don’t really start until tomorrow, so it’s not too surprising. I’m sure people will be trickling in as their flights arrive, or, in true Texas fasion, their horses gallop into the stables.

The biggest thing that struck me was the size of the venue. If memory serves, which it sometimes doesn’t, it’s actually smaller than the 2006 Summer Event, and WSVG Kentucky in 2006. That’s probably what happens when you feature F.E.A.R. and World in Conflict as your title games instead of Counter-Strike. I’m not a mathematical genius, but dropping the most popular FPS in history will probably hurt your attendance. Still, I expected more. It’s very nice, don’t get me wrong. We could clear out the room and play football. But for a name as big as the CPL, it’s strange to see the actual event shrinking instead of growing.

I’ll keep updating you as events happen, and if you’re at the CPL, I’ll be the 6’3” guy in a black shirt wandering around aimlessly with a laptop. Come over and say hi.


August 30, 2007

Digital Uprising

Shannon "SUNSfan" Scotten
Danny "SINNER" Avey
Robert "cresent" Standley
Daniel "GiJoe" Berkenkotter
Kevin "Dipper" Sin

Electronic Gaming Evolution (Thanks to eMK in #landodger)


Fuel Gaming

Brad "sphfire" Knowles
Craig "Diesel Power" Doig
Alex "voodoo" Hellums
David "dking" Garrett
Greg "bob" Collins


AJ "xo" Cole
Ryan "eclipse" Schmidt
Travis "staldizzy" Fake
Ian "tactical" Barry
Eric "stroudy" Stroud


Stephen "Sasquatch" Csikos
Matt "cheekZ" Csikos
Keith "KwicK" Wickenhauser
Gary "Funshine" Laurita
Rich "Sauce" Cannon



Pandemic (Forbidden)

Mike "Paradox" Stanowski
Kyle "Mustang" Cummings
Grant "Griff" Hall
Jon "Juan" Mumm
Nick "n0it" Nowakowski

Cyber Phenom




Hyper (thanks to Buzzy)

Josh "Daemos" Hayes
Jon "Shredder" Hayes
James "GODE" Godish
Todd "anger" Williams
Chris "Moffa64" Moffa

eMazing Gaming




Tired of Winning

-KB- rage



Revived (Just Type Kill)






Sharks wit Lazers


Eximius (Thanks to HOTsauce)

Brian "zuh" Smith
AJ "zero" Houglum
Robbie "$tyro" Mueller
Jeremy "McCloudy" Muller
Kevin "vu" Vu

Gamings Elite


Team Dick (Thanks to Brandon Ashton)

Brandon "bTc" Ashton
Justin "eviL-Curve" McDade
Allen "TMF" Trice
Brad "the legendary" Dick
Mike "not as legendary" Dick




Randy Chodes



Sorry about the lack of posts recently. As you probably know, I’ve been busy preparing for the CPL. What most of you don’t know is that I’m also preparing to move to Los Angeles right after the CPL. I’ll be driving from Florida to LA with a four-day Dallas adventure thrown in.

So, basically, I had to organize every aspect of my life, which included everything I own. This posed many problems, namely that my life is barely contained chaos, and if my room had seams, they would have been bursting from the pure amount of crap I have. Then I had to stuff all that into a car, which was comically small to begin with and seemed to shrink every time I opened the door, like I was letting the air out of a Ziploc bag.

But, I am now ready for travel! I’ll be on the road almost all day tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll be able to write a quick post at a hotel, because there are ideas that are practically begging to be written. They’ve been lolling around in my head for what seems like an eternity, and if they don’t get out soon, they might start to stink up the joint.

Stay tuned!

LD News


CAL Predictions: Season 9 PT, Round 3

[Note: This introduction was written before the bracket was altered. This is the updated bracket, but I’m leaving the article intact because I think the point remains the same, even though the specific situation isn’t applicable anymore.]

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time on Earth, it’s that people will always complain. Benjamin Franklin said that Death and Taxes were the only two constants in the world. I think Benjamin Franklin might have been deaf. If he had working ears, surely he would have heard all the complaining going on around him. If people aren’t complaining about taxes, they’re complaining about death. And if both of those aren’t mentioned, you can be sure they’re complaining about wives, husbands, food, neighbors, dogs, cars, trains, planes, or the po-po. There’s always something.

Other things to complain about: officials, officiating, personal fouls, technical fouls, ejections, traveling, goaltending, practice, ...

Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised when I read a forum thread complaining about the placement tournament. People looked at the matchups in the lower bracket and deemed “American eXpress” and “Make You say late” as unworthy for Invite compared to the other teams that might get eliminated. The problem is that they’re playing each other, and unless somebody wishes upon a star while I sleep tonight, one of them has to make it to the Big Show, over those more “worthy” teams.

The posters offered reseeding as a solution to the problem. Reseeding would, theoretically, ensure that the high seeds play the low seeds, and thus the best teams make Invite. Sports fans will remember the reseeding debate from the NBA playoffs, and I’m sure that was part of the reason why it was mentioned; it’s fresh in our memories.
The problem with reseeding is that the argument for using it isn’t a competitive one.

The whole reseeding debacle in the NBA playoffs was an entertainment issue. Nobody denied that the best team made it to the Finals (or if they did, it wasn’t due to seeding), they just complained that the best teams met too early. The idea is that the high seeds don’t play each other too early, because that would be a more exciting match-up than the winner playing a lower seed in the next round.

I don’t think it’s any better for the placement tournament. Reseeding is actually unfairly stacked, in this case. The top teams always get to play the worst seeds, and the worst seeds always play the best seed remaining. Isn’t the whole point of the tournament to put everybody on equal footing and see who comes out on top? We want the eight best teams to advance, and to do that we need to level the playing field. Reseeding, to me, seems to guarantee that the low seeds have an uphill climb, and the high seeds have a walk in the park.

If you look at the bracket for this PT, how much of a difference would it actually make, anyway? It’s too messy to go back and reseed the whole thing and try to predict the winners, so let’s just reseed the last eight teams accordingly. Right now, we have:

Cyber Phenom vs. inRage

Legerity vs. Unheardof

American eXpress vs. Make You say Late

Old School Gamers vs. Nous Sommes Francophones

Reseeding would give us this:

Cyber Phenom vs. Nous Sommes Francophones

Legerity vs. Old School Gamers

Unheardof vs. inRage

American eXpress vs. Make You say late

So, from what I can tell, CP and Legerity get a little bit of an easier matchup, Unheardof gets a harder match, and we still have AmeX playing mysL.

If we really want an even Placement Tournament, you’d need every team to play every other team on every map. Then we’d ensure, over the course of about 30 weeks, which teams are most deserving. And at the end of those 30 weeks, we’d promptly ask for that portion of our lives back to spend on more useful things.

In some ways, the placement tournament is more of a process, anyway. The good teams will rise to the top eventually, and the teams that need to be replaced will be. The two biggest “snubs” I can remember from last season were Unheardof and itasamassacre. IAM got moved up during the season, and they’re back in Invite now, and Unheardof is one match away from getting there.

None of this is means the system we have is perfect. It’s not, and I’m sure there are be ways to improve it. But I’m not convinced reseeding is even part of the answer.

Round 3 Predictions (de_nuke)

Featured Match

American eXpress vs. Cyber Phenom – I’m not sure what the big deal is concerning American eXpress, as mentioned above. They’re seeded 9th, and they finished 4th in the Main Playoffs. If you’re making an argument they’re not as good as an eliminated team, fine. But if you look at the results, I think there’s an equally strong argument that they do belong.

That being said, I don’t think they’re going to make it this season. Cyber Phenom looked strong against GameFrog, and Nuke is just as CT-sided as Inferno. CP had no problems shutting down CT side in their last match, and I’d be surprised if they couldn’t do the same thing again. They had up to three AWPers on that Inferno match, and Nuke lends itself to a similar setup; one AWP outside, one AWP at ramp, and one floating between ramp and upper. It wouldn’t surprise me to see at least two AWPs for CP on defense.

Jaywizzle enjoys picking banana so much he might move to South America.

I hope AmeX was watching the Inferno match, because I think they could learn a lot from it. GameFrog had two successful strategies: mixing the pace, and picking. After a couple slow strats that didn’t go anywhere, they put a lot of pressure on the AWPs through rushes and fast strats. It seemed to take CP by surprise the first couple rounds, and it at least got a bomb plant if not a round win. Same thing with the picking; jaywizzle got a couple nice picks on banana that resulted in decent rounds for the Froggers.

Nuke lends itself to the same ideas. AmeX could pick ramp or outside, or use a quick top rush to make the AWPers rotate. Rotating with an AWP is never fun when the other team is already setup and hiding, it’s like a scene from Caddyshack where Bill Murray is futilely trying to uproot the groundhog.

Unfortunately for AmeX, the rotation times on Nuke are a lot faster. There isn’t much time to plant and hide. You’re lucky if you can do one, but usually not both before you’re already being counter-flashed and a coordinated CT team is retaking the site.

 In the end, Cyber Phenom will get the berth in Invite. Knowing how to win and executing are two different things, and I think CP is just a stronger team.

CP > AmeX 13-9

Old School Gamers vs. Nous Sommes Francophones – These guys met in the Main playoffs with OSG pulling out a 16-13 win. That earned them the privilege of being destroyed 4-16 by inRage. What map did they play on? Nuke. I’m not going to say that OSG is weak on Nuke just from the results of one match, but I think it certainly raises the possibility, even though inRage probably started on CT side.

Switching gears, nsF has had an interesting PT so far. They walloped TRU in the opening round, avenging their loss in the Season 8 PT. Then they got destroyed by eMg on the heavily CT-sided Inferno, 6-13. With both teams struggling on CT-sided maps and their results in Main, it looks like they’ll have a close match.

I’d love to pick nsF, they’re great guys, and I think they’ve improved from last season, but I’m going to go with OSG here. It’s hard to pick against them when they’ve already beaten the team they’re playing and their opponent just lost a big match, while OSG won 13-5. If you’re interested in watching how the match goes (or laughing at how bad my prediction ends up being), they’ll announce the SourceTV info in #OSG on GameSurge shortly before their 10:00 Eastern Time start.

OSG > nsF 13-11

Unheardof vs. Make You say late – Make You say late suffered a huge loss to itasamassacre, losing 4-13. That’s not pretty, and even with Remix on the roster, I think Unheardof is going to take the match. They beat American eXpress 13-8 in the first round, and AmeX is ranked very closely to mysL and beat them 16-14 in the Main playoffs. It seems like they’re pretty close in terms of skill.

Remix didn’t play a big factor in the Inferno match, but there’s always the chance that he’ll drop 30 in a match. mysL isn’t out of it yet, but the recent matches point to Unheardof.

? > mysL 13-10

And tonight’s LANDodger Prediction Lottery winners are … six (good luck to all teams), one (the predicted winners winning), and two (predicted losers proving me wrong).

August 24, 2007

Although I named the website LANDodger, I never planned on dodging LANs. It was mostly an aesthetic decision; the name just sounded right, like somebody named Spike that gets a Mohawk.

I’d like to officially announce that I’m going to the CPL and I’ll be bringing you coverage throughout the event. I know what that means to me, but if any readers have an idea of something they’d like to see, please send it in. I’m doing this for the community, and I want to make sure that you’re getting the kind of coverage you like, not the kind of coverage I like, which isn’t always the same thing.

So, if you’ve ever been following the CPL through GotFrag and said to yourself, "man, I wish they had -- ", or, "I wish they did -- ", tell me about it. I’ll do my best to get it done. Also, if you’re going to CPL and want to meet me, I won’t be hard to miss.

Not really, but if you want to chill with LD, the CPL is your first chance!

LD News


No big intro today. It’s late, I’m tired, hungry, irritable, and I think my aura changed from its normal effervescent blue to a deathly shade of black about two hours ago. To top it off, I slacked off most of the day because my 8800 GTS showed up.

(I had to sneak that in somewhere).

Suddenly, I feel a little happier.

This isn't the right shade of blue, and that smile is pure evil, but you get point.
Upper Bracket

itsamassacre vs. Make You say late – I’m not sure when it happened, but somehow mysL snuck “remix” onto their roster, and I didn’t even notice in the first set of predictions. I’m not sure if it was complete oversight or if he was added afterwards. Either way, when I heard he was there, I knew my pred was in mortal danger. Then, I was relieved that it came through. And then, of course, somewhat disappointed when it turned out that I still lost.

But this isn’t about me, the point is that remix is playing for mysL, and that’s a pretty big deal. Especially if you’re, oh, I don’t know … playing against mysL. To make sure I didn’t overlook anything else, I gave their roster a close examination. Nothing else jumped out except for the person named Weatherman. Does he get blamed for everything? Or, better yet, maybe he makes calls as forecasts.

“There’s a 30% chance of flashbangs with partly cloudy smoke grenades in middle. At B, we expect light firefights with a high chance of a bomb plant, followed by a Counter-Terrorist front coming in from CT spawn.”

As for the teams, it’s a little hard to gauge their performances in the first round because there wasn’t much of a performance at all. mysL had their loss to Legerity overturned because Legerity used a ringer. Not to be outdone by those uppity guys at mysL that thought they had it easy, IAM got a forfeit win. (Take that!)

I’m a little torn on this one. I tend to favor last season’s Invite teams, but the impact of a player like remix is hard to factor in. He could have a tough time fitting in with the new team, or he could go on a rampage and dominate both halves. I’m going to stick with IAM, because mysL did lose to Legerity + Ringer originally, but this could be the closest match of the PT so far.

IAM > mysL 13-11

ajnin vs. Unheardof – Every once in a while, you just get a hunch about something, like not picking up a hitchhiker that’s carrying an axe even if he says it’s just a bottle opener. The great thing about hunches is that they’re never wrong. Or, more accurately, nobody remembers it when they do go wrong. We just move on with our lives. But when one of them is right, it’s burned into our brain like it was etched there, literally, with a chisel.

I have one of those hunches. I think Unheardof is going to take this match. Don’t ask me why, don’t ask me how, and you especially shouldn’t remind me of it when it goes horribly wrong. But knowing that they were miffed about being left out of the PT last season, and seeing their recent results, I think they’re going to pull off a little upset of the #1 seed and get an early spot in Invite.

It makes me a little nervous that they struggled in the Main playoffs on Inferno. They lost to Vendetta 9-16, and they eked out a win against AmeX 16-13, which is obviously a lot closer than their recent match. Still, I’m sticking with my gut.

? > ajnin 13-11

eMazing Gaming vs. Nous Sommes Francophones – This is going to be an interesting match. nsF surprised me with a big 13-7 win over TRU, and eMg needed overtime to beat inRage, who had to play without one of their top players. In terms of rankings, nsF went up a notch, and eMg trended down.

But I had eMg ranked higher going into the match, and I’m going to stick with that, especially when we consider the map.

Inferno is so CT sided that it’s hard to get any kind of momentum on T side. Even if you throw perfect smokes and flashes to get into a site, there’s still plenty of cover for the defenders behind boxes, fountains, cars, grates, pillars, haystacks, and, in extreme circumstances, teammates. It’s true of all maps to a certain extent, but you need a fragger on Inferno because most of the time you’re using your smokes and nades just to get past half the choke points, of which there are plenty. If you don’t get two entry kills, you don’t get into a site.

I think that’s going to play more to eMg’s strengths with guys like STRuK and deciple. It’s going to be a good match, but eMg should take it.

eMg > nsF 13-9

Featured Match

Cyber Phenom vs. GameFrog – It’s the only match that pairs up two Invite teams from last season, and I know jaywizzle will put up a SourceTV, which is an extra incentive to make it the featured match. It’s lame to tell you which match to pay attention to, and then being stuck with the bland text scroll of a scorebot.The only hesitation about making this the featured match is the history of the two teams. GameFrog, when they were known as electrify! had some convincing wins over CP. 

I’m not sure if CP will be able to reverse that trend. We should be able to tell how the match will go pretty quickly. If jaywizzle has his group ready to go, you’ll be able to see the teamwork in the first few rounds. If they’re a little unorganized, it could lead to demonic, iNs, or jEEzy getting some picks for CP, which they’ll need to open up the sites.
I’m not convinced that will happen, though, and I think GameFrog will put the PT behind them.

GameFrog > CP 13-10

In any sport, sometimes you take one for the team. When there are no more pillars to hide behind, a meatshield (your teammate) is the only option.
Lower Bracket

Old School Gamers vs. Frag Dominant – All signs point to a close match. They’re #11 and #12 in the CAL-Main playoffs, they’re scheduled to play each other for the7th place runoff, and they both lost their first match to Season 8 Invite teams by similar scores.

Then, there’s the lack of recognizable names. It’s safe to say none of these guys have torn up Invite before. They’re not devoid of upper-level experience, but nothing too extensive.

How does an expert predictor differentiate between these teams, then, you ask? I don’t know, but if you find one, give him my e-mail address and mark it “URGENT”, please.

OSG > FragD 13-10

American eXpress vs. BFG Gaming
– BFG are a bunch of good guys, but it’s going to be two and out, I think. AmeX beat them 13-8 on Dust2 during the CAL-M playoffs, and there isn’t anything to suggest a change in fortune. BFG had a convincing loss to ajnin in the first round, and it looks like they’re a good team that might need another season of Main before they’re ready for the big stage.

There’s always a chance of an upset, though. If BFG can get CT side first and really hold it down, they could sneak out a win. If you get, say, ten rounds in the opening half, it puts a lot of pressure on your opponent to perform, and it lets you get into the flow of the game. It’s almost like basketball, in some ways; just before a really good player like Kobe or Wade starts making ridiculous shots, it’s often a couple of easy layups that get them started. If BFG can get it rolling early and get their confidence up, it’s possible.
But I still think it’s unlikely

AmeX > BFG 13-9

The Real Untouchables vs. inRage – I’m changing my thoughts on these teams for the same reasons I did with nsF and eMg. When I was looking at inRage’s roster before the PT, I wasn’t sure if they could overcome deimon’s suspension. I can’t emphasize how dominant he looked during the eMg tournament when I saw them play.

In some ways, that was right. They did lose their first match, but it went into overtime against an impressive eMg roster. That actually surprised me more than a 13-5 loss would have. So they’re definitely getting a little bump.

TRU, on the other hand, didn’t impress. A 7-13 loss is pretty rough opening for the #3 seed. In response to my comments on TRU’s tumultuous roster, “Peaceout” assured me that “tru roster version 7.2 with upgradable service pack 5.3 is quite superior to linux version 3.0”. This begs the question: which roster did they use in Round 1? If it’s version 7.2 with the 5.3 server pack, they might want to check their drivers and check for viruses.

And, of course, there’s another suspension to report, as “bahrain” is unavailable because he’s banned for using the CEVO GUI. I don’t know if it catches cheaters or not, but the CAL AC client is sure destroying the CEVO GUI crowd. Good grief. I haven’t seen this much carnage since I built a bug-zapper the size of a house and had it helicoptered to the middle of a moth farm.

The suspension shouldn't have a huge effect on the match, but it was worth noting. In the end, I think inRage is going to knock TRU out. I’m impressed by the way they handled eMg on Train, where the loss of one of their impact players should be easy to see. They should be able to hold down CT side of Inferno and piece together enough rounds on T side to get a close win.

inRage > TRU 13-10

Legerity vs. Mom’s Perfect 5 – This match has a 90% chance of ending up in a forfeit, and I think the margin of error is +10%. Let’s break down the matchup, shall we?
In one corner, wearing leopard-print shorts and following Neifi Perez’s career path, we have Legerity. They’ve been a good team for a few seasons, earned a 4th place finish in Season 7, and followed that with a precipitous decline and, now, two players banned for using a ringer in their first PT match. Add that to the CEVO GUI ban for one of their players, and they’re down to five players on the roster with at least two starters banned.

In the opposing corner, wearing no pants at all and following France’s career path, we have Mom’s Perfect Five. They forfeited their first match, have one suspended player and five eligible players. I’m pretty sure there were more the last time I looked, which either means they’re dying or they did some bonsai trimming. Either way, they’ve already got one forfeit, and if one person can’t make the match, it’s another double “f” and a ticket to CAL-Main.

Through intensive calculations, days of philosophical pondering, and extensive use of an 8-ball, I think mp5 has a slightly smaller chance of forfeiting, and somebody has to win, right?


MP5 > Legerity 13-11, because predicting a FF is boring.

LANDodger Predictions:
Made in USA
Machine Wash Warm
Like Colors Only
33% Good Luck to all teams
33% Predicted Winners winning
33% Predicted Losers proving me wrong


(Post Publish Note: I completely forgot that the matches were twelve-round halves instead of fifteen. I’ll leave them published as-is, but I just wanted to give you a heads-up. Also, here’s a direct link to the PT bracket.)

Before we get into the specific match predictions, I thought it would be interesting to go through and make general rankings about who I think is almost guaranteed a spot, which teams will compete for the last couple Invite seeds, and which teams are more likely than the others to end up in Main next season. The teams aren’t ranked in any particular order within the categories.

To Invite

1) GameFrog
2) Cyber Phenom
3) Unheardof
4) itsamassacre

Other Frontrunners

1) inRage
2) American eXpress
3) eMazing Gaming
4) ajnin

Close Behind

1) Legerity
2) The Real Untouchables
3) Nous Sommes Francophones
4) Frag Dominant

Ride the Main Train

1) BFG Gaming
2) Old School Gamers
3) Make You say late
4) Mom’s Perfect 5

The categories are somewhat self-explanatory, but I want to emphasize that I could see any of the sixteen teams making Invite. I could have combined the middle categories, actually, because I’m really splitting hairs between them. It also seemed like a copout to have eight teams there, so I went for the homerun and broke ‘em up. But let’s face it, Legerity or TRU making Invite isn’t exactly an upset.

As another example, take American eXpress. I have them ranked in the second category, but they’re also playing Unheardof in their first match. One team is going down 0-1, and from there it’s actually an uphill battle. Maybe somebody like itsamassacre gets upset in one round, and now you’re 1-1 and playing IAM, a solid Invite team from last season, and one of you isn’t getting in.

So the list isn’t meant as a strict ranking of who will get in and who will be left out, just a guideline of my initial impressions about how the teams stack up against each other.

I'm all about confusing old people, but this is too far.

With that said, let’s get to the actual predictions to see what contradictions I can come up with!

Placement Tournament, Round 1 (de_train)

Featured Match

Unheardof vs. American eXpress – This is the only match that pits two teams coming from Main, and it should be exciting. They played each other during the Lower Bracket Finals of the Main playoffs, and Unheardof earned a 16-13 victory on Inferno.

This match shouldn’t be any different. AmeX has a couple well known players, including NaDeZ (LoT), and SuMsY (REAL, among others), and Unheardof is a team that easily could have been (some say should have been) in the PT last season. I don’t see any way this doesn’t come down to the last couple rounds, especially on Train, which tends to be heavily CT sided.

It’s critical for the Terrorist team on Train to get some rounds right away. If you don’t, pretty soon you’re looking at eco rounds and half-buys, and the CTs laugh merrily as they get three more points for a bomb defuse or three more entry kills on an eco rush. It’s not pretty.

AmeX almost lost to the #15 seed in the first round of the playoffs on Train, and that doesn’t bode very well. Unheardof should be a lot better than that, and I think they’re going to pick up the win.

? > AmeX 16-14

Emazing Gaming vs. inRage – inRage was known as CyberXtreme during the eMg tournament, when I made an ill-fated joke about them that landed me in some hot water in the Open forums. All I heard was how they were an Invite-caliber team. Now they have a chance to prove it.

I had a chance to watch them play on Train against LucK during the tournament, and even though they played with a couple backups, they definitely had skilled players. The bad news is that the person that impressed me the most and carried them a couple rounds, “dEimOOOOn!!!”, is suspended for not running the ACS during a match. Considering how many stories I’ve heard about people forgetting to run the client, he’s actually in some good company.

Still, this should be a great match. eMg struggled last season until the second half when they got active, and it’s not hard to see why. Instead of listing their good players and their complete history, let’s just say it’s a good sign when your team is made of guys that started for Hyper, Forbidden, and Gaming Revolution, among others. Considering the first half of the season when they lost a match or two by more than twenty rounds, their second half full of close losses and victories was pretty much a Christmas miracle.

If this match happened about four weeks ago, I probably would have given inRage the nod. But the suspension and upgraded eMg roster will probably be too much to overcome.


eMg > inRage 16-13

GameFrog vs. Old School Gamers
– GameFrog, the artists formerly known as electrify!, should do well throughout the whole placement tournament. They’re with a new organization, and if jaywizzle’s postizzle on the CAL forums is real, it looks like they’ve fixed the inactivity that got them here in the first place.

You might remember Old School Gamers from the eMazing Tournament, where they made it to Round 5 before falling to LucK. They’ve got some good players on their team, including at least one person they added from Nuccastyle, the team that took Devastation into Double OT during the eMg tourney. In more recent action, they were the eleventh seed in the Main playoffs, and they’re scheduled against Frag Dominant for the 7th/8th place runoff match. Nothing spectacular, but clearly a good team.

I underestimated OSG and Nuccastyle in the eMg predictions, but I’d have to physically close my mouth with my hand if they upset GameFrog here. If GameFrog is active – and it looks like they are – they should be able to go through the tournament 2-0 and be a top team in Invite next season. OSG isn’t on that level yet.

Before we go, I feel I need to warn the community about another part in jaywizzle’s post. Apparently they’ve had enough time to not only practice, but choreograph “a lil pregame action”. I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds ominous to me. I think it’s the same phrasing Justin Timberlake used to describe the wardrobe malfunction. And no offense, but even the slightest chance of seeing that in CS is enough to make me show up fashionably late to the SourceTV.

GameFrog > OSG 16-9

"Oh my God, is that a ... I never thought I'd see that in CS."

itsamassacre vs. Mom’s Perfect 5 – Mom’s Perfect 5 is an interesting team, and not just because they have nine guys on the roster (clearly, Mom doesn’t love all her children equally if only five of them are perfect). A quick roster rundown: they have two former juked! members, another player that was on EZ5, a team that reminds me of the Black Sox because they’re known more for who they are than their accomplishments in the game (in my opinion, anyway), a guy suspended for killing the other team during the screenshot round and unsportsmanlike conduct, and a guy that started a team called “aLfonZO’s Money Crew”, which, shockingly, didn’t turn into the second coming of Jax Money Crew.

In other words, it looks like Mom raided the eSports Orphanage for Disowned Gamers to get her Perfect Five.

None of that means they don’t have talent, though. They won their first round matchup in the Main playoffs before losing badly to Unheardof, and receiving a forfeit loss in the next round. I’m not sure of their activity level; on their team page it says they went 9-1 in Season 8 before going Inactive, and that big loss followed by a forfeit loss backs that up. That worries me, and I doubt the suspension helps their practice schedule.

IAM did well after getting moved up last season, and I think they’ll be able to get the win, here. It could be closer depending on MP5’s activity level, because they have the talent to do well, but I’m going to give IAM a fair margin based on recent results.

IAM > MP5 16-11

The Real Untouchables vs. Nous Sommes Francophones – Rematch! TRU and nsF met during last season’s PT, so this should be interesting. TRU won 16-6, but I think they’re on version 3.0 of their roster. Let’s hope the newest version is the best, unlike Masters of Orion 3.0. (I had such high hopes for that game and now I wish it was more like Team Fortress 2.) It’s also worth nothing that they had about eighty forfeits during the Invite season. I can only assume that they’re stockpiling them like a bear preparing for a long, cold winter.

On the other hand, nsF looks to have a similar roster. I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same, my memory isn’t that good, but I recognize most of them. Considering the 6-16 loss, I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.

I have them both in the same category above, and it should be a closer match than last season, but I think the result will be the same.

TRU > nsF 16-12

ajnin vs. BFG Gaming
– There isn’t much to say for this one, in my opinion. BFG was borderline dominant early in Main Season 8, from what I remember, but they struggled down the stretch, culminating in an 8-16 loss to AmeX in the second round of the Lower Bracket (their win was a forfeit win over Next LeveL).

ajnin was a pack team from last season of Invite – nothing spectacular, nothing terrible. All in all, I’d call their first season of Invite a success, especially if they can learn from some of their losses and come back strong in Season 9. They won’t dominate many teams, but they hung tough against some really good teams last season, and they shouldn’t have too much difficulty against a good, but not great, BFG squad.

ajnin > BFG 16-9

Legerity vs. Make You say late
– What happened to Legerity? They finished fourth in Invite for Season 7, then they fell off the face of the Earth and landed in the PT. Maybe they should have demanded a player option in their deal with Devil (it’s okay, Kurt Warner made the same mistake).

Something was clearly missing last season. I’m not sure if they found whatever it was, but if they didn’t, they’re in danger of not making Invite next season. There are some talented, hungry teams out there, and if you aren’t both of them, you might get passed by.

 That being said, Legerity should have plenty of talent to make a comeback, if they’ve got the desire. mysL didn’t have a great run in the playoffs, although they did get a win against inRage on an overturn, and barely lost to American eXpress. Still, their other matches, especially a 7-16 loss to Vendetta, don’t inspire confidence. I’m going with Legerity because they’ve got the skill, and we’ll find out quickly if they’re over their Season 8 malaise.

Legerity > mysL 16-12

Cyber Phenom vs. Frag Dominant – If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that I’m giving the Season 8 Invite teams the benefit of the doubt in the first matches. There’s no doubt in my mind that two-three Main teams are going to end up in Invite next season, and they’re going to go through Invite teams to get there. For now, though, Invite is a different level, and teams that have been there have a definite advantage. We’ll see how that thinking plays out, in any event.

Frag Dominant had a pretty good run during the Main Playoffs. They lost 11-16 to Vendetta, and 13-16 to AmeX, which is nothing to be ashamed of. They’ll be able to give CP a run for their money, even though their players don’t have big “name” value. It’s not like CP tore up Invite this season, although they were another team that seemed to hang in against everybody; never blown out, never blowing out.

They should find fragD a little easier to play against than the zomblerz and Turmoil (Flow/Devastation) though.

CP > fragD 16-8

LANDodger Predictions are part of a healthy, balanced breakfast. They’re chock full of good luck to all teams, predicted winners winning, and predicted losers proving me wrong.

August 18, 2007

The bracket is updated to include the last two teams, and I wanted to get the predictions out tonight but my energy is fading like Les Stroud on the fourth day of eating nothing but air. I’ll release those early tomorrow, along with (hopefully) an update in the Source Pwnage Rankings and Source rosters.

Until we meet again.

August 17, 2007
The Reifer’s Bong LOL thats golden man, definetly would get my vote, they might have to move the prize ceremony to Amsterdam or even Canada tho.

--“Blazed”, The Real Untouchables

What a great comment. I wish I had thought of that before I wrote the article. The CGS is making a concerted effort to be a global league, and holding the ceremony in Amsterdam might be the best of both worlds. They get a global ceremony, we get comedy.

Plus, it would add another dimension to the pictures: trying to make the background look authentic. Nobody’s going to fly across the globe to use the thing, but you would try to fake the setting so nobody gets suspicious and arrests you. I imagine people just assembling all the stereotypes they can possibly think of, like a cross between Borat and Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.

Overall, a fantastic idea. Ten points for blazed.


August 16, 2007

I love money. You probably do, too, unless you’re worried about obesity-related deaths among wallets. What’s not to love? It’s green. It smells nice. It lets me acquire other nice-smelling things, like a girlfriend. And, unlike a girlfriend, it’s never disappointed, never scolds you for playing video games too long, and sometimes it even rewards you for doing chores, like when you find a crisp, clean c-note in the dryer or ten pounds of pennies in your sofa.

Nine out of ten people agree: money is great. The tenth person was too busy hording money to answer the survey.

Unfortunately, for all its virtues, it’s not an elixir that fixes all our problems, even in the competitive gaming community. The recipe for a successful eSports league isn’t like Easy Mac; we can’t just add one ingredient, even one as powerful as money, and turn hard noodles and nasty cheese into a tasty meal. And what’s more, we can’t afford to wait around for a magic fix that isn’t coming, when waiting around means the playoffs in our favorite leagues are nothing more than a disappointing extension of the regular season.

Somehow, I think it’s going to be different, every season. This time, there’s more incentive. The teams are better, and the competition will inspire teams to be active and prove that they’re the best. No more forfeit wins in the playoffs, no more inactivity and pugging matches on the biggest stage. Everybody has something to prove this time around, and fans will finally get to see motivated teams instead of blowouts and excuses about inactivity. And every damn season it’s the same thing, over and over.

In her defense, if you're wearing those glasses, you might as well stick your tongue out.

The CGS Region 1 Finals were horribly disappointing; they didn’t even do a best-of-three format, which is practically unforgivable. If anything qualifies as an extension of the regular season, this was it. There weren't any changes to the format, the other teams just happened to have the day off. The CAL and CEVO playoffs are riddled with forfeits, cramped schedules, or teams that have roster problems and/or intermittent practice schedules. I’m not sure what happened with the CGS, but if you follow CAL or CEVO, there’s an underlying message behind any of the excuses you read: if there was more prize money, all these problems would be fixed. Teams would practice harder, prepare better, and be generally more dedicated because it would be worth the effort.

I wouldn’t completely disagree with that, but it doesn’t address the whole issue. The problem isn’t the amount of money, it’s the whole reward.

To illustrate, let’s get away from eSports for a second. Out of 100 average sports fans, how many know that the winners of the Super Bowl (second story), World Series, and NBA Finals all get money for taking home the title? I consider myself a huge baseball fan, and I didn’t know they got a bonus. The cash makes up a tiny, tiny part of the reward. Or, put another way: it’s the freakin’ championship! You don’t see the players celebrating with oversized checks. They all want to touch the trophy.

If you want an even better example, think about poker for a second. I can’t think of a game that’s more about the money than poker is. They even bring it out on serving plates (SERVING PLATES!) when a tournament gets down to heads-up. Then, when somebody wins, what’s one of the questions you hear pretty often (specifically at the WSOP)? “What’s more important, the money, or the bracelet?” Never mind that people will answer “the bracelet” when they’ve just won $500,000, isn’t just asking that question enough to indicate that money is only part of the incentive?

This is where eSports runs into trouble, in my mind. We’re waiting around for the big, armored truck to arrive, but there are other ways to make something valuable. Instead of hoping more money will come in from sponsors, leagues should be taking smaller steps to improve the quality of play and the incentive.

Again, let’s look at professional sports. The end of the regular season is practically a relief. We’re finally done with our Brussels sprouts, and we can have some ice cream. Just reaching the playoffs is a big deal because the regular seasons are a war of attrition. The NFL regular season lasts four months, the NBA’s six months, and I think the MLB regular season never actually stops, it just collapses from exhaustion on a regular schedule. There’s a competitive reason for making the seasons long (the best teams will win more often), but a by-product is that the championships are less common, and hence more valuable. Would everybody be jacked up about winning the Super Bowl if there was another one coming in four months? Probably, but not as much if they had to wait a full year.

I’m not proposing anything radical for eSports, here, but I think leagues should drop the “play ‘em if you got ‘em” rationale. That is, if you have enough days and teams to fit in another season, get it done. Source was released in November of 2004, and by the end of November 2007, the ninth season of CAL CS:S will almost be over. I’m not sure when the first season actually started (I’m guessing January 2005, since a full season couldn’t be finished before Christmas), but there’s basically been three seasons every year.

If you cut that down to two, it makes a big difference. You could have a four month regular season, 30 day playoff, and a dedicated offseason month. The specifics might be different (like a preseason in there somewhere), but I think that’s the general idea. It’s hard to imagine extending the regular season considering how volatile teams are, and maybe that’s true, but it would also mean that chemistry, maturity, and dedication are valued even more because of the format. Having a disgruntled player shoot your team in the foot is a much bigger deal when you can’t play again for six months, and teams would adjust to that. It’s not worse, it just places more of a priority on building a team and making character part of all the recruiting decisions.

The other huge thing leagues can do is just build up the playoffs more. There needs to be more exposure, especially regarding SourceTVs. (I’m also including myself in this criticism, because I could have done a better job of publicizing the CAL playoffs thus far. I plan to fix this mistake.) During the regular season, I usually caught wind of a SRCTV fifteen minutes before the match actually started. Consistently, anywhere from 40-50 people showed up on that much of a late notice. The market is there. People want to see the matches, and I can’t help but wonder how many people would show up to a good match if the information was released a day or two in advance. A hundred? Two hundred? One billion? You get the point.

Would these things turn around eSports? No, they wouldn’t, but that’s part of the point. There is no Kero Kero cola, no rejuvenation potion, no spell that’s going to fix everything. It’s a matter of taking small steps forward to build something that’s a little bit better than the earlier versions. Sometimes things won’t turn out the way we want them to, and the ideas themselves might seem crazy. I have no idea how it would turn out if you actually extended the CAL season to four months; maybe you’d only have two teams alive at the end, or maybe it would help promote stability in the long-term.

But I do know this: I’m tired of being disappointed by the playoffs, and I don’t see any reason to keep making the same mistakes and not trying alternative solutions while we wait for money that might never come.


August 14, 2007

Even though I’m not a hockey fan, there are two things I love about the NHL: mullets, and the Stanley Cup.

The first doesn’t need much explanation. Best of both worlds, party, business, you know the drill. What you might not know is I modeled this blog after the mullet. The writing is all business. But man, if you could see the wild coding parties we have in the back-end, you’d be amazed. We do lines of PHP.

(How many nerd points was that worth?)

But enough with the mullet. The real prize of the NHL is Lord Stanley’s Cup, and not the sweaty one that goes in Lord Stanley’s Jock Strap. It’s the big one that the players drink champagne out of after winning the playoffs.

The concept is fantastic. It’s probably the most tangible reward in sports, and people like tangible rewards. You can train a dog with nothing but encouragement, but if you do it with food it’s much faster, and you get a whole psychological effect named after you. Do you think the World Series of Poker would be more or less exciting if they used a giant check or didn’t bring the money out when it gets down to the last two players? Or, for that matter, if they didn’t hand out bracelets (rings, in other sports) for titles?

How many times do I have to tell you the Stanley Cup is NOT a shotglass?

Those are all good things, but they don’t hold a candle to the Stanley Cup because the Cup has a life of its own. Nobody cares what happens to the trophies in baseball, basketball, or football, but how many containers do you know that have held champagne, baptismal water, and dog food? It’s one of the running stories that never lets me down. I love seeing where it goes, pictures of people drinking out of it, and just thinking about how cool it would be to have a day with the Stanley Cup. It’s one of a kind.

So, I’m here to make a modest proposal: the CGS needs a Stanley Cup.

It’s not too late; we’re still months away from the first World Finals, or whatever they’re going to call the championship. I’m on the case, so hop on board if you want a fun ride.

First, we’ll need a catchy name that doubles as an homage to somebody in eSports. And of course, it has to be named after a real object so it’s a tangible reward. My first instinct was to name it after the first commissioner of the CGS, Andy Reif, and something near and dear to most gamers’ hearts. Hence, version 1.0 of this idea was named “The Reifer’s Bong”. There could even be a whole subplot where the gamers try to take pictures with it, but also not leave any evidence that could get them imprisoned for illegal drug use. They’d need to leave enough hints so we could verify who was actually in the picture, but still have enough plausible deniability to not get sent to the pokey.

Unfortunately, I had to scrap this idea due to concerns about the gaming community’s collective intelligence. Somebody would take an incriminating photo, post it on Myspace, Facebook, the CAL forums, GotFrag, FARK, Digg, or Imageshack, and then we’d have one less gaming fan. I thought that, more often than not, The Reifer’s Bong would end up as Exhibit A instead of a big reward.

Out with The Reifer’s Bong. In with version 2.0 of the CGS trophy: the Angel Ball.

This would be named after Angel Munoz, the founder of the CPL, and it would be a bowling ball. You could still put alcohol in it, a la the Simpsons, and it would be much more inconspicuous. Plus, it’s practical. You could take it to various bowling alleys, have famous bowlers take pictures with it, and do, uh … other bowling-related activities.

Problem: not many people like Angel Munoz anymore, he has nothing to do with the CGS, and a fifteen pound bowling ball would be pretty annoying to haul around. Plus, you know somebody would end up using it as a weapon in some pointless LAN fight*. Now our prize is Exhibit A in an assault and battery case. Not an upgrade.

(*- I use the term “fight” very loosely here, as they’re usually nothing more than a shoving match that happens every time you have more than ten immature, materialistic, ego-centric gamers all trying to prove they’re “hard” and impress the one really hot booth-girl that’s already got a boyfriend.)

Out with the Angel Ball. So to went the Ksharp Krown, The Torbull Torch, The Midway Shotglass, SirScoot’s Scooter, and the LANDodger Golden Boxers.

Most of these ideas were scratched because, well, they’re ridiculous. Except the LANDodger Golden Boxers -- that was scrapped because I don’t want to give up my favorite pair of underwear. But there are realistic options.

No, I don't really have a pair of golden boxers. (Or am I just trying to save face?)

I think you need something that separates you from the rest of the games; it’d be weird to have bracelets (WSOP) or rings (NFL, MLB) simply because they’ve been done before. Necklaces could work, especially because they’re unisex, and that’s more important in eSports than it is in the NFL.  It’s different than the Stanley Cup because each player would get one to keep, but it’s something.

As for the trophy, it could be anything as long as there’s only one. The reason the Cup is so interesting is that teams have to give it back instead of every team getting a new one. It makes the physical item more special, and the CGS would be wise to take the best aspects of all the different professional leagues. They’re all sitting out there for us to take and adapt, we just have to recognize what makes each of them special so we can preserve it and not end up with a bastardized version that looks a lot like the real thing but doesn’t mean anything because it’s a transparent knockoff.

Here’s a fun idea that I think could work: Championship Controllers. Make a special set of usable, ornate keyboards and controllers (for PGR, DoA, etc). There would be one for each game, and the winners could take it with them to various LANs, take pictures with it in their home setups, and, hopefully, be comfortable enough with them to use it during the actual CGS competitions. Personally, I think seeing a PGR team use them during the CGS Finals match, or seeing Rambo sitting behind the CS:S keyboard during the Finals match would be awesome. There would even be room for engraving names on the back.

I’d love to hear any community suggestions on this, so send them in. What kind of reward would you guys like to see, or have, if you won the CGS championship? Something to show off to your friends, that would also end up with stories attached to it. All submissions are welcome, and if I get any really good ones, I’d be more than happy to post them.

Just make sure they’re less ridiculous than the LANDodger Golden Boxers.


The first season(for Region 1 is over, and like any good sports fan, I’m already looking forward to next season. Will the CHImera repeat? Can Belle and sWooZie learn new moves in the offseason like Naruto, or will they still be suffering from a Thousand Years of Pain? Is it too much to ask that the Core franchise loses by one point, and their CS:S team loses 5-13 in every match?

That would be great comedy, but I think I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we can find out answers to any of those questions, we need to look at next season’s draft. It’s gonna be a doozie.

I came across this thread on the CAL forums. It has two lines of easily fake-able text, so, like any good blogger, I’m treating it as indisputable fact. To save you from going across the internet and then having to come all the way back, I’ll paraphrase the thread here:

CGS ADMIN*: CS:S will be drafting individual players, not teams.
Reply: “The sky isn’t falling, idiot! The ground is rising!”
Reply: “Ur both dumb I don’t feel nething”

*- As quoted by a person I don’t know, have no reason to trust, and couldn’t pick out of a lineup if the other nine people were all Orcs.

It didn’t quite go like that, but the first part is accurate. And it got me thinking about the draft, which lead to a flood of other concerns, questions, and thoughts (most of which I won’t get to in this article, to make sure it’s under 4,000 words).

The immediate question that popped into my head was about the current players: are they under contract for more than one season, or will the franchises be drafting totally new teams?

Front: In Dusty We Trusty. Back: Until he Sucksy, then we Cutsy.

On one hand, I can’t imagine them drafting new teams. The whole idea behind the franchises is to inspire loyalty to the organizations (or at least that’s what I thought). How can that possibly reconcile with a totally new draft? Most of the players would end up on different teams, and I don’t know about everybody else, but I was far more interested in individual stories (the PGR duo, coL, 3D, Vanessa, Belle, Peekay, etc) than the organizations during the first season. Plus, it’s pretty silly to name two franchises the LA compLexity and 3D.NY if those teams aren’t going to be with the franchise for more than a season. The Chicago Dusty Bakers might have sounded really good in 2003 when the Cubs were in the playoffs, but now … not so much. Viva la Lou!

On the other hand, the only information about contracts (that I can find) leads me to believe it’s a one-year quickie. There’s this article, and a separate piece about a Dallas PGR player which has this nugget: “His gaming contract is for two years; the second year is contingent upon him being drafted again.”

(Thanks for playing, now get back in line.)

So it seems like they’re going to draft everybody all over again, and the worst part is they have to do it that way, even though it’s going to blow up the franchises as we know them (and that’s not even taking into account a player-by-player CS:S draft).

They have to do it because they’re adding a totally new game (surprise, it’s WoW! … more on this in a future post). You could have a separate expansion draft for WoW, but that only makes sense if you're letting teams keep some players. If the franchises can't keep anybody, you might as well combine them both. And they can't keep everybody, because there would be no way to improve the franchise -- to my knowledge, the only reason a drafted player can be replaced is if they're physically unable to play.

But right now, it doesn't look like keeping some players is an option for any of the franchises. We’re not at the point where CGS contracts are being negotiated by Scott Boras; there’s no free agency, no farm system, no team-negotiated contracts (coL couldn’t offer Vanessa $50,000 to replace Belle). What’s more, it would throw off the draft if they could keep her. If there are six rounds in the draft and SF only needs five players, where does that extra draft pick go? The minor leagues? Purgatory?

(Even the NBA has the NBDL, which somewhat resembles a trash can – you just chuck in things you don’t want, and occasionally there’s something on top that still looks fresh and you pick it up. But at least it’s something. )

So, at this point, all signs point to a redraft. How does that work with CS:S? Will 3D and coL still have to draft their CS:S teams in the first round if they’re done by team? Or are they actually going to be drafted individually, which will make the fanbases even more scattered?

The sad part about this whole situation is that it’s a microcosm for the whole league. All we have are questions. The harder you look at the league, the more moves they make, the more problems you see. That’s scary, and so far, none of those questions have been answered or even addressed.

1) Why isn’t the scoring system balanced?

2) How will next season’s draft work, and the drafts beyond that?

3) Will there be more games added in the future? If so, how will they be scored, and how will WoW be balanced with the other games, for that matter?

4) Why can't teams resign their "star" players? Instead of giving each player $30,000, why can’t Vanessa make $50,000 and Belle $10,000. You could impose a hard salary cap to make sure nobody exceeds their salary allotment. Why can’t a team sign anybody they want to replace an underperforming player, if they manage their salaries wisely?

5) Will teams be redrafted every season? If not, how will organizations keep players, and why can’t they do that now? If they can do it now, why doesn’t anybody know about it? If so, what’s the point of having organizations in the first place if you’re actually adding player instability?

Sadly, these are just a short sample of the questions I came up when I was thinking about the next draft because it's a close cousin to many different aspects of a league: finances, standings, player evaluation (farm system), how much power each general manager has (trades? Contracts? Staff hiring?). All those things I listed are just the beginning, but they lead up to one very important question:

Will the CGS end up as a league like we see in professional sports, or will it be another eSports imitation that answers small questions and leaves the big ones unanswered? The next draft may tell us more than anybody expected.

August 9, 2007

Thanks to Kazzerax from Team Spectre (#teamspectre on GameSurge) for pointing me to this site. I’m not ready to pronounce it the best thing since sliced bread in Second Life, but it’s only the first episode.

Despite that, there were quite a few genuinely funny moments, and it’s got me looking forward to the second episode. The characters have oodles of potential.

If you want a small hint about what you’re clicking on: “Red vs. Blue” for CS.




It’s time for LANDodger’s semi-regular “questions for Promod which never get answered”. We have one of these every time a big CSP update (read: every CSP update, even if it’s crappy alpha maps) is released. The 1.6 community works itself into a frenzy, the Source community responds in kind, and we have to call in Mike Rowe because he’s the only person qualified to clean up so many different kinds of crap.

And all the excitement, the arguments, and forum posters leave, surprisingly, one huge question behind: is Promod going to make eSports any better?

Everybody thinks they’re answering that question when they give their opinions, but they’re not. Somewhere along the line, we got lost in the depths of our own community, and now we’re too deep in the flaming trees to see the forum forest. What I mean is this: CS players (and pundits), have a tendency to use the term “eSports” when we really mean “Counter-Strike”. Here comes a bold sentence.

Counter-strike is NOT eSports.

Im in ur scientologies, stealin' ur crazies.

Are we clear?


(This is where you reply, “crystal.”)

It seems like an obvious distinction, but if you think about all the arguments you’ve ever heard for Promod, aren’t they really arguments for making Counter-Strike better? Common arguments follow: It’ll unite the communities. It’ll attract fans and sponsors because of the graphics. The gameplay will be superior. The action will be easier to follow. Those are all great things, don’t get me wrong, but does uniting the Counter-Strike communities really solve any problems that eSports has? What about adding superior gameplay?


The problem is that eSports has a completely different set of obstacles than CS. It’s like comparing Dick Cheney to Darth Vader. Sure, they have the same mindset, but converting them to the light takes two different solutions (at least Vader had some shred of decency left in him).

All we need to do is look at a short list of the problems facing eSports:

1) Lack of a general audience
2) No centralized league (although the CGS is trying really, really hard … I think)
3) Too many games
4) The action is hard to follow
5) The action isn’t intuitive to the viewer
6) No way of developing or recognizing talent
7) Money (although the CGS is … )

That’s just a very quick list, I’m sure there are plenty of other problems that people could come up with. How many of those things does Promod address, and on what level? Well, I’d have to say they’re giving (3) a run by trying to merge two games into one. Although, it’s far more likely that we’ll end up with three versions of CS, instead, so it’s hard to give them points for that one. People are still playing 1.5, for Pete’s sake, and I have no doubt somebody out there is still bunny-hopping with a laser-guided deagle that has perfect accuracy in mid-air (1.3).

Their mission statement addresses (4) by stating their hopes to improve the spectating and broadcasting (presumably through some HLTV-related upgrade). I haven’t heard any kind of updates on their spectating system, which doesn’t mean they don’t have one, but it still doesn’t give me hope that their system will be better than HLTV, which still isn’t good enough to translate the action into television.

That’s all I’ve got, and to be honest, even those are a little bit of a stretch.

There’s another problem, though. Even if CSP fixes Counter-Strike, how much is that going to affect eSports as a whole? Let’s look at it this way: Counter-Strike is the most popular FPS in history. Name me one league, LAN, or other kind of tournament that uses CS as the only platform.

Just one.

I couldn’t think of one, and there’s a good reason for that: I don’t think it’s ever happened. CEVO, CAL, CPL, WSVG, CGS, MLG, NEL, UGS, WCG, and ESWC are the leagues I can name off the top of my head, and all of them feature games other than CS. Even if there is a league that only uses CS, it certainly hasn’t been successful in America.

Or, if you want to come at it from a different angle, think about how many other games are (or were) out there. Quake, Call of Duty, Day of Defeat, Starcraft, Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, Halo, Madden Football, Battlefield, Unreal Tournament, America’s Army, and Painkiller. That’s just what I can come up with off the top of my head. You could go farther back in time and more in depth.

More improbable: Family Matters still being a popular rerun, or Steve Urkel having TWO love interests on the show?

Collectively, when you compare those against Counter-Strike, CS just isn’t a big factor. Is it large compared to any one of its peers? Yes. But against the whole, I don’t think so. Even if you fixed the game, you still have the same limiting factor: the audience just isn’t big enough.

Want an example? Look at Quake 3 CPMA. CPMA, from what I know, is largely considered the most successful “pro-mod” in history. It was so good that they even brought arQon onto CSP. Where is Quake 3 now? It’s not on TV, that’s for sure. You can trust me on that one, I have five televisions in my room, just in case the other four are on commercial. Q3 is nowhere to be found.

In fact, most tournaments dropped it for Quake 4, and then they’ve been slowly coming back. As far as I know, tournaments using Q3 and those using Q4 are still split.

In other words, having a “promod” isn’t any guarantee of success, even within the gaming community. New things come out, old games slowly die, and the community as a whole keeps plugging along. It’s the Circle of eLife.

I will grant you one thing in this argument: Counter-Strike is much bigger than Quake. Maybe a promod for CS would have better results simply because the basic game is so much bigger.

The only problem I have with that line of thinking is that CS used to be one happy family. Before Source came out, everybody was in the same boat. We all spammed walls, took nade damage through doors and floors, and threw “flashbangs” that were more like a prude girlfriend: little flash and no bang. Even with all that support, when the CS graphics were still passable and that version had the full backing of the community, the game couldn’t carry a league by itself, and it never made it main-stream. What’s changed now? Why will this promod suddenly cure everything that ails the game and propel us higher than we’ve ever gone before?

The only answer I can come up with: because we’re all really hoping this time will be different. This time the audience will be ready. This time graphics and gameplay will be merged perfectly. Players and fans will come together, support the game like never before, and we'll finally have enough support to “make it”.

Maybe those things will happen, but I doubt it. I think it’s far more likely that the promod, if it ever comes out, will solve some minor problems in CS. It’ll get picked up by CEVO, CAL, and possibly the WSVG and European leagues if it gets good reviews in those online leagues (and Source hasn’t made the same improvements by that time). Heck, you might even be able to bring in a hypnotist and get the CGS to pick it up, despite the fact that the organizations would have to re-draft their CS squads.

And then we’d still be stuck trying to convince the public that any of it is worth watching instead of another rerun of Family Matters. But hey, at least we’d have, arguably, a slightly better game to do it with.

See you next update.


August 6, 2007

We’ve been trained to think that making a wrong decision is inherently bad, and sometimes that’s true. It’s also true that making a wrong decision is sometimes better than making no decision at all, which usually ends up being the alternative; people are so afraid of doing something wrong that they do nothing at all.

The problem is that sometimes you have to make wrong choices so you can learn from them. It’s part of growing and making something better. That brings us to CAL. As you should all know by now, they made a list of changes entering Season 8 of Source, and now that there’s been a full season under the new rules, it’s time to make new new rules.

To be honest, I think the changes they made were great for the league; I wouldn't classify any of them as "wrong" or "mistakes". The community as a whole seemed to approve of the changes, which isn’t too surprising considering they were mostly community-backed ideas. There aren’t many huge changes in store for this version, mostly tweaks and upgrades of what happened this season – that whole “learning” thing, again. I’m not going to hit all the changes because I think Shawn did a good job explaining them, both in the reasoning for why they’ve been changed, and what to expect going forward, but I think some points are worth mentioning.

Modifications to the maplist, config, placement tournament:

This covers points 4, 5, and 6 in the news post. Basically, times have changed. The community thought fifteen rounds was too long, and CAL (and most of the community, I think) feels nine rounds (the CGS format) is too short. Voila, twelve round halves. Fans of deagle saves and eco rounds, rejoice! Your voices have been heard! In some ways, this is a return to the old format. In the old config, the fifteen rounds included the pistol and two eco rounds, along with twelve “gun” rounds. Now that they’re using the $16,000 startmoney with no pistol rounds, we’re back to twelve gun rounds again. Everything old is new again.

Thankfully, everything old isn't actually new again. Some things are better left dead.

They also added de_cpl_mill to the maplist, because it’s going to be used at the Summer CPL. The regular season only had LAN maps, and the only major LAN that uses Mill is the CPL. There was no Source tournament for CPL during the season, but now that there is, a change has been made. Change is good, especially when it involves the CPL adding your game (even if it’s only BYOC).

The last point is the placement tournament, which, let’s face it, needed modification. There’s nothing wrong with that; nothing is going to be perfect the first time. Except my articles, of course (They dont' need no editings, I'm perrfect). Some people complained about the teams in the tournament that weren't in Main or Invite the previous season. That’s no longer a concern.

Cheating Disputes reset to (2) for Invite, not including ACS log pulls, returning starters reset to (3) for hijacking purposes:

Personally, I’m a big fan of these. The ACS log pulls is important, theoretically you’re getting the most bang for your buck there – the pulls take less time than a full dispute, and it will still catch a large portion of cheaters. And to be honest, as Shawn explained, the four disputes seemed a bit excessive, anyway. The Invite teams didn’t come close to using all of them.

The hijacking thing is a little more interesting. I’m a little conflicted. In theory, you’d think that the teams in Invite are more like organizations; they should be allowed to pick up and drop whomever they choose. In reality, when you look at the huge roster changes and the general instability, it seems like that’s not the case. In terms of possible hijacking, they’re closer to your run of the mill CAL-M team than they are to 3D, coL, etc. We’ll see how this plays out, but based on his explanation of the specific rules that were added regarding hijacking, it seems like the right call.


This is the big kahuna. If CAL wants the top teams to really remain active, and it’s easy to see how much inactivity is a problem, there needs to be more incentive. The CPL seeds are a solid step in the right direction. Sponsorships and prizes for Invite would be a thousand times better, and it looks like there’s a good chance that will happen.

I’m not sure how much of this would be in place if Shawn didn’t come back as an admin after retiring for a period of time. Unfortunately, he has other commitments he needs to take care of that prevent him from staying for more than a season, but I think he’s going to leave the league in better shape than when he found it, and we’ll have more on that in a upcoming piece. We’re past the hardest part of making the initial changes, now all we have to do is make sure those decisions keep getting tweaked and CAL keeps evolving as a league.

And that’s critical, because only Michael Jordan is allowed to unretire twice.



Playoffs??! Don’t talk about playoffs, you kiddin’ me!? Playoffs!?!

(That, along with the Allen Iverson “practice” rant, never gets old.)

If practice makes perfect, and perfection is impossible, is practice impractical? Wait a minute ... we talkin' 'bout practice!?

Well, we have to talk about playoffs, because the CAL playoffs are here. It’s a six team, double-elimination tournament that starts tonight. The top two seeds, Check-Six (zomblerz) and recKoning, have byes for the first round. The other matches pit LucK against Flow Gaming (previously Devastation), and Mug ‘n Mouse against PK. 

Since the season is over and there’s only two matches to predict, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the playoff teams and evaluate their regular season, and include some basic predictions and things to look out for during their playoff runs (may they be long and fruitful). 

Honestly, I could see any team winning the whole thing. When you only have six teams playing, they’re the best of the best. The team I have ranked 5th won the championship last season, and the team I have ranked 4th has been one of my favorite teams all season. I think we’re in for a great playoff run, and I can’t wait to watch some of these SourceTVs.

I’ll go straight down the seeds, so here we go!

1. Check-Six (zomblerz)

Record: 9-3
Notable Losses: Hyper (14-16), MnM (14-16)
Notable Wins: Devastation (17-13), recKoning (21-9)
Player(s) to Watch: brawwr, badappleS
LD’s Rank: #1

More Info: They had three losses on the season, but even that’s a little misleading. One was a forfeit loss to LucK, and the others both came on the same night in a double-header against Hyper and Mug ‘n Mouse. And both of those were 14-16 losses. Sounds like a bad day to me, not a good indicator of how strong their team is.

I have them ranked against the other playoff teams exactly where they’re seeded. It’s going to be a challenge to take them down. Nobody is unbeatable, except maybe Chuck Norris and Vanessa, but over the course of the season (best record), the eMg tournament (first place), and the CGS combine (almost famous, er, drafted), I think you have to rank x6 as the best team.

What impressed me most during the season wasn’t their overall skill, which is excellent, but their attitude ingame. They always seem to be having fun, which is important for a few reasons: they don’t get frustrated easily, they can critique player performance without it being an insult, and they don’t put any unnecessary pressure on themselves. All of those are pitfalls most teams fall into at one time or another.

Essentially, and this is a huge cliché that holds true, they don’t beat themselves, and they’re skilled enough that I basically picked the second “player to watch” at random because the other three starters (misty, classified, J`_`) could all be there as well.

That’s a tough combination to beat.

2. recKoning

Record: 9-3
Notable Losses: LucK (13-17), x6 (9-21)
Notable Wins: PK (25-5), PK (16-14), Flow (24-6), Hyper (24-6), electrify! (27-3)
Players to Watch: zero, zuH
LD’s Rank: #3

More Info: I have them ranked third, but that’s very tenuous. They’ve had some huge wins this season against playoff-caliber teams; anybody that can beat Hyper and Flow 24-6 has to be considered a dangerous team. The only reason I have them ranked below Flow is because of some early season problems when they started 0-2, and I’m giving points to Flow based on their performance in the CGS combine.

That being said, Flow hasn’t been playing with the same people all the time. I wouldn’t begrudge anybody that has recKoning as the #2 team in the playoffs, and other than that small blip, they’ve been everything you want in a #2 seed. They’ve beaten all the teams they should, and they’ve had some dominating wins against other good teams.

If you throw in their performance during the CEVO-P placement tournament, it’s not hard to see them playing in the Finals. They’re a legit contender, and I’m looking forward to seeing if they can avenge their big defeat against x6, if they end up meeting.

3. Mug ‘n Mouse

Record: 7-5
Notable Losses:
LucK (11-19), PK (13-17), recKoning (12-18)
Notable Wins:
x6 (16-14), Flow/Dev (18-12), eMg (26-4)
Players to Watch:
zDk, eterNity
LD’s Rank:

More Info: Quick question: who was the only team to beat both x6 and Devastation this season?

It doesn’t take a genius to answer the question, considering where it was asked, and it’s the reason why I have MnM as my darkhorse team, despite also ranking them 5th (I’m not one of those guys that wants to pick the #2 seed as a “darkhorse”). They have the worst record out of all the teams, but they’re still the third seed because some of the other teams had a few forfeit wins. They’re also the defending champs from last season, when they were known as Fever. Their notable losses were all close enough to show they can hang with anybody, too.

In other words, don’t underestimate them. I did it in a couple predictions during the season, and I might even be doing it now with their low rank despite being a high seed. But there’s no doubt in my mind they can pull off the upsets just like they did in the regular season, and if there’s one team that has a chance to come from behind and surprise everybody, it’s da Mug and da Mouse.

No, really Timmy, you look great. This won't be a scarring Halloween at all.
4. Flow Gaming (Devastation)

Record: 9-3
Notable Losses:
x6 (13-17), MnM (12-18), recKoning (6-24)
Notable Wins:
LucK (17-13), Legerity (22-8)
Players to Watch:
Funshine, sasquatcH
LD’s Rank:

More Info: This is actually the hardest team for me to predict. If they come out with their CGS lineup and they’re in practice, they can beat anybody. If they’re still rotating some players in, we might see something closer to the 6-24 loss to recKoning.

Personally, since it’s the playoffs and CPL seeds are on the line, I think they’re doing to come out with a vengeance, and that’s why I’ve got them ranked slightly above recKoning despite the regular season results. One thing I'm sure of: this isn’t your ordinary 4th seed.

(Note: this may be one of those things you're "sure" of that turns out to be false. Like "the world is flat, I'm sure of it", "Earth is the center of the universe", or "dude, she's totally into me". Just trying to cover my ass, don't mind me.)

5. LucK

Record: 9-3
Notable Losses:
Flow/Dev (13-17), ajnin (14-16), Visual Gaming (9-21)
Notable Wins:
MnM (19-11), Cyber Phenom (20-10), recKoning (17-13)
Players to Watch:
Allbrook, messiaH
LD’s Rank:

More Info: LucK came through the placement tournament and they’ve got a 9-3 record – anybody else think they’ve done alright for themselves? Three of the wins are forfeits, but a 6-3 record is still good. I’m not sure if they’re on the same level as the elite teams, as evidenced by their 13-17 loss to Flow, and a loss to ajnin, a team that failed to make the playoffs.

Then again, when you look at their roster, you’ve got to think their pickups have been excellent. Allbrook, messiaH, lakai, and eXigenT have all been added at some point during the season, and they’re all very good players, and that might be an underestimation if you look at their stats.

If there’s one thing I’ve seen during some of their performances, it’s that they let teams back into the game. In their loss to ajnin, they had a big lead and let it slip away (although ajnin’s play had something to do with that, as well), and during the eMg tournament they jumped out to a big round lead during each half of a Train match before the other team got some momentum. If they want to take home the title, they’ll have to hold onto those leads like Homer Simpson holding the last donut in the world.

6. PK

Record: 8-4
Notable Losses:
x6 (13-17), recKoning (14-16), recKoning (5-25)
Notable Wins:
MnM (17-13), eMg (22-8)
Players to Watch:
dboy, gmd
LD’s Rank:

More Info: They underwent a big roster change during the season, and honestly, I wish we saw more matches from the new players. I don’t remember the exact date of all the changes, but I think they got three forfeit wins, and one forfeit loss all with the new guys, which means they’re still a little hard to get a read on.

A lot of people in the community feel their new roster is inferior, but I’m not convinced. Minus their bookend matches and the forfeits, they didn’t have a single match that didn’t finish at 16-14 or 17-13. That’s pretty crazy, and it seems like there isn’t a definitive argument for either version being more dominant than the other.

In the end, it doesn’t matter which squad is better, because the old roster isn’t coming back (that may or may not be a good thing, depending on how the matches turn out). I think they could sneak in a win, but I don’t really see them as a contender. I think they’re going to have a tough time with such a strong field.

Round 1 Predictions

Flow Gaming vs. LucK
– When they played during the regular season, I picked LucK in an upset. That didn’t turn out well. For me, anyway – I’m sure there was another LD predictor in an alternate universe that was very happy. And he’s probably rich, too, that bastard.

The map they’re playing on, de_cpl_mill, wasn’t used during the regular season, so we’re going to see some new action. Watch Funshine AWP on their CT side, he’s going to be a key for Devastation’s defense. A good AWPer can really mess people up at A by controlling mid and the right ramp if his teammates are positioned properly and have good communication (which shouldn’t be a problem for Flow). 

If LucK can limit his impact with smokes and flashes, or by making him rotate, I think they’re going to have success on their T side. The problem is making sure their flashes and smokes are timed perfectly. If they’re not, they’ll have to push too hard to get into the site (while the smoke is deployed, or a flash goes off), and you can’t afford to do that on Mill. There are too many stacks, crossfires, and boosts to rush headlong into everything. Terrorists need perfect execution, starting with limiting the AWP, and working into the site.

My gut feeling says it’s going to be a really fun match to watch, and Flow is going to come out on top. Funshine might not be the top fragger (watch out for sauce and Kwick) but I think he’s going to have a huge impact on the game because you always have to be aware of the AWPer, just like you always have to respect a three-point specialist in basketball. I’m looking forward to seeing what each team comes up with.

Flow > LucK 16-13

Mug ‘n Mouse vs. PK – The map is probably going to put PK at a disadvantage. It wasn’t played during the regular season and they have a new roster. While I’m sure they’ve developed some chemistry over the course of the season, that doesn’t always translate from one map to another. I’m not sure how much of a disadvantage that will be, it depends on their practice schedule, but I don’t think you can discount it altogether. When you get to the top levels of competition, small things like rotations, flash/smoke timing, and knowing your teammates become critical factors. One small mistake, a flash thrown a second early, leads to a player being un-blind one second earlier, which easily leads to a broken strat.

I think that’s going to be enough for MnM to reverse the regular season result, which was a close (17-13) win for PK on Inferno, but it’s still going to be a very close match.

MnM > PK 16-14

The predictor’s commandments:

1) Honor thy opponent and thy teammates
2) Thou shalt have good luck
3) Thou shalt not covet the predicted winner’s win
4) Thou shalt not murder thy predictor when you proveth him wrong
5) Thou shalt have no other predictors before me … unless my predictions suck, then you can do whatever you want.

August 5, 2007

As a society, we like doing things as quickly as possible. Everybody knows the fastest way to a man’s heart is through is stomach, and unfortunately, the fastest way to his prostate is through an exit ramp. So, I have developed a plan to get eSports on ESPN tomorrow, and there’s only one catch, which is why you’re reading it here instead of ESPN.

It’s almost completely impossible, and it’s made up of at least 75% crazy. In other words, it's my kind of plan.

First, we have to look at sports right now. Outside of one-time stories, what’s been dominating the news? In case you’ve forgotten, I’ll leave a short list here:

1) Michael Vick – Atlanta Falcons Quarterback, “Dog Enthusiast”.

2) Barry Bonds – San Francisco Giants Outfielder about to break the most hallowed, recognizable record in sports. Not a “people person”. If he was Microsoft Office, “Clippy” would be replaced by “Syringe-y”.

3) Tim DonaghyNBA official that bet on games, and worked in the playoffs. His new nickname is “wannabet?” (The answer is, "not right now, thanks".)

4) Other – Tour De France: DE stands for “Doping Extraordinaires”. More NFL legal problems. Neifi Perez suspended for amphetamines in baseball (his third violation). Steroids in golf.

You look like you're having steroid problems, would you like assistance with that?

Don’t worry, nothing bad is happening in boxing, hockey, or soccer. Or, more accurately, if there is, nobody cares.

Essentially, the biggest stories in all the major sports are about controversies. Based on action, July and early August are considered the worst time for sports, and it's living up to the billing. If you think about it, what are the most exciting times during a season? My list (in no order): trade deadlines, drafts, opening day, all-star festivities, the end of the regular season, and playoffs. 

Exactly zero of those are taking place right now. Baseball is too early for the end of the regular season, and they just finished the trading deadline. The NFL and the NBA are in various stages of the offseason, but the drafts are long over. We’re left with the sports equivalent of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

This is anathema for the average sports fan, but if you’re a new league looking to make a splash and get on ESPN, what better time is there? The door is open, but it’s just a crack. We have to make sure our news stands out from the rest of the dreg; a concentrated attack at a strategic target.

With that in mind, what’s the easiest way to stand out? Doing something exactly the opposite of what everybody around you is doing. Wear red in a black and white film. Be a girl in Counter-Strike, or, if you don’t want to get a sex change, be Sam Chamma on Pandemic. In our case, a donation to charity is pretty much the polar opposite of the major sports stories.

Right now, you’re incredulous. “Make a donation and get on ESPN, yeah, right” you’re thinking. Don’t worry, I agree with you. But there are a couple special conditions which I think ensures we can get there.

First, the amount and where it comes from. I think $1,000,000 is a reachable figure. Ambitious, but doable because it’s going to come from every player in the CGS (I told you this was at least 75% crazy). Quick numbers: there are six franchises in Region 1, each team has ten players. That’s sixty players, all making $30,000 for this season. If those sixty people all donate $10,000, that’s already $600,000.

You’d probably have an easier time convincing everybody to get prostate exams, but it's hard to say exactly how much players would be donating without knowing how much DirecTV and other sponsors would be willing to match. The key here is that the more the players donate, the bigger the story becomes. If DirecTV matches the donation dollar for dollar, it’s a very good story, and it probably gets on ESPN. If the players donate half their salary ($900,000 total), it’s a huge story, and they're practically heroes. Simply put, it’s a lot more moving if you donate $1 when you can’t even buy a Happy Meal with the money in your savings account, rather than donating $1 when you could buy a whole McDonalds.

To reach $1,000,000, the most plausible thing is having players donate a smaller amount, have DirecTV match that, and PepsiCo (Mountain Dew sponsors the CGS) pick up anything that's left. By most plausible, I mean it has a slightly higher chance of happening than a seasick-prone, peg-legged midget with vertigo becoming a deck boss for one of the crabbing ships on "Deadliest Catch".

Even still, a great story isn’t enough when you're donating a million bucks with no guarantee that the plan would work. That’s where the last piece of the puzzle comes in: the Jimmy V. Foundation.

For those of you not familiar with the charity, here’s a Wikipedia entry for it. Basically, Jim Valvano, the namesake, gave one of the most memorable speeches in ESPY history, and announced that he was partnering with ESPN to start the foundation, dedicated to researching a cure for cancer. Every year, ESPN radio has a fund-raising day for the foundation. Vitamin Water, one of their corporate sponsors, donated $10,000 and got, approximately, thirty million references in a four-hour span.

Any one of these conditions probably isn’t enough. But, in light of the lack of actual league action, plus all the controversies that the public is tired of hearing about, is there any way a million dollar donation to the Jimmy V. Foundation from the players in a new gaming league doesn’t get mentioned on ESPN,, and probably ESPN the Magazine, the latter of which already have “gaming” sections? I say no, especially when you consider DirecTV is a huge company that could probably convince ESPN to pick up the story, if necessary.

But like I said, there’s a reason this is appearing here and not in the news. I don’t think anything like this could happen, for one key reason: we’re not living in a movie where one person can convince sixty total strangers to sacrifice a large portion of their salary on some harebrained scheme that may or may not actually work.

But eSports on the frontpage – man, it’d be cool if it did.