I planned to write a separate entry for this introduction, but the season snuck up on me so I might as well combine it with the predictions.

I’m going to make a few changes in the coverage for this season. I have a love-hate relationship with predictions. There are a lot of matches that are interesting to talk about, predict, or make fun of. I love those. Last season, it seemed like I could bang out four or five match predictions no problem. Unfortunately, for many reasons, the last three or four match predictions were like pulling teeth, which is obviously the hate portion. One team was inactive, there wasn’t much to say about the matchup, the teams weren’t in contention, no new matches had been played … the list goes on. In fact, if you reread all the preds from last season and knew what to look for, you could probably tell which ones came easily and which ones were difficult.

The problem is that I got burned out from forcing myself to write all the in-depth preds. This isn’t a job for me yet, it’s a hobby. I don’t make any money from the site. So instead of killing myself to write a prediction for every team, I’m going to shift the focus. I’ll do selected in-depth predictions for certain teams, depending on interesting match-ups – one team is really hot, both have good records, both have struggled, new pickups, etc. Nobody will be left out. I know that because last season, the "interesting" match-ups didn't follow specific teams. So if you didn't get a big pred this time, you'll be sure to get one in the near future.

That being said, I know every relationship involves giving and taking. So in exchange for that, I’m going to do more articles and post-match commentary. There were hardly any last season, and I think it’s a better way to distribute both time and effort. In the end, I think I’ll end up doing more coverage for Invite this season than I did last time. The predictions will just be cut back a little bit.

(As a side note, if anybody wants to send in community predictions for a match I’d be happy to add them to the article. Just write something up and e-mail them to mike@landodger.com. They don’t have to win a Pulitzer, just be insightful. And barring that, entertaining. I’m not picky.)

Hopefully that works for everybody. And as always, I hope you enjoy the preds!


CAL-Invite Season 9 Predictions: Week 1-1 (de_dust2)

Five siNs from #team-nsF vs. Eximius Sports
– Five siNs from #team-nsF has officially inherited the “Most Random Team Name” award from … well, I’m not too sure, to be honest. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m qualified to hand out that title, but I think we’d have to consider them a contender if a vote was held. Which sins are they? I’m a fan of sloth, myself. What happened to the other two sins – are they mad about being benched? Maybe it’s not a reference to the seven deadly sins, at all. If somebody from FSF#T-NSF could answer these questions, I’d appreciate it.

As for the match, the simple fact is that FSF#T-NSF struggled to get out of the PT, and Eximius is a title-contender and a CEVO-P team. I’m interested to see what the siNs will show during the rest of the season, but for now I don’t see them competing with Eximius, especially after the addition of messiaH.

Eximius > FSF#T-NSF 17-7


GameFrog vs. Honolulu Eruptors
– So it begins. The experiment known as the “Honolulu Eruptors” will finally be in action. For those of you that missed the boat, the Eruptors are a team formed from Turmoil (Devastation) and Gravitas (zomblerz). They’ve merged their rosters and come up with offensive and defensive line-ups. This is either going to revolutionize Counter-Strike, like the twenty-four second clock, or it’s going to fail like the XFL.

(Actually, it probably won’t do either of those, but it’s going to be fun to watch. And that’s why I’m onboard with the idea – I just wish they had contacted me about a position on special teams. I’ve got mad skillz.)

GameFrog should be familiar to most people as electrify! from last season. But, unlike electrify!, they’re active; same roster, just some different circumstances. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can say the same about the Eruptors. Gravitas and Turmoil are still separate in other leagues, and there are big events coming up: Digital Life and the Newegg LANFest. I’m sure they’re more worried about preparing with their “real” teams and winning money.

On a pure talent level, I’d give it to Honolulu. But I just don’t think they’re going to be highly motivated this season, especially with other tournaments on the docket. They’ll still be able to beat the lower-tier teams during the season, but GameFrog is good when they’re practicing. And with that in mind, I’m going with a little bit of an upset pick.

GameFrog > HE  15-9


They're from Honolulu, and they're erupting. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.


eGe vs. Mug ‘n Mouse – eGe took the shortcut to Invite. It’s like one of those secret tunnels in a movie about the White House. Somebody needs to get somewhere fast, and they turn a picture of Abraham Lincoln, punch a spot on the wall, and a secret door opens that leads to manhole cover on Pennsylvania Avenue where hilarity promptly ensues.

That’s not to say they’re undeserving. It might have been a quick ride, but they still proved they belong with a third place finish at the CPL, which included wins over top teams (e.g. Gravitas). Anything under Invite would have been a waste of time. In fact, I’d be surprised if they weren’t a Finals contender at the end of the season.
I think they’ll come out with a big win over MnM for their first match in Invite.

eGe > MnM 16-8


Cyber Phenom vs. LucK – LucK had some tough times in the offseason, but it looks like they came through just fine. They lost messiaH, and losing a 5th player is bad enough, but he was actually their 4th at the end of last season. And he’s a great player, to boot.

But they did just fine with their replacements. I’m not sure if they picked up better players; that’ll be shown during the season. For now, “M1kestonE” isn’t a big name in the community, but he was a talented player for BFGaming. Inactivity hurt BFG in the Main playoffs last season and during the Placement Tournament, but that’s not his fault, and they were a great team during the beginning of the season. Holtzman, their other addition, has been a solid Invite player for a few seasons. Add those guys to the familiar core, and they should do well again this season.

I’m not so sure about CP. They lost demonic, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think he was their impact player last season. They lost a ton of close matches, but it seemed like he always came up big during their wins. jEEzy and iNs are good players, and 3xON is a talented new pickup, but I’m not sold that they’re any better than they were last season. Again, we’ll know more once matches are played, but for now I’m giving it to LucK.

LucK > CP 15-9


eX vs. eMazing Gaming – I’m not sure where eMg stands. They came on strong late last season, but I don’t think they’ve got the same roster. Foerster is on their roster, but he’s playing for Hyper in CEVO. I’m pretty sure they had STRuK at the end of last season, and he’s gone as well. I don’t want to get too in-depth before we see them in action, but right now, it looks like they’re in for a long season.

eX > eMg 13-11


Unheardof vs. itsamassacre – Unheardof is new to Invite, and I’m not sure what to expect out of them yet. I like their team, but IAM went 5-7 last season (good for their first time in Invite) and it looks like the same core players have returned for a second campaign. It wouldn’t surprise me if the match goes the other way, but I’m rolling with the returning Invite team.

IAM > ? 14-10


PK vs. ajnin – For whatever reason, it seems like I’m always predicting these teams. I swear they’ve played at least thirty times since last season. (Don’t mind me, I’m crazy.) ajnin is a little scary this season, too. n1x1n isn’t with them anymore, and he was a big part of their team in the matches I saw. This reminds me a lot of CP losing demonic. I’m just not sold that they’re going to be the same team without that impact player.

PK > ajnin 15-9


When reading LANDodger predictions, make sure you’re not reading any other predictions that contain good luck to all teams, the predicted winners winning, and the predicted losers proving me wrong. Doing so could result in harmful side-effects. If you prediction experience lasts over four hours, a condition known as predicto-priapism, please consult a doctor immediately.


 
September 25, 2007

– Listening to your fans is a good idea, but I think there’s a point where you have to make decisions in the best interest of the game, even if they’re not popular. CEVO announced Season 7 of their Counter-Strike 1.6 league, and I think they’re on the wrong side of the issue. The community supports a “first to 16 wins” scoring system – the match stops when one team reaches sixteen rounds. CEVO’s adopting that for this season. But “Rounds For” has always been a part of the tie-breaking system for playoffs, and it’s part of CEVO’s CPI calculation (they use the margin of victory, but RF is obviously a part of that) which adds more factors for a (hopefully) better tie-breaking system. Given unbalanced maps, playing to sixteen is going to throw that off. Nuke is a heavily CT-sided map. If one team starts as CT and dominates, then gets a couple early T rounds, they could win 16-2, no problem. And if you played that match out, it might end up 17-13 or 18-12. That’s a huge swing in rounds. Faster matches are nice, but I don’t think it’s worth the trade-off.

– The CPL has been busy, and they announced the 2008 CPL Winter event. Which is strange because we don’t have information on the 2008 Summer event. But hey, whatever floats their boat. The strange part in the announcement is there will be professional and “semi-professional” tourmaments. Is “semi-professional” a euphemism for a BYOC?

– I never really understood the big deal behind card games like Magic: The Gathering. I thought it had two fatal flaws: it was really freakin’ expensive, and you had to hope the nerd to person ratio where you lived was high enough that somebody else loved Magic as much as you. I’m not sure that was a huge problem, but it wasn’t exactly a bonus. Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) might have solved part of that equation though. They’ve had a lot of early success bringing card games online, and they’re looking to expand.

– If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the internet, it’s that the hackers always find a way. Somebody, somewhere, eventually, will hack something that was supposedly secure. People get around VAC, and even better AC clients like ESEA, CEVO, and CAL have to be constantly updated. So it doesn’t surprise me that Halo 3 was leaked, and it doesn’t surprise me that you can play it on an illegally modified XBOX 360. And as a general note, with Halo 3, CSP, Unreal Tournament 3, Spore, BioShock, and StarCraft 2, I’m wondering if I should start planning my sleep schedule (5 AM – 9 AM?) and looking into conditions like eye strain and the always popular monitor-tan.

– There’s an interesting feature on the compLAxity site (yes, I’m still using my names for the CGS franchise – that would be the LA compLexity). If you’ve ever wanted to sound off on an issue and didn’t have a platform, now you do. Let your voice be heard! And as always, you can send me e-mails about issues if you like -- I'm still hoping for a mailbag in the future.


 

I have a lot of respect for all different kinds of people. I respect Stephen King because my brain looks a lollipop compared to his. I respect Chuck Norris because of his internet fame.

(Just kidding, I respect him because he could beat me to a pulp using nothing but a fingernail clipping.)

But, there are a couple traits I respect more than others, and one of those is being able to take criticism and not instantly hate the person that criticizes you. I admire this because I often have problems with it, myself. It’s hard not to take comments personally.

With that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when Mark Dolven from the Carolina Core contacted me about an interview. Although I’ve tried very hard to differentiate between calling an action stupid (letting Johan Santana become a free agent is stupid), and insulting the person (the Twins GM would be stupid to let Johan Santana become a free agent), it’s a thin line to walk and I wouldn’t be surprised if I crossed it a few times either through specific words or the “tone” of an article. Like, say, during my writings about the Carolina Core drafting Pandemic.


Melts under heat or pressure: it's not a lollipop, it's my brain!

So, I’d just like to give a big “thanks” to Mark for the interview. Not only for the reasons stated above, but because it was a pleasure to work with him on the interview and read his responses. I’ve always been a fan of 3D, so I’m not sure I can switch to the Carolina franchise. But now, at the very least, I’m a Mark Dolven fan. That doesn't mean I'll always agree with his decisions, but you can be sure that any problems I have will always start with: "I respectfully disagree".

On to the good stuff!


1) Let's get right to it. You draft Pandemic. Source fans take to the virtual streets with torches and pitchforks. You explain the reasoning on the Core website, and also in a GotFrag interview, but I thought parts of those were at odds (http://www.landodger.com/archives/20070729-174838.php). Third time's a charm, once and for all, playing for keeps (please feel free to insult and debunk my previous article): Why Pandemic?

Mark Dolven: My opinion on why I really drafted them has changed and evolved since the draft completed, but it has stayed pretty true to the original reasons. Did they have a better chance than some of the other teams because I had built that team? Of course they did. Were they drafted only because of that? Heck no. Coming into the Draft, I had analyzed a few things from the combine and one of them was that the Counter-Strike Source results had been nothing but inconsistent and extremely tight to say the least. Even the undisputed #1 team in the land, Complexity, didn't win the combine. There was no consistency across the board at all in the CS:S results from the challenges to the actual combine. Because of this, I dropped CS:S to my very last priority and draft pick. With that in mind, I knew that my options would be Pandemic, United 5 or a source based team. I knew that JMC and EG would go early and while I may have liked to have one of those two teams on my franchise, it wasn't worth giving away a higher draft pick to do so. 

So the decision came down to one of the two 1.6 teams that I really had grown fond of or a Source team. At the time (my opinion has evolved since), I wanted nothing to do with a Source team just because the CGS was going to be a new breed of pressure and stress, so I needed an experienced group of players. None of the source teams lacked skill, they were all very good and still are, but I didn't think I had time to lose matches simply due to cracking under the pressure or stress. So the choice came down to Pandemic and United 5. The world revolted when I went with Pandemic, but there's nothing I can do about that. At the end of the day, I went with my gut feeling and it said take Pandemic. Each team had their respective strengths and weaknesses, so I was forced to draft by instinct. United 5 really interviewed well and showed a lot of character throughout the whole process, but I decided to go with Pandemic mostly because of their untapped potential in Source, combined with their world class experience. I also thought they would be easier to manage than a new team, but my opinion has since changed and it has been quite the opposite. The CGS is a whole new ball game and I've had to change my management style to evolve with it and this hasn't been received as well as I would have liked it to be. I think if I had the decision, I would still choose Pandemic, but one of the hungry Source teams that was on the board would have gotten a better look.


2) The Core's Source team went 5-7 during the season, and the community latched onto the thought that Sam "devour" Chamma was carrying the team. How important was he to the team's success?

MD: Sam played well almost all season in Los Angeles, but more importantly he was the most consistent player. We ended up losing because of our inconsistency as a team (13-5 blowout in this format? Common), but I wouldn't attribute this too much to Sam. Of all of the gamers that were apart of CGS, Sam was one of the few that kept to his normal daily routine of sleeping normal, working out and not falling susceptible to all of the distractions that the Players' Village created. Inside the game, Sam was very important to the team's success because he is one main AWPer. Sam is one of the best in the game, but in Source no matter who your #1 AWPer is, they are the most important player in the game. If you have a poor game from the person that should be leading in frags, you'll lose. Fortunately for us, Sam took his professionalism serious and he put in the time he needed to in order to dominate the CGS. He almost single handily dominated Complexity and won a 1v2 to defeat 3D New York, so you can't negate his important on those facts alone. He wasn't the only reason for our success, but definitely a huge one.  The fans should gravitate to him, he's a great personality and player.


3) The Finals didn't go well for the Core CS:S team, but they're off to a 7-3 start in CEVO including a couple wins over fellow CGS teams. Did the team do anything special to stay focused on CEVO after what I'm sure was a bitter end to the CGS season?

MD: The success we're having in CEVO is a product of having more time with the game. We are one of the more active teams in the community and didn't waste much time after the CGS was over to get back on the horse. We have the World Championships to prepare for and finishing well in CEVO is a great start to this. I've had the guys take it very seriously and it has paid dividends as we currently sit in third place. We really didn't do anything special, just took it serious. That's not something I can say for the league as a whole.


4) Unlike the other franchises, the Core had their own practice room. It seemed like that was a definite advantage; who came up with that idea, and would you be surprised to see other franchises copy it?

MD: We were very lucky to have our own practice room and it was mostly because Peekay called in some favors to some former sponsors. This room was a huge asset to our team and really helped the team push their skill week in and week out. I think that things like this are definitely the future of the CGS and professional gaming. I would not be surprised to see us build a full training facility in Charlotte in the next couple years because this is the big time and we need to treat it as such. I think a lot of franchises will do something similar in the future, but I don't claim it to be an original idea, so I expect them to do so.


5) In the big picture, the Core's first season was a success; you finished second in Region 1, and earned a berth in the World Championships. Are there definitive dates out for that, and have the Core players already started (or continued) practicing?

MD: The World Championships will be in December with 12 total franchises in attendance. The specific dates haven't been locked down, but it should be after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas. The Core players really never stopped practicing after the season was over. Offbeat Ninja and Mystik have been extremely active and will actually be heading to a tournament this weekend to compete. The CS team has obviously been having some good success in CEVO due to their practicing and the PGR duo has been putting in time daily to keep up their speed. The wild card of our team has definitely been Peekay. After a rough first season, he could have rolled over and just collected his check, but he has actually done the opposite and become the most active member of the team. He puts in hours and hours of practice into FIFA and is determined to not let us down at the World Championships. He knows that the International players are incredible at FIFA and our success and championships run starts with him competing and sneaking in some victories.


The key to the Core's success might be peekay, but I think we all know the key to success for a different pk -- a penalty kick.


6) The CGS scoring system has come under fire as being unfair. The championship game is actually a good example: the Core won three of the games by wide margins (including a convincing win by the much-maligned peekay), and only suffered one big loss, but the Chimera took home the title. Is there a feeling among the GMs that the scoring system needs to be reworked?

MD: When I joined up with the CGS and they told me how they were going to work the four games together for a franchise match, I was shocked in excitement. This really is a great format and I never imagined this is how it would be put together. With that being said, it is a new format which will mean that there's no way it can be perfect in the first season. We are committed to this points system and setup for the duration of the this season because if it were changed it would lopside people's draft strategies and direction. I think the PGR scoring system needs to be reworked to 4-2-1 (instead of 5-3-1) to make it a maximum +5 to fall in line with the DOA games. Overall as a whole though, I really like the system and the new fans from TV definitely liked it. I don't think there is a problem with losing 3 games out of 5 and still winning the franchise match. It definitely puts emphasis on every point, every goal and every round which is nothing but great for the sport.

In the finals, it hurt that we lost even though we won three games, but in the first CGS match ever we won by only winning two games and then also did the same thing to knock the Optx out in the first round. Being on the wrong end of it in the finals sucked, but what goes around, comes around.


7) There isn't much information out about next season. Can you confirm the rumor that CS:Source will be an individual draft? Will all the players (not just Source) from this season re-enter the draft pool, or is there a way for the franchises to retain their stars?

MD: I'm not 100% sure on what the format for the next season is and we just started entering our planning stage for the 2008 season. The rumor is it will be some sort of individual draft, but we haven't actually sat down and ironed out the details yet because we are still in the middle of the current season. So I can't confirm the rumor, nor deny it because we haven't decided yet. :)


8) It was announced that a WoW 2v2 division will be added for the second CGS season. The WSVG uses a 3v3 format, and still other tournaments use 5v5. How do you gauge talent between the different formats, and have you started scouting teams/players yet?

MD: Well, it will be no secret that finding talent in WoW will be a difficult task indeed. Right before I left Pandemic, I recruited the WoW division for them and they ended their WSVG run this season undefeated with Four World Championships, so I think I did alright there. I may have gotten lucky, but I think when it comes time to draft WoW for the CGS, I'll use my instincts and get it right again. With that being said, it will be extremely difficult though with no strong 2v2 community currently on the tournament scene.


9) What player (or group of players) impressed you the most during the season?

MD: I could rant and rave about my own players, but I think you're asking me to pick someone outside my own franchise, so I will. The only player that surprised everyone was Coolsvilla of New York. She was drafted second to last in DOA Female and she was indefinitely the second best female by the end of the season. She practiced extremely hard and I would always see her in the practice room doing her thing. She had some inexperience and pressure issues to deal with from what I saw, but she overcame them and really played strong to close out the season. She was the steal of the draft for Geffon and I expect to see more great things out of her in the future. Other than her though, there were a lot of impressive people, but I expected them to impress, so what's the fun in that.


10) What exactly are the rules regarding CGS players/teams playing in other events – is there some kind of application or notification process? Will the Core's Source team be able to play at the Winter CPL?

MD: There is a set rules structure for CGS players to compete outside of the CGS. I don't want to go into it in full detail, but basically it's in place to make sure we know where our athletes are at all times. Pending a time conflict, our athletes are usually free to participate in any tournament they want. It just has to go through a formal application process to the General Manager who checks out the sponsors of the event, the organization holding it, etc. We want our athletes to play and game as much as they want, but sometimes we have to protect our investments and not allow them to play in competing leagues or events with competing sponsors. We have not made a ruling on Winter CPL yet and are in discussions now, so I can't give you a definitive at this time.


11) In the first season, a taxi player was only used if one of the starters was physically unable to be there (a player couldn't be "benched" or "demoted" so to speak), and all the contracts were for the same amount of money. Do you think that the GMs will have more autonomy in the future?

MD: The General Managers will grow in responsibility and power in the future, but in year 1 we were limited in what kind of rosters moves we could make. Heading into the draft, it was my understanding that I could move players down and bring players up at will, but as the season progressed, I was advised otherwise and totally understood why it was that way. It did screw up my plan to have Pandemic and United 5 play a midseason set of matches for the spot on the team if Pandemic wasn't playing well, but it is what it is. In the future I can't wait to be able to trade, cut, develop and manage salary cap. This will really add a new dynamic to the sport, but we're not quite there and ready for it just yet. Soon though, soon!


That's it for me, if you'd like to leave any other thoughts or comments, feel free to do so!

Thanks for the interview Mike, I really appreciate it. You do a great job here at Landodger and it is really one of those hidden gems of a website. To our fans, stay tuned to www.CarolinaCore.com in the next few months as we have lots of great promotions coming out in our preparation for the World Championships. Go Core!


 
September 24, 2007

– It’s a Team Fortress 2 bonanza! Yes, it’s finally here, although by this point I’ve forgotten what the fuss is all about. On the timeline of late-arriving games, TF2 rates ahead of Duke Nukem Forever, but far, far behind StarCraft 2 and CSPromod. And both of those aren’t even out yet: they’ve got move-down potential. If you’re picking up the game, here’s a helpful strategy tip (with some cursing) from Penny Arcade. Once you’ve read that, you're surely ready to play, which is good because the ESL already has a league up and running. For a beta. Does anybody remember what Source looked like as a beta game? I can’t wait to see what fun and interesting bugs are found. If you’re not ready for a league yet, or you’re just testing the waters, here are some servers from GameRail and GotFrag, and a game review by GF, as well.

– Apparently the names of the Region Two and Region Three CGS franchises have been leaked. That’s not too surprising, but there’s a very interesting article on sk-gaming that gives us a look into how the CGS reacted to the leak, namely by asking that the websites take down that information and offering some kind of compensation from the CGS. The messages on the site could be easily faked, but I don’t think that’s the case. As a side note, one of the franchise names is allegedly going to be the “London Mint”. I think that’s setting a dangerous precedent. Through karma, aren’t we basically ensuring that they’ll wildly overspend any budget they’re given? If we renamed the New York Yankees the “New York Mint”, I’d guarantee a payroll of $300,000,000. Just something to watch for. (And I’ve learned my lesson: be quicker next time, and maybe the CGS will offer me something!)

– The drafts for Region Two and Three are almost over, and here’s a list of the gamers that made the cut so far. For the CSS picks, it was strange to see fnatic left off the list in favor of EYEballers and NoA. NoA finished third in the combine behind the other two teams, and fnatic beat them in the Lower Bracket Finals. Fnatic only lost twice during the tournament, both times it was 8-10 against EYE. Just from the results, I would have gone with fnatic, but “bsL” has been around the block a couple times. Maybe he saw something that didn’t show up in the scores.

– inRage  was one of the draft hopefuls for Region 2, but their trip didn’t go as planned. Kat Hunter from the SF Optx has a good interview up with GinXTY about what happened during the event, and some insights into the teams and how well they played. Hopefully inRage can learn from their mistakes, they’re still a great team, and if they keep their heads up, I’m sure we’ll see them in competition for a CGS spot again.

– On one hand, I understand why the CPL getting licenses for Valve games is a big deal. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s the huge news people make it out to be. From what I can tell, this isn’t a broadcasting license. They’re not going to put all this stuff on TV, they’re just allowed to use it at the CPL. Judging from the reaction, people are confused about this, and frankly, it’s making me confused. But there wasn’t any broadcasting announcement as part of this, so I’m inclined to believe it’s just a deal to continue using the games at CPL events. Which is still big news, but it’s not like they’re going to be on DirecTV next week.

– The Last Resort might be the most surprising team in CEVO-P. They’re 6-3 despite playing in a league with the six CGS teams and plenty of CGS Taxi teams. And now they’ve picked up Chris "deppy" DePaul, formerly of EFG. He’s a top Source player, and considering their good start, it wouldn’t be surprising to see TLR go deep in the playoffs at the end of the season. I'm not predicting anything, but you can be sure they're getting a bump in the pwnage rankings soon.


 
September 21, 2007

If you’re wondering where the articles or coverage went, don’t worry, I haven’t stopped writing my own material. Those will resume in the near future, hopefully tonight, and I promise it’ll be the high-quality, insightful, and humorous writing that’s been missing from here in the past. We’ll also have some site changes in the upcoming weeks, as well. Stay tuned. Or, if you’re not a fan of “Tuned” from eGe, stay Ksharp.

– There’s an excellent movie making the rounds. You know him as Sam “Devour” Chamma, and he plays for the Carolina Core, the Chammalina Core, or Samdemic, depending on how you feel about that CGS franchise and their Source team. I’m not going to put a ranking on it, but it was instantly one of my favorites. The music is good, the frags are top-notch, and the editing is creative and subtle. Nothing ruins a frag movie faster than too many effects – it’s the eSports equivalent of a great movie that uses a shaky camera too often and gives people vertigo. This is a link to a lower-quality, streaming version, but it’s worth downloading the high-quality version if your computer can handle it.

– Here’s an interesting quote from a GotFrag article: “Meanwhile, Made in Brazil confirmed that it has not practiced for this event and that it does not plan on switching games to Counter-Strike: Source.” Maybe it’s just me, but if I was a GM for the CGS Region 2 (Central/South America), that wouldn’t exactly inspire me with confidence. MiBR accepted the invitation, they’re going to play in the CGS qualifiers, and if drafted they said they would become a CGS team. But still, they’ve never played Source, and that’s going to be a big disadvantage in the World Championship against teams from the other regions that know the game forwards, backwards, and blinded. I’m not predicting doom for MiBR if they get drafted, but it’s an uphill climb, and it seems like they’d rather play 1.6. Those are two concerns for any GM, I would think.

Crazy, crazy Halo 3 documentary. I really want to talk about it. I want to give you insight without making you watch the documentary. But I just can’t. I’ll say two things: it’s not about weapons, or storyline, but it deals with additions to the platform; HaloTV (essentially), and I believe some kind of level maker/modifier. I’m not sure about the last part, by the end I was too excited to pay attention, and I don’t even play Halo. But it looks fun, creative, exciting, and probably excellent for TV coverage, especially in MLG’s delayed-broadcast format. What more can we ask for in a game?

Gaming in Popular Science! There’s a ten page look at different elements of game design challenges, like water, fire, physical interaction with models, etc. This is just a link to the third page because I think it has implications to “1.6 vs. Source”, namely the “uncanny valley” phenomenon. Briefly, it says that objects more familiar to people are “inspected with greater scrutiny leading to a drop-off in acceptance as the simulated object nears the point of being lifelike.” Some people honestly prefer 1.6 models and animations to Source; maybe it’s not because 1.6 is more realistic, but because it’s less realistic. Who knows, but it’s an interesting look at the current limitations of hardware, and what to look for in the future.

– Signing on to a site for fifteen minutes because I crave some fraggin’ action? Sounds like a good idea to me. Here’s a (very) brief interview with the brains behind instantaction.com, a site designed to do just that. It’s still in the developmental phase, but something to keep an eye on if you’re jonesing for action during lunch-hour.

– I don't want to alarm anybody, but BioShock is on a new platform, and it looks amazing.

Daily Spray: CGS Edition (9/21)

Region 3 (UK/EU)

I thought fans might enjoy not paging through all the different scoreboards, sites, and scattered information. If you want to look at them anyway, here’s the Region 3 UK scoreboard from the CGS, and also the EU scores. Although I haven’t done European coverage in the past, from what I know this is basically a three team race between Dignitas, Zboard, and 4Kings for two United Kingdom franchises, and fnatic, EYEballers, and NoA for two European franchises. There are other good teams, mind you, but I think those were the consensus front-runners going in, and if they weren’t, they’ve certainly looked like the best teams at the combine. Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of the action:

UK

– Dignitas and Zboard are playing each other in the Grand Finals, with Dignitas coming from the lower bracket after a loss to Extremely Sneaky. That was a pretty big upset.

– Dignitas beat 4K in the Lower Bracket Finals to make it to the Grand Finals after 4K lost to Zboard in the Upper Bracket Finals 10-8.

– Other than the upset match, there haven’t even been many close calls for those teams during the tournament.

– There are challenge matches going on today, and Dignitas avenged their loss to Extremely Sneaky with a 14-4 pounding. That victory was tempered a little bit by an 8-10 loss to 4Kings, but Zboard also lost a challenge match, so it’s hard to say if anybody picked up ground on the others. 4Kings has probably done the best so far in the challenges, which is an interesting development given their 3rd place finish in the tournament. Should be very interesting to see who gets drafted, at this point.

– The Grand Finals are scheduled for tomorrow, and there’s been SourceTVs for all the action until this point. I wish I had known that sooner. I haven’t been able to find a scheduled time for the Finals, but the SourceTV information is “sourcetv.verygames.de:28001” (change port last # 1-8 if it doesn't work).

– If you’re interested in more detailed coverage, it seems like the best option is esreality. They don’t have a Finals time, either, but they’re probably the best bet to get one, at this point.

EU

– This is much easier: NoA, fnatic, and EYE are clearly the best teams. No upsets so far from teams outside of those three, and the field is pretty small to begin with.

– EYE and fnatic are in the Grand Finals, and they’re probably the favorites. NoA is good, but they haven’t beaten either of those teams, and the matches weren’t even that close. At this point, it seems like a lock that EYE and fnatic will be the drafted teams, in my opinion.

– The Finals are also scheduled tomorrow, but the time is unknown (again).


Region 2 (Central/South America)

– Scoreboards again for this one, and the best bet is probably the CGS site. You'd assume they'd be a little quicker than everybody else. I’m not sure if there’s SourceTV, unfortunately, but scorebots are running in #gotfrag on Gamesurge.

– G3neration X and MiBR are both highly-touted 1.6 teams, but I’m not sure how they’ll do in Source. Art of War is a 1.6 team, too. Personally, I think inRage has a huge advantage because they’re just more familiar with the engine, maps, and any other aspects of the game. It’s hard to say how many rounds that's worth, but I think they’re a good bet to get drafted or at least make the Grand Finals.


 
September 19, 2007

– Organize a parade, I updated the Source rosters!  They really needed it, too. It was starting to get dusty in there. As always, if you have rosters tips, corrections, or a set “starting lineup” to send in, please do so! It’s great to get help from the community for that feature.

– One reason they needed to be updated is Hyper’s recent moves. A couple players went inactive, and they picked up remix, roby, and Foerster. I’m not ready to call this the best Hyper lineup ever, but it has oodles of potential. Hyper was clearly a top-three team back when it was NightFall, badappleS, Foerster, Tuned, and Shredder. They have two of those players on the roster now, and remix is a top-notch player, much like NightFall. All they need out of roby and Moffa is good, occasionally great play like they got from Tuned and BA back in the day, and that's certainly not out of the question. This could be a top team in the very near future. Good luck to them!

– A while ago, Pandemic picked up Forbidden as their CS:S team. During the original CGS draft, a lot of people felt Pandemic (the old team) was less qualified than the new Pandemic (Forbidden). But, as we all know, Pandemic got drafted to be the Core, and Forbidden didn’t. Now Forbidden is Pandemic, Pandemic is the Core, and they played each other in CEVO. It didn’t end well for Pandemic, but the Core improved their record to 7-2 in CEVO-P. The draft memory still stings a little, and we’re left wondering if another team could have done better, but we should still recognize the Core players have done well for themselves. They have wins over 3D, Optx, Pandemic, and Turmoil. Their only two losses came to other CGS teams: the Chimera and Venom. No matter how you felt about the draft, they were still a respectable 5-7 during the CGS regular season, and they’re off to a hot start here. (As a heads-up, their 6-2 matchup against coL might be #1 vs. #2 in the standings.)

– I mentioned in the first Daily Spray that if there was really a market for Quake, a league or event would pick it up. I didn’t know it might happen this fast, though. There’s a forum thread on the CPL site trying to gauge interest for adding Quake to the Winter CPL event. DaHang, one of the top North American players, expressed his support there. I’m not sure what the tournament would like. It might end up as a BYOC, but a $10,000 BYOC tournament is much more attractive in a 1v1 game where you don’t have to split the prize with four other guys. Personally, I think the threat to Quake isn’t a lack of tournaments, it’s another FPS like Unreal Tournament 3. If q4 isn’t an established tournament game, it might end up being replaced by a newer title. That’s what the community should worry about. But somebody is going to pick up a 1v1 game, it’s just a matter of time. (By the way, if you’re a CS player that hasn’t watched q4, I recommend it. The action is intuitive, fast, and flows well due to respawning. You don't even need knowledge of the maps.)

– Jack Thompson: GTA4 character? Apparently so, at least in “parody” form. And to the surprise of nobody, he’s not very happy about it. Anybody else think this could turn into a running joke, like killing Kenny in South Park?

– The MLG is picking up some of the slack for the WSVG, which won’t be able to honor their purchase of approximately 35% of the floor space at the IDG World Expo Los Angeles event. Throw this in with the possibility of CPL picking up Quake, and maybe the gamers won’t suffer as much from the WSVG’s closure as people feared. I certainly hope not, and so far we’re off to a good start with not penalizing gamers for a situation out of their control.

– Very good interview with Exodus, formerly of JMC, and current member of the Dallas Venom CS:S team. It addresses a wide range of topics, even burnout, which is probably the biggest killer of eSports careers in the 16-24 demographic. I think anybody that plays a game year-round will get burned out, even players in the NFL, the NBA, and MLB. It’s part of the reason why there are dedicated offseasons. How long until eSports players can make enough money during the season, and actually give themselves a break during the summer, or winter, or anything? Hopefully not very long, because it would go a long way towards keeping our favorite players in the game.

– NY3D has a feature going about the new CGS GMs. Let’s face it, even if we’re familiar with all the North American scene, we probably couldn’t have named the Singapore GM before those contracts blew up in his face. So I invite you to meet Sujoy Roy, a GM for one of the two London franchises. Quick notes: he’s 33 with a Master’s Degree in Physics from Cambridge, and quit his (high-paying) job at JP Morgan to pursue gaming. Now that, my friends, is dedication. Welcome aboard!


 
September 18, 2007

– I find it hard to believe that World of Warcraft II was even a rumor. Why would Blizzard put out another MMO game when their only competition would be … Blizzard? Their big incentive is money, also known as subscribers. Considering how fanatic most people are about the original, I don’t think there would be enough time in the day for people to play two versions. They’d either stick with the old version or move onto the new one. Essentially, if Blizzard ever did release another Warcraft-based game, they’d only be shifting money around, not necessarily making more of it. It makes much more sense to keep adding content to their current game than put all that time and effort into WoW version II.

– Mmmm … Starcraft 2 videos … good for the gamer’s soul. As a casual gamer, I’m not sure which I’m more excited about: SC2 or Spore. Competitively, it’s still hard to say how good SC2 will be, but Blizzard has generally had success with class balancing, as shown in the original and WarCraft III. I’m sure it will take some tweaks, but the game looks incredible. It seems like they took a bunch of gamers and just brainstormed for weeks about new units, capabilities, buildings, everything. A Terran Command Center that can hold five SCV’s for a new expansion? Another unit that can switch between walking (ground assault) and flying (air assault)? Me likey.

– An old name in Counter-Strike, zEx, shut down operations. The name is retired, although I’m sure somebody will try to cash in on the brand somewhere down the road. Big team names almost never die, somebody will come back with one original member and call it zEx again, just trying to get publicity from the team history, which goes back as long as I can remember. Rest in E-peace, zebra Extreme.

– If you’ve ever wanted to flame the GotFrag Source coverage, now is your chance. All you need is a CAL forum account and some choice words. Personally, I find it interesting that the post is found in the CAL-Invite Source forums, and not on GotFrag. I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t ask the people that actually read their material where they can improve. Sure, most people on the CAL forums look at GF, but don’t you think it’s better to go straight to the source (pun intended)?

– The USA representatives for the WCG Finals are set. I see some familiar names on there; Ch0mpr from PGR, KreeganBG in FIFA ’07, and Black Mamba in DoA4 are all CGS players, as well. There’s a huge list of games, as well, including Gears of War, Command and Conquer 3, Age of Empires III, Need for Speed: Carbon, and even a Tony Hawk game. They’re also playing 1.6, but not Source, which is an interesting choice. It’s an international tournament, so we’ll see what the effect of the CGS is on 1.6 gaming. I recognize the players on the 1.6 team, but it will be very interesting to see how they fare against the top European squads. Good luck to everybody at the WCG, and go USA!

– Not much to report here, but the CEVO 1.6 season is over, and the champions have been crowned. And they’ve also been “announced” by CEVO, which is a little strange. Don’t champions announce themselves by beating everybody else?

– Depending on how you feel about Promod, either the Great Counter-Strike Reckoning of 2007 is upon us, or this is nothing important. CSP confirmed that their open beta will take place at the end of the month. There’s no specific date, but I’m sure people are very excited to try it. Like most people, I’ll give it a try, but I’m still not convinced it’s going to be anything more than a super-CZ – 1.6 with better graphics, and no real market or lasting popularity.

Call of Duty 4: competitive game? How many first-person-shooters can competitive gaming hold? I’m not sure, but I do know that before the hype over CoD4 started, I thought CoD2 was the newest version. But apparently Call of Duty, The Third is out there somewhere. If you look at interviews from Game Developers, Studio Managers, and people in similar positions within the gaming industry, it’s clear they’re aware of the competitive community and what it can do for a gaming title. More and more, it seems like they’re designing games with eSports in mind, and that can only be a good thing for the community.

– The online qualifiers for the Newegg LANfest 2k7 are starting, and the Source bracket is a complete mess. Most online qualifiers aren’t a big deal, but these have prizes, and more importantly, a guaranteed top-5 seed at the LAN for the top three finishers in the online qualifiers. In the single elimination bracket, Hyper, Gravitas (zomblerz), Turmoil, eGe, and GRev (CGS taxi team) will have to play each other before one of them can even place fourth. On the other hand, the group with Eximius has only one or two teams that could even “scare” them. Nothing like getting the good matches out of the way early, I guess.


 
September 18, 2007

As if the previous post wasn't enough, the XFX page uses the wrong word in their voting system. When you click on "vote for me", a new window pops up with the text, "To insure fair votes, please insert the letters and numbers shown in the image."

To be fair, "insure" and "ensure" have the same definition, so under the most technical standards, it might be correct. But in that usage, "ensure" is clearly a better choice. And to answer your questions: yes, I'm willing to resort to technicalities if it makes me seem grammatically superior.

This post also serves as foreshadowing for an upcoming LANDodger article. You'll just have to trust me.

Tags:
LD News, XFX

 
September 18, 2007

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been challenged like this before. I’ve gone through winding puzzles in the Twilight Princess edition of Zelda. I’ve tried to bring sanity to eSports forums (some PG-13 language). And one time, I even destroyed a moon-sized monstrosity with nothing more than one torpedo and two plucky droids. Those were all minor trials compared to figuring out the XFX voting system.

Let’s go back in our story. The XFX challenge finished up a while ago. Teams competed in LAN centers across the country, and then the winning teams from those smaller tournaments played each other online. But even that was just a preliminary tournament for "XFX’s super pimped out rockstar tour bus" (their words, not mine) – which is an almost exact replica of the Madden Nation Bus, including touring around the country with the possibility of players being replaced through 1v1 challenges at each stop. That’s a better idea in a 1v1 like Madden than a 5v5 game. Sure, Kobe would beat almost all comers, but even Corey Benjamin and Sebastian Telfair look good playing one on one. The original squad is determined by fan voting – also known as adding together all your friends from MySpace, Facebook, and various forums.


He's fast, he can score, and that means he can beat most players 1 on 1. He's also not with Portland anymore because he stinks.

When I heard that the voting was re-opened after they fixed some kind of glitch (or removed votes gained by “cheating”), I planned to see who was eligible and form some fun rosters. Maybe a “sure to get into fights” squad, a team with no CGS players, the best players regardless of their situation, etc. Just looking at a bunch of different angles.

That plan was quickly scrapped after I took one look at the voting page. Sorry Gree, Fernandez, Rich, Noel, West, David, Michael, Steve, Allen, D, and the rest of the crew. I have absolutely no idea who you are, and apparently XFX doesn't feel like doing you any favors

Some players are pretty easy to figure out. There aren’t many people named “Nowakowski” running around. But “Frank” in 5th place? Could be Costanza, for all I know. He's slightly overweight and angers easily over trivial things -- sounds like a gamer to me. The only reliable way to figure out what name goes with which player is too look at all of their accomplishment and hope they list the rosters like Joe "dubs" Wishnia did. (He also ended up changing his name to Joe Dubs, which gives him a clear advantage over everybody else, to be honest.) Kevin, in 5th place, didn’t list his rosters. I’d like to believe that’s because he’s actually Kevin Spacey and doesn’t want to be bothered. When I checked the page a few hours later, Kevin was gone, further supporting my hypothesis on his true identity.

Plus, there’s no rhyme or reason for how they were listed: some people are listed by their gaming handle, some are listed by their first name, and some by last name. This is a problem when you have two excellent players with the same last name, like Csikos and Csikos (which sounds like a Greek law firm). There’s one player simply known as J. I’d investigate further, but … hey, who the heck are you? Why are you pointing that thing in my face?!

All these people competed at the tournaments. They all had to register with at least one website. Would it really be that hard to get their full names, along with their gaming handle?

Wait, I take that back. It turns out not everybody in the voting got to play. The Gromblerz are represented with the little “VOTE FOR ME” bar next to their “awaiting photo” picture. Not only am I looking forward to seeing what Misty, Random Picture King, uses as his photo, but I think it’d be great if they got elected to the bus as a team and purposely tried to make the worst product possible. I'd suggest literally not saying one word. I’m pretty sure any show would tank if the main characters didn’t talk but couldn’t leave. After the way the XFX accepted their application then turned them away at the door after they already paid for flights and other travel expenses, it would warm my heart to see that happen.

Then there are the group pictures. Which one of these three people is Corey, exactly? And if you really want to play dumb, I think it’s admirable that Josh was secure enough in his manhood that he’d put up a picture of himself in what looks like a pink dress, while climbing the back of another man. (Obviously, we know which one is really Josh. But still, some other means of identification would be nice in the large pictures.)

But wait, there’s MORE!

Some people have votes but don’t have a “vote for me” option. What happened here? I wasn’t aware XFX was using Diebold machines. But seriously, if you’re going to have any kind of poll, shouldn’t all the options be eligible for voting? When I go to a restaurant, I expect all the items on the menu to be real offers of food. I really wanted to vote for David, Jon, John, Craig, and Dan. I think they’d make a good team, even though I don’t know who they are.

And, lastly, I think it’s safe to say they could have run the poll for a couple days, and then gotten rid of the hundred or so contestants that didn’t have any votes. I’m sure it’s nice to say that you were tied for sixty-fourth out of about two hundred people, but when sixty-fourth is last place, well … it might lose some of its luster. Most of the players are just taking up space and either don't care about the voting or wouldn't accept an offer on the bus due to work or school, anyway.

Overall, I rate their theory, preparation, and execution as a two out of ten. But, I thank them for the comedy and after the problems in the tournament (more on this in a future post) and the ridiculousness of the voting, I’m looking forward to a Tour Bus that seems destined to end up as a train wreck.

(By the way, I voted for the Williams with 130-something votes – he’s jaywizzle from GameFrog, and he’s LANDodger approved to be friendly and skilled.)


 
September 17, 2007

When I first started the blog, I had a “Week in Review” section that got dumped faster than … well, I don’t know if anything has been dumped that fast. It wasn’t a bad idea, I just decided to focus on other things at the time.

But, everything old is new again. I’m bringing back the feature, only this time it’ll be updated daily (or whenever possible). Basically, I’ll hunt down a bunch of interesting stories, happenings, and resources for people to look at, adding my take and making fun of things whenever possible.


– I’ve wanted to mention this for a while, but never got around to it – there’s a “Digg.com” for eSports now. It’s called tehwire, and hopefully you’ll find some LANDodger content on there in the near future. I encourage everybody to sign up and give a thumbs-up to what you like (especially if it comes from here, wink wink).

– Since the CGS uses Source and the WSVG just folded, there’s an even bigger hole in the 1.6 community. What used to be a game full of big name organizations and players has been whittled down as organizations and their sponsors move to Source. I wouldn't call 1.6 dead yet, but I'm not sure what the market is anymore. The best teams left, the biggest leagues dropped it. Even if it IS a better platform (which isn't a given), the WNBA didn't have much success marketing their "better fundamentals" or more "pure" basketball. Des1re from Check-Six addresses some of those points in a quick interview with GotFrag. But I’m not sure exactly what he wants to do with my faith – it sounds kinda creepy.

– If you want to head to the Newegg Lanfest, but can’t pay for airline travel, all you have to do is get first place in their online qualifiers. It wouldn’t surprise me to see more events do similar promotions; part of the problem with tournaments is purely financial, not a lack of interest. The benefit from having the best gamers attend is probably worth a few sponsored airline tickets.

– What have the CGS players been up to in the offseason? I can’t speak for all of them, but Ch0mpr has been dominating PGR at the WCG USA competitions.

– There are American Starcraft players? Who knew? I’ve always wondered about the American Starcraft scene, and GotFrag has provided a look at some of the WCG competitors.

– By now, you’ve heard of the news regarding the WSVG. Their closure was definitely felt more in the smaller communities, especially Quake and WoW – the WSVG was the competition for those titles. I’d assume that if there’s really a market for those titles, they’d get picked up somewhere. It's not like the actual fans leave when a league drops the game. The fans are still there, it's just a question of whether there are enough to attract new leagues/sponsors. But at the same time, you can’t discount how much it could hurt their respective scenes. Chris Lemley from Pandemic tackles the issue from an organization’s perspective in a GotFrag interview, and there’s a rundown of the effects on Quake and the (apparently numerous) mistakes the WSVG made in their actual broadcasts.

– I went in with very low expectations, but I found the “vlog” for Swoozie from compLexity to be quite entertaining. It’s 11 minutes long, and they’re playing a game that looks like pure genius.

– On a related note, here’s a clip of Method from 3D going to work on the Gromblerz (Gravitas, formerly known as Zomblerz). It’s stuff like this that really make me wonder about 3D – I still feel like they have too much talent for that 6-6 record in the CGS. Maybe it was just a round here, and a round there. Maybe they haven’t clicked yet, for some reason. Or maybe I’m just overestimating them. Whatever it is, the video is still nice.

– I’ve wondered how the CGS is going to handle new versions of old games, especially, say, FIFA ’08. Will they automatically use it as a competitive game, even though it might shift player values? Will they give it a test run before using it as an official game? It’s hard to figure out how they’d balance league continuity with updated material, and that even goes for CSPromod. I’m still not sure to that answer, but if you want to know about FIFA ’08 itself, an OPTX writer released a helpful breakdown. It’s a good read even if you’re a FIFA n00b, like me.

– Three weeks before a big Newegg LAN, Eximius picked up Jonathan “messiaH” Hammond for the CS:S team, replacing Robbie “$tyro” Mueller in the starting lineup. I’ve been a messiaH fan for a while (LucK will have a hard time replacing him), but I’m not sure about the price and the timing. It could be an upgrade, but $tyro played when they were beating everybody in the CEVO-P Placement Tournament and also when they got second in CAL-I, taking Turmoil to the brink. They’ve been together as a team for a long time; I’d find it very hard to believe this had to do with egos or attitudes. There’s also some confusion about Mueller’s situation – he’s detagged in IRC and not in the team channel, but the official release listed him as the 6th man. It wouldn’t surprise me to see $tyro hook up with another team. The sixth player on a five-man team almost never sticks around, especially when they have CAL-I experience and say it was “very unfortunate things happened the way they did”, like $tyro did in the comments section of the GotFrag news. Regardless, good luck to all parties; hopefully everybody ends up in a better situation.


 
September 13, 2007

The statistics from the CPL Summer 2007 BYOC are up, if you didn't see the addition to the sidebar, navbar, or the notice at the top.

Enjoy!

Tags:

 

It seems counter-intuitive to call the closure of the WSVG a good sign for eSports. It was the second-biggest league (for PC gamers). Now their events and prize money have been taken away from the collective pool, and that seems like an obvious step back in terms of exposure and opportunity. No more WSVG-run events, and (this might be the worst part) no action scheduled for CBS, a network channel which is much more inclusive than the cable-only CGS broadcasts. If you want a good recap of the events leading up to the cancellation, check out Midway’s work on GotFrag. It sums up where the WSVG started, where they ended up, and a little bit of how it happened.

So, the second biggest league closing its doors has to be bad, right?


Midway, seen here on a football field.

I’m not so sure. Their departure is certainly a shock, but it might be a sign that eSports is heading in the right direction. Basically, when you read Midway’s article and the official WSVG press release, it seems more like they got forced out of eSports. That's a sign of better competition winning out, not incompetent leadership costing players and teams more opportunities.

There might be lessons that eSports organizers need to learn here, but doesn’t it seem more like something bigger and better came along? Some of the crucial staff left for the CGS. The CGS got broadcasting rights for Counter-Strike. And they were going to add a WoW division, which means they’d be taking players from the same pool as the WSVG – and let’s face it, people were going to take the guaranteed salaries. Not to mention that WoW is huge, but Arena, the competitive aspect, isn’t there yet; it’s still very young. Guitar Hero II and Fight Night 3 are minor titles.The WSVG couldn’t feature the biggest game, and, more importantly, they didn’t have the best players and were about to lose more of them to the CGS.

I can’t stress that last part enough. Name me one league that has thrived without the best players in any sport. Nobody watches the MLS. Arena football is actually exciting to watch, but nobody cares about it. XFL? NFL Europe? WNBA? When you're talking about the talent level in a league, second best just isn’t good enough. For an example closer to home, think about the hit that CAL took in popularity when the premier CS teams went to CEVO.

With all that taken into consideration, it’s not surprising that the WSVG couldn’t maintain its previous success. But I don’t think it was because they were mismanaged, per se. I don’t have the inside scoop or anything, but to me it seems more like the CGS came along and did everything the WSVG did, except better.

Isn't that really the goal of competitive gaming? To be united under one league? We’re all looking for one major league to take the spotlight, give out player salaries, have totally autonomous GMs that can give out any contracts they want, call up players from a player-development system, and have an All-Star game, a World Series, and e-Super Bowl. Those things just aren’t possible when two entities are fighting for the same space and the same players.

So even though I have extremely fond memories of WSVG Kentucky in 2006, and the Summer Invitational, which were both extremely well run and exciting, I think the WSVG’s closure might be a sign that eSports is heading in the right direction.

(And only time will tell.)

Tags:
CAL, CEVO, CGS, CPL, WSVG

 
September 12, 2007

Remember back when Mark Dolven, General Manager of the Carolina Core, drafted his former team? I think you do. It’s hard to forget how outraged everybody in the Source community was. It’s probably one of the only times when the community stopped flaming each other to focus on a temporarily larger issue.

If you thought that was bad, look at what the Singapore GM, Chris Soh, has been up to.


Summary:

  • Sometime before the official picks, Soh talked to various gamers and “strongly hinted” that they should “give back to the community” by signing a contract with his company, the Singapore Gamers’ Association (SGGA). In the SGGA sponsorship program, contracted players must give back 50% of their winnings to the company – this would include any prizes and salary accrued during CGS play.
  • The Titans (CS:S) cream everybody during the combine, culminating in a 10-4 and 10-5 win over XtC in the finals. Compare that to the average margin of victory for CS:S in the Region 1 action, which was just under three rounds.
  • Lavelynne (DoA4 F) beats Cindy 10-2 in the Finals, and Cindy “according to the players that were at the event, did not use holds.” From what I know about DoA4, in terms of impact, that’s roughly akin to not using certain grenades in CS:S.
  • XtC and Cindy both have a contract with SGGA that they signed prior to the CGS competition, and they get drafted despite being obviously, and in the case of XtC, admittedly inferior to the players that beat them. The official reason for not drafting The Titans was “unsportsmanlike conduct.”

  • Back when I was a kid, these things really meant something. Nowadays ...


    This is just the basic summary, and as bad as it sounds, it’s even worse when you read the full account. The player stories are way too similar to be a coincidence, a misunderstanding, or incompetence on the part of the GM. Even the contracted players think (anonymously) that something is wrong. There have been some shady organizations, unscrupulous people, and terrible business deals. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something that’s so obviously ridiculous and under-handed.

    So, how do we fix it?

    First of all, it’s hard to gauge things from the CGS’ perspective. Did they know about the SGGA before the combine, and if so, how much about the contract were they aware of? Did they not look into it enough? Were there concerns raised beforehand, from the community or within the CGS, about Soh’s character? There are too many questions and not enough answers to assign blame. Personally, it’s hard to imagine a situation where they’re completely innocent, but we also don’t know what they’re guilty of, if anything. It could be negligence in checking his background, it could be incompetence from dismissing the issue out-of-hand, or it really could be nothing. We just don’t know.

    And that’s fine. To be honest, even if this specific incident could have been prevented, they won’t be able to catch everything. The NBA didn’t weed out Donaghy, and they didn’t prevent an under-the-table deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Joe Smith. They found out, but they didn’t know ahead of time. The MLB had collusion, and you can be sure there are college recruiters across the country breaking, or bending, recruiting rules. When a person is truly committed to doing something like that, it’s hard to stop them, no matter how much power the league has.

    Luckily, in this case, there is a solution to preventing the problem. The issue here is that the players don’t have any leverage. This is, obviously, more than a CGS problem – it’s something you see everywhere. Check-Six had a big scandal, there are more shady GSPs than I can even remember, and even whole tournaments have refused or been unable to pay the players what they “won”.

    You hear all the usual comments from players about suing, threats of physical harm, and warnings to the community, but somebody is always going to fall for the same tricks, even from the same people. The scammers will work on their sales pitch, somebody won’t read the CAL forum thread, and the whole process repeats itself over and over. The problem is that once we get to the “oh my god, we got screwed” stage, nobody really knows where to go from there. And if they do know where to go, I’m not sure if anybody feels like getting a lawyer and taking an entity to court for your cut of $1,000 is worth it in terms of time, effort, or even money.

    Contrast this with other professional leagues, where every suspension and fine gets appealed. If somebody even thinks about treating the players unfairly in baseball, I think the MLB Player’s Association knows about it and files a protest. I’m convinced that they’ve got pre-cogs working there. And they're so dedicated to the players, I think they’d protest a suspension for genocide if they thought they could the penalty reduced from “infinity” to “infinity minus one game.”

    eSports needs a player’s association.

    Right now, nobody is looking out for the players. It’s a free-for-all, even in the CGS. Don’t get me wrong, it’s in their best interest that the players are taken care of and treated fairly, just like in any other professional organization. But at the same time, their first priority is the health of the league, and the players are only part of that equation – along with sponsors, the franchises, partners, etc. If players think they’ve been unfairly punished or mistreated, do they have any way to contest what’s happening?

    I don’t know everything (read: anything) that’s in the CGS contracts, but if we look at Singapore, I’m not sure that they do. Or at least, it’s not enough. Supposedly, players talked to the CGS representative there, and got a cold shoulder. Steven Yong was at the draft on behalf of the CGS, and here’s another quote from the GGL piece:

    “[Yong] had a hands off approach saying he has no idea about this, that its [sic] none of his business,” says The Titans captain, “and that it was up to the GM to run the team. I felt that was really unprofessional considering the integrity of a CGS franchise was at stake.”

    It’s clear that the players needed more leverage. They were completely at the mercy of Soh, and the problem wasn’t that he was incompetent. He didn’t draft the runners-up because he didn’t know any better, he drafted them because it was a better situation for him and his company. It was simple; play ball or go home.

    A player’s association could have brought this to the league’s attention or even prevented it just by being there. And that would have been a very good thing for everybody, including the CGS.

    Tags:
    CGS

     
    September 11, 2007

    Every once in a while, people get into funks. They don’t always have obvious sources, either, like getting dumped or being fired. Sometimes a small funk falls from a clear blue sky like a laser-guided pile of bird poop. (Yes, birds have laser-targeting now.) I’m not sure why it happens, but I don’t think I’m the only person it happens to.

    For me, one sure-fire way to get my mojo back is thinking about people. And I can’t think of a better source of interesting people than eSports.
    I realized it sometime during the CPL. Not sure when, but I think it’s one of those things that you “know” immediately, only it takes time for your conscious mind to figure it out; like when you feel uneasy, then turn around and find somebody is staring at you. What struck me at the CPL was how fundamentally “different” everybody was, and how it didn’t matter at all.

    To be blunt, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a more diverse group of people. There were preppy-looking guys, and there were jocks. There were obese people, skinny people, short, tall, white, black, asian, Hispanic, and I think, briefly, I saw a Purple-People Eater in the crowd. There were so many different styles and personalities, it’s a wonder more fights didn’t break out.

    I think that’s a product of the medium we frequent: the internet. Even one of the most clichéd questions – a/s/l? – doesn’t ask for sc (skin color) or e (ethnicity). It’s a lot harder to place importance on those things when you can’t even see a person. That void gets filled by valuing other aspects, like how fun the person is to play with, and how mature they are.

    So really, I just want to give a general thank-you to everybody I met at the CPL. Not only because it was incredibly fun to meet everybody, but because it was also an eye-opening experience. I’m not naïve enough to believe everything above holds true for everybody, but at the same time, I didn’t have any problems with any of the people I met. Even remix, who probably has one of the worst reputations within the community, was nothing but friendly and respectful.

    So, to everybody that was there: thanks. I hope we all meet again soon.

    Tags:
    CPL

     

    In case you missed it, I updated the Source Rankings today, and I posted about the 2007 CPL Winter event. Feel free to read those, but for now we’ve got Brad Dick, owner of the Eximius organization in the Interview seat. I was originally going to sit down with him at CPL, but I was running around like a headless chicken, and Brad was kind enough to postpone the interview.

    After exchanging some e-mails, it's finally ready. Enjoy the interview, and good luck to Brad and everybody at Eximius!


    1)
    Before we get to the serious stuff, given the community we call home, I can’t help but ask about your … how do I put it … “unfortunate” last name. Have you heard all the jokes already, or does somebody slip in a new one every once in a while?

    Brad Dick: To be honest, I have heard them all. My name is not unfortunate, I am proud of my heritage, and where I come from. Next question!



    Brad Dick takes LANDodger to task for insulting his heritage. I didn't mean anything by it, I swear!
    2) You made a team for the CPL in an attempt to raise the prize pot. What was your CPL highlight as a player?

    Brad Dick: My highlight as a player was me killing Pr0D and Remix in the same round. They rushed me middle on de_dust2 in attempt to go to the “B” site but I took them down with my AWP. We somehow still lost the round, guess my brother could not take them down! But for serious, I honestly did do that for the good of the community. Some say Brad why do you do this for the community when most of them flame and hate you? My response is always those who do not know me, hate me. They love to join in on the “Let’s hate Brad Dick bandwagon.”  Younger players do not come to appreciate things that you do. For instance, my radio show, “Armageddon,” It brings me little revenue and little publicity. I do it for the enjoyment of the community, the Counter-Strike Source community is the only community that has something like that where you can call in and ask questions.


    3) You’ve gone through the process of picking up a Source team quite a few times, now. What are the qualities you look for in a team?

    Brad Dick: The biggest quality I look for is the application. If you can show me on paper that you take the time to fill it out, be serious about it, then I will take you seriously. I do not know how many times I have had teams come up to me and say, “Brad Dick when you want to win CEVO-P hit me up.” Then when I ask those players to please fill out the application, the majority of them blows it off or just does not care. I applaud those teams that do not think they are too good to fill out paper work. To those who think they are too good to fill out paper work, get used to it if you ever want to be in the Championship Gaming Series.

    Of course I look for how good the team is, if you’re not CEVO-P then I really do not take a lot of interest in your team. CEVO-Main gives me and Eximius Sports no publicity at all. Gotfrag covers CEVO-P exclusively, when was the last time you saw them cover CEVO-Main and CAL-Invite? Maybe a year ago….

    When reviewing applications I let my brother look them over as well. He is not as familiar as I am with the Counter-Strike Source community. I do this so I do not become bias; when Mike looks over applications and gives his input then I go to him and tell them how good I think the team is.


    4) Your current Source team (formerly known as recKoning) has a reputation for being online, and there were certainly some loud detractors at the CPL BYOC. Was that a distraction for the team?

    Brad Dick:I like distractions; my team needs to learn how to play under that type of pressure. Our goal is to get them to the Championship Gaming Series. They may have some fans in the back taunting them telling them they are horrible, that’s just sports! When Mikey “phatts” Spitaleri was taunting my team during the Electronic Gaming Evolution match I loved it. Was I sad that they lost in a close match? Sure, I was disappointed but not mad. That match made my players better; it taught them to stay focused. Some say I am quite the motivator. I guess I get that from coaching wrestling and baseball in real life. With my motivation I help keep them focused.


    5) Everybody at the CPL BYOC probably heard a Brad Dick clap or two. Do you see a noticeable difference in their play when you’re rooting them on?

    Brad Dick:Oh my goodness yes, I promise you ask any top team if it makes a difference when a manager is clapping and cheering you on. My yelling and screaming even throws the other team off focus a bit.



    It's a good thing we don't have these at BYOC. They'd either explode or give everybody an epileptic seizure, like anime.
    6) Do you think that kind of energy gives you an advantage over quieter teams, or does it depend solely on how the players react (some people live off the crowd; some people try to shut it out, etc)?

    Brad Dick:Well, I feel that if any team has enthusiasm it helps. When my team arrived at the airport I told them to start thinking of different chants. They were like, “Chants!?” I told them that chanting rallies your team and makes the other team lose focus. A manager standing behind a team brings enthusiasm, confidence, and energy itself. Being in eSports the past eight years I have seen enthusiastic managers like Jason Lake, even passive ones like Mark Dolven.

    Both managed incredible teams and both are incredible managers. Mark Dolven can be passive because he had faith in his team; if you have that you don’t need to yell as much. Jason Lake has always been passionate in everything he does; so enthusiasm is best for his personality. I try to compare myself to the great managers in eSports and try to learn as much as I can by observation and talking to them.

    I met Mark last Winter CPL for the first time. Jason and I have not spoken face to face; although would love to meet him or have lunch with him one day. When I first became a manager I was more the relaxed type, I was still somewhat loud and enthusiastic, but I felt that I needed something a little more. I began wearing suit and tie similar to Jason. People come up to me and say, “Why are you trying to imitate Jason Lake?” I simply reply, if more managers would do what Jason Lake does by dressing in a tie, eSports may get bigger than what it already is.

    My energy is electric! I get it from my coaching; I pace up and down the mat during the match because I am nervous. I guess my pacing is how I cope with my nervousness; I do it while I manage as well.


    7) Where will Eximius compete next, both online and on LAN?

    Brad Dick:Good question Mike and you know to be honest I am not quite sure. Our guys are going to probably be at the NewEgg LAN in October, from there they are going to try and go to DigitalLife. I know they are going to be competing in the qualifier. After that Winter CPL, I have not though whether I want to take a second team to that event or not. After Winter CPL our complete focus is the Championship Gaming Series Qualifiers. As for online our main focus is CEVO-P. 


    8) You’ve gained quite a bit of experience running an organization, and I’m sure you’ve had more than a couple bumps along the way. What advice would you give to anybody looking to start an organization?

    Brad Dick:The biggest piece of advice is don’t let yourself get down when you lose a team or two. You have to keep pushing through it. The reason why I think Eximius Sports and I have been successful is that I do not let it bother me when a team is released or leaves. It only strives me to get better. I have applied that throughout my entire life; when someone told me I could not do it, I got it done. Another thing that I encourage you to do if your making an organization is don’t lie to teams. That is horrible for you, your organization, and to eSports in general. I have seen so many organizations say they will give thousands of dollars to teams and then leave them out to dry. If you do not have the money on you to give then do not offer it. That is probably my biggest pet peeve about organizations these days. When I go to a team I tell them what I got, and when they will get it.


    9) If you could pick one player (excluding current Eximius members) to build a team around, who would it be?

    Brad Dick:You know, that is a difficult question and it is almost impossible to answer that. There are so many good players out there. If I did not mention you then I am sorry, I have not met every single person in the Counter-Strike Source community, although one day I hope I do. But the two people I would build a team around are Steve “Sasquatch” Csikos and Grant “Griff” Hall. Both are extraordinary people and great players. Steve is a great leader, and keeps his team on task. Grant impressed me from the moment he said hello to me at the Summer CPL. His handshake was firm and he said to me, “It was a pleasure to meet me.” In the eight years that I have been in eSports I don’t think I have more professional guy than him. If we had more people like these two in eSports I promise you that we will go far. Instead we have more people who like to get on forums that spend their nights ranting, raving, and spamming.


    10) Last question: The first part of the CGS is complete, and we’re waiting for the other regions to finish up their play so the World Championships can start. How do you think Region 1 went?

    Brad Dick:I think region 1 went great. As for Eximius Sports we did not have very good luck. We had Team Definition at the Buy.com LAN; they did not do to bad. After the release I felt I could put together a lineup that would do well and make into the Championship Gaming Series. When I put one together, it fell to pieces because of egos.

    But as for the Championship Gaming Series Season I, there was nothing better. They did everything right from the lights, to the cameras, to the interviews and videos. They hired incredible help with Craig Levine, Mark Dolven, Jason Lake, Alex Conroy, Kat Hunter, Brian Flander, and Dave Geffon. All of them have great experience and I am excited to see who they bring on next season. The World Championships in November is going to be something that we will never forget. I envy those who are in the Championship Gaming Series right now because they are making history.

    We need to remember that the Championship Gaming Series is the pinnacle of eSports. We need to continue to support it as much as we can. I for one whether apart of it one day or not will continue to support what they are attempting to do with eSports.

    Last but not least, I would like to thank the Eximius Sports sponsors. I would like to thank my friend Phillip Hagan Wicket for being our first sponsor. Most of you have seen our shirts and at the top our shirts say, “In Memory of PHW.” Phillip passed away this past March, I love you my friend, rest in peace. But most of all I would like to thank God. He has given me a great life, he is pulling me along this crazy dream in eSports and only he knows what tomorrow lies.


    Quick Thoughts from LD

    - I usually give extra thoughts about the interviews, but it doesn't seem appropriate here. I'll just leave it at this: everybody here at LD is sorry to hear about your friend, and we hope he's in a better place now and you have many memories to cherish.

    Thanks again to Brad for the interview, and I think we'll have a couple more in the near future. Until next time!


     

    Everybody get off the tracks, the Munoz train is comin’ through! Toot toot!

    It’s been stuck in the station for a long time. New trains came out with fancy things like air conditioning, friendly conductors, and gamer-friendly double-wide seats. Even if you came in on the CPL train, if you’re a professional gamer, chances are you abandoned it months ago. This culminated in the $10,000 Source BYOC tournament, which was the smallest bone ever thrown to a large community of people.


    Sobering Thought: if The Bell was a 2007 show, Screech would be a competitive gamer; Dustin "scr33cH" Diamond.

    The worst part is that the Source tournament was the highlight of the event; the BYOC would have been almost totally deserted if the Source teams weren’t there, and World in Conflict and F.E.A.R. didn’t really carry the day. Putting those games at the forefront would have been like making Screech the lead character in Saved by the Bell. Some things are better left in a supporting role.

    By adding two versions of CS and Halo 3, the CPL Winter looks like it’s back on track. Finally.

    Halo 3 is a big deal, but the CS situation is more interesting. Not only will both versions have a seprate tournament, but the winners get to play each other at the end. They’ll be playing on Dust2, Nuke, and Mill for both versions, and the winner is determined through the match scores.

    You don’t run into this situation often, but it’s both a great idea and totally meaningless. Most great ideas have some kind of noticeable impact. Fire was a great idea. Even small things like Post-it notes were a great idea. The tournaments are going to create a ton of buzz, and for that it’s a great idea. The CPL needed something to breathe some life into it, and as first steps go, this is excellent. The problem is that it’s just a grudge match. There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Which means more to professional gamers: first place at a $50,000 tournament, or an ensuing match worth absolutely nothing played against a team that doesn’t even play the same game? Think anybody will practice on the other engine with even the smallest chance that it would cost them an important round in the Finals?

    You see the problem.

    No matter what happens in that final match, it won’t even begin to solve any of the issues plaguing the 1.6 and Source communities. If the 1.6 team wins, they’ll say 1.6 teams are clearly better because they beat the Source players. In this case, the Source community will talk about how the games didn’t mean anything, the Source teams didn’t practice 1.6, it doesn’t matter because the CGS uses Source, etc. There would be variations of the same argument if a Source team won.

    If people are looking at this exhibition for definitive proof or evidence about which game is harder, which players are more talented, or anything along those lines, they need to keep looking. It’s going to be one set of matches between two teams with nothing on the line except pride. And they’ll both have just finished earning the real prize. It’s the virtual definition of a let-down game, like when the Bulls get a hard-fought win against the Pistons, and then inexplicably come out flat the next week and lose to a laughingstock team like the Atlanta Hawks. You build yourself up for the big games, and sometimes that means a small setback in a winnable match because you’re not mentally prepared for it.

    So, I’ll be more interested in the real tournaments from a competitive standpoint, but that doesn’t mean the exhibition won’t be fun. I’m 100% sure that I’ll enjoy watching it; I just hope people take the match for what it is: a single exhibition match with nothing but bragging rights on the line. And I’ll be avoiding the GotFrag forums for a couple days, or else I might get an aneurysm because I think 90% of the posters won’t bother with such details as sample size and motivation.

    As for the event itself, now we just need to get the CGS teams to show up and hope nobody minds flying on Christmas Eve.

    (Whoops.)


     
    September 7, 2007

    New Source Rankings are up! These reflect the action at CPL, CAL Season 8, and the beginning of the CEVO season.

    Enjoy!


     
    September 2, 2007

    Congratulations to Pandemic on their CPL championship! It was a long road back from the lower bracket, but they prevailed over Turmoil 13-9 on Inferno, and 13-11 on Nuke. It was a great tournament, and I'll have a more in-depth look back in the near future.

    Placings:

    1. Pandemic
    2. Turmoil
    3. eGe
    4. zomblerz


     
    September 2, 2007

    Prematch quote: "it's gay time" -- cheekz (Turmoil)

    Map: de_nuke, Turmoil starts CT side.


    Round 1: Pandemic tries a quick upper strat that results in two kills for sauce and KwicK on defense. 1-0 Turmoil.


    Round 2: Turmoil's defense couldn't hold a hard outside strat that resulted in Pandemic going down the vents and planting in the lower site. It was a quick loss for Turmoil. Score: 1-1.


    Round 3 was the same basic strat, but instead of taking it down the vents they went down the back stairs from outside. The results from there were the same, and it's 2-1 Pandemic.

    Sauce comes up with a big clutch on the fourth round after Pandemic planted upper during a 2v2. Turmoil needs to keep holding the sites , Nuke is heavily CT sided and they can't afford to give up too many rounds.

    The defense is holding now, and Turmoil's getting some momentum with the score at 6-2. KwicK got an AK and promptly had a three-headshot round. Turmoil's CT communication seems a little off, they've had a couple problems with coverage.

    (Sasquatch nade kills himself, but Turmoil is up 8-3.)

    The match heads into the half at 9-3 with more defense from sauce and cheekz at the upper site.

    Second Half:

    Pandemic picked up the first two rounds when Turmoil tried an upper rush and an outside/upper split, but they fell in the third round on a hard ramp rush. It's 2-1 for Pandemic, and 10-5 Turmoil overall.

    paradox picks up three deagle kills to put Pandemic up 5-1, and Turmoil drops another round on an upper rush. It was 10-9 when Turmoil picked up a round on a half save by going ramp and planting lower. Two more rounds for the win.

    Turmoil had a little success at ramp earlier, but they tried going back to that and Pandemic held strong. It's down to the last round, Turmoil needs to win to tie, Pandemic is up 12-11.

    Pandemic takes the last round for a 13-11 victory!


     
    September 2, 2007

    Turmoil vs. Pandemic (de_Inferno)

    Lineups

    Turmoil: cheekz, sasquatch, KwicK, Funshine, sauce
    Pandemic: Juan, n0it, paradox, Mustang, Griff


    Turmoil starts off their T side with a slow push towards banana, they got it down to a 3v3 after two kills from cheekz, but Pandemic only loses one more player on the retake.

    Second round has the same result, but Turmoil tried a split A. Juan got an early kill from balcony area, and Turmoil never seriously threatened the site.

    In the third round, Turmoil was slowly moving towards B again but Pandemic forced the action by pushing mid. That resulted in an advantage for the Ts as they got two kills and moved into the A site. They got the bomb planted and got their first round win. 2-1 Pandemic.

    Huge clutch from Sasquatch in the B site. He won a 1v2, which seems to be a Csikos specialty; cheekz has had two or three of them just today and yesterday. He got an entry kill for a big 3-kill round, which brings the score to 3-2 Pandemic.

    Another slow B strat saw Pandemic pick up a round, which was surprising because Turmoil got two quick entry kills. Mustang and Juan got two kills a piece on the retake, and Griff picked up the last kill and the defuse. 4-2 Pandemic.

    Pandemic's defense has picked up after they dropped those two rounds early. Their rotations have been good, and Turmoil's really struggling to get into the sites. That's ordinary for Inferno, though, and the match won't get very interesting until Turmoil gets a chance at CT side. They're going to pick up rounds on CT side of Inferno, it'll just be a matter if they squeaked out enough on T side to get them a victory.

    Turmoil picks up a much needed round on a B split to end the half 9-3 in favor of Pandemic. Inferno is so CT-sided, a win isn't out of the question and it's almost guaranteed to be a close match.

    Second Half

    Sasquatch comes up strong in the banana site after Pandemic picked up an entry kill at A. They looped around through CT spawn and split banana, but cheekz made a good rotation following them and they picked up the round when time ran out. 1-0 Turmoil.

    Pandemic took B site through a middle/house split and picked up the second round, but Turmoil shut them down again on third. Fourth round brought a return of the CT spawn/banana strat for Pandemic, and this time it resulted in anothe round for Pandemic. It's 2-2 for this half, and 11-5 Pandemic for the overall match. Turmoil needs to win out to get the victory.

    -- They're off to a good start after picking up the next two rounds. Pandemic faked B and tried to hit A, but they stopped the real attack easily and picked up the cleanup kills. Next round was a save rush at banana, which Turmoil killed easily.

    (Sorry, I got a little distracted, cheekz started singing a Dido song while he was waiting for the round to end. He seems relaxed, though.)

    Pandemic picks up the round after the musical interlude when Juan and Griff won a 2v3 at banana site, and the best Turmoil can do now is tie. 12-9 Pandemic.

    The match ends on the next round after another successful plant at banana, final score is 13-9 for Pandemic.


     
    September 2, 2007

    We're underway! Pandemic scores the first round on an outside split, with paradox picking up the last two kills from under bomb train.

    Sasquatch comes back with a big 4-kill round outside, floating between outside and middle; sauce picks up the final kill to even the score at 1-1. Sasquatch did the same kind of thing to Eximius on Trian during the CAL-I finals, if Pandemic wants to take outside, they MUST take him out.

    Pandemic comes back with a fast inside strat on the third round, and picks up an easy bomb plant after entry kills on Funshine and cheekz. They tried the same thing fourth round, but Turmoil picked up the entry kills and the strat was totally shut down.

    Pandemic switches strats again to outside, and scores an entry kill on Sasquatch. Sauce picked up the slack with two kills, and cheekz had a big 1v2 clutch to secure the round and push the score to 3-2 Turmoil.

    Turmoil picks up an easy win in round 6, and round 7 saw Pandemic do a half-buy to the inner bombsite. Solid defense by Funshine and a good rotation from Sasquatch results in a 5-2 overall score for Turmoil.

    I'm not sure if Pandemic will keep switching their strats, but they're definitely mixing up hitting inner and lowre. They're switching off every couple rounds, but Turmoil's held strong so far after the first few rounds. Round 8 saw another switch from inner to the outside site, and Funshine clutches a 1v1. 7-2 Turmoil.

    After another round for the CTs, Pandemic finally secures their third with a fast strat outside. They pushed sasquatch out of ladder/middle, got penetration into the site and time to set up a good defense for the coming retake. It's 8-3 Turmoil now, with Pandemic about to pick up another round on a similar outside strat.

    First half: 8-4 Turmoil (CT)

    Sauce picks up an entry kill on Juan at the upper site by bunnyhopping down the hallway, then he quickly dropped to lower and picked up another entry frag on the other inner player. The rest of the round played out well for Turmoil, and it's 2-0 this half, 10-4 overall.

    cheekz picks up ANOTHER clutch round in a 1v2. He didn't score both frags, but he made paradox pull off the bomb and he didn't have time to finish the defuse after killing cheekz. It's 3-0 Turmoil, Pandemic has to start picking up rounds. Their backs are already up against the wall, and Turmoil has all the momentum.

    Pandemic picks up a couple rounds, the latter on an outside strat that saw three people from Turmoil at the back of the outside bombsite. Griff flanked from ivy while Mustang rotated from CT spawn, and picked off the bomber's support players. Cheekz killed Griff after blinding him, but couldn't turn to get mustang fast enough. 3-2 Turmoil, 11-6 overall.

    Turmoil gets their 12th round, and they forced Pandemic into a bad money situation. It didn't get them the next round though, even with their opponents on a half-buy.

    Turmoil picked up their last round with sasquatch getting the last two kills at the inner site after a bomb plant. It was a good victory, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see a rematch in the Grand Finals.


     
    September 2, 2007

    The time is almost upon us when one team will stand over the smoking corpses of their fallen opponents. Their battle cries will be heard throughout the LAN(d), and their legends will rise to near-mythic proportions among their fellow gamers.

    Hey, a guy can indulge in hyperbole once in a while, right?

    None of those things might happen, but considering the amount of talent at the LAN, and specifically in the final four teams, winning the BYOC is still something to be proud of. Three of the teams were drafted into the CGS as taxi teams, and the last team (eGe) beat Eximius and inRage.

    On with the predictions!


    Upper Bracket Finals – Pandemic (#1) vs. Turmoil (#3)

    We’ll finally be able to see if anybody can touch Pandemic. So far, nobody has had much luck. Hyper and n3mesis put up eight rounds against them, and that’s been the highest total. With the #1 seed, their team history while under Forbidden and verGe, and their performance here, it’s clear they’re the favorite to take home the big prize.

    But if anybody can take them down, it might be Turmoil. When the Laurita Effect is at 100% capacity, they’ve got a dominating AWPer. KwicK, sauce, and cheekz know how to handle a rifle, and if Sasquatch can get them in the right frame of mind, they’ve got plenty of talent to make it out of the Upper Bracket.

    Sadly, I don’t have time to go into more detail than that. Train is going to be a great map for these guys to play on, and I expect some great AWP battles between Funshine and n0it. In the end, I think pandemic has been a little hotter. Gamings Elite took Turmoil into overtime on Dust2, and I think Pandemic is a little stronger.

    Pandemic > Turmoil 13-10


    Lower Bracket Finals – zomblerz (#6) vs. eGe (#4)

    I hate to repeat myself, but I think we can all agree this will be an excellent match, too. The zomblerz fell to Eximius in overtime, and eGe pulled off a 13-10 victory. I’m not sure who will win, but I’m sure whatever happens, the zomblerz will do it while bunny-hopping. I don’t know if they’re trying to market bunny-hopping lessons or what, but they do it everywhere, going forward or backwards. So if you want lessons, those are the guys to talk to.

    While you’re there, you could get a rifle or AWP lesson, too. When the zomblerz are hot, they’ve been dominating. They beat inRage 13-2, g3 13-5, and No-Namers 13-2.

    eGe, on the other hand, has struggled with some teams. They got beat pretty well by Pandemic, they barely got by inRage and Eximius. I’m going to give this to +} based on the strength of schedule, but either team could take it

    +} > eGe 13-11


     
    September 1, 2007

    Well, I know as much about HTML as I know about surviving in the wild. I've seen a lot on TV, and I don't really know how to do any of it.

    Instead of putting up the bracket in the nav bar, I'll just make a post and link to it. I could probably update the nav, but the risk of turning the site into something like #RJK@:RJI# VR@#(#@*@*#*#*@*****DFJSLKFJKL:J@.

    Not pretty.

    Here's the bracket.

    UPDATE: Bracket added to sidebar!

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    Before I go any further, let me make this point abundantly clear:

    HYPER IS NOT DISQUALIFIED

    There was a dispute after their match with the zomblerz for using an illegal config. I’m not going to bog you down with details, but basically some people watching the match noticed that something was amiss, notified an admin, and we’ve just finished sorting everything out.

    Hyper had asked an admin prior to the zomblerz match if they could edit their configs for improved FPS. There was a miscommunication which led to Hyper adding illegal commands, and that’s what started everything. It’s worth noting that this only affected the match with zomblerz, before that, Hyper was using the same (legal) configs everybody else was using.

    After talking to pretty much everybody with any say at the CPL, there were two options: disqualify Hyper or replay the match after changing Hyper’s configs back.

    Zomblerz chose to have great sportsmanship and agreed to replay the match. I’m not going to say whether it was right or wrong for them to do so, but in the end the playing field is going to be level. The best team will, theoretically, still advance, and that’s a pretty good outcome from a sticky situation.

    Tags:
    CPL, Hyper, zomblerz

     
    September 1, 2007

    Zomblerz vs. Hyper – Zomblerz dropped their first match, and now they’ve only given up four rounds in their two lower-bracket matches. I think they’re a lot more comfortable now than they were at the start of the day, and I can’t blame them considering it’s about 20 degrees in the BYOC area. My coke turned into a slushie, and there’s talk of removing the admin platform and making a bonfire.

    Just kidding. But the zomblerz are on fire.

    Hyper has been a little up and down, struggling against the good teams but dominating the mediocre ones. Unfortunately, zomblerz is definitely a good team, and I think Hyper's CPL will end here.

    +} > Hyper 13-9


    carNage vs. Eximius – Say what you will about Eximius, but they’ve been playing well in the BYOC. They took Turmoil to three maps for the Invite Finals, and they knocked down the zomblerz to the lower bracket.

    carNage came out of nowhere to win their group and advance to the double elimination tournament. They haven’t done quite as well since then, but they’ve been above and beyond your average pug like Superman is above and beyond me. The 13-2 loss to g3 is scary, and I think Eximius is closer to that level than they are eMg, who took carNage to the brink of elimination in Round 2.

    Eximius should be able to pull off the win and end a great tournament for octanE, kosei, ritter, ginXTY, and godson.

    Eximius > cN 13-9


     
    September 1, 2007

    Just so everybody is clear and can see the results, eGe beat inRage 13-11 after the replayed matches. Help me prevent unnecessary questions; spread the word.

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    After looking at the SourceTV, talking to the teams, players, and I think even the Pope, there’s finally a decision on the match.

    After looking at the demo, there wasn’t any action during the tenth round yet. Teams were still setting up, no shots had been fired, and there was already lag on the server. Therefore, the match is going to be started on the tenth round of the second half.

    First half was 8-4 in favor of eGe, and second half was 6-3 for inRage at the time. So we’re starting from 11-10 with eGe leading, and both teams will have $16,000 startmoney.

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    This was a great move during Group Play that I didn’t find time to write about, but since the network is down, I’ve got nothing but time, baby.

    It happened in the match between the zomblerz and n3mesis on Mill. Brawwwr was in a 1v1 with fmy, who had been, arguably, n3m’s best player for the first two matches. The bomb was down in B near the box in the middle of the site, and both players had an AWP and knew where the other guy was. Brawwwr picked up the bomb and was dancing around the box.

    Then he did threw a flash which blinded himself.

    On purpose.

    While he was blinded, he backed out of the site, and bunnyhopped over the railing to flank fmy. Brawwwr scored the frag before he his vision had totally cleared, and fmy was just moving up to see what was going on after he had been blinded by the same flash.

    From the viewer’s standpoint, it was totally incredible. Since you’re not navigating, you have no idea where the player will go. I expected him to go for the plant, and needless to say when the flashbang wore off and he was at back hall, I was a little surprised, along with the other dozen people spectating.

    And thanks to the flash, that’s the best move I never saw.


     
    September 1, 2007

    The problems with the servers resulted from the DHCP server going down. I’m not good with these kinds of issues, but from my understanding, at that point every computer hooked up to the network tries to contact the server, clogging the works like flushing a whole roll of toilet paper. Hence all the lagging.

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    Alright. I need to make this post because I can’t answer everybody’s questions individually. This is how the various situations have been explained to me.

    SourceTV

    SourceTV isn’t working because the network isn’t configured properly. Even though it can run on the servers, nobody can connect. I’m not sure if it’s a firewall issue, or a general settings issue, or what. But basically, the people here in charge of the network, reps from GameRail, can’t fix the problem. The guy that can fix it is in St. Louis, and I don’t know if they’re trying to contact him or what. I’m sorry to say it, because if I was trying to watch I’d be as upset as everybody else, but I’m not sure if they’ll be able to fix the issue tonight. I’ll post any new information as soon as we get it.


    eGe/inRage

    The eGe/inRage match is not final. There was a server issue during the tenth round of the second half, and both teams wanted a pause, but they were both still playing, except neither of them could shoot, but everybody died, and they had pistols, but they actually had AKs.

    Basically, the server crapped out for a round, and now we have to look at the SourceTV demo to figure everything out. The most likely scenario, at this point, is that we’ll pick up the match from the time of the server problem and replay the last couple rounds.


    Network

    The network is going to be shut down for some kind of maintenance or problem fix related to the eGe/inRage match. They still can’t fix the SourceTV because the people here aren’t able to do it.


    I’ll keep trying to get information on the issues, but right now there aren’t matches being played, so just sit tight and I’ll try to answer all your questions.

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    We’re all familiar with zomblerz nation, and there were a lot of disappointed fans  as they fell in overtime to Eximius Sports on Nuke. Anybody that wanted to see a close match between two great teams was more than satisfied.

    Eximius started on CT side, and they did a good job holding it down. Vu’s aggression outside didn’t result in as many frags as it did earliler in the day against Turmoil, but he did get a fair share of kills, and, more importantly, information about the zomblerz attack. Nobody stood out from the pack, but everybody about Eximius was solid this time; rotations, shots, calls, etc.

    It almost wasn’t enough. As soon as teams switch on Nuke, the momentum changes. Brawwwr was a lot more energetic during the second half and overtime, and heatwave had an excellent second half, but there were some winnable rounds that slipped away. badappleS had a little mishap in the vents during a 1v1 that resulted in a lost round. It was a great play ruined by a bit of bad luck. In overtime, Eximius got a defuse while a zombler was still alive, and it just seemed like the little breaks in CS didn’t go their way.

    That’s not to take anything away from Eximius. They still had to capitalize on those situations, and they did. If you’re a team playing Eximius, it’s clear you want a map other than Nuke, where Ex has a 13-11 win over Turmoil, the OT win over zomblerz, and a big win over Turmoil in CAL-I.

    The zomblerz will play the loser of Turmoil/No-Namers, and Eximius moves on to play the winner of that match. Both will take place on Inferno later in the day.


     
    September 1, 2007

    Eximius came out strong in the first half of Mill on their CT side, winning 10-2. Their aggression served them well in the Mill sewers, just like it did on Nuke outside, as they were able to get a pick on a couple occasions. Turmoil looked a little flustered again, and I think they really wanted to use the sewer in some of their strats.

    That's not a concern on CT side though, and they're mounting a big comeback. It's 6-1 Turmoil in the second half, bringing the overall score to 11-8. They can still win the match, but they've certainly got their backs against a wall.


    Update:

    Turmoil completes the comeback ... kinda. They won their CT side 10-2, forcing overtime. We'll go live in a minute, but Cheekz came up with a huge, HUGE clutch on the 22nd round. He won a 1v2 and got the defuse. It was a really tense moment -- he had just lost in the same situation a few rounds earlier. But he came through this time, and now we get bonus action.

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    Turmoil seems a little more relaxed, and Funshine had two AWP kills on the CT side of Contra, which led to Kwick saying this:

    "We're at 50% Laurita Factor."

    Seems like they're a little looser at the start, and if we hit 100% on the Laurita scale, it'll be tough for Eximius to pick up thirteen rounds.

    Second Update:

    The good-natured ribbing continues, as Sasquatch and KwicK "welcome" Funshine back into the game after he gets four-kill round.


    Third Update:

    Turmoil takes the first half 9-3, and they're up 2-0 on their T side of Contra when Funshine crashes. The match has been paused, but it's the second time that's happened; he crashed once on Nuke, too. The match will resume shortly, if anybody is wondering.


    Final Update:

    Turmoil takes the second map 13-3 (9-3, 4-0). It was a pretty dominating performance, and the third map, de_cpl_mill, is coming up.

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    There's a scorebot running in #landodger on GameSurge, but we all know there are things that don't show up in text. Here's a quick recap of things you might have missed:

    Turmoil was ice cold at the start of the match. I'm not just talking about their aim, but their communication didn't seem crisp, either. Other players might have gotten more kills, but vu was really disruptive outside, just like he was during their Invite match. He's very aggressive, and when Turmoil wasn't communicating he got extra kills, but even when he didn't push or get a kill, it always seemed like it was in the back of Turflodev's mind. It's an impact you don't see in kills, but you see in positioning.

    Eximius came out with a passion on their CT side, and they looked like a totally different team than the guys that played eGe yesterday (on Train). I'm not sure if Nuke is just a strong map for them, but they played much better and they were a lot more vocal. I can't stress the difference in attitude enough.

    Turmoil got some momentum back and it seemed like they were getting in a groove, but Funshine's AWP wasn't doing well at ramp and Eximius exploited that a little bit. They didn't always hit ramp, but he wasn't his usual dominating self and they were able to fake it or use that weakness to set up other advantages.

    All in all it was a great match, and we'll see what the second map, Contra, has in store for us.

    Tags:

     
    September 1, 2007

    CAL-I Finals Preview

    As you probably know, the CAL-I Finals are being played here, and the match(es) will start in a little bit.

    I’m not sure where I fall on this one. On one hand, Eximius beat Turmoil (Turflowdev) handily during the CAL-Invite season. On the other hand, Turmoil dominated their group and Eximius struggled against eGe, losing 9-15.

    It’s a straight up best-of-three series, and the maps will be Nuke, Contra, and Mill, in that order. Nuke was the map they played in Invite when Eximius won, but it’s hard to consider them a big favorite given the LAN play so far.

    I won’t get too into depth, but I’m looking forward to seeing the action and covering it for everybody out there in Internet-land. Here are my quick predictions based on what I’ve seen so far both during the Invite season and here in the BYOC:


    Nuke: Eximius > Turmoil 13-11
    Contra: Turmoil > Eximius 13-8
    Mill: Turmoil > Eximius 13-10

    Turmoil > Eximius 2-1

    I’m expecting a Turflodev victory, but both teams have had great seasons so far, and congratulations to both of them for making it this far. Hopefully we’ll see three great matches, and even more during the CPL Double Elimination.


     
    September 1, 2007

    All the action was done. It was done, and we looked at all the teams going on to the second round, and we weren’t satisfied. The wildcard formula was good, but still not good enough. We felt some teams were still going home too early.

    And since we figured that nobody would mind the extra action, we’re expanding the double elimination bracket to sixteen teams.

    The original plan called for the top team from each group and five wildcards. We’re now taking the top two from every group and two more wildcards, for a total of sixteen teams. We accounted for the “bye” matches in the same way, we just added more teams. It’s going to be another day full of action, and there’s a good chance your favorite team is going to be a part of it.

    The maplist can be found on the bracket, but I’ll post it here as well:


    Upper Bracket Maps

    Round 1: Nuke
    Round 2: Inferno
    Round 3: Dust2
    Round 4: Train


    Lower Bracket Maps:

    Round 1: Inferno
    Round 2: Dust2
    Round 3: Train
    Round 4: Nuke
    Round 5: Train


    The sixteen teams, are, in order:

    1. Pandemic
    2. Gamings Elite
    3. Turmoil
    4. eGe
    5. Upper
    6. Zomblerz
    7. carnage
    8. eMg
    9. Hyper
    10. Revived
    11. Eximius
    12. inRage
    13. Brotherhood
    14. No-Namers
    15. Cyber Phenom
    16. Nemesis


    For the matchups, head to the bracket, and if you want to see rosters, I should have all these teams up on the roster page.

    As a last note, I want to thank everybody here for helping the tournament run smoothly so far, but particularly Lake, Parkhill, Shawn, and Gancorz. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do any coverage, not only because the tournament would have fallen apart, but because I would have had no idea what was going on. Many thanks to them, and good luck to everybody in the double elimination bracket!

    Tags:
    CPL


    LANDodger