April 30, 2008

I'm not sure how many people know what's happened, but if anybody was left wondering where LANDodger went, I apologize. I've been insanely busy the last few weeks.

Basically, the CGS hired me to work full-time from their office here in Los Angeles. I'll be writing for their main site, and doing the occasional freelance articles for team sites. To be honest, I don't know what that means for this little corner of the Internet. Even though I'm technically working regular office hours, being with the CGS isn't just a job; having the ability to change things and influence eSports, even in some tiny way ... most days, it doesn't feel right to leave at 5 PM, or even 6 PM. There's always something to do, whether it's something I can improve on, learn, do better, or give insight to from a gamer's perspective.

By the time I finally get home, not only do I need to do things like laundry, grocery shopping, workout, etc, but I'm usually mentally and creatively exhausted. It's the worst possible scenario for writing.

I don't think my time here is done yet. I'd be shocked if this was the last thing I ever wrote on LANDodger. In fact, I can almost guarantee that it won't be. But for now it's on hiatus. I'll try to post links for the articles I write for the CGS, but as a general rule there's going to be 3-4 entries a week, I think.

Thanks again for all your support guys and gals! Hopefully most of you have already found my works on the CGS site. If not, sign up and leave some comments!

LD News


If you haven't heard the news, three players from the CGS franchise Rio Sinistro decided to leave the global gaming league and, in exchange for an especially tasty steak, betray their former comrades by reintegrating themselves back into the Matrix.

At least, that's the conclusion I'm drawing after hearing the community's reaction.

I'm not surprised about the particular statements. By this point I realize the community is full of Source Hypochondriacs; every bump, sniffle, and cough is interpreted as a death sentence and proof of 1.6's Ultimate-Mega-Super-Perfect superiority. And to be fair, Cogu, nak, and brun0 leaving Rio's Source team isn't just daily minutia. It's an important story.

I'm just not buying it as a sign that the CGS is dead, dying, doomed, deplorable, or any other downer that starts with the letter D.

Is it a good thing? Goodness no. Losing players (especially ones with rabid fans that will, as if they were blood relatives, defend their heroes' honor on any and every forum) is never a good thing. The worst aspect is that one of the CGS' claims to fame and big strategies was to secure the best talent in their selected games. Losing three world-class CS players, including one of the best AWPers in history (cogu), is a big blow to that image.

Three Brazilians. Woah.

That being said, the CGS isn't just about Source, and it isn't just about the top players, either. We tend to lose sight of this, but the truly revolutionary thought behind the CGS isn't that the very best players make guaranteed salaries. They've been doing that for years. The revolution is that everybody gets a salary, including up-and-coming, lesser-known, or even lesser-skilled gamers. It's the first opportunity for more than the absolute elite, and a rising tide raises all boats (or some junk like that).

Besides, anybody that knows about competitive gaming on the world-wide level realizes the CGS isn't a sure thing for players outside the United States. In comparison, the chances to make a living from gaming (or covering it) are much, much rarer in North America than our foreign counterparts. There's simply more money and more opportunities abroad, especially if your micro is tremendous. Of course the CGS is going to have problems retaining players when they can make just as much money with more freedom outside the league. It's common sense.

I can't think of a better example of that point than the recent draft in Austin. Players that got drafted onto the taxi squads were crushed, pissed off, or nonplussed. "Missing the cut" was such a blow for the league hopefuls that a chance to prove themselves or be called up in an emergency was absolutely no consolation. Then you have Rio guys, who are voluntarily giving up their spots. I think that says something about the respective opportunities in gaming, don't you?

So while it is bad news, I don't think we can call it shocking. And, considering the departed will be replaced by three hungry, grateful players, I'm not sure how much it really affects the CGS as a whole. From a publicity standpoint, and in some ways even as a fan, I'd rather have three guys genuinely grateful for the opportunity with a drive to be the best than three malcontents that feel (rightly or not) they could make a better (financially or emotionally) elsewhere.

The bigger implication, for me, is how this shifts the balance even further towards the dominant Region 1 teams. Outside of the Berlin Allianz, nobody came close to challenging Chicago or Carolina during the World Finals. This is partly because of the CGS' lack of appeal mentioned above, but also because the gaming titles were simply more popular in the US, thus making the talent pool deeper.

The concern is compounded by the fact that Source looks like a huge swing game now that the scoring for racing was altered (4-2-1 this season, instead of 5-3-1 for the top three finishers), and the game itself was switched to Forza, which should feature closer races and fewer blowouts. Losing three players from arguably the most important game for Season 2 from an already weaker team doesn't bode well for Rio.

In short, I'd sum up the situation like this:

- Rio fans should be priming their panic button and hoping some fresh blood steps up.

- CGS supporters should be wary of the general situation, but at the same time realize that the CGS isn't founded on one franchise, one region, or even one game. It's a massive league. If this becomes an epidemic, then we should worry. Losing three world-class Source players isn't a step in the right direction, but it's not a sign the league is about to crumble, either.

- And, most importantly, anybody thinking about betraying somebody nicknamed "The One" should rethink their policies on back-stabbing. He can't be The One if he's dead.


I should be writing about serious eSports topics. The CGS Region 2 draft is on the horizon. There’s been more news about organizations delaying prize payments. The CGS even announced plans for the Wuhan eSports Stadium, for crying out loud! There’s some important stuff going on.

And yet all I can think about are Lee Chen’s pearly-white teeth.

Artist's rendering of Lee Chen's teeth -- notice the strangely smooth texture and white-tastic color.

 For anybody that doesn’t know, Lee Chen is the President of GotFrag. And in my defense, have you seen his picture in GotFrag’s artwork? Those aren’t human. I don’t know when he had time to visit the alien planet Bright, home of the Luminescents, but clearly they sell dentures in the gift shop.

He’s even more out of place when we look at his surroundings. I don’t know about you, but if I lived in the Wild West and saw an Asian cowboy with iridescent teeth, I’d probably run home to fetch my trusty witch-burning kit.

That goes double if he managed to speak before I fled over the horizon, and he mentioned his “Revival Tour”, which, back in those days, would surely have something to do with zombies or square-dancing – both of which destroy brain matter.

In reality, he probably isn’t an alien, zombie, or square-dancer. In that case, I can only assume GotFrag is angling for a sponsorship from Crest WhiteStrips. Remember those old commercials where kids would try to find out how many licks it took to get to the center of a Tootsie-Roll Pop? This might be an updated viral ad campaign for Crest; how many strips does it take to get your teeth to surpass 10,000 lumens? The world may never know … but Lee Chen is determined to try.

I only have one more feasible explanation. (You may question whether any of these explanations are feasible, but let’s not quibble over minor details.)

It’s a well known phenomenon that eating too many carrots gives your skin an orange tint. If you eat enough of them, the excess carotene apparently latches onto your skin like funny captions to pictures of cats, giving it an unhealthy hue (unless you want to look like a six-foot tall carrot, and then it would be a healthy hue).

Extrapolating from that, I believe Lee Chen might be eating an inordinate amount of light bulbs, resulting in his teeth being backlit like an iPod.

Of course, I have no direct proof of this, but it does stop and make you wonder.


April 2, 2008

Well. It was a fun two months over at GameRiot, but things didn't work out quite like I hoped.

I don't want to get into the specifics of the situation too much. Not only is it not important, but I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say.

(Although, if there's one thing I've learned in my time as an eSports writer, it's that secrets don't stay that way for very long. The current that powers the rumor mill is strong, indeed.)

I will say that I learned an important lesson about power and control. Namely, if you're looking into a job and somebody is selling you on a vision, or making promises of any kind, make sure they're in a position to deliver. My time with GameRiot was disappointing for one reason only: I feel like the people a few steps above my position weren't drinking the Kool-Aid. They weren't as committed to the plan as the people under them (those directly above me), and we all know who will lose that war ten times out of ten.

That's not to say I was treated unfairly or harbor any ill-will. I don't. The people I worked with on a day-to-day basis were nothing but honest, friendly, welcoming, and helpful. It was truly a pleasure to work with them for the short time. And I don't even blame the higher-ups for switching directions. It was a business decision, plain and simple. They wanted to move in a different direction -- one that no longer necessitated staff writers. I completely understand.

My only wish is that we were given more of an opportunity to build what we had envisioned. There was a lot of talent on the editorial team, and we had enough resources to make a huge impact on the community. But building readership takes a lot of time, especially when habits are already ingrained. There was no hope of returning their investment in the first month, two, or maybe even six. Still, somewhere down the road, with enough faith and patience, I think we would have gotten over the hump and been able to provide the community with something truly special.

Maybe that's just wishful thinking, but the saddest part is that we'll never know.

Regardless, I want to give a quick thanks to Stu, Slasher, Slapnuts, Kyle, Detonator, Glenn Cravens, Austin, Brad, and anybody else I got a chance to work with but am too stupid to remember. It was a fun ride; I just wish it lasted a little longer.

So, for now it's back to LANDodger. I'm not sure where I'll end up yet, to be honest. I'm talking to some people about a staff position right now, so this is probably a temporary home.

Thanks to everybody that followed the switch back and forth. I wish I didn't have to put you through the hassle but I'd rather write for LD right now.

And, lastly, thanks to everybody that left comments in my posts the last two months. The feedback is much appreciated, and I can honestly say I was really pleased with the kind of comments I received -- they were, by and large, thoughtful, honest, and always made an attempt to further the discussion, which is something you rarely see on eSports sites. You guys are the best.

LD News