January 31, 2009

I had a humiliating experience a few weeks ago and I figured I'd share. Actually, I have a humiliating experience every week. The reason I'm sharing is that this one relates to gaming.

The story goes something like this. Shortly after the CGS went the way of Mike Tyson's sanity I reacquainted myself with Source's ugly, older brother: 1.6. It's hard to remember the last time I played 1.6, but I'm pretty sure John Kerry was running for President. Either that or he was trying to win an award for being the most boring person in the world, though I suppose the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Anyway. Safe to say it's been a while, and the conditions were less than optimal. How much less? To be honest, I thought it was a small miracle that the game even ran. I was afraid that CS would interface with my laptop as well as my grandmother, considering they're about the same age. I've upgraded my computer twice since the last time I played, so my old .cfg was long gone. Not that it would have helped much, anyway, considering I've changed my binds and controls to be Source-friendly, which is not the same as being 1.6-friendly.

I'm not saying he's boring, but instead of using melatonin or listening to the ocean, some people play John Kerry speeches to help them fall asleep.

But by far the worst part was the company I was keeping. Don't get me wrong, they were all perfectly nice. The problem was that they were out of my league, and would have been so even if I was in peak condition. I was playing with an interesting mix of Source pros, 1.6 pros, and the people a level just below that -- think CAL-Invite or low-tier CEVO-P, at least.

I thought about begging for mercy. I thought about telling them to play with the opposite hand they normally would, while hoping my Jedi powers would finally manifest.

In the end, I took my beating like a man. My pride was taken to the hospital for an emergency hubris transfusion. I think NightFall was the original donor, because I had an inexplicable desire to flex in front of a camera for a few weeks after that. But I got through it all and I've emerged on the other side. Now that I'm safe and sound, I wanted to share my thoughts for anybody finding themselves in a similar situation. So here are some warnings, things you need to remember, and general thoughts if you're moving back to 1.6 from Source.

Playing at a high resolution is suicide.

I can't stress how important this is. I have a widescreen LCD. The last time I played 1.6, I had one of those CRT monitors that looks like it belongs in some kind of monitor hospital. It was huge, bulky, retained water, and was decidedly yellow. If my skin was that shade of yellow I'd probably end up on an episode of House due to liver and/or kidney failure.

Not thinking about the resolution, and already in pain from the graphical wonders of a game made almost a decade ago, I decided to run the game at my monitor's native resolution, 1680x1050. It wasn't until later, when I felt like I was playing the world's hardest game of pin the bullet on the donkey, that I remembered I was an oddball in 1.6 for playing at 1024x768. I mean, there's an option for playing 1.6 at 640x480! At that setting I believe a truly dedicated person could actually count exactly how many pixels make up every player model.

I love it when my games look pretty, but if you're moving back to 1.6, you're gonna have to bit the ugly bullet.

Playing with a high ping is suicide.

This one isn't in your control like resolution, but I forgot how much of a difference ping makes in 1.6. It makes a difference in Source, too, but I can play on UK servers from Los Angeles and still enjoy the experience.

By contrast, every time you get hit with a bullet in 1.6 and your ping is in the 70-80 range, it feels like your model starts having a seizure. You jerk back and forth, your recoil feels like you just unloaded a whole clip from a semi-automatic bazooka, and you wonder if you're ever actually going to make it behind the cover you're trying to get to (hint: you're not, and it's not much cover anyway – it's probably a box you'll just get spammed through).

After going through that, I vaguely remember feeling that back in the day a 100 ping was unplayable. Anything in the 80-100 range was horrible, and after thinking about it for a bit, the ping imbalance rule for online leagues looked a lot more useful than it has in years.

I'm sure some of this experience was me not being used to 1.6, but man … I sure didn't miss some portions of the online 1.6 experience.

Look at those options, baby! Hoooey, dat sure is a lotta pixels!

Mouse Acceleration is not your friend.

This is on me, but after not worrying about it for so long, and 1.6 having a totally alien feel, it took me a while to even recognize that mouse acceleration was turned on. I thought it was just my settings or my Internet connection being a little wonky.

Then I'd get surprised by something, try to snap to whatever made the noise or was shooting me in the back, and I'd spin about 360 degrees so I was pointing the same direction I started with. I toyed with the idea of actually raising the acceleration so I'd do a 540 degree spin and weird people out, but that seemed a little unrealistic.

Consider yourself warned. Check your mouse settings.

Everybody will be better than you at spamming.

If you're just returning after a long hiatus like I was, one of your fond memories of 1.6 is probably the spamming. I missed it dearly.

That being said, allow me to quote Admiral Ackbar when I say "IT'S A TRAP!"

Spamming was so natural in 1.6, and so foreign in Source, that the skill and everything around it slowly atrophied. The concept isn't hard, but executing it in a scrim certainly is. It's all about timing and prediction, and those things only come with a lot of experience playing. Which is not something you'll have if you've been playing Source the last three years.

Just sayin. If you're just comin' back, it's probably better to save your bullets for actual, confirmed people.

I did show those walls a thing or two about who's boss, though. Oh yeah.

Revel in the headshot animations/sounds while you can.

One thing I definitely missed about 1.6: the dinks and splooshes.

The dinks, of course, being headshots when your opponent has a helmet, and the splooshes being headshots sans helmet. I don't know what happened in Source, but they're not nearly as satisfying as they were in 1.6. For my money, one of the best feelings in all of CS is the pistol-round sploosh with a glock. Mmmm ... satisfying.

The silenced USP is more worthless than you remember – which you forgot was possible.

I love the concept of the silenced USP. And it's not so bad on LAN. But for online play you'd be better off with the knife, or even a bb gun. At least you could shoot somebody's eye out.

In the real world, silencers work by capturing the rapidly expanding (noisy) gas that comes out of a gun barrel and giving it a place to dissipate a little less violently. I think that somehow, in coding CS, the programmers did the opposite: they created a silencer that catches the bullet and lets the gas roam free, effectively creating a gun that fires highly compressed air. This explains how you can fire a whole clip into somebody's back only to have him turn around and one-shot you with an unsilenced USP.

Quickscoping should be a part of CS.

I hate the AWP delay in 1.6, but not as much as I hate the lack of a quickscope in Source. I loved quickscoping, and it makes for some incredibly entertaining shots and moments.

That's all there is to say about that.

Anybody that thinks Source players wouldn't be good at 1.6 is absolutely, unequivocally insane.

As I mentioned, some of the guys I played with were top-tier Source players. I don't want to drop any names, but I'll just reiterate the overall point: there is a zero percent chance those guys wouldn't be stars in 1.6.

The idea that Source players were failed 1.6 players or that they wouldn't be able to hang in 1.6 is one of my pet peeves. I just don't understand how people could watch players on the old teams like Pandemic, EFG, and not think those guys would be great at 1.6. To say nothing of the people just below that – guys on teams that were consistently good but perhaps not on Pandemic's level. They've all got the skills that 1.6 players have. I'm not saying they're gonna come over and dominate the competition. But if guys like n0it, juan, moe, clown, devour, and any of the other guys we consider "Source" stars switched to 1.6, they'd hold their own. At the very least.

If you see me playing 1.6, charge!

This is a public service announcement. If you want a good score in 1.6, whether it's a dm or a scrim or whatever, all you have to do is get me in the server and make sure you keep finding me. As long as you don't run in a straight line with your knife out, you should do pretty well.

This offer is good for approximately another month.

1.6, Source


We all saw this post coming. This story is right up my alley. It's tailor-made, a perfect fit, the fastball right down the middle of the plate.

Before we get to my thoughts, I wanted to aggregate different arguments across a couple forums. People have brought up good points in a few places, so I figured I might as well condense them in one place.

I assume everybody has heard about what happened, but if you haven't you should take a little time to read this post on Complexitygaming.com. Clown speaks out about the situation and, of course, the subsequent ban for cheating for him and Devour. I'm going to highlight a couple parts here that I think are appropriate, but as always you'd be better off reading the whole post.

"After everyone in #prosource (an invite channel of high caliber players from cal-I to cevo-p) basically explained to me that we have no chance, and how bad KBS cheats, and after experiencing it first hand on the first 7 rounds we played on train we realized that for us to be cheated out of 5 brand new computers that we knew they did not deserve, and everyone who knows glockateer and company(KBS) can agree with me when I say that I was sick of getting cheated.  Especially after the long 15 hour day we had the night before, with all the arguing and complications with the servers, I  talked to my teammates and we came to the decision that devour and I would try hacks for our FIRST time, no we did not cheat in the past."


"We didn't really try to hide the fact I had cheats, it was more of a statement to KBS and CEVO, I blatantly "amsged" on mIRC for cheats. After our train match when we came back and won we decided to take off the cheats for nuke, since our nuke was a lot stronger for us."


"Yes, it was a stupid thing to do, would I do it again? Yes, I would have found better cheats, because I am not sorry for what I did.  I was basically fighting fire with fire, I know they were cheating and they know they were cheating, that's the bottom line.  In result we are banned for the next year in CEVO, and I am pretty sure all CEVO events.  We will be competing LEGIT in ESEA, and any other leagues we decide to enter.  As for Sam and I personally we will be attending ETS in Montreal, Canada March 20-23rd."

I didn't have an image of clowN the player, and I know that people expect a lower class of images here ... so here you go: the freakiest, weirdest clown picture I could find.

Again, I encourage you to read the post if you haven't, but I think these catch the high points: clown admits to using the cheats, explains some of the circumstances around the match (including the delays), calls into question KBS's legitimacy (as have many others), and then sums it up.

clown also made a post on the GotFrag forums about it, which I'll post in its entirety:

"Long story short, yes we cheated in 1 cevo match ever, hence us getting caught, clueless on wtf we are doing, as for #3 rofl... cheating for a while you're an idiot haha did i also cheat in all the lan tournies i won? ur a moron, KBS the team we were playing in the finals blatantly cheats and cevo wasnt going to ban them, so instead of being victims of cheaters, we decided to do some payback... obviously I should have used the ones everyone pmed me about those 20$ a month ones, instead of free ones."

- clowN, via GotFrag forums

Now for some reactions...

Anti clowN/Devour

"wtf is with everyone supporting clown and devour?

i knew clown hacked b4 this.

since when was it cool to hack against hackers, either your legit or your ****. how do you prove a point to a hacker by hacking against them? stupidest thing i have ever heard. wouldnt you want to try and beat them legit. everyone get off clowns ****, u know what he did was wrong, everyone will get caught sooner or later, all he did was fuck himself over"

- Blue, Complexity Comment #18


"I don't think what Clown did was right at all. If you know they're cheating, you do what you can to get them banned. You fight it, you prove it as much as you can, and you get them banned.

Cheating to fight against other cheaters is the most unsportsmanlike move you can do. What good did it do? Now they're both banned until 2010 from CEVO (Arguably the ONLY league to run CS:S for 2009), so what now?

I think he should of thought before he performed his actions."

- Gillz, Complexity Comment #27


"Why all the love for clowN? To be perfectly honest you sound like a baby. A few techincal mishaps that were out of your control is no excuse for you to cheat.

And since you are so desperate to say this was your FIRST and ONLY time to cheat makes it even less believable. You're really trying to sell a lot of bullshit here. Don't care if KBS are suspected cheaters, that is ALL they are. Suspected.

Now guess what you guys are? PROVEN cheaters. Now anytime you win anything there will always be that shadow of doubt, that little astericks that takes away your full victory.

Fighting fire with fire, that is balogne. Have you ever heard of taking the high road and not stooping to their level? We can't even really say that either because nobody even has any proof they cheated or have cheated before this.

Whatever message you were trying to send was pretty weak, and it's drowned out by your own lack of character"

- mmmapplesauce, Complexity Comment #31


Stop defending cheating. "well it's okay that I cheated, cause they were cheating first! THEY WERE GONNA WIN! I COULDN'T LET THAT HAPPEN!!!!" What kind of an excuse is that? So what if they were going to win some computers. That's CEVO's loss, if you invested so much time in it, you should have continued to play or left CEVO out of spite. But cheating? pshhh..

- Ozzy, Complexity Comment #48


"In my opinion, it was wrong. No gray area here. If it was true what they claim, I can understand the frustration. That does not by any means condone cheating in retaliation. Cheating is cheating. They made a mistake, maybe some good will come of it but I think they hurt their cause more than helped. I think they would have been much better served by appealing in a mature way to CEVO and the community."

- Singlecoil, GotFrag Comment #81

Pro clown/Devour

"good. im glad they did it. after seeing Glockateer pull off the biggest BS prefire on de_season On Volcano, i have always questioned him. sam and yaz proved a good point. look at that xploD kid and how blatant he is."

- phreaK, Complexity Comment #11


"Doin what needed to be done to get the attention necessary to help cure the problem. Mad respect. Sometimes the old fashioned way doesn't always work."

- Sryinex, Complexity Comment #35


"I dont blame them to hell with it they did the right thing at there level of play your telling me KBS is rolling them? Too bad they got the worse end of the deal though."

-- :::v3ng3^, Complexity Comment #39


"He cheated the prove a point to the admins, which they didn't get. He didn't cheat to cheat, so there is a difference.

They didn't cheat "just to get back" at the other team, it was also to show the admins how poorly they were doing their job.

So, technically, you can praise their actions because it let the community know how badly Cevo is at hiring admins and stuff XD"

-- Obelisk7, Complexity Comment #47


"fair play clown and devour.. even though a lot of people are saying they wouldnt i mean come on.. all your friends getting beaten by a bunch of cheaters (which they are).. and then you having to play them with $$$ worth of equipment on the line.. i know id cheat in their shoes.."

-- d:-x, Complexity Comment #75


The comments covered both sides pretty well, so I won't add too much. Plus, nobody really wants to read 3000 words. I'll leave some of the other issues, like the effect this might have on CEVO as a whole, for a later post.

As for clowN and devour, I'm going to say this as clearly as I can: I think they were flat-out wrong.

Don't misunderstand, I also think I, and every other player in the history of online CS, has an unbridled, undying hatred of hackers. It comes with the territory. On that matter it's easy to sympathize with them because we've all been down a road where something important is on the line (be it money, pride, or something else) and felt like the people playing against us weren't sticklers for things like "rules". I think even those that disagree with their methods, such as myself, can understand the root causes.

The problem is that the ends don't justify the means. Even if they were trying to level the playing field, call attention to KBS, or were just sick and tired of playing against suspected hackers, as Singlecoil said cheating is cheating. I understand why they were frustrated, but this was absolutely the wrong way to go about the situation. If they wanted to win, they should have played it straight, and trusted in their skills and/or the CEVO AC.

If they thought that wasn't an option and they'd lose no matter what, and wanted to go down in a blaze of glory so people would look at the situation, there were better ways to draw attention to the problem than cheating themselves. Imagine if they sat in spawn for the whole championship as a form of protest? Somebody from GotFrag or Complexitygaming would still come around asking questions, clowN still would have had the chance to speak his piece, and instead of the headline being "clown and devour banned from CEVO" it would be something like "OPTX Protest Championship Match". And, obviously, instead of the story being the banning, it'd be the reasons behind the protest.

The worst part might be the answer to this question: what did they actually accomplish? Let's look at it this way. In the comments there are three reasons put forth for using the hacks, as far as I can tell. They are:

Public Interest (calling attention to KBS and the possibility that they cheat)

Protest (making a point about the tournament's problems, and CEVO's anti-cheat)

Payback (punking the people that punked you)

Even if we assume they had the best intentions in mind, in the end I think the trade-off was this: in exchange for making their point and galvanizing the people that already agreed with them, they drew attention away from KBS, tarnished the competition more than it already was if KBS was cheating, got banned, and hurt their own reputations in the minds of many by stooping to the level of the same people they were railing against.

Not so good.

January 24, 2009

As the title implies, I'm off to Florida today to do some house-sitting for my parents. No posts today, but there should be some good stuff for Sunday.

(As for not posting yesterday, you'd think that eventually I'd learn to leave myself enough time to both work and do all the necessary pre-trip chores. In this case, sadly, you'd think wrong.

Until tomorrow!



Just got done watching compLexity's CEVO-Main match against outplayed, and had some initial observations about the team.

First, let's agree not to base their potential ceiling on their first few matches. They already have a 7-16 loss to North Stars United (???) on the books, and they barely squeaked out this match in OT. It took the old compLexity a while to readjust to 1.6, and with the mixed roster of former NY3D and Venom players, they're probably just starting to lay the groundwork for all their strats and setups.

(Plus, tonight's match was on de_forge. When this team was formed, I doubt the first thing they said was "Let's make sure we bootcamp Forge so we can compete with all those dominant European teams! Yeah!")

That being said, I think people are still going to dismiss them way too early. I believe this because the CS community has a slight tendency to overreact. If they follow the old coL's path, by the time week four or five rolls around, there will be a marked improvement in some of the scores, probably dotted with some close losses, right before they make the leap and start to truly feel comfortable with 1.6 and each other. That'll happen right as the season is closing and they enter playoffs.

That's how I feel, anyway.

As for individual potential, they've still got oodles of it. You could see flashes of it from everybody with the possible exception of zid, who I thought had a pretty rough game. There was at least 2-3 rounds in the second half and OT where he was AWPing mid on Forge as a CT (think of AWPing mid on Cbble, if you don't know Forge) and left himself way too open for a kill trade or even just a death. It definitely opened up their defense, as opposed to the round he AWPed from the left site and was able to fall back to cover and racked up three kills. Over the long term I have absolutely no concerns about him, but I didn't think he was in top shape tonight.

The last thing is that most of their improvement will probably be in the small things that differentiate between good teams and great teams. The best example I can think of is one of their CT eco rounds. Sunman was hiding at the back of the left site on top of the boxes, and the bomber had just walked into the site, about to plant. Sunman peeked just a hair too early and the bomber spotted his legs, stopped planting, and picked up an easy frag.

With a few more weeks of readjustment under his belt, I think that situation plays out differently. Maybe not, but maybe I can't help but think he'd have a better feel for not only the timing of the bomber, but exactly when he'd be visible to the enemy and when to make the gamble.

All that being said, I love this roster. They've got plenty of talent, experience, and maturity. For now, we'll just have to temper expectations while they pick up where they left off in 1.6 so long ago.

January 22, 2009

Every once in a while I come across things outside gaming that are worth posting. I definitely think of LD as a competitive gaming site, but there was this great article about blogging and I had to share.

Hopefully you'll enjoy it as well.



ESEA continued its top-100 series by adding Sal "Volcano" Garozzo to their CS Hall of Fame. Thus far he's the twelfth player in the series, which is being done in no particular order.

"Volcano's impact has been significant on all of his teams. He seems to have always been that skilled but reserved player who has never been pinpointed as a major part of his team's success. With zEx people look at shaGuar or sunman's play, with tsg they saw storm and Dominator etc etc. It wasn't until he joined 3D until Volcano's real talents were fully appreciated it, most notably as despite having a stacked roster that team often underachieved and so his consistently good play was a bright spot in occasionally murky weather. As a North American it is hard to ignore a player who can finish top 4 three times in 4 years at ESWC, arguably the hardest CS competition in the history of the game."

I wanted to write a little bit about Volcano because I can't agree more with their assessment of his career. (In fact, I'd even argue that he was still underappreciated on 3D because he played with guys like Ksharp, shaGuar (again), rambo, and method, among others. It's pretty easy to be overshadowed by guys with history like that.) For whatever reason when you talk about the best players in CS history, or the best players on certain teams, he's not one of the first guys that comes to mind.

As a corollary, I firmly believe that if you look around the sports world there are two kinds of players that are consistently underrated: people that play consistently well but don't have soaring highs and crushing lows, and people that don't do much self-promotion and tend to be laid back. People without those qualities are appreciated, but it's more of an intellectual appreciation than an emotional one. Basically, Volcano is the Tim Duncan of eSports. He's one of the best players ever, and we still tend to take his skills for granted. We laud Duncan's fundamentals and value his consistency, but it's not the same as somebody like Kobe, who might go for 50 on any given night.

As for Volcano, he's quiet. Humble. He works to better the team. And while he certainly has dominating moments, and he can take over a game at any given time in the same way Duncan can, I think we naturally focus on guys like shaG and sunman, who both had iconic moments like the Shot Heard Round the World, and Ksharp/Rambo/method, who have those long, storied histories, along with plenty of skill and dominating moments.

In some ways it's a shame, and we can't forget that Volcano played a key role in all those teams. He was a huge part of their success just as he was a big reason that 3D got through a rough first season of the CGS and then blew up during Season 2. He could AWP in a pinch, call strats if necessary, hold down a site with a rifle ... guys like that are invaluable to a team because you can slot them almost anywhere and get great results, and thus you can afford to put other people in their favorite spots, the ones that really fit their playstyle, because of that versatility. If you've spent any amount of time watching him play, or maybe even watching him play against your favorite team, I'm probably preaching to the choir but I felt like it was necessary, anyway.

I'll just close by saying two things. If you look at teams he's played on there are two common denominators: success, and Volcano. And if I was starting a Source or 1.6 team from scratch, he'd be one of the players I targeted as the backbone.

January 22, 2009

- Marcus "djWHEAT" Graham's new program for complexitygaming.com premieres at 7PM Eastern tonight. The show is called LO3, and you can find a short blurb with a link to the live broadcast on Complexity's site. Have to say I'm pretty excited about this. Even if we don't always agree on issues, I'm always entertained when I'm listening to djWHEAT, and what more can a viewer really ask for?

- And if you can't get enough of djWHEAT, he's also announced a firm date for the return of Epileptic Gaming, the general gaming balance to LO3's competitive gaming focus. "The first REVIVAL Episode of Epileptic Gaming will be airing on January 30th @ 7PM EST. It will feature djWHEAT, NiceGuyEd, and Force. More information on what exactly we'll be discussing on the show will come next week." Within the story there are also some funny/cute pictures of his young son.

- Evil Geniuses finalized its Canadian roster to complement their acquisition of four former Complexity members to its American team, and GotFrag sat down with EG's owner, Alex Garfield. There's a CSPromod update in the interview, as well, and Garfield had this to say about Garett "GRT" Bambrough's absence from the Canadian roster: "We considered a number of different lineup combinations before deciding on this group of players. Garett was definitely on our list as far as potential players go, and we certainly spent a lot of time talking to him about the possibility of tagging up for EG in 2009.

At the end of the day, he decided to take some time away from the game, and that's pretty much the long and the short of it. We feel really great about the group of players we ended up with, and expect great things out of them this year."

- I have to admit I'm jealous of StarCraft players. 1.6 is long devoid of updates, but StarCraft just got another one recently. "The patch doesn't really fix anything, but offers some performance tweaks for people using low-end CPUs. Feature Changes In-game Speed Options menu now has a "Enable CPU Throttling" checkbox. Enabling this option will allow StarCraft to consume fewer CPU cycles." I believe this begs the question: what exactly is a "low-end CPU" in the context of a game that's OVER a decade old?

- As for the new version of StarCraft, a beta date has been set, though not released to the public. I, for one, have already stuck my SC2 Beta key in a safe deposit box, guarded by armed mercenaries and attack dogs. Oh yes. LD will most definitely be playing the SC2 Beta.

- For those of you not lucky enough to have a key, it's not too late.

- MoB picked up former LA Complexity player Felipe "KreeganBG" Stoyne, and I'm curious if that story makes GotFrag before the CGS. It seems like FIFA has gained some more attention recently, or maybe I'm just noticing it more, after the CGS used it as one of the games. I mean, it's not like there are a lot of FIFA fans checking GotFrag for updates, right?

- Winout.net recently interviewed Dennis "walle" Wallenberg, arguably one of the best players in CS history. (And it's quite a massive interview, so hunker before you start reading.) Among other questions, they asked him about swapping out Marcus "zet" Sundstrom for the legendary SpawN: "If zet hadn't been available, we would have continued playing with SpawN. He's a great player and a good friend outside of the game, so all of us enjoyed playing with him. His game hasn't gotten worse in anyway. Bringing zet in was more a way of getting the whole team back in shape, get everyone motivated again. I think the change was neccessary, but it could have been any one of us."

- In Source news, SXP recently won the PNY XLR8 tournament, beating Dynamic 16-8 in the Finals.  SXP had an interested roster of ridic, p0s, nickn0it, sauce, and Shaffer. It's going to be even more interesting to see how the Source rosters shake out after people are done moving back to 1.6 and reorganizing.

- There's some TF2 action happening tonight as Pandemic and iDemise fight for first place in GotFrag's invitational tournament. The match is scheduled for 10 PM Eastern time, and it'll be casted by Pwnage.TV. For more info check out this little preview and some predictions.


As the days pass, I thought about it more and there are a couple things I wanted to add to the Cyber Revolution/CEVO-P Finals discussion. Nothing huge, but things worth mentioning, I think.

Were They Alone?

There's no reason to believe that Cyber Revolution was the only team ghosting during the playoffs. As they said in their defense, the possibility of using the shoutcast to ghost for your teammates/friends was pretty much apparent to everybody. It's entirely possible that other teams were ghosting and just didn't get caught.

There's also no reason to believe that other teams were ghosting, as there's no evidence either way, and this doesn't absolve them from blame in any way, but I think we should at least admit the possibility that they weren't the only team doing it.

The CEVO Admin in Ventrilo

I mentioned this on the CAL forums as well, but as part of the forum thread, some people were pointing to Cyber Revolution's results (which were very good) with a CEVO admin present in the channel as proof they were deserving champions, or that they could win playing legitimately.

As I said there, I don't see what exactly this proves. As long as the shoutcast had the same delay Cyber Revolution and Gosu could have communicated over another instance of ventrilo, teamspeak, or even a speaker phone, and Celone, the admin, would have been none the wiser. I understand the sentiment, but in my opinion his presence in ventrilo means very, very little as a guarantee that they played it straight.

We All Make Mistakes

To be honest, this story got me more riled up than anything in recent memory. I think it was the forum thread that pushed me over the edge. It's one thing to do something morally suspect, then admit to doing it and apologize. But the way they tried to shift blame and squirm out from under the allegations just rubbed me the wrong way.

There are two points I want to make here. One is that around the time this happened, I was rewatching an episode of the West Wing when they referenced a quote by Truman Capote. I felt it appropriate, as it says, "The problem with living outside the law is that you no longer have its protection." This sums up nicely my feeling about breaking the rules (explict or implicit), then seeking their protection.

That being said, the second point is that this does not make Cyber Revolution bad people. I think they made a mistake and compounded that mistake by not accepting responsibility, but if we were all judged by one moment or one choice that ended up being a bad one, well ... not many of us would be meeting Saint Peter at the pearly gates, so to speak.

I still think it's ridiculous and nearly inexcusable, but even a halfway decent apology would go a long way towards mending broken fences.

January 21, 2009

As the title implies, I wrote a guest article for cadred.org recently. The piece is live now, so I encourage you to head on over there and check it out. It's a topic that I've wanted to address for a while now, and I want to give a quick thanks to Max and Corin (and all the readers) over at Cadred for letting me write a guest article.

Cadred, LD News


Every once in a while you come across something that makes you scratch your head and go "what the hell?" Like, for instance, somebody landing an airplane on (in?) a river. I don't think I have to explain that one, but suffice it to say whenever somebody pulls off a stunt in real life that I can't even do in Grand Theft Auto, it gives me pause.

Unfortunately, not all those things you stumble across are good. Some of them go from "what the hell" and slowly degenerate into anger, confusion, and disappointment.

How many times do you get to use an image like this? I couldn't pass that up.

This is one of those not-so-good times.

For those of you that don't religiously check the CAL forums, which seems to be the only place actually "reporting" this besides Insider Esports, there was some controversy surrounding the CEVO-P Source Finals. It was my favorite kind of controversy, too: the one that spawns a nine-page forum thread that slowly saps the reader's will to live and faith in humanity. (Although now that I think about it, I'm not sure there is any other kind of controversy in eSports.)

Anyway. Before we get any further, let's emphasize one point. This is the CEVO-P Finals. This isn't some random match between two amateur teams that have fifteen combined fans. This isn't practice. It's the last match of the season and determines, theoretically, the best team from the last ten weeks.

That being said, the situation goes something like this:

1) Cyber Revolution was set to take on the remnants of the Carolina Core (rest in peace) in the Finals. As part of the Finals coverage there was a shoutcast for the best-of-three series.

2) Gosu, another CEVO-P team, and/or Cyber Revolution realized that the shoutcast for the Finals wasn't on enough of a delay. Rather than connect to SourceTV, the shoutcasters connected directly to the server, and the delay between the broadcast and what was actually happening in the server was small enough that a spectator listening to the shoutcast could send fairly reliable information about player positions to somebody, say, participating in the match.

3) Gosu and Cyber Revolution also happen to share a ventrilo server, and during the match players from Gosu were clearly watching the broadcast and ghosting for their vent-mates. There's a recording of part of the match, but it doesn't take long to see how egregious the ghosting is. Rod Blagojevich couldn't have made it any clearer. For instance, at the beginning of the round and before anybody playing in the server has called the bomb, one player from Gosu says, "They're just doing the default, bomb's just sitting in B tunnels again." Oy.

4) Eventually, word gets back to CEVO about the ghosting and they make a ruling. The match was overturned and Cyber Revolution was removed from the playoffs.

5) After that, things get even stranger. CEVO reversed this decision, instead forcing Cyber Revolution to forfeit one map in the best-of-three and replay the other two maps.

6) Cyber Revolution ends up winning CEVO-P.

There's so much absurdity here it's hard to know where to start, but let's talk about the two main parties involved.

CEVO and their decision

To be brutally honest, as a fan of Counter-Strike I'm pretty pissed that a team can blatantly cheat in the Finals, be caught in said act of cheating, be deemed cheaters by the league, and still end up winning the CEVO-P Finals. If one of those guys had turned on a wallhack for one second and the AC client detected it they'd be gone with no questions asked. But because they didn't use a wallhack to know the locations they shouldn't, they can do it for a whole match and not only do they avoid a ban, but we're supposed to, as fans, celebrate them as the best team in the league? How does that make any sense whatsoever?

For my money, it doesn't.

Not banning them, or at least removing them from the Finals, compromises the integrity of the whole league in the same way that the steroid era continues to haunt baseball (and individual players), and HGH is the bane of the NFL. What does it mean to be the best team when the fans, the people the whole league is actually built around, can't trust that the best team is actually more talented or even played better? Competition without the assurance, or at least the illusion, that everybody's on a level playing field is totally uninteresting.

I think we could continue with the "sacrificing integrity" angle for a while, but I'll just say this: CEVO found Cyber Revolution guilty of subverting the competition by getting information they never should have had. Cyber Revolution never tried to deny they were ghosting during the match. And now they're the champions.

McGwire broke records, but this might sadly be the most memorable picture from his career.

In baseball, people talk about Barry Bonds' career needing an asterisk. Mark McGwire is miles away from getting into the Hall of Fame despite having the necessary credentials in terms of impact on the game. I know that after the map overturn, and with a CEVO admin sitting in the ventrilo channel, Cyber Revolution still won the championship. But as with Bonds and McGwire, and in any competition, it doesn't just matter that a team won. It matters a great deal how they won. In sacrificing the integrity of the matches and purposely seeking to gain an unfair advantage, Cyber Revolution also should have sacrificed any chance they had of wearing the title of champions.

Which brings us to ...

Cyber Revolution

As much as I vehemently disagree with CEVO's decision I can't decide which is more shocking: that, or the reaction of Cyber Revolution and some other posters in that CAL forum thread that actually supported their side of the argument. Let's break it down.

I'll start with my favorite part, from a player on Cyber Revolution:

"Right off the bat Cevo broke their own rule. They setup the TV and the shoutcast IMPROPERLY. Just by doing this they created a major moral hazard that would not have existed if they had done their job in the first place. The roughly 10 second delay on the TV was OBVIOUS to every team in the tourney. For us to just expect everyone to ignore it is flat out idiotic. Further, by not objecting at the time, Core gave consent to the 10 second delay."

A few things about this.

First, let's talk about blame. By my count, CEVO is to blame because they created the whole mess, and Core (also known as Masternook's Warriors of Doom) is to blame because by not objecting they tacitly agreed to the ten-second delay. Strangely absent: any mention for the people that actually decide to exploit that ten-second delay. If the Core consented to letting people aimbot, do you think Cyber Revolution would have argued that was legal, too?

Second, I'm a big fan of this sentence: "For us to just expect everyone to ignore it is flat out idiotic." I think it's telling that not once in the post did he ever, ever, mention trying to fix the problem. That was an option, right? They could have contacted a CEVO admin and said they had grave concerns about the lack of a SourceTV delay. If the problem was really obvious to every team, and Cyber Revolution felt compelled to ghost because they felt it would level the playing field, why not just get rid of the source of the problem? My guess is that question never got asked.

The ironic thing is that by placing the blame at CEVO's feet for not setting up the broadcast properly, or at the Core's feet for not officially objecting, they're essentially saying something like, "You knew we would cheat if given the chance. It's in our nature to exploit anything we can to get an advantage, and you can't blame us for that any more than you can blame a cat for killing a mouse. And even knowing that we are treacherous by nature, you allowed this situation. We were merely acting as we do, and you should have known better. Shame on you."

There's nothing like implying your own lack of scruples, but one comment on the Insider eSports article phrases the underlying question nicely: "How can you blame the team when the league official and casters made the mistake?" I think that sentiment is echoed by another sentence in the Cyber Rev post: "Just by doing this [CEVO] created a major moral hazard that would not have existed if they had done their job in the first place."

How can we blame the players? Simple. They're the ones that chose to break the rules. End of discussion. I don't care who didn't dispute, who set up the broadcast improperly, or any outside circumstances. It still comes down to one indisputable fact: nobody forced Cyber Revolution to ghost. Even in that situation, the team still had a choice. They could have requested the broadcasters be moved to SourceTV. They could have chosen to play the match straight up. In the end they did neither of those things. We can blame Cyber Revolution because they, and nobody else, made the decision to cheat.

Anybody that says otherwise is just plain wrong.

January 15, 2009

Sorry for the all-caps title, but when you call something the ULTIMATE GAMER, it just feels appropriate. I mean, it's ULTIMATE, is it not?

Anyway. For anybody that doesn't know, WCG's Ultimate Gamer is a new reality show that takes gamers and pits them against each other "both on and off the screen as they compete for a chance to win $100,000, the ULTIMATE electronics packages and the honor of traveling the globe with the WCG."

As a reality show, I assume it'll have as much to do with competitive gaming as The Real World has to do with the real world. In fact, if you disliked the CGS's ratio of entertainment and glitz to gaming, I feel obliged to warn you that I'm expecting this show to take all the things you hated about the CGS (namely the lack of actual gaming), condense and amplify them.

Still, I'll be watching, and that's saying something. Normally I have absolutely no interest in reality shows, but this one is a little different. Naturally, it has the gaming element, and I'm sure there will be plenty of laughs along the way as they try to depict a real-life Halo competition or something of that nature. Just the opportunity to make fun of that is too much to pass up.

For his next act, I believe sWooZie jumped twenty feet in the air and dunked with his feet.

But more importantly, one of the best guys I've ever met during my time in gaming will be starring in the show. That's right, Adande "sWooZie" Thorne will be one of the contestants, and I'll be rooting for him every step of the way. In lieu of the actual show, for now you can see him just to the right of this paragraph in the middle of pulling off a sweet 360 dunk off a diving board. If I had enough Photoshop skill to make him look like Shaq and have a shattered backboard, I'd do it. For now you'll have to settle for the actual, unaltered picture.

The show starts this March and will be airing on the Sci-Fi channel. If you want to check out a promotional video (which will allow you to see sWooZie's totally-awesome dunk in motion!), they've got one of those too.

As for sWooZie, I'm looking forward to seeing him in action, though I have a sneaking suspicion that he's far too sane, kind, and level-headed to actually win a reality show-based competition. Still, here's hoping!

Gaming, sWooZie