It’s slim pickings this week. I don’t know what happened, but when I look down at the seven scheduled matches, there are only two or three that seem vaguely exciting. This must be how Mike Rowe feels about new job ideas – “Oh god, not another animal farm.”

Outside of the top four teams, every team seems to fit into two categories: teams with activity problems, or teams with record problems.  And this week, they’re all playing each other. We’re left with some 1-3 vs. 1-3 hotness, and a couple seemingly lopsided matchups, like Eximius vs. whoever Eximius plays from this week forward. Woo-hoo?


You pick up my poopz now, Mr. Rowe?

Let’s sum it up like this: removing forfeit wins, we have a 4-0 team, a 5-1 team, and three teams at 3-2. Those are the only teams with winning records. There are six teams with records of 1-3 or worse.

So, if you’re looking for oodles of gripping action, it doesn’t look good. But I bet I can still find things to make fun of.


CAL Invite: Week 4.1 (de_train)

LucK vs. eX – This is an interesting match. Both teams are 2-3, but they’re hard to get a read on, too. eX has played everybody, including Honolulu and five siNs, closely. LucK has been the opposite, swinging from blowout wins to crushing defeats.

This was actually in contention for the “Featured Match”. It’s hard to look at LucK’s roster and not be a little impressed, at least. AllbrooK is well known, and HoltzmaN has been part of the Invite community for a while. Plus, they have Michael “Hare” O’toole. Just thinking about that name brings back memories of United 5 with fRoD and tr1p. That was even pre-compLexity, when Bullseye was still part of 3D. Good times.

But I just can’t predict them to win. I’m really trying to convince myself, here. Look at the talent! The results just haven’t been there, though. Part of it is working in a couple new players. There could be a time when everything just clicks, and LucK rips off a couple big wins. If it’s this week, I’m going to look a little silly.

Train is a hard map for working in players, though. There are so many spots to hide as a CT, the communication and chemistry has to be perfect when attacking the sites. I’m not convinced that LucK can pull that off, despite the talent on the roster. Combine that with eX’s slightly better match results, and I’m going to give them a close win, here.

eX > LucK 13-11


Unhearof vs. Eximius Sports – Eximius is 6-0, and the only team that seriously pushed them was eGe (#6 in standings). They beat five siNs (3) and the Eruptors (2) handily. ajnin (5) forfeited to them. Who else is going to challenge them? eMg already has a 7-17 loss and a 6-18 loss. Somebody from the lower half of the standings will have to step up, which is about as likely as ESPN hiring me, at this point. LucK and GameFrog probably have the best chance, but they’re 3-6 combined. They’re talented, though, just not clicking.

After beating the Eruptors, the only question I have about Eximius the rest of the season is by how much they’re going to beat the rest of the field. I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’re looking at an undefeated season.

(Wait a minute. I’d have more fun by actually jinxing them. You heard it here first: Eximius goes undefeated this season!)

(P.S. Sorry, Eximius. Had to do it.)

Eximius > ? 16-8


Featured Match

electronic Gaming evolution vs. five siNs from #team-nsF – Two teams come in. Each fight to the death for twenty-four rounds. Only the victor will remain, and they shall be crowned the CAL Canadian Champion.

If that doesn’t do it for you, it’s also a grudge match for longest-team-name supremacy. Unless you want to refer to the Honolulu Eruptors as their previous names, which would be something like: OneEyedZomblerz-rSports-Checksix-Zomblerz (part deux)-Gravitas-Devastation-Flow-Devastation (part deux)-Turmoil. It’s a mouthful, but it crushes all opponents in the longest-name competition.

And just in case you’re not satisfied by the Canadian subplot, the name subplot, or the possible playoff implications, five siNs has a player that was on eGe until late September. It’s going to be a good one.

It’s tempting to look at this match as the best of an uninspiring group, but it’s legitimately great. eGe is stronger than their 3-2 record indicates, and five siNs has far exceeded expectations this season. That might not be hard to do when everybody expects you to go 0-14, but still. They’re 4-2, and as it stands, I don’t see any way both of these teams miss the playoffs. They’re doing too well compared to the rest of the league right now.

This is five siNs’ first big test since their first match of the season against Eximius. They did poorly that time around, but they also rebounded with an 18-6 win over eMg. We should find out now whether they’re a contender to take down Eximius later in the season, or if they’ve just been off to a hot start.

Overall, I’m still not buying that they can pull off the victory. They’ve been steadily moving up the ranks, but I’m not convinced they’ve “arrived”, yet. If they beat eGe, they’re undoubtedly a top team. But for now, I think they’re just below that level.  

eGe > FSFT#NSF 14-10


Nothing like getting a good squeak/mouse reference in a pred. Here's a cute mouse, to celebrate.


Mug ‘n Mouse vs. PK
– Two teams. Death. But this time, the champion gets one step closer to a .500 record: 2-3. The loser will be mocked endlessly for their 1-4 failings, as they deserve.

Seriously, I’m finding it hard to get excited about the matchup of 1-3 teams.

Mug ‘n Mouse hasn’t looked good this season. They have three losses, all 8-16, and one win they squeaked (Mug ‘n Mouse always “squeaks” out wins) out 13-11 against Unheardof.  PK isn’t much better, but they’ve been keeping the matches a little closer, at least. They beat ajnin 13-11 early in the season, and only lost 10-14 to Cyber Phenom, another 1-3 team.

There just isn’t much to say about this one. I still have some hope for PK this season, and I think they’ve got a chance to turn it around. But right now, this feels a Chicago Bulls vs. LA Clippers game circa 1999. For any non-NBA fans, that’s the Bulls Apocalypse that followed Michael Jordan’s retirement. It was ugly.

PK > MnM 14-10


Honolulu Eruptors vs. ajnin – What the heck happened to ajnin? They went from a 3-1 team with playoff hopes to a 3-3 team with two forfeit losses and four people on the roster. I haven’t seen a drop-off like this since the Great Naruto Filler Plague of ’05-’06. Those were dark days, my friends. I barely escaped with my sanity.

In any event, I don’t know how ajnin will play this one, and even if they had a full roster, I’d still go with THE ERUPTORZ.

HE > ajnin 17-7 (if played)


Cyber Phenom vs. GameFrog
– I made a reference to CP’s lack of reported matches in the last set of predictions, but it’s not due to a lack of activity like I assumed. From what I understand, they’ve been keeping a good practice schedule, they just can’t get anybody to play them on match nights.

This brings up the question: why is everybody afraid to play Cyber Phenom?

Could it be their 1-3 record? Or perhaps it’s their intimidating handles – random capitalized letters are a requirement, please make a note, “bob” and “havoc”.

For the match, both teams are stuck at 1-3 with slight upside potential. If CP is practicing, that gives them a big advantage over most other teams. Then again, everybody that I think practices turns out to just be in it for the free ESEA that comes with being in Invite, like paying $5.95 per month would send them into abject poverty.

I’m going with GameFrog on this one, for nothing more than a hunch. They seem to have CP’s number, as I recall. If the Phenomena Cyber had been doing well this season, I might have reversed course, but they haven’t gotten off to a good start.

GF > CP 14-10


itsamassacre vs. eMazing Gaming
– itsamassacre is a very appropriate name, at this point. Unfortunately for them, they’re on the “getting shanked” end of the machete. Eight rounds in two matches. Yikes.

I’m not sure what’s happening at this point, because their 5-7 record for last season was just fine. It wasn’t filled with forfeit wins or wins over weak teams. But something changed, and it’s not for the better. I’m not ready to write them off yet for this season, but at this point, they need to show they have something left in the tank.

eMg > IAM 16-8


In a double-blind taste test, respondents preferred the taste of LANDodger Predictions over the taste of any competitor – this must be due to the high concentration of good luck to all teams, predicted winners losing, and predictors proving me wrong.


 

I’ve been catching up on some demos recently; I had a pretty big backlog. I try to watch matches live, but things always come up – work, playing Portal, disposing of dead bodies, that kind of thing. I even had to go back and watch some of the CGS matches that I missed the first time around. What I found was startling.

I’m not sure when, but sometime between now and when the CGS ended, I became a nine-round-hater. I didn’t mind it when the CGS was actually happening. I’d watch the matches and be perfectly content. But CAL switched to twelve rounds per half in the playoffs last season, and they used that format for CPL, as well. I forgot what it was like to watch a match with only nine rounds in a half. Now that my memory has been refreshed, it’s just not as entertaining as twelve rounds.


I know how you feel, little buddy. I was shocked about disliking the nine-round format, too.

I don’t want to say the nine-round format is worse, because I’m not the audience the CGS needs to reach. I’m going to watch their content, no matter what, because it’s the only game in town. They need to bring in the “casual” gamer, and if nine rounds helps keep people interested, or fits their TV format, then in the grand scheme, it might be better than having more rounds per half.

From an entertainment standpoint, though, those three rounds make a big difference. A “keeping hope alive” win on the last round can easily turn into a four-round full momentum swing. It keeps more options alive, and it gives teams a little more time to adjust ingame. That's exciting material.

I won’t be leading any CGS nine-round protests, even on the forums, but if they end up with twelve rounds next season, I’ll be a happier viewer.

o the preds!


CAL Predictions: Week 3.2 (de_contra)

electronic Gaming evolution vs. PK – I won’t be overloading you with new material this week. Only two matches have been reported since our last prediction (read: torture) session.

But one of those was a 17-7 win from eGe over LucK (imagine the coincidence that this was the first prediction). When you throw that in with their last win, an 18-6 defeat of GameFrog, they’ve convincingly beaten two talented teams. In other words, it looks like the CPL-quality eGe team is back.

Then again, maybe they never left.  They only had one disappointing result: the double-overtime loss to ajnin.  The loss to Eximius was a little unexpected, but it’s not shocking, either. Eximius is a top team this season, and a 13-11 loss is nothing to hang your head about. One lucky shot goes your way, and you’re going to OT.

PK, on the other hand, hasn’t shown a lot this season. I mean that literally; they only have two reported matches. One of those was a win against ajnin, so they did better than eGe there, but it’s not enough for me to predict a win. They’ll be a solid team this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them in the playoffs, but eGe is top-3 in my book.

eGe > PK 15-9


itsamassacre vs. Cyber Phenom – It’s been two and a half weeks since the season started. Cyber Phenom has played one match. At this rate, they’ll be finished with Season 9 around the time I’m writing for ESPN 10 and George Bush is finishing his eighth term as President. Just kidding, of course – I’d never write for anything less prestigious than ESPN 9.

On the serious side, they’re either in for a CS marathon or a forfeit bonanza. Matches from week 1 and week 2 have to be reported by this Wednesday, and they still have three matches from those week. Oops!

Normally, that lack of activity would be a plus for the other team. If you’re not playing matches, it’s likely you’re not scrimming much, either. Practice gets a little boring when there’s no reward at the end. However, itsamassacre is missing just as many matches. They’ve only played one this season, and they lost by nineteen rounds.
So, if you’re jonesing for some itasmassacre/Cyber Phenom action, there’s a high probability of postponement.

Still, a predictor cannot hide a trivial matter like matches not being played. Who cares about playing matches when we can predict them!?  Thankfully, I can hide behind arbitrary rules, like the 16-round loss-prediction. We went over this last week, and IAM still hasn’t played a match. No predicted wins until the 16-round loss is redeemed!

(And for pete’s sake, schedule some matches.)

CP > IAM 14-10


Unheardof vs. LucK – Unheardof is still winless on the season, but it’s been about as close as you can get. They have three losses: 14-10, 14-10, and 13-11. Yikes.

The close matches seem to be a common thing to new Invite teams, though. Cyber Phenom, ajnin, and itsamassacre had the same issues in Season 8. They rarely got blown out, but there was also a hump that they couldn’t seem to get over. They’d even play the top teams closely, losing by a couple rounds.

I’m not sure what causes this phenomenon. There’s obviously a change in gameplay for different levels of CAL, and it takes some time to adjust. But you figure with that adjustment and the superior skill of the top teams like Turmoil and Gravitas last season, there would be more blowouts. There aren’t. In fact, LucK, a veteran Invite team, has bigger losses than Unheardof. There was the 7-17 match against eGe, and a 9-15 loss to eMg early in the season.

If we look at some common opponents, eMg also beat Unheardof, as did GameFrog, but GF lost big to LucK. It’s not a clear indicator that LucK is a superior team, but I’m still rolling with them for now. I liked them early in the season, and I admit the ride has been a little bumpy so far. The 2-3 record out of the gate isn’t awe-inspiring, especially with a big loss on Contra earlier in the week.

But I’m a patient person, and the bandwagon hasn’t broken down. Yet.

LucK > ? 13-11


Featured Match


This is the angriest crystal ball you will ever see. At least, I hope so.

Eximius Sports vs. ajnin – If you thought this was a big matchup heading into the season, please raise your hand. Notice my hands remaining firmly on the keyboard, banging out text. And anybody that just raised their hand, besides the players on ajnin, is a liar. A LIAR. Even you, Ms. Cleo.

Eximius’ 3-0 start (and #1 rank in the standings) isn’t surprising, but ajnin in second place with a 3-1 record? Who knew? They were solid last season (6-6), but given the quality of their opponents, a 1-3 would have been just as likely. But they beat LucK. They beat eGe. And they dropped five siNs (#nsF), a team that’s been a surprise (18-6 win over eMg, included) this season. I would have predicted against them in at least two of those matches, and I humbly submit they should change their team slogan to “Proving LANDodger wrong in Season 9”.

The question now is whether it’s a mirage. Even the Atlanta Hawks played well to start the 2006 NBA season, and they still ended up in the basement. Personally, I think they’re here to stay, to an extent. I don’t see an 11-3 season in their future, but from their performance so far, a 9-5 record and a playoff berth seems reasonable. They’ve got some new talent on the roster, and the returning starters have more experience.

This is a big match for them, though, and they’ll need to be on top of their game. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Eximius has been practicing Contra a lot for their other matchup: the Honolulu Eruptors. We know about the bad blood between Turmoil and Eximius, and grudge matches have a way of motivating people.

The key for ajnin here is going to be timing and coordination. I don’t think they’ve got the guns to outshoot Eximius. But if they can force the AWPers to rotate and make them retake sites, they could pick up enough rounds for a close win or an overtime match. It’s easy to say that, but a lot harder to do it.

Even though ajnin proved they can beat the top teams with the victory over eGe, but I’m not convinced they can do it consistently. Eximius is still the favorite, but props to ajnin for their start thus far, and we might be revisiting this match result when we talk about playoff teams.

Eximius > ajnin 15-9


Honolulu Eruptors vs. eMazing Gaming – You can extinguish the signal fires; Kluwe is gone. He didn’t actually play for eMg (thanks to the people who messaged me or responded on the forums for the heads-up), which is even more support for a roster warning system. But apparently a “yes” or “no” answer isn’t good enough. Sometimes people are just roster riding.

Therefore, I think we need to upgrade to a defcon-type system. We need levels. RosterCon 5 can be notification of a tryout. RosterCon 4 is serious consideration, and we scale it up. Level 1 is a player staging a full-on coup of the team. I’m counting on you, my dedication followers, to implement this system. Make it so.

As for eMg’s actual results, they’re solid. The last two matches, a 6-18 loss to five siNs and the 14-10 win over Unheardof, were a little curious, but one of their starters was gone for the Newegg LANFest. That’s obviously not good for the practice schedule.

I’m not sure they can take down the ERUPTORS, though. (Their name just seems right in all-caps, don’t you think?) Funshine and Brawwr AWPing? Where can you possibly go to avoid that? And even if you do, Contra fits Misty and Sasquatch well, I think. They have some similar plays styles on CT side of Train at ladder. Even when you know where they are, they’re using cover and flashes so well you’re still at a disadvantage. The sewers in Contra and all the flanking opportunities will value the same skill-set.

Truthfully, at this point, I’m not sure who’s on offense and who’s on defense. But I don’t think it matters. They go ten deep. If you’re not running into their primary AWPers, you’re running into some of the top riflers. And if you’re not running into either of those, you’re not attacking the bombsites, because they’re everywhere.

HE > eMg 15-9


eX vs. GameFrog – GameFrog has been decidedly underwhelming so far. They’ve had a pretty tough schedule, playing LucK, eGe, and HE so far, but they didn’t put up ten rounds against any of those teams. I’m tempted to give them a pass because of the quality opponents, but eX has better wins, and a closer loss against the ERUPTORS.

The only salvation for this match is that there are two eX players banned for incomplete or missing screenshots. If eX was at full strength, this is a predicted win for them. They just look like a better team so far. But it’s hard to play when you’ve lost (presumably) two starters, and GameFrog should be able to take advantage of that.

GameFrog > eX 13-11


Mug ‘n Mouse vs. five siNs from #team-nsF – ajnin has been a big surprise this season, but five siNs is right there with them. I can’t even remember how many comments there were about them not belonging in Invite, how they were going to get destroyed, etc, etc. But they went 12-4 in Main last season, they got into Invite through the placement tournament, and now they’re 3-2. One of those is a forfeit win, but a .500 record is not getting destroyed.

I’ve also been told that they’ve been scrimming contra well, and Mug ‘n Mouse hasn’t done much so far this season. It’s a predicted Canadian sweep for this week, with eGe over PK, and five siNs beating MnM.

FSFT#NSF > MnM 14-10


Remove plastic cover. Insert predictions into microwave on high for good luck to all teams. Remove product from microwave, and set power level to medium for predicted winners winning, and predicted losers proving me wrong. Let cool for two minutes.

PRODUCT MAY BE HOT.


 

Let’s see how my preseason thoughts are doing. Going into the action, I liked GameFrog, eGe, LucK as possible title contenders. They’re a combined 4-6. I didn’t consider ajnin a top team, and wondered how they’d do without n1x1n. They’re 3-1. And, just to top it off, I predicted against the Honolulu Eruptors in the first week because they couldn’t possibly be practicing for CAL. Even if that’s true, it turns out that doesn’t matter too much – they beat down GameFrog 15-9.

Yeah, it’s been that kind of season, already.


We hates him! Wicked Yankeeses! (Actually, we're just jealous of his fame, fortune, and talent.)

But, I remain upbeat! Even Derek Jeter, one of the most consistent players in baseball, sucked that one time. Before you know it, I’ll be back on my feet – hopefully without being viewed as a symbol for the Evil Empire and everything that’s wrong in baseball.

To the predictions!

Week 3:1 (de_contra)

Unheardof vs. Cyber Phenom – Unheardof is 0-2 so far, and in my first prediction thread, they posted about their inactivity. I can’t think of a faster way to lower your stock than posting about inactivity. On the other hand, Cyber Phenom is 0-1. That’s not confidence-inspiring, either.

(And, for good measure, all the losses have been by a score of 10-14. Would it have really hurt to have a 2-22 match so my prediction could be a little easier? I’d never ask for such a thing, I’m just sayin … )

At this point, we don’t know much about either team, but I’m going with CP. This is a huge break of procedure. I can’t remember the last time I predicted them to win. But I had them ranked a little bit higher going into the season, and nothing has changed that, yet.

CP > Unheardof 14-10


itsamassacre vs. PK – For my predictions last season, I had a 20-round rule: if you lost a match by more than twenty rounds, I couldn’t predict in your favor until you won a match. The only problem is the rule was made for max-rounds 15, not the new 12-round format. So, I think it’s to modify the rule.

To lose by twenty rounds, you had to be beaten 25-5. That means one team lost five out of every six rounds. Since we’ve taken away six rounds from the total (thirty last season, twenty-four this season), that means it’s pretty easy to adjust the numbers. We simply take the five rounds away from the winning team, and one away from the losing team, and we’re left with the same ratio.

New Prediction Rule: If your team loses 4-20 or worse, I can’t predict you to win.

Itsamassacre has a 3-21 loss to Eximius as their only played match (in addition to a forfeit loss).

Rules are rules.

(And I think PK is a little better, anyway.)

PK > IAM 15-9


Mug ‘n Mouse vs. GameFrog – After one Invite title and a decent season 8, Mug ‘n Mouse has started with two 8-16 losses. Wah happen!? Maybe they should consider changing their name back to Fever, or, at the very least, Mouse ‘n Mug.


He's green. He's fuzzy. He's cuddly. He never stood a chance.

Then again, GameFrog hasn’t set the league on fire. All I heard in the offseason was about how active they’d be. I predicted them to beat the Honolulu Eruptors. Yes, I predicted (game)frogs to beat lava. That’s how confident I was. The match result was the same as you’d get in a real fight between Kermit and Kilauea. Since then, they’ve had an 8-16 loss to LucK, and a 14-10 victory over the similarly-inactive Unheardof.

I’m sticking with GF on this one, but I’m definitely souring on their prospects this season. I thought they’d be going deep in the playoffs, and they still have the talent to do so, but we saw what happened last season when they don’t practice. They’ll get some wins, but Invite still has enough talent to punish the teams that aren’t as dedicated as the rest.

GF > MnM 14-10  


LucK vs. eGe – This would be the featured match almost any other week. But there’s a slightly better match coming up, and to be honest, both teams have been a little disappointing this season.

I thought eGe was going to carry their CPL success into CAL, but they’re only 1-2, including a double-OT loss to ajnin. Don’t get me wrong, ajnin is a solid team, but they didn’t show overwhelming talent last season, and eGe placed third at CPL. An eGe player made a post in the CAL forums that called his team “lazy bears”. Personally, I’m terrified of all kinds of bears, but the point is well taken.

LucK’s results have been slightly better, but inconsistent. They lost a close match to ajnin, as well, but they had a big win over GameFrog on the same map. That came after splitting their Dust2 matches with a 9-15 loss to eMg and a 14-10 win over CP. The jury is still out on their new pickups, and it could explain some of their inconsistencies. They’re probably learning and adjusting to every map as it comes along. If not, it sure seems like it.

I’m going to give eGe a small pass on their loss to ajnin because it was on Strike. Their other two matches were better: a close loss to Eximius and a big win over MnM. They should be used to Contra, and Contra is a map that requires teamwork and communication. There are a lot of opportunities for fakes, flanks, and general misdirection. That should favor eGe’s experience as a team.

eGe > LucK 13-11


eX vs. five siNs from #team-nsF – I wish everybody was as informative as the guys from FSF#TNSF. Check out these answers to my question about their team name:

E-Mail: “Obviously given the situation we decided that it would be best for us to join their organisation, none of us cared about the name really but one thing for sure, the reputation we forged under the name of nsF needed to stay. So in order to remain nsF in everyones mind and please our newly joined organisation we went 50/50 with the name. fsiNs from #team-nsF was born. “

CAL Forums: “We're part of the fiveSins organization but since we're known to be nsF for the past 5 seasons we didnt want to let go of our roots,”

And I got a PM on IRC with the same message as the CAL Forums. Now that, my friends, is a response! Normally, I can’t even get people to join the LANDodger Steam community group (which takes two seconds, so you should do it, you lazy jerks). If everybody was that diligent about responding, I’d never write anything because I’d be too busy responding to all the e-mails. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing – I love e-mail.

So, to everybody out there, the gauntlet has been firmly thrown down. The bar has been set, the dye has been cast. The [object] has been [verbed]. It’s up to you to outdo the response I got from nsF on my next question. Bring the “Best LANDodger Response” title to your home!

(There is an actual match happening, though, so I should probably get to the prediction.)

Five siNs had a surprising win over eMg, but I’m not reading too much into that (as you’ll see in the eMg pred). I’m more concerned with their first two matches: a 7-17 loss to Eximius and a 9-15 loss to ajnin. Those are two solid defeats, and I’m not confident that they’ve adjusted to Invite yet; it always takes teams a little time.

So, while I’m looking forward to better things, I don’t think they’ll pull out a win against a 2-1 eX team.

eX > FSFT#NSF 15-9


Kluwe is coming! Kluwe is coming!


ajnin vs. eMazing Gaming – It’s official: I need a signal system. There are a couple players that float around every season, letting the Internet winds guide them. I need a system like they had in Lord of the Rings: anytime one of those players joins a team, somebody lights a fire in the field. Then the mountain outpost will light their fire, on down the line until somebody sets a car on fire outside my Los Angeles apartment building. That’s reasonably sure to get my attention, just make sure it’s not my car, please.

Kluwe (“1337W4RR10R”, as he’s listed on the CAL page – a definite handle downgrade) is the player, this time. He popped up on EXTREMITY last season, and they got off to a quick start before inactivity strangled the life from their team. eMg has had a couple strange results, so far, despite Kluwe’s presence. They had a 15-9 win over LucK early in the season, but dropped their next match to five siNs (#nsf) 6-18. That’s a paddlin’, and their next match was a close win against an 0-2 Unheardof team.

I’m going to chalk those results up to the non-standard map. Strike isn’t very popular, and there are new faces on the roster besides Kluwe. They probably had some chemistry problems. If that’s not the cause, my prediction is going to be in trouble, because I think they’re more talented than ajnin. Both teams are 3-1 though, so it should be a close match, and it could be a playoff preview.

eMg > ajnin 14-10


Featured Match

Honolulu Eruptors vs. Eximius Sports – Looking at the schedule after my break and seeing this match feels wrong. Karma usually punishes me for missing deadlines. Now I’m being rewarded? If I was a cartoon mouse, I’d be looking for a piece of string attached to the cheese right about now.

What more could we ask for? Honolulu is only half Turmoil, half Gravitas, but there’s bad blood in the form of cheating accusations and a CEVO dispute that resulted in a match overturn. We have plenty of recent history: CAL matches, CEVO matches, and CPL action. And it’s not a one-way rivalry like when the Yankees would constantly beat the Red Sox; each team has won their share of matches.

Eximius has played well this season, going 3-0, including a win over eGe. They also played very well at the Newegg LANFest. If a couple shots went their way, they would have been in the second round instead of the CHImera. Vu played extremely well on Train there, but I think zero and zuH are more important to Eximius for this match. If they can control CT side with AWPs, they should be able to anchor the defense on a map that favors T side.

I predicted against the Eruptors in the first round, and I have to do it again. It’s almost physically painful to write that, because I could get burned again. They’ve got plenty of talent, but Eximius has been playing very well lately, and to be honest I think they have a bit of a mental advantage. The Turmoil players are convinced that Eximius is shady, and if there are lucky shots early in the match, who knows how they’ll react. They could focus even harder and pull out the win, but those emotions are a distraction, in my experience.

(Bonus Prediction: at least one person will play the match with a name like “[Eximius Player] cheats”. I consider this a mortal lock.)

(Second Bonus Prediction: if the Eruptors win, I predict I’ll never predict against them the rest of the season. And I predict I will apologize for my lack of faith. I’m spiritually weak.)

Eximius > HE 13-11


LANDodger Predictions: bringing you good luck to all teams, predicted winners winning, and predicted losers proving me wrong since 1907.

(Err, I mean 2007.)


 

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.


 

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 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.


 

CAL Predictions: Season 9 PT, Round 3

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Cyber Phenom vs. inRage

Legerity vs. Unheardof

American eXpress vs. Make You say Late

Old School Gamers vs. Nous Sommes Francophones


Reseeding would give us this:

Cyber Phenom vs. Nous Sommes Francophones

Legerity vs. Old School Gamers

Unheardof vs. inRage

American eXpress vs. Make You say late


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

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

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

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


Round 3 Predictions (de_nuke)

Featured Match

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

CP > AmeX 13-9


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

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

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

OSG > nsF 13-11


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

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

? > mysL 13-10


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


 

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

(I had to sneak that in somewhere).

Suddenly, I feel a little happier.



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

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

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

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

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

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

IAM > mysL 13-11


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

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

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

? > ajnin 13-11


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

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

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

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

eMg > nsF 13-9


Featured Match

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

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

GameFrog > CP 13-10



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

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

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

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

OSG > FragD 13-10


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

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

AmeX > BFG 13-9


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

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

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

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

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

inRage > TRU 13-10


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

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

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

Right?

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


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


 

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

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


To Invite

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


Other Frontrunners

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


Close Behind

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


Ride the Main Train

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


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

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

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


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

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


Placement Tournament, Round 1 (de_train)

Featured Match

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

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

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

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

? > AmeX 16-14


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

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

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

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

Probably.

eMg > inRage 16-13


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

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

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

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

GameFrog > OSG 16-9


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


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

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

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

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

IAM > MP5 16-11


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

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

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

TRU > nsF 16-12


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

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

ajnin > BFG 16-9


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

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

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

Legerity > mysL 16-12


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

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

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

CP > fragD 16-8


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


 
August 18, 2007

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

Until we meet again.


 
August 6, 2007

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

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

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


Modifications to the maplist, config, placement tournament:

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Sponsors

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


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

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

Tags:
CAL

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


1. Check-Six (zomblerz)

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a tough combination to beat.


2. recKoning

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

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

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

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


3. Mug ‘n Mouse

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

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

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

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



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

Record: 9-3
Notable Losses:
x6 (13-17), MnM (12-18), recKoning (6-24)
Notable Wins:
LucK (17-13), Legerity (22-8)
Players to Watch:
Funshine, sasquatcH
LD’s Rank:
#2

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

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

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


5. LucK

Record: 9-3
Notable Losses:
Flow/Dev (13-17), ajnin (14-16), Visual Gaming (9-21)
Notable Wins:
MnM (19-11), Cyber Phenom (20-10), recKoning (17-13)
Players to Watch:
Allbrook, messiaH
LD’s Rank:
#4

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

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

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


6. PK

Record: 8-4
Notable Losses:
x6 (13-17), recKoning (14-16), recKoning (5-25)
Notable Wins:
MnM (17-13), eMg (22-8)
Players to Watch:
dboy, gmd
LD’s Rank:
#6

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

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

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


Round 1 Predictions

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

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

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

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

Flow > LucK 16-13


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

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

MnM > PK 16-14


The predictor’s commandments:

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


 

Usually, at this point we could talk about which teams will be in the playoffs, and which are out of contention. The only problem is there’s such a backlog of games to play, I think EXTREMITY could come back from the dead and they wouldn’t have lost a step. These predictions are two days late, and none of the matches have even been played. Only one match was played from the last week after the predictions were released.

Or, in other words, it’s following my homework pattern: late, later, latest.

But, that means we have a full set of seven predictions this week, and that can’t be bad, right? (Don't answer that.)



Notice there's no writing on the page. Sounds about right for my high school career.
CAL Predictions: Week 6-2 (de_train)

Featured Match

LucK vs. Check-Six – This is the best matchup of “name” teams, but I’m not sure it’s going to be that close. These teams played each other in the eMazing Finals, and x6 won both matches in a best-of-three, 16-7 and 16-8. I’d feel a lot better predicting a close match if those scores were 16-12, or so.

LucK has a new face on the roster, Chris “lakai” Cook, formerly of EXTREMITY. He joins his former teammate, eXigenT, although I’m not sure that both (or either) will play. LucK’s roster has been Allbrook, messiaH, Loosecannon, Gutter, and 5th, usually. Maybe they can fight it out for the last spot, or kick Gutter to the gutter.

It’ll be interesting to see if lakai can give them a little spark, but I don’t think it’ll be enough, in the end. Check-Six is just going to be too much to handle, especially on a map like Train where brawwwr can AWP through train hitches, cracks, corners, nooks, crannies, fences, grates, and probably a straw if you gave him a chance.

x6 > LucK 18-12


Legerity vs. The Real Untouchables – TRU has had some roster troubles recently, and they just picked up two new players: bowser and goostoff. Don’t know much about either guy, except that Bowser has a mean fireball and he likes causing problems for Italian plumbers.

Legerity hasn’t done much this season, but I think they should be okay on Train. It’s a tough map to break in new people, and I think that’ll give them enough of an edge for a small upset.

Legerity > TRU 16-14


electrify! vs. eMazing Gaming – Early in the season, aka when elecrtrify! was somewhat active and eMg was not, this would have been a predicted win for e!. Oh, how the tables have turned! The hunter has become the hunted!

Well, maybe not, but I definitely would have predicted a win for electrify!, earlier. But eMg has been practicing more, and their results have been much, much better. Like the difference between Theo Ratliff and Kevin Garnett. 

electrify! is still dangerous; jaywizzle is a good leader and they have solid strats. How much of a threat they are depends entirely on momentum and their chemistry on the map. If they’re good on the map and have natural chemistry, they still have enough talent to pull off the victory. If eMg can keep them down and doesn’t let them get momentum, it could get ugly really quick. 

In the end, I think electrify! will drop the match, but it won’t be a blow-out. They’ve still got very talented riflers, even though their primary AWPer is temporarily inactive, and it’ll be those guys that keep it close.

eMg > e! 18-12



"No more dog collars!? CHECK THE BACK ROOM AGAIN!"
Hyper vs. Cyber Phenom – Hyper has done very well all season, and I don’t think Cyber Phenom has the guns to take them down. This doesn’t mean I’m endorsing the use of knives by CP; I think that would be a bad (although fun) idea.



CP also lost TerroR, who, while not a super-duper-mega-uber all-star, was definitely a solid player for them throughout the season. 

Hyper should take a win pretty easily heading into the playoffs.

Hyper > CP 19-11


Devastation vs. itasamassacre – It’s a massacre!

Dev > IAM 35 - 0.5 (half a point for being nice guys)

I’ve wanted to that since they got moved up, and this might be my last chance. I think they’re the only team in Invite with a name that could double as a whole prediction. A crappy, short prediction, but a whole prediction, nonetheless.

The real score won’t be that lopsided (unless IAM trades in their guns for tasers) but I do think Dev will get the win. Plain and simple, I think they’ve got more talent.

That doesn’t mean IAM is untalented, I just expect Devastation to be in the Finals or very close to it, and IAM hasn’t proven they’re up to that level yet.

Dev > IAM 19-11


recKoning vs. PK
– It’s amazing how a couple 24-6 wins will improve your stock in the eyes of a predictor. Trust me, if you want to be predicted for a win, I highly recommend blowing out a couple Invite teams by about twenty rounds. It’s like Miracle-Gro for your Chia Pet.

I trust you can see where this prediction is going.

recKoning has been a little up-and-down this season, to me, but they’re my darkhorse in the playoffs. If we see the team that qualified for CEVO-P, and just ripped off those big wins, they could easily make a run at the championship. If we get the mediocre recKoning, they won’t have what it takes to get past Check-Six, in my mind. 

But, that’s a story for another day. For now, they should be able to take PK, a team that’s been basically in the middle of the pack all season.

recK > PK 17-13


Mug ‘N Mouse vs. ajnin – ajnin has been struggling with “roster shifting/revamping”, which means I can say, “welcome to Invite!” You’re not really an Invite team until you go inactive, make major roster changes, or stop scrimming for no apparent reason. 

Seriously.

MnM has been good all season, and they’re coming off a 16-14 win over x6 on Train. That doesn’t bode well for ajnin; I think MnM will take the match pretty easily.

MnM > ajnin 19-11


I came to a fork in the road, and I took the prediction less traveled. Along my way, I found good luck to all teams, the predicted winners winning, and the predicted losers proving me wrong.


 

Is it too late to predict recKoning to beat Cyber Phenom 16-14, and Mug ‘N Mouse to beat x6 by the same score? The results page says “yes”. I say, you’re only as late as you feel. And I’m feelin’ early, baby.

recKoning vs. CP – I don’t see any way recKoning can win this match. I think CP is going to blow them out 30-0.

Wait, no. I changed my mind.

recKoning > CP 16-14


Mug ‘n Mouse vs. Check-Six – I’m tempted to go with x6 here, but I was visited by the Ghost of LANDodger Future, and I think he said MnM pulled out a close win. Either that, or he wanted to finally rest in peace. It could have gone either way.

MnM > x6 16-14


Wait, the phrase is, "you're only as old as you feel"? Well, I can't delete it now, I'm typing in permanent ink.

Obviously, I'm joking. Those matches were reported a while ago; the x6 match even happened before the eMg tournament, I think. That leaves only five predictions for this round, but there’s still plenty of interesting matchups. Also, if anybody wants to do some internet sleuthing, read here.

On with the real predictions!


eMg vs. ajnin – Don’t look now, but eMg’s been playing a lot better. They’re only 3-6 on the season, but they’re 2-1 in their last three matches, and the loss was only 13-17. A little birdie told me they’ve been practicing now, and the results certainly back that up.

ajnin’s 3-5, so it’s not like they’re clearly a better team. Their three wins have been by scores of 16-14, 16-14 and a 19-17 OT victory, but they’ve got a couple lopsided losses on the other side, including a 8-22 loss to CP and three 11-19 defeats. Overall, I think they’re doing alright for their first season in Invite. 

So, what we have here are two teams that have been stuck on “underwhelming” for most of the season. (Don't worry, "underwhelming" is the only gear I have.) eMg has been turning it around, and that gives me a little confidence.

A very little.

eMg > ajnin 16-14


its massacre vs. electrify! – electrify!, to my knowledge, hasn’t been riding the practice train, either. That might have changed in recent weeks, but it’s showed in their record before the breakl. They’re more talented than your ordinary 2-5 team, they just need to spend some more time together.

Unfortunately, as part of their lackluster play, they had a 1-29 loss to Hyper. Now, that score isn’t indicative of how much better Hyper is; electrify! ended up leaving the server with quite a few rounds left to play (I can’t remember the exact number, but it was around ten if I think). Despite the shady circumstances, that violates my predicting rule: anytime you lose by a margin of more than twenty rounds, I can’t predict you to win. 

Even without taking that into consideration, its massacre has been playing all their opponents very closely, and they should be able to get a win here. They’re a solid team, and they have more than enough talent to capitalize on any openings due to electrify!’s inactivity.

IAM > e! 18-12



Yes, he's actually a police officer. And you think Chief Wiggum could scarf down donuts ...
LucK vs. The Real Untouchables – TRU is pretty much the definition of average (and that’s not a bad thing). They’re going to beat most of the subpar teams, hang with the elite teams, and pull off an occasional upset.

But, I don’t think they’re going to upset LucK. I’ve seen LucK play a couple times on Train, and you absolutely have to get momentum on them as terrorists. Their CT rotations are very good, and if they get a few rounds in a row, you could be looking down the barrel of a 10-1 deficit very quickly. LucK’s T side is also very solid; their outside strats are well-timed and executed. 

If TRU wants to escape with a win, they’ll need to lock down their own CT side like Shaq locking down a box of donuts. Then, all they have to do is scrape together a few rounds on offense.

That’s the plan, anyway. Executing it will be a lot harder.

LucK > TRU 18-12


Featured Match

Hyper! vs. Devastation – This may or may not be the last prediction for “Devastation”. They recently signed on with the Flow organization. If this gives any of you déjà vu, don’t worry, the windows didn’t get filled with bricks. Dev had a brief, moderately disastrous, stint with Flow earlier in the year.

When I say moderately disastrous, what I really mean is it was your basic relationship breakup. Each side had their own story, it went public, friends of both sides came running to the defense, and there was even some porn (those were for your own personal use!). If you’re going to do it, go all the way, I guess.

But, from what I gathered about the story then, and recent comments from Devastation, the problem wasn’t with the organization, just one person. That person isn’t with Flow anymore, and they feel it’s not quite like getting back with your ex. So, good luck to the guys with their new organization, and I hope you find more happiness there than you did last time, which, let’s face it, shouldn’t be too hard.

As for the match, it should be the most exciting one of the round. Devastation is 6-3 after dropping their last two matches, and Hyper is 6-2 with a forfeit loss. Both teams recently lost 6-24 to recKoning, which is a strange coincidence, although it was on different maps. They’re two of the top three teams in Invite, along with x6.

I’m going to give Hyper a slight edge in the match. I think they’re a little more motivated to do well in CAL, and Dev hasn’t played well, lately. They lost 13-17 to x6 in Invite, along with their loss to recKoning, and they dropped two huge matches to x6 during the eMazing Tournament. If this was a championship match with something on the line, I’d give Dev the edge. But, considering how both teams have done recently, I think Hyper comes out of it with a close win.

Hyper > Dev 17-13

Legerity vs. PK – Legerity finished fourth last season in Invite, but I’m just not seeing it. I don’t know if it was a war of attrition, and they were one of the last teams left standing, but their 2-6 record is certainly not where they were hoping to be.

I don’t know if that was due to roster problems stemming from roby’s suspension or what, but a fourth place finish this season seems pretty unattainable.
Then again, when you look at their schedule, three of their losses have been 14-16, and they have an OT loss. Get a little lucky, and they’re 4-4 or 5-3. They took Hyper into overtime before losing, and they barely lost to MnM (5-4), last season’s Invite champions. I think they’re definitely better than their 2-6 record, but I’m not convinced they’re at the same level they were last season.

PK is sitting at 6-2, meanwhile, and they’ve done well for themselves after their huge roster turnover. They’re 3-1 in their last four matches, with a close loss to x6 and a forfeit win against Hyper.

In the end, I’m going to give them a close win over Legerity. They’ve been a little stronger so far this season, despite a somewhat unproven roster, and nothing Legerity has done in Invite or the eMazing tournament suggests that they’re ready to break out of their mini-slump. Dep^ was impressive during the eMg tournament, if Legerity has a chance to pull out the victory, it's on some stellar play from him.

PK > Legerity 17-13


Sorry again for the lateness of the post, but not many matches from last week have been played, so hopefully everybody will get a chance to read these before this week’s matches take place.

If you’d like to receive good luck, the predicted winners winning, and the predicted losers proving me wrong, please sign on the dotted line.

And initial here, here, and here.





Oh, and sign here, too.


 
July 18, 2007

I released the information for the Season 8 Playoffs and Season 9 Placement Tournament earlier, but there are a couple small corrections to make.

First, I mentioned there would be a third-place runoff to determine the winner of the eMg prizes. This was a little unnecessary: the loser of the consolation bracket finals is the third place finisher.

There was also a slight clarification/addition to the playoff schedule. The correct schedule can be found on the CS:S Main page, and I’ll update the original post, as well, to reflect the change. One round was missing, and it’s been added on the same day as the lower bracket finals.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box or in the forum thread on the CAL page. Sorry if there was any confusion.

Tags:
CAL

 

I was perusing through my IRC channel, which has swelled to ten idlers and is bursting with excitement and conversation, and I came across LooseCannon from LucK saying, “mike getting lazy on hisss preddsss =p”. My first thought was concern for my precious idler; I thought Sir Hiss might have eaten him and taken control of his computer.


The 1973 movie reference is so obsssssscure, Hiss gets a Wikipedia link and a picture.

Quickly remembering that was just a nightmare I had about Disney movies, I thought back to the eMazing tournament page, which I’ve visited about 750 times to look up the bracket and get background information for teams in previous predictions. I vaguely remembered thinking it was weird that Round 6 was being played on Tuesday.

Wait a minute, I thought, today is Tuesday.

Oh crap!

Upon further investigation, the situation wasn’t as dire as I feared. Sir Hiss wasn't involved at all, and there’s only one match to predict because Legerity and n3mesis either rescheduled or they’re going into their 48th overtime. I’m assuming they’ll just play later, and I’ll post that prediction when the matchup is known.

Since there’s still one match to be played, my record from last week is incomplete. I’m 2-1 thus far, avoiding the Round 5 Apocalypse, and bringing my total record to 92-30.


Round 6 (de_contra, de_train, de_dust2)

LucK vs. It Takes Five – I feel like I’m the villain on the “eMg Predictions” episode of Scooby Doo. The dog gets all the tasty treats, and I’m in handcuffs yelling about those meddling kids. 

The meddling kids, in this case, would be It Takes Five. They’ve spoiled another one of my perfectly good predictions by beating Unheardof, which is just another example of how ego-centric society has become. What about my needs as a predictor!?  Back in early 2007, the good old days, teams respected their predictors. They nodded politely as we told stories about how we shared files by uploading them both ways, through the snow, at 1 kbps.

In all honesty, congratulations to IT5, once again. They’ve played well, and they deserve the praise. They didn’t get here with five forfeit wins (yes fragout!, we’re looking at you).

Last round, they took the bookend matches on Fire and Strike. Not to toot my own horn (read: commence horn tooting!), but I mentioned that as a possibility during the FragTech/Legerity prediction. The lesser known teams have more reasons to be motivated, and because Fire and Strike aren’t standard maps, they could easily make up any skill difference with hard work and preparation. For anybody who is curious, the scores were: Fire 16-12, Nuke 6-16, and Strike 22-19 (double OT).

LucK’s matchup wasn’t as close; they beat OSG on the first two maps (16-11, 16-3). Because I’ve done so many predictions, I feel like I’ve gotten to know the teams a little bit. So at this point, I wish a fond farewell to Unheardof and Old School Gamers. They both played very well, and I’ll pour a virtual 40 for them the next time my CS avatar is binge drinking.

If you remember from the last prediction for LucK, I mentioned that their practice schedule hasn’t been strenuous for the eMg tournament. It won’t make as big of a difference as it did last round, because Contra, Train, and Dust2 are standard Source maps. In fact, I think IT5’s best chance of winning is to come out with a vengeance and take the first two maps. 

Contra, while standard, is still a tough map to play on without practice. You need really good communication on rotations so you don’t end up with three people at the same sewer entrance on a site retake, or splitting when you should be rushing on a T side adjustment. And, from previous predictions, IT5 is not to be taken lightly. I think they’ll win Contra.

Train poses some of the same problems with rotations and communication, but to a lesser extent. I watched LucK play on Train earlier in the tournament against cyberXtreme. The score there was 16-10 in favor of LucK, although cX played with a couple backups. They weren’t coL-impressive during the win, but they were solid. The best hope for IT5, in my mind, is to have a shut-down CT side and then squeeze out three or four rounds on T side to win the map. LucK did a good job of coming out strong in each half, but cX came back after that initial push. IT5 needs to avoid that situation at all costs.

In my opinion, Train is the critical map. If LucK takes it, I think they’ll move on to a comfortable win on Dust2, just like Unheardof had a big 16-6 win on Nuke over IT5. But, if IT5 can eke out the win on Train, I think they’ll end up taking one of the other maps and move on. 

In the end, I’m sticking with LucK, even though IT5 has burned me twice. I think they’ll be able to take Train and D2 after dropping Contra. It should be a great matchup though, and, as a fan, I hope it comes down to the last map.

LucK > IT5 2-1

Contra:  12-16
Train: 16-14
Dust2: 16-10


Focus on my swinging watch. You’re getting sleepy. Very sleepy. When I snap my fingers, you’ll wake up, all teams will have good luck, the predictors winners will win, and the predicted losers will prove me wrong.

Snap.


 
July 13, 2007

eMg Predictions: Round 5

This round scares me to death. There’s a decent chance for an 0-4 prediction apocalypse. I wish I could outsource these predictions to India, or at the very least hire some schlub to take the fall for me. Anybody? Anybody? 

Bueller?

(Has anybody else noticed that Bueller's never around? Why do we keep calling on him if he never answers?)


Zoltar: now offering prediction lessons, only $1 each!

I’m not going to waste my material in the introduction, though. So let’s get the updates out of the way and move onto the good stuff. Last week I went 7-1, bringing the overall record to 90-29, which I think is pretty respectable. Maybe not as good as Zoltar could have done, but not bad for a mere mortal.

Also, the tournament switches to a best-of-three format from here on out. This makes things a little tricky for the predictions. If I predict a 2-0 series win, I’ll still add in the last map score just in case it goes the distance. That’s probably the best option for everybody, and I don’t think anybody will complain about extra content.


Round 5 (de_fire, de_nuke, de_strike)

FragTech vs. Legerity – I’m glad this matchup is first on the list, because it’s a perfect microcosm of what I meant in the introduction.

First, we have to take the maps into account. I think Fire and Strike are played about as often as Dogma is played at the Vatican. That’s not quite true, I don’t think Dogma has ever seen the light of day there, but they’re certainly non-standard maps, especially as you go higher up in CAL. This season, Invite doesn’t play either map, Main is playing Fire, and Intermediate plays both.

FragTech happens to be in Intermediate, while Legerity is an Invite team. Who has a better chance of being prepared?

Then, we have to consider motivation. If Legerity practices really hard, they can win the tournament. That nets them $500, a ventrilo server for 6 months, and a “pro” gaming server for 3 months. Or, as I like to think of it, $100 per player and two things they already have or don’t really need.

FragTech, on the other hand, probably doesn’t have a pro server, and if they do, it’ll wager a chocolate chip cookie it’s not sponsored. If they win, it's a huge boost to their popularity and reputation. Legerity doesn’t get that, either.

It comes down to this: FragTech has more reasons to be motivated, and that means it’s likely they’re practicing more than Legerity. If they were playing Inferno, Nuke, and Dust2, it might not matter as much. But with the non-standard maps, the team that prepares harder is going to have an advantage. If that’s not enough, FragTech took down recKoning, another Invite team, in Round 4. That makes it clear that they’re good enough to capitalize on mistakes their opponents make. 

It was close match against recKoning, and I think it’s going to be another hard-fought win here for FragTech. I’m going with the upset win. I expect Legerity to make an impressive showing on Nuke, but fall just short on the bookend maps.

(Of course, sometimes all a team needs as motivation is some crazy prediction to lose to a CAL-IM team. I hope this isn’t one of those times.)

FragTech > Legerity 2-1

Fire:  16-13
Nuke: 10-16
Strike: 16-12


Featured Match

Check-Six vs. Devastation – Before I get into the real prediction, I need to take a second to honor the commitment of fragout!, the team that just lost to Check-Six by forfeit. Their totals from the tournament: four opponents, three forfeit wins, one forfeit loss, zero frags. How does a team with the name fragout! become so averse to fragging out? These things are beyond me.

As for the actual match, I’d like to have two for here, and another to go, just in case I get a CS craving later tonight.

Why are you looking at me like that? You don’t get CS cravings after fourthmeal?

This is the biggest matchup of the tournament based on name recognition, and I just hope it lives up to the hype. These teams have already played once during the Invite season, with x6 pulling out a 17-13 win on Dust2. I’d be happy with three scores like that.

I’m not sure what Dev's roster will look like for these matches. Griff has been playing to fill in for dubs, who has a competition ban for evading a forum ban and disrespecting CAL admins. But Funshine was missing in their Round 2 match against Nuccastyle. I’m not sure if that was a temporary absence or not, but they’ll need him playing if they want to beat x6. Plus, the possibility of a Brawwwr/Funshine AWP duel has me salivating. Mid on Fire, ramp/outside on Nuke, and Mid on Strike are all good places for AWPers to show off their skills. If you, too, wish you could be called an AWP whore on dust2 pubs, I highly recommend watching either of those guys.

As for x6, their roster is rock solid. You can count on the same five guys playing every match. The only thing that concerns me is their play on Nuke; they played Pandemic during the Combine and barely pulled out a win. Even with a little bit of roster problems, Devastation has enough talent to force the third map, and I think they’re more likely to get a win on Nuke than Fire.

In the end, though, I’ve got x6 moving on. They beat Dev in the regular season, and I don’t think Fire and Strike will be kind to Devastation’s roster. 

x6 > Dev 2-1

Fire: 16-12
Nuke: 14-16
Strike: 16-13


As a predictor, I predict this picture will not make sense until the end of the predictions. Catch the good luck!


LucK vs. Old School Gamers
– This match has similar qualities to the first one, especially since I’ve heard that LucK isn’t exactly bootcamping to make sure they win the tournament. 

Believe me, there are few things scarier, as a predictor, than trying to judge how a team will play if they’re not practicing. Some teams can rely on raw talent and blow everybody away, and some teams have played together for so long they have a natural chemistry. On the other hand, I’ve known teams that fall apart faster than a house made of wet toilet paper. Which, having never seen such a house, I can only assume is really fast.

That being said, I think I’m getting a little reprieve, in this case. LucK has messiaH and Allbrook, who should be familiar with each other from their days as Forbidden teammates. The other members of LucK have been around the block once or twice as a team, too.

Because of that, I think they’ll have enough familiarity, and talent, to overcome the lack of practice. If we need any proof, just look at their last two opponents. cyberXtreme and Default are both Main teams, and LucK gave up 10 and 11 rounds, respectively. I don’t think OSG poses more of a threat than either of them. Look for LucK to take the first two maps in a quick series.

Luck > OSG 2-0

Fire: 16-12
Nuke: 16-9
Strike: 16-12 (if necessary)


Unheardof vs. It Takes Five
– I have to come clean: I’m not a genius. I get a lot of things wrong, and the things I get right are usually through sheer luck. But, there’s one thing I do know: it’s always a downer when your teammate craters in a critical 1v1 situation. It’s just not good for team morale. With that in mind, it’s probably good that guy isn’t active for IT5 right now.

That didn't happen in the eMg tournament, though, and IT5 has played really well so far. Unfortunately, I think the ride ends here, but no before they take Unheardof to the brink. The one time I predicted a loss for IT5, they got a huge win. I’m not going to underestimate them again.

I have no idea how the matches will actually play out, but it feels like they’ll need Strike to decide the winner. Just from talking with a couple IT5 members, I think they’re excited to be here and want to prove themselves against top-notch opponents. This is their chance, and I’ll think they’ll be able to steal Fire through sheer desire and preparation. 

In the end, though, Unheardof is just a little more talented, in my mind, and a little more experienced. They should be able to bounce back on Nuke, and I think they’ll pull out a close win on Strike to close the series. 

It could go either way, but trust me when I say this: the series will be a lot more intense, and rewarding, than falling off a ladder.

? > IT5 2-1

Fire: 13-16
Nuke: 16-11
Strike: 16-14


I am the predicting piñata. Beat me with a stick, and good luck, predicted winners winning, and predicted losers proving me wrong will come pouring out.


 
July 11, 2007

The CPL is using Source

The CPL is using Source? 

The CPL is using Source! 

I think that sums up the community reaction very nicely: a combination of fact, surprise, and excitement. If you’re the guy who makes up the CAL schedule, the reaction is probably more like, “oh CRAP, the CPL IS (dramatic pause) USING SOURCE.”

The difference is simple.  The CPL is a month away, and now CAL has to fit everything in before the competition. What’s everything? The end of the regular season, the playoffs, and next season’s placement tournament. They need to get those done for a couple reasons: the playoffs will affect the CPL seeding, and if they wait on the placement tournament, they’ll have scheduling problems in the winter.

There’s no margin for error, there.  If they push back the PT, they’re waiting for teams to get back, and then there’s the actual matches. Factor those in, and you’re not starting next season until the middle of September (even later if there’s a pre-season). Going by the normal eight week schedule, that means the regular season ends in middle to late November. Throw in another eMg tournament along the way, add in the playoffs, and now you’re ditching Santa Claus for SANTAZREAL in the CAL-M Finals.


Sorry, fat man, I've got to pwn some CAL-Main kiddies. I'll catch you next year. Dump the panda, bring a Wii.

So, it’s looking a little tight, and there are changes to the Main playoff format and the placement tournament for next season. Don’t worry, I’ve got all the information you need to know.

First, rosters are going to be locked starting on July 22nd. One of the complaints from last season’s PT was using glorified ringers. The rosters remained open for the duration, but some players were only added specifically to play one match. That's been kiboshed.

The CAL-Main playoffs are going to be a little different this season. The top sixteen teams will be competing in one double-elimination postseason, regardless of conference. The finalists will get into CAL-I. There will be a run-off for third place, to determine who gets the prizes offered from eMg Servers. 

Right now, the tournament is in for a larger overhaul. Nothing is set in stone, but the plan is to have the third to eighth place finishers from the Main playoffs join the bottom six teams from Invite to form a twelve team tournament. If teams die, there might be special considerations, so it might not be a six/six split. But, based on the complaints from last season of having too many Open/Intermediate teams in the tournament, this time it'll focus more on the upper-tier teams.

For both the playoffs and the tournament, all the matches will be on Central servers. There’s going to be a special rule for the last two weeks of the regular season to help Pacific and Atlantic teams adapt: teams from those conferences will be allowed to play their half of a match on a Central server. The nitty-gritty of the rule and its implication can be found here, but that’s the gist of it.

Here’s the schedule and map rotation for the Main playoffs and the PT.


Main Playoffs

Round 1: August 1st, de_train
Round 2: August 5th, de_cpl_mill
Round 3: August 8th, de_dust2
Round 4: August 12th, de_nuke
Round 5: August 14th, de_contra
Round 6: August 16th, de_inferno
Consolation Finals: August 16th, de_inferno

Round 7 (Finals): August 19th, de_cpl_mill


Placement Tournament

Round 1: August 19th, de_train
Round 2: August 22nd, de_inferno
Round 3: August 26th, de_nuke

Note that the schedule for the Main playoffs is a little rushed at the end, with matches being played on the 12th, 14th, and 16th. Also, the Finals and the first PT match are on the same day. The finalists both get auto-berths into Invite, though, so they won’t be taking part in the placement tournament.


And, just in case you like everything nice and neat, here’s what’s going on in numbered fasion.

1) The CAL-M playoffs will be one double-elimination tournament with the best sixteen teams, regardless of conference.

2) The top two finishers will be in Invite for Season 9.

3) Barring special circumstances, the third to eighth place teams get an entry into the placement tournament, along with the bottom six finishers in Invite.

4) All matches for the playoffs and PT must be played on Central servers. To help Pacific and Atlantic teams adjust, this rule will be in effect the last two weeks of the regular season.

There’s only one more thing to cover for next season. It’s far from guaranteed, but there’s a chance CAL-Invite will have a $1,000 prize pool for Season 9. CAL|Shawn is working on making that happen, and hopefully we’ll have more news regarding that in the near future.

Of course, I’ll be doing coverage the rest of the Invite season and the playoffs. And, depending on what happens, I’ll probably be covering the placement tournament. I might even decide to write about the CAL-M playoffs. Then there's coverage for other leagues, and the CPL in late August.

I should start writing now, or else I’ll never get around to everything.

Oh CRAP. The CPL is using SOURCE.

Tags:
CAL

 
July 11, 2007

Taking a quick look back, my record from the first three rounds was 70-25. Add in the 13-3 record from last week, and we’re at 83-28. For anybody that’s not a mathematical genius, that works to a winning percentage of 74.8%.

We’re at a strange place in the predictions. I wouldn’t say it’s purgatory, but we’re certainly stuck somewhere. There are five CAL-Invite teams left, and one team that’s ripping up CAL-Main. Those six teams are playing in six different maches. Not to take anything away from the teams that made it this far, but it looks like there will be some lopsided scores. 


Where did all the good matches go? Hello? Are there any CAL-I match-ups out there?

(There were plenty in earlier rounds, too, but the sheer number of matches made up for it. When you have 128 teams, there are bound to be a few exciting games. Now? Not so much.)

So, as a warning, I'd rather not point out the obvious in some of the matches. Let’s face it, you don’t need an all-star predictor to tell you Check-Six is probably going to beat fragout! I’ll try to keep things moving along.


Round 4 (de_cpl_mill)

FragTech vs. recKoning – In my mind, this match has the potential to be interesting. FragTech has plenty of CAL-M talent on their roster, and if recKoning takes them lightly or isn’t practicing much, they could be in for a surprise. 

I’d be in for a surprise, too, because barring some motivational disaster, I doubt recKoning will lose. FragTech is a good team, but I don’t think these teams are on the same level. But at least there's a chance, which is more than some of these matches have.

recK > Frag 16-10


volatile vs. Legerity –I really hope this ends up being played, but it’s not looking good right now. volatile has a player on vacation, the rosters are locked, and I’m not sure that they can get it rescheduled. It’s too bad, because it’d be a good match.

Legerity is one of the CAL-I teams left, but volatile is a good CAL-M team and they’ve been playing well thus far, too. Their 19-17 overtime win against Panty Raid surprised me, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve underestimated a team. 

Congratulations to them for the overtime win, but if this match does get played I think it will be a lot like the recKoning/FragTech match: good, but the CAL-I team takes home a comfortable victory.

Legerity > volatile 16-10


fragout! vs. Check-Six –
This is the first match that has name value and almost no chance to be exciting. I don’t see any way this could be a close. 

Well, that’s a lie. I’ve got a pretty good imagination, so allow me to illustrate the situation.

NightFall decides to remake Heroic (read: make Heroic), and pays BadappleS to leave x6. fragout! learns of Misty’s love for the Die Hard movies and arranges a getaway with Bruce Willis (but you didn’t hear that from me, fragout). Brawwwr pisses off a witch and gets turned into a One Eyed Zombler, which clearly means he has to retire from CS. 

Now they’re down to two players, and I think all those situations are totally possible. If all that happened, Check-Six would have to play 2 v 5, and I’d still predict them to win 16-14. But it’d be a close match.

I’m not sure if they could really win 2 v 5, but you get the point. Check-Six is probably going to run through fragout ! with no problem.

x6 > fo! 16-2


Devastation vs. Ever Sports – See: Check-Six prediction, eMg Round 4. The one you just read.

Sorry, Ever Sports, it just ain’t happening. You’ve done really well so far, giving up only 4 rounds in the first three rounds. That’s going to go up. 

A lot.

(Sixteen rounds, to be exact.)

Dev > ES 16-4


Is it just me, or does the big guy look hungry enough to eat a child-sized cheeseburger?


Default vs. LucK –
LucK should come out of this with a pretty easy win.  They played cyberX in Round 3, winning 16-10, although I think cX played pretty well. They were down a couple starters, and you could tell it hurt them. LucK jumped out to big leads to start both halves, and once cX got used to their roster and LucK’s strats they started picking up rounds.

Against a less talented team, they probably would have won, but you can’t give up five or six straight rounds to start a half and come back against a CAL-I team. They’ll pick up enough rounds to close you out. 

So, in the end, LucK pulled out the win. This matchup should be easier for them; Default is 5-3 in Main, cX is undefeated.

LucK > Default 16-7


Exitium vs. Old School Gamers –
This is really the first interesting matchup (read: a match either team could actually win). Exitium has done well in Intermediate, compiling a 4-2 record, but OSG is a solid main team. Their record in Main isn’t that impressive, but their tournament results have been great.Their 16-2 win over Wal-Mart security certainly got my attention. wMs used to be a Main team, and they’ve still got players with Main experience on the roster. Beating them 16-2 is no small feat. 

Granted, it’s not like beating Check-Six 16-2, but I still think it’s a sign that they’ve been playing well. I’ll give them the nod in a close match.

OSG > Exitium 16-13


str!ke vs. Unheardof – 
I’ve said it before: I’m all about getting an easy win. All the rewards, none of the work. But at some point, str!ke has to play a match, right? They’ve advanced on three forfeit wins so far, and that’s actually impressive in its own way.

Could a team win a whole tournament by making the other teams forfeit? I can almost guarantee it hasn’t been done before. I say almost because there’s no way I’m looking it up, and I don’t have the results of every online tournament ever held, so I can’t say for sure. But still, it’s a mortal lock.

In general, we see more forfeits than 16-0 wins, but a team has to be totally dedicated to screwing over their opponents to advance on free wins. You need a whole list of excuses: medical visits, work schedules, school projects, family obligations, and maybe even a pet emergency (I have to take my dog to the vet, he just ate my iguana, etc). Any team that can pull that off has my respect.

str!ke will need that kind of dedication, because Unheardof should take the match easily if it’s not a forfeit.

? > str!ke 16-4


Featured Match

Newbies Operating vs. It Takes Five – Who would have thought this would be the featured match with five CAL-I teams left? You can take the big names, I’ll take the excitement. 

I’m still a little stunned by IT5’s demolishing of Energie. When you miss a prediction that badly, it shakes you a little bit. You do your best to put it behind you and come out fighting the next day, but man, it’s there in the back of my mind. I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same again. 

Glad I got that off my chest, I feel better now.

Both teams have done well so far, but I was a little confused by NO’s overtime victory against Ruin. I might have overestimated them a little bit, and given IT5’s performance, I’m going to give them a close win.

IT5 > NO 16-14


(Note: I’ve already written the Legerity/volatile prediction, but the match has already been played. It was a 16-13 win for Legerity, but I’m leaving the prediction in, anyway. Just wanted to give everybody a heads-up.)

(Second Note: it5 just finished their match against NO, as well, resulting in a 16-9 victory.)

Wait, it’s over already? I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel like I still owe you another thousand words. 

Not really.

LANDodger special offer: all teams get good luck, predicted winners win, predicted losers prove me wrong. Offer not valid in Alaska, Hawaii, or the contiguous United States. You must be 18 or older to receive this special offer. Void where prohibited.


 

Tonight, as I started the predictions, I was very happy. For the first time during the eMg tournament, the list of teams was less than a page long. There’s extra white stuff on Page 1 after the last matchup. This brought a joy to my heart, the kind which only comes when you see the light after days and days of darkness.

Taking a quick look back at the last set of predictions, my record was 24-8 for Round 2, bringing my overall record to 70-25 with one missing match. (That match, like the sock my dryer eats, will never be found.) In my defense, six of the bad predictions from Round 2 were on forfeits. Throwing out all the FFs for the second round, my record was 16-2. Just don’t look at how bad the round predictions were. It’s not pretty.



The first clothes dryer came in 1799, and that's when the war started. We've been on the run ever since, moving mostly on foot.
eMazing Preds: Round 3 (de_train)

The Bill Cosby Seakings vs. FragTech – The Bill Cosby Seakings had a big first round victory and a forfeit win over Serious Gamers in the second round, but I don’t think they’re going to pose much of a problem for FragTech.

To make the match more interesting, I humbly submit they actually get Bill Cosby to play. I think he’d make a great CS player. He’s all over the place, he’s random, and you can barely understand what he’s saying. In other words, he’s a typical gamer. (wtf omg nowai ur rong.) As an added bonus, he can lift everybody’s spirits if the match doesn’t go well.

FragTech > TBCS 16-5


recKoning vs. Bananas in Pajamas
– I figured rsyn would give recKoning a run for their money, but it was an even longer run than I thought. I pegged them for a nice mile, and they did that plus a sprint (overtime). recKoning came out with a 19-17 win, which wasn’t even the closest match in Round 2 (more on this in a later prediction).

BiP destroyed their opponent 16-2, which just goes to show you should never mess around with Bananas in pajamas. You play with fire, you’re gonna get burned. You play with BiP, you’re gonna get … banana mush stains on your pajamas?

Anyway, this should be another fairly close match, although I think BiP isn’t quite as strong as rsyn was. recKoning should be able to pull out the win and advance into the e-Sweet Sixteen.

recK > BiP 16-11


volatile vs. Panty Raid – Of course Panty Raid is playing against the only team left in the tournament with a female starter. What else would you expect? It was destined from the beginning, just like every forum thread is destined to have at least one flame. It's just a matter of when.

volatile is a solid team, but Panty Raid is going to be too strong. They’ve got some very talented players, and should be able to take the match pretty easily.

PR > volatile 16-9


Cyber Phenom vs. Legerity
– I’d peg this as the featured match, but I’m penalizing Cyber Phenom for getting a forfeit win over The Real Untouchables last round. Not only did it ruin my prediction, but it was the featured match for Round 2. Boo, I say! BOOOOO!

I’m just kidding, of course. There’s just a matchup I like a little better later on in the predictions. This is pretty much opt ion 1B, though, considering they’re both CAL-I teams. As luck would have it, they’ve played each other in Invite already, with Legerity getting an 18-12 win.

I think I’ve predicted CP to lose 900 times. Feels like it, anyway, and now it’s going to feel like 901. Really, I think this match could go either way, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see an OT match. Legerity hasn’t been setting the world on fire. Their 2-6 record wouldn’t even light tinder, at this point. But I’m sticking with them on the strength of their earlier win and the fact that most of their losses have been very close matches. Hopefully they pick up a close win, here.

Legerity > CP 16-14


fragout! vs. obsceNe! – Battle of the exclamation points! 

fragout eliminated itasamassacre! I couldn’t believe it! It was a forfeit win, but still! They’re only a 3-3 CAL-IM team, it’s not like they’re CAL-I!

Three forfeit wins between them! That’s obscene (pun intended)! Speaking of obscene, they’re 4-0 in Open! What a record!

Mercifully, no more exclamation points. obsceNe! has been really good in CAL-O, and it’s a little hard to gauge fragout! because they haven’t played a match yet in the tournament. I think o! will take it, but it shouldn’t be a blowout.

obsceNe! > fragout! 16-10



Simon disapproves of CAL-I teams forfeiting matches. Trust me, we talk all the time.
Check-Six vs. Just Cause Project – Here lies Just Cause Project. 

They were a good team with good players, in the right place at the wrong time. x6 was looking for revenge after two 14-16 losses in CAL-I. jCp was their next opponent. It was a good run.

jCp: Round 1 – Round 3, eMg Tournament. Rest in e-peace.

x6 > jCp 16-6


Amped Gaming vs. Devastation – I’m not sure if I misjudged a team more than I did Nuccastyle. I predicted them to lose a close match in the first round, and I predicted them to lose huge to Devastation in the second round. They won their first match and took Dev to double overtime before losing 22-20. 22-20! Gotta give props for that performance, even if they did completely ruin two predictions. Well played, sirs. Well played.

I don’t think Dev will have that much of problem with Amped. At least I hope not. I don’t like missing match predictions by more than ten rounds, even though you can’t tell that from the actual results, sometimes.

Dev > Amped 16-3


Ever Sports vs. Up in Smoke! – Up in Smoke has won both of their matches on forfeits, which is my favorite way of advancing. Keep your earned wins, I’ll take the free pass, thanks.

If this match gets played, Ever Sports is probably going to take it easily. They’ve already dispatched a 3-1 CAL-O team by a 16-2 margin, and I don’t see a reason for this match to be much different.

ES > UiS 16-4


Fluid Gaming vs. Default – This has the makings of a good match. Default has played well in Main, but they seem inconsistent. They had a 16-14 loss to cyberXtreme, the top team in Pacific Main, but they also got blown out by FragFacile, a 4-4 team. They barely beat IN1HIT, another 4-4 team. They’re pretty hard to gauge.

Fluid has a close loss to Blood Sports in Intermediate, and they got blown out by Lateral Gaming for their other loss. But they’ve been doing well overall, and it looks like they’re a pretty solid team. Default will need to play like the team that hung with cyberX, or else they’ll be in trouble. I’m giving them the win, but Fluid could pull off an upset.

Default > Fluid 16-12


Featured Match

cyberXtreme vs. LucK – When I made the prediction for cX in the first round and people were miffed about it, they all said one thing: cX is an Invite-caliber team. Now we get to see how true that is.

LucK is 5-3 right now in Invite, and they’re a very, very good team. They’ve got two former members of Forbidden, messiaH and Allbrook, and the rest of their players are really solid. I’ve had a chance to watch them a couple times, and I’ve been impressed with the quality of their play (even in their losses).

To be honest, I’m not sure cyberXtreme will be up to the challenge. Their record in Main is a perfect 8-0, but their last two wins have been 16-14 over two teams near .500. LucK is almost certainly better than that.  I’m not sure if it was just an off-day or two, but they’ll need to play better to get a win here.

So, if you couldn’t tell, I’m going with LucK. It’s the match I’d like to see the most, and it’ll give us a little glimpse into how cX stacks up to Invite. I think they’ll fall just short of a win, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I end up predicting their Invite matches next season.

LucK > cX 16-13


Exitium vs. Devil 13 – Devil 13 has either done well to make it this far, or they’ve signed the Kurt Warner deal with the Devil: you come from obscurity to make headlines, only to fall off the face of the earth three years later. 

Putting aside the question of whether it’s morally wrong to sell your soul for e-fame, Exitium should be able to win. Devil 13 has played well up to this point, but they do have a 10-20 loss on their record in Open, and Exitium only has two close losses to two of the top teams in Intermediate. In other words, Exitium is one of the top teams in IM, as well, and that should be more than D13 can handle.

(Just a random thought: if the rap group D12 is known as the Dirty Dozen, can they add a member and become D13, the Dirty Baker’s Dozen? Or would that cost them too much street cred?)

Exitium > D13 16-8



When the Devil handed him the contract, do you think he fumbled that, too? Or just the pen?
Old School Gamers vs. Wal-Mart Security – I’d love to give some deep analysis here. The kind of statements that not only make the match so clear it’s obvious who will win, but also seems to make your whole life a little more focused. 

But, I got nuthin’. Honestly, I think the teams will be evenly matched, and it should be one of the most exciting matches to watch in Round 3. Each team has players with Main experience, but neither is really overpowering. 

When I can’t use reason to analyze a match, I stick with my gut. And my gut tells me I’m hungry.

And OSG will win a close match.

OSG > wMs 16-12


Livinproof vs. str!ke – Oh, how my desire went horribly wrong. I was really hoping to predict an I ATE EVERYONE/fatties match in this spot. Careful readers will note that neither of them are here. I take full responsibility for placing the LD curse upon them. I said that matchup needed to happen, and clearly that was too much bad karma. I hope they can forgive me.

str!ke is another team here on two forfeit wins, and they’re only 2-2 in CAL-O. There’s really nothing to suggest they’re a dominant team. Even though Livinproof is only 3-1 in Open, they did have an impressive victory against fatties, and their results in Open have been better, in general. I’ll give them the nod, here, and hope that str!ke doesn’t receive a third forfeit win.

Why am I hoping they won’t receive a forfeit win? To save everybody the three str!kes and you’re out jokes that are bound to follow.

LP > str!ke 16-9


Unheardof vs. Blood Sports – I was impressed by Unheardof’s victory over Vendetta, I thought it’d be more of a fight. Which is to say, I thought it would at least be a fight. 16-1 is a massacre.

Blood Sports has two solid wins, but the opponents haven’t been anything special. They’re 5-1 in IM, and it looks like they’ll be in Main next season. They’re a pretty solid team, but I doubt they’ll pose much of a threat to the CAL-I hopefuls.

? >Blood Sports 16-8


Newbies Operating vs. Ruin – I underestimated NO in the first round, and tried to make up for it in the second round by pointing out a couple players that I recognized, hoping that would explain my error. I was wrong, again. I was informed by FLuX, through the LD comment box, that the players I picked out don’t even play anymore. Sigh. Can nothing be straightforward?

That being said, they’ve still got players with CAL-M experience, and that was the basic message of what I said before.

Both teams are in CAL-IM, with NO sporting a more impressive record. Based on that and their performances thus far, I think NO is definitely the stronger team. 

NO >Ruin 16-9


It Takes Five vs. inFusion – I didn’t give IT5 a real prediction last time, which prompted a comment on my thoughts from their first round match against Energie.

For anybody that doesn’t keep a complete list of all my predictions next to their desk, and shame on you if you don’t, I’ll summarize it here: I predicted a close win for Energie (16-12), and the result was a 16-1 win for IT5.

And because I like to give the fans what they want, I’ll give my thoughts on that match here. From a prediction standpoint, I think four words sum it up: swing and a miss! Although, to be fair, this wasn’t any ordinary miss. This was one of those Bugs Bunny swings where the player misses the same ball three times. Whoops!

In the larger perspective, I think it supports two things very nicely. The first being there are really talented teams (and players) in every division of CAL. Just because we haven’t heard of player “X” or team “Y” doesn’t mean they’re not every bit as talented as the players we watch in Invite. I’m not sure whether IT5 is one of those teams or has those players, because it was only one match. But they’re out there. It’s just a matter of finding them.

The other thing their match supports, in my mind, is the whole reason for this tournament. One of the goals was to give teams from Open and Intermediate a chance to play against some top teams, either as a learning experience or to prove their mettle. Personally, I think it’s cool to see teams with potential realize they can hang with the big dogs, and hopefully it was a fun experience for all the teams involved thus far.

After saying all that and seeing IT5 just completely demolish my first round prediction, I sure hope they can take out inFusion (4-0 in Open). If not, I’ll have even more egg on my face.

IT5 >inF 16-6


In LANDodger predictions, there is (are):

[  ] Good luck to all teams
[  ] Wins for the predicted winners
[  ] Predicted losers proving me wrong
[x] All of the above


 
July 5, 2007

eMg Predictions: Round 2

Just for fun, I went back to see how I did for the first round of predictions. I ended up going 46-17, which was better than I expected. Math wizards will realize that adds up to 63 matches, and 64 were played. Well, I missed one somewhere when I was counting, and at this point I’m not going back through them all.
(By the way if you’re ever thinking about doing that many predictions, don’t plan on doing anything productive for the next couple days. It just won’t happen. Thirty-two predictions on the other hand … well, after you’ve done sixty-four, that’s child’s play.)

Also, my apologies for the later release. Two things conspired against me: a rekindling of my love for Diablo 2, and the wussiest power connection ever. 

After going on a Starcraft binge and a Diablo 2 binge, my gaming desires are clearly a parabola. I peaked with CS:Source (graphically/temporally), and now I’m heading all the way back to the NES. By the time 2015 rolls around, I’ll be back to Source and writing about a great game called Spore that I just picked up.

As for my electricity, I don’t know about anybody else living in Florida, but mine seems to go out during any decently sized storm. If I had to compare it to a video game character, it’d be Glass Joe. But even that’s an insult to him, because I think he could down my electricity in one fell swoop. It’s that pathetic. We had a storm today, and I’m without power for four hours. I had to “clean”, and “do stuff”. Ridiculous.

So, sorry about the delays, but here are the Round 2 predictions for the eMg Tournament!


eMg Tournament, Round 2 (de_contra)


Serious Gamers vs. The Bill Cosby Seakings
– The Bills Cosby Seakings made quick work of their Round 1 opponent, Creation of Destructive Entities, winning 16-3. Serious Gamers got a forfeit win. I assume this was because their serious nature intimidated their opponent, IthinkThey’reGoingLongAYatheyre@A.

(I doubt that’s what actually happened. I just needed to put that team name in a prediction again, and this was probably my last chance.)

Serious Gamers has a couple guys with CAL-M or CAL-I experience on their team, and I think they’re the stronger team despite TBCS’s strong showing in Round 1.

SG > TBCS 16-9



Dismay Gaming: propagating Dismay through gaming, one win at a time.
FragTech vs. Dismay Gaming – In a crushing defeat to optimists everywhere, Dismay gaming beat ROFL gaming in Round 1. It was a sad, sad day in the history of upbeat, happy-go-lucky eSports.

Joking aside, FragTech is a strong team. I mentioned in Round 1 that they had some members from the old Nemesis CAL-M team, but that was a little overstated. They do have two members from n3m playing for them, but I mistakenly put dampFire on their old roster in my memory. He was actually from MIDnite, a different CAL-M team. Sorry for the confusion, when you get long in the tooth (23) like I am, your memory starts to go.

That being said, he was still on a CAL-M team, and I think FragTech is a Main-caliber team. Much to the dismay of their opponent (PUN ALERT), they should be able to get a comfortable win.

FragTech > Dismay 16-9 


recKoning vs. Recon Syndicates
– This should be a really good match. recKoning is a current CAL-Invite team, and rsyn is a former CAL-I team. I’m not sure what rsyn’s roster is compared to their old squad, but it looks like they have at least a couple members from looking at the history of the STEAMIDs. 

If this was another team, I’d probably give rsyn the win. Meeting up with recKoning this early is just a little bit of bad luck. recK was mediocre in Invite before a couple recent wins that brought back memories from their excellent CEVO-P performance. They should be strong enough to take down the former Invite team.

 recK > rsyn 16-12


Three Times Blessed vs. Bananas in Pajamas – If I never, ever, EVER have to predict a match between two CAL-O teams again, I’ll be a very happy man. In fact, I’ll consider myself three times blessed, and I’ll even sleep with bananas in my pajamas to make it happen. That’s how desperate I am.

How do you distinguish between two 4-0 CAL-O teams without delving into their whole clan history and simultaneously boring the crap out of everybody that actually wants to read all thirty-two predictions? I don’t think it’s possible. And if it is, I’m not skilled enough as a writer to do it.

With that in mind, these are two 4-0 CAL-O teams. One of them will win, one of them will lose, and the last one has problems counting. Personally, I think BiP will win.

BiP > 3XB 16-12


Impetus -#wootgaming vs. volatile – In my Round 1 prediction for volatile, I referenced Heather Mumm as Jon “Juan” Mumm’s sister. Not only was that confirmed, but she added this on the forums: “Confirmed. The CAL skill runs in the family...from my dad's side to be specific.”

Now, I don’t want to start up any Mumm family drama, but it begs the question: does that imply their mom is a CAL-O newb? I'm not insinuating anything, but being of sharp intellect and quick wit, I couldn't help but notice the implications of such a statement.

(Actually, my intellect is quite dull and my wit slower than ... something really slow ... but after hours of thought I finally realized the implications of what she said and decided to poke fun at it. This is why it's dangerous to respond to anything I say. One minute you're confirming a mundane fact, and the next minute I'm joking about your family on a blog that has a readership of at least two handfuls.)

Family jokes aside (please don't hate me), I don't think this match should pose much of a problem for volatile. They're a good team, and Impetus hasn't proven they're on their level yet.

volatile > impwoot 16-7


Vagary vs. Panty Raid
– I’ve learned my lesson from Round 1: you should always go with the Panty Raid. I discounted them a little bit because they were in CAL-O, but they’ve got players with top-level experience. Wukev, cleverly disguised on the roster as vekuw, is a former CAL-I player, as is JimrockFord. I'm not familiar with some of the other players, but they have CAL-M experience, as well.

They should be able to pull out a victory here and move on to Round 3.

PR > Vagary 16-8


Featured Match

The Real Untouchables vs. Cyber Phenom – Hey, I know these guys! This is our first big match of the tournament. Both teams are from CAL-I, so hopefully there will be a scorebot or SourceTV up. If so, I encourage everybody to watch, it should be a great match.

CP has been playing a little better recently, going 2-3 in their last five matches. That includes a double-OT loss to Check-Six, which, despite being a loss, is somewhat impressive. They also did well on Contra earlier in the season, going 2-0 on the map against ajnin and itsamassacre. But they have lost to the top teams: EXTREMITY, LucK, Devastation, and Legerity.

TRU hasn’t done that much better, going 3-3 so far this season. (They’ve played three fewer matches than CP.) They’ve had similar results against their common opponents, but they’ve also made some big pickups. They snagged Exigent after EXTREMITY died, and he’s been, statistically, one of the best players in CAL-I.

Meanwhile, CP struggles to get a consistent effort outside of Demonic. When other players step up, they’ve played well. But those efforts seem to be erratic, and TRU’s lineup looks a little stronger right now, especially with the new pickups. TRU should take it in a squeaker.

TRU > CP 16-13


Total Chaos Gaming vs. Legerity – Total Chaos Gaming got a forfeit win to advance to Round 2, but that’s probably where the ride ends. Legerity shut out their first opponent, and they should have an easy time with anybody that isn’t at least a CAL-M playoff team.

Legerity > TCG 16-4



It's a great wave. Just make sure you watch out for the docks.
fragout! vs. HURRICANE – I made a surfer joke about fragout! in the first round, and now they’re playing the surfer’s worst nightmare: hurricanes.
On second thought, that doesn’t make sense. Not many people try to surf during a hurricane. Sane people, anyway.

(Anybody wanna go hurricane surfing? I hear it’s awesome.)

Anyway. About the actual match: they’re both CAL-IM teams, but HURRICANE has a better record, and I think their wins have been a little more impressive. They beat a 5-1 team and a 4-2 team, and they blew out a 3-3 team. Fragout! happens to be a 3-3 team, and they’ve been hanging tight against teams with similar records, losing one match in Double OT and winning another 16-14. HURRICANE should be able to take this, but it’ll be pretty close.

HURRICANE > fo! 16-12


obsceNe! Vs. {OSK} – obsceNe! had a big win in Round 1, and they’ve been pretty much tearing up CAL-O. That doesn’t bode well for {OSK}, a 2-2 CAL-O team. obsceNe! should be able to win without too much difficulty.

oN! > {OSK} 16-6


emptyshell vs. Check-Six – Ways emptyshell can win this match:


One sec, I’m thinking.

Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain?

Yeah, I got nuthin’. Sorry emptyshell, I think you’re in for a tough time against the 9-0 CAL-I team.

Check-Six > emptyshell 16-2


Just Cause Project vs. IN1HIT – Through most of the predictions, I’ve stuck with the team that’s in the higher league. A 3-5 CAL-M team got a predicted win over a 4-2 CAL-IM team. I think this is the time to break that trend.

IN1HIT hasn’t impressed me that much, and jCp has been doing well in IM. Their only loss came to Newbies Operating, and that team got a big bump in my rankings (more on this in the NO prediction). I’m going to break my tradition and give a close win to jCp, although I think it could go either way.

jCp > IN1HIT 16-13


Syntax of Gaming vs. AmpedGaming – I predicted SoG to get a big win in the first round because they’ve got a nice little LD logo on their site. They came through for me with a 16-5 win. They’ve got a much harder match-up this time, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see their eMg tournament come to end.

But I’m gonna dance with the girl that brought me to the dance. Even though there’s a smoking hot chick across the room waving me over.

(That’s a metaphor, of course. Smoking hot chicks aren’t interest in LANDodgers.)

If SoG does pull out a win, I humbly request a promotion in the left-hand column over “Danger Force". I don’t ask for much. Really.

SoG > AmpedGaming 16-13


Devastation vs. Nuccastyle – I predicted Nuccastyle to lose a close match in Round 1. They won 16-6.

Congratulations! As your prize, you get to play Devastation in Round 2. Have fun.

Honestly, they’re obviously a better team than I gave them credit for. I’ll happily admit that, but at the same time, it’s Devastation. I can’t pick against Devastation, no matter how much I underestimated the other team. 

Although, if they do manage to knock off Dev, I think I’d be morally obligated to pick them to win at least the next two rounds, even if the Devil and the Four Horsemen put together a CS:S team.

Dev > Nuccastyle 16-8


Ever Sports vs. DynastyGaming – Dynasty has done pretty well thus far in CAL-O, and they even left a nice “thank you” in the match comments for Round 1. But they got plastered by eCa, the top team in Atlantic-Omega, and I don’t think they’re on par with a top CAL-IM team like Ever Sports.

ES > DG 16-7


Pure.Gaming vs. Up in Smoke! – During a tournament, it’s not often that your second round match-up looks significantly easier than your first. But CAL is all about breaking the mold. Or something.

Pure beat Enemy, a 4-2 CAL-IM team in the first round, and now they’re paired up against a 3-1 CAL-Open team with a 6-24 loss to ERFQUAKE! (Again, I needed to get the team name in.) Maybe it’s not a huge downgrade, but I think Pure should be able to take this match, as well.

Pure > UIS 16-9


Fluid Gaming vs. Rising Five – Battle of the forfeit wins! 

Rising Five has been a good team in CAL-O thus far, going 4-0. They haven’t really DOMINATED, but they’ve won most of their matches in convincing fashion.

Fluid is from Intermediate, where they’ve lost two matches to a couple top teams, and they’ve played evenly with a couple 3-3 teams. They don’t seem like a team that will blow you away, but they’re solid enough. 

If Rising was a little more dominant, I’d probably give them the nod. But they didn’t blow out a mediocre OxideGaming team, and that lowers their stock a little bit. I’m going to stick with the IM team, for now.

Fluid > Rising5 16-10



Don't worry, this is just steam from my brain. It'll clear up in a couple days.
Default vs. Soldiers of Chaos – Default is a 5-3 Main team, and nothing that SoC has done in Open or in Round 1 suggests they’re anything more than an upper-tier Open or decent Intermediate team. Default shouldn’t have too much trouble, here.



Default > SoC 16-9


LucK vs. Rhapsody – Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say here. LucK shouldn’t have any problems moving on to the next round. 
They should meet up with cyberXtreme in Round 3, which will be a great match.

LucK > Rhapsody 16-3


cyberXtreme vs. WeWar
– I predicted cyberXtreme to lose in Round 1 as a joke, and people seemed to take it a little too seriously. The score just happened to be the punch line of the text in the prediction. 

But come on, does anybody think I’d be crazy enough to predict an 8-0 CAL-Main team to lose and mean it? I’ll admit I might be a little crazy, but that’s Mike Tyson crazy right there. 

WeWar had a close win in Round 1, but that’s probably as far as they’re going to get. Rather than use the score as a punch line again and ruffle even more feathers, I’m just going to predict who I honestly think will win the match. I hope you’re happy.

(Jerks.)

(Just kidding, I still love everybody.)

cyberX > WeWar 16-6


soLgaming vs. Devil 13
-- Sadly, my brother is now 0-1 all-time as a predictor. He thought Team Divine would beat Devil 13 in the classic matchup of good vs. evil. Clearly, my brother is a noob. (And he’s a noob that can beat me up. Don’t worry, I appease him with groveling and monetary tributes.)

soL has been a decent team in IM, and they’ve been very good against the low-tier teams. My gut instinct is that Devil 13 fits into the low-tier IM area, but it’s hard to tell from a few match results. I’ll go with my instincts.

soL > D13 16-8 


Exitium vs. Invader
– Exitium just got done beating a 3-1 Open team in the first Round, and they’re facing another one in Round 2. I don’t see any reason to go against them after they just beat a team with the same record. In fact, I’ll even give them the same amount of rounds they won, just in case lightning strikes twice.

Exitium > Invader 16-6


Powerline vs. Old School Gamers – Here’s one thing I’ll never understand about gaming and forums: a guy announces he’s retiring/going inactive because he’s having a kid, and people end up ripping him, his situation, telling him to get an abortion, etc, just because he has a bad reputation in the community. You’re entitled to your opinion, but doesn’t it seem a little bit petty, at that point? He’s having a child, for pete’s sake, and people are still ticked off because they think he’s a LAN dodger (no affiliation)? The magnitude of having a child juxtaposed against the LAN concerns just makes it seem completely ridiculous to harp on, in my mind. 

</rant> 

The match should be a really good one. They’ve got similar records in Main (3-4, 4-4), and Powerline beat a CAL-M team in Round 1. PL has a solid team, including “jettt”, a former CAL-I player. I think they’ll take out OSG in a close match.

PL > OSG 16-13


Allstars vs. Wal-Mart Security – I’m gonna ride the Wal-Mart Security train again. I mentioned before they were a former Main team, and I’m sticking with it. I don’t think they’ll dominate the match; Allstars has a good record in IM. But they should be able to pull out a win, even if it’s close.

wMs > All* 16-12


fatties vs. Livinproof
– I have to predict fatties to win, and I’ll explain why in a minute. The good news is that it doesn’t mean I have to go totally against logic. Fatties is a 5-1 CAL-IM team, while Livinproof has done fairly well in CAL-Open.

Sticking with the CAL-IM team here, especially because of the next prediction.

fatties > Livinproof 16-10


I ATE EVERYONE. vs str!ke
– Maybe it’s just my desire for everything in the universe to have purpose, but fatties has to play I ATE EVERYONE in Round 3. It has to happen. I’m already drooling over possible pictures of Fat Albert, the Donner Party, or anything else dealing with cannibalism or being obesity.

( I’m even considering a picture of “Saturn Eating His Children”, which is a fairly disturbing painting. You can google it, if you want. I’m not putting it up … yet.)

I believe the argument for I ATE EVERYONE goes like this: they’re a 4-0 CAL-O team, while str!ke is 2-2. Plus, Pinnochio plays for I ATE EVERYONE, and if his nose grows long enough he can use it as an aiming mechanism.

Conversely, if you feel something poking you in the back, Pinnochio is probably on your flank.

IAE > str!ke 16-9


You've made it this far! The end is in sight!

Blood Sports vs. Team Rabid
– Blood Sports beat a 2-2 Open team convincingly in Round 1, and as their prize they get to face a 3-1 Open team. They’re slowly moving up the ranks, and I don’t think they’ll have much of a problem yet.

Blood Sports > Rabid 16-10


Vendetta vs. Unheardof – This is probably the second best matchup of Round 2. Vendetta is a 6-2 CAL-Main team, and Unheardof is 7-0 in Main.

That being said, I think Unheardof has the edge, just as their record indicates. Vendetta struggled against some of the competition in Main, and they lost to CyberXtreme 11-19. I’m not sure if Unheardof is quite that strong, but they’re certainly in the discussion, at least. They’ve also gone to overtime with a 3-5 team, and had a 16-14 win over IN1HIT (4-4).

Unheardof has some close matches on their record, too, but they’ve come against a little better competition and their wins against low-tier teams have been by a larger margin, as well. They should be able to beat Vendetta, but it’ll be a good match to watch if you can.

? > Vendetta 16-12


JfK*-Clan vs. Newbies Operating – Newbies Operating shouldn’t have much trouble here. They beat my prediction in Round 1 comfortably, and upon further review, I can see why.

 I blame it on being tired (they were one of the last predictions), but I didn’t recognize NastyNate from All-biz and LucK, both CAL-M teams from a couple seasons back. He’s not their only former CAL-M player, and just to top it off I’ve actually scrimmed with “Jeon” before, and I was very impressed with his aim.

So, basically, I totally underestimated them. They should be able to dispatch JfK Clan easily.

NO > JfK 16-5


Ruin vs. You got ‘d? – You got ‘d eliminated one of my favorite teams from Round 1, Urban Bushido Team Three, but I won’t hold that against them. 
Unfortunately, I will hold their 2-2 CAL-O record against them, and Ruin is 4-2 in CAL-IM.

Also: it’s the 30th prediction, my brain feels like total mush, and I can’t fathom how I made it through 64 of these a couple days ago. I think my guardian angel stepped in and wrote half of them so I wouldn’t go completely crazy. That’s the only logical explanation.

I have nothing to add about these two teams because if I think too hard, my brain might leak out my ears. Sorry.

Ruin > You got ‘d 16-9


It Takes Five vs. oPg – Again, the second to last prediction goes for naught – this match has already been reported as a forfeit win for IT5.

Therefore, my prediction is: in Round 3, the 15th (second to last) match I have to predict will be reported before I get a chance to predict it.

Early Match > LD 2-0


inFusion vs. Pub4Life – If there’s one thing you should have learned from reading 96 of my predictions, it’s that I’m big on names. And if you think I’m picking a team named Pub4Life to win in a tournament, you’re crazy. 

Of course, if I read 96 of my predictions, I’d probably be crazy, too. So I don’t really blame you, but I’m still not picking them.

infusion > p4L 16-9I


If you want to respond to the predictions, I encourage you to use the comment box we added to the sidebar. It’s easy, and all the comments get sent to my e-mail address. And I love e-mail! It makes me feel important.

I was so burned out after Round 1 that I forgot to put in my predictor’s motto. Don’t worry, this time I’m on top of things.

LANDodger Predictions: a good source of your daily allotment of good luck to all teams, and now with 50% more predicted winners winning and predicted losers proving me wrong.


 

The deed is finished! If you missed Part I or Part II, don't fret, I've got your back.

One last note before we begin. I want to stress that you should take these predictions in the spirit in which they're given: as entertainment. Good predictions, in my opinion, can mix and match two things: entertainment and information. When predicting sixty-four matches, the amount of information is prohibitively large. Instead of bogging everybody, including myself, down with details and match-ups, I tried to give a brief background for each team, a joke, and move on. It's 5,300 words as it is. If I went as in-depth as I do during the Invite predictions, it would have been closer to 15,000. I don't think people want to read that, and I don't think I could write that in the time alloted, anyway.

So, hopefully you've enjoyed the jokes and following my meandering thoughts. If that's not your thing, I'll be doing more in-depth predictions when the field gets narrowed a little bit. For now, the home stretch!


Invader vs. Ransom – This sounds more like two steps in a kidnapping plot than a CS match. Clan Ransom? What exactly are they ransoming? These are the really important life questions that I need answered.

I think the only better matchups would be Panty Raid/Invader, and Panty Raid/Ransom. One time, at band camp …

Random got beat 3-27 during the season. That violates my 20 Round Margin rule, and prohibits me from picking them to win.

Invader > Ransom 16-9


Powerline vs. Just Type Kill – My prayers have been answered: these two teams actually played each other during the regular season in Main.

JTK! Has had a rough season. They started out with a 24-6 pasting of Mind The Addiction. But, I think they peaked a little early. It’s been a 1-5 ride since then, including an 11-19 loss to Powerline. I don’t see any reason to go against the regular season results here.

Powerline > JTK 16-10



First page on a GIS for "Old School Gamer": Einstein. Who knew?
Old School Gamers vs. Next-Level – This should be a pretty good match. OSG has been in Main a couple times before, although they died and worked their way back. They’re 4-4 right now, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Next-Level is also 4-4 in Main, and I recognize a few of their players. MarbeL used to be on n3mesis (and a couple other Main teams, I believe), and Farout is well-known in the community. 

The biggest difference I see is in their recent matches. Next-Level played two close matches against Unheardof and Nous Sommes Francophones, two of the top teams in Main. NSF was also in the Placement Tournament for this season but fell just short. They’ve got two big losses on their record, as well, but those seem to be blips more than a trend. It looks like they’re a little stronger than OSG, but it should be close.

Next-Level > OSG 16-13


Team Fallen vs. Allstars – Fallen has a suspended player, which is somewhat appropriate given the team name. Allstars seems like a decent CAL-IM team, and Fallen hasn’t done so well since their overturned match. Funny how that works sometimes.

All* > Fallen 16-10


Wal-Mart Security vs. Insomnia Gaming – wMs is another old-school Main team, and nobody’s touched them so far in CAL-O. I can’t discount the possibility that they’re actually Wal-Mart Security people – a job which has a minimum age of sixty, I believe. 

(I live in Florida. The Wal-Marts here are almost like some kind of geriatric social hangout.)

wMs > IG 16-11


fatties vs. Black Is Wack – I already made a deporting joke, and this matchup is just asking to get me in trouble with African-Americans and big-boned people. 

This time, I’m really not taking the bait, even though the evil shoulder angel is making some really good jokes.

They’re both playing well in their respective divisions, but a 5-1 record in Intermediate is a lot more impressive than a 4-0 record in Open. 

Fatties > BiW 16-12


Puresound Gaming vs. Livinproof – Livingproof is 3-1 in Open with a guy suspended for evading a previous suspension. Puresound Gaming is 2-2 with no suspensions. Part of me wants to reward the “clean” team.

The other part of me wants to get the prediction right.

Livinproof > Puresound 16-10


I ATE EVERYONE. vs. strafeRight² -- It’s only a matter of time before IAE turns to cannibalism. They have sixteen people on their CAL-O roster. Somebody is going to get a little too hungry and take a bite out of the person next to him. It goes downhill from there – just ask the Donner Party.

That being said, it’s pretty hard to strafe after you’ve been eaten. Plus, strafe is only 2-2 in CAL-O, and IAE is 4-0.

IAE > sR 16-5


Haf Boys vs. str!ke – Haf boys, half … amazin’? Haf boys, half men? (Upon checking what HAF stood for, I only wish it was something as PG as I suggested.) 

One thing I’m sure of: 0:1:938512000:09 375 5, one of their SteamIDs, is not a legitimate.

They’ve had similar results in CAL-O. Each got blown out by a 3-1 team, they’ve blown out two lesser teams, and played a 2-2 team evenly. It seems like this could go either way.

str!ke > HB 16-13


Blood Sports vs. XOBILE – Coming this summer, from Exxon Mobile: Xobile, a mobile phone that gives you up to the minute reports on just how bad you’re getting reamed at the pump. Xobile: because we couldn’t resist rubbing your dependence on gas in your face.

Blood Sports is an upper-level Intermediate team, while XOBILE isn’t making much noise in Open. Probably a mismatch.

BS > XOBILE 16-7


Team Rabid vs. world domination –Sticking with the oil theme for a second, a quick note to the guys at world domination: if you’re gonna do it, you better get started. George Bush has a big head-start, and I’m not sure if conquering the world one eSports match at a time is really the way to go. I’ve been wrong before, though.

There’s not much to distinguish between the two teams, they’re both 3-1 in CAL-Open with a couple big wins. WD had a 28-2 win, though. Even though blowout wins in Open are worth about as much as a milli-peso, it’s all I’ve got.

WD > Rabid 16-13



Quick way to break your brain: quantum physics. Guaranteed headache.
Tenth Dimension Gaming vs. Vendetta – Wouldn’t four dimensions have been enough? I can barely comprehend anything more than two dimensions. That’s why I’m only good at Pong. Ten dimensions is just overkill.

This should be one of the more entertaining matches. Vendetta is 6-2 in CAL-Main, and Tenth Dimension (Spectrum) is 4-2 in CAL-IM with two close losses. I think Vendetta has the clear advantage, but at least they’re somewhat close.

Vendetta > Tenth Dimension 16-11


Warrior Nation vs. Unheardof – Unheardof? Never heard of them before. Who are these guys? (Too obvious? Probably. But at five AM, after this many predictions, it feels like pure genious.)

(Yes, that’s an intentional typo.)

They’re actually a dominant CAL-Main team, and I’m going to extend them the Invite treatment: you get predicted for a big win, and we move on.

? > Warrior Nation 16-4


Team illusive vs. JfK*-Clan – On the “Top Ten Signs You’re in CAL-O” list, where does including your clan tag in your handle rank? It’s gotta be top-five, right? (Note: when I first registered for CAL, I too used my clan tag as part of my handle. Somebody told me it looked more organized, and thus cooler. They were wrong.)

Nothing against the guys, I’m just sayin’. 

Also, the irony of Team illusive (based on or having the nature of an illusion) playing JFK Clan ... priceless. This is the last of the improbable matchups I’m blaming on SkyNet and Gancorz. And considering the thousands of books that have been written about the JFK assassination, it might be the best one.

I think JFK gets his revenge.

JfK* > illusive 16-12


Mind the Addiction vs. Newbies Operating – Newbies Operating is a 5-1 CAL-IM team with a 2-2 CAL-O name. At least they gave it a little different spin, even though I think adding “heavy machinery while drunk” is a worthy addition to the end.

MTA is 3-5 CAL-M team, so this should be a pretty good match (there are a few in this set of predictions). I’m going to give MTA a little bit of an advantage for being a Main team, but I think this one could go down to the wire.

MTA > NO (HMWD) 16-14


We’re All In Thongs vs. Ruin – I’ve spent a lot of time making fun of team names, but this is just a blatant lie. There’s no way all the people on that team are in thongs. I’ve played CS in a thong before. It’s very uncomfortable. It bunches, it rides, it disappears into you know where. Two thumbs down for lying.

Ruin is 4-2 in CAL-IM, they should be able to take on a 3-1 CAL-Open team. Especially one filled with liars.

Ruin > WAIT! 16-10


You got ‘d? vs. Urban Bushido Team Three – What happened to Urban Bushido Teams One and Two? Somebody get Matlock on the phone, we’ve got a mystery on our hands.

You got ‘d is actually a pretty cool tag once you incorporate their game handles. Not too shabby. But it’s a bad sign when your clan tag is more impressive than your clan record.

UBTT > You got (loss)’d? 16-12


Energie vs. It Takes Five – Energie has played a good four or five teams in the tournament during this season of Main, with mixed results. The 5-3 record doesn’t jump out at you, but they’ve had a couple close losses. The only bad match was an 8-22 defeat from BFG, one of the top teams in Main this season.

It Takes Five has been ripping through IM, so this is another good match if you manage to find some SoruceTV info or you enjoy watching the strangely hypnotic text of a scorebot. 

I’m going to give it to Energie, even though their clan description scares me. I give them a 50% chance of at least one member showing up high.

Energie > ITF 16-12


oPg vs elemental – Hey, whaddaya know, another 4-0 CAL-O team! And another 3-3 CAL-IM team! I’ve only seen about three million of those today. (Seriously, I now consider myself an expert on CAL-O and CAL-IM team names, at the very least. KaptainCrunch and the CerealKillas is my second favorite, by the way.)

I’ve tended to favor the team with more experience in earlier predictions, but oPg doesn’t seem to have any problems handling Open teams, and elemental is struggling in CAL-IM (one of their wins is a forfeit win.) Gonna go with the better record here, instead of the team playing in the higher division.

oPg > elemental 16-12


inFusion vs. Oxide Gaming – (I … SEE … THE FINISH LINE …)

inFusion reported a forfeit win over OG already. I’m not sure what happened, and at this point, I consider the forfeit a blessing. I’m taking it at face value and not asking questions.

inF > OG 16-0 (FF win)


Arsenal vs. Pub4life – Do you know what it feels like when you reach the end of sixty four predictions? I do. It feels like winning the Super Bowl. (On Madden 2k7, but still.)

I’m going to Disney World!

(Read: I’m going to sleep!)

Arsenal > Pub4life 16-10


As promised, if you made it through all sixty-four predictions with me, you get a gold star.

If you hopped onto the bandwagon during Part III, don't click that link. I'm trusting you.

By the way, if this tournament comes around again next season and I want to do predictions for the first round, drug me. Seriously, just knock me out for a few days. Outsource the predictions to India. Do whatever it takes. I’ll thank you when I wake up.


 

Round Two … FIGHT!

IN1HIT vs. Second Nature – Unintended consequence of the eMg tournament: you can see which players are active on any team. I’m flipping back and forth between the eMg rosters, and the regular CAL rosters for each team so I can see a little bit of their match history, and without fail there’s about 2-3 more people per CAL roster. 


Trim your tree, find inner peace. A good trade.

I think CAL should pull a rope-a-dope. Instead of going back to the regular season, just use these rosters instead. It’s large-scale electronic bonsai.

Second Nature has been tearing up CAL-O, but IN1HIT is a solid main team. I’m actually curious to see who wins this match. People always make claims about CAL-O teams being better than CAL-M teams. Now is their chance to prove it.

IN1HIT > sN 16-10


Syntax of Gaming vs. insanity – Going with Syntax of Gaming on this one. Why? Check out their website. Over on the left side, scroll down a little bit … it’s a small version of me!

I don’t claim to be unbiased. Go Syntax!

SoG > insanity 16-0 (Going for broke, baby!)


Tagteam vs. AmpedGaming – AmpedGaming has a lot of team spirit. They have three guys named “everyone”, “anyone”, and “no one”, and three people with the last name of Nguyen. To help, I suggest adding somebody named “the one”, and seeking out a sponsorship from Scotty Nguyen. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, try to recruit him and make him use “the one” as his handle. 

Amped’s results have been a little better, but they have a suspended player. I’m not sure how that will impact the match, but I’m going to give them an edge, anyway.

Amped > Tagteam 16-10


clutchpatrol vs. Devastation –
(Cue Ghostbusters themesong.)

When it’s 1v2
In bombsite B
Who you gonna call?
CLUTCH-PATROL!

(I ain’t ‘fraid of no clutch.)

The only problem: clutching against Devastation is a lot harder than frying the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. And a lot less tasty.

Dev > clutchpatrol 16-2


Nuccastyle vs. Flawed Existence – I make a Ghostbusters joke, and I kid you not, there’s a guy on Flawed Existence with the handle “Venkman.” You can’t make this stuff up.

Flawed is a decent main team, while Nuccastyle is doing some damage down in the CAL-Sewers – er, I mean CAL-Open. I’m sticking to my guns and going with the CAL-M team.

FLEX > Nuccastyle 16-12


Elite Special Force | Invictus vs. Ever Sports
– Just before I was ready to post the predictions, I got an e-mail from one of the ESF members. Apparently they have people on vacation for Canada Day, and they can't get the match rescheduled. They're going to be playing without at least two, probably three, of their starters.

LANDodger says: reschedule! Give our Northern brethern a break, they already have to deal with sharing a continent with us. The least we can do is reschedule a match. (Note: if Ever Sports is also based in Canada, then have mercy on your kith!)

If that doesn't happen, it looks like Ever Sports is sporting (PUN ALERT) a 5-1 record in Intermediate, with ESF at 3-3. I don't see much hope for ESF without a majority of their starters.

Ever Sports > ESF 16-8


Apocalyptica vs. DynastyGaming
– Mel Gibson, is that you? (Oh wait, that was Apocalypto.)

Apparently, Apocalyptica is a Finnish musical group. There are four cellists, and they do covers of bands like Metallica and Pantera. I don’t know about you guys, but what I’m listening to Metallica, my first thought is always, “Man, this would sound really good on a cello. If only they had more cello players.”

I’m not sure if that’s what the team was going for, but who says predictions can’t be educational?

All that said, their CAL-O performance is decidedly underwhelming. A 30-0 loss and a 26-4 loss = a predicted loss.

DG > Apocalyptica 16-5


Enemy vs. Pure.Gaming
– The World’s Shortest Preds, Round 2 … go!

The coin came up heads.

Enemy > Pure 16-9


Up in Smoke! vs. FEAR
– Is there a F.E.A.R. clan named Counter-Strike?

Up in Smoke lost to my new favorite CAL-O team, ERFQUAKE!!!, 26-4. I’m giving FEAR the win.

FEAR > UIS 16-12


Fluid Gaming vs. Landscapers –
Resisting the urge to make an illegal alien joke about Landscapers …

The Landscapers have a suspended player. He had incomplete/no demos. See, it's all these illegal electronic aliens making us look bad! They're taking our jobs, hurting our economyI believe he’s being deported as we speak.

… what can I say? Sometimes you gotta scratch the itch.

They’re both doing alright in CAL-IM, but I think Fluid is a little stronger. I actually recognize one of their players, which is incredible. At this point, it’s like seeing somebody from your High School during your first semester at college. Even if you never talked during the four years of HS, you’re instantly best friends just because of that shared experience. It’s ridiculous. And now it’s happening to me.

Fluid > Landscapers 16-12


Rising Five vs. Cry More Noob – I’m not sure why this is a match, these aren’t even CS teams.

A lot of people don’t know this, but the rising five is actually the prequel to the high five. It isn’t used very often anymore, but it involves putting your hands together raising them into the air, and then clapping them at the top again. Nowadays, people just forego the foreplay and get straight to the clap.

Cry More Noob is a new Michael Moore documentary about social pariahs and the people that prey upon them. We all know the Internet community can be very harsh, especially on n00bs that like to cry. I think it’s set to release at 12:00 AM on Caturday.

Rising Five > Cry More Noob 16-7


Frailty vs. Default
– A CAL-Main team! Woo-hoo! At this point, that equals an automatic prediction to win. 

I need some kind of mental Viagra.

Default > Frailty 16-10



Um ... this might be the strangest picture I've ever seen. The Hair. The angle. The colors ... it's too much.
Soldiers of Chaos vs. Team SUPER SOAKERS – You know what I want, more than anything, right now? A prediction involving two teams that have played each other at some point this season. I don’t ask for much. 

I must say, going with CAPS LOCK ENGAGED for SUPER SOAKERS was a good move. It makes it seem like the person was actually getting hosed down as he was typing the name. The team hasn’t had much success in CAL-O this season, but Soldiers of Chaos, despite a much more intimidating name, haven’t done much better. It’ll be a close one.

SoC > TSS 16-14


NBA vs. LucK –
LucK has been one of the better teams in CAL-Invite so far this season, and I’m a big fan. I don’t see them losing here unless they’re too busy asking for autographs.

Wait, the NBA CS team isn’t full of NBA players? Well, I feel silly.

LucK > NBA 16-1


Rhapsody vs. BLT
– Rhapsody is 4-0 and the owners of the least intimidating team ever. BLT is 2-2 and the sandwich is considering changing its acronym to BLAT just so the two aren’t associated with each other.

If I have to predict one more match with two CAL-O teams facing each other, my head is going to explode.

Rhapsody > BLT 16-8


Thru the eyes of a killer vs. cyberXtreme
– (BOOM!) (Post-Publish note: just when you assume two teams are CAL-O, somebody e-mails you to correct your mistake. Not only did the assumption make me look silly, but now a good head-blowing-up joke is ruined. Ruined! Curses!)

cyberXtreme: most stereotypical name ever? 

Thru the eyes of a killer: just plain creepy, man. Seriously. That’s the name of a clan that will stalk and hunt down a predictor if he’s too mean.

Hmm …

TTEOAK > cyberXtreme 16-1


WeWar vs. Belligerence.css – At a time like this, I’m regretting that I suggested non-alcoholic beverages in the beginning of Part I. If everybody still reading was drunk, it would make my job a lot easier.

WeWar is 4-1 in Intermediate with a pending match against Sextronica, which was on Cinemax last night, I think. 

Belligerence is doing really well in CAL-O, but it’s still CAL-O.  And if they’re jerks in scrims, at least they’re up front about it.

WeWar (what is it good for?!) > Belligerence 16-10


Elastic Rubber Band Warriors vs. soLgaming – I fear no warrior that wields elastic rubber bands.

soL > ERBW 16-10


Devil 13 vs. Team Divine
– We have a guest predictor! The official brother of LANDodger is stepping in for this prediction.

LD`Brother: “Under ordinary circumstances, my personal preference for evil would override my better judgment (the good guys always win). But an unlucky devil (#13) just doesn't have a chance. Unless they play 13 players, in which case they'd probably win. Unless they're unlucky.”

Team Divine > Devil 13 16-13

(“Even though I think the name Team Divine is so lame, they deserve to lose.”)


Exitium vs. e-Athletes – e-Athletes beat a team called “We Suck” 30-0 in CAL-O. No joke. What are the chances a team named “We Suck” makes it CAL-I? Aren’t you pretty much setting yourself up for failure? It’s like naming your child Forrest. Nothing good can come of it.

Exitium is yet another decent CAL-IM team (4-2), and they should beat the e-Athletes.

Exitium > e-Athletes 16-6


Part III still coming, don't worry! I'll soldier on, even though you're probably as burned out from reading them as I am from writing them.


 
June 30, 2007

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

SG > ITTGLAYT@A 16-10


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

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

TBCS > CODE 16-12


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

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

Frag > Enemy Down 16-6


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

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

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

Dismay > ROFL  16-11


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

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

recK > TS 16-5


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

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

Rsyn > SCN 16-13


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

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

3xB > PRO 16-10


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

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

BiP > Kaution 16-8


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

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

Impetus > HG 16-8


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

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

volatile > team.fa 16-6



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

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

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

Premium > Vagary  16-14


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

5150 > PR 16-12


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

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

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

TRU > Fingers 16-4


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

(Seriously, just do it, guys.)

CP > Kinetic 16-4


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

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

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

mp5 > TCG 16-5


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

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

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

Legerity > i2N 16-3


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

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

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

IAM > Frag 16-5


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

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

HURRICANE > carb0n 16-9



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



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

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

obsceNe > PG 16-8


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

Dirt Nap Squad is a better team.

DNS > {OSK} 16-11


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

IUE5 > emptyshell 16-9


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

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

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

x6 shouldn’t lose for the first few rounds.

x6 > WPS 16-2


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

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

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

jCp > Checkmate! 16-10


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

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


 
June 30, 2007

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

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

Enjoy!

Tags:
CAL, LD News

 

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

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


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

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

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

x6 > IAM 19-11



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

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

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

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

LucK > CP 17-13


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

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

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

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

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

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

MNM > PK 19-11



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

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

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

Hyper > electrify!  17-13


Featured Match

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

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

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

ajnin > TRU 16-14


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

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

Legerity > eMg 19-11


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

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

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

Dev > recK 17-13


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


 

CAL Predictions: Week 4-1

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

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

For now, the 4-1 predictions:


Featured Match

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

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

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

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

x6 > Hyper (TP!) 18-12



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

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

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

Legerity > ajnin 18-12


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

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

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

EXT > CP 19-11


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

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

LucK > Dev 16-14


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

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

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

TRU > RS 18-12



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



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

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

PK  > electrify! 16-14


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

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

itsamassacre > eMg 17-13


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

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

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

MNM > recKoning 18-12 


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


 

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

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


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

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

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

CP > ajnin 19-17



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



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

MNM > eMg 18-12


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

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

Legerity > RS 18-12


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

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

LucK > itsamassacre 18-12


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

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

(Struggling to regain focus … )

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

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

(TURTLE POWER!)

PK > Hyper 17-13



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

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

x6 > TRU 19-11


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

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

electrify! > recK 16-14


Featured Match

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

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

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

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

Dev > EXT 16-14


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


 

A few quick notes before we get to the predictions. 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Dev > e! 19-11



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

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

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

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

TRU > snowmen 16-14


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

x6 > PK 18-12


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

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

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

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

eMg > RS 17-13



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

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

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

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

I’m … out of lame things to say.

EXT > recKoning 16-14


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

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

LucK > ajnin 17-13


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

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

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

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

Hyper > Legerity 16-14

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


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

(Roll title screen.)

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

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

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

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

CP > IAM 17-13


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

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


 

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

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

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

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


1) How long have you been an AC admin?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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


Quick Points

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

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

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

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

Tags:
CAL, Interviews

 

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

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

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

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



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

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

Hyper > snowmen 16-14


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

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

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

x6 > eMg 19-11


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

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

It’s hard to argue with confidence like that.

EXT > recKoning  16-14


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

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

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

VG > ajnin 19-11


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

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

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

PK > LucK 18-12

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

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

Legerity > CP 19-11


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

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

Dev > TRU 18-12 



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

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

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

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

e! > RS 17-13


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

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


 
June 7, 2007

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


Quick Recap

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

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

Tags:
CAL, Interviews

 

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

EXT > 50 Cal 17-13


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

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

recK > x6 18-12


Featured Match

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

VG > LucK 17-13


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

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


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

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

Hyper > TRU 19-11


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

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

electrify! > CP 17-13


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

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

RS > Snowmen 16-14


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

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

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

Devastation > Legerity 17-13


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

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

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

Amen.

PK > ajnin 18-12


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


 

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

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

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

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


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

Devastation > CP 19-11


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

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

x6 > VG 17-13


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

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

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

E! > TRU 18-12


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

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

Ajnin > EXT 17-13


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

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

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

recKoning > LucK 19-11


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


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

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

I AM THE DECIDER!

50 Cal > PK 17-13


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

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

Fever > Legerity  18-12


Featured Match

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

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

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

RS > Hyper 16-14


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

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


 
June 2, 2007

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

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

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


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

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

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

Losers

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

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

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

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

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


Winners

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Tags:

 

Before I get to the predictions, there are officially four more teams in CAL-Invite now. So congratulations to: Luck, Visual Gaming, The Real Untouchables, and Hyper for making the cut by winning the first two matches. I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys can do in Season 8.


So many pictures to choose from, but you can't go wrong with a tutu and a football stance.

Of course, as a wise man once said, “In every game, there must be a loser.” Alright, we know that was Ace Ventura, but the point is still valid. There were four teams eliminated from the tournament: eNvy, eXtreme PC, Children of the Sun, and Legends. Good luck to you all in Main, and let’s do this again next season.

With that said there are four matches, four spots left in Invite, and four teams that won’t quite make the cut.


Cyber Phenom vs. Nous Sommes Francophones – There was one constant in Round 2 of the placement tournament: blowouts. Just look at some of the round scores the losing teams put up: 6, 4, 7, 6, 4, 4, 0. The zero was a forfeit win, but I haven’t seen so many single digits since the results of my last IQ tests. (Its wriggd, eye sware!)

I like both of these teams, and whoever loses the matchup instantly becomes a contender for the CAL-Main championship. nsF said they had some ventrilo problems during their loss, but I just can’t convince myself to give them a win after they lost 6-16. When people make predictions in professional sports, one of the things they look at is the amount of blowout wins and close games. Generally speaking, blowouts are indicative of a very weak or very strong team, while the outcomes of close games are largely based on luck. Keeping that in mind, I have to give the edge to CP.

CP > nsF 16-12


Featured Match

50 Calibre vs. eMg – One interesting thing to consider: if eMg does lose the match, will they regret sponsoring CAL-Invite this season? I don’t think they’d rescind the sponsorship or anything like that, but you have to admit it’s a little weird to think about. It’d be like George Steinbrenner sponsoring the MLB playoffs this year. Or the Chicago Cubs sponsoring the playoffs any year. 

You know what? I don’t like this matchup, despite the potential for a great game. I think both of these teams have plenty of talent to be in Invite next season. Hopefully, whichever team loses can stick around and make it next season. On top of that, I have a bad feeling whichever one I pick to win is going to lose. But, I picked out eMg as a team to watch at the start, and despite a hiccup against Visual Gaming, I’m going to stick with ‘em. 

And yes, calling a 4-16 loss a hiccup is a bit of an underestimation. 

eMg > 50cal 16-14


PK vs. Skull – Have you ever been watching a game while an announcer makes a call from the booth that is clearly proven wrong ten seconds later on instant replay? Have you noticed what happens after that? Most of the time, especially if the announcer’s name is Joe Morgan, they just completely ignore the indisputable video evidence and keep on talking like they’re completely right. I hate it when that happens, and I don’t want to be one of those guys. 

So, upon further review, I’m willing to admit the possibility that I underestimated PK a little bit in my last prediction. And by a little bit, I mean a lot. Now I’m going to pull a flip-flop that would get any political candidate nailed in a debate and predict PK to win and make it into CAL-Invite. And if they lose 4-16 this time instead of winning 16-4 like they did in Round 2, I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll outsource all my predictions to India.

PK > Skull 16-13


Riot Squad vs. it’samassacre – This matchup is pretty much the epitome of why the placement tournament is a good idea. IAM would have been in Invite for winning CAL-Main, and RS probably wouldn’t have been there because of roster considerations. Now we get to see which team is better, and unfortunately for the Main winners, I don’t think they’re going to pull it off.

RS > IAM 16-12


 

Just a small update on CAL’s Season 8 Placement Tournament: pure.gaming dropped out after their first round loss to Nous Sommes Francophones. Instead of giving a team in the lower bracket a forfeit win, CAL decided to move Riot Squad into that spot.

I updated the bracket and made a note of the change. Hopefully, you remember Riot Squad from the pre-tournament tournament. If not, a quick refresher: they lost their best-of-three matchup against eMazing Gaming 1-2 (16-13, 14-16, 14-16). 

There wasn’t any kind of rule or thought before the tournament about a situation like this, but in the end I think it was the right call. There’s no letter of the law to obey, but I think the spirit of the tournament was to find the best teams and put them in Invite. If they didn’t add RS to the lower bracket, one team (Legends) would get a forfeit win and another team that barely lost to the #3 seed would be left out. That doesn’t seem like it upholds the spirit of finding the best teams to play in Invite next season, so I don’t mind seeing the change. 


"Big Shot Bob" delivered his biggest shot as a hip check against Steve Nash: it got two Suns stars suspended.

If you want a parallel, just look at the NBA playoffs. The Suns-Spurs series was highly controversial because of some suspensions handed down to Suns players that didn’t seem to uphold the spirit of the rule or the spirit of the league. Those being, respectively: don’t fight or be punks, and may the best team win. I don’t want to go into it in a lot of detail, but the media reaction was largely against the NBA. So hopefully this will be a little more popular within the community.


Of course this changes the predictions as well, so here’s the updated pred from Round 2:


Legends vs. Riot Squad
– All that stuff about CAL making the right choice is nice, but if I was coming at it from Legends’ perspective, I might not be as happy. Instead of being one win away from a berth in CAL-Invite, now we’re two wins away and have to play a very talented team. Not quite an upgrade.

I like Legends, I predicted them to beat pure 16-14, but I don’t think they’re going to take down RS. Riot’s going to step in and be one of the best teams in the tournament and in Invite next season (yes, they should make it). Hopefully the guys at Legends don’t get down and they can come back next season better than ever.

RS > LgD 16-12


You can find the updated bracket here.


 

Upper Bracket

It’samassacre vs. Luck – Luck lusted after a victory against eNvy, and they came into the match with a lot of wrath built up from last season’s playoff loss. They were playing for pride, and they didn’t let sloth or gluttony slow them down. Their greed for wins was fulfilled.

Can you tell I’ve been waiting for a while to work in the other six deadly sins into a prediction with eNvy? Yeah, I’m that lame. 

IAM won their first matchup against CP 16-13, but I think Luck is a stronger team and they should be able to pull off the upset. Nuke is heavily CT-sided and both teams should be able to do well on defense, so it’s going to come down to a few key rounds or plays during the match and I have a feeling Luck is going to win those.

Luck > IAM 16-13


Note: these are not actually my shoes. And I still wouldn't eat them.


Hyper vs. Skull – Skull > XPC 16-4? Yikes. Didn’t see that score coming. They’re going to have a much harder time with Hyper. That much I can guarantee. And if they beat Hyper 16-3, I’ll eat my shoes, sell my computer and never write anything for LD again.

(Not really.)

(... I hope that didn’t get your hopes up.)

I think Skull’s going to make it into Invite next season, but they’re going to have to win a match in the Loser’s Bracket to do it. Hyper should be able to hang onto a win here and secure a spot in CAL-I.

Hyper > Skull 16-12


Featured Match

eMazing Gaming vs. Visual Gaming – These teams are both worthy of Invite, but eMg is going to beat VG in this match. Why am I so confident? I don't know. But it's simple logic that any team named eMazing will win online, right?

In all seriousness, eMg is a great team, and not just online. I wasn’t really impressed by the way VG handled Phrentik in the first round. That’s not to say VG is a bad team, because they’re definitely not. I just don’t know if they can pull off a win. Both teams should get into Invite, eMg is just going to get there a little sooner.

eMg > VG 16-13


Nous Sommes Francophones vs. The Real Untouchables – This is probably the longest matchup of the season in terms of letters. One thing I learned from professional sports commentary is that there are quirky people out there that get excited by names, and especially their length. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was called up from the minors for the Atlanta Braves and everybody got into a tizzy about how long his name was because it was an MLB record for last names.

Name commentary aside, this should be a close match.  nsF defeated pure 16-6, which was a surprising margin. I’m not sure if they just got on a good streak, but I might have underestimated them a little bit. TRU is coming off a close win over Legends, but I think they’re going to lose a close match this time.

nsF > TRU 16-14


Lower Bracket

Cyber Phenom vs. eNvy – What is this, the Central Playoffs? eNvy was sent to the lower bracket by Luck, and now they meet up with CP, another team from CAL-Main Central last season. It should be a good match. Nuke will be a little easier to AWP for Kanon than Contra was, and eNvy will need him to do better than 12-19 if they want to win.

If Kanon doesn’t turn it around, eNvy’s going to be in a lot of trouble because CP is just a solid team. They don't have “big” names, but they’re all good, hungry, dedicated players. CP played well in their first match against It'samassacre, and they should be able to pull out a win here. And for the sake of my sanity, I hope Kanon has a great match. Every results thread involving eNvy is still threatening to turn into a flaming fest. Even though I hate those threads with a passion, I avoid them as well as a moth avoids a light the size of the Bat Signal.

CP > eNvy 16-13


50 Calibre vs. eXtreme PC
– 50cal is probably around the fourth best team in the tournament, and they lost their first round matchup to Hyper. Meanwhile, XPC was on the wrong end of a whoopin’, putting up only four rounds against Skull. Not sure what happened there. Skull is a really good team, but I don’t think anybody expected a score that lopsided. XPC will rebound a little bit, but it shouldn’t be enough to take down 50cal.

50cal > XPC 16-10


Children of the Sun vs. PK
– Children of the Sun put up ten rounds against eMg. If you don't know what I think about eMg, they're a great team, and you should pay closer attention because I've said it a couple times already. Sun didn’t even play in Main last season, they’re a team from Open. But I think it’s safe to say they’re pretty good. 

I’m a little skeptical on PK still. They got thirteen rounds against Visual Gaming, but I’m just not feeling it. It’s like looking at the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sure, they’re in the Eastern Conference Finals, but when you look at their team the only person that jumps out at you is LeBron. Everybody else is so underwhelming they actually seem to sink into the page. And you just know they’re going to get their brains beat in by the Detroit Pistons unless Bron drops 40-12-12 every night. I don’t think PK will lose badly, the Children of the Sun will pull out a W.

Sun > PK 16-11


Pure.gaming vs. Legends – Legends aaaalllmost pulled off the upset of TRU, but they lost 16-13. That was a big mismatch in seeds (2 vs. 15), and after beating n2p (19-15, 16-7) to get into the tournament I think they’re closer to the middle of the pack than the low end. In other words, they’re going to be a good match for pure, who didn’t do very well against nsF. 

It should be a close match, and I’ll give Legends the upset victory to stay alive in the tournament. 

LgD > pure  16-14 


 

The first round of the CAL Season 8 Placement Tournament will start in just a couple days, and with that in mind it’s time to start the coverage. And by coverage, I mean predictions that have about a fifty-fifty chance of being wrong. Or right, if you’re the “glass half full” type. Either way, I hope you enjoy them.


It’samassacre vs. Cyber Phenom – Cyber Phenom beat out FragFacile to capture the sixteenth seed, and as their reward they get to play the CAL-Main Atlantic champions in the first round. Well, it’s better than not being in the tournament at all, right? ‘Tis better to have won and lost then never to have won at all. This won’t be a blowout – CP is a good team – but I think IAM should end up with the victory.

IAM > CP 16-13


Luck vs. eNvy – This is a matchup of two teams from Central Main last season, and eNvy knocked Luck out of the playoffs in the lower bracket. Despite that I think I’m going to go the other way on this one. Luck has been strong the last couple seasons, and I think their style will translate well to the CGS format. Kanon is a big part of eNvy’s team, and I’m not sure how his AWP picks will do on Contra with the faster round times.

Luck > eNvy 16-11


Featured Match


It's not a slight, Dwight. The Pistons are just a better team.

Hyper vs. 50 Calibre – Hyper’s a fun team to look at because they’re basically the epitome of the roster problems in eSports. They were a good team before NightFall joined, he put them over the top and made them a legitimately great team, and then everything completely imploded and the team broke up. The original roster that challenged coL in the Intel Invitational was Badapples, Foerster, NightFall, Shredder and Tuned, and it was the only team that has been a legitimate threat to coL since they switched from 1.6. 3D is too inconsistent, Check-Six (formerly rSports) isn’t quite there yet, EFG and verGe lost something during the season. Devastation and the old Check-Six are both good teams, they’re not on coL’s level just like the Orlando Magic are a good team and the San Antonio Spurs are just better.

Now the team has broken up and only Shredder and Tuned are left. (Shredder and Tuned are widely regarded as a package deal for any team, kindof like you can’t separate Scott Boras and his superiority complex. As such, in the future Shredder and Tuned will combine to form Shreduned.) They’re still a good team, but at the end of the day was it worth it? It’s a question that needs to be asked, just like the Pacers had to ask themselves if it was worth it to keep Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson. What do those two guys have in common with NightFall? They’re no longer with the teams they started out with. 

50 Calibre is a talented team, but I don’t know if they’ll be able to take down Hyper. I think it’ll be a pretty close match and 50 Cal will be one of the best teams in the lower bracket.

Hyper > 50 Cal 16-12


Skull vs. XPC – Skull’s the most misunderstood team in the tournament. I said it before, and I’ll say it again just so we’re clear: this is not the same Skull team that playing in Central Main last season. It’s actually the From Within team that picked up two new members and joined the Skull organization. They’ve got talented players, and I think they’re going to make it to Invite. I don’t think they’re the strongest team and a trip to the Loser’s Bracket wouldn’t be surprising, but they should pick up a win against XPC here.

Skull > XPC 16-12


eMg vs. Children of The Sun – Children of the Sun won CAL-O, which ain’t nothin, and they do have some former CAL-I players on their roster. And their name is pretty cool, although they could have lifted it from a 1960’s band. It sounds vaguely hippie.

So they’ve got that going for ‘em, but eMg has more experience and more talent, and they deserve that number three seed. I just don’t see eMg losing here. 

eMg > Sun Children 16-8


Visual Gaming vs. PK – Things I learned today: reading philosophy books makes my brain hurt, eating cheeseburgers makes my stomach bulge, and PK is short for PhrentiK, which seems like a strange abbreviation. Maybe I should ab

Visual Gaming has some new faces, and I think they should be able to take the match after being inactive from Invite for a season.

VG > PK 16-10


Nous Sommes Francophones vs. Pure.gaming – I believe Nous Sommes Francophones is French, or it could be something you say when you have a cold. I'm betting on French though.

Both teams had similar records and accomplishments in CAL and CEVO, so it should be a close match. I'll give it to Pure in a squeaker, but I don't think they have a clear advantage by any means.

Pure > nsF 16-14


Legends vs. The Real Untouchables – I gotta give some props to Legends because I predicted them to lose in the pre-tournament matchup against Nothing To Prove, and here they are. TRU is a CAL-I team from last season, and I think their credentials are a little more impressive dating back to their days in CAL-Main as well. They should be able to take this match. Prove me wrong again, Legends!

TRU > LgD 16-10


 

Everybody was so happy about the CAL placement tournament, but the honeymoon ended as soon as the actual list of teams was released. It’s not unexpected, if you invite X teams into the tournament, the X + 1 ranked team is going to complain. And in eSports, so will all the teams up to X + 30 that got caught with five golden ringers, four calling wallers, three French hackers, two sixteen-bitters, and an AWPer with a speed hack. Don’t even get me started on the other seven days of Christmas.

The problem is, there’s no specific formula you can follow to determine which teams get to be in the placement tournament. Some teams play CEVO, some teams are exclusive to CAL. Some teams have LAN accomplishments, some teams don’t. Some teams have new members, some teams … wait, it’s Source, all teams have new members. Then you have to consider who they played. A team that won a LAN by beating the only other team there, Grandma’s Geriatric Gamers, isn’t as impressive as a team that lost to coL and 3D by a narrow margin. There are so many variables to take into account that the best you can do is lay down some guidelines and then make some judgment calls. Which means people are bound to disagree with you.


Gaming: it's not just for whippersnappers and rugrats anymore.

But that’s fine, the whole reason for the placement tournament is the results reward the best teams more than comparing records from three different conferences (Atlantic, Central, Pacific) and at least three different leagues (CAL-I, CAL-M, CEVO). The point is that it’s a process. You find the best teams, put them in a tournament together, and then you do the same thing next season. If there is really a deserving team that was left out this time, they should rise to the top and get an opportunity to prove themselves next season. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the frustration. It’s no fun working for something only to feel like you got shafted. At the same time, that’s an inevitable part of sports. Talent evaluation has always been as much of an art as a science. Gilbert Arenas in the second round? I wish the Bulls could go back and trade up for that pick. One of the best lessons of Gilbertology is using rejection as motivation. After being picked in the second round he rode the bench his first season in the NBA. Now he’s not only an All-Star but an MVP candidate. As a fan of Counter-Strike, I look forward to seeing what the spurned teams can come up with. Hopefully they turn their frustrations into extra practice, come out with a vengeance next season, and make it obvious it was a mistake. 

If that doesn't do it for you, there is a method behind the madness. It's not as specific as a formula, but there are guidelines, which I'll shed some light on now. All the inactive and low ranked Invite teams were given spots in the tournament, along with teams that placed third or higher in the Main playoffs. A couple of those Main teams were moved straight to Invite, and some have to prove themselves a little more. Any team that didn’t play in CAL last season wasn’t accepted except for VisualGaming (formerly TeoS), and they were an Invite team during Season 6. There’s been some fuss about 50 Calibre being in the tournament, but half of their starters were also part of their #1 ranked team in Season 6 of Invite. Some of the other complaints have been with fromWithin and Children of the Sun. First of all, there’s been a little confusion about Skull’s roster. The majority of the players are from fW, not Skull, so it’s clearly not the team that went 0-2 in last season’s playoffs even though they’re under the Skull organization. As for Children of the Sun, they did win the Open division and came recommended by some of the admins within CAL. Can you make an argument against these teams? Maybe, but you can make just as strong of an argument for them, as well.

Having said all that, there are actually going to be matches played, so let’s shift our attention to that. There are eight teams that have an auto-berth into Invite, leaving another eight spots to fill with teams from the tournament. Just looking at the list, the teams that stand out to me are: Hyper, eMg, 50 Calibre, Visual Gaming, and riotsquad. Will they all make CAL-Invite? Now that I’ve picked them, probably not. For reference, my CEVO darkhorse was EG. I learned one important lesson from that: it’s hard to have your darkhorse team come through if they don’t make the playoffs. Ouch. Well, at least I didn’t pick Hyper (old roster) to win the Buy.com LAN … crap.

As for the other teams, there’s a good chance you don’t know them very well. So, as part of my coverage of CAL (and because I don’t want to get fired), I’m here to spread a little knowledge. But rather than introducing all nineteen teams at once and putting everybody to sleep, I thought it would be easier to break things up a little bit. Now that you know my favorite picks, aka teams that are already guaranteed to display the LD curse within one week, let’s get on with the first installment of the team predictions and recaps: the pre-tournament tournament.

Astute readers (I know you’re out there) will notice I said nineteen teams and think, “Mike, you fool, you can’t have a bracket with nineteen teams!” True enough. Hence the pre-tournament tournament. There were unique circumstances for these teams, so there are three early matches to determine the 14th-16th seeds and then it’s a regular 16 team bracket from there. The matchups are: eMg vs. riotsquad, Frag Facile vs. Cyber Phenom, and Nothing To Prove vs. Legends.  Cyber Phenom and Frag Facile were both chosen as alternates for the PT once Legion of Terror dropped, and Nothing to Prove has to face Legends for a spot because of their forfeit loss in playoffs last season. My personal favorite is the circumstances around riotsquad and eMg. They’re competing for a spot because each team has half of the starters that played for NPU last season in Invite. Think there’s a little friendly rivalry there?

Since they’re all best-of-three, I’m just going to give the results from that rather than breaking down every map and every score. Enjoy!



Chaotic? More like Cute-otic. Okay, that didn't make sense, but still ...

Cyber Phenom vs. Frag Facile – Before I get to the prediction, I need to get this off my chest: Cyber Phenom, please change your name! Would the San Francisco Giants rename themselves the Raging Hulks? It’s like Tom Brady wearing a Yankees hat – you’re just asking for trouble. The “online” label is one that’s thrown around pretty often, and it usually sticks whether you like it or not. I’ll forgive you though, since your team is formerly known as the Chaotic Penguins. I don’t know what chaotic penguins would look like, but I laugh every time I try to imagine it.

With that out of the way, they’re a pretty good team. They’ve finished third and fourth the last two seasons in CAL-Main (Central), and finished ninth in CEVO-Main. Unfortunately their only LAN performance was submarined by an excess of alcohol, which I think isn’t a rare problem in the eSports scene. (Memo to LANers: drink responsibly or Ksharp will knife you.) 

Frag Facile won CAL-O in the Pacific division, and I’m just not sure they’re going to take CP. I think they’ll give it a good shot, but the penguins (of the phenoms, if you prefer) should have a little more experience with the top competition, and I think they’ll take down FF in the best of three.

CP > FF 2-1


Nothing To Prove vs. Legends – I have to say I was a little impressed when I talked to the leader from Legends. He showed me an old-school screenshot of the CAL page, back when times were simple and the web was still 1.0. WONIDs frolicked happily among the people, not knowing they would be extinct in a matter of months. There wasn’t any money to be made in online leagues, so people just played for fun. And I didn’t have any clue what a forum was. So young, so innocent.

The more I look at the three pre-tournament matches, the more they make sense because all these teams seem to have similar finishes. A lot of decent finishes in Main, a couple decent LAN finishes thrown in here and there, but nothing overwhelming. This is another one of those situations – Legends finished fourth in Main, n2p finished third, and the only notable LAN finish was n2p placing fourth at a w2z in late 2006. I’m going to give this one to n2p by a hair, but I think it’ll be another close matchup.

 n2p > LgD 2-1


eMg vs. riotsquad – Honestly, I wish that these teams weren’t facing each other because I think they both have enough talent to move on. (That’s the subtle, “you should watch these matches if possible” endorsement.) The other two matchups featured teams that were just coming up for the first time, but the guys filling these rosters have mostly been in CAL-Invite before. AC, Dutch, vertigo, helix, LeKtriK, hiCKEEEEY, and projeKte are all aliases I recognize. 

eMg hasn’t been together very long, but I don’t think riotsquad would win any contest that starts with “established in”. Although they’re both playing for a low seed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the winner of this best-of-three was in Invite next season. And since I already mentioned eMg as a team to watch, it would be silly to pick riotsquad here, right? Right.

eMg > riotsquad 2-1


That ends the coverage for tonight, but I have a couple side notes. I’m sure you can tell the site looks a little different than it did before, I hope you guys like the changes. If you have any suggestions or complaints about the site or the writing, as always you can leave a comment or e-mail me at mike@landodger.com. I’ve been a little swamped, so some things are still going to be changed, transferred to the new template, or updated. Thanks ahead of time for your patience.

I’ll also be traveling the next couple days. I’ll be bringing my laptop along, but I’m not sure how much writing time I’ll actually have. Those pesky friends are always around to annoy me when I try to sit down to write something. But hopefully I’ll have at least a little time to write, and if not I’ll have a lot to cover on Wednesday.


 

CAL just announced a league-wide standardization for improper conduct, and it was an impressive list of offenses.  I think the only thing they overlooked was a competition ban for eSports writers that give bad interviews.  (I’m off the hook again!) 

The driving force behind the massive rubric was CAL|Daniel.  You may remember him from an earlier interview about the changes in the Counter-Strike: Source Invite division.  I hope you liked that one because he generously offered to answer a few questions and he’s back in the hot seat.


1) The CAL rules have been set for a long time and I haven't heard of any attempt to standardize the rules for all the games, what brought this on now?

CAL|Daniel: There has been discussion of standardizing the rules in the past; it has always been abandoned in favor of the flexibility that each game having its own rule set provides. This suspension list has been in progress for some time now but in order to make sure every game was able to submit feedback... it took awhile! It came about because we were sometimes contradictory between games on issues where it just did logically make sense. There were many user complaints; so in the interest of the community, I undertook the project to bring this policy to life.


2) A lot of the penalties are related to conduct -- racism, disrespecting admins, excessive forum suspensions, etc. Do you think people will follow the rules now that those things can result in competition bans?

CAL|Daniel: Ultimately, my hopeful answer would be yes. Whether that is the result or not only time will tell. I will say this much, however, at least now users will know what can constitute those suspensions so maybe they will think before they act. If not, at least they will understand clearly, where the suspension stems from.



It's a regular hammer by day, but don't be fooled. Every night it becomes an eSports banhammer.

3) Do you expect the QC/Appeals sections to be busy in the upcoming seasons while players and teams get used to the new rules? Would there be any leniency (under the right conditions) for violations like evading a forum ban while everybody gets used to the new setups?

CAL|Daniel: Rules always sadly have their exceptions and leniency will probably be one of those exceptions. One of the issues focused in the creation of this list was that many of these violations are easy to do accidentally, and therefore it should carry with it a light first offense. However, the exceptions will be left up to the game divisions to decide. I imagine that the appeals and QC process will now be far busier since it will be clear what violation is appealing (and under what reasons). I hope this list will add a better organization to appeals making it easier on the users and admins.


4) This is really comprehensive, but like you mentioned I'm sure there are going to be cases or violations that don't quite fit any of the listed punishments. Will there be a process for determining possible ban lengths as those unique situations arise?

CAL|Daniel: I am glad you asked that question. It was one of the hardest parts of the policy to construct fairly with the goal of the user not being punished unjustly. From the list, “The policy for suspending for a reason not present on this list or that wishes to deviate from that which is outlined needs to be approved by a panel. The panel should be as follows: Consist of three people including always the Game Manager and Operations Manager for that game with the third person being the anti manager if applicable or another senior admin from the game (or operations staff).” Every unique situation will have its own panel (of which I will often participate no doubt).


5) It seems like there's been a huge movement in CAL to win back support and popularity, especially in the CS:Source division. Did this spawn as a part of that movement, or did it kind of come up independently?

CAL|Daniel: This project was in the works long before my initiatives to reach out the communities. It came of its own accord as being a necessity long overdue. I do not want that to take away however from our attempts to reach out more to communities. Leagues are composed of those they serve. For this reason, my email is public and available to all who have ways to improve these communications lines or their specific community. I am always willing to hear new projects that the community feels CAL is lacking.


Thanks again to Daniel for taking the time to answer some questions. If you have any questions about the interview or anything listed in the rubric, you can e-mail CAL|Daniel at daniel.parmet@caleague.com


 

The biggest story in Major League Baseball (for everybody not in New York) is Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s homerun record. It’s a national story by itself, but throw in the steroids accusations and you’ve got enough talk show fodder to put Jerry Springer to shame. And if you want to get an idea of how important cheating is, listen to what they’re talking about. People are more concerned about Hank Aaron and Bud Selig’s travel schedule because of Barry Bonds’ alleged cheating than they are with the actual record.

(For New Yorkers, Roger Clemens making $4,500,000 every month is probably the biggest story. That's more than $1.50 every second. I’d ask to sign up for that deal, but I know it’s going to include fire, brimstone, a pitchfork and my soul, and I’m not ready to make that kind of commitment.)

Of course, their current problem is steroids. When something compromises the integrity of the sport, whether it’s cheating, gambling, or collusion, there isn’t going to be a bigger storyline. People still talk about David Stern and the frozen envelope that gave the New York Knicks the first pick in the 1985 NBA draft, which they turned into Patrick Ewing and a decade of dominance. Pete Rose is banned from the baseball Hall of Fame for betting games while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds. He never even did it as a player, and they’re keeping the all-time leader in hits out of Cooperstown because he compromised the integrity of the game. Going back even further, who can forget Shoeless Joe Jackson? Harsh punishment, but also necessary when you threaten a whole sport.


This picture is an unapologetic display of eye candy. Enjoy.

So it’s not hyperbole to call the release of the CAL Anti-Cheat Client the biggest news in the history of their Counter-Strike: Source division. The modified CGS format was a drop in the bucket compared with this -- not only in terms of the importance, but the number of players affected. Thousands of people will be playing on the client. (Or, as I like to think of it, the same number of people that are going to get less action while Paris Hilton is in jail for 45 days.) The original draw of CEVO was that you could play on the client and finally have some assurances that you weren't wasting your time against a guy with clear walls and no recoil. I'm not sure you can ever simulate the feel and security of a LAN environment, but CAL can finally guarantee some protection against cheating just like ESEA and CEVO do.

The way I see it, the client’s going to work in three ways, just like the steroid policy in baseball: it’s going to stop current hackers, it’s going to deter people in the future, and it’s going to catch those really dedicated douchebags that just can’t give it up. 

In the immediate future, people will probably give up the habit for a little while. The most effective time for an Anti-Cheat program is right after the release. Nobody knows much about it (read: how to get around it), and that’s going to scare cheaters. So whatever happens next season, at least we’re sure that the teams got to Invite on their own merit and not how good their cheating program was. 

(On a side note, everybody knows people are going to stop hacking, and I look forward to a thousand threads talking about how Player X dropped bombz in the playoffs last season and then went -18 and 18 in the Placement Tournament. You know it’s coming, so just prepare for the storm. And if you’re one of the legit players that happen to play poorly for a couple days, you have my deepest sympathies.)

But the brilliance of the client is really in deterrence. It’s pretty easy to hack when you’re confident you won’t be caught and you feel like you have to even the playing field. If you listen to people in Major League Baseball speak on steroids and greenies, a lot of them will mention using because they felt like they were at a competitive disadvantage if they didn’t. The drug policy evened out that playing field just like the client will for CAL. People who hack because they can get away with it won’t get away with it, and people who hack to even the playing field won’t need to do it anymore. Basically, the risk/reward ratio of hacking got a huge boost to the “risk” section. 

I’d go in depth about the client catching cheaters, but I think that pretty much speaks for itself, right? Right. The only thing I’ll say is that the happiest group of people might be the AC admins. There will finally be more to say than just “I don’t think he’s hacking.” A little hard evidence will go a long way towards easing their workload and their credibility. 


Begin sarcasm. "Please, take our money and give it to people that cheat. We beg you." End sarcasm.

Don’t get me wrong, all of that’s great for the league, but the biggest impact of the client is what it allows CAL to become: relevant to professional organizations. The client won’t do that by itself. But it will allow CAL to offer prizes without suffocating under a swarm of hackers, and we all know they’d come out en masse if there was money with no Anti-Cheat technology. I’m sure any company that donates resources would be thrilled if the team that won was accused of cheating. That's not as big of a problem anymore, and it looks like CAL already has plans for sponsorships if this quote from CAL|Shawn in the CAL-Main forums is any indication:

Actually, as an admin I would know about things that are going to happen in the upcoming season. So if you say there needs to be an incentive for ppl to play, and I say something like "just wait and see," maybe to you it's predicting the future but I already know what's going to happen.

Think about it: what have all these changes been geared towards? If you’ve been watching the forums, the biggest support for the CGS rules came in the Invite and Main divisions, while the people in lower leagues tended to disagree with the move. I’m not going to call them stupid or wrong, but it’s clear that the top teams have appreciated the switch, and I’m sure that was CAL’s original goal. CAL’s trying to draw the top teams back into their league, and the only step left to tread is offering rewards for the top finishers. It’s been a problem going all the way back to 1.6 when 3D and coL originally dropped CAL for CEVO, and they’ve finally taken the first steps to rectify it. And if you take that train of thought to its natural conclusion, it doesn’t take a genius to see that in the near future I’m going to be writing about CAL’s new sponsors and how they’ve managed to revitalize their league.


Text: CAL Client running ... please click 'Done' when your match has ended.

That might not happen, but it's a lot more possible than it was two months ago when professional teams had almost no reason to choose CAL over CEVO. Now they just need to keep the client updated, because we know the hackers will be back. They always come back. The biggest success of ESEA and CEVO clients isn't that they're unhackable. They just keep the programs up to date with the attempts to get around it. Or, on the other end, you have VAC. More hackers have probably lost their accounts through scams than VAC bans because the last update was during the Clinton administration. On top of that, CAL will need to at least make an offer competitive to CEVO, because I don’t think teams will leave $10,000 in CEVO prizes for some mousepads and headphones. But at least they're back in the game, and if they keep listening to the community and adapting their league to suit the needs and desires of players, they should at least remain competitive with CEVO.

But that’s all in the future, so for now let’s just bask in the warm, welcoming glow of the client while it lasts. I leave you with this haiku to commemorate the event:


AC client born
Internet: serious biz
Hackers in hiding


 
April 29, 2007

By now you’ve heard about all the changes in the Source scene, both inside and outside of CAL. We’ve already gotten opinions from two CAL admins, Barry and Daniel, and now it’s time to finish off the trifecta. Today we have CAL|Gancorz, the Counter-Strike: Source Game Manager for CAL, and let’s get straight to the questions and his answers.



Don't worry, large groups of people are always calm and rational when they hear bad news.

1) Thanks for taking the time to do an interview. You're the Counter-Strike: Source Game Manager. It sounds very important and official - does it come with a bigger office, and could you give us some details about your duties within CAL?

CAL|Gancorz: A bigger Office? No

A bigger audience? Yes

Some responsibilities I am still struggling through is the hiring process. As everyone knows we have lost a lot of very good and admins lately. My first large task will be putting current experienced admins into those positions and hiring some new blood to fill the gaps. I am currently looking for 8 general admins for open and we are always looking for ac admins. Staffing has always been a challenge and that will most likely be my biggest one.
I still do disputes, answer support questions, and help out where ever needed.

As soon as I figure out all my duties I will let you know. I am still the division manager for open and will finish my duties there when season 7 is complete.


2) Of course the big news from the last week was the changes to the CAL-Invite division.  How did those come about? What's your outlook on Season 8?

CAL|Gancorz: Those changes where brought about by CAL|Shawn. I give him full credit for coming up with some great ideas and getting them implemented by the management of CAL. Let's face it. without change everything gets boring, and CAL needed to do something to get the interest of the community back. The change is here and I hope that a lot of teams embrace this as a positive thing for the community. These changes are a huge step away from the status quo that cal has had for many years.

Season 8 will be interesting to say the least. The placement tournament will be great and I hope a lot of top teams will apply to play in it. The community will have input in the things we do at all playing levels. We do read your posts, answer your questions and try to implement what we can. Some things take longer then others and this is only the beginning.


3) Your promotion comes at a time with a lot of changes to CAL. Have you gotten used to your new position, and how's your relationship with CAL Operations?

CAL|Gancorz: I can definately say that operations have been helpful in this transition. Barry, Daniel, Allen, Hickman, Kitto are there most the time to answer my questions. They seem open to change and are willing to work together to put CAL on top.


4) As part of the changes, it was announced that a lot of admins were leaving CAL. Those positions need to be filled. Are there people ready to fill them, and are you worried there might be a little lack of experience in the ranks?

CAL|Gancorz: We have a lot of good staff still left. They are now training the newer admins. The lack of exp is only a small factor. The senior admins do check on disputes and such to make sure they are being handled properly. I also keep an eye on things to make sure everyone is doing well. I am always in ventrilo for anyone to ask questions If they are unsure.


5) Why did you approach Shawn about coming back to be the CAL-Invite manager? Did it have anything to do with the admin turnover?

CAL|Gancorz: All the people that have left I still keep in touch with. When I heard that shawn was still interested in CAL I just plain out asked him about invite. He proposed some really great things to promote interest back in to the invite division. It just blossomed from there. He is a great admin, he knows his facts and he is a do'er. He is pro community and wants to hear what people want. This in my opinion is exactly what tht division needs to be successful again.


6) How long have you been with CAL, and what are some other positions you've held? Have you ever been paid in anything other than gratitude and FFs (forum flames)?

CAL|Gancorz: I have played in CAL since season 1 of source.

Positions held: General Admin Open, Senior Admin Open, Division Manager Open, Game Manager CSS Source.

Paid? I have been offered bribes, (not taken) but no admins are paid.

One person saying "thanks you where very helpfull" makes up for the other ten that are total a-holes.



Ask him all the questions you want about CS ... just don't ask about calculus.
7) About how much of your time do you spend on CAL-related activities, and what are some of your interests outside of gaming (do you go to school, have a family, play sports, etc)?

CAL|Gancorz: I spend roughly 3-4 hours per day on CAL related work. I try to take weekends off to spend time with family and friends.

Sports: I currently coach 2 teams in my home town. Major league and minor league girls softball. I have 3 little girls that all love to play. (Yes they play cs1.6 and css also) I enjoy hunting, fishing, riding my 4 wheeler and most outdoor activities.

And before you say it YES I am an older individual. Umm I think I am the oldest CAL admin yet. How old? Old enough to know age has nothing to do with enjoying a good game.

School: I have not done that for over 20 years.


8) Do you feel like the lack of Source at CPL has created some problems for CAL, specifically in the Invite division?

CAL|Gancorz: Without a doubt yes. The purpose of teams playing invite was to get a better seed at the CPL along with getting some practice in. With no source support at CPL what would be a reason for any team to stick with CAL? Hopefully with this new rule set we will see top teams using the CAL invite div as their testing/practice ground for a lot of upcoming events within the source community.


9) What event are you most looking forward to in 2007 (CGS, CAL-I ss8, WSVG, etc)?

CAL|Gancorz: I am paying close attention to CGS, More from a "lets see what happens" perspective. The most excitement I have is too witness how this new rule set effects the invite division and the excitement that comes with trying something completely different.


10) How long have you been gaming, and what are your favorite games (current or otherwise)?

CAL|Gancorz: Hehe I will show my age again here. I have been Gaming for 30+ years. Not competitively obviously. My first gaming console I ever had was pong by Atari (1975). I went through the 2600, Nintendo, PS2 stage. I have played cs since 1.3 using dialup.

Favorite games: Counter Strike Source, Day of Defeat Source, Tm Nations, The command and conquer series, UT2004, Still occasionally play cs 1.6, Grand Theft Auto Series, Guitar Hero II, Far cry,

Waiting now for Crysis!!


11) I'm sure you have a lot of good stories from your gaming/admin career. What's one of the funniest or just one that sticks out from the pack?

CAL|Gancorz: The funniest thing that I have seen and I still chuckle about today is the movie that zmorris made a while back. "CAL Admin Meeting". I may not agree with the way that Chris reports rumor as fact but that movie clip was the funiest damn thing I have seen in a long time.



Everybody wants a piece of you when you're a global icon. But I'm still not buying a Bowflex.
12) Out of anybody in the world, who would you like to knife in a friendly scrim or match? (As inspiration, my pick would be Chuck Norris. I could do nothing else with my life, and I'd still be able to say, "I beat Chuck Norris in a knife fight," and I wouldn't be a complete liar.)



CAL|Gancorz: Hmm, Fatal1ty just to be able to say I did.


13) I like your avatar on the CAL forums because I'm a big fan of pirates. Who was a better pirate: Captain Morgan or Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean? From the way he walked and talked, do you think Sparrow had a little Captain in him?

CAL|Gancorz: Well the avatar came from the influence of Mike Sek (LD note: Mike Sek was a CAL admin for a long time, although he isn't currently with the league). He liked to reference pirate lingo a lot and the picture seemed fitting. Not to mention I do enjoy a bit of the captain with a splash of Coke on occasion.

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are great entertainment and Captain Jack Sparrow was definitely enjoying something more than life with that character.


14) Last question. Who would win in a fight: Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, or Captain Morgan?

CAL|Gancorz: Kirk of course.

I like picard but have you ever seen him get in a real fight on next gen?

Captain morgan is to busy wenching and stealing booty to hang out with those other two.


Recap

I would love to write a lot here, but how do you beat an ending that features wenching and stealing booty? You don't. You just accept defeat and move on.

Tomorrow we’re back with the regular barrage of eSports commentary, jokes, and silly pictures.  Thanks again to the CAL admins for lending their time, and I hope you (the community) enjoyed the interviews as much as I did. 


 
April 28, 2007

As Stephen Colbert might say, it’s time for the second part in our three part series, “Better Know a CAL Admin.” I hope you didn’t miss yesterday’s interview with CAL|Barry, and tomorrow I’ll release the final installment: an interview with CAL|Gancorz, the new Counter-Strike: Source Game Manager. But for now we have an Operations Manager and a QC Admin answering some questions. So without further ado, here's the interview with CAL|Daniel.


1)Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. As I understand it, you have two duties in CAL.  You’re an Operations Manager, and you’re a QC admin. Let’s handle the Operations aspect first. I think the only thing most people know is that it has something to do with managing some kind of operations, which may or may not be medical in nature. So, if we had your job for a week, what are some things we could look forward to? What do you do?

CAL|Daniel: No problem, always happy to converse with the communities I serve! Really, the term “operations manager” is quite vague even to me. It encompasses QC as sub-responsibility among many other sub-responsibilities; QC is not a separate duty. To be fair, I did a lot of QC work before I became Operations so it is just something I tend to on a regular basis. My job for a week… do you know these so-called volunteers don’t even get paid! Heh, that was my cue that doing my “job” requires a good sense of humor because we are not, paid which means we can pick our own hours of operations and time schedule to get things done. However, this means that my daily and even weekly schedule for what I do for CAL varies by my real life.

A large part of what I do involves training, firing and hiring admins. Experienced admins will come to me for advice on a regular basis because I have been here for so long. Another part of my operations position involves making sure long term projects succeed as well as the games are getting what they need out of the present resources we can provide. I spend a lot of time conversing with the admins to see if there is something more I should be providing to them. For QC, I take complaints very seriously. Users will not always get what they desire out of a QC ticket, but the one promise I make to anyone that files one or contacts me is my full attention and investigation of the issues.


2) The list of games you preside over is impressive. ETQW, Warcraft 3, Warsow, Call of Duty, Dawn of War, Day of Defeat: 1.3, Day of Defeat: Source, Admin of Busy. (Okay, I made that last one up, but that’s how I’d feel.) Do you think seven games is enough, or are you looking to add a couple more just for fun?

CAL|Daniel: Well, seven games is a lot especially since it means I spend a lot of my time reading forums to make sure people are satisfied with our leagues. As far as more games, I am always willing to take on more responsibility if it helps CAL and another eager community. Operations divides responsibility; the other Operations Managers are just as busy as I am.


3) As for the QC portion of your duties, most people are familiar with that department. For anybody who isn’t, what is your job description there, and how big is the department?

CAL|Daniel: Right now the department is being reformed so we can better service the complaints and make sure there is less of a wait time. My job description more or less is to investigate any issues of consequence to their fullest extent. However, there are limits. For example, AC review matters have their own review process and forum stuff is less important than the normal complaints that come in so they have their own email for those issues (calforums@caleague.com). Basically, my job description when it comes to QC is to make sure everyone gets answered and heard because the goal of our QC department is to make sure you feel like your side has been thoroughly listened to. We want you to know that someone cares. QC serves as another check and balance for the league.


I'd rather have one police ticket than 500 QC tickets. A one-time charge is better than $0/hour for years.


4) I think it’d help the community to have a better idea of what goes on behind the scenes. Could you describe the process of handling a dispute? How you get notified, how long each one usually takes, how many you get per day, that kind of thing.

CAL|Daniel: Boy that is a loaded question, but they all have been! How long a dispute takes and its’ process are largely determined by what kind of dispute it is. If the user has included everything I need in the first place in the QC ticket then the ticket will be done quite fast. Sometimes, I need to contact some users or admins for more information / their side of the events. We have a ticket handling system that assigns a QC number chronologically so the tickets are handled by the order in which they come in unless the ticket has some timestamp urgency on it (for instances a playoff match). The amount we receive varies by what point of the season it is in each game.


5) Are most of the tickets you handle straightforward, or do you sift through a lot of arguments and emotions to get to the facts?

CAL|Daniel: Sometimes there is a lot of emotion in the tickets, which makes it hard to sift out the facts of the situation. In general, we do not see many straightforward tickets. We very much appreciate the tickets that are straightforward though, proofread and organized. Imagine it just like your high school or college English paper! Having six fragments and a run on sentence (such as my responses in this interview) makes it hard for us to follow you!


6) In every league there are allegations of admin abuse and corruption. Without getting into too much detail, do you think that the QC department has helped CAL cut back on those things?

CAL|Daniel: Without getting into too much detail, there is not much admin abuse because QC and Operations deal with it swiftly and severely. Anything out of line is brought almost immediately to our attention.


7) Although CS isn’t listed under your long list of games, you’ve dropped by the forums before (and handled yourself very well, I might add).  Do you play CS? What are some of the games you do play, and how long have you been a gamer?

CAL|Daniel: I have proudly/sadly (day dependant!) been a gamer since 1995. I regularly pub a lot of games but have to a large extent dropped and minimized my competitive play to give that kind of time to CAL instead. I can be found pubbing most any game. Lately, I have been playing CoH & C&C3 but sometimes I can be found playing dods, wc3, ET, rtcw, guildwars, dow, aoe3, fear. I have not played cs since 1.3 or css since release (shadowids and awp make me a sad panda).


8) I’m sure you’ve heard about the changes in the CAL-Invite CS:Source division. What do you think about the changes that were made, and what’s your outlook on the upcoming season?

CAL|Daniel: I think that Shawn has done an amazing job looking out for the communities best interest and I think that because of that Shawn will bring the community what it deserves. The changes look promising but only time will tell of their success.


9) What are some of your interests outside of gaming? (Do you have a family, go to school, play sports, etc.)

CAL|Daniel: I am just a regular old Joe! I spend time with my family, friends, finishing off college. I have a wide variety of interests that eat at my time (and I am looking for work that will encompass them!)


10) The only CAL with a longer tenure than the online league is Ripken Jr. What does CAL need to do in order to stay on top of online gaming , and what are some of the biggest obstacles towards online leagues (admin abuse, hacking, lack of prize money, etc)? (I’m sure a lot of people would debate whether CAL is the premier online league, but considering the huge amount of games they offer and the massive player base, I think it’s fair to say they’re still the most popular league, by far.)

CAL|Daniel: Well I will try to answer that question in two parts, one I think leagues in general biggest problem will always be hacking. We all know the reasons why and we all wish we could wave a magic wand that will fix it. However, it just does not work that way. When it comes down to it, I think a league’s biggest worry is losing touch with the communities that it serves to the point that we can no longer service the community. As far as CAL’s specific problems go, it is hard to continue to service all these communities adequately without acquiring ways to compensate the admins and prize packages for teams participating in the long seasons. We are hoping the tournaments that are slowly coming to CAL will help alleviate these problems.


11) What are your thoughts on the recent news about Sierra becoming the lead sponsor for CPL and the World Tour featuring two non-traditional titles? Do you think it will have a big impact on the games played during the LAN as well, or do you expect it to stay with time-tested games?

CAL|Daniel: Fear has had several tournaments in the past, and has also been in a previous CPL and has also been in CAL before. Fear has the potential to go very far with teams like the Doctors showing interest, but the problem will be making sure that potential is realized.


12) You’ve been around CAL for a long time, I assume.  What is one of your best memories of being an admin or gaming in general?

CAL|Daniel: 3 years! My best memories include just the diversity of people I have encountered and their different senses of humors. There are so many inside jokes between past and present staff that it makes me happy to know we share a hobby! As far as a specific memory, I love the way CAL does not mind playing April fools jokes on itself, the admins and the players.


It doesn't look like much now, but after somebody dies, it's the tea bag's time to shine.


13) If you had to pick, what’s the most humiliating way for a player to die in a game (not limited to CS)? Personally, I’d go with cratering. It’s pretty bad if you: a) can’t figure out how to work the ladder, or b) are in such a bad situation that you might as well take the plunge. What’s your take?

CAL|Daniel: Well I personally always loved a bug found in certain games that said “death by leaving map-clipping limits.” However, there is always the ever popular teabag death, knife death or of course the ‘goomba death.’


14) If there was one thing you could bring from professional sports in eSports, what would it be? (Some examples, but not limited to: farm systems, coaches, paid attendance, player unions, agents, drafts, hall of fame, all-star games/league awards, sabermetrics, designated “offseason”)

CAL|Daniel: We’ve attempted to bring, all star games, league awards, hall of fame, drafts before, and they’ve never worked but these are definitely things I would love to see happen.


Recap

If you have any questions spawned by the interview, you can e-mail Daniel at daniel.parmet@caleague.com.

Also, the CAL forums have an e-mail account? Why didn't I know this!? I could have been e-mailing them all kinds of ridiculous questions like, "how many offers for sexual enhancement do you get every day?", or, "Would you like free sexual enhancement?! It's free!"

On a more serious note, it seems like the Quality Control department is in good hands. It's sad to admit, but I was expecting all the admins to be a little brief with their answers. The last thing I would want to do after volunteering that many hours a day is sit down for another two or three to answer fifteen questions from some crazy eSports blogger. But to a man, they've all taken the extra step to not only provide excellent answers, but also offer advice and the opportunity for follow-up questions. I've been totally blown away, and I want to thank all three of them for not only the work they do with CAL, but for being so professional and thorough with the interviews.

And as a last reminder, up tomorrow is CAL|Gancorz. I hope you've enjoyed the first two, and have a good Sunday!


 
April 27, 2007

The title speaks for itself. I'll have a little recap afterwards, but for now let's get straight to the interview!

1) Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. In your CAL signature it says you’re the “Network Operations Manager”. What exactly does that mean, and what are your responsibilities within CAL?

I think my first thought was "wow, someone really wants to know what I do?" :)

Basically, I keep the CAL (and related) infrastructure going. We currently have several dozen servers, 4-5 web sites, 3 forums, 10 mysql databases, about 3-4 Terrabytes of disk space, and various custom applications that need care and attention from time to time, and that responsibility falls to me. I couldn't do it all without help, of course, so I have a small staff that helps me with forum maintenance, server monitoring, and other items. We're all volunteers, so it takes a lot of patience, geekiness, and knowledge.

It's a lot of behind the scenes work, so the only time most people probably see us is when something breaks :)


2) There’s been a rumor floating around that CAL is going to sever ties with the CPL. Is there any truth behind that?

I doubt it. CAL and CPL staff are pretty tightly integrated, so there's a lot we do for each other.


3) There were some big changes announced for Season 8 of CAL-Invite. What are your feelings about the changes themselves and the upcoming season?

Well, I'm guessing you mean the tourney and the return of some of our staff - it's great to see that people are working hard to continually improve the community's enjoyment of gaming, and that people are willing to put in that time. I think people tend to only focus on the top 5 teams in a game and forget that there are thousands of other people that enjoy gaming just as much (but aren't as recognized). CAL's biggest strength as a free league has always been as the center of these communities.


4) How long have you been a CAL admin, and what are some of the other positions you’ve held?

I was hired around November 2002, but it's a bit of a gray area. I initially started working for a server admin association called UnitedAdmins as their "League Liason", which meant I had to socialize with CAL and other leagues to get UA products working in their divisions. When UA started to fade a bit, I was asked to join the initial CAL AC team to help process the growing number of disputes in the league. As my active gaming hours faded with work, I started helping out our development team on the web site overhaul (if anyone remembers, we released this in July 2004!) This was a lot more up my alley since being a system administrator was part of the my day job responsibilities, and eventually through various staff changes and revisions, I arrived at the position where I am today. CAL's grown a LOT in that time, and it's been my goal to get the infrastructure to grow with it.



Good thing Barry only hunts virtual campers, because this person doesn't look too coherent.
5) What games do you play, if any?

My first classic love has always been Counter-Strike. It started with a "borrowed" version of Half-life 1.0 in college in 1998, and eventually once someone on our floor said "hey, look at this new mod", I've been with it ever since. I even ran a server for 2-3 years back when running your own CS server made you one of only about 1000 or so people with a stable broadband connection. I don't really play it much anymore, but it reminds me of how communities start.

Currently, I'm a bit more into the BF series of games. I've been playing Dcon, the recreation of the Desert Combat mod for Battlefield, usually just to see how many things I can make explode at once. I also hunt campers :)

Other than that, I dabble a bit in everything. I'm pretty bad at RTS games, but that doesn't stop me from playing C&C3.


6) If there was one realistic change you could make to CAL as a league, or one game division specifically, what would it be?

I'd love to reduce staff turnover. I know that sounds like consultant-speak, but it's true. CAL staff are some of the hardest working people I've ever seen, even more so than paid staff in the business world sometimes. I'm constantly amazed by the amount of time and effort that goes into managing and running a division - handling disputes, answering questions, and finding new ways to make playing the same game exciting every time. Makes my job look easy by comparison!

The problem is, it's easy to get burned out. After a while some staff just find they don't have the time or enthusiasm anymore, and they disappear or quit outright. It's very frustrating, because we've lost some very good people this way. New admins have to be trained, they have to learn how to handle new situations, and it results in less than optimal service (especially since CAL is such a large league).

With that in mind, it would be nice to find a way to retain staff. Keep them coming back, keep them interested, and it results in a better league for everyone. Being a CAL staff member used to make you part of your own little sub-community (3 AM Monopoly, late night Ventrilo chats about random amusements, etc), and it's sad that it's not that way anymore.


7) If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one game (console or PC) to play until you were rescued, what would it be?  (And, on a side note, who do you think would be most likely to rescue you?)

I think I'd have to pick the original Tecmo Bowl. That game was the least realistic adaptation of football ever, but you can pick it up every time and be entertained. The person to eventually rescue me would be either Andrew or Picc (CPL Developer and Assistant Network admin, respectively) since they'ved saved my butt so many times in the past.


8) I’ve been informed that you’re quite the joker. Do you have a favorite joke or a funny story to share with us from your gaming career or your admin experiences?

Well, I think one of the fun things about the Internet is the ability for people to take you seriously when you're pulling a prank on them. For example, in the past we've had a slightly undercover tradition in CAL to create some sort of April Fools' joke every year. It hasn't been quite the scene it used to be (sadly it seems most people offend a bit too easily these days, causing us to be a bit less ambitious in our plans), but we do try to do something each year.

For example, a couple years ago amid the turmoil of the initial switch from 1.6 to Source we decided to create a fake "WoW" division and say that all the remaining 1.6 teams were being forced to switch to it and compete using their World of Warcraft characters. We even registered an IRC channel! (#caleague-wow) Since some of our admins were serious WoW addicts, this gave us an internal joke as well (we made a fake team with all the known admin addicts on it).

Long story short, since everyone was a little up in arms already about being told to switch games, they fell for it - hook, line, sinker. I've never seen so many emails and PMs asking if they could see the rules for the WoW-I league, how it would run, and why couldn't people just play 1.6. The real kicker is that now WoW is apparently going to be an actual competitive event elsewhere - who saw that coming?


9) What are some of your interests outside of gaming (do you go to school, have a family, play sports, etc.)?

Now that I'm out of grad school, I think I'm done with education for now. I've always thought about teaching, so a PhD is a possibility, but I don't think I'm ready just yet. For now I'm content to be a corporate drone and pay the bills, since it's a pretty flexible gig that allows me to help out with CAL items occasionally during the day.

As far as sports, it's on my list for the year. Rec sports are the way to go for most big cities - I've been in flag football/softball/street hockey/etc leagues and had a lot of fun (and minimal injuries) doing it. Being on the west coast now, I think it's actually a crime not to get out there and enjoy the weather!

I'm also definitely a "foodie", as my friends put it. One of the easiest nights out with friends is trying some random unusual type of food - sushi, Ethiopian, etc For a kid from the midwest who hated his greens growing up, I think I've tried just about every type of cuisine there is.


I'd stick with the INT -- the Manning Face is less painful than a Harrison tackle.


10) If you could:

a) Hit a homerun off Roger Clemens
b) Intercept a pass from Peyton Manning
c) Beat Michael Jordan in a game of HORSE
d) Deagle ace compLexity
e) Beat Ryu in an arm-wrestling contest

Which one would you pick, and why?

I think intercepting Manning would be interesting, though I think technically I'm supposed to be a well wisher for the Colts. How about a touchdown pass from him? Especially if I got to flatten Rodney Harrison in the process - I'm not much of a Patriots fan!

I did scout Ksharp once at a LAN 5 years ago, does that count? :)


11) What event are you looking forward to the most in 2007 (CGS, CAL-I ss8, WSVG, etc)?

I'm curious to see how the whole year plays out. I think the CGS will be entertaining, but I'm always skeptical about people throwing big money into things - they want big results, and if they don't get them they'll move on to "the next big thing". I think the new game makeup of the other events will be interesting - I think it will allow for a more diverse group of newcomers and shake up the status quo. I think the same game every single year gets a bit stagnant, but that's just me.


12) Counter-Strike has been the primary game for CPL for as long as I can remember. Their recent announcement about the 2007 World Tour says they're leaving off traditional titles in favor of two games from their new lead sponsor, Sierra. What kind of effect do you think this will have on the CPL LANs, specifically with their game choices and attendance/popularity?

From what I've seen of WIC, it actually looks pretty cool. I think it might attract a newer/less "set in their ways" audience who has previously been disinterested in older titles. I think if it plays as well as it looks (and those lucky folks who have a pre-release copy insist it does), I think it will be an enjoyable tournament. Plus, I'm always a firm believer in the externals of the event - getting to see the latest gadgets, winning prizes, and hanging out with people I don't see very often.


13) Now that DirecTV has the exclusive broadcast rights for CS there's been an emphasis on other titles, specifically from the WSVG and now the CPL World Tour. Do you think it's possible for these events to flourish and grow despite focusing less on the most popular multiplayer game in history?

I think there's space for everyone. Video games have a large, large audience and I think history has shown that if a game is supported well by its developers that a community will develop around it.  As long as there's a chance to have fun and win prizes and/or "swag", you'll see people there.



I dunno, he looks a little shifty to me. Maybe it's the tie.
14) One of the first things I noticed about your CAL profile was your avatar and description: banned by the Space Pope. Do you feel like the Space Pope has a personal vendetta against you, and if so what are you doing to combat it?

My sense of humor is pretty Simpsons-Futurama oriented. The Space Pope is a side joke from the Futurama series (if you haven't seen it, shame on you!). I tend to pull out a Simpsons joke on the forums if it applies to the current situation, so it fits with the theme.

For example, thinking of CAL as working for Hank Scorpio makes it a bit more thematic.

Clearly everyone should go and watch a few seasons so they can keep up!


15) Lastly, of course we would all mourn if the Space Pope were to pass away, but who in the community do you think would make a good Space Pope II?

I would nominate the benevolent General Krug. All Hail Krug!


Recap

If I’m camping in a Battlefield server and some guy seems like he has a personal vendetta against me, I should say, “Hi Barry” just in case.

I need to brush up on my Futurama, because I have no idea who General Krug is, but neither does Google. I figured Krug was the kind of name that would make a good picture, and I couldn’t find a single pic on a GIS or any references in a regular search. It’s pretty impressive when you can stump Google.

On a general note, this is the first interview in a set of three.  Check back here the next two days for interviews with a CAL Operations member and the Counter-Strike: Source Game Manager. There’ll be more insights into the CPL announcement, the QC department, CAL-Invite, and some more bizarre questions about things like Space Popes. 


 
April 21, 2007

Say what you will about CAL and the people working there, but they’ve been around a loooong time. It’s pretty impressive considering they live on the Internet – a place where a new product, site, or game comes out every time someone brainstorms on the toilet. (Coincidentally, that’s where most of the ideas should stay. Except my ideas. Those are brilliant.) You have to adapt to stay around that long.


Shower cap on the rack. Thinking cap sold separately.

Before I even get into the actual changes to the league, it’s worth mentioning that Shawn Davis is returning this season to manage the CAL-Invite division. I’m sure he’s made his fair share of enemies in his last stint as a CAL admin, but he really seems to care about the league and that’s the best trait an admin can have. When admins don’t care, they make bad decisions, if they’re around to make one at all. Nobody gets every decision right, but if admins care about the league, it at least makes them open to new ideas, outside help, and the community’s feelings. The only thing worse than a stubborn admin is playing with a stubborn teammate. (I know he's picked me five times, but I'll get him this time, I swear!)

As for the league, let’s face it, the top teams have left for greener pastures, and they’re probably not coming back (and I do mean green, as in the color of money). It all depends on the CGS schedule. I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams drop CEVO as well, although that’s purely speculation on my part. It’s hard to predict how the schedules will all fit together. The one thing I do know is that if CGS is the white whale, Captain Ahab is going to need a bigger ship. 

But even though the top teams are gone, it doesn't mean CAL doesn't have talent or isn't fun to watch. Teams just aren't around long enough to reach their full potential. There’s ten teams in Invite right now, down from sixteen, and that's par for the course. Hence the changes. Like a good dinner, we'll have the small stuff first, and the tasty things last. (Note: I’ll include the gist of the original statements, along with their numbering, from the CAL announcement. It should make everything a little easier to follow.)


Appetizers (small potatoes)


1) Only LAN maps will be used in the rotation.

Personally, I think there should be more maps used in LANs (as I’ve discussed before), but it's not a bad decision Sticking to a rotation with LAN maps in it should be a little more attractive to the competitive teams, and that’s definitely a good thing.


7+8) The scheduling of matches will remain flexible, however some deadlines will be enforced so that the division can become more organized and professional. Teams with unavoidable forfeit wins will be rescheduled when possible but allowed to play it at their convenience until the regular season ends.

Remember when teams used to forfeit all the time? Well, I've discovered a way to actually play all the matches on schedule! Play all the matches on schedule?! Brilliant!

They've had similar rules in CAL-Main, and it's been good for competition at that level. I don’t think there are many things worse than having your featured teams not playing their matches. Even though there’s been a shift towards parity in leagues like the MLB, NBA, and NFL, the teams that drew the most interest, and the ones we remember the most fondly, are the dynasties. The Bronx Bombers, the dominant Boston Celtics teams with Bird, McHale, and Parrish, the Dallas Cowboys with Aikman, Irvin, and Emmitt – fans can appreciate it when every teams has a chance to win, but nothing draws interest like a good Goliath. Even David would be disappointed if his match was forfeited because Goliath couldn’t be there one day.


The Meat (tastier things on the way)


9) Teams may have until the end of Week 4 to request a move down to CAL-Main.

For whatever reason teams get to CAL-Invite and die. It's like a mountain climber finally getting within sight of the peak, and then just heading back down without actually reaching the summit? Wouldn’t we ask what the hell was wrong with that guy? Instead of dying, teams can request a movedown. It’s definitely easier to solve problems in CAL-Main, where you don’t have to worry about getting pounded by rSports or Devastation.


6) The "3 returning starters" rule will be lowered to 2.

Same thing here: CAL wants to help teams stay alive (whether they should have to is another question.) You can't build a dynasty (much less a stable team) if you can't stay together for more than one season. Under the old rules, even 3D would have been marked "hijacked": Volcano and Method returned from their old team, but they added Ksharp, liN, and Rector. Even though I don’t think CAL would have done that to a team of their stature, if roster turmoil can happen to 3D, it can happen to anybody.


4) There will be 2 matches a week for the duration of the season, for a total of 16 matches.  

They'd better manage to keep teams alive, because there's going to be a lot more action. To put it simply, more matches = more opportunities to see your favorite team. It’s a little more of a burden on the scheduling for teams, but combined with a slightly relaxed scheduling policy, forfeits shouldn’t see any kind of dramatic increase. I don't know why CAL-I only had one match a week in the first place, but I really like this change.


5) Teams that are attending any major LAN event with at least 3 players from their CAL roster may be excused (and not scheduled) for up to 2 matches per event if requested in advance.  

Common sense prevails. It's easy to verify if a team was actually at a LAN, and as a league it’s silly to penalize LAN-caliber teams with forfeit losses. Especially when you're trying to attract the professional teams. If a team takes off a Sunday and a Wednesday to attend a LAN, they have a week and a half in between CAL responsibilities. Considering most LANs don’t last longer than two or three days, that's plenty of time to travel and play in a CAL match while not suffering from jet lag (or "I just spent twelve hours in a small car with three overweight, sweaty, loud teenagers" lag).


10) All general disputes that do not involve forfeits or trivial reporting errors will be reviewed and discussed by no fewer than 3 senior admins, and the names of the admins will be noted the dispute log, so that in the event that a team wishes to appeal the outcome of the dispute, the QC or appeal admin will know who to contact for additional information.


If you look closely you can see he's playing World of Warcraft.

This is the best change of the group, in my mind. There are always complaints about forum threads being deleted, which admins handle disputes, who is making decisions for the league, that kind of thing. Even the Wizard of Oz was less mysterious. Anything CAL does to demystify those processes and keep the community informed is a good change. When a decisions is made on a dispute, sometimes teams involved just want to know why that decision was made. There’s honest curiosity and the desire to learn, but they don’t know who made the decisions. Getting answers this upcoming season should be easier, and it might help the relationship between competitors and the league.


Fine Wine (the good stuff)


1) There will be a placement tournament to determine some of the teams invited to CAL-Invite.

The community lusted after it, and CAL finally delivered. There won’t be any more questions and flames about which Pacific, Central, or Atlantic teams got shafted, or which conference deserved three move-ups instead of two. It’s put up or shut up time.


13) There will be player stats, similar to GameSense, for every Season 8 match and will likely be held on the site that is doing the coverage of CAL-Invite.

The stats pretty much speak for themselves. I love stats. Who doesn’t love stats? Crazy people, that’s who.


2) Matches will be played with a modified CAL match config.

The modified CGS rules are another community-driven change. The CGS is the future of gaming right now. Period. Whether you agree with their format is irrelevant at this point. It’s here, and adopting a modified version should be a draw for teams that want to practice. The money and round times change the gameplay, but I actually like the fact that they’re keeping max rounds at 15 (instead of 9) and using the standard CAL overtime config. If there was one complaint about the Buy.com LAN, it’s that a lot of teams and fans felt like a one round OT wasn’t fair, especially on maps that may be CT or T sided. In a poll a slight majority of people voted for CGS rules with a modified OT, so hopefully including the regular amount of rounds will be a happy medium.


Dessert (an indulgence)

CEVO has two advantages over CAL: an AC client and a prize pool. I'm thinking CAL will have an answer for both next season. Do I have any direct evidence? No. But hear me out.

The AC client makes sense. Look at it this way: by Shawn’s own admission two AC managers are leaving, and they’re already expanding the schedule to sixteen matches. That’s going to mean more disputes, and not as many qualified people to handle them. We already know that CAL-AC is overworked and underpaid (read: not paid), why would they bother increasing the dispute limit if they’d have to dedicate more time with less resources? There’s been plenty of speculation about the creation of a client, and a lot of complaints that it hasn’t arrived yet. It might be the biggest reason teams have left CAL - the opportunity to play an online match without having to worry about hackers is a big draw for all teams, not just professional ones. The changes are great, don’t get me wrong. But there are two trump cards that CEVO holds, and until CAL competes with those, a majority of the teams don’t have enough incentive to come back. And CAL knows this, they aren’t stupid. Add that to the rumors, and there’s too much smoke to have no fire.

The other big advantage for CEVO monetary prizes/incentives to play. Why didn’t CAL announce it now? It’s too big of an announcement to lump in with the others because they’d seem insignificant, and it’s also the wrong time. News like that would take away from the playoffs, which isn't in CAL’s best interest. All these changes are good, but I don’t think anybody is naïve enough to think the top professional teams are going to pass up $10,000 in CEVO for CGS rules in CAL. If they’re really dedicated to bringing back the top teams, which I think they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if they announce some kind of incentive for the top finishers in Invite. Whether it’s hardware or a million dollars, I don’t know. But the league is certainly big enough to attract sponsors. If I had as many hits as their website, I’d be a Adsense-in’, sponsorship-lookin’, advertising-sellin’ fiend.


An Introduction, A Sign-Off

Phew. Congrats if you've made it this far! CAL’s last piece of news was about getting more coverage for CAL-Invite. As I’m sure you know by now, that’s me, and hopefully we’ll have those stats coming for the next CAL-Invite season. The only thing I didn’t like about CAL’s announcement is describing me as “Outstanding and professional”. Puh-lease. I’m going to be providing predictions, news commentary, and team updates that are only slightly better than the nothing currently out there. But, if you happen to like those kinds of things (and you can tolerate my writing), then hopefully you stop by. 

Whatever happens here, it’s clear that CAL is intent on changing the image of their top league, and they’re listening to the community as much as possible to do it. As an eSports fan I’m excited to see the final product. As an eSports writer I hope I can cover it coherently. And as a Counter-Strike: Source player, I just wish they would fix that damn crashing bug when you switch teams.

(Seriously. Somebody needs to get on that.)



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