January 23, 2008

GotFrag started a new prediction system about a week ago, and I’m a big fan. Detailed predictions are incredibly hard to do week-in and week-out. It takes more time than you might suspect, causing most predictions to slowly fade away like a five-alarm hangover. Believe me, I know from experience. About the predictions, not the hangover. I think the new, quick format is an upgrade, and hopefully it has some staying power.

And since they’re working hard at doing predictions, what better way to reward their effort than point out all their mistakes while enjoying the comforts of hindsight? That’s a joke; I won’t be seriously critiquing their performances. I might make a joke here and there or poke fun, but mostly I think it’d be interesting to keep track of their records as predictors. There’s also a guest predictor to complete the panel of five, and I’ll just compile their totals under “Guest”.

Here are the results from the first two weeks, broken up into Week 2.2 and Week 2.1 in parenthesis:

Singlecoil: 10-1 (5-1, 5-0)
SirScoots: 9-2 (5-1, 4-1)
Midway: 7-4 (4-2, 3-2)
Guest: 7-4 (3-3, 4-1)
jeSUIT: 5-6 (3-3, 2-3)

I’ll give more notes as the season progresses, but for now I’ll just say Singlecoil’s only loss from the first two sets of matches came when Carolina upset the LA compLexity. Only one person, SirScoots, dodged that bullet, and I honestly have no idea how he did. coL seems to lose once every season in CEVO, and somehow Scoots knew it was coming. Just a marvelous prediction.

I’ll add the Week 3.1 results once they’re in. It looks like most of the matches will be finished tonight with only one being rescheduled for a later date.

There’s another trend besides the records that I wanted to mention briefly. After an innocent first set of predictions, Midway’s broken out the exclamation points like it’s a buy-one, get-two free sale. It could be the predictor’s version of a poker tell. Zero exclamation points means he flipped a coin. One exclamation point means he’s bluffing or not confident in his prediction. Two means he’s got some gusto behind his words.And look out when he uses the four-exclamation ending, also known from here on out as the Midway Special. He’s holding a monster when he uses that.

And not for nothing, he’s also starting to corner the market on ALL-CAPS WORDS … !!!!

Stay tuned for more prediction action and reaction!!!!

CEVO, Media, Source

January 11, 2008

I always try to learn from other people’s mistakes. I think of them as gifts. Other people are kindly making idiots of themselves so that I don’t have to. The least I can do is pay attention, like a cursory glance through a Christmas card.

Despite my best efforts, I often fail.

For instance, take the story of my good friend Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor. He made a myriad of mistakes, many of which I’ve taken to heart. After watching his tragic death, I’ve made a personal vow never to fight against hobbits, wizards, or people that live to be three-hundred years old. I will also never trust the cowardly men of the north, or my own stupid orcish creations. And, most importantly, I will never, ever let somebody cut off the source of all my power conveniently left unguarded on one of my fingers.
I’m happy to report that I’ve upheld these ideals.

He's got a surprisingly good sense of humor. A little morbid, but not bad.

But, I didn’t learn the most important lesson. Sauron’s fatal error was the same one faced by many a prison inmate: his back-door was unguarded. I fell into the same trap. Two seasons ago, while the Great Eye of LANDodger was focused intently on CAL coverage, CEVO slipped one of the stupidest policies I’ve ever seen through the back door, completely unnoticed.

(Truthfully, I’m not sure how it happened. It’s hard coming up with new CAL predictions twice a week when the teams only bother logging off WoW to play a match every two weeks, but some sort of alarm should have gone off in my head. It was really a momentously stupid decision from CEVO. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to forgive myself.)

What’s the big deal, you ask? One word: Overtime.

CEVO currently uses the CGS format for Counter-Strike: Source matches. Nine rounds per half, and one round of overtime to determine the winner. The CGS has every reason to use that format. When every round is worth a point, a six-round overtime could compromise the competition. A franchise with a 9-8 lead in CS and a three point overall deficit should intentionally lose the last round so they can have a chance to win in overtime. Winning 10-8 does them no good, and you can’t have a format that rewards intentionally throwing rounds. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the time constraints for the CGS. It’s a small factor, but real nonetheless.

Now ask yourself one question: do either of those things apply to CEVO? I know it’s a faux-pas to answer a rhetorical question, but the answer is “no”.

In CEVO, winning the match is pretty much everything. The whole playoff system depends on it. Directly related to the playoff system is the money system. What happens if a team loses an overtime match on Nuke 9-10 because they had to play T side? Same thing with Inferno. In a twelve match season, even one victory is a huge swing. Think of all the NFL teams that missed the playoffs by one game, and could have made it if a single field-goal went their way, or a phantom penalty wasn’t called. The difference between being outside looking in and being in the playoffs is razor-thin at the last couple spots.

Basically, I think CEVO’s adopted the CGS rules without considering what’s best for their league. And worst of all, there’s money at stake. These people aren’t playing for free, and the sponsors shouldn’t be happy that the best teams might not be winning in overtime. Even though I’ve been referencing the regular season in my arguments, it’s by far a bigger deal in the playoffs. The maps aren’t balanced. Each team has to play rounds as offense and defense to negate the inherent lopsidedness.

And honestly, I’m at a complete loss as to why this isn’t a bigger deal in the community. People complain constantly about the CGS format and every little decision they make, but nobody says a word when CEVO compromises the integrity of their playoff system? One CAL admin goes on a forum power trip and everybody threatens to leave the league, but CEVO’s administrators keep an overtime policy that blatantly favors one team over another, and there’s no media coverage or public outcry?

Let me put it this way: I’m months late to the party, and I still feel like I’m the first one here.

CEVO’s overtime has to change. Now.



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.)


June 30, 2007

Now I know what Sauron feels like. My freakishly large eye was so focused on CAL that I forgot to make sure plucky adventurers weren’t sneaking CEVO information past me. They almost got away with it. Thankfully, the Internet (a series of tubes) is bigger than Sauron’s ugly mug, and I caught this story before it was gone forever.

So, if you missed it: CEVO decided to let all the CGS teams into CEVO-P, even if they didn’t qualify in the Placement Tournament. This affects four teams: the NY3D, the CHImera, the Venom, and eXploit gaming. (eXploit didn’t get drafted into the CGS, CEVO just needed an even number of teams.)

"I used to be the Evil King of Middle Earth. Now I'm doing carnivals just so I can afford Fourth Meal from Taco Bell.

I have mixed feelings about this. As a fan, I’m excited about any chance to see the top teams play each other. They bring the best competition and the biggest rivalries. But something about the arrangement seems under-handed, like letting your buddies into an exclusive club through the back door. You’ve been there before, you know they’re cool enough to be in the club, and you just want to save them the time of waiting in line. But just by using the back door the whole operation seems dirty. Thieves come in through the back door, not people that belong in the building.

This quote from CEVO Stevens doesn’t help, either:

To make sure there isn't confusion of misconception, although we have adapted a format similar to that of CGS's, this does not mean that we will be mimicking everything they do. CGS has an entirely different set of objectives than CEVO and we do not plan to run our Source operations as if we were somehow one-in-the-same. The teams that qualify in CEVO, will play in CEVO, and those teams that get drafted, will get drafted. Simply because they are drafted does not mean they deserve a spot in the Professional Division. Although they may be professional, all teams have their priorities. If those priorities are not somewhere in the ballpark of CEVO, then it will be proven in the Placement Tournament.

I think he might want a do-over. Not only is it the direct opposite of what just happened, but it puts the Placement Tournament on a pedestal. They’ve built up the PT as The Path to CEVO-P. If you want in, you go through the PT. There are no move-ups, only invitations to the tournament. Basically, they didn’t leave themselves any leeway for special exceptions. Now that there’s a need for special exceptions, it seems illegitimate. It wouldn’t be a problem at all if they just left some wiggle room.

The other thing I thought was interesting relates to CAL. Namely, if CAL did something like this, what would the reaction be? 

Let’s say Check-Six and Devastation, two current CAL teams, played in the CAL-PT and didn’t make it because they were focusing on CGS preparation. Then, after they got drafted as taxi teams, they had extra time and wanted to play in CAL again. Given their history and talent, CAL lets them back in. I think the community would be in an uproar. I think people would talk about admin corruption, favoritism, and bending over backwards for teams that aren’t interested in CAL while slighting “loyal” teams. There wasn’t much complaining on GotFrag about the CEVO news, though. Most people seemed to react the way I did: happy the best teams were playing, but admitting it was a little shady.

Part of the reaction is probably due to the caliber of the teams. It’s a lot different if you let 3D, the Venom, etc, in as opposed to a couple CEVO-Main or CAL-Main teams. But CEVO still essentially misled the participants by saying that the PT results are The Way to Professional. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, and like I said, I’m happy that I get to see those teams. I think it was worth noting, though, and it’ll be interesting to see if CEVO still places the same emphasis on the PT in the future.

June 5, 2007

Part of the problem with titles is they don’t get room for qualifiers. It’s a headline, and it should capture the gist of what’s written in the ensuing article. Usually it doesn’t matter, but I think it needs to be explained a little bit this time.

First of all, I do mean it as a question. It’s something to think about – I’m not predicting doom for CEVO in the next week, month, season, year, or maybe ever. The second thing I have to mention: as of now, I’m providing coverage for CAL, aka the only other online league worth mentioning. So I can see how this would be a little conflict of interest. Of course the guy writing for CAL would think CEVO is in trouble and needs to change, it’s good for business to say so! But, I don’t think I’m that jaded yet, and the same things I say here about CEVO could be said about CAL-Invite. In fact, it’s already happened in CAL, just on a smaller scale.

This is a mayfly. It lives for 24 hours. That's 24 hours longer than the NEL survived.

Remember when CAL was the only online league worth playing in? UGS was alright before it became the NEL (and the DEAD quickly after that), but it was never the main focus for professional gamers. CAL-I was still offering higher CPL seeds as part of winning the division. That’s a huge draw, like offering soccer fans free beer. CPL was THE LAN.  

Then two things happened: CEVO came along and offered cash money for playing online, and other LANs started popping up. The LAN effect wasn’t huge by itself, but cumulatively it helped to devalue the CPL’s product a little bit. It was still a huge LAN, but the difference between the second seed and the tenth seed wasn’t as big because you could prove your worth, and earn money, in other events. The WSVG ran international competitions, and before that the ESWC and the WCG did the same. Those extra LANs, along with CEVO offering money, made CAL’s seeding bonus look like ... not money, that's for sure.

We all know what happened after that: the grass was greener (monier?) on the other side of the hill and the big (professional) teams left CAL to focus on CEVO. If they could have played in both leagues, I’m sure they would have, but four matches a week was too much to handle. Even if they were on the same map, it just doesn’t leave much time for actual practice. (Yes, we talkin’ ‘bout practice, man. What we talkin’ ‘bout? We talkin’ ‘bout practice, man! Practice, not da game, man. Practice.) No matter how good you get, you always need to iron out kinks, new strats, small conflicts, etc. Doing that while playing against fRoD or Ksharp is, perhaps, not the best path to success. 3D, coL, Pandemic, and a couple other teams just dropped CAL. When they had to make a choice, they went to where the bigger rewards were.

Which leads us to this question: what happens when somebody offers bigger rewards than CEVO – like, say, the Championship Gaming Series? (I’ll take “Guaranteed Salaries” for $30,000, Alex.) We can’t forget the CGS is going to prohibit teams from participating in events that conflict with their schedule, too. At this point it’s unclear exactly what that means, but if the CGS does well it’s easy to see teams practicing for that and dropping CEVO. Professional teams will follow the money, just like when they dropped CAL.

If the top teams do end up leaving or focusing less on CEVO, what happens to a league that’s based on competition? Both have the same result: less interest in watching the matches. CAL could survive because their biggest constituency is the casual/semi-serious gamer (CAL-Open/Intermediate level). They limped along, wounded, but with their core intact. CEVO might have to make changes to the whole league.

If the sponsors are still willing to put up some money, there will always be talented teams willing to play for it. The hardest part, the reason why CEVO will need change, will be making sure people still care about the matches. Their 1.6 division took a hit when coL and 3D left, and there isn’t as much interest – from both fans and media. Everybody follows the big teams, even when they play a different version of the game. After those same big teams switched to Source for CGS, I think you’d have a hard time finding people who know more than five teams in CEVO-P 1.6 outside of 1.6 players. (Off the top of my head: Revoltados, Turmoil, x3o, uh … does Check-Six have a team? Are JMC or EG still playing? I had to check – the answer is "yes" to EG. The first four teams I mentioned are playing, along with EG, Backfire, EMG, eMg.dz, Extreme Team Six, Mug N Mouse, Talent, and West Coast Rockers.) Now that the top teams like coL, 3D, JMC, Pandemic, EG, are gone there’s a lot less interest across the different genres. Who wants to watch Backfire or Extreme Team Six? No offense, I’m sure they’re good teams and they earned those spots, but they’re not going to draw fans (or sponsors) like 3D, coL, etc. How is CEVO going to remain relevant when there’s better competition and better prizes elsewhere (CGS)?

Sports and education do go together: alma mater is latin for "nourishing mother."

The most likely thing, in my opinion, is that CEVO will expand into other games and competitive areas: things like having a CEVO LAN, getting involved with other LANs (like they did with the WSVG recently), or even (GASP!) starting a WoW division. The LAN scene is nice, but I think shifting focus away from Counter-Strike will net the biggest gains for the least amount of expense. The WSVG (which uses WoW) doesn’t have the exclusivity or rigorous schedule that the CGS does, and as my pappy used to say, “eight million accounts can’t be wrong.” There are other games coming up besides WoW, too. Add Unreal Tournament 3 (provided it’s a good competitive game), throw in a dash of Starcraft 2, and CEVO's future looks a lot brighter. And we know they’d jump all over Promod if/when it comes out. That brings us to, possibly: WoW, Starcraft 2, UT 3, CoD 2, CS (version unknown). It might not be appealing to CS players, but as a whole that league would have a huge fan base. Basically, instead of competing against the CGS with a possibly inferior product with less rewards, I think they’re going to change what their product is – much like what the WSVG and CPL World Tour did.

I could be, and often am, wrong. There’s one thing I do know: if the CGS does prevent the best teams from playing (or focusing) on CEVO, they won’t just sit around and watch their league die. Right now they have a few big things working for them. The CGS is starting small – only six franchises – so there’s still talent to go around if those franchised players can’t participate in online leagues. Even if people are a little less interested, the product would still be okay. Not great, but exciting enough to help ease the transition into other games. If the CGS ends up expanding to eight or ten teams, things start to look a little murkier. The other thing in CEVO’s favor is, though it seems strange, fans are often willing to overlook the quality of play in favor of entertainment. Game, Set, Match: The Chicago Cubs. Horrible team, packed seats. A large scale example is the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. Nobody’s crazy enough to argue the NCAA has better athletes and teams than the NBA, but people love it even if the skill level is lower. They feel like the college players compete with more passion, pay attention to the fundamentals, and of course they like to root for their alma maters. Skill level is only part of what makes sports entertaining.

Will CEVO die? I doubt it, and I hope not. They’ve done well as a league, and a lot of people love playing on their client and for prizes even on a non-professional level. I enjoy following the league as a fan. But if they want to remain as prominent in the community as they are now, I think some changes are in order.



Relax, bozos. Take a deep breath in through your mouth. Hold it. Hold it. Now let it our slowly through your nose. Go to your happy place, and be at one with your surroundings. Harness your chi. Find your inner peace. And if those don’t work, turn to medicine: take a chill pill.

For those of you not freaking out, I don’t mean to alarm you, but 3D lost a match to recKoning!

Are you panicking yet?

There are two times you make this face: an imminent apocalypse and after 3D loses.

No? Then you’re with me, because it’s not the end of the world. 3D isn’t the most horrible, awful, washed-up team in the history of eSports. In fact, they’re not much different than they were yesterday, the day before, or way back during the CEVO season. Anybody remember their stellar regular season, and then the 0-2 performance in the playoffs? Yeah. And even during CEVO's regular season they had really good matches where they dominated good teams, and bad matches where they lost or barely snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. In short, they’re inconsistent. A single loss shouldn’t surprise anyone. 

It’s not like they need an excuse to lose. Out of every ten games, the best teams in baseball win about six.  Basketball and football have some higher winning percentages, but even the “great” teams don’t always win, especially in tournaments. The Heat won the NBA championship last season after compiling a .634 winning percentage, and the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2005 after a .688 clip in the regular season. In both cases there were a handful of teams that did better during the regular season. Everybody loses, even the best teams. There’s no shame in winning six or seven times out of ten, and it happens in every sport, and no matter who is playing there are going to be upsets.  It doesn’t mean 3D is bad if they lose to recKoning any more than it means the Boston Red Sox are bad if they lose to Kansas City, or if the Indianapolis Colts lose to the Houston Texans. It’s part of the game, and in that match, on that day, recKoning was the better team.

Make no mistake about that part, either. I know recKoning isn’t on many top-10 lists, but they’re not a CAL-O team. They're in CAL-I already, and they have been for a couple seasons. They deserved to win that match, and saying things like “oh, it’s Russka, 3D doesn’t care” is a disservice to recKoning.  It doesn’t matter if 3D came in less prepared or had less desire. Guess what? You need those things to be a great team just like you need talent. In fact, at the highest levels of competition, sometimes those things are more important. It’s why Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux can be great pitchers well into their 40s: they never want to lose or go unprepared into a game. And you know, if Ron Artest wasn’t crazy, he might be the best basketball player ever. Mark Prior might have been the best pitcher ever if he didn’t get injured. But staying healthy, being under control, preparedness, etc are all things that make great players and teams. 

When Jamie Moyer was born, bats still doubled as caveman foreplay.

Would recKoning beat 3D nine times out of ten, or even on another map? I wouldn’t bet on it. I think 3D is still one of the three of four best teams in CS. But recKoning won this time, and wether it was because they have more talent, were more prepared, or wanted the victory more doesn’t matter. It takes all those things to win, and we shouldn’t take away anything from recKoning just because people think 3D is more talented.

The bottom line is this: it’s one game, and one game doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of evaluating a team. If you needed any more evidence of that (in case my barely coherent ramblings aren’t enough) 3D played their next match against zEx and won 14-4. zEx has already qualified for the CGS combine a couple times over by placing well in the online qualifiers. 

When 3D starts losing six out of ten matches against teams that are outside the top-five, then I’ll get worried. Until then, I think it’s a little hasty to label them as anything more than extremely talented and inconsistent.



There are a couple things still to address from the CEVO playoffs that I didn't cover yesterday. First of all, congratulations to compLexity for taking home the cash monies. It’s a little crazy how quickly they became the best team in Source, with no room for any kind of argument. They’re the best team like Michael Jordan’s Bulls were the best teams in that era. Everybody not being paid by Jason Lake is playing for second place.

One thing that hasn’t been talked about at all is the coL house. It’s hard to say what effect it’s had on their play, but it doesn’t appear to be hurting them like some people thought it might. At least I hope it isn’t, because if they’re playing worse by living in a house together, I’d hate to see what they’d be doing separately. There haven’t been killing sprees, emotional breakdowns, there haven’t even been any juicy stories. From an entertainment standpoint, I’m a little disappointed, but not surprised.

Oh, and speaking of coL, as part of getting Marcus “zet” Sundstrom a work visa they convinced the United States Government that competitive gaming is a sport. Up next for the organization is beating a team full of hackers, stepping in and finishing CSP, ending the war in Iraq, and maybe even turning a profit. Although I doubt that last one.

Is he: a) signaling his wife, b) showing off his shaved armpits, or c) professing his love for bull horns?

Outside of the champions, the story that got the most publicity in the playoffs was Hyper disputing verGe in the Lower Bracket Finals. Apparently verGe, as a team, decided not to record. I’d like to see something like this in real life. Can you imagine the fallout if Barry Bonds just decided not to take a drug test? Demos are the most reliable way of catching cheaters, and they’re playing for money. Nah, recording isn’t important. Even though it’s ridiculous not to record, I will say this: they handled it a lot better than the community did. verGe released a statement accepting the blame for their actions and agreeing with CEVO’s action of overturning the match. I don’t know if they were privately seething or not, but publicly they handled it very well.

That was in stark contrast to the community, who blamed Hyper like they were violating some code of ethics.  I hate to break it to you guys, but when the difference between second and third place is $1,000, teams are going to dispute if they think something fishy is going on. And as for CEVO, what should they have done, let verGe keep the win and advance? People would be just as pissed about that because it would look like preferential treatment. Everybody that ever had a teammate banned would be up in arms because they had their match overturned and verGe was allowed to keep playing. Cheating is the biggest issue in online gaming with the harshest punishments. If they allowed verGe to keep playing, CEVO would have looked more whipped than Doug Christie.

Other than that, there wasn’t much worth discussing about the actual matches. 3D fell flat, coL dominated, and the rest didn’t seem particularly exciting – which is something we should never be saying about the playoffs. It’s bad when the event that’s supposed to be the most exciting part of the season is over in the blink of an eye. So bad, in fact, that it’s worth a separate blog post tomorrow.

May 6, 2007

I’ve been busy writing about CAL news and a couple topics, but I’m finally backtracking and writing about the CEVO Season 3 playoffs. Looking at the results, my biggest question is: what happened to 3D? They were the #3 seed going into the playoffs, and the #2 seed, Hyper, had just lost its key player in NIghtFall. Despite their regular season record of 13-3, 3D didn’t put up much of a fight and got eliminated in their first two matches. They lost to verGe and EFG. Before I get into more commentary, here are the lineups they played with and their regular season records.

3D: 12-3

Kyle “Ksharp” Miller
Andy “recTOOOOR” Rector
Mike “Method” So
Sal “Volcano” Garozzo
Jimmy “LiN” Lin

verGe: 8-6

Sam “devour” Chamma
Grant "Griff" Hall
Drew "Drew" Morehead
Mike "paradox" Stanowski
Benedict "STRuK" Kaminski

EFG: 8-5

Trevor “P0S” Randolph
Ryan “pham” Pham
Josh “dominator” Sievers
Matt "resinous" K
Moe "mOE" Assad

Misery loves company. 3D, meet Dirk. Dirk, 3D. Long live the favorites.
I don’t see how this could be anything besides a disappointment, but it's not as bad as it could have been. It’s definitely notGolden State beating Dallas, but when a majority of the playoff teams, including verGe and EFG, had roster problems you’d expect a team like 3D to do a little better. Since I wasn’t able to watch the matches live, I went to the next best thing: SourceTV. GotFrag is hosting both of the demos (EFG, verGe), but you won’t need to watch them to understand what follows. 

(One more note before we start. When I’m talking about their performance, it shouldn’t be interpreted as a put-down, flame, diss, or anything like that. Everybody has a bad day, or a bad game, and it doesn’t take a genius to recognize it. If Barry Bonds goes 0-5 with 5 strikeouts and 5 errors, I think it’s safe to say he had a bad game. So if I say something like Ksharp looked awful, I already know A) he could beat me 30-0 in any kind of setting with any gun, and B) if I trained for a year, I might get three kills. There’s a difference between saying a player DID bad, and a player IS bad.)

My two big impressions: they tried to get a lot of picks, and they just didn’t communicate that well. I have no idea why this happened, but there were a few times that they were looking at areas already covered by their teammates, or running into each other, or covering the same site in a 2 v 2, etc.

For instance: verGe took the upper ramp at A on Contra and killed the person watching lower. Method is coming from CT spawn to back up Ksharp, who was watching upper and had to fall back. Method runs straight into Ksharp, they get stuck on each other, and Devour from verGe comes out from upper and kills them both with a deagle. Maybe the strangest thing is that both of them had AWPs. I’m not sure what Method was going to do with the AWP at top that Ksharp wasn’t already doing. 

On their T pistol round (CEVO's still playing under a normal config, not CGS rules) 3D was going to do a hard upper rush to A. verGe rushed down middle, which provided them with a quick flank. They got two kills on 3D before they could react, and 3D was left with recTOOOOR, Ksharp and Volcano alive. Instead of continuing the strat through to the site, which would have gotten a bomb plant at the very least, they decided to fight 3 v 5 at the chokepoint. That included the bomber, even though not all three could shoot at the same time because the hallway was too small.  Plus the cover from nades and flashes would have been a little better if they had continued on a little farther towards the site. 

Despite that they managed to work it down to a 2 v 2 with rector and Ksharp alive for 3D, and paradox and devour surviving for verGe. Then another miscommunication happened. It looked like Miller wanted to fall back towards CT spawn, while Rector wanted to push to the site. What happened was that they basically split up for a couple seconds, and Rector got in a firefight with paradox, who had time to come from the site due to the previous firefight. So Rector exchanged shots with him and started falling back, except by then Ksharp was running up the ramp to help him. Which means he ran right into paradox’s nade. So instead of having a 2 v 1 at either CT spawn or the site area, now Rector was alone in a 1 v 2 with about 25 HP. It didn’t end up well for him. 

3D had similar troubles on Russka, this time involving recTOOOOR and LiN. They were in a 2 v 2, and instead of splitting up and watching both sites, they rotated to the same site and allowed EFG a free plant and time to set up. EFG made a nice rotation, but 3D’s players were still out of position.

Other than that, my biggest impression was how heavily 3D relied on their picks. They were really aggressive with their pushes on Russka, and it put them at a disadvantage a lot. It didn't seem like a coordinated push, it seemed like players being randomly aggressive just for the sake of being aggressive. The other thin about their picking was that Ksharp didn't AWP as much as I expected him to. LiN's actually their primary AWPer on the CT side of Contra and Russka, which is strange considering how scary Ksharp’s AWP is. Don’t get me wrong, LiN is a great player, and Ksharp is a great rifler. But you don’t run strats away from Ksharp when he has a rifle, you do when he has an AWP. You have to know where he is at all times. It’s like the motivated version of Randy Moss. If you turn him into a possession receiver, he’s still going to be awesome, but that’s not what he’s the best at. You need to go to the deep ball to keep teams honest. Maybe it was just a map specific strategy, or a money problem, but as a fan I was still a little disappointed.

You know what the craziest thing after all this is? 3D's still the second best team in Source. EFG and verGe were just better on that day, but one game does not a better team make – the San Antonio Spurs lost their first game in the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets, and then came back to beat them 4-1. It wasn’t a lack of skill that sunk 3D this time, just seemed like a bad day. On top of the problems above, there was an unlucky TK here, a ridiculous shot by the other team there, those fluky things that completely change the complexion of a round and the money situation. I expect them to be the #2 team in CGS still, and honestly, based purely on player skill, they’re maybe the only team that can hang with coL. They just need to put it all together, and as a fan I hope they do. coL’s only been playing Source for four months, but they’ve won so much they’re already a dynasty. 

Coming up is a more general look at the CEVO playoffs, including coL’s win, and an article about things eSports has that professional leagues like the MLB can only dream about. Have a good Sunday!


Well, the last week of the regular season is finally here.  The season ends with five less teams than it started with, and there’s still the possibility of a winless team.  As for the teams that have done well, 3D, Hyper, and compLexity have clearly been the best teams.  They only have four total losses (three of those being from 3D), and they all have double digit wins. 

I’m not sure how CEVO plans to do their playoffs, but they take six teams in CEVO-P 1.6.  If they follow the same format here, the top two seeds (Hyper and coL) would receive byes in the first round, and right now the other playoff teams are 3D, verGe, rSports and x6.  The only team in danger of losing their spot is x6.  They’re 7-7 with all their matches completed, but EFG is nipping at their heels with two matches left to play.  I think EFG is going to sneak in, but once we know for sure I’ll run down my predictions for the playoffs.  For now three of the four matches this week should be entertaining, and that’s enough for me. 

CEVO Predictions: Round 17 (de_dust2)

Bye Teams: Devastation, United 5, verGe, rSports, x6

Match of the Week

Hope springs eternal, but only if you don't support juked or the Cubs.

3D vs. Hyper – So, 3D played verGe and rSports on Contra.  They lost 10-20 to verGe (9-5), but won 26-4 against rSports (9-4).  26-4!  That’s a Yankees/Royals sized pasting.  (This marks the official start of the baseball references.  Football is over.  My fantasy baseball teams have been drafted and all the Cubs pitchers are getting hurt.  It’s spring training as usual, and I look forward to another 90 loss season filled with bitter references in this blog.)  3D had some inconsistency problems early in the season, and it seems like that hasn’t changed. 

Meanwhile, Hyper is the definition of consistency: they haven’t lost yet.  They recently picked up Warmachine and clowN, so it’ll be interesting to see if those two guys play or if they stick with a more familiar roster.  In the end it’ll be a close match but Hyper should be able to pull out a win and keep their perfect season intact – you know they don’t want that first loss. 

Hyper > 3D  17-13

EG vs. coL – The most disappointing thing about coL’s season has been the lack of crazy rumors from their house.  Nothing about Rambo singing K-Fed songs in the shower with fRoD taking Britney’s part in a duet.  Warden hasn’t tried to eat anybody.  Zet hasn’t been deported.  What do we have to do to get some entertainment around here?!

EG was my early darkhorse to make some noise in the playoffs – just like the Bengals and the Falcons were going to make noise in the playoffs.  My only explanation is that trying to balance 1.6 and Source hurt them.  On the other hand, coL has focused solely on Source and they’ve only dropped one match all season.  I think EG has enough talent to beat coL, but right now they don’t have the dedication to the Source engine to pull it off. 

coL > EG 19-11

JMC vs. EFG – JMC is another team that’s balancing 1.6 and Source, and they’re right next to EG in the standings.  They aren’t playing for anything except for pride at this point, even with a win they wouldn’t move up enough to sneak into the playoffs.  I’m sure they’d like to be in the postseason, but I think their main goal was to get familiar with Source for CGS.  If that was the case, then it’s mission accomplished.

EFG could still make the cut.  They’re the seventh seed right now, but with a win they should be able to move up a spot.  The fact that they’re replaying a map (Dust2 was also the Round5/6 map) hurts them a little bit because JMC will be more familiar with it, but EFG should still be able to win with a playoff berth on the line. 

EFG > JMC  18-12

NoPression vs. juked – This is juked’s last chance to avoid a winless season.  Their Round 16 match against EFG hasn’t been reported yet, but I don’t think they’ll pick up a win there.  If that’s true, it comes down to this.

Sadly, I just don’t think they have it in them.  I’m not sure if they’re active or not.  They picked up remix to play for them, but he’s been trying to make a new team.  Their record and previous forum posts certainly indicate a lack of practice. That being said, I do give them some props for sticking out the season.  I poke fun at their record, but a lot of teams would have just forfeited and not bothered with even trying to play.  So kudos to them for seeing it through. I hope they find new teams, come back better than ever next season, or enjoy their retirement from Counter-Strike.

NoPression > juked 18-12

Last Time: 0-2

Season Record: 31-13

Perfect Predictions: 5


Here’s something you don’t see every day: more forfeit wins than matches.   EG, Frantic, u5, coL and JMC all have forfeit wins in Round 15.  Somehow CEVO-P turned into the NFL schedule; every team only has to play once a week.  Presumably this is because, like the NFL, players need extra time to recover from injuries.  Sprained fingers, carpal tunnel, eye strain … it’s a man’s league.

You have much to learn about breaking up teams, young padawan.

(On a side note, I’m amazed at how many teams have died.  It takes a special kind of asshole to kill a whole team.  If the ass just comes in and pisses (shits?) everybody off, he’ll just get cut.  It has to be more like a marriage.  First comes the honeymoon period when everything is great.  The player makes a special effort to fit in and get along.  Eventually something happens and his true colors come out, but everybody still likes him.  It was only one incident, right?  Then, slowly but surely he must infect the whole team with anger.  It’s not enough to just be a bitch —again, he’ll just get cut.  If he does it properly, even if the original asshole leaves (is plugged), the other players are so emotionally and mentally damaged by the backstabbing that they can’t play with each other.  Judging by how many teams have died, even Terrell Owens could learn a thing or two from some Counter-Strike:Source players.)

CEVO Predictions: Round 15 (de_contra)

Bye Teams: EG, Frantic, u5, coL, JMC

Match of the Week

rSports vs. Hyper – Down goes coL!  Down goes coL!  Down goes coL! 

Okay, maybe it wasn’t as big a deal as George Foreman (pre-cookware edition) taking down Joe Frazier, but it was still unexpected.  coL had just beaten them on the same map during the Intel Invitational and boasted a perfect record in CEVO.  Apparently Hyper learned from their loss and made the necessary adjustments, which is encouraging to see.  The biggest difference between the former 1.6 teams and the top Source teams isn’t the skill level, it’s the dedication and practice schedule.  Consequently the biggest question was whether the Source teams could make the necessary adjustments, and Hyper made a good first step.

Their opponents, rSports, have been surprisingly good.  I don’t think anybody expected them to be 9-2 at this point.  Despite that, I’m a little cool on them still.  They lost big to EFG and coL early in the season, and they still haven’t played 3D or Hyper.  Their only big win against a good team was a 21-9 pasting of verGe.  They had close wins against x6 and Devastation.  If my favorite team was playing them in the playoffs, I’d be scared to death.  They have enough talent to hang with anybody. I just don’t think they can get over the hump and win against the top teams yet. 

Hyper > rSports  17-13

verGe vs. Team 3D – Oh, verGe.  How naughty to tease Source fans like this.  After a 6-0 start, fanboys everywhere hailed verGe as a team that could hang with all the big, bad 1.6 teams.  The loss to coL was disappointing, but 6-1 was still excellent.  The four losses in their next five matches – not so excellent.  Their record sits at 7-5, and I think the bandwagon just careened into a tree.  If you look closely you can see all the passengers running for safety.

The safe haven they’re heading for is 3D.  After starting off 1-2 they’ve rolled off nine straight wins.  They’re so hot even the “rector sux!” threads have stopped.  Their chemistry has definitely improved.  I don’t think verGe can beat them right now, especially after losing Paradox to the new Forbidden squad.

3D > verGe  18-12

juked vs. EFG – EFG moved quickly to fix their roster problems by picking up Dominator and pham. They've also had extra time to practice because of a Round 14 forfeit win.  Their roster is just flat-out better than juked’s, and they should take the match fairly easily.

Speaking of which, juked sits at 0-12, the only winless team in CEVO -- including the dead teams.  Has any CEVO-P team gone 0-fer during a whole season while playing all the matches?  If not, I suggest we treat this as a record.  The 1972 Dolphins celebrate their perfect season by drinking champagne when every NFL team has one loss (guaranteeing one more year in the history books).  Since juked might achieve the opposite (a winless season), I suggest that every season when the last winless team is victorious they drink whatever the opposite of champagne is.  I recommend Tang, but I’m open to suggestions.

EFG > juked  20-10

Devastation vs. x6 – x6 is alternating three game streaks.  They started off with a three game winning streak followed by a three game losing streak.  Rinse, repeat and here they sit at 6-6.  This, as fate would have it, is Devastation’s record as well.

Looking at the two teams, I’m going to give the edge to Devastation here.  x6 just doesn’t impress me right now.  I gave them some dap earlier, and I think they’re a decent team, but they’re 2-5 against top-10 teams so far.  Both of those wins came in the first week when they played 3D and Frantic.  Unfortunately both teams were dealing with roster issues at the time.  Devastation has been a little better against the top teams, and they have recent wins over EG and verGe.  I’m going to give them the nod in a close match.

Devastation > x6  17-13

Last Time: 3-3 (ugh!)

Season Record: 31-11

Perfect Predictions:  5


Sorry these are so late. I know some of the matches have already been played.  I didn’t look at the scores (with one exception), so they’re still predictions … kindof.  I’ll be more prompt in the future. 

I also updated the Pwnage Rankings for Source recently, so take a look at those if you haven’t already.  They reflect the current CEVO standings and the results from the Intel Invitational on Saturday.  On with the predictions!

CEVO Predictions: Round 12 (de_train)

Bye Teams: verGe, 3D

Match of the Week

coL vs. Hyper – Both teams are undefeated right now in CEVO, and judging by the way they’ve been playing it might be the only loss either team gets.  It’s also a Source vs. 1.6 matchup, if those distinctions still apply.  (I, for one, don’t.  We need to accept the fact that coL, 3D, zEx, etc are now Source teams.  It’s over.  If they change back to 1.6, then we can reopen negotiations.  But until then, they’re Source teams and Source players.  At this point, calling them 1.6 teams is like saying Britney Spears has really nice hair.  No.  She has somebody else’s really nice hair, and coL is a Source team.)

This match is the third time these two teams have faced each other in a week.  The last two times were part of the Intel Invitational.  They split those matches.  Hyper won in OT on Dust2, and coL won 16-10 on Train in the Finals.  The bad news for Hyper is this match is on Train, as well.  I think they’ll make some adjustments, but it won’t be quite enough to beat coL.  If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Intel Invitational, watch Rambo on CT side of this match.  I don’t know if there’s a smarter player in the game today.  He’s one of those rare players that seem to have an innate feel for the game, like a Larry Bird or a Peyton Manning. (Alright, I might have a little man-crush on Rambo.  But no worse than MVP voters do for Steve Nash.)

coL > Hyper 16-14

Forbidden vs. JMC – Whoops!  I’m a little late on this one.  I just checked the schedule and the match was already reported.  Good thing I already wrote down my predicted score.  Well, good for keeping the predictions honest, anyway.  Bad for my record.  No more peeking for me. 

JMC > Forbidden  16-14

Eximius vs. u5 – u5 recently announced they’re dropping 1.6 to focus on Source.  I have to admit I’m surprised.  CGS is only going to be six organizations to start, and there simply isn’t enough room for all the Source players.  (The members from Hyper, verGe, 3D, coL, EFG, EG, and JMC are all talented enough to participate.  There are plenty of other people who could compete on that level as well:  guys from x6, rSports, Flow among other teams.)  So are teams dropping 1.6 because they believe they have a chance to participate in CGS, or do they just feel that Source has a better outlook in general?  Either way, I think it’s good for the game.  Hopefully the extra exposure will lead to greater acceptance in the community and more pressure on Valve to fix SourceTV and the remaining bugs.

As for the match, u5 has been playing well lately.  They’ve pulled out three straight wins after starting out 0-8, and with the extra focus on Source I think they’ll be able to pull out the win.

u5 > Eximius 17-13

x6 vs. EFG – EFG’s roster problems are going to cost them this round.  Train is a map that requires excellent communication and teamwork, but right now EFG doesn’t have that.  Not only that, but their opponent, x6, is one of the best Source teams.

x6 > EFG  18-12

rS vs. juked – rSports, formerly known as one eyed zomblerz, has been one of the surprises this season.  How many people thought they’d be ahead of JMC, EG, verGe, EFG and Flow at this point? They’re sitting at 6-2 and have a good chance of making the playoffs. 

juked, on the other hand, is the only winless team this season.  (And they toyed with us by announcing they were calling it quits and still playing.   Well played, juked.  You honor your name.  I just hope teams don’t turn this into a trend.  Flow gaming would need catheters, and Check-six might get arrested for sexual harassment.)  Despite getting some new blood for juked, rS should get the win.

rS > juked  19-11

1 shot vs. Frantic – Frantic almost took down coL, losing 13-17.  (That’s pretty impressive.  I had a chance to watch coL on Train during the weekend exhibition, and they looked very good on Train.)  n0it’s one of the best awpers in Source, and having a dominant awper on train is a huge advantage.  They should be able to knock of 1 shot easily.

Frantic > 1 shot  19-11

Flow vs. EG – Flow had an impressive win over verGe on Train.  I really didn’t expect that.  Flow has been treading water this season, while verGe has been one of the best teams.  I don’t know what to make of it except that they must play well on Train.  EG hasn’t played their first match on Train yet so I’m not sure what to expect, but I think not focusing completely on Source will hurt them a little bit here.  The changes in gameplay are huge from 1.6, so I’m giving the edge to the team formerly known as Devastation. 

Flow > EG  18-12

Last Time: 6-1

Overall Record: 28-8

Perfect Predictions: 4

February 14, 2007

Round 8 (de_nuke)

Bye team:  rSports

Match of the Week

3D vs. Flow – Where’s all the hate on Rector coming from?  His stats don’t look good at first glance, but they’re not that bad.  There's only three matches logged into Gamesense, and one of them is the 8-22 pounding 3D took from coL (there are actually six matches in the database, but for some reason the stats from three of them haven't been added to the team of player totals).  He went -19 in the coL match but only -1 in the other five.  The missing contest is 3D’s 25-5 win over JMC, which would certainly help his numbers.  So if you look at his overall results he had one really bad match (along with the rest of the team), he isn’t consistently dragging them down.

I watched Rector play in the x6 match and I think he’ll fit in eventually.  He had a few good rounds and his aim was fine, but he did put himself into some bad positions.  It’s not a lack of talent holding him back; it’s a question of learning the maps and chemistry with his new teammates.  Besides, if 3D was unhappy with his play, they could have found a replacement by now.

Flow has been playing well. They've won four of their last five matches, including a Round 6 win over EFG. I was worried about 3D’s adjustments to nuke, but they beat EFG on the map and that’s no small feat.  They should be able to beat Flow as well, but it will be another close match.

3D > Flow 17-13

JMC vs. verGe - After starting out 2-0 JMC dropped their next four matches.  As I mentioned before they’re still in CEVO-P 1.6, and judging by their records (2-4 in Source, 5-1 in 1.6) it’s their main focus.  They’ll pick up a few more wins this season based on talent alone, but that won’t be enough to get them past verGe on a map that changed a lot from its 1.6 counterpart.

verGe > JMC 20-10

Juked vs. coL - More thoughts on the coL house:  the sponsors are paying for the lease and I think they should get a little more publicity.  Major companies get their brand or corporate names on professional arenas all the time, even if it has nothing to do with sports (hello EnergySolutions Arena).  The Steel Series Mansion presented by Nation Voice (sponsored by Hi-Def) is a nice, memorable name.

Jack is all stocked up on crazy, maybe coL could borrow some.

The only thing I wouldn’t do is put a webcam in there.  It’s a popular forum suggestion, but to be really successful it needs something the coL team doesn’t have: crazy.  I’m sorry, but the coL players are too normal.  If they recruited Nightfall, Kluwe and remix then I’m watching.  But right now they’re too nice and they have one very important reason to get along: money.  Put those two things together and we have a live feed of five guys playing video games and eating junk food with no drama.  Or, in other words, my Friday nights minus four people.

As for the match, juked isn’t on coL’s level even with their new roster.  coL beat verGe on this map, and they should have an easier time against a winless juked squad.

coL > juked 19-11

1 shot vs. Eximius - After picking up their first two wins on the season, 1 shot dropped a close match to Forbidden.  They’re also looking for a couple starters.  On the other hand Eximius has a solid starting five and they just recently beat Forbidden.  Add those up and it results in a win for Brad Dick’s squad. 

Eximius > 1 shot 17-13

EG vs. x3o - x3o has one win this season, and it might end up as their only win.  Six of their next nine opponents are clear favorites: x6, 3D, coL, verGe, Flow and EG.  They have a small chance to upset Eximius in Round 11 or JMC in Round 10.  The only match they have a good chance of winning is Round 14 when they face the (so far) winless United 5 team.   A 2-14 record in CEVO-P is probably not what these guys had in mind when they made the switch.

EG already has two forfeit wins, I’m not sure what is happening there.  If this match gets played EG is going to take it easily, x3o just doesn’t have enough talent or dedication to challenge the Canadian team. 

EG > x3o 21-9

EFG vs. Frantic - Frantic has done well recently, winning three of their last four matches.  That being said, they’re playing without one of their impact players (Keven “AZK” Lariviere) and EFG is still the better team.  A couple weeks ago I would have given EFG 20+ rounds in this match, but I think it’s going to be closer now.

EFG > Frantic 18-12

U5 vs. x6 - As soon as I give some dap to x6 in a pred, they repay my love with an overturned match and a 6-24 loss to coL.  Thanks guys.  Their win against Hyper! was overturned due to a player “command/config exploiting”, which resulted in a one week suspension.  One week?  They’re playing to win a share of $10,000 in a professional league and CEVO suspends him for one week.  If I wanted to cheat, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

United 5 is winless on the year and even with one of their players banned, x6 will be too much for them to handle.  I don’t think KG will be torn up about missing this match.

x6 > u5 21-9

Forbidden vs. Hyper! – Hyper! was the team on the other side of the x6 suspension, and with the match overturn they are a spotless 7-0.  Forbidden has won three of their last four matches but I don’t see them hanging with Hyper! on nuke.  It won’t be a complete blow-out because nuke is so heavily CT sided, but Hyper! should keep their perfect record moving into Round 9.

Hyper! > Forbidden 18-12

Last Week: 9-5

Overall Record: 22-7

Perfect Predictions: 4

February 11, 2007

Last Week’s Predictions

eX changed their name to Money in CEVO, but they’re not on the schedule any more. So there are seventeen teams in CEVO, and one team will have to sit out every round. I’ll include that team next to the round name so there isn’t any confusion about a team being left out.

Of course, eX also had to forfeit their matches in Round 5 and Round 6, so those will be left off last week’s record. There are also two unreported matches left: coL vs. x6 (Round 5) and EG vs. OEZ (Round 6). I’ll make sure to add them in when they’re reported.

Devastation changed their name to Flow Gaming, so if you don’t see Dev on the predictions, that’s why.

CEVO Round 7 (de_nuke)

Bye: Jax Money Crew

Match of the Week

verGe vs. coL - I can’t stop thinking about the coL house. The possibilities are endless. If you want some advertising, how about a big “Nation Voice” mowed into the lawn? If you’re not interested in lawn manicuring, a nice Hi-Def tarp on the roof could attract a lot of attention. As long as it’s big enough to be seen on Google Earth, I’m fine with it.

I also think that we need to pull a prank on fRoD. Hire a hypnotist, tell him the porch is a bombsite and the banana he's holding is an AWP, and watch as he tries to shoot anything that steps on the lawn. This would be a YouTube hit in .0238 seconds.

As for the match, it’s a possible finals preview pitting a top Source team against a top 1.6 switch-over. The fanboys are going to hit the forums hard after this one, so if you’re ready for some classic Source vs 1.6 flaming, head over to GotFrag after the match.

Nuke is one of the maps that’s changed the most from its 1.6 version. In 1.6 there are almost always people playing in the ramp room, but in Source it’s common to give it up and just play people in the lower bombsite. Larger vents make the rotations much quicker; in 1.6 it was too slow and awkward to make it feasible. The different flashes and smokes also change how the upper bombsite is played, so I think verGe’s experience will give them the edge.

As a side note, this might not be played on time. coL hasn’t played the x6 match yet, and they might be a little disorganized from moving into their new house. If you’re interested in watching this on SRCTV, make sure you check the IRC channels and websites for current information.

verGe > coL 17-13

OEZ vs. x3o - x3o has been struggling with the switch to Source. I don’t know what their practice schedule is like, but I imagine it’s in Allen Iverson territory. They just came off a 6-24 loss to 1 shot, the whipping boys of weeks 1-4. Luckyted will need to be Superted for x3o to have any kind of chance.

Zomblerz > x3o 21-9

Flow vs. Hyper! - Flow beat EFG in Round 6, but I’m not sure what to make of it. EFG hasn’t been dominating like previous seasons, and Flow is still only 4-2. Hyper! had a loss to x6 in Round 6, which was the first time they gave up more than ten rounds to any opponent.

This would have been the match of the week for Round 5 or Round 6, but with coL/verGe, EFG/3D and EG/x6 on the schedule for this week, it takes a backseat. Flow has proven they can beat the top teams, but I think that Nightfall and Shredder will give Hyper! a slim victory.

Hyper! > Flow 16-14

x6 vs. EG - x6 needs some dap. They’re undefeated (their Round 2 loss against Frantic was changed because a Frantic member failed to upload complete demos) and they’ve beaten two of my top-seven teams so far this season (Hyper! and 3D). They have two huge matches coming up, with EG this week and the match from Round 5 against coL.

Right now they’re the 2004 Detroit Pistons. Their roster doesn’t jump off the page, only one of their players is a really big name (haqshot, Sheed for the Pistons), but they come out every week and win so nobody knows what to make of them. Are they a legit title contender, or are they just hot? The Pistons won the title in 2004, and I think x6 has a chance to do it this season.

x6 > EG 17-13

u5 vs. Frantic - Not sure what happened with the demo overturn, and I’m not going to bother speculating. I do know that Frantic will have to play this match without AZK, but they also have former verGe member Nick “n0it” Nowakowski on their roster, and that should still be enough to give them a win over a stuggling u5 team.

I hate to keep harping on it, but why do we still hear so many opinions about how Source is so easy while a good 1.6 team like u5 sits at 0-6?

Frantic > u5 19-11

Juked vs. Eximius - Eximius has eleven people on their CEVO roster. They should consider starting a rent-a-fifth company to pay for their LAN expenses. Your fifth has food poisoning? Eximius has a Moffa you can borrow. One of your starters had too much to drink, they’ll rent you a j1n. Get this started Brad.

Juked is still winless and they made a couple pick-ups to help increase their activity. If they’re playing it’ll be their first match together, and Eximius should exploit that lack of chemistry.

Eximius > juked 18-12

EFG vs. 3D - Both teams had an uninspiring week. 3D went 2-0 but barely managed to beat u5. EFG lost a close match to Flow and finished 1-1. It should be close, but I don’t think 3D has the experience or the chemistry to take down EFG yet.

I gave the nod to all the Source teams in the three big Source/1.6 matchups. When I look at the matchups, I’m not convinced the 1.6 teams have finished adjusting. By the time the playoffs come around and it’s their third or four time on a map, I think it'll be a different story. That won’t help them this week though.

EFG > 3D 18-12

Forbidden vs. 1 shot - 1 shot tarnished their perfect 0-4 record with two wins. Two wins! I guess some teams just don’t have enough courage or dedication to go 0-16. United 5 and juked are the last two winless teams, maybe one of them has enough marbles to go all the way.

As for 1 shot, they seem to have fixed whatever plagued them early in the season, but the same goes for Forbidden. Messiah’s crew lost an OT match to Eximius’ new lineup, but I think they’ll get back into the winner’s circle with this match.

Forbidden > 1 shot 18-12

Last Week: 9-5

Overall Record: 22-7

Perfect Predictions: 4

February 3, 2007

Last Week's Predictions

I had two awful misses in my Round 4 predictions.  I predicted juked to edge out Forbidden 16-14, but Forbidden took the match easily by a score of 21-9.  Forbidden had roster problems but they  quickly found a fifth player in Kyle “mustang” Cummings.  Apparently that was enough.

In my other miss Frantic whooped x3o by a score of 24-6, but I had x3o winning that match 17-13.  I have no idea what happened there, except that schizo-Frantic has some strange match results.  In the first week they lost to EG 9-21 but destroyed x6 23-7.  It was on the same map, I don’t know how Frantic managed to lose to EG that badly but beat a strong x6 team by a more lopsided score.  They also split their other two matches with an 8-22 loss to Hyper! and a 24-6 win over x3o.  As a Bears fan, I hope the Super Bowl predictions are just as bad.

The Forbidden vs. clan eX match is still pending (I’ll add that in whenever it is played), and in the fifteen reported matches I was 13-2 with three perfect predictions: EFG’s matches , and verGe vs. EG in Round 4.  I only hope every week goes that well.

CEVO Predictions

Round 5 (de_dust2)

Match of the Week

coL vs. x6 - I’ll watch EFG’s match to see if my prediction streak lives (unlikely), but I think this will be the best match of the week.  Thankfully for coL, their hardest matchup yet comes on more familiar territory. If they were playing a nonstandard map, I think x6’s familiarity with Source would give them enough of an edge to overcome coL’s superior talent.  But on dust2, a team with coL’s practice schedule can learn the nuances quickly.  It should be just enough for them to eke out a win.

coL > x6   16-14

EFG vs. one eyed zomblerz - I’m watching this match for two reasons.  The first is that one eyed zomblerz currently sits at 3-1, and a match against EFG will let us know if they’re going to make noise in the postseason or fade away as they face harder teams.  But more importantly, I need to keep my streak of perfect EFG predictions alive!  Although the zomblerz put up the best fight against coL to date, they still lost 19-11 and EFG is in the same class as coL.  It’s a standard map against a top team, and it’s a loss for the newly-renamed squad.

EFG > Zomblerz   21-9

Clan eX vs. EG - This is a tough match to predict because eX’s starting five is unknown.   Players have already left the roster, and it leaves eX with two choices.  They can delay the matches until they get a new roster, or they can ask the former players to stay on and play until replacements are found.  Either way, the new players mean eX’s team will certainly be disorganized.  EG played very well in a loss to verGe and pulled out an OT win against JMC.  Their new guys seem to be fitting in well, so I think they’ll pull out the win.

EG > eX   19-11

1shot vs. Jax Money Crew - JMC is coming off a loss so bizarre that I have to check CEVO’s results page every time before I type it out.  They lost 25-5 to 3D.  JMC has too much talent to lose 25-5 to anybody (or so I thought).  It’s definitely true in 1.6, but maybe participating in three leagues caught up with them.  In any event, their opponent this week is 1shot, not 3D.  They’ve also dropped CAL-I Source, so that should help them focus a little more on CEVO.  1shot, meanwhile, is having a season to forget.  They haven’t put up more than six rounds on any opponent.  Six rounds!  They’re the Arizona Cardinals of CEVO, minus the pro football salaries. 

JMC  >  1shot   22-8

Eximius vs. 3D - At one point 3D was the only U.S. international threat.  They won the CPL Winter 2002 Event and got third at CPL Summer 2003, and everybody fell in love with Ksharp, Rambo, Steel, Bullseye and Moto.   They were the Dream Team, except nerdy (like us).  

Then compLexity came along and Bullseye left, Steel retired, and eventually Ksharp followed.  Somewhere in that time they morphed from the Dream Team into what USA Basketball is today: talented players that always seem to be missing something nobody can put a finger on.  Yet we still expect them to win every match despite tougher competition and a completely different roster.  When they lose they’re overrated, but the second they look like a contender, everybody jumps back on the bandwagon like it’s the last air-conditioned bus out of Mexico.

We shouldn’t judge 3D against their history.  It was a different team in a different era, and the team they have now is doing just fine.  Give them some time to get used to each other and 3D will be back on track before you can say, “Just use Ksharp’s.”

3D > Eximius   19-11

juked vs. Devastation - If 1shot is the Arizona Cardinals, juked is the Detroit Lions.  They’ve only put up more than ten rounds one time.  Unfortunately it was against an equally disappointing rSports team.  Since then they’ve lost 3-27 to JMC, and 9-21 to both x6 and Forbidden.  Devastation is pretty close to those teams, and I expect a similar score.

Dev > juked   23-7

verGe vs. U5 - My #1 team, verGe, against  an 0-4 U5 team?  Don’t see much hope for the U5 guys.  They don’t seem to be making the transition to Source very smoothly, and now they have to work in two new players.  If the saying “united we stand, divided we fall” is true, then the only time these five will be united is during freeze time.

verGe > U5   22-8

Frantic vs. Forbidden - It’s probably a bad thing when you look at the matchup and your mind goes blank for a little while.  I picked both of these teams to lose last week and they both won laughers.  I really have no idea what will happen here.  I could go into a coma for a week, wake up and be told that Forbidden won 36-6, scored four touchdowns and hit two grand slams, and it wouldn’t surprise me. 

Frantic won their Round 4 matchup 24-6, and Forbidden won 21-9.  Apparently it didn’t take either team very long to work in the new players.  I think Forbidden will win the match, but Frantic should be able to hold them without a touchdown at least.

Forbidden > Frantic   17-13

Yes John, we're sick of that song too.

x3o vs. Hyper! -
You know what I’m not looking forward to?  The days when eSports gets huge TV ratings and a company like Chevrolet comes up with some annoying jingle to promote their new pollution machines.  I’m sure you’ve heard the song, right?  This is ouuuur country.  (If you don’t know it yet, it should be on approximately three million times during the Super Bowl. Make sure you look for it: I want us to be able to use the pain as a bonding experience.)

The only thing worse than hearing that damn commercial is hearing it when the game is lopsided.  Which brings us to x3o vs. Hyper!  Hyper! has looked great so far with Nightfall and x3o struggled as rSports.  I expect them to keep struggling with another big loss.

Hyper! > x3o   24-6

Round 6 (de_dust2)

Juked vs. verGe – juked has a rough schedule: they have to face verGe after just playing against Devastation on Sunday.  Unfortunately I think they’re going to remain winless and drop to 0-6 after this match.

verGe > juked   24-6

Jax Money Crew vs. Frantic - Frantic loses big, wins big, loses big … so which team shows up in Round 6? Of course it will be the exact opposite of whatever I choose, so I might as well get it over with.  JMC should be more comfortable playing with aZn by this point, and that will give them a big edge.

JMC > Frantic   19-11

Devastation vs. EFG - This is the match of the week.  I want to see Dev play against one of the top teams in CEVO.  They definitely have enough talent to make it a close game, but I’m not sold that they have what it takes to win.  Their record is a modest 2-2, and their two losses have been in OT and a 13-17 squeaker … but I think Dev is going to come up a bit short again.

EFG > Dev   16-14

Clan eX vs. coL - eX has roster problems and, of course, that means they get to play coL (as clearly stated in the CEVO FAQ).  Only the best of the best are going to give coL a serious run for their money , so eX joins Goose and Maverick on the alternates plaque in the ladies rocker room.  (Sorry, got carried away there.  Is someone playing Kenny Loggins?)

coL > eX   21-9

Hyper! vs. x6 - I think this match will play out like the EFG/Devastation clash.  x6 is playing the role of Dev, and although they’re a good team, Hyper! is at the top of the class right now and should win.

Hyper! > x6   17-13

x3o vs. 1shot - If both teams lose in Round 5, you know what that means … somebody is getting their first win!  30 rounds, ten players, and one winner that gets some well-deserved respect around the clubhouse. X3o just isn’t getting it done, and 1shot seems to be taking their losses well from what I’ve read.   They’re not infighting or pointing fingers, and I think this is the week they break into the win column.

1shot > x3o   17-13

3D vs. U5 - A couple years ago this would’ve been a great match-up.  As it stands, not so much.  U5 hasn’t been doing well at all, and although 3D has been a little inconsistent, they shouldn’t have any problems on this match.  There are still some roster concerns for U5, and 3D destroyed another former 1.6 team in Round 4.  I expect similar results here.

3D > U5   20-10

Forbidden vs. Eximius - This feels like a close game.  Both teams are working in new players, but they’re playing on a familiar map.  It should be a good match to watch, but I don’t think Eximius has what it takes to beat Forbidden.  Maybe next season.

Forbidden > Eximius   18-12 

EG vs. one eyed zomblerz - Evil Geniuses and one eyed zomblerz both sound like villains from a Sci-Fi Original Movie.  I don’t know who would win in a real fight, but it would certainly be entertaining.  In fact, I think that Celebrity Boxing 2.0 should be an animated feature that pits incredibly popular fictional characters against each other.  Which would you rather see: Tonya Harding vs. Paula Jones, or a Luke Skywalker and Han Solo tag-team match against Professor Xavier and Wolverine?  Get Pixar on this right away.

EG has looked good so far and one eyed zomblerz is a surprising 3-1.  It’s close, but I think EG’s talent and a slightly harder schedule will help them take this match.

EG > zomblerz   18-12

Last Week: 13-2

Overall Record: 13-2

Perfect Predictions: 3

Have a good Sunday, go Bears!

January 27, 2007

Welcome to the first installment of my weekly CEVO predictions!  For future reference, I’ll do predictions every Friday, two rounds at a time.  Since this is the first installment, there isn’t a recap for last week, but in future weeks you can see which ones I mangled and flame me accordingly. 

I’ll also be adding a “week in review” section next week.  It’ll be a general recap of eSports news: player movement, league news, team news, stuff like that.  But for now, on with the preds!

CEVO Round 3 (de_losttemple_pro)

Match of the Week

coL vs. 3D – The two top 1.6 teams facing off.  Rambo facing his old team for the first time.  Ksharp’s first match against coL after coming out of retirement.  I don’t care if you make love to 1.6 and Source makes you vomit -- drink some Pepto and grab a chair, you want to see this match.  I’d buy tickets to this game if I could.  I only wish that this match happened in Round 13 instead of Round 3, so we could get rid of the “3D lost because of the new roster” or “coL lost because of zet’s ping” arguments and see both teams in full force. 

That being said, coL is coming off a couple big wins, and zet’s Swedish ping isn’t as much of an issue on the Source engine; a 150 ping in 1.6 makes you the official team bait, but in Source you actually have a chance to help.  Both teams have some new members, but right now I think coL is a little farther ahead at working them in. 

coL > 3D    18-12

Clan eX vs. Forbidden – Forbidden is actively looking for a fifth to complete their roster.  LANDodger pet peeve: when a player leaves a team, there’s no system to work in a replacement.  You can’t bring them up from the minor leagues, since no top clans have an organized farm team, and you can’t use a bench player, since bench players would rather be starters somewhere else.  You would never, EVER see a professional sports team forfeit because they couldn’t field a team.  I think they’ll play, but Forbidden’s roster problems will cost them (at least) this match.  

eX > Forbidden   19-11.

EG vs. JMC – Why isn’t anybody talking about how good EG is? They have everything: dominating awper (shaGuar), one of the best tactical minds (tr1p) in the game and great riflers (blackpanther, stevenson, grt).  They also have plenty of experience winning huge games --  tr1p and shaG have both won major international LANs.  What’s not to like?  Even though JMC is a great team that just picked up another star in aZn, I’m giving this game to our northern brethren.

EG > JMC   17-13 

x6 vs. juked – I don’t see any way juked could win this match.  x6 has more talent, more experience and they’re gonna get more rounds.  Since I don’t have much to say about the match, can anybody tell me why CEVO has eighteen teams in Source-Pro, and only ten in 1.6-Pro?  This is a good idea?  Really?  Source has fewer players, a smaller fan base and fewer top-level teams.  If you’re a CEVO fan, get used to some lopsided matches -- there are teams in the league that just don’t have the stability and the scrim schedule to hang with the top teams.

x6 > Juked   22-8

Think playing against bots is easy? Try Johnny 5.

distinct5 vs. united 5 – distinct5 sits at 2-0 with a convincing win over Forbidden and a close win against Devastation.  u5 forfeited their last match and only put up ten rounds on EFG in Round 1.  With u5 just losing aZn and struggling a bit to adjust to Source, d5 should have an advantage. 

But the real question for this match: could either of them beat Johnny 5?  I say no.  Johnny has a cutting laser, he’s solid metal, and he can make raisins dance.  How can you beat that?  Even if you managed to hurt  him, he’d just take over your computer with that little remote control and make you grenade yourself. 

distinct5 > united 5   18-12

EFG vs. rSports – rSports is not getting it done.  All those Source haters say that a 1.6 CAL-IM team could be CAL-I in Source, yet this CAL-I 1.6 team barely squeaked out a win against juked and lost 21-9 to Clan eX.  EFG is the one of my elite teams for this season, I can’t see them losing here.  

EFG > rS   22-8

Frantic vs. Hyper!  - Hyper! has two wins and currently sits at #1 in CEVO-P due to their CPI.  They won both CAL-I and CEVO-P last season.  And they just picked up Nightfall (which, character issues aside, doesn’t seem to be a problem in-game).  Hyper! should take this match against a weaker Frantic team. 

Hyper! > Frantic   20-10

Devastation vs. Eximius Sports – These two teams are ranked ninth and eighth respectively (by CEVO CPI), but I don’t think Devastation is the underdog here.  They finished third last season in CEVO-P and ahead of Eximius at DC-LAN (third and fourth).  They aren’t the biggest names, but with both teams at similar skill levels, this match should be well-played and exciting.  Eximius is a good team, but I think they’re going to lose a close one to Dev.

Dev > EXSports   17-13

1shot vs. verGe – Let’s see: a 28-2 loss to coL, roster turmoil, and not only is your opponent is one of the best Source teams, they also just picked up a couple of Pandemic guys.  It’s not gonna get any better for 1shot this match.

verGe > 1shot   21-9 

CEVO ROUND 4 (de_losttemple_pro)

Match of The Week

verGe vs. EG– This is the match I want to see, because it’s a good way to gauge how good 1.6 teams will make the transition.  EG has great 1.6 talent and about a month of Source practice. verGe has a few old 1.6 players too (Griff, Drew and Mason), but they also have two solid Source players in STRuK and paradox. And unlike an rSports/Frantic matchup, these teams were among the best in their respective games. 

If Source is easy and Source players are just 1.6 rejects, then EG should take this match pretty easily.  If Source players are just as talented as 1.6 players and 1.6 skills translate well to the Source engine, then the match should be a close one. 

verGe > EG   17-13

Hyper! vs. united5 – I love u5 as an organization, but I’m definitely not in love with their Source team.  u5’s roster problems are too much of a handicap against one of the top Source teams, and Hyper! has won their first two matches without a problem. 

Hyper! > u5   20-10

coL vs. distinct5 -  distinct5 is a middle-tier team, but coL is hot and should take the match.  After coL's match with 3D, there’s a chance this could be a letdown game ... then again, it's hard to relax too much with Jason Lake over your shoulder. d5 will put up more of a fight than coL’s first two opponents, but I see another win for Rambo and crew.   

coL > d5   18-12

Eximius vs. EFGaming – Not much to say here.  No 1.6 vs. Source team grudge match, no player rivalries to speak of … just a top team that’s going to put a hurting on Eximius. 

EFG > EXSports   19-11

3D vs. JMC – Another great matchup between two 1.6 teams.  JMC‘s good, but de_losttemple_pro is an unfamiliar map for most teams, and I think 3D will have more time to practice it because they’re not focusing on 1.6 as well.  On a standard map I’d give JMC the nod, but I think 3D’s extra focus on Source will mean a close win. 

3D > JMC   16-14

1shot vs. Devastation – Devastation will have a much easier time with 1shot than they did with Round 3 against Eximius.  It’s going to be a rough season for 1shot this year, their losing streak will continue in Round 4. 

Dev > 1shot   20-10

Rsports vs. Frantic – Neither team really impresses me, and I don’t think either are in contention for a title this season.  This is one of the reasons why we need farm teams.  There’s no good way for a team like Frantic or Rsports to rebuild, they just have to hope something clicks with their current lineup or somebody suddenly becomes available and chooses to join them over a team like 3D, or JMC, or Pandemic.  There are no prospects here, so you’d only watch this match if  you’re already a fan of the teams.  I’d rather see young talent struggling to get better than old talent struggling to stay relevant. 

rSports > Frantic   17-13

x6 vs. clan eX – Great matchup here.  x6 has a genuine all-star in Haqshot, and I think he’s going to be the difference for x6.  This match will help us get a handle on how these teams will fare the rest of the season.  I ranked them closely in my CEVO team recaps, and I expect this match to be close as well. 

x6 > Clan eX   17-13

Forbidden vs. juked – This is a classic matchup between an inactive, talented team and a less talented, but more active team.  I think that juked is going to pull this one out in an upset, Forbidden shouldn’t be comfortable with their new starter by the time this match happens. 

Juked > Forbidden   16-14

As always, any feedback is much appreciated.  I also ranked all the CEVO teams on Friday, so take a look if you missed that.  Next week we’ll continue with eSports issues, starting with this question: why are we still playing the same five basic maps after five years?  Have a good weekend!

January 26, 2007

When the prominent 1.6 teams switched over to CEVO-P Source it put the league under more scrutiny than ever.  There are 18 teams right now, six of which played 1.6 last season (3D, coL, u5, JMC, rSports and EG). The other twelve are regulars in the Source community, but only a few actually contenders for the championship.  It’s time to make sense of the first week of play and separate the teams that are already looking to next year from the teams that already have their eyes on the post season.  Let’s break it down.

Better Luck Next Season (cuz this season doesn’t look good)

18.  1shot – They got pasted by compLexity 28-2, and by 3D 24-6.  It’s just an awful start to the year, but at least they got these matches out of the way.  You could blame some of the score on a non-standard map, but adjusting on the fly and learning new maps are skills that should be rewarded too.  I don’t see much hope for this team in CEVO-P, and they had some recent roster issues to boot. 

Current Record: 0-2   LD’s Prediction: 2-14

17.  juked – They finished 11-5 in CAL-M Season Six, but that’s just not gonna get it done in CEVO-P.  They won a Gamers Asylum LAN last May, but three of the members have since left and they’re not off to a good start either.  They did have a close loss against rSports, but there aren’t any “easy” matchup in CEVO-P. 

Current Record: 0-2   LD’s Prediction: 2-14

16.  Frantic – They had a big loss to EG in their first match, and their second hasn’t been reported yet.  If you haven’t heard of Frantic before, they used to be known as eGe and had some impressive LAN and online accomplishments under that name.  Sadly, like many of the “professional” teams, I’ve heard that they’re pretty inactive, and they’ll pay dearly if they don’t pick up the pace. 

Current Record: 0-1   LD’s Prediction: 4-12

15.  Eximius Sports – Despite his tragic name, Brad Dick is a great manager.  He supports his teams with LAN costs and is always on the lookout for character, top talent, and new eSports opportunities.  Although I don’t think this team can challenge for a title, they have bigwie, Bitem and ChefWear on the roster.  They’ll turn a few heads, but Brad and company still have a long way to go. 

Current Record: 0-2   LD’s Prediction: 5-11

The Chicago Cubs Division (popular and hopeful, not competitive)

14.  Forbidden – If you haven’t read Messiah’s last words on his work in the eSports community and sporstmanship, do it now.  It’s OK, I’ll wait.

See, don’t you feel a little better now?  Unfortunately, his team just got dumped by their fifth starter, Will "Seclusion" Gillette. It’s hard enough to bring in a new player and still compete in CEVO-P; it’s virtually impossible when it’s a fill-in. 

Current Record: 0-2   LD’s Prediction: 5-11

13.  Revolution Sports –Like all the former 1.6 teams, they’re off to a slow start, but unlike most of the others they’re still playing 1.6.  I don’t know how focused they are on Source, but they don’t have enough pure talent on their roster to overcome a lack of commitment.    They’re probably playing in CEVO-P Source to prepare for the CGS, in case the team or players decide to compete in it.  They’d probably better served just sticking to one game instead of splitting their scrim time going between the two.

Current Record: 1-1   LD’s Prediction: 5-11

12.  United 5 – Another 1.6 team sticking to their guns (literally) and staying in CEVO-P 1.6 as well.  Their lineup, while very good, isn’t excellent, and losing Kevin “aZn” Wang makes it seem even less impressive.  Everybody’s solid, but there aren’t any superstars that can carry the team, and with the split attention they’re probably just getting used to CS:S in case the LAN scene changes. 

Current Record: 0-2 (1 FF)   LD’s Prediction: 7-9

The Herd (move along, nothing to see here)

11.  distinct 5 – I was surprised to see them beat Devastation, even by a slim margin.  I know some of the players here but haven’t heard of the team before, yet here they sit at 2-0.  That gets them to the herd, but I don’t think they have enough to compete with the big dogs in the next category.  The next four or five teams should be pretty comparable at the end of the season though, they might have a chance to slip by some of them. 

Current Record: 2-0   LD’s Prediction: 7-9

10.  Clan eX – Another great manager here, Trayton “Jaali” Kirby.  I like to give these guys a little text space because I don’t think managers get enough credit for building good teams, especially ones based on both skill and character.  I’m not a fan of Remix and his antics, but Trayton has taken on some other social pariahs and managed to address the community’s concerns very well.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here, and no matter his attitude, remix is still a good player.  If this team sticks together they could go places … but they aren’t quite there yet, as indicated by a big loss to Hyper! in Round 1. 

Current Record: 1-1   LD’s Prediction: 8-8

9.  Devastation – I’d love to put them higher based on their third place finish last season and their 11-4 record in CAL-I, but I just can’t; they’ve lost two (close) games to JMC (#7) and distinct5 (#11). 

(Despite the two losses they’re ranked #9 on CEVO’s standings page, which goes by CPI instead of W-L record. Sorry Herm Edwards, apparently we don’t need to play to win the game.) 

The thing I love the most about the 1.6 teams joining CEVO-P is the depth that it adds to the talent pool.  Devastation is a good team, and they’ll score some upsets along with beating their low-tier opponents.  It’s nice to be able to look at the ninth ranked team and think that if they get a couple breaks, they could be serious contenders for a title. 

Current Record: 0-2   LD’s Prediction: 8-8

8.  x6 – They started the season off right by beating 3D.  I was impressed with their in-game intelligence as a team; x6 clutched a couple key rounds by being decisive and, instead of trying to juke 3D into making a mistake, pressing the action and forcing them into bad situations.  They should beat Frantic pretty easily to move to 2-0; after that, they’ll hang with the best, beat the worst and try to make a run in the postseason. 

Current Record: 1-0   LD’s Prediction: 9-7

7.  JMC – Before I get into the preds, I want to know what a Money Crew is and how I can get one, because it sounds pretty cool.  Do I have to pay them money, or are they paying me money?  Are they just a rich crew, or are they always on the look-out for bills and bling?  These are the kinds of eSports questions we really need answers to.  Forget CGS, if we had more Money Crews, everything would be OK.

Jax and his “Money Crew” stayed in 1.6 just like United 5 and rSports, but unlike those teams, this one is loaded with talent.  I’m not sure how the addition of aZn will change their team; he’s already notorious for hating Source despite dominating his first matches.  They’re going to beat some teams on pure talent, and their core has been together for a few seasons too.  Throw another All-Star talent like aZn into the mix, and if they get hot during the playoffs … yikes.  They would be higher, but the teams in front of them have talent and aren’t splitting time between two professional leagues.

Current Record: 2-0   LD’s Prediction: 9-7

The Contenders

6.  3D – I’d love to put them higher, but there are too many questions.  KSharp is back, but will he be the KSharp of old?  Who’s their fifth, long-term -- is it Rector, or will they cut him for somebody else by midseason?  How long will it take for Rector, liN and Ksharp to get used to each other?  Now that Bullseye and Steel are back, how will they fit in?  (Alright I made that last one up, but admit it, you were pretty geeked out for a second)

KSharp had a vintage game against 1shot but looked ordinary against x6 (along with the rest of the team).   I expect them to be inconsistent early, but as the season progresses and they make adjustments, they should turn into the 3D of old.   3D also faces the hardest teams first, so look for a good run when they face Forbidden, Frantic, rSports, Juked, eX and d5 towards the end of the year (but after they’ve dropped a few matches). 

Current Record: 1-1   LD’s Prediction: 11-5

5.  EG – These guys definitely improved the most from the early-season player chaos, picking up shaGuar, tr1p and grt to go with Blackpanther and Stevenson.  Those two returning members have as much talent as anybody in Counter-Strike, and the three new guys certainly don’t suck.  One reason they could mesh quickly: Tr1p comes from coL, a team with the same basic player layout, four rifles and one dominant awper. 

EG is my sleeper team for 2007; I don’t think they’ll drop a match until Round 10 vs EFG.  They still have enough talent to upset them, too.  While coL was bringing a Swedish player to the U.S. and getting Rambo from 3D, and 3D was orchestrating the return of KSharp, EG quietly picked up two of the top twenty-five players in North America.  I just hope Tr1p doesn’t feel left out while the other four members all sing “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee” while defending a bombsite.  Join the bandwagon now, before it gets full. 

Current Record: 1-0   LD’s Prediction: 11-5

4.  Hyper! – If I could pick two sleeper teams, this would be the second.  Remember who won CAL-I and CEVO-P Source last season? They also just brought in Nightfall, who’s talented (and arrogant) enough to put this team over the top.  Hyper!  started off right by beating two solid teams 21-9 and 23-7; they should hold their own against anyone. 

The only thing this team lacks is recognizable players, and that scares me.  I’m going with my gut by putting them at #4, but by the end of the season I could be wondering what kind of crack I was smoking when I originally wrote this. 

Current Record: 2-0   LD’s Prediction: 12-4

The Elite

3.  EFG – EFG has been the first line of defense for Source fans against Source haters, and they’ll be excellent again this season.  Unfortunately they just came off a close loss to the #2 team, and I think that sounds just about right.  They’re going to play the best teams very close in every match, and they’ll beat almost everybody else.  Like most teams, they’re working in a new player, Justin “sunman” Summy.  He’s looked good in their scrims (and I can’t wait to see him face-off against coL in Round 9). 

They had an impressive win in their first match, but the most interesting part of their schedule is Rounds 7, 9 and 10, when they play 3D, coL and EG.  The 1.6 teams will have plenty of time to adjust to Source by then, so if those three matches suck I’m going to print out these predictions so I can eat my words. 

Current Record: 1-1   LD’s Prediction: 12-4

2.  verGe – They lost two founding members, but the new talent is already paying dividends; they just came off a solid win over EFG 17-13, and there are no teams that should scare them.  Their top-level 1.6 experience should help them beat even the elite teams.

The only question: will they implode?  When Jon “Juan” Mumm retired, some of the current members were openly contemptuous about his decision in the forums.  Winning at all costs and brutal honesty aren’t necessarily bad things, but they don’t make for the greatest team chemistry; if things go south, they could self-destruct faster than the radioactive guy from Heroes.  They’re talented enough that losing might not be an immediate problem, but I’m not sure they have staying power as a team.  For 2007, however, things are looking bright.

Current Record: 2-0   LD’s Prediction: 13-3

1.  coL – Show me a team with more dedication and a harder scrim schedule.  They’re going to adjust to Source in another week -- if they haven’t already -- and the whole team is accustomed to winning. If fRoD can be as dominant in Source as he was in 1.6, compLexity doesn’t have a weak spot.  They’ve already destroyed two teams and it’s not going to stop.

Round 16 of CEVO isn’t scheduled yet, and if CEVO schedules them against rSports instead of EG it’s a huge mistake.  Tr1p changed teams in the offseason and EG is going to be one of the surprise teams of CEVO-P -- there’s no way they shouldn’t play each other.  It’d be like the Colts having a choice to play the Ravens or the Texans in Week 17, and the NFL choosing the Texans.  Good for the Colts, but not for the fans.

Their only obstacle is Marcus “zet” Sundstrom’s transition to Source and, more importantly, to American life.  It’s going to be a big change, but even without him coL has put up two impressive victories.  I wouldn’t be worried if I were a coL fan, you’ll be seeing them deep in the playoffs.

Current Record: 2-0   LD’s Prediction: 14-2

Despite the full CEVO recap, I know there are never enough predictions so tomorrow we'll be starting CEVO preds for the upcoming week. This week we'll cover Rounds 3 and 4, and there are some exciting matchups as an old rivalry is put on the new engine (coL vs 3D) and the 1.6 vs Source teams debate continues (EFG vs rSports, Hyper! vs u5, verGe vs EG).