/THE MOST HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED EVENTS OF 2020
Esports events are an opportunity for us to watch our favorite teams and players in action across the competitive scene. Not only do major events attract the best of the best, but they also give fans an opportunity to celebrate the industry. Now that 2020 is well under way, it’s time to take a look at the biggest events coming up across the games we love to watch/play.
Fortnite World Cup: The immensely-popular battle royale game Fortnite hosted its first World Cup Event last year. Open qualifiers attracted 40 million participants, which resulted in a rather grueling elimination process until the best of the best finally faced off in New York City. 19,000 fans attended at the Arthur Ashe Stadium with 2.3 million viewers tuning in across YouTube and Twitch. A fan favorite of the 2019 event was when 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won $3 million from the solo competition.
The International: The premier Dota 2 championship event is hosted by Valve corporation and first started in 2011 at Gamescon as a promotional event. Now it is one of the most significant esports events with one of the largest winning pools. In 2019 alone, the community crowdfunded a total of $34 million, with the first place team taking home $15 million. The event consistently draws an enormous audience, 2019 attracting a peak viewership of 1.9 million viewers.
League of Legends World Championship: This is an annual tournament at the end of each season hosted by Riot Games. Teams compete for the coveted Summoner’s Cup and a $1 million championship prize. This event won The Game Awards’ award for Best Esports Event in 2019, which is only one example of the participation and viewership the World Championship attracts.
/FAKER EXTENDS CONTRACT WITH T1 AND BECOMES A SHAREHOLDER
T1 Entertainment & Sports recently announced that it extended the player contract of League of Legends star and three-time world champion Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok through the 2022 season. In addition, the renowned player has also become a part-owner of the organization and will take on a leadership position when he chooses to end his playing career.
More details: No financial details of the contract and ownership agreement were made. However, T1 is not a legal entity, so it’s likely that Lee will become a shareholder of SK Telecom CS T1 Co.Ltd. Faker’s previous contract with the organization was valid until 2021, but nothing has been said to indicate if this three-year deal is added to the existing contract or acts as a new contract.
What this means for Faker: Adding Faker to the organization’s ownership group does not mean he will be ending his career as a competitive player in the esports player in 2022. However, according to section 1.4.2 of the Season 2020 official League of Legends Champions Korea rulebook (outlining player contracts), a contract cannot exceed three years. The T1 organization is heavily reliant on Lee, who was recognized as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia, Entertainment & Sports 2019 list and has spent the majority of his professional career on the team.
It’s good to be Faker right now.
/HUNGRYBOX WINS SUPER SMASH BROS. AT SMASH SUMMIT 9
Smash Summit 9 just took place in Los Angeles, California on February 16. During this event, the Singles tournament took place for Super Smash Bros. Melee. And it was ultimately Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma who won the tournament and took home the prize pool of just over $69,000, the second-largest pool in Smash history.
The tournament in summary: It was quite evident early on that Hungrybox was playing well at Smash Summit 9, even despite the fierce competition faced in Swiss Pools. However, he didn’t drop a single game. In one day of pools, Hungrybox earned 3-0 victories over Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami, Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto, and Joseph “Mang0” Marquez. On the second day, he scored another pair of 3-0 wins over Shephard “Fiction” Lima and Justin “Plup” McGrath. It was his performance in the final bracket that was the most impressive, though he didn’t dominate as much in the pools. He made it to the Grand Finals by beating Edgard “n0ne” Sheleby 3-1, Mang0 3-1, and Plup 3-2. Plup proved to be a formidable threat in the Grand Finals, winning set one at 3-1. However, Hungrybox bounced back with a 3-1 victory and became Smash Summit 9 champion.
Victory speeches: When Hungrybox stood to give his victory speech, he was quick to voice criticism of Nintendo. He pointed out the company’s lack of support for competitive Smash, saying, “I love you guys, but you are the only one not putting in resources into the scene.” And it’s sadly a true accusation that Nintendo doesn’t put much effort into this game despite its exports popularity.
I don’t think Nintendo even knows how to approach supporting esports.
YouTube’s Deal With Activision Blizzard Valued At $160M (The Esports Observer) — In late January, Activision Blizzard announced it had signed a deal with YouTube for the exclusive broadcasting rights to its premier esports properties. We now know the terms of that deal. The deal, which includes the rights to the Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, and Hearthstone, is valued at $160 million for 3 years, or ~$53 million per year. This announcement comes following the expiration of Activision’s previous deal with Twitch (reportedly $90 million over two years, for the Overwatch League). Two takeaways: (1) YouTube is serious about esports; (2) esports media rights are quickly becoming financially meaningful.
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/THE PROBLEM OF GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENTS IN THE CDL
Call of Duty is a unique esport thanks to the rule set associated with the tournament. There’s an official set of rules established by the Call of Duty League (CDL). However, players have taken things into their own hands to create additional rules. These rules must be agreed to by the majority of teams, or else the rule won’t pass. This process is known as the “gentleman’s agreement,” or GA for short. While has been a common thing for years, this year it may have gone too far for Modern Warfare.
Gentleman’s agreements in the CDL: Myriad rules exist in the GA guidelines, which are kept up to date by players and coaches so that no team gets confused if a rule is changed. Right now, there are more than a dozen restrictions set forth by teams. This includes restrictions on weapons, equipment, and killstreaks. Killstreaks as a whole are on the GA list, due to players feeling they were too powerful for competitive play. Teams typically abide by these rules, as failure to comply will result in severe consequences, such as teams refusing to scrimmage with them.
Someone broke a rule: At CDL London, it looks like the Chicago Huntsmen broke a rule, as pointed out in this Twitch stream by Ian “C6” Porter. Chicago had more than two stun grenades, though it seems like a silly rule. There’s not a substantial difference between flash and stun grenades. But Chicago apparently broke the rule, minuscule as the issue may be. Most fans believe that players should use what they want as long as it’s not restricted by the CDL itself. But since GAs are a factor in the equation, we’re not sure what consequence this rule-breaking will result in.
What do you think the punishment should be? Wrist slapping? Walk the plank? Since in the corner with a dunce cap? Eat expired yogurt?
/RIOT THINKS SMURFING RUINS LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
Leveling in League of Legends has become something of an uphill struggle, requiring significant time to achieve. The ranking system is no longer reflective of MMR and wins, which now seem to matter little. This change is quite intentional, according to Riot Games.
What is smurfing: Put simply, smurfing is the practice of having a second account that is lower level than one’s primary account. Seasoned players use this as a way to stomp lower-level (i.e., less experienced) players, try out new champions, and connect with lower-level friends. But it is a practice that is often abused as it puts experienced players in the same games as individuals with less skill.
Smurfing hurts the game experience: According to Riot, “We really don’t want players creating alt accounts just to blow through the climb. We encourage players to stay on their mains. Smurfing ruins the game experience for others.” This issue is not new, but has rather always been an issue for League of Legends. And it looks like Riot may be taking the wrong approach to fixing the problem. Recent changes to the system means MMR will go up at the same pace, though rank takes longer to catch up. This could theoretically persuade players to stick with their main account, but it may also deter regular players from even trying to climb the ranks.
Another solution: Valve has taken a different approach to addressing smurfing. Instead of blaming players, they looked to the ranking system. Rather than slowing down the climbing process, they sped it up. Said Valve, “The system searches for players that frequently perform significantly above their current skill bracket, and applies an MMR increase to those players until they’ve reached a skill bracket where they’re no longer over-performing.” And, strangely, it seems to have worked.
As for smurfing in League, it looks like they’re going nowhere anytime soon.
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