Blizzard ‘very very’ interested in Overwatch film or episodic series

Blizzard is ‘very, very’ interested in creating an Overwatch film or episodic series, according to Jeff Kaplan.

Blizzard is ‘very, very’ interested in creating an Overwatch film or episodic series, according to Jeff Kaplan.

Kaplan spoke to Game Reactor at the Fun & Series Game Festival in Spain, and revealed that he was a fan of the idea: “These are things that we're very, very interested in."

The idea surfaced in November when an executive for Activision Blizzard mentioned that the company was exploring the possibility of the idea, and Kapkan has furthered the excitement around the idea, talking about Blizzard’s story and franchise development department that is led by Jeff Chamberlain, who directed Overwatch’s announcement short.

"Jeff [Chamberlain] and his crew are the best partners we [could] possibly ask for, and they are always pushing us to explore the other mediums to tell the story of Overwatch and they partner very closely with us," said Kaplan.

"We make the animated shorts together, we make the comics together, and so we are consistently talking about what other things we could be doing. We know we can not do a lot of linear narrative within the game itself. It's a six vs six PvP game, so we are very open-minded to exploring other areas."

But don’t expect to see anything rushed out of the door. “While we are super excited to explore other opportunities,” said Kaplan, “we are also very, very picky and very controlling when it comes to the franchise.”

Guy ‘Dr Disrespect’ Beahm announces hiatus from Twitch after being unfaithful to wife

Popular streamer Guy ‘DrDisrespect’ Beahm has announced a hiatus from streaming after admitting to infidelity live on Twitch. 

Popular streamer Guy ‘DrDisrespect’ Beahm has announced a hiatus from streaming after admitting to infidelity live on Twitch. 

"I have a beautiful family, and a wife, and kid. And I want to be transparent that I've been unfaithful," said Beahm, visibly upset. "I apologize to you guys, and my sponsors, and Twitch. This is not who I am, this is not what I represent. That's it."

You can see the video of the moment below, starting at 1:40. 

<iframe src="https://player.twitch.tv/?autoplay=false&video=v209596628" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true" scrolling="no" height="378" width="620"></iframe><a href="https://www.twitch.tv/videos/209596628?tt_content=text_link&tt_medium=vod_embed" style="padding:2px 0px 4px; display:block; width:345px; font-weight:normal; font-size:10px; text-decoration:underline;">Watch Gold Medallions || @DrDisRespect from DrDisRespectLIVE on www.twitch.tv</a> 

Beahm is a former designer for Sledgehammer Games, with Dr Disrespect being the persona he adopts for streams. Beahm and the doctor have been struggling with fame slightly, with the streamer being banned from battle royale juggernaut PUBG earlier this year for teamkilling, having the ban extended after making threats of violence to the game’s creative director, Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ Greene. The threats were made in jest, supposedly, but it still caused a bit of a kerfuffle. He’s also won several awards in 2017, most recently the Trending Gaming award at The Game Awards. 

Beahm has shot to fame alongside PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, with Dr Disrespect coming across as a mix of streamer and WWE wrestling, showing up in costume each day to hurl insults and pop heads. 

It’s unknown exactly when he’ll be back, but it’s a surprising turn of events from one of 2017’s most popular livestreamers. 

YouTube and FACEIT team up for ECS season 4 final rewards

YouTube and FACEIT partner up to offer prizes for ECS Season 4 livestream viewers 

FACEIT and YouTube have partnered up to offer viewers the chance to win Loot Drops while watching livestreams on YouTube Gaming, starting with the Esports Championship Series season four finals.

These Loot Drops contain FACEIT Points rather than the more traditional CS:GO skins you might see watching events on Twitch, but these points can be redeemed for real-world prizes on the FACEIT website, and could see viewers snagging not just in-game items but also computer hardware, branded merchandise or even a car if they get lucky.

FACEIT will be handing out 15 million FACEIT Points during the ECS finals between December 15-17.

This is part of YouTube and FACEIT's multi-year exclusive broadcast partnership for the ECS, which was signed in March 2017. The 1080p 60fps stream should have everything that viewers want, although it's not yet known whether the addition of loot for viewers will boost viewing figures.

“ECS offers some of the most compelling competitions with the world’s top pro gamers, and with YouTube Gaming’s powerful platform, this community has even more tools to engage with these matches,” said Michele Attisani, Chief Business Officer and co-founder of FACEIT.

“The Loot Drop rewards, coupled with the FACEIT account login, gives ECS viewers more incentive to do what they already love to do, support their favorite teams.”

“Esports continues to lead in viewer innovation, demanding that platforms adapt to new and exciting ways to engage audiences,” added Ryan Wyatt, Global Head of Gaming Content at YouTube.

“We’re excited to work with FACEIT to add rich, content-specific features such as statistics, widgets and loot drops to reward and engage viewers. As we roll out even more cool features in the future, we look forward to hearing more from the community about what we can do to make spectator experiences even more robust."

Riot hires Mo Fadi for UK esports role

Riot's UK efforts have been strengthened by a new hire, Mo Fadi, who comes to the company from Wargaming.

Riot's UK efforts have been strengthened by a new hire, Mo Fadi, who comes to the company from Wargaming.

Fadl held the position of head of esports at Wargaming, and has been hired to 'drive and develop UK LoL esports', meaning he'll be a key part of Riot's UK grassroots strategy, with Riot previously announcing they wanted to build a local esports ecosystem in the UK by focusing on providing good paths for people to move from amateur to top-level.

You can expect to see Fadi connecting with local players and teams to gather feedback and see how Riot can better entice gamers to compete in the game.

Fadl said: “I am so happy to be joining Riot Games to become an integral part of the League of Legends community. I myself am an active LoL gamer and have been since 2010. I love being part of this unique, constantly evolving community so I am very excited about how this role will enable me to blend my passion for the game and community with my career.”

Mark Cox, Riot's UK head of publishing, said: “Mo will be joining the new UK Riot team to help build the UK LoL esports scene. In order to allow us to make the most of his unrivalled passion and experience, he will be tasked with placing a particular emphasis on the grass roots scene.

Riot opened a UK office early in 2017, Fadi is one of multiple hires by the company since then, and his expertise is good news for the UK scene.

Sacramento Kings announce plans for a state of the art esports center

The Sacremento Kings announced Wednesday plans for a dedicated esports facility inside the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

The Sacremento Kings announced Wednesday plans for a dedicated esports facility inside the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

The esports facility is a combined training facility, gamer lounge and broadcast center and will operate as a home base for the Sacramento Kings esports efforts, which includes the team’s NBA 2K League roster, but also their future Kings Gaming teams, showing that the Sacramento Kings have more esports ideas in the pipeline.

The space is designed to be a venue within a venue, allowing esports players to produce livestreams and content.  A full service studio and green screen suite with 4K cameras means the content that’s pushed out will be top notch

Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement: “Using technology to engage with our fans and reach new audiences has always been core to our organization’s mission.”

“Golden 1 Center is the most advanced arena for basketball, entertainment and esports. This state-of-the-art facility will set a new standard and provide the best-in-class tools that the next generation of superstar gamers need to train, compete and win.”

Overwatch’s Best Esports Game awards show a divide between esports and mainstream gaming

Overwatch was the Best Esports Game at The Games Award on Thursday night. We're not trying to yell at clouds here, but

Esports Pro was a judge for The Game Awards. We're not trying to throw shade.

Last night, or very early in the morning if you're a bleary-eyed London dweller, Overwatch snatched a win at The Game Awards for Best Esports Game. Back in November, it also grabbed a Golden Joysticks award for the same.

Yet, the esports community is up in arms about it. Rather than link any specific tweets, just have a look on Twitter yourself. Needless to say, people are pretty pissed.

With good reason, too. While Overwatch might be a big esports hit in 2019 or even 2018, this year was mostly marred with news of high profile departures from the Overwatch scene, with Overwatch's best known player stepping down to stream back in April because the scene simply wasn't generating enough money for him compared to streaming.

Following this, nearly every big organisation involved in the scene shelved their rosters, some for no stated reason, but many claiming that the competition wasn't healthy enough to justify the cost, with a lack of audience and prize money that meant the exposure and prestige wasn't matching up to the financial burden of operating a top-level team.

As you can see here, aside from a big spike around Blizzcon, there's an average of around 30,000 people watching Overwatch on Twitch at any time. This is pretty small for a big esports title, with Overwatch in a solid sixth place. Streaming isn't the be-all and end-all, but if you look at the prize money, Overwatch is in 10th place, supported largely by the big-name Korean tournaments throwing large prize-pools around. Look closer though, and no one in Overwatch is making a lot of money at all, with the highest earning pros all having around $50k in prize money.

Again, this is all to change potentially, but as it stands currently Overwatch feels like an esport that's developing.

This week sees the launch of the Overwatch League preseason, and there's a lot to be excited about: slick presentation, regular high-level competitive play and a cool ring on the ceiling that fills up as points are captured.

 

 

But it's also still got a few hurdles to get past: the preseason isn't streaming on Twitch, and one of the teams, Philadelphia Fusion, isn't even competing in the preseason at all. This comes soon after Blizzard handed out a 30 match ban to one of Fusion's players, Su-Min “Sado” Kim, for account boosting violations.

The future could be bright for Overwatch, and several sources suggest that with the support it's getting from nonendemic organisations it really has to be so it doesn't scare them away from esports for good. However 2016 (where it also won a Best Esports Award)  and 2017 were a complete shambles for the game's competitive prospects, so how does it go away with two of the biggest prizes in gaming?

I think there are reasons– and i'd like to preface this by reiterating that I'm not trying to call anyone out or suggesting anyone is doing anything malicious here – but there's clearly a flaw that needs to be resolved.

Both The Game Awards and the Golden Joysticks are awarded based on a public vote. The voting process for the Golden Joysticks requires you to vote on everything as you move through. This means players that have come to vote on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for game of the year are being asked what their favourite esports game is this year, and so they're picking Overwatch. The Game Awards is better, letting you vote individually and encouraging voters not to participate in categories where they haven't played the game.

Why wouldn't they vote for the game they know in a category though? Overwatch is one of the most accessible shooters of this generation, and it's tremendously popular.

Unfortunately, it's not popular as a competitive game. Yet. We’re not into gatekeeping but being the most popular game among people voting at TGA and the Golden Joysticks doesn't equate to being the best esports game, and this is what's caused the outrage on Twitter.

But there's no way that Overwatch should have been on the shortlist for the public to vote on, because public events are all too often a popularity contest where the game with the best mindshare will often take the award. Both awards had a panel of experts to choose what should be up for consideration, and a certain amount of discretion should go into how successful these games are not just in general, but in the areas they're competing in.

Overwatch's first serious competitive league outside of Korea is still in its preseason, and while I'd love to see Overwatch do well as an esports games, it's important to stress that it's still developing and has so far been underwhelming. Awarding this to Overwatch over the many other well-established, global competitive scenes shows how little esports games are served by mainstream awards.

Lyon Gaming rebrands after brand conflict, emerges as Rainbow7

Lyon Gaming is getting a new identity after a brand dispute, and has now been renamed Rainbow7. 

Lyon Gaming is getting a new identity after a brand dispute, and has now been renamed Rainbow7.

In early November, Riot handed down an official ruling that said Mexican League of Legends outfit Lyon Gaming, winner of nine back to back titles in League of Legends LLN, didn’t have the rights to the team’s name and logo and that they would be fining them.

30 days later, Lyon has emerged as Rainbow 7 (how about them brand disputes, eh?) the new name joined by a brightly coloured logo.

A third party notified Riot that Lyon Gaming’s name and logo didn’t actually belong to the organisations owner, which was a direct contravention of the contract that teams sign when they enter the league that states that they own the rights to the brand. As Lyon Gaming did not in fact hold the rights, they were hit with a fine.

Esports Insider makes reference to a graphic design student who pointed out the similarities between Rainbow7’s flamboyant new logo and a logo on designcrowd.com that won a Progressive Logo Design contest. Here’s the comparison:

Hopefully we’re not about to see another fresh new look from the Mexican outfit.

FIFA 18 to join Gfinity Elite Series season three

Gfinity has announced that FIFA 18 will be joining the Elite Series for season three.

Gfinity has announced that FIFA 18 will be joining the Elite Series for season three.

The third season of the Gfinity Elite Series kicks off on March 2018, and is an official EA Sports FIFA 18 Global Series qualifier, meaning that top performers here can earn a spot to compete in EA’s The Road To Fifa eWorld Cup 2018 next August.

Fifa is the most played sports title, and although its competitive following isn’t one of the largest in the world it does have a loyal fanbase with a deep interest in the scene and it’s this audience that Gfinity are hoping to capture by bringing Fifa 18 on board.

“Gfinity is the first esports company to secure an EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series license and we are excited to build on our long-standing relationship with EA.  The addition of the hugely popular FIFA 18 to our game line-up adds a very enticing dimension to The Elite Series,” said Neville Upton, CEO of Gfinity.

“FIFA is one of the most requested games by our teams, players and fans and we will create very engaging competition and content for our community. The Elite Series is growing rapidly week-on-week and the addition of FIFA 18 will only help to accelerate this growth.  The upcoming season of Challenger Series is set to be the most competitive to date as we welcome new pro players to the tournament.”

Brent Koning, the FIFA competitive gaming commissioner, added:

“We are excited to be welcoming the Gfinity Elite Series into the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series,” said Brent Koning, FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner.  “As we continue to engage millions of FIFA players in the community, and attract millions of viewers from all around the world, this year will be truly special as we see the best from the Elite Series on the Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.”

As part of the game’s addition, Gfinity’s next Challenger Series, which feeds in to the Elite Series, will kick off on January 8, with the top 40 ranked FIFA players entering the Gfinity Elite Draft on February 23.

Defending champion Du ‘Nuckledu’ Dang pulls out of Capcom Cup, replaced by Ricki Ortiz

Defending champion Du ‘NuckleDu’ Dang has bowed out of the Capcom Cup 2017, a surprising absence by the dominating Street Fighter V player.

Defending champion Du ‘NuckleDu’ Dang has bowed out of the Capcom Cup 2017, a surprising absence by the dominating Street Fighter V player.

Dang earned automatic qualification to the Capcom Cup final after winning a $230,000 prize for his win last year but would also have qualified on his performance this year as Dang took the win in three Pro Tour events, getting a top four finish in four more and tying for fifth place at EVO, in addition to finish in third place on the Pro Tour’s global leaderboard.

Dang is a serious competitor in the Street Fighter scene by any metric, and he was one of the favourites to win, defending his prize. No reason was given for his withdrawal from the competition.

His replacement is 2016 runner-up Ricki Ortiz, who has been out of the scene for a few months and is currently ranked at 84 on the Street Fighter V global leaderboard. As the runner-up, Ortiz gets the auto-qualification, and she has accepted the spot left empty by Dang.

Ortiz tweeted “I know I’ve been away for a few months bettering myself and my personal life. I hope to make everyone proud at CapCup2017.”

 

 

Capcom Cup 2017 is taking place on December 8 to December 10 in Anaheim, California.

Changes to the Esports Pro newsletter

As we recently announced, Esports Pro is being merged into MCV as NewBay evolves all of its games properties into a single, specialist brand

As we recently announced, Esports Pro is being merged into MCV as NewBay evolves all of its games properties into a single, specialist brand.

This change will mean greater resources and higher-quality esports content. However, change can be scary, and we want to make you aware of a few things that will occur as we move towards the full transition in early 2018.

Starting today the daily newsletter will become a weekly newsletter, giving you a stronger round-up of all our best content in one go. This newsletter will continue within the new MCV brand, delivering you a dedicated weekly slice of esports content, so you don’t miss your fix of competitive games news.

Secondly, the merge will see a small shift in what Esports Pro covers. Moving forwards, Esports Pro will be focussing solely on the business of esports, and the UK’s place in that scene. This will see us prioritising indepth features and unique interviews over news, providing unique, valuable content that you will not be able to get elsewhere.

We’ll be homing in on the stories that are essential to the esports community, and less on player moves, game news and poring over patch notes. There’s still a place for this in esports journalism, but we’re aiming to play to our strengths and deliver industry leading business news and industry analysis, something that will be easier now we can bring the resources of the new and improved MCV team to bear.

Jake Tucker will continue to head up esports reporting, as MCV’s new content editor for business and esports, so we're confident that we won’t lose the qualities that have made us such a popular esports destination over the last nine months. We're really excited about the opportunities for esports coverage within MCV across digital, social, print and events.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch with a member of our team, listed below.

Jake Tucker, Content Editor for Business and Esports, MCV, jtucker@nbmedia.com

Seth Barton, Editor, MCV, sbarton@nbmedia.com

Sophia Jaques, Games Sales Manager, sjaques@nbmedia.com

Caroline Hicks, Marketing and Events Director, chicks@nbmedia.com

Mark Burton, Managing Director, mburton@nbmedia.com

NewBay announces the team behind the new MCV

The new team will launch a brand new multi-platform MCV in early 2018

Last week Newbay announced that it would be merging its Develop and Esports Pro brands with MCV to create a single, specialist brand to better serve the evolving UK games industry.

Today we're excited to unveil the team that will make the new MCV a success.

We've assembled our best and most experienced writers to form the new MCV. The four-strong editorial team has a huge pool of experience in order to bring you the best industry content. A single, large team will also make the new MCV more flexible, able to focus its efforts on a single event or story, or spread out to provide broader coverage.

Seth Barton will be leading the new team: "I'm setting out an ambitious strategy that will engage with the industry across digital, social, print and events - all of which we consider key platforms to facilitate communication, best practice and growth in the industry." Seth ran Expert Reviews, has written for Wired, Metro and PC Pro, and worked in games publishing at the BBC.

Jem Alexander, previously Editor of Develop, will continue to champion the UK's development talent. "I am super excited to be a part of the new team. It's a fantastic opportunity to bring the heritage and philosophy of Develop to this new format and deliver it to an expanded audience throughout the games industry." Jem has worked for Riot Games, Square Enix and PlayStation, and is currently writing games too.

Jake Tucker moves over from running Esports Pro. "For as long as I've been working in games, MCV has been a pillar of the industry. I'm excited to be bringing my experience on Esports Pro to the new MCV, while also reporting within a wider business remit." Jake has previously written for Vice, TechRadar, PCGamesN, PC Gamer, Eurogamer and many, many more. 

Marie Dealessandri will be working across all sectors, putting her strong feature-writing skills to use on the new brand: "I’m very much looking forward to working on this brand new, united MCV, alongside a triple-A team. Having our three flagship brands under one banner provides for an exciting opportunity to further develop and demonstrate our expertise and I can’t wait to get started."

This experienced team will enable MCV to cover every aspect of a rapidly evolving industry while maintaining focus and deeper insight, providing data, analysis and a platform for healthy debate in order to help the industry flourish. The new team are keen to get out of the office as well, so if you want them to come and visit your business then please do get in touch!

The new MCV will launch in early 2018, and we're looking forward to sharing more with you about our exciting plans for the brand.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch with a member of our senior team, listed below.

Seth Barton, Editor, MCV, sbarton@nbmedia.com

Sophia Jaques, Games Sales Manager, sjaques@nbmedia.com

Caroline Hicks, Marketing and Events Director, chicks@nbmedia.com

Mark Burton, Managing Director, mburton@nbmedia.com

GAME sells Multiplay digital business to Unity in £19m deal

GAME Digital announced the sale of its Multiplay Digital business to Unity on Tuesday, in a £19m deal

GAME Digital announced the sale of its Multiplay Digital business to Unity on Tuesday, in a £19m deal.

Multiplay Digital handles multiplayer servers for a range of titles including Minecraft, Killing Floor 2 and Day Z. Sales last year rose from £2.1m to £4.5m, although the company filed a loss of £800,000. This is claimed to be due to ‘significant investment’ in infrastructure and server technology.

This investment and increase in profit is reflected in the price Unity have paid. Multiplay was acquired by GAME in its entirety for $20m just under three years ago, and now this digital branch of the company, stripped of the esports and event business, is selling for nearly the same amount of cash.

Martyn Gibbs, GAME Digital’s CEO said in a press release: "This transaction is a significant strategic step forward for GAME Digital. By divesting Multiplay Digital we simplify the Group and focus management on accelerating development plans to fully capitalise on the strong growth potential in our exciting and growing esports activities, including BELONG.

“We now look forward to further developing GAME Digital as we seek to combine multichannel retail, events and esports. We are delighted to have transacted with such a strong new owner for our Multiplay Digital business and its highly talented team."

It's a sure sign Unity are looking to start providing their own mutliplayer servers for their games, although it's unsure how this will fare. 

A GAME spokesperson has confirmed that Multiplay founder Craig Fletcher will remain in his role with GAME. 

Former KeSPA president Jun Byung-Hun has a warrant issued for his arrest

Jun Byung-Hun, the former Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) president, has had a warrant issued for his arrest

Jun Byung-Hun, the former Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) president, has had a warrant issued for his arrest mere days after issuing a statement denying all allegations of foul play.

Byung-Hun is now wanted for charges including embezzlement and bribery, the result of government prosecutors looking into Byung-Hun’s actions while he was running KeSPA. These prosecutors have claimed to have found evidence on multiple incidents of corruption in the Korean media and game industries.

The issue is altogether more serious than it first appeared, and the prosecutors are now expanding their probe and bringing additional charges to bear after a complaint by Korea’s Game Rating and Administration Committee, Yeo Myung-Sook. Myung-Sook alleges that Korean gaming outfits were bribing government officials to delay the regulation of microtransaction. Myung-Sook places the blame for this at Byung-Hun’s door, calling him the “root of the corruption” in Korea’s esports industry.

Jun Byung-Hun is already accused of accepting $300,000 for KeSPA from Lotte Homeshopping, a Korean shopping network. At the time he claimed that his aides were the only ones involved in the scandal. These latest charges make it look a bit like he’s telling porkies.

A fourth individual is also being charged, a former KeSPA secretary-general who has been charged for allegedly using KeSPA cash to pay the salary of some of Jun’s private staff.

Kevin Chou joins Critical Force board

Kevin Chou has joined the board at Critical Force, the company that developers the mobile first-person shooter Critical Force.

Kevin Chou has joined the board at Critical Force, the company that developers the mobile first-person shooter Critical Force.

It’s a coup for the developers. Chou is the founder and CEO of the Korean Silicon Valley Esports (KSV) organisation. Don’t know them? You soon will as KSV has acquired the franchising rights for the Overwatch League’s Seoul team, pulling in the roster for the successful Lunatic Hai team.

KSV is an esports outfit on the rise, with the company’s Heroes of the Storm roster recently clinched success in the World Championship that took place at BlizzCon 2017, winning $500k. They also have the best PUBG team in the Korean / Japanese servers, according to the leaderboards.

Chou himself is well known in the games industry too, building Kabam from a small games operation above a dim sum restaurant to a worldwide juggernaut before Chou cashed out this year. Chou was also named as one of the top 40 under 40 industry players by Fortune magazine in 2014.

"I'm passionate about esports, and Critical Force represents the leader in creating the first possible mobile FPS esports," said Kevin Chou in a press release. “I expect to work with a global team of people passionate about making great games and taking the right long term steps to bring competitive FPS experiences to gamers worldwide".

“We are very pleased to have Kevin to join our board, and we look forward to his contributions,” added Veli-Pekka Piirainen, CEO and Founder at Critical Force. “Kevin is a real veteran and a leader in the game industry worldwide. He led Kabam from founding to a billion dollar company and his experience as an entrepreneur, business leader and now as a founder and CEO of KSV Esports will be invaluable to Critical Force.”

The news comes at a convenient time as Critical Force has now been downloaded over 30 million times, before the game has even been released.

“Critical Force’s mobile esports scene has grown exponentially this year. There’s been a new Critical Ops tournament every week and even bigger events are in the plans. Getting the legendary Kevin Chou to join our board was just the first step. We will be taking even more major steps soon to grow the scene to the next level,” said Piirainen.

Immortals to finish ECS Season 4 0-18, forfeiting the rest of the CS:GO league

Immortals will forfeit their ECS season four matches, after they were unable to field an eligible roster from their registered lineup

Immortals will forfeit their ECS season four matches, after they were unable to field an eligible roster from their registered lineup.

This means the team will finish ECS season four with a win/lose of 18-0, and next season will have to compete in the promotion league next season to try and regain their slot in the ECS. It’s a harsh blow to an Immortals Counter-Strike team that has completely disintegrated. Immortals began ECS season four in October with Vito “kNg” Giuseppe, Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles, Henrique “HEN1” Teles, Ricardo “boltz” Prass, and Lucas “steel” Lopes, but these players have all left after Dreamhack Montreal. This means the team has lost its Legend status. Prass technically remains with the team but is currently on loan to SK Gaming and expected to sign permanently in the new year.  

Away from this, Immortals received more bad news after their League of Legends team was uninvited from the LCS as Riot moves towards a franchise model.

“Due to being unable to play with more than 60 percent of their original roster Immortals have forfeited all of their ECS maps,” ECS said on Twitter yesterday, explaining the problem.

Immortals new roster is full of promising Brazilian players, but lacks some of the star power present in the last roster, meaning this chance to requalify and show the world what they’re made of could be a blessing in disguise.

The roster for Immortals now consists of: João "horvy" Horvath, Lucas "destinyy" Bullo, Caio "zqk" Fonseca, and Bruno "shz" Martinelli, with a fifth player still to be announced.

League of Legends pro Li ‘Vasilii’ Wei Jun picks up 20 month ban for domestic violence incident

Chinese League of Legends pro Li ‘Vasilii’ Wei Jun has been banned from competing until 2020 by Riot Games for gross misconduct

Chinese League of Legends pro Li ‘Vasilii’ Wei Jun has been banned from competing until 2020 by Riot Games for gross misconduct.

The player was suspended by Riot on October 27 after a domestic violence incident caught on stream audio by Wei Jun. They suspended the player and opened an investigation into the player, while his organisation, Newbee, immediately terminated his contract.

This two year ban is actually a death knell for the player’s career, but this appears to be with good reason. Riot’s finding is that Wei Jun made “credible threats of physical violence” towards his partner that led to her calling the police. The partner has said that Wei Jun damaged property in their home while uttering a string of verbal threats, information that is corroborated by the audio of Wei Jun’s stream, although video isn’t available as he started his rage by flipping his desk, with webcam attached.

"We consider the fact that threats of domestic abuse were made - and that they were made toward a defenseless person and in a private residence - to be aggravating factors." Riot said in its statement. "Whereas making these threats toward another another professional player on stage might warrant a 10 month suspension, physical intimidation and threats of domestic abuse should be punished much more harshly."

The player has had run-in’s before, in 2016 he caused severe damage to his team house after a losing streak, and he was sanctioned for a violent incident at the end of a competitive match in the same year.

Wei Jun has also changed Riot’s disciplinary procedures. As a result of this case, Riot have removed the 12 month maximum ban on players for “extreme misconduct” and there is no upper limit for future bans for this in the future. Wei Jun actually picked up a 20 month competitive ban, but the way that Riot’s competitive calendar shakes out, he won’t be able to compete until the 2020 Spring Split, if he returns at all.

PUBG test server update nerfs water, adds two new weapons, various tweaks and extra damaging crotch-punches

PUBG's test server is now live, with a variety of tweaks and changes. 

A new Battlegrounds update is hitting the test server today, and this time the 48-hour window into PUBG’s 1.0 future brings with new weapons, the end of water’s bulletproof reign of terror and many more changes.

Let’s go through it, starting with those new guns. You can read along at home on the Battlegrounds change notes. 

The new weapons are the DP-28 and the AUG A3. The DP-28 is a light-machine gun chambered for 7.62mm rounds. It has a pan magazine (that fancy round thing mounted to the top of the gun) and in this game it’s going to have a low firing rate but a long effective range, with high damage.

The AUG A3 is available exclusively in care packages, and is a bullpup assault rifle that uses 5.56mm ammo, and has high muzzle velocity, a high rate of fire and low vertical recoil. The gun will be familiar to games fans, with variants appearing in Counter-Strike, Battlefield 3 and 4 and several Rainbow Six titles. The other bullpup in PUBG is the Groza, a formidable weapon that can chew up entire teams. If the Aug is similar, expect to be killed by it in the near future.

Some small housecleaning for the Kar98K too. The Kar98K will no longer appear in a care package, making the care packages more attractive. Running across an open field and almost definitely getting shot at by hostiles is no fun when you get a gun you could find, albeit rarely, in an abandoned barn.

Water can be penetrated now, if you’re into that. The faster the bullet’s velocity, the shallower the penetration. I’m trying not to make any jokes here, but it’s very difficult. Genuinely though, this is a great change because at the moment water is bulletproof, and people are exploiting the aquatic armour to survive longer than they should, the tykes. 

There’s also substantial changes to UX, Gameplay and even a new font for English language support. Weapon classes have now been rebalanced too, as you can see in the chart below.

Yes, this does mean that punching someone in the crotch is now more effective than punching them in the chest.

Tencent to act as exclusive Chinese publisher for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Tencent will be the exclusive Chinese publisher for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

Tencent will be the exclusive Chinese publisher for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

It’s a coup for the monolithic games company, but this isn’t a case of Tencent getting their name on a splash screen and raking in all that lovely money. Tencent will be using their local knowledge to assist PUBG developer Bluehole to work within the lines of Chinese regulations that at one point looked like it could hamper the game’s chance of a full release in China and even lead to a ban for the title. With Tencent behind the project, it's now unlikely such a ban will be put in place. 

This comes after rumours that Tencent was looking to acquire PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, although they confirmed to Esports Pro earlier this month that this wasn't the case. However, Bluehole’s price is continue to improve as the game moves towards launch and as that value soars the discussion has turned back to acquisition or even a potential IPO, which would be impossible while founder Chang Byung-gyu continues to serve as the chairman of the Fourth Industrial Revolution committee in Korea.

VentureBeat, who broke the story, also report that Tencent has vowed that it will try to combat the game’s problem with cheaters. Bluehole themselves have taken strides forwards on the matter and introduced a variety of measures to counter cheaters, but people are still vocally opposed to cheaters on their servers. Understandable, really.

Golden State Warriors name Hunter Leigh as head of esports

The Golden State Warriors have named Hunter Leigh as their new head of esports.

The Golden State Warriors have named Hunter Leigh as their new head of esports.

This news comes soon after the GSW-owned Golden Guardians announced they had a slot in the new League of Legends NA LCS team. Leigh will be overseeing the Golden Guardians, but also the Warriors’ forthcoming NBA 2K team and any other esports possibilities that might appear.

Leigh was previously the head of esports operations for Yahoo Esports, but has also worked with Riot Games as their NA LCS product head. In his role at Riot, Leigh did a lot of work on the partnership system that brought Golden Guardians to the table. Good work looking after your future, past Leigh.

Leigh brings with him years of experience in the esports industry, having served as head of esports operations for Yahoo Esports. As such he led the creation of events for University League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. He had previously worked at Riot Games, LoL’s publisher, as the NA LCS product lead – essentially paving the way for the new franchise partnership system.

“The Warriors are such a well-respected sports franchise, and I am fortunate that they selected me to help steward their entrance into esports.” said Leigh. “I’m eager to hit the ground running as it relates to player acquisitions and building competitive teams for both League of Legends and the NBA 2K League. The Warriors have a proven model for championship success, and I am looking to bring their player development and analytical approach to the esports space.”

Audi Denmark and Astralis sign shirt sponsorship deal

Audi Denmark and CS:GO outfit Astralis have announced a shirt sponsorship to expand on the pairs partnership last year.

Audi Denmark and CS:GO outfit Astralis have announced a shirt sponsorship to expand on the pairs partnership last year.

The deal will see Audi’s trademark four rings logo appear on Astralis Jersey. The deal is an expansion of a ‘pilot case’ partnership the pair announced in January 2017 that saw Audi on the team’s jerseys for three months. This seems to have been a successful partnership because it’s now a permanent deal.

The deal was enabled by RFRSH Entertainment, and Astralis are planned to be wearing the new Audi shirts at RFRSH’s BLAST Pro Series this weekend, with a fan event taking place on Thursday.

Last time, the team found success with Audi on their jerseys, seizing victory at the Atlanta Major.

Jacob Thiesen, Audi Denmark’s digital manager, said in a statement: “We are extremely pleased to be back on the chest of the Astralis jersey. The valuation of our initial partnership demonstrated some impressive numbers and effects and the co-operation with the team and RFRSH Entertainment was second to none. On this basis, we entered negotiations in the late summer, and we’re glad to finally announce the partnership – again.”

Jordi Roig, CCO of RFRSH Entertainment, added: “Esports is an extremely rewarding field for brands that make an effort to understand the industry. Esport as a passion media is a gateway to a young hard-to-get audience that is getting more and more resistant to traditional media. Old-fashioned one-way communication does not work with this audience and if you want to engage with this target group, you need to mean something to them, you need to be true to who you are and at the same time embrace what they do.”

Riot announce 10 teams that will make up NA franchise league

Riot last night announced the ten winners of slots in their new-look LCS league, with some surprising omissions 

Riot last night announced the ten winners of slots in their new-look LCS league, which is doing away with relegation and promotion and promising franchised teams revenue sharing from 2018.

There were over 100 applicants for the league, but the final 10 teams taking place in the league are: 100 Thieves, Clutch Gaming, Golden Guardians, OpTic Gaming, Team Liquid, Echo Fox, Cloud 9 and Team SoloMid.

This list has a few surprises. The new teams are are 100 Thieves, Clutch Gaming, Golden Guardians and Optic Gaming, all of which have the backing of big American sports teams, 100 Thieves has involvement from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, Courtside Ventures and Ludlow ventures, Clutch Gaming has investment from Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta, Golden Guardians is a Warriors team, and OpTic Gaming, the most popular esports brand on social media in the world, has investment from MLB Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman via Infinite Esports & Entertainment.

Teams that didn’t make the cut are Dignitas, Team Envy, Immortals and Phoenix1. Getting the boot from the NA LCS will be a major financial blow, and sources suggest that the four teams will receive a low seven figure payout to sweeten the loss.

The same sources claim that teams will have to pay $10m to buy into the franchise, with newcomers paying $3m on top of this for additional fees.

Immortals and Envy are high-level League of Legends competitors, who have both received large investments. They would appear to be a natural fit, but for Riot it seems they weren’t quite the right fit.

The Spring Split will kick off on January 20. A European franchise league has been suggested for 2019.

NewBay unites video games group under MCV, Esports Pro to be incorporated into MCV brand

MCV, Develop & Esports Pro to unite under the MCV brand to bring new, 360° coverage of the B2B video games market

NewBay, the publisher of MCV, Develop and Esports Pro, announced today that it will be evolving its UK-based video games brand portfolio into a single website, magazine, and suite of events, under the banner of MCV.

The brand will be led by the current Editor, Seth Barton, who said “MCV is evolving to become one brand for the entire UK games industry. Whether you're an indie searching for the best partner for your next game, an esports tournament provider looking for new sponsors, a retailer wanting to maximise its community reach, a publisher acquiring new capabilities to push engagement, a mobile studio that needs better data analysis, or even a media planner considering AR as part of its next triple-A campaign.

These are all parts of our industry and MCV will reflect every diverse aspect of it, with up to date analysis and insight. It will help everyone make better informed business decisions, and provide an independent and trusted platform for the industry to communicate through.”

From January 2018, MCV, Develop & esports pro will exist as one entity, under the banner of MCV, with one bigger monthly magazine, one mobile optimised, new look website including new jobs platform, and a suite of events tailored for the industry. This structure will better reflect the changing nature of the games industry, while continuing to highlight the latest trends across publishing, development, eSports, and everything in between. 

The Develop Awards, MCV Awards, Future Games Summit, Women in Games and a forthcoming esports focused event will continue to serve the industry with a plethora of high quality opportunities for networking and talent recognition.

Mark Burton, Managing Director of NewBay stated, “NewBay must continually evolve our offerings to keep pace and remain the premier source of information on the UK video games industry. We are committed to promoting this industry as one of the most interesting and vibrant creative businesses out there, and we are excited and confident that these changes will create new opportunities and enable us to provide the best possible service to our clients and readers.”

Moira enters Overwatch alongside tweaks for Mercy, Ana and more

Overwatch’s new support hero Moira is now available on the live server, and her introduction to the game has come with changes to her support colleagues, too

Overwatch’s new support hero Moira is now available on the live server, and her introduction to the game has come with changes to her support colleagues, too.

Moira entered Overwatch’s Private Test Realm on November 6. She’ll be available to all players during the upcoming free weekend which starts today after her release.

Lore details on Moira are thin on the ground, but looking at her kit, it seems Moira is tailor made to cause panic among enemies. Moira uses her left hand to heal allies ahead of her with biotic energy, which she uses her right hand firing a long-range beam that drains the health from enemies while healing her and replenishing her biotic energy.

This means that Moitra has to get into the thick of things, but has a quick teleport that can get her out of trouble if she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

Still, adding a new healer to the game shakes things up a little bit, and with the game’s current meta focusing on Mercy as they primary healer, Moira’s addition to the pool should diversify the field, and if that doesn’t work out, the other healers in the game have been given some tweaks too.

In bullet point form, for your convenience, here are the headline changes to eat healer:

Ana

  • Ana’s Biotic Rifle Damage increased from 60 to 70.

This might seem insubstantial, but it means that Ana can take out most heroes with three shots instead of four. Most heroes in Overwatch have around 200 damage, and this damage boost means that instead of 180 damage over three shots, Ana can now do 210 damage with three rounds means you can fight off an enemy with relative speed if she’s accurate.

Mercy

  • Resurrect cast time is increased from 0 seconds to 1.75 seconds
  • Mercy’s movement speed is reduced by 75 percent while casting Resurrection, and can be interrupted by knockback, stun or hack.
  • Visibility of Mercy’s healing and damage boosting beams has been increased.
  • While Valkyrie is active, Resurrect has no cast time or movement speed reduction

More nerfs to the new and improved Mercy, and it’s Resurrect up on the table this week for adjustments. This cast timer means quick thinking will be able to stop Mercy’s revive, but will it be enough of an adjustment to shake up the meta?

This tweak makes her Valkyrie ability even more viable too, as if you needed further reason to turn into the flying angel of death (and also life).

Winston

  • Barrier Projector now displays a health bar.

This is quality of life change for Winston players that will them know when their barrier is about to break. This makes sense, as Reinhardt and Orisa both have health bars for their shields.

Lúcio

  • Lúcio now has an effect above his head to indicate which song he's playing in spectator mode

This is just an esports change really. This means spectators can tell which specific variety of turning it up Lucio is doing, whether this is a speed boost or healing boost. This makes it easier to parse what is going on and try to discern the flow of the game. 

Dante May Cry: MvC:I patch nerfs Capcom’s demon hunter into the ground

An upcoming update for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is bringing a variety of balance tweaks to the game, with champion Dante getting a serious nerf

An upcoming update for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is bringing a variety of balance tweaks to the game, with champion Dante getting a serious nerf.

Dante was always a strong contender in the franchise's previous entry, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3,a consistent fixture in the game’s meta although never outright dominant. However feedback from MvC:I’s competitive scene seems to be that not only is Dante as strong as he was in UMvC3, he’s actually gotten stronger.

The community has shown a lot of ‘touch of death’ combos with Dante, a touch of death combo meaning a combo that outright kills a character after you’ve hit them with a single attack to kick every off, the referenced touch of death. To illustrate, here’s a video from September of Jonathan ‘Tyrant’ Parkes performing one on character Chun-Li who has slightly lower than average health, but should still show how terrifying this can be to play against.

Still, it seems in the latest patch Capcom have nerfed Dante substantially, with patch notes as long as the rest of the champions put together. This will create a ripple across the game as he was so easy to dominate with that every player from amateur to pro would play him. 

Reacting to the nerf, Parkes took to twitter: watch for language, kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dante’s health has been reduced, damage on several of his moves has been reduced significantly, in addition to meter gain for special moves. It’s going to be a massive change in the competitive scene as Dante will now play like a completely different character. Worse, he's lost a lot of his mix-up stuff, which might actually put him at a disadvantage to several other characters that would have previously been very favourable match-ups. 

Elsewhere, the Reality Stone Infinite Surge has been nerfed significantly, and there are minor tweaks to many of the characters in the game. You can see the full patch notes here.

Meet the Renegades, the grassroots Paladins team that met on Facebook

As the Paladins Premier League Fall Finals kicks off, Renegades are shining success story for Hi-Rez's grassroots efforts 

The Paladins Premier League Fall Finals kicks off today with several of the world’s top teams competing for a chunk of the $50,000 prize pool.

One of these teams is Team Renegades, playing today against G2 Esports. Renegades are unique in the esports scene because they met on Paladin’s Facebook group, an official space run by Hi-Rez Studios that was created due to a huge Facebook presence for the game.

Renegades is a success story for Hi-Rez’s commitment to a grassroots community, a team that formed using their systems to help amateurs compete at a top level, and now are one of the strongest teams in North America. 

Justin ‘Vandy’ Cheung started an amateur team called WildStyle in 2016 and the team competed, without much success, in several smaller tournaments in the scene. The team ground to a halt, although when Cheung heard about the Paladins Global Series he decided to give it another shot and recruited a team of talented amateurs from the game’s Facebook group.

This rookie team emerged from the second phase of the Paladin’s Global Series as victors, but now competing under the Renegades banner.

It’s an interesting route, since many esport fans and young contenders are struggling to find a way to stand out from the crowd. This is a problem that is especially true of games with a niche audience like Paladins, where the best way to get involved in professional play is to get matched against a pro player in the game’s competitive mode and hope you made enough of an impact to get picked up. This method relies on a lot of luck in terms of matchmaking, opponents and your teammates. However, four of the Renegades’ six players were found on Facebook without any competitive experience..

Hi-Rez got involved with Facebook when it saw that a huge chunk of its community was engaging with the game through the social network, with a large community-run scene (one group has over 30,000 users) that was managed, informally by the community, on the service. Hi-Rez stepped in and made an official group for people to use. This group now has regular broadcasts and livestreams from the Paladins Global Series, in addition to an active discussion board where people advertise themselves to potential pro teams, or scout for player for fresh new teams.

The team entered the PGS Facebook group, and then the PGS official Discord, catching the attention of pro organisations with a series of strong performances highlighted on Hi-Rez’s official channels and access to important members of the community through Hi-Rez’s official community Discord. Professional outfits were watching the Discord and Facebook Group for up and coming talent in the game, which meant the roster was quickly picked up as part of Renegades plans for Paladins.

Since the Renegades formed, there’s been a slight personnel change. Vandy, the original Wildstyle founder, now functions as the team’s coach and substitute. His replacement is Zach ‘ShadeeyShades’ Gilbert, an experienced player. The rest of the team, Joshua ‘Stormtroopey’ Veillon, Georges ‘Lokii’ Chalhoub, team captain Dylan ‘Cliku’ Mohne and Loc ‘Ethereall’ Nguyen have no previous competitive experience, but seem to be doing just fine.

“I began gaming at a young age, primarily sticking to console with titles such as Call of Duty and Halo,” said Gilbert. “I made the swap when I was 16 to PC gaming where I played my first competitive FPS Natural Selection 2 (NS2). I played on various teams but never really accomplished much, but participated in some small community tournaments.”

It was the Natural Selection 2 community that told him about Paladins, and got him involved. “Players such as Bitey (Chris Mohn) and Awry (Steve Michalec), who I teamed with for over a year on Team Eager/Denial eSports, were players who came from NS2. I spent a lot of time in Paladins participating in many tournaments and winning some of the online ones under Team Eager. I recently took a break from the game, when I returned I was fortunate to find a spot on Renegades.”

With Renegades’ involvement and the roster change, the team is now a legitimate esports team in every sense of the word, salaried players in Paladin’s growing competitive scene.

“As surprising as it may sound,” Chalhoub says, “I actually had no competitive background in esports before Paladins. I came into this game with the desire to compete, and so I built my play style to be team dependent from the beginning, and this is why I can say I'm probably the kind of DPS that gives his team openings and chances to engage or do otherwise.”

Meanwhile, Vellon came from playing years of Team Fortress 2 as the Heavy, whirring his chaingun and stomping pub players. “One day as a joke I decided to play Paladins and I immediately fell in love with it,” said Vellon. “I found out about a really OP card that no one had really experimented with and became really good with it. That was acrobatics pip. In a matter of 3 weeks I climbed to top 50 in the world with close to zero struggle.”

Vellon was then noticed by several big figures in the Paladin’s community, and soon afterwards he was picked up as a support for Wildstyle.

Mohne meanwhile attends college at Iowa State University, playing alongside his studies. “I had no competitive experience coming into Paladins besides being a pub stomper in other games I played prior. I don't really have a particular play style but what makes me unique is my game sense.”

The final member of the team is Nguyen, who is Vietnamese but has lived in the US for most of his life. He’s another full time student who primarily plays Dirty Bomb and Paladins. Nguyen was browsing Steam’s free-to-play section when he found Paladins for the first time.

“When I started the game, it was mostly just a hobby and a form of entertainment. Gradually, however, I started noticing that I was able to compete at the highest of levels and wanted to push myself into the competitive scene, trying out for various teams and participating in many tournaments.”

Nguyen is Renegades’ tank, and describes his playstyle as reactive, moving from place to place to try and put himself between his team and the bad men with guns.

It’s unusual for a team of relative unknowns to have entered the scene and risen to the very top of it within such a short amount of time, but Paladins’ competitive community is growing at a rapid pace, which means Renegades came in at the right time, with the right amount of talent, to make a real impact.

Whether or not they clutch a victory at the Paladins’ Premier League Fall Finals or not, they’ve shown themselves to be a talented and interesting addition to a scene that’s going to need iconic players as it grows bigger.

Nvidia reveals brand-new screenshots of PUBG’s desert map

PUBG goes spaghetti western