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

NVIDIA has revealed five new screens of PlayerUnknown Battleground’s forthcoming Desert map, showing a landscape that’s altogether more varied than the now-familiar Erangel.

The screenshots show a city area that has a variety of multi-storey buildings in various states of construction in an area that looks somewhat run-down. There’s also a strip-mall shopping plaza for you to live out your urban combat fantasies.

This is contrasted with desert landscapes with just mild scrubland, offering very little cover to people sniping from scattered oil rigs, ridged canyons and other dusty structures.

It’s pretty desolate, which, considering you’re fighting to the death, is probably reasonable.

Wander your eyes down a little way for that desert. 

The desert map could launch with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds 1.0 release, or it could not. We should find out as the juggernaut lurches closer to 1.0 in December.