eSports

Overwatch World Cup 2018

Starting today at 2:15pm CST, the 2018 version of the Overwatch World Cup (OWWC) kicks off. Fielding the Top Eight teams in the world, the OWWC is comprised of: USA, United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea, China, Finland, Canada, and France. The South Korean team looks to make it three titles in as many years with their All-Star squad. The Star-Spangled boys of the USA (with two of our hometown Houston Outlaws) are many critics’ pick to give the defending champs a run for their money. Canada’s team will look to run wild over their side of the bracket, powered by their formidable DPS duo and their support line (made up partially by another member of the Houston Outlaws.)

The opening game of the OWWC will see the pride of the USA remind the UK once again who has the better team as they face each other. Following that match we’ll see France vs Canada and China vs Finland, with South Korea closing out the day’s quarter-final matches against Australia. Honestly, the first round seems to look pretty “chalk” as the USA, Canada, Finland, and South Korea should all easily move on to Saturday and the semi-finals.

Canada vs Finland has the possibility of stealing the show as not only the most competitive of the match-ups but also for the amount of hype these two teams can bring to the center stage. It’ll be interesting to see how Finland’s team of current Overwatch League (OWL) pros does with a Canadian squad that has two non-OWL members, as well as a support in xQc that was removed from the OWL and hasn’t played regularly, high-level Overwatch in months.

USA vs South Korea: will this finally be the year that the American’s step out of the giant shadow laid upon them by South Korea and bring hope to across the world? No. No it is not. While this will likely go down to last round, last map; the South Korean team is just too skilled to get tripped up by USA’s jack-of-all-trades playstyle.

This expected result brings us to the Finals. I have Finland moving past Canada and facing off against South Korea. All you’ll have to know for this match is Linkzr vs Carpe. The Fins pushed South Korea to the breaking point during the qualifying stages; however, they would ultimately lose. History looks to repeat itself in more than one way, as not only will Finland fall, but South Korea will bring home their third OWWC Trophy.

So, there you have it, boys and girls. The 2018 Overwatch World Cup broken down rather anti-climatically by us, here at Houston Preeminence. If you’re looking to catch any of the matches today (and on Saturday) you can view them on Twitch, YouTube, or MLG.

League of Legends World Championships 2018

What is it?

After a month long tournament similar in style to the FIFA World Cup, the League of Legends World Championship features China’s Invictus (-165) versus Europe’s Fnatic (+135).

When and where is it?

Starting at 3 a.m. CST, the best of five series is being played in Incheon, South Korea. Previously used in FIFA World Cup matches, Incheon Munhak Stadium is hosting the Championship, which is expected to be at capacity with nearly 50,000 attendees.

How to watch it?

The finals are being broadcast live on Twitch and YouTube, both of which are available on most smart TVs and devices.

What to watch for?

In an extremely odd occurrence, two teams from the same group made the finals. Fnatic won the group series two to one in extremely close fashion. These two teams are either first or second in almost every statistical category this tournament and were the favorites to meet in the finals.

Historically, teams from the East have dominated Worlds, winning every title since 2012. This is Fnatic’s second trip to the finals; they won in 2011. Invictus has never been in the finals before, but coming out of China, they are looking to keep the East’s dominance intact.

What Meta has developed at Worlds?

Teams throughout the tournament have been moving away from tanks (high health, low damage champions). Top lane is being dominated by carry champions like Aatrox, who has a pick/ban rate of 99%. The jungle is also shifting to more damage and less health. This shift in the meta should hold true for the Finals as well. Both team’s top laners are comfortable on carry champions so this should be an exciting and explosive final series. There will be more team fighting, more kills and deaths, and more action in general than regular season matches, and that is always more entertaining to watch.

Who are we picking?

From a betting perspective, I am loving getting extra money from a team that won the previous series, though I can see how this series could go either way. I am placing two units on Fnatic and I think they will take it in four games. – Brandon Campbell

This match up is going to be close. Invictus won’t go down as easily as they did in the group stage. There will be a lot of action leading to chances for crazy upsets. Fnatic is the underdog, but I think they will pull this one off. They have a better lane match up against Invictus in the top lane, jungle, and in the bottom. Even if Caps loses in the mid lane, they can still win every other lane. I think Fnatic wins in five, and I would put two units on that. – Tim Orr

The Beginner's Guide to eSports Terminology (aka How To Not Look Like a Noob in Front of Your Friends/Kids)

So, chances are if you’ve somehow found your way here, you’ve caught a few matches of whatever eSport your friends or kids have been watching and had to feign a nod and smile when being talked to about what you just saw. While this article isn’t going to deep dive into the intricacies of each game, we are going to get you understanding a bit more about what’s being said so that way you don’t find yourself lost in the sauce.

MOBA: Massive Online Battle Arena. These are games such as DOTA2, League of Legends, and Smite.

FPS: First Person Shooter. Overwatch, Call of Duty, and CS:GO all are FPS titles.

CCG: Collectible Card Game. Titles like Hearthstone, Magic: the Gathering, Eternal, and Gwent all are CCG’s.

Carry (aka ADCarry aka ADC): The carry is almost always the player on a team that has the potential to deal the most damage while “carrying” the team to victory. Think of the ADC as the Quarterback of a team.

Tank: The Tank is a character that is built to survive a high amount of damage and serve as the frontline for the team.

Jungler: While not usually locked into a specific type of character, the jungler generally will float across the map, clearing out objectives while lending support to other members of their team, occasionally ganking an enemy when the opportunity arises.

Auto / Basic Attack: A simple attack that any character can perform. Generally, doesn’t consume any type of energy.

Aggro: This one has two meanings that vary quite significantly. The first definition is a playstyle where a team plays very aggressively and simply tries to overpower the opposing team. On the other hand, it can also mean to gain the attention of the enemy team to allow teammates to escape or switch who is being dealt damage.

Area of Effect (AOE): Refers to a move that instead of dealing damage or affecting a single target, it takes place (usually within a circle or cone) and affects multiple targets.

Buff: To make a character stronger via raising their stats. A buff can also apply to a character if other characters that do better against them are nerfed, thus making them viable.

Nerf: To make a character weaker via lowering their stats. A nerf can also apply to a character if other characters that performed weaker against them are buffed, thus making them a less appealing pick.

Pick/Ban Phase: The beginning of some games where teams will pick characters they want to use while also banning certain other characters out of the game, thus not allowing the opposing team to pick that character.

OP: Overpowered. A character that is seen as being so far and away above the other characters that they are essentially a “must pick.”

Top Tier: A selection of characters that are viewed by the community as being better than other characters in the game. While some might be “OP,” others are just good to use against a wide range of characters.

Meta: Short for metagame, it stands for the current strategies that are dominant in the game at any given time.  IE: Dive, Control, Burst, Tank.

Dive: The type of strategy in a game where a team tries to attack the enemy’s backline to then wreak havoc on the remaining members and gain an advantage.

Control: A type of strategy where a team uses a subdued style of play and in doing so, tries to affect how the game is played by either zoning out the other team from objectives or by forcing the opposing team to change their preferred style of play.

Burst: The strategy where damage is done in small, highly concentrated areas in a very quick timeframe. While usually not the most effective style of play, it can lend itself to allowing a team to gain a quick advantage that can grow from there.

Snowball: When a team takes early objectives or kills enemy characters rather early in the game and builds upon those advantages much like a snowball grows while rolling down a hill.

Comp: Refers to the composition of a team and how they fit together. Usually most comp’s are built with a particular gameplay goal in mind, be it early kills, stealing objectives, or surviving to the late-game in order to win.

Gank: A surprise kill of the enemy when they were believing they were safe.

GG: Good Game. Usually said at the end of a game to the opposing team. While usually meant in a polite manner, it can also be used as a way to trash talk the enemy when you’re ahead in a game.

Salty: Pissed. Mad. Upset.

Twitch: Refers to Twitch.TV A website that hosts multiple genres of games and the preferred broadcasting partner for most competitions.

Admittedly, this list of terms isn’t a complete list of terms used in the wide world of eSports; however, these should be enough to allow you to engage in the conversation and not feel lost.

What is eSports?

It’s another ho-hum Sunday night and as you sit down on your couch ready to watch ESPN, you pause for a moment. Usually on your screen would be a standard highlight show. However, tonight, you’re seeing two guys on a stage in the Mandalay Bay Arena playing a video game with the winner walking away holding over forty thousand dollars.

Welcome to the high stakes, high pressure world of online competitive gaming, aka, eSports.

This article is for those who may have noticed something on Twitter about Rick Fox owning a team named Echo Fox. It’s for the parents that spend every weekend watching people play a football game but can’t understand why their child sits next to them on the phone watching some guy nicknamed Ninja playing Fortnite® on a website called Twitch®. Most importantly, this article is a wake-up call for everyone who believes there is nothing to be gained by playing “some game” and staring at a screen all day.

The term eSports is straightforward: electronic sports. Sounds simple enough, right? For this emerging subset of the sports realm, it covers a wide breadth of genres that range from First Person Shooters (FPS), Multiplayer Online Battle Arena(s) (MOBAs), Fighting Games, Real Time Strategy (RTS) to yes, even traditional Sports. eSports is the overarching umbrella that covers each genre (and its accompanying game), much like the general term Sports covers various groups that fall under it, i.e. baseball, football, soccer, et al.

The 1990s saw the inception of the ability to play other people across the world via the Internet and marked the beginning of what we know as modern eSports. During this time of home internet and the emerging LAN center, you had the games that started the competitive gaming scene such as Quake®, Counter Strike®, and Warcraft®. Over twenty years later, these three titles are holding competitions around the globe that award hundreds of thousands of dollars to gamers trying to prove that they are the best at their chosen profession.

That’s right, it is indeed a profession for the gamers that weigh the options on going to an event, rack up the airline miles, and travel the globe as a world warrior. These men and women spend their days training to perform sometimes in front of a couple hundred up to tens of thousands of screaming fans cheering and jeering their every mouse click, their every button press, and their every win or loss.

Just like all forms of professional sports, eSports has dramatically changed the way that it is presented and covered in a relatively short timeframe. It wasn’t but a few years ago that the only way you’d see the Finals of an event like Evolution®, The International®, or the League of Legends® World Championship was by going to your computer and watching it through a site like Twitch or another lesser-known application. Today, you can see these same events on ESPN, Disney, ABC, and even in-person at arenas such as the Barclays Center, Key Arena, Staples Center, or even Madison Square Garden.

While the eSports scene encompasses numerous titles, there are some you should truly know: Street Fighter V®, DOTA 2®, League of Legends®, Overwatch®, Counter Strike: Global Offensive®, and Starcraft 2®. Notably, the current eSports title that’s draining your data plan while having your child do nonsensical dance moves is Fortnite Battle Royale®. Each of these eSports represents their own community, with their own fans, and their own language.

My advice? Spend a day looking up the aforementioned titles and watch an event or two in order to understand the way in which the game is played and discover if it’s something you’re into. Remember, just because you enjoy football, doesn’t mean you’ll like baseball. With so many options, eSports is the same, but maybe you just might become a fan of our very own Houston Outlaws and Overwatch. 

Houston's eSports Scene

If you are into eSports, what's going down in Houston?

Over the past couple years, Houston has really become a leader in the eSports community. The Houston-based Clutch Gaming is a team in probably the most popular eSport, League of Legends, playing in the League Championship Series (LCS). Additionally, Houston has an Overwatch team, The Houston Outlaws, who just finished the inaugural season in the Overwatch League (OWL). 

League Championship Series – Clutch Gaming

Prior to 2018, the League Championship Series (LCS) was an open league similar in style to England’s most popular soccer league, the English Premier League, which relegates the worst teams to a lesser division.

Starting with the Spring Split (season) in 2018, the League of Legends developer, Riot Games, decided to franchise the league’s teams and move toward a more American sport league style. This move incentivized investment into the sport and created a market where teams would be operated out of a city.

Bursting into the LCS in 2018, Clutch Gaming (owned by Tillman Fertitta) is one of several North  American LCS teams affiliated with the NBA. In one of the more interesting intros into the LCS, Clutch turned in an average regular season, beating the teams they were predicted to beat and losing to the teams that were projected to beat them. They did squeak into the playoffs and ended up matched against the LCS perennial favorites Team Solo Mid (TSM), in the quarterfinals.

TSM, who has more wins in the LCS than most teams have appearances, had never missed an LCS final;  they handily won the first game of five. Then one of the biggest upsets in the history of the LCS  happened: Clutch won three straight and was the first team to keep TSM from making the LCS Finals.  After falling in the Spring Semi-Finals in five games, Clutch was supposed to be an up-and-coming team in the Summer Split.

However, Clutch never seemed to get going in the split, appeared generally indecisive, and lost on the new popular style of play, commonly referred to as meta. After firing their coach mid-season, and being eliminated from playing in the World Championships, Clutch enters the offseason looking for answers. Who will be the new coach? What lineup changes are there in store before the spring split? At least it will be an interesting offseason.

Overwatch League – Houston Outlaws

The Overwatch League is a relatively new addition to eSports; 2018 was the inaugural season. Twelve franchised teams around the world compete in this six-vs-six objective-based shooter. Owned by an eSport conglomerate, Optic Gaming, the Outlaws represent Houston. The Houston Outlaws played really well in the first stage of the season, finishing in second place.

The meta shifted towards a more aggressive style in stages 2 and 3, and the Outlaws struggled to keep up. They seemed to get it together a bit more in stage 4 by making a roster change, but it was too little too late. The top six teams make the postseason, and the Outlaws finished in seventh place. Hopefully, with some more roster building and more practice during the offseason, the Houston Outlaws will give us something else to cheer about in Houston.