ELEAGUE Group C Review

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One of the five gods in fighting games in Japan and our own Fighting Fox, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi took the stage in ELEAGUE Group C, named the “Group of Death” by many competitors. Tokido faced solid opponents including Xian, MOV, FChamp, Wolfkrone, and Fuudo.

Tokido’s first opponent was Razer’s Xian. Xian mostly played F.A.N.G in Street Fighter V’s first season but has swapped to Ibuki for Season 2. The change seems to have worked out for Xian as he won 1st place in Final Round 20. Despite Xian’s previous success, Tokido found a way to defeat him using a strategy focused on Demon Flips. Each time Xian strategized around his Demon Flips, Tokido came back with a counter. After a tough match, Tokido claimed a 3-2 victory.

In Round 2, Tokido faced Splyce’s Ryan “FChamp” Ramirez. FChamp played Dhalsim, a character he has used throughout his career. During this match, FChamp attempted to play a rush-type offense but every time FChamp tried to go aggressive, Tokido retaliated with a V-Reversal or Crush Counter. Tokido also utilized Demon Flips to keep FChamp off his game. Tokido took a 3-1 victory and booked himself a spot in the third round.

Tokido’s next opponent was EVO 2016 runner-up, Keita “Fuudo” Ai. Many journalists have described Fuudo as the best R. Mika player in the world. In the first game, Tokido applied the Demon Flip like his previous matches and won Game 1 using a variation of EX Demon Flip. In Games 2 and 3, Fuudo responded using throws and Nadeshiko. It was an even matchup, but Fuudo was able to adapt to Tokido’s strategies, defeating him 3-1 and sending him to the lower bracket.

Tokido faced Joshua “Wolfkrone” Philpot in the lower bracket. Tokido attempted to use his Demon Flip heavy strategy; but, Wolfkrone read the flips and countered effectively. Throughout the match, Wolfkrone kept the pace up by rushing in and using throws on Tokido. Though Tokido tried to counter Wolfkrone’s offense, the damage coming from Wolfkrone was overwhelming and spelled an end to Tokido’s ELEAGUE run.

In the upper bracket, Fuudo and Xian went toe-to-toe in a close 3-2 series ending with Fuudo advancing to playoffs. Xian was brought to the lower bracket against Wolfkrone for a second chance to advance to playoffs. Like most of Xian’s sets, this one also went to the last game. Wolfkrone used his rush-in offense to take advantage of Xian and defeated him to advance to playoffs.

On May 26, playoffs will start featuring our Fighting Fox Yusuke Momochi. The first opponent on his path to the finals will be Daigo “The Beast” Umehara.

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ELEAGUE Group B Recap

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With NCR finished, Justin Wong set his focus on last week’s ELEAGUE matchups.

The first week of group stage play in ELEAGUE saw Punk advancing to playoffs after defeating Brolynho and Smug. Our Fighting Fox Yusuke Momochi managed to overcome a loss to win two consecutive matches in the lower bracket, earning him the second playoff spot out of Group A.

Justin hoped to join his fellow Fox in the playoffs, but it would not be easy for him. His group contained challenging opponents such as Eita, Daigo Umehara, Gamerbee, Snake Eyez, and his former teammate PR Balrog.

Justin’s first opponent was Gamerbee. In this set, Justin used his signature character Karin against Gamerbee’s Necalli. In the first 2 games, Gamerbee used Necalli’s seismos to go on the offense, which made it difficult for Justin to take the initiative.

At the start of Game 3, Justin started to get the timing of the Gamerbee’s attacks and he used his V-skill to go on the offense. Once Justin filled his V-gauge, he used V-trigger to get in Gamerbee’s face again, but Gamerbee was able to escape by using EX Dragon Punch. Then, Gamerbee used his V-trigger to combo Justin and send him to the lower bracket.

Justin’s next opponent was Eita, who fell to Daigo in his first match.

In Game 1, Justin chose Karin against Eita’s Ken. Eita’s offense was aggressive and overpowered Justin’s defense to take Game 1. Before Game 2, Justin requested to go to player select and selected Chun-Li.

“I have always used Chun Li casually but lately I have been feeling confident with her because I believe she is one of the characters that really fits my playstyle in this version of the game,” Justin stated.

Justin played Chun-Li aggressively, hoping to catch his opponent off guard, but Eita was able to adapt to the new character matchup, taking Game 2. Before Game 3, Justin switched back to Karin. Like Game 1, Eita was aggressive put the pressure on Justin, defeating him and knocking him out of the tournament.

Though Justin did not advance to the playoffs, his performance at ELEAGUE showed the potential of his Chun-Li pick as well as his ability to play more aggressively. Justin commented, “The one thing I can take from facing Gamerbee and Eita is that I need to understand how to start brawling back instead of trying to defend most of the time.”

Later in the evening, PR Balrog advanced to playoffs defeating Eita and Daigo. After losing to PR Balrog in the winner’s bracket finals, Daigo climbed back from the lower bracket to beat Eita again and advance.

Group C will feature another Fighting Fox, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi. Justin’s thoughts on Tokido’s chances in making the playoffs, “Tokido has a really tough bracket but I believe in him because he is one of the 5 Gods of Fighting Games in Japan. He will be ready and be prepared for the matches he will face in the next stage.”

Mark your calendars for May 5 as Group C takes the ELEAGUE stage!

Quarterfinal Preview: P1 vs DIG

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After 9 weeks of the Spring Split, we are at the end to determine the champions of the first half of the 2017 season. It was a grueling season, some saw winning streaks like Cloud9; but, ended up plateauing at the end of the split. Other teams struggled at first to find an identity like Team Dignitas, but finding their stride towards the end of the Spring Split. Either way, this split saw a great parity between teams in the middle of the standings. Usually, there is a tier of teams that would be more imbalanced than the rest of the teams in the LCS such as TSM, C9, and CLG. This split, we saw a change from those tiers, where TSM and C9 are way ahead of the pack. Other teams like CLG, Team Dignitas, FlyQuest, and Immortals placed into the middle tier of the LCS. These playoff series will see competitive games between these teams.

The first series of the quarterfinals will see Phoenix1, who surprised the LCS by dominating teams and placing 2nd at one time. They are a team who looked poised to take over the reigns as the number one team in the LCS from the likes of TSM and C9. Yet, the team struggled against teams like CLG and TSM — going 0-2 from those teams during the split (according to Esportspedia). They also split 1-1 during the split against FLY and DIG, in which most people could see P1 going 2-0. These losses developed a conflict in the team, triggered from Adrian’s infamous pregame interview. To summarize, Adrian stated that Meteos uses his brain, implying Inori does not. Inori responded with an interview by Blitz Esports stating he wants to prove himself to the organization and earn the respect of his teammates again. Shortly after the interview, Team Liquid purchased Adrian’s contract and Phoenix1 signed Stunt to fill Support from Week 7. A team does not make roster moves towards the end of the split due to disrupting team synergy. But, Phoenix1 needed a change before things get out of hand. Luckily, they are still a contending team but other teams should not overlook them moving forward.

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In the quarterfinals, Phoenix1 will face Team Dignitas, who struggled to find an identity at the start of the Spring Split. Before the Spring Split, Team Dignitas acquired an all-star with Ssumday, and a solid jungler with Chaser. Many reporters placed Dignitas to be a top team. But, Team Dignitas lost to top-placed teams like C9 and TSM. But, struggled on winning games against Echo Fox and Immortals. Most critics blamed the losses on team communication, other critics such as Reginald blamed it on team owners buying top-tier Korean talent, and have no idea how to use them. Even so, Team Dignitas had to go through changes in the team to gain the trust with their players. Most people thought they were “packing their bags” for the split and trying to avoid relegations. Xpecial stated in an interview with Yahoo Esports that the team had to be patient and “believe in the process“. It paid off when Cop joined the team as head coach. Since Week 7, Team Dignitas started picking up wins going undefeated until the end of the split. If they continue their dominance, they have a possibility of winning against Phoenix1 and Cloud9.

In the 2 series that Team Dignitas and Phoenix1 had during the Spring Split, they split a series each 1-1. In Week 1, Team Dignitas won the series 2-1. This series marked the NA LCS debut of Ssumday and Chaser. Ssumday dominated zig in the top lane with a tank Maokai in Game 1 then played a carry top with Fiora in Game 3. Keane and LOD also helped carry the team to victory. All together, they cumulated 45 kills, 16 deaths, and 60 assists. In Game 1 and 3, Team Dignitas won the game in about 37 minutes on average. In Game 2 in which Phoenix1 won, they played a drawn out game and completed it in 52 minutes. Team Dignitas also held over a 10k difference in gold for both games that they won. Phoenix1 held a 4.4k gold difference in the only game they won. In Game 2, Phoenix1 had great vision throughout with 219 placed wards. In the games they lost, they only placed 136 for each game.

In the 2nd series on Week 6, Phoenix1 won the series 1-1. In the weeks leading up to their rematch, Team Dignitas struggled to win games; but, won games in Week 5 against FlyQuest and Team Liquid. Phoenix1 won games in Weeks 2 and 3 until they met TSM in Week 3. From there, Phoenix1 were not as dominant as they were and carried a 5-3 record leading up to Week 6 against Team Dignitas. In the last series, Ssumday, Keane, and LOD played exceptional. But, during this series, they were not as effective. Together, they got 17 kills, 21 deaths, and 30 assists. Their kill difference lowered from the previous series. The highlight was not the amount of deaths increasing; but, they had half of the amount of assists. Thus, kill participation for those 3 was not a big factor for Team Dignitas, in which Phoenix1 was able to capitalize and win games. Ryu played a big factor in Phoenix1’s victory, holding similar score lines of 6 kills and 1 death, and dealt the most damage for Phoenix1. In this series, time did not play a factor in Phoenix1’s victory as all the games beside Game 1 finished under 30 minutes — Game 1 finished in 34 minutes 47 seconds. Also, gold difference was not a significant stat in this series as Games 1 and 2 had about an 8k difference, but Game 3 had a 16k gold difference due to the early lead from Phoenix1. Three minutes into Game 3 and Phoenix1 snowballed as time progressed, leading to a win. Phoenix1 learned from their previous series is when they play a good macro game against Team Dignitas, they have a good probability in winning. In this series, they did a good job in placing wards throughout the series, placing 10 more wards than Team Dignitas in Games 1 and 3. They also did not let Team Dignitas destroy their inner towers in Games 1 and 3.

For Phoenix1 to win the series against Team Dignitas they have to continue playing a macro game. Placing wards, vision control, and taking down towers will be the winning factors. But, if Phoenix1 decides to play Meteos in the jungle, I can see the team working around Meteos. They won’t need much vision control as Meteos has good presence in the jungle and can keep Chaser in check. So, ganks from Meteos can appear out of nowhere if Dignitas still has a problem with ward placement from their previous two series.

But, Team Dignitas can win by feeding Keane and LOD. Lately, they did not rely on Ssumday with carrying, but he’s been tanking. This helped Keane and LOD pick up kills on the opposing teams, and the team was able to snowball to wins.

This weekend will mark Phoenix1’s first appearance in the NA LCS playoffs. Whereas, Team Dignitas has not seen an appearance in the NA LCS playoffs since the 2015 Summer Playoffs where they got swept by Team Impulse. Both teams have something to prove to the rest of the LCS teams, their sponsors, and their organization. Both teams will have a good showdown this weekend and can be watched here.

Make Starcraft Great Again

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Over 10 years ago, Starcraft: Brood War spawned a following in North America and an even bigger following in South Korea. Esports at this time was small in comparison to today. However, in South Korea, Brood War established and helped grow the esports scene to what it is today. Thousands of people attended MSL and OSL to watch the likes of Flash, Jaedong, Bisu, and Stork play. The aura of these players not only reached throughout South Korea but reached stateside in North America. The popularity of Starcraft was increasing throughout the world on the heels of Starcraft 2’s release in 2010.

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After Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty’s release, Brood War was still a beloved game in South Korea. It was still the top game in PC bangs, before the rise in popularity of League of Legends. SC2 was rising in popularity with the majority of support from its community. In 2012, Blizzard announced KeSPA and OnGameNet are allowed to broadcast SC2 tournaments. SC2 was officially recognized as a KeSPA game. Proleague was going to transition to SC2 only, leaving Brood War behind. In turn, the OSL and MSL folded in 2012 and all the Brood War pros transitioned to SC2 also. Some players found success in SC2 such as Flash, Jaedong, Soulkey, and InNoVation. Others were forced to retire from the professional scene as Brood War was near extinct, although it was still popular in PC bangs. Blizzard was banking on SC2 being the next Brood War, not only being huge in popularity in South Korea, but also worldwide. However, their dreams were destructed and SC2 took a backseat to games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. SC2 does not have the following that it once had 5 years ago. However, the game lives on through the GSL, WCS, and IEM.

With the popularity of League of Legends going for over 5 years, Blizzard tried to ride on its success with titles such as Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and recently, Overwatch. While Overwatch is still in its infancy, the other games did not reach the popularity that Starcraft once had. Recently, Brood War had a resurgence in its professional scene with the ASL airing on Afreeca or on the GSL channel on Twitch. In Season 1 of the ASL, Shuttle (formerly of STX SouL) earned the championship taking down Sharp. In Season 2, we saw the return of Flash, Jaedong, Bisu, Stork, and Soulkey to name a few. At the end of the Season 2, Flash (formerly of KT Rolster) was hailed champion once again defeating Sea. During the championship finals, the ASL drew over 20,000 viewers, a viewer number that Starcraft has not seen since Blizzcon. Since then, the ASL held a Proleague-type season called ASL Team Battle which crowned Team GuemChi (GuemChi, Soulkey, PianO) as champions defeating the titans known as Team Flash (Flash, Last, Rain).

The rejuvenation of Brood War sparked a bulb within Blizzard. Last weekend during the I ❤ Starcraft event, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announced Starcraft: Remastered, a modernized version of the classic game. Features include:

  • Widescreen 4K Ultra HD Resolution
  • Classic StarCraft Gameplay Remains Untouched
  • New Illustrations Enhance Original Story
  • More than 50 Single-Player Missions
  • Plugged into Blizzard’s Gaming Network
  • Cloud Saves for Campaign, Custom Maps, Replays, and Keybinds
  • Localized in 13 languages

To prepare for the release, Brood War will be patched for bug fixes and improvements like Observer Mode, anti-cheat measures, and compatibility with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. Additionally, Yahoo Esports sat with Pete Stilwell, Senior Producer of Classic Games at Blizzard to discuss Starcraft: Remastered. Stilwell revealed that they started production about a year ago. He also mentioned that a number of people who worked on the original Starcraft are still employed with Blizzard, including Lead Artist Brian Sousa, and helped with art for Starcraft: Remastered.

While I do not think Blizzard is trying to find their place in esports, they are trying to solidify a game that would be able to compete with Dota 2, League of Legends, and CS:GO in the next 5 to 10 years. Brood War will take a year or two to re-cement its professional scene, due to the mishandling of SC2 and WCS. However, the rate at which it should grow should be fast because of nostalgia and support from Blizzard. If Brood War can reach heights that it once had, I believe that ceiling can be broken and other Blizzard esports will be able to build on that success. In the meantime, Starcraft: Remastered is building on a lot of hype since the announcement. Blizzard needs to capitalize on its hype and show their support for the game and players once the game is released.