Aug 4 2016 - 11:02 pm

Is ESL using fan votes to give a free tournament spot to Virtus Pro?

Eight Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams are currently fighting tooth and nail for a spot in the upcoming season of the ESL Pro League, but instead of duking it out in-game, they’re battling via social media
Josh Raven
Dot Esports

Eight Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams are currently fighting tooth and nail for a spot in the upcoming season of the ESL Pro League, but instead of duking it out in-game, they’re battling via social media.

One team each from North America and Europe will receive a wildcard spot in the tournament, with ESL implementing a fan vote in the decision process. The European teams vying for a spot include Virtus Pro, ENCE, Godsent, and Gambit Gaming. Meanwhile, Luminosity Gaming, Team SoloMid, Echo Fox, and Team Kaliber are battling it out for the North American slot.

The two teams that receive the most votes for each region will face off in a best-of-three decider, with the winner taking the wildcard spot. At the very least, there is some form of actual in-game competition playing a part here. Unfortunately, four of these eight teams will be denied a chance to even fight for the spot, based solely on votes cast by CS:GO fans.

There’s no doubt that Virtus Pro and their army of fans, which is much larger than any of the other team's fan bases by a huge margin, will secure a spot in the European decider. ENCE seems to have garnered the neutrals with its ‘EZ4ENCE’ motto, but there remains hope for Godsent, the Swedish vote, and Gambit Gaming, which have had successes recently in competitions.

Unfortunately, four of these eight teams will be denied a chance to even fight for the spot, based solely on votes cast by CS:GO fans.

North America seems fairly clear-cut in the sense that SoloMid and Echo Fox should have the vote wrapped up. It’s basically Rick Fox and one of the biggest esports organizations in the west against Luminosity, which recently replaced its immensely popular side with an unknown set of Brazilians, and a Team Kaliber that only the most avid followers of North American CS:GO would be aware of. Unfortunately for the Team Kaliber squad, I don’t see their bid for Pro League working out this time.

Fans and active community members have already accused ESL of using the vote to ensure that TBS’ ELEAGUE champions and ESL One Cologne semifinalists Virtus Pro remain in the league. This is despite the fact that the Polish side was relegated last season after a 4-18 performance and a 2-1 defeat to Penta Sports in the promotion match. Including them makes sense, Virtus Pro are one of the best teams in the world, but not in an online setting. Participating would ensure much higher interest in the league, along with bigger viewing numbers across the board.

I’m not blaming Virtus for not giving much thought to these online leagues. Many players have come out and said they need a break from competition, both online and offline. After all, if teams can continue to put in outstanding performances at the major events, then why should they care? But let’s let the teams that are willing to put in the effort fight for that spot. I’d watch a Godsent giving 100 percent over a Virtus giving 50 percent any day of the week.

Ultimately, it’s not their fault that they’re included in the fan vote and will most likely win. ESL made the choice to include them, to even make the fan vote in the first place. Of course, Virtus will play the decider and potentially regain their spot in the league. And really that’s not the issue here, had the qualification process been fair.

This is not the first time ESL has held fan votes for its tournaments. Many of its previous League of Legends events had the same process for including teams in the tournament. Unicorns of Love famously won an invitation to IEM San Jose last year. Expected to flop, they managed to net second place, and $11,000.

Esports isn’t the fun little pastime it used to be... It’s a serious industry that pays out millions to competitors each year.

That may not be much in terms of esports prize pots these days, but this isn’t a fun, mid-season event for teams to experiment in. The ESL Pro League offered $200,000 to the first place team last season. Top eight granted $31,000, a full $20,000 more than that IEM San Jose tournament. This is one of the highest-paying tournaments in the scene. Yet part of the process for deciding who participates is down to the audience.

Esports isn’t the fun little pastime it used to be, when teams could win a couple thousand here and there at the upper echelon and some mousepads at the lowest. It’s a serious industry that pays out millions to competitors each year. Sure, for your off-season ‘fun’ events, go ahead, let the fans choose who they want to see. But for the second-highest paying league in the circuit, that is simply ridiculous.

This isn’t to say I don’t see the hole ESL is stuck in. Pro League is approaching rapidly, and ESL need to fill that final spot in each league before the season gets underway. Collectively, the teams decided that the first two weeks of August—immediately after ESL One Cologne and the finale of ELEAGUE—would be time off. Yet only one or two of these teams participated in the closing stages of those tournaments. Gambit Gaming reached the top eight of ESL One Cologne, a total of four maps played. Virtus Pro reached the top four of ESL One Cologne, and won ELEAGUE, a total of 13 maps. A break certainly suits them over the others, with the decider down to a fan vote and not more games.

Since the two poll winners will be facing off anyway, ESL would be better off drawing a random bracket between the four teams and having them play for the spot. Like a qualifier for a major international tournament.

This move from ESL seems to be yet another attempt to keep Virtus Pro in the league. Changing the rules last year to give them another shot at remaining didn’t work, and now ESL is very much aware that the team will win the fan vote. Bolstering viewing figures and keeping the large Virtus fan base watching is the goal here. Now it’ll just be hoping that the team doesn’t botch its second lifeline.

Today - 4:42 pm

Ambitious CS:GO mod aims to capture the spirit of the Wild West

Did someone say Classic Offensive?
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Screengrab via JarroRus/YouTube

Two ambitious Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players want to take the game in a whole new direction.

Going by the names Jarro and CTX, this successful modding duo (who have released popular custom maps in the past), are looking at developing a fully functional and expansive add-on centered around the Wild West. This will be based on the foundation of Valve's extremely popular first-person shooter title CS:GO. Complete with brand new features such as combat on horseback as well as larger maps, the two developers have taken to crowdfunding in order to guarantee that CS:GO Western Add-on, as they have dubbed the mod, will be released within the next 6-8 weeks.

While the team's crowdfunding campaign is set at $1,000, Jarre and CTX have also set two other campaign goals at $400 and $700. The first two goals are centered primarily around necessary features such as dedicated servers for constant game testing, and introducing more unique assets and expansive maps to the mod.

If the two developers reach their crowdfunding goals, the mod will be completely free of charge and distributed via the Steam Workshop. Valve encourages enthusiasts and modders to produce their own custom games based off of the company's intellectual property. The most notable example being Counter-Strike itself, which started out as a mod of Valve's inaugural title in the Half-Life franchise.

For the time being, the mod is looking to feature three separate game modes: A standard player vs. player mode, team-based hostage scenarios, and finally a linear game play map featuring cut scenes and co-op game play.

If the wait for Red Dead Redemption 2 and the second season of Westworld is killing you, the Western Add-on should keep you occupied until then.

Jan 15 2017 - 8:00 pm

FlipSid3 take home DreamHack Leipzig title

The team didn't drop a single map throughout the tournament.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

Flipsid3 Tactics claimed the biggest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive title in the organization's history, dominating their opponents at DreamHack Leipzig.

Without dropping a single map throughout the event, FlipSid3 emerged as champions of DreamHack Leipzig after a convincing 2-0 victory in the event's grand finals. But despite its impressive record the team, which features CS 1.6 legend Yegor "markeloff" Markelov, did struggle at certain points throughout the final series against crowd favorites BIG.

While the German favorites were able to take eleven rounds in both maps of the series, FlipSid3 were always one step ahead. This was particularly obvious in regards to the team's latest recruit, Denis "electronic" Sharipov. The Russian player dominated in terms of statistics, as he tallied the highest number of kills in the grand final, earning him an ADR (Average Damage per Round) of 102.

While FlipSid3 finally taking home an international LAN is a big story in and of itself, BIG's performance at the event is almost an equally as notable achievement.

Having only assembled the roster on Jan. 2, DreamHack Leipzig was BIG's LAN debut. The roster, which contains names such as in-game leader Faith "gob b" Dayik and recent AWP star Kevin "keev" Bartholomäus impressed throughout the tournament. The team's 0-2 defeat against FlipSid3 was far from one-sided, as BIG were consistently able to impress against the Eastern European team.

BIG had upset Group A winners Heroic in the semifinals, taking a 2-1 victory, while Flipsid3 had swept aside the challenge of French side LDLC.

Flipsid3 will look to carry this momentum into next week's $1 million ELEAGUE Major, where they will face FaZe Clan in their first swiss stage clash.

Despite not being the most competitive event, DreamHack Leipzig brought a considerable amount of excitement and has already set 2017 off to a flying start.