Dec 29 2013 - 2:00 pm

Chris Gonzalez is better than you (and the world) at fighting games

This was the biggest year ever for eSports
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

This was the biggest year ever for eSports. Competitive gaming has more players, a bigger audience, and a brighter future than ever before. Over a period of 10 days, the Daily Dot will profile people who've fueled this unprecedented growth, from top players to industry visionaries. 

In earlier pieces, we looked at Cosmo Wright, the king of speedrunnning, and Leage of Legends star so good his nickname is simply "God." Today, we're introducing you to Chris Gonzalez, the best fighting game player alive.

...

You can call him Chris Gonzalez. But, at this point, Chris Genius might be more fitting.

No gamer has won as many tournaments this year as Gonzalez, who has taken home over three dozen medals at big fighting game tournaments across multiple games. He plays about 10 games at a world class level, a number that no one else comes close to.

And ever since that famous StarCraft curmudgeon Greg “Idra” Fields, no other American champion has simultaneously been such a villain and hero to so many people.

Competitively, this has been an all-time great year for Gonzalez. In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he’s been close to unstoppable. His Twitter feed might be mistaken for a jewelry store for all the gold he posts after major tournaments.

Unlike some pro gamers, Gonzalez is not afraid to speak his mind. He regularly and loudly voices his discontent—especially about the fact that fighting game champions are not financially rewarded for their talent and hard work in the same way that League of Legends or StarCraft players are. He has no qualms about calling out the Evolution Champion Series, the de-facto world championships of fighting games and one of the most beloved tournaments in the world.

“Before I really wanted to win Evo, but now it's just like I don't even want to be there," Gonzalez said last month at a tournament in Detroit. “I just don't like what it represents. I don't like the fact that you try so hard throughout the whole year to not really get anything."

But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re compiling reasons why Gonzalez is often perceived as a villain, the list is extensive. As anyone familiar with the New York Yankees or Manchester United knows, domination breeds contempt. And calling out an eSports institution like Evo has won him more enemies than friends.

In April, he was was twice accused of throwing matches by fans and players alike. Later, he became entangled in a Twitter fight with Evolution Championship Series cofounder Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar. Gonzalez publically called Cuellar a “faggot.” He deleted the tweet and then, inexplicably, said he stood behind what he’d said. One wonders, if Gonzalez was able to control his temper, would he be getting paid the salary he feels he deserves from a wealthier eSports organization?

But we're not interested in profiling the nice or the most PC people in eSports. There’s no denying that Gonzalez’s in-game talent has earned him a whole lot of attention. His antics outside the game have garnered a ton of press as well. People find a lot to love and hate about the man they call Christ Geezus. But few find any reason to doubt that his reign is anything less than extraordinary.

Photo via FingerCramp/YouTube

Today - 7:48 pm

Build the next SKT in this LoL manager game

LOL GM gives you the chance to manage a professional League of Legends team.
Connor Smith
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

For many League of Legends fans, debating the latest roster changes and managerial hires is almost second nature.

The tongue-in-cheek idea that redditors are the real experts became so popular it spawned an ill-fated attempt to buy and operate a team based on the community’s whims. “Team Reddit” failed due to the logistical nightmares of crowdfunding an actual esports organization. But the initial progress showed many wanted to be more involved with the managerial side of esports.

They might not be managers of a real team, but now fans have a chance to play as one. LOL GM, a free general manager simulator where players pick a team, assemble rosters, and balance budgets in order to further their esports dynasty. Reddit user /u/MyCoder, who asked to keep his real name off the record, developed the game—along with several other sports management games—with help from the source code of a Basketball GM simulator.

MyCoder began developing manager games after he asked the creator of Basketball GM if he could create similar games for other sports. After he created games for baseball, football, and college basketball, a Reddit user came to him and suggested League.

He reached out to the League subreddit in September 2015 and gauged interest. His post received 1,000 upvotes and a lot of interest. Although this wasn’t MyCoder’s first GM project, he understood an esports management game would bring its own unique challenges.

“When you first think about it, you have to wrap your head around it because it's kind of a new thing,” he said. “The first thing I did was just think of the attributes that mattered. Once you got those down, you started thinking how those feed into performance in the game to create the simulation. Once you have that down, it pretty much flows like any other sport.”

These attributes became the core of the game, like overall skill, potential, and how a player can invest in analysts and coaches to maximize the team’s abilities.

The developer had lots of help from the community. Reddit user /u/AvenirGG, who convinced him to develop the League-inspired game, made a subreddit for the game, which drove discussion toward improving it. The first release came in December 2015, but the community helped push constant updates every day.

MyCoder, who by his own admission was "relatively new" to MOBAs, said the subreddit was essential in helping make sure he didn't miss "obvious things."

“When people are playing, things just jump out at them that are really crucial and that you can fix,” he said. “I ended up polishing everything... I made the game simulation more accurate and polished the free-agency aspect and the game in general.”

The player begins by selecting a region, team, and adjusting the patch settings. The base game uses imaginary team names like “Faith Gaming” and “Sky10.” But several users helped create custom file packs for players to modify the game with actual LCS team names and pro players.

According to the developer, team insiders also helped shed light on actual team’s expenses, losses, and profits, in order to improve the realism of the game.

While the goal for a manager is to win every year, MyCoder says the difficulty varies based on the starting team.

“In League of Legends, it's very top-heavy,” he said. “The best teams usually get the best players, so it should be extremely difficult to be a bad team and get good. You don't really have an advantage over the good teams. Why would these teams want to play with you when they can go to the team that just won the championship that's missing a player?”

MyCoder says the key to a successful future is investing in young players with high potential scores and develop them in the years to come.

“Keep (young players) with you for three years and hope they turn into something good,” he said “That's the general approach. You can do some trading around that to try and speed up things.”

The refined engine works well, and the game often rewards calculated strategies. Still, the developer does see ways to improve it.

“The main roadblock is user interface,” he said. “The game itself, if you compare it to other ‘manager’ games that are actually on Steam, is probably better than anything that's on Steam right now. It's just the user interface that needs an overhaul.”

Better UI could also include a tutorial or advisor, which would make the game easier to digest. The developer also wants to improve the “game” inside the game.

“The general manager is primarily with roster construction,” MyCoder said. “Free-agency, trading and the draft—if you had it. Then there's also a coach that handles the game-to-game management. The whole coach side is what could really be expanded. Give a lot more control over the actual game and the strategy. That's just the natural progression of where it would go.”

Whether you want to forge the next esports dynasty or are just looking for something to pass the time, LOL GM is a fun and free way to explore the endless possibilities of esports management—without the scams and financial risks of the real deal.


Today - 4:30 pm

Overwatch Winter Premiere will conclude at PAX South

The live finals will be held in San Antonio, Texas on Jan. 27.
Nicole Carpenter
Dot Esports
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

After weeks of qualifiers and group stages, Next Generation Esports' Overwatch Winter Premiere will see its end at PAX South.

Four of the six teams still in the tournament's second group phase will move on to the $100,000 grand finals in San Antonio, Texas on Jan. 27. The tournament finals will be held at the gaming festival's PAX Arena in partnership with streaming service Twitch.

Two days of group play remain, and will determine which teams make it to San Antonio. Immortals and Kungarna both saw success in the first day of the round of six, with Immortals defeating Detroit Renegades 2-1 and Kungarna 2-0'ing Luminosity Gaming—though Kungarna did later fall 2-0 to Team Liquid. With two days left and 10 match-ups to go, nothing is certain just yet.

Kungarna, however, is confident that they'll make it out of groups. The only unsigned team left in the Overwatch Winter Premiere, Kungarna doesn't have the financial backing other teams have. But even so, they've already invested in official jerseys to wear at the live finals, Alex "Ajax" Jackson said in a post-game interview with NGE.

"The Winter Premiere was designed to highlight the best talent of Overwatch in North America," NGE CEO Andy Vander Woude said in a statement. "It's only fitting to bring these all-star teams to the PAX Arena stage, where their effort and talent can be celebrated by an even wider audience."

Should Kungarna make it to San Antonio, it's unlikely they'll be using those jerseys for long. Being featured on such a major stage increases the likelihood of the roster getting picked up by a major esports organization.

The single elimination finals bracket begins Jan. 27 and will be broadcast live on both the PAX Arena and NGE Overwatch Twitch channels.