Mar 16 2014 - 3:57 pm

The 6 best streams for watching 'Heroes of the Storm'

Blizzard's attempt to horn-in on the popularity of esports like Dota 2 and League of Legends has finally arrived—albeit in a closed alpha that only a few lucky invitees get to play
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

Blizzard's attempt to horn-in on the popularity of esports like Dota 2 and League of Legends has finally arrived—albeit in a closed alpha that only a few lucky invitees get to play. 

Lucky for us, a lot of these invitees are streaming their games via Twitch.

Here are the five best streams and videos from the first day of Heroes of the Storm.

1) “It’s punting time.”

Here’s something anyone should be able to appreciate.

In HeroesDragon Knights, which take an awful lot of work to awaken, come with the very satisfying ability to punt enemies across the map. If it looks good in the video, know that it feels 100 times better (or worse, if you’re the kicked) in game.

But let’s be honest, what really makes this is DunkTrain’s beautiful post-punt celebration.

2) TotalBiscuit

John “TotalBiscuit” Bain is kind of a big deal. One of the most popular gaming YouTubers in all the land, Bain’s specialty is talking his viewers through new games.

For the past day, he’s brought various friends onto Skype to play cooperative and learn about the new game. This is fun to watch for a few reasons: First, friends play smarter together.

Second, they’re all thinking out loud, which helps a lot when these friends happen to be close enough to Blizzard that they can relay the company’s gameplay advice.

Third, when they mess up, no one is afraid to laugh right in the other person’s ear.

Bain has probably the most popular and educational Heroes stream so far.

3) Squishei

Jeremie “Squishei” Quek, a writer who has been following the game closely since it was announced, has put together a fantastic commentary while playing Zeratul on the Haunted Mines battleground.

When it comes to explaining every point of the new game, Quek does well giving the audience the why and how everything is happening. If you want a real explainer from the front lines, it’s hard to do better than Quek commentary.

4)  KungenTV

Jesper "Kungen" Rundberg is a popular Swedish streamer who previously played League of Legends professionally with TCM Gaming.

He plays alone on his stream but, if you catch the right game, Rundberg can still provide a string of smart insights that can only come from a player with professional experience. He’s a clever player navigating his way through new territory. That’s pretty fun to watch.

5) Khaldor

Thomas “Khaldor” Kilian, a big time StarCraft 2 commentator, has taken a big shine to Heroes of the Storm. He played a marathon nine hour session to mark the alpha’s launch.

Kilian’s stream is great but, better yet, he managed to sit down and give us a bite-sized look at his first impressions of the game. Even for those of us who have played but haven’t leveled all the way up, Kilian gives everyone a great step-by-step look at the leveling system and how Blizzard introduces new players to the game.

6) HuskyStarCraft

Mike “HuskyStarCraft” Lamond and his e-celebrity friends on a five-person Skype call makes for great streaming. As each of the players learns about the game, they’re talking to each other and the viewer, letting us know about the nuances that only constant play can discover.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

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.