Jul 25 2016 - 9:30 pm

LGD Gaming to play at TI6 without September

Valve’s $18 million Dota 2 event, the International 6, is less than two weeks away, and visa issues are a problem once again, with Chinese roster LGD Gaming announcing that one of its players will not be able to attend
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports

Valve’s $18 million Dota 2 event, the International 6, is less than two weeks away, and visa issues are a problem once again, with Chinese roster LGD Gaming announcing that one of its players will not be able to attend.

Xue "September" Zhichuan, one of LGD’s support players, was not able to secure a visa in time for the event on Aug. 3, effectively reducing the squad to four starters. Fortunately for the Manila Major semifinalists, the team’s coach Wang "Banana" Jiao will be filling in for September during their campaign in Seattle.

The situation is not favorable for LGD by any means, but the team is fortunate to have a veteran like Banana amidst their ranks. This is primarily due to the fact that, aside from acting as the roster’s coach, he is also listed as an official substitute player for LGD. Had he not been a part of the roster in such a capacity, the odds are that he wouldn’t have been allowed to compete at the International due to Valve’s strenuous roster lock, which has punished last-minute roster substitutions in the past by stripping teams of their invitation.

Banana is also a former champion of the International, a feat he accomplished with current LGD captain Zhang “xiao8” Ning in 2014. Realistically, however, the omission of September could affect the team’s performance rather drastically. This would be a sad conclusion for LGD given that they were one of the obvious picks from the East to do well at Valve’s flagship event given their recent performances against international and domestic opposition.

LGD are not the only team plagued by visa issues, two teams based in the Philippines are also struggling to make the International 6 after their original applications were denied. Both teams are in the process of putting together a second round of applications, but this time they’re not doing it alone, instead aided by Philippine senator Bam Aquino.

Today - 5:28 pm

Combo Breaker announcement may imply the end of auto-qualifiers for Capcom Pro Tour

Capcom may be trying to simplify its 2017 Pro Tour.
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports
Image via Capcom

A big change is coming to the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour, but yesterday's announcement may have hinted at an even larger change—a possible end to players winning automatic qualification into the Capcom Cup through Premier events.

The Street Fighter V tournament at Combo Breaker is being upgraded to a Premier event for the 2017 Pro Tour, Capcom announced via Twitter. The event, which will take place in the Chicago area over Memorial Day weekend, served as a Ranking event in 2015 and 2016. Its spiritual predecessor, the Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament, filled the same role in 2014.

Premier events award more Capcom Pro Tour points to top performers compared to Ranking events. A yet-to-be-announced number of the season's top points earners will earn a spot in the Capcom Cup, the season's championship event. Premier events also offer a Capcom-provided pot bonus. The figure has not yet been confirmed by Capcom, but it is believed to be $15,000.

In previous years, a player who won a Premier event received an automatic berth in that season's Capcom Cup. Thursday's announcement, however, may have implied that this is no longer the case.

An update on Combo Breaker's website stated that placing well at the event "will earn you valuable ranking points that put you well on your way to qualifying for the Capcom Cup!"

Notably, the statement makes no mention of an automatic berth into the Capcom Cup, something that every Premier event winner has been awarded since the Pro Tour's founding in 2014.

The statement does not necessarily confirm that auto-qualification into the Capcom Cup has been eliminated. It does, however, fall in line with statements made by Capcom esports director Neidel Crisan. In conversations with both Yahoo! Esports and EventHubs late last year, Crisan mentioned the possibility of eliminating auto-qualification berths in order to simplify the qualifying process.

A player had three ways to qualify for the Capcom Cup in 2016; winning a Premier event, placing high in the global Pro Tour points standings, or placing high in each region's Pro Tour points standings. The system confused fans, commentators, and players alike.

We may not know how qualification for the Capcom Cup will work in 2017, but we do know that the tour itself will look a bit different than it has in previous years.

Combo Breaker will presumably fill a gap left by Stunfest, a French gaming convention that that served as a Premier event on the Pro Tour in each of the last two years. Organizers of that event announced a "pause" for the convention late last year with plans to return in 2018.

The tour will also be without Cannes Winter Clash, the other French event that was part of the 2016 tour. Organizers of that event, which will take place during the last weekend in February, announced the change last week in a Reddit post. The event had served as the Pro Tour's season opener in both 2015 and 2016.

"Obviously with Cannes and Stunfest out there will need to be at least one French replacement event," Samad "Damascus" Abdessadki, a competitor and commentator who is involved in the organization of the Cannes Winter Clash, told Dot Esports. "[Capcom] can't leave France out of [the Capcom Pro Tour] when it's arguably the biggest community in Europe - and maybe [the] strongest."

France is the only European country that has sent two players to the Capcom Cup in each of the last two years. It is also home to Olivier "Luffy" Hay, the only player from outside of Asia to win a Street Fighter IV Evo title.

One event that will return is Final Round. On Wednesday, Capcom announced that Final Round will serve as the first Premier event of the season for the fourth straight year. That event, now in its 20th year, will take place in Atlanta during the second weekend of March.

Capcom will announce full details of the 2017 Pro Tour in late February.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has worked as part of the volunteer staff at Combo Breaker/Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament since 2014.

Today - 5:58 pm

Why one of sports' largest executive search firms is moving into esports

The search firm is looking at pairing seasoned executives with esports franchises.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Riot Games | Remix by William Copus

One of North America's largest executive search firms will begin offering its services to esports teams.

Prodigy Sports, founded in 2007, is one of the premier services for pairing executives with a wide range of traditional sports teams. Now it's looking at aiding esports teams as well, as Prodigy unveiled its dedicated esports division yesterday.

"Any mature business dedicating resources to esports needs to be able to identify and source leadership like they would for any other area of their organization," Prodigy Sports CEO Scott Carmichael wrote in a press release on the day of the announcement.

In the past few months alone, a considerable amount of non-endemic sponsors and executives have entered the esports industry, many of which Prodigy Sports has worked with .

Little more than a week ago, NBA team Miami Heat announced that it would be entering into a strategic partnership with esports organization Misfits, and in September last year, Team Liquid entered into a similar partnership with aXiomatic, an investment group spearheaded by Golden State Warrior's co-owner Peter Gruber. But despite the unique history and challenges the industry has faced, Carmichael seems convinced that Prodigy can help lead the way forward.

Speaking to Dot Esports, Carmichael explained that he had been paying close attention to esports in the past few years, and realized that when mainstream media began examining the phenomenon, as well as the growing interest the entertainment and sports industries began showing, that Prodigy's move is completely right in time. "I frankly had no choice than to pay attention," Carmichael wrote.

With roughly 10 years worth of experience with executive search, Prodigy Sports has helped some of the biggest traditional North American sports teams and leagues connect with and recruit seasoned executives. Seeing how several of the most established North American sports teams are now branching out into esports, Carmichael is confident that Prodigy Sports' entry into esports will be seamless.

"For any successful organization, in any professional field, but certainly within sports and entertainment, strategic revenue producing executives almost invariably are at the top of the organizational chart. It is with that in mind that we strongly feel that our successes over the past 10 years lend very well to esports, especially as the line between esports and professional sports organizations worldwide becomes more blurred."

Esports has never been as popular as it is currently. Speculated to reach a value of $1 billion by 2019, with a seemingly ever-growing young audience as well as an increasing amount of global companies showing interest, the reality of the situation seems to be that esports has moved past its humble beginnings and is entering its first era of true prosperity.

Issues do still persist within the space, however. Players, teams and on-air talent consistently raise their voices in regards to issues such as fair compensation and conflicts of interest. Carmichael told Dot Esports that one of the many ways he sees the industry moving past such issues is through integration with non-endemic global sponsors and established sports teams taking the business aspect of the industry to the next level.

"In my personal opinion, the further integration with some of the globes’ most valuable sports organizations will continue to rapidly enhance the business of esports and place the industry into the conscientious of a much broader fan base and, as a result, an explosion of exponential revenue potential."

Last year was the biggest in esports history in regards to expansion and proliferation. Now, barely one month into 2017, it's become all the more clear that esports has caught the attention of the entire world.