Jul 26 2014 - 10:43 pm

Underdog SK Gaming wins Smite Pro League Kickoff

SK Gaming wasn’t supposed to be here
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

SK Gaming wasn’t supposed to be here. They qualified for the Smite Pro League—and, by proxy, the $50,000 Smite Pro League Kickoff event this weekend—by the skin of their teeth. But now SK Gaming will enter the Pro League as champions of the kickoff tournament.

The final Smite Pro League (SPL) qualifier was a nightmare for SK Gaming. They lost to IIIII, their closest competitor, putting IIIII just one win away from qualifying and leaving SK Gaming outside of the SPL. But Team Coast did SK Gaming a favor and beat IIIII, putting that team into a tie with SK Gaming. And SK Gaming wouldn't blow their second chance, winning the tiebreaker against IIIII to earn a spot in the SPL and an appearance at the European SPL Kickoff event this weekend at the Electronic Sports League studio in Cologne, Germany.

It was an unlikely road to the tournament. Almost as unlikely, perhaps, as SK Gaming's run to the championship. SK Gaming won the event by taking down the top seed Cloud9 and the team who helped them qualify, Coast, turning the massive underdogs into champions.

SK Gaming did it with an MVP performance by jungler Joakim “Zyrhoes” Verngren. Against Cloud9 in the semifinals, he put together a 11/2/21 KDA line while sweeping the series in two games. It was a bit of revenge for the SK squad. After a disappointing finish at the launch tournament, Cloud9 rebuilt their roster by taking top talent from other teams, including former SK solo laner Gregor “EnQu” Rudolf.

That led to the finals, where Verngren’s play became the story of the tournament. After dropping the first map, SK Gaming powered ahead thanks to Verngren’s secret weapon: Thanatos, the Hand of Death, a rarely played jungle god due to his weak late game.

But that didn’t stop Verngren or SK Gaming. Thanatos’ Verngren lived up to his billing as a god of death. He put up a 12/3/10 KDA line, participating in all but two of his team’s 24 kills.

The next game Verngren only put up a 3/4/11 KDA, but it was enough to pull SK Gaming ahead early and take a 2-1 series lead.

Team Coast would take Thanatos off the board in the next game, an unthinkable respect ban. It’d allow them to tie the series, but in the deciding game, SK managed to take the win with another standout performance by Verngren, this time on Nemesis.

It was an impressive win for SK Gaming, and should give them momentum heading into the SPL, set to begin in August.

Based off qualification points, earned through placement in the ten weekly qualifying tournaments leading up to the Kickoff, SK Gaming was a massive underdog. SK only earned 242 points, less than half the totals of favorites Cloud9 at 635 points and Team SoloMid, winners of the $200,000 Smite Launch Tournament earlier this year, with 620 points. Coast took third seed by pulling in 314 points. To put things in perspective, Team SoloMid won four of the ten qualifying tournaments. Cloud9 won three of them. SK Gaming and Coast? Just one each.

But that didn’t stop SK Gaming at the Kickoff event today. Their success shows that the upcoming Smite Pro League won’t be a cakewalk for favorites Cloud9 and Team SoloMid. Both SK Gaming and Team Coast are legitimate contenders to win one of the two spots available for Europe at the Smite World Championships this year and compete for part of its $600,000 prize.

Screengrab via Smitegame/Twitch

Jan 20 2017 - 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.

Jan 20 2017 - 5:37 pm

CompLexity and Luminosity win 11-game thrillers in Trinity Series debuts

The teams took each other to the limit on day two.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via DreamHack

CompLexity Gaming and Luminosity Gaming came out on top during the second matchday of the ESL Trinity Series Hearthstone league—but both teams were taken to the limit.

Luminosity Gaming, with Keaton "Chakki" Gill and Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang playing from China, claimed a 6-5 win over Team Liquid.

After Liquid left the Shaman of Luminosity unbanned, the only team to do so in the four matches of week one, Luminosity fancied their chances. But that Shaman was ineffectual, knocked out by the Druid of Team Liquid as David "Dog" Caero and his teammates piloted the Druid to three straight game wins.

That left Liquid at 5-3 and match point, but Luminosity were able to win a crucial Druid mirror and go on their own streak to take the comeback win.

In the second match of the day the experienced Cloud9 lineup of James "Firebat" Kostesich, Cong "StrifeCro" Shu, and Andrew "TidesofTime" Biessener nearly pulled off a similar comeback.

Cloud9 and CompLexity Gaming traded games back and forth until CompLexity's Reno Mage, driven by Jan "SuperJJ" Janssen, took three straight wins to put them in the same position at 5-3. TidesofTime attempted to reverse the tide with Reno Warlock and fought back to 5-5, but Cloud9 were forced to use their combo pieces early and CompLexity won the match with a Reno Warlock of their own.

After beating Alliance 6-0 in the first match of the tournament, G2 Esports sit atop the table after the first week of games.

Week two will see Alliance take on CompLexity, Luminosity against Tempo Storm, G2 versus Virtus Pro, and Cloud9 will play Team Liquid.