Jul 15 2014 - 3:21 pm

'Smite' moves one step closer to launching its first pro league

Prize money isn’t everything in esports, but it’s one way to value a competition at a glance
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

Prize money isn’t everything in esports, but it’s one way to value a competition at a glance. It’s a proxy for the level of competition and just how serious the esport really is. Hi-Rez Studio's Smite may not feature the million dollar payouts of some of its contemporaries, but it’s getting close as it quietly builds an esports future.

Smite is the multiplayer online battle arena game that features a third person camera instead of the point-and-click top down view of competitors League of Legends and Dota 2, and while it doesn’t feature those games' massive playerbases, it’s still managing to make its mark in the esports landscape.

This weekend, the first eight teams secured their spots in the Smite Pro League, the culmination of ten weeks of open qualifiers. That puts them one step closer to the big prize: the Smite World Championships, a $600,000 final in January with a prize pool that promises to rise thanks to fan contributions.

The qualification process featured ten weeks of online tournaments, with points awarded based off tournament placements. The top four teams in North America and Europe won their Pro League spots, as well as berths into one of the two upcoming $50,000 Kick Off LANs, small tournaments to celebrate the start of the league season.

In North America, Cognitive Gaming, Dignitas, Snipe, and Cognitive Red made it through the competition. Cognitive Red got a helping hand from their big brothers in the Week 10 Qualifier, as after Five Angry Men beat Red in the quarterfinals, they needed just one win to pass Red in the standings. Cognitive Gaming, though, took Five Angry Men down in the semis.

The European region saw Cloud9 narrowly beat out Launch Tournament champions Team SoloMid for the top seed, but the last two spots were even more contested. Team Coast Blue were just ahead of SK Gaming, and IIIII (if you're wondering, that's pronounced eye five) thanks to placing third in the week 10 qualifier. Despite losing to IIIII in the qualifier, SK Gaming managed to eke through and secure their Pro League spot by ending in a points tie and taking revenge on IIIII in the tiebreaker.

Two more teams will qualify in the Pro League Play-In at the end of this month.

The competitions are part of Hi-Rez Studio’s bid to push Smite as a premiere esports title. The Smite Launch Tournament in April set the stage for a big bet on esports, and the company delivered with an impressive league structure similar to the League Championship Series that’s helped make League of Legends an esports success.

The Smite Pro League will be the centerpiece of that structure, a seven week tournament where six teams in each region will battle. Matches will be broadcast daily, with bigger bouts scheduled for the weekend. The league feeds into two Regional Championships in November, essentially playoffs where two spots at the World Championships will be on the line.

Similar to League, amateur competitions will run alongside the league, with the best performing teams earning a chance to break into the Pro competition. All in all, it’s an exciting time to be a fan of esports—and, increasingly, of Smite.

Screengrab via Smite/YouTube

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 - 9:49 pm

IEM Katowice’s CS:GO tournament is going to be awesome

The final two invites went out today, and the tournament's guaranteed to be exciting.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

The final two teams to be invited to one of the year's biggest events have been announced.

FaZe Clan and Danish soccer club FC Copenhagen's esports venture, North, will be attending IEM Katowice's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finals from Mar. 1-5, ESL announced today. The teams, which showed impressive form towards the end of 2016 at multiple international LAN events, will be competing against some of the best teams in the world.

The two teams are also the last to receive invitations to the event, as four teams will be added after a series of online qualifiers. In total, three more European teams will be attending IEM Katowice, as well as one North American team. With an already-stacked ensemble of teams ready to attend, such as Brazil's SK Gaming, Polish hometown heroes Virtus Pro, and Denmark's top team Astralis, the four teams that will be advancing through the online qualifiers will be making an already-competitive event all the more fierce.

In October 2016, the current North roster, which was signed to Dignitas at the time, took home the $500,000 EPICENTER event in Moscow. Aside from being one of the biggest events of the year, it had all the top teams in the world in attendance. Since then, however, North has struggled to live up to the expectations placed upon them, and have recently fallen short at nearly all events they have attended since.

The opposite can be said about FaZe, since the team picked up former Astralis in-game leader Finn "Karrigan" Andersen. Since Karrigan's arrival, FaZe have had their best results since the team's inception, and have looked stronger at each event they have attended.

Taking place roughly one month after the ELEAGUE Major, which begins on Jan. 22, IEM Katowice will likely be the debut tournament of several new rosters—so make sure to keep an eye on what could be one of the biggest CS:GO events of the year.