CSGO: Katowice Major Top Eight Ranked

After two weeks of competitive Counter-Strike, the knock-out stage of the IEM Katowice 2019 Major is finally upon us. We’ve ranked the surviving teams in order of how likely it is that they will lift the trophy this Sunday.

The Finnish squad has been given the most challenging route to the final and would need to beat two of the top five teams in the world to get there. While ENCE boasts an exciting playstyle and excellent teamwork, they have historically struggled to beat elite teams. While one upset is possible, it is unlikely that they can do it three times.

7. Renegades
Renegades are the weakest team on paper at this stage of the tournament, but an impressive run in the group stage could bode well for the Aussies. They were able to upset FaZe and pushed Astralis to three maps, though a shocking performance in map three indicates that Renegades are likely to struggle now that the best-of-ones are behind us.

6. FaZe Clan
FaZe has shown that they are still capable, but their performances at this major have been undermined by their lack of discipline. If all of their key players perform, FaZe can overcome anyone. All too often though, they fall short of the mark and FaZe were humbled by some much weaker teams in the previous stage.

5. Made In Brazil
MIBR occupy a similar space to FaZe; the Brazilians certainly have the talent to beat anyone but struggled in the group stages. Part of this may be due to the recent return of TACO and felps who will be playing in their first tournament in the MIBR organisation. Given time, the fivesome could return to their winning ways of 2017, but they aren’t quite ready yet.

Knockout bracket courtesy of ESL.

4. Ninjas in Pyjamas
A potential dark horse, NiP could be the team that knocks out Astralis in Katowice. The Swedes have a good record against Astralis, though one could argue that the current version of Astralis is a very different beast to their previous incarnations. Plus, even if they can master the Danes, NiP may struggle against the teams they would face in the later stages.

3. Natus Vincere
NaVi is a beautiful mess. Despite clear internal problems which ooze onto the server, NaVi remains one of the best teams in the world. S1mple can win on his own and is bolstered by electronic and flamie’s talents. The CIS team is capable of winning the tournament through sheer talent and firepower, but discord within the organisation makes that a tall order.

2. Team Liquid
A best-of-three victory over NaVi in the group stage cements Liquid’s position and the pretenders to Astralis’ throne. Equally, Liquid proved their capability of beating Astralis in best of three situations at iBUYPOWER in January. Beating the Danes on the grand stage of the Major might prove too much for Team Liquid, however.

1. Astralis
Astralis closed out 2018 by winning four LAN events in a row and have bagged over $2million in prize money since the August player break. They’ve shown signed of ring rust at the start of 2019, they dropped a map against Renegades and lost a best-of-three to Liquid at their last tournament, but they are still undoubtedly the team to beat in Katowice.

New British Legends At CSGO Katowice Major 2019: Preview

Sixteen top Counter-Strike teams will be in action during the New Legends stage of the IEM Katowice Major 2019 major in Poland starting this Wednesday.

Two British players will compete in the New Legends stage, marking only the second time that players from the UK have made it to the top sixteen at a major.

Rory “dephh” Jackson’s Complexity Gaming side caused a stir at the last major by upsetting G2 and Fnatic en route to a surprise quarter-final finish. Their strong performance in London secured an invite to Katowice, but they enter this stage ranked last. As a result, the American side will begin their campaign against number tournament favourites Astralis.

Alex “ALEX” McMeekin will also feature in the Legends Stage after Team Vitality successfully navigated the Challengers Stage. ALEX, who is playing in his first major, and his team qualified with relative ease despite some scrappy performances on day one of the tournament. The French squad will face celebrated tactician Fatih “gob b” Dayik’s BIG side.

Elsewhere, the three-time runners-up Natus Vincere will battle fallen French super-team G2 Esports while the top American hope, Team Liquid, will meet Kazakhstani upstarts AVANGAR.

See the full list of round one match-ups below:

1200 GMT
#8 ENCE (FIN) vs #9 Renegades (AUS)
#7 BIG (GER) vs #10 Team Vitality (FRA)
1310 GMT
#3 NaVi (UKR) vs #14 G2 (FRA)
#5 FaZe (EU) vs #12 HellRaisers (CIS)
1420 GMT
#6 NRG (USA) vs #11 Ninjas in Pyjamas (SWE)
#2 Team Liquid (USA) vs #15 AVANGAR (KAZ)
1530 GMT
#4 MIBR (BRA) vs #13 Cloud9 (USA)
#1 Astralis (DEN) vs #16 Complexity (USA)

Round two will be drawn immediately after the end of round one and will commence at 1705 GMT.

Scottish FGC Interview – Suleymon

Continuing our series of interviews with Scottish esports players, this week we chatted to former Fnatic SFV and Scottish FGC (Fighting Game Community) player Suleymon.

Hello Suleymon, please introduce yourself.

My name’s Assad. I’ve been playing Competitive Street Fighter V through the Capcom Pro Tour and the Gfinity Elite Series for about 3 years and a bit now.

Tell us about your journey as an esports player.

Been playing Fighting Games for as long as I can remember man! Pretty sure my first games were Tekken 3 and Street Fighter Alpha 3 back on the PS1. However I only just started to properly learn fighting games round about the end of the Street Fighter 4 days. The first fighting game I was consistently attending locals for was Mortal Kombat X. As SF4 was at the end of its cycle and SFV wasn’t out yet this was the most popular scene at the time. . . . .  . . . read more

Operation Burnt Horizon

It looks like we’re heading down under, as it was announced that the next map coming to Rainbow Six Siege will be Outback. It will come as part of Operation Burnt Horizon which will be the first of the Season 4 set.

Just a few days before the announcement of Outback, we were teased with information on the 2 upcoming SASR Operators. In their  . . . .  . . . read more

PUBG Esports Comes To The UK

FACEIT will bring competitive Player Unknown Battlegrounds to London this April for the FACEIT Global Summit.

Twenty-four teams will battle in London on April 16-21, with the final three days taking place at the ExCeL Centre.

All twenty-four teams will play on the first three days during the group stages with the top eight finishers proceeding directly to the grand final. The remaining sixteen teams will face-off in an elimination stage on April 19 with the top eight teams on that day also qualifying for the grand final.

The sixteen successful teams will do battle across April 20-21 in the grand final. It is unknown what the prize pool will be at the time of writing.

The FACEIT Global Summit marks the end of the 2018-19 PUBG season and the event will contain teams from all the major regions. FACEIT have not yet confirmed the exact qualification system.

Jake Sin, PUBG Corporation Global Esports Manager said: “In this next chapter of PUBG esports, we’re thrilled to be working with FACEIT on our first PUBG Classic and bringing the top battle royale esports teams in the world to the United Kingdom.”

Tickets for the event are now available to buy.

Biggest Tournament in CSGO: IEM Katowice Major Primer

(Image: Inside the Spodek arena © Helena Kristiansson – esportphoto.com)

The Intel Extreme Masters Katowice CSGO Major 2019 kicks off this Wednesday in Katowice, Poland.

Over the next three weeks, twenty-four of the best teams from all over the world will compete to win the most prestigious title in CSGO and their share of a million dollar prize pool.

The event starts with the New Challengers Stage at 1200 GMT on Wednesday. The teams which placed 9th-14th at the last Major and ten teams from qualifiers will play in a Swiss-style round robin format. The first eight teams to win three matches will qualify for the top sixteen, known as the New Legends Stage.

Reigning champions Astralis secured the FACEIT Major trophy in London by beating Natus Vincere 2-0 in the final. If they retain their title, the Danes will join Fnatic to become the second team in history to win three Major championships.

Astralis coach Zonic lifts the FACEIT Major London 2018 trophy. © Kieran Gibbs – espat.co

Astralis are considered favourites by many but will have to overcome American upstarts Team Liquid, European powerhouse FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere’s Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, voted PC Player of the Year at the 2018 Esports Awards. These four teams, at the rest of the top eight from London, will enter the tournament at the New Legends Stage.

The 11,500-seater Spodek arena will host the playoffs, known as the New Champions Stage, from the 28th February to the 3rd March. The victors will take home $500,000 and the IEM Season XIII Katowice Major 2019 trophy.

This tournament will also mark the start of Intel Grand Slam Season 2. The first team to win four out of ten ESL or DreamHack Masters events will win a $1,000,000 prize. Astralis won the first season, securing the bonus at the ESL Pro League Season 8 finals in Odense.

A full listing of Wednesday’s matches can be found below:

Round 1
Renegades (AUS) – AVANGAR (KAZ) @ 1200 GMT
Fnatic (SWE) – ViCi Gaming (CHN) @ 1200 GMT
TYLOO (CHN) – Team Vitality (FRA) @ 1310 GMT
Cloud9 (USA) – Grayhound Gaming (AUS) @ 1310 GMT
ENCE Esports (FIN) – Team Spirit (RUS) @ 1420 GMT
G2 Esports (FRA) – Vega Squadron (RUS) @ 1420 GMT
Ninjas in Pyjamas (SWE) – Furia Esports (BRA) @ 1530 GMT
NRG Esplorts (USA) – Winstrike Team (RUS) @ 1530 GMT

Round 2
Round 2 will be drawn after round 1 has concluded and will commence at approximately 1705 GMT.

CSGO: ECS Finals Return To UK For Season 7

FACEIT has revealed that the CSGO ECS Season 7 Finals will take place in London this summer.

The event will occur from 06-09 June; the SSE Arena in Wembley is hosting the final two days of the tournament.

New ECS logo.

This is the fourth time the London based company have chosen to hold their flagship event in their home city. FACEIT’s Valve sponsored major also took place at the SSE Arena last September.

FACEIT has also announced changes to tournament format for the ECS regular season. Ten knock-out tournaments, five for Europe and five for America, will replace the league format from previous iterations.

The winners of the first three regional brackets will qualify for the London finals. The team from each region which won the most prize money over the five tournaments will also receive an invite.

Michele Attisani, FACEIT co-founder, said: “We have worked extremely hard to determine a format and match timings that suit the players, the community and that help the CSGO ecosystem.”

ECS Season 7 will commence on 11 March.

UKSG Winter 2019

Esports, by definition, is player vs player; two players or teams competing against each other in a video game. But what do you call it when someone is competing against the game itself? Player vs environment could be one name for it but a more fitting name would be speedrunning.

Speedrunners get from A to B in a video game as fast as is humanly possible. Sometimes the aim is just to complete the game (any%) or to 100% the game as well as finish in the quickest time. The scene covers every platform and game you could imagine. It’s so vast, there isn’t even a point in doing a from this game to that game line here. Basically, if you can think of a video game, chances are there’s a speedrun of it.

Why do they do this though? Getting the fastest time is important to all speedrunners but there’s another more important reason. Most speedrunning events are organised to raise money for charity. Games Done Quick 2019, the largest speedrunning event of the year, very recently raised over $2.4 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

Photo courtesy of @SummonerGlasgow

Last month I attended United Kingdom Speedrunning Gathering (UKSG) Winter 2019 held at The Summoners in Glasgow. The group, which has been active since late 2017, organise speedrunning events in Glasgow to raise money for YoungMinds, a charity who support children suffering from mental health issues.

The event itself was awesome. I’ve been a fan of speedrunning for some time now but never been to an event to watch runners live. As expected, it’s very different from watching on a screen. The atmosphere when the runner does a difficult skip and everyone cheers is electric. The biggest thrill was when donations hit $1,000. This was the first time UKSG had ever hit 4 figures. All you had to do was look at the event organisers to see how much it meant to them. Needless to say, everyone there cheered and clapped for a good minute when it happened.

Photo by linkboss

The stars of the show are the runners though. Some highlights were Fallout: New Vegas by Akarion, Resident Evil 1 Remake by Spectraljoker, Crash Team Racing by Natty and, a personal favourite of mine, Mickey Mania by linkboss. The highlight of any speedrunning event is the Sonic block though and UKSG Winter was no different.

Sonic Mania and Sonic 3D Blast (Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island) were run by Argick, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle by Drumbasher004 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by linkboss. The biggest thrill during the Sonic block had to be when Argick and linkboss ran Metropolis Zone on one controller. Not only did they get a really good time but they also managed to do extremely difficult skips which most people would find difficult doing normally nevermind only holding one half of a controller.

Photo by linkboss

Overall, UKSG Winter 2019 was the event organisers biggest event to date. There were 1,598,208 minutes watched over the whole event with max viewers of 1,921. Their final donation total was $1,400 which is outstanding considering they were aiming for $600!

If you have any interest in speedrunning, either running or just watching, then I couldn’t recommend UKSG events more. Their next event, UKSG Spring 2019, has already been announced for March 23rd and 24th with full details being found here. You can also join UKSG Discord here and find out more about Young Minds and the work they do here.

A final shout out has to be given to the UKSG team especially head event organisers CDRomatron and Paulister. All of them should be highly praised for not only producing amazing events but for raising money for such a good cause.

Call of Duty Esports to Arrive in UK

London’s Copper Box Theatre will play host to a vital stage of the Call of Duty World League this May as 16 of the world’s best teams converge on the capital. Held from 3-5 May at the 7,500-capacity venue, the event will be an important precursor to the spectacular CoD World Championships in August.

The world’s best professional teams including Optic Gaming and the UK’s very own Splyce will compete for their share of the £325,000 prize pool. Alongside the professionals, there will be a separate amateur tournament where up to 200 teams will battle it out for a slice £75,000.

Following several years of negative reaction to subsequent CoD titles, Treyarch’s Black Ops 4 has had a more positive reaction and the game’s esports scene is again on the up. With a host of rule changes including a move to a 5v5 format, the Call of Duty World League 2019 has been a huge success since the opening event in Las Vegas in December.

The chairman of Gfinity, the organisers of CWL London, Garry Cook said:

In May, London will become the focus of the gaming world. Gfinity is going to put on a show and deliver an experience that will excite the global Call of Duty esports community. We know the players and fans and the passion they will bring to the Copper Box Arena. London is in for a treat.

This will be the first major CoD Esports event in London since 2016, with a CWL Birmingham event at Insomnia Gaming Festival in 2018. The Copper Box arena has a long esports pedigree, with the Rocket League World Championship previously held there. For more details, click here.