Categories
FIFA

Norwich City Crowned as 2021/22 ePremier League Champions

Norwich City have been crowned the 2021/22 ePremier League Champions, with Damien ‘Damie’ Augustyniak and Jack ‘GoalPoacher_’ Wignall winning the title for the Canaries! The EA SPORTS™ FIFA 22 finals were held in-person for the first time in three years, and was broadcasted live on Sky Sports and EA’s Twitch channel. The tournament was a thrilling journey that concluded in an even more exciting climax!

On Saturday, March 26th, GoalPoacher_ and Damie went unbeaten in four matches to top Group D, billed the ‘Group of Death’. Then in Sunday’s knockout fixtures, a fine performance from Damie was enough to see the pair beat Chelsea 5-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. The Norwich duo had already proved to be a dream team, and hoped to carry that momentum into the semi-finals. Damie played out a tense 0-0 draw against last year’s runner-up Olle “Ollelito” Arbin, creating a bit of suspense ahead of GoalPoacher_’s matchup. A 2-1 victory for Goalpoacher_ over Mitchell Hayward saw the Canaries overcome Leeds United to progress to the Grand Final.

Damie and Goalpoacher_ would go on to defeat Brentford duo Sam ‘SamBrwster’ Brewster and Peace ‘czohino’ Chirwa in Sunday evening’s Grand Final, thanks to a 5-1 aggregate victory. After clinching the title, Damie reflected on his journey to the gold, saying:

“Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now. The standard of player this year went up a level, so it feels a bit surreal to call myself an ePremier League Champion. I’m so proud to lift the trophy, for the first ever time, and I’m pleased that the hard work has paid off.”

Goalpoacher_ also shared his thoughts, saying:

“This is my first ePremier League title and lifting the trophy is a moment that I’ll never forget. It has been a tough tournament, but I feel that Damien and I worked well as a team and, together, managed to progress past any opponent who stood in our way. I was always confident that we’d have a chance, but to go and win the tournament is a dream come true.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 27: Jack Wignall (L) and Damien Augustyniak of Norwich City celebrate their victory over Brentfordin the Final of the ePremier League Grand Finals at Here East on March 27, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images for ePremier League)

The winning pair also picked up a £30,000 first prize for their efforts, totaling £15,000 per player. Both Damie and Goalpoacher_ have also earned spots in the EA SPORTS™ FIFA 22 Global Series European Playoffs! Premier League Commercial Director Will Brass congratulates Norwich City and anticipates another season of competition, saying, “We look forward to the next season of the ePremier League, providing clubs with a unique opportunity to engage with their fans, and viewers…

For more information visit e.premierleague.com.

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Elden Ring Industry Analysis

How Elden Ring Makes “Hard Mode” Work

After one of the most successful launches in history, Elden Ring has shown astounding success as an adventure game known for its absurdly brutal difficulty. Elden Ring has already sold over 12 million copies within a month after release. But when looking at competitors, Elden Ring seems to stand alone in its approach to adventure game design. Many players are asking the question, why is Elden Ring so difficult? And why don’t they offer an “easy mode” like other adventure games?

The Competition

There are seemingly endless examples of open-world games that hold the player’s hand throughout the journey. A recent example of this is Horizon Forbidden West, an adventure game that was released a full week before Elden Ring. While the launch of Horizon was dwarfed by that of Elden Ring’s, it was still able to take second place on the charts.

Horizon takes a much more traditional approach to adventure games, offering to hold the player’s hand throughout the game. Looking at the world map, Horizon chooses to guide the player with a simple look with every detail on display so the player can avoid danger or face challenges as they see fit. Elden Ring, however, chooses to use a very weathered world map that does not outline the majority of the encounters you will face during the game. Since it is harder to navigate and predict danger, players can often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Elden Ring’s world map (left) compared to Horizon Forbidden West’s word map (right)

Building A Brand

There is no question that FromSoftware, the developer of Elden Ring, has done a great job developing a unique brand for their games. While not all of their games terrorize their players, notable titles such as the Dark Souls series, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, or Bloodborne, stand out as games suitable only for the bravest of gamers.

(Image from @DuncstarTV)

The difficulty of their games scratches an itch for a different type of gamer. While games like Horizon focus on task completion, Elden Ring focuses on presenting a challenge for its players to overcome. This change in direction is why Elden Ring players have become forgiving of the game’s lack of polish, where poor game design has become part of the challenge.

Effects on the Game

Ubisoft is a company known for creating easy open-world games. While titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, or Far Cry can be challenging, these titles allow the player to lower the difficulty. It can feel as though the player is never free from an endless amount of guidance via waypoints, mini-maps, objectives, etc. With the success of Elden Ring, which features none of these options, the gaming community has backlashed against companies like Ubisoft for their lack of challenging gameplay.

“If Ubisoft Made Elden Ring” (Image via @DreamcastGuy)

Elden Ring has reminded gamers what it is like to be faced with a challenge and face it without easy solutions. While spending 12 hours grinding and improving your skills to defeat a single boss may seem ridiculous to casual players, this gameplay has allowed Elden Ring players to develop a sense of pride in their achievements that easy games fail to grasp.

While this sense of achievement allows players to feel a real sense of achievement, the level of difficulty also serves as a deterrent to casual gamers who don’t have the time or skill to overcome the challenges. Over time, this will likely result in organic filtering out of non-committed players. but it is safe to assume that the die-hard Elden Ring community will stay loyal to the brand for many years to come.

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News Rocket League

While Daniel is Rocket League’s Hottest Prospect, he is not Rookie of the Year

Where does the hype come from with Rocket League Championship Series rookie Daniel? Daniel Piecenski entered the professional Esports world in 2020 when he was just 13 years old. He reached Rank S in Rocket League 6 Mans, putting him at RLCS level. The minimum age to play in RLCS events is 15, so Daniel wouldn’t join the league until this year. He signed with Spacestation Gaming and is already competing at what many would say is at a “Rookie-of-the-year” level.

Despite his fanfare, Daniel has stiff competition for Rookie-of-the-Year. Daniel may be a top prospect, but other rookies like Seikoo and Vatira are performing well above what many would say is prospect level. Seikoo led Team Endpoint to wins in two of the three Fall regional events, making his team the top seed in Europe. Meanwhile, Daniel’s stellar play culminated in a peak of second place at the Winter Regional Event 1 – X Games Open.

During the Winter Europe Regional Events, Vatira made his case for Rookie of the Year. Team Queso took first place in two of three regional events, including a win over Team Endpoint in event three’s Grand Final. This matchup saw Vatira come face to face with his Rookie of the Year competition in Seikoo. Although Team Queso walked away with the victory, Vatira did not massively outplay Seikoo. Seikoo’s score across seven games was the highest on his team, with many asserting that Vatira got more production from his teammates.

Where was Daniel in all of this? Spacestation Gaming was bounced out of the playoffs in round one of the third North American Regional Event. The squad finished in 10th place, which is a bit of a regression from their performance in the Fall regional events before Daniel joined. Daniel has put together a great first showing, especially considering how young he is and the improvements he’ll be able to make from playing at RLCS level. But compared to others in the Rookie of the Year race, his team hasn’t accomplished enough to overtake players like Vatira and Seikoo.

Categories
League of Legends Stories

Why League of Legends is so Great

Over the course of gaming, countless titles have grown to receive world recognition and build a diehard fanbase. But no title compares to that of League of Legends. Ever since its release in 2009, this MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) has become the greatest single Esport in the history of competitive gaming and is home to the largest fanbase in the world.

On average, there are over 700,000 players in-game, battling it out in the arena. The game has even expanded into many spin-off titles, a complete board game, and just this last November, launched a TV series called “Arcane” receiving an impressive 9.4 score on IMBD, as well as a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But how did League of Legends find itself where it is today?

Evolution and changes

The game is constantly evolving with new patches every two weeks. The meta is always changing with new balance changes. This allows for every champion to have a seasonal moment of glory. The pacing and length of the game changes along with content that is added or changed as well. The most recent changes, as of February 2022, are the dragon changes. It was introduced in 2020, and they expanded upon it in the pre-season of 2021.

Every game is different because there are a lot of combinations between over 150 champions and the random element of elemental dragons as well. Many items were added, deleted, or reworked over the years, and they are the core of building a specific hero. Games that come from the RTS genre, in general, tend to rely on more strategy in general, and League of Legends went in an action direction, and it keeps paying off. The game is more accessible, which could be bad for some players because it means that it is easier overall than it was some time ago. However, the difficulty of the game often depends on your ranking and the champion you are playing.

League of Legends Great Dragon
Image via Riot Games

Eternals and Events

There is a lot of diversity when it comes to creating character builds, and you can play a single character in many ways with the reworked item system. Champion reworks also add a breath of fresh air into some older heroes. In addition, the ever-changing events add a lot of meaning to playing the game. A lot of missions require you to play the game, you do not need to accomplish any hard specific missions. Just play the game and earn rewards. The game is full of events like Ruination, Pool Party, Christmas Events, Halloween Events, and more. They often add thematic skins and other rewards like icons or ward skins to earn in your collection.

Finally, when it comes to just feeling of purpose by playing the game apart from missions, Riot Games has added Eternals to the game. It is another way of tracking your progress with various milestones that measure how many kills you have on a specific champion, how many enemies you have defeated or hit with your Ultimate, and much more. Statistics are fun, yay!

Champions on Summoner’s Rift

There is a lot of diversity when it comes to champions. Every character has its own set of abilities. Four active abilities and a passive one. It is often more complex than that because champions like Aphelios have basically about 16 abilities and 25 interactions that all work differently, but not every champion is so complex. However, it all results in you having a lot of freedom of choice while choosing the role and character you want to focus on and learn. The thing that differentiates League of Legends from other games is that it is still very accessible for casual players. You do not need to play ranked and master every champion in order to stay relevant and have fun. It is rare these days, and League does that very well.

Lore of Runeterra

League of Legends always had some kind of story behind the characters, but in the last couple of years, they expanded upon it tremendously. With a lot of character reworks that add a lot of freshness into the game, there are a lot of changes or re-writes to this character’s lore. More often than not, connected to the entire region of Runeterra. Gangplank’s rework added a lot of lore to Bilgewater for example.

League of Legends Great Esports
Image via Riot Games

Esports Scene

League of Legends is one of the biggest games when it comes to e-sports, and Riot keeps pushing this notion forward. E-sport is slowly going in its own direction, like a split branch of gaming. League of Legends is at the top of the mountain when it comes to organizing events like Worlds. Millions of viewers all around the world gather to watch some match in a game. It seems amazing, and connecting communities, especially among gamers, is always a good thing. It is pleasant even for people who do not play the game. I even found my friend’s parents watching the finals of Worlds 2021 on national TV as a broadcast. They had a lot of fun watching a video game that they have no clue what it is about.

Wider Media Expansion

Last but not least, in recent years, League of Legends is much bigger than the classic game itself. The world grew big and is expanding into other video games like Ruined King: A League of Legends Story which is a strategy game focused on just a few characters. Legends of Runeterra is a build-your-own deck card game. In addition, there are a lot of other video games in production, including an action RPG and fighting game set in the world of League of Legends. There is also a board game called “Mechs vs. Minions” which offers a lot of innovative gameplay and mechanics. I played it, it’s surprisingly good.

Finally, the amazing success of a TV Show by Netflix and Riot Games called “Arcane”. It was the main mainstream expansion to date and was definitely a success. The marketing was huge around it and the second season is already in the works, set for its earliest release in 2023. The game is really good and expanding upon the world created over a decade ago keeps the interest going. All the updates to the game help the core experience to attract new players, as well as make old-time veterans come back from time to time and play a game or two of Full AP Nunu. Just remember to have fun, no matter what game you play.

Categories
News Rocket League

Boston Scott’s Eventful History with Rocket League

During the day, NFL running back Boston Scott is hitting the gym, practicing with his team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and scoring touchdowns on the field. At night though, he’s grinding on Rocket League where he ranks in the top .52% of players all-time. Scott has been a long-time Rocket League enthusiast, and his hard work culminated when he officially entered the esports world! Scott recently signed with Dignitas to play for their Rocket League team professionally, making him the first two-sport NFL and Rocket League pro. Here is Boston Scott’s eventful history with Rocket League

During the 2021 NFL off-season, Scott began streaming Rocket League on Twitch with content creators like SunlessKhan. When training camp began, his streaming grind slowed; but he made it clear how much he missed playing the game live. He formed a relationship with Gridiron Gaming Group, promoting and competing in their Rocket League tournaments. He showed great interest in not only the game itself but the esports scene and its surrounding culture. Following a tough loss on the NFL field, playing Rocket League was Scott’s distraction of choice.

He’d often post highlights from his games, and tag Rocket League‘s official accounts to share his passion. Later in 2021, Scott expressed his disappointment when he wasn’t invited to participate in the Gridiron Games. Fans were just as confused and disappointed, but this was just the beginning, with more opportunities lying ahead. In early 2022, Scott took to Twitter to declare Rocket League a top-five Esport. He, himself, would join the Esport shortly after, signing with Team Dignitas.

Scott noticed the increasing popularity of Rocket League among NFL players and pitched a Twitch Rivals streamer bowl featuring NFL athletes. He’s remained heavily involved in creating a bridge between the NFL and Rocket League esports, working behind the scenes on a to-be-announced project. He should have fewer issues getting invited to events as he’s proven his commitment to the Rocket League Esport and community. Factor in the fact that he’s pretty good at the game, so Dignitas certainly has an interesting journey ahead with Boston Scott.

Categories
League of Legends News

How Riot Games Dominated Tournaments During a Pandemic

With the outbreak of the Covid-19, esports, like the rest of the world, ground to a halt. Starting with IEM Katowice in 2020, hundreds of events were canceled, switched to online, had their crowds removed, or were otherwise changed in response to the coronavirus.

But even as the rest of the esports world was canceling and moving their biggest tournaments online, Riot Games managed to put on three enormous tournaments: Worlds 2020, Mid-Season Invitational 2021, and Worlds 2021. But how did Riot Games succeed where so many other tournaments, such as Dota 2’s The International and CS:GO’s Majors, were forced into cancellation?

The feat of Worlds 2020

Image via Riot Games

Riot Games and their League of Legends competitive scene was not immediately immune to the cancellations that ripped through the esports world in the wake of Covid-19. With their leagues moved online, taken out of studios, and in some cases, postponed, competitive LoL and the newly revealed Valorant competitive scene suffered in early 2020.

Most notable was the cancellation of MSI 2020. The Mid Season Invitational 2020 was initially scheduled for May 2020. But after the outbreak of the Pandemic was canceled in April of that year. It looked like, in all likelihood, Worlds 2020 would share the same fate. After all, several massive international events like Worlds had to be canceled that same year. 

But Riot had an ace up their sleeve: The backing of parent company Tencent. It’s impossible to know just how much sway the state-backed Tencent corporation pulled to ensure that League of Legends got its Worlds 2020. But suffice to say, Worlds 2020 was held in China, with a limited crowd for some days. 

But beyond just greasing the gears with some corporate connections, the measures taken to ensure a safe environment were astronomical. Taking place on a closed set in the Shanghai Media Tech Studio, teams traveling to the event were all placed in the same hotel. Each squad was forced into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Employees faced similar strict restrictions. Ultimately there were no reported cases during the event.

Many would criticize Riot’s all-spanning control of the competitive scene for League of Legends. But when faced with needing to operate an international tournament in a bubble, it’s hard to fault the total control.

Iceland saved the day in 2021

Image via Riot Games

With the Pandemic continuing into 2021, instead of the eight or 12-month crisis, many had initially predicted, more competitive events would have to be scaled down or canceled. With Riot’s newly launched VCT for Valorant and the new 2021 season of League of Legends starting, it looked like the continuing Pandemic would scupper it. But for several reasons, that wasn’t an option. 

In many ways, Riot Games was snookered by its past decisions. To have held Worlds 2020 and set expectations of what could be achieved in a pandemic so high, only to scale things back in 2021, would be unthinkable. It would have sent two messages: Firstly, Worlds 2020 was a mistake; an event born of hubris and brute force (accurate on many accounts). And secondly that it was a one-off miracle and not something that could be replicated by Riot Games again. Especially not outside of China, without the influence of Tencent on its side.

Scouring the globe, the ideal venue for Riot Games 2021 events became clear. Iceland and its capital of Reykjavík was the perfect location. Nominally a European location, but with enough restrictions and a small population to have prevented huge numbers of coronavirus cases, Iceland was ideal for esports events.

Valorant Masters, MSI 2021, and Worlds 2021 were all hosted in Reykjavik in the Laugardalshöll arena under similar lockdown conditions to Worlds 2020. As a result, the three huge events were pulled off with no press, no audience, and just players and staff isolated in arenas.

Looking ahead to MSI South Korea

Image via Asia Tech Daily

With all these successes, it’s no surprise Riot Games is again looking to hold an event during a global pandemic. This time it’s rumored to be in South Korea, with the League of Legends MSI 2022. What measures Riot Games will put in place remains to be seen. The company has operated well with strict measures, but the overall attitude to the Pandemic has changed over the past two years.

We live in a world where most competitors will be double or even triple vaccinated against the virus. The cases in South Korea have steadily increased over the past months, but so has testing. And in many cases, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 seems to have less severe symptoms, especially for the vaccinated. Under these conditions, Riot Games once again attempts to hold an international tournament. Over the past two years, they’ve proved they’re more than capable of doing so.

Categories
News Rocket League

What Akrew’s Disappointing Rocket League Debut Means For Their Future

Akrew found success during the pandemic with the creation of Nookazon and Traderie, two platforms where players can trade and sell video game items. Akrew again found success with the launch of their Valorant esports team, amassing a win streak of over 30 games. They looked to follow up on this momentum when they announced their entrance into Rocket League esports. The organization acquired Vibrance, a North American team comprised of Ty “Astro” Bullinger, Fernando “Fefe” Hulzar, Arlin “Oath” Burns, and substitute Rhys “Gear” Peña. Unfortunately, things have not immediately gone as well as they have with Akrew’s other ventures.

Akrew’s Rocket League team just competed in their first series with the organization, the Winter RLCS 2021-2022 North American Regional Closed Qualifier. The team finished in 12th place with a sub .500 record of 8-9, failing to qualify for the third Regional Event. They’re performance in round one against Torrent was already underwhelming and fell below what we’ve seen from Astro and company in the past. They lost the series three games to two, including two straight overtime losses and a scoreless finale. While playing as Vibrance, this same team finished in second place at the Fall 2021-2022 RLCS North American Regional Event Closed Qualifier with a 9-5 record.

Right out of the gate, it would appear as if the team is was showing signs of regression while playing for their new organization. In reality, it’s more likely that the team is simply not improving at a rate fast enough to rise the ranks. This makes sense considering they’ve operated as a mostly independent team up until this point. Rosters they’ve beaten decisively in the past, like Version1 and XSET, have made it to the main event and are seeing increased amounts of success. The ability to not only compete with but also defeat these teams is there; Akrew will just have to find ways to refine their team strategies and execute new ones.

This could actually be the perfect dynamic since Akrew has more than enough resources to enhance the team’s training, and a talented roster for the molding. From an organization standpoint, Akrew will need to invest in the development of the team and remain patient as their players grow and improve. Both Oath and Fefe just joined the team last year in July with Astro being the only on-field mainstay to this point. He’s been with the team since 2020 and was a part of its revival in May of last year. With a talented and young cornerstone to build around, Akrew has the chance to create their own identity for this squad and etch a unique path.

So what does this mean for Akrew’s future in Rocket League? It means that fans are probably going to see roster changes and gameplay adjustments in the coming year. As the organization becomes more abreast in the esports world, it’s important for them to take their time and avoid expanding too fast. Two teams competing in two different games, especially when one is already struggling, is a tall task as is. Fans should definitely be intrigued by Akrew’s Rocket League venture; and keep an eye on what the adjustments they make for the next series.

Categories
Call of Duty General

Seven Call of Duty pros make the Top Ten Esports Players of 2020

The Top 10 Esports Players of 2020 have been listed by The Esports Observer with seven of them being Call of Duty professionals.

An impressive amount of Call of Duty League players made the cut this year. Additionally, two Call of Duty teams, Dallas Empire and Atlanta FaZe, made it on The Top 10 Esports Teams of 2020.

These lists are ranked entirely by prize winnings from all competitions and are not voted for.

Whilst the usual top ten is often flooded with Dota 2 players, this year’s list looks a little bit different as there was no Dota 2 The International Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top 10 Esports Players of 2020

If 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, the highest earning esports player was a chess professional, Sven Magnus Carlsen.

Many believe that chess should not be considered an esport, however, the board game took Twitch by storm as all competition moved online during the summer.

The rise of chess is clearly no laughing matter as Carlsen took home nearly $500,000 this year and many players have even been signed to esports teams such as Team Solo Mid.

Numbers two to six consist of Call of Duty League players: Clayster, Crimsix, iLLeY, Shotzzy and Huke – the former Dallas Empire roster.

With Dallas Empire crowned champions of the inaugural 2020 Call of Duty League season, it is no shock to see their roster on this list.

As there have been multiple Warzone events and other independent tournaments throughout the year, not all of their prize money totals are even. Clayster takes the top spot as the highest earning Call of Duty pro of 2020 with $373,330.

In seventh place is Magic: The Gathering world champion PVDDR who took home $300,000 this year. The old card game has quickly become a popular esport in recent years.

With another chess player in eighth place, two more Call of Duty pros finish off the list in ninth and tenth. Cellium and Simp both competed under Atlanta FaZe last year who came second in the CDL Championship.

Whilst the pandemic remains an ongoing issue, we may well see another peculiar list of players in next year’s top ten.

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