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BlizzCon: 5 Ways to Fuck it Up

Posted by Ceon - October 21, 2011, 14:22


If there’s one thing WoW tournaments are known for, it’s their bad organization and tendency for everything to go wrong. While some of this is down to pure bad luck, in their last two tournaments Blizzard has given e-sport tournament organizers a wealth of knowledge on how NOT to do things. So let’s take a look, in no particular order, at the top 5 ways to fuck up a tournament:

1. Stream just 3 of 14 Games:

While it’s ridiculous to expect every game streamed, only streaming 3 games out of a possible 14 is underwhelming to say the least. This is what occurred at the EU Regional’s and, in fact, Blizzard didn’t even think to record the other games for later viewing. Indeed, even without commentating, recording them would still have been better than doing nothing.

It’s understandable they wanted to Stream as much SC2 as possible, but would providing two streams really have been too much to ask of a billion dollar company?

Amusingly the sound dropped out of sync as soon as SC2 went off air and WoW came on. The sounds guy must have gone home at this point.

It wasn’t as if this was entirely down to “technical difficulties” either. The original schedule only had 4 of the 14 games scheduled to be on stream. In fact, it wasn’t like there wasn’t a demand for WoW either. They’re Facebook page had requests every 5 seconds for WoW to be put on stream.

Ok with most teams consisting of Shaman/Warlock/X there was never going to be that much of a difference between games, but still there were teams like Khuna’s RMP and Hydra and Inflame teaming up to form, the best named team ever, Colgate. In fact, without any practice, Colgate was one of only two teams to take an arena game off the dominant Showtime. It would have been interesting to see. Fortunately though we did get this nifty catchphrase from Inflame:

Full interview

2. Under no circumstances, whatsoever, update the brackets and announce any problems. Instead stick to the murder mystery theme for added enjoyment and have your viewers search the web for answers:

At the EU Regional’s Blizzard didn’t deem it necessary to update those pesky brackets until 4-6 hours after the games had occurred! It was also deemed too much of a hassle to use one of the many breaks between SC2 games, to update us on how the WoW tournament was going. Writing a blog post to update us on the delay and how the tournament was going? That was too much of a burden as well.

3. Promise high quality WoW VoDs in a few weeks time only to release the same high quality SC2 VoDs right after the event:

Unfortunately, Blizzard decided not to stream the US Invitational because certain technical difficulties such as the game not been installed can occur. Instead they told us the event wasn’t an afterthought and they’d be releasing high quality VoDs shortly that we’ll really appreciate. Two weeks later Blizzard finally released these VoDs. The quality was good and the sound was in sync to boot! However, claiming they put so much effort into these wasn’t quite believable especially they released high quality SC2 VoDs while the SC2 Invitational was still ongoing.

Not an Afterthought…who were they trying to kid?

4. Hire someone without the slightest bit of knowledge of WoW Arena to cast the event:

The EU event had arguably the worst tournament caster ever seen. Blizzard employed Soe Gschwind to cast this event—an avid fan of toothpaste who knows next to nothing about arena.

When your commentator has to ask whether Shaman A has used hex or wonder with bemusement why everyone on team B have changing health pools while spirit link is clearly down, you’ve clearly hired the wrong person. While she provided some eye candy, her poor camera work and failure to set up the spectator UI made the event an unintended hilarity to watch.

This was actually one of the most bizarre oversights. It made no sense why Blizzard would hire her.

With sights like this:

Let’s hope Blizzard never employ her again.

All of the World of Warcraft action will be brought to you by Luke “Virulence” Bodenheimer, Jared “Vhell” Coulston, and Soe Gschwind.

Ohh fuck!

5. Don’t have the Game Installed:

You’d think this would be one of the most critical aspects of a tournament and at the top of any organizers priority list. However, at the EU event, Blizzard thought it’d be a good idea to update the game to Cataclysm as the tournament was about to get underway.

There are technical errors and then there’s the outright stupidity of not having the game fully installed prior to the event! Need I say more?

Let’s hope BlizzCon runs smoothly and Blizzard learnt some valuable lessons from these two events.

2 comments

BlizzCon: Interview with Azael

Posted by Ceon - October 19, 2011, 22:17


With BlizzCon just round the corner, tournament veteran and BlizzCon qualifier, Azael was kind enough to accept an interview. While he’s commentated the event in the past, this will be the first year he’s competed on the grand stage. He shared his thoughts about BlizzCon, his opponents and WoW in general.

1. Hello Azael, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. For the very few people unfamiliar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hey everyone, my name is Isaac ‘Azael’ Cummings-Bentley and I’ve been a Pro Gamer with Team EG for nearly 4 years now.  I play Warlock and have won events such as MLG, IEM Global Finals 2010 and Blizzard NA Invitational 2011.

2. After missing out on BlizzCon by a whisker in 2009 against TSG—who incidentally went on to win the tournament—this will be the first time you’ve played at BlizzCon. Are you excited going into the event and how would a victory on this stage compare to your victory at the IEM Global Championship?

Yeah, losing like that was definitely frustrating as we had some pretty rotten luck I felt and came soooo close to getting to Blizzcon we felt we would’ve done well at the event so seeing the team who edged us out win it all kind of stung a bit.  I’m excited going to play at Blizzcon but I’ve been a number of times before working for sponsors and commentating last year and so on, so I feel like I know what to expect.  As far as how winning would compare I’m not really sure I’d have to actually do it to know but just based on the money alone it would be pretty amazing to win Blizzcon

3. Team EG had a really strong showing at the US Invitational, you guys only lost one series against Slip n Slide (Skill Capped) and well and truly made up for that in the final, beating them 6-0. Do you think you’ll be able to continue this dominance at BlizzCon?

You never know how things will work out at a tournament, but I feel as though we’re the most prepared team and if we play to the best of our abilities I don’t think there’s anyone we can’t beat.  I won’t say that we’ll dominate Blizzcon but I will say that I can’t imagine a world in which I felt more confident about our chances, so we definitely have a great shot and at this point I feel like anything other than winning would probably be considered a disappointment.

4. With Blizzards decision not to reset MMR and the ladder, there’s been a distinct lack of queues, has that impacted on your ability to practice and how much practice would you say you’ve had as team since the US Invitational?

We all have access to numerous characters and I have upwards of 5 Warlocks given to me by various people so honestly it wasn’t that hard to queue on ladder when we felt like it, but at the same time with the differences in gear I really didn’t feel that playing ladder is even worthwhile.  Instead we focused our efforts on War Gaming top teams on the Tournament Realm so it’s the same gear set and much better / focused practice as you can try out different things and let teams know what you would like them to try etc.

5. Hydramist recently set up a poll asking our readers who they will take the BlizzCon crown this year. With over 2000 votes so far, it’s been neck and neck between Showtime (Yaspresents) and Team EG. Do you see Showtime (Yaspresents) as your biggest rivals and do you see their Shadow Cleave as a potential issue?

Showtime is a fantastic group of players running a setup which can definitely be very tough for ours so they’re probably our biggest rivals as far as that goes but we have also prepared extensively against it and I really do like our chances.  We know that preparing against a specific setup does not always prepare you for a different group of players running the same thing but I feel that works both ways as although there may not be a Shadowcleave as strong as Showtime there’s also no one they can practice against to prepare for us.

6. Further to this, what are your thoughts on the line-up of teams going into BlizzCon? Are you worried about facing any team in particular?

We’re not going to be taking anyone lightly, I feel like all the NA, EU and probably KR teams have the capability to take games off of any team there so we really just want to focus on minimizing our mistakes and playing consistent and careful so that we don’t drop any bad games.  I feel that if we just play our best and don’t take any needless risks we should be fine against all teams as I think we can out play teams over the course of a series as long as we’re not giving up any easy wins.

7. With seven out of ten teams containing both a Warlock and a Shaman, some would say both classes are overrepresented at this event. What’s your view on this and the synergy between Warlocks and Shamans in general? Do you regard either class as overpowered in any way?

Yep, they’re both overrepresented at the event.  Ever since Shamans got a magic dispel they became amazing when paired with Warlocks, because although there was synergy between the two last expansion you had to rely heavily on Devour Magic RNG which was pretty awful at times so now it’s much more consistent.  As far as strength of the classes in the gear set in which the tournament is taking place I would definitely say without a question Shamans are the best healer because of their strong utility and the strength of passive healing through Earth Shield / Healing Stream etc while interrupted or CCed.  Warlocks have great survivability when played correctly and with good portal usage and extremely strong consistent damage which makes them the DPS class of choice for most setups.  I do however feel that when playing on live servers with the new gear set things have changed a lot simply because damage has gotten so insanely high that classes with higher burst potential have taken over quite a bit and so Paladins who have great survivability and Priests who synergize well with high pressure comps have begun to raise drastically in popularity while Shamans seem a lot weaker than they were before and Warlocks are much less common.  In the past few hundred games on ladder maybe 5% of my games at most have been against Shaman / Lock teams while a solid 80% or higher contain a Mage or a Feral.

8. The first round of the event will be a Round Robin, do you prefer this format? Also since every possible match up will take place in this round, do you think we’ll see more comp switches in the single elimination round as the teams will have a better feel for each other?

I don’t really prefer it as we lose any advantage we had from a high seed and I feel as though teams won’t be prepared for how much damage we deal and how we play so having to play every team once before getting to the single elimination phase may give people a chance to adapt / get used to how we play.  That said I have to admit that Round Robin is the most fair way to do it and the best 4 teams should get out of the group stage which is really how it should be.  As for changing setups, I don’t think we’ll see that because you have to lock in one setup for the entire series so if you try some counter comp or w/e and it doesn’t work out you’re stuck with it and are probably screwed.  I think it’s best to just stick with the setup you’re best at unless you’re extremely desperate in this rule set.

9. This year Blizzard have implemented a stacking healing debuff that will kick in at the 15 minute mark. Do you see this having any negative effects and could it potentially benefit one comp more than another?

It does seem kind of like a bad idea to me and honestly I’d rather just see the games end at the 15 minute mark, because I feel like it gives a massive advantage to certain teams such as the RLS and Shadowcleave.  Our setup against RLS it’s extremely easy to turtle it out for the RLS and basically with the Rogue spamming gouge, and using all CDs defensively it’s extremely hard for us to get enough damage out for a kill but with the healing debuff up it’d be insanely hard for us to heal through their damage even without them playing aggressively.  As for Shadowcleave it’s a simple matter of DKs being able to basically solo healers even without help from their Warlock because of a huge amount of interrupts and Necrotic Strike so I just feel like it might be impossible to heal through their damage with the added healing debuff on top of Necroctic Strike simply because I feel like an ability that absorbs healing when heals are drastically reduced becomes extremely overpowered.

10. Woundman and Reckful, two staples of the WoW arena scene for some time and, in fact, two of your former RLS partners, recently quit the game.  What are your thoughts on this and do you think the current direction of PvP had any influence on their decision to quit?

In all honesty the game on live servers really isn’t very much fun at the moment because damage is simply too high and all the issues with queues because of the MMR system etc but I don’t think that really had anything to do with them quitting.  For all the tournament players the fact that there was only one tournament this year is pretty awful, with MLG not having WoW because the spectator client wasn’t ready, and IEM dropping the game it was a really slow / boring year and many people were evaluating if it was worth the time they were putting in to try to stay competitive.  When both of them missed out on Blizzcon I just feel like they didn’t see any reason to continue playing anymore with live servers not being fun, and no tournaments on the horizon to prepare for it just was a good time to quit, and many other pros / top players seem to be doing the same thing.  If there aren’t fixes to make playing on ladder enjoyable again or more tournaments added I think you can expect the rest of the remaining pros to quit pretty soon.

11. Arena has been in decline as an e-sport with only Blizzard holding tournaments this year. What changes could Blizzard make to improve the viability of arena to make it as an e-sport?

This topic has pretty much been beaten to death so I don’t really want to kick a dead horse, but basically they simply need to make it more of a priority.  Promote the game to get it back into tournaments, make more pvp oriented balance changes, have a competitive gear set / patch that’re meant for tournaments, etc.  If the game is in tournaments and actually has good shout casting / spectating and is promoted well and on time without massive delays etc etc then loads of people will watch it simply because of the huge player base, it doesn’t matter if the game is perfect as long as people enjoy it.

12. What’s your impression of 4.3 so far and, in particular, melee MS effects been buffed to 25%?

Haven’t really followed all the notes, but with damage already out of control 25% MS will make a bad thing that much worse.  I’ve heard you get to ride on the back of a dragon in a boss fight though!

13. Once again, thanks for taking the time to speak with me and the best of luck at BlizzCon. Do you have any additional comments or shout-outs you’d like to make?

Big thanks to Team EG, and all our sponsors – Intel, Steelseries, Monster Energy, Kingston Hyper Technologies, MSi and so on, as well as my teammates Cdew and Talbadar, those people who have really made an effort to help us prepare such as Conradical and Reckognize and most importantly everyone who’s cheering for me at Blizzcon!  Feel free to come up and say hi if you’re going to be there!

2 comments

51 Ideas for Making Gold in Diablo 3

Posted by markco - October 19, 2011, 08:00


Hey there, it’s Markco again. Today I have taken 51 different ideas on making gold in Diablo 3 and compiled them into a single list. You may notice that many of these tips also work currently in World of Warcraft so, even if you have no intention to play Diablo 3, you may still get something out of these for your own server’s auction house.

Please feel free to add your own ideas in the comments!

1-Sell a single item for the price of a stack.
2-Bid on items just before a server maintenance period.
3-Prepare for market changes from patch notes and expansions.
4-Read major blogs/news sites and take advantage of those who follow their advice.
6-Sell items for 100%-120% of their current listed value, knowing they will eventually go for that price due to demand.
7-Sell through mediums besides the auction house (forums, whispers, etc).
8-Farm with a team.
9-Min/max your gold find/magic find and runestones for the best gold per hour.
10-Understand the price of an item on both the gold and real money auction house.
11-Combine gems into higher level ones.
12-Craft items and enchant/gem them before selling.
13-Sell materials to crafters who are trying to gamble on the best stats.
14-Craft items for a fee to other players who provide the materials.
15-Purchase cheap items and salvage them with the nephalem cube.
16-Search for items posted below vendor price.
17-Understand the choke points of the game.
18-Sell gold and materials in the beginning of an expansion or major patch when they will always sell for the most money.
19-Network with and consistently pay farmers for gathering your materials.
20-Buy low, sell high based on the cycles of when players do and don’t play the game.
21-Understand the value of items for all classes, not just your own.
22-When you see a deal, buy more than what you need at the moment.
23-Consistent income relies on consistent buying/selling of small profit items. That’s how I plan on making $25 per hour playing Diablo 3.
24-Diversify your items that you sell to the point where even if one market fails the others can keep you in the green.
25-Diversify your buying as well as your selling.
26-Sell several different stats, not just the “best” ones that others recommend.
27-It’s almost always better to invest in a pattern rather than sell it.
28-Even if you find the farming spot of your dreams, devote some time to looking for more spots each week.
29-Never stop learning and experimenting; spend 20% of your time investigating new markets.
30-Create selling “pipelines” – patterns you follow for getting materials, converting them and selling in a new form.
31-Learn the shuffles of the game – more diverse selling methods than the pipeline.
32-Max out all of your artisans asap.
33-Don’t forget to sell items at all levels, not just your maxed artisan recipes.
34-Always look for ways to minimize your time and maximize your profit in your routine.
35-Invest in an authenticator (or use your smart phone for a free authenticator).
36-When you find something that works, incorporate it into your routine but keep searching for more methods.
37-For high ticket items that are super expensive, try selling in places outside of the auction house to avoid posting fees.
38-Network with other auctioneers and share ideas on making gold; the best strategies work even with a hundred people using them.
39-Your strategy shouldn’t be hard to implement, but it should be difficult to learn.
40-Buy items that aren’t enchanted/socketed, do both and then sell it for much more.
41-When you see a max level item with bis randomly acquired stats, look into buying it out and reselling it.
42-Always be aware of the value of gold vs your currency when purchasing items on both auction houses.
43-Play more than just the single player on normal in order to better understand the game as a whole.
44-Getting max level for your artisans and playing infernal mode is the equivalent of collecting all the blueprints for a new house; it’s not built, but you have the tools now to get started for real.
45-Subscribe with your email, it’s free and you’ll get tons of great information about Diablo 3.
46-Join our forums and contribute to the discussion.
47-Ask questions, offer your own advice, and give feedback.
48-Buying is more important than selling; if you buy at the cheapest price than you have all the leverage.
49-Don’t try to sell your whole lot in one go; start off small and build up the amount of any one item you sell.
50-Record your data, even if it’s just paper and pencil.
51-Use excel to create value charts (this helps a lot with shuffles).

2 comments

BlizzCon: Battle.net Invitational Format

Posted by Ceon - October 18, 2011, 17:56


Blizzard have released the format details for the upcoming Global Battle.net Invitational:

The world’s greatest StarCraft II and World of Warcraft Arena players will come together at BlizzCon 2011 to rip each other to shreds. These top-flight competitors have been invited based on their performance in previous tournaments around the globe, and will be fighting for some serious cash and the prestigious Global Champion title.

 

 

Global Battle.net Invitational — StarCraft II

 

The StarCraft II tournament format adheres to a standard setup. All sixteen players have been seeded into a double-elimination bracket, to compete in a series of best-of-three matches. The first player to win two games will take a series. If a player loses a match, they’re not out yet, they instead move to the consolation bracket, where they could potentially come back to win the entire tournament. If a player loses two matches they are out of the running for the finals. The map pool and prizes for the StarCraft II portion of the Global Battle.net Invitational is as follows:

 

Xel’Naga Caverns
Shakuras Plateau
The Shattered Temple
Antiga Shipyard
Abyssal Caverns

 

First place – $50,000
Second place – $25,000
Third place – $10,000

 

Two rotating teams of shoutcasters will bring you all of the action; Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski will be paired up with his hetero nerd life partner Nick “Tasteless” Plott, and Sean “Day[9]” Plott will dual-cast with JP McDaniel.

 

Global Battle.net Invitational – World of Warcraft

The World of Warcraft Arena competition is going to be changing up this year. It will still be 3v3, but the tournament format has undergone some serious changes. The tournament is now broken up into two phases; Round Robin and a single elimination Championship Bracket. In addition, a new time-stacking difficulty and time limit have been implemented. At the 15-minute mark (from the time the gates are opened) in any match, a 25% healing debuff will go in to effect, and the debuff is increased by 10% each minute after that (35% at 16 minutes, 45% at 17 minutes, 55% at 18 minutes, 65% at 19 minutes). If a match hits the 20-minute mark, all players in the arena are banished and incapacitated to ensure that no more damage is issued beyond the time limit.

This banish-effect will help the referee determine the appropriate outcome based on which phase they’re currently competing in (Round Robin or the Championship Bracket).

Round Robin

  • During the Round Robin phase, every team will play a match against every other team in the tournament, providing competitors with a very even playing field. Matches in the Round Robin phase will be a best-of-three series, in which teams earn Tournament Points to advance to the Single Elimination phase. Winning a match will earn three Tournament Points, tying a match by hitting the 20-minute mark when the score is already 1-1 will earn both teams one Tournament Point, and losing a match will earn no Tournament Points. Team compositions (which class each person chooses to play) are locked for each match of the Round Robin tournament, and may only be changed between matches (ie: team compositions may not be altered between games in a single best-of-three series).

Single Elimination

  • The four highest-scoring teams from the Round Robin phase of the tournament will move on to a Single Elimination bracket with a best-of-five match format. The main difference between this phase and the Round Robin is that there are no ties, matches will be decided by Damage Done if the time limit is reached, and a team is knocked out of the tournament if they lose a match. The third place team will be decided by a consolation match between the first two teams to get knocked out of the Single Elimination Tournament.

First place – $75,000
Second place – $30,000
Third place – $15,000

All of the World of Warcraft action will be brought to you by Luke “Virulence” Bodenheimer, Jared “Vhell” Coulston, and Soe Gschwind.

Don’t forget to tune in for the free (standard definition) tournament streams during BlizzCon, or take in all the high-definition detail by snagging a Virtual Ticket.

TL/DR:

  • Time stacking healing debuff will take effect at the 15 minute mark and stack each minute
  • Teams will be banished at the 20 minute mark (aAa controversy last year…)
  • Best-of-three Round Robin (time limit will award each team a point)
  • 4 Highest teams advance to the best-of-five Single Elimination (time limit will be decided by damage done

Commentary

20 Minute Time Limit Banish

It always amazed me how Blizzard could have a 20 minute time limit and not automatically end the game at the 20 minute mark. This was certainly an issue at last year’s event.

For those who don’t know, Complexity Red was one victory away from the $75,000 prize. They managed to score a kill on aAa’s Warlock. However, despite celebrating their victory, the match was reviewed and it appeared the kill came just 3 seconds after the 20 minute time limit. Blizzard awarded the game to aAa on damage done bringing the score to 2-2 and aAa went on to take the last game and the tournament.

There’s no arguing with the Banish change. It’s for the best and finally adds some much needed clarity to the time limit. It’s a change long overdue.

Stacking Healing Debuff

This is the change that has me concerned. In fact, if 20 minutes is too long then why not limit the games to 15 minutes instead? There’s just something nagging in me about this change and it’s hard to pin point what exactly it is.

One point that does come to mind though, will this healing debuff will screw over one comp more then another? For example, Power Word: Shield isn’t normally affected by Mortal Strike effects so a Discipline Priest would technically be better off than a Holy Paladin. Of course, with 2/3s of every comp been the same, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, although abilities like AMS and Dispersion might increase in value at the 15 minute mark.

Really interested in your opinions on this one because I’m still undecided on what to make of it.

Best-of-three Round Robin:

Unfortunately, WoW is one of those games where one comp can dominate another. Indeed, one comp can make certain mistakes and get away with them while the same mistakes can cost their opponents victory. This is why I like the Round Robin format. It limits the effect of counter comps and bad luck. Furthermore, it allows us to see every possible matchup. It’s just win-win in my view.

The only issue I have with it is the best-of-three part, especially with Ring of Valor been active. Map selection can have too much of an influence on games, although this is somewhat limited by the abundance of very similar comps (Warlock/Shaman/X much).

Single Elimination

You can’t end a tournament without a proper final!

9 comments

BlizzCon: Qualifying Teams

Posted by Ceon - October 17, 2011, 18:55


With BlizzCon coming up this Friday, it’s a better time than ever to check out the teams and individuals ready to juke it out at the Global Battle.net Invitational.

While there’s been no official confirmation as yet, the line ups should look something like this:

World of Warcraft

StarCraft 2

Who will you be rooting for and what are your predictions? Share your thoughts in the comments below and vote in our poll.

Poll

[poll id="2"]