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Posts with tag eSports

Blizzard on eSports: WoW is kind of hard to watch

I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that one of the reasons World of Warcraft hasn't made as big a splash in the world of eSports as games like League of Legends is because, simply put, you can't really watch it as well as other games. Blizzard itself isn't unaware of this. According to Kim Phan, Blizzard's Sr. Manager of eSports, one of the issues they're looking at is the fact that WoW simply wasn't designed to be something people watched the way bigger eSports games are.

"I can definitely say that WoW 3v3 Arena right now is kind of hard to watch, in the form that it is," he told PCGamesN. "And so there are things that we want to evaluate."

"World of Warcraft was obviously created well before eSports blew up to the way it is now. It is taking a game that was out before all of this happened, and then figuring out how to enhance it and support it . . . What makes something an eSport really depends on what people want to see."

It's a sticky problem, to be sure - how do you promote WoW as an eSport when it's kind of hard for anyone to really watch it? I think she's dead on the mark there. Spectator mode's a nice idea, but I think we need to consider how to make stuff like Rated Battlegrounds attractive as a competitive eSport as well - larger teams would make it something relatively few such games do.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, PvP

Hearthstone tournament now open to all

Yesterday we reported about the oddity of a Hearthstone tournament that didn't allow women to compete. The reason? The International e-Sports Federation wanted gaming to be recognized as a "true sport," and was following the professional sports model of gender division. With fewer women competitors than men, this led to tournaments with a large selection of gaming events for men, but few for women -- in the case of this tournament, Hearthstone, Dota 2, and Ultra Street Fighter IV were all men-only events.

While e-Sports are often gender-divided (competitive StarCraft is notable in this regard), the idea of a men-only Hearthstone tournament was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back. Among many others, Blizzard spoke out against IeSF policy, telling VentureBeat, "One of our goals with e-sports is to ensure that there's a vibrant and also inclusive community around our games. We do not allow the use of our games in tournaments that do not support this, and are working with our partners to ensure they share the same goal."

The end result is that the IeSF has reversed the policy, and offers events open to all genders as well as women-only events to encourage the participation of women in the male-dominated field of pro gaming. It's a setup that's similar to the competitive chess scene, which has both a World Chess Championship in which anyone can compete and a Women's World Chess Championship. Now, at the 6th e-Sports World Championship BAKU 2014, men and women will be able to compete together in StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone tournaments, while there's also a women's only StarCraft 2 tournament. Time to get your game on!

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider

First pro-gamer recognized as an athlete by U.S. Government

A huge step forward has been taken for eSports as StarCraft II pro Kim "viOLet" Dong Hwan has been recognized as an athlete by the U.S. Government. As his sponsors, CSA, and TheDailyDot report, viOLet was one of the first to apply for the P-1A visa when it was opened to pro gamers five months ago. The visa doesn't allow him to permanently reside in the U.S., but does permit him to enter temporarily to participate in tournaments and the like, and is the same as is awarded to other athletes.

While this is undoubtedly a fantastic turn of events for a StarCraft II player whose career has been fraught with mishaps, it is the bigger picture that's really important here. This sets a precedent for eSports' recognition as something on a level footing with traditional sports. It allows pro-gamers to be categorized with traditional athletes, and will only serve to further the reach of eSports and gaming. The normalization of a historically stigmatized industry is nothing but good for gaming and gamers alike. Congratulations, viOLet!

Filed under: News items, StarCraft 2

Still no spectator mode in the works for WoW arena

Still no spectator mode in the works for WoW arena
While there are many changes in store for the arena in patch 5.4, there are still no development plans for a spectator mode according to EU community manager, Nakatoir.

The latest blue post on the matter reiterates much of what we've heard before -- that yes, a spectator mode would be awesome but would require great number of resources to develop. Thus it's not currently in the cards.

Nakatoir -- Spectator mode and the esport scene in general
I don't deny that getting a working spectator mode would help with community ran competitions and tournaments and it's one of the reasons that we would like to have one. Understand that this is something we know that players want and it's something that we would like to provide to you. We simply have no plans at this time to implement such a feature, but when we are able to implement this feature we'll be sure to let you know about it.


Given the incoming arena and PvP changes slated to arrive in patch 5.4, one might expect the demand for a spectator feature to increase, but who knows for sure? What do you think? Would having spectator mode increase your interest and participation in arena? Do you think the WoW eSports community would grow if there was a dedicated spectator mode like the ones found in StarCraft 2 or League of Legends?

Filed under: PvP

Blizzard purchases IGN Pro League

Blizzard Buys IGN Pro League
Blizzard has bought the technology and other assets related to the IGN Pro League. The future of IPL was up in the air due to IGN layoffs back in February with 1UP, UGO, and Gamespy closing shop. Now we know what the fate of IPL will be. Some members of the team will be moving over to San Francisco to work on "high-quality web and mobile content in support of Blizzard games" but it appears that the actual operations of IPL will be coming to a close. Other members will be joining Blizzard's existing eSports team and possibly assisting them with the recently announced Starcraft 2 World Championship Series.

Personally, I've enjoyed watching the League of Legends and Starcraft 2 tournaments that IPL held. I'm quite sad to see them go as I was impressed by the level of quality in their productions. Best of luck to everyone involved!


Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Shifting Perspectives: Spring cleaning

Shifting Perspectives The sound and the furry
Every week (sort of), WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, the bookmarks folder gets the root cellar treatment.

I've been away from the game since the holidays due to what I will politely refer to as technical difficulties. (I have a variety of impolite terms for it too, but this is a family blog.) During that time, I've watched the game from the sidelines and have grown bored enough to do some maintenance on stuff that usually gets ignored until I'm rooting through it in a hurry. Add-ons were updated, dead blog links were sent to their folder, interesting ones were added, and then I turned to my collection of bookmarks in order to prune there as well.

I have a pretty sizable cache of druid or druid-related links that's grown over the years, and a lot of them are still pretty interesting. In the absence of the ability to talk about what's actually happening in the game with any fluency, I thought it might make a decent stopgap Shifting. This is a selection that's kept me absorbed for many an hour on a snowy weekend, and it ranges from comparisons between druid and warrior tanks in the classic game to where you fall on a healer's priority list when you're a jackass.

Read more →

Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Mike Morhaime talks about eSports, pro-gaming

If for some reason you didn't recognize this year's Battle.net World Championship as a move towards cementing Blizzard's role in the pro-gaming world, Mike Morhaime is making the subtext into text. Clearly, with the release of Starcraft II's Heart of the Swarm expansion coming on in March 2013, Mister Morhaime's been thinking about how eSports are going to evolve, and whether or not there's a role for them in the US market.

There's a lot of room for improvement in that area. It's really going to take mainstream news publications to start treating eSports like sports, and when events like this happen, report on them. Give them the recognition that they deserve. These guys are very good, and I think that the people that follow eSports recognize them as at the same level as pro athletes, but I think the mainstream press really needs to start covering it that way as well.

So to take a look at Mike's thoughts about how piracy affected Warcraft, how Starcraft II functions as an eSport, about what he calls 'so-called free to play games', about the lack of respect for pro gamers and a lot more, head on over to Forbes and read what the man has to say.


Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

SK Gaming wins MLG Columbus


The dominance of Rogue/Mage/Priest continues as SK Gaming defeated eMazing Gaming's faceroll Unholy/BM/Holy comp in the Major League Gaming Columbus Grand Finals 6-3 (best of 11 counting previous matchups). SK Gaming took home the $9,000 Grand Prize in the first leg of the MLG 2009 pro circuit, proving that the US still has a competitive RMP team. Europe's RMP contingent, Ensidia, barely missed the Finals after dropping to eMG in the prior round.

Some of the teams didn't do so well despite expectations, such as two-time MLG winners Fnatic, who were playing without their Warrior, Rhaegyn. Fnatic did rather poorly, playing a Rogue/Warlock/Shaman comp that simply couldn't match up against the dominant RMPs or even eMG's Death Knight/Hunter/Paladin. Evil Geniuses also played below par, but there really have to be teams that occupy the bottom of the standings. The good news is that teams collect points through all MLG legs to tally at the end of the season, so we might see some changes in the next MLG stops.

All the matches were streamed through three different sites via Octoshape, but the streams were choppy and often stalled more than it did in the first two days of the tournament. It came to the point where the matches were simply unwatchable, which is a shame because there were some pretty good games on the last day. The shoutcasters did an excellent job commentating on the matches but camerawork and the pace of the games were just too fast at times to appreciate. Arena Tournaments could benefit greatly from instant replays, slow motion, and camera angles beyond the third person view. Replays should be available on GotFrag soon.

Filed under: Events, News items, PvP, Arena

MLG Columbus Day Two concludes


The second day of competition at the Major League Gaming 2009 Pro Circuit has just wrapped up, with SK Gaming leading all teams with a 5-1 record followed closely by eMazing Gaming and Europe's Ensidia with identical 4-1 slates. The entire event was streamed live through MLG's site, as well as GotFrag and MMO Champion, and if you missed them there are short recaps of the matches over at GotFrag, as well as a brief match overview. The Arena Tournament uses a best-of-five format where no maps are played twice, which is a great concession to the fact that some team comps play better in particular maps.

Over $15,000 are at stake in the tournament, with the first place winner taking home $9,000. It's been an exciting two days so far, and even though the Rogue/Mage/Priest comp continues to exert its dominance in the format, the current environment has also opened up to relatively newer comps such as Rogue/Warlock/Shaman and Death Knight/Hunter/Paladin. Day three will see which team comes out on top and takes home the prize, with the rest of the matches in this roundrobin tournament streamed live tomorrow at 9am EST.

Filed under: Events, PvP, Arena

Blizzard partners with ESL TV for Blizzard eSports Channel

Blizzard has announced a partnership with ESL TV to bring streaming footage of eSport competitions of Blizzard's games, including Warcraft 3, WoW, and Starcraft. The service has been dubbed the Blizzard eSports Channel, likely due to its preponderance of Blizzard, eSports, and channels (but no man can be truly certain). The service is accessible for World of Warcraft subscribers through the Account Management page of WoW's main site.

This is pretty cool news for the type of people who like to watch really, really good players have it out, replete with commentary. I visited the site today and found that there was not only a ton of archived games to watch, but there was a bunch of live games going on too. You can filter the videos and live channels by the game or game type, too, in case you hate watching Starcraft players practice their uber micro but just love Sentinels on Scourge action.

I imagine the chances are pretty good that we'll see Starcraft 2 added to the list of games available for viewing once it's launched, too, as well as future titles that make their way to Battle.net.

Given Blizzard's years-long push now for better representation in the eSports world, this is a neat step in the right direction, even if it might not be everybody's cup of tea. If you love eSports, it's worth a look; if not, then OMG! No rush.

Filed under: News items

Orangemarmalade's 1 vs. 2 comeback explained


Orange is my master now.

It's fairly common to see professional Arena teams to concede defeat after losing a member in tournaments. It happens all the time. You wouldn't fault them for it, either, considering that if you do the math, 3 will always be more than 2, and 2 will always be more than 1. So it was no surprise that when SK-Gaming Asia went up two players to one in the fourth match of their best of five series against H O N, even the commentator was congratulating them and writing H O N off. Most players would've left the match.

Orangemarmalade, H O N's Mage who was left in a lopsided situation against SK-Gaming's Priest and Mage, showed us all why he's one of the greatest Mages to ever PvP. Korean team H O N won the ESL Global Finals in a most dramatic fashion and will always be remembered as one of the best moments in professional Arena competition. This video from th Electronic Sports League gives us the play-by-play on how Orange pulled off such an improbable win.

Read more →

Filed under: Mage, PvP, Guides, Arena

Victory from the jaws of defeat


Hate Arenas all you want, but I love it for the fact that you will sometimes see the grandest display of skill and mastery of the game in PvP and when those moments happen... it's magic. How appropriate then, that the most magical moment in quite possibly all professional Arena Tournament history was performed by none other than a Mage. It's a phenomenal comeback tale that ranks right up there with the greatest comebacks in sports -- and not just eSports.

Team H O N was down 1-2 against SK-Gaming Asia, better known as the Council of Mages, winners of the Worldwide Invitational in Paris. Both teams from Korea sported the same RMP comps, with some spec changes in between matches to keep everyone guessing. In the fourth match, played in the Ruins of Lordaeron, SK-Gaming showed superb control despite H O N going offensive in the first few minutes... so superb, in fact, that at one point the shoutcasters were already congratulating SK-Gaming. If you've kept abreast of the tiny bits of the ESL Global Finals here at WoW Insider, you'd already know that H O N won the tournament so it should be no spoiler that they escaped from being down 1-2 to tie and eventually win it all.

That's not the magical moment, though. You have to see it for yourself. Don't worry, the video might be long (that's just the first part of the match) but the most jawdropping moment happens right before the four minute mark. The movie may well be Moviewatch material if only because it's so unbelievable you're tempted to think it's all machinima. But the coolest thing about it is that it's not, and OrangeMarmalade will be celebrated as one of the greatest PvP Mages of all time.

Read more →

Filed under: Events, PvP, Arena

Beyond the Game examines the lives of Warcraft III players

This isn't about World of Warcraft, but it will be familiar to some of you who spent hours building up bases and creating Spirit Towers. Beyond the Game is a new documentary from the Netherlands about two world-famous Warcraft III players and how the game has affected their lives and the people around them. It looks intriguing -- having been to a few gaming tournaments and interviewed a few of the top players myself, I agree that these guys are living some really strange lives. Even if you're not a Warcraft III player, this kind of esports is getting more and more popular around the world (from the old Counterstrike to WoW's Arenas, of course), and even though it hasn't quite hit the mainstream yet, more and more players are finding this kind of existence.

The film is set to be released in parts of the EU mid-March, and is being shown at a few gaming tournaments in various places around the world. There's no word on a US or DVD release yet, but we'll keep an eye out for it.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, PvP, Interviews, Fan art, Battlegrounds, Arena

ESL Arena tournament Finals kicks off in Germany


The Intel Extreme Masters World of Warcraft Arena tournament will be culminating at the CeBit in Hanover, Germany from March 3rd to 8th, featuring the European Continental Finals as well as the Global Finals, which will determine the overall winner of the 3v3 Arena tournament. The event closes the third season of a globe-hopping event that spanned Dubai to Chengdu to Los Angeles, and a total of $280,000 in prizes is ready for the taking.

The event in Hannover is significant in that it will be the first Level 80 tournament on the pro level, with special rules changes to reduce the effects of RNG. One example is banning speccing into talents like Hunters' T.N.T., Mages' Impact, or Priests' Blackout. ESL has also elected to exclude the new Arena maps -- the gimmicky Dalaran Sewer and Orgrimmar Arena -- from the tournament. This should make the competition notably different from live realms.

The Electronic Sports League will feature live streaming videos of the matches throughout the event, with live commentary from the ESL hosts. Archives of matches throughout the tournament can also be viewed on the site or on youtube, even including popular clips outside of matches such as Swarm's infamous nerdrage breakdown. The program can be viewed through the ESL TV, as well as the live stream of all the matches. All games will be broadcast in English.

Filed under: Events, News items, PvP, Arena

Championship Gaming Series folds


In a (not so) shocking announcement on their website, The Championship Gaming Series revealed that they will be ceasing all operations immediately. The International gaming series, which expanded to every continent except Antarctica this year, is shutting down after only two seasons. The professional gaming league, which aimed to promote eSports in a flashy, televised format, was patterned after professional sports leagues with player drafts, team managers, and city-based teams.

The CGS featured five games during its two seasons, Counter-Strike: Source, Dead or Alive 4, FIFA 07, and Project Gotham Racing for Season 1; with FIFA 08 and Forza Motorsport 2 taking up the latter two slots in Season 2. Although not included in seasonal coverage, the CGS also recently promoted World of Warcraft Arena tournaments, with Europe's Nihilum winning the 2008 Championship. Arenas were also included in the CGS-run College Gaming League. A full statement from the league can be found on their site.

Filed under: News items, Arena

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