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Blizzard working with ESL on offline tourneys


Lots of people (including MMO Champion) reported over the weekend that according to this interview with David "Shawn" K of the Electronic Sports League, Blizzard is lending their support to get offline tournaments up and running. Blizzard apparently gave ESL a special event realm to run their tournaments in (Upper Deck has also used an event realm to run online tournaments and instances at their TCG events), accounts on those servers with tons of gold and PvP gear per player, and has also implemented special UI modifications for observers.

Interesting. So it seems that the ESL might be stepping up to fill in the space that the WSVG abandoned when they fell apart. In our interview with then-WSVG president Matt Ringel, he also mentioned that they were getting support from Blizzard in the form of special realms and UI mods. So it looks like ESL is now benefiting from the work Blizzard did there.

Of course, the other question we have about these types of updates is when, if ever, they'll be placed in player hands as well. Players have wanted an observation system for PvP, especially in the Arenas, for a long time, and it's not a stretch to think that if Blizzard is developing tools for professional tournaments, they might also have a plan to get those tools into player hands in some form. But even if we don't see them in the game for a long time, it's good to know that tournament development on Blizzard's end didn't die off completely with the WSVG.

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, PvP, Contests, Arena

WSVG president breaks down what happened

GameDaily BIZ tracked down Matt Ringel the (former?) president of the World Series of Videogames, to figure out just what the hell happened last week.

As you can see from our own interview with Ringel earlier this year, things seems to be rolling along great for the WSVG-- they were working with Blizzard to make presentation much better for Arena PvP, and they had gotten a deal together with CBS to show their videogame tournaments in a series of specials. But Ringel says the WSVG wasn't alone in the space-- the CPL is another big player, and one who many have cited as a successor to the WSVG-- and advertisers had a big problem determining what the differences were between all the organizations. Ringel doesn't add much more, except to say that the WSVG is really, truly dead: Games Media is going to focus on their online properties, including Gameriot.com.

As we said on the podcast last Saturday, this doesn't mean professional gaming is over-- it just means the WSVG didn't do it right. But considering the WSVG was working hand-in-hand with Blizzard to promote Arena PvP, it might mean the end of non-Blizzard professional Arena matches. My guess is that instead of partnering with another organization to run professional tournaments, Blizzard will be much more inclined to just run their own, at BlizzCon and other Blizzard-related events.

[ via Joystiq ]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP

Reminder: The WoW Insider Show is live tomorrow afternoon


Tomorrow, don't forget to tune in to WoW Radio, and check out the third episode of our official podcast, the WoW Insider Show. We're going to kick off the broadcast about 3:30pm EST (which is 8:30pm GMT, I believe), and we've got lots of great discussion items on our platter: we'll hit up AFKers in Alterac (because we haven't talked about that on the podcast yet, right?), the WSVG shutdown shocker, and all of our most popular posts of the last week.

I'm going to be back on the mic this week, and WoW Insider's Amanda Riviera will be joining me, as well as Turpster ("The T," as we like to call him) and Alris from WoW Radio. And of course we want you along for the ride as well: go to wcradio.com tomorrow to listen in live, and we'll also be sitting in the IRC channel at #wowradio on irc.mmoirc.com. And as usual, we'll be watching for your emails: theshow@wow.com is the address for your suggestions, complaints, compliments, or questions you'd like us to answer.

Tune in tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 pm EST for the third episode of the absolute best podcast about WoW Insider: we'll see you on the WoW Insider show.

Filed under: Podcasting, WoW Insider Business

WSVG shuts down, cancels all events


Wow. Last we heard, the WSVG was going gangbusters. They had events appearing on CBS, they were working with Blizzard to make Arena PvP huge, and their president was extremely optimistic about the future of professional videogaming.

But earlier this afternoon, the World Series of Videogames shut its doors, and announced that all of their future events are cancelled. In their notice, they cite the "challenge of securing adequate revenues" to keep up their big events (they had tourneys planned in LA, London, and Sweden yet this year). Games Media Properties, WSVG's parent company, says they will continue to grow the "online advertising network" of websites-- which sites these are, we're not sure.

Again, wow. GotFrag has already talked to Pandemic about the closing, and they say they're going to go into a "waiting game" as regards to professional Arena PvP, and that they're "deeply disappointed" in WSVG's "inability to finish out the season." They, too, had no idea this was coming. Will someone else step up into the WSVG's place in professional gaming promotion? Blizzard was doing a lot of work directly with the WSVG in terms of presentation, and while it's hard to say this will be the end of professional Arena PvP, there's no question this will have a major effect on professional gaming at large. The World Series of Videogames as we know it is no more.

Thanks, Jason!

Update: Curse has more, including players calling it "a huge blow to WoW professional gaming."

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, PvP

NYT covers WSVG's CBS broadcast tomorrow

The New York Times does a quick profile of the WSVG on the eve of their CBS broadcast tomorrow afternoon. I don't know if you guys knew this, but apparently gaming has been an "odd, insular subculture," and only now are gamers stepping outside into the harsh sunlight, rays blinding their sunken-in eyes as they blink at the real world around them.

Idiotic gamer stereotypes aside, the article does mention a few interesting things about how the network and the WSVG have worked together to make complicated games more accessible to an audience that may not understand them. We heard a few of the ideas, including the health bars and the "Iceblock" graphic, yesterday in our exclusive interview with WSVG President Matt Ringel (that's right, the Gray Lady is picking up WoW Insider's news scraps), but there is mention of a Guitar Hero mechanic that I hadn't heard-- at tournaments, instead of just the scoreboard, there's also a "showmanship judge" that can give points for an enthusiastic performance.

Are you planning on watching the show tomorrow? I am, but not necessarily because I expect it to be amazing. Just like I sat through the terrible comic book movie of Spawn all those years ago just so we could have a great comic book movie like Batman Begins, I'm going to give them my eyeballs tomorrow so we can hopefully have some great spectator eSports in the future.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, PvP

WoW Insider interviews WSVG President Matthew Ringel


This Sunday afternoon, July 29th, the WSVG is coming to network television. Starting at noon, CBS is showing an hourlong special of WSVG events, including their recent tournament in Louisville, as well as other events in this, their second season, leading up to the December finals in Sweden.

WoW Insider got to chat with WSVG President and Commissioner Matthew Ringel about how he's trying to turn videogames into a spectator sport, what the real standard for Arena combat is, and how you can explain a fight between six people with different specs and different classes to an audience who's never seen this game before. No easy task, to be sure. The entire exclusive interview starts right after the jump.

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Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items, PvP, Interviews

Curse previews WSVG on CBS


Curse has posted a reminder that the WSVG is bringing WoW Arena combat to CBS one week from Sunday, July 29th, at noon. They've even got a video up from CBS promoting not only the WoW tournament, but also Fight Night 3 and even Guitar Hero. If you never thought a Guitar Hero tournament would ever appear on network television, you can join the club-- the line starts right next to me.

Right now, as Curse says, Team Pandemic is the team to watch in Arena matchups, but word is that Insurrection and a couple of other teams will make a showing as well. Supposedly, only 3v3 will be shown, which is a little strange because Blizzard seems to be promoting 5v5 as the standard for Arena play (you actually gain more points in game for winning at 5v5), but maybe CBS figured having ten players in one match would be a little too confusing. Of course the big question will be how it's presented-- will CBS be able to make a so far practically unwatchable event interesting enough to pull in a larger audience? Find out on July 29th.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, PvP

WSVG coming to Dallas this week


The World Series of Video Games is making their stop in Dallas, Texas starting tomorrow, July 5th and ending on Sunday, July 8th. And as always, World of Warcraft 3v3 arena tournaments are on the agenda! I'm afraid registration for the event is closed (though if you show up you can register for a chance at a competition spot opening up), but if you're in the area, you can certainly attend and watch some skilled arena players at work (for the $10 cost of admission). The real question is whether the pros at Team Pandemic will win again: so far, they've won both of the WSVG's WoW arena tournaments. And remember -- one lucky arena team will be winning an all-expenses paid trip to BlizzCon 2007!

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Contests, BlizzCon

Pandemic wins again at WSVG Louisville

WSVG's Louisville event took place this past weekend, and the results say that Pandemic has done it again, winning the 5v5 3v3* tourney and taking home the big prize of $10,500. Nice work if you can get it!

Pandemic, you'll remember, won it all in China as well. They definitely look like a winning arena team-- Warrior, Paladin, two Priests, a Shammy and a Mage. Strangely enough, both Priests are Disc/Holy, which might not surprise you arena vets, but it surely surprised me. Their Paladin is Holy, too, while the Shammy is a more reasonable Elemental, and their Warrior is specced Arms.

Grats to Pandemic for that one-- the next WSVG WoW arena event will be in Dallas on July 5-8 (and if you haven't signed up yet, they're giving away Blizzcon tickets to a few lucky participants). Will Pandemic three-peat? Considering their arena season 2 score is 22-1, it seems a pretty safe bet.

Full list of this weekend's winners and their prizes after the jump.

*Update: My fault, this was a 3v3 tourney, not a 5v5. The team on the Armory may or may not have been the team that played, or if it was it's likely they switched players in and out. Thanks, commenters evo_dragon and Den!

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Filed under: Events, Guilds, News items, PvP

Curse interviews HUKs, WSVG kicks off in Louisville

Just in time for the WSVG's kickoff of the Louisville event this weekend, Curse has a video interview up with THE HUKHUKHUKHUKHUKS of Flow Gaming, the US Regional 5v5 Champions. The interview itself isn't really that gripping unless you really follow this arena tournament stuff (I like that they do fit in at least one sports interview cliche: "I feel really good about our win today"). There one complaint about the way WSVG handles gear-- apparently, they give everyone standard gear to make sure things are balanced, but HUK's Shaman says that he gets resilience gear rather than the stamina and crit that he usually uses.

Unfortunately Curse doesn't ask about the disqualifications that happened recently (when players were found to be using each other's accounts, against the ToU), but they do ask about another problem I have with WSVG, and that is commentating the matches for spectators. As the players say, "they don't even have a good system to really view the matches as they're happening." So there's a nice goal for some would-be entertainment mogul: figure out a way to make watching players play videogames both understandable and interesting.

Meanwhile, the WSVG is in Louisville, and their sparse schedule says they've got WoW on the menu for all four days. If you can't make it down there, Curse will have streaming video all weekend (if you can get it to work-- I couldn't) right here.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Ranking, Guilds, PvP

WSVG giving away Blizzcon tickets to lucky 3v3 team

Want to hit up Blizzcon but don't want to shell out for the ticket? Our contact at the World Series of Videogames sends along a note that they're sending one lucky guild to Blizzard big event in Anaheim, California. The catch? They'll be picking one lucky 3v3 team at random from all of the teams that attend their next event in Dallas, Texas on July 5-8.

Yeah, it's kind of a big hoop to jump through (especially when you can just pay $100 now to get your own ticket anyway). But then again, tickets are going fast (I got mine the other day), and if you're planning on going to the event in Dallas anyway, it's a nice bonus. Interesting that they're giving it away to a lucky 3v3 guild-- maybe they need more of them to fill out the brackets? If you're interested, register an account on the WSVG site, sign up for the event when you're logged in, and then you've actually got to show up to the event to be eligible.

We'll keep you updated on more giveaways as they come along-- WoWWiki has already given away a couple of tickets to their own contributors, and we're sure there will be a few more in different places in the days to come.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Guilds, Odds and ends, News items, PvP, BlizzCon

WSVG makes a deal to show events on CBS

Looks like at least someone thinks there's an audience for arena PvP-- World Series of Video Games has announced they've signed a deal with CBS (yes, that CBS) to show four one-hour episodes featuring four of their upcoming events. Which means you could be seeing WoW arena matches (including a few guilds dueling it out in real life) on network television in the near future.

Our good friends at Joystiq say the play-by-play will be done by some dude named Greg Amsinger, who has called WSVG events before. He's not the same guy they've got calling arena matches now, is he? Because if so, they should shell out for someone new. No word yet either on who's producing it or what it will be like-- we don't even know for sure that they'll show WoW. They may decide to stick to the slightly-more-accessible first person shooter matches for network TV.

But if you want to watch, the first special is supposed to drop on July 29th, just a few days after the WSVG event in Louisville. Are eSports really going to turn out to become big ticket spectator sports? Looks like we're about to find out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Machinima, News items, PvP

The WSVG can send your guild to the Blizzard offices


Not feeling satisfied with the answers you're getting from the CMs? Want to take your issues to the source? The WSVG Guild Challenge is giving guilds a chance to win a trip to beautiful Irvine, California, home of the Blizzard headquarters. The winning guild will get to tour the offices and have lunch with members of the development team, as well as be there for the WSVG event at E for All in October.

The competition will be held in both Louisville, Kentucky and Dallas, Texas, and it will be a great way for your guild to show some skills in IRL games and in game events.

The events give guilds a chance to battle in game in an all out Gurubashi Arena free for all as well as 5v5 arena tournaments. Outside the game (I know, as if there is such a thing) guilds can Sumo wrestle their way to the top, as well as compete in a jousting tourney and guild versus guild Tug-O-War.

Brush off your raiding skills in the BYOC $30,000 tournament during the day, and then stay for the Guild Challenge at night. Then make sure to let WoW Insider know about the experience so we can share your victory with the world. Register for Louisville or Dallas soon so your guild can reign supreme.

Filed under: Events, Guilds

Arena battles and "Must-See PvP"

Terra Nova has a good piece up asking a question I've been thinking about ever since I saw video of the WoW arena fights at WSVG: even if Blizzard (or anyone else) sets up the technology for us to watch professional arena fights live, are they really going to be "must see PvP"?

Joshua from TN says yes-- he says he enjoys watching for tips, including how the players move, what targets they take, what strategies they employ, and so on. Personally, I have to disagree. I enjoy playing arena or fighting in the battlegrounds as much as the next guy, but when it comes to watching just the ingame fight, I just can't get into it. Part of it really is the presentation; WSVG could do a much better job explaining what's happening, just by showing the teams' makeup and their separate goals before they mix it up, and also by getting a new announcer ("It seems" like he repeats himself, and "that's going to be the case"). They do pull it off once-- in the China team vs. the Pandemic match (which I can't direct link to for some reason-- WSVG should fix that, too), the fight comes down to a mage vs. a warrior, and that fight is simple and easy enough to understand that the tension actually builds to an amazing victory. With the rest of the matches, though, things are too crazy and chaotic for anyone but a really knowledgeable viewer to keep it interesting.

So even if the presentation was broadcast quality, I would think that the only people interested in watching these videos were the top arena players themselves. No one else would have the knowledge they need to catch every spell interrupt and every strategy choice. And the natural appeals of other sports, I think-- the glory of a football player making the play for his team-- don't apply here unless you show the actual people behind the keyboards, or at least show what that big Tauren warrior is doing when he goes for the priest instead of the mage. Will arena PvP ever be a really good spectator sport?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Machinima, PvP

Team Pandemic takes the prize in China

[Pandemic wins World of Warcraft Arena WSVG finals in China! Faces are melted! Film at 11...]
They started out as Power Trip, and were the first WoW arena team to have official sponsors. But today, team Pandemic proved that all the money and hype weren't for nothing. After coming up through the ranks, which included 63 Chinese teams, one European team, and one other American team, Pandemic went on to dominate in the finals against Fnatic 3-0. This makes Pandemic the current WSVG World of Warcraft Champions. And considering the roar from the crowd when Pandemic was awarded their prize, it appears that WoW Arena teams are most definitely a welcome addition to competitive gaming.

The secret to team Pandemic's success appears to have been due to a combination of factors. One of the first, and most notable, is that the Chinese teams have not had access to the Burning Crusade expansion for nearly as long. This meant that those hometown teams were playing with spells and abilities that they are not very used to, whereas the US/EU teams have had the chance to get used to them for months. However, one of the most telling things in the final match was that both ending teams used a solid Warrior, Mage and Paladin combination. Why would this prove to be such a big deal? It's use put Pandemic in a far stronger place than Fnatic from the word go, as Fnatic's mage, Sander 'Vo0' Kaasjager, has only been playing his class for approximately three weeks. Both teams appeared to focus on the strategy of forcing the opposing team's mage to burn their two Ice Blocks as quickly as possible, which, combined with some poor crowd control and just plain bad luck on the side of Fnatic, proved to be the winning combination for Team Pandemic when it came down to it.

Now we wait and see what happens next when the WSVG reconvenes in Louisville on June 21-23. Hopefully the camera work for the webcast will be a bit better this next time. Or better yet, that a channel like G4 picks up the final rounds at least. For now, the China WSVG videos are all over the Internet, for those interested in catching the highlights of some of the finger-twitching-good action.

(The current team rankings and prizes awarded are beyond the cut.)

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Filed under: News items, PvP

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