Every Monday, The Meta‘s staff writers round up the best esports stories from over the weekend for your reading pleasure.
Header art by Gareth Damian Martin.
We won’t talk about how well their Overwatch squad is doing, but when a Cloud9 team comes in second, or loses a close match, it’s typical Cloud9. It probably has a lot to do with how North American esports compare to rest of the world, and at Dreamhack Bucharest this weekend, we got a good look at how Cloud9’s new CS:GO squad stacks up against the long-standing VP team.
In the first map, on Train, Cloud9 won the pistol round, but lost the half a decisive 12 rounds to 3. In the second half, playing as Counter-Terrorists, they managed to go on a short run of five rounds, but couldn’t get past VP’s lead. The second map, Cobblestone, got off to a better start for Cloud9: the two teams traded rounds in the first half, which ended 9 to 6, with C9 up three rounds. The second half saw VP win ten rounds in a row to end the game, and the match. After the semi-final, HLTV’s Striker asked C9.Autimatic which team he wanted to play against, and he said he wanted to play against the best: “I think we’d rather play VP just to see where we’re standing against the top teams, that would be really interesting.”
If you’re a North American esports fan, I’ll bet there was a moment—probably in talking to a friend who had a different favorite game from you—when you realized Cloud9 have the same reputation across the board. There’s no such thing as a curse, of course, and these teams are different organizations with different leaders and captains and coaches and schedules—but they’ve all ended up labeled as the team that cracks at the last minute.
C9 have been blowing through their North American competition, and VP had a terrible tournament at Star Series last week, but this loss felt decisive. Starting in three days, Cloud 9 will play in a best of 3, double-elimination bracket to see if they can qualify for ESL One New York. If they can, they get a second chance to play against the best teams in CS:GO, and well, that could be really interesting.
Say what you will about CS:GO and Hearthstone “tournaments:” the esports event of this weekend (and possibly the century?) was unquestionably the SanDisk EG Dota 2 Fan Meet at AFKgg Gamer Lounge. Is there anything more satisfying than watching Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg juke the bejeezus out of a couple players of indeterminate (but, safe to say, low) MMR? How about watching Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg and a team of 4 random players methodically crush Old Man Clinton “Feeeeer” Loomis and his team of 4 random but invariably inferior players over and over? And how could we forget Artour “Arteezy” Babaev sticking his face in Zai’s webcam to ask Twitch chat their vitriolic opinion of his nascent upper lip hair (Verdict: 32% “burn it,” 18% “sex,” 50% BabyRage emote)?
Truth be told, the reason it was so fun to watch the SanDisk EG Dota 2 Fan Meet at AFKgg Gamer Lounge was that the SanDisk EG Dota 2 Fan Meet at AFKgg Gamer Lounge was our first chance to see New EG all together in the same place. Never has there been a more promising group of young Dota lads. If Arteezy isn’t the best carry in the world, he’s a close second. If Universe isn’t the best offlaner in the world, he’s a close second. If Zai/Crit/Sumail… you get the drift. I am confident stating that there has never been a team in Dota 2 with a Top Two player in every single position. UNTIL NOW.
There’s a 50% chance that this team flames out in spectacular and gruesome fashion. There’s also a 50% chance that this is the best Dota 2 team ever assembled. But no matter what happens, there’s an 100% chance that watching the boys in blue yuk it up at the SanDisk EG Dota 2 Fan Meet at AFKgg Gamer Lounge was an excellent way to spend my Sunday evening.
Just weeks after the launch of Hearthstone’s new expansion One Night in Karazhan, the competitive metagame is still in flux. Dragon Warriors are still curving out like crazy. Druids are still getting mad value out of Fandral Staghelm. Mages are still out-tempo-ing the crap out of everyone. Theoretically, there’s no better time to have a tournament than now, and this weekend’s HCT Americas Summer Championship gave us a nice range of playstyles–even if the deck archetypes weren’t all that varied.
The tourney was filled with Dragon Warriors (many of them banned straightaway), a ton of Yogg and Malygos Druids, some aggro Shaman decks, and a wide array of midrange Hunter decks. We also saw a few Freeze Mage decks from top players like Dude7597, and although the deck wasn’t in a majority of players’ lineups, the ones who had mastered it tended to do pretty well in the tournament.
One thing worth noting is the number of game sevens we saw this weekend. It happened in multiple series throughout the tourney, and it happened again in the final game between Tarei and HotMEOWTH. Many will blame the swingy nature of the sets on Yogg-Saron, the out-of-control spellcasting endgame card. And while the card has drawn tons of flak for its random effects, it actually didn’t perform too well this weekend. Instead, the more likely culprit for the near 50-50 split this weekend was the tournament’s Conquest format, where each player has to cycle to a different deck after a victory. With such powerful decks out there, most competitors had trouble closing out their matchups when closed out to their last resort decks. Let’s hope that we see a bit more consistent deck selection for the World Championship at BlizzCon this November, as well as a few more off-meta choices.