Counter Strike: The Rising Star of eSports

It’s the game that is beginning to dominate the eSports scene. Even though Counter Strike: Global Offensive was only released in 2012, it has grown bigger and better in the last four years and is now quickly becoming the most popular competitive scene around.

Developed by Valve, this game is a 5v5 ‘shoot-em-up’, or so it seems at first glance. It is however, very complicated, and involves tactics and numbers that are hard to get your head around. Some top teams that you may have heard of include:

  • Natus Vincere
  • Team Liquid
  • Counter Logic Gaming
  • Cloud9
  • Virtus.pro
  • Fnatic

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These teams come from right across the globe, from America, Russia and Sweden among others. This has helped the Counter Strike competitive community to gain a worldwide audience, and that really shows in their viewing figures. On average, around 10,000 people pack in to stadiums to see the teams take on each other in person, while millions more watch at home on livestreams. Prize pools for tournaments vary, but are never usually less than $100,000.

In the past year, Counter Strike tournaments have made it ‘big-time’. A deal was reached to create a major tournament, one which would put CS on the map in the mainstream media. The result of this was ELeague, which has been a huge success. The further stages of the tournaments were even broadcast on American network TBS, to millions of people.

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ELeague Season 1 Final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt46id0iwMg

This was a huge boost for the competitive scene, and it won’t stop there. Expect to see Counter Strike on your TV screens a lot more regularly in the very near future.

eSports and Real Sports… is There a Link?

From what you have read on this blog so far, you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that eSports and physical sports are vastly different and are in no way related. However, in the past few years, these two differing sides of the spectrum have slowly been making links, and bringing the two closer together.

One of the first major sports to start links with its gaming namesake was football. Specifically, many teams in England’s top leagues have delved into this new opportunity.

Both Manchester City and West Ham have signed top FIFA players to their club. They see this as a great way of extending the club’s brand into a growing industry that is very popular among young people in particular.

BBC NEWS ARTICLE


German side Wolfsburg are taking eSports very seriously indeed, having signed on a number of professional FIFA players in recent years. Wolfsburg Managing Director Thomas Röttgermann has come out and said: “For us, eSports was a win-win situation – we could be a first mover and create new and innovative content for our young fans at Wolfsburg, and also get more fans into eSports. We want to show we take eSports seriously.”


One other sport that is embracing the technological age of sports is Formula E. As this is a relatively new Motorsport, only conceived five years ago, it has had no trouble appealing to the younger generation. Coming up this week is Formula E’s VISA Vegas eRace, where Formula E drivers and eSports athletes will go head to head in a simulated race. If you think this is just going to be a small event in a back room somewhere, you are sorely mistaken. The prize pool for the race is a whopping $2 million, so this is being taken very seriously indeed by Formula E organisers.

ARTICLE ON FIA SITE

eSports may not be anywhere near as popular as regular sports yet, but with the links that are being made by sports all around the world, it might not be long before competitive gaming comes into the norm.

Is COD eSports Really Global?

When people think of gaming and competitive eSports, they tend to think of Asia, for one reason or another. Maybe it’s their technological advancements, or maybe it is that they are proven to be some of the best gamers in the world. Whatever reason, this stereotype may be true for certain games such as League of Legends or DOTA, but is completely different from COD eSports.

Call of Duty in fact has almost no influence and following in Asia. Instead, it is most popular in North America, Europe and Australia. That is because this is where all professional teams originate from. In the past, the competitive scene has been dominated by North American teams, but European and Australian teams have grown in popularity and success in the past few years.

North America has dominated with teams such as Optic Gaming, Faze and Team Envyus. These teams can be made up of players of different nationalities, but are based in the US. These teams have been able to attract the best players in the world through their success and the US lifestyle. The majority of COD audiences also live in America, so are more likely to support teams based there. The majority of tournaments are also held in America, in places such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

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Although COD eSports is not nearly as popular in Europe, their are still some top teams that hail from there. One prime example would be Team Infused, who have enjoyed some success in recent years against some larger opposition. This team happens to include Mark ‘MarkyB’ Bryceland, the only Scottish player on the competitive COD scene. Some of the yearly tournaments are held in the UK, with the most prominent of these being the Gfinity Masters, which is held in London during the summer.

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So although the basis of competitive Call of Duty lies in North America, it is not as if the whole scene takes place there. COD eSports can definitely be described as a global community, and hopefully this will only continue to get bigger and better.

LIST OF TEAMS

The Beginning of Infinate Warfare: MLG Vegas Review

16-18 December saw the first major event of the new competitive Call of Duty season, MLG Vegas.

MLG Vegas Main Site: http://www.majorleaguegaming.com/mlgvegas

This was really the first time that audiences got to see the game being played to a high level, and it certainly lived up to all the pre-event hype. With $40,000 on the line for the winning team, the weekend was no joke for everyone involved. 

The tournament format was modified from the format that it was in last season, and it gave smaller teams a greater chance of success. Teams were placed in pools based on their rankings in the COD World League (CWL). These teams would competed against each other as well as the best amateur teams, who would play each other in an attempt to face off against the big boys. This made each match very exciting as it gave unknown players and teams a chance to shine on the big stage.

Throughout the whole weekend, every match was thrilling to watch, from the first match between Cloud 9 and Team Kaliber, all the way through to the Grand Final between the former and the eventual winners, Rise Nation (Logo Below).

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The viewing experience online of the event was better than ever before, with viewer interaction a key focus between the tournament livestream and social media. All in all, the non-stop action and viewer enticing stream left me captivated for the entire weekend. To be honest, I didn’t do much else but watch Call of Duty for three straight days.

Below is a clip of just a fraction of the action from the weekend, and you can see for yourself what makes this community so popular.

 

Even though this was only the first event of  the new Infinite Warfare season, it showed huge potential for the year as a whole, and it has left competitive Call of Duty fans hungry for more.

 

 

Domination: The Rise of Optic Gaming

Quite often in sports, there will be one team that dominates over all others in terms of talent and finances. eSports is no different.

The business empire that is Optic Gaming stretches right across eSports, with the brand recognised the world over. 

Created in 2006 by two friends playing Call of Duty 2, it has developed into something that they could never have dreamed of, and the success of the organisation is clear to see.

Optic currently has a team for four separate competitive games: Call of Duty, Halo, and the recently acquired Counter Strike and Gears of War rosters.

All four of these teams compete right across the world at the highest level of eSports, and are easily recognised as some of the very best eSports athletes in the world.

One recent example is the Optic Counter Strike team, who have just been crowned winners of ELeague, where the best teams in the world compete for huge cash prizes. The league is so popular that the final between Optic and Astralis was shown live on American network TV.

This was a huge achievement for a brand which was only conceived around 10 years ago, and it is not only TV that is exposing the OG name.

Both former and current Optic players are some of the biggest stars in the YouTube gaming scene. Some examples are listed below:

Optic Nadeshot – Former COD player – 2.8 million subscribers


Optic Scumpii – Current COD player – 2.1 million subscribers


Optic Hecz – Owner of Optic Gaming – 800,000 subscribers


Optic Hitch – Optic Content Creator – 140,000 subscribers


This clearly highlights that almost every sector of the OG franchise has an internet presence in some way, which is especially important in today’s society.

The rise of Optic Gaming is something that is rare, even in the world of eSports. If they continue with this level of growth and fame, it’s many members could become very, very successful indeed.

Here are some links that show the diversity and size of the Optic brand:

Website

Twitter

YouTube

Call of Duty eSports 2016: Bigger and Better than Ever Before

Competitive Call of Duty couldn’t possibly have gone any better in 2016. Although not the most popular eSport around, it boasts some of the biggest and best personalities in the industry.

This year saw it grow exponentially, with a huge increase in viewing figures, more teams competing than ever before, and bigger and better tournaments. This was partly down to the general success of this year’s game, Black Ops 3. The game proved to be a hit for competitive gameplay, and so this made it better to watch and understand for the fans.

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The showpiece of the year for the competitive COD community was Call Of Duty XP. This was a tournament held in Los Angeles over 4 days which brought together every professional team from all corners of the globe. The overall prize pool for the event was a whopping $2 million, with each player on the winning team taking home a cool $200,000. Each team even got $15,000 just for turning up! And critics say that gaming doesn’t pay…

So you may be thinking, what could you buy with that prize money?

133,332 Mars Bars

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290 iPhone 6’s

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47,732 Gallons of Diesel

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So being a professional Call of Duty player certainly has it’s benefits.

Overall, the year was dominated by three teams, Optic Gaming, Faze Clan, and there was a late resurgence from Team Envyus who won COD XP and were crowned Champions of 2016. Although this domination was evident, there was still lots of exciting competition to be had and it was always exciting to watch, no matter who was playing.

Here you can watch the Grand Finals of COD XP between Envyus and Splyce, just to see what all the fuss is about. Skip to the end if you want to see the passion and energy that accompanies this great industry…

I have to admit, there were some very late nights over the course of the year, not least during COD XP, as most of the games take place in the USA and it was just unmissable.

Call of Duty this year has exploded in the mainstream media and the whole community is excited to see just what 2017 will bring.

 

Sports Indoors?!?! The Rise of Competative eSports

When most people think of competitive sports, they think of mud and sweat, team games or individual trials being played out in the pouring rain. However, this is a common misconception in today’s society.

There is a new kind of sport gaining in popularity, one which can be competed in from the comfort of your own home, possibly with a mug of tea and a few chocolate digestives at your side.

eSports.

It’s a growing phenomenon which is easily confusing to people who are not used to gaming, technology, or anyone over the age of forty. “People can make money just from playing video games?” they exclaim! They certainly can, and not just make money, but become very successful individuals.

eSports is growing in popularity at an exponential rate, partly due to the increasing availability of the internet, as well as the demand from young people for immediate entertainment. Live streaming has become an integral part of eSports, with tournaments being watched by hundreds of thousands of people right across the world.

Not only do the players and teams compete for huge prizes in tournaments, they can also earn revenue through advertising on social media, sponsorship and many competitive gamers also maintain very successful YouTube channels. One prime example of this would be Seth ‘Scumpi’ Abner, who is the Captain of Call of Duty team Optic Gaming. Scumpi, as well as being considered the best Call of Duty player of all time, has a YouTube channel boasting over 2.1 million ‘Scumpscribers’.

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In essence, the competitive eSports scene is only just starting to gain momentum, but for those who are sceptical of the movement’s merits, the next few years could lead to them being proved very, very wrong.