Tag Archives: esports

Blizzard Finally Comments On Hearthstone Debacle, Reduces Suspensions And Returns Prize Money

After a week of controversy surrounding its decision to boot Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai from a tournament and suspend him for a year for delivering a pro-Hong-Kong message during an official broadcast, Blizzard has finally made a statement about the situation. It plans to allow Blitzchung to collect his prize money after all and reduce his suspension.

In the statement, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack explained that while Blizzard tries to uphold company values that focus on diversity and global thinking, it also wants to keep esports events focused on games. Blitzchung broke a rule, but Brack insists that the specific words he said weren’t the issue.

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“The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made,” wrote Brack. “I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision. We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took. If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.”

Brack went on to say that, since Blitzchung did not break any rules while playing the actual game, he’ll get to collect his prize money after all. However, he’ll still be suspended. Now, though, the suspension is six months instead of a year.

“We now believe he should receive his prizing,” said Brack. “We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention. But playing fair also includes appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast. When we think about the suspension, six months for Blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses.”

Same goes for the commentators who were on duty at the time; their suspension, too, has been reduced to six months.

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“Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views,” said Brack. “One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games.”

But, as has been stated multiple times by fans, players, and commentators throughout the week, it’s hard to square this kind of faux-neutral political stance with the games Blizzard creates and the values it espouses. This is a company whose games are full of heroes fighting for freedom and equality, and China’s handling of Hong Kong has been anything but. All political statements are not equal—especially where human rights violations are concerned—and it’s disheartening to see a company with Blizzard’s legacy stand behind that kind of false equivalence in a time when games are, more than ever, intertwined with culture. Reducing Blitzchung’s suspension is a step in the right direction, but in the face of all this, it’s still hard for the company’s games and statements not to ring hollow.

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Brack opened his statement by saying that two of its core values—“Think Globally; Lead Responsibly”—apply here. But this isn’t global thinking or responsible leadership. It’s reactivity and fear of reprisal. It’s an abdication of responsibility at a time when it’s needed most.

Source: Kotaku.com

Riot Forbids League Of Legends Players And Commentators From Discussing Politics On Air

Ever since Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai got suspended for a year by Blizzard after making a declaration of support for Hong Kong earlier this week, the issue of politics during esports streams has been a hot topic. The head of Fortnite studio Epic Games, for example, said he supports players’ right to speak out about politics and human rights. Now, however, Riot has taken the opposite approach.

In a statement on Twitter, the League of Legends developer and publisher said that pro players and commentators have been told to keep their political thoughts to themselves during official broadcasts.

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“We serve fans from many different countries and cultures, and we believe this opportunity comes with a responsibility to keep personal views on sensitive issues (political, religious, and otherwise) separate,” wrote Riot global head of esports John Needham. “These topics are often incredibly nuanced, require deep understanding and a willingness to listen, and cannot be fairly represented in the forum our broadcast provides. Therefore, we have reminded our casters and pro players to refrain from discussing any of these topics on air.”

He went on to say that Riot has fans in volatile places like Hong Kong, and as a result, “we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that statements or actions on our official platforms (intended or not) do not escalate potentially sensitive situations.” In telling people to stay mum about politics, Needham said Riot hopes that League of Legends can be “a positive force that brings people together, no matter where they are in the world.”

As of 2015, Riot was fully owned by Chinese mega-company Tencent, who also owns portions of many other video game companies including Epic and Blizzard.

In this case, Riot clearly intends to remain neutral, but as Kotaku’s Joshua Rivera wrote earlier this week, video games are not neutral, and the furor surrounding Blizzard’s Hong Kong fiasco—which has led numerous players, commentators, and fans to protest—is proof of that. In making this decision, Riot is picking a side and, through its global influence, contributing to an oppressive and harmful status quo, even if it believes it’s just staying on the sidelines.

Source: Kotaku.com

Let Me Explain This Hilarious Cycling Scandal To You

Photo: Cameron Jeffers (YouTube)

Let us now chronicle the rise and sort-of fall of British YouTuber and now-former national e-cycling champion Cameron Jeffers. Unfortunately, the nouns in this story do not become that much easier to understand as we proceed, but please bear with me.

The story begins in March, when Jeffers won the first-ever British virtual racing national championship. The race was broadcast on BT Sport, and the live finals took place in front of a studio audience on the virtual cycling platform Zwift (Barry Bonds is a user). Zwift is a way to gamify the riding of a stationary bike, and the video below shows what Jeffers’s win looked like. Exciting, sure, but also, uh, different from outside road cycling. Please pay attention to the light-up tires on Jeffers’s bike, since they are at the crux of this saga.

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Six months later, British Cycling informed Jeffers that he had been stripped of the title after the governing body discovered “manipulation of pre-race data to gain an unfair advantage.” It turns out that the result of said manipulation was the very bike that Jeffers rode to the title. Jeffers’s in-game character won the race on a Concept Z1, which is better known as the Tron bike, for obvious reasons.

A website called Zwift Insider tells us it is the fastest and also “definitely the coolest” bike in Zwift (Jeffers claimed later that there are faster bikes). It seems peculiar to me that an official cycling national championship race would allow competitors to ride different virtual bikes and start on a less-than-level playing field, but that’s probably why I am neither a cycling bureaucrat nor an esports champion.

Anyway, the Concept Z1 can only be unlocked by riders who have climbed 50,000 meters in the game, a process which my friends at Zwift Insider also tell me takes “months.” Jeffers did not go through the entire process of obtaining the virtual bike through legitimate means, as several of his competitors did, instead using a simulator to trick Zwift into thinking his character had climbed all 50,000 meters. The ANT+ simulator allows users to manipulate their power, weight, and other stats in the game, and Jeffers had his character ride at 2,000 watts up long climbs, which is a lot. This gave him access to the Concept Z1, a bike whose sole drawback is that it prevents your in-game character from properly crouching in an aerodynamic position when descending. Shout out Zwift Motherfucking Insider for teaching me so much today.

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It’s worth noting here that Jeffers also races professionally on the road for Saint Piran, so he’s definitely got the talent to win an event like the 2019 British Cycling eRacing Championships on any bike. The impropriety that occurred was not significant enough that some yahoo waltzed in and won. I guess this is technically moto-doping, since a computer is a machine.

The decision came down in September, and British Cycling announced last Friday that Jeffers had been fined, suspended from all forms of racing for six months, and stripped of his title. Since Jeffers is a prolific YouTuber with 49.9k subscribers (as of publication) who tune in for cycling and travel videos with names like I’VE WAITED SO LONG TO TELL YOU THIS NEWS, I HAVE TO LEAVE AGAIN, WE MISSED THE BIKE RACE., WHAT IS THIS ON MY BIKE?!, WHEN WILL IT END, and RODE UP A HUGE HILL, to name a few, he released his version of the video that every YouTube creator will inevitably make someday: An apology video. It’s 15 minutes long, features a full length explanation of what went wrong, and it has radicalized me to Jeffers’s cause.

Shortly after he started racing on Zwift last December, an unnamed person approached Jeffers with an offer to help him get the Tron bike with the use of an ANT+ simulator. As he tells it, he wanted the Concept Z1 because “it looks cool.” British cycling actually performed a check-up on Jeffers’s gear before the finals, and he went into the championship race fully approved. He apologized for what he did, calling it “unethical and unsporting,” though he also noted that British Cycling also didn’t introduce its official e-racing regulations until March 2019, which was months after Jeffers obtained the Concept Z1 through allegedly nefarious means.

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“Kinda moving forward, I’m not really sure what this means,” Jeffers said. “I kinda hope you guys took something from that and you can find it within yourselves to forgive me.” I can only speak for myself but I have forgiven Cameron Jeffers for the grave offense of letting some random person on a virtual cycling game improperly help him obtain a bike that looks like the motorcycles from 1982’s Tron starring Jeff Bridges and Cindy Morgan, and then use that bike to win the first-ever British national championships of riding a fake bike on a computer. Hopefully you are a big enough person to do the same.

Source: Kotaku.com

EA Website Leaks Personal Details Of FIFA Players

\When players—including many of the world’s best—went to sign up for the FIFA 20 Global Series earlier today and started entering their personal information, they noticed something weird. There was already information on the screen. Someone else’s information.

At the point where players registering were asked to confirm their details, they were shown a screen displaying the personal details, including email address and date of birth, of a different player.

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EA were quickly informed of the error, and took down the registration page while they fixed things.

At time of posting EA hasn’t shared further updates aside from linking their “product security vulnerability program” website.

Source: Kotaku.com

The San Francisco Shock took the 2019 Overwatch League grand finals, $1,100,000, and the Vancouver

The San Francisco Shock took the 2019 Overwatch League grand finals, $1,100,000, and the Vancouver Titans’ dignity with a 4-0 sweep today. The superfast win comes off the heels of a 23-5 season, which includes their completion of the league’s first-ever perfect stage. “We knocked on wood, for sure,” said season MVP Jay “Sinatraa” Won of their pre-game prep.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Police Investigating More Match Fixing, Organized Crime Links To Australian Overwatch Team

The crackdown on Australian esports has already begun, but a report from the ABC this morning has raised the stakes several notches after questioning the ownership of a local Overwatch Contenders team.

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The report from ABC’s 7.30, which went online early Tuesday morning, touches on the ongoing investigation from Victoria Police that resulted in the arrest of multiple Australian Counter-Strike players. The report includes previously unannounced details, however, including the figure that Victoria Police believe that as much as $30,000 could have been won on the rigged Counter-Strike matches that triggered the first major esports integrity investigation in Australia.

That’s not the only juicy detail, though. Neil Paterson, the assistant commissioner of Victoria Police, told the ABC that he believed more esports corruption cases to emerge. And that was immediately followed by a paragraph suggesting that concerns have been raised around the ownership of an Overwatch contenders team:

[Victoria Police’s] Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit has received reports of match fixing in other Counter-Strike: Global Offensive games, and about organised crime links to the ownership of an Australian-based team that plays the Overwatch Contenders game.

The team isn’t named, although most of the teams in the Australian Overwatch Contenders league also have teams in other games. “We are seeing people encroach on that area that have reputations that [mean they] probably … shouldn’t be involved in this part of esports,” the assistant police commissioner is quoted as saying.

I’ve contacted Blizzard Australia for comment, asking whether they were aware of the investigation, the assistant commissioner’s remarks and what steps they take to ensure the integrity of tournaments in Australia. I’ve also contacted the Esports Integrity Commission, which helped Victoria Police with the original Counter-Strike investigation, for further clarification on the commissioner’s remarks.

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This story originally appeared on Kotaku Australia.

Source: Kotaku.com

Junior High School Student Wins $46,000 Game Tournament, Doesn’t Get Any Money

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

During the Tokyo Game Show, legendary Street Fighter player Momochi forfeited tens of thousands of dollars in prize money because he doesn’t have a pro-gaming license in Japan. He wasn’t the only one who lost out on money. The winner of the Puzzle & Dragons tournament did, too.

Junior high school student Yuwa came in first place. The prize purse was 5,000,000 yen ($46,205)—none of which he received. Instead, he was given a trophy, a gaming headset, a year’s supply of chocolate almonds, and a year’s supply of Real Gold Dragon Boost energy drink.

Why didn’t he get any money? According to Japan’s pro-gaming license system, players between the ages of 13 and 15 can only compete under a junior license, which waives any right they have to receive prize money. Japan’s pro-gaming organization wants younger competitors to focus on their schoolwork. In Japan, compulsory education ends after junior high school.

When Yuwa was awarded the trophy after the tournament, the announcer pointed out that because he had a junior license, he would not get any of the prize money. “Aaah, that’s too bad,” said the other announcer. Both announcers remarked how they look forward to what he does from henceforth. Like, win this tournament again?

Later, on Twitter, Yuwa wrote, “I received honor instead of money.” Admirable, but those winnings probably would have come in handy for college tuition.

Source: Kotaku.com

Osaka Getting Massive Esports-Themed Hotel

Image: E-Zone
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

Next April, an esports-themed hotel will open in Osaka’s geek district Nipponbashi. Called Esports Hotel E-Zone Cyberspace in English, it is the first of its kind in Japan.

Including the basement’s shower area, the hotel is nine stories. Fashion Snap reports that floors one to three are the gaming floors, with over 70 high-spec, streaming-ready gaming PCs.

Image: E-Zone
Image: E-Zone

The fourth to eighth floors are the sleeping cabins, so it sounds like this will be no-frills lodging. However, there are special digs on the seventh floor with in-room gaming PCs.

Image: E-Zone

The hotel is aimed at those who are new to esports as well as at old hands. No word yet on per-night rates.

Source: Kotaku.com

Stranded Pro Gamer Criticized For Using Airport’s Electricity

Earlier this week, a typhoon hit Japan. According to reports, nearly seventeen thousand people were stranded at Narita Airport, outside Tokyo. Flights were canceled, and it was difficult to get trains and taxis. Pro fighting game player Naoki “Moke” Nakayama was among those who were stuck. 

Travelers had to wait overnight for the trains to run. The airport passed out crackers, water, and sleeping bags, reports Mainichi

To past the time, he played games with others. Innocent enough, right? Well… Moke started getting criticized for using the airport’s electricity without permission and for blocking a fire extinguisher. He was called out for setting a bad example as a pro gamer.

The criticism was so severe that he even issued an apology for using the airport’s electricity without permission and for blocking the fire extinguisher.

Moke even sent an apology to the airport and added that, as a professional gamer, he will think more about his actions. 

Source: Kotaku.com

‘Attack Bastion’ Stops Being A Joke When Overwatch Pros Use It

For a solid three years, “attack Bastion” was a meme in Overwatch, referring to the idea of using the semi-stationary hero on an offensive play. Now, it’s a serious strategy for serious pro players for when some serious money is on the line.

The turret hero Bastion is not very mobile and does the most damage when it’s glued to the floor, protected by two shields—not exactly the most intuitive strategy for approaching and overtaking an objective. However, if you were the sort of player who flamed teammates for picking Bastion on attack, maybe you should check out a couple plays from last night’s Overwatch League playoff match between the New York Excelsior and the Atlanta Reign.

Excelsior’s Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park, who made a name for himself playing the super fast hero Tracer, has become a Bastion god. Here, instead of bunkering down around their Bastion, the New York Excelsior here just lets it do its thing from a remote corner to clear their way to the payload:

On the map Mumbani, Park’s attack Bastion fears nothing as it dispassionately mows down the entire enemy team:

And for the win:

Attack Bastion might be standard now, but we’ll always love a good, old-fashioned shutdown from Bastion on defense:

Now just because Park can do it doesn’t mean I want all of you in my competitive games going for it, too.

Source: Kotaku.com