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GLHFMAG.COM

SEP/OCT 2013

GE ND S LE AG UE OF LE

DO TA 2

STARCRAFT 2

VOL 2 ISS 4


CONTENTS

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003

SEP/OCT 2013

Getting the Formula Right:

As you peruse this issue, you may notice that we’ve made some changes to how we do things around here.

The biggest change? This time around, we’re finally branching out to include some new games, most notably, League of Legends and Dota 2. In conjunction with our brand new website, we’re looking to provide the same interesting, unique, and in-depth content for all your major eSports favorites as we did for StarCraft. Here’s a quick guide to help you find the articles about the games that you’re most interested in.

LEAGUE OF LEGENDS

DOTA 2

STARCRAFT 2

LOOK FOR THESE We’ve implemented icons and a color coding system throughout the magazine. Keep an eye out for the icons and colors to navigate your way around.

glhfmag.com

Welcome to the new GLHF

A Look at eSports Competitive Infrastructure


CONTENTS SEP/OCT 2013

FEATURES 024 Getting The Formula Right:

A Look at eSports Competitive Infrastructure 048 Yellow Everybody, This Is Purge

We take you behind the mustache Dota 2’s leading strategy expert

EDITORIALS 008 It’s Not Me, It’s You

How to (politely) make it clear who the noob is

004

036 LoL World Championship Review

Can Riot handle the hype? 044 The Matters of Building Riot’s Season 3 balance

asjustments

062 ‘Twas Not Luck, But Skill (Sometimes)

Dota 2 Trading: The Good, The Bad, and the Scams

048 Yellow Everybody, This Is Purge

COMMUNITY 012 High School Starleague Taking a look at the next

generation of StarCraft pros 058 What’s Next for LoL

Riot Executives reveal their future plans

GUIDEBOOK Good Luck Have Fun

014 Triple Barrel Bust  angSC analyzes hyperT aggressive Zerg v. Terran gameplay

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036

014

ON THE COVER

Illustration by Joey Everett


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

EXECUTIVE STAFF EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER

Ali Vira

Hey it’s that time again! It’s been two months since our last issue and I’m proud to say that we’ve made a lot of strides since then.

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From new content to new staff to a new website, we’re trying to up our game. The first thing that you’ll probably notice is our expanded coverage. As of today, GLHF is opening its doors to accept and showcase content for both League of Legends and Dota 2! Clearly the eSports scene has grown a lot for MOBAs, and we thought it would be a great idea to throw our hat in the ring and start coming up with high quality journalistic articles for these new fields as well. The second thing we hope you’ll notice is our new website and layout. We’re trying to experiment with our methods of communication a little bit, and one item that always stood out to us was that we didn’t want to wait two months to show our readers content that is immediately relevant. Don’t worry, the magazine will still be there with some unique content as always, but we aim to ramp up production on the live-site in parallel to the magazine design. Make sure

to keep checking our twitter and our homepage for new content! As with any endeavour on this scale, we face our fair share of setbacks, luckily thanks to our fabulous team of editors and designers we pulled through. If you’re interested in helping out, make sure to send us an email at editors@glhfmag.com. It’s an exciting time for eSports; the StarCraft scene is picking back up, we just finished some great tournaments here in Canada, and MOBAs are bigger and badder than ever before. Well, without any further ado, we hope you enjoy the 7th issue of GLHF. Until next time,

Ali Vira Executive Publisher

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Ryan Kelly COMMUNITY MANAGER

William Dahlstrom CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Ryan Boye ART DIRECTOR

Joey Everett BUSINESS MANAGER

R. Sterling Snead STAFF EDITORS Don Tam Ali Vira Ryan Kelly Jacob Willemsma

ADVERTISING

MARKETING

DESIGN

Tom Swanson

Becky Margraf

R. Sterling Snead LEAD DESIGNER Nicholas Davies

CONTRIBUTORS WRITERS Tobias Bengelsdorf Dmitri Liu Tim ‘TangSC’ Clark Michael Cohen Ian Barker Tyler Brandt Sky McReynolds

ILLUSTRATORS Joey Everett Biggreenpepper PHOTOGRAPHERS Helena Kristiansson Hampus Andersson Kevin Florenzano

John Gaudiosi

GLHF Magazine is a community-run magazine developed by an international team of eSports enthusiasts. We definitely couldn’t produce this magazine without the amazing community of fans and professionals willing to lend us their time and expertise, so special thanks to all who help us produce a magazine we’re proud of. This publication © 2013 GLHF Magazine LLC. All rights reserved; Reproduction without permission in whole or in part is prohibited. Products and screenshots found in these pages are trade names, or trademarks, of their respective companies. If you’re interested in contributing content to future issues, contact ryan.kelly@glhfmag.com. If you’re interested in advertising in an upcoming issue, contact sterling@glhfmag.com. The typefaces used in this publication are Crimson Text (Sebastian Kosch), Roboto (Christian Robertson), and Inconsolata (Raph Levien).


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It’s Not Me, It’s You:

How To (Politely) Make It Clear Who The Noob Is By Tobias Amadon Bengelsdorf

I AM A GOD OF MICRO WHILE HE ROCKS AN APM

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of about a dozen; I macro like a boss while it’s an accomplishment for him to pump out four whole units at once; I strive for the perfect unit compositions, the perfect counters, while he tries to have a just a few more void rays. Not according to him though. In his eyes, it’s all my fault. He loves to look at the army value graph and point out how low mine was. “I was playing bio-mine,” I want to say, “and you made nothing but voids and a mothership (not a Core, mind you, the real thing). Of course your army cost more than

mine.” But I can’t really complain. We’ve been friends for over 15 years and used to play Brood War together -- not even Brood War, just plain old StarCraft with no medics and no lurkers. We’ve been having a lot of fun playing, but we would both have more fun if we won more often. It’s hard to find someone who wants to play a lot and has a schedule that fits with mine, especially now that we are old timers (by eSports standards) and have work and family obligations. And we enjoy chatting and catching up while we wait for games, so I would hate for him to

ABOVE: BLIZZARD ENTERTAINEMENT

My old friend and I are playing 2v2 in the league that shan’t be named. We’d be in a shinier, fancier league, of course, if it wasn’t for my teammate.


1. STAY CALM

Always stay calm. You are the one with more experience. You are the one who knows that a widow mine in the mineral line isn’t game over. You are the one who knows that a player who tries to bust your wall with a lot of units early on was probably cutting corners at home. It is up to you, the more experienced player, to provide perspective. Meet cries of, “That’s it, we lost,” with a firm but calm, “Hang on, we’re ok. Just keep making units.” Firm, but calm. The way you would

talk to a child. Or a dog. It’s okay to point out anything immediately important, like a proxy pylon or a peeping Overlord that needs killing, but...

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2. SAVE MOST OF THE ADVICE FOR AFTER THE GAME

You might be tempted to launch into a string of complicated advice about how to turn the build grid on, and how to leave a one square opening, or how to build an extractor and then cancel it to get an extra drone, but your low APM friend can’t even think about those things in the middle of a game, much less pull them off correctly. If your teammate wants to make nothing but zealots, let him. If he wants to make ten spine crawlers at every base, let him. He might think that nothing could possibly stop his legions of marines, but watching his unsupported, unupgraded little squishies melt like butter to a pair of colossi will do more to change his mind than any coaching or whining you might do. And, mistakes like that will often show up in the data, so...

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get frustrated and give up. And, okay, maybe I’m not quite the boss I claimed to be, but I’m still better than he is. So how do I tell him that I’m not the problem? How do I point that out without turning our fun gaming sessions into a condescending series of lectures and lessons? How do I say, “You’re a giant, festering noob” without seeming like I have a manner problem? It’s not easy. But, I’ve gotten better at it, and our team has gotten better, so I thought I would share some tricks.

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So how do I tell him that I’m not the problem? How do I point that out without turning our fun gaming sessions into a condescending series of lectures and lessons?


different aspect of the game, which can be done easily if you... 4. PHRASE IT AS A QUESTION

Ease into it gently -- issuing commands can make people defensive. No matter how much tech you could have seen with a hallucinated phoenix, no matter how many zerglings a Force Field would have stopped, just shouting “make more Sentries!” won’t be as effective as you hope it will. Try asking, in a calm, neutral tone, after the game, “How do you feel about sentries?” This can lead to a conversation about play styles, personal preferences, or, in my case, to the reply, “What’s a sentry?” Whoa, easy now. Keep that palm a safe distance from your face. Questions like that are no reason to despair. Just explain what sentries are -- low DPS, good spells -- and above all...

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3. USE THE GRAPHS AND OTHER FEEDBACK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

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Your teammate may look for easy answers to explain defeats and may decide the answer is you. My teammate jumps right to the army value graph, where he congratulates himself on his expensive composition. But I don’t just whine about how that graph often favors Protoss. I don’t make excuses for why my line is lower than others. I just tell him to switch over to the upgrades graph. Bam. Now my little line is on top. Marines are definitely cheap, squishy units that don’t do much for army value (it takes eight marines to get the same army value as one void ray). But when they have shields, drugs, and 3-3, they’re not so squishy anymore. In short, if your teammate shows an interest in metrics and graphs, don’t get defensive if they look at the ones that make you look bad. Make the best of that interest and redirect it to a

A player with low APM, who doesn’t even know what a sentry is, will not suddenly start throwing up HuK-like Force Fields. Suggest that your teammate should make one, just one, sentry (or one infestor, or one raven, etc.) in the next game, and ask them to make one, just one, hallucinated phoenix and fly it around for a bit. Nothing complicated, nothing that will distract them too much from macro. Too many directions -- build this, now build that, now build this -- and you will quickly cross the line from coach to troll. You want your teammate to get better, but more than that, you want them to come back next time.

A player with low APM, who doesn’t even know what a Sentry is, will not suddenly start throwing up Huk-like Force Fields.

IMAGE: HELENA KRISTIANSSON/ESPORTPHOTO.COM

5. KEEP IT SIMPLE


High School Starleague By Dmitri Liu Images courtesy High School Starleague

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Since the release of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, numerous tournaments with different focuses have emerged. EACH OF THESE TOURNAMENTS HAVE THEIR OWN

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take on how to contribute to eSports and StarCraft as a whole, but for the most part, they cater exclusively to established pro-gamers. In 2010, Adriel Leung with his friend Zach Cronin-Hurley started the High School Starleague (HSL), which has grown into an administration team of over 25 professionals, headed by Tomber Su and Jesse Wang, with its central headquarters in LA. This Starleague focuses on developing the eSports scene with its roots solidly focused on ensuring that high school students in North America have the opportunity to experience the eSports industry first-hand. Their mantra is to provide high school students the opportunity to experience eSports, thus the only players allowed to participate are enrolled high school students. The growth of HSL over the years was not exclusive to its administration team or

headquarters. The traditional meaning of “Starleague” is a tournament or league catering exclusively to StarCraft. However, in recent years the HSL has incorporated League of Legends and Defence of the Ancients II (Dota 2) into their tournament lineup. Since the league now offers more than just StarCraft, the administration decided to look at the term “Starleague,” not as “StarCraft League,” but in the popular culture meaning of a “star,” or “celebrity.” The League has experienced a steady growth in its membership and social media following, with an 85% increase in Facebook likes for the page in the past month alone. Given the North American focused nature of the league, typically only teams and players from North American high schools register. However, the StarCraft II division bolsters teams in Europe. The teams participating in the league have


September/October 2013 013

The impact of the High School Starleague is profound as it introduces many teenage players into the world of progaming and eSports first-hand. ing their teams and communities with their friends and classmates; And to host a safe, fun, and professional avenue of competition for all high school students. Armed with insight and guidance from competing in the HSL, high school players have the chance to truly experience the challenges and rewards of a true career in eSports with the support to propel themselves into the spotlight of professional eSports.

You can visit HSL on their website at www.hsstarleague.com, like them on facebook at facebook.com/HSStarleague and follow them on twitter under the handle @hsstarleague.

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rules similar to other high-profile tournaments. There is a group stage and then a playoff bracket, comparable to The International, run by Valve, and many other top-tier events for the current three eSports games featured by HSL. The League of Legends and Defence of the Ancients tournaments run with the standard 5v5 format, where each team must have a minimum of 5 high school players and no more than 7. Unlike other tournaments that are schoolrelated, the High School Starleague permits more than one team per school, provided that the teams have completely separate rosters. As it stands, the League of Legends division this season has nearly 1200 players playing over 110 matches every week, making HSL on of the largest weekly tournaments. Furthermore, the division caters to all skills levels, from bronze to challenger league with sizable showings from bronze to silver teams as well as plenty of diamond teams. The StarCraft II team requires at least 4 high school players with the same condition that no player may be a part of two teams. The impact of the High School Starleague is profound as it introduces many teenage players into the world of pro-gaming and eSports first-hand. First-hand experience is important to every industry, especially with

eSports as it is a very large commitment to become a pro-gamer. Being the only Starleague of this size which caters exclusively to high school students in North America, it allows the players to develop knowledge and insight into the eSports industry as well as nurture their skills and passion for the games. Not only does HSL provide a professional setting to compete, the Defence of the Ancients, the League of Legends, and the StarCraft II divisions all have their own prizes, similar to other tournaments around the world. HSL has clear goals and missions: To promote eSports as a legitimate sport, pastime and hobby in high schools around the world; To assist players in build-


The Triple Barrel Bust By Tim ‘TangSC’ Clark

THE GOAL OF THIS GUIDE IS TO PROVIDE A REFERENCE

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for Zerg players who want to ramp up their aggression - and win rate - using three sequenced timing attacks. The Triple Barrel Bust was originally developed in Wings of Liberty to help learning players through the process of setting economic benchmarks, executing timing attacks, and planning effective transitions. This old-school style of sequenced aggression has been revamped in Heart of the Swarm, with special consideration given to new Terran advantages like Reapers and Widow Mines. While this style was originally designed for developing players in WoL, it is now my own preferred style of Zerg vs Terran in HotS. The Triple Barrel Bust consistently works well against Master/Grandmaster Terrans, and it is currently my best and favourite match-up. See barrels on right.

I should point out that while the Triple Barrel Bust draws on the strategies and timings of top-level professionals, it is a style that I personally developed, so it is not currently used at the top-tier tournament level. I firmly believe, however, that an active style is the most entertaining and effective way to improve fundamental Zerg mechanics and multitasking. So if you’re asking, “Why should I learn the Triple Barrel Bust instead of a more standard style that professionals use?” then the answer is that the Triple Barrel Bust was not made for a professional player to use, it was made for you to use. A lot of the builds of the top-professionals have periods of heavy droning and passivity, which require next-level scouting and reacting to defend all the possibilities. For learning players, progress with pro-level builds can be slow. Often games turn into

RIGHT: BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT

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My name is Tim Clark (aka TangSC) and welcome to a guide on a hyper-aggressive style of Zerg vs Terran The Triple Barrel Bust.


The First Barrel (5:30-6:00) 14 Speedlings - Repel early Terran aggression (Reapers/Marines), delay expansion Command Caenter, and disrupt opening build order (slight chance of outright winning/crippling).

The Second Barrel (10:30-11:30*) 1-2 Overseers, 20 Speed Roaches, 20 Speed Banelings, 20 Speed Zerglings with +1/+1 Upgrades (*Exact count/ time may vary).

The Final Barrel (17:30-18:30*) 2 Overseers, 5 Ultralisks, 60 Banelings, 60 Cracklings with +3/+3 Upgrades (*Exact count/time may vary). Crush Terran if they attack on Creep, trade well with almost any late-game army, delay/deny fourth Command Center.


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early attacks and all-ins, which can turn ladder games into inefficient practice. You will rarely be on the defensive using The Triple Barrel Bust, as you will always try to be the first and constant aggressor; in fact, you’ll have the opportunity to counter-attack and punish Terrans who attempt early aggression. The style also taxes your multitasking every single game, because you will always be going for the three barrel busts. Perhaps most important: The Triple Barrel Bust is improved by scouting, responding, creep spread, and map vision; however, it does not require these things to be initial-

made. The beautiful thing about this style is that once you have the Build and Benchmarks perfected, you can devote more focus to improving your other mechanics - creep spread, map vision, scouting. Next, we’ll look individually at the execution of the Three Barrels. These sections will focus not only on the purpose of each attack, but also how you can improve your execution mechanics (hot keying, rallying, engaging, etc). I really urge you all to read this guide in the order that it is presented, and view the tutorial videos in sequence.

The Benchmarks will help you mark your economic progress, and pinpoint exactly where macro mistakes are being made. The beautiful thing about this style is that once you have the Build and Benchmarks perfected, you can devote more focus to improving your other mechanics - creep spread, map vision, scouting.

Note: This is a tentative build order, meaning the steps may change slightly player to player and game to game. While looking over this build order, I advise watching Tutorial 1 which quickly goes through the build and the three busts.

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ly effective. That may seem like a bad thing that you don’t have to scout and spread creep, but what I mean is that some builds require you to spread creep to live, others require you to scout to live. The Triple Barrel Bust is different because in the vast majority of games, you will stick to the plan 100% - scouting and spreading creep just helps your execution. To help you learn and master the build, I wrote up a Build Order but more importantly I broke all the steps down into Benchmarks. The Benchmarks will help you mark your economic progress, and pinpoint exactly where macro mistakes are being

THE BUILD ORDER

Click Here to View the Tutorial: Triple Barrel Bust Overview 15 Pool 15 Gas 17 Hatchery 16 Queen (Inject/transfer to expansion when she finishes) 18 Overlord 18 Zergling Speed (At 100 gas, remove Drones from Geyser) 18-21 Lings 21 Queen (Stays in main) 23 Overlord 23-26 Drones until first inject 26-30 Lings (First inject is Zerglings) The First Barrel (5:30-6:00) - 14 Speedlings

30 Queen (at natural for creep) 32 Overlord 32-44 Drones (Around 36 Supply, start your 2nd Gas and use your inject-larva to fill the new gas and the gas in main) 44 Overlordx2


58 Overlords x5 58-100 21 Roaches (Push out as soon as all Roaches complete) 100 Overlord x2 100-116 Speedlings Morph in 20+ Banelings across the field and bust. The Second Barrel (10:30-11:30) - 2 Overseers, 21 Speed Roaches, 20 Speed Banelings, 20 Speed Zerglings with +1/+1 Upgrades (Exact count/time may vary)

Note: Supply becomes very tentative / situational for remainder of this build order, so I will just list the important steps. More details will be given in the “Benchmarks” section. Start a third base (could be started as early as 8:00 or as late as 11:00).

Start 2-2 Upgrades and then an Infestation

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58 - At 58 Supply, you should have fullysaturated 2 bases with all the gas, with at least one extra drone at your natural expansion. This extra Drone can be used to start your third base at the time that you see fit (Before, during, or after the second barrel). The timing of your third is really a stylistic preference - getting it earlier delays your bust slightly but is more economical; getting it later is less economical but lets you hit the earliest and strongest timing.

Pit. Infestors and/or Spire are optional. Some players like having 12~ Mutalisks with constantly upgraded air attack to 1) help shut down drops and 2) transition into Broodlords later. Some players like to get mid-game Infestors to use Fungal Growth. Both tech options can be useful, but will delay Ultralisk tech. For this reason, I prefer skip them both and relying on Zerglings/ Banelings/Static Defence to shut down drops, then later mix in a few Infestors to fungal for cost-efficient late-game engagements. Choose the approach that appeals to you. Regardless of your stylistic preference, you should aim to fully-saturate your third base, with the gases (66+ Drones). Once you’ve reached full three-base saturation, you should take a fourth and produce nothing but Speedlings (with some Banelings in case you’re pressured). You can produce a macro hatch if your injects/larva production slips. Start your Hive (roughly 13:00-14:00~)

This is the period of the game where you’re most spread out, so Terran can push and drop you. Plant static defense as necessary (but do not let this cut into your 3-base saturation!), and make sure you’re frequently spending your Larva on Zerglings, periodically adding some Banelings. Map vision is also essential (Overlords, Xel-Naga, Spotting Ling). You must have some static defenses at your main and 3rd, and eventually at your fourth. My usual preference is 2 spine/2spore at the main, third, and fourth. Try creeping to your fourth and breaking any impeding rocks to help you defend, and don’t be afraid to split your army up at different locations to deal with multi-pronged aggression. Produce some Drones for your 4th (aim for about 75-80 Workers on 4 bases) and get your 7th/8th gases ASAP. Defend your

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44-54 Drones 54 Evo Chamberx2 (6:30~, you should have roughly 100-150 gas and be mining off 2 geysers) Drones to 56 56 Double Gas Drone to 60 (Aim for 44+ Drones to fill all four gases with16 Drones per Mineral Field). 60 Upgrade +1 Carapace/+1 Melee 60 Lair, Roach Warren, Baneling Nest (All this should happen around 8:00).


4th with static defenses (and get some in the main if you haven’t yet). When Hive finishes, start Adrenal Glands, Ultralisk Cavern (upgrade Chitinous Plating), 3-3 Upgrades. Produce Ultralisks/Speedlings/Banelings (optional Infestors or Mutalisks). The Final Barrel (17:30-18:30) - 2 Overseers, 5 Ul-

you off with some sort of super-early Hellion Banshee aggression, you will be forced to deviate from these benchmarks to defend (Extra Queens, Spores, Spinecrawler). Once you have defended, you can still proceed along the listed steps. In an unusual game like this, you may reach your 8 Minute benchmark (fully-saturated 2 bases with +1/+1 researching) at 9 Minutes or later; but the overall sequence stays the same.

tralisks, 60 Banelings, 60 Cracklings with +3/+3 Upgrades (Exact count/time may vary)

If the game continues, try to deny the Terran fourth while holding onto yours. You can also take a 5th. It is possible to mix in Vipers or Broodlords in the very-late stages. Be creative and create your own fourth barrel.

2:00 Minute Benchmark

Pool must be started by 2:00. Try to doublemine the 4 closest patches to your hatchery. 3:00 Minute Benchmark

Hatchery must be started by 3:00. Try to maintain double-mining on closer patches when you fill the gas and expand.

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BENCHMARKS

4:00 Minute Benchmark

Note: Benchmarks are an effective way to plan your build order steps and mark your progress. In this section, I’ve created a benchmark for every minute of the game (except the first minute). Naturally, games won’t always follow this strict format, but understanding these benchmarks will still help you keep focused in situations where things go wrong. For example, if your opponent throws

Pull your workers out of gas around 3:30 (@ 100Gas for Speed), and ensure every patch in the main is double mining before rallying your Hatchery to the expansion minerals (16/24 Drones). You make Zerglings from 18-21 supply, be sure to immediately hot-key your Zergling eggs in control group 1 (While selecting 3

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Pull your workers out of gas around 3:30 (@ 100Gas for Speed), and ensure every patch in the main is double mining before rallying your Hatchery to the expansion minerals (16/24 Drones).


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5:00 Minute Benchmark

Your first inject should finish by 5:00, which you should put into 4 sets of Zerglings (2630 supply). You can start your Queen and then an Overlord right away on 30. Immediately add your 4 new sets of Zerglings to control group 1 (While selecting 4 new Zergling Eggs, Hold Shift and Press 1) 6:00 Minute Benchmark

By 6 Minutes, you should have already started your 2nd gas at the expansion and used your double-inject to fill both your main gas and the new gas. Basically you start your Geyser on 36 at your expansion, then when the injects pop build three Drones in the main rallied into the main geyser, and three Drones at the expansion rallied into the expansion geyser (it times out really nicely so get it down ) You should supply block yourself to reach 44 supply by 6:00, then produce 2 Overlords. 7:00 Minute Benchmark

By 7:00, you should be in the mid-50s of

supply with creep spreading out past your expansion. You should still be on 2 geysers, with enough gas to start +1/+1 as soon as the Evolution Chambers finish. Also by 7:00, you should have 16 Drones mining at the main and the expansion (ie. 38 Drones.) 8:00 Minute Benchmark

This is absolutely the most crucial benchmark - by 8:00 you should have reached 60 supply then produced 1/1 Upgrades, the Lair, the Roach Warren, and the Baneling Nest. Use these structures as part of the wall. 8:00 Minute Benchmark - 2 Hatcheries, 3 Queens, 44 Drones (Fully-Saturating 2 Bases), 4 Gas, 2 Evo Chambers (upgrading 1/1) 5+ Creep Tumours, Roach Warren, Baneling Nest. Also by 8:00, you should have a fully-saturated main and natural with all 4 gas geysers (ie. 44 Drones). This is the economy that you will use to build up your second barrel. The 8 Min mark is the earliest that you can start your third with this build (you can delay as late as 11 Min).

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Zerglings Eggs, Hold Control and Press 1).

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This is absolutely the most crucial benchmark - by 8:00 you should have reached 60 supply then produced 1/1 Upgrades, the Lair, the Roach Warren, and the Baneling Nest. Use these structures as part of the wall.


9:00 Minute Benchmark

11:00 Minute Benchmark

After reaching your ideal economy with the 8 Minute Benchmark, you should produce 5 Overlords (freeing to 100 supply) then to move into double speed upgrades and unit production. Produce the Roaches first, all the way up to 100 supply (intentional supply block).

By 11:00, your Speed upgrades and your 1/1 should be finished - meaning it’s time to bust the Terran front with Roaches, Zerglings, and Banelings. Don’t forget to bring an Overseer with this attack for the Widow Mines! Your third base should never be started later than 11:00.

10:00 Minute Benchmark

As you produce these Roaches from 58-100 supply, continuously add the new Roach eggs to control group 2 (Hold Shift and Press 2). This is a great time to practice your de-select mechanics (you don’t want to add extra Larva to control group 2, only the eggs that will be Roaches. De-select excess Larva before you Hold Shift and Press 1. Assuming your Hatchery is on control group 4 and your Roaches are on control group 1, it should look like this:

12:00 Minute Benchmark

By 12:00, your third should be either finished or very close, so you should start Droning. Make sure you do have a controlgroup with some Zerglings to defend drops BEFORE producing Drones for the third (otherwise just 1 Medivac with Marines can kill your third). You should also start your 2/2 Upgrades and Infestation Pit. 13:00 Minute Benchmark

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4 S R (Select your Hatchery Larva then hold “R” until you can’t produce more Roaches). Hold Control + Left Click Eggs (De-Selects excess Larva). Hold Shift + 2 (Adds only the RoachEggs to control group 2)

By 13:00, your third should be fully saturated (66+ Drones). Creep should be expanding out into the map, and your Hive should be started. You have the option of mixing Spire or Infestors into your mid-game to

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By 11:00, your Speed upgrades and your 1/1 should be finished - meaning it’s time to bust the Terran front with Roaches, Zerglings, and Banelings. Don’t forget to bring an Overseer with this attack for the Widow Mines!


15:00 Minute Benchmark

Finally, by 15:00 you should have all of your upgrades on the way - including Chitinous plating. You can start Ultralisk production ASAP, and aim to max-out with Ultralisks, Zerglings, and Banelings before you start any aggression. Your biggest fear is that Terran will execute some sort of multipronged push/drop before your Ultralisks come out, and that is why it is so important to produce lots of Speedlings while your Hive is building. Never let Terran get a fourth base, and don’t lose yours! THE FIRST BARREL

Note: The purpose/usefulness of the First Barrel Bust (Speedlings) is split into Primary and Secondary Objectives.

Click Here to View the Tutorial: The First Barrel Primary Objectives: 1) Repel Early Aggression (Reapers/Marines)

One of the most appealing aspects of the Speedling opening is how effective it is against Reapers. The initial 3 sets of Zerglings with the Queen makes dealing with the first Reapers “EZ-Mode”. Killing early Reapers is actually pretty huge - he’d love to be able to scout you with them.

September/October 2013

By 14:00, you should be about ready to start your Hive upgrades - +3/+3, Ultralisk Cavern, Adrenal Glands. You should also have a lot of extra Overlords, and be producing Speedlings with any excess Larva (I’m not producing Speedlings in the picture above, but in a real game I would be).

Then when Speed finishes and you engage the opponent’s expansion, ANY deviation from his natural build order is likely to hinder his performance all game long. SCV pulls, time spent repairing, a few SCV kills, etc.

The initial 3 sets of Zerglings with the Queen makes dealing with the first Reapers “EZMode”. Killing early Reapers is actually pretty huge - he’d love to be able to scout you with them. Secondary Objectives: 1) Kill Enemy Units (Marines/Reapers/Hellions) 2) Deal Economic Damage, Cripple/Kill Opponent

It is not necessary that you do economic damage. However, if he leaves the wall down or techs too quickly without defence, you’re going to punish him - sometimes even cripple him.

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2) Throw Off Terran’s Opening Build

THE SECOND BARREL

Note: The purpose/usefulness of the Second Barrel Bust (Roach/Ling/Baneling) is explained into Primary and Secondary Objectives.

Click Here to View the Tutorial: The Second Barrel Click Here to View the Tutorial: Building Placement (Defensive Purposes) Primary Objectives: 1) Repel Mid-Game Aggression (Mass Hellions, Bio Mine Push, Hellion/Marauder All-In)

Because you’re not saturating your third

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deal with drops, and static defences can be very helpful as well.


before unit production, you’re very safe against Terran mid-game attacks/all-ins. In fact, you’re hoping Terran will go for some sort of all-in! Just morph your Banes on creep and prepare for a very cost-efficient engagement.

It is impossible for Terran to prevent your push from scouting his unit composition he needs his units to defend! This helps you plan your mid-late stages (ie. get Range attack for Roaches if he’s going mech or prepare for drops if you see reactor’d Starport)

2) Throw Off Terran’s Mid-Game

THE THIRD BARREL

Idle Medivacs!! Most often, Terran prefers to put on some aggression in the middle stages - drops, timing attack. The Second Barrel Bust forces him to be defensive. If he drops, he may lose outright because he needs those units to defend. It’s actually a mistake if he tries to drop, because you always make an extra set of Zerglings (with some Banes eventually) to defend drops before/while droning your third.

Note: The purpose of the Third Barrel Bust (Ultralisk/Baneling/Crackling) is pretty straight forward; there are really only three objectives.

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You want to have a safe period where you can drone to fully-saturate your third, so you must trade armies and kill his units. The good thing is it’s difficult with so many Roaches/Banes be sure to bring an Overseer so you can reset the Widow Mine count too. Secondary Objectives: 1) Deal Economic Damage (SCV Kills)

SCV damage is actually a borderline Primary Objective. You should try to connect with his expansion mineral line in a big way, because it’s a critical time to do crippling damage. 2) Destroy Tech, Production, and Supply Buildings

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Destroying add-ons like Reactors and Tech Labs, in addition to supply depots, can really set back a Terran’s mid-game - making you safer to squeeze out an even larger lategame lead. The Third Barrel Ultralisks are starting to look bigger and bigger... 3) Determine Tech Choice - Mech or Bio?

Objectives: 1) Defend Late-Game Aggression (Bio/Mine, Marine/ Tank/Medivac).

This almost goes without saying, but a maxed-out, fully-upgraded force of Ultralisks/Banelings/Cracklings trades well with almost any Terran army. Mix in a few Vipers for blinding cloud, and you’re looking at an extremely potent late-game. If he pushes you when your Ultralisks come out, you can destroy it and counter-push immediately. If he’s dropping heavily and playing defensive, you may need more finesse. 2) Deny Terran attempts at securing a fourth while you hold yours.

This is a real key to late game ZvT: Do not let Terran secure his fourth. That’s the #1 task of your Ultralisk army. Use static defenses and reinforcing Zerglings to defend your further-apart bases while you make sure he can’t hold his. Holding your 4th/5th is just as important as denying his! 3) Use all those advantages that you picked up throughout the game and go for a fully upgraded, maxed-out bust!

Max out, and put your excess minerals/gas into Banelings. You can get over 100 Banelings for the last push - I’ve tested it!

RIGHT: BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT

3) Trade Armies

Click Here to View the Tutorial: The Third Barrel


1

Defend LateGame Aggression (Bio/Mine, Marine/Tank/ Medivac).

2

Deny Terran attempts at securing a fourth while you hold yours.

3

Use all those advantages that you picked up throughout the game and go for a fully upgraded, maxed-out bust!


Getting the formula right: A look at eSports competitive infrastructure By Michael Cohen @TorteDeLini

The involvement of publishers with their eSports titles is considered a dream for many fans. In the not so distant past, tournament organizers held the reins of eSports and rode it to the point of legitimate businesses.


MANY

FANS,

VIDEO-GAME

PUBLISHERS

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integrating eSports into their marketing/ community outreach budget means that there is a significant meaning in its popularity. On the flipside, many event organizers who were in a healthy competition with one another, now must work within the standards of publishers; sometimes becoming detrimental to their own survivability. As publishers bring their eSports titles onto a new mainstream and systematic platform, perspectives of ‘how to grow eSports’ is varied and so are the priorities of those involved. Provided below is a general grasp of how the most popular competitive gaming titles are handled by their game publishers. While many concur that each direction has its flaws, no one can quite agree on how they are flawed. LEAGUE OF LEGENDS AND RIOT GAMES

Riot Games’ approach to League of Legends eSports is strict and entirely in their control.

Titled the League of Legends Championship Series [LCS], this league is divided into two seasons (South Korea has three seasons), known as “splits” where it is comprised of three sequential segments (league system is set to change for Season 4): Regional qualifiers are where 16 teams qualify through partnered events for 5 spots in the regular season; comes with full benefits of being a professional game and contractual obligations (see below for more details). The regular season where 8 teams (5 qualifying and the top 3 of the last season/ split) participate in regional matches for North America and Europe: 10 weeks of 28 best-of-one matches leading to the playoffs. The bottom two scoring teams are out are sent to the promotion/relegation tournament. The playoffs are a round-robin group stage where the remaining 6 teams have a chance of winning up to 50,000$. Grand

ABOVE: HELENA KRISTIANSSON/ESPORTPHOTO.COM

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FOR


subsidizing each league team and its players’ salaries,” and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of financial and staff dedication. Since Riot essentially makes these players “employees”, they abide to Riot’s expectations and contractual agreements. This leads to very low participation in other potential events who were once keen on being part of League of Legends. Thus, this exclusivity leads to a “Do or Die” situation and very much limits the survivability of teams who do not perform adequately. The Do or Die situation associated with players only playing in LCS matches means that, should a team fail to perform in the league, their salary and contract is cut and they are eliminated. With exclusive participation in only LCS matches and the issue above, there aren’t many other competitions for teams to perform in, and thus, very few opportunities outside LCS to sustain an organization. In turn, this means newer teams are on shaky ground based purely on their performance while long-established team organizations must wait out the “split” (9-10 week season) to participate again. In regards to this situation, Riot has recently announced their Coke Zero partnership that will help give exposure to challenger league teams, ultimately leading up to the entry of LCS. Though challenger league teams will not be as financially sustained as

The Season 3 World Championship is the final tournament to wrap up a full year of seasons/splits (Spring & Summer). Fourteen of the best teams from North America (top 3 of the summer playoffs), Europe (top 3 of the summer playoffs), South Korea, China, and South-East Asia/Hong Kong/ Taiwan will compete to ultimately win 1 million dollars and come home with the Summoner’s Cup, a majestic trophy. In short, this annual series of seasons/ splits (for North-America and Europe) is rather simple. It is comprised of rewarding those at the top and allowing the leastaccomplishing competitors to revalidate their ability to compete. While that system is simple for the players, they are also exclusively bound to following this full-time league, here is the basic gist of how each of the three major aspects of this scene is affected: When Riot announced LCS back in 2012, it showed how much effort and dedication a company can put into eSports. They announced they would be paying players; giving competitors a proper salary to play full-time and can reside anywhere as long as they can travel to the studio for important matches. According to PCGamesn. com, “Riot spends about $175,000 a month

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WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

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The Do or Die situation associated with players only playing in LCS matches (League of Legends Championship Series) means that, should a team fail to perform in the league, their salary and contract is cut and they are eliminated.

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finals of the playoffs are offline, live and are a best-of-five series. Known as the up & down series (relegation/promotion tournament), the lowestscoring (win/loss ratio) 4 spring season/ split LCS teams are challenged against 8 rising challenger teams to maintain their position as competing LCS season competitors. Challenger teams are rising competitors who have earned top ranks in Riot’s online ladder matchmaking system. They qualified as “challengers” through partnered events similar to how the spring qualifiers are conducted.


becomes apparent. Companies who are contracted by Riot to host and broadcast events, must follow Riot’s expectations, regulations and schedule. While the amount Riot pays to these companies can be justified, we do end up seeing tournament organizers become more like contracted studios, servicing Riot rather than pushing the game’s broadcasting capabilities. Riot footing most of the bill in eSports also means there is little to no merchandising for fans. Attending events and purchasing directly from the teams are the sole ways fans can financially support their favourite players. Riot’s approach to eSports contrasts to that of Valve by being more hands-on and in control. They’re at a “no-turning-backnow” situation where they’ve distanced themselves from everyone in exchange for their own creative control and dictation of how players’ standards of living should be. The situation is emphasized even more by their investment on a staff and financial level. Their approach is costly, but can be effective in legitimizing an outsider’s opinion about professional eSports. Big steps

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LEFT: HAMPUS ANDERSSON/HAMPUSANDERSSON.SE / RIGHT: KEVIN FLORENZANO - IEM

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Riot helps with LCS participants, this extra level of exposure and professional broadcasting will help shape amateur teams into marketable professionals to garner sponsorship interest. To further marketing, Riot separates LCS by regions and the teams residing within them to ensure regional growth and proportional value. This ensures an international interest and relativity via nationalistic representation (in part). Check out this teaser video for LCS. Players are the main subject for Riot and are treated as such with fun and unique ways to better present and personalize them. These are amongst the many videos and showcasing Riot does to ensure players are standing out both professionally and relative to fans who look up to these players. Where players thrive, event organizers suffer to be a part of the League of Legends phenomena. Typically those not contracted to organize and broadcast matches for Riot’s LCS are also not permitted to air their own competitions at the same time as LCS. Combined with the exclusivity of players in LCS, stagnation of business interest in the scene


STARCRAFT II AND BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT

More of a contractual and delegation system; Blizzard Entertainment aims to maintain high interest in their eSport while also relying on the competency of established organizations to better standardize production quality. Known as the StarCraft II World Championship Series [WCS], there are three seasons of point-earning regions including North-America, Europe and South Korea (rules pertaining to the championship system is subject to change in 2014): Running simultaneously, WCS America, Korea and Europe produce an online league system through partnered organizations of each specific region: the North-American

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*Sources are courtesy of Lol.eSports and Leaguepedia

Star League [NASL] hosts WCS America, eSports League [ESL] for WCS Europe and GOMTV/OnGameNet sharing responsibilities for WCS Korea. Each season has a regional final, based on the player’s performance and win rates against other foes. Accomplishing in higher ranks of each region of each season rewards a professional player a large sum and points that contribute towards their qualification for the annual Global Finals at Blizzcon in November. For each regional season finals, 5 competitors (6 for the region hosting the seasonal world finals) advance to play in the world season finals. Sixteen players from the three regions go to play the international season finals after having placed in the top 5 ranks of their respective regional finals. So in short: there are 4 finals per season, 1 per region (3 total) and a global season finals. Based on their performance of each region of each season, players earn points, highest-earners qualify for the annual Grand Finals of the World Championship series at Blizzcon. So although winning each region and season finals is important, it is only necessary to rank highly on a consistent basis to qualify for the annual Global Finals at Blizzcon. About 1,600,000$ is awarded

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such as getting players awarded US Visas as professional athletes and renting out the famous Staples Center in Los Angeles help to attract eyes from mainstream gaming news websites and even major news publications. Public attention and more interest may lead to more sponsoring company interest and a push on the legitimacy of professional pro gamers.


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throughout the year, with 100,000$ for each regional league and 150,000$ for each season finals. To relieve pressure in competing in these regional leagues, Blizzard also maintains attachment for outside competitions. Premier events like the Intel Extreme Masters, DreamHack, Major League Gaming and HomeStory Cup all offer points for players to compensate for any weak placements during their respective WCS leagues. This is Blizzard’s way of maintaining the scene’s current event organizing leaders while also integrating it directly with their overview of the World Championship Series format. To add to their global World Championship Series league are also tiers of competitors: imitating the division that GOMTV set up for their league: Code S (Premier League) and Code A (Challenger League). Like Riot Games’ LCS, challenger teams aim to become premier league competitors for both prize-money of each season as well as to earn points for the Global Finals at Blizzcon. Blizzard’s more elaborate system can be a bit daunting for newcomers to get into the sport. But it is also a lot more precise than

Riot Games’ system in terms of qualifying players. Blizzard’s seasonal segments help dictate who the current leaders in StarCraft II are without hindering the prestige of other major events. In exchange for this RTS publisher’s double safety net of multiple regional/seasonal finals and overall points system, the support for their professional participants is financially weaker than that of Riot’s. Blizzard’s WCS system is sectioned by region and season, but rounded off by points to dictate who goes to the Global Finals at Blizzcon, allowing for outside tournaments to be involved and part of the WCS storyline. With Blizzard’s system comes a much stronger availability of tournament organizers. Because of their input and Blizzard’s less “hands-on” approach, players suffer on a variety of fronts. Though there may be a change in 2014, Blizzard’s 2013 season has been rampant with player retirements and constant outcries about their unlocked regional system, which allows players from other countries to participate in other major countries. The issue with this is that growth within that residing area stagnates, leading


Though there may be a change in 2014, Blizzard’s 2013 season has been rampant with player retirements and constant outcries about their unlocked regional system... incorporation of the WCS point-system is both to keep a larger amount of players pertinent to the competition and to further relevancy with growing tournament organizations: “We plan to simplify the broadcast schedule for WCS to allow for other

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organizations to hold major events during the year.” Courtesy of TeamLiquid.net, Kim Phan gives some insight into the goals and interests of Blizzard Entertainment for 2014. Directly supporting pro gamers or team organizations is pretty much nonexistent. Fans simply enjoy the ride, watch some games and discuss the matches. Attending events and purchasing directly from the teams are the sole ways fans can financially support their favourite players. The unfortunate part here is that players rely on fans to support them, yet have little to no means in conjunction with Blizzard to capitalize on this. Blizzard’s approach to eSports is similar to Riot’s, but more as a supervisor and owner of WCS and less involved in regards to individual players and event organizations’ decisions on how to present their content. It suffers from trying to maintain strong viewership by avoiding regional restrictions on players, yet it diminished participation of these regional competitions as a whole, which resulted in retirements. In truth, Blizzard tried to have its cake and eat it too, but we may be seeing massive overhauls of their WCS system in terms of region residency locks, player exposure and doublingdown on its investment in the eSport. Big things are on the way for 2014, but whether or not it drives new interest in StarCraft II is another question. *Sources are courtesy of WCS.Battle.net and Liquipedia VALVE CORPORATION AND DOTA 2

Valve’s approach is more hands-off in that it is a free-market of contributors and starting businesses. There is no actively run league and their “global finals”, named The International, is more of a celebration of Dota 2 than anything else. In truth, Valve doesn’t take note from other major publishers and

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to shrinking levels of participation. The result is that other regions expand worldwide, sometimes alienating nationalistic fans who enjoy players from recognizable cultures and backgrounds. Players who qualify for the Premier League of WCS are not financially supported by Blizzard. Unlike competitors of League of Legends, players must balance their regular life with their attempt to become full-time competitors. This causes a bit of unintended favoritism towards players who are salaried by team organizations and less for up-and-comers with a huge backing, further alienating portions of eSports fans and weakening diversity in personal storylines. Though players are the most important aspect in eSports, the amount of emphasis on making sure tournament organizers are still with StarCraft II is apparent in Blizzard’s public messages. Typically, event organizers are contracted or working in partnership with Blizzard. There is a reliance on these tournament organizers to not only hype their players, but also to hype their own matches, events and broadcasting. The


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Pennants, couriers and other items directly support teams in their endeavor to create a self-sustaining business while also offering an immediate merchandise supporters can enjoy. With teams and players, Valve uses their position to help promote events and their organizers by offering a real return for their production and organization while also offering something more to the purchasers. The downside to this system is that organizations can offer a minimum of prize-money to the teams, but also rely on doing online events to save costs and push profit numbers, leading to less offline major events and more short-term tournaments featuring the same fan-favourites to bolster interest. Valve’s role is a launchpad for eSports entrepreneurs, taking a more foundational role in growing the eSports audience. Valve doesn’t accelerate the scene beyond improving the game and its client (financially speaking) and they have gone on record saying they were not ready to start

ABOVE: VALVE CORPORATION

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utilizes all its platforms: DotaTV, Steam Digital Distribution service and the client, to maximize advertising for their contributors and drive potential businesses. Valve is building their scene from the ground-up with only restrictions that impede unfairness to other contributors of the scene. Because of this, event organizers, players and spectators are all offered equal opportunity to provide to the game and see a genuine return either in merchandise or profit. Players are not locked into a system, they are free to participate in any and all events/tournaments. With free control comes the need for direction and Valve guides all aspects of the scene with ways to help sustain an organization’s business. Items such as Team Pennants and cosmetic couriers in the Dota 2 shop offer a strong return for organizations to turn a real dollar with Valve serving as an advertising helping hand. Displayed here are the many items and tickets you can buy from the Dota 2 Shop found within the Dota 2 game client.


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portray and advertise how great these players are. Further attachment to players also means strong, more consistent sale-figures for teams and players. During The International 3, Erik Johnson stated: “We need to solve the stability of the teams throughout the year [while making tournaments interesting and accessible to fans]. There’s also attaching the economy to those events and to give direct connections between customers and teams/players. Over the next year, that’s the kind of things we’re going to start experimenting with.” Valve’s Interactive Compendium was a major step in eSports promotions and introduction to Dota 2 competitions for newer fans. The variety of rewards the compendium offered connected players and fans closer together and added a variety of things for fans to do to get hyped for the upcoming international event. Rewards included: player cards, rare couriers and a fantasy team scoring system for purchasers. Every purchase contributed a small amount to

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funding events and tournaments. In truth, their process may prove to be slower and less publicly outstanding as League of Legends to the public eye, but the many merits of Valve’s eSports system might attract future organizations’, teams’ or events’ interests for all the right reasons. Reasons like supporting eSports has become something much more legitimate for fans in Dota 2. The Compendium for Valve’s The International 3 portrays a proper set of standards for creating a real return for the producers of these organizations while also offering immediate merchandise for the supporters. Essentially, Valve has hit that middle line with fans, allowing them to become supporters of eSports and regular purchasers of eSports-related content. Another one of their goals is bringing players and fans together through player card-collecting, re-enactment public matchmaking of competitive matches or digital autographs. Valve is keen on connecting players to fans and finding new ways to better


the final prize-pool of the event, ultimately bringing it up 2.8 million dollars. Valve’s approach in eSports is unique in that they always work ideas within their goals of eSports. They seek to further player-tofan engagement and create sustainable eSports businesses, serving as an instructional hand and using their client to further marketability of these products. Their approach is slow but can push the business viability of eSports as a whole as well as change the role and expectations from publishers in the eSports sphere. Valve’s approach towards eSports is modest in its goals and results, but has a heavy influence on the interest of teams wanting to get into eSports as well as how eSports may be shaped in the future. *Sources are courtesy of Gamespot.com/eSports and TeamLiquid.net

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With the reality of publishers now getting involved in eSports, fitting their view alongside those who have been following eSports for years and actively growing it can be a difficult project. On the one hand, publishers want to ensure the longevity of their game through keeping eSports alive, as it is an emblem of a new generation of

values and the long-standing human nature of competition. On the other hand, event organizations have been surviving on their own alongside teams and players for quite some time now. While a publisher’s blessing can help advertising and marketing for these event organizers, their demands can sometimes be detrimental to overall business interest or severely limiting in terms of actual growth in that specific eSports title. As time moves forward, it would not be a surprise to see companies be more handson with their games and the direction of the eSports sector, but will it be for the better? While we have three clearly distinct forms of growing eSports, neither one nor the other can be truly crowned as ideal for every party involved. Is it better to just put everything in the hands of game publishers like Riot Games, dropping a ceiling on companies like Turtle Entertainment, Major League Gaming and OnGameNet who have been doing tournaments for years and practically created a sustained business model. Or should it be more of an open-market like with Dota 2, a sphere everyone can get involved, though it is a dog-eat-dog world where budget and experience trumps out those looking to start from scratch? eSports

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This can all be summarized in that eSports needs stronger investments and financial input to provide the common basis of marketable ventures and so that stems the idea of depending on publishers to further the scene. In truth, the involvement of publishers is at their own discretion, though for companies like Blizzard Entertainment, where they don’t reward careers for participating in their own product feels unjustified, almost criminal. In contrast, Riot Games’ outreach to the scene is the immediate solution to some of the strongest issues of today while Valve’s long-term plan is what may ultimately become the standard for eSports business and the interest of future tournament/team organizations. Yet

September/October 2013

The Compendium for Valve’s The International 3 portrays a proper set of standards to creating a real return for the producers of these organizations while also offering immediate merchandise for the supporters. work and less creative control on the products they service in eSports. For players, it means another platform of competitions, standardized to be fair (or so it’s claimed) to everyone in all regions. With more reliance comes more territory demand and the publishers are moving in. It’s not a charity for these multi-million dollar companies; it’s business. And so far, eSports has not hit its stride in terms of business return. Is legitimizing eSports helping to create stronger business models for those investing so much in it already, or is it more in regards to converting consumers of the title into active followers of the organizations and thus spend? Why can’t it be both?

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• Teams becoming more than marketing agencies, reliant on sponsors and private investments to finance themselves. • Better merchandising and products/services from event organizers, at a reasonable price for fans and supporters • Players needing salaries that surpasses minimum wage, with benefits

at the same time, are we truly expecting so much from publishers because of their capabilities or only because of their current involvement now? For event organizers, a publisher’s involvement means more paper-

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is a new venture and yet one ideal world or the other also means doors of opportunities close and so do the interest of certain ambitious individuals. In the grand scheme of things, those truly affected by these different models are the fans and the teams and organizations who must play by the rules of the groups that provides them with the prize money and the stage to compete and entertain. As an outsider, we are not nearly as affected as those who must compete and live up to the different pressures of certain leagues, whether it is the ruthless system of Riot’s LCS or disproportionate regional competitions of Blizzard’s WCS, players must adapt and as this scene grows. Legitimizing eSports is bound by the priority of legitimizing the professions and endeavors within:


LEFT: IMAGE: HELENA KRISTIANSSON/ESPORTPHOTO.COM

By Ian Barker

I’ll admit, I delight in critique. The task of ingesting some form of pop-culture and assessing its worth like the High King of Skyrim fills me with a glee equaled only by an episode of Spongebob and a full bag of All Natural Cheetos (the puffs, there’s a difference).


MY EXCUSE FOR SUCH CASUAL DISREGARD FOR

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the hard work of others is the fact that, unlike Opera or a fine Cabernet Sauvignon, you don’t need to know crap to assess the worth of a modern entertainment program. You don’t need a theater degree, a musicologists license, or a three-star Michelin rating to experience the visceral transcendence that is sports entertainment. You see it, you feel it, and you either love it or hate it. The mercy of a generous spirit is a comfort Riot can no longer indulge in. As the ambitious eSports darlings climb ever closer to the summit of our loftiest expectations, the margins become thinner, the voices grow angrier, and the forum posts grow less forgiving. Jaded does not begin to describe the League of Legends audience; we are so pampered by rapid-fire responses to even the smallest of complaints. Holding the finals of the biggest competition in the biggest stadium competitive gaming had witnessed would be like entering a Tae Kwan Do contest without groin protection: even if you won, you’d need a nurse to hoist the trophy. And from the countdown screen, ten dark

haired young men glaring into the faces of hundreds of thousands of hyped onlookers, everybody participating seemed aware of the challenges that would be faced at the Staples Center that night. China would face the Korean monster, eSports would face the perception that it would “never fill stadiums”, and Riot would confront both its loyal customers and its nascent production efforts, all in an attempt to live up to the highlight reels and hype threads. In a way, the Summoner’s Cup was to be a cursory consideration next to the larger evolution of competitive gaming on an international

But with the rapid evolution of competitive gaming and the production capabilities of the parties involved, the standards are reaching a level expected of experienced broadcast and entertainment companies...


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not outside the realm of reasonable presentation to open the night off constructing a narrative of the enormous undertaking both the teams and organizers had endured for the past year, even if that means simply opening the event with gusto. The analysts’ desk, a source of unending personality throughout the duration of Worlds, would also start out tight, even nervous as they rolled through early analysis and commentary. But Riot Games have, through talent acquisition and experience, built a foundation of knowledge that consistently puts them on steady ground. The pacing of the show would demonstrate that Riot possesses a firm grasp of the presentation aspects of such an event. Video clips rolled into discussion, which rolled into good transitions. The pre-game coverage would become quite enjoyable (though some overlay statistics or descriptions of questions being addressed by the analysts would’ve been a welcome addition). Even the one production gaffe in the early running, in which Quickshot was cut off by a video clip, was nothing extraordinary for a professional sporting event. And the forgiveness of such gaffes would be well rewarded as the night progressed.

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LEFT & RIGHT: YOUTUBE.COM/USER/LOLCHAMPSERIES

stage. And, as with most young teams faced with the challenge of conquering both their opponents and their fears in front of an audience well beyond their reckoning, the night would see miscues interspersed with defining successes. It’s important to keep in mind that many of the criticisms that follow would have been forgivable just a year or so ago. But with the rapid evolution of competitive gaming and the production capabilities of the parties involved, the standards are reaching a level expected of experienced broadcast and entertainment companies; tricky territory for organizations that are still arguably “mid-sized” companies. The bar of public criticism wavers for no one, and Riot would learn that quickly. The plucky upstarts would stumble initially. From the initial throw to the caster’s desk until the end of pre-game coverage, personalities would feel tight, timid, and even meek. Deman’s initial introduction, the first impression for potential new fans and devotees alike lacked bravado, starting things off on an uncomfortable foot. If the Super Bowl can spout rhetoric about being the biggest, most-important whatever, it’s


“Korean hype-train” shtick. In all, their conversation would become more genuine, less measured, downright enjoyable, and would display the best of the eSports community in the process: the indelible quirkiness and relatability that makes it so darn accessible. So, after currying the favor of devotees, music lovers, and human beings with pulses who enjoy likeable personalities, the stage was set for Riot to really knock it out of the park. Hiccups and production errors could be forgiven due to the quality of content surrounding these small mistakes. The musical act would serve as a real home run, setting up a truly entertaining series of final picks, and the introduction of the teams would administer appropriate parts drama and light-show to whet the appetites of close to two million online spectators and

BELOW: YOUTUBE.COM/USER/LOLCHAMPSERIES

The musical act would proffer the first highlight; an exemplary demonstration of musical acts intertwined with sports entertainment. Some overlay nameplates for the performers would’ve been helpful for younger audiences who were taken aback by Wes Borland’s theatrical costuming (even I’ll admit that I didn’t recognize the Crystal Method on sight). But the camera work, audio, and hybrid of dramatic orchestral music, electronica, and drum/guitar would hit a real sweet spot for an audience of young to aged males and females whose devotion to gaming had likely enchanted them to such a soundtrack, without appearing forced or kitsch in the process. The analysis desk would loosen up, harkening back to the best of College Gameday with the discussion of final picks and the


a sold-out arena of hungry fans. With the meal served, it was time to dig in. But first, Riot apparently had to do the dishes. The stall between the final predictions and the draft would become painfully long. Raised stages and fog machines are fantastic additions when your reputation for pageantry is part of your appeal, but Riot’s decision to raise the platforms into view and then go through the process of hooking up machines, working out bugs, and setting up the game lobby would force an excruciating 10 full minutes of extra filler and awkward transitions back and forth between the caster desk and analysts. Without belaboring the point, Riot will need to consider the importance of pacing a show and make adjustments in the future. Ten minutes of reiterating well-established talking points

The one thing that seemed to hinder the cast and crew from showing their brilliant colors was everything but the game itself.

does not make for a memorable moment. The pain on the faces of stalling broadcasters was so palpable because what these personalities truly excel at is running a goddamned eSports event. As soon as the draft music popped, their smooth, easy delivery and analysis of picks and bans would demonstrate that fact thoroughly, providing Jatt, Rivington, and Deman a chance to shine. With the added technicality of having to set-up, coordinate, pace, and present a world-class sports entertainment event, the one thing that seemed to hinder the cast and crew from showing their brilliant colors was everything but the game itself. The warm-up time needed for the analysts desk to get into their groove, the meek introduction of the casters desk, and any semblance of production mistakes or anxiety evaporated once the first bans peppered the screen. The crew would roll easily into the game, knowledge in hand, practiced and rehearsed, relaxed and carefree with fervor, passion, and professionalism. Riot’s relatively recent decision to hire on broadcasters full-time, that they may devote themselves to research and their craft, was a good one. The team of three were strong in their presentation, transitioning effortlessly between one another, highlighting the action with appropriate inflection while the range of personalities added spice to the coverage. But this decision to hire on professional casters stems partly out of necessity. As the expectations for League of Legends coverage raises near daily, the expectations of the casters rises with it. At times, Jatt would speak ad nauseum about specific mechanics influencing the game when a dramatic narrative might have been more appropriate and more succinct. In addition, the phrasing of Rivington would stumble as the onslaught of visual stimulation and constant action would leave little time for consideration. Casting a game like League of Legends is demanding work,


filled with challenges unique to the genre and game. And while the team of three had their shortcomings when measured against other professionals, their efforts were not without blazing successes, crescendo-ing and sustaining the tension of the moment in a manner worthy of the competition. The end of game one would leave no doubt that the ball was rolling. Transitioning back into easy commentary from the analyst desk, seasoned with interesting, wellproduced video pieces about the teams and their personalities would give the appropri-

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...ultimately, much of what can be decried about the event can be chalked up to the simple fact that the young gaming company is sailing through virtually uncharted territory.

Good Luck Have Fun

ate amount of distraction as the next game set up. MonteCristo in particular seized his role as the knowledgeable personality with aplomb, providing as much insightful commentary as Lee Corso-esque moments of absurd hilarity. Quickshot grew into his role as the contributor and anchor of the broadcast, Kobe added welcome lightness to the discussion, and Doublelift and Krepo proved that yes, professional gamers do have personalities. Ironically, this is when the night became less interesting. That is to say, with production and personality rolling from strength to strength, the fears that Riot might not understand their responsibility as an eSports standard bearer were laid to rest with all hands rowing at full speed. Each game would feature the appropriate mixture of detailed mechanical discussion and play-byplay passion and intermissions would both

entertain and inform. But the defining success of the night may reside in the fact that (SPOILER ALERT) a 3-0 sweep felt relaxed, enjoyable, and hell, fun. No one could doubt how appropriate the venue, pageantry, and money spent were for the undertaking. The capacity crowd of the Staples Center, the crowd noise, the polish and shine of the production, and the electricity of the atmosphere dispelled any conception that eSports does not belong on the big stage. And ultimately, much of what can be decried about the event can be chalked up to the simple fact that the young gaming company is sailing through virtually uncharted territory. Piping broadcast commentary into the arena to explain the action is a challenge unique to eSports. Trying to effectively display every piece of relevant information for such a complex and nuanced game while still leaving a viewport for the action is a challenge unique to eSports. Balancing the casual and hardcore viewer, both vociferous in the event of their exclusion, is a challenge unique to eSports. At the end of the day, Riot walked into an arena that the greater public believed they had no Earthly right appearing at and put forth everything they had, and for that, we should be appreciative. But like the North American scene, the quality of fast-food beef, and the music of Ke$ha, they’ve got a long way to go before they reach the summit. The lessons were learned, the criticisms delivered, and the trophy raised. The ambitious crew has a year to improve upon their efforts, repair their sails, and venture deeper into the squalls of our lofty expectations. And we’ll be ready for them, as bitter and jaded as ever, fingers poised on keyboards, brows furrowed as Drake takes the stage, secretly delighting with kid-like joy in the spectacle before us. It’s the least we can do for the bastards who created Teemo.


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The Matters of Building By Tyler Brandt

of Hunter’s Machete allowed for new levels of diversity within the jungle, while Sightstone opened up the support role to new champions. Meanwhile, Black Cleaver and Liandry’s Torment introduced new, tankier damage alternatives for bruisers and mages. Riot’s broadest change was seen in the global movement speed upgrade. By increasing the base move-speed across the board, Riot eliminated the growing standard of Boots of Speed and Health Potions across the lanes at level 1. It’s no question that Riot’s Season 3 changes turned stagnant build strategy on its head, but the central question remains: how did the pro circuit react to Riot’s numerous changes?

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THE FALL OF WRIGGLE

Perhaps the most consistent change among pro and amateur builds was seen in the jungle. The new addition of Hunter’s Machete allowed champions with low DPS in

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In competitive gaming, balance is key. Any large title is going to be in a constant state of flux as developers seek to find that sweet spot. Riot Games’ League of Legends is no exception; in fact the fluidity of Riot’s changes are a great example of this. But how in sync were Riot’s Season 3 changes with the pulse of the professional player community? Here we’ll take a look at the Season 3 additions and changes of items and how they were utilized in the LCS World Championship. With Season 3, Riot sought to stir the meta out of its concrete form in Season 2. The elimination of Heart of Gold, for example, broke the standardized bruiser/ jungle early build. The removal of Madred’s Bloodrazor and Force of Nature sought to eliminate such hard-to-balance, late-game powerhouse items in favor of streamlined, counter-able alternatives like Blade of the Ruined King and Spirit Visage. The addition


the early-game to compete with the Lee Sins and Nocturnes of Season 2. Some junglers (such as SKT Bengi in the final game) continued purchasing Madred’s Razors, but it had fallen as the rush item of the jungle. The key selling point was its Maim passive, allowing for faster jungling and neutral objective control, and Maim was rebalanced mid-Season 3 in order to increase its consistency. Yet despite the use of its component part, Wriggle’s Lantern was not seen within the bracket play of Season 3’s Worlds. In its place was the new wave of jungling items: the Spirits. The component item, Spirit Stone, was a common rush item among junglers, providing them with the Mana per 5 and Health per 5 necessary to stay healthy and prepared for the increased ganking seen in Season 3 jungle-play. Spirit of the Ancient Golem was a common rush for the tankier junglers such as Jarvan IV or Lee Sin, its Tenacity allowed for junglers to build Mobility Boots for increased map control, or Ninja Tabi against AD-heavy teams. However Lizard Elder was occasionally seen, such as GMB Diamond’s Evelynn in the Quarterfinals. While Ancient Golem was quite common, the changes to jungle

HONORABLE MENTIONS

While the builds of bottom lane didn’t change up as much as top or jungle in Season

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Top lane has long been the realm of the bruiser, and while tankiness is nothing new here, changes to items such as Warden’s Mail and Spirit Visage have solidified that metagame whilst encouraging diversity in early game builds. The aforementioned movement speed tweak allowed top-laners to forgo level 1 Boots of Speed in favor of even earlier damage. Elixirs of Fortitude, Crystalline Flasks (the new addition was popular in both top and mid lanes for sustain), and Long Swords became commonplace among the old standards “Cloth/Pots” and Doran’s items. Build diversity opened up from level 1, top players were now able to pursue a slew of different routes to midgame builds. Changes to Warden’s Mail transformed it from an AD carry counter item to an extremely common pick against top-lane AD casters and attackers alike. Spirit Visage’s new component, Spectral Cowl, became a solid pick against the occasional AP bruiser top like Rumble, Kennen, or Vladimir. Amongst these champs, the Liandry’s Torment became an increasingly popular choice to whittle down late game health-bricks such as Cho’Gath or Garen. Black Cleaver, returned in Season 3 with increased utility for AD-heavy teams, found itself falling second to Last Whisper in pro’s picks for armor penetration (however SKT Faker built both in every Zed bracket game he played). Far from the Heart of Gold and Warmog’s spamming of Season 2, top lane developed into a more versatile and diverse position in Season 3.

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TANKY TOP

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items allowed for alterations in builds and rushes from the Season 2 standard of Madred’s Razors and Wriggle’s Lantern.


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popular choice among AP carries. Fizz, Kassadin, and similar assassin players often purchased it fairly early, as RYL Wh1t3zZ did in the final two games of the Championship. As mentioned above, Liandry’s Torment and its component Haunting Guise provided AP mid players a mix of health and damage, thanks to its penetration and currenthealth-percent ‘DoT.’ Especially suitable for mid champions with spam-able moves, the mask provided a higher damage alternative to Archangel’s Staff while providing more poke utility than Rabadon’s Deathcap. Across all positions, Season 3’s item changes provided a new take on the League of Legends meta by allowing players to pursue a number of different builds viable for varied play-styles and niches. While a new metagame standard has certainly been established, few can deny the enhanced counter-play across all roles. As players both pro and amateur continue to adapt to the flux of changes of the current game, one can’t help but be excited for the new changes coming soon with Season 4.

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3 (particularly for AD carries), the addition of Sightstone gave support players a muchneeded ward-slot while simultaneously allowing them to build tankier early-game. The changes to Oracle’s Elixir allowed more aggressive counter-play between supports, as teams could no longer pick off the player with the floating pink eye to remove true vision for the next fight. In turn, counterwarding and ward-clearing turned into extended battles for map vision (albeit more noticeably in amateur play). However, one can hardly deny the power of the newly added Blade of the Ruined King (BoRK) for attack-speed carries. Vayne, Aatrox, Jax, and even Zed players found the new max-health-percent shred to be a staple of their builds, as these champs drastically improved after purchasing it. SKT Impact purchased the item on Jax for the first two games of the finals series, with Faker following his teammate’s route as Zed in Game 2. RYL Uzi also rushed “BoRK” as Vayne in Game 1, a common path for Vayne players early-game. In mid-lane, Zhonya’s Hourglass’s new component Seeker’s Armguard was a


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YELLOW EVERYBODY

THIS IS PURGE by Ryan Kelly & Don Tam


GLHF How would you describe your position in

ABOVE: KEVIN ‘PURGE’ GODEC

the Dota community?

I make a variety of content, but mostly I focus on YouTube videos that are instructional for new players, and streaming with an emphasis on commentary and pointing out tips and things like that. In the past I’ve done lots of guides; my “Welcome to Dota, You Suck” guide is the most popular guide for Dota beginners. I used to do a lot of casting, but I’ve cut back on that. What do you feel about the in-game tutorials and about the new player experience?

It’s a little hard for me to answer this, be-

cause I haven’t been a new player in a long time. But I think that Valve is doing a good job. Comparing what Dota 2 is now to what DotA 1 was, there are huge, huge advantages. There’s some stuff I know they are working on putting in eventually, when they get time for it; they have other more important things to do right now. But I know they’re going to improve the beginner experience. As it stands right now, it’s ok. I think the beginner tutorial is a lot of fun; it reminded me of WarCraft 3 campaigns, so I can’t wait to do some more of those. I would love to see them expand that more and do some higher level stuff, or I think challenges would be fun,


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to start including that kind of instructional content

LEFT: KEVIN ‘PURGE’ GODEC

within the Dota 2 client?

Valve has a desire to do that. When I was there in March one of the things they said they want to work on is integrating in-game monetization with people like me that stream or make YouTube videos. It was in the early planning stages, and I have no idea how much it’s progressed since then, as that was about 6 months ago. They do want to be able to allow people to watch streams in game if possible, or for example, when I stream people would be able to follow my stream and then they can watch me in the watch tab with my voice. And maybe it would record my voice and then I would have all these gameplay VODs that would be within client. So then my voice would be put on those replay packs and those replays would save forever. And then people could buy a 20-pack of games that I’ve played with commentary. So those were kind of their first ideas about the subject. Again, I have no idea how far that’s progressed, but that will someday be in the game. At the moment, the people who are making out the best are definitely tournament organizers and workshop creators. And a lot of the pro players don’t have ways of monetizing, and this would be

September/October July/August 2013

Would creating additional ways for pro-players to monetize their work change the way that pro-teams function?

I don’t think it will affect teams as a whole. A very small percentage of players create content, and of the ones that do, very few of them are successful or do it long enough to grow it big. So even though there are a lot of pro players that consistently stream, maybe their content isn’t as good: they don’t give good commentary or maybe their behavior isn’t the best, or maybe they don’t talk at all. As such, I think it would only affect a very small percentage of personalities and players. I guess there could be more team incentivization, but people are roster-hopping every 6 months to 1 year anyway. And it’s only the really big organizations that have their stuff together, like EG or Liquid, that push their players to be involved in social media. Some players will make money, but I don’t think it will be consistent across the board.

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You do a lot of YouTube content. Are there plans

a really good way to fill that gap. And a lot of streamers don’t have ways of monetizing outside of twitch.tv, which Valve would like to bypass. They would rather go straight from producer to consumer, which is something they always say.

How do you feel about the number of smaller tournaments appearing in the Dota scene?

I think the people who are making the most out of the increase in ticket sales are the tournament organizers. More people are realizing that it’s financially easy to do it, because if you sell 15-20,000 dollars’ worth of tickets, that’s a huge financial income. It’s a lot easier to get a ticket in the client than it is to secure a sponsor, for example. I think it’s really good for the amateur organizations, and pretty good for the big hitters as well. Organizations are more able to run big-

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where they create some kind of limited skirmish. Something like “You have 500 hp as an anti-mage and you need to outplay these three heroes.” Something like that would be fun too. I think they could go a lot higher in terms of teaching people basics and medium stages, like mechanics. But I think they just don’t have the time, and they’re doing more important things right now. I think it’s acceptable, and it’s good for me at least that the current in-game resources aren’t the best. I’m honestly ok with it, but I know they’re going to work hard on it and make it better.


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What do you think about the MLG tournament structure? Do you think MLG will grow the NA scene in the way that many people hope it will?

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At the moment there are a lot of North American players and talented people that could make teams that just aren’t bothering because they don’t see a point. There are already 2-3 good North American teams between EG, Liquid, and Dignitas. Most players don’t make a living anyway, most players make a couple hundred dollars salary a month. The idea that they would form a team, not get sponsored, and try to make a living by prize winnings is just unrealistic. So it’s really good that someone is finally biting the bullet and taking the financial hit to try and build up the North American teams. Because that’s what’s been holding them back this whole time, they’ll say like, “We’ll run a small show match for 4 teams,” and then we’ll be like, “Well, there’s only three good

teams. The fourth team is going to suck, and it’s going to be one-sided.” So that MLG is trying to build up the North American scene is helping a lot. And some good talent is coming through. Even with those players possibly not being on the same teams in three months, it should eventually result in better teams.  After the post-TI3 roster shuffling, which of the three large American teams do you feel came out on top?

I think Liquid is looking really good, and some of the things they’ve said internally sound fantastic as well. Their roster is much stronger in terms of individual skill and I’m told that they don’t argue at all about losses, they just analyze the replay. So it sounds like their team dynamics are really good. EG has had some iffy performances but they have a really stacked team as well, maybe with some time they can get insanely good. All their players are super fantastic so I’m sure they can eventually do good as well. I think Dignitas is coming out the worst. It wasn’t really like “Keep our best players and add more

ABOVE: KEVIN ‘PURGE’ GODEC

ger tournaments with bigger prize pools, because they’re making more money. So I guess in a way it’s trickling down, to everybody involved. It’s overall a very good thing.


International 3, and do you feel it will be fixed by next year?

IG had some roster problems, so their best team had some issues with inner turmoil, and that obviously affected their performance. They didn’t play as well as everyone thought they would. Tong Fu played the best out of all of them, but I think their carry was slightly inexperienced. Once in a while he would make weird mistakes, so that kind of hurt them as well. And DK looked really good, but they got eliminated as well. They just weren’t as good. What a lot of the pro players were saying was that the Chinese meta was about 6 months behind, or something like that. So they had a lot of issues because of that. Obviously there are very individually talented players, but they just got picked off one by one. They weren’t as good this time. But I’m sure they’ll be ok. DK looks really good now, with the new roster setup. And a lot of the other teams are going to work really hard. Now they’re going to have a lot more passion, because I’m sure they’re mad about not doing as well. Can you tell us about your experiences at TI3? Were you there as a fan, or were you contributing professionally in some way?

I arrived with the goal of just being a fan. But that wasn’t really the case. My goal was just to show up and have a nice time, talk to everybody, interact with fans, and make a few videos. What ended up happening was one of the Valve employees, Robin, came up to me and he said, “We’re looking for some-

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What do you think went wrong for China in The

one that can help teach Kaci [Aitchison] backstage, and we thought of you first.” So they asked if I could help and I said ok. I went backstage and I would basically coach her through team histories, picks that they do, and we’d talk about the game. At first, we didn’t talk at all about the game, like the strategy component, because they wanted to make it absolutely sure that she wasn’t trying to act like an expert, because she wasn’t. She didn’t want to lie about it at all. So at first we didn’t talk about the game, but as the tournament went on she asked more and more questions, and was actually caring about the strategy, so that was pretty fun. But basically I would go backstage and tell her about the upcoming teams, and then I’d go back somewhere else and sign autographs or hang out with a friend, and then I would go back as that best of three ended, and I’d coach her for the next 30 minutes or something. It was a lot of running around, very busy. Kaci was a fan favorite by the end of the tournament. Reddit adored her.

She was the Bruno equivalent. I feel like we’re just going to keep having one personality that explodes during TI and he was definitely the one during TI2. It was kind of fun. It was fun watching Kaci learn things, and she would change favorite players or favorite heroes. She would like Pudge for a while and she was really into Gyrocopter or something, I can’t remember exactly. It was fun teaching her all the names and telling her about the abilities and she obviously doesn’t know what’s going on in teamfights but you can always tell who wins and how things are going and the casters help a little bit, so it was really fun to watch her enjoy it. The same thing happened last year too, I was sitting backstage when I was doing interviews, and one of the camera guys started asking questions.

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good players,” it was more that Dignitas just completely exploded and it’s a bunch of players just grouping up as an organization. Maybe they could be really good, but I feel like they’re going to be the weakest of the three.


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I would have bet him that there wouldn’t be a Korean team invited to TI4, and I’m pretty darned sure that unless a bunch of really good players moved to Korea to start a team, there will not be a Korean team at TI4. Do any of the pro teams have rituals before their games?

I know some of the players have some optimization stuff, like Na’Vi always talks about their bananas because they don’t want to get a full stomach, because all the blood goes to their stomach then they can’t play as well. I’ve noticed some performance related stuff like that recently just by playing more. So I’m sure that they have little things like that but I can’t tell you about super specific things, unfortunately. We’re now witnessing the birth of the Korean Dota scene. What do you think they could bring? Good Luck Have Fun

I know League of Legends is really popular in Korea right now, so Dota surely could also be very popular. I think Nexon is publishing it, and the tournaments are starting up, and people are watching the streams. It’s fun

to watch because the players are not highly skilled, but it makes for some fun games to watch because they go kind of wonky item builds and teamfight way too much. And in that sense they’re making bad decisions, but it’s awesome to watch because they’re constantly fighting, and they never stop fighting. So it’s not very safe play but it’s very enjoyable to watch at the moment. I would like to see Dota really blow up in Korea, that would be cool. Do you think there will be a Korean team at TI4?

No. Actually, I had a bet with a guy. He bet me - I think this was around TI3 - he bet me $20 that a Korean team would make top 3 at TI4. He’s crazy. I would have bet him that there wouldn’t be a Korean team invited to TI4, and I’m pretty darned sure that unless a bunch of really good players moved to Korea to start a team, there will not be a Korean team at TI4. It’s not going to happen. I’m really fighting myself over this analysis, but after having played Dota this long, though not at a professional level, I just can’t see people getting that good at the game in only a year or two. I just feel like it takes a lot longer. All the pros on teams right now have been playing 5 plus years or 3 to 5 years or something like that. Some of the super talented players have been playing 3 years. I can’t see a full team getting to TI in one year. It would be insane for somebody to get that good that fast at Dota. I don’t see it being possible. Plus they’d still have to be playing against all the other super top teams who have been playing for a long time that have all the mechanics down and all the raw talent and all the experience. Maybe TI5? But I really don’t see TI4. Do you play a lot with other casters? Like the Beyond the Summit guys, or Sheever?

I played with Sheever last night. I play CS:GO

RIGHT: VALVE CORPORATION

You can genuinely tell he was interested in the game. That’s one of my favorite things, is watching people who maybe don’t play games that much but still get into the game. He was like, “How much does this game cost?” And I was like, “It’s free, man” and he was like, “Oh my gosh, really?!” It was pretty cool.


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with Godz a bit, he’s my roommate and I play Dota with him sometimes [as well], LD doesn’t play that much, but he does once in a while. Tobi, on the Staff Cup.

so that was kind of ridiculous. Whatever, got my $300! You mentioned you followed StarCraft a bit back when, do you still follow it?

Hopefully I’ll do some more casting in the future, I want to do some LAN casting, but I haven’t had much opportunity yet. Who would you say is the best caster player, excluding yourself and former pros?

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Draskyl is very good. I’m not sure if he’s better than me, he’s around my level. During the Staff Cup, I think Draskyl said I was better and I said that he was better so I’m not sure if Draskyl is better than me. Godz is good as well, he’s around my level. I can’t always tell though because whenever he plays pubs he ALWAYS trolls. That guy cannot play a serious Dota 2 pub game. He picks Necrolyte and he goes Shadowblade with a Desolator every game. He knows it’s not efficient but he’s like, “I can go around solo killing, it’s great.” What’s the goofiest thing you’ve seen him do in a pub?

That one’s pretty goofy. He just doesn’t care. We were playing a showmatch once against the Russian casters. It was $1500 on the line, this was a Starladder-organized showmatch between the English casters and the Russian casters. And halfway through the game we’re winning, and Godz decides to buy Midas on Enchantress. I’m like, “Dude, there is a lot of money on the line. Can’t you play one game seriously?” We still won, but I was blown away that he was willing to chance that stuff,

Yeah I do, a little bit. When the StarCraft 2 Beta came out I was just out of college by about six months. And I played BW as a kid a little bit, I played custom maps and stuff mostly. But I was getting into StarCraft and I got a key from a friend who worked at an Activision related company or something. And I started playing StarCraft a lot and I’d be watching all these videos. I used to watch Husky StarCraft and Day9 and all that stuff. And that’s where I got my Youtube idea, actually, was Husky. I kind of copied his format, but for Dota. So when I started watching the MLGs and stuff, I eventually started falling off. I don’t watch it much right now but I follow some of the StarCraft 2 players and I like talking to them at MLG events. What are your thoughts about maintaining parity between Dota 2 and Dota 1 in the future?

Well, Icefrog has always said that he would continue updating Dota 1 forever, no matter what. Some of the mechanics are slightly different. Most of them are impactful but not enough where it massively changes the game, it’s just more of small outcome things. There are some bugs and they’re working on the bugs and some things that seem like features that changes the game. But it should technically be the same game and it’ll be nice to have the reference points and make it easier for people to switch between games. Like the models being similar to the WarCraft III counterparts is really cool. So it’ll continue to be developed and I’m okay with that, even though they’re slightly different right now. What is your most anticipated Dota 1 hero that has


Do you have any predictions for the next dominant hero at TI?

It’s so far away, it’s really hard to know. There could be so many buffs and nerfs by the time TI rolls around. Elder Titan is really strong right now and he’s going to become the most popular hero, but I think there are going to have to be some nerfs to a couple of heroes for the meta to change a little bit. And that will happen soon. The meta is preparing to settle, and in a couple of months a patch will come to change things a little bit. [Note: this interview was given before the release of the 6.79 patch] Do you think Elder Titan will be subjected to some nerfs in the near future?

I would assume so. They buffed his aura twice to get where it is right now, so I think it might get reverted. The Spirit is pretty darned good so maybe add a cooldown increase - I’m not sure. He’s really strong offlane, he’s really strong mid as well, but I’m not sure he’s being abused quite enough. I just know a lot of players who are saying

September/October 2013

What sorts of new projects will we see from you in the future? Any new video formats?

Yeah, I’ve been getting bored of my format lately so I’m going to start diversifying a bit. I feel not too stressed out right now so I want to put some effort toward doing some old series. I did one a long time ago - like a year and a half ago - where I would do a replay commentary with a pro player on one of their games. So I can give them some more spotlight and also look at what they do and learn a bit more from a pro player’s perspective. They always have little tips and things that are interesting and things that I would never think about. So those are things I want to do more. I might do some dual lane videos with a friend on Skype and we can talk about how good this one dual lane is. I’m scared to make that video though because I know that people will just start playing Tuskar and Centaur in pubs all the time and it’s going to be my fault. Some of those lanes are just so frustrating and boring to play against on the receiving end, so I feel a little guilty. But I should probably do some more variety there. Hopefully I’ll do some more casting in the future, I want to do some LAN casting, but I haven’t had much opportunity yet. But that’s pretty much everything I want to do professionally. And start playing more, maybe in an amateur team or something. It’d be fun.   Follow Purge on twitter @PurgeGamers and find his instructional videos at www.purgegamers.com

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It was Abaddon until he got released. Phoenix I like a lot but it has been remade 3 or 4 times in the last year or two since I last played Dota 1. So probably Phoenix, but maybe he’s a different hero now, I really don’t know. There’s a couple of other heroes that looked pretty cool that I read the patch notes of, but I never really tried playing them in Dota 1. Maybe I should give those guys a shot. I’m sure there are a lot of interesting heroes in the pool that I haven’t played before so I can’t really say. I think there are only maybe 10 heroes left. I don’t really care about Techies very much, personally. I’m sure a lot of people are really mad about that, but I guess I don’t really have a favorite. Just Phoenix, I suppose.

he’s imbalanced. Maybe Batrider is going to get nerfed again. That hero has been strong for three years now. Icefrog is trying really hard not to nerf Batrider enough where he becomes completely irrelevant but it’s really difficult with his skill set, so maybe they’ll have to remove Force Staff from working with Lasso or something.

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yet to be released?


Riot Talks What’s Next: League of Legends, Season 4 By John Gaudiosi Photos courtesy LoL eSports

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Now that SK Telecom T1 has hoisted the Summoner’s Cup and closed out season 3 of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), Riot Games is shifting its attention to 2014 and the January launch of LCS Season 4. Here’s a look at what’s to come. THE 2013 LCS FINAL SOLD OUT THE STAPLES

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Center in just an hour, packing 13,000 devout fans from around the world into the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. Another 1.3 million fans tuned into the live streams of the action via Youtube, Twitch and Azubu, connecting the world with eSports. “I think Staples Center does send a signal,” said Brandon Beck, CEO and co-founder of Riot Games. “There are always a lot of people that are on the fence about eSports in the sponsorship community. It’s important that advertisers and the people that can contribute to this ecosystem—which ultimately is the primary way that teams and players can sustain their economics—take eSports seriously. This event helps that

cause. But for us it’s not as much about that as it is just the awesomeness of watching eSports in one of the world’s best arenas in front of a fired up crowd.” One company no longer on the fence is Coca Cola. Next year will see the introduction of a minor league system, sponsored by Coke Zero, called Challenger Series. Riot is opening up the gaming field and offering teams an opportunity to compete at a high


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level with the hope of graduating to the big league just like in Major League Baseball. “I’m fired up about the Challenger Series,” said Dustin Beck, vice president of eSports at Riot Games. “It’s going to really increase the level of competition that’s higher than the amateur level. I think it will put a lot of pressure on the LCS as well, and

that’s great. The NFL is not successful without NCAA football. You need that kind of breeding ground for people to play on this big stage before they graduate into the NFL and I think it’s exactly the same with our league. It also allows for way more teams to compete. We only have eight teams in the LCS. Now there’s a league to have teams of relegators

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ABOVE Incredible crowds filled the Staples Center in early October to watch the LCS World Championship


BELOW Members of SK Telecom T1 celebrate after defeating Royal Club to take the 2013 trophy.

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of all the up-and-coming teams like Cloud 9 that they participate in.” The Challenger Series is not your typical corporate sponsorship. Matt Wolf, head of global gaming at the Coca Cola Company, is working closely with Riot Games to give fans more matches to watch and to build out a new tier for eSports. “Coke is going to be involved in a very deep and authentic way, helping to establish a Challenger Series of semi-pro players that are going to be aspiring to move into the LCS,” said Marc Merrill, president and CMO of Riot Games. “They’re really going to be helping to build out that new tier with some competitions and having teams that are aspiring to make it into the pro league. More details will come about this, but Coke’s really going to be partnering with us to help craft a real league experience that will enable lots of other teams to participate in high-level play with the hopes of making it into the LCS.” Riot Games has a lot of plans for Season 4, although the exact details are still being worked out. One reason is because of the grueling schedule that the end of the season and the LCS put on the teams. With a successful Staples Center now in the history books, the developer is looking ahead. “Improving large scale things like balance is something that we addressed in Season 3 with changes to items and we’re certainly considering changes of that sort of nature and scope going forward,” said Brandon Beck. “There’s a constant commitment to evolving the quality of the assets and the experience, the quality of art, the sound, the dialogue, everything. It’s sort of an on-


September/October 2013 061 glhfmag.com

going process, as well as balancing the game All-Star Game as well, but from an interand adding a seemingly endless laundry list national competition perspective it was sure of features that we think will provide very fun seeing China versus the U.S. and those meaningful improvements in the game.” matches.” Season 3 was actually the first year that When it comes to the international fan Riot Games designed LCS as an actual sport base, that continues to grow. Riot is slowly with seasons in five regions around the and meticulously launching League in new globe. According to Dustin Beck, there are territories to expand the audience. “It’s difquite a few things that they do want to keep, ficult to expand into new territories because like analysts. “That’s something we had just each presents a different set of challenges in rolled out at the World Championship and terms of operating and servicing a game reit was really successful in that it broke down ally well,” said Brandon Beck. “It’s importhe game for our players and got other tant to be localized in every new territory chatter going around the community,” said that we go into with an excellent translaDustin Beck. “Fans loved it, so we want to tion of the game for the local experience. do more of that. We Also, people play the want to make sure that game differently in “There’s a constant we’re not doing too commitment to evolving the different markets. In much stuff, so the pros markets like Korea a quality of the assets and the have the proper time large percentage of to go scout a team that gaming takes place experience, the quality of they’re going to play. art, the sound, the dialogue, in PC cafes and we When we adjust the need to make certain everything. It’s sort of an schedule, we might do tweaks to the expea bit more international riences to facilitate on-going process [...] that play. It would be really that type of player we think will provide very cool to see a Fnatic vs. interaction. We’ve meaningful improvements Cloud 9 rematch, for been steadily trying example.” to bring the game to in the game.” Riot will also be the players around keeping its All-Star Game, although there the world and we’re not done. There are will be tweaks to that game. This season saw still new markets that we’re looking to get over 45 million fans vote in their favorite to. Generally, we have a ton of players for League players from around the world for a those markets that are bearing with us and game that was played in Shanghai. logging into international servers and need“As a first-time event we were happy ing to play the game in English and we want with the All-Star Game, but we also saw a to make sure that we deliver a crisp local exlot of flaws with it,” explained Dustin Beck. perience to them.” “It’s tough to do international world seatSeason 4 is just around the corner. Riot ings for our World Championship when has set the bar for eSports higher each year. you have a conglomeration of All-Star pros And the company continues to deliver a from the different regions. There may be spectacle that captivates the world via live language barriers. Some regions might take stream, and live, for those who can make the it more seriously than others. And it’s not trek. Look for much more League next year, truly representative of the skill of that re- and new players to enter the realm through gion. We want to make some tweaks to the the Challenger Series.


‘Twas Not Luck, But Skill (Sometimes)

Dota 2 Trading, the Goods and the Bad By Sky McReynolds @SanctuaryCat Illustrations by Biggreenpepper biggreenpepper.deviantart.com

When you open up the Dota 2 client, most times the first thing you see after the loading screen is the “Store” page: THE PLACE TO BUY DASHING SETS OF ARMOR FOR 062 Good Luck Have Fun

your heroes, rare couriers to serve you in battle, and a variety of other extras like pennants to proudly cheer for your favorite professional team. To many, these are just small, inconsequential ways of customizing one’s in-game experience, but for some members of the Dota 2 community those items form part of an elaborate and constantly shifting economy where hundreds, often thousands of dollars change hands for rare, sought-after goods. This is the world of Dota 2 trading. The first thing to know about the average trade in Dota 2 is the currency: keys. A key’s original function, which they still perform, was to open the treasure chests that are given to players randomly at the end of matches, and which contain a random rare item. While some larger trades can involve PayPal transactions, most trades are an exchange of items for keys. The use of keys as the main form of currency is a carryover from Team Fortress 2, Valve’s other free-to-play microtransaction game, where

an in-game trading economy existed prior to Dota 2. Keys can be acquired in several ways: they can be purchased from the Dota 2 Store at $2.50 USD a pop (generally not the preferred way), purchased from other players at anywhere from roughly $1.7 to $2 depending on quantity and your own patience, or just simply traded for using your own items (otherwise known as your average day-to-day trade). Within the Dota 2 economy, the most prized and expensive items are almost always couriers, though there are some exceptions. The price comes in part from rarity, like the Drodo the Druffin courier, which was available only during The International 2012 from chests and spectator drops, and in part from the eye-catching unusual effects like Ethereal Fire that are very rarely found on some couriers dropped from chests. The exceptions are generally discontinued/immortal quality items like the Alpine Stalker set for Ursa Warrior, or items bundled as promotions like The Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet that will come


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September/October 2013


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up neatly: “Most transactions take place by just using the trading function in Steam. All other transactions usually involve some sort of money transmission service such as Paypal, WebMoney, Western Union and the like. There is also the option of selling on the Steam Community Market though that does not appeal to me as much, as the money will be stored on my Steam account and cannot be used outside of it unless I somehow traded that for actual money through one of the other money transmission services.�

ABOVE: HAMPUS ANDERSSON/HAMPUSANDERSSON.SE

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with a Steelseries Limited Edition Dota 2 headphones. The majority of trading activity is centralized to a few main places, the largest three being Dota2Traders.com, the r/ Dota2Trade subreddit on Reddit.com, and Dota2Lounge.com, while actual in-client chat channels and other Steam groups form the smaller and less reliable places of trade. When it comes to the actual exchanges themselves, LuckyNumberSven (major Dota 2 trader and creator of the Courier Archive Project) summed the different types


However there is a caveat inherent in these trades. The Dota 2 trading scene is made up of all sorts, and as with any other large community there are always those willing to do whatever it takes to turn a profit, whether by means fair or foul. Price-gouging, sometimes a product of the “Buy low, sell high” mindset, is a factor especially on trade channels or Dota 2 Lounge which allow one to quickly find an item, if you are willing to endure the higher prices. The amount of price inflation depends on an item’s perceived value in the community, and its actual

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assigned rarity (ranging from Common and Uncommon all the way up to Legendary and Arcana), along with the individual nature of the trader themselves. This practice wasn’t always as prevalent as it is now in the trading community. Veteran trader and moderator of r/Dota2Trade MadMatticus71 remembers that “[…]back in the old days everyone seemed really friendly and the cutthroat nature of trading didn’t really exist. Prices were lower and people were generally trading for what they liked, not profit.” The large increase the Dota 2 population this year as a result of Valve officially releasing the game this summer lies at the heart of the issue. An increase in the player base, and by extent traders, seems to have diluted much of the personal, amiable element that once accompanied trading. The problem of scammers remains troublesome and devastating. Scammers aren’t so much members of the trading community as they are parasites upon it, who try to obtain items from other players through means of trickery (like re-naming items), deceit (fraudulently posing as other people) or even outright hijacking of accounts via phishing links. Unfortunately, scammers have a massive impact on the trading community and how day to day trades are conducted, and have even influenced the entire economy in rare past cases where a massively valuable item has been scammed. This has resulted in an increased emphasis on a trader’s reputation, which is actually established

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An increase in the player base, and by extent traders, seems to have diluted much of the personal, amiable element that once accompanied trading.


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and tracked on the forums of sites like Dota 2 Traders. Patt (a well-known, large trader in the community) explained the idea, “[When you are new,] it’s kinda hard to just go out there and start buying stuff from other traders because they are risking themselves [and the] possible danger like getting scammed… [so] you have to build up what we call a reputation thread… that’s how you gain people’s trust. If you don’t have that much rep, no one’s gonna sell you anything… Even if you have a bucket load of money, it’s no use if you can’t get the other traders’ trust.” Even though scammers are a relatively small portion of the Dota 2 population, the likelihood of having an encounter with one (if not many) over one’s experience with Dota 2 is high. All it takes is one moment of inattention, such as not double checking/ confirming the identity of the person you are trading with, or using the wrong link without realizing, and the consequences can be tremendously costly. One of the most infamous occurrences was the hijacking of a trader’s account that resulted in the disappearance of a Golden Baby Roshan courier, which are worth anywhere from $4000 to

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Unfortunately, scammers have a massive impact on the trading community and how day to day trades are conducted, and have even influenced the entire economy in rare past cases where a massively valuable item has been scammed.

$9000 due to the very limited numbers in existence. The purloined courier changed hands enough times before resurfacing that it became impossible for Valve to determine whether or not the trades following its theft were legitimate. Valve restored a Golden Baby Roshan to the victim’s inventory, but was unable to delete the older one, artificially increasing the pool of Golden Baby Roshans in existence. While they are often times little more than a nuisance, scam attempts will continue to be an annoying reality; but luckily they can be stymied with some basic awareness. As Jing (Admin for


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friendly, reasonable conditions previously enjoyed. Jing had this to say: “Trading isn’t for everybody. You’re going to have to deal with tons of lowlifes and assholes. There is almost zero integrity. You will be sharked and you will face losses. And when you start out, you will be pretty much trying to spend hours finding those small profits. However, should you persevere and make it through the quagmire that is Steam Trading, you will find yourself among those few people in the trading world that do have decency, a willingness to help and are 100% trustworthy.”

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IXDL-Open North America, and a Moderator at Dota 2 Traders) puts it, “almost everybody at one point has fallen for these scams, and it’s pretty much a wakeup call for those who do fall prey to them.” Overall though, the trading community itself in Dota 2 appears to be heading back towards a better direction. With the increased emphasis on reputation, and weariness of scammers and price-gougers alike, traders are coming together to create their own ideal environments like Dota 2 Traders and r/Dota2Trade, in order to both watch out for each other and to remake the


NOVEMBER 8–9, 2013

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We’re going to Blizzcon 2013! For live coverage of the events, follow us:

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GLHF Magazine Issue #7