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Rated Esports Women

in

An interview with

Chris Overholt

President of Toronto’s new Overwatch Team

Esports

Being female in a male dominant internet culture

30,000 Swiss fans protested Esports at a professional soccer game


About

Choose your character: Name: Brandon Wong About me: My first video game memory was playing Duck Hunt when I was six-years-old. Since then, I’ve been interested in video games, whether it’d be exploring post-apocalyptic worlds or swinging through New York City in Marvel’s Spider-Man. I’m usually talking about video games with my friends and that’s what led me to pursue a career in journalism. When I’m not busy meeting a deadline, I’m catching up on the recent Spider-Man issue or playing NBA 2K online. Name: Mouhamad Rachini About me: Growing up, I didn’t have many video games to enjoy. I didn’t get my first system until I was 10-years old (a Game Boy Advance SP) and I didn’t get my first console until I was 13 (a GameCube). I can’t recount how many hours I spent catching Pokemon on my handheld or beating my siblings at Mario Kart: Double Dash. Even in today’s stressful world of journalism, I can always find the time to compete against my brother in FIFA and Super Mario. Name: Justin Chan About me: From watching my brother play the PS1, to building my own PC, gaming has always been a big part of my life. Gaming for me is about enjoying the shared experience being able to talk to friends that are half the world away, or to a stranger you just met about something you both enjoy is what makes video games an important part of my life. When I’m not busy being a journalist, I can be found playing League of Legends or playing guitar.

Name: Aileen Zaraineh About me: I grew up with two older brothers who loved to play video games. We would often stay up late over the weekend to play Call of Duty, God of War and many more action filled violent combat games, against our mother’s best interests. Journalism has been a passion of mine from years of watching breakfast television on CP24. As a freelance content creator, I like to uncover the beauty behind the madness in every story I communicate.

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Our Objective: T

o bring quality Esports content, written and digital, to Toronto and the world. At Rated Esports, we strive to provide Esports stories that everyone can enjoy. Every male and every female. Every kid and every senior. Every noob and every pro. At Rated Esports, you are represented, no matter the game you play. Whether you’re a battle-hardened CS:GO-er, a FIFA debutant, or an Overwatch Squishy, we have content that

Index

speaks to you and your tastes. At Rated Esports, the “E” stands for everyone and everything. Whether you’re a long-form journalism fanatic or just someone looking to get into the industry, we cover all angles of competitive gaming and connect everyone to the scene. After all, it’s in our name.

Everything Esports, for everyone.

Choose your adventure: Overholt Q&A .......................................................... 3 College Esports ...................................................... 5 Player one ready ................................................... 7 A newsroom of their own ...................................... 9 Law & Order ........................................................... 11 Swiss Esports Protest ............................................ 13 Women in Esports ................................................. 15 Screen Pals ............................................................ 17 Shoutcasters .......................................................... 19 Esports Timeline ..................................................... 21 Upcoming events .................................................... 21 2


Q & A with Chris Overholt, President and CEO of OverActive Media Mouhamad Rachini: What *This makes Toronto a good setting for an Overwatch team?

interview has been edited for clarity.

Chris Overholt: There’s so much about this city that is truly global in its own way. In my previous life I would tell everybody around the world what a great city Toronto was and it’s great for the people that live in it, it’s great for the diversity and inclusivity that defines it, it’s truly a great global and international city. And it’s chock full of passionate Overwatch players. The league tells us there are over 500,000 registered players in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) alone. So for all of those reasons we just think the Toronto franchise is going to be really strong right out of the gate. MR: What’s the story behind the Toronto Defiant name?

CO: We really wanted to capture the values of the city, the grit and determination that defines Toronto in a lot of ways. A lot of the nature of the city. A sort of stand up will. For a long time Toronto was a city that’s been spoken of as kind of a New York Lite, kind of side stage. But as somebody said earlier on Twitter this morning, this is a main stage moment for Esports, and it’s about to be a main stage moment for Toronto Esports. Again as we got into it more and more it kind of really defined the brand in that way. It’s cool. MR: The team will not play their home games in Toronto in 2019. They will play their home games in the U.S.

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Brandon Wong / Rated Esports

How do you build a local fan base considering this?

CO: Well, we’re gonna have to do most of that I think on digital social for a while, and of course counting on our streaming partner, Twitch, to really bring it to life. We’ll have to work to tell the stories of our players of course and their background and how they arrive. You think think about it, there are 40 million registered players globally for Overwatch, and there are only 200 professional positions right now with 20 teams and a roster of 10. So, it’ll be largely digital social. Over time we’ll take on sponsors and they’ll help us tell those stories as well and help us promote the team and the

league. But you know, early indications would seem to point to the fact that there’s a great, pent-up demand for this and we’ll do everything we can to honour that. MR: You did work with the Canadian Olympic Committee, you were the CEO since 2011. There has been some speculation that Esports could be an Olympic sport. Thoughts? We’ve already seen evidence of their indication and I point you to three things. First of all, there was a great demonstration I think it was around Starcraft 2 that led into Pyeongchang this year in the Korean Olympic games, and I think


Toronto

101 101 ways ways to to spell spell Esports Esports By By Mouhamad MouhamadRachini Rachini

How How do do you spell Esports? Seems quesSeems like a simple question, tion, right? right? Wrong. Wrong.

Esports; lowercase lowercase ss and and aa capital E only when when the the word word starts a sentence. sentence. According According to to an ESPN article on on the the subject, subject, the reason they went went with with this this is simply down to to more more people people using that spelling. spelling.

Throughout my research, Throughout II have have come come across multiple different ways to spell this different term. Some Some have a capitalized term. capitalized S, some some have a lowercase s, S, some have have a hyphen between some between the e and the s, and some have the e and a mixaofmix twoofortwo even three have or even things. three things. Never have have II come come across Never across a word where every spelling a word where every spelling seemingly both both correct isis seemingly correct and and incorrect at the same incorrect at the same time. time. But which which way way is But is more more corcorrect? rect?

And this was something something II was reminded of of after after explorexploring Reddit. Immediately Immediately after after I Iposted posteda aquestion questionabout aboutEsports, I received a reply from a Esports, I received a reply from telling me that Esports is abot bot telling me that Esports spelt “esports,” along with sevis spelt “Esports,” along with eral messages fromfrom annoyed several messages anRedditers. noyed Redditers. But a But a quick quick Google Google search search told me me that told that the the term term isn’t isn’t set set in stone. Esports is spelt a mulin stone. Esports is spelt a multitude of titude of ways ways across across different different links. Even Google’s links. Even Google’s search search reresults screen seemed confused, sults screen seemed confused, with the the first with first link link spelling spelling itit as as ‘esports’ but Google spelling ‘Esports’ but Google spelling it as as ‘Esports.’ ‘eSports.’ Bing Bing and it and Yahoo Yahoo

an Olympic games, and I think, actually, the winner was a Canadian, young woman in fact. I was invited to attend a conference that was hosted by IOC (International Olympic Committee) president, Bach, and Rick Fox from Echo Fox. In Switzerland this summer I spoke on a panel there. It was a two day Esports conference that the IOC hosted. And then earlier this fall, the Asian Games made it part of their offering, part of their program. So, I think all signs point towards the adoption of Esports at a very, very high level on the global stage. We’ll have to see, that will be a conversation that I think will be ongoing.

But I would not be surprised to see it included in some way in the Olympic program in 2028 in LA, seems like a natural place to start, and they would have enough runway to make it happen. So, we’ll see.

Per the the Associated Associated Press, Per Press, there is only one way there is only one way to to spell spell

MR: There are other sports teams in Toronto that have adopted Esports factions For example, Toronto FC, who signed an Esports player earlier this year. Do you view them as your competitors? CO: You know what, I would say that I would view them as our partners in growing sport, generally. A rising tide lifts all boats of course. So, if

had this this issue. issue. also had One website website that thatpopped popped One up was was esports.com, Esports.com,which which posts updated updated news, news,scores, scores, posts stats about about competitive competitive and stats video gaming. gaming. They They seem seemto to video be one one of of the the main main sources sourcesfor for Esports, Esports, and and interestingly, interestingly,they they spell spell their their name name as as “eSports.” “Esports.”

Someone Someone call call the theAssociatAssociated Press! Press! The The point point I’m I’m trying tryingto tomake here that is it shouldn’t matter makeishere that it shouldn’t how one spells There matter how oneEsports. spells Esports. are bigger issues to worry There are bigger issues to worabout than thethe spelling of aof ry about than spelling term, and considering how ofa term, and considering how ten itsits other variations areare used often other variations by other organizations, why used by other organizations, should its spelling matter? why should its spelling matter? As As long long as as we we understand understand what one is referring what one is referringto, to,the the term’s spelling shouldn’t be term’s spelling shouldn’t beaa problem. problem.

the Toronto Raptors are successful, that’s good for all the franchises in the city. If the Toronto Maple Leafs are successful, the same. Everyone of us benefit from building a fan base around a sport and I don’t think there’s any denying that most of us are going to be in the Esports space. I think it’s pretty evident to everybody now that if you’re in the traditional space, you’re probably looking at how you develop an Esports strategy. It’s not arriving, it’s arrived. The future is here and so we’re all going to have a hand in building the industry, we’re all going to have a hand in building the fan base around Esports.

*You can find the full interview at: https://ratedEsportsonline.wixsite.com/ratedEsports

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Ahead of the curve Canadian Colleges leading the way in Esports

Photo courtesy Lambton College

Lambton College’s Esports arena

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By Justin Chan ith the rapid rise of Esports in mainstream media, the United States’ collegiate Esports scene has exploded, as over 100 universities in the United States have their own Esports teams competing in leagues for various different video games. However, Canadian colleges have been leading in their own way, as the Esports industry struggles to find people with the right skills to support the booming industry behind the scenes. Esports has always been a passion for Ryan Hiebert, who has followed the rising phenomenon for some years. Currently, Hiebert is a player on the Overwatch varsity Esports team for Lambton College, as well as a student in Lambton’s new full time Esports Entrepreneurship & Administration program. Hiebert was formerly a student at Mohawk College’s Journalism program, but the 2017 Ontario-wide college strike pushed him to find a new path, as he decided to pursue his passion for video games and Esports.

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year so far, part way through his first semester of the Esports program. “In spite of how new this is, we have access to the [Esports] arena, our gaming PC lounge, at almost all hours of the day so we can practice our game of choice.” The Esports Entrepreneurship & Administration program at Lambton College is a brand new program being offered for the first time in September of 2018, as the college welcomed over 60 students to the college for Esports. The program draws from aspects of the Sport Management programs also offered at Lambton college, and aims to offer students “tangible experience that can be directly translated into the [Esports] industry.” says Matt Hutchinson, coordinator of the Esports program at Lambton College.

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he first College in Ontario to offer an Esports program of its kind, Hutchinson described the process that took place for the Esports program to be approved, drawing on contacts, and crafting a program that fulfills the skill sets that are important to have in the Esports industry.

“Lambton College has been a really different “The biggest skepticism that we faced early on experience for me.” says Hiebert, recounting his in developing this program was that it wasn’t


Toronto just going to be “a gaming program”. That’s why we developed the Esports entrepreneurship program, we partnered with Twitch, Major League Gaming. In hopes of graduates having the required skills to flourish in the industry after graduation.”

we see in Esports right now, just because the industry is growing so fast, and without a program such as this in place, people are finding it hard to scout talent to staff those organizations with the proper skillset.”

St. Clair College currently has 2 Esports facilWhile Lambton College is one of the first col- ities on campus, they have an open gaming lab leges to offer an Esports program, it also has its with 30 high-end gaming PCS, open to any stuown gaming teams, which re- ‘People are finding it dent on campus, which is used ceive support from the college for tryouts. hard to scout talent much like other varsity sports Last year they built a brand teams such as Basketball. to staff organizations new varsity training facility

In spite of the program stillwith the proper skillsetcalled the Nest, which has 12 being in its first year, Hiebert high-end gaming PCs in it, mulstates that the college has been tiple console setups and a permanent livestream “incredibly accommodating ... a friend and setup. I got to go and compete at the Canada Cup, “For the new academic program, we will be and most of the expenses were covered by the renovating a computer lab and turning it into an school, and we have people from Twitch coming Esports classroom. That will help with their mein pretty soon to teach us a bit about how to dia content creation skills. Used for marketing livestream.” and management classes for Esports.”

Hutchinson describes that one of the major asSt. Clair College had 32 students on scholsignments for students in the Esports program, arships competing for the school last year, but is to host a cross-city Esports event with one of with the addition of Fortnite to the competitive the only other Colleges in Ontario that also offer gaming roster, that number is now up to 36. an Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship When asked about the state of Canadian Esprogram, St. Clair College. ports, Hutchinson says “It’s only a matter of time “St. Clair has been running Esports events before Canada catches up, for the US, there’s for 13 years. It’s been a long time here at the always been this sort of bigger enthusiasm for college, but it really took off in 2016 with the sports in the US, and they’re sort of bringing it first Saints gaming live event we held, and the over into Esports. Here in Canada our athletics launch of the varsity program shortly after.” says programs and our atheletics scene aren’t put on St. Clair College’s Esports director, Shaun Byrne. such a high pedestal as the US.” “One of the issues for the Esports environment is that they’re having a big problem finding talent for content creation, not even at the competitive level.”

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ith this in mind, January of 2019 will mark St. Clair College’s first intake of students for their Esports administration and entrepreneurship program, which aims to teach the students a combination of business and media broadcast skills specifically tailored to the Esports industry. As Byrne explains St. Clair’s Esports program, he specifically wanted to focus on the college’s partnership with Major League Gaming (MLG), and the problems faced by the competitive gaming industry. “Essentially they don’t know where to find Photo courtesy of Lambton College talent. Attempt to solve that problem by trainMatt Hutchinson, Lambton College Esport Entrepreing students at the college to fill the skill gaps neurship & Administration Program Coordinator.

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Photo courtesy of Stefano Disalvo Former Los Angeles Valiant player, Stefano Disalvo at the Blizzard Arena, which is located at Burbank, California, in 2018. (Robert Paul/ Blizzard Entertainment)

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By Brandon Wong

hirty minutes after school ended at 3 p.m., Stefano Disalvo would be in his room playing Overwatch, an online multiplayer shooter video game. Disalvo, who goes by the gamertag Verbo, would be up until midnight, playing and practising with his team, Bold Purpose Gaming, in preparation for upcoming tournaments.

PLAYER one ready

Athlete eyes comeback to professional Esports stage

“I saw it as an opportunity for me to pursue Esports professionally,” he said. “It was a ers,” he said. an opportunity for everyone to Overwatch became his pristart fresh.” ority and it resulted in sacrifices Overwatch was released in to his social life and to his re2016 and now has a profession- lationship with his mother. “My al Esports league with teams mom hated that I wasn’t focusestablished in the U.S., Cana- ing on school and putting all da, London, France, China, and my effort into something that wasn’t guaranteed,” Disalvo South Korea. said. “We were always arguing, While attending St. Elizabeth and it got so bad that I considCatholic High School in Thornered quitting the game.” hill in 2017, Disalvo, who was 17, struggled to balance his However, he decided to contime between Overwatch and tinue pursuing Esports and was school. “There were a lot of given a chance to try out for times where I wouldn’t have as- the Immortals (now rebranded signments done and I’d get in as Los Angeles Valiant), a proa lot of trouble with my teach- fessional Esports team based

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in Los Angeles. Disalvo was put on a two-week trial, including a tournament, which he won to secure a position on the team in 2017. “It was nerve-wracking because it was my chance to break into the industry, but I tried to make the most of it,” he said. Disalvo, 19, then signed his contract and officially became a professional Esports player. The minimum salary a professional Overwatch player can earn is US$50,000 per year.

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fter one season, Disalvo was released from the team on September. He has since moved back to his home in Toronto and playing Overwatch in his room but doesn’t intend to give up. “It’s unfortunate but I’m still looking to go pro and make it to the league again,” he said. “I just have to keep practising and studying to make sure I’m prepared for any possible tryouts.” Disalvo’s mother, Selene, raised him as a single parent and is doing what she can to help her son achieve his goal,


Toronto whether it be making meals, splitting the cost of equipment (headset, keyboard, monitor), or being there to talk and listen. “I told Stefano this when he was a young boy, ‘We’re a team and we’re going to help each other grow,’” she said. Playing a game for a long period of time doesn’t necessarily mean a player is improving. Other factors include strategizing, re-watching gameplay, Photo courtesy of Kelsy Medeiros maintaining awareness and an- Kelsy Medeiros, SuperGirlKels, at AMD ExtravaLANza in 2017 for a Super ticipating your opponent’s next Smash Bros. tournament. The event was held in Toronto at 99 Sudbury St. move. “I would play it [Overwatch] for two to four hours but spend six hours watching gameplay and focus on what to improve on,” Disalvo said.

Lui is enrolled at Simon Fraser University in a business program in Vancouver but is taking a gap year to pursue Esports full time. The decision Professional Hearthstone drew concern from his parents player, Eddie Lui finds it helpful who preferred him to finish to visualize his opponents to try school first. to anticipate their next move “Coming from an Asian backand how to counter it. ground doesn’t make it easier, “I find that by looking at what but they were supportive and they do helps me strategize knew I took it seriously,” he better,” Lui said. “You’re able said. to improve faster.”

Lui, 24, played Hearthstone, a competitive card game developed by Blizzard Entertainment, in 2014 but lost interest. He returned to the game in January 2017 and began playing competitively. “I decided to take it seriously and understand how to play the game at a higher level,” he said. Hearthstone is a video game where players compete in a card battle against an opponent or an AI opponent. Each player starts of 30 health points while using a combination of cards such as spells, weapons, and minions to battle and the first to run out of health points loses.

‘There was a lot of pressure for me to play well because of how I started.’

“It definitely affects the mental health, and eventually it’s just another tournament,” professional Super Smash Bros. Sonic player Kelsy Medeiros said. “This is my passion but it’s not my life.”

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edeiros, 23, who goes by the gamertag SuperGirlKels, lives in Montreal and works as a developer tester for the Far Cry team at Ubisoft. Her first exposure to the competitive Smash Bros. scene was the Apex 2012 tournament in New Jersey.

Medeiros played for fun but she began to train seriously after nearly defeating a top five Although still new to the Smash Bros. player at a tournacompetitive side of Hearth- ment in 2016. stone, Lui is ranked fifth in She experienced player burnNorth America, up from eighth out, while competing at local in 2017. tournaments in Montreal. To compete in regional playoffs, players must earn enough HCT (Hearthstone Competitive) points by competing in approved matches to qualify for tournaments.

“I had to take a break from the game,” she said. “It affected my performance and there was a lot of pressure on me because of how well I started.”

“I usually play more near the However, Medeiros is deterend of the season to gain more mined to be the best. points,” he said. “I want to be remembered,” she said. Players also risk burnout.

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Photo courtesy of Keith Capstick theScore Esports reporters in their Toronto newsroom, which is located at 500 King St. W. theScore Esports division was established in 2015.

A newsroom of their own

Games you love and the people who cover them

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By Brandon Wong

“It felt like a startup company at first,” said Keith Capstick, theScore Esports writer. “We were throwing things at the page and trying to find a mix that worked well between traditional sports and video game coverage.”

t the beginning of each shift, Keith Capstick walks into theScore, a Toronto-based digital sports media company, and does his daily routine. He enters the office at 9 a.m., gets a cup of coffee from the cafeteria before Capstick, a graduate of the Keith Capstick, theScore’s Esports meeting his editors. Journalism program at Ryerson reporter Then goes to his desk to re- University in Toronto, began tainment before becomsearch ideas for “The story of,” working on the Esports team as ing a full-time newswriter for an episodic series on YouTube, a part-time data entry specialist theScore in 2018. that focuses on prominent Es- in 2015. “A lot of it is being an expert ports figures or popular video The job required him to watch game franchises, for theScore’s matches like Dota 2, League of where there is no expert,” he Esports division. Legends and CS:GO (Coun- said. “People care about very specific things and if you take The Esports division launched ter-Strike: Global Offensive), the time to learn about it then in 2015 as the first mobile app while updating the scores and they’ll gravitate towards it.” that provides video game news stat lines. and data coverage from the Capstick also began pitching nitially, the Esports team tried world of Esports, a competi- stories about Hearthstone, an to emulate the feel of a tradition-based format involving online competitive card game- tional newsroom by covering video games and updating video games. developed by Blizzard Enter

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Toronto matches before finding success with long-form stories on games with a devoted fan base. “There are a lot of stories but not a lot of people were telling them,” Capstick said. “I think that was a big thing because people liked it and it brought in a larger audience.” “On my first day [in 2015] at theScore, there was only a row of 10 computer desks and there wasn’t room for everyone,” former theScore Esports editor, Preston Dozsa said. As Esports increased in popularity, theScore’s Esports division expanded. The YouTube channel has accumulated more than 500,000 subscribers and 139 million views. The Esports Photo courtesy of Nicole Carpenter team numbers 45 reporters, editors, data entry specialists, Dot Esports reporter, Nicole Carpenter working from home in Somerville, Massachusetts. and video producers. Dozsa, a journalsim graduate from University of Toronto and Centennial College, started in 2015 as a part-time data entry specialist at theScore.

ducer at Heads Up Daily, a onehour television show on Super Channel that covers Esports and gaming culture. “Television is a different The job requires the ability to work under pressure, multitask, beast but I like the challenge,” attention to detail and a strong he said Most Esports stories cover knowledge of Esports, specifistatistics and analysis of the cally Dota 2 and CS:GO. games, but there are more op‘We should be held portunities to experiment.

to the same standards as reporters in other fields.’

“I don’t think there is enough focus on players or storylines that get people invested in Esports,” freelance Overwatch writer Bonnie Qu said. “I feel it doesn’t address the more hu“Aside from the required man side of Esports and there knowledge of Esports, those should be a balance between are key parts to being a jour- the gameplay and players.” nalist,” he said. “If you’re inatu is from Hong Kong and tentive or make factual errors started, at age 17, playing then it can get you out of the Overwatch, an online teamindustry pretty quick.” based shooter video game,

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Dozsa left theScore in 2017

and is now the segment pro

She’s written articles about the Asian Esports scene for ESPN and ProvingGrounds.TV that provide Esports content. Esports reporters may not report on hard news but do provide the public with interesting and relevant content. “We should be held to the same standard as reporters in other fields,” Dot Esports staff writer Nicole Carpenter said in an email. “The only difference is in what we are covering.” Carpenter has spent two years at Dot Esports, a media outlet that delivers Esports content. “It feels like everyone has a story to tell,” she wrote. Carpenter has interests beyond Esports. She reads books and news that she believes help her come up with ideas.

“It’s like fashion, you have to before discovering a space for keep adapting,” Capstick said. writing about the game.

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Law and order

Canada’s first Esports-specific law firm helps young gamers understand contractual jargon

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By Mouhamad Rachini

and Marcus, who questioned if t all started with Super Smash there was a lack of agents and law firms representing gamers Bros. in these negotiations. “When we attended law “We started doing a lot school together, we spent a litof research on this,” Kubes tle too much time playing video games relative to studying,” said. “And what we found out said Evan Kubes, president and was that this is a massive isco-founder of Marcus Kubes sue in the world of Esports.” Management (MKM) Group. “And our game of choice was Super Smash Bros. We were reNo matter where ally into it.”

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you are in the

Kubes and Josh Marcus, Managing Partner and Co-Founder world, video of MKM Group, attended the games exist and University of Windsor School of Law between 2013 and 2016 people will play.’ with hopes of a career in law. But the duo had a love for vidMotivated by this hole in eo gaming and wanted to be the industry, Kubes and Marcus involved in the industry. launched MKM Group in late “We did always want to try to September. It is Canada’s first leverage our legal background full-service law firm and agenin some ways to video games,” cy that serves Esports players. Kubes said. “But we were havWith the trajectory Esports and ing a hard time figuring out the video gaming in general are right way to do it.” climbing at, the duo believes Their big break came in early now is the time for a law firm 2018. At the time, Richard Tyler and agency like theirs. Blevins, more commonly known “There is value in Esports,” as Ninja, was gaining populariKubes said. “In terms of the ty as a video game streamer on number of impressions and the Twitch. He signed sponsorship reach that you can get through deals with several brands, intechnology and the digital cluding Samsung. Unlike proworld that you can’t necessarfessional athletes though, Ninja ily get through traditional avewas signing many of these connues.” tracts himself, without the help Kubes and Marcus have a of representatives or agents. number of reasons why they This caught the eyes of Kubes

believe that Esports is a sustainable business for a company to involve itself in. For one, the duo believes that Esports are more accessible to a broader pool of talent than traditional sports. “Unlike traditional sports, you don’t need to be 6 foot 5, 250 pounds to play,” Kubes said. “All you really need is two hands and a cell phone, and you could conceivably become a professional Esports star. So the fact that pretty much anyone can play is one supporting factor for Esports.” Video games have also refused to die and have instead shown an ability to adapt with the changing demands of players. Esports is their latest form. “Esports are an evolution of video games,” Marcus said. “Video games are changing, from the Atari to the Nintendo 64 and eventually, you’ll get into things like virtual reality. It’s almost a sign of things to come, so I don’t see it as going out of style as really just continuing to evolve.” This has allowed Esports to become a worldwide business, another reason why the duo believes Esports is sustainable. “Esports is a very global industry,” Kubes said. “Unlike, let’s say, the NFL, which is very North American-based and not widespread in Europe or Asia,


Toronto

Photos courtesy of MKM Group Evan Kubes (left) and Josh Marcus launched MKM Group in late September 2018. Their organization serves as both a law firm and an agency for Esports players and content creators.

video games transcend culture, gender, race, everything. No matter where you are in the world, video games exist and people will play.” Despite the positives, the duo remain troubled by the amount of young gamers they see directly involved in legal negations. “You have a lot of young people aged 16 to 25-years old,” Kubes said. “And a lot of these kids don’t have an appreciation of their own value or the terms of the agreements that their signing.” “There will be clauses in contracts, leagues or tournaments where you might give away a substantial amount of your rights and your intellectual property rights,” Marcus said. “And the streamers might not necessarily have a full appreciation for what they’re signing themselves up for.” This is a concern that is shared by some of those involved in the Toronto Esports industry. Martin Omes, Manager of Team Reciprocity and an organizer with Greater Toronto Halo, says that he’s met players who have run into trouble because of the contracts they’ve signed.

“It’s a big issue,” he said. “To the point where a lot of players are still saying things like ‘I haven’t been paid by my organization’ or ‘why did my organization take this much money?’ It’s a difficult grey area and lots of young players have really been screwed over because of this.” With the arrival of MKM Group and the potential rise of other similar law firms and agencies, Omes believes these groups will supply the background and assistance needed to tackle things like law jargon and different imbalances. the proper background and assistance needed to tackle things like law jargon and different imbalances. “Just like any other professional athlete, Esports players need to have the proper representation to be able to not get screwed over,” he said. At the end of the day, that’s what MKM Group wants to provide Esports players with.“Our whole goal coming out of this is to help build that infrastructure and help build that regulatory framework necessary to support these athletes,” Kubes said.

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Bigger than the game

When Swiss soccer fans hurled game controllers onto the Stade de Suisse pitch, they protested an issue much bigger than Esports

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By Mouhamad Rachini

t was always expected to be a big match.

“It’s Young Boys versus Basel,” said Christof Flück, a BSC Young Boys supporter. “It’s a classic in Switzerland.” On Sunday, September 23, the two sides met at the Stade de Suisse in Bern, Switzerland; the home of BSC Young Boys. The atmosphere was tense, but the game was expected to be a thrilling contest.

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game’s biggest story. During the match, fans engaged in a protest by throwing tennis balls and game controllers onto the pitch. Fans also unveiled several banners voicing their distaste of Esports, including a giant choreography (a.k.a. tifo) of a pause button. Their source of annoyance wasn’t a specific player, rival, or referee though. Rather, it was something that extended beyond their clubs and the sport

These protests aren’t simply about Esports, though. For FC Basel supporters, Esports is just a part of what they believe to be a bigger problem with the club. “It’s a general question of how the club markets itself to the audience,” he said. “They question if everything the club does is necessary in terms of marketing, and Esports is just the big name in this.”

Protests have been led by FC Basel’s Ul“People ‘We don’t want our football club to in- tras. These are were in the stahardcore fans dium really ear- vest into Esports just to play football. It who engage in ly,” Flück said. activities such makes absolutely no sense.’ “The home as tifo-making curve [where and lighting the ultras sit] was packed al- of soccer. They were protesting flares. ready almost an hour before against Esports. “They’re protesting against kick-off.” “I only found out at half-time the commercialization of modThe home team lived up what the protest was about,” ern football,” Zweifel said. to its billing. BSC Young Boys Flück said. “When it was still “They’d like to preserve footled 4-0 at the hour-mark, and 0-0, a couple told us to make ball the way it used to be, withwhen the game ended, they way for the tifo, and then they out all those ads and half-time emerged victorious 7-1. interrupted the game with the break shows and Esports.” “The atmosphere was just tennis balls and some controlThe ultras consider themawesome,” Flück said. “We lers.” selves traditionalists and they were cheering and chanting As out of place as it seems, fear that the club is soiling its until long after the game end- these protests are not uncomidentity by moving towards ed. It was a big party.” mon in Switzerland. For almost more materialistic causes. For Peter Zweifel, an FC Ba- two years, Swiss soccer fans “The ultras feel that they’re sel supporter, it was a horrible have vocally and physically engaged in protests against Es- being marginalized,” said Steexperience. ve Last, a Swiss journalist with ports. “During that 90 minutes, 20minutes.ch. “They feel that “The protest isn’t really the club is turning into a brand I had the feeling that I wanted to walk away a lot of times new,” said Oliver Zesiger, a co- and a product, and that it’s losbecause 7-1? It’s just devastat- head researcher for the game ing its heart.” Football Manager in Switzering,” he said. But if the fans are worried land. “Especially Basel fans As impressive as the scoreabout their clubs becomhave protested Esports since line was, it wasn’t the soccer ing commercialized, why are its inception at the club.”


International

Fans gather at the Stade de Suisse in Bern, Switzerland, before a Europa League match. The stadium hosted the Young Boys-Basel game and subsequent Esports protest on Sept. 23, 2018. (RoyalBlueStuey/Wikimedia)

Esports in particular being brought up? “This Esports thing is sort of a symbol [of it all],” said Florian Raz, an editor at the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. “It’s a fear of the traditional fans that the club and the fans are going different ways.” BSC Young Boys Ultras have also engaged in Esports protests, with their tifo of the pause button being their peak. But unlike FC Basel Ultras, their protests have more to do with a potential league rule rather than Esports as a commercial product. “Against Esports as a concept, the Young Boys fan club doesn’t have a problem,” Flück said. “The protest on the Young Boys side was against professional football teams requiring an Esports team to be able to compete in the Swiss Super League.” For a while, rumours that the Swiss Football Associa-

tion were looking to create an Esports league were being spread among Swiss football fans. These reports suggested that the Swiss Football Association were considering making having an Esports team a requirement for club licensing in the first division. In other words, it would be mandatory for all clubs in the Swiss Super League to have an Esports team in order to compete. That’s an issue to all Swiss soccer fans. “That to me is a no-go,” Zesiger said. “You cannot say that clubs have to have an Esports player. It cannot be a requirement to play professional football at the highest or second-highest level.” “We go to the matches to see football,” Flück said. “We pay our season passes for the football club, and we don’t want our football club to invest into Esports just to play football. It makes absolutely no sense.”

Even if the rule is made a reality, there are questions as to how much publicity Esports would bring to the league and the teams. “Obviously there is an audience for it,” Raz said. “But Swiss clubs are so small, I don’t know if this is something that will matter. For example, if [six-time English Premier League champions] Chelsea F.C. opened their own Esports branch, then it’s OK for them because you have a worldwide audience that knows Chelsea F.C. But who knows FC Basel?” Unlike some of his fellow FC Basel fans, Zweifel believes that good can come out of Esports. He thinks that investing in Esports can help clubs boost their popularity. “The sooner we adopt Esports, the greater our advantage over other European clubs,” he said. “And that’s what we want. We want victories and a great time, be it digital or in a stadium.”

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Mouhamad Rachini / Rated E-Sports Marissa Roberto (right) introduces Jaesun Won and Beom-Joon “Bishop” Lee, the GM and Coach of Toronto Defiant. The live event hostess believes female gamers need “female friends in a male industry.”

Women in the realm

Girls are gaming, but what is really going on behind the screen?

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15

By: Aileen Zaraineh death threats for speaking her mind on feminist hysical differences are often used to sepa- issues. rate men and women in traditional sports. The Canadian-American media critic is now the executive director of Feminist Frequency: a But then why is there so little gender diversity in the realm of online gaming known as not-for-profit educational organization. The concept is simple: “the belief that media has the Esports? power to change the world. Esports has been heavily male dominated for Her work focuses on deconstructing the steyears. Despite all the advertisements and sponreotypes and tropes associated with women in sorships that incorporate women, covers do not popular culture, as well as highlighting issues necessarily entitle them to inclusivity. surrounding the targeted harassment of marginAnita Sarkeesian began making videos and alized people in online and gaming spaces.” commentary in 2009 examining pop culture from Born at the same time as the World Wide a feminist perspective and analyzing portrayals of women. She raised questions such as “why Web in 1989, Nat Cooper, a product designer does Mario always save the princess?” Men in for Prodigy the game (an online educational math game for children in grades 1-8) shares her the gaming industry were furious with her. story teaching girls and boys. While running a 12 Rumor has it Sarkeesian even received several week co-ed Minecraft video game workshop for


International kids, Cooper quickly noticed the divide be- incredibly strong and knowledgeable, and they tween genders and the stereotypes that follow have to be otherwise they will get attacked. The at an early age. gender gap depends on the genre of games, “The girls ages 6-8 made a mansion and when I host a TV show sometimes there are organized all pets according to colour then the more women playing League of Legends rather boys came to class the next morning and blew than Call of Duty.” it all up with dynamite,” Cooper said.

The gaming industry is welcoming but suspiThe way boys and girls approach gaming is cious of women entering a realm that is heavily very different. Boys assert their dominance with male dominated. other boys in combat games while girls get creTo combat, Roberto advises to ative playing with music, dance and designing. “trust other women. You need female friends in a male industry, she said. oronto Street Fighter Esports commentator You might run into some hiccups, even jealJacqueline Manor says, “there is a 70-30 ously at times but don’t look towards women as percent split between men and women at every your competition. tournament.

T

Just extend the olive branches.” Roberto Advertisers are utilizing a diversisays the best success she’s come across in life ty ploy to incorporate women. They definitely go out of their way to find has come from other women. women to incorporate in their ads, this could “My success is her success.” be seen as a tactic to seek the approval of more

‘You need female friends in a male industry.’ women in the industry.” So even if it doesn’t fit the advertiser’s main message, girls are gaming. The 30-year-old Esports commentator says, “It all depends on how women engage in Esports: some design costumes and others do cosplay, one thing they have in common is that they are constantly scrutinized. Bombarded with questions such as: Is it too sexy? Is it not sexy enough? Do I have to subscribe to wearing a dress or a blazer while commentating a tournament?” Manor describes an incident at a tournament where a player put his hands on her neck and said he was going to “choke me.”

Fact File -Kingston, Ontario’s Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn is the only woman to win a major international Starcraft II tournament. -’Scarlett’ Hostyn also entered the Guinness Book of Records for “Highest career earnings for a female competitive video game player” in 2016.

-Anita Sarkeesian’s YouTube channel “femWhen she reported the incident she said she inistfrequency” boasts over 222k subscribwas told, “Oh he’s young and drunk don’t worry ers. Her most popular video is her “Damabout it he doesn’t know any better.” Basically sels in Distress: Part 1” video, which has over 2.9 million views. saying ‘boys will be boys’ Manor said she eventually recieved an apology, but the incident is just one of many.

-According to a 2014 study by Entertainment Software Association, there are more When organizing tournaments, Manor said, female commentators have to be more careful women older than 18 who play video with their tone because at times they are re- games (36 percent) than boys younger ferred to as being “bitchy.” But if it’s a man he’s than 18 (17 percent). The same study also revealed that the video game industry is seen as “being in control.” Live event and Hud television hostess Marissa 48 percent comprised of women (up by Roberto says, “the women that I work with are eight percent from 2010.

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Photo Courtesy of Jam Michael McDonald Jam Michael McDonald (left) and Darryl Hui. The duo met for the first time at TwitchCon in late October. McDonald said that he “felt comfortable finally meeting” his friend in person.

Screen Pals

From competitors online to friends offline By: Aileen Zaraineh

what would happen face to face.

J

“I didn’t know what to expect at the Twitch meet up,” said Jam Michael McDonald, a gamer and the marketing and communications manager with Ryerson Futures and Zone Startups, “but I felt comfortable finally meeting my friend in person.”

am was pacing nervously in the lobby of his Los Angeles hotel on the eve of Twitch Con waiting to meet Darryl, who he had known for more than a year had never met.

Jam and Darryl had spent hours in a group of about 20 virtual friends who play video games His online competitor and companion, Darryl with and against each other, know something Hui describes gaming as a “nerve-racking” exabout each other’s actual lives, but didn’t know perience but feels composed amongst his team.

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International Darryl and Jam met through Jason “SKITZ” Kittell, a gamer with more than 20k followers. Kittell organizes a streamer channel and moderates the chat to make sure the game is reaching its intended audience. He keeps the chat lively, making sure there are no outliers or people who intend to cause harm.

nections with are competitive people that strive to better themselves.” You get to know people you play with whether it is in the lobby waiting for your next match or even during the game in between rounds.”

Joordens says Esports is “certainly not “At Twitch Con I finally got together with the like traditional sports. They’re not out there in online community group of people I’ve known the real world.” for years but only chatted with through text or The term “social life lite” loosely means voice through headphones,” said McDonald. social online interactions with people make you University of Toronto Scarborough psychology feel like you’re really interacting with people to professor Steve Joordens says he’s “curious as an emotional and bodily extent. to how successful Esports Joordens believes players are in real life, in the value of young worried that they might keeping up not be —a stereotype.” ‘You don’t see their body adults a part time job beThe human interaction is lost when playing a video language and they don’t see cause it got them out working with game, he said. your body language in or- there others: talking, inter “ I n t e r p e r s o n - der to respond properly and acting, and building al skills in a context like that last a appropriately. In the online friendships when you’re not that comlifetime. The only diffortable —those were the world, how do you know?’ ference is it’s now on sorts of things developed screen, he said. in sports like mastering a Esports is in itself a game,” Joordens said. career, a community It’s different when you’re of likeminded individuals who strive for greatlooking the person in the eye, ‘why did you not ness. pass me the ball?’ But online you can think your McDonald said meeting in person went response through and change it a couple of more smoothly than the members had expecttimes before clicking send. ed.

“You don’t see their body language and they “Everybody was really nice, exactly like I don’t see your body language in order to re- thought they would be in person,” he said. spond properly and appropriately. In the online The strongest of friendships are not just world, how do you know?”Joordens asks. made with those individuals who shared that Virtual reality (VR) transforms every gaming competitive mindset but who shared other ininteraction into a more personal one, more au- terests. thentic than what you experience in standard “We all got along really well, had drinks at games. the hotel and thankfully it wasn’t too awkward,” David Dowie, a 23-year-old computer science McDonald said. student at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Beyond their gaming lives, the communiAlberta and Echo Arena competitive VR gamer ty believes making connections with people who says, “virtual reality gives an extra dimension of share other interests definitely leads to stronger communication, body language.” relationships. Validating the relationship made online and A relationship that started off as competenhanced in person is very team oriented, Dow- ie explained. “It is almost mandatory that you itors online, developed into a friendship offline. “Felt pretty natural, we’ve all been chatting oncommunicate with each other. line for years,” said McDonald, relieved to finally “Most of the people that I made strong con- put a face to the voices.

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A Shoutout to

“Rip” Parbhoo casts Arena of Valor Finals day with co-host Jeff “SuiJeneris” Chau

Photo courtesy Twitter @reepal

Shoutcasters

The people behind the scenes behind the screens

R

by Justin Chan

As a part-time programmer, Parbhoo points out in his commentary the complex frame data eepal “Rip” Parbhoo’s first experience with Tekken was in 2005, when his Dad bought system that fighting games use. him Tekken 5 for the PS2 to play in his Or“In Tekken, and most other fighting games, ange County home. Now, 13 years later, he’s frames are a unit of time, and certain inputs for casting the 2018 Evolution Championship Series a left punch, for example will take 12 frames to in Las Vegas, to a crowd of more than 11,000 come out. If the opponent’s punch comes out people. faster, in 10 frames, you’ll always lose that enShoutcasters – the commentators for Esports, gagement. It’s like a science, and I really try to are a vital part of the Esports experience, as are make that show in my commentary.” their counterpart in traditional sports like basketball and soccer. Similarly, Esports casters use their knowledge of the game to provide color commentary.

“The thing about casting is, we do more than narrate what we see on screen,” Parbhoo said. “[Casters] point out nuances in a player’s playstyle, comment on things [a player] needs to do to beat their opponent, all that, translated for the viewers.”

19

Photo courtesy reddit user kubqo Vedius (left) and Medic (right) show their on-air synergy


International Parbhoo prepares for a casting session by looking at frame data charts. He refreshes his memory regarding the “best moves” of each character, including the frame data, which he will slip into his commentary throughout the game. Other than casting Tekken, Parbhoo has his own YouTube channel where he creates Tekken tutorials to his 38,000 subscribers. More recently, he has started branching out to other games, such as Fortnite and Omen of Sorrow. “As casters, we also sometimes conduct interviews with the players, where we have a player come up to the desk for a chat. Personally, I wasn’t very good [at interviewing] when I first started, I was more used to casting in the corner by myself.” says Aaron “Medic” Chamberlain, a shoutcaster for the European League of Legends Championship Series (EULCS).

Photo courtesy Scott Sun Tekken players have integrated bots to provide them with frame data on demand.

for his on-screen partnership with fellow caster Andrew “Vedius” Gray so they’re referred to as “MediVedi” when on stage.

“I really enjoy casting with Vedius, I’d like to think he keeps the atmosphere more cheerful, especially when I tend to get a little too serious sometimes,” says Chamberlain when prompted hamberlain got his nickname “Medic” be- about the partnership. cause of his previous job as a Doctor in the As a caster, it is important to know the voice UK. Now, he works for Riot Games on a freethey provide to the viewers, and how that auglance basis as a shoutcaster, and is based in Berments the viewer experience. lin, Germany. “Watching professiona l League of Legends “[In preparation for casting], I have my notewithout casters would be terrible, it’d be boring book with me, where I jot down information and statistics for the games I’m about to cast.” to say the least,” says Bentley “Gible88” Tse, Chamberlain says. “Whenever there’s a lull in a caster for League of Legends tournaments in the action, I look down at my notebook and try and around Vancouver. to offer some relevant statistics.” se, a student at the University of British Co-

C

T

However, shoutcasters in League of Legends lumbia, streams League of Legends in the are best known for their ability to keep up with evenings, adding that streaming is not too difthe action. ferent from casting, as the games otherwise are “When the action picks up, it really is quite “not that interesting to watch.”. the effort to do play-by-play commentary be“It’s not like football[soccer], where you can cause everything happens in a matter of seconds enjoy the atmosphere of the crowd, the casters [in League of Legends]. Usually I let my casting everyone watches, we know their names, we partner take over after an intense teamfight so I know their personalities. They are part of the can properly catch my breath.” [Esports] viewing experience.” Chamberlain is well known in the community

Boss Battle IRL

Sometimes,

are thousands of eSport the bigathletes out there, and gest fights happen outmillions more watching side the game. these athletes play the In our mini-docu- sport they are passionmentary, we explore ate about. this exact issue. See it on our website: The idea that video games are more than www.ratedesports.com just a hobby, that there

20


October

1972

Photo courtesy of Joi Ito//Wikimedia

March

24 students played in the first ever Esports tournament, Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics. Held at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, players competed for a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

1980

Now one of the most popular video game competitions in the world, the Nintendo World Championships was first held between March 8 and March 11, 1990. Winners were awarded $10,000, a convertable, and a 40’’ TV.

1990

Photo courtesy of Rodrigomullercwb//Pixabay

TIMEL November Atari hosted the first ever large-scale video game tournament to promote the release of Space Invaders on the Atari 2600. The National Space Invaders Championship saw 10,000 players partake in the competition. The tournament was won by Rebecca Heineman (originally credited as Bill Heineman).

Photo courtesy of Marsupilami//Wikimedia

UPCOMING EVENTS DreamHack Sevilla

When: Dec. 14-16, 2018 Where: Seville, Spain

Photo courtesy of BagoGames//flikr

The Game Awards 2018 When: Dec. 6, 2018

What: DreamHack’s final event of 2018, DreamHack Seville host competitive tournaments involving Fortnite, CS:GO, Rocket League, and PUBG. Event goers can purchase

Photo courtesy of BagoGames//flikr

their passes at DreamHack’s offi- Capcom Cup 2018 cial online shop. When: Dec. 14-16, 2018

Where: Los Angeles, USA

Where: Las Vegas, USA

What: Hosted by Canadian video game journalist Geoff Keighley, the Game Awards 2018 will honour the best video games and Esports players of 2018. Nominees for the various awards include Fortnite, League of Legends, CS:GO and Overwatch. Photo courtesy of Richard Stanway//wikimedia

What: Secret special guests and a $250,000 + DLC prize pool bonus highlight Capcom’s three-day Street Fighter tournament. Thirty-two of the best Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition players will be going head -to-head at the Esports Arena Las Vegas.


July In what is considered a major step in the recognization of Esports as a legitamate career, the United States government acknowledged Esports players as professional athletes. After a discussion with Nick Allen, Riot Games Esports manager, the U.S. granted visas to the team under that identifier.

LINE 2002

2013

Photo courtesy of AgnosticPreachersKid//Wikimedia

August

September The early 21st century saw the birth of several gaming organizations, the cream of the crop of which was Major League Gaming. MLG have since grown into one of the leading gaming tournament organizers in the world.

For the first time, in Asian Games history, Esports was featured as a demonstration sport. The medals didn’t count in the official tally, but did spark discussions for Esports to potentially be involved in future Olympics.

2018 Photo courtesy of Emille Ilmansyah//flikr

Photo courtesy of Janekonkon//Wikimedia

VIDEO GAME RELEASES

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Anthem

When: Dec. 7, 2018

When: Feb. 22, 2019

What: The latest edition of the Super Smash Bros. franchise will be released just in time for Christmas. The Switch-exclusive title features Photo courtesy of BagoGames//flikr recurring Nintendo characters such as Mario, Samus, and Kirby, as well Kingdom Hearts III as fighters from other franchises like Sonic and Ryu. When: Jan. 25, 2019

What: A new online multiplayer RPG enters the scene in late February. Developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts, Anthem sees players assume the role of a Freelancer, one who is expected to lead their civilization and explore different landscapes.

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Photo courtesy of steamXO//flikr

What: Developed and published by Square Enix, the twelfth installment of the Kingdom Hearts franchise comes to PS4 and Xbox One in late January. The game will once again incorporate characters and worlds from the Disney and Pixar universes.

Photo courtesy of BagoGames//flikr


Rated E-sports Issue #1  

The first issue of Rated Esports. Don't forget to check out our mini-doc. Coming soon... https://ratedesportsonline.wixsite.com/ratedesport...

Rated E-sports Issue #1  

The first issue of Rated Esports. Don't forget to check out our mini-doc. Coming soon... https://ratedesportsonline.wixsite.com/ratedesport...

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