esports

The Emory eSports “Overwatch” team closed week three of the Tespa Spring Series with an overall 4-2 map count, falling to 44th place out of 286 North American collegiate teams. The competition began on April 22 with a win by forfeit against “Tempest” from the University at Buffalo (N.Y.) and a loss to the “St. Clair Saints” from St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario.

Emory started off the series with a win over Buffalo after “Tempest” failed to provide six members who could play in the match.

Senior team captain Peter “HEAT” Steinberg said the Eagles had won by forfeit in matches last year, but this was the first instance this semester.

“Five minutes went by, and nothing happened,” Steinberg said, after queuing for the match. “At that point they finally joined. But they only had four players.”

In the second match of the day, the Eagles lost in a map count of 2-1 against St. Clair.

The Eagles emerged victorious a close match against St. Clair in the first map of the series, King’s Row. Both teams finished with a strong defensive round with neither making it far past the overpass beyond the first control point. However, the Eagles secured the win, taking the map 2-1.

The team opened the next map, Nepal, with a win on the first control point, Sanctum. However, the Eagles failed to take the ensuing maps, Shrine and Village. St. Clair took Nepal in a 2-1 victory, tying the score.

Steinberg said that St. Clair’s team composition seemed to be designed to cover the weaknesses of certain characters such as grandmaster Hanzo.

“Hanzo is a very weird character in the sense that he can be powerful in certain hands, but he’s very inconsistent,” Steinberg said. “His value to the team is whether or not he can get headshots and instantly remove people — kind of like Widowmaker.”

Although the Eagles didn’t cite a singular reason for their loss, junior Sreesh “Valor” Sridhar said that a multitude of small mistakes in the third map, Route 66, may have cost them the game.

“[The Route 66 game] was very very close at the end,” Sridhar said. “[St. Clair] pushed [the payload] to the end because we were holding pretty well on the third point. … Their Hanzo ended up getting four kills. And they were great shots, headshot after headshot.”

Route 66 ended with a 2-3 loss for the Eagles, ending week three with a 1-1 map count.

Week four of the tournament, the final week before single elimination rounds, begins on April 29.

The Emory eSports “Overwatch” team emerged from its April 15 matches holding the 36th spot out of 286 North American collegiate teams with a match record of 3-1. Emory’s team, “The Bench,” closed the second week of the Tespa Spring Series with a loss against North Carolina State University (NC State)’s “RageComicEnthusiasts” and a win against University of California, Santa Barbara, (UCSB)’s “Yang Gang.”

Senior team captain Peter “HEAT” Steinberg said that, after facing NC State in previous years, they were prepared for characters that the other team often played, such as Widowmaker.

“Strategically, you need to be making sure that people were really more aware of sightlines and that fact that if you poke your head out at the wrong time you’ll die from across the map,” Steinberg said of approaching Widowmaker.

Steinberg said that they used their dive composition, which features players diving into the enemy team to focus on specific targets, but their main issue was that NC State did not end up running Widowmaker.

“They got us in that regard,” Steinberg said. “We prepped for the wrong thing. They had a little bit of an advantage in that extent.”

Emory lost the first map, Illios, ending the NC State series with a 0-2 loss. The Eagles suffered another 2-3 loss on the map Anubis. Though the team managed to take Anubis to a second round, their defense on Point A fell apart when NC State finally pulled out their Widowmaker. With no hero in their composition to immediately counter the Widowmaker, player mobility was limited, and the Eagles were unable to make it back from the spawn point in time to defend the point.

Senior Albert “Apsire” Seoh said that, of the two teams played, NC State was the stronger competitor.

“We hadn’t gotten enough practice directly beforehand,” Seoh said. “Some of us weren’t quite in the right mindset, and some of us, like myself, weren’t properly warmed up. The team didn’t quite click until the second match.”

After their loss, the Eagles’ luck turned around as they logged a 2-1 win against UCSB.

“The communication was a lot better,” Seoh said. “Right after we finished our first match, we [played] some Quickplay [mode] just to work things out. … Part of it was also that we weren’t as afraid to try different [compositions].”

The Eagles swept the series against UCSB’s “Yang Gang” with a 2-1 map count. In the first map, Oasis, Emory captured City Center but was unable to take Gardens or University in the following rounds, ending with a 2-1 loss. The Eagles put an end to their losing streak on Volskaya, a 2 Capture Point map. Emory put up a strong defense on the map and won 2-1, ending the series with a 3-2 victory on the third map, Hollywood.

“The Bench” prepares for the third week of the tournament, which starts on April 22. Matches can be viewed online at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Sundays.

The Emory eSports “Overwatch” team, “The Bench,” started the opening day of the Tespa Spring Series strong on April 8 with a clean 2-0 slate. In compliance with the rules of the game, Emory did not drop a single map against teams from both Sheridan College (Wyo.) and Stevens Institute of Technology (N.J.). Each team squared off in a best-of-three series.

Senior team captain Peter “HEAT” Steinberg said that the team’s versatility and balanced skill levels could have contributed to their success.

“What’s interesting about the current team is that we’re well rounded,” Steinberg said. “Last year, we had two players who were a much higher SR [(skill rating)] than the rest of the team. But the team this year is around similar SR, so we don’t have to focus on keeping only two players alive.”

The first match of the day against Sheridan started on a control map, Oasis. Emory quickly established its dominance in the first round. Riding on their momentum, the team cinched the map in a decisive victory in the second round. Though Sheridan took control of the map after occasionally winning team fights, Emory ultimately finished on top.

Emory saw similar results on the next map, Hanamura, an assault map which the team opened on defense. Sheridan gained two points by running a quad tank composition, but Emory bounced back, switching to the attacking side and running their own solid quad tank composition. Sheridan captured only one point in the following round, while Emory won two additional points, ending the map with a score of 4-3 to seal the win.

To prepare for a match, Steinberg says the team researches other players’ profiles to gain a sense of the playing field and to predict their opponents’ moves.

“We played against two teams that had a lot of tank players, a lot of support players but very few [offense] characters,” Steinberg said. “But because they were forced to play off of what they normally do, we were able to sort of bully them and cause their team to fall apart.”

Emory’s second opponent of the day, Stevens, also failed to take a map from Emory. In the same vein as Oasis, the control map, Illios, ended with a win for Emory after two rounds, leading to the final map of the day, Horizon Lunar Colony, a two capture point map.

“Traditionally, maps that have been most defense-oriented, the ones considered to be two capture point, have been very tough in the past, but we are actively working on getting better at those,” Steinberg said.

Stevens was unable to bounce back after its loss on the previous map, and Emory notched another win, ending their run for the day without losing a single map.

Junior Sreesh “Valor” Sridhar called Stevens’ playing style “well rounded” but not as coordinated and focused as that of the Eagles. Callouts from designated shot callers allowed Emory to focus on specific targets, prioritizing high value members of the enemy team while ignoring players who did not pose an immediate threat.

“I think that was another thing that they could have done a bit better … protecting their supports, peeling for them,” Sridhar said. “I would just blink into the middle of their team and kill the Mercy. And with that, once you lose the backbone of your team, you kind of just get rolled and there’s nothing much you can do about that.”

Currently ranked 22 out of 286 teams on the leaderboard, Emory is preparing for week two of the Spring Series, which starts on April 15.

With the League of Legends (LoL) World Finals now underway, one question has captured the attention of esports fans everywhere: Who is going to win Worlds? The answer: SK Telecom T1 (SKT).

With the right amount of skill and luck, any team from any league has a chance to win Worlds, but the reality is that some teams face better odds than others. Leagues that have been around longer tend to have better teams simply because their institutions have built a firm foundation on which players can thrive. Therefore, after eliminating most of the newer leagues, we end up with the NA LCS (for teams in North America), EU LCS (Europe), LPL (China), LMS (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) and the world’s most respected league, the LCK (Korea). From here, the teams with the best win/loss records move on to qualify for Worlds, and only by looking back on each league’s performance in Worlds can we predict who will take it all.

Both the EU and NA LCS have had quite an interesting history at Worlds; they have had a steady record of sending qualified competitors to Worlds. But once Worlds comes around, the NA and EU teams always seem to fall just a little bit short. Both leagues, while sporting highly competitive teams, will likely struggle to beat Asia’s elite leagues. Since the second season of Worlds, there has been an LPL, LMS or LCK team in the quarterfinals. Asia has solidified its dominance on the Worlds stage, and the LPL and LMS are two of the three most well-established leagues throughout Asia. The NA or EU LCS teams simply aren’t of the same caliber, especially when faced with the most formidable league throughout the world, the LCK.

The LCK has sent at least one team to the finals for every season since 2013, which is a testament to their reliability and prowess. Of all the championship trophies that LCK teams have claimed, Samsung White (SSW) has won one while the defending champion, SKT, has won three, the most of any team in LoL history. It isn’t just SKT’s history that makes it so reliable, but the players that make up the team that earn fans’ respect. SKT’s roster consists of Huni, the top laner whose skill and experience with some of the top NA and EU teams make him a formidable international opponent; Peanut, the newest member on the team, but already a star jungle player; Faker, often lauded as the best LoL player in history; Bang, the token Attack Damage Carry (ADC) that has been with SKT since the very first season; and Wolf, the support who’s been playing with Bang in the bottom lane since 2013. Overall, their synergy and experience in the game itself exceeds that of most teams competing in this year’s Worlds.

Standing in the way of SKT’s fourth Worlds title is Longzhu Gaming, another team from the LCK. Longzhu made their presence known when they stole the No.1 seed from SKT during the LCK Finals. Not only did Longzhu defeat SKT, but they embarrassed them. Longzhu was able to snowball and dethrone the reigning champions in four games, the final game lasting a mere 25 minutes.

Will Longzhu Gaming come out and steal yet another title from and take away SKT, or will SKT find redemption? Will a team from outside the LCK sneak in and claim the throne? We can speculate for now, but only when the 2017 World Championship reaches its conclusion Nov. 4 will the true victor be revealed.

At The International, the best “Dota 2” teams from around the world come together to compete. In 2017, the tournament’s prize pool amounted to nearly 25 million dollars. Photo Courtesy Jakob Wells.

With 32 million viewers, it takes a special sporting event to draw a larger crowd than that of either the 2013 NBA Finals or the 2013 World Series. The League of Legends 2013 World Championship drew more viewers than that of two major sports’ finales — but despite its apparent popularity, many people in the West are unaware of esports and what they are.

The main bulk of esports’ popularity stems from Asia, as it gradually branches out into the Western sporting world. The sport remains on the fringes in the West, but this will not be the case for long, as new leagues and games continue to grow in cities nationwide, including here in Atlanta. From budding projects like Turner Entertainment Company, Inc.’s new eLeague to Emory’s own esports Club, esports’ coming of age is closer than you may realize.

The origin of esports traces itself back to Stanford University in 1972, when a group of students competed in the first known video game tournament with a game called “Spacewar.” From its humble beginnings, esports later grew into a global phenomenon. However, little happened at the beginning of the esports scene. The birth of the World Wide Web in 1989 spurred the creation of computer games, but the internet itself was not developed enough to handle the high-speed connectivity that most online games require today.

During the early 2000s, with the advent of a newer, more advanced internet, the esports scene grew. Games such as “Quake” and “Defense of the Ancients,” made their way into the light. But the esports explosion had still yet to come. The vanguard of the charge was a small company known today as Riot Games, which created the now famous “League of Legends.”

With the rise of “League of Legends,” team esports gradually grew more popular, mostly due to the accessibility of the game itself. “League of Legends” was a free game to play that could be downloaded and run on almost any computer, thus creating a huge fanbase around the world. By 2014, there were an average 27 million players daily and 67 million players monthly. After seizing such a large audience, Riot Games took the next step and decided to add a competitive component to “League of Legends”; from there, the competitive nature of the game snowballed. Players who originally played for fun began to take their skills to another level; Riot Games saw the number of amazing players increase by the day.

Riot Games decided the best way to promote “League of Legends” was to stage a competition among the best players, much like other sports leagues such as the NBA or the NFL. As soon as players, such as Faker, Bjergsen and Aphromoo, realized they could make a living off of video games, the popularity of esports skyrocketed as more players saw career potential. Almost immediately, other esports companies, like Valve, began to take note and did the same with their own games, creating a competitive environment and providing monetary incentive for those who wished to go professional. Just as someone who loves soccer watches soccer, those who loved video games watched more video games.

And that brings us to where we are today. One of the newest esports leagues is the “Overwatch League,” created in 2016 by Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard wanted to replicate the success of “League of Legends” for its own game, “Overwatch.” Major media companies like ESPN have now realized the potential of esports and air tournaments along with their traditional sports content. In a few weeks, “League of Legends” will be holding its 7th World Championships.

Atlanta’s Turner  now funds eLeague, a major tournament for another rising esport, “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” following Riot Games’ success. Even on campus, Emory University esports Club is a registered member of University League of Legends, an organization started by Riot Games to help promote competitive esports on college campuses. Even in your dorm or apartment, there is probably someone nearby watching or playing an esport — a mark to how far the industry has come. It’s a good time to be an esports fan, and you should be too.