On E-sports – MLG Dallas
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
Last weekend it was time for yet another Major League Gaming event and this time the event was held in Dallas! Previous events hosted in Dallas always had a rough time of starting up with many technical difficulties, and to keep the spirits up the event was yet again delayed for only a small time. The curse that exists in the Dallas region for Major League Gaming seems to fade away a little each year, and with Sandy slamming the East Coast it was expected some of the competitors would be unable to make it. Not to be deterred MLG ensured ground transportation to get every competitor to the arena on schedule.
As an e-sports fan, I had my bag of chips and energy drink ready to watch all the sweet games that were waiting for me. As a fan of both League of Legends and Starcraft 2 I was prepared for amazing games and boy did we have it lucky; this weekend was full of surprises and nail biters that created an overwhelming amount of energy from the fans both at home and in attendance. Let’s kick things off with a recap of the popular real time strategy game Starcraft 2!
The boys are back in town! – Starcraft 2
Unfortunately I never really had any connection with Starcraft Brood War at all, but I did hear the legends of the many Korean pro’s that played these amazing games up to date and are crowned kings and gods in the land of E-sports. Waiting for this event I was curious to see what the results would be for these legendary players. Since this was actually the first real event where they were familiar with the game I couldn’t wait to see these legendary old school players picking a fight with the ‘new generation’ that have played Starcraft 2 since the beta. Almost every noticeable player in the Starcraft scene came to this event in Dallas in the hopes of taking some prize money home. Unfortunately yet again the Korean scene shows the outside world why they are the dominating nationality in the Starcraft 2 scene. But of all the competitors, all eyes were focused on Flash, a master of Brood War who has taken like a duck to water adapting to the changes in Starcraft 2. Would he hold things down as expected against such stiff competition?
As the weekend progressed the scene became dismal for any competitor not trained in the Korean scene. In the top 16 only one foreigner made it in, Naniwa, who ironically has spent the last year training in Korea. Though making a name for himself in GSL, he has been in a long slump and hasn’t been heard from much recently as he went into a hermit-style journey to find his roots. After he ‘relearned’ the game, people were curious to see this new Naniwa play. Boy were we given a show in his triumphant return as he not only blazed into the top 16 but gave Flash a run for his money in multiple matches. The King of the North showed some us how he earned his title and restored some faith to the foreign community.
However Naniwa was a definite exception to the rule. The unusual number of Korean legends attending MLG came hard and crushed the hopes of foreign competitors one after another. Many fan favorites unfortunately fell in the open bracket and only a few names made it into the championship bracket to fall after only a few rounds. Names like MajOr, Grubby, Ret, Huk, Suppy, Scarlett, Thorzain, mOOnGLaDe, IdrA and BabyKnight all got into the championship bracket but failed to win any prize money at all. The rest of the brackets were filled with the many Koreans the foreign community had to face, but unfortunately they were no match for the gods of the east. And it was no real surprise at all that the previous GSL winner ‘Life’ got ahead of everyone and even slayed the God of Starcraft 2 to crown himself the winner of the 2012 MLG Fall Championship, earning $25,000. Closely followed by Leenock who showed a great fight against Life but he unfortunately lost the game with only one map win difference who took home $15,000. The God of Broodwar got a shared third place with Bomber, another legendary player that we have seen win many events before. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on Flash in the future as his ability to place third with only half a year of practice marks him as a true prodigy of the growing Starcraft 2 scene.
League of Legends
With many team transfers, ‘benches’ and drama, MLG Dallas is timed perfectly to see what’s going on behind the scenes with various teams in the off-season. MLG Dallas would witness some prominent rematches between the best of NA and EU coming to reclaim some lost glory against the Korean teams that dominated the championships.
We saw some really unexpected results during these tournaments due to last minute changes in line-ups. HotShotGG, the team captain of CLG Prime, benched Voyboy only a week before the event, and took in Locodoco the experienced AD Carry to take their new available support role just a week before the event which was a big surprise for many fans. Their sister team CLG.EU decided to take a break after the championships and Krepo, the team support, was still on holiday during this important event. Many of the other team players also took their holiday and even snoopeh, the team’s jungler, admitted to having not touched the game for a few weeks. To their favor Krepo’s fill-in demonstrated his skill beyond expectations. I’m of course talking about JREE, a Swedish player at 2500 ELO that contacted the team via their site’s forums. Meanwhile NA favorite Team SoloMid had a rough time adjusting to the rigid desk stations after having spent many recent weeks playing on couches with laptops due to a recent relocation to San Francisco. With these major shake-ups fans eagerly anticipated an unpredictable tournament.
Since the League of Legends composition is a little different than Starcraft 2, only eight teams battled it out on the main stage between each other. This smaller tournament makes a one bracket system more favorable. Unfortunately, League of Legends is suffering from some of the growing pains Starcraft 2 experienced a few years ago. Because of poor planning and scheduling only half of the games were casted, and we didn’t see many of the first round games that were looking very promising. With only half of the games shown to the public, there was already a big surprise that many of us missed. CLG.EU had already dropped to the lower bracket of the competition with a loss against Dignitas. Apparently, Dignitas was looking very strong as they practiced really hard after their poor showing at the championship and came to Dallas with vengeance on their minds and a spirit to prove their value as real contenders.
CLG NA showed their lack of preparation as well, being obliterated by the ruthless aggressive playstyle of NaJin Swords made famous during the Season 2 championships. In the second round, the other two North American teams were also shown their place and unfortunately fell to the Lower Bracket to face their friends and big competitors. Unfortunately TSM’s spirit seemed broken by their initial loss, falling out of the tournament without putting up much of a fight against CLG.EU. CLG NA also recovered by defeating Dignitas, who despite making a strong showing in day 1 fell a game short of taking the win in round 2. Next up, both the CLG teams had to duke it out in front of the big crowd at the League of Legends main stage. The EU team was heavily favored in this match-up, leaving the crowd speechless when NA CLG held nothing back, pulling a crushing victory in game 1. CLG.EU was unphased and adjusted their tactics to pull a 2 to 1 victory over their sister team when the dust settled. I highly recommend checking out game 3 of this match-up as one of the most exciting matches in the entire weekend of events.
Unfortunately this weak showing against their NA sister team should have been seen as a sign of weakness as the arrival of Azubu Blaze in the Lower Bracket spelt doom for CLG’s run. Azubu Blaze returned to grace against NaJin Sword delivered their prior loss. The crowd watched anxiously as Azubu Blaze took to the main stage in their rematch with NaJin Sword. Would NaJin’s unstoppable aggressive style go unopposed in MLG Dallas?
After showing some very strong plays, Azubu Blaze struck back and forced NaJin into the extended series. Victory after victory landed in Azubu Blaze’s lap as they sealed their title with an emphatic pentakill to end the final match, winning 4 to 1 and taking home $16,000 in prize money!