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Montreal is finding its way in esports

Montreal’s esports scene is growing, with the city finding its place in collegiate esports, international esports events, and the welcoming of gamer-oriented spaces such as the Montreal Esports Academy and Esports Central

Montreal is home to many outposts of game development companies such as Ubisoft, Bethesda, and Electronic Arts. While game development itself might be ingrained in the city, its esports scene is still developing.  Dimitri Kontogiannos, a graphic designer, founding member of the Concordia Esports Association, and vice president of the Quebec Esports Federation believes the best has yet to come. “I think there’s a difference in game philosophy and the type of game developers we have in Montreal. If we look at games traditionally Montreal developers have put forward […] they’re really games that come out year-to-year.”

Even with its history in game development, the city’s gaming scene is still somewhat split into two worlds. The story-based games that Montreal’s developers usually put out often don’t match with the esports model, where games are designed purely for online competition and updated regularly by the developers. 

“Your League of Legends, your Counter-Strikes, they’re really games that have been supported long term by the dev […] Montreal developers weren’t really leaning towards that style of game creation,” Kontogiannos explained. 

There are some exceptions. Notably, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege has amassed a huge esports following since its conception, with four participating leagues in Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. Montreal is home to the game’s Six Invitational, a yearly international tournament where teams compete for a prize pool of up to 3 million dollars. After being set in Paris for 2021, the invitational was supposed to return to its home city of Montreal in 2022. Unfortunately, due to Quebec’s stringent COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, the tournament was again relocated to Stockholm, Sweden, where it was held in February.  

DreamHack is one of the world’s biggest LAN events that tours the globe, offering different competitions and experiences at each destination.  Montreal was DreamHack’s Canadian destination between 2016-2019, but was unfortunately canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19.  Dreamhack is also not scheduled to come to Montreal for its 2022 season. Only time will tell if the LAN will eventually return to the city, but Montreal’s gamers will surely be ready for it.    

While these events are pillars of Montreal’s involvement in esports, where the city shines is its collegiate scene. “It was really impressive when we had multiple universities next to each other that competed in esports […] they’re all downtown and within walking distance of each other,” said Kontogiannos, who’s seen the rise of Montreal’s collegiate scene since its beginnings. “That was kind of a lot of fun to play with when we’re organizing collegiate events or grassroots events or even local bars or LAN centres.” 

Matisse Fortier, otherwise known as “Oracle”, is a player for Concordia’s collegiate League of Legends Team. “The competition is really fun. I like feeling the adrenaline of playing an intense match,” said Fortier. The team plays in the CSL Esports league, in which they battle against other collegiate teams across North America for a prize pool of $10,000. Throughout a season of six weeks, teams go face-to-face weekly in a best of three format until the top contenders progress to the playoffs. Fortier is currently in his second season playing for Concordia’s League of Legends team, who are currently in the playoffs. “I have been doing tournaments for a while, I think it’s always been a good way to meet people who have similar interests as me,” he remarked. “It’s the way the game is meant to be played.”  

With the help of Montreal Esports Academy, high schoolers are also getting their esports fix in an environment that encourages a healthy, balanced lifestyle. According to their website, the academy is an extension of Canada Esports Academy, and is partnered with three high schools in Montreal who incorporate esports into their academic experience. Students enrolled in the Montreal Esports Academy’s program get professional coaching on various games and are surrounded by like-minded students striving to compete.

“We try to teach people that esports isn’t a bad thing,” said Helmrich Vogt, the academy’s head of business development and administration. Helmrich said that the academy’s program helps the student’s mental and physical health through mandatory exercises. Vogt explained that the academy’s emphasis on health helps to ensure that the students don’t only focus on being better gamers, they are also taught using a multi-faceted approach to esports training that will give them “more energy”, and can even help to “improve their reaction time” in game,. With the program, “a lot of the students are more motivated to go to school,” he remarked.  

Esports Central Gaming Complex has many Pc’s, Play stations, X-boxes and Nintendo Switches available to play. KAITLYNN RODNEY/THE CONCORDIAN

In 2019, a new home for Montreal’s gamers and esports enthusiasts was born, Esports Central.  The establishment takes its own twist on the traditional “gaming café,” offering both state of the art gaming facilities and a bar environment. The complex has received partnerships with Redbull where they held a part of Redbull’s Player One tournament. Esports Central hosted Canada’s Player One qualifiers in 2019, in which the top players would go on to compete internationally, according to Redbull’s official website.

The facility is equipped with top of the line PCs, racing simulators, groups of friends can even rent out a couch station to play together on the latest consoles. While some gamers prefer climbing leaderboards, others prefer a chill, social environment where they can just have fun. Esports Central provides a space for both, making it a gaming hotspot for “tryhards” and “casuals” alike.

Esports has taken the globe by storm. According to an article by Statista, esports market revenue worldwide is predicted to increase to 1.62 billion USD by 2024, a large increase from 2021’s projection of 1.08 billion. While the market is rising worldwide, Asia dominates the scene. Asian viewers are predicted to make up “50 per cent of more than 1 billion esports and game viewers by 2025,” according to an article by GreenBook. And it’s not just the viewers. Teams from Asia are known within esports for their notorious skill compared to teams from other regions.

“I think, honestly, it might just be a pure numbers game,” said Kontogiannos. “That’s what happens when you have a billion people,” he said jokingly regarding China specifically. “Your player base is so much bigger down there.”

While Montreal’s esports scene is still in development, the future looks bright. With a sprawling collegiate scene and the city’s embrace of esports through Esports Central and staple events like DreamHack Canada, there is still more room for growth as the esports market continues to boom. “I also maybe see one of these world finals type of events for League of Legends or even a CS:GO major potentially in Montreal,” stated Kontogiannos, arguing that the city’s facilities are more than capable of hosting a major esports event. “The main criteria these guys look for […] is transport, hotels, distance to venue, and […] international airports, and Montreal has all those.”

The groundwork for Montreal’s esports scene has been set. With the city slowly coming back to life after heavy COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll have to wait and see how esports continues to manifest itself into Montreal’s entertainment and sports cultures. Although, with the rising growth of esports worldwide, there is no doubt that the city’s esports landscape will continue to follow the trend.

 

Photos by Kaitlynn Rodney

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Sports

Colour Commentary: Worlds 2021 is here

The League of Legends World Championship in Reykjavík, Iceland is underway

For the past few years, I’ve fallen out of touch with playing League of Legends. But right around this time of the year, when the world championships begin, I constantly find myself catching the action, entranced in the esports competition that never fails to impress. 

When my high school friends and I discovered the game in 2010, we had synchronized schedules which enabled us to indulge in our near-nightly tradition for most of my teenage years. 

Since then, League of Legends has grown exponentially both in-game and externally from a competitive perspective. While esports and other titles in the gaming industry have subsequently evolved in turn, many gamers credit the early days of League as the birth of the thriving community of gamers we see today. 

I’ll load into Summoner’s Rift, the classic and most commonly played map in League of Legends, from time to time nowadays, but my days of grinding solo queue and teaming up with four of my best friends with the far-fetched hopes of going professional are long gone. Definitely for the better.

But I can’t lie; seeing some of the familiar and legendary faces I grew up watching in the League of Legends scene battle it out against the budding young players that are on the cusp of greatness reinvigorates my itch to play the game. 

Last year, the World Championship was held in Shanghai, China, in front of a whopping crowd of zero for all the games except for the finals amid the pandemic. I still had a good time watching the tournament but admittedly, the experience with no fans left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, this year’s edition of the tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland, will not have a live audience as well.

As is the case every year, teams gather from a number of different regions to compete for the chance to hoist the Summoner’s Cup and earn the title of World Champion. And as usual, the teams from Korea and China are slated as betting favourites to win it all, with teams from Europe lurking close behind and capable of the dramatic upset on occasion. 

North America will once again try to put an end to their everlasting disappointment in international play. I’m rooting for them, but I’ve honestly grown numb to the annual heartbreak and I’ve learned to not take it personally. 

Now please excuse me as I shamelessly reacquaint myself with the game and load into Champion Select. 

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Sports

The intricacies of a full-time career in streaming

Everything you need to know about the people behind the screens

The evolution of electronic sports (eSports) in the early 2010s coincided with the popularization of online streaming. While an eSports event will typically offer high-level gameplay in a competitive atmosphere that caters to many spectators worldwide, gaming streams can offer an exclusive viewer experience that varies by content creator and channel.

Richard Blevins, better known by his online alias Ninja, burst into mainstream pop culture in March 2018 when he played Fortnite Battle Royale on the streaming platform Twitch, with highly touted hip hop artists Drake, Travis Scott, and Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. More recently, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez streamed Among Us on Twitch in order to reach out to the younger American population to vote, playing alongside well-known streamers such as Pokimane, HasanAbi, and Myth.

As a result of the growing demand for live content, streaming has become a viable career option for individuals who are proficient in video games. However, while a career in the industry is seemingly simple on the surface, making an adequate living requires incredible commitment and effort in developing a personal brand that is both captivating and unique.

“I think people do not realize just how time consuming it gets,” said Michael Luker, a professional Hearthstone player and full-time streamer on Twitch who uses the name of Luker on the platform. “In my case, I stream for roughly five hours regularly. On top of that, I’m editing videos to post on YouTube, actively interacting on social media, and collaborating with other streamers and partners.”

Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital collectible card game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment in 2014.

According to Luker, the most successful streamers are constantly promoting themselves beyond the scope of their streams while offering a healthy dose of entertainment and skill on air. He added that despite playing the game for hours on end while broadcasting live, he must put additional time into independently developing his skills as the upkeep of his stream and the ongoing distractions make for unfavourable conditions for improvement.

“At the end of the day, I’m still doing what I love and get to play video games for a living,” Luker said. “These are good problems to have and I’m grateful for that.”

Luker was amid a school winter semester during his third year at Champlain College when he was able to qualify for the 2017 World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), an international tournament held in Haikou, China.

Luker was one of seven North American qualifiers for the event and finished runner-up in the respected competition that saw him earn $60,000 USD for his efforts. Upon returning to Canada, he officially left college in favour of pursuing a career as a professional Hearthstone player.

Luker started streaming full-time in April and has since devoted a substantial portion of his time towards his steady community of fans. His self-made platform allows him to indulge in his passion while serving as an informative hub where viewers with similar interests can interact.

“If there are 50 people talking to me in my chat, I am reading everything and having 50 conversations at a time,” Luker said. “Meanwhile, I’m simultaneously focusing on the game at hand.”

Streaming has found an entirely new meaning for some individuals during the pandemic. Brian Kim, known as brianyokim on Twitch, has always considered himself a casual gamer at heart but made the leap to streaming his gameplay to make the most of negative COVID-19 circumstances.

“Through streaming, I’ve been able to get social interactions that are hard to come by while working at home,” Kim said. “I’m still an amateur, but I love the idea of not only networking with old friends, but also making new ones in the process.”

In these trying times, Kim believes the relationships he’s already been able to forge with other streamers in the community thus far greatly outweigh the financial incentives to stream his gameplay. You can catch both Luker and Kim streaming regularly on Twitch.

 

Photo courtesy of Michael Luker

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Sports

A League of Legends World Championship like no other

Esports without in-person viewers leaves much to be desired.

The annual League of Legends World Championship is no stranger to highlights and upsets, and this year is no exception. Through two weeks of the championship, the level of competition is at an all-time high, and the record-breaking viewership numbers on the broadcast streams suggest Worlds 2020 hasn’t skipped a beat.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Riot Games, tournament organizers and developers of League of Legends, to proceed without fans in attendance, meaning highlights that would normally have a sell-out arena going wild are now being greeted by a deafening silence that even broadcasters struggle to fill in.

Patryk Surowiak, President of the Concordia Esports Association (CESA), believes that esports are built on fan interaction and attendance above all else, including the video games themselves.

“It’s true that at its core, esports is played on a computer at home,” Surowiak said. “But the industry has grown so much over the years, where it’s now entirely built on the fans and these in-person events that draw the attention of thousands of people from around the world.” 

As President of the university’s club, created for casual or competitive gaming enthusiasts, Surowiak does a little bit of everything. He helps team coordinators get their teams and players together, helps set up the intramurals in accordance with Athletics and Recreation, and handles conversations with outside partners and sponsors.

Surowiak is also a proud and skilled gamer. He currently plays at a semi-professional level in Riot Games’ free-to-play multiplayer tactical first-person shooter Valorant, but it was the studio’s first hit game in League of Legends that captured Surowiak’s attention as a teenager back in 2012.

“I made a new friend in my first year of high school who introduced me to the game,” Surowiak said. “From there, I was instantly hooked and got really interested in the competitive side of the game, especially the professionals at the time.”

While Surowiak has broadened his gaming library over the years, he credits League of Legends for sparking his overall love for esports that has persisted to this day. 

“I try my best to watch all the Worlds matches with video on demand but it’s been hard with games taking place in Shanghai,” Surowiak said. “At the end of the day it’s Worlds. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

While esports as a viewing product has suffered slightly from COVID-19, there has never been a better time for the industry. The practice of social distancing has forced many to sit tight in the confines of their homes, and gaming provides a convenient distraction for people looking for social interaction and competition.

Surowiak described the experience of arranging events as President of the CESA during the pandemic as difficult.

“We usually hold viewing parties for Worlds at the school, and last year over a hundred people showed up,” Surowiak said. “It was a fun event that built gaming fans, friendships, and ultimately helped grow the club.”

Instead of another year of development and growth for the club, Surowiak faced a number of unprecedented challenges. The pandemic ultimately forced him to cancel most of its 2020 events.

“At the pinnacle, esports wasn’t too heavily impacted by COVID-19,” Surowiak said. “However, for the Concordia club, it was definitely a major hurdle. The club was prepared to work with multiple new sponsors and partners that would have bolstered the Concordia esports association.”

This year, the CESA and its Rocket League team will be competing in the Ontario Post-Secondary Esports League. The Concordia team will be the only Quebec school represented in the year-long collegiate tournament that began on Oct. 5.

The eventual return to in-person normalcy will likely cause the esports’ surge to stagnate, but the industry has been forever popularized in a meaningful way. The League of Legends World Championship is drawing people’s attention more so than ever as one might expect from a year devoid of social interaction.

However, regular fans realize that this year’s tournament will be a bittersweet memory. Ultimately, no matter how spectacular the matches, viewers will remember how it could have been if not for the pandemic.

You can catch the remaining Worlds action live or on-demand at the official League of Legends esports site

Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam

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Sports

The 2020 League of Legends World Championship is on

A primer to the biggest esports event in the world

On Sept. 25, the 2020 League of Legends World Championship Play-In Stage began in Shanghai, China. This year marks the 10th edition of the biggest esports event in the world, and features the top teams from regional leagues around the world in a battle to earn the title of world champion. With one week of action wrapped up and many more to come, here’s everything you need to know before the championship’s main event.

What is League of Legends?

League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) video game, developed and published by Riot Games in late 2009. It quickly became one of the most popular video games in the world, and is one of the most recognized esports games to this day.

It’s a five-on-five team game where players assume the role of a “champion,” each equipped with a unique set of abilities.

Gameplay can often be tough to comprehend, as chaotic skirmishes ensue across Summoner’s Rift, representing the map and settings where every match of the 2020 World Championship will be played.

Unfamiliar viewers looking to catch some action should know that the objective of each match is quite simple: destroy the enemy base before they can destroy yours.

What’s the format of the tournament, and who is competing?

The tournament began with the Play-In Stage, wherein 10 teams were split into two groups of five. Each group played a single round-robin cycle, where the top two teams from each group advanced to the Group stage.

For a recap of the first week of Worlds 2020, check out the Weekly Rundown provided by Riot Games.

On Oct. 3, the main event began with the Group Stage where 16 teams are split into four groups. Each group consists of one Play-In team, and three other teams that earned their spot in the Group Stage based on regional ranking. Groups are randomly selected, but balanced; the top seed from the four major regions earns the right to be separated in the group stage.

On Oct. 15, the Knockout Stage will transition to a single-elimination bracket consisting of the top two teams from each group. All matches will be played in a best-of-five format that will conclude on Oct. 31, where the team that comes out on top will be crowned the 2020 World Champions.

A region’s seeds are earned based on past international performance. A strong region will send most, if not all, of their seeds straight to the group stage, whereas weaker regions receive fewer seeds and/or must start in the Play-In Stage. The four main regions are China and Europe, who have a total of four seeded teams, as well as South Korea and North America, who have three representatives. Twenty-two teams will be competing this year.

What teams should I look out for?

There are new faces looking to set a new standard for competitive esports; regional legends looking to re-write history and cement their names in international League of Legends lore; and multiple Canadian players to watch. Here’s a brief rundown of teams to look out for whether you’re a die-hard consumer of esports or a casual fan looking to get your feet wet.

  1. Top Esports (#1 seed, China) and G2 Esports (#1 seed, Europe): Top Esports (TES) has a dynamic duo in Knight and Karsa in the mid-lane and jungle respectively, and is the top seed from the top region in China. If you’re looking to watch the highest level of gameplay, look no further. G2 is coming off another year of regional dominance led by their star mid-laner Caps, who continues to raise the bar for his team by displaying calculated aggression and IQ at all stages of the game.
  2. Team SoloMid (#1 seed, North America) and Fnatic (#2 seed, Europe): Two of the oldest franchises that have been around since the dawn of League of Legends, Team SoloMid (TSM) and Fnatic have some of the largest fan-bases in esports. Both teams enjoy regional success on a regular basis, but have failed to obtain international success as world champions, except for Fnatic’s Season 1 Worlds victory in 2011.
  3. FlyQuest (#2 seed, North America): FlyQuest has two high-profile Canadian marksman players on their roster in Toronto’s WildTurtle and Mississauga’s MasH. The team uses both players interchangeably, giving FlyQuest additional flexibility that most teams cannot match.

Where can I watch?

The event is taking place in Shanghai, but all Worlds matches can be watched on-demand on the official League of Legends esports site.

Graphic by Taylor Reddam

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Sports

FIFA 18 Weekend League dictating players’ lives

“It was so unhealthy,” says one user about time-consuming video game mode

A few weekends ago, I played 40 games on FIFA 18, and there was a good reason for it.

In the game’s flagship mode, FIFA Ultimate Team, there’s a competition called Weekend League, which allows users to play up to 40 games every weekend, from Friday through Sunday, and earn prizes based on their number of wins. To qualify for this mode, the user must win a mini-tournament during the week, or have earned 11 wins in the previous Weekend League.

After I won the mini-tournament during reading week, I qualified for the Weekend League from Feb. 23 to 25. Although I have qualified for it twice in FIFA 17, it was the first time I qualified in FIFA 18. I played 20 games on Friday, and then 10 on Saturday and the rest on Sunday, winning 14 games over the entire weekend. I qualified for the following Weekend League, but only had time to play three games.

Some of the best FIFA 18 players in the world compete in the Weekend League on a regular basis. For eSports gamers, or at least fans of FIFA 18, it’s a serious competition but also takes serious commitment.

Playing 40 games in 72 hours is not an easy task. Let’s do the math: each game takes about 20 minutes (and up to 30 minutes if the game goes to extra time or penalties), so that’s at least 800 minutes of playing, which is over 13 hours. Imagine spending an entire half-day of your weekend just playing video games—that’s what many players do every weekend.

The Weekend League also takes away from a user’s social life. Personally, I didn’t feel like that, because I made plans throughout the weekend (which were eventually cancelled), and I still played hockey on Saturday night.

However, for others, the Weekend League takes over their weekend. The Concordian took to reddit to see how other users cope with balancing their social life and playing this mode.

“I’m 29, have a family to provide for and work full-time including Saturdays, so I’d have to sacrifice doing anything Saturday night to get my games in,” wrote one user, Stephen B. “It got to the stage where I was snapping at my family and friends all the time, neglecting my social life and thinking of FIFA every minute of the day. It was so unhealthy.”

Another player, Mark P., said he also had to play his games late at night—sometimes until past 3 a.m. “Working all week and then cramming 40 games into a few remaining weekend hours makes it feel like a chore,” he wrote.

Some players wrote they don’t play all 40 games, but rather play until they get 11 wins—the minimum needed to qualify for the next Weekend League. Those who use that strategy said they have more free time during the weekend, and the game is not a burden.

Video games should be fun, and not something that dictates your weekend. Yet, EA Sports has turned this video game into a social life-killer and a chore.

Former Concordia student Mike K. wrote he used to play all 40 games in FIFA 17, but now that he works 18 hours over the weekend, he can’t play as much. He said he used to prioritize the video game over other activities, too.

“I don’t think something can be a hobby when it’s forcing you to spend about eight hours [a day] on it during the weekend,” he wrote. “I’d classify it as an obsession for those who sacrifice other activities to complete it on a weekly basis.”

The reddit users requested only their first name and last-name initial be used.

Main graphic by Alexa Hawksworth.

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Concordia Dota 2 loses 2-0 to the University of Alberta

The Concordia Dota 2 team lost their best-of-three series 2-0 against the University of Alberta on Nov. 15.

The first match started off with Concordia grouping up in the bottom lane of the map’s three lanes, and rushing towards their opponent. Concordia secured the first kill of the match. Early in the game, Concordia and the University of Alberta traded kills equally back and forth.

In the initial stages of the match, Concordia’s midlaner was constantly pushed back to his own tower. A midlaner is someone who patrols the middle lane of the map. Even though he was being pushed back, he did not lose experience because he was killing creeps. Creeps are small creatures that automatically spawn at your base and move down one of the three lanes towards your opponent’s base. Killing creeps, which is called farming, gives you experience and gold.

“The matchup for [the midlaner] wasn’t too good,” said Michael Di Feo, the coordinator of Concordia’s Dota 2 team, after the first game of the best-of-three series. “We need our mid to farm more.”

Halfway through the first game, the University of Alberta pulled ahead, winning team fights as well as gaining advantages by putting pressure on Concordia.

At the 20-minute mark, it seemed to be over for Concordia. The University of Alberta was pushing down the middle lane towards the opposing base. Concordia managed to fight them off. A few minutes later, the University of Alberta tried to break the base once more. The greedy play from the opposition ended with Concordia killing all five players from Alberta. Concordia also moved forward, breaking many of Alberta’s towers.

After 30 minutes, the Albertan team still had an overall gold advantage, but Concordia was playing well and pushing. However, due to their slow start and the opposing team’s gold lead, Concordia ended up losing the game. At around 38 minutes, the University of Alberta initiated another team fight, which they won, and then broke Concordia’s base.

“We are going to continue improving our early game so that we can nail that down and be able to transition into the later segments of the game better,” said Dimitry Vinokurov, one of Concordia’s support players.

The second game of the best-of-three series ended a lot faster than the first. The University of Alberta came out with guns blazing, running over Concordia. The University of Alberta took immediate control, getting kill after kill, while Concordia struggled to keep up with the opposition. In the end, Concordia couldn’t fight back and lost the second match quickly.

“I feel that games that we lose but learn from are more important than winning at this stage so that we can improve our plays as a whole,” Vinokurov said.

The Concordia Dota 2 team’s next game will be on Nov. 18 at 3 p.m.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin.

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CESA Dota 2 loses 2-0 against University of Washington

Concordia’s Esports team remains winless this season

Concordia’s Dota 2 team couldn’t fight a strong opposing attack by the University of Washington on Oct. 21, losing 2-0 in a two-game series.

The team’s loss this week was mostly due to the pick and ban. Picks and bans—known as drafting—happen before every match in Dota 2. During this time, teams choose which players they want to ban their opponents from using, then both teams choose which hero they will use in the game. This is an intricate part of every match when a lot of planning and strategizing is needed.

“We got outdrafted,” said Concordia team coordinator Michael Di Feo. “Sometimes we get lost in our picks and bans and we don’t know what to do.”

Concordia fell behind early on. Two minutes into the match, Concordia’s Clockwerk, a melee hero, suffered for overstepping into enemy territory. Two opposition heroes pinched him into the lane leading up to the University of Washington’s base, landing a stun and earning the first kill of the game.

Concordia did get a return kill three minutes later when a Washington player roamed too far down the bottom lane towards Concordia’s base. Yet, the game spiraled out of Concordia’s hands shortly after. The University of Washington fought back quickly, securing a double kill in the map’s middle lane. From then on, the Concordia squad lost most of its momentum, losing the game within 19 minutes.

The second match of the night didn’t fare much better, with Concordia lagging behind from the get go. The match had a start similar to the previous one. Within the first couple of minutes, Concordia was down one kill to none. The University of Washington continued to push forward throughout the match. They took over multiple towers in Concordia’s lanes, gaining leads in all three lanes. In the end, the University of Washington pushed down the middle lane to eventually win the series 2-0.

“We need to work on rotations,” Di Feo said, adding that the team did a better job the previous week against the University of British Columbia.

The team has their next game in two weeks. They will be playing against Arizona State University on Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. Until then, Di Feo said they will work on communication and their pick-and-ban system.

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CESA Dota team loses first match against defending champs UBC

Despite only playing together for a month, team coordinator happy with start

The Concordia Esports Association (CESA) Dota team had their first Collegiate Starleague (CSL) match of the season, losing 2-0 to the defending champions, the University of British Columbia, on Oct. 14.

Dota is a five-against-five battle arena-based game. The objective is to break into the opponent’s base before they get to yours. The game’s map is more complex than that though. There are three main lanes (top, middle and bottom) which lead to the opponent’s base.

In each lane, there are two towers behind one another which shoot at your character, called a hero, when you get too close to the tower. There is also a jungle between the lanes. In the jungle, there are different creatures which, when killed, give the hero experience and gold to unlock in-game abilities.

This was the first time in three years that a Concordia team competed in the CSL Dota

tournament. The current roster has only been playing together for about a month. Despite the odds against them to beat UBC, the defending champs, the Concordia squad managed to put up a decent fight in the first match of the best-of-three series.

“Everything was going well in the early stage with the rotations [of the first game],” said team coordinator Michael Di Feo after the game. One of the team’s best plays came

in the early minutes. Two of the Concordia players managed to grab the first kill on an opponent by punishing UBC’s overly aggressive style in the jungle.

The UBC player was trying to secure his own kill when he moved too far forward, not noticing the second Concordia hero in the area. He was then “shackled up” and swiftly killed.

Even though UBC fell behind because of these small mistakes, they managed to chip at the Concordia defence and, through solid play, ended up taking the first game.

“[During the second match], things fell apart from the start,” Di Feo said. “[There isn’t] much to share except we got completely outplayed.”

The CESA Dota team is now looking ahead to their next match against Washington Esport Dota on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m.

Main photo courtesy of Concordia Esports Association.

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EA Sports misses the mark on gameplay in FIFA 18

Bad ball control actually makes this year’s soccer video game worse than last year’s edition

FIFA 18 gets a yellow card for bad gameplay this year, and it’s almost a straight red. EA Sports’s newest edition of the soccer video game is, surprisingly, worse than FIFA 17.

The most frustrating part of this year’s gameplay is the player’s ball control. Bad ball control, or as soccer fans like to call it, bad touches, was a problem in FIFA 16. Although EA fixed this in last year’s edition, it’s back. Every player seems to be bad at controlling the ball in the game, including Juventus superstar Paulo Dybala, who is one of the best dribblers in the world.

Ball control is at its worst when a player receives a strong pass in the midfield—the ball bounces off his feet and goes flying in front of him, which leaves the ball open for your opponent to take. Yet even when your opponent takes the ball, they can’t control it and lose it right away. It’s a never-ending cycle that has teams alternating possession in the midfield, making gameplay terrible.

The game’s realism is one of its rare bright spots. Screenshot.

To avoid playing a sloppy game in the midfield, playing out wide with wingers and fullbacks is the best option. Crossing is a lot better this year. EA added three new crossing styles to the game: a driven cross, a high cross and a scoop cross. All three are effective at finding an open man in the box to blast a sweet volley or a powerful header past the keeper.

Tackling and physical play is also different in FIFA 18 compared to FIFA 17. In last year’s game, EA integrated a physical gameplay that benefitted stronger players who were able to easily out-muscle weaker opponents both on and off the ball. In FIFA 18, all players are weak and go down easily. It’s stereotypical for soccer players to go down with the slightest of touches, but this is a video game, and seeing your player drop to the ground when you’re trying to score with him is infuriating.

Presentation is probably the best it has ever been in the FIFA franchise. The FIFA 18 website promotes new, immersive stadium atmospheres, which feature fan-made signs all over the stadium, team-specific chants, pre-game traditions and new player-fan interactions during goal celebrations. It’s probably the best part of the game, but the good-looking presentation only masks the bad gameplay.

Fans of the franchise can only hope EA will update the 2018 edition through downloadable patches to improve the gameplay.

Categories
Sports

Exploring Concordia’s competitive Overwatch team

Students around campus are proving eSports are more than just video gaming

When reading any eSports article by mainstream sports media, you will see a range of opinions. Some argue eSports are legitimate sports—others not so much. But the fact is, eSports is a growing industry and will likely stick around for a while.

Universities are committing to eSports. There are diverse leagues, tournaments and scholarship opportunities popping up to support and fund competitive video gaming. For the past five years, Concordia has been developing an eSports association for those who want to play competitively against other universities.

The Concordia University eSports Association hosts different games, but is currently focusing on their Overwatch roster after earning favourable results in a couple of tournaments since the beginning of the school year.

This begs the question—what is Overwatch? The game is a team-based objective first person-shooter, which basically translates to two teams of six, composed of various characters, trying to win an objective over their opponent. The game came out in May 2016 and is still new compared to other competitive games, like Counter-Strike. The Concordia team was formed in September 2016.

On the weekend of Feb. 10, Concordia’s Overwatch team competed at LAN École de Téchnologie Supérieure (ETS), an eSports tournament held at Place Bonaventure. They placed in the top eight out of 41 competing teams.

“I loved the game and thought maybe making a team would let me enjoy [it] even more,” said Camilo Perez, the captain and coordinator of the Overwatch team. He and teammate Johnny Mak met in CEGEP and managed to get students of the same skill level together to create a competitive gaming team at Concordia.

Concordia’s eSports team made it to the top eight at LAN ETS a few weeks ago. Photos by Sabrina Ahn.

When building the team, Perez said it was important to take players’ personalities into account. If someone is toxic in the game and to their teammates, he explained, they would not be accepted, even if they play at a high skill level. “Having someone like that in the team wouldn’t make for a good environment,” Perez said.

“It’s really a team effort. So at our level of play, if someone makes a mistake, the whole team suffers,” Mak said.

Support player and shot-caller Alex Patton agreed. “We really have to trust each other,” Patton said. “Mistakes are heavy. Especially against good teams, any little mistake that we make we get punished for it.”

Their first tournament was the Tespa Collegiate Series, a web-based intercollegiate competition where participants can win up to $20,000 in scholarship money. “We played against other universities in the [U.S.], and that tournament is what sparked my interest in making the team more competitive,” Perez said. The team finished among the top eight of all the participating Eastern universities.

Since there isn’t a university league like U SPORTS for video games, the Concordia Overwatch team only participates in tournaments, such as LAN ETS or Tespa. To stay at their best and to build team chemistry, they practice two to three times a week.

Perez is the one who schedules scrimmages and practices for the team. “I set up a schedule for practice and everyone shows up. And that’s the law,” Perez said with a laugh. These practices are mostly against other Overwatch teams, such as their Université de Montréal rivals.

Yet, even when they’re not practicing, they still play the game. “We don’t necessarily have to always play together,” Perez said. “Even when we’re not practicing, we play by ourselves.”

“We [have substitute players], but we’re usually available,” Patton said when asked if the team has any backup players in case of absence or illness. In one of their tournaments, the Concordia University eSports Association vice president, Dimitri Kontogiannos, had to sub in for one of the players who was at a curling tournament.

Overall, the team has had their fair share of success in the short amount of time they’ve been together. They placed among the top eight twice in different tournaments, and won a series at Meltdown, a Montreal gaming café.

“I guess we can confidently say on record that we’re probably the best university in Quebec for Overwatch,” Perez said.

Going forward, the team has plans to stream some of their games online for fans to watch, once they find someone to voice the games. The Concordia Overwatch team is now focused on the Ligue Cyber Espoirs, an intercollegiate Montreal-based tournament in April, hosted by the Fédération québécoise de sports électroniques.

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