Saturday, September 29, 2012

The MLG MVP Starcraft 2 Invitational

Major League Gaming, who promised the community that they were going to put their KESPA partnership to “good use,” delivered something interesting this weekend, The MVP Starcraft 2 Invitational. 1st of all, KESPA refers to the federation that controls all the Starcraft teams and players in South Korea, they are a tight organization that abides by strict rules in terms of exposure of their players. It is important to note that these teams are well funded by large corporations in South Korea, like Samsung Electronics, and have a lot of money to throw around. In the past, they were basically a xenophobic organization, doing nothing to accommodate their overseas fans, but in the last couple of years they have open their boundaries and brought the “foreigner” angle into the discussion. In one of their bigger movies, they partnered with Major League Gaming, North America’s largest tournament organizer, and stated their interest to send their players to the states for competitions and exhibitions.

This MVP (M meaning MLG and P meaning Proleague, or KESPA) Starcraft 2 Invitational was one of their bigger expenditures, in terms of this MLG-KESPA partnership, as it brought the clash of two separate communities, MLG vs KESPA. The KESPA players play amongst their teammates and secret IDs on the ladder, so their activity is unknown, but the “MLG” side, or everyone else, has hundreds of videos that show their training and have countless of VODs showing their performances in tournaments. This is a battle of the known versus the unknown, if you will. Also, these KESPA pros have just recently switched full time to Starcraft 2 within the past 6-8 months, while the MLG players have been playing since release, 2 years. It was going to be a clash for all the marbles, and to see if those raw skills and mechanics these Brood War pros have will translate into success into a new but a slightly similar game.

The catch of this is very enticing to any long time Starcraft fan. Legends like Stork, Flash, Bisu, Fantasy, and Jaedong will go against players like Huk, Idra, Sheth, Crank, and Thorzain. West versus East, Elephants versus non-elephants (Read this article for the reference), it was what people wanted to see since the release of Wings of Liberty.

But the reality kicked in.

The thing that went wrong for this MLG event,  at least for me and countless people on Reddit, was that it was going to be an online tournament, meaning it will be played cross-server with 3 different regions, Asia, North America, and Europe. This is a huge problem because it will not deliver the best gameplay by both parties in a particular match because of lag problems. The distance among each person’s connection is a huge hindrance as it will be a big boon to the players and a detraction to the viewer. Everyone loses out excepts for MLG (A bit of foreshadowing).

While other online tournaments do due this and are successful, North American Star League, but then MLG announces it will be a Paper-view tournament, meaning to watch it you have to pay 10 Dollars for the matches. Hey, this is done in sports like Boxing and Wrestling and those PPV packages are much more than what MLG is talking about, and for the hours of entertainment it will provide it is a good deal. The catch though that this is an ONLINE TOURNAMENT, and for people to pay money for online matches is just ridiculous. We are not even able to see the best quality of matches, and they expect to pay for it? I might be grasping here, but if it was the same structure of their Arenas, where the players fly in New York and play the tournament at the MLG offices, than I would have no problem with paying that fee, but this is something else. Players like Scarlett even dropped their participation in the tournament, seeing that cross-server play is something that she does not want to deal, having her less than sub-par Canadian internet.

Also 1st place prize is 10,000 dollars, a good piece of change but this is the only cash out. 2nd place gets seeding in a future MLG tournament and 0.00 America dollars, this is bad for E-Sports (I know this is a cliché saying). Top heavy, or one heavy, prize pools are not good to support professional players. Excuse my political wording but it is better for a Socialist system, where all performers get money, while the top people get just a little bit more. This encourages longevity within pros and keeps them motivated to perform, Most gamers have very little income and prize money needs to be doled out to keep them going, or else we lose out on players.

Also there is so much hype that is lost in an online tournament, it is just that live feeling that is showed just enhances the experience.  Maybe it is due to the fact that there is so many online tournaments and just an over saturation of games, so that this invitational will just be another face in the crowd. A sad thing to say considering the theoretical hype around the matches, Flash vs Idra (!), but in its 1st weekend of matches, I think it will be.

The best thing about this partnership, Leta's Back flip in Anaheim

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why Watch E-Sports?

I have encountered a handful of people in my life that asked me “Why do you watch people play video games.” Some are more curious while others are more judgmental (“What a waste of time, etc), but the 1st time someone brought it up, it did make me ponder the question “What would be a well-articulated response?”

This triggered my memory palace for a bit, a couples years ago I remember watching some sort of Cable News Show, something on CNN if remembered half-correctly, and the discussion was about Soccer and American Football, and how come the latter is so popular in the US of A, but just a rejected afterthought in every other country. One of the guests chimed in and said that it is a simple answer actually:

1)      American Football is strong at the High School and College level in terms of participation
2)      Not everyone that plays will be a professional player when leaving school
3)      Those people who played instead will be the solid viewing base when they are older

It is a cycle that has carried through for most of the last century. It does quite make sense if you think about it, and when you compare this culture to the soccer culture in other countries, for most young people soccer is the game to play, and see how in the end popularity of something is cultivated over time.  People care about stuff that they have a deep connection too.

So when deliberated with that question of “Why E-sports?” I thought of this answer a bit, and just said, video games is my sport. NFL, MLG, NHL, etc these consists the top pros of their respected sports, just like how Brood War scene in South Korea is the top league of their respected game, and I want to watch the best players go at it. These “E-athletes” (Grubby’s term for professional gamers) work just as hard as any “Traditional” athelete, maybe even harder since they are not limited by physical exhaustion and should command the respect of their craft. While this idea is still new and not exactly a social norm, it still has the merit of any high-level competition.

Xenzor from Reddit posts this picture, that relates to my thoughts on this subject, from the recent WCS (World Championship Series) Europe Continental Finals. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Boy Check Your Time

I'm not just drinking to forget you.
It's what I do to pass the time.
Because I'm proud I say I left you but we both know that isn't right.
I found my solace on this glass here.
A remedy that's conquered sleep,
I read your words they make me sick dear.
I just hang my head and weep.

Check your time boy,Check your time.
You're running to cocaine and cheap wine.
You say it's the life boy you say it's your life
Check your time boy, check your time

I thought I'd be fine on my own here.
But with you gone things weren't the same.
Women they came women they left dear.
When we made love I called your name.
Check your time boy, check your time. 

You're running on cocaine and cheap wine.
You say it's the life boy you say it's your life
Check your time boy, check your time.

The lyrics of this song really hit home with me because just this last summer, I met up with one of my old friends from High School, who I haven't seen in years, who is on a course self-destruction. Using hard drugs and getting wasted every day, there are only a few reasons that should warrant that behavior, and usually that involves a  having a chronic or fatal illness. A broken heart is nothing life threatening. 

Westbound Train, man I love this band. I think it is the epitome of soul and ska: laid back rhythms  smooth hornlines, solid yet groovy bass lines, and fronted by an amazing voice (Obi!).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From Romania and Back

It is no secret that drama and scandal are the cornerstones of attention. Shakespeare knew this, so did Joseph Pulitzer, and those pesky and resourceful editors on TMZ definitely know about this. It only makes sense that the Starcraft scene would abide to this fact as well.

Just in the last 24 hours, the scene experienced a big shocker. Vera Lynn, who broke grounds as a female gamer by earning a spot in the “Grandmaster” league, the top 200 players on a server, or where all the Professionals are ranked, and even beating accomplished players like Sjow and Ziktomi in showmatches. An inspiration for her fellow women gamers, she gained much notoriety as that “Irish Girl GM Zerg.” She even streamed replay analysis and ladder games, proving her skills and contributing back to the community. This allowed to her to be part of popular instructional sites, like and, and offer others her wisdom that allowed a simple computer nerdling to achieve Grandmaster on arguably the 2nd hardest Bnet server in the world.

While gaming in general is certainly not as male dominated as it once was, women are now a huge part of the MMO market,  professional and competitive gaming no doubt still is a man’s world. It is very rare for women to break into the top S-class of these titles, let it be Halo, Quake, Brood War, or even League of Legends. There are a few women who were able to give the upper echelon of competition a run for their money, like Colagirl in Warcraft III or Tossgirl in Brood War (How appropriate for them to be named “girl).

The Face of Female Brood War in South Korea, and so much prettier than Vera Lynn, See Below

They dominated their counterparts in female only leagues and tournaments. While they never won any major tournaments involving the men, they still could smash 99% of the playing populations of their respected games. Vera Lynn was going to carry that banner in this new age. Sure, she was a bit smug, feisty, and disingenuous towards beating “the boys”, but c’mon, she had the skills to back it up. Right?  (Okay it is a bit extreme to say that she is the only female gamer doing work in SC2 as it is simply not the truth, but the sake of argumentation, please go along with it).

Well that’s where the Disney movie plot takes a nosedive.

In an investigatory piece by KawaiiRice of Light E-sports, he compiles a list of reasons that show this Vera Lynn character, who now is pretty well known for her skills and her gender, that shows she is a fraud.
The bottom line here is that she never played in those tournament games, showmatches, and even the ladder game. It was the skills of a Romanian zerg player named DeathAngel, who is quite solid but not one of the top dawgs in Europe. This op-ed piece byMr. Rice is beautifully articulated and definitely proves beyond the shadow of doubt her guiltiness. The most damning pieces of evidence include-

1)      Different stream set up when she is replay casting compared to when she was supposedly “laddering”
2)      Same exact hot keys and APM spam as older replays of DeathAngel
3)      Pop ups from Windows that were in Romanian

E-Sport Detectives KawaiiRice and Desrow. Picture from Reddit.

Unless this Irish lady has roots in Eastern Europe, the 3rd fact is just one people in the criminal world call “Bad Luck.”

So all of this promise and potential are just a series of lies, just straight up. Both parties have come to admit that this little agreement was happening so there is nothing to dispute here, but there are few interesting points that were brought up in the fallout of this reveal.

1)      DeathAngel says that Girl’s get so much attention, just due to the fact they are a Girl.

      While, yes this may be true, but this is kind of pointing out the obvious. I mean, probably since the dawn of time. Guys want girls who share their hobbies, especially gaming.
2)      How far is someone willing to go along with a lie?

After being outed, her 1st line of her public statement is:
“First of all, I'm glad I got caught and I can finally end this…”

So how long were you going to do this stunt than??? After reading this news, I went along and found some interviews with this Vera character, and watched a bit of her time on the Yegwen show, a Polish personality. She goes onto this show and brags about beating Dragon on stream and “embarrassing” him in front of his viewers. Citing her middle school logic of “you got beat by a girl,” and laughing as the Korean terran is squirming on his camera. She was so proud of this moment as she even showed her mum (mom) her victory. Sigh, it is quite a mindblowing procedure to look back before she was outed, and just see how much fun she was having being that “bad ass bitch.”

The look of, "Hey, I fooled a lot of people on the internet."

Vera insists her goals were pure and just wanted to “Promote in E-sports,”  but in no reality I see this having any positive effects in the scene. This just sets back female gamers so much and creates that much of more skeptical viewing audience, as people are making up storylines and characters just to have their share of E-fame.

I heard once a great quote about police officers, and in went along the lines of:“ The Police will always catch the bad guys because while the Police can make many mistakes, a criminal needs to make only one mistake to be caught.”

Now I only wish I could remember where it was from…

3)      The scene is hard to break in, even for solid players, unless you have some sort of gimmick (gimmick not in a bad way, just meaning something that is not associated with actual gameplay)

DeathAngel is a pretty good player, I remember reading about his Code A qualifier adventures when he was in Korea about a year ago. He has won online tournaments here and there, but is not a “popular” player by any means. He will not get any invites to a Dreamhack or a showmatch. After the accusations, he said himself that he went along with this con because he wanted to play against good people, and through this other vehicle, or person, he wanted to break the hypocrisy and expose how hard it is to be respected.

I honestly agree with his statements, but this whole scam is just something that affected too many things and people, and got quite out of hand. But, hey, I am sure everyone knows DeathAngel ‘s name now, just like how they know Spades. At least infamy is some sort of fame.

People should support Scarlett, she is the real deal, and why people got excited over some Irish lady being a ladder warrior, is beyond me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Above is one piece of terrific sequential art, done by the man who is now a household name due to the generation that grew up with it is now part of the main labor force. Hell, even my high school Physics teacher showed a few Calvin and Hobbes strips in the 1st few days of class, to help us understand what kind of questions we need to ask to be successful in the scientific field. That is how far reaching the strip has become, and for the record I hated that class, the teacher gave the worse lectures in my schooling years, but I digress.

The message though in this particular panel is an interesting one and provides an insight to the life and times of cartoonists. Artists in the comic business can do work for years, either doing full blown issues or variant covers, but it seems like for creators of comic strips, their shell life much lower. Let’s look at a few other cartoonists and their professional career length spans:

Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, 1985-1995
Bill Amend, creator of Foxtrot, 1999-2006 (now only does Sunday editions)
Aaron MacGruder, creator of The Boondocks, 1999-2006
Gary Larson, creator of the The Far Side, 1980-1995,

All four of these strips were a major part of my childhood, just as much as any other “serious” literature pieces. Calvin and Hobbes showed what one can do with imagination and also how “simple” kid logic can seem to trump conventional wisdoms and beliefs. Foxtrot made it fun being a nerd. The Boondocks showed how a measly comic strip can politically influence and teach its readers, and The Far Side seem to answer every mystery in the universe.

I remember reading in a Calvin and Hobbes collection, that had some of Bill Watterson’s thoughts written below each strip, and how he said that his retirement was due to the fact that he was burned out and simply out of ideas for stories. While I imagine he did not exactly exhaust his well of ideas, but I am sure he was tired of working and just not able to execute them. For the time for someone to read a comic strip, say a regular weekday edition should take no longer than a minute, is way disproportionate to the effort put by the creator (Hours of creating, story, concept, and art). They are slaves to the drawing board and the deadline, as depicted so elegantly by the strip above. 10 years of hard work of creating these characters, these men deserve their syndication and publication money.

While these 4 people might not have the longevity of say Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, but it safe to say though that while Charlie Brown and his friend’s adventures were adorable, they did not have the depth and sophistication of these other strips. They were more than just the “Funnies,” the stories brought up thought provoking anecdotes and situations to light. While I have not read every Peanut strip ever printed, the ones that I did read seem to have that light hearted and innocent feel.  I do love that Peanuts song, Linus and Lucy,from the TV series. Dang, is that song catchy.

Also, I could never get behind the The Boondocks cartoon, not because it lacked the same pizazz and oomph the strip had, Aaron MacGruder works closely with the production,  it is just the it was not the same thing. Sequential art, in all of its form, is something that is truly enticing that just connects with its reader. It is simply lacking something that cannot be described.

Point here though is to appreciate the good while it’s going, or the good that is gone. I just recently was reunited with my copies of The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes and a Right To Be Hostile, and have been reading them in bed. Now, as I am older, it still makes me smile and ignore my bed time. 


Welcome to my Blog! My Name is Jeremy, and I plan to use this space to further and master my writing skills while hopefully being a little entertaining and thought provoking.

About moi? Well, let's see, I’m a recent college graduate trying to figure what I want to do with the rest of life but for now I am trying publish a book about the top 10 competitive matches played in Starcraft Brood: War, in my humble opinion the greatest video game to be released. I hope this blog will be an outlet and a resource to further its development.

People getting excited and entertained with competitive video gaming is not a new thing, see The Wizard, but now it is simply just reaching new heights. With The International 2 scoring over 500,000 viewers for their finals, League of Legends developer Riot Gamesmaking their own cyber TV arena in LA, and the top 10 Starcraft 2 pros making over 1.5 million just in cash money,“E-Sports” is serious business. It deserves more literature like the “traditional” sports get so much of.  

While my love for E-sports knows no bounds, this page o’ mine will also dabble in the whole realm of geekdom, to movies, western comics, TV, etc. Please enjoy your stay, at least for Squirrel Girl's sake : )