Last Week in E-Sports: The many ways to break a game

Last week in e-sports, we got to see how complex the web of rules and regulations are in the e-sports world. A few patches, a few lines of code, and competitive play becomes completely broken. But you don’t even have to mess with the code to vastly change the way a game is played. Sometimes, tournament regulations only need a small change to get the professional community up in arms.

New Overwatch Control Point Rules Causing Some Controversy

Blizzard recently pushed an update that changed the way that Overwatch scores capture point games in competitive matches. The goal was to reduce ties by giving a secondary win condition if the teams captured the same amount of points. Now, a tracker will compare the control point percentages for both teams and, in the case of a tie, the team with the higher control point percentage wins.

Unfortunately, this causes a problem because it changes the general goal of the game. Now, players need to stay on points more often in order to up their general control point percentage. This means that situations in which a team should regroup for a hard push might result in a loss if the game comes down to a tie. This encourages teams to “death conga,” sending someone out to engage on the point at all times, which is not at all a smart play yet still the best play in tie situations.

Recent Overwatch Update Breaks Mei

A recent Overwatch update made Mei completely unplayable. Mei’s primary fire was a freeze gun, which slowed and eventually froze opponents, though it didn’t do much damage. Now, while it still freezes opponents, it doesn’t slow them down in the meantime. This allows many heroes to just serpentine and avoid her freezing effects.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the glitch also affects her Blizzard ultimate. Decently fast heroes can now just run outside of its area of effect, when before they would be frozen solid and vulnerable to a kill.

Blizzard has said that they are aware of the bug and will push out a fix soon.

According to Jeff Kaplan, Smurfing in Overwatch Isn’t Cheating

In a recent forum post, game director Jeff Kaplan elaborated on his views on “smurfing.” Smurfing is when a high-ranked player creates a second account. This allows them to effectively reset their account progress and matchmaking rating, letting them play against less skilled opponents for a short period of time.

But Kaplan says it just isn’t that big of a problem. Overwatch’s matchmaking algorithm is sophisticated enough that it roots out smurfs and puts them in matches against equally skilled opponents in about fifteen games. In short, smurfing in order to play against less skilled players just isn’t a sustainable practice.

In addition, there are plenty of instances in which “smurfing” can be a positive thing. For example, many streamers will create a second account in order to play anonymously in their off time. Some people start new accounts to hide from trolls who specifically seek them out. So while there is a negative public opinion of “smurfing,” it might be doing more good than harm.

Blizzard Removes the Only Way to Report Toxic Hearthstone Gamers

When Battle.net changed over to the new “Blizzard app,” an important function was removed from their messaging service: the ability to report users for toxic behavior. Now, all toxic behavior has to be reported in game. This isn’t that bad, since most online Blizzard games have decent safeguards in place against toxic players. However, some games are left in the lurch.

Hearthstone, arguably one of their biggest games, is one of them. There is no direct communication in Hearthstone. The only thing you can do is emote with your character. Of course, people have found ways to be toxic even with these emotes, but opponents can be “squelched” quite easily.

The issue is what happens after a match. It’s rather common practice to send someone a friend request, only to send them lines and lines of insults and slurs before unfriending them once again. This puts non-toxic Hearthstone players in a weird situation of either never accepting friend requests or risking a toxic encounter they can do nothing about.

Blizzard’s official stance on this issue is to just “remove them from your friends list” on their official support page. But considering this is not enough for many avid Hearthstone players, and that they still haven’t satisfied requests for an auto-squelch function, “remove them from your friends list” just isn’t doing the job.

Valve’s Recent CS:GO Update Totally Breaks the Game

Every Counter-Strike player please welcome the god of guns, the Negev light-machine gun. A recent patch to the gun changed its fire pattern “in order to promote suppressive fire.” Apparently what this means is that any prolonged period of time creates a stream of bullets that can be aimed with nearly pinpoint accuracy.

Whether or not this makes the gun completely broken is something that players have warred about on forums, but the real issue here is its price. The recent patch reduced the price to $4,000 from $5,700. Being able to pick up an LMG with such power so early on is already questionable, but Valve went even further to reduce the price by half for a limited time to “promote experimentation.” This means that players can easily pick up the Negev after the pistol round, and then just ride the Negev for the rest of the match. As you might expect, this has lead each team to carry five Negevs in order to go up against five other Negevs.

Riot Issues Unsatisfying Ruling in Tainted Minds Controversy

If you haven’t been keeping your ear to the League of Legends ground, there was a recent scandal involving Australian organization Tainted Minds. Several players came forward claiming that Tainted Minds created an unworkable and unlivable environment. The team would have to stay in a cramped space with no gaming PCs, poor internet, no air conditioning, and no laundry services. It even seemed as if Tainted Minds had not been meeting the minimum player compensation of 500 dollars per match played, as instated by the Oceanic Pro League.

After this evidence came forward, Riot began an investigation. And the result of that investigation? A 7,000 dollar fine and six months of probation. In short, a slap on the wrist.

Complicating the matter is the attitude that Riot took with the players. It condemned them for breaking their NDA and releasing information about their team environment. In addition, the mediator that Riot chose to handle the case had supposed contacts with a Tainted Minds investor.

And, perhaps worst of all, none of the Tainted Minds players will receive compensation in this ruling.

What do you think? Who is at fault here, Tainted Minds or its players? Let us know in the comments.

CS:GO Comes With Strict Cheating Penalties in China

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is releasing in Chinese territories. While the game has been playable in the region for years, this is the first time that the game will be officially playable on a specific Chinese server.

But what’s really making news is the game’s anti-cheat functionality. To be able to play CS:GO, players will have to use the service Aliplay. Aliplay requires users to fill in extensive personal information, including bank card numbers, ID numbers, and phone numbers, in order to be used. You can’t easily fake this info in order to get a new account.

Any user that is found cheating can be banned from Aliplay. When this happens, their personal info is black flagged, making them completely unable to make a new account and, effectively, shut out of the game forever.

Some are saying this penalty is too strict, while others say that cheaters shouldn’t be allowed to play in the first place. However, a bigger issue is what the service leads some people to do in order to evade it. In a similar situation in South Korea, where services prevent children under 16 from playing late at night, these same children would resort to identity theft in order to dodge the curfew. It is likely the same will happen if someone is banned on a Chinese CS:GO server, which has the potential of turning annoying cheaters into actual criminals.

The Big Wins

  • G2 Esports won their match against Fnatic to reach the EU LCS finals. Similarly, Cloud9 defeated Phoenix1 in a clean sweep to make the NA LCS finals.
  • Fnatic Academy has won their qualifying space in the EU LCS. Fnatic’s main team is already in the CLS, and organizations are not allowed two LCS teams. As a result, one team’s slots will be sold, and it’s likely that the other team will have its roster shifted around to an “all-star” mish-mash of both rosters. They will be joining Misfits Academy, who is in the exact same position.
  • Epsilon Esports defeated Splyce and took home this weekend’s CoD World League Birmingham Open title. This was an astounding comeback, after Splyce had sent the team to the losers bracket earlier in the tournament.
  • Oliver “Luffy” Hay took home Hypespotting 6’s Street Fighter V title this weekend in Glasgow, giving him 160 points on the Capcom Pro Tour leaderboard.

The Roster Shuffle

  • Team Liquid and Misfits have been shifting around their Counter-Strike rosters. Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken has been transferred from Misfits to Team Liquid after Jacob “Pimp” Winneche left about three weeks ago. Misfits have also moved Skyler “Relyks” Weaver to the bench.
  • Allegiance is overhauling their Call of Duty roster. Steve “Mochila” Canle, Matthew “Royalty” Faithfull, and Remington “Remy” Ihringer will all be leaving the team. In their place, the team will sign Dakota “Nova” Williams, Mehran “Mayhem” Anjomshoa, and Austin “Believe” Smith.
  • Brett “Naded” Leonard has been released from the Halo roster of TMNT Crowd Pleasers. He is contemplating retirement rather than continuing on as a competitive e-sports contender.
  • Brandon "Seagull" Larned is stepping down from NRG Esports' main Overwatch roster. Instead he will be focusing on streaming and creating internet content for the team.
  • The LMS Spring Split has come to a close and the final groups have been decided for the regional playoffs. Royal Never Give Up, OMG, Invictus Gaming, and I May claimed the top spots in Group A, while Team WE, EDward Gaming, QG Reapers, and NewBee reigned atop Group B. The teams will face off for the Spring Split title on April 28.