Southeast esports organization EVOS Esports announced a partnership with Hepmil Creators’ Network (HCN) for the Indonesian market. EVOS made the announcement during a Clubhouse event Wednesday evening. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Under the terms of the deal, EVOS and HCN will offer brands and advertisers in Indonesia “premium inventory on YouTube” using HCN’s “Reserved Media offering.” The main focus of this inventory will be EVOS’ esports and gaming channel content. EVOS said in a release that this partnership will also provide opportunities to esports and gaming talents in Indonesia to be part of the Reserved Media program.
According to EVOS it manages “160 gaming influencers exclusively” and is partnered with more than 200 esports talents, with a total following of 64M YouTube subscribers, more than 62M Instagram followers, and more than 350M total views per month across Southeast Asia.
The Indian Gaming League (IGL) parent company, House of Gaming Pvt. Ltd., announced that it has raised a $500K USD strategic investment from digital entertainment company Hungama and movie and digital content production company Hindustan Talkies.
The Mumbai-based startup intends to use the investment proceeds to acquire new users and develop additional features to increase user engagement on its tournament platform. Furthermore, IGL will use some of its fresh capital to launch its Indian Gaming League Championship Cup inaugural season.
In early February, North made its biggest announced in quite some time, but it wasn’t a positive one. The organization, which started in Counter-Strike back in 2017 was winding up.
The news came after years of disappointments, roster changes, and lots of money spent. Yet, North is a very interesting case, and it certainly is one team that marked the CSGO scene over the years.
So, who were North? What they have in their records? And more importantly, what’s next for their ex-players? Let’s take a deep dive.
North heads to a promising start
Founded in January 2017, North started as an ambitious team with massive monetary backing. The organization signed the then Dignitas players, which were on the rise as one of the best teams in the world.
Featuring Magisk, MSL, k0nfig, RUBINO and cajunb, North had a bright future ahead. The team’s first tournament was the ELEAGUE Major Atlanta, also the first Valve-sponsored event of the year.
There, the team managed to hit the playoffs, but couldn’t get past Virtus.Pro. Afterwards, “RUBINO” announced that he would be leaving the squad, and then FaZe player “aizy” was brought in his place.
In the following months, North didn’t manage to bring any trophy back home. However, the team was always finishing in the upper places of almost every tournament they took part in.
A bad decision
If there’s one team which history is full of questionable decisions, it’s North. The first questionable roster change of the team came in 2017 still. The team benched Magisk, one of their star players.
The Danish young star performances weren’t the same as they once were before aizy joined the team. However, it was clear that the squad had bigger issues than Magisk’s form.
North brought the now OG player “valde” to their ranks. The young player was seen as a versatile reinforcement, and the initial results after adding him weren’t any bad. The team even won the infamous DreamHack Open Montreal 2017.
Still, North’s biggest issue wasn’t solved – aizy bad performances. In late 2017, North started taking heavy loses. Finishing 6th in EPICENTER 2017 and coming last in EPL Season 6 Finals. North was a ticking-bomb at the time.
North disappoints at the big stage
After the end year’s break in 2017, North was heading to 2018’s first Major. There, they were one of the two big Danish teams, and both of them were in bad states. However, North ended up being the worst of the two after finishing last place.
Something was wrong with the team and the then current roster wouldn’t be up much longer. One of the changes that did came, again, was questionable.
Gone were the ever-disappointing cajunb for mertz, a promising awper. Gone with cajunb, however, was k0nfig too, the team star.
In his place, the ex-Astralis rifler and one-time Major MVP Kjaerbye was brought. Once all changes were done and completed, expectations for North were once again high.
Yet, the team disappointed. The team failed to qualify for many important events, and even low-tier teams like Hellraisers were consistently beating them. Of course, this was a result of North refusing to look into its biggest issues: MSL and aizy.
A refreshing win, followed by a controversial move
After a mediocre semester, North, just like many other teams were looking to do roster moves. The first one was bringing “niko” to the team, replacing “mertz”.
North then headed to its first premier event in some time in late August 2018. There, the team surprised everyone – the ever-disappointing team managed to win DreamHack Masters Malmo. The team managed to take over Astralis twice, even.
Many analysts and fans were now warmed up to the Danish team. After all, the team won convincingly over some of the best teams in the world. Now, North was heading to the second Major of 2018.
In the Major, the team was eliminated in the first stage of the competition. Disappointing many fans, a major change finally came for the team: the then captain, MSL, was removed from the team.
The change didn’t came without its critics. Many were confused as why MSL was removed, especially since he was the player that helped the squad lift the trophy in Malmo. Yet, one could argue that his momentum was too short, as he wasn’t a star in Berlin.
“Cadian” was the new captain. The new leader kicked off his run by managing to qualify for the ECS league, a feat North never managed before. Results were mixed afterwards though, and winning a single trophy, cadian left the team in May 2019.
A lost year for North
With cadian gone, “valde” was now North’s in-game leader. The player used to be North’s best performer, and his stats took a fall as the team couldn’t hit together.
North best results for their run with valde as their captain was qualifying for the Berlin Major. The team didn’t achieve much, and as much as the organization promised to be aiming to create a top team, it was clear that the effort wasn’t being made.
Soon after the Berlin Major of 2019, valde bid goodbye to North. The young player decided to take up an offer from OG. In his place, North brought back cajunb. Under an improvised leadership from “gade”,
North kept the mediocre results in, although they managed to win one event, a smaller Dreamhack Open to close 2019.
The nail in North’s coffin
North was in shambles. The team which once competed amongst the best five in the world was no more. Magisk, the player North kicked off was now one of the most successful riflers in CSGO thanks to Astralis. Valde was in a much more promising project.
Aiming to bring back their old talent, and which those two names above being crossed, MSL was brought back. Along with the reinforcement also came a full rebrand of the organization, that wasn’t received very well.
A quarter goes by, and even with MSL back in the leadership, the team results didn’t improve as expected. Comes May, Kjaerbye, the team star, took a leave. Thanks to a reinvigorated “aizy” not everything was lost, but the team didn’t reach any goals.
In the second half of 2020, Kjaerbye left the team for FaZe Clan. North acquired “lekr0” from NiP, but the Swedish player disappointed massively. Then, MSL and aizy were benched, and 22-year-old “kreaz” was added on a loan.
To close 2020 and the organization run in CSGO, North headed to DreamHack Masters Winter 2020 Europe. There, the team’s zombie roster only managed to win one match before being eliminated.
What’s next for North players?
The North project is over after four years. The organization managed to build quite the alumni, with players like Magisk and Valde which we mentioned above.
As things stand now, the team’s current roster should part ways. If there’s one issue that plagued the team for a long time is the lack of chemistry between players.
Yet, there’s plenty of talent left, and many players that would be invaluable assets for rosters that need experienced players. MSL and aizy are interesting picks in this category.
Some other players, however, like cajunb, have a lot to prove. After dismal performances, the veteran will have a hard time finding a place in a team among the 30 best in the world.
North’s left their mark in CSGO’s evergoing history
My name is Marcos, I have been following the CSGO pro scene since 2015 but really got into in following games and pro teams in 2016. Used to bet a lot, stopped a bit but never stopped following the esports scene. I’m a student right now so I got a lot of time to keep with it and discover new things.
Chinese League of Legends esports operator TJ Sports reported on Monday that the company is currently investigating a “match-fixing” claim by FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), a Chinese esports organization, naming Zhou “Bo” Yangbo, FPX’s League of Legends player.
Yangbo initiated the FPX study, according to FPX’s official Weibo, but claims that during his professional career in the League of Legends Development League (LDL), the secondary league in China’s League of Legends esports, he was coerced into it by threats from some unspecified group.
“This situation has been reported to TJ Sports by the FPX management team and Yangbo, and Yangbo will be suspended until the investigation has produced a complete result,” FPX said.
Yangbo was an LDL player and joined the FPX LPL squad in January as a rookie. Replacing player Gao “Tian” Tianliang, who left the pro scene due to chronic pain, he was expected to play FPX’s “Jungle” spot.
This culminated in a broader debate regarding match-fixing and the insecurity of younger players in the Chinese esports industry. On the one hand, conduct such as match-fixing is a serious allegation in esports or any other sport, but some argue that if a senior individual or group really threatened Yangbo, he is used as a means to an end and is an easy target to exploit or coerce because he is very young and wants to join the LDL LPL.
PFX signed a long-term collaboration agreement with the U.S. furniture design firm Herman Miller earlier this month. The official poster featured Yangbo.
TJ Sports reported that a third-party law firm would also be involved in the investigation. This situation in China will continue to be tracked by the Esports Observer as it evolves.
Bookmaker Pinnacle has partnered with Trustly and Relog Media, the online payment provider, to launch The Pinnacle Cup, a $100,000 CSGO esports event.
The tournament, which is said to feature a number of top-tier CS: GO teams, is scheduled to take place in March, with the grand final scheduled to begin on April’s first weekend. With the remaining $20,000 going to second place, the Pinnacle Cup winner will earn $80,000 from the bonus pool.
As the production partner for the case, Relog Media has been unveiled. In addition, Trustly will partner with Pinnacle to produce several pieces of content and interviews with players and talent to further enrich the experience of esports fans.
The Esports Bible production and broadcasting company Relog Media will partner to air the competition on TEBTV over Twitch. In order to promote The Pinnacle Cup’s broadcast experience and fan-facing content with its data solutions, GRID has been appointed as the official data partner of the competition.
“This is something the team have worked incredibly hard on for a while now, and it’s fantastic to be able to announce that The Pinnacle Cup has come to fruition. We hope it can be the start of something special, Ben Cove, CMO of Pinnacle said and continued, “At Pinnacle we truly have esports in our DNA, so while we’re intent on making this a commercial success for the organisation, we are also proud to continue blazing the trail for esports betting.”
“We know Pinnacle delivers the best esports odds, now we want to show that we can contribute to exceptional events that create mass appeal – resonating with a wide global audience, from those who are new to the scene, through to the hard-core esports community.”
The competition is divided into three phases with teams such as GamerLegion, Winstrike and Nemiga, already announced: the group stage, swiss stage, and play-offs. In total, 16 teams with the top four competitors will be part of the group stage, joining 12 invited organizations on the Swiss stage. GODSENT, Nemiga, Winstrike and HAVU include some of the invited teams already confirmed for this process. Four more invited organizations will participate in the 8-team playoff round, following the Swiss round, to crown the inaugural Pinnacle Cup champions. As the first invited playoff team, Fun Plus Phoenix was announced.
Upon hearing that many, if not all, LCS teams want to abolish the import rule, the community is up in arms.
On February 3, League of Legends reporter and interviewer Travis Gafford released a clip from his podcast, Hotline League. In it, he revealed that LCS team owners and management have asked Riot Games to abolish the current import rule. Since then he’s talked to multiple players and received their feedback about the proposed action. Though this has been ongoing, it really picked up steam in the past few days on social media.
Essentially, LCS teams want the option to field any players from any region as they see fit. The current system does not allow them to do so, restricting it to ensure NA players get their shot in the NA league. Despite some backlash from the community and even pro players, the teams are largely sticking to their guns, and it’s leading to quite a complicated issue. So, the question on everyone’s mind is, will the import rule really be discarded?
What is the NA import rule?
The NA LCS import rule establishes that a team can only have two import players. This refers to two players that come from and have residency in a country other than the US or Canada. As a result, teams must have three players native to the US or Canada. Or, in some fewer cases, players with residency in North America. Two examples are Jeong “Impact” Eon-Young and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, from South Korea and Europe respectively. Both of these players have played in NA for a number of years and have gained residency, meaning they no longer take up an import slot.
This rule was basically implemented to make sure NA teams actually consisted of NA players. This still allows players from other regions a chance to play in the LCS, but more importantly, makes it possible for those from NA to have a chance to make it to the pro scene. In every region, there is an import rule identical or at least similar to this. However, LCS teams themselves are bringing up valid points about why such a rule isn’t necessary.
LCS teams voice their opinions
In the wake of the original video and recent happenings, Travis Gafford uploaded another video. This one simply had direct quotes from each team’s representatives about their opinions on removing the import rule. For many LCS fans, and general LoL Esports fans, the responses were very worrying.
Every single team voiced that they were either in favor of removing it or changing it. Some responses were more direct, while others were vaguer. One of the staunch supporters for repealing the rule is Cloud9 CEO Jack Etienne. In Gafford’s video, he elaborated on the subject, indicating its complexity. He started by noting that C9 believes in developing native talent. It’s true that they’ve embraced the challenges of raising those exact players, as they’ve taken chances with young NA players and have established the C9 Training Grounds.
“I’ll tell you straight up I don’t like the import rule. I basically want to support players that are young, passionate, skilled and want to work hard no matter where they were born” – Jack Etienne, CEO, Cloud9
But then he explicitly stated, “I’ll tell you straight up I don’t like the import rule. I basically want to support players that are young, passionate, skilled and want to work hard no matter where they were born”. After that, he talks about sympathizing with the concerns many have for NA in regards to native talent. As elaboration, he discusses the need for every team to help develop the Academy and the amateur scene more, to produce the best talent it can.
Removal is a valid option
His argument that raising the best young player regardless of where their born does warrant merit. This would raise the quality of the league and NA solo queue as a result. Furthermore, it would raise competitiveness internationally. Under Etienne’s vision, every LCS team would be mandated to invest more into their Academy teams and the amateur scene in general, which would help NA talent rise to the level needed to properly compete against other regions’ best players.
Overall, it’s a rather valid plan for long-term development. If up-and-coming NA talent has better competition in solo queue, they’ll become better themselves. Then, if all of the teams support the amateur scene, those same players will have better resources to improve and make themselves known. It would likely be detrimental for NA players in the short term. But over the course of a few years, there is the potential to raise NA to a new level. It’s hard to say how long this would take though. It’s also possible that so much talent is imported it does become impossible for NA players to break through. This is where a lot of the discourse comes in.
Disconnect within organizations
full Damwon comes to NA, plays on 60 ping the whole year, do they beat top LPL team, THEY DONT XD!
Despite the teams’ ownerships’ seemingly universal support for removing the rule, some players have voiced their opposition. Perhaps one of the most outspoken is Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme, Cloud9’s support. In a series of tweets, he made remarks about how ridiculous he thinks removing the rule is. In addition, he raises the point that it’s not the fault of NA players they can’t measure up internationally. It’s other problems outside of their control, like the relatively high ping they practice on every day.
Ignorant tweet. If every LCS team left the LCS- you’ll be out of a job buddy and probably be paid minimum.
TSM Founder and CEO Andy “Reginald” Dinh retorted at Vulcan with a particularly aggressive take. It’s also important to note that Etienne and Vulcan are parts of the same organization, but are at odds on this issue. Even one of TSM’s former star players, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, replied to Vulcan’s original tweet with a copy of one of Etienne’s Reddit responses that received a ton of flack to poke some fun. Tanner “Damonte” Damonte, 100 Thieves’ NA-native mid laner, made a sarcastic tweet about losing his job and having to work a minimum wage job. On top of all of that, Golden Guardian’s Coach Nick “Inero” Smith talked about how disappointing he thinks it is for teams to be considering this option.
Golden Guardians Coach @Inero makes an impassioned speech in defense of the import rule:
“It’s kind of a cop out, it’s just giving up like: ‘Hey we’re never gonna be good enough because we have to have 3 [North] American players and we suck.’ That’s so sad to hear.” pic.twitter.com/BGAUeN5eaE
This all shows the disconnect between higher management and players/coaches. Especially the players that could have potentially never had a chance to play in the LCS if the import rule never existed. To be fair, there are valid points and concerns for both sides. But right now tensions are high and it’s starting to become public. Only a few players have been outspoken so far, but it seems safe to say there are many that share oppositional views.
It appears that the community is also generally against the wishes of LCS team owners. Former pro player and popular streamer Joedat “Voyboy” Esfahani, who recently joined FlyQuest as a content creator, expressed his thoughts on the matter in a nine-minute video. In it, he recalled his own experiences in the LCS when he lost the opportunity to attend the World Championship because a Chinese organization with an all-Chinese team named LMQ joined the LCS that year and fairly claimed the spot. Under import rules, this wouldn’t have happened. He’s worried that that situation could become commonplace if the import rule was removed. It’d ruin the hopes and dreams of NA players who want to go pro. Content creator Gbay99 took a stance like Voyboy’s with his YouTube video titled “Removing the LCS Import Rule is a TERRIBLE IDEA, and Here’s Why.”
Looking back towards Reginald, there was a ton of criticism of his take, at least as he put it in the previously mentioned tweet. Among fans and the community in general, a few LCS and LEC casters chimed in to express their distaste. Christy “Ender” Frierson, James “Dash” Patterson and Mark “MarkZ” Zimmerman all directly replied to him, commenting things along the lines of him having a bad take. Another LEC talent, Eefje “sjokz” Depoortere, was similarly disappointed to hear the fact that all the LCS teams want to abolish the rule in question. Aside from these recognizable names, people are echoing the same sentiment all over social media platforms.
Is this the future for NA?
The future of the LCS and the NA LoL Esports scene is in question. Will Riot Games remove the import rule? As of publishing, they have made no official statement. It’s certainly possible, but after the recent backlash from all corners of the community, it’s unlikely. We can’t know exactly how hard the teams are pressuring Riot, but if they are pushing for it constantly, there is the chance they fold. Plus, there is a very valid argument that removing the import rule would help the LCS eventually become a proper major region, albeit in the long-term.
But the import rule will probably stay in effect. The long-term benefits aren’t certain and the short-term effects would likely hurt NA players. There are other ways to improve the LCS, for example fixing NA’s ping problem. After NA’s disappointing Worlds run last year, many teams were outspoken about developing NA talent moving forward. Now, it seems as some of them are backpedaling if they’re advocating for removing the rule but not giving additional resources for rising native talent.
There are still many other factors that are in play with NA’s relative strength to the international level and the reasons behind it, but there were changes made this year that need time to make an impact. At the end of the day, this is a complicated issue with a lot of perspectives that need to be respected, but until Riot Games speaks up, the future is certainly up in the air.
Three-hundred teams reached the finals of Fortnite’s first-ever SypherPK Cup. The tournament – created in honor of veteran content creator Ali “SypherPK” Hassan – bolstered a $10K USD prize pool with a trios format specific to NA East servers. The two-round competition saw over 270K sign-ups, which speaks volumes for how respected SypherPK is in the competitive scene. Only 300 trios reached the finals, where first place would collect $2K USD. The last round featured SypherPK himself and top players such as MrSavage, Cented, Commandment, Zayt, Saf and many others, but only one could claim victory.
Slurpy Swamp residents Jahq, Acorn and Slackes, bounced back from two rough games early and ran the table in their final seven matches. These three players strung together an outstanding display, including two Victory Royales, 74 eliminations and 197 total points. That performance was good enough for the SypherPK Cup victory, netting them $2K USD to split evenly. This momentum will carry Jahq, Acorn and Slackes into this weekend’s FNCS Qualifier 2.
Chapter 2 – Season 4 runners-up – Commandment, Cented and Edgey – produced yet another impressive tournament showing. The three players combined for 181 points, with three Victory Royales and 54 eliminations, netting them $1.4K USD. Kreo, Avery and Illest rounded out the top three with 178 points. Khanada’s team claimed fourth place while the new European trio of Umplify, Matsoe and benjyfishy snagged fifth. Here are the top-ten finishers from the SypherPK Cup:
Many of these top squads are now in good shape with some extra cash in their pocket before the second FNCS Qualifier. Hopefully, Epic Games will continue partnering with influential names in the Fortnite scene for more tournaments. It’s an exciting way to test different formats and scoring systems.
Stay tuned to ESTNN for more Fortnite news and updates!
Avant Gaming and Dire Wolves were recently announced among the names of teams competing in the League of Legends Circuit Oceania (LCO) for its inaugural season. Following the acquisition, Avant Gaming’s place has been sold to Australian organisation PEACE.
Jason Spiller, Dire Wolves’ owner, stated: “Avant is one of the founding organisations of ANZ esports, and it has an invaluable legacy which we’re so proud to be able to carry on as we welcome the team to the Dire Wolves family.
“This is a historic moment for Oceanic esports with the new LCO beginning later this month, and with this huge new influx of talent and expertise joining the team, Dire Wolves is ready to be at the centre of it.”
Over the last 12 months, Dire Wolves has expanded its esports opportunities outside of League of Legends by branching out into other titles such as FIFA, Overwatch, and Apex Legends. The acquisition of Avant Gaming also follows on from the organisation’s purchase of N8 Esports and Sydney Drop Bears.
Avant Gaming’s owner, Wes Collier, added: “The Dire Wolves and Avant have always shared an amazing rivalry and mutual respect as two of the leading and most storied esports organisations in Oceania, and this coming together heralds the end of an amazing journey for Avant, but a new era for both organisations, and the further establishment of the Dire Wolves as the dominant esports brand in the region.”
Esports Insider says: Dire Wolves’ purchase of Avant Gaming sees the organisation strengthen its competitive structure outside of League of Legends. The purchase continues to highlight the firm’s goal to establish itself as the premier esports organisation in Oceania.
Riot has revealed a new game mode for Valorant dropping in patch 2.03 — Escalation.
Valorant’s upcoming patch will drop an extra treat for players. A brand new game mode dubbed Escalation.
Escalation boasts a 5 on 5 game mode that involves players going toe-to-toe in a bid to level up by getting kills. To win the game, the teams need to complete the 12 levels or make sure they have the highest level when the timer goes off after 10 minutes. With each level, players acquire different skills and guns. It is worth noting, though, individual player levels and squad-level aren’t the same.
Every player will have a weapon level that needs to be completed. To move on to the next weapon level, players need to kill at least one enemy using the current weapon. While the squad level isn’t affected by this, players who fail to get kills using weapons that match the current squad level will only earn half points for their squad with every kill.
Players also can’t use Agent-specific abilities in this game mode. However, all players will get a set of global abilities that they can use in this mode.
Levels and Abilities in Escalation
At level 1, players can choose between Phantom Weapon, Vandal, or Ray’s Rocket Launcher Capability. In level 2, they can go for Phantom or Vandal, while levels 3 to 11 features a slew of abilities, as well as weapons. Level 12 of Escalation features a snowball thrower, Stun Arrow, Knife, Classic, and Shorty.
Riot claims each game will last for about seven to nine minutes, and not more than 10 minutes. With each match completed, players will be awarded 800 experience points. Just like with Valorant’s Deathmatch mode, matches in this mode will not affect overall quest progress.
Game Mode inspired by Arms Race from CS: GO
Escalation bears quite a striking resemblance to Arms Race from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Players have been waiting eagerly for the popular game mode to make it’s way to Valorant at some point. However, since this is a limited-time game mode, it’s worth noting it won’t be a part of the game forever.
Details about how long Riot Games plans to keep Escalation in play are still scarce. Patch 2.03 is slated to go live later this week. Be sure to check it out!