Today I turn 21 years old..
The last few years have been a blur, but recently I had a chance to tell the story for the first time in a while. It actually happened this past weekend. vVv staff was all visiting LA for the weekend for MLG, LCS and to get aligned on strategy. Naturally, I’m not a very open or vulnerable person, but after sharing and seeing the reaction of the room - I realized how important the two are in building relationships and trust between people. I’d now like to share that same story with the World.
So here goes nothing . . .
I discovered vVv Gaming back in June of 2007 after joining a random Public Lobby in Gears of War. I remember it vividly. The map was canals and I was immediately welcomed by the voices of vVv members, applicants and the application manager at the time, vVv Woody56292jr. I had known of clans before from when I played socom on gamebattles a few years back, but had not encountered any on the console before. Woody did a great job explaining what vVv was and told me to check out the website if I was interested in joining. The website, which I learned was designed by a member of the community named “Froot” had an image of their Gears of War team winning a big tournament in New Jersey. I thought to myself, “These guys are legit, I want to one day become as good as them and learn everything I can from this community.” I submitted an application, and the rest was history from there. I was banned from the shoutbox several times, had my application closed due to a very immature attitude. Looking back, I was a terrible teammate and just a brat kid who thought he knew more than he did.
Although I departed from vVv before I was ever really accepted back then, they introduced my to competitive gaming, specifically the Gears scene. I took my application being closed as motivation to improve as a player and person. I played every single day that Summer for at least 6 hours on gamebattles and in scrims with friends. I attended my first major event in 2007 which in Toronto and ended up placing 4th. Not too shabby.
Local Lan in Connecticut
Fast forward about a year later, I ran into a player named Sun Down who was apart of vVv’s Gears division. We both hadn't earned “Pro Status” yet, but we hit it off right away and decided to work together with two other players in Enmity and Demon. This was our team, and the tournament we were preparing for was the next MLG event on the 2008 pro circuit in Toronto. Because Sun Down was already apart and vVv, we decided to approach them to represent a community because we knew they could help us take our game to the next level with their history in the Gears scene. I still remember that interview with Jerry and I know he knew that I was the same brat kid who had his application closed and was banned in the past, but he gave me that shot to redeem myself. We had the spot and were the 2nd Gears team for vVv at that time. That team was called vVv Destiny. Remember that name for later in the story.
Our team actually stuck together for the months leading up to the event and we were really confident in our strategies and teamwork. I still remember some of the late nights coordinating with Nick (Enmity) how we would play the host spot and secondary positions together to focus down someone trying to go for the mid pillar or sandbag push strat. We went to the event and actually had a to get a last minute replacement at the event for Demon because he sketched out. We grabbed Mephisto from another team and were ready to go. No practice with him at all, we had to change our strats, but we knew his rawl skill would definitely fill in for that.
vVv Destiny at MLG Toronto ‘07
We placed 9th at this event, which was a big accomplishment for all of us since it was of the most competitive events of the year and of course with our circumstances of using a last minute replacement.
The team stuck together, but made a roster change with bringing in Storm for Sun Down. Our next big event was closer to home for me in New York City at the Samsung Experience Center for WCG. I took the train down from Connecticut and stayed with my sister in the city. This event was on the newly released Gears of War 2 and we took 2nd at this event as an invitational team.
vVv Destiny and Coach Sun Down at WCG Holiday Heroes
After this event, the team was working towards the next level and my attitude was letting not allowing the team to perform at their best. I was released from the team and got involved with several other competitive titles such as Socom, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. I still hung around vVv, but was not nearly as involved as I was when I was competing. I was very competitive in these games as well, hitting gladiator in WoW on multiple accounts and holding the Crown in Socom for the longest out of any team that season. I became back involved with vVv again for Call of Duty, where I lead the first community team “vVv Essence. to a victory in the MLG NYB online tournament.
After Call of Duty wasn’t supported with any LAN events, I stopped playing games all together. This was all around my Junior year in High School. I switched back to Public School from a Tech Program and went on to try to lead an ordinary life, without gaming. I had a lot of catching up to do because I was away from those friends for several years, but I tried my best to be “normal” and live up to the social expectations of a Senior. I went out, hosted a few parties and built relationships. Summer just started. I just graduated, turned 18, got accepted into the school I wanted to attend and got a brand new car.
Graduation and Birthday Present
I was living the ordinary life. Not in contact with anyone from vVv or gaming at all, I thought this is what I wanted. Fourth of July was around the corner, and I thought it would be a good idea to drink and drive. Long story short. I drove home from a party by myself, hit a car and then drove home with the front end of my car scraping against the pavement. When I pulled into my driveway, the cops were already there. I refused the breathalyzer test and started talking to them about my times as a competitive gamer. They took me to jail and then later the Hospital. I was charged with Reckless Driving, Driving in the Wrong Lane and Driving Under the Influence.
Night of the accident
Thousands of dollars in lawyer fees later, two of the charges were dropped and was license was suspended for one year. I had to take classes and immediately accept a ton of responsibility to not only pay my family back, but also get my life together. This accident turned around my life. It was a wake up call. That Summer, I worked every day with my Dad and then later got a job at Panera. For the next two years, I commuted to school my train every Monday and Wednesday. Woke up at 6am took a bus to a train, to a shuttle and then another bus. I would get home at about 9pm.
My projects in school
Around this time, I reached out to Jerry to tell him my story and see if I could get back involved with my passions: gaming and esports. I was paying very little attention to the scene, but it just felt right to go back home to vVv. I began writing articles and blogs just to share my competitive gaming thoughts and stories. The blog hit 30,000 views at one point, but by then I wanted to get more and more involved with vVv staff. At this point, I was getting advice from my sister and parents that I shouldn’t do vVv stuff for too long as it was unpaid work and wouldn’t provide me with anything. I also had the urge this entire time to go out and party with friends, but I stayed focused and stuck to my gut. With vVv, I wanted to help players who had the same challenges I did as a player and help them be successful. I ran tournaments, write articles, consulted on team decisions and did whatever I could to help vVv become a better organization. All of my energy outside of work and school (and even sometimes in school, see photo above) was focused on that goal.
vVv Destiny Reunited at Hypefestation
About a year and a half later, I became the VP of Operations at vVv Gaming. Two weeks later, Jerry announced that he was joining Riot Games as the Director of People.
MLG Columbus 2012
Fast forward to the Season 3 World Finals for League of Legends, I made the trip out to LA to visit Jerry and Jordan at their new apartment. During this time, Jordan and I were working on a project called the Experience Initiative which was focused on providing teams and staff opportunities to work in the gaming industry. While we were watching the World Finals that year, Forbes had released an article about our project with an interview - I lost it. It wasn’t the attention or article, the emotion that hit me was the culmination from that first GoW Public match, to the MLG events, DUI accident and to now. Jerry looked at me, and we both felt it. We both knew at the very moment that vVv Gaming was a very special place. For some reason, at that moment, Jerry also saw something in me and decided to offer me to come live out in Los Angeles to pursue my own personal goal of working in the gaming industry full time.
Season 2 World Championship
I landed back in New York City to stay with my sister that weekend and told her about the trip. I mentioned that it could be a possibility of me leaving school in Connecticut to come to LA to work on vVv. There were a lot of concerns about leaving school, or how I would manage out there on my own. She suggested that I study abroad in Germany like she did and I was tempted. I kept it to myself for a while because I wasn’t sure how my parents would react, but then, when my Grandma was visiting I told her all about it. We sat down with my parents and sister to explain my decision and the opportunity. About a week later it was December 15th and I had a one way ticket to LA…
I'll be releasing the full story throughout the next few days. Do you have a vVv story? Share it with us!
With so much on the line and this being the first event for many of the players teams, I wanted to wish you all the best of luck and share some tips that I believe will help the players and fans get the best experience, and so that all teams have an equal chance to win, regardless of their individual LAN experience.
These are tips that I've picked up from a few years of experience of competing professionally, managing teams and players, observing the best and worst practices from many teams in various communities.
• Don’t eat garbage during the event or the days leading up. You may or may not be fed by Riot. Regardless, make sure that you get breakfast and enough sleep (8hrs) every night leading up to and during the tournament. Staying up late and then chugging energy drinks before your match will be bad. Don’t do that. Drink water.
• Make sure that the settings and gear that you were using at home are as close to what you’re competing with at the event. Keep your settings in a google doc or e-mail yourself them just in case. Know the resolution and size of the monitor that you use at home and consider that when you’re setting up at the qualifier. You may want to consider changing settings or using windowed mode to replicate your setup.
• Play round by round. Kill by kill. Focus on each match and each game as it comes to you. The second you start thinking about the rest of the tournament and teams you have to play next you will play differently. Don’t over or under estimate any team, play to win and give respect to your opponent. Say gg, shake their hands and pls don’t swear on stream.
• If something breaks in game, your computer freezes, your gear stops working – ask for an admin immediately and pursue for them to review the situation. Don’t wait until after the match because it’s likely that nothing can be done unless it happens again.
• Connect with your team when you meet them for the first time. Get to know them; try to build as much team chemistry as you can before you start playing.
• Utilize your practice time, breaks and nights. When you are not playing you should be studying, talking with your team and mentally preparing for the next match. Remember, you are not here on vacation, this is a huge opportunity for you.
• Understand that at least one of your teammates is probably extremely nervous. Identify who it is and try to make them comfortable and relaxed before they throw the game from nerves.
• The world is watching. This is your opportunity to tell your team’s story, gain massive amounts of fans and followers and even sponsors down the road. Take all interview opportunities, be yourself and tell the story. Stay Hungry. Stay Humble. If you have a team sponsor, ask the interviewer if you can shout out your sponsor or organization. Befriend them. They are your portal to the fans and reddit.
• Meet the Rioters. They are awesome. Thank them for the opportunity.
• If you have an active twitter or facebook account, keep your fans updated. Your tweet might just end up on the front page of reddit (+2000~ followers easily). For Extra points, take pictures of the venue and your hotel room, etc
GLHF to all teams!
Originally posted on Reddit
With the League of Legends Season 2 Champions crowned last weekend *TPA TPA TPA*, it’s now time to look forward on how the teams and players can improve for Season 3. Practice regiments, professionalism, drama and cheating accusations aside, in this multi-part blog series I will be focusing on how players can improve the value to their sponsors in interviews, social media, streaming and more.
As the scene continues to grow exponentially, more eyes and brands will be looking at Season 3 to determine the value of supporting competitive gaming. We will be seeing new, non-endemic brands taking the leap and the more prepared these teams are, the more comfortable these brands will be in making a long-term commitment.
Let’s first take a look at interviews and in particular, thanking sponsors. Currently, the most common way of thanking sponsors is reciting the brand names off and in most cases with hesitation. Some even forget or don’t bother at all, which is perfectly OK because I understand that they are new to this, but moving forward I see it as an area for improvement. Below I’ve outlined ways that I feel players can improve their ability to add value to their sponsors in these popular, usually viral interviews. I will also give some examples of satisfactory ‘sponsor thanking.’
Tell a Story and make connections
Tell a story of how the product helped you in your professional career while also relating it to the tournament or general buzz/drama going on during the community that moment. This creates a meaningful connection between the players success and the product, something that fans understand and will appreciate. For Example:
I used to get eye strain which would distract me during long practice sessions. After trying gunnars I stopped getting eye strain and was able to focus more, which really helped on developing the skills strategy my team needed to win the championship.
Thanks to Origin PC, we were able to practice, develop strategies and review gameplay in our hotel rooms which gave us a competitive edge against the other teams.
Before going into this tournament, our preparation and analysis of teams lacked because we didn’t have accurate resources and statistics, but thanks to elobuff.com we were able to scout teams and better prepare for our matches.
Know the products, company culture and goals
As a player representing a company it’s your responsibility to understand the products and/or service because you are at the most basic level, marketing them. Knowing the product also means providing feedback and being transparent with these companies on how they can improve user experience from the perspective of a professional player. Having a basic understanding on the core values that the company supporting you is extremely important as well. You are representing more than just a product or name, you are the face of the company's unique culture and history. Along with this is an open dialogue with the company on what they’re striving for to see if you can help in any way.
For Example, if you know that Steelseries is launching their newest headset soon, you can plan mention that in an interview which will peak interest when the launch actually does happen because if the players know about the development, it’s perceived by fans that the product is going to be even more awesome. Not only will your partners appreciate these things, but they’ll value you much more in return.
Don’t make something up just to thank a sponsor. The eSports community can smell bullsh*t from a mile away and WILL call you out on it. On the same token, the community will also know when you’re being authentic and will recognize your efforts. I also believe that the community understands the underlying problem and will appreciate this, especially early on because of how accustomed they are to hearing the names rattled off, if at all.
Players have a lot to work on when it comes to providing value to sponsors outside of top tournament placings. If you know someone who is aspiring to be a professional gamer, please share this with them so they can get a head start.
Throughout the last few years, competitive gaming has grown exponentially. Just as the community is the vocal majority about areas that can always be improved upon, I’m really never satisfied. We can do more.
I frequently travel by public transportation. During my commute, I have a lot of time to think about improving eSports. All around me are people who don’t even know competitive gaming exists, as I start trying to think from their perspective, there are so many questions that I would ask if I wasn’t involved. Think about how hard it is to describe this thing that we’re all passionate about. It’s not only difficult because of the social stigma and cultural barriers that the media puts on gaming, but also the barriers that we create, as a community. When I say community, I don’t mean the niche group that likes Counter Strike, Starcraft, Halo, Street Fighter, Call of Duty, League of Legends or DotA, I mean as a community from the outside perspective, as competitive gaming enthusiasts.
As long there are gamers and people on my train who don’t know what competitive gaming is, any bullshit argument about what makes a game ‘more competitive’ or what titles ‘deserve to be an eSport’ is absolutely irrelevant in my opinion. As we continue to grow as a culture and movement, we need to all start working together towards the bigger picture. Consider this tough-love.
Ok, so besides talking to random people on my commute to work or school, how can I do my part, how can I grow eSports while also staying true to the scene? Good question, I have a few ideas, but also want to hear yours as well.
I want to create a community produced project (website) that connects curious or new competitive gaming players and fans to the resources of the games they love or may have not even discovered yet, while also giving you, the eSports enthusiasts, the tools and inspiration you need to stimulate growth and create awareness around the entirety of the space. I don’t want to create the next teamliquid.net, ESFI, MLG, Twitch or reddit, however I do want to connect potential and interested pro-gaming fans to these already existing amazing communities, leagues and shows in an authentic and organic way, while also empowering the most passionate fans so that you can do the same.
To give everyone just one example of where I got this inspiration for this project, I’m going to talk about the Live Multiplayer Reveal for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, mad yet? Good. During this reveal, the word eSports was mentioned throughout the weekend many times when hastr0, David Vonderhaar and Major Nelson were debuting the new competitive features. Given the stream numbers and reach that Twitch and the Xbox platform provided, you can imagine that this was for many mainstream casual players, their first introduction to competitive gaming. Now, go to google and search eSports. Wikipedia, fnatic video, esfiworld, and gotfrag, think back about perspective and barrier to entry here. Not only do I want this project to create awareness, but I also think it can greatly help the terrible eSports SEO that we currently have and serve as cross-pollination for gamers who enjoy watching or playing a specific genre, to check out sites and communities like Twitch, Reddit, halocouncil, solomid, dataminedout, joindota, teamliquid, you name it.
No news, no streams, no ads, no bias – just eSports presented in an easy to understand, read and share project. - (as in the site doesn’t cover news and doesn’t embed streams, but of course it would link to sites that do)
If you would like to contribute to this project, please answer the following questions; go into as much or little detail that you think is necessary:
1. What is eSports?
2. Describe the eSports Ecosystem, what does it look like? What is the best way to convey this to a new fan or player? Should this be included?
3. What type of resources should this project have? How deep should it go? For Example, should it list teams, are games listed, and how are those games determined?
4. How were you first introduced to competitive gaming? How did you find the resources that you use today for news, streams, teams, community, etc?
5. Lastly, what else do you think this site should have, should it be a site? The questions above were what I envisioned, but I know you guys will think up some extraordinary way to impress me, as usual.
Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org - Right now I’m messing around with wordpress and my amateur Photoshop skills, any help would be appreciated, but remember I want to keep this true to the scene with NO bias. Additionally, I think the most important aspect of this site will be the content, but having it look good and function well is also extremely important to me.
Making ESPORTS accessible,
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How competitive gaming events market their product from days before the event to weeks after has always been interesting to me. MLG’s marketing strategy going into the Summer Arena was very innovative and I want highlight some of the reasons why I believe it was such a lead contributing factor to the events success. My goal of this article is to bring attention to many of the little things that can help an event improve its numbers, reach, content and communication in hopes that this raises the standard for all events.
This past weekend, as you definitely already know, MLG hosted the Summer Arena which would test a different model in comparison to the previous. Thanks to FullSail University, the main stream was offered for free in standard definition, in addition the Dr. Pepper stream was back with behind-the-scenes access for free as well. However, to get the full experience you could purchase an HD pass for $9.99 ($7.99 for Gold Members) and receive access to the Premium stream, all streams in ad-free 1080p HD and DVR functionality in the player where you could rewind and watch any of the matches you missed.
To count down to the Summer Arena, we're streaming the Top 10 matches of 2012 so far. Enjoy, and tune in to majorleaguegaming.com on Friday! (TwitchTV)
This piece of content allows Twitch viewers who may have missed the best matches that were behind pay-walls at the previous Arena as well as retelling the story leading up to the Summer Arena.
Generated revenue for MLG as I imagine it was a monetized for the 2-3 days it was running.
Pre-Event hype. Fans who maybe only come to twitch to watch Starcraft casually throughout the few days it was posted are reminded of the Summer Arena.
If we consider Twitch as a social media platform for a second, MLG had this audience covered by this quality content which was running throughout the day(s) leading up to the Arena
Released day prior to tournament on YouTube which informs that audience
Builds story and hype leading into event
Links back to twitter contest
Quality content - short and to the point while also providing information about HD pass
Constant giveaways that encourage creativity and engagement on Twitter/Facebook throughout the day(s) leading up to the event.
You once again remind MLG (fans/customers) that the Arena is the weekend. This is also a subtle way to remind everyone that it is free after the winner is announced, which MLG did very well. Oh you lost? Don’t worry it’s free to watch this time (links to event landing page)
Many of the contests revolved around other content MLG was hosting during the week such as the BIC Prize Fights and count down to the summer Arena. “Win, Win” for MLG
Let’s not forget the constant updates every hour leading up to the event linking to the event landing page and stream. Oh you were in a meeting or asleep when we tweeting about the event 3 hours ago? Don’t worry, you’ll always stay updated and engaged.
Twitter and Facebook (fans/customers) covered
Community votes on the first streamed match!
Viral on Reddit
Increases traffic on MLG site (ads)
By giving the viewers a sense a power, they are then invested in the tournaments success. This probably led to more HD passes sold as well because the better match was on Premium.. imo
Community still complains about matches after given the option to vote (more people talking about and spreading the word that the Arena is free)
Reddit photoshop contests with Sundance and the Analyst “Desk”
Each contest was on a separate day, leading MLG to the top of /r/Starcraft (the most powerful beast when it comes to SC2 marketing)
I never laughed so hard in my entire life.
Content Anyone? They engaged the reddit community on the live broadcast by showing the winners and had Day9 and Apollo pick the best one. The VoD from this clip also already has 35k~ views.
I never laughed so hard in my entire life
The Little Things
Players, talent and staff tweeting constantly with direct links and consistent information leading up to and throughout the entire event
Best of the Arena video going up immediately after tournament and doing very well
Extremely fast news on MLG Homepage after tournament
Commentators plugging much more than usual
In addition to the campaigns, giveaways and content, MLG did a great job linking everything together. Every platform linked to another piece of content or giveaway, which is crucial because of how spread their fans and customers are. From Twitch to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and their main landing page, MLG’s team did a great job in my opinion of communicating with their customers and covering all platforms, a flaw that they were aware of from previous events.
In conclusion, the MLG Summer Arena was a major success on multiple fronts. The strategic content and social media was definitely a contributing factor, but of course wouldn’t have been possible without the yet again amazing production, staff, players and talent that create the entire experience.
For more competitive gaming action don’t miss the League of Legends and Fighter Arena that will all culminate into the Summer Championship in Raleigh, NC from August 24-26.
Don't you dare follow me on Twitter @vVv_RobZGod
Gamers have varying ideas on what the role of social media is in the eSports community. This is a guide for someone who is looking to properly represent an organization. I'm a believer in efficient social media usage by sponsored players, staff, and community members. You may think you are active on social media, but there are a few things you can improve upon to truly add value and create an even broader social media reach for your organization’s content, news, and partners.
Let’s first start with your profile. Everyone can see it so put some time into making it appealing! Make a good first impression and give a bit of who you are or what you tweet about so people can decide if they want to follow you or not. In my opinion, using your organization's twitter and website in your profile should be mandatory. To be blunt, it’s free advertising and should be taken advantage of. As for you avatar, use a picture of you in sponsor gear, a shirt/jersey with team logos, or just a simple avatar like I use in the picture above. Last but not least be sure to use your sponsor’s prefix in your twitter username. For Example, vVv_NameHere or vVvNameHere - This name is how people tweet at you and will be seen by many people, so represent your organization by using their prefix. You can easily change your twitter name and if you don’t know how here is the official guide.
For Example: Member of @vVv_Gaming, Sponsored by @vVv_Gaming, Community Member of @vVv_Gaming, etc will suffice.
Tracking & Shortening Your Links
I strongly suggest using bit.ly to track your links, I’ve found it very useful in not only shortening links to a smaller size, but keep track of who shared my link, clicked it, and when. There are many sites that do this, but I have found this one to be the best.
You’re doing it wrong if you just retweet everything.
In the debate of Retweeting vs. tweeting it yourself it’s important to tweet important information out yourself. Why? Retweets aren’t seen by all of your followers, tweeting it yourself reaches a larger audience and will make your followers more likely to click on it because you are taking the time to do it yourself. Be sure to use a period before the @ so that anyone can see the tweet as well. See the second tweet below as an example.
When sharing content from your respective organization be sure to @ them so that others can see the twitter account of the organization you represent once again. In the example below you can see the difference in appeal to click, all of these little nuances add up.
Follow all of the gamers!
I’m not suggesting that you spam follow anyone or everyone, but try to steadily build your follower base every day. The easiest and most efficient way is to follow people who share the same interests with you. If they see that you have an interesting profile and some experience on Twitter by looking at your tweets, they’ll most likely follow you back. The more people who follow you, the larger the audience is when you tweet out your organization's content and news. They’ll also most likely follow your organization's twitter if you followed my guidelines for creating a profile.
Another way is to just tweet relevant information that your followers are interested in. If they retweet, mention you, or favorite your tweet their followers have a chance to see it, and it goes on and on. Simply interacting with your current followers can also influence people’s decision and awareness on your profile.
You can use manageflitter and other API sites to manage your twitter following to unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back after a few days or has been inactive for 30 days.
Using #gamerfollowback and #eSports in your profile is also a good way to build a follower base.
Represent your organization on your favorite websites using a link in your signature.
Make a damn reddit account! It takes 10 seconds with no email verification required!
Constructive comments on media content and live shows! Add value in every way you can.
Thank you for reading. I hope this helped some of in understanding how to properly represent your organization whether you are a player, staff or community member, or even just a fan. Social Media has played a very important role in eSports success over the last year, make sure that you're taking advantage of the medium! If you found this helpful follow me on Twitter for updates on when I post blogs and eSports news! @vVv_RobZGod I will follow you back if you @ me telling me that you followed
I attended this event for various reasons. Most importantly because it was vVv Gaming’s 5 year anniversary and I haven’t attended an event since Meadowlands 2009. On short notice I signed up to be a volunteer for this event. I was unsure if I could even fulfill the obligations, but wasn’t going to turn this opportunity down. I knew it was a way to my foot in the door, network with like minded people, and experience a different perspective on the event.
Leading up to tournament, I worked at my sister’s bar for tips during St. Patrick's Day to pay for my travel. This was a very fun, but interesting experience. I used some clever marketing to get people in the door such as drawing arrows, writing CHEAP BEER and $2 PBR on the sidewalks. All I could think about was MLG Columbus, all the hard work and putting up with the drunks was worth it when I was picked up by vVv Brock, his brother, and Plattypus Thursday night. We were off to Columbus, Ohio with a stop in NY to pick up Rapture. The 12 hour drive had begun, and I was sitting bitch the entire trip. I didn’t sleep. How could I with all of the thoughts running through my head? We arrived at Columbus at about 1pm. I was glad to meet more of the vVv Community and watch them attempt to play Halo with a guitar on a 40 inch screen. Good times.
I was scheduled to start working at 5:30, but entered the venue at 4 after eating some delicious Sushi for the first time with Jerry, Doom, and Blazek. I was intrigued when I saw what goes on behind the scenes at events when I was handed my Staff pass. Working as a volunteer, even though it was a small position definitely made me appreciate the work that all eSports event organizers put into this. I was overwhelmed by the size of the event, like I mentioned before my last event was 2009. It was breathtaking to see the thousands of fans, stations, and chairs. (MLG events didn’t have any seating in 2009 ) After getting my pass I did a walk through of the event and saw Compact Killer, and Betty sitting down. This was definitely one of the most awkward moments in my life because they didn’t recognize me at first, and I was overly excited to see them. I told them I was working the Uncharted FFA event, and they decided to play in it because the prizes were very good. My job at the Uncharted event was a referee. I had to write down the scores, make sure the settings were right, and keep the tournament running smoothly with Brian who is an experienced MLG Referee and Carlos who is the Playstation 3 Community Tournament Manager. Volunteering for this event also made me realize just how passionate I was for eSports, I was engaged so deep in the atmosphere and experience that I didn’t notice that I hadn’t slept in 30 hours until after I got back to the hotel. I really enjoyed the work, and hope to attend Anaheim as staff member as well.
Photo taken by
After getting a solid 6 hours of sleep I was ready to start working again. Today was a full today, 10am-8pm, and man I was excited to work. Once again I was reminded how happiness inspires productivity. When I wasn’t writing scores down, checking settings, and teaching people the controls, I was trying to get people to come play. I explained the tournament and game hundreds of times to people who seemed interested in spectating the games. It appeared that many people who I explained the tournament to were quick to jump on a station. Many were actually overwhelmed that it was free to enter. Although this may sound boring, doing it while around thousands of gamers who love eSports and video games made it enjoyable.
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I think that Columbus was the best MLG event to date. The stories, hype, and history are what made it so special. There was a lot of controversy leading up to the event with last minute announcements in fighting games, rules, and of course the Winter Arena pricing. As for history, halo is what started MLG, and without it, MLG wouldn’t be where it is today. I was a skeptic at first to see if the Halo community would show up, but was very happy to see and hear the Halo community at the event. You couldn’t ask for better stories in all of the titles featured. vVv CDjr and his brothers all making it into the top 8, and having to team kill vVv REO for 1st in the last round of the bo11 series. MKP showing that he has left his 2nd place curse in the past by taking 1st at two major tournaments in a row, and defeating the most recent GSL champion in DRG. Finally, halo going to a game 11 coming down to the final kills in team slayer. Fucking amazing.
Photo taken by
This event was also very special to me personally. It was vVv Gaming’s 5 year anniversary, and I have been apart of this amazing community since the very beginning. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if I didn’t stumble across vVv Woody56292 in a public game with the website in his motto. The lessons and experience I’ve gained both as a player and person are invaluable to me. Growing up with eSports and vVv in my life has been such an educational and life-changing ride. When talking to Jerry at Columbus it made me realize how much I’ve learned throughout these years from a forum troll, vVv Applicant, Player, MMO Closet nerd, and now Staff member. Thank You.
Follow me on Twitter for updates on when I post blogs and eSports news! @vVv_RobZGod
In my last blog I talked about Community Involvement. If you haven't watched the
I suggest that you check it out before reading this... Now that you know how to get involved if you're already apart of the community, I want to talk about community growth. How do we get more people to play the game? Watch it? Support it? This blog is mainly geared towards console shooters, but can be applicable to any title with a competitive aspect.
Strategy & Educational Content
As usual, I'm going to be using Gears of War 3 for my examples. This game has a very small skill gap, what I mean by this is that gun skill isn't very hard to master. Unlike most shooters, GoW3 has more of a mental skill-gap, therefore content should be focused on showcasing decision making and strategy just like Starcraft. Many of the decisions players make are instincts, and second nature to them for playing the game since GoW1. This creates a bubble for newer players to get involved if GoW3 is their first title because they don't make decisions based off of experience, and instincts.
Although showcasing the best talent in the game has it's advantages when trying to bring new players into the community, I believe that it's very redundant and only helps so much. Showcase matches are great for communities that are thriving with amateur players working hard to go pro and spectators alike. If the top players even want a game to compete in, they'll start helping the amateur players and creating tournaments with the Amateur player in mind. The reason why finding Amateur talent is so crucial is because it creates amazing stories, drama, and finds players such as Snipedown, RyanNoob, and many more. Communities can't run on 16 pro teams, there needs to be the Amateur community presence who attend events and watch the tournament after they get knocked out. Cameron of Fnatic believes that
Amateur Teams are the Unsung Heroes of eSports. I agree 100%. AM Tournaments give players a chance to prove themselves, and gives them the confidence to keep playing and grinding. Props to NJ Rod, Cream, and Goldenboy for creating tournaments like this. They get it.
Social Media and Word of Mouth
Social Media has been a great tool for eSports and it’s growth these past few years. Having a presence on Twitter, facebook, and YouTube has become mandatory for most sponsors and partners. I’ve noticed many players in the console community not using it to it’s fullest potential. These players are generally the ones saying ‘I need more followers’ or Advertising their twitters on their streams, youtube channels, or xbox live profile. What I’m getting at is that players need to start using their twitters to promote other content that’s not their own. I know it’s important for you to have that Twitter follower number very high, but what’s the point if you don’t even tweet relevant information to your communities growth? For Example, if there was a community ran tournament, montage, tutorial, or stream why not tweet it out? As a top player, your social media activity is looked at more often and by more people, you’re much more influential because of your status in the game.
Top Player Etiquette and Manner
As a top player or known player in the community you’re looked up to by the amateurs and up and coming players in the community. If you’re starting arguments on twitter or complaining about the game, how do you expect your fans or followers to act? You need to set an example in the community. If a SC2 player acted like some of the Console players do, there would be a 200 page thread on Team Liquid talking about professionalism and maturity. If you want your game to be taken seriously by sponsors, brands, or leagues, start acting serious and think before you post something on social media. The shit talk and blame game doesn’t make the community very appealing to newer players trying to get involved in the community because the people they look up too are acting like 12 year olds.
Follow me on Twitter for updates on when I post blogs and eSports news! @vVv_RobZGod
After watching the active reload podcast, I decided to do something special this week. The Gears of War community is in the position where if they don't step up and change right now, they're going to slowly diminish. In this video I talk about Beyond Gaming, GoWNation, FYC, and Gamebattles tournaments. Also, touch on why youtube, twitch.tv promotion and participation is so important. Finally, I explain why posting on the Epic Forums and creating a community montage would stimulate growth. Playing the game is no longer enough anymore. If you don't create content, support the players in the community who create it. If you can't participate in Community ran tournaments, make sure all of your precious followers and subscribers are watching it live. The Gears community needs growth, they need rivalries, montages, quality content, and most importantly, participation from the top teams. Enjoy the video.
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Communication is arguably the most important aspect of any team based video game. With that being said, I feel that it's also one of the most underrated and overlooked aspects. From World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Socom to Gears of War, I've experienced many instances where this is the case. This has inspired me to write this blog because of how easy and important practicing quality communication is.
I have a few strong examples from Gears of War, if you're in a 1v1 with a player and your teammates are trying to support you, but you're unintentionally strafing in front of your teammates shots or strafing out of LoS (Line of Sight) how does the player supporting efficiently call out to the player in the 1v1 to move in the right direction in time for it to matter? You could say, "Yo dude, move to your right I can't hit the guy, or "Come out from cover so I can hit him." How long does that take to say? More than 5 seconds, the point I'm trying to make is that why not just have a definition that both players know, so when you need to call it out, the reaction time and response is instant. Using a word like "clear" or "free" it doesn't really matter, as long as both of you know what it means. Although this may seem very small, applying these small definitions that everyone on the team knows, creates a much faster response time to the clutch key moments in games.
Going over-callouts in any game can be the most boring part of team practice. There's always that one guy who gets the troika and kills the team because he's bored. Although I agree it's painful, it's very important to get efficient call-outs that are both easy to remember and say. Using a call-out like "Bad side blue middle box" is very inefficient. Try limiting your call-outs to 2 sylables at most. It honestly doesn't matter what you call things, you could call a piece of cover or hallway a random color or piece of fruit, as long as the team knows that the sandbag is called "Peach." Having a call-out for every place on a map can be hard to remember, but the advantages out weigh the 10 minutes it takes to remember them. "He's in that fucking corner or whatever on their side snipe." or "ROB BEHIND YOU at their side street behind the back car." How long does it take me to react to that callout compared to using some more specific like, "Honda, Red Car, or Car 1?" Most likely not enough time to kill him.
Stressing important callouts and communicating pushes with confidence. These are harder to learn, but once mastered help immensely.
When you see anything important happen on the map, or you get a clutch kill. Make sure the entire team is aware of the importance. Whether it's saying it in a louder tone or repeating it more than once.
If you see an opening on the map, or your gut feeling tells you to make a play, do it. The majority of the time, that gut feeling is the right one. Make sure that your team knows you're making a play. One of the mistakes I've noticed is players playing sneaky in game, don't call it out to their teammates because in game their trying to be stealthy. Communicate everything you're doing so that if you get the kill, or choke your team can process what they're going to do before you die or get a kill.
Call pushes and plays with confidence, if you tell your team you see an opening in the map or an enemy player in a wrong position that you want to take advantage of, say it with confidence. This goes a long way because they will think it's the right decision, and won't hesitate.
Thank you for reading! Hope someone learns from this and takes into consideration when communicating or going over call-outs with a new team. Follow me on Twitter for updates on when I post blogs and eSports news! @vVv_RobZGod
I would like to start this blog of thanking everyone who is involved with the Hypefestation staff, without you, none of this would be possible. What you guys are doing for the community is amazing and definitely appreaciated.
Watching the tournament live on the train with the TwitchTV application.
I left Saturday morning via train to New York City, and then hopped on the subway to Penn Station. It took me an hour to realize I needed to go to Newark Penn Station (another 20 min train ride away) and arrived at the venue around 3pm. The first match I saw going on was SYG vs. apeX, there was a huge crowd surrounding the station and the match was extremely intense. See video below. The entire community was watching this match, yelling chants like, "Push Inside" on Mercy because of how slow the map played. I was only at the venue until 8pm, but got to watch some intense off stage matches such as
The atmosphere in the venue could be described by the name of the tournament, it was great seeing everyone again after not playing for a few months.
King of the Kill was very entertaining to watch, the majority of the matches came down to the last hill. Myself and many other community members think that Slab KOTH should replace one of the slower paced execution maps such as Thrashball or Mercy. There are also rumors that the middle hill on KOTH Thrashball will be taken out, which would make that a viable option. Big Thanks to Epic for making KOTH work in competitive play.
I'd like to now talk about the placings at Hypefestation 2. As many people said in their prediction threads, there are 16 teams with potential to place top 8. The skill-gap in GoW3 is very small at this stage in the game, teams who had momentum and confidence showed this throughout the tournament. I'm not discrediting any of the new players to place in the top 8, but I do believe there was a lot of competition. With that being said, the key to GoW3 in my opinion, as many people came to realize after the event is sticking together and building teamwork. Hypefestation 2 showed this very well with 3/4 of the top 4 teams being 3 members from the original team at Hypefestation 1 and throughout GoW3. However, with many of the teams that were predicted to get top 8 getting upset by some of the teams below, you can expect a few roster changes in the upcoming weeks.
1st. Infinity - Terrorr, Atmo, Ribs, Flamez
2nd. TH3 NSAN3Z - ZKilla, Prison, Killa, WildeBeast
3rd. The Fathering - Carsons, CDN, Requiem Slaps, Camills
4th. MbN - NICKMERCS, Fallout, HD, PRO5PECT
5th/6th. Synergy - SYN Strangulate, SYN Nastty,SYN Damage P,SYN Yogurt
5th/6th. Driven by Fear - DbF Noxious, DbF Slumps, DbF Baby D, DbF Air
7th/8th. Living off Experience - LoX KryptSet, LoX SicKz, LoX RefusioN, LoX SeCReT
7th/8th. Ruffled Feathers - Celend, Cinellz, RuFF Ridenour, DukeSkills
Now what would a RobZGod blog post be without constructive critism. First, I would like to know why many of the games on mainstage had to be reset because of wrong swaps and/or wrong map. This was a very annoying problem that happened on multiple occasions, the solution is to have players (as stated in the rules) check with the referee before starting the match. Next, is the downtime in between matches, I saw up to 2,000 viewers being lost because of 20 minute breaks inbetween matches. I know players need time to warm up, but this is a big deal in my opinion. There needs to be some type of content to keep the viewers entertained inbetween matches. Another small complaint I had was spectating, please spectate the players with sniper/torque, so many good plays were missed. I also agree with this post on GoWNation.net, that Astro Listen Ins should be used more often. When I was watching the stream from home the entire chat was filled with "WE WANT MOAR LISTEN INS." Hearing the emotions, trash talk, strats, meta-game pushes are unique to GoW and should be abused.
Overall, this tournament was a great experience and had a positive impact on the future of GoW. Once again I would like to thank everyone who makes Hype possible. It was great seeing everyone and I can't wait for Hype3! Follow me on Twitter for updates on eSports news and when I post blogs @vVv_RobZGod
This topic is very concerning to me and I feel could turn into a major problem in the console esports community if it continues. In this blog I will use serveral examples on why I believe Game Developer's are making games easier and less competitive and why. Using examples from PC, I will be touching on why "hard" games are important, how they actually increase popularity on the eSport level.
When it comes to video games, I've been apart of almost every console community you can name since 2006. One trend that I have noticed since playing these games is the skill gap from sequal to sequal. Let's start with the Call of Duty Series, Call of Duty 2 and 4 we're in my opinion the best shooters of their time. The weapon damage, accuracy, and maps were perfect out of the box. The Domination spawns could be calculated, nade spots we're practiced, the key word for CoD4 was consistancy. Modern Warfare 2, not as bad as MW3, but still a step back from CoD4. Domination couldn't even be played competivtely because of random spawns, Demolition was one sided, and teams would run out shooting their guns up in the air wanting to die on purpose so they could get the better side on tie breaker. Not to mention MW3 being literally the same exact game as MW2, with even worse maps, and still no lan.
The changes from year to year are seen through Gears, Rainbow, and more of course Halo. Anyone who has played two of these titles knows the differences. Bloom, jetpacks, sawed off's, Stoping power, Type 95, etc are all examples of new titles being dumbed down to make them easier and more appealing to the bad player or "casual" gamer. Although, one may argue that dev's need to make them easier to increase revenue by giving that person who couldn't get a kill with the shotgun that satisfying sawed off kill want to buy the game. But, does this kill the game in the competitive aspect? If the trend of games getting easier, more random, and noob friendly contiunes, I don't see console eSport's even competiting with PC. I mean, that is the main goal right? Stream numbers are very important noadays and this brings me to my next topic.
Think about the game that you enjoy spectating the most. A game that you can sit and watch for hours, learning. Most likely this game is SC2 or LoL. I've come to the conclusion that this is because these game are HARD. You like watching it because you are BAD, and want to be educated and strive to be better. Okay, so maybe you're halfway decent, you're still watching the stream because you understand the game and aren't as good as the player you're watching. That's not the point though. The point is that CONSOLE doesn't have this. No one watches a Gears of War, Halo, Call of Duty stream and is blown away by skill and amazing plays. The skill gap in these games are very minimal. For Example, look at the placings in last years MLG Pro Circuit for Call of Duty, random team out of AM at three events gets 2nd. I don't follow Halo much, but I can imagine with all these bloom all stars it's the same idea. Not only does this impact stream numbers and a games longevity, but it affects organizations and MLG, it's very hard to market/promote players when placings are inconsistant because of terribly made games.
Okay, yeah I am the biggest pessimist you have ever met, but someone has to be.
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In this guide I will be explaining how keybinds can drastically improve the quality of your gameplay and will show you how to bind efficiently. Also, I will give different variations of binds, to create a more personalized system. Since SWTOR recently came out, I thought this would be a great time to come out with this guide. Everyone is learning their new spells and abilities, and I found binding them efficiently from the beginning is very helpful.
What are keybinds?
A keybind is a function which allows you to press a key to perform an ability instead of clicking it. The basic way a keybind works is no different than when you would click the ability from your spellbook.
How do I change keybinds in SWTOR?
Press Escape>Preferences>Key Binding Tab>Quickslot
Then choose the slot you would like to change.
How to bind efficiently:
Now that you know how to bind spells and abilities to your bar, lets use them to their maximum efficiency.
Blue - These are your movement keys. Unbind strafe from Q and E, and make them A and D. Now you can use Q and E as ability keybinds. It might take time to get used to, but keyboard turning is a bad habit and limits movement. In both PvP and PvE, keyboard turning puts you at a disadvantage.
While prioritizing spells, try to avoid putting instant cast spells close to your strafe keys. This can make moving very awkward and uncomfortable. Putting spells that you need to cast instantly are best put on your mouse.
Green - These are the easiest keys to reach, therefore prioritize putting interrupts and main attack abilities here.
Yellow - Medium priority binds with cooldowns.
Pink - Modifier buttons. These are keys you use in conjunctions with another to use a different spell than if pressed alone.
Orange - Tab, and space generally used for jumping and targeting. However, I use tab for trinket and caps lock for targeting.
F1-F5 - I personally use these for buffs and mounts, depends how big your hands are though.
WASD vs. ESDF:
If you have no idea what “WASD” or “ESDF” stand for, they’re simply a set of keys used to move around in first person shooters. For example, in a “WASD” setup, the “W” represents forward, the “S” backwards, and the “A” and “D” keys represent strafing left or right accordingly. This has been a very common setup since the early days of Quake1, replacing the old Doom standard, the arrow keys.
Some players argue that WASD is outdated and you in fact get more keybinds from using ESDF. Using ESDF, you open up more spammable buttons on the left site of your hand, and easier keybinds to reach. If you haven't tried using ESDF, I recommend it.
S Key Debate:
Some players keybind the S key to a spammable ability (or an ability that doesn't punish you for accidentally hitting it). Many PvPers consider "backpedaling" (using the S key to move backwards) to be a telltale sign of a noob; it is often considered inferior to strafing.
Whatever side of the debate you're on, it's not a giant deal. If you play a melee class and you never find yourself backpedaling, I would recommend trying out keybinding your S key to an often used ability with no detriment if you use it (don't pick an ability that is an important cooldown; S tends to be hit accidentally pretty often).
It's a bad habit to put your skills on your action bars in the order you get them, I have found that the best way to put skills on your bars is to put the spells with no cool down (spammable abilities) out of sight, either on the left or right side. You want the abilities with cooldowns in the bottom center because that is where you're going to be looking, you want to get the timing of the cooldown as fast as possible. Field of vision is the keyword here.
Eventually you should memorize your entire keybinding set, this will allow you to activate your abilities without clicking or looking down. Everything you use in combat should be keybinded, this will allow for the fastest response time and most fluid gameplay.
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2011 was a record setting year in eSports. Major League Gaming surpassed Top Cable Networks such as TBS and Comedy Central, had a 225% growth on their website, and 175 countries tuning in to the National Championships. The rise in popularity of Starcraft 2 is one the reasons why these numbers were so high. The Spectator Experience and developer support that Starcraft has is very successful and I believe other communities should take notes.
Starcraft is a very thrilling game to watch, the State of the Game show compared it to Poker. Poker wasn't always as popular as it is today, the game broke out when ESPN found ways to make the games more interesting by hiding mini cameras on the table allowing commentators to see the cards held by the players. This way the viewer at home could now see what the players were doing. Every great lay down, every bluff, every monster hand could be seen and admired. This creates tons of dramatic irony, which is when the spectator knows something that the players don't. For the first time it was possible to really understand the skill behind the plays. SC2 is no different, there is nothing more exciting than knowing something that your favorite pro doesn't know.
Gears of War 3 has a great spectator mode that epic was kind enough to make for the community. Using this spectator mode, commentators should start creating dramatic irony by showing both opening setups using the overview map just like Counter Strike does, instead of just spectating one person until they die. The strategy put into Gears of War by the players is a very long development. Just like poker and SC2, if strategy was shown and stressed upon more at tournaments, the game would be more exciting to watch because viewers would understand the skill and thought process behind the plays.
Gears has the possibility to be a very successful game on the circuit. The players are passionate about the game and community tournaments such as Hypefestation and NJ Halo are ran consistently. Gears is headed in the right direction using the same settings available in ranked so that casual players aren't confused when they turn on the streams. But, how can we get these casual viewers to the streams in the first place? Developer support. In Starcraft 2 there is an in game News and Community section, where players can see information on upcoming tournaments.There is also a community forum on the blizzard site to discuss SC2 news and tournaments. I think that Epic needs to take some notes from blizzard. With Gears being the 7th most popular game on xbox live, the Gears competitive community needs all the support it can get.
You may think that Gears 3 is doing fine, and will be on the circuit next year. It probably will, but what about the year after that? One of the reasons why Gears 2 was taken off the circuit was because of the numbers on the MLG streams. With the combination of using the spectator mode to create dramatic irony and building the competitive community with help from the developers, I believe Gears could have unlimited potential, and grow just like Poker did.
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I would like to start off by saying I have nothing against any of the players discussed in this article. I am simply using them as an example, so that other players don’t make the same mistake; please do not feel offended in any way. This article's purpose is to teach players why it is so important to stick with a team. Also, not searching for the best possible option because as you will see in this case, the end result will be harder to deal with than the problem that exists.
So, you have vVv The New Order, just placed 3rd at Devastation and picked up a Veteran 4th in Dotter. Things were looking good for this team at the time; they were planning on going to a California Lan together and had a possible partial vVv sponsorship in the works if they played their cards right. They were definitely an up and coming team in the Gears community.
Astonish and Radiation thought differently, they decided to start scrimming around, looking for better options. Here is the direct quote from Radiation, “The biggest reason we made the decision was because Astonish and I felt we couldn't be a top tier team with Dotter and Zombeast. I felt as if we could be a good team, but not contenders. And at the end of the day, it’s all about winning and losing. We aren't saying that teaming with Fallout and DukeSkills will make us a top team, but we wanted to find out. Astonish and I are both in college, and don't see ourselves playing competitively much longer (min. 1 year) before we have to focus on our life. So we have that "the future is now" state of mind.”
First of all, if you’re going to scrim with two other players while trying to stay on a team, you might as well leave the team because they’re not going to sit around waiting to be a second option. Second, you can’t just go from being an Amateur player to getting 1st at an event with one team change. It takes multiple tournaments to build up reputation and experience before you can “win”. Finally, if you have the mindset, "I'm going to quit in a year. I need to win, win, win right now!" What is the point in playing in the first place? They made it seem like they had a deadline to win an event and then what? When you win an event you're just going to put the whole gaming thing behind you and move on with your life? You can still play games competitively with a career, while in school, and even both. It's all about balance and getting the most out of the time you practice. High Caliber is now Dukeskills, Radiation, Fallout, and Astonish. Morale is high for this team in the first few weeks, they defeat zYn in the newegg tournament and then fall short to MbN. Watching them scrim, I could tell this roster wasn't going to last. Radiation was being singled out and was dropped a few weeks later. At this point Duke, Fallout, and Astonish are in the search for one.
High Caliber takes a week off from the game and when they come back, the search for the right fourth is rough. Meanwhile, Nick leaves the NSAN3Z because of dedication issues and joins MbN. Murder by Numbers needs one and the first person they look at it Fallout. He starts scrimming with them and is picked up two days later. Now Duke is a Free Agent and Astonish is unsure on what he is doing, he tweeted "F/A or might quit I'm not sure." This is the result of going after big names instead of just playing the game with players who are at the same point in their gaming career as you. The decision they made has put them 10 steps backwards. The two players dropped Dotter and Zombeast; are on a team that they enjoy playing with and will place well if they stick together. Gears of War 3 is hardly individual skill based, it’s mainly independent decision making and team chemistry. The skill gap isn't a major factor like it was in GoW1. Finding a team and sticking it out is the best advice I can give to any Amateur team trying to go pro.
It's very easy to overcome a problem on a team just by searching for another player. But, the best way to work through a difficulty on a team is through it. The former The New Order member's problems worsened after deciding to scrim with other players rather than working it out with Dotter and Zombeast. Although this is just one example, I have seen this happen many times throughout the years in eSports and the end result is always the same.