Category: eSports Articles

Advice: Running an eSports Booth

The other weekend I was in the Twin Cities (MN) for a Teh Pwn Gaming / CSL StarCraft 2 tournament (you can read about it here). It was a ton of fun and I wanted to share a particular aspect about it that might be of interest to some young entrepreneurs out there. Here’s what I learned about running an event booth.

The story begins on Facebook. I was contacted by my friend Evva, the president of Teh Pwn, and she asked me if I wanted a booth for the up-coming event. I was initially concerned about agreeing because my operation is small, obscure, and the opposite of well-funded (one of those grassroots, indie-style operations). Anyways, I pictured myself next to Antec, ASUS, and NOS whose booths were epic, decked out with kick-ass banners and voluptuous women distributing tons of free swag. Needless to say I was afraid of looking inadequate and cheap. But Evva assured me that everything would be fine and it was a great opportunity to network and share my website. So I agreed.

To prepare I ordered business cards, spray-painted some t-shirts, and packed my laptop. It was a pretty low-key package, but figured it would do. However, upon arrival I checked out my setup and realized I forgot some sort of banner. Oops… But we ended up making a banner out of cardboard paper which looked pretty legit from a distance. If you do this, make sure it’s cool within your industry. Fortunately eSports is pretty young so I don’t think it was a big deal.

The best part about my setup was probably the business cards. I would highly recommend getting some. Why? Because you can get a ton of them for relatively cheap and you’ll always have something to give out. If you just bring t-shirts, what happens after they’re all gone? Now there’s nothing for people to look at later and be reminded of your organization. Definitely order some.

Bringing a laptop was another great idea. It helped to physically show my site rather than just explaining it. If you don’t have one, find someone who does and borrow it. If you’re in technology, Internet, web, whatever, you need a device to show off your work.

One thing I wish I would have done differently is buy professionally made t-shirts. The ones we were wearing looked legit from a distance, but up-close looked cheap. I also wish we would have had some extras to give out. The NOS booth ran through all their free stuff right away because people wanted it. And in exchange they Liked them on Facebook and checked in on Foursquare. Not a bad deal in my opinion.

Overall, if you’re thinking about representing yourself at an event. The more professional you can be the better. I’m unfortunately locked down by a small budget so I have to pick and choose, but if you’re not, definitely get everything made professionally. A nice banner, solid business cards, free t-shirts, and a laptop will go a long way. But even if you can’t do that, just go anyways. I still ended up meeting a ton of cool people and networked with other organizations. Don’t doubt yourself, it’ll be fun and everyone is a lot nicer and more supportive than you think.

Other Tags: CSL, StarCraft II, SC2, TPG

Koreans in the North American Star League

So recently I watched this interview of ROOTCatZ of ROOT Gaming about homegrown esports with AskJoshy, and it really got me thinking about the future of esports as a whole and how to nurture the growing community.  I thought that CatZ had many great points and lots of insight into the current state and future of esports.

The first thing he brought up that I really believe as well is allowing Koreans into North American events.  Although the gap in skill between Koreans and foreigners in SC2 has definitely tightened, there is still a wide belief that Korean players have the edge on most foreigners. CatZ stated that he didn’t think that Koreans should be allowed in events such as the North American Star League (NASL) as it doesn’t encourage North American players to pursue a high amount of success in the event, and also doesn’t promote SC2 at a regional level.

To better explain CatZ point on why this would be, I would like to use basketball as an example.  It’s a fact that North American and the US specifically has the largest amount and highest skilled basketball players in the world. That’s not to say, that other countries don’t have highly skilled basketball players, but as compared to the US other countries have a lower overall skill level in general. This is because the US has the largest community for basketball as well as a large amount of money funneling into the sport. Because of the large community and money coming into the sport, it’s obvious that there will be a large amount of skilled based around US basketball.

When you go outside the US to other countries trying to promote basketball within there own country, relative to the US, your going to have a smaller following because of a lower skill level and of less money coming in. Despite these set backs, many countries have a blossoming basketball community and much more money beginning to come into there leagues. Just think then of how players of other countries feel when they have this soon to be booming sport there playing and players from US start to compete in their leagues when they know that, even though they are very talented, the US players have an edge on them, because they are from the US. Because of this many basketball leagues outside the US have actually implemented rules only allowing a certain number of non-citizens on there teams, such as Australia. In the National Basketball League, each team is only allowed two non-Australians. This to ensure that Australians will not be overshadowed by the US players, but also allow Australians to capitalize on the new money flowing into there sport.

Now that I have gone on forever about basketball, lets relate this to SC2 and what CatZ was saying. Basically, Korea is the US of basketball. They have a huge community and a large amount of money based around SC. Therefore in how non-US basketball players are not excited to see US players in their leagues, non-Korean SC2 players wouldn’t be happy to see Korean players in their leagues. This is not to say that there should never be tournaments with people from many countries, but when you are trying to nurture a blooming sport, you must be able to promote it regionally first, and not discourage the up and coming players.

Although NASL might not want to fulfill this role of promoting SC2 strictly within North America, and remain a global league we still have hope. As AskJoshy stated in the interview, it seems that MLG might be able to pick up that role and be almost all North American players. Also, with their open bracket format, it allows for up and coming players to compete and try to make a name for themselves.

Hopefully, the presence of Koreans within the foreigner leagues will not overshadow the great talent outside of Korea, and not pull prize money away from the foreigners and back into Korea where they already have a large amount of SC funding and a booming SC community.

Other Tags: NASL, CatZ, MLG, Pro Circuit, South Korea

Review: Ventrilo vs. Mumble

It’s been about a month now since we made the big switch from Ventrilo to Mumble and I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts and help guide others in making the right choice for their VOIP needs. Firstly, know that I’ve been using Vent for about 6 years, so switching to Mumble wasn’t easy, but there were a few distinct elements about it that got me hooked.

It seems prudent to talk about audio quality first since that’s undoubtedly what most people are curious about. In comparison to Ventrilo, I would say Mumble’s clarity is better. Voices are crisp, clear and sound much more human than Vent’s ever did. It also doesn’t have that annoying sound effect every time you push-to-talk. I will admit however, that that was kind of hard to get used to. I was so accustomed to having an audio notification every time someone said something that when it wasn’t there I kept thinking I was disconnected from the server. It took about a week or so before I was really comfortable with it being gone, and in fact, I actually find it much better. In the past that sound effect could actually impede clarity if you pushed to talk while someone else was talking.

Mumble’s notification system is a game overlay. Now I actually have this disabled at the moment because I know everyone’s voice in our server, but I could see this being extremely useful for PUGs or ringing when you have no idea who’s who. Please note that with it enabled, it will come up in applications like Adobe Photoshop and anything else resource heavy.

Latency between what’s said and when it’s heard is extremely fast. I did some testing with my roommates and when he spoke in his room, it was almost instantly being said in mine. Very impressive and what’s even better is that this can be configured how you want it. If your network isn’t the best, you can make packet latency higher to return yourself to a more Vent-like approach.

Look and feel. I have to admit that Mumble doesn’t look very cool. I mean Vent wasn’t winning any awards either, but Mumble especially looks kind of…opensourcey. Now that I’ve been using it a month though, I’m growing to like it, but that was definitely something I kept noticing. Fortunately you can download or make your own skins for it! Which I thought was really bad ass because I totally want to make a sick Spawn Room one. In fact, if you have any suggestions for a good skin, post a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

Finally, I wanted to mention hosting. I purchased my Mumble server from the one and only Apoplexy Industries, for 15-20 bucks cheaper than Ventrilo (per year)! Awesome. But this is where it gets kind of sketchy because the configuration of Mumble isn’t exactly user friendly. I had to dig for a while to figure shit out and it required me to edit files, and make more users and blah blah blah. So if you’re not exactly tech savvy, you may want to find someone who is before purchasing your server. On a more positive note, getting everything set up with the default settings is a breeze.

Conclusion

Mumble is great. So far I really like it and I think it competes well with Ventrilo, even with its flaws. If I were to recommend them to a room full of potential VOIP buyers, I would recommend Mumble over Vent for almost all of them. Here’s how I’d break it up:

Ventrilo: For casual gamers looking for a popular VOIP platform, with a decent interface. These people are the ones that don’t care a whole lot about maximum performance and won’t need split second orders to be executed in a fast-paced environment.

Mumble: For hardcore gamers, raiders, scrimmers, and those in need of a performance VOIP service. I’d also recommend it to normal computer users that are more tech savvy and those looking for a cheaper VOIP option. You will get a better service, with better audio quality and quicker response times. It’s probably the best choice for FPS gamers, StarCraft 2 players, World of Warcraft raiders, and other fast paced games. If you’re looking to switch, seriously consider Mumble.

Update: Don’t forget, if you want to test out Mumble, hop on Spawn Room’s and give it a whirl. We don’t bite. :)

Other Tags: VOIP, Mumble, Ventrilo, hosting, AI

Why Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sucks

For all you nubs out there who are still playing this broken, worthless game, here is an excellent summation of it’s gheyness: Link. Switching to almost any other FPS would be an improvement, not to mention most others actually have a ballin’ competitive scene; do it now!

Other Tags: COD MW2, Infinity Ward, Treyarch

MEEEEEEDDDIIIIIIIIC!

I was playing scout the other day on Gravel Pit and ran into my biggest annoyance in Team Fortress 2: terribad medics. In this particular situation, the douche medic was practically glued to a heavy he was chasing around. My team and I frantically called for his help numerous times but he refused to spread the joy. During one part of the match I even ran circles around him, calling medic, lit with 8 health, only to be picked off by some random guy on the other team. Now I understand that scouts seem notoriously bad at getting heals in most servers, simply because we’re generally considered expendable fodder, but seriously? When I’m standing right in front of him, yelling for help, he should realize, “ok, I can stop for a couple seconds to bring him to enough health to stand a chance at getting away and finding a med pack.” Even that would be acceptable.

I also frequently witness bad medics ubering/kritzing only a single target in an attempt to maximize damage and success, at the expense of other team mates. This on the outside might seem like a valid strategy, but it’s really not. One of the best advantages of an uber or kritz is its power to push the other team back. So let’s actually take a minute and discuss that. Ubers and kritz have a few goals once popped. First, you can plan it out well by finding a good demo or soldier and laying waste to an unsuspecting team. This is probably the best thing you can do in the most ideal situations. If that’s not an option, you can use them to hold or gain ground. This is great because it not only buys time for respawning team mates, but if you can gain ground, you force them to come to you, thus gaining a tactical advantage. If neither of those are options, simply popping it to scare the other team and buy time, when they’ve made a push, can turn out well (assuming your team mates aren’t a bunch of ass-hats). All valid options, all better than randomly popping it on a single target with no communication.

I’d also like to note that popping an uber or kritz to save your life isn’t a waste! I’ve seen medics on numerous occasions die with one just because they thought they might get away from the scout with a clan tag. Yeah right, after the first close-quarter shot, you better pop it because if he’s good the next will kill you (and it’s not worth the risk). By the time you’d respawn and run your ass all the way back, you’ll probably have worked up, or almost worked up, a new one.

Next, if you don’t know, there is a proper heal order when fighting ensues. This mostly applies to competitive play, but it’s not bad to know it just in case. The first is lit (aka substantially hurt) friendlies that are taking fire. If you see them, drop your current target and hit them up (as long as it doesn’t unnecessarily endanger your life). Once those players are covered, anyone else lit and not taking fire is priority. The team needs strong soldiers to fight their battles, so having a bunch of hurt players is worse than having one all buffed up. Remember, numbers wins battles. Finally once no one around you is lit, then begin spreading out the heals until everyone’s buffed. But wait there’s more! The heal order gets even more complicated because once no one’s lit, there are still priorities. The demo, soldiers, and heavies should get healed to full. Then buff up the scouts if they’re around, if not buff up the heavy classes so they can move forward. If you have a pocket soldier, hit him up next. Now the team should be looking pretty good. Finally try and touch up the spies, pyros, snipers, and whoever else is yelling for help. If you can learn this heal order and variations on it, you’ll be leagues ahead of most medics and soon to be topping score boards all over the world.

Finally, I just wanted to mention some random notes. First, don’t underestimate the power of weapons. Shotguns and melee might seem harmless most of the time, but they can really lay people out. If you’re following around a heavy class and they’re looking around confused or acting weird, get a new battle buddy. That’s probably one of those that won’t realize a scout has been jumping around batting you to death for the last couple minutes. Speaking of scouts, don’t dismiss the scatter guns potential for destruction. Kritzing a good scout can get a surprising amount of kills and may be a better choice than that soldier who just fell of a bridge and got lost trying to find his way back. Lastly, there is something called a multi-uber and it can be super pwnage. Remember when I said numbers wins battles? Well, if your micro is good enough, you can click quickly between friendlies to spread the uber love and ensure immunity for a number of them. This can be great for getting small groups past a sentry, securing a point, navigating a bottleneck, etc. Just note that it’s not always easy and it does NOT work for kritz. Although if you’re trying to get past a sentry or navigate a dangerous bottle neck with a kritz…god help us.

So there, a couple solid notes on medic that should be sufficient enough to get you on the right track. It’s an invaluable class that needs better players, so learn it, play it, and pwn with it. GLHF.

(For those interested in competitive notes on medic check out this great guide on ubercharged.net)

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