The best thing about being a journalist over the festive period is being able to simply roll out of your food coma, take position at your keyboard and then just write about everything that happened last year. Fuck what’s happening right now… That’s too hard to keep up with between arguing with the missus over who ate all the Toblerones in your box of Heroes. And marketing shows people love nostalgia, even if it’s just a few months old, because the future is scary and the present is shit.
The only depressing thing is the endless good will that comes with it. The back-slapping, the recycled praise… Well, that and the desire to come up with as controversial a list as possible in order to earn some cheap click bait over the quietest period of the year. Well, none of that on my watch. Every year I proudly deliver my own alternate awards that aim to serve as a reminder that not everything in e-sports and gaming is awesome and not everyone involved in it is the full shilling. Let us salute then the combination of the bungled and botched that gave us cause to grimace and laugh in equal measure in 2013.
Curse at DreamHack Winter (picture courtesy of fpsgeneral.com)
Worst LAN performance of The Year
2010: FM Toxic at SLAP #21
2011: mTw at ESWC
2012: Michael "mK" Zaidi at Copenhagen Games
Curse / iBUYPOWER@ DreamHack
May as well keep this award where it belongs – in the clammy, limp grasp of Counter-Strike chokers and there can be no more deserving recipients than the North Americans formerly of Curse in 2013.
Directly invited to DreamHack’s Summer event the American team were fancied as outsiders given the pedigree lurking within. The stars from the Dynamic line-up coupled with young guns like Tyler “skadoodle” Latham had been one of the dominant teams in the domestic ESEA season prior to DreamHack, but were found sorely wanting in Sweden. Unable to find a way through the groups they finished a disappointing 9th-12th after being crushed 16-3 by Copenhagen Wolves, then losing 16-10 to Epsilon.
No worries though. It’s a long way to come to win just one game and that sort of thing stays with you for a good while, spurring you on to be better. The team went back and started to dominate the domestic league again going 16-0 in the online league. A shiny new sponsor in the form of whothefuckareiBUYPOWER soon followed and they were invited once more to DreamHack, the Winter event being the biggest CS prize pot in history.
Being placed in a group with NiP was saddening for them but it was still considered, in current form, they could progress. Brushed aside by the aging veterans of Universal Soldiers (the Polish 3 time WCG gold medallists from 1.6) the indignity was then followed up with a now routine defeat at the hands of Recursive, a team who hadn’t even been expecting to attend the event 4 days prior to it starting. 13th – 16th and back across the water they go.
Their failure was underlined by the fact that their compatriots compLexity had not only topped a group featuring VeryGames within it but eventually made it all the way to the semi-finals. At least someone was capable of showing that North American CS was still relevant.
Worst Decision of The Year
2010: ESL UK
2011: CS:GO Beta Key Distribution
2012: Absolute Legends Ghosting
Alexey ‘Solo’ Berezin of Team roX.KIS Match Fixing
Dota 2 is pretty popular game in case you hadn’t noticed. Pretty lucrative too, especially if you take a slice of that “The International” prize money that we always seem to hear so much about as the FINAL BOSS OF ALL ARGUMENTS ABOUT E-SPORTS BEING REAL AND ACCEPTED NOW. Even when you compete in an online league like, say for example, Starladder, there’s the opportunity to win $22,500.
Winning is tough though so it’s only understandable when some players start to look to other ways to get paid and Alexey ‘Solo’ Berezin had come up with a belter. In a fairly meaningless game at the end of the season a heavily favoured roX.KIS suddenly nosedived into a defeat against zRage after an even start. Alexey ‘Solo’ Berezin made a series of questionable plays in that game and people were left scratching their heads as to what had happened. It didn’t take long for people to speculate that a fix was in.
The allegations were that the player had placed a $100 bet on his team to lose through online betting site egamingbets.com. Despite Starladder having some fairly compelling evidence – proof of the bet and the amount being returned to Berezin’s account – the player protested his innocence and roped his organisation into defending him to the hilt. They called for a full investigation, stated they “believed in their player’s innocence” and pointed to everything they could to show he was not guilty.
Of course, he was. After a drawn out affair in which Starladder wouldn’t budge, he was eventually forced into a humiliating and self-pitying confession that he’d been lying all along:
“Guys, I'm sorry, I'm very sorry ... I kept a secret from the team ... and could not admit it at once. I apologize to the community and in particular to those who have supported us, for my actions. I also apologize to StarLadder and all of my teammates and RoX.KiS. I let you down, I'm sorry, I will be cheering for you and I hope you find a good player and will continue to delight everyone with your play and the streams.” Those cheers will go a long way to mending fences.
A year ban from a regular online competition, kicked from your organisation and deemed forever untrustworthy for the princely sum of $322. Genius.
Most Irritating Fanboys
2010: The French
2011: The French
2012: 1.6 Enthusiasts
I tried to think of any alternative but this because saying anything bad about Dota 2 is the equivalent of drawing a picture of Mohammed – riots and possibly beheadings will follow. There are so many other, easier, safer targets to criticise but after a year of everyone living in a near totalitarian shadow of having to agree with the pro-dota propaganda or face the consequences, they managed to cap it all off with a truly indefensible display of mob mentality.
The Halloween “Diretide” mode that had been incorporated into the game last year had been greeted with such open arms that the anticipation for next Halloween was at a fever pitch. Then it didn’t turn up. Valve had never specifically said that it was coming – the closest anyone could get to this effect was to point to Valve’s own literature describing Diretide as “an annual event” – but then again, Valve rarely communicate anything anyway.
The fans went into an apoplexy of previously unseen proportions within e-sports. Reddit threads entitled ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ Give DIRETIDE quickly sprung up, along with the standard Twitch TV spamming. Then some people took it further, using the joke term for Valve (Volvo) as an excuse to spam the car manufacturer’s Facebook. Volvo took it quite well, using it as a bit of free marketing, and even tweeted support for the campaign. There was even this cringeworthy website created – http://www.givediretide.com/
It didn’t stop there however. So incensed with the lack of the unpromised game mode were the fans of the game they took to metacritic in their droves, crashing the rating of their own beloved game down from the high 8.somethings, to a lowly 3.8 with posts such as this being typical:
If that wasn’t stupid enough people even spammed Barack Obama’s Facebook, which no doubt did wonders for the perceptions about online gamers during a time when the media was content to pin every school shooting on anyone that had even heard of Call of Duty.
And just because it couldn’t stop without someone really taking it too far and going a bit stalky, one of Dota 2’s most faithful servants in the form of Matt “CyborgMatt” Bailey – someone who disseminates patch information and provides analysis of the changes for players – had his personal number circulated and had to state he was contacting the police for threatening behaviour to stop.
In the end Valve caved and introduced the mode in early November, (http://blog.dota2.com/2013/11/not-my-best-work/ ) stating “We underestimated how much you wanted Diretide.” Valve may make great games but in one ill-judged move their “apology” pretty much endorsed atrocious online behaviour from gaming communities, as if any were ever needed. No doubt 2014 will see someone raise the bar and keep in mind the year ended with a streamer wrongly arrested for “holding people hostage”.
Worst “Manager” Of The Year
2010: John “jHG” Blackwood
2011: Marc “virp” Corban
2012: Dmitry Smilyanets
Last year’s previous winner is reportedly still in prison and we can only hope for something similar to befall this year’s recipient. A terrible testament to what happens when the immature inherit money, Simon “Sambuca” Boudreault, his legacy will hang around Quantic like the faint smell of piss at a bus stop.
After having been resurrected once due to financial collapse, Boudreault funded the team with the change he found down the sofa and presided over a series of poor decisions and PR disasters. The cracks really started to appear when Harry "MaSsan" Cheong released chat logs that showed Boudreault pretty much telling the player he wasn’t going to get money he was owed for flights following a clerical error. Queue a very public statement declaring it all to be a “miscommunication” the player got paid and left the organisation.
Of course behind the scenes it seems no-one was getting paid anything, staff being owed months of back pay and fan favourite Ko “Hyun” Hyun being owed a grand total of $23,000 in salary and prize money. The last chance saloon for getting a decent chunk of change to put this all right seemed to be getting into LCS, where the block sums of money dispensed by Riot would have acted as a buffer. When the Korean team, supposedly a “shoe in”, flopped in their LCS qualifiers and immediately disbanded that dream of free flowing cash was over and Boudreault suddenly disappeared.
Source have cited that he, a by all accounts physically healthy 23 year old, was having a biopsy in a lump in his lung. Using true medical terminology, the kind you’d hear only from someone with the bedside manner of Harold Shipman, he said that he’d been told there was a “double digit percentage that the found matter would be cancerous.” Definitely not a sympathy ploy. (I reserve the right to withdraw this harsh assessment if he actually is ill.)
Why someone wasn’t appointed to handle the particulars in his absence is fairly easy to ascertain. His disappearance leaves many owed thousands of dollars and having to look at pursuing legal action to get this back. Whatever the outcome, the Quantic name is tarnished for good now, a shame for the hard working folk that worked tirelessly to resurrect it. I’d say there’s a double digit percentage Boudreault is a bit of a cunt.
Worst Event of The Year
Hon World Tour Finals
Yes, Northcon should have probably retained it as they continue to lurch from one disaster to another (please hire some people who actually fucking know what they are doing) but I had to give it to the Hon World Tour Finals for a couple of reasons. The first is it presents me with a rare chance to mention the now irrelevant Heroes of Newerth title (way to fuck up a stranglehold on the Moba market S2 Games) and the second is a chance to relive the sheer comedy of this dreadful spectacle.
I mean, to describe it as cringeworthy is an understatement. Watching this is so arse-puckeringly bad that there’s a real risk of you being sucked inside out by your own ringpiece with all the force of a blackhole. There should probably be some sort of warning to that effect on the Youtube description.
Anyway, without wanting to spoil the video too much for those who haven’t seen it let me just add the following. If your WORLD TOUR final looks like it’s being held in a school gym, something has gone very wrong. If your host sounds like he is in the middle of a meth binge, something is very, very wrong. Add to that a production value worse than the average nursery nativity play (I mean, there was no room in the budget for a fucking lightbulb?) and you end up with something so hilariously bad it is scarcely believable.
We all knew competitive HoN was on its last legs but there is absolutely no recovering from an embarrassment on this scale; a pillow held over the face and the last words uttered were “woo woo woo woo”.
Wasted Opportunity Of The Year
2010: Robert “TORNADOTONI” Radosevic
2011: Heroes of Newerth
2012: Not Listed
OH WHY WCS WHY. As disappointing as finding out Santa Claus isn’t real or your Catholic Priest probably wasn’t feeding you the body of Christ when he asked you to wear that blindfold, WCS promised so much but under delivered at almost every turn. Which isn’t to say there weren’t some highlights but the reality, if we were all being brutally honest, is that the WCS project in 2013 satisfied very few of the people that anticipated it, be it tournament organisers, players or spectators.
The issues have been plentiful and well documented elsewhere so it seems pointless to regurgitate them once more. That and I wrote this award last and have run out of vitriol. Still, low-points have to include the contentious subject of region locking, the absence of which saw every region dominated by Koreans in what should have been the one opportunity to provide “foreigners” with something to cheer about (there was one non-Korean at the WCS Global Finals at Blizzcon). Blizzard practically drove the Koreans abroad with their disproportionate prize pools, the restructured GSL prize pool offering Koreans a worse deal.
Then the disastrous MLG NA qualifiers were also an example of how not to do anything. They ran about as smoothly as an outbreak of psoriasis. It’d be easier for me to list what went right than what went wrong, that being underlined by a halfway season switch to NASL, who delivered a much improved product. Still, there was a cloud over the whole affair, badly handled seedings, late disqualifications, cheating accusations. In general an absolute mess and one MLG initially wanted to charge $18.75 for taking part in.
Even the format, with the points system, felt badly designed and at loggerheads with what Blizzard wanted to achieve. Blizzard when interviewed by Gamespot stated that:
“The unified point system was also there to create a storyline for viewers that is easy to understand and establishes meaning from one event to another. Finally, we wanted to maintain players' freedom to compete where they wish.”
Whether these goals have been achieved seems to be subjective but the consensus among most fans seems to be that the storylines have been diluted due to oversaturation. Without a centralised hub to follow everything (god bless Reddit) enthusiasts have often been found lagging behind and playing catch up.
We are told feedback has been heard loud and clear, something that is rare for Blizzard, and we’re all awaiting a much improved showing in 2014.
Scam Of The Year (New Award)
Sons of Starcraft Documentary
It was a year when people went into overdrive when it came to grabbing e-sports fans money. Like desperate whores they danced and gyrated, promising to do anything for the pennies you all too willingly threw at them. Then, in a moment of divine inspiration, one of them thought “what if we actually didn’t have to do any of that shit we said we would and just kept the money.” A revolution was formed and man was it popular…
Yes, it was a year when there was too much bullshit to list and anyone trying to chronicle just how much there was outstanding was “killing e-sports”. And indeed, some promises that weren’t kept were probably the sort of thing few people would scarcely care about. I don’t know how much I want to see some of e-sports biggest attention seekers dress up as women, or record grating music videos. However, if you take money with the express purposes of doing SOMETHING, then it’s not unreasonable that you actually do it.
Jeff Alejos dared to dream big in a way few scammers actually do. A lifelong friend of Nick “Tasteless” Plott and an aspiring filmmaker, Alejos stumbled upon the idea of making a documentary, seemingly little more than an excuse to reconnect with his friend and hang out in Korea. His lack of e-sports presence made it particularly difficult to exploit this naive audience. Not to worry though, with a ringing endorsement from one of e-sports most loved casting duos his kickstarter asking for $18,400 quickly went over that and beyond to whopping $42,155.
Using the money to get an apartment and follow his chums around, you’d have thought that with over double the original budget he had ample resources to get the job done. But no – because he had been given that much money the scope of the project increased and therefore he needed more money. A request for donations direct to his Paypal followed only six weeks later receiving an amount that still remains undisclosed.
After pratting around with a camera for a few weeks and releasing a few clips to show he was really working, Alejos quickly got bored and pretty much shut down all communications with the community that had funded the project. After all, those Facebook posts and Tweets take a lot of time, something I know first hand having to do it every single day as part of my job. If I was doing Jaegerbombs with my buddies in Korea, God only knows how I’d fit it in.
With an estimated delivery date of October 2012, Alejos wrestled with the problems of spending your money and turned in the project a year late. Except that he used his manager, Tobias "Tumba" Sherman (also manager for the documentary subjects) to sell the “finished” documentary to CBSi’s Ongamers site for a production credit. Oh, and for some reason the “finished” documentary had to be shown episodically. Because it was finished. And the "finished" product did not at all look like a very poor first year media student's project that had been hurriedly put together, with bad lighting, repetitive looped music and poor sound quality.
We’re still waiting for the final part and with it a new benchmark was set in taking the piss out of e-sports fans the world over.