Thursday, April 11, 2013

The E-sports Scene: Now and Then

The Halo series and MLG:

    I recently discovered an article on Forbes called "David 'Walshy' Walsh Believes It's 'Almost Impossible' To Compete With StarCraft II And League Of Legends" ( and I sat there in a nostalgic state. Why? Because it's freaking Walshy! Now retired, Walshy was one of the biggest E-sports figures of his time. Starting his career throughout the Halo series, his skill and leadership of his various teams has led him to become a MLG (Major League Gaming) champion.

    I first got into E-sports because of both Walshy and MLG. Back in around 2006, MLG hosted their Halo 2 tournaments on live TV, specifically USA Network. One day while flipping through the channels I saw the game I was playing the most at that time, Halo 2! Filled with excitement because people were playing live video games on my TV, this would become the first start of my current life, an E-sports aficionado. The thing that stands out the most of this first moment was that it was Final Boss (Walshy's team) versus Carbon, long time rivals. It was on the infamous map Lockout, Ogre 2 (Final Boss) was jumping onto the sniper tower ramp back-smacking the other team's member with a sniper rifle. I watched the entire match and my mind was still jubilant and confused. "What was this exactly?" I asked myself. I was only age twelve at the time. Having no prior knowledge of MLG, I quickly tried to search for what I just witnessed. I don't think I found anything but for some reason I remember me watching more matches.

    It might have been the year later when I first got my Xbox and Halo 2 and obtained a Live membership. Not being great at first, I was still having fun. I would play Halo 2 almost every day after school if I wasn't heading to my friend's house down the road, who had Halo 3 at the time while I was left alone with my original Xbox console. I still had the memory of what I witnessed the year before so I searched again, this time I found the actual site for MLG. It. My mind is still vague about what exactly happened at that time but I do remember looking up VODs (Video on Demand, pretty much replays of matches) of old matches. I became immersed with the action and the amount of teams that were "Professional." Some of the players I remember are the Ogre Twins (Ogre1 and Ogre2), Walshy, Saiyan, Ghos7ayame, Karma, Ghandi, and TSquared, The teams I mostly remember were Final Boss, Team Classic, Carbon, and  Str8 Rippin.

    At the time of discovering the VODs and knowing that MLG events actually existed, Final Boss was unstoppable and won almost every event. One that sticks out is the one where Carbon finally stopped Final Boss's winning streak. I believe the final map played was Warlock CTF.

    In about 2007- 2008, Halo 3 hit the circuit. The main teams were doing fairly well. Walshy wasn't doing as good as he was in Halo 2. Soon to come would be Walshy getting kicked off of Final Boss. As that happened (and probably throughout the entire life of the Halo 3 Pro scene), Walshy himself wasn't doing too well. He switched over to team Instict later and did fairly well. Some newer teams stand out to me from the Halo 3 scene, such as Believe the Hype, Triggers Down (my first and only MLG hat that still resides in my closet), Final Boss, Status Quo, and Instict. I'm pretty sure this is around the time Starcraft 2 was getting popular, already picked up by MLG.

    Finally it was Halo: Reach's turn to hit the circuit. I didn't really follow this much as I was in High School and many personal problems stopped me from watching a lot. I did watch my fair share though, often when I was free and the events were streamed live on the MLG site.

    Halo 4 was announced and I saw nothing to do with Halo 4 except that it wasn't going to be played for about 4-6 months as it was still in Beta (but some could stay play it at the events) and MLG wanted to wait until it came out officially. I made a tweet about it saying something along the lines of " Halo Pro players make money through events and MLG stopping it until the  game officially comes out will probably bring the game to extinction." Don't quote me on that, it's somewhere on the bottom on my tweets. I was pretty furious since I feel like MLG is dropping the game that pretty much started MLG and made it what it is now for the new flagship Starcraft 2.

Starcraft 2 and MLG:
    There was a lot of hype when Starcraft 2 first hit the shelves. I remember I was playing Brood War in about '08-'09 with custom games. Yeah, I'll admit it, I'm terrible at Starcraft. I didn't really understand what was going on and the whole meta-game thing. I just built whatever I wanted and didn't care. I liked the Money maps or whatever it was, it was like 8 bases with a lot more minerals than was allowed right next to each other, so it allowed for fast mining and faster massing of armies.

    I will also admit that I barely know anything about Starcraft 2 except that it obtained a TON of views when MLG streamed it. MLG even introduced Red and Blue streams so you can watch two different matches that were taking place at the same time. Heart of the Swarm released a few weeks ago and now all I see online is talk about Starcraft 2 and the master Koreans. I sometimes watch team Evil Geniuses on and maybe OGN if League gets boring. I used to actually fall asleep to IdrA playing, not saying that it's boring. Then again, it was kinda boring. I was totally into League at the time and I was already at the same level of interest in League as I was with Halo. With the 1v1 matches that Starcraft 2 is, I don't see it as fun as League, where you have a 5 on 5  team battle. I like team-based sports a lot more than single-played sports, like Starcraft 2 or even Chess. I love the leadership and the commanding and playing of the full teams, where Starcraft is like a one-player playbook.

League of Legends and now:
    I found out and started League with my friend when it was still Season One. I remember the first match was that I went Ashe top lane with my friend. I only stayed for the summer and my computer couldn't handle League at all. The next summer I vised my friend again. I remember most that we stayed up playing League for about 9 hours straight. It was the most fun I had at the time. Come Christmas a year later I get a computer than finally run League. It was the first program I installed at the time. I played it every day when I got out of school just like I did with Halo. Around March I discovered The most watched game at the time was League of Legends. I think it was a tournament as I remember it was TSM vs some other team. I watched the games that were showed and I did tons of research of what I just witnessed (sound familiar?).

   As time came for the summer I was extremely good, not the best though. I wasn't even level 30 by the summer but I was still good. Even when I played Halo 2 I always compared my skill level as "better than average". I feel it applies here too. Watching the streams of Dyrus, Aphromoo, and some members of team Curse, it helped my skills and mechanics a lot. I watched nearly every event that happened in the NA scene. Time came for the Season 2 finals. This was one of the most  wonderful and memorable moments I've witnessed. It left me with goosebumps every second, even with the downtime of the matches. I remember I wanted to first start a League blog at this moment. I wrote down every kind of information in my notebook. Picks, bans, and what happened at what time. I never wrote a summary of those matches, but they still reside in my notebook that I've kept. Now it's Season 3, week 9 on the LCS. I've never felt so immersed to something as League, even E-Sports as a whole. It just feels good and refreshing.

    Back to the original article I read before the one that made me want to write this, it was titled "TSM Snapdragon Pro Gamer Reginald Says StarCraft II Fans Are 'Jealous' Of League Of Legends' Success" ( League of Legends is probably tied with the most successful, most watched, and best of what to come for E-Sports, tied with Starcraft 2. The Halo series is dead. It's overrun by the amount of fans that want to watch Starcraft 2 and League of Legends and I think with MLG not running it when they said they wouldn't, the Halo series took a turn for the worse into a foot of mud.

    So what if this happens to League? What if Riot makes the wrong nerfs and wrong buffs and it stops people from playing? What if some of the pro-players retire (with full respect to the ones who already have from Season One and Season Two) and Riot stops  the LCS in the future?

    I guess the point of this article is that League of Legends and Starcraft 2 are insanely popular and it killed the Halo scene, not that it's an entirely bad thing, just that I grew up starting with the Halo series and my knowledge of that period of my life has transitioned into the next big thing that is League of Legends.