It’s that time of year again. Turkeys. Cranberry sauce. Mashed potatoes. Family dinners that are simultaneously ruined and saved by alcohol. That’s right, fellow Americans: it’s Thanksgiving.
Video games are the great unifier of families during the holidays. Whether you’re shitting on your spoiled brat of a cousin in Mario Kart, beating your elderly relatives at Wii Bowling, or trying to explain esports to your extended family over dinner, gaming can bring the whole family together. And, hey, maybe your racist uncle will stop talking about the election when he realizes that he can’t win a single mini-game in Mario Party.
Here’s what Esports Edition is thankful for this year:
Seriously, this game is awesome. Our staff loved the game when it came out in May (here’s our review), and Overwatch hasn’t soured on us yet. Blizzard’s frequent content updates and balance tweaks have steadily improved the experience at all levels of play. (Of course, the community is a bit of a different story, but even that has gotten slightly better over time.)
Blizzard didn’t just release an amazing game, but they’ve set a new standard for communication between game developers and players in the process. Jeff Kaplan uses his “Developer Updates” video series to explain—in a patient, soothing, and paternally soft-spoken fashion—what Blizzard’s plans and ideas for the game are. Kaplan talks to the community like a dad who doesn’t want to wake the baby up, and it’s goddamn adorable. Kaplan probably has, like, seven house plants, and none of them will ever die because he’s really good at remembering to water them.
Overwatch has a promising future ahead of it for casual and hardcore players alike. Plus, your aiming skills from other FPS games translate pretty well if you set your sensitivity right.
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Even if you’re bad at the game, Overwatch is still lots of fun. That’s a hard feat for a modern competitive title, and Blizzard deserve all of the props they’ve gotten. Also, there was that whole Sombra thing. That was pretty cool.
The Death of Yogg-Saron
Yogg-Saron might have been the worst card in the history of Hearthstone. It sucked. Hard. It was anti-fun in every way imaginable. To this day, if you mention “the Y word” around Stephen, our Hearthstone writer, his left eye starts twitching.
Because of the way that Yogg-Saron’s ability worked, it wasn’t “random” at all: the cards that Yogg “randomly” casted were cast on valid targets by the person who played Yogg. There were 206 spells that Yogg could cast, and out of that, 102 were beneficial to the caster. Of the remaining spells, 27 affect both players equally. Only 73 of them actually targeted a random player, and only four were bad for the caster. As one professional player put it, you would build a solid deck, and then use Yogg as your “oh shit” card. He was in every deck played at tournaments, because leaving him out was objectively a bad idea. There simply wasn’t a way to counter Yogg. You could prepare for the worst all you want, but it didn’t matter.
Hearthstone has longstanding issues with RNG, but after months of criticism, Blizzard finally caved and changed the way that Yogg’s ability worked. In Patch 6.1.3, Blizzard altered the card so that if Yogg-Saron removed himself from the board in any way, the spells stopped casting. These days, the typical result of playing Yogg is a single board clear–which is great, but it’s nowhere near as overpowered and broken as it was before. Thanks, Blizzard. You saved Stephen’s sanity, and made Hearthstone a better game in the process.
Summit’s Infamous “1G” at DreamHack Austin
This might be one of the funniest esports moments of the last year. Poor Summit. But hey, at least he’s secured his place in Counter-Strike history—just look at the “1g” spam in Twitch chat whenever a player dies to a molotov.
Thankfully, being a full-time streamer means developing a thick skin, and Summit ascended to meme status quite gracefully. (If you want to know more about the 1g incident, we wrote an article about it.)
“The Golden Age of Dota”
Gillian, the newest member of our Dota writing staff, had a wonderful chat with Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner at the Northern Arena BEAT Invitational earlier this month. Slacks, known for his enthusiasm, positive attitude, and relentless sense of humor, voiced an opinion that echoes the feelings of many longtime community members: “We’re living in the Golden Age of Dota.”
SirActionSlacks is right. This might be the most balanced Dota patch we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing on, and Valve’s frequent updates to the game continue to add an undeniable layer of polish. We’re still waiting on 6.89, of course, and there are some quality-of-life changes we’re hoping to see sooner rather than later, but the professional scene has never been healthier. The prize pool at TI6 was a whopping 20 million dollars. That’s insane.
Early 2016 brought us some of the most critical purchases and investments in League of Legends history. We’re looking mostly at this here lovely man, Rick Fox. Fox listened to his son’s passion for esports and invested in acquiring an esports team now named Echo Fox. As a a former professional basketball player who won three consecutive championships with the LA Lakers, this transaction brought legitimacy to League of Legends Esports like nothing we have ever seen before.
Fox’s purchase led to several new investors making a move in esports. NRG Esports is backed by two co-owners of NBA team Sacramento Kings who purchased Team Coast’s NA LCS spot. In a time when North American Teams cannot seem to make an impact at Worlds, this kind of infrastructure couldn’t be more welcomed.
We couldn’t do what we do without our readers. It’s been a big year for Esports Edition, and we’ve grown up a lot in the process. The recent overhaul to our website was a huge step in the right direction, and we’re incredibly grateful for the kind words and feedback that you’ve sent us. You make it possible for us to keep putting out great content, and we’re always looking to hear from our readers. Feel free to shoot us an email, Twitter message, or carrier pigeon with your suggestions, ideas, and/or drunken holiday ramblings.
(You should follow us on Twitter, by the way. All the cool kids follow us on Twitter.)