Last Week in Esports (4/24 – 5/1) – LPL Adopts Franchising System, Kiev Major Results
With DreamHack Austin, The Kiev Major, and the LPL finals being just a taste of the action that took place over the last week, there’s a whole lot to talk about in this week’s Last Week in Esports. Those looking for the FGC recap can head on over to JagoBlake’s DreamHack Austin roundup, which includes Smash and Street Fighter. Otherwise, stick around here a bit so we can talk about last week’s CS:GO, Dota 2, and League of Legends highlights.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
DreamHack Austin provided some insane competition over the weekend, but my eye was trained on Gambit Gaming’s win in the CS:GO Open. They had nearly lost their chance to go for gold in their semifinals match against G2 Esports, the French tournament favorites with Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and Richard “shox” Papillon, but it was G2’s inability to make it to the home stretch that did them in after three nail-biting games.
Gambit then went up against Immortals in the grand finals, who lost in a clean 2-0 sweep. Both games were, in fact, rather close, Immortals failed to bring their A-game to the end game when they needed it the most. It was a performance that, while still disappointing, was little surprise. Immortals has been struggling with consistency in recent months, finishing in the top four at IEM Katowice only to fall to 9th-11th at the StarSeries Season 3 finals. Their record for the new year hasn’t fared much worse than Gambit’s, who have struggled with placing in premier events, so it came down to a battle of wits when it really counted.
In the end, it was Gambit who took home $50,000 USD in their second DreamHack Open win in six months.
The Curse of the Aegis continues on with Wings Gaming, who have reportedly decided to retire just a week and a half after taking their leave from the organization to form Team Random.
For some backstory, Wings Gaming took first place at The International 2016 after a blood-pumping match in the grand finals against Dota 2 underdogs Digital Chaos. The subsequent tournaments they competed in, including Northern Arena BEAT Invitational and China Top 2016 were just as successful as their run through TI, but they soon hit a brick wall. For the rest of 2016, and the vast majority of 2017, the champions failed to place in top four. It wasn’t long until the roster split from the organization, though it is still unclear as to who incited the parting due to a scarcity of information.
Of course, a number of rumors began to circulate the internet regarding what prompted the split, which Media Officer Anna Zhang was quick to put to rest.
Ex-Wings Gaming continued to play in The Kiev Major, to which they had received direct invites to prior to the split. With a score of 1-3, Team Random was eliminated from the running and, according to insider Jack Chen, the majority of the team has decided to retire from competitive Dota 2, with one continuing to play for only a short while longer.
Meanwhile, tournament favorites OG championed yet another prestigious event, furthering their nearly-constant success as a roster with The Kiev Major. Virtus.pro’s aggressive playstyle definitely gave the team a run for their money throughout the evenly-matched five games, but OG’s consistency and team synergy made it clear that they weren’t about to let themselves be intimidated. An innumerable amount of vicious team fights and five full-length games later, OG turned the final nail-biting match around to seize the current lineup’s second Valve Major win and $1,000,000 USD in prize money.
League of Legends
Shortly after Team WE claimed victory over rivals Royal Never Give Up to represent their region in Brazil at MSI 2017, the official lolesports Weibo account dropped the news that the LPL will be the first region to adopt a franchising system over the current relegation system that competitive League currently uses.
A number of sources began to leak information that Riot would be changing the NA LCS to a city-based franchising system come the start of 2018, with the teams currently in the NA LCS not being guaranteed a spot, but Riot refused to comment on the rumors when they were reached out to. It’s probable that Riot will be testing the system with the LPL with the intention to integrate it into other leagues, but the announcement regarding the LPL made it clear that all twelve teams (to be fourteen, starting next year) are guaranteed spots in the system.
Riot is not the first publisher to look towards city-based franchising, as Blizzard revealed similar plans for the upcoming Overwatch League at Blizzcon 2016. It follows the steps of traditional sports leagues, adopting the use of home and away games, which has the possibility of bringing revenue to individual cities while they, in turn, provide a more stable structure for teams. Meanwhile, the change will centralize team narratives and provide incentive for teams to stay together following disappointing performances, lessening the impact of the normally overwhelming roster mania that takes place every year.
A certified weeb that passionately live-Tweets his reactions from esports events, Sian is one of those people that hasn’t seen the sun in weeks. You can find him on Twitter @FriendlySenpai