News

Pools for The MRO Battalion 1944 Open Finalised

With the offline portion of the MRO Battalion 1944: Open just over a month away, the groups for the online Group Stage have indeed been finalized. Consisting of 8 of the best local rosters and organizations, it's quite uncanny to predict who'll come out on top. Let's learn more about the groups and the scheduling below.  Starting with Group A, the teams involved are:  Project Eversio EvH Anoxia dOUBTFUL Gaming Stiff competition. EvH is returning from last year's MRO Overwatch: Open as returning champions, but this game is far from similar, though they have many players from that same event here again. It's all about the mentality. That's not to say that Project Eversio won't be a threat either, with a newly formed roster filled with veteran experience and hunger to compete, which we broke down here: http://www.gamers.com.mt/news/725/project-eversio-s-battalion-1944-roster-watch-out. We haven't covered much about the other two rosters of Anoxia and dOUBTFUL Gaming, but there' no doubt in saying that they want to win just as bad as everybody else; keep a close eye on this group.  Group B consists of 4 more teams: Paradigm6 Ephica Anarchy  Delixx This group is what everyone's been waiting for; tossing the rivals of Paradigm6 and Ephica into a single cage for them to fight it out. As they finished the revisited year of COD2 at a victory each, the community has been eagerly waiting to see who will come out on top - all this discussed here: http://www.gamers.com.mt/news/661/ephica-or-paradigm6-the-dilemma-of-cod2. Keep your schedule way clear for the streamed games between these two; they should be incredibly fierce. Of course, this tough rivalry does put Anarchy and Delixx in a tough spot for the top two positions. However, this is still a new title, we cannot assume who is better until the game is played for the first time.  Speaking fo time, we indeed have a bursting schedule for the broadcasting which we recommend you check out over at this page: http://www.gamers.com.mt/tournament/116/stage/2/group-stage. All the action kicks off next week!

Reuben Grech Qualifies for the Italian National League

This year, Activision decided to expand on Call of Duty eSports, especially when it comes to providing even more competition for everyone to enjoy. Hence, they've decided to create National Circuits for 8 different regions; anyone can participate except for the top 5 teams in the continent which in Europe's case are Splyce, Red Reserve, Unilad, Vitality and Epsilon.These regions include Great Britain, France and Belgium, Germany and Holland, Spain and Portugal, Italy and a few others outside of Europe. It's this Italian circuit which concerns us, as Reuben Grech and his new team have qualified for the Italian League together with the 7 other best teams in Italy. Let's see how he's doing.  Indeed, this is Stage 2, with Stage 1 drawing to an end roughly 2 weeks ago - Reuben hadn't qualified for that Stage. Of course, this one's a little different as Trifecta, his team, has managed to pull through. The roster consists of "Dom1z", "BraneeY", "Gialli" and "Randu" himself. At the moment, they find themselves knee-deep in the action of the round robin. They've played 3 of their 8 matches, having lost 2 and winning 1 - they're currently 6th in the league. However, things are far from dire, with so much Call of Duty being left to play. Last night, 16th March, I watched firsthand as the matchup was streamed. Building up to their first win, "Randu" was playing impressively, being a key part of his team's success. A furious string of kills in the hardpoint of London Docks gave him the Bronze Medal of the game. You can view his first-person perspective in his Youtube video which he uploaded to his own Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttQPIx7-9SM&feature=youtu.be Although there are just $1,000 on the line for first place, the prize brings along an opportunity to enter one of the major LANs occurring this year, giving players spotlight and interactions with the best of the best. CWL Seattle, the next event coming up, will most likely be the winner's opportunity to get involved - with $250,000 on the line! We're sure that Reuben will do his very best, and if he doesn't succeed, he'll simply try again.  It's something special to see a Maltese flag amongst all of the others. We'll be interviewing him momentarily regarding his thoughts on his situation and his future. It's an interview you're not going to want to miss!

Potentially the Largest Esports Stadium in the USA - Arlington Site

Sports stadiums are of huge proportions - whether it's football, ice hockey, basketball, the viewing experience live is simply incredible. With esports rising up as a prominent sport, the industry is continually moving away from conventional arenas to stadiums dedicated to hosting esports competition. As of right now, an exciting opportunity awaits American citizens, with a new site all the way in Arlington, which is planned to house the largest esports stadium in the whole country, being one of the largest in the entire world. Here's what you should know.  100,000 square feet is a lot of space. To put it into comparison, this would be 1 fortieth the size of The Vatican City, and it's plenty of space to build a flexible and illustrious esports stadium. This will most likely be one of the key attractions in the upcoming Arlington’s world-class Entertainment District which will release upon completion of construction. We'll be including schematic photographs in the thumbnail and below.  The Senior Principle of Construction, Brian Mirakian, had this to say:  "This esports stadium will transform the Arlington Convention Center and position the city as the epicenter for esports in the heart of North America. Esports fans will encounter a live experience unlike any other, by way of space for up to 1,000 spectators, VIP amenities, and year-round event potential.” The stadium will be managed by NGAGE esports, a leader within the marketing share of the industry. With the esports industry to value itself at around $1.5 billion by 2020, the stadium will harbour in fans from across the whole world and will utilize some impressive new technology to ensure the greatest viewing experience. To add to this, the centre will only be 10 minutes away from the Arlington University Campus! Students here already enjoy an interactive gaming community and they're all keen to take part in events. I'd do anything to get into that university. Here's what the President of the University had to say: “We are proud of our students and pleased that they will be able to share in the events and competitions that will take place in this world-class facility just 10 minutes from campus. I’m grateful for the wonderful collaboration that exists between UT Arlington, the city, and our community and look forward to another wonderful partnership that will keep Arlington and the metroplex at the forefront of this new exciting enterprise.” The area will be decked out with a major competition event space, gaming areas alongside retail and social spaces.  There will also be VIP hospitality, a broadcast studio and team training area for those warming their shot before the event. 

Project Eversio's Battalion 1944 Roster - Watch out

Roughly between two and three weeks ago, local Maltese esports organization Project Eversio revealed their roster for the year of Battalion 1944 on Facebook. Due to the fact that we were backed up with interviews and a certain content writer was busy, we couldn't cover it instantaneously. Still, we're here and ready to inform everyone who hasn't heard yet all about the new roster which has an intense potential to rise to the top on a local level. Here's why you should be concerned.  First of all, the name of Project Eversio has forever had a presence in the local scene, especially in the titles of COD 4 and COD 2, which Battalion 1944 pays its respects to and homages. They've got a fair share of experience in understanding victory in all of its requirements, hence, they've assembled the following squad:  Marco "PK" Bugeja Wayne "Reed" Reed Gary "R1k" Vella Scott "Sco_Oq" Vella Clint "Ascolese" Ascolese The squad is a mix of the Project Eversio family who have gathered from different esports. Marco "PK" Bugeja and Wayne "Reed" Reed while be moving over from the former PUBG squad. Yes indeed, the Project Eversio squad is currently disbanded as the other two players remain in Project Eversio, with  Daniel "Deathrow" Gatt moving on to a managerial role within the organization. The presence of the squad will be missed in future PUBG events. Moving on, Gary "R1k" Vella and Scott "Sco_Oq" Vella, from the former Overwatch roster, make it four - five are needed to compete in Battalion 1944. The fifth?  Clint "Ascolese" Ascolese is who you're looking for. Under his previous tag of "GAS", he's already accomplished quite a bit with Eversio. Winding back the clock, "Ascolese", was part of the unforgiving squad which terrorized COD4, coming first in two events at the time to create quite a legacy. After several flings since then, with COD2, Counter-Strike and PUBG, we're sure that he'll refind his impressive skills for Battalion 1944.  With this combination of experience, determination and simply professional players, Project Eversio have made themselves a squad to look out for this coming MRO: Battalion 1944 Open. Apart from them, we'll be looking to interview the teams to gain their thoughts about the upcoming event. Stay tuned for more.

Rise Nation Storm Through CWL Atlanta 2018

After three days packed with action, the CWL Atlanta 2018 has finally ended and there's so much to discuss. From the Open Stage up to Championship Sunday, many of the storylines and expectations which we discussed here: http://www.gamers.com.mt/news/722/cwl-atlanta-2018-too-close-to-call, came into play. At the end of it all, Rise Nation did, in fact, come out on top, but there's so much more to cover. Sit back and get ready to scroll down while we review this event.  Open Bracket - Plenty of New Blood CWL Atlanta was one of the many Open events we'll be enjoying in this year of COD: WWII. Its Open nature allows up to 160 teams to battle it out to enter the Group Stage which has already been filled with teams who qualified thanks to the Pro League. This time around, the community was introduced to some new names who have never before made it past the Bracket. Names such as Heretics and Monaco Esports joined Ghost Gaming and GGEA Orange as they assimilated into their respective groups. Honestly, none of them had much of an effect as the competition was simply too much. So, what did happen in the Group Stage? Group Stage -  Lightning Pandas Shock The Group Stage kicked off swimmingly, except for one minor hiccup. Epsilon Esports, the Europeans, announced that they couldn't make it for the event. The underperforming team, which is currently contemplating roster change, was promptly replaced by Lightning Pandas in Group A. With Rise Nation and Splyce favourites to advance onto the Winners' Bracket, Lightning Pandas couldn't help themselves but mix things up. Beating Splyce, GGEA Orange and Echo Fox allowed them to finish with a second place finish that nobody predicted. Splyce were sent into the Losers' Bracket where they would find an early exit out of the competition.  Meanwhile, Group B and Group C went a lot more smoothly. Luminosity cruised through the group while TK managed to take second place, ignoring the attempts of Evil Geniuses. Group C, which was predicted to be the group of death was less so. Since eUnited failed to show up with their A-game, continuing on their rough streak, Optic and Faze topped off the group in that order. However, this group was indeed a great source of controversy. As many of you know, a recent Gentlemen's ban within the professional community banned the use of items such as the FG-42 and more. One of those weapons was the M1 Garand due to its ridiculous two shot kill range. In the matchup between eRa Eternity and eUnited, Clayster pulled out the M1 Garand to his apparent oblivion. He used it in Game 5 SnD to help eUnited clutch up in this cheating fashion. After the game, Clayster realised his cheating and cheap ways as he took to Twitter, offering all of his individual earnings to eRa as he 'ruined their tournament'. eRa is yet to comment on the situation.  Finally, Group D was quite interesting in itself too. As Team Envyus scooped up an easy first place, Red Reserve, and Mindfreak were at each other's necks. Mindfreak, who have recently been growing in capacity throughout the Pro League, managed to win second place thanks to map difference. Red Reserve was sent to the Losers' Bracket but was far from out of it.  Bracket Play - Dominance on Both Sides With no further delays, unlike November's bomb threats, bracket play was underway. Within three hours, Rise Nation swept Faze Clan, Optic Gaming swept a hopeful Lightning Pandas and two 5-game nailbiters gave the Winners' Bracket a huge amount of energy. Mindfreak dragged Luminosity Gaming to a 5th game which they barely lost and Team Envy shut down the weakened TK in a similar fashion.  Round 2 of the Winners' Bracket had arguably some of the most awaited series of the tournament - Optic vs Luminosity and Team Envy vs Rise Nation.  We'll start with the disappointment. Optic vs Luminosity was meant to be a heaving battle between two giants with everyone agreeing that Luminosity had the edge with recent performance. However, the two teams hadn't encountered one another yet, so anything could happen. What did happen was a foul 3-0 scoreline for the boys in blue while the Greenwall was left shaking their heads. The maps were indeed close, but a recurring habit for Optic to not close out maps and not clutching up bit them in the back. The Greenwall would descend into the Losers' Bracket were they would finish with another undermining placement of 5-6th at the hands of Red Reserve. Many doubts are headed their way. Yes, Red Reserve is still there and fighting.  The other series, thankfully, was a pure gem. Both sides saturated with emotional and talented youngsters gave way to an epic display of the future of Call of Duty. The fast-paced action from both sides was a joy to witness and quite exciting too. The daring plays from "TJHaly and the energy from opposing "Huke" made it action packed to the point that the casters were running out of breath. At the end of it, Rise Nation snatched the final map and Team Envy also fell out and into the Losers' bracket where they would be taken out by Red Reserve.  The final round of bracket play placed Luminosity and Rise Nation in the same cage, fighting for the Grand Finals spot. These two teams were the point of polarisation between the community - it was one of these two teams which were scheduled to win this event. Rise Nation played tactically and floated to a 3-1 scoreline, awaiting their next opponent.  Grand Finals - Bathed in Red  Luminosity stumbled into the path of a clinical Red Reserve and needless to say, the European maniacs threw them off of the tracks. Red Reserve was part of the greatest Losers' Bracket run in the history of Call of Duty; playing a total of 20 maps on Championship Sunday just to get to the Grand Finals. Their endurance and determination were unmatched at the event. Red Reserve was the Grim Reaper of CWL Atlanta as they remained under the radar yet executing all the big names: Faze Clan, Team Kaliber, Luminosity and Optic Gaming in quick succession. Now they headed into the Grand Finals with a little fuel left in the tank. Unfortunately, this wasn't enough. Although they equalised with a phenomenal SnD performance, Rise Nation then took the next two respawns to solidify themselves as the best team in Call of Duty at the moment. On the other side of things, Red Reserve are now the undisputed best in Europe and the Second best in the world after that incredible run where they faced everybody who is somebody in Call of Duty.   Conclusion CWL Atlanta 2018 was incredible, simply incredible. Arriving right at the climax of discussion and hypothesis, it gave the community answers it was craving. Optic Gaming is not Top 3, Team Kaliber is not on top, Rise Nation is the best in the world and Red Reserve is the best team in Europe. Another topic which must be picked up on, before ending, is the casting. Many were those who disregarded the new talent, as they try to fill the gap that "Courage" left. Give them time, I'm sure that they'll be great. 

Battalion 1944 Overhauled After First Major Patch

Battlalion 1944 was far from perfect when initially released this past month; they were the expected bugs, glitches and weapon balances that were slightly off. They have been pushing small PSAs and patches, yet they weren't enough. On the evening of the 8th March, Bulkhead Interactive launched their first planned update, while the community waited anxiously to jump back onto the servers. A lot was fixed in this update and we're here to ensure you're up to speed.  Wartide Put on Hold One of Battalion 1944 's most played game modes is, in fact, Wartide, though it needed work. Hence, the developers have taken it upon themselves to fix it, just not yet as they've temporarily changed everything for the next few months. Bulkhead plans to finish the new currency system by the end of March; they need to take their time to perfect the balance and quality of it all which is respected and this will be done by the summer. The main problem was the absolute difficulty players faced in order to mount a comeback due to the currency system. Temporary classes have also been added until the arrival of Wartide 2. New Map - Invasion A new map has arrived at the shores of B'44 in the form of Invasion. I refer to 'shore' in comical regard to the setting of the map as it's situated in Normandy - the front of the invasion of the Allies onto the Axis. The developers desperately desire feedback on the new map and are ready to develop it further just like the other maps. Speaking of which, this is what is meant by an 'overhaul'.  Liberation itself simply received a lighting change while opening more sightlines at the B bombsite. Battey also fell victim to some minor changes. Manorhouse, on the other hand, got so many updates that it's now called 'Manorhouse v2'. Below is the list of changes I'm referring to. New & improved lighting. New “A long” area to allow for more tactical nades. Opened barn door by A site which looks into A long. Shortened axis main road into an L shape that leads to mid. Closed route by crashed plane. Reworked main entrance to A from mid. Closed mid connector barn. Re-opened mid trench by adding a new ‘drop’ into the trench. Widened mid trench & added cover. Added new skill jump out of mid trench into mid. Reworked B long. Closed the broken wall angle from trench/wooden to B long. Opened & reworked the apple gardens area behind B house. Moved fountain into apple gardens. Reworked B bombsite layout to be less claustrophobic. Other Changes There are a variety of other changes, such as a little weapon balancing with certain SMGs, minimap changes, features and the XP rewarding system. For those who are serious about Battalion 1944, we recommend that you take a thorough look through these patch notes here:  http://steamcommunity.com/games/489940/announcements/detail/1675774437612961631  Hopefully more changes and improvements will occur ahead of the MRO: Battalion 1944 Open!

Nathan Briffa Interviewed - Team Manager at ORDER

We're kicking off March with an exclusive interview with a Maltese-Australian who recently rose to a managerial role in ORDER. ORDER is an exceptional Australian eSports organisation, and if you'd like to learn more we'll leave the talking to Nathan Briffa himself.  1.) It’s great to finally have the chance to interview you. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your affiliation with esports? Along with that, please share your affiliation with your Maltese roots? Thank you very much, it’s great to have the opportunity to talk with you. I have been working in esports since 2014. I began my esports career with an Australian team, Team Immunity. I started out as a content creator, and just assisted with management where the players needed it. I then transitioned into a dedicated management role and have been doing it with different organisations ever since. I am Maltese on my father’s side (David Briffa). My grandfather was born in Sliema. He left for Canada at a young age and arrived in Melbourne in 1956 where he met his to be wife, who was from Hungary. We have family living in St. Julian’s. 2.) On a personal level, how familiar are you with Maltese culture and traditions? Being a non-native Maltese, I’m not very familiar. I’m very aware of Maltese history. Being of Maltese descent, the history was always interesting to me, especially as it is some of the most profound in the history of the world. 3.) Jumping straight into it business, how does it feel to have a managerial role in ORDER, a newly created eSports organisation which is also the World’s first Crowdfunded eSports team? Honestly, it is hard to articulate the pride and joy I have in ORDER. It’s not just an incredible experience and opportunity for the ORDER staff and players, I see it as an exciting time for our region. The crowdfunding campaign was designed to give our fan base a legitimate opportunity to own a piece of the organisation. I think of it like a one-off payment sports club membership, except that in this case, the membership gives you a return. We’re excited about it because it is a whole new way to engage with our core fans. We have some enormous plans for the organisation that will bring an entirely new level of engagement to both esports athletes, and fans. 4.) With Australia on the opposite side of the planet, we really don’t know much about eSports and competitive gaming in the region in general. Describe it a little for us. I would say that esports in Australia is about to enter an explosive growth period. The adoption and investment rate has been growing steadily for years, but I feel we aren’t far off it completely exploding. Australian esports competitors have spent years dealing with problems typical to every region where esports is trying to grow, and has not been properly cultivated or accepted, and as such lacks a mainstream audience. Historically, opportunities to compete internationally were extremely rare in Australia, but as different teams results got better and better, more opportunities opened up. As more opportunities opened up, more money was invested into the region. As more money was invested into the region, mainstream audience adoption grew. As mainstream audience adoption grew, even more money was invested into the region. You can probably see where I am going with this. Growing esports in Australia was a war of attrition, but now you regularly see Australian rosters having competitive results internationally, and our opportunities to compete internationally are at an all-time high. 5.) We’ve interviewed a variety of professionals involved with esports on Gamers.com.mt, players, CEOs and teams, yet we haven’t had the opportunity to interview a manager. While many argue that playing the game is the most daunting activity, what’s it like to manage in esports? Management in esports can be a demanding role. We’re working on the cutting edge of a new, rapidly growing market, and the people you are managing are building a professional career. Every time a mistake is made, it has an impact on your players careers. Obviously, the impact it has can vary a lot, but ultimately you are responsible for making sure the players have access to everything they need to practice and compete to the best of their ability. The potential stress of the role is generally magnified by your success, also. The more success you have, the more you have to do as a manager, and normally that comes with having to do your work in a constantly changing environment, in different countries. I look at it as a great problem to have, because the more I have to do, the more opportunities my players have to continue building their career. 6.) As a manager, what are your plans and prospects for the year ahead in your new position? Now that I’m working with ORDER, I want to use this year to give the players as many opportunities as they can to compete at as many events as possible and use these opportunities to build long-term tools and plans for our success. Right now, for example, we’re currently in Sosnowiec, Poland, bootcamping for the IEM Katowice 2018 event. This is the first bootcamp our roster has had together, and where the bootcamp has given the players massive amounts of experience and tuning, it has done the same for me. I’ve learned more about what can and can’t work, what is and isn’t reasonable, and where things can be made more efficient. This bootcamp has been a great success for us, but I can confidently say the next one will be better. So that’s my goal for this year, to continue building our infrastructure and tools, and ensure that ORDER is the top competition in Australia. 7.) Our final question; what advice would you give to others aspiring to managerial roles in esports? What have you sacrificed and what values have you developed to get to this point? If you’re going to pursue a career in esports, be prepared to work a lot. On top of that, be prepared to work for nothing. Management has a low barrier of entry compared to basically any other job in esports, so there will always be competition, and you’ve got to go the extra mile to make sure you’re doing a better job. All careers in esports come with a grind, and management is no exception. As I mentioned before, your players ability to perform at their best will be impacted by the work you do, and that can become stressful. I wouldn’t suggest getting into any esports management just for monetary purposes. There needs to be good degree of passion for what you’re doing. I get a lot of joy from knowing that I have helped my players make esports a professional career, so in my eyes the price paid is worth it. Thanks incredibly for the interview. We hope you enjoyed the interview, with a special thank you to Nathan Briffa who was so enthusiastic to participate in the interview and have the chance to reconnect to his roots. Our next interview will be in response to the most heated article of last month, stay tuned. 

CWL Atlanta 2018 - Too Close to Call

Stage 1 of the Global Pro League for COD: WWII will be taking a short break this week as a major event will be shaking things up. The next COD Major LAN comes in the form of CWL Atlanta, and it couldn't have come at a better time. With so much going on in terms of storylines and competition, this event is a must-watch for all Call of Duty enthusiasts.  The format of the event is nothing new: $200,000 on the line and 160 teams fighting for it. All of this will take place this very weekend from the 9th to the 11th. Below are the groups which were drawn last week, and then we'll dive straight into the meat of the discussion.  Pool A Rise Nation Splyce Echo Fox Epsilon Esports TBD open bracket team Pool B Luminosity Team Kaliber Evil Geniuses Team Vitality TBD open bracket team Pool C OpTic Gaming FaZe Clan eRa Eternity eUnited: TBD open bracket team Pool D Team Envy Red Reserve UNILAD Mindfreak TBD open bracket team If you'd like to learn more about the rosters individually, then head on over to this link. This article would be too long to list them all. Open Bracket  Regarding the Group Stage, I think it's only fair we consider the Open Bracket teams most likely to enter. Six names likely to fill in the four gaps include Ghost Gaming, Lightning Pandas, GGEA Orange, compLexity and Most Wanted - yet again captained by Doug "Censor" Martin who simply won't give up on his comeback. GGEA Orange was indeed the team that completely upset eUnited with a reverse sweep in the National Circuit last week.   That leads us to the most important question - Whose taking home the trophy? Who is the best team right now?  Top Dogs with a Limp A sure answer is plainly impossible, and that's a great sign which demonstrates the intense competition which the community relishes. Team Kaliber? The winners of the past two events have been suffering the #MavenWasRight as a prolific caster on a talk show predicted that they wouldn't win another event this year. Since that bold prophecy, TK have slumped in performances against other top contenders as well as unthinkable losses which were once sure wins. Perhaps TK is a team that shines in the LAN atmosphere, or perhaps the reign of TK is over.  Another team which is looking shaky as it heads into the event is none other than the Greenwall. Optic Gaming have performed very well in the Pro League up until now, though this is stained with some inconsistent behaviour and brutal losses to lesser teams. They'll need to play like we know they can this weekend for them to win it. After a top 12 finish at New Orleans, Optic Gaming are desperate to get their first event win to back up their victory at last year's Championship.  Top Four Predicted The top three names most likely to win at CWL Atlanta are Rise Nation, Luminosity Gaming, Faze Clan and Team Envy. All of these three rosters have a healthy mix of pure slaying capability, youth, potential and a ceiling not yet reached. Players such as "TJHaly" of Rise and "Huke" from Team Envy only get you excited for the future of competitive Call of Duty. Expect the Winners' Bracket to be heavily contested by these teams.  Luminosity, on the other hand, is utilising the in-game leadership from two-time Championship Winner "JKap" together with the uncanny slaying ability from "Octane" to form a ruthless combo. Speaking of slaying; Faze Clan are certainly the team which benefitted most from the recent patch without any doubt. Having a total of four submachinegun players on their roster, shifting the meta has led to them playing how they wish. It's an absolute blast to watch.  Personally, I see Rise Nation and Luminosity facing off in the Grand Final.  Disappointments and Teams to Watch  eUnited, roughly a month ago, was considered one of the best teams in the scene. Recent performance says otherwise. Finishing just shy of the bottom, the roster seems to be facing some internal problems in communication and structure. The lone SMG in "Prestinni" is finding it difficult to cope with the new meta, but is doing the best he can. At the 2018 Canadian Championship Finals last week, GGEA Orange managed to take down eUnited, who were the only pro team at the event. That was embarrassing.  The list of teams to watch is quite lengthy, as these teams mainly form the second tier of Call of Duty competition it seems. Examples include the rallying Mindfreak, Echo Fox and Red Reserve. Within their respective groups in the Pro League, these teams have taken down some of the biggest names, while losing to them just as easily.  Group of Death? The general consensus among the community sees Pool C as this event's Group of Death, and for good reason. As listed above, Optic, Faze and eUnited face off with eRa Eternity in the mix. If eUnited decide to bring their A-game, this group is one which won't be decided until the final game.  Scheduling and Conclusion The schedule of the event is normal relative to the other events of the year, with Pool Play kicking off on Friday and the gameplay building up to the Finals on Sunday.  In conclusion, CWL Atlanta will be the ray of light through the fog, the truth through the unclarity that is the CoD competitive scene. Personally, I cannot get enough of the competition. Sadly though, this will be the first event after Jack "Courage Dunlop stepped down from casting to stream full-time. He will surely be missed. 

The State of Overwatch - Asphyx Interviewed

One of our most heated discursive articles of last month was one where we dived into the history of Overwatch; the busy district which suddenly emptied as soon as last year. As an esports journalist, I decided to take a closer look through an interview. Hence, with the requirements of being an ex-Overwatch player and part of one of the more dominant teams, Georg "Asphyx" Farrugia stepped up for the interview from the side of EvH. Below are his thoughts on the situation in reaction to this article. We hope you enjoy it! 1.) Before we dive into things, let’s start with an introduction. Please share details regarding your career as a competitve gamer, highlighting your affiliation with Overwatch of course.  I started familiarizing myself with the gaming scene since I was a little boy thanks to my brother’s addiction with World of Warcraft. I used to play the game only when my brother was not at home or sleeping, since at the time we had to share our computer. When I grew older I eventually started playing FIFA, competing regularly in tournaments organized by gamers.com.mt.  When Overwatch came out, I decided to give it a try and from then on, I started playing this game competitively with some friends and later on joining one of the top teams in Malta. 2.) It’s 2016 and Overwatch just released and you’ve managed to get your hands on it. Describe your initial thoughts on the title on a personal level, while providing insight to the potential you saw in Overwatch as an esport locally and internationally.  When it came out I didn’t expect that I would spend playing as many hours on a game like this. This could be because I wasn’t quite familiar with FPS games, and there was a limited amount of heroes. I personally saw potential in Overwatch to be one of the main games in both a local event and internationally. This is because the game could be enjoyed and played both competitively and casually.  3.) The title quickly became centred as a source of competition in Malta, with EvH being one of the top teams if not the best. Why do you think it became so popular locally? What were your favourite moments from this period of time? The fact that it was included as the main game in events, it brought more players to step up their level. I think that it became so popular because it was original and different from other games such as Cod, and CS GO. Since the game is fast paced, apart from good aim, it requires good teamwork and knowledge of the game to know how to react to each and every different situation. Undoubtedly, my favourite moments were when I hit top 500 in EU and when my team, EvH managed to come back from the losers bracket and win against Paradigm6 in the final of MRO 2017 Overwatch tournament. 4.) Yet, as documented in the article, the community soon fell into shambles, almost vanishing. In your opinion, after reading the article, what caused such an untimely collapse? Did you ever expect this to occur? In my opinion, one of the reasons that the game went locally downhill was because of the skill gap between the top 3 teams and the rest of the community. I also think that Maltese gamers were not familiar with such fast-paced fps games with so many new things to learn. Personally, I expected this to happen but I didn’t expect it to happen this soon. 5.) Having a scene in which you compete to suddenly disintegrate must be quite an experience. How did you feel and what were your thoughts upon realizing this?  When I realized that the MRO Overwatch was the last event in which Overwatch would be competitively played, I was very disappointed especially when it was going to be replaced by Call of Duty 2. Although COD 2 is a game which came out in 2005, I do not blame the organizers for re-introducing it since the majority of the community, preferred it over Overwatch to reminisce their childhood game. 6.) With Overwatch out of the way, tell us, what are your prospects as a competitor for this year? What titles will you be competing in, if any? At the moment, I am playing Battalion with a team and PUBG. Getting better at Battalion is not that easy since it is very different from Overwatch which is my only competitive experience. Considering that I am still young and hungry for more success in the Maltese gaming scene, I am sure that by time, with the help of my teammates I can make it to a decent level. 7.) Our final question. For Overwatch to make an immediate comeback in Malta, what do you think the local scene needs and how would this go about?  For Overwatch to make a comeback in the competitive scene, apart from being re-introduced in the main events, Overwatch casual players must switch to competitive, since there isn’t any competition going on, and players just casually login to play a match with their friends and that’s it. I see this nearly impossible to happen with the release of Battalion.  "Asphyx" is one of the many players making the switch to Battalion 1944 from Overwatch, understanding the transition as Battalion 1944 storms into 2018.  We're grateful for his enthusiastic participation to carry out this interview. Regarding the topic, this does shed more light on the situation with this probably being the last piece of content concerning it. As always, leave your thoughts in the comments - let's get discussing.   

Jurgen Cutajar Interviewed - PUBG Professional Going International

1.) Good afternoon Mr. Cutajar. Before we progress with the interview, let’s educate our readers a little. If you could, please describe your personal history with esports up to this point in time. Up till now, I had never played in international esports scene. The first time I played in a large local tournament was organised by gamers.com.mt where the team I was participating with placed second in CS:GO. 2.) The main scope of this interview builds on a recent occurrence, as you’ve signed a professional contract with an American organization for PUBG! Could you provide the details and share how this happened? Basically, I made friends with some players on Arma 3 and from there on,  together we bought different games with one of them being PUBG. One of the player was also a partnered streamer. I joined a discord channel and started playing some scrims with professional players together with other players searching for a team. This is where I started to get known by killing good players. I joined a team in order to play in public tournaments and personally performed really well in my opinion. That is where teams were contacting me in order to try me out to see how I integrate with their team members. I got to try out different teams and got offered different packages. One of the teams was Nova Esports. With Nova I played a lot of scrims and tournaments where we performed really well. That is when they decided to offer me a contract. 3.) With that being said, one can only imagine what you’re feeling. So tell us, how does it feel to be professionally signed with an international esports organization? I feel proud because I worked hard for this. It feels great that I talk with other professional players and I am recognised when we are in a game playing against each other. I cannot describe the feeling I get when I am in a game against another professional player and he mentions me on stream with his viewers. 4.) What are your goals and prospects for the year to come? Are there any specific things you’d like to accomplish? My goals for 2018 are that with Nova Esports, we win some big tournaments so that I get a good name internationally and from there I can grow more. Jurgen (middle one) with his ex-CS:GO squad 5.) We’re sure that 2018 will be terrific for you. Shifting our focus to PUBG; heading into March, we’ll be witnessing the second major LAN for the title. What potential do you see in the game as we move forward into its lifespan on an international level? I am sure that this year the Esports for this game will grow bigger and bigger with the price pool increasing with its success. I am looking forward for it to be more polished so that more people can take the game seriously to increase the Esports level which may lead to organisations investing into the game and assemble teams to compete. 6.) Malta is also undergoing some growth when it comes to PUBG. What are your comments regarding the local scene? What is required for this growth to continue? I don't really follow Local PUBG tournaments since I was busy training with foreign friends. I think that locally more people should join tournaments. Participation is increasing every year, but I am sure that there are much more gamers out there. They just need to not give up and participate in tournaments to have fun and make friends. It is important to make friends so that you can play with different people and learn different strategies. 7.) Back over to you – did you ever expect to be professionally signed to an organization? How have you worked to arrive here? What has your daily schedule been like? Since in the last few months I have been playing with professional players and realised that I am at their level, I knew that I had the opportunity to train with an organisation. In order to make sure that I succeed, I had to do some sacrifices. I had to change my schedule in to play with the Americans. Moreover, I dropped from school because I knew that I had a great potential if I invested a good time into PUBG. I play daily and even trained with different teams before signing this contract. In order to get better I play around 9 hours a day. I also invested a lot of time in FPS games which lead to getting my aim better and better. I have over 7.6k hours played in FPS games (PUBG, CS:GO, Arma 3). 8.) As usual in our final question, we like to ask for personal advice regarding growth as a player. Hence, Mr. Cutajar, what advice would you give to anyone attempting to become a professional PUBG player or an esports competitor in general? What sacrifices and mentality are required? I think that you need to be determined. If a player is determined and is willing to invest a good portion of his time to get better with some sacrifices, one can achieve this goal. One thing that helped me personally was that I record my game play and whenever I kill a person or get killed, I review the replay in order to see what can be improved from my end or the mistakes the my opponent did so that I can easily take advantage in the future. If one thinks that he is able to compete in the Esports scene in PUBG, below one can find a discord link where North American people are looking for teams. Maybe sometime we can compete together or against each other. NA team there is a discord: https://discord.gg/bUzZE4j

Blizzard hosts Warcraft III's Invitational

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is a high fantasy real-time strategy video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, and was released in July 2002. At the time, the title blew up in certain parts of the world to eventually construct an electric esport beloved by many, having an especial focus on Korea. This year, on July 3rd, marks the 16th year since the title was released and a major patch is incoming. To celebrate this. Blizzard is preparing to host the first ever Warcraft 3 Invitational. Of course, the upcoming patch isn't anything shockingly surprising since it forms part of a recent trend.  In the past year, they've also released updates for dated games such as Starcraft and Diablo II, which is quite curious; not many game developers or publishers really hold on to prequels or old games beyond their lifespans. Regarding the Warcraft III update, which is available on the Public Test Realms, players now have access to widescreen aspect ratio support and revised and expanded team colors from an aesthetic point of view. In terms of gameplay, Blizzard has added 24-player game lobbies and some has even gone ahead to tweak hero balances completely changes. Moving back on track - Warcraft III's first Invitational. While this update will follow through in the coming week, next weekend will witness some epic and nostalgic competition between some classic players. To occur on the 27th and 28th February, all the action will be broadcasted live from Blizzard HQ, having a more social and celebratory feel. Free-for-All, 4v4’s, and other friendly competitions will be centre stage for the veterans. Speaking of which, we've got a list of all attendees below:  • Neo [Observer] Germany • Remo [Observer] Germany • Happy [Undead] Russia • Foggy [Night Elf] Ukraine • HawK [Human] Russia • Effect [Human] Sweden • ReMinD [Night Elf] South Korea • Lyn [Orc] South Korea • FoCuS [Orc] South Korea • LawLiet [Night Elf] South Korea • Grubby [Orc] Netherlands • MaDFroG [Undead] Sweden • Insomnia [Human] Bulgaria  • Tak3r [Orc] Germany 14 of the most respectable name in Warcraft III, having a healthy mix of the old and the new. The friendly nature of the tournament probably means that a prize pool will not be present, although things may change as the week progresses.  All in all, hosting an Invitational like this is the best way to truly test out a new patch while also animating the community. Other developers should take note. 

First official LAN for Battalion 1944 Announced

The developers of Battalion 1944 have proudly announced their first ever official LAN event for the title on an international scale and we're more than excited to share the details with all of you. There is quite a large amount of pressure on this event, with expectations to fulfill - the first event is always one of the more difficult ones. With that being said, let's learn more about the Blitzkrieg Open Championship at Insomnia62.  Assuming part of the UK Masters at Insomnia62, Battalion 1944 will be present amongst other competitive titles and scene. Sponsored by "The Plays" as well as "Belong" by Game to rack up a total prize pool of roughly $13,000 after converting it from the British pound. Having an Open nature, this championship looks to be astronomically large, as 500 team tickets are patiently waiting to be bought online. Contesting teams will have the opportunity to battle it out on The Player Stage in the Grand Final of the event. Note that only the first four places will be awarded prize money, so the stakes are high to take home a sizable chunk. Apart from the prize money, the winning team will be given a Custom Gold Weapon Skin which is 1 of a kind, and also tradable. Other details such as casting talent and scheduling will be released eventually.  This event will take place on the weekend of March 30th up to April 2nd, bang in the middle of the Easter holidays. This LAN at Insomnia62 is only 1 of 4 which are planned for this year of Battalion 1944, with North America being targeted also. Ensure that you don't miss any of the action by watching the stream here. What are your thoughts? Will you be watching? Tell us in the comments section below. 

Paradigm6 Battalion 1944 Roster Shuffle

As we prepare our audience for the upcoming wave of Battalion 1944 competition with interviews and discursive content, players are busy grinding at an incredible rate and organisations are still making up their minds regarding their rosters for the title. One such example is Paradigm6, who released a statement about their team on the 16th of February here. Here's what you need to know.  Starting with the changes to the first team, it seems that Dominic ‘Got1ke’ Galea and Owen ‘SwATT’ Pace have decided to step down to reserve roles due to a lack of occupation, having work commitments holding them back. It's undeniably respectable that the two players do such a thing in order to not weigh down their team, lots of respect right here.  So, with this, one may easily deduce that some new names are aboard the first team. Although allegedly 'new', they are familiar faces. The first replacement is in the form of Kyle ‘crisis’ or 'kajl' Galea, there being instances where he's used either gamertag, and he'll be joining the team from the side of dOUBTFUL. With his former team, Kyle managed to achieve podium finishes in the two largest events of last year, placing 2nd at the MCS#3 and 3rd at the MESF 2017 - reputable victories to which he played a big part. However, he's been around far longer than that, having a rich history in COD2. This is why his name is so familiar to Paradigm6, as he formed part of the historical FuryGaming squad; winning our GamersLAN in 2012 and the KONNEKT MESF 2014 amongst other top 3 finishes. The veteran will be more than comfortable with Battalion 1944 in his hands.  The other player brought in to fill in the final hole is Got1ke's brother, Brady ‘xixxi’ Galea, who will be joining the first squad from HEQ GAMING. Xixxi also played under the FuryGaming banner multiple times making these two additions predictable. Before his current position, he was indeed a part of the Overwatch roster but due to the nature of COD2 (5v5), he participated with HEQ GAMING while always under Paradigm6.  The new roster consists of: Jeffrey ‘JeFf’ Spiteri  Daniel ‘sou1ex’ Cassar  Etienne ‘bullz’ Bonavia  Kyle ‘crisis’ Galea  Brady ‘xixxi’ Galea Bernard ‘B3rRij’ Pace We wish Paradigm6 the best for the coming year of competition.

Soulkilla and Bajju Interviewed - Reacting to Battalion 1944

Third time's the charm as they say; hence, we're back with the third batch of interviews of local professional players sharing their opinions on the upcoming Battalion 1944 title and thoughts about the past year of Call of Duty 2 competition. This time we'll be interpreting the views of Karl " soulkilla" Vella and Mario "Bajju" Aquilina, both local players who've contributed immensely to the most enticing competition. We'll start with "soulkilla", with his insightful replies below.  1.) To begin, we'll start with an introductory question to familiarise yourself with our readers. Please describe your history as an eSports player in Malta, having especial detail on your relationship with the title of Call of Duty 2.  My name is Karl Vella nickname "soulkilla". I've been part of the gaming community since Counterstrike 1.5 which I used to play at the first lan cafe I used to frequent against mostly foreigners. I first started playing online on Return to castle wolfenstein: Enemy Terrory, known as ET to most gamers. I had joined my first team which was called mepa (malte elite patriotic army) which had climbed to the top 5 teams in the clanbase EU ladders during the ET era. During that period Call of duty 1 had just been released and a mepa team was formed to compete locally. I had then moved from the Mepa team to join Xtc which is when we started playing competitively on Clanbase. When Call of duty 2 was released we witnessed a huge change in the Maltese gaming community which till that day was still a small community and everyone knew each other. The community started growing and an increase of young generation gamers (8years+) started showing on the local Maltese servers. Unfortunately, they were not the best days as the community seemed to become more aggressive between players than competitive. I had then formed 2 teams under mepa to participate in Call of duty two with names which are familiar to these days forming part of the team (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1457893759797&set=t.644019713&type=3&theater). The team was not as successful as our Enemy territory was but we had fun playing together as a team and giving other teams a good run for their money. 2.) Call of Duty 2 was resurrected in the community last year; as Gamers.com.mt re-introduced the game in the Malta Cyber Series #3 and the largest event of the year - the MESF 2017. What was your initial reaction to this inclusion? Looking back now, reveal your thoughts on Call of Duty 2 in 2017. I was disappointed as in my opinion Call of Duty 2 was where the series went downhill and the inclusion of that game meant that new games which had potential were replaced by a game which the only reason it was successful in the lan is that most of the gamers grew playing call of duty 2. If for example, a lan in malta would include ET which was my main game, I would be against the game being part of the MAIN games at the lan but it should only be a side game for some extra fun. I had given the crew at gamers my opinion when I heard about it and personally, I don't see why it was included by them for any other reason other than ticket sales. 3.) Gamers.com.mt is clearly eyeing Battalion 1944; the apparent successor to Call of Duty 2 in terms of gameplay and community feedback. Bringing it to our shores would definitely be interesting and relevant. What are your impressions of the new title, especially after the beta recently? Have you had the chance to play the game yet? Yes, I've had quite some time to play it and personally, I've enjoyed it and look forward to playing it competitively in Malta and against foreign teams. The first time I got to give it a try was in gamescom last year which was before the beta and I can say that there have been quite a lot of changes/improvements to the mobility and gun characteristics. 4.) Our last question. Bringing back Call of Duty 2 last year wasn't too attractive for youngsters starting out as individual competitors due to reason of aged mechanics and a fast-moving modern selection of games which would rather be played - but Battalion 1944 looks to change that with contemporary graphics alongside refurbished content. What potential do you see in the title for Malta? Personally I really wish to see the game being played as a Main game at the upcoming lans and wish to see it persist on for more than 2-3 lans. It is now up to the Organisers to create local competitions for the maltese community to get together and start forming teams. This will help our fellow gamers start to improve their skill in both teamwork and aim, which would eventually have a good chance of making our flag be seen in competitions online and foreign lan events.  I myself will be forming a team for this game with the goal of reaching the highest level possible along with my teammates but at the same time enjoying some good battles here at our lans.  I would like to thank you and the whole team at Gamers.com.mt for this opportunity. Wish you all happy fragging. Karl "soulkilla" Vella 

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