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  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 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:

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 ( 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 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.) 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 for this opportunity. Wish you all happy fragging. Karl "soulkilla" Vella 

Maltese Player Competing For $50,000 This Weekend!

The Halo WC 2018 is heading to Orlando this weekend, putting $50,000 on the line for a whopping total of 96 teams to fight for it. These teams, originating from North America, Latin America, Europe and Oceania, are amongst the best in the world; that's what it will take to win here. The event will kick off the Halo World Championship; everybody's looking to start off on the right foot. If you're not too interested in Halo, we're sure that there is something which will peak your interest. Perhaps, the fact that our very own Luciano "Mose" Calvanico is in the mix with his top-tier team; Team Infused may prove to be enough? Team Infused are one of the favourites heading into this competition, having the top seed in Europe and just recently winning the 5th EU 2K - they're dangerously motivated to win this. The roster includes the names of "Mose", "Kimbo", "Respectful" and "Jimbo", four names that have earned themselves a strong reputation. Starting on Friday, February 15th, the action will saturate the whole weekend up to the 17th, and there is no doubt that the team will reach Championship Sunday. Like any other event, the WC Orlando Open will kick off with a group stage as demonstrated below.  Team Infused definitely do not have the easiest task of dominating the group stage. Facing off against North American teams such as Splyce and Mentality cannot be a guaranteed victory. Indeed, Team Infused has defeated these teams in the past, but the fact that they derive from another continent implies that the Red Army hasn't had much practice against them, which is an unfixed variable heading into these matches. Speaking of North America, when they do make it out of their group, further stiff competition awaits. Group A victors will match up against those of Group B. Either or, Optic Gaming and Renegades are surely going to proceed to these playoffs. At the moment, Optic Gaming is the undisputed top team in North America if not in the world after winning DreamHack Denver, while Renegades is far from a pushover. However, Optic Gaming is in no form without any blemishes, as they were dismantled, to the surprise of everybody, by Splyce at DreamHack Atlanta a while back. Who knows, maybe the Open Bracket teams could shake things up? Nonetheless, all these speculations and thoughts are simply hypothesis. Team Infused has been putting in an insane amount of work and are one of the most prepared teams for the event. This event being pivotal for the upcoming season of competitve Halo, as teams will fight for seeds and placements into upcoming tournaments which climax at the World Championships - the biggest prize pool with ludicrous stakes. That's what it's all about, this event is simply a stepping stone.  A big part of their victory will be the individual performances of all the talented players on the roster, including Luciano "Mose" Calvanico. We've had the chance to personally know Luciano, and we can confirm his determination and steely-eyed conviction for all competition alike, no matter how small. His Twitter is littered with incredible plays and highlights from the team's streams. We've also had the chance to interview "Mose", where we delved a little into his personal life and his thoughts in general about his involvement in the esports industry. You can update yourself here. will be showing as much support as we can, but we can all do our part by heading over to the broadcasts this weekend including, which is the mainstream or at the secondary station here:  You can also show your support in the comments section below; tell us what you think of Luciano's chances this weekend.  Let's go Luciano!

Muziq and PK Interviewed - Reacting to Battalion 1944

The hype train for Battalion 1944 is still leaving the station, and you all loved our last interview with some local competitors regarding the title. For those who managed to miss out, catch up here. With that being said, we figured that more interviews were needed to further increase coverage over the local opinions. Hence, today we've brought the opinions of Matthew "Muziq" Grima and Marco "PK" Bugeja  - a contrast between an ex-veteran and a lively player shaking things up as we speak. We asked them the same questions below.  We'll start with Matthew "Muziq" Grima.  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.  I honestly have no idea about when I started playing online, I must have been around 11 or 12 playing Quake II on a server hosted at the University of Malta with a couple of friends from school. I then jumped from game to game, mostly FPS. I had occasionally played Unreal Tournament Call of Duty 1 and CS 1.6, but not too frequently. When Call of Duty 2, everyone at MCAST IICT was talking about it, so I immediately got myself a copy and started joining Maltese public servers. I had joined up with a couple of guys from MCAST, mainly Bruce_Malti, and n0luck, we formed a clan called eR. From then on I jumped from one clan to the other until I found myself with s.M.u, the only clan which I played competitively with. During this time I had played some matches with Team Malta. Eventually, I had to cut my playing time a lot due to work and family commitments, especially with having a child at a rather young age. Eventually, I came back for a while and played some Clanbase wars with Rex, but it didn't last long as commitments took over again. 2.) Call of Duty 2 was resurrected in the community last year; as 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. Truth be told, I had no idea about this up until the event actually happened when I saw an ex-clanmate of mine Steven 'GunN3R' Silvio post about his team's win on Facebook. I immediately started remembering what playing the game was like. I joined a couple of Maltese facebook groups, got myself a new PC, and before you know it, I'm now playing again. The best thing about it is that I re-connected with a number of people I hadn't talk to in years, it also feels a bit weird hearing people call me by nickname :) 3.) 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? I've been playing the game quite a bit, played a bit of beta too. I bought it the moment it was available. It's still got a few rough edges, especially when it comes to sounds. But I've enjoyed it from the first time I played, probably because of the similarities with Call of Duty. It's very interesting to me; as I stated previously, I've connected with a number of old friends and also managed to play a couple of wars locally. 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 reasons 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 as a retired COD2 player?  Considering the number of games available, especially from big studios, the guys behind Battalion 1944 have some stiff competition. I'd expect with further updates and continuous support, the game would be much better and maybe attract more people. I believe that if local tournament organizers get behind the game, offer a couple public servers, and make the game the main attraction in a local tournament, interest would grow. I for one am hoping it succeeds. Hearing from "Muziq" after such a while is fantastic, and having a veteran's opinion is exactly what we need to move forward. 

PUBG on Mobile is Thriving - Heading to the West?

Just recently, China got its hands on two separate versions of the beloved PlayerUnknown's Battleground for mobile. As you can expect, the results were shockingly encouraging. Following this, could we expect these mobile versions to spread through the rest of the world?  The titles in question are PUBG: Army Attack and PUBG: Exhilarating Battlefield, developed by Tencent Timi Studio and Lightspeed & Quantum Studio respectively. Relatively the same game, with some key differences, the two are dominating the download charts on iOS. An industry insider, Daniel Ahmad provided the information on Twitter:  "Both games have instantly jumped to the top of the download charts on iOS. The games had 75 million pre-registrations. So that shows you how huge the demand was for PUBG on mobile." There's no need for an expert to understand the potential that a triple AAA title such as PUBG has on mobile. 75 million - take a second to read that number again. These numbers were recorded in the first day! At the moment, there are no definite plans to bring the titles to the rest of the world. However, with such an incredible demand, this is an exciting opportunity for the game developers and gamers alike. With titles such as Fortnite gaining more an more players due to its pure accessibility on PC and console, moving to mobile could be just what PUBG needs to maintain its position.   Other news for PUBG includes an upcoming $100,000 Invitational in the coming months, set for Romania from the 22nd to the 25th of March. Taking place exactly a month after IEM Katowice, this will be the second large-scale LAN of 2018 for PUBG, with 16 team spots to fill in. Teams from Europe, North America, and South America will be drawn to compete. It is possible that Miramar will be included in the competition, but it's all still being decided. 

COD:WWII In Malta : Project Eversio Interview

Following the discursive article that was written regarding the current state of the COD:WWII community, speculating about its future and potential, there was this voice at the back of my head which screamed for a second opinion. With that being said, we turned to Project Eversio for our third interview with the organisation. This interview was carried out in response to the aforementioned article, which one may revisit here. Before continuing with the interview, it's recommended you catch up if you haven't. Without further delay, let's see what Project Eversio thought of our questions.  It’s great to be interviewing you again. Let’s start with some history; would you be able to briefly recount Project Eversio’s past affiliated with the local Call of Duty scene? Project Eversio actually started off as a Call of Duty 2 (PC) team back in 2007 when competition was fiercest. Our debut LAN was ClubLAN'07, in which we competed as a 'mixed team' together with members from another well-decorated team in Malta: SAS Gaming. We placed 4th after losing to dOUBTFUL. We attended a second LAN event with our full lineup the following month, and we placed 3rd, losing 18-21 to eXosphere. A few months after that, Call of Duty 4 was released, and we immediately shifted to the new title. The three years that we spent actively competing in CoD4 were the defining years of the organisation, as not only did we become the dominant force in the local scene, but we also became well known in the international CoD4 scene. Locally, we maintained our perfect track record, winning 11 LAN events out of 11, not to mention numerous local cups. Internationally, we had the opportunity to play against the top European teams on a daily basis, we were invited into international cups, including Clanbase's prestigious EuroCup, and we had the amazing opportunity to compete at The eXperience 2009 in Denmark, together with all the top teams of the international CoD4 scene, during its peak as a competitive title. As the local and international scenes wound down, so did our competitive drive in CoD4. We competed in local tournaments till the very last one, which was held during the Malta eSports Festival 2013 at the Centenary Stadium in Ta' Qali, which we also won, and since then all of our players have moved on to other titles, and the core of the team still plays together in different titles occasionally. Since late last year' we entered into the realm of console Call of Duty - a completely different scene to be honest, but a larger one than most PC-oriented esports fans can imagine - even locally. We were approached by Randu, who set up our current team, but who left to pursue other opportunities after a while. Unfortunately I don't see the same competitive spirit in the local console scene as we had back in the day, possibly due to lack of frequent tournaments for the game, or the lack of serious competitive teams, yet we're very happy to be supporting the local champions, and help them out in their esports endeavours. What are your comments regarding the community’s past three years? What went wrong and why did the local scene depreciate? What was your reaction to the reveal of COD:WWII? With the demise of Call of Duty 4 around 2011, the competitive community for Call of Duty on the PC has never been the same. Although there were still a few avid teams around, particularly in Call of Duty 2, it was a far cry from the days of SPEED-LINK, TEK-9 and Serious Gaming in CoD2, or the days of Fnatic, Dignitas and eSuba in CoD4. The local scene mirrored those deveopments to a certain extent, though classic CoD2 still remained a favourite amongst a core, close-knit part of the community. With that said, CoD2 wasn't a growing community, which is why I think everyone was looking forward to trying out a new game. Counter-Strike Global Offensive was too different, and perhaps a bit too punishing as a competitive title compared to CoD, and people quickly jumped over to the next game in line: Overwatch, which unfortunately however couldn't attract the interest of sufficient local players for enough time. Very few people from the competitive PC community held high hopes for CoD:WWII - despite the initial hype of going back to the roots. The lack of adequate competitive support on the PC means, including a competitive mode, dedicated servers etc meant most people didn't even give it a try. On the console side of things, it was pretty different. The sci-fi element of the CoD franchise following CoD:MW3 and Black Ops 3 just couldn't retain the interest of players for long, despite the popularity of the titles. Whilst there are indeed some hardcore competitive players on console, the majority of the community does not have the same hardcore competitive pedigree as its PC counterpart. This is partly fueled because of the lack of competitive events for Maltese players both online and offline - unfortunately the competitive console scene hasn't had the same - but hopefully we'll ge there soon. CoD:WW2 generated a lot of hype amongst the community, though having only four teams turn up for MESF 2017 was quite disheartening, I hope organisers will try to uplift this untapped market with grassroots initiatives such as one night cups etc to create a healthy competitive scene. On the day of Call of Duty: WWII’s release, you announced a new roster specifically for the game. What were you motives for creating the roster and what are your plans for the coming year? We had been looking at the local console competitive community for a while, and CoD:WW2 presented the perfect oppotunity for a clean start 'with a bang'. We had been in discussions with Randu, who would eventually become our team leader for several months in anticipation of launch, so we had a solid plan going into the game. Our ethos is to push Maltese talent in esports to an international standard. Considering the esports profile that CoD:WW2 presented, and its potential, we were very happy with the opportunity to partner up with our present roster of talented players. At this stage, our plan is to keep the team stable and motivated, and we look forward to any local competitions on the horizon.  Just a week before the MESF 2017 COD: WWII, you were hit with a roster change – yet still managing to find victory anyway. Describe what occurred and how you managed to maintain focus during this period of time. It was quite a shock to tell you the truth. The lineup for the squad had been in place for months before the release of CoD:WW2, we had the tickets for the event in hand, and we were really looking forward to the debut of our squad at MESF, especially since we already had to cancel participation in the Quickfire Nova Series event due to the fact that not enough teams signed up. Unfortunately there was a disagreement between the players and the team's captain, and the latter eventually opted to pursue opportunities with international teams. We were actually read to cancel our participation in MESF, but at the last moment we found Owen "Owages" Agius as a stand-in, which turned out great, as it not only allowed us to compete, but he also turned out to be an excellent player. Notwithstanding the departure of their captain, I think the team knew that they still had an excellent opportunity to win the event. Their performance in international tournaments leading up to MESF had been outstanding, and they knew it would have been a pity if they didn't at least given it a shot - ultimately they were rewarded, as they received their first on-stage competitive experience, and first place in the tournament. You won the MESF 2017 quite decisively. Who are your most threatening local rivals at the moment in the scene? What plans do you have, if any, for international competition? 4 Man Army turned out to be the main competition during the event, and to tell you the truth, it wasn't as decisive as the scoreboard might tell you. The matches were all very close, each victory and defeat hardly fought, and a thrill to watch. Props to them for a great performance. At this stage, there are no plans for international competition, as some of our players are focusing on exams. The final question. Having read our discursive article; do you agree or disagree with anything that was said? Is there anything you’d like to add? I don't believe the CoD franchise on PC will ever have the same competitive following as it had during the days of Call of Duty 1, 2 and 4, both locally and internationally. Battalion 1944 does capture some of the same competitive spirit of those titles, yet it's very hard to imagine Battalion ever being anywhere close to the international esports titles such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Dota 2. The game doesn't have the backing of a mammoth game developer, so it will be hard to have the same amount of funding and exposure as other titles. Nonetheless, I do believe it can manage to get a decent competitive community running, both and abroad, and especially locally - so we are very much looking forward to what Battalion will bring in the very near future. With respect to CoD:WW2 on consoles, four teams for MESF was quite disheartening. We know that there are many more local players for the game, which hopefully can be converted into being part of the competitive community. The game does indeed have potential here, and hopefully, organisers can give it more attention by trying to build the scene from its roots, as aforementioned, by creating one night cups or leagues online, and having more tournaments in summer, which would allow the younger players to participate. Unfortunately, however, I don't see the commingling of competitive players on different platforms to happen. Keyboard and mouse is completely different to console controllers, as is the playstyle - and I do believe that both communities can remain healthy whilst developing in parallel. Thank you so much once again for providing us and the whole community with insight regarding the local esports industry. Such content is pivotal to the progression and improvement of it on the whole and we couldn’t thank you more. We wish you the very best for the coming year! Again, Project Eversio pleases with some incredibly in-depth answers. As we stated in the final message, wishes Project Eversio the very best for the coming year!

The Descent of Overwatch in Malta

Overwatch is a game which has seen and is still witnessing today, a phenomenal amount of growth in the esports industry. It feels just like yesterday when gamers first got their hands on this new approach to the first-person-shooter genre. The summer of 2016 was the trial period of Overwatch, which exceeded expectations internationally and locally to continue on its current run. Yet, if we magnify the situation on a local scale, it's quite clear that things aren't as they used to be. Throughout this article, we'll be discussing the untimely fall of Overwatch through the lens of Maltese esports. A similar article was done concerning the situation of Dota 2 in Malta, which you can visit here. However, Overwatch cannot be compared to Dota 2 in terms of lifespan. If we should consider Dota 2 to be the car that never started, then Overwatch is the brand new car which lost its wheels after a short while. From the past two paragraphs, I've given a clear indication that Overwatch did, in fact, have a start. So, how did this come about? As mentioned, Maltese gamers were quite thrilled with the new title in May 2016, and we could feel this well-pronounced enthusiasm. This was all emphasised when top local organisations such as Project Eversio, Paradigm6 and EvH formed their own rosters. Thus, it was only justified to include it in the GO Malta eSports Festival 2016. The reception was bursting with excitement as teams fought for the reasonable 1000 euro of cash prize on the line. The energy for the new game in late 2016 was quite overwhelming and our following partnerships with The Malta Robotics Olympiad and AOC led to a couple more occasions for the Maltese Overwatch scene to compete in LAN events.  First, was The AOC MCS: Masters in October, where we lifted the prize pool up to 2000 euros and then came The MRO Overwatch: Open - a whole event dedicated to Overwatch. Everything's going so well - we're loving the support from the community, the competition is heating up and the future looks bright. What happened next was completely unexpected, so much so, that we can't really explain it in concrete terms. It's early March 2017, we're already beginning to think about the rest of the year and the potential for Overwatch as a World Cup is announced and so many international events planned.  However, our next main event is in September in the form of the MCS#3. Sadly, the community wouldn't last until then. EvH, Paradigm6 and Project Eversio amongst others, are examples of organisations that publically announced their retraction from Overwatch during this time frame.  Why? How did this happen? Interviewing Mike "z4mbu" Saliba last week indirectly revealed his insight on the situation. To summarise, we inquired about his reaction to the inclusion of COD2 in last year's events. 'At that time I was still playing Overwatch competitively. So the return of Call of Duty 2 was a shock in itself, as I realised that this would kill the current local Overwatch scene. However, I do not blame the organisers for reintroducing Call of Duty 2, since this was what the local gaming community was demanding at the time. ' Did bringing back COD2 harm the Overwatch scene? Possibly, since a considerable amount of ex-COD2 players did, in fact, abandon their position within their Overwatch rosters to make the transition. It was our decision to resurrect it from the dead, but we couldn't possibly expect such an outcome. Should we have revisited it or stuck with a new and modern title? With Battalion 1944 on the way, following the above reasoning, the future of OW doesn't look too good.  Then, there is the other argument which comes to mind. 'The community died because didn't organise any events in that time period' or something of the sort is what we expect some to argue. A community and its passion for the game isn't defined by the number of events held for it, but by the drive of the participants to compete regardless the connection, offline or online. Right after hosting 2 events in three months, this does sound rather complacent. Before ending the discussion, I'd like to include the opinion of EvH. While I was researching in preparation for this piece of content, confirmation regarding EvH and OW was required since they hadn't made it public. Before we knew it, we spiralled into a conversation where I got to hear their opinion.  'I think one of the main reasons that they didn't stick with this game since it was a different genre of FPS from what they were used to playing such as CS:GO and Call of Duty. For example, Team Fortress was also a huge title which has the same style of Overwatch -it never succeeded in being a competitive title locally.' - Mike from EvH EvH showed a lot of enthusiasm on the topic and we're glad they allowed us to include their opinion here. They also agreed with the points mentioned very much.  To end, I'll offer my own personal opinion on the situation. Reintroducing COD2 and with Battalion 1944 on the horizon has indeed tugged on the nostalgia of many Maltese players as they abandon other titles in order to return to their roots. New players are what Malta needs in order to support new titles. New players will have to pick up the pieces of the local Overwatch scene, where others left them.

TSM Forms Fortnite Roster - What's Next for Fortnite?

If you've been anywhere on social media, Youtube or other networks, it's probable that you've encountered Fortnite, the other battle royale of 2017 alongside the likes of PUBG. It's getting a tonne of attention and support; why shouldn't it? The game is a new outtake on the battle royale game mode and it's completely free for anybody to try out at the moment on console and PC. Such attention and enthusiasm, as with any other title, leads to the penultimate question; what does Fortnite have to offer as an esport?  We're basing this discussion after receiving the recent news that TSM has formed a full squad for Fortnite: Battle Royale, ahead of any revealing of major events. TSM is one of the first notable organisations to form a roster and it won't be surprising to see more large names pop up in the scene. Regarding the roster, the names of Darryle "Hamlinz" Hamlin, "CaMiLLs" and "Daequan" will join Ali "Myth" Kabbani on the team, ready to leave a mark on the scene. You can tell a game has competitive potential when organisations are taking the initiative to create teams before any notion of major competition. These players are all relatively young and rearing to go, excited to be part of a new game.  Here's what Darryle "Hamlinz" Hamlin: "This is really a dream come true. People always told me I'd be a professional gamer, but I definitely want to thank my family and viewers who supported me through thick and thin because this wouldn't have been possible without them. It's just mind blowing that a top dog org like TSM wanted me. Now I'm just ready to show people what TSM Fortnite is all about and take home some LAN victories." Yet, it's not like EpicGames weren't expecting to create a new scene, having the previous title of Unreal Tournament which is also enjoying a respectable amount of competition. There are in fact tournaments and leagues ongoing within the scene on a small scale. 2018 could be a phenomenal year for Fortnite, having a lot of space for expansion. Last year was the climax of battle royale gaming - 2018 will only build on this with more games and more support;  PUBG being the best example. Who knows, perhaps Fortnite could have a presence in Malta too?  Tell us what you think of this prospect in the comments below.  

Vortex and z4mbu Interviewed - Reacting to Battalion 1944

You've all heard what Paradigm6 has to say about the upcoming title of Battalion 1944, that is, on the 1st February. You can check that interview out right here. Following that interview, we decided to ask a few players about the game, and we've managed to do so with two formidable local competitors, each related in someway to COD2. Let's hear from those who could be potentially playing the title this year on a competitive level. We'll start with Cyril "Vortex" Coppini and his replies.  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. It all started back in 2008 when I was just 15 years old. Some of my schoolmates were all talking about how CoD2 was such a fascinating game and of course I wanted to give it a go myself. By doing so I entered in the "esports" world and before you know it, I started playing more regularly and I also started trying out and  playing new games which caught my interest such as FIFA (which I still play competitively) , Battlefield , Overwatch, Pubg and so on. Although I personally love CoD2, there were some periods when I stopped playing it because no one was organizing LAN events (long before was even a thing) and also when there was a huge hype going on about Overwatch (so I decided to train Overwatch instead). Going back to CoD2 after a year of constant practice in Overwatch, was not as easy as people might think. I was used to the fast gameplay that Overwatch offers, so it felt a bit strange to play CoD2 again as it is quite a slow paced game especially in comparison with Overwatch, however I was delighted with the turn of events because I had the opportunity to try and win a major CoD2 competition! 2.) Call of Duty 2 was resurrected in the community last year; as re-introduced the game in the Malta Cyber Series #3 and the largest event of the year - the GO MESF 2017. What was your initial reaction to this inclusion? Looking back now, reveal your thoughts on Call of Duty 2 in 2017. Well, to tell you the truth I was not that surprised about the inclusion of CoD2 because my friend Vexin created a poll on the CoD2 facebook page and there was a very good response, hence CoD2 was re-introduced to the Malta Cyber Series #3. Since Battalion 1944 was announced long before the Malta Cyber Series #3, CoD2 players considered these two events as a stepping stone to prepare for the new title which is going to be released in February. 3.) 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 played Battalion 1944 and I have to say that things are looking very sharp and promising regarding the overall gameplay. It is true that the game needs some tweaking in some aspects but in my humble opinion, Battalion 1944 has all the requirements needed to be one of the top titles in the eSports scene (dedicated servers, balanced weapons, map design etc). 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? Battalion 1944 can be that game that attracts both old school gamers and new gamers to play the same game. I think that if us Maltese gamers put enough effort in this game and train hard, we can compete with any foreign top tier clan. Let's turn the page to see what Mike "z4mbu" Saliba had to say in response to the same questions. 

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