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ALEX: “I don’t think we are playing as badly as what is being said, but we aspire to play much better”




We sat down with Alex “⁠ALEX⁠” McMeekin to hear his thoughts on his new team, the internal and external pressure on the Cloud9 lineup, and how scrims have been going since their last official, ten days ago.

The team that came together amid much fanfare and after a lot of spending didn’t have a great time in Flashpoint 2, getting eliminated as the last-placed team in their group following 2-0 losses to and OG.

Building chemistry in Cloud9 is ALEX’s priority

ALEX says that the key problems right now are the 2vX situations and the in-game chemistry between the players, admitting that the latter will take some time to develop. Although Cloud9 “want to be performing as fast as possible on a high level”, the British caller believes that the team will need a lot more official matches to get things ironed out.

The team was announced, it was big news, you played your first tournament and it didn’t go that well. The main talking point around the team is the pressure that has been put on the players and how that is preventing you from performing. Did the players feel that pressure and are you feeling it now?

I wouldn’t say we feel the pressure from the organization. I mean, obviously, it is there because of the amount that the team cost and all the hype that has been put around the team, but I don’t necessarily think we feel it from the organization itself. When we lose and we open social media and every time we die, people said, ‘2.1 million for this?’, and stuff… that was always going to happen, we are kind of prepared for it, but it is still an… interesting feeling.

It felt like we didn’t play terribly at Flashpoint — we didn’t play well obviously —, but we played number 15 and number 6 in the world and we made it competitive on at least two maps. Inferno against we definitely didn’t play well, it was our first game together, we definitely felt a bit of pressure there, but we lost 17 2vX situations in that game, we lost 7 1v1s to Jame… if we had won more 1v1s maybe at least Overpass would’ve gone in our favor. And against OG we should’ve won Nuke, we were up 15-12, we just didn’t manage to cross over the line. So I don’t think we are playing as badly as what is being said, but obviously, we aspire to play much better.

One point of criticism that came mainly your way was that force buy at 15-13 against OG on Nuke, I think even HenryG in the mid-match interview mentioned something like that being a mistake. What happened there, do you think it was the wrong call?

I don’t remember the round specifically, but I remember at 15-12 we did the lobby crunch against them, and then 15-13 we had no money so we bought and saved… oh, no, that is what happened: I wanted two chances at winning the game because we weren’t going to have a good buy at 15-14 anyway, so instead of putting all our eggs into one basket I thought it would be best to have two similar buys in a row. I don’t think it was a mistake as such, it is a choice that I made, and because we had won three or four pistol rounds in the game already, the chances were that we could win it from what we had seen in the game before.

How is the team developing? Obviously, it is not the same when you have a team that has been playing together for quite some time and what you have right now, which is five players and a coach who have never been together, trying to build chemistry and communication. How are those two things, chemistry, and communication, developing in Cloud9 right now?

I think that is obviously going to take the longest amount of time. Especially the chemistry side of things, in-game chemistry I mean. Outside of it we have all been having fun and getting along very well, so that’s fine, but in-game, as you said, it is a lot different. Even Gen.G, for example, had three players and two new ones coming in, they had the chemistry between the three, while we are literally starting from zero, discovering how everyone likes to play, how they react to situations.

It is going to take a while, I remember after Flashpoint, all the criticism, ‘they are terrible’ — it took Complexity two months to get even half-decent results and they were playing officials nearly every day — we played two officials (laughs). It is obviously going to take a lot more time if we are not playing officials. As I said, I don’t think we played that badly, and as Henry said, time isn’t an excuse and we want to be performing as fast as possible on a high level, but it is always going to take a necessary amount of time to get to know each other and perform. In practice, everything is going well, we are developing nicely from a game point of view, it is just the chemistry and the 2vX situations that we have been losing. If we had won those in Flashpoint we would have won maps at least.

What has been the focus for the team going into BLAST? Bootcamps are not really a possibility for you right now so how are you practicing and preparing for the Showdown?

We’ve been doing very long days of practice, talking about theory, talking about the day’s practice during the break and after the day is finished, just trying to talk as much as possible and learn as much as possible. The focus had been… coming into Flashpoint we decided to come in with a six-map map pool, and maybe not be as strong on every map as we could but at least have a wider map pool so we wouldn’t get punished picked. Obviously, it happened anyway, but that wasn’t supposed to happen. But being able to play all the maps and being able to play them well, adding more and more to our game, learning more and more, but without officials, it is hard to actually learn anything because you don’t know how things are going to go until you actually play officials.

What about your personal perspective on playing with all of these players? How has it been, getting to know them, and how they want to play, how you can use them? What is the challenge like?

It’s definitely been a different challenge. The same thing happened when I was in-game leading in LDLC and we brought in AmaNEk and devoduvek and had a whole shift there, but it is much different now in the sense that we are playing on a higher level, we don’t have the luxury of playing tier 4 tournaments and no one noticing. Every game we play everyone is watching and expecting us to do well.

And for the players, it has been a very different experience from what I expected, I had a vision of how things were looking like, but when you get to talk to people, maybe they don’t share that vision and then you need to adapt it to what they want. And when we all agree on something, maybe it is not working so you have to keep constantly adapting things, and that is the thing that will take a bit more time, making sure everyone is comfortable. Winning games will come, I’m sure, but we need to get to a point where we are comfortable as fast as possible, and then that will start happening.

With every announcement of a player, it was revealed how they were expected to be utilised by the team. Which players have since changed roles?

I wouldn’t necessarily say anyone has changed roles, but more positions that they are playing. For example, we started out with me playing all the positions I had in Vitality, like Nuke outside, Inferno B… and I was playing a lot with Patrick (es3tag) and we decided we best separate so we have equal communication on either side of the map, that kind of stuff. We didn’t really change roles, more the positions we are playing and I think it has been beneficial. We have me and mezii most of the time and then floppy and es3tag, most of the time, sharing bombsites. We are all used to playing with that specific person now and we can just translate that into different maps and bombsites. It has made life easier in that sense and hopefully, chemistry will develop faster as we are constantly playing with the same people.

You mentioned before that you played again No.6 and No.15 in the world in Flashpoint, and in BLAST it is a single-elimination bracket and your first opponent is NiP, definitely not an easy one, and Complexity later in the bracket potentially. What are your expectations going into BLAST Showdown? Are they lower than when you went into Flashpoint?

I don’t think they are lower, in the sense that we want to win. Well, I guess you can’t call that expectations, that is more what we want. Expectations – as long as we have shown improvement and we are playing well, we can’t ask for much more. Obviously, single-elimination against NiP is always going to be tough, they have been a really good team all year. I definitely think we can beat them, I don’t think anyone expects us to do so, but I think we know we can, and as long as we are playing well, if we lose against a good team and we’ve both played well, then that is how it is. As long as we are showing progress.

As I mentioned, this is a pretty cut-throat bracket, a qualifier with only two teams advancing. If you don’t make it to the main event, what is next for Cloud9?

That is a good question. We’ve been so focused on Flashpoint and BLAST that we haven’t really thought beyond that, what tournaments are out there. I knew there would be the BLAST Finals if we made it, but apart from that, I’m not sure what there is for us. As I said, I think we need officials, maybe we’ll do a Complexity and play ten Home Sweet Home cups in three weeks. I think that is the most important for us, to play officials, to get used to playing officials together, start winning some games. I think we will slowly climb up the rankings and hopefully, more invites will come our way, maybe not at the end of this year, but next year and we can keep grinding and make it to where we want to be.



LEC announces 2021 casting team with the additions of Caedrel and Foxdrop




With the start of the Spring Split only a few days away, today the League of Legends European Championship announced their full casting lineup for the 2021 season. The announcement comes after a challenging year for esports broadcasting across the globe, and sees the return of some of the LEC’s most recognisable faces, along with a few new additions to the talent team. 

2020 was a year that saw esports broadcast teams challenged to produce remote broadcasts with little to no turnaround time due to the COVID-19 pandemic–with the LEC in particular forced to move online with little to no notice after a member of the onsite crew became exposed to the virus back in March of 2020. 

However, the LEC adapted quickly and were praised by many for their handling of the unfortunate situation, maintaining a high level of production (albeit with a few mishaps in the split’s first few weeks.) Due to the changing of lockdown restrictions in Berlin, the LEC was able to return to an in-person broadcast in the first week of the Summer Split. Players continued to play from remote setups, but broadcast and production staff were able to return to the studio in order to continue delivering a high standard of production to fans across the globe. 

After such a turbulent year, the broadcast team has seen some shakeups in the offseason- most notably with the departure of analyst Froskurinn. Stepping in as analysts alongside Vedius and Ender are previous LEC guest casters Foxdrop and Caedrel, with Caedrel having retired from professional play earlier this year in order to pursue a career in content creation. 

The remainder of the LEC team will remain unchanged–with Sjokz and Quickshot both boasting their ninth consecutive years as prominent faces of European League of Legends broadcasting. Joining them will be an impressive roster of play-by-play casters, analysts and interviewers, with Medic, Vedius, Drakos, Ender and Laure all returning for 2021. 

The LEC will return on Jan. 22.


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degster: “I really want to play constantly against the best teams in the world”




Abdul “⁠degster⁠” Gasanov will grind CS:GO as much as he can while waiting for the right offer, the 19-year-old told after Espada made him and Robert “⁠Patsi⁠” Isyanov available for transfer and released the rest of the team last week. The Russian AWPer averaged a 1.25 rating in 2020, but is this enough to convince the top teams, including the ones in his own region, to sign him?

degster is on the market after Espada decided to disband the team

“in my mind, if I grow and show that my level of play is higher than that of the rest, then any team could have a place for me,”degster told “I understand that all this is conditional, but I believe that I need to continue to work on myself with even more diligence, and then people who want to win will want to play with me.”

The 19-year-old had been playing for Espada since May 2019, helping the team to cement a stop inside the top 30, but that was not enough to keep the roster together. degster said that the team had been in regular contact with the management before the disbandment was announced and that the players understood why the organisation pulled the plug on the project.

The Russian AWPer added that he feels ready to make the jump to the top flight, reaffirming the same winning mentality that he had displayed when interviewed for our One for the future article.

“I really want to play constantly against the best teams in the world,” he said. “I have already played against them in practice and official games, and some adaptation is necessary, but I am confident that I can do it and I will work even harder for this.”

With no official matches on the horizon, it’s presumably harder for a player to stay motivated, but degster already has a plan. “I’m going to play FPL and watch all the games from best teams when the season starts,” degster said. On Sunday, he helped Sprout to win ESL Meisterschaft Autumn, putting up a series-high 1.34 rating in the nail-biting final against BIG.

Teams should soon be lining up to sign degster, but they will first need to reach an agreement with Espada. Smaller CIS organisations usually demand huge buyouts, but the 19-year-old has assured that Espada will not keep him from joining another team in case an interesting offer arrives. His faith will soon be put to the test as the player break is about to end.


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How to fix freezing and crashing in Apex Legends




Freezing and crashing are the last things you want when playing Apex Legends.

Apex has improved leaps and bounds since its release in 2019—from both a gameplay and narrative perspective—but despite Respawn Entertainment’s best efforts unstable FPS and lag are still all too frequent in the award-winning battle royale.

Widespread reports of freezing and crashing have littered the forums with some players experiencing game-jittering, and others complaining that they can’t join a match.

Why you can’t run Apex

If Apex isn’t loading and you’re stuck on a loading screen, first check if your system meets the game’s minimum requirements.

You most certainly don’t need to break the bank to play Apex, but there a few requirements to take into consideration. If you’re running an AMD Phenom processor, for example, you’ll have to upgrade your CPU.

Apex freezing and crashing checklist

If you’ve met all of Apex’s minimum requirements and you’re still scratching your head unable to join the game, there are a few tweaks that you can make to your system that could help solve the issue.

Update your driver

Keeping your driver up to date is crucial when playing Apex. AMD and Nvidia have released drivers for their video cards that optimize and fix issues related to the game. Install them and see if they take effect.

Downgrade your driver

If you updated your driver to the most recent versions mentioned above and it’s still not working, rolling back to the previous version of the driver is advised.

Disable Freesync, G-Sync, and others

Some video cards have sync options that could cause issues with Apex when paired with the game’s own Vertical Sync. Disabling this feature may solve freezing and crashing.

AMD processors

A few players on the forums have reported issues with AMD’s FX-6000 series processors. Some say small tweaks, like playing in windowed mode, solved their problem, while several others claim that disabling two out of the six processor cores through your BIOS fixes the issue.

Please note that doing the former will drastically reduce your PC’s performance and may cause issues in other software.

Make changes to your game and PC

Repair the game files

Repairing your game files is often a quick and simple fix to freezing and crashing.

When you launch Origin, go to your library, select Apex Legends, and click on the gear icon right of the orange play button. This will open a menu with a repair option.

Reinstall Origin and Apex

If freezing and crashing continue to plague your game, reinstalling Origin and Apex won’t hurt. The issues could stem from Origin, a program that is often unreliable.

Add firewall exceptions for both Origin and Apex

A few players have reported their Windows firewall had been preventing access to Origin and Apex. Try disabling it manually.

Disable Origin’s FPS overlay

It seems like Origin’s overlay that shows your FPS counter might affect the performance of your PC. Follow our guide on how to enable the FPS overlay, but uncheck the box on Origin instead.

“My game keeps freezing”

EA’s Support Forums have a topic called Community Crashing Troubleshooting Guide with additional suggestions to try out if you continue to have issues with freezing and crashing.


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The biggest prize money winners in esports history




In 2020, esports stars are hardly strapped for cash. While pro gamers were fighting for minuscule amounts of money and peripherals just a decade or so ago, today’s players at the highest level fight for millions of dollars each year.

In the last decade, thanks in large part to the popularization of Twitch, fans have started tuning into esports events at a prodigious rate. The growth has been impressive for each consecutive year since and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. That growth in viewership has gone hand in hand with a massive increase in prize money on offer.

In 2019 alone, more than $215 million was awarded across more than 4,600 tournaments. That’s compared to just $13.8 million recorded by tracking website Esports Earnings in 2012.

Nearly a quarter of the 2019 total was awarded at the ninth edition of Valve’s annual Dota 2 event, The International. A whopping $34.3 million was shared across the 18 participating teams, with eventual champions OG netting a total of $15.6 million.

Of course, these sums have inflated the overall top earners—in fact, the top 11 entries on Esports Earnings are Dota 2 players. But it’s not just Dota that has enjoyed this massive growth.

Here are the players with the biggest prize money totals in esports history, from the current leading games to the top titles from the past.

Johan “N0tail” Sundstein – $6.9 million (Dota 2)

Photo via Valve

The Danish Dota 2 veteran became the top earner in all of esports in 2019 after leading OG to victory at The International for the second year in a row. But even aside from his impressive payday at TI8 and TI9, N0Tail enjoyed incredible success alongside both OG and Team Secret prior to TI, which sets him at the top of this list.

Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf – $3.2 million (Fortnite)

Photo via Epic Games

Fortnite exploded in 2018. It quickly became one of the most played games in the world and it was only a matter of time before esports followed suit. The developer of the building frenzy, children-friendly bonanza invested millions of dollars into funding tournaments for the game—and one player, in particular, came out on top. Sentinels Bugha’s dominant performance at the Fortnite World Cup pushed the player into esports supremacy in 2019, earning himself an astonishing $3 million.

Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen – $1.9 million (CS:GO)

Photo via BLAST Pro Series

Danish frag master and Astralis rifler Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen won his fourth Valve Major with the greatest CS:GO team of all time in 2019. Dupreeh played a big part in the team’s rise to fame, cleaning up their act, and helping them push to the top of the standings in modern-day Counter-Strike.

Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok – $1.3 million (League of Legends)

Photo via Riot Games

The most celebrated pro gamer of all time, Faker is the one constant on the three-time world championship-winning roster, T1. The 23-year-old won the world championship in his debut season and he’s still regarded as the greatest player to ever compete in League.

Ian “C6” Porter – $1.2 million (Call of Duty)

Photo via Justin Binkowski

The North American Call of Duty star C6 has remained at the top of his game for years. Winning three world championships and 37 major tournaments over the course of his career, C6 has earned more than $1 million in winnings.

Feg – $1 million (Shadowverse)

Making a second appearance at the Shadowverse World Grand Prix in 2018, Japanese representative feg proved himself on the big stage and earned the right to call himself a champion. The somewhat unknown entity entered the digital card game tournament as the underdog, but instead of toppling under the pressure, he won the whole thing.

Cho “Maru” Seong Ju – $889,000 (Starcraft 2)

Image via Starladder

Asserting his dominance in the world of SC2, Maru has quickly risen up to become one of the game’s most successful players in terms of prize winnings. Maru bolstered his earnings by taking winning the $200,000 World Electronic Sports Games in 2018.

Park “Loki” Jeong Yeong – $705,000 (PUBG)

The 22-year-old South Korean PUBG player has gone on a tear over the last couple of years. He secured multiple top-three finishes, won the PUBG Global Invitational 2018, and dominated in the MET Asia Series in 2019.

Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom – $684,000 (Halo)

The Halo player from North America has performed consistently across four of the franchise’s titles, with most of his success coming in Halo 5: Guardians. This includes his victory at the 2016 Halo World Championship, where Frosty and CLG took home $1 million.

To add to his prize winnings, Frosty also competed in Call of Duty last year, winning three events with the Flordia Mutineers. The player, however, has since switched back to Halo.

Lee “Flash” Young Ho – $668,000 (Starcraft: Brood War)

Starcraft: Brood War is regarded as one of the most prestigious and longest-standing examples of the first era of esports. Played almost exclusively in Korea, the level of competition rose to such a degree that it was rare to see new players rise up and dominate the old guard. But Flash was one of them. The Terran player succeeded in setting an entirely new benchmark for how to perform with the race and grew to become the main rival of Brood War’s top star, Lee “Jaedong” Jae Dong.


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