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[ASL11] Ro24 Preview Pt 1: The Return




ASL11 Main Image

Welcome to the 11th Season of AfreecaTV StarCraft League, while on paper this season looks to have a lot less in terms of pure star power with Flash sitting out for the season to rest his wrists we did manage to get back EffOrt from his military service and hes opening the tournament along with Ss1nz, hero and BarrackS in Group A, following that we got the group of Solid Terran pride represented by Light and sOrry with the bag of builds/former ASL Observer Shine and rounding off Group B with a fresher face than most YSC.

The Road to ASL championship begins here!

Group A Preview

The ASL is back! And not just that, EffOrt is finally back in it since his huge ASL6 run, but don’t let my excitement of seeing EffOrt back overshadow the fact that hero is more likely to take first place in the group or BarrackS and Ss1nz are there and perfectly capable of breaking some obvious predictions for the group.

As hyped up as I am for seeing EffOrt back in the ASL he isn’t at 100%, not even close, the viewers on his stream have said hes at around 70% but I’m sure that is based on a lot more than just his Win-Loss Record which sits at around 90-91(49.7%) overall in all matchups for the month of march with his ZvP being the only one peaking over 50% at 55.6% at the time of writing and while that does mean hes still rusty and struggles against players who are more his long time peers( as seen from his ASTL run with afreeca) he should be the obvious favorite against Ss1nz in the opening match. Seeing as how Ss1nz anticipated playing a lot more PvZ has trained mostly in the matchup but has a low Win-Loss Record of 5-13(27.8%).

Sponbbang stats wise, hero is also in the exact same spot as effort except with more games in hand with a lot more focus on his ZvT compared to his ZvP with almost double the amount of games played against terran, though I do doubt all of it is just in preparation for his opening match opponent BarrackS.

BarrackS has historically struggled in TvZ and just about has a even Win-Loss Record of 16-16(50%) and the only win to write home about in the month of march is the one against ZerO, considering its a Bo1, I wouldn’t count out seeing him in the winner’s match though very unlikely it will happen.

That brings us to the winner’s game of hero vs EffOrt, I’d flip a coin on this one, neither are particularly hot in the matchup in terms of stats but both have shown flashes of genius for the matchup in the past, which ever one loses is still the more likely victor of the final match anyway.

BarrackS would much more prefer to face a protoss than a zerg anyway, PvT is his best matchup and Ss1nz not only did not focus on practicing it but doesn’t have a particularly good Win-Loss Record for it sitting at 3-5(37.5%) while BarrackS in his favored matchup sits at 6-3(66.7%) I do believe this former ASL Ro16 alumnus should take the win over Ss1nz.

For the final match I don’t see either EffOrt or hero losing to BarrackS unless he prepared a map specific tactic, unfortunately we won’t know what map they picked for the winner’s, losers’ and the final match anyway so hard to speculate on what it could be right now.

(Z)EffOrt > (P)Ss1nz
(Z)hero > (T)BarrackS
(Z)hero > (Z)EffOrt
(T)BarrackS > (P)Ss1nz
(Z)EffOrt > (T)BarrackS

(Z)EffOrt and (Z)hero Advance to the Ro16!

Group B Preview

As much as people tend to look forward to the later stages of a tournament (a sentiment that is very much reflected in viewership figures and LR thread engagement on our website), I can’t help but feel all tingly down below thinking about the myriad upset scenarios possible nowhere but in the Ro24 of the ASL. The introduction of untested and competitively unproven maps, paired with the cutthroat nature of a best-of-1 format, introduces an unparalleled shift in the power dynamic where experience gives way to ingenuity. It seeks to pull at all the wobbly blocks in the jenga tower of the competitive hierarchy of Korean StarCraft; to fiddle with the well-established pecking order that’s years in the making. AfreecaTV are doing what they can to keep StarCraft afloat in an entertainment context by focusing on the fundamentals of what makes sport appealing – the uncertainty of outcome. And, as an upset aficionado myself, I have to say – this season’s map pool looks like curry to a pisshead.

Group B is particularly interesting in that I genuinely believe Light, for years touted the second best Terran in the world by many, could get knocked out in the opening round of the tournament. Out of all the players in group B, Shine stands to benefit the most from best-of-1s played on freshly released maps and I wholeheartedly believe he is fully aware of that.
Worth noting is the sheer abundance of workable builds that characterises the current state of the TvZ metagame (and TvP to a certain extent as well). Likewise worth noting is the role sOrry played in this being the case – he is by and large responsible for the 2 Fact Goliath into Bio build being brought back from the grave (March 1, 2020 – ASL9, sOrry vs Killer on Escalade). This in turn creates a situation where guesswork plays a more pronounced role than it normally would in a stable metagame with clear-cut dos and don’ts. I recall having seen a number of rug-pull games involving Light (quite recently at that) who, despite his superior micro, macro, and gamesense, still ended up getting blindsided by Zergs closer to the lower end of the professional spectrum.

If sponbbang results are anything to go by, Light, despite being the second best player ELO-wise in 2021, has an appalling 11:18 record in TvT. To put that into perspective – he played a total of 529 games over the past three months. sOrry, on the other hand, while perhaps likewise unwilling to practice the dreaded mirror (710 games in 2021, just 53 TvTs), managed to keep a positive win ratio (52.8%) AND TvT happens to be his best matchup (though, arguably, we might be working with too small a sample size compared to TvP / TvZ to draw any meaningful conclusions). Either way, if it weren’t all Bo1 I’d expect both Terrans to make it out of this group with relative ease. As is, Shine has a decent shot. Here are their sponbbang head-to-heads in 2021:

Light 3:4 sOrry
Light 5:0 YSC
Light 1:0 Shine
sOrry 11:3 YSC
sOrry 2:1 Shine
Shine 2:2 YSC

(T)Light > (P)YSC
(T)Sorry > (Z)Shine
(T)Light (T)Sorry
(P)YSC (Z)Shine
(T)Light > (Z)Shine

(T)Sorry and (T)Light to advance to the Ro16!

Writers: Ziggy, BLinD-RawR
Graphics: v1
Editors: BLinD-RawR

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London Royal Ravens aims for “different dynamic” with Zaptius CDL signing




London Royal Ravens has made yet another Call of Duty League roster change, bringing in 22-year-old Alex ‘Zaptius’ Bonilla from one of the top teams in the CDL Challengers division.

In similar fashion to its acquisition of Paul ‘PaulEhx’ Avila prior to Stage 2 of the 2021 CDL, Royal Ravens has opted to drop one of its more experienced players in favour of a young American star from WestR, a team that dominated NA Challengers events at the start of the season. Thomas ‘Dylan’ Henderson – one of Royal Ravens’ standout players last year – has now been dropped to the bench. Of the roster that was first announced at the start of the season, only Sean ‘Seany’ O’Connor will represent Royal Ravens in Stage 3.

Following Zaptius’ announcement, Royal Ravens head coach James ‘Dominate’ Batz tells The Loadout he’s hoping to see a change in pace from his team, and says Zaptius’ Search and Destroy abilities are a valuable asset.

“Zaptius brings a different dynamic to the team, and will greatly help our pacing in general,” Dominate says. “He has previous experience with PaulEhx, and over the past few days, has fit in well with the rest of the team. He has shown commitment to improving and understands what he needs to do [despite] such a short transition period.

“He’s well known for his skill on Search and Destroy, and I can see him influencing our results in a big way across all game modes.”

CDL teams have been harvesting plenty of talent this season from the NA Challengers division, and many established names have been displaced as a result. With the likes of Minnesota Rokkr’s Eli ‘Standy’ Bentz and Toronto Ultra’s Jamie ‘Insight’ Craven turning fortunes around for struggling teams, the impact less-experienced players have had already has been huge.

With PaulEhx also impressing so far, Royal Ravens fans will be hoping for more of the same from Zaptius.

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Atlanta FaZe and FaZe Clan to Host Call of Duty: Warzone Season 3 Launch Events




The Atlanta FaZe and FaZe Clan will kick off the launch of Season 3 of Call of Duty: Warzone by hosting two events with a combined prize pool of $150K USD. The Atlanta FaZe $100k+ Gold Rush and Atlanta FaZe $50k Global Cash Grab will take place on Thursday and Friday from 4-9:30 p.m. ET on Call of Duty and FaZe Clan’s Twitch channels as well as Atlanta FaZe’s YouTube channel. 

As far as the Atlanta FaZe $100K + Gold Rush is concerned, the event will see teams of two compete in Warzone for a $100K+ grand prize that will be paid in the form of custom 1 kilogram gold bars, which will be presented in a “one-of-a-kind acrylic display case.” All hands will be on deck and going for the gold, which means FaZe Clan members such as Nick “NICKMERCS” Kolcheff, Kris “Swagg” Lamberson, and Lucas “Blaze” Mosing will be in attendance.

After the Atlanta FaZe $100k + Gold Rush, Atlanta FaZe and FaZe Clan will launch the Atlanta FaZe $50k Global Cash Grab. Here, duo teams will compete in Warzone for $50K on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on  Call of Duty and FaZe Clan’s Twitch channels as well as Atlanta FaZe’s YouTube channel.

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Rainbow Six Continental Cup Replaces Six Major in 2021




The Copa Elite Six da América (translated as American Elite Six Cup) will feature the best Latin American Rainbow Six Siege teams in a continental tournament, starting on Tuesday. With a total $893K BRL (roughly $161K USD) prize pool, the tournament is organized by Ubisoft and is sponsored by Acer, which is promoting its laptop brand Predator, Logitech, and Intel.

The participants qualified through local leagues in the Brazilian Championship, the Mexican Championship, and the South American Championship. Mexico will be represented by Fenix Esports and Atheris Esports, while Argentina has 9z Team and Malvinas Gaming in the tournament. Brazil has three representatives: MIBR, FURIA, and Team oNe

Ninjas in Pyjamas, FaZe Clan, and Team Liquid are not originally Brazilian organizations, but as they invest in and field Brazilian Rainbow Six Siege rosters that qualified in the local league, and they will also represent the country in the competition.

This is the first of three editions of the Elite Six Cup planned for 2021. Although the first of those will not qualify for any global competition, there was an increase of investment in the prize pool due to the canceling of the Six Major, which would be held in May but was called off after the Rainbow Six Invitational was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. The prize pool that would be invested in the Major was split and added to regional competitions in Latin America, Europe, North America, and Asia/Pacific.

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Opinion: OpTic Chicago Is a Shadow of Its Former Self




Cody Perez
in Call of Duty | Apr, 19th 2021

OpTic Chicago has been one of the most popular and beloved teams of the entire Call of Duty League 2021 season. This is no surprise to anyone at all, given that this is the team that brought in the most fans and viewers when it was formerly known as the Chicago Huntsmen last year.

This team has been part of the top teams in the league for a long time, and it looks like that is continuing this year. However, what if this is not going to be the case for much longer? What if we are beginning to see the end of the current Chicago pro team as we know it?

Call of Duty League Has Several Teams That Have Worsened This Year

Without a doubt, one of the most complicated parts of the 2021 season of the Call of Duty League is the switch from Modern Warfare to Black Ops Cold War for the game of choice. With this change has come something else: the switch back to the four-man squads that we had in previous esports years.

The Modern Warfare season saw the unique five-on-five approach take center stage, but it was met with controversy and disdain from many teams. Though the return of four-player squads is a welcome change for many, it has also resulted in some teams doing worse than they did before.

While some teams like the New York Subliners, Minnesota Rokkr, and Toronto Ultra are arguably better than ever before, other teams are worse than they were during the 2020 season. Several teams have been affected by this throughout the second season thus far.

At the time of writing this, we are going into the third stage of the season and are nearing the halfway point of what has been a crazy year so far. Though it has taken a bit to really get going, it seems like we are moving towards some shifts that are unlike anything we saw last year.

Instead of having the teams who all dominated last year continue to dominate in the same way, there are some new challengers approaching who are turning the Call of Duty League upside down. In the process, I feel that OpTic Chicago has been one of the teams on the receiving end of the more negative changes and results.

Opinion: OpTic Chicago Is a Shadow of Its Former Self

In fact, I would argue that OpTic Chicago is a shadow of its former self from the Huntsmen team that we saw last year. This will be potentially a controversial opinion, but it is my personal opinion, after all. However, I think it is important to point out that something is going wrong with this team.

Chicago Huntsmen | Chicago Home Series Update
The Huntsmen dominated the CDL’s inaugural season

Perhaps more than any other team in the league to date, I feel that OpTic Chicago is the biggest possible disappointment in 2021 compared to the team that it was last year. Sure, Dallas Empire has had its moments this season and definitely needs to reevaluate certain areas, but it has maintained some solid moments nonetheless.

On the other hand, Chicago is constantly appearing to shift between the powerhouse it was before (and can be) and a team that can fail in the most awkward and unfortunate ways possible. This is a team that should, for all intents and purposes, be dominating this season.

However, instead, we are getting a team that is no longer what it once was and could be getting worse by the minute. I am not here to bash Chicago, even though I am admittedly not the biggest fan of this team, but, rather, to criticize the performance and give my personal opinion on what it can do next.

Without an OpTic Chicago that we had last year, the league is missing that important link; that massive team that is scary to fight against and something that can shake teams like the Empire and sometimes even Atlanta FaZe to its core.

That is why I am here to offer my reasons for why OpTic Chicago is a shadow of its former self, what has led to this point in time, and what can change moving forward to ensure that the correct path doesn’t continue. Let’s get started.

Performance Has Been Steadily Decreasing

It all starts with the general performance of the team as a whole. In general, I would say that Chicago is steadily decreasing in its performance as time goes on this season. It started out stronger than possibly ever before in the first stage and has been decreasing in strength ever since.

Let us take, for instance, the first stage of the 2021 season for OpTic Chicago. In that stage, it was paired up with Atlanta FaZe and the other teams in the group that was potentially the group of death then. Atlanta is like the weakness for this team, so I definitely didn’t expect Chicago to take them down, so it was no surprise when FaZe came out on top in the normal weekly matches.

With that particular match aside, Chicago actually did quite well for itself, easily dispatching Paris Legion, Toronto Ultra, the Los Angeles Guerrillas, and the Florida Mutineers to come out as the second-best team in the group. This put them in the winners bracket with a solid chance of winning the whole thing.

Then we came to the first Major and the team did great, decimating the New York Subliners before losing to Dallas Empire in a pretty close match. This was all in the expected performance, though. It was able to defeat the LA Thieves but was then upset in a rematch against the Subliners where they lost three to nothing in the opposite situation.

Still, they finished fourth in the tournament, which is great and roughly what you would expect from the third-best team of the 2020 season. All in all, this was great for Chicago. But rather than improve from here and be a true contender for the championship, they seemingly started to show some cracks in the armor.

The first week of the new stage, Chicago once again beat Paris Legion but then lost to both the Minnesota Rokkr and Florida Mutineers in the next week. And they didn’t just lose to both teams, but they lost badly, three to nothing in both of those matches.

This was slightly understandable for Rokkr but a little bit shocking for Florida. Then week three saw a bit of a recovery with an easy win over Seattle as expected and a close win against Dallas to close out the stage of normal matches.

But, once again, the cracks began to spread even more when we came to the Major most recently, where the team lost in the first round of the upper bracket to Toronto Ultra. They recovered with a win over Seattle, again as expected, but then lost to Rokkr in the most insane way possible.

The second stage is a totally different story for Chicago compared to the spectacular first one. Couple that with the other reasons below, and you have a team that is currently a shadow of its former self.

Roster Decisions for the 2021 Season Were Not Great

For one, the roster changes for OpTic Chicago were not great when coming into the 2021 season. I really like Dashy, and I think that he brings some interesting strategy to the team that really grounds it and brings something that is missing.

But my problem is that he shouldn’t have had to join the team in the first place if it kept at least one more of the players from the past roster. The twins were a great duo and, while I get that choosing one over the other would have sucked, it was a missed opportunity for the team.

I would even, personally, argue that you could have gotten rid of another player instead, and then you could have kept both of them on the roster for the 2021 season. This roster change was one that was understandable, though, given the switch to the four-person squads.

But it definitely feels like Chicago is a team that thrived better when it was the five-person team it was last year compared to this year. It still has the chance to reclaim the former glory, but we will have to wait and see for now as there are more pressing issues than just the roster.

Chicago Has the Worst Sportsmanship Out of Any Team

By far, my biggest issue with the Chicago team is that it has the worst sportsmanship out of any other team in the league. Some of the players have the worst attitudes around, and they are not afraid to show it in the slightest when it comes to public podcasts and reactions.

I personally see OpTic Chicago as 2021’s villainous team of the league, but not necessarily in the cool and alluring way that you might think. Instead, they are the cursing, offensive, and downright frustrating team that feels like they think they can say whatever they want about whoever they want.

And, unfortunately, there really is no one to stop them. While other teams and players have been treated with warnings and reprimands for certain remarks in the past, it feels like Chicago is the exception who is able to do whatever it wants at all times.

I don’t put the full blame on the players themselves. In many cases, like this one, it does fall to the leadership. If the leadership was more strict and punishing, then we wouldn’t have the terrible sportsmanship and attitudes that this team largely has.

They are led by one of the most offensive CEOs in the industry who has basically built his reputation on these lame gimmicks that are rarely ever as funny as he potentially thinks it is. With him leading the pack, it’s no surprise that it almost feels like this team is a rogue squad that is hard to like these days.

What OpTic Can Do Now

In the end, I would like to say all of this with the intention of offering some advice to the team and the fans as well. For the team, there are some things that OpTic Chicago can do to recover from this potential rut that it is slowly digging itself into in 2021.

While it is still near the top of the leaderboard, that will change very soon if they continue down this path in stage three and beyond. To help change this up, first and foremost, the team needs to focus on the maps and modes that it once dominated in but has been slipping lately.

It needs to hone in on those weak parts and not ignore them or pretend like it was just a fluke that the other team somehow got that upset because it wasn’t a coincidence at all. The team also needs to make sure that every fight gets the attention that it needs.

Don’t just focus on the bigger picture and the huge teams that are in front of them, and forget about the smaller teams that can swoop in and get an unexpected win. Then there are the attitudes. It is time for some serious change in this department as it can be hard to focus on the problems that you and your team have if you are getting so angry and being offensive towards others.

Tackle those behavioral issues, and that can affect the team synergy as a whole, leading to better performance and coordination. As for the Chicago fans, if you feel burnt out, there are a couple of teams that we recommend you keep an eye on this season.

There is Toronto Ultra who is steadily rising but it remains to be seen how long this will continue. As such, I would present Minnesota Rokkr and New York Subliners as the teams to watch, instead. Roker, in particular, is fantastic for quickly becoming the new OpTic for me.

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