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Climbing the Mountain: Introducing Liquid Kelazhur

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Humble, kind, brilliant, and one of the best Terran’s on the planet — we’re proud to announce that Diego “Kelazhur” Schwimer is the newest member of Team Liquid’s StarCraft 2 team. Kelazhur has been working part time at Team Liquid as an intern as part of his school curriculum and we have gotten to know him a lot better over the recent months. During this time we’ve come to realize he’s a perfect fit for TL. We can’t wait to see how he handles his dual role as both player and staff here at Team Liquid and while we expect him to focus on his studies for the immediate future we also know he has an insatiable drive to compete and is always striving to improve his game. We’re excited to see just how far he’ll go as he continues to grow and improve with Team Liquid.

Follow Kelazhur here



Interview with Kelazhur

What made you decide that you wanted to intern for TL while also going to school and on top of that compete in SC2?

Well, the internship was actually one of the requirements for my curriculum for school. I needed to do 5 months of internships so that I’m able to graduate. That was the main reason and of course Team Liquid is such a giant in esports that for me wanting to focus on the esports industry it seemed only natural when I received an invitation from the company to intern at their place that I should accept.

How did you become an intern for TL?

It was before the internship, a few months before, I had to do a project which was sort of research for a company, we could pick whatever company we wanted but we had to approach them and ask for some information. I had the idea of doing this research together with Team Liquid so I asked my friends who were with Team Liquid, I asked TLO and he forwarded me to Lichter who is the head of business intelligence for Team Liquid and I did the research with him. He helped me out and after that when it was time to start the internship I messaged Lichter and asked him who I should speak to for an internship and he forwarded me to Martijn who works for HR in Europe. He forwarded me to Bo who said he needed someone to help him and that’s how I landed the internship.

What do you feel you’ve learned about yourself and Team Liquid while interning here?

The first thing I learned was about the company culture. In esports Team Liquid kind of has that image of always being the good guys and being the heroes in all the games and starting my internship with Team Liquid I realized it wasn’t only the players, it’s also the staff. Everyone is super nice and helpful and willing to go out of their way to help you out. I thought that was really cool and taught me to try to make time to help other people because it goes a long way. If everyone is helping each other then maybe someone knows something that will help you do your work and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s a lot of teamwork, that’s the biggest thing I learned here.

You’ve already spent a lot of time around the SC2 guys, was it an easy transition now to join them?

I think so. I was already pretty big friends with every single TL player, so joining them I got a lot of very warm welcomes. It’s like being among close friends already.

You started playing sc back in the brood war days, when did you realize you could make a living out of esports?

I had no idea about esports back in Brood War. I was pretty young and wasn’t really cut out for playing 1v1 so I spent 99% of my time playing Use Map Settings maps like Lurker Defense and Sunken Defense. Those were my favourites. It wasn’t really until StarCraft 2 came out, and even then I was only playing the campaign, but around 2012 I started playing the ladder and got to Masters League. Back then LATAM had their own server and I got top 100 pretty easily and they announced the battle.net world championships. Brazil actually had 16 spots and once they announced I realized there was actually tournaments for this so I tried to qualify and out of the top 16 players I got 17th so I was quite sad.

What was your experience like as a newcomer to competitive esports?

Well, in the beginning I would say it was an all out war to get second place. First place was just completely impossible for everyone because we had SpeCial who was just completely better than everyone else. It was that way for a very long time until about 2016 when LotV came out and Cham and myself started to get much better because we were practicing pretty hard and getting some decent results in online tournaments. First place started to seem like a possible dream. I think it was the first Copa America in Legacy of the Void where I finally managed to beat SpeCial in the finals for my first Copa America win in 2016 and that was pretty wild.

Seeing Cham get up there with me also made us realize that it wasn’t impossible to take down SpeCial but it definitely takes many years of hard work for you to grow in a region like that to topple one giant. It felt like everyone was slowly trying to climb this mountain, this Juan-ito shaped mountain *laughs*

Would you say taking down SpeCial is one of your favourite moments in competitive SC2 or crowning achievements? That first victory over him?

Definitely. I think when I first beat him if I’m not mistaken it was 4-1 and it was truly… well it’s hard to find a word for it. I was just so happy when it happened that I think it kind of marked a change in my career. At that point I had never really got past the first round in a WCS and it was from that point on that I won my first Challenger and then I started placing well in WCS’ and I realized that I wasn’t just another pro but I was one of the top dogs. I went on to win 2 more Copa Americas in 2017, and yeah it was really life changing. It wasn’t until 2018 when I think I kind of fell off the mountain that I had finally managed to climb and I’ve been trying to climb it again ever since.

How difficult is it to try to keep up that level of play while also focusing on school and on work?

It’s definitely difficult. I think this is where “don’t work harder, work smarter” comes into play. You really start to feel that saying because you have so much less time to practice than full time people but it’s not impossible because if you analyze the patterns of full time pros there are a lot of things they do that are not very efficient. For example just non-stop grinding games without analyzing things — that’s not very useful. The main thing is you really have to be smart about how you spend your time.

You can apply that to pretty much everything right?

Yeah that’s true. One of the things that shocked me was when I first started university was how much some of my classmates struggled with certain things. Things I could do very efficiently if I managed my time well in order to reach deadlines no problem, other people would struggle to meet those deadlines. I think having to balance StarCraft and school at the same time kind of forced me to be really smart about the way I was doing my assignments and studying and making sure that everything went smoothly. I could see that other classmates didn’t have the same realizations.

How does it feel to now be joining Team Liquid officially as a player?

It means a lot to me actually. When I first started the internship it kind of came up where my boss asked Nazgul if I should represent the team while I was playing in tournaments and we all sort of made jokes about it. *laughs* I didn’t really pay much attention to it because I was really focused on the internship and it wasn’t until a few days ago that I got a message that said they wanted me to be part of the team along with the internship and it really caught me by surprise. There wasn’t much to it, it was like do you want it or no? So of course it was an automatic yes from me. It really meant a lot, and I think this goes for any game, where Team Liquid is the team to be in so it’s a badge of honor to wear.



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Source: https://www.teamliquid.com/news/2020/10/30/climbing-the-mountain-introducing-liquid-kelazhur

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Virtus.pro mistaken for terrorist group after 2016 CS:GO prize money blunder

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Reflecting on the ten-year anniversary of its inception, Virtus.pro has been sharing some fond memories and stories with fans from its journey in esports. But one story involving a suspect bank transfer from Counter-Strike developer Valve makes for particularly hilarious reading, with Virtus.pro being mistaken for a “borderline terrorist organisation”, according to its owner.

As part of the celebrations, Virtus.pro recalls that following the MLG Major Championship: Columbus in 2016, Valve began releasing money to teams that was generated by the sale of team-branded weapon stickers within the game. While team owners across CS:GO esports would be awaiting the money with open arms, Valve’s wording on its payment to Virtus.pro almost landed the organisation in hot water.

According to Anton Chereppenikov, the CEO and owner of ESforce, the group that owns Virtus.pro, “the employees of the Lithuanian bank with which we cooperated with at the time were shocked and frightened” after Valve’s bank transfer was worded simply as “weapon sticker sales”.

Chereppenikov says the transfer was denied by the bank, who believed Virtus.Pro was some kind of terrorist group doing weapon deals with a private company.

However, there was a happy ending, as Chereppenikov says the team got in touch with the bank, explained the situation and what CS:GO actually was, and its weapon sticker money was paid out.

While esports has become more widely recognised and talked about in the mainstream in recent years, a lack of knowledge around the industry  in 2016 almost saw Virtus.pro finding itself the top of INTERPOL’s most wanted list, rather than the CS:GO world rankings.

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Source: https://www.theloadout.com/csgo/virtus-pro-2016-terrorist-group-mistake

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Reported: Bilibili obtains exclusive Overwatch League broadcast rights in China

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Bilibili Esports has reportedly signed an exclusive Chinese broadcast deal with Activision Blizzard for the Overwatch League (OWL).

Per reports from The Esports Observer and Pandaily, Bilibili confirmed that it was granted exclusive broadcasting distribution rights in China for OWL, which includes further development of commercial interests and promotional support.

Image credit: Activision Blizzard / Bilibili

RELATED: Overwatch League unveils 2021 structure and $4.25m prize pool

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In April 2020, it was reported that Bilibili replaced Banana Culture as the league’s Chinese production partner. The streaming site has since secured the hosting rights of OWL Overwatch Contenders and Overwatch Open Division tournaments in China.

Bilibili, also called ‘B Site’ in China, was launched in 2010 as a video sharing site that focuses on gaming, comics, and animation.

In 2018, the company cemented its position in esports by purchasing its own Overwatch League team, Hangzhou Spark. Being a franchise partner of Activision Blizzard certainly didn’t hurt Bilibili’s chances of obtaining the broadcasting rights it wanted.

RELATED: IBM introduces AI-driven Overwatch League Power Rankings

Bilibili also obtained exclusive broadcasting rights to all major League of Legends global events last year. The three-year deal began in 2020 and runs through the 2023 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational.

The fourth season of Overwatch’s franchised league began on April 16th. This year, competitors are divided into two groups based on location. The East division consists of eight teams competing in China and South Korea, namely the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty.

Esports Insider says: China is home to the largest gaming market in the world. Companies like Activision Blizzard and Riot Games know that tapping into the country’s audience is critical for global success, especially when events are hosted in the region. If this report is true, Bilibili’s position as China’s answer to Twitch continues to strengthen.

ESI Podcasts | Digest, Focus, Insight

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Source: https://esportsinsider.com/2021/04/bilibili-overwatch-league-broadcast/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bilibili-overwatch-league-broadcast

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PSG Talon takes the W at the PCS 2021 Spring Split playoffs

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LoL Teh “GravityWillFall” Wi-Liam

After topping the group stages and winning the grand finals in stunning fashion, PSG Talon will represent Southeast Asia in the coming MSI 2021.

PSG Talon secures their place in the upcoming Mid-Season Invitational 2021 by ploughing through the competition in the PCS 2021 Spring Split playoffs and taking the entire tournament by storm. To add salt to their opponents’ wounds: PSG Talon lost only a single game throughout their time in both the group stages and playoffs.

In only their second game in the playoff stage, PSG Talon faced off against Beyond Gaming, knocking them down to the lower bracket to go up against Machi Esports. After a thrilling best-of-five series, Beyond Gaming got a second chance to face off against PSG Talon once more but unfortunately, did not take their chances and lost in another three-nil sweep.

PSG Talon v Beyond Gaming – Part One

The only game that PSG Talon ever lost in the group stages was against Beyond Gaming so they went into the winner bracket final with a slim chance of being able to take a game or two off of PSG Talon. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as PSG Talon came out swinging in all three games, showing us why they deserved to be in the finals.

In all three games, PSG Talon was able to stifle Beyond Gaming’s strategies with ease, making it even harder for them to execute their game plan. PSG Talon also showed their flexibility by picking 14 different champions in those three games with Leona being the sole exception as she was picked in the first two games.

PSG Talon v Beyond Gaming – Part Two

Having already beaten Beyond Gaming once in a best-of-five series, PSG Talon had to do it all over again, this time in the grand finals. While Beyond Gaming did manage to overcome Machi Esports to make it into the grand finals, they still had a very steep mountain to climb.

In the grand finals, PSG Talon picked both Gnar and Kai’Sa three times, which goes to show how potent these picks are in the current meta. We also highlighted both champions as some of the most played during this patch. They also chose Volibear and Leona two times each. Beyond Gaming, on the other hand, went with Tristana and Alistar in all three games as well as Hecarim and Jayce for two.

While all three games went past 30 minutes, it didn’t feel like PSG Talon were seriously challenged as they looked quite at ease playing against Beyond Gaming once more. They showed real composure, technical ability, as well as a keen awareness of what’s going on and being able to counteract that.

Mid-Season Invitational 2021

With their slot already confirmed, PSG Talon will be in Group B of the upcoming MSI 2021, alongside MAD Lions (LEC Spring 2021 winners), İstanbul Wildcats (TCL Winter 2021), and paiN Gaming (CBLOL 2021).

QuickPoll

Can PSG Talon go all the way this year?

Most definitely
Thank you for voting!

They’ll fall short
Thank you for voting!

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Source: https://www.gosugamers.net/lol/news/54255-psg-talon-takes-the-w-at-the-pcs-2021-spring-split-playoffs

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While Blacklist dance, Cignal struggle

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Mobile Legends Jarrad “Belandrial” Adams

headline photo courtesy of Blacklist International

While Week 3 of MPL – PH Season 7 ended in the best way for some, others faced an upward struggle moving forward.

After an elongated break due to an extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, Mobile Legends Professional League – Philippines Season 7 returned to action over the weekend for Week 3. For Cignal Ultra, the weekend would see four straight series, as the team finally got a chance to show their skills, while on the other side of things, Blacklist International were fighting to remain unbeaten with their fantastic new roster. In between those stories are also a multitude of developing ones, as teams battled through to the midway point in the regular season journey.

Cignal Ultra’s brilliance versus Bren Esports

Having not played for the opening two weeks, Cignal’s first foray into MPL – PH Season 7 hit them hard, as they fought through four opponents over the Week 3 action. Cignal were, unfortunately, unable to take a single series win out of Week 3, but they did show some signs of being an unstoppable team. Going up against Season 6 champions, Bren Esports, Cignal pulled off one of the biggest turnarounds we’ve seen in game 2 – shaking the nerves of the already shaky Bren. Although ultimately losing the series, and all series this weekend, Cignal can look to a few shining moments to move forward with.

Work Auster Force succumb to Blacklist International

After losing their first series in MPL – PH Season 7, Work Auster were a Force to look out for this weekend. With caster Leo moving into a technical coach role for the team, we were ready to see what they could do – and they delivered in a big way. Destroying both Onic PH and Cignal seemed simple for the team, but their final hurdle for Week 3 were the titans of Season 7 so far – Blacklist International. Although eventually losing the series 1-2, having their streak broken, Work Auster showed that they are going to be one of the biggest teams to watch moving into a massive Week 4.

Blacklist International’s dance of the undefeated

What more is there to say about Blacklist International’s MPL – PH Season 7 performance that has not already been said multiple times, especially when they remain undefeated – except to take a look at their winning moment against Work Auster Force and see just what a great time the team is having.

Pillow fights, praise and a synchronised dance around their Bootcamp table were the scenes as the team claimed yet another victory – and who can really blame them when they seem like an unstoppable juggernaut of MLBB power right now.

Aura PH, Nexplay Esports and the rest

Currently leading the Group A standings, Aura PH have almost been overlooked in their opening three weeks of MPL – PH Season 7 action. Having only lost to Blacklist so far, Aura have flown by under the radar to become another team to look out for in the coming weeks. With wins over both Onic PH and Omega in Week 3, the team have a huge Week 4 ahead of them.
Nexplay Esports begun the season on such a high, destroying Bren Esports in Week 1, but have fallen a long way since, with a loss streak. However, a big win over the Diggie-strat Cignal saw the team finally pull themselves up and look toward a single series next week in which to excel.
While Bren Esports scrapped a victory out of the weekend, landing their second in the season, we have to ask if it will be enough moving into Week 4 soon as they still seem to have many gaps being exploited. Across the rest of the board there are no really big surprises currently, with the table showing a fairly tight pack in the middle to lower portion – while some teams cruise out ahead.

As Week 4 of the MPL – PH Season 7 approaches, we wait with bated breath to see what new stories might unfold. We will have further news on the matches coming in Week 4 later this week, so check back if you want to remain up to date on all the MLBB news, especially dealing with MPL – PH Season 7.

QuickPoll

Can Cignal Ultra pull themselves back in Week 4?

Doubtful
Thank you for voting!

Definitely
Thank you for voting!

Jarrad “Belandrial” Adams

Belandrial has spent most of his years following Dota 2 closely, but now has found a new home in the complex world of Mobile Esports. When not watching nearly every possible esports title available, you can find me running around Azeroth or building strange bases in Valheim.

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Source: https://www.gosugamers.net/mobile-legends/news/54257-while-blacklist-dance-cignal-struggle

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