Back in the day, the late 90s and 2000s, there used to be a lot of Internet cafes. They were places where people would log on to their Hotmail or Yahoo accounts and read the news and play Flash games for half an hour or an hour. Some of the more adventurous places would install games and let people play against each other on the LAN, thus creating a LAN party without the painful carrying of desktop computers and monitors around.
Internet cafes slowly died out as internet speeds at home got better and as soon as people could afford better gear at home. If you can play Counter Strike or Starcraft online with as little latency as a LAN, then why go out into the cold winter or hot summer weather to meet up and play video games. With a good headset, the trash talk is still the same!
In the last 5 years, e-sports have been on the rise, they're trending and getting more popular. Valve in the last few years has upped the prize money to a million dollars in DOTA 2 and CSGO tournaments. They've also become more popular through live streaming on Twitch and Youtube.
What's interesting is that people still like to get together to watch esports and to sometimes play. There are small arcades where it's possible to play Super Smash Brothers or Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat on a PlayStation, XBox or Nintendo console. Then of course there are regular arcades that have brought back old school pinball machines and NeoGeo arcade games.
But now there's a new place to get your esports and internet gaming fix: the esports bar. Yes it's exactly what it sounds like, a place to drink beer, watch Ninjas In Pyjamas kick the crap out of SK Gaming and even play some CSGO and DOTA2 and League of Legends against other people.
Meltdown Toronto: Esports Bar
In Toronto, Canada, Meltdown Toronto opened up in 2012 to serve the beer drinking and esports watching needs of Canadians.
On Mondays and Tuesdays they have open play days where people can play random PC and console games. Yes that does include CSGO! On some Wednesdays they have Hearthstone tournaments and matches.
What's really neat is that they have "Quests" that you can complete while playing games to get some prizes at the bar.
It feels like this is what the future of esports will be; it will morph into a nerdier and yet more awesome version of the same kind of sports watching that happens now.
[If you like reading game reviews, check out Purple Monkey Game Reviews, a new blog we started for digging into cool video games]
Or so we like to tell ourselves, haha. Basically the TRS80 group likes to play all sorts of video games, and we've been exploring some console alternative to CS:GO. The only two we could find are Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege. On PC, we like to take a break with Team Fortress 2 which has been a lot of fun for many many years now.
Here's a list of games similar to CS:GO but not all of them are as competitive and fun as CS:GO. So, we are going to give an overview to some of them which I personally find fun to play.
OverWatch (PS4, XBOX ONE, PC)
A team based FPS video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment, released in May 2016.
Overwatch puts players into two teams of six, with each player selecting one of several pre-defined hero characters with unique movement, attributes, and abilities; these heroes are divided into four classes: Offense, Defense, Tank and Support.
Players on a team work together to secure and defend control points on a map and/or escort a payload across the map in a limited amount of time. Players gain cosmetic rewards that do not affect gameplay, such as character skins and victory poses, as they continue to play in matches.
Rainbow Six Siege (PS4, XBOX ONE, PC)
Team Fortress 2 (PC - STEAM)
Team Fortress 2 is a team based multiplayer first person shooter created by Valve Software as a part of the game package The Orange Box. It was initially discharged on October 10, 2007. A PlayStation 3 version then took after on November 22, 2007. Sticking to this same pattern, it was discharged as an independent title on April 9, 2008, and on June 10, 2010.
The PC and OS X forms of Team Fortress 2 embraced an "free to Play" model on June 23, 2011 with all income being produced from miniaturized scale exchanges in the In-game Store.
Team Fortress 2 is centered around two opposing teams competing for an objective. These two teams are meant to represent a demolition and a construction company as a part of the backstory: Reliable Excavation Demolition (RED) and Builders League United (BLU).
Players can choose to play as one of nine classes in these teams, each with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and roles. Although the abilities of a number of classes have changed from earlier Team Fortress incarnations, the basic elements of each class have remained
CS:GO Counter Strike Global Offensive (PC - Steam)
So apparently Valve has restricted coaches during its tournaments from talking to their team while a match is going on. Specifically, coaches can only help their team during a pregame warm-up, in a timeout, and at half-time.
This is extremely fair. Most competitive teams are good enough that they only need to make adjustments with the help of a coach at half-time or during timeouts. This makes it even more valuable to have a really good coach to help support and train and mentor the team before a match. That's where much of the practice comes into play and in between matches and at half-time is enough time for a coach to help the team come up with a new strategy.
At the end of the day, it's the team that has to do the actual work of holding and fighting for positions in a CS:GO match and tournament. A coach can only help guide, they can't do the sniping or entry-fragging for the team! Valve's position on this is ultimately fair, and we'll see what effect it has in the next year of tournaments.
After the disappointed response to CS:GO's winter upgrade, you'd have thought Valve might be taking a more cautious approach to patching. But you were thinking wrong. The most recent overhaul is a major one, demanding two smaller scale locales of its own and consolidating changes, Operation Wildfire and a redesign for de_nuke.
7 New Maps, 2 new Campaigns
The Operation Wildfire occasion, which goes through to June 17, gives everybody access to seven new community maps, including Tulip, Cruise, Coast and Empire, notwithstanding the spruced-up Nuke. Be that as it may, in case you're willing to pay the $6 entry fee, the Operation Wildfire Access Pass comes with a host of new elements.
Two new campaigns are available: the Wildfire Campaign, made up of Casual, Deathmatch and Arms Race missions, and the co-op Gemini Campaign which packs three all-new Co-operation Strike missions and 23 Guardian missions. Both campaigns reward mission XP with every achievement, and by finishing Challenge Missions you can upgrade your gaudy Wildfire Coin, placed alongside your avatar.
Blitz Missions and Bowie Knife Skins!
blitz Missions resemble time-constrained accomplishments open to players around the world. For two or three hours, you'll procure reward XP for finishing objectives like scoring wins in competitive Empire matches.
The typical cluster of lovely stuff is tossed in as well: the Wildfire Case contains 16 community weapon skins and a Bowie knife.
DE_NUKE MAP UPDATES IN Operation WILDFIRE
As an alternative to in-game competitive match-making, I took a look at using altpug last year. Altpug was where you could find pick-up games for counter-strike and set up team vs team matches that were ranked. The best thing was that they ran their own servers that were 128-tick so the accuracy was fantastic. Altpug ended up being acquired by CEVO and so I returned to playing matchmaking in CSGO.
With that update in June, requiring rank 3 for competitive, it may be time to look at getting into pick up games or leagues.
The options for leagues and ranked matches are:
CEVO is more meant for pick-up games while ESL is definitely made for more competitive games and matches. CEVO's matches are great though and their acquisition of Altpug means they're serious about making a great competitive experience for Counter-Strike.
TRS80 will only play pick-up games because we're laid-back casuals but for an alternative more hardcore match, check out CEVO.
We started a general umbrella website for the TRS80 gaming group. We're keeping this blog running as CS:GO is the main game we play but we're branching off into Guild Wars 2 and Destiny (both of which have expansions coming out).
TRS80 is a casual gaming group that sometimes has hardcore gaming sessions (5+ hours, 1 or more nights in a row) that happen once or twice a year. Most of our gaming sessions last 1 or 2 hours as we have other obligations so we try to plan events and matches a few days in advance to make the most of our time.
We did a Destiny raid a month ago with some randoms on PlayStation 4 and it was pretty good and we'd like to do that again. With Counter-Strike we've had a steady solid group of people to play with over the last 2 years and we hope to get a few more people together into TRS80.
With Guild Wars 2 I'm hoping that the guild can grow into a large casual guild that helps newbs out and keeps the game fun.
The goal is that even when we're offline we still care about gaming and want to know how well other members in TRS80 are doing. If you can make time for a few hours of a game in a month, that's good enough for us. The key requirements to be a member of TRS80 are that you're relatively good at the game (without spending an insane amount of hours on it) and that you care enough to keep track of the game even when you're not playing and that you like to keep the game light and fun.
The new minimum rank requirement introduced in June 2015 for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was meant to make it harder for people to cheat at competitive mode. It was supposed to make it more fun for other players who love the competitive experience but hate dealing with smurf accounts and cheaters.
Unfortunately, the team at Valve didn't do as good as job as they could have. All players, no matter how many matches you've played or how many hours you've sunk into the game, were started at rank 1. To play competitive you have to be at rank 3. To rank up a few levels can take a while. I tried to play the Operation Bloodhound missions and they take a while to complete. It's not very fun to grind through the missions or other game modes when all I want to do is play competitive. Sure I could treat the game modes as practice but the ranking system is glaring me in the face. It makes it hard to ignore that every death match is a way to gain experience points. I don't give a damn about XP or levels! I just want to make my rifle shots are true and my pistol skills are adequate to cover my team mates and help us win a match!
I don't understand why experienced players who have put in over 500 hours and over 100 competitive matches have been punished with the ranking system. And there's no nice way to buy out of it other than to grind through the missions and grind through a bunch of matches which I no longer treat as practice but as merely a way to buy my way into competitive match-making.
I like the idea of the ranking system but they should have boosted the experienced (> 100 in-game hours?) players to rank 3 and then let the magic hacker cam system catch the obvious cheaters. Cheaters would stop buying new accounts because getting to rank 3 would be a challenge. That's what I really like about the ranking system and why I enjoy it so much in DOTA 2 (even though I haven't ranked up in DOTA 2 to be able to play competitive haha).
Hopefully Valve figures out a way to make this easier for experienced players who hop back into the game only to find they can't play their favourite mode. Of course, the alternative is just to join CEVO and play competitive matches there.
To liven things up in the last few competitive matches, I've been buying what I call the "gangsta buy". It's not too bad and it's cheap enough that you can buy weapons for your team.
The Gangsta Buy:
Dog ain't nothin' slow about the Mac,
omouse is the only fool still playing with the [TRS80] tag online. Gold Nova 1 or 2 depending on the week!