Australia’s had a big weekend for budding international gamers recently. Alex Walker takes a look at all the action.
By Alex Walker on September 29, 2013 at 9:53 am
It’s getting to the business end of the year for gaming: Battlefield 4, Call of Duty, the new consoles and every other AAA-title you can think of is around the corner. But it’s also the busy season for professional and amateur competitive gaming, with many leagues coming to a close, pro circuits hitting their final legs and international tournaments holding their world finals within the next couple of months
Australians don’t often get a chance to compete in any of these. We’re too far away; it’s something we’ve become accustomed to. Every now and again though, an opportunity comes by for a group of talented and lucky gamers (and you do need luck to succeed in these sorts of things) to ply their trade in a foreign land.
So that’s where we’ll start: with last weekend’s Australasia qualifiers for the MSi Beat It Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in China later this year.
Just beat it
My perspective on the MSi Beat It qualifiers is a little different from my usual observer’s perspective, since I played in them. With a little bit of fortune, I was able to play in both the preliminary and final group stages of the tournament, finishing 5th/6th, a fairly respectable result.
So I can say with a great degree a confidence that this was, without any shadow of a doubt, the best online tournament I’ve ever witnessed or participated in in Australia’s meagre gaming history. Not only did it capably handle 36 teams (over 180 players, when you factor in substitutes) across six groups on time and in good order, but it also coped with a second group stage of 10 teams on the second day, and a finals stage of four teams that ran over 7 maps.
Every stage ran remarkably close to time; the final group stages, for instance, finished fifteen minutes after schedule. Given the amount of players involved, the amount of matches involved and the general length of time required for each match, this was a sensational effort.
Let’s not overlook the tournament itself either: Australia was never meant to have one. It was only through the efforts of MSi’s local product and marketing manager that Australia got a qualifier at all. It just so happened that not only did we get one, we got possibly one of the best-run qualifiers you will ever see in eSports.
Bravo to all involved. And a particular bravo to Vox Eminor, who comfortably dispatched Archaic in the finals to earn a trip overseas. Their methodical style is well suited for an international tournament; I’m going to enjoy watching them take a few foreigners apart, provided all the team members are given visas.
As a special treat, I’ve even uploaded one of the matches from the tournament to YouTube for you to enjoy. There’s none of the in-game communications sadly (they were all conducted over Ventrilo), although it’s a nice accompaniment all the same.
Call of Online
At the same time as the final groups for the Beat It tournament kicked off, the Australian Cyber League hosted its second online round for the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 console tournament. 48 teams turned out for Super Sunday (that’s 192 players registered, so almost 400 players across the CS:GO and COD tournaments) and by the end, only Trident and AVANT Gaming were left standing.
Sadly, the finals are yet to be concluded, with Trident doing the honourable thing by refusing to lose to AVANT in the grand final. (Having come from the lower bracket, a second best-of-five is required, and everyone assorted didn’t have the time for a second run, so the finals are scheduled for some point in the future.
Given how well the MSi Beat It qualifiers ran, I’m obliged to give the ACL boys a slap on the wrist: 48 teams in a single day is excessively ambitious, and it wouldn’t have killed them — it probably would have saved them a lot of trouble, actually — to spread it over two days.
The jam-packed double elimination bracket produced some interesting results, with Team Immunity dropping out to Capital Punishment in a 3-2 thriller and the awkwardly-named Serpahic Nexus taking out the GAMECOM-sponsored NV 2-0 in the lower bracket.
We’re still awaiting news of when the final match between AVANT and Trident will go ahead, but otherwise it was a chockers weekend for fans of Call of Duty and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in Australia. Unfortunately, fans of the latter also have reason to be a little sombre.
Death of an institution
The management of the GameTech eSports website this week announced that the domain and the technology behind it, including the WarBot, the GT Live application, forums and everything else behind the pillar of Counter-Strike in Australia was up for sale.
I emailed the owners of the website to express my sympathies and for a quote, and they got back to me with the following. “The decision to place GameTech on the market wasn’t an easy one for us to make. Competing priorities and real life commitments have meant that the time available for us a group to dedicate to the community and business are limited. After taking all of this into consideration we felt that it wasn’t only best for ourselves, but also best for the community that we put GameTech on the market.
Having invested significant amounts of time and money while also being really passionate about the products we were developing means it’ll be really hard for us part ways GameTech. We are all really proud of the products we’ve been able to deliver the Counter-Strike scene over the years however, we now feel it’s time for someone else to step in and continuing developing it into something even better.
It’s hard to say what this means for the community now. Our hope is that our products will continue to have their place within the eSports scene. There is no doubt that whoever takes over GameTech has their work cut out for them but with some time and dedication I have complete faith that GameTech can continue to grow while also continuing to provide a home for eSport enthusiasts within Australia.”
The GT Live function in particular, which allows gamers to find pick-up matches, scrims and an IRC channel in one easy-to-use web browser, is an exceptional piece of technology. It’s a shame that the creators and supporters have decided to let it go: perhaps someone else will be able to put it to better use.