Saturday, February 2, 2019

Show Notes, Blizzard News, February 2019



        GENERAL BLIZZARD NEWS        



Blizzard is working on several Warcraft and Diablo games despite layoffs

https://venturebeat.com/2019/02/12/blizzard-more-world-warcraft-games/






                      STARCRAFT                      



Summary




Tespa Collegiate Series: StarCraft II Team Brawl

https://tespa.org/compete?blzcmp=app#starcraft

All systems, go! After an exciting preseason that saw eight teams earning a guaranteed spot in the spring season, we’re ready to kick off the 2019 StarCraft II Tespa Collegiate Series - Team Brawl. Students of all skill levels, across the US and Canada, are invited to sign up and represent their schools. Teams that qualify will compete in nine weeks of play, fighting to be one of the eight teams to compete in the Final Bracket.




StarCraft II Esports in 2019
Seven new 2019 SEASON 1 Maps have come out, tending towards beautiful, lush green landscapes.

Blizzard announced the rest of the Starcraft Esports schedule, with WCS Spring and Summer to both take place live in Kiev, Ukraine, replacing Dreamhack Valencia, Dallas and Leipzig.
WCS Fall will take place at DreamHack Montreal. Three Challenger Series, 3 GSLs, 2 GSL SuperTournaments and GSL vs The World fill out the remaining schedule.
Blizzard also revised their recent policy change restricting players from competing in both Season 1 of GSL and Season 1 of WCS Challenger. Intending to limit the number of WCS Circuit players who would compete in the Korean tournament, the rule change succeeded, as all the usual foreigners except Scarlett pulled out of the GSL competition. Season 2 and 3 will return to the 2018 rules.
In addition, Blizzard announced plans to release a second War Chest later this the year.

WCS Winter
In WCS Winter EU, Serral advanced first out of his group undefeated. Reynor, uThermal, HeRoMaRinE, Elazer, Harstem, Lambo, MaNa, Namshar, Rail, Hellraiser and PtitDrogo also advanced, with Nerchio falling out 0-4. ShowTime, Zanster, SortOf and HateMe play later today.
In WCS Winter NA, Neeb advanced undefeated, with TIME, Probe, Rex, MaSa, Astrea, Coffee and Silky. Has, puCK, Firefly and PSiArc play later today.
Group Stage 2  begins February 14 for both regions.

BroodWar Patch 1.22.3  has arrived.
The first season of 2019 has officially begun Featuring New Zerg themed ranked play rewards.
New features have been added to the WCS GameHeart Extension Mod, which will now automatically prevent skins from being displayed for players but Skins will be visible to Observers.

GSL Season 1
Two GSL players received the NesTea award for 10 consecutive Code S appearances this week: Classic and Losira. They are the ninth and tenth players to accomplish the feat.
MC joined ROOT Gaming this week. One of the most decorated players of all time, MC retired from pro-gaming to become a League of Legends coach, but looked anything but rusty in the lead off match of the GSL Group Stages, easily defeating Stats, last years BlizzCon's Finalist, before being knocked out himself. Emerging from the Group Stages so far are Dark and Dear, Classic and Trap, Gumiho and Cure, SoS and Bunny. Maru and Scarlett are next to play along with soO, INnoVation, TY, Zest and Rogue in Groups E through H.

ASL Season 7
Round of 16 Group Stage have just begun with EffOrt and Horang2 advancing over GuemChi and PianO.

IEM KATOWICE 2019,
Season 13 Group Stages begin Feb 25th - March 3rd.




Starcraft 2 In Wine & Select Games Could See Nice Performance Win With RadeonSI Patches

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=RadeonSI-SDMA-Constants

I admit Im not entirely sure what this article says.




&   &   &




At the Ladies Only Banshee Tournament, Miyamori defeated Kyla to win this week after defeating the undefeated Ladies Champion, Tilea, in the Round of 4. Miyamori was found to be male however, a player named Kiyj who last week disrupted the Banshee Tournament by playing using the name of another regular player, Ragnarokette. Accordingly the prize money was revoked and split among the remaining top 3 players. Tilea announced her semi retirement a few days later for undisclosed reasons, but plans to co-cast future Banshee Tournaments with ZombieGrub and perhaps will play if the opportunity presents. 💜 

Zest won the BaseTradeTV  TING  Open  Season  5 over Cure, one of the longest tournaments in Starcraft history due to scheduling issues.

Congratulations to Astrea for winning the 1st season of The NA Apprentice Tournament for up and coming players.

Innovation defeated soO to win the OlimoLeague Winter Grand Finals.

Indy, a Polish caster, won the QLash Casters Invitational after the Caster JimRising was unable to compete in the Live Finals and was replaced by French Caster Yogo.

SAIDA and Locutus advanced out of the Round of 4 in the SSCAIT, Student StarCraft AI Tournament. SAIDA is created by the Samsung Corporation and currently tied with Locutus with a  Win Loss Percentage at  95.77%.

Bly won this weeks Wardi Arena but in WCS Winter Europe failed to advance out of Group A. uThermal, MaNa, HeRoMaRinE, and Rail have advanced at this time with 6 Groups yet to complete. SpeCial, MCanning, Scarlett and Epic have advanced on the WCS Winter Americas side. Groups C and D for both will play out this weekend, E through H on February 7th through the tenth.

Dark and Dear advanced out of Group A in GSL Season 1 Code S Round of 32. Group B consisting of Classic, TRUE, Losira and Trap play February 7th. Stats, MC, Cure and GuMiho play on February 8th. Scarlett was the only foreigner to qualify this season and plays Maru, RagnaroK and herO in Group E on February 13th. GSL will take a hiatus in three weeks to allow its Korean players to compete in IEM Katowice.



An AI crushed two human pros at StarCraft—but it wasn’t a fair fight

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/01/an-ai-crushed-two-human-pros-at-starcraft-but-it-wasnt-a-fair-fight/
AlphaStar may be the strongest StarCraft AI ever created. But it wasn't quite as big of an accomplishment as it might appear.

Top StarCraft players can issue instructions to their units very quickly. Grzegorz "MaNa" Komincz averaged 390 actions per minute (more than six actions per second!) over the course of his games against AlphaStar.  But of course, a computer program can easily issue thousands of actions per minute, allowing it to exert a level of control over its units that no human player could match.

To avoid that, DeepMind says it put a hard cap on the number of actions per minute AlphaStar could make. "We set a maximum of 600 APMs over 5-second periods, 400 over 15-second periods, 320 over 30-second periods, and 300 over 60-second period," wrote DeepMind researcher Oriol Vinyals in a reddit AMA following the demonstration.

But as other redditors quickly pointed out, five seconds is a long time in a StarCraft game. These limits seem to imply that AlphaStar could take 50 actions in a single second or 15 actions per second for three seconds.

More importantly, AlphaStar has the ability to make its clicks with surgical precision using an API, whereas human players are constrained by the mechanical limits of computer mice. And if you watch a pro like Komincz play, you'll see that the number of raw actions often far exceeds the number of meaningful actions.

And as I mentioned earlier, the API used by AlphaStar in its initial games gave it a godlike view of the entire battlefield (albeit only those portions of the battlefield within range of one of AlphaStar's units). If a human player wants to take actions in two different parts of the board, he has to first take the extra step of moving the camera to the new location. When AlphaStar was forced to use the camera as well, MaNa was able to defeat it.

It's not yet clear if the camera restrictions introduced last week are sufficient to make the fight truly fair. AlphaStar is still accessing information about the game through a specialized API that's different from the rendering shown to human players. This API may allow the software to glean more information and issue instructions more quickly and precisely than would be possible for a human player.


The DeepMind StarCraft AI May Have Been 'Cheating' After All

https://www.thegamer.com/starcraft-deepmind-ai-cheating/



&   &   &



DeepMind Starcraft II Demonstration took place on DeepMind's YouTube channel on January 24th, with Tim Morton the Lead Producer of StarCraft, Oriol Vinyals the lead of the DeepMind Team  casters RotterDam and Artosis, Dave Silver co lead of the DeepMind , and Pro Starcraft players TLO and Mana of Team Liquid.

First announced in 2016 at BlizzCon, DeepMind has previously defeated Chess and Go.

After a brief chat about the history of the DeepMind StarCraft project, TLO, a top Zerg player for Team Liquid who is known for creative strategies, spoke about his experience as the first professional Starcraft player to compete against DeepMind, first playing 100 games as Protoss as preparation in the week leading up to the match.

Artosis and RotterDam cast 2 of the more interesting of the 5 matches, explaining the differences between a human and the AI, and the strategies involved, with discussion of the other 3 between matches.

DeepMind sees 30 screens a minute as he moves around the map to gives new unit orders, a similar rate to a SC pro and has been limited to a somewhat human speed which can go as high as 700 or more Actions Per Minute instead of the 3500 DeepMind was capable of at that time in the week before Christmas. Moreover, DeepMind has no "mindset". Human players choose a favorite unit or strategy style and become known by it, as well as understand the current meta of the game, but DeepMind has trained only against copies of itself called AlphaStar that compete using wildly different strategies rather than copying a meta, and TLO played 5 different versions of DeepMind instead of one, leading him to make assumptions of how it would play that turned out to harm his own play instead.

DeepMind uses "Imitation learning" from replays to try to understand the basics of Starcraft and imitate each particular move. The AlphaStar matches became known as the League, creating a diversity of strategies and over time a whole new set of strategies emerged onto the ladder. Sometimes proxy strategies emerged. One week of DeepMind training is equivalent to 200 years of human Starcraft.

Said RotterDam of AlphaStar, "Good Starcraft, but not perfect Starcraft."

One AlphaStar version made the mistake of massing up to 18 disruptors, far more than the 4 or 5 maximum of the human meta and blew chunks out of TLO's army anytime his reactions werent fast enough to avoid their shots.

All AlphaStars regularly made 24 drones  rather than the long accepted human meta of 16 per nexus, a "mistake" but because of it, TLOs attacks that would normally cripple a nexus' worker count clipped redundant workers instead to little if any effect.

Human players handle going up a narrow ramp into a defended enemy base with extreme caution, whereas AlphaStar with its inhuman micro  had no fear at all, surprising the human player unused to it, leading to more losses.

And worst of all, AlphaStar demonstrated perfect micro at all times, able to individually move units at the precise time and location needed, as all of the best AIs have demonstrated, but to an extremely high level so that units near to death were removed and fresh units continuing the fight until tiny mistakes made by TLO led to the loss of his armies by a thousand paper cuts.

All 5 matches are available to watch on www.deepmind.com or the DeepMind YouTube channel  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUTMhmVh1qs  and strongly bring SkyNet to mind.

A week later after more training time for DeepMind, AlphaStar faced top Protoss, MaNa in another 5 games, 2 or 3 of which are shown on the video.

With only a week, DeepMind showed clear improvement.

The Demonstration ended with analysis, some videos of how the DeepMind team had reacted to the ten pro matches, and a Live show match with MaNa.


soO defeated ParTing in the chinese Masters Coliseum 4 tournament

Probots 2019 Season 1, a StarCraft AI tournament, has begun at https://www.twitch.tv/eschamp/

Bombastic  StarLeague  6 Nation Wars.  Starcraft Brood War has its own NationWars underway with Peru, Russia, Poland and Chile advancing from the ladder. Only players living outside of South Korea can participate in BSL. The top 5 players from each country form a Nation team.

StarCraft: Soldiers #1 has come out.

IEM KATOWICE 2019, Season 13  Patience, INnoVation, & Maru qualified from NA.  SpeCiaL, Neeb and uThermal from EU.  They join the WCS 2018 Global Champion Serral. Dark, Bunny, Zest, TY and Rogue have qualified from Korea.  Group Stages begin Feb 28th - March 1st.

WCS Winter will be starting on January 31st!

2019 GSL Season 1 Code A Qualifiers begin Jan. 23rd (Wed.) & Jan. 24th

AfreecaTV StarCraft League Season 7 ​​Group Stages Group E and F will play out on Jan 27th and 29th. Larva, Horang2, Snow, pianO, Best, Sacrsi, Mind and Modesty have already qualified.








IEM Katowice 2019

https://twitter.com/IEM/status/1067855648979861505?s=19

We’re excited to announce that StarCraft II will once again be featured at Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice Grand Finals on March 3, players will be battling it out for their share of a prize pool worth over USD $400,000.

There will be an on-site qualifier at the ESL studio in Katowice on February 25–26. Keep an eye on the official IEM website.

2018 World Championship Series champion Joona “Serral” Sotala has accepted his invitation to compete and will be seeded directly into the Round of 24.




The Pylon Show, a Starcraft Podcast 

https://www.twitch.tv/incontroltv

With Artosis and iNcontroL every Wednesday! Also available on YouTube and as a podcast.










                           ESPORTS                          



https://tespa.org/news   https://tespa.org/compete?blzcmp=app#starcraft

Tespa is excited to announce new spring programs for Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Heroes of the Storm, and Rocket League! Over the past decade, over 30,000 students have competed in Tespa competitive leagues, spanning 7 different games and awarding over $3M in scholarships! Leagues are open to all Tespa members, regardless of college or chapter status.






                    WARCRAFT III                    




Daily and Weekly Tournaments here

https://www.twitch.tv/back2warcraft




                           DEEPMIND                        




    An AI is playing Pictionary to figure out how the world works

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612882/an-ai-is-playing-pictionary-to-figure-out-how-the-world-works/







               WORLD OF WARCRAFT           









                                 DIABLO                           




      2.5 per cent of core PC users played Diablo III in January, six month high for Blizzard's dungeon crawler

      https://www.pcgamesinsider.biz/news/68555/diablo-iii-hits-six-month-player-share-high-according-to-newzoo/



      Blizzard is working on several Warcraft and Diablo games despite layoffs

      https://venturebeat.com/2019/02/12/blizzard-more-world-warcraft-games/




      Want a Little More Diablo in Your Life? You Can Have it with the Book of Adria

      https://www.mmorpg.com/diablo-3/news/want-a-little-more-diablo-in-your-life-you-can-have-it-with-the-book-of-adria-1000051436









                         HEARTHSTONE                   









                           OVERWATCH                     









                     WARCRAFT CLASSIC               








                HEROES OF THE STORM          









                            BLIZZARD MOBILE                      








            OTHER BLIZZARD RELATED STUFF      










      Sources for these news bits include:

      www.google.com

      https://news.blizzard.com/en-us

      http://www.teamliquid.net/

      And others.



      .


      Wednesday, January 2, 2019

      Show Notes, Blizzard News January 2019



              GENERAL BLIZZARD NEWS        



      CYBERPUNK 2077 HEAD WRITER JOINS BLIZZARD

      https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/01/24/the-witcher-3-creative-director-joins-blizzard



      Activision Blizzard Hit With Multiple Class Action Lawsuits Over Bungie Split

      https://screenrant.com/activision-blizzard-bungie-lawsuits-split/



      Activision Blizzard Under Investigation For Securities Fraud

      https://screenrant.com/activision-blizzard-securities-fraud-investigation/



      Blizzard Has 3 Art Books & a Pop-Up Book Coming in 2019

      https://www.mmorpg.com/news/blizzard-has-3-art-books-and-a-pop-up-book-coming-in-2019-1000051190



      THE EARLY DAYS OF BLIZZARD WITH CO-FOUNDER ALLEN ADHAM

      https://sea.ign.com/starcraft/144965/feature/the-early-days-of-blizzard-with-co-founder-allen-adham



      Former Blizzard Entertainment President Leaving Advisory Role In April

      https://esportsobserver.com/morhaime-exits-blizzard-april/



      Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022

      https://esportsobserver.com/blizzard-netease-china/



      Activision Blizzard Has Just Appointed Three New Presidents 

      https://t.co/wQvczQFDPF

      https://twitter.com/Twinfinite/status/1083036580686643201



      Activision Blizzard Set To Fire Its CFO After Rocky 2018

      https://hothardware.com/news/activision-blizzard-fires-cfo





                            STARCRAFT                      


      Summary



      At the Ladies Only Banshee Tournament, Miyamori defeated Kyla to win this week after defeating the undefeated Ladies Champion, Tilea, in the Round of 4. Miyamori was found to be male however, a player named Kiyj who last week disrupted the Banshee Tournament by playing using the name of another regular player, Ragnarokette. Accordingly the prize money was revoked and split among the remaining top 3 players. Tilea announced her semi retirement a few days later for undisclosed reasons, but plans to co-cast future Banshee Tournaments with ZombieGrub and perhaps will play if the opportunity presents. 💜 

      Zest won the BaseTradeTV  TING  Open  Season  5 over Cure, one of the longest tournaments in Starcraft history due to scheduling issues.

      Congratulations to Astrea for winning the 1st season of The NA Apprentice Tournament for up and coming players.

      Innovation defeated soO to win the OlimoLeague Winter Grand Finals.

      Indy, a Polish caster, won the QLash Casters Invitational after the Caster JimRising was unable to compete in the Live Finals and was replaced by French Caster Yogo.

      SAIDA and Locutus advanced out of the Round of 4 in the SSCAIT, Student StarCraft AI Tournament. SAIDA is created by the Samsung Corporation and currently tied with Locutus with a  Win Loss Percentage at  95.77%.

      Bly won this weeks Wardi Arena but in WCS Winter Europe failed to advance out of Group A. uThermal, MaNa, HeRoMaRinE, and Rail have advanced at this time with 6 Groups yet to complete. SpeCial, MCanning, Scarlett and Epic have advanced on the WCS Winter Americas side. Groups C and D for both will play out this weekend, E through H on February 7th through the tenth.

      Dark and Dear advanced out of Group A in GSL Season 1 Code S Round of 32. Group B consisting of Classic, TRUE, Losira and Trap play February 7th. Stats, MC, Cure and GuMiho play on February 8th. Scarlett was the only foreigner to qualify this season and plays Maru, RagnaroK and herO in Group E on February 13th. GSL will take a hiatus in three weeks to allow its Korean players to compete in IEM Katowice.





      What DeepMind’s AlphaStar beating StarCraft players means for AI research

      https://towardsdatascience.com/what-deepminds-alphastar-beating-starcraft-players-means-for-ai-research-62ca70ccb403




      DeepMind Starcraft II Demonstration took place on DeepMind's YouTube channel on January 24th, with Tim Morton the Lead Producer of StarCraft, Oriol Vinyals the lead of the DeepMind Team  casters RotterDam and Artosis, Dave Silver co lead of the DeepMind , and Pro Starcraft players TLO and Mana of Team Liquid.

      First announced in 2016 at BlizzCon, DeepMind has previously defeated Chess and Go.

      After a brief chat about the history of the DeepMind StarCraft project, TLO, a top Zerg player for Team Liquid who is known for creative strategies, spoke about his experience as the first professional Starcraft player to compete against DeepMind, first playing 100 games as Protoss as preparation in the week leading up to the match.

      Artosis and RotterDam cast 2 of the more interesting of the 5 matches, explaining the differences between a human and the AI, and the strategies involved, with discussion of the other 3 between matches.

      DeepMind sees 30 screens a minute as he moves around the map to gives new unit orders, a similar rate to a SC pro and has been limited to a somewhat human speed which can go as high as 700 or more Actions Per Minute instead of the 3500 DeepMind was capable of at that time in the week before Christmas. Moreover, DeepMind has no "mindset". Human players choose a favorite unit or strategy style and become known by it, as well as understand the current meta of the game, but DeepMind has trained only against copies of itself called AlphaStar that compete using wildly different strategies rather than copying a meta, and TLO played 5 different versions of DeepMind instead of one, leading him to make assumptions of how it would play that turned out to harm his own play instead.

      DeepMind uses "Imitation learning" from replays to try to understand the basics of Starcraft and imitate each particular move. The AlphaStar matches became known as the League, creating a diversity of strategies and over time a whole new set of strategies emerged onto the ladder. Sometimes proxy strategies emerged. One week of DeepMind training is equivalent to 200 years of human Starcraft.

      Said RotterDam of AlphaStar, "Good Starcraft, but not perfect Starcraft."

      One AlphaStar version made the mistake of massing up to 18 disruptors, far more than the 4 or 5 maximum of the human meta and blew chunks out of TLO's army anytime his reactions werent fast enough to avoid their shots.

      All AlphaStars regularly made 24 drones  rather than the long accepted human meta of 16 per nexus, a "mistake" but because of it, TLOs attacks that would normally cripple a nexus' worker count clipped redundant workers instead to little if any effect.

      Human players handle going up a narrow ramp into a defended enemy base with extreme caution, whereas AlphaStar with its inhuman micro  had no fear at all, surprising the human player unused to it, leading to more losses.

      And worst of all, AlphaStar demonstrated perfect micro at all times, able to individually move units at the precise time and location needed, as all of the best AIs have demonstrated, but to an extremely high level so that units near to death were removed and fresh units continuing the fight until tiny mistakes made by TLO led to the loss of his armies by a thousand paper cuts.

      All 5 matches are available to watch on www.deepmind.com or the DeepMind YouTube channel  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUTMhmVh1qs  and strongly bring SkyNet to mind.

      A week later after more training time for DeepMind, AlphaStar faced top Protoss, MaNa in another 5 games, 2 or 3 of which are shown on the video.

      With only a week, DeepMind showed clear improvement.

      The Demonstration ended with analysis, some videos of how the DeepMind team had reacted to the ten pro matches, and a Live show match with MaNa.


      soO defeated ParTing in the chinese Masters Coliseum 4 tournament

      Probots 2019 Season 1, a StarCraft AI tournament, has begun at https://www.twitch.tv/eschamp/

      Bombastic  StarLeague  6 Nation Wars.  Starcraft Brood War has its own NationWars underway with Peru, Russia, Poland and Chile advancing from the ladder. Only players living outside of South Korea can participate in BSL. The top 5 players from each country form a Nation team.



      StarCraft: Soldiers #1 has come out.

      IEM KATOWICE 2019, Season 13  Patience, INnoVation, & Maru qualified from NA.  SpeCiaL, Neeb and uThermal from EU.  They join the WCS 2018 Global Champion Serral. Dark, Bunny, Zest, TY and Rogue have qualified from Korea.  Group Stages begin Feb 28th - March 1st.

      WCS Winter will be starting on January 31st!

      2019 GSL Season 1 Code A Qualifiers begin Jan. 23rd (Wed.) & Jan. 24th

      AfreecaTV StarCraft League Season 7 ​​Group Stages Group E and F will play out on Jan 27th and 29th. Larva, Horang2, Snow, pianO, Best, Sacrsi, Mind and Modesty have already qualified.




      DeepMind Plays Pro Starcraft Player Live!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUTMhmVh1qs


      https://www.teamliquid.net/forum/starcraft-2/541114-alphastar-ai-goes-10-1-against-human-pros-in-demonstration



      Balance update coming to Starcraft 2 on Jan 22

      https://estnn.com/balance-update-coming-to-starcraft-ii-on-jan-22/



      Dark Horse Is Expanding The StarCraft Comics Universe With StarCraft Soldiers

      https://www.gamespot.com/articles/dark-horse-is-expanding-the-starcraft-comics-unive/1100-6464477/



      NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM: THIS KIND GESTURE FROM A UK OVERWATCH PRO EVOKES THAT ESPORTS COMMUNITY SPIRIT

      https://esports-news.co.uk/2019/01/23/overwatch-boombox-epiclan/


      SUMMARY


      At IEM Katovice 2019 Patience, INnoVation, & Maru qualified from NA, SpeCiaL, Neeb and uThermal from EU.  They join the WCS 2018 Global Champion Serral. Trap, RagnaroK, Cure, Bunny, soO, aLive, herO and Solar have advanced in the 1st of two Korean Qualifiers. Group Stages begin February 28th, with Finals March 3rd.  The NA qualifiers saw a 50% increase in participants compared to 2018.

      WCS Winter 2019 Announcements :   Three separate qualifiers will be held on the Europe servers on Jan 17, 18, and 20. The top eight from each will move to the European round of 32.  Two separate qualifiers will take place on the Americas servers on January 15 and 20. A third qualifier will be run on the Asia server on January 19.

      AfreecaTV StarCraft League Season 7 ​​Group Stages will begin on Sunday, January 13th, hosted by Afreeca TV and play every Sunday and Tuesday at 7pm.

      The GPL 2018 Grand Finals are the conclusion of the 2018 Chinese Gold Series. Four players chosen by 2018 WCS Circuit Standings competed for the most prestigious trophy in China.  On January 11th and 12th, TIME defeated TooDming in the Finals.

      At the OSC Battle of the Americas: North America vs Latin America Finals, Neeb from the US defeated SpeCial 4-2.

      The OSC Championship 6 Finals take a place January 13 featuring Gumiho vs Guru.
      The Starcraft 2 BJ Destruction Team League, Season 2, Finals took place with  Team "Our Goal Is 2nd Place" led by soO defeating the power house Team "Fly JinAir".

      Master's Coliseum 4 is a Chinese online invitational tournament. soO defeated ParTinG 4-3.  soO's legendary curse seems to be well and truly broken for 2019.

      The National Electronic Sports Open 2018 is a comprehensive e-Sports tournament organised by the Chinese State General Administration of Sport and hosted by NeoTV . iAsonu defeated XiGua 4-0 in the Finals.

      In Starcraft AI news, ProBots 2019 - Season 3 has begin.  All the ProBot action happens Mondays and Wednesdays starting from Jan 7th at 7:30 pm EST on the ESChamp Twitch Channel.

      The Pizza Pie Weekly #52 was won by Raze 2-0 over Nycro. Numerous changes are being made to the Pizza Pie*/ Weekly in 2019, including return to biweekly status, but offering cash prizes in addition to the pizza which now includes an additional topping, and pizza points for all entrants that go towards qualification to an end of the year grand finals.

      Bombastic  StarLeague  Season 6  ladder stage is underway.  The goal of the Bombastic StarLeague is to focus on the development of Starcraft Remastered players outside of South Korea, both the very best and top amateurs to encourage new players.



      ASL Season 7 Qualifiers underway in Korea. [Red]NaDa has qualified for #ASL Season 7 over 16 years after winning his first championship in 2002.

      https://twitter.com/RAPiDCasting/status/1081487624638889984



      ESPN announced  "Moment of the year: Serral becomes first non-Korean to win WCS"

      War Chest: Katowice 2019 Complete Bundle is live with new skins, 3 new comics, a Diablo pet, HotS and Hearthstone loot boxes . 25% of all War Chest purchases go to StarCraft II esports. Earn Warchest XP by watching SC streams !

      Blizzard announced it is still working out details of SC 2019 Esports.  Both WCS Korea and the WCS Circuit will continue in 2019, and something new called "WCS Winter" replaces one WCS Circuit stop. Qualifiers run Jan 17, 18, and 20. This GSL style 10-week program of 2 online tournaments—one for the Americas and one for Europe— will culminate in a live, winner-advances battle between the top six, one for Europe and one for the Americas.



      IEM Katowice 2019

      https://twitter.com/IEM/status/1067855648979861505?s=19

      We’re excited to announce that StarCraft II will once again be featured at Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice Grand Finals on March 3, players will be battling it out for their share of a prize pool worth over USD $250,000.

      There will be a series of online qualifiers in January, as well as an on-site qualifier at the ESL studio in Katowice on February 25–26. Keep an eye on the official IEM website.

      2018 World Championship Series champion Joona “Serral” Sotala has accepted his invitation to compete and will be seeded directly into the Round of 24.




      The Pylon Show, a Starcraft Podcast 

      https://www.twitch.tv/incontroltv

      With Artosis and iNcontroL every Wednesday! Also available on YouTube and as a podcast.








                                 ESPORTS                          



      Blizzard Entertainment Revamps World of Warcraft Esports, Introduces Crowdfunded Prize Pool

      https://esportsobserver.com/blizzard-revamps-wow-esports-2019/



      Lead Designer Q&A: 'World Of Warcraft' Mythic Plus Dungeon And Competition Changes

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/hnewman/2019/01/17/lead-designer-qa-world-of-warcraft-mythic-plus-dungeon-and-competition-changes/#e3b7dc32f91a


      Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022

      https://esportsobserver.com/blizzard-netease-china/



      NBC4i.com: Ohio State begins work on competitive e-sports arena. 




      Blizzard Wants to Clean Up Twitch Chat Using Battle.net Accounts

      https://www.pcmag.com/news/365644/blizzard-wants-to-clean-up-twitch-chat-using-battle-net-acco







                          WARCRAFT III                    


      Warcraft 3 Legend, Moon's Endless Saga

      https://www.invenglobal.com/articles/7258/interview-warcraft-3-legend-moons-endless-saga



      Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022

      https://esportsobserver.com/blizzard-netease-china/



      Warcraft III: Reforged reminds us why mod toolsets should matter

      https://venturebeat.com/2018/12/10/warcraft-iii-reforged-reminds-us-why-mod-toolsets-should-matter/



      Daily and Weekly Tournaments here

      https://www.twitch.tv/back2warcraft







                 WORLD OF WARCRAFT           





      Lead Designer Q&A: 'World Of Warcraft' Mythic Plus Dungeon And Competition Changes

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/hnewman/2019/01/17/lead-designer-qa-world-of-warcraft-mythic-plus-dungeon-and-competition-changes/#e3b7dc32f91a


      World of Warcraft Doubles Viewership on Twitch in 2018 With New Expansion


                                   DIABLO                           



        Blizzard unveils Diablo 3's Season 16

        https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-01-18-blizzard-unveils-diablo-3s-season-16-for-pc-xbox-one-ps4-and-switch



        Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Update Version 1.28 (PS4) Patch Notes 2.6.4 (PC, Xbox One)

        https://gearnuke.com/diablo-3-reapers-of-soul-update-version-1-28-patch-notes-2-6-4/



        Activision Blizzard hiring Quest Designer for Possibly Diablo 4

        https://www.thenerdmag.com/activision-blizzard-hiring-quest-designer-for-possibly-diablo-4/



        Diablo 3 Season 16 Starts on January 18th



        The Loot Goblin Amiibo Will Steal Your Heart (And Wallet)

        https://twinfinite.net/2018/12/the-loot-goblin-amiibo-will-steal-your-heart-and-wallet/



        SEASON 16: THE SEASON OF GRANDEUR BEGINS 1/18

        https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/diablo3/22820656/season-16-the-season-of-grandeur-begins-1-18



        League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite among list of games reportedly banned in China

        https://www.foxsportsasia.com/esports/996831/996831/

        LoL is joined by several games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, including Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft (WoW), among the group of games that needed to take “corrective action.”







                           HEARTHSTONE                   









                             OVERWATCH                     


        PCGamesN: Overwatch Contenders player leaves team after threats of doxxing.




        Blizzard Wants to Clean Up Twitch Chat Using Battle.net Accounts

        https://www.pcmag.com/news/365644/blizzard-wants-to-clean-up-twitch-chat-using-battle-net-acco




        British Esports League

        https://twitter.com/British_Esports/status/1076084871422865408?s=19








                       WARCRAFT CLASSIC               








                  HEROES OF THE STORM          




        Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022

        https://esportsobserver.com/blizzard-netease-china/






                              BLIZZARD MOBILE                      



        The Loot Goblin Amiibo Will Steal Your Heart (And Wallet)

        https://twinfinite.net/2018/12/the-loot-goblin-amiibo-will-steal-your-heart-and-wallet/








              OTHER BLIZZARD RELATED STUFF      




        Starblo – Blizzard’s Unreleased Sci-Fi ARPG

        https://techraptor.net/content/starblo-erich-schaefer









        Sources for these news bits include:

        www.google.com

        https://news.blizzard.com/en-us

        http://www.teamliquid.net/

        And others.



        .

        Sunday, December 9, 2018

        Show Notes, Blizzard News December 2018



                GENERAL BLIZZARD NEWS        



        3 Growth Opportunities for Activision Blizzard

        Long term, Activision has plans to introduce in-game ads throughout its titles.



        With Activision's Influence Growing, Blizzard Is Cutting Costs

        https://kotaku.com/with-activisions-influence-growing-blizzard-is-cutting-1831263741



        League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite among list of games reportedly banned in China

        https://www.foxsportsasia.com/esports/996831/996831/

        LoL is joined by several games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, including Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft (WoW), among the group of games that needed to take “corrective action.”



        Heroes Esports cancelled

        https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/blizzard/22833558/heroes-of-the-storm-news



        NetEase Discusses Importance of Chinese Gaming Regulation, Anti-Addiction Measures

        https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/netease-china-game-regulation-1203030537/

        "Over the summer, Tencent noted that Chinese government regulators had mostly halted approval of new game releases in China starting in the spring, not allowing the release of paid games in the country. That evolved into a push for greater control of and limitations on games developed for children and concerns of addiction to video games. Tencent has since reduced its marketing budget but still saw a strong third quarter."






                              STARCRAFT                      



        SUMMARY


        ESPN announced  "Moment of the year: Serral becomes first non-Korean to win WCS"

        Kelazhur won "Best Athlete of other Genres" in Brazil. (IE of Esports)

        War Chest: Katowice 2019 Complete Bundle is live with new skins, 3 new comics, a Diablo pet, HotS and Hearthstone loot boxes . 25% of all War Chest purchases go to StarCraft II esports. Earn Warchest XP by watching SC streams !

        Blizzard announced it is still working out details of SC 2019 Esports.  Both WCS Korea and the WCS Circuit will continue in 2019, and something new called "WCS Winter" replaces one WCS Circuit stop. Qualifiers run Jan 17, 18, and 20. This GSL style 10-week program of 2 online tournaments—one for the Americas and one for Europe— will culminate in a live, winner-advances battle between the top six, one for Europe and one for the Americas.

        Patch 4.8.0 is out with numerous bug fixes and no nerf in sight for the Protoss.

        Dota 2, Starcraft II, Tekken 7, Arena of Valor, and Mobile Legends confirmed as esports to be played in the SouthEast Asian Games in late 2019,  the first time that esports will be a medal event in a major sports competition.

        SoulKey defeated Sharp to win Season 2 of KSL,  the Blizzard Starcraft ReMastered tournament. SoulKey had not won a Championship before.

        Flash won't be playing in ASL  Season 7 due to his wrist injury. ((Flash is a Legendary player, Equivalent to a Michael Jordan )

        Byun, the 2016 BlizzCon Champion who has suffered extreme wrist problems of his own this year, announced he is going to retire and depart for mandatory military service in January.

        The National Championship Series, a nationwide series of in-person esports competitions Backed by Comcast and N3rd Street Gamers was announced. The season will feature Hundreds of regional tournaments and weekly training events including Overwatch, Hearthstone, and StarCraft II



        Moment of the year: Serral becomes first non-Korean to win WCS

        http://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/25535120/espn-esports-awards-moment-year-serral-becomes-first-non-korean-win-wcs



        Dota 2, Starcraft II, Tekken 7, Arena of Valor, and Mobile Legends confirmed as esports to be played in the South Asian Games 2019

        https://www.foxsportsasia.com/esports/1003133/sea-games-2019-dota-2-starcraft-ii-tekken-7-arena-of-valor-and-mobile-legends-confirmed-as-esports-to-be-played-in-the-games/
        The 2019 SEA Games will mark the first time that esports will be a medal event in a major sports competition.



        StarCraft II War Chest

        https://warchest.starcraft2.com/en-us/



        WCS Winter Announced

        https://wcs.starcraft2.com/en-us/news/22820912/Introducing-WCS-Winter-2019/



        N3rd Street Gamers Announces National Championship Series of Esports

        https://www.prweb.com/releases/n3rd_street_gamers_announces_national_championship_series_of_esports/prweb16004266.htm



        This week, SoulKey defeated Sharp to win Season 2 of the Starcraft ReMastered tournament,  KSL. This is a Blizzard sponsored tournament along with the other SC BroodWar tournament the ASL. 

        SoulKey had not won before but has been getting farther and farther in the rankings every season so good for him. 

        No word yet on the new War Chest that is to be out in December. War Chests typically contain a new set of racial skins and a digital comic book to unlock by playing the game, either vs AI or players, and the first $1 million in proceeds goes towards prize pools for the major tournaments and other unknown related purposes.  

        Another SC comic book mini series is coming out in late January, Starcraft: Soldiers. 

        Various Community organized tournaments are going on daily and weekly. 



        One of the bigger LANs Cheeseadelphia 8, just ended with an upset by Future, a 16 year old to keep an eye on for the future after defeating MaSa and #4 ranked in the world  SpeCiaL. 

        Most of those foreigners planning to make a GSL run in early 2019 are back in Korea or soon will be, at the ROOT - Unity House to practice their butts off. 

        GSL and WCS dates are not yet announced other than IEM Katovice but should be any time now. 

        The SSCAIT Starcraft AI tournament should start up again soon for season 7 once classes are back in session. The practice ladder is still dominated by SAIDA, the bot entry from Samsung Corporation. SAIDA won the internal Samsung competition to become their official entry over the autumn. FaceBook's bot, CherryPi, is hovering around 4th last I looked. 




        eSports is taking over video game tournaments

        http://www.ramaponews.com/news/view.php/1036515/eSports-is-taking-over-video-game-tourna



        STARCRAFT II: DEC. 6 – DEC. 19 PERIOD ANALYSIS

        https://estnn.com/starcraft-ii-dec-6-dec-19-period-analysis/



        Competitive Video Game StarCraft Finds Strong Following at Michigan State

        http://www.wkar.org/post/competitive-video-game-starcraft-finds-strong-following-michigan-state#stream/0



        The Pylon Show On The Blizzard Launcher!














        Starcraft This Week:  World Electronic Sports Games Qualifiers are ramping up at the national and Regional level, to compete in the Global Finals in China in March for a huge payout. Hearthstone, CS:GO and 3 other games will all compete there.

        TESPA Collegiate Starcraft Tournament was won by printf, who broke into the top ranks just in time to qualify for the Finals and won a $7500 scholarship for his effort.

        Cheeseadelphia 8 is finally here and MCanning knocked Neeb out of the tournament with a 3-2 victory over the favorite.



        IEM Katowice 2019

        https://twitter.com/IEM/status/1067855648979861505?s=19

        We’re excited to announce that StarCraft II will once again be featured at Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice Grand Finals on March 3, players will be battling it out for their share of a prize pool worth over USD $250,000.

        There will be a series of online qualifiers in January, as well as an on-site qualifier at the ESL studio in Katowice on February 25–26. Keep an eye on the official IEM website.

        2018 World Championship Series champion Joona “Serral” Sotala has accepted his invitation to compete and will be seeded directly into the Round of 24.




        The Pylon Show Episode 32, a Starcraft Podcast 

        https://www.twitch.tv/incontroltv

        With Artosis and iNcontroL every Wednesday! Also available on YouTube and as a podcast.

        This week's guests, Nathanias, Rotterdam, Maynarde and Neuro! The last episode of the year. With beverages!







                                   ESPORTS                          



        Blizzard Wants to Clean Up Twitch Chat Using Battle.net Accounts

        https://www.pcmag.com/news/365644/blizzard-wants-to-clean-up-twitch-chat-using-battle-net-acco



        N3rd Street Gamers Announces National Championship Series of Esports

        https://www.prweb.com/releases/n3rd_street_gamers_announces_national_championship_series_of_esports/prweb16004266.htm



        League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite among list of games reportedly banned in China

        https://www.foxsportsasia.com/esports/996831/996831/

        LoL is joined by several games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, including Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft (WoW), among the group of games that needed to take “corrective action.”



        eSports is taking over video game tournaments

        http://www.ramaponews.com/news/view.php/1036515/eSports-is-taking-over-video-game-tourna



        Drilling deep on how to monetize esports

        https://venturebeat.com/2018/12/16/drilling-deep-on-how-to-monetize-esports/



        State of OverWatch

        https://twitter.com/Slasher/status/1073817398770327554



        Heroes Esports cancelled

        https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/blizzard/22833558/heroes-of-the-storm-news



        Esports is an official medal event at the Southeast Asian Games

        https://www.pcgamer.com/esports-is-an-official-medal-event-at-the-southeast-asian-games/

        Hearthstone is sure to be one of the 6. It was in both trials, its nonviolent, its popular, and I think it has girls playing at high level. The IOC liked that when Scarlett won Pyeongchang, that it wasnt a white male.



        Shanghai releases guidelines over eSports athlete registration and management

        https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d414f7955544f30457a6333566d54/share_p.html



        WESG Continues working its way through Nationals and Regionals to World Finals

        Starcraft II and Hearthstone players have been competing for months in over 40 nations to qualify. The Global Finals will be in Shanghai China in March 2019.  JustSaiyan is the US Hearthstone winner. Canada Qualifier Finals play Live at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto on December 2.



        Hangzhou Opens Esports Town, LGD Gaming and Allied Esports Debut Venue

        https://esportsobserver.com/hangzhou-opens-esports-town/

        Hangzhou’s government plans to invest up to $1.26B across 14 esports projects by 2022, including an esports academy, hotel, office park, and hospital.

        After a demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director general Husain Al-Musallam said esports still requires a single international federation before it can be fully included.







                            WARCRAFT III                    



        Warcraft III: Reforged reminds us why mod toolsets should matter

        https://venturebeat.com/2018/12/10/warcraft-iii-reforged-reminds-us-why-mod-toolsets-should-matter/



        NetEase Revealed Esports Plan With Blizzard For Next Year, $720K Prize Pool For WarCraft III Series  

        https://esportsobserver.com/china-esports-recap-nov29/

        The Chinese city of Hangzhou opened its “esports town”, which currently spans 3.94M square feet (17K square meter). The initial cost for the complex is ¥2B RMB ($280M), though Hangzhou’s government plans to spend up to ¥15.45B RMB ($2.22B) on the project through 2022, according to the Chinese government-run website People.cn. Some of the planned facilities for the town include an esports academy, esports-themed hotel, theme park, a business center, and even a hospital designed for esports players.





        The WGL  Winter Grand Finals are underway

        http://dz.blizzard.cn/article/news/2521

        The Warcraft III Golden League Winter Tournament was won by Moon over Ukrainian born Foggy!

        The Warcraft Gold League 2018 Winter Season is the second part of the most important individual tournament in 2018. With one the biggest prize pool of the year ($21,655) and the obligation to earn his place via a qualifier tournament, this is the most prestigious event in the scene.

        It is organized by Blizzard Entertainment's Chinese partner : NetEase, played at Shanghai, offline. During November, the very best players of the world will fight in a double elimination groupstage before going into the single elimination playoffs.




        https://comicbook.com/2018/11/07/warcraft-iii-reforged-world-of-warcraft-references/



        Daily and Weekly Tournaments here

        https://www.twitch.tv/back2warcraft







                   WORLD OF WARCRAFT           




        League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite among list of games reportedly banned in China

        https://www.foxsportsasia.com/esports/996831/996831/

        LoL is joined by several games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, including Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft (WoW), among the group of games that needed to take “corrective action.”




        SPOILERS: World of Warcraft is redefining undeath and rewriting a race

                                     DIABLO                           



          The Loot Goblin Amiibo Will Steal Your Heart (And Wallet)

          https://twinfinite.net/2018/12/the-loot-goblin-amiibo-will-steal-your-heart-and-wallet/



          SEASON 16: THE SEASON OF GRANDEUR BEGINS 1/18

          https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/diablo3/22820656/season-16-the-season-of-grandeur-begins-1-18



          League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite among list of games reportedly banned in China

          https://www.foxsportsasia.com/esports/996831/996831/

          LoL is joined by several games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, including Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft (WoW), among the group of games that needed to take “corrective action.”







                             HEARTHSTONE                   




          N3rd Street Gamers Announces National Championship Series of Esports

          https://www.prweb.com/releases/n3rd_street_gamers_announces_national_championship_series_of_esports/prweb16004266.htm






                               OVERWATCH                     




          Blizzard Wants to Clean Up Twitch Chat Using Battle.net Accounts

          https://www.pcmag.com/news/365644/blizzard-wants-to-clean-up-twitch-chat-using-battle-net-acco



          N3rd Street Gamers Announces National Championship Series of Esports

          https://www.prweb.com/releases/n3rd_street_gamers_announces_national_championship_series_of_esports/prweb16004266.htm



          British Esports League

          https://twitter.com/British_Esports/status/1076084871422865408?s=19



          League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite among list of games reportedly banned in China

          https://www.foxsportsasia.com/esports/996831/996831/

          LoL is joined by several games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, including Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft (WoW), among the group of games that needed to take “corrective action.”



          OVERWATCH LEAGUE SUSPENSIONS: 7 PLAYERS DISCIPLINED

          https://estnn.com/overwatch-league-suspensions-7-players-disciplined/



          State of OverWatch

          https://twitter.com/Slasher/status/1073817398770327554







                         WARCRAFT CLASSIC               








                    HEROES OF THE STORM          




          Heroes Esports cancelled

          https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/blizzard/22833558/heroes-of-the-storm-news






                                BLIZZARD MOBILE                      



          The Loot Goblin Amiibo Will Steal Your Heart (And Wallet)

          https://twinfinite.net/2018/12/the-loot-goblin-amiibo-will-steal-your-heart-and-wallet/



          Drilling deep on how to monetize esports

          https://venturebeat.com/2018/12/16/drilling-deep-on-how-to-monetize-esports/






                OTHER BLIZZARD RELATED STUFF      




          Starblo – Blizzard’s Unreleased Sci-Fi ARPG

          https://techraptor.net/content/starblo-erich-schaefer









          Sources for these news bits include:

          www.google.com

          https://news.blizzard.com/en-us

          http://www.teamliquid.net/

          And others.



          .