Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Show Notes, Blizzard News January 2019



Activision Blizzard Hit With Multiple Class Action Lawsuits Over Bungie Split

Activision Blizzard Under Investigation For Securities Fraud

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


Former Blizzard Entertainment President Leaving Advisory Role In April

Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022

Activision Blizzard Has Just Appointed Three New Presidents

Activision Blizzard Set To Fire Its CFO After Rocky 2018



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 Accordingly the prize money was revoked and split among the remaining top 3 players.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

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 or the DeepMind YouTube channel  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

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!

Balance update coming to Starcraft 2 on Jan 22

Dark Horse Is Expanding The StarCraft Comics Universe With StarCraft Soldiers



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.

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

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

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


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

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

Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022 Ohio State begins work on competitive e-sports arena. 

Blizzard Wants to Clean Up Twitch Chat Using Accounts

                    WARCRAFT III                    

Warcraft 3 Legend, Moon's Endless Saga

Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022

Warcraft III: Reforged reminds us why mod toolsets should matter

Daily and Weekly Tournaments here

           WORLD OF WARCRAFT           

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

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


    Blizzard unveils Diablo 3's Season 16

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

    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)


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

    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.”



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

    Blizzard Wants to Clean Up Twitch Chat Using Accounts

    British Esports League

                   WARCRAFT CLASSIC               

              HEROES OF THE STORM          

    Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Extend Publishing Partnership Through 2022

                          BLIZZARD MOBILE                      

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


    Starblo – Blizzard’s Unreleased Sci-Fi ARPG

    Sources for these news bits include:

    And others.