You can no longer access the Twitch website and Twitch iOS app in China, at least legally.
Twitch has confirmed that the Chinese government has blocked all access to its platform in mainland China.
The development comes on the heel of the Twitch iOS app reaching the third spot in the iTunes free apps chart, with the surge of popularly mostly owed to eSports and especially the Asian Games.
Although the reason for the ban wasn’t revealed, the fact that Twitch was the only way for Chinese fans to follow the event was what likely made it a target for the Chinese government.
Twitch now joins a growing list of major websites to be blocked in the world’s video game market, a list that includes the likes of Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Considering that some of the Steam Community features are also inaccessible in China, it probably won’t be long until the main Steam store is also banned.
Valve has been taking preemptive measures should it also meet the same fate, having partnered with a Chinese publisher to launch a localized version in the country.
Capcom Wants to Attract Newer, Younger Gamers with SF5
Capcom is betting big on Street Fighter 5. In addition to wanting the title to be the preeminent fighting game of this gaming generation, the Japanese publisher / developer hopes it will expand the popularity of the franchise to attract a younger audience in the fast-growing eSports scene.
In an interview with MCVUK, Capcom EMEA brand manager Brian Ayers expressed a desire for the latest Street Fighter to become even more mainstream than it currently is, stating:
“We really hope that Street Fighter V can bring in a newer, younger audience. Perhaps more of an eSports audience, as well. Street Fighter is actually one of the first eSports titles out there, but it’s relatively underground compared to the likes of Dota 2 and League of Legends.”
It’s true — despite being the most renowned fighting game franchise ever, Street Fighter isn’t as popular as one would expect, and as someone who loves fighting games with a passion, I love to see the day when any fighting game, be it Killer Instinct, Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, becomes as big as Dota or Call of Duty in eSports. Wouldn’t you?
EVO 2015: Rico Suave Wins Killer Instinct Championship with Fulgore
When the dust settled at the EVO 2015 Killer Instinct tournament, only one hardcore player was standing — Rico Suave and his Fulgore! The professional fighting game player is now the world Killer Instinct champion and arguably the best KI player currently, having taken the crown from EVO 2014 winner CD Jr.
Probably just as impressive as his triumphant win is the fact that while most of top 8 players stuck with just one character, he tore through the tournament with a diverse selection of characters, including Fulgore, Spinal, Thunder, Glacius and even Omen.
Rico never lost a match until winners’ final, sweeping aside such powerhouses and crowd favorites as C88 MyGod with Glacius before going head to head with GutterMagic’s head-stomping, triple-axing Thunder.
His match against MyGod in the winners semi-finals was considered by many as a déjà vu moment. In EVO 2014, he counter-picked Glacius against another powerful Sabrewulf player — Justin Wong — and won the set using the same gameplay style he took MyGod down with (watch it here).
In the Killer Instinct winners’ finals, Rico surprised everyone when he counterpicked Spinal against GutterMagic and surprised them even more when he convincingly won two games. But, alas, Gutter’s Thunder proved too deadly and knocked him into a losers’’ bracket loaded with killers…
His bloody climb out of the bottom saw him lay waste to SleepNS’ irritating Kan-Ra in the losers’ finals, and the crowd couldn’t be happier…
And then there was the Grand Finals — GutterMagic versus Rico Suave in one of the most epic runbacks in EVO history. Sticking with Fulgore against Gutter’s tried and test Thunder, Rico won the first set to reset the bracket, using every tool the robot had to offer.
In the final set, he employed the same strategies to great effect, even tossing in Hype Beam to get the crowd going. When all was said and done, he was the last man standing, winning a championship he had been chasing since Killer Instinct’s EVO 2014 tournament, in which he placed second.
Rico Suave is one of only a handful of professional fighting game players who have made Killer Instinct their main game, so it’s fitting that he’s the one to win EVO 2015.
What did you think about the Killer Instinct tournament? Was it hype or what? For those that didn’t get a chance to watch it, here is your chance…
Call of Duty Championship Offers $1Million Prize
The third Call of Duty Championship — Call of Duty Championship 2015 — will award a hefty sum of $1 million dollars to the team that wins the entire tournament. Are any of you taking part in it?
Taking place from March 27 to 29 in Los Angeles, Call of Duty Championship 2015 will see the world’s best payers duke it out to weed out the one true champion. The competition is co-sponsored by Xbox, Major League Gaming and several other international eSports organizations.
The first Call of Duty Championship took place in April 2013 with players competing in Black Ops II. Fast forward two years and it is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare that will decide the winner, with the final match being broadcasted live on Xbox Live, Twitch and other networks.
Qualifiers for the tournament will be held from January 17 to February 8 in key locations that include the UK, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Belgium and Mexico.
Advanced Warfare was developed with eSports and the competitive community in mind. Though developer Sledgehammer Games helped Infinity Ward create Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare is the first Call of Duty game they developed on their own.
The next-gen first-person shooter marks the beginning of a new 3-year development cycle since Modern Warfare 3 released way back in 2011. Like you, we are hoping that the next two games will have innovative features that differentiate each from past Call of Duty’s.
What team do you think will win Call of Duty Championship 2015?
Dota 2 is Now Being Learned in Schools Around China
Valve’s highly successful Massive Online Battle Arena Dota 2 has been such a success that millions of people around the world play it every day. Although the game is mostly played casually and for fun, some gamers have made it a living, playing it competitively and making a lot of money doing so. Many, if not most, of these players live in China, a country that has been at the forefront of competitive gaming for years and is now teaching eSports in its schools.
The relationship Chinese people have with Dota has blossomed to the point where Dota 2 has become a subject of study in schools. That’s right — Dota 2 is now being taught in schools, with The Chongqing Energy College being just one of several schools that offers courses aimed at teaching students about the game, as well as about the growing sensation that is eSports.
Chongqing’s Dota 2 course is aptly called “Recent Development of Electronic Sports and Analysis of Dota” and gives students a very descriptive idea of what the can expect. Although the class is held weekly and accommodates “just” 90 students, more than 200 are reportedly flocking every week to attend it, giving us the strange and comical image of a crowded classroom with some students looking in on the lecture from outside.
The course sounds fun, but its agenda transcends both Dota 2 and eSports. Studies have shown that playing video games can improve your coordination and reaction speed, among other things, a fact more and more public officials are starting to acknowledge.
What Chongqing and other universities are hoping for is that students will take what they learn from Dota 2 — a team-based game that requires cooperation and coordination — and apply those skills to real world situations.
Needless to say, China’s Dota 2 course is an apparent success and looks to have staying power. It’s a shame that gaming courses are still are oddities in most schools around the world.
You and I probably have some of these skills down pat, but there is a lot more we can learn. Would you want video gaming courses offered in your country and/or at your school? Let us know in the comments.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro Player Kqly Gets Banned
With Simon “smn” Beck receiving the banhammer for cheating, yet another big-name Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) pro player has been banned by the ESEA. The player in question is Hovik “Kqly” Tovmassian from team Titan, who was banned by Valve’s Anti-Cheat service for undisclosed reasons.
Team Titan announced on Facebook that Kqly has been temporarily suspended from their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team while his ban is being investigated, stating:
“We regret to inform you that we were forced to temporarily suspend Hovik “Kqly” Tovmassian from our active CS:GO roster. Upon logging onto Titan’s usual scrim server, while at the training house and while using a recently formatted PC, Kqly got VAC banned and can therefore not train or practice with his official account. We are currently in contact with Valve in order to investigate what might have caused this and we will keep you informed as the situation develops.”
VAC stands for Valve Anti Cheat. It’s a system that scans and detects cheating programs that are often used by players in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and automatically bans anyone caught red-handed.
Even though VAC rarely makes mistakes, Titan seems to think it may have erroneously banned Kqly. Either way, with the team set to participate in Dreamhack Winter 2014, this is a major blow to their chances of getting top spot.
It is unclear if Titan will be able to successfully appeal Kqly’s ban, or if they will replace him altogether.
Adding to the story, the banning of both Kqly and smn seem to confirm a list of allegedly cheating CS:GO pro players that was leaked onto the internet. Many people were wary of the accusations, but the latest ban has most on the edge of their seats. The entire Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro-scene is at risk.
Counter-Strike Pro Player Simon “smn” Beck Banned for Cheating
Simon “smn” Beck, a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) pro player and part of team Alternate, has been banned by the ESEA for cheating.
Alternate is currently one of the best teams in Germany and had a pretty good run in the European ESEA Main division in 2014, having finished fourth following a 5-16 defeat against London Conspiracy. However, that success has been tarnished with Beck’s act of cheating during an official ESEA game and his subsequent ban for one year.
The exact details for when and where in the tournament he cheated is unclear, but Alternate unsuccessfully appealed the ban. In the end, the team had no choice but to let the player go.
Interestingly, smn didn’t seem all too remorseful after the ban, even posting the following on his Facebook page before eventually removing it:
“A small hint from myself: Watch closely on LAN. There are a lot of cheaters in international teams who I know that cheat. It’s absolutely no problem to cheat on LAN, you don’t even have to run a file, thanks to Workshop and SteamCloud.”
His Facebook post raises questions about the legitimacy of professional players, and in particular about the possibility of them hacking during LAN tournaments.
According to Team manager Jörg “Major Rabbit” Jacob, no one from team Alternate had any idea that Beck was using performance-enhancing cheats in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Unfortunately, Alternate will head into the ESL Pro Series final one man short, though it is actively looking for someone to replace their banned player.
The team now currently consists of Michele “zonixx” Köhler, Manuel “approx” Zeitz, Tizian “tiziaN” Feldbusch, and Fatih “gob b” Dayik.
So, what do you make of the ESEA’s ban of Simon “smn” Beck? Was it the right call and is cheating as pervasive in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition as Beck seems to suggest? Let us know in the comments.