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Korean government will build three new esports stadiums

Korean government will build three new esports stadiums

In an effort to bring esports even closer to mainstream recognition, the Korean government announces plans to build three more esports stadiums as well as a dedicated referee training facility.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced the project to build up to three new esports facilities in Korea by 2020. A dedicated tournament area, a broadcasting relay facility and a production studio are all in the plans, according to the official announcement. In addition, the Ministry expects to discuss the expansion of the existing sports facilities in order to make them more suitable to include esports.

Other mid-to-long-term plans include a dedicated referee training organ and a specialized agency to nurture human resources needed for the continuous growth of the esports industry. “We plan to design the facility in a way that it can utilize various aspects of esports tournaments as well as cultural performances and tourism programs,” an official of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism told the press.

This is in line with the plan to expand esports to the region included in the “e-Sports promotion mid-to-long term plan” announced by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism back in December 2014. Since then, there have been several esports stadiums built in Korea in 2016 for a total of 306.4 billion won ($274 million USD). In order to lessen the costs, the ministry plans to improve and expand the existing esports and sports arenas.

Currently, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance considers the budget for the project in question.

The plans for the dedicated referee training facility might prove to be even more vital for the future growth of the industry. It is implied that it will become the cornerstone element that will allow esports to register as a member of the Korea Sports Association. Currently, the Daejeon Metropolitan City Athletic Association is the only sports association in Korea that accepts esports.

The proposal by the Ministry is in line with esports being selected as a model sport for the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) considering entering esports in the Olympic Games. “As esports become a regular sport, the impact on the gaming and sports industries will be even greater,” said a Ministry of Culture and Tourism official.

According to the announcement, the exact details of the project will be revealed later this month.

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Nexus sXe: “There is no excuse for us not to make it to the next level anymore”

Nexus sXe: “There is no excuse for us not to make it to the next level anymore”

Making it to the next level and qualifying for the Minor are the two most important things for the Romanian Nexus, according to Cristian “sXe” Nita.

Coming out of ESL Southeast Europe Championship: Season 7 victorious meant a lot for the Romanian champions Nexus Gaming. For once, it cemented their position as one of the best teams in the region. They overcame the Balkan KlikTech and Bulgarian HEADSHOTBG to secure a first-place finish and nearly $3,000 in prize money.

But even more importantly it served as a proof of concept for the newly gathered roster. With very little practice together, the team overcame their opposition and won the whole event. For Cristian “sXe” Nita that meant a successful return to Nexus Gaming after nearly a year competing for other teams.

Nexus has secured themselves a Top 4 finish at the ESEA Season 28 Advanced Division, consequentially qualifying for a 16 team Premier Relegation tournament. Seven of the worst performing ESEA Premier teams will battle it out against nine lower league teams for four spots in the next season of ESEA’s highest league.

There, Nexus will have to overcome the likes of Virtus.pro, Movistar Riders, PRIDE, ENCE, and many others to take that next step towards international recognition.

To find out just how important it is for their team to secure this victory, we caught sXe for an exclusive interview.

Vie: How did you start playing CS? At what point did you realize you wanted to play it competitively?

I’ve been playing CS since I was 6 years old. My father got me into CS, he used to play 1.5 and 1.6 all the time with my uncle and so from there on it just kinda grew on me. I only played 1.6 just for fun, but then CS:GO came out and I got really addicted to the game. Slowly I sought competitiveness and so I wanted to pursue this stuff.

Vie: Then I guess your father isn’t really against your career in esports?

My family has always been very supportive of me and my career. For myself, it has been really easy to perform whenever because of all their support.

Vie: You went through the ESL SEE Championship in a very convincing fashion. Were you happy with your performance there?

Well, after I joined the team I knew we would win it because our synergy was tremendous considering we have played together in the past. The tournament was a great practice for us and we enjoyed playing it a lot.

Vie: There seems to be less and less competition in the whole SEE region for you guys. 

Our competition in the whole SEE region is based on two other teams actually, Valiance and Windigo. We will practice really hard in the upcoming weeks to prove that we can be the best team in this region. We will start with a bootcamp in the next couple of weeks and then we will move into a more permanent one, once Nexus finishes our brand new bootcamp location.

Vie: Both Valiance and Windigo had some success internationally, with Nexus somewhat lagging behind. What was keeping you back?

Well, first of all, we needed a serious organization in order to improve and some serious support, like the other Balkan teams had. Now that we have them there is no excuse for us not to make it to the next level anymore.

Vie: The last time you were on Nexus you reached #47 in the World ranking — a record high result. I know some teams really chase a higher rank but Is that at all important for you?

We want to go to a Minor, then to a Major, rank is not that relevant to us. It counts of course but not that much. We care more about results and frankly, going to a Minor is our next goal.

Vie: Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

I would like to thank all my fans for supporting me and everyone that supports Nexus. And don’t forget guys — 10k bots a day keeps bad aim away.

Follow sXe on Twitter @sXeCSGO.

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JoelSophie: “It won’t be very long before Korea fully shifts to FPP”

JoelSophie: “It won’t be very long before Korea fully shifts to FPP”

Taking a closer look at the Korean PUBG scene, we sat down with OGN’s and SPOTV’s caster and analyst, Seungmin “Joel Sophie” Lee.

Those following the Korean PUBG scene are well familiar with Joel Sophie and his work. He quickly became known for his deep knowledge of the game and established himself as one of the most insightful casters in the scene. Earlier this year, he was invited to cast at StarSeries i-League Season 1, alongside some of the best PUBG casters and analysts in the world.

Korean teams had a lot of success at PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS’ first major tournament ever. Gen.G Gold took the first place in the TPP tournament and their sister team Gen.G Black, while dominated on the first day of the competition, finished in respectable sixth position. But while Gen.G players had seen some success in the Charity Showdown, it did not go for them quite as planned in the FPP event. Although the Korean players had shown some promise, they still couldn’t compete on the less familiar FPP grounds, as both teams finished outside of the Top 8.

Joel Sophie talked about his career as an esports caster, gave us an insight into the Korean representatives at PUBG Global Invitational 2018, and discussed the further impact FPP will have on the Korean PUBG community.

Vie: Tell us a bit about how you ended up where you are now. How does one become an English caster for a Korean league?

JoelSophie: I got my first job in esports when I applied and was selected as a translator for OGN, working on the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) program, starting June 2016. During my journey, I formed aspirations to become a caster, so I let OGN know of my ambitions, and just a year after my translating debut, a position opened up for their Blade & Soul tournament, and that became my debut as an English caster.

Photo via Twitter

Vie: Why PUBG? What was it about it that made you go “I must get in on that”?

JoelSophie: Doing well for myself and gaining respect within the industry, my ambitions grew in wanting to get involved in a major title. However, I knew that established scenes, such as LoL, Overwatch, and CS:GO, already had their own established talents. That would make it difficult for me to break in past them.

I wanted a scene that was going to grow at the same pace as I was going to grow as a caster. When I was thinking that in late 2017, the game that fit that bill was PUBG. I had confidence in my skills, that it would be recognized, and that I could grow with PUBG in their own esports endeavor. It was also intriguing that its developer, PUBG Corp., is a Korean-based company, so I was excited for an opportunity to be directly involved in communication and to maintain a close connection. I let OGN know that I wanted to be considered as a candidate for their first PUBG tournament, PSS Beta. The competition was definitely fierce, but in the end, I was selected for the position, casting with @proxywolf. Now, I am providing full coverage for two of the three PUBG Korea League Pro Tours with OGN’s PSS and SPOTV’s PWM.

Vie: Let’s go a few weeks back, before the PGI. What were your expectations for the Korean teams there?

JoelSophie: I had the pleasure of being invited to cast for StarLadder’s StarSeries i-League PUBG back in March, where I had the privilege of witnessing the competition between the best from the West and the two invited Korean teams. Needless to say, the Korean teams were underwhelming when compared to the likes of FaZe Clan and Team Liquid. I wasn’t necessarily disappointed, but simply in acceptance of the fact that this is Korea’s current competitive state. I always kept a close eye on the European competition, whether it was GLL, Auzom, etc., knowing these teams were the best in the world of PUBG esports.

Simultaneously, I was casting the Korean tournaments while keeping track of their progress when compared to their previous February through March performances, when they showed that StarLadder, IEM Katowice, and PGL Bucharest weren’t the stage that Korea would come up to shine. I definitely saw a huge improvement from our teams, especially in FPP, to a point where I wasn’t afraid this time of them facing up against the best in the world. I expected at least a Top 5 Korean finish for TPP and a similar result for them in FPP. Admittedly, it was pleasantly surprising to seer Gen.G Gold finish at the top of TPP and just simply disappointing to see them finish their FPP run the way they did. I believe they could have done much better.

Vie: It’s no secret that TPP is huge in Korea. What is the general consensus there in terms of FPP? 

JoelSophie: Even today, the general player base in Korea isn’t heavily exposed to the FPP playing environment, being unaware of its benefits. Since PUBG was the first shooting game for many at the time, the initially introduced TPP mode quickly settled as the norm. When so many people had already invested hundreds of hours in the TPP mode before FPP was ever introduced, it became difficult to find reasons sufficient enough for them to change. However, it is a completely different story for the professional scene. After disappointing finishes from top representatives at international tournaments hosted in FPP, the truth started to creep in that doing well in FPP was going to be the only way to truly find global success.

Vie: Do you see Korea switching to FPP for good anytime soon?

JoelSophie: Even the domestic tournaments shifted heavily towards FPP in their most recent formats, and my assumption is that it won’t be very long before even Korea fully shifts to an all-FPP format.

Vie: So the TPP event at the Global Invitational went pretty much as you expected?

JoelSophie: I expected Team Liquid to closely rival the top position for TPP with their past success with unconventional competition modes. This happened when Miramar and TPP were first played in tournaments, and Liquid excelled in them. Those guys thrive under pressure and do amazing things in unexpected situations.

All in all, I think placing second was a good result for Liquid, and while OMG did well to place 4th, I was a bit disappointed in 4 Angry Men. I thought they would do just as well as OMG, and for Japan, the pure player base is just simply not enough to be competitive with Korea and China at the moment, and the infrastructure needs to be improved for them to find more success, so their result at PGI wasn’t too much of a surprise. With all that said, I would never consider ‘being the best’ being ‘bare minimum,’ but general success in TPP for Korea was definitely ‘more than expected.’

Photo via Starladder

Vie: The FPP tournament did not go quite so well for Korea, though. 

JoelSophie: I honestly believed that Gen.G Gold theoretically could’ve fought it out for that top FPP position. They were absolutely prepared enough to take it home. I can only speculate that just as with any other team, their most recent accomplishments relished over TPP and the Charity Event did lead to at least some amount of complacency. I know EscA and his experience with consecutive success in the past when he played Overwatch for Lunatic Hai, so I kept my trust in him to lead his team to a proper mindset, but the moment you lean towards ‘expecting to win’ is when teams will fall hard, even more so in PUBG.

Vie: So you think Gen. G Gold could’ve done better in the FPP event?

JoelSophie: Gen.G Gold did fall hard in FPP. They ‘expected’ to do well, and I’m confident that EscA and his team have learned a valuable lesson from all this. I might be overly critical to a team that won two-thirds of a major tournament, but it’s the manner in how Gen.G Gold fell in FPP that leaves me wanting more. I don’t think their performance on the last two days was a fair reflection of their true potential. Give them another chance, and I believe they will pull off a more convincing result.

Vie: There’s an idea floating around, that once China and Korea switch to FPP they will become the new overlords of the PUBG scene. Do you agree with that sentiment?

JoelSophie: Yes.

Follow Joel Sophie on Twitter @JoelSophie_.

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Scoom: “EU obviously has the best track record in the Western scene”

Scoom: “EU obviously has the best track record in the Western scene”

Taking second place in the PUBG Global Invitational 2018 TPP event, Team Liquid have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with before the FPP competition.

Even before the start of the $2 million dollar tournament Team Liquid were considered to be the favorites by many. They plowed through the European qualifier, topping the list and eliminating one of the best teams in the world, FaZe Clan, on their way there. And all that considering they almost skipped the qualifier entirely.

Team Liquid had to bounce back after the not-so-great first games of the tournament. Keiron “Scoom” Prescott and his team finished sixth and eight in the first two games respectively, for a pretty subpar result. And even though they managed to secure back to back chicken dinners in games three and four, consistency allowed the Korean Gen.G Black (14th/2nd/2nd/2nd) to overtake them in the overall ranking.

Even though they couldn’t find any more chicken dinners on the second day of the competition, they showed just enough consistency to secure $160,000 and the second place finish in the overall rankings. The Korean Gen.G Gold, however, exploded and delivered the performance of their lifetime. They convincingly delivered two chicken dinners and climbed from the sixth position to take $400,000 and the title of the World Champions in PGI 2018 TPP event.

We sat down with Scoom to talk about their misfortunes in the online qualifier, their journey through the PUBG’s biggest tournament of the year, and preparation for the TPP event.

Vie: Walk me through how PGI qualifiers went for you guys. You made a lot of mistakes in the online part, you even failed to qualify, but in Leicester you were like a completely different team. What happened there? 

Scoom: Yeah, we didn’t really play our own game during the qualifiers. I don’t really know why, but we were playing new spots and doing things we normally wouldn’t. We came 6th (while Top 5 were to qualify). It wasn’t like we played bad per se, but we were meant to qualify 1st in our group I’d say. You can never be sure with the online matches and low amount of games.

Vie: So what changed?

Scoom: During the LAN/offline event we just felt like ourselves again. We felt confident. With LAN experience, playing against teams for whom it was their first LAN, it was much easier for us.

Vie: The “new” Liquid is somewhat of a PUBG superteam — four star players of their own respective teams on a single squad. Was that your goal or is it something that happened organically?

Scoom: Yeah, this team basically happened randomly. I mean when I first joined Liquid and started playing PUBG competitively my only goal was to be one of the best, if not the best team in the world. I’d work as hard as possible to achieve that.

When we started making roster changes a few months back I was super fortunate to get this team together. As I thought and of course still think, these are the best players in the scene.

Vie: With some of the biggest contenders not here, who do you think will be your biggest competitiors in the FPP event? 

Scoom: I don’t think we have any rivals per se, we are never worried about anyone else. We just focus on our game. I think NaVi and Gen.G teams are probably gonna perform the best.

Vie: So you are pretty confident?

Scoom: We are feeling really confident about PGI. We have a really good track record and feel like it’s our time. But we will treat each game as new and not let it go to our heads. We are confident in our own game and we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.

Vie: How do you feel about the perceived rivalry between EU and NA teams? Is it at all important for your team? 

Scoom: I don’t really care about regions too much, to be honest. There is always banter about EU>NA etc, but EU obviously has the best track record in the Western scene and even internationally.

Vie: What did you think of the TPP tournament?

Scoom: Including TPP is understandable because it’s pretty popular casually and especially in the Asian scene. As they even compete in it, it is what it is, even though I don’t think it’s really competitive, we gave it our all.

Vie: Did you prepare for it at all?

Scoom: We have just been playing public games to get used to it a little.

Follow Team Liquid’s Scoom on Twiiter @LiquidScoom. PUBG Global Invitational 2018 continues on Saturday, watch it live on Twitch.

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tmhMM: “We won’t be happy with anything less than the first place”

tmhMM: “We won’t be happy with anything less than the first place”

Hours before PGI 2018 kicks off, we caught the Turkish representatives Oyun Hizmetleri eSports and grabbed a quick chat with their support player Mehmet “tmhMM” Yıldırım.

The Turkish team qualified to PUBG Global Invitational 2018 — a $2 million dollar tournament by PUBG Corp — via the Middle East and North Africa qualifier. The tournament saw 20 of the best teams in the region make their way through the online phase and battle it out for a spot in PGI 2018 as well as $34,000 in prize money.

The likes of Beşiktaş e-Sports Club, Dark Passage, and many other notable teams entered the Volkswagen Arena in Istanbul with their eyes set on the first place. But in the end, it was the young and relatively unknown Oyun Hizmetleri eSports who came out victorious. They confidently overcame their opponents and at the end of the qualifier remained the leaders in both placement and kills by a margin.

tmhMM and his team had more than a month to prepare for PUBG’s biggest event of the year, and even with big teams like Liquid, Natus Vincere, or Ghost Gaming in attendance, the Turkish players remain confident in their own ability.

In a quick interview, with his teammates still actively preparing for the opening match of the tournament in the background, tmhMM revealed some of the inner workings of his team.

Vie: Tell us a bit about the Turkish scene. Where is it in terms of the level of teams?

I think we have a lot of talented players but esports is still improving in Turkey and we need a bit more time to reach a top level.

Vie: Did you practice with the teams for other regions at all? 

We didn’t have the chance to play a lot with them because as a full team, the four of us, have been playing together for only two months. We get along pretty well. We had some time to analyze the other teams and if we stick to our strategies I think we will be fine.

Vie: So you are confident heading into the PGI?

We are pretty confident in ourselves as a team and as long as we stick to our strategies we will be fine.

Vie: What are your goals for this tournament? What result would you be happy with?

Of course we are here for the first place. We won’t be happy with anything less than the first place.

Vie: Which teams will you be looking out for?

All of the competitors are pretty good but we are prepared for all of them.

Vie: Do you think you will have a disadvantage against more LAN experienced teams?

We prepared very well and we think we are ready and it kind of removes the pressure. Our players are experienced in LAN tournaments from other games as well, so we don’t think we will be feeling any different than other competitors.

Vie: What are your thoughts on the inclusion of the TPP tournament? How much time did you invest to prepare for it?

TPP is not our main mode of choice but we prepared for it as well.

PUBG Global Invitational 2018 starts 25th July, 19:00 CEST.

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