Samstag, 9. Februar 2013

LCS: SK Gaming vs. Fnatic

SK Gaming versus Fnatic

The moment is finally here: Season 3 of League of Legends has officially begun and what a season it shall be. Taking the right steps to promote League of Legends and e-sports in general, Riot's efforts towards turning competitive gaming into a weekly action-packed sensation, is nothing short of commendable.

Offering players and teams an annual salary, along with a fixed cash-prize at the end of the league: Riot have practically turned League of Legends into a regular sport. Even gathering interest from major sports news network, ESPN; there should be little doubt that Season 3 will change the way we think of competitive gaming and its competitors.
Competing across four days, every week, the Spring season is underway. We have already seen the first half of the NA teams in action and on Saturday, we will see the first of the top teams in the EU.

And what better way to start than with two of the biggest names in the EU scene: SK Gaming and Fnatic RC.

SK Gaming

Whether or not you have been actively following League of Legends - if you have followed e-sports within the last 10 years, there's a good chance you will have heard of SK Gaming. Creating one of the first e-sports communities, SK Gaming have been around since 1997 and so, perhaps quite reasonably, in 2010 they created their first League of Legends division.

The original roster probably consists of a lot of names you may have never heard of but they secured 2nd place for themselves in the 2010 World Cyber Games. Shortly afterwards, they acquired the roster of former Team Dimegio which included, most importantly, Araneae, nRated, Wickd and Ocelote.
Looking at the roster changes for SK Gaming, there aren't a lot of top EU players that haven't been rotated through this stable:
Across 2011 / 2012, players like: Snoopeh, Youngbuck, MoMa and Dedrayon, would all make appearances within the SK Gaming squad.
In early 2012 though, they would finally settle on Kev1n, one of the strongest top laners in the EU.

Still, the most iconic member of SK Gaming and also one of the biggest crowd pleasers: Ocelote, is arguably the reason why SK Gaming holds such a cherished status in the League of Legends scene.
Emotions and passion holds strong in the SK Gaming squad and Ocelote is definitely not afraid of showing that side of himself.
Known particularly in recent times for his joyous outbursts during the Cologne Regionals in Season 2, after defeating powerhouse - Ocelote retains a balanced edge between stoic precision and a passionate embrace of the game and his team.

After rotating out both YellowStar and Araneae, SK Gaming are hard in training adjusting to their new AD Carry; CandyPanda and their new jungler: hyrqBot. While CandyPanda has played for SK Gaming in the past and in some of their latest tournaments: Season 3 offers new challenges that requires a whole new set of preparations.
SK Gaming may enter Season 3 as a bit of a dark horse... but their fans will always make sure they look and feel like the best team in EU.


Fnatic may be considered one of the most rigid and reliable teams in the EU. Entering the League of Legends scene in 2011, their original roster consisted of: WetDream, xPeke, Lamia, Shushei, Cyanide, Mellisan and MagicFingers.
Two of those names are STILL on the roster and if it wasn't for Lamia's perhaps, surprising, retirement - He would probably have still been there too.

Proving themselves to be a strong team, right off the bat - They went on to win Riot's Season 1 Championship. No small feat.
After sOAZ joined in June, last year and nRated followed shortly after in August, the squad was pretty set and comfortable with their current roster. Unfortunately, due to Lamias departure - they were forced to look for a replacement carry.
In the period without Lamia, they only attended three majour tournaments, with mixed results. Fnatic looked off their game and you had to wonder: Would they come back from this?

Then, in November, Rekkles joined the team. It's not often a single player has such a massive impact on a team but they could simply not stop beating teams with their new AD Carry. Plowing their way through Dreamhack 2012, they beat in the finale to place first. Facing a cavalcade of skilled players at the IPL 5, they finished in second place - losing only to Team World Elite.
They beat Azubu Blaze, they beat they were looking unstoppable.

Things like these are not meant to last though, it seems, as the bad news arrived: Rekkles could not join Fnatic in Season 3 due to being underage. Even though Rekkles now has a place in the Fnatic Academy squad - Fnatic were once again without an AD Carry and forced to look for someone else.
The spot would eventually go to SK Gaming's former AD Carry: YellowStar. The question everyone were asking was: Can he live up to the expectations?
Rekkles left a huge impression on the team and everyone else before he left and surely, whoever followed him, would have all eyes set on him to perform equally as well. Thankfully, with Fnatic's mild-mannered nature and seemingly the ability to make anyone feel welcome: YellowStar has so far slowly worked towards creating a name for himself within his new team.


How does SK Gaming beat someone who consistently provides winning results? The Best-of-1 format should work pretty well for SK Gaming, as their match against in Cologne proved: They can produce very creative tactics that can surprise even the most seasoned team.
Mechanically, Fnatic are solid enough to withstand any "traditional" play and their win against Azubu Blaze is a testament to this. It may be better suited for SK Gaming to mentally outwit Fnatic, especially within their own jungle. Throw Cyanide off his game and allow Ocelote and Kev1n to run their games in their own lanes.
Most importantly, the bottom lane for SK Gaming needs to be aware of all of YellowStar's flaws. As he played for SK Gaming for an extended period of time, they should be aware of what his shortcomings are and they have to abuse those in order to get a grip on the bottom lane.

Fnatic previously hitched their wagon behind Rekkles a lot, while he was playing for them. They can't rely on YellowStar to do the same and that's why xPeke and sOAZ have to carry as best as they can. On paper, that should be fine as they are some of the top players in the world but they are also up against very strong counter-parts. Both Ocelote and Kev1n are capable of challenging anyone.
Emotions may run high but SK Gaming have to ensure that does not go against them if they fall behind. They should be aware of how strong Fnatic will be in the early game and make sure they have tactics to keep them in the game if they were to fall behind early on. 

Dienstag, 29. Januar 2013

OGN: NaJin Sword vs. Azubu Frost - Finale

OGN: Champions Winter, is currently in its third iteration, following the success of Champions: Spring and Champions: Summer.

Originally sponsored by the German media group, Azubu: The "Champions" tournament decided the Korean circuit points for the season 2 World Championship. Both Azubu teams (Frost and Blaze; formerly under the organization "MiG), have yet to fail to reach the playoffs. The first tournament was won by Blaze and the second by Frost - perhaps fitting for two of the top teams in the world.

The third installment of this top star tournament features a new sponsor (Olympus Korea) but OnGameNet are still the event organizers, as they rightly should be. Working hard to ensure that Korean League of Legends is accessible well outside of Korea, they've exclusively hired two, English-speaking casters - MonteCristo and DoA - to cover all the matches in English, as well as
offering a free streaming service to all viewers.

After three months, group stages and play-offs and 42 matches: Twelve teams have been reduced to two and today we will take a closer look at these teams:

Grand Finale : Azubu Frost vs NaJin Sword

NaJin Sword

Gaining true international fame after qualifying for Season 2 World Championship, displaying a dominant presence in the group stage but ultimately departing in the quarter-finales after a loss to Taipei Assassins; NaJin Sword won the hearts and minds of a great deal of viewers.

One particular team member stood at the forefront of this: MakNooN. With his precise mechanical skill, his fool-hardy aggression and his unparallelled charisma, MakNooN presented his team as one of the big contenders in the League of Legends scene. And calling it HIS team, is not far from the truth.
NaJin Sword's roster history is slightly complicated: Originally created as the second team under the NaJin Organization, NaJin Sword's conceptual phase began with MakNooN after he was knocked out of Champions: Spring. Currently, at the time, he was playing for NaJin's original team, which was named: "NaJin e-mFire". MakNooN, with the guidance and help of his organization, left the team after they were knocked out to search for new recruits which would help him Najin's second League of Legends team.

Due to MakNoon's creative and particularly unique playstyle in the top lane - The NaJin organization gave him free reigns to find players that would entirely suit HIS playstyle. Building a team around himself, that could handle his relentlessly aggressive playstyle, the soon-to-be NaJin Sword would not go through many changes before fixating itself on the team we know today.
Literally plucking players from the high-end elo ranks, none of the current NaJin Sword players had ever played for a professional organization before; with one exception: "Mulroc" or "ReSet" as he is now know.

Mulroc's time with NaJin Sword is a contentious one and his attitude eventually caused him to lose the jungling spot to "Watch" - which probably MakNooN and many others are quite grateful for.

After changing their original support player to today's "Cain", the NaJin Sword team has remained rigid as a roster and continued to strive towards becoming one of the top League of Legends teams in the world.
The NaJin organization eventually hired  former Starcraft Brood War progamer "Reach" to coach both teams (Sword & Shield), a decision that was hugely popular among Korean fans as Reach is quite a bit of a legend over there.
His impact has been tremendously noted, as the young and inexperienced players of Sword have grown into the fearsome competitors they are today. 

Azubu Frost

If you have heard of Frost, there's a good chance you have heard of Blaze and Vice Versa. The two Azubu teams have made such an impact on the professional scene of League of Legends, that there are few other teams in the world which can claim such notoriety.
Known for always scrimming with each other, the two teams have unwittingly become "rivales", as they most of the time end up playing each other in various tournaments. This year, it's different. This year, Blaze are already out but Frost have made it to the OGN: Champions finale for the third time, in as many tournaments.
They have a 100% Grand Finale attendance for this event.

Created as the first out of the two teams, Frost was originally named Maximum Impact Gaming before being picked up by the Azubu group.
Blaze was created not long afterwards and very little has changed since then.
After losing the grand finale of OGN: Spring to their counterparts, Azubu, the teams original AD Carry: LocoDoco, announced his departure. To replace the loss of their former carry, Frost signed Shy to play in the top lane. The captain and former top laner: Woong, moved to bot as the new AD Carry and has remained there since and is now considered one of the best AD Carries in the world.

This natural ability to adapt to new situations, is what has kept Azubu Frost running as arguably the number one team in the world for the past year, contending only with Tapei Assassins and Azubu Blaze. Not quite matching the mechanical skill of Azubu Blaze, Frost keeps their gameplay at the top level by introducing intelligent plays, creative team compositions and a steady stream of communication via their captain: Woong.
Arriving at their third OGN finale in a row, they finished top of their group and scraped past a difficult semi-finale against Azubu Blaze.

Known to be a highly efficient and clinical team, they don't show quite the level of emotions that other Korean teams do.
Will their stoic display of clinical efficiency be enough to beat NaJin Sword? If anyone can do it: It's Azubu Frost.

Head-to-head, what needs to be done?

NaJin Sword managed to get themselves out of a rut they had been in recently: Their champion selections and team compositions were predictable and lacked creativity. During the play-off stages, these things changed drastically and it's now virtually impossible to out-ban or out-pick Najin Sword entirely. Azubu Frost must simply make sure they play with a team composition that focuses less on gimmicks and more on traditional, stabilized play for what is most likely going to be a series of extended matches.
Shy has to put a lid on MakNooN and must deny him his favourite champions, such as Kha'zix. Still, even with three bans - MakNoon's champion pool is large enough to handle most things thrown at him in the top lane. The bottom line for Shy, is that he can't make any mistakes. As difficult as that sounds, MakNooN takes great advantage of any mistakes committed in the top lane and will capitalize on them. For Shy to win his lane, he has to use MakNoon's aggressive playstyle against him by forcing him to commit to situations he can't win.

The bottom lane will most likely be decided by ganks, rather than individual skill. These carries and supports are so competent at what they do, that there will be very few mistakes to capitalize on. Don't be surprised to see Twisted Fate coming out of RapidStar for level-6 ganks in bot lane.

The two junglers are very evenly matched in skill but what Cloud Templar lacks in mechanical skill, he makes up for in intelligent ganks and counter-ganks. Watch is a slightly better team-fighter and with a mid-to-late-game jungle pick, he can introduce a slightly higher threat when it gets to that stage.

Ssong has grown an immense amount since his first tournament, roughly 8 months ago. Placing as one of the top 5 mid laners in Korea, at the moment, Ssong will benefit most from simply playing his game in mid lane as he is most likely to come out as the victor in that match-up. Rapid Star should pick a roaming mid laner and focus on securing kills in the other lanes, allowing the rest of his team to snowball into the lead.

Dienstag, 25. Dezember 2012

digibet review of 2012

digibet review of 2012

What a year! When I approached my bosses in March 2012 with my e-sports betting idea I would have never imagined where we would be 9 months later. Imagine a pitch where you talk about 35 Million users, “First Blood” and try to explain the concept of an AP Mid. 

The key dialog went like this:

Me: “500.000 users watch the game at the same time via stream.”
Boss: “Why would anyone watch a game?”

(Somehow I came up with the killer argument.)

Me: “Do you play Tennis?”
Boss: “Yes.”
Me: “Do you watch Tennis?”
Boss: “Oh…”

9 months later digibet is the only bookmaker in the world who offers e-sports bets on such an extensive level. I am quite proud of what we’ve archieved so far.

We started in August 2012 – It was IEM Gamescom time! On the 8th of August we posted our very first Facebook update:

Welcome to - home of e-sports betting!

We are proud to present and be a part of this exciting new opportunity within the world of e-sports! With the company's general betting expertise and with our knowledge of the game: We can offer you a betting experience unlike anything AND anyone else! […]

Betting lines for IEM Gamescom 2012
On the 19th of August the world knew which teams from Europe would qualify for the Season 2 finale and Season 3. Moscow 5, SK Gaming and made the top 3 in Cologne. The Semi Finale between SK and was so epic. This clip from the Saturday caught all the action:

We started to cover more and more events. MLG, Campus Lan, OGN, IPL, some smaller online tournaments but in the end we were just waiting for the Season 2 Finale from Riot.

The 17th of August marked a very important day for us. We went public with the news that we managed to sign Carlos “ocelote” R. Santiago as our testimonial. Carlos became the first LoL pro player with a 4-digits-a-month personal sponsorship. You can check the sign-up page here:

On 20th of August: We’ve released our ocelote TV-Spot we shot in Berlin.

The reactions were great. 55.000 views do tell a story! We also partnered up with his team SK Gaming, and Mousesports.
Two days later we published our “Outright winner” odds for the Season 2 Finale. 

Betting lines for the Season 2 Finale - Look at the odds from TPA...
Do you still remember the opening ceremony? We were blasted away by the live orchestra Riot hired. Manly geek-tears were shed.

Who would have thought that TPA would cruise to victory? If you would have bet 10 Euro on TPA you would have made a fortune. The grand finale between Azubu Frost and TPA was so epic. You guys went crazy with your bets. The hype, the excitement, this is what e-sport is all about.

26.10.2012 – Tales of the Lane

A crowd funded tournament held in the Casino de Paris with some of the best teams Europe had to offer at that time.

I think it is safe to say that France had the best crowd so far. The enthusiasm, the passion from the gamers was unreal. We were scared when the whole crowd started dancing Gangnam style but this was one of the most memorable moments for us in 2012.

In the end overcame Eclypsia and the viewers saw a very happy "Flyy".

MLG Fall was another epic tournament. North America witnessed the Asian dominance for the second time. 

Azubu Blaze took the MLG Fall title


That day was really important for us. 100 days of e-sports betting. We made it! For the first time we offered 4 e-sports title to bet on. League of Legends. Dota 2. Starcraft 2 and Counter-Strike: GO. Dreamhack 2012 was awesome. 

Dreamhack 2012 - Jönköping at its best!

29.11.2012 – IPL5 – Sin City Edition

IPL5 - The best tournament of 2012

This was the best tournament in 2012. Almost too many matches to watch. Great cast. Huge production value. And it was on schedule! We’ve enjoyed this tournament so much. A big thanks goes out to Nick Allen who came up with this video:

fnatic had a strong showing. After winning Dreamhack 2012 they went on and placed second. World Elite from China took first place and TPA finished 3rd

13.12.2012 IEM Cologne

Reapered's SK Telecom T1 took the title

The ESL hosted their IEM Cologne event in their studio. Once again an Asian team prevailed in the end. Travis “Tnomad” Gafford had a nice prediction video:

 Where are we going in 2013? 

We have great hopes that the professionalism will drastically increase with Season 3 around the corner. Big tournaments such as the IEM Series, IGN’s IPL or the ongoing OGN league should provide a load of stabile matches to bet on. E-Sports is very volatile at the moment and we are hoping that the leagues, tournaments and the teams become more consistent.

We would like to offer more Starcraft 2 bets in 2013.  We are working on that to realize it. DOTA2 has been a success so far. We didn’t advertise it but there is a lot of betting action going on especially on “The Defense”. We are definitely going to explore DOTA2 a lot more in 2013. 


Of course not every reaction was positive towards e-sports betting. Collusion came up quite often as an argument. I would like to talk a little bit about that. Collusion is our worst nightmare too! In the end it’s us who are going to lose a lot of money. This is why we are so careful when we select the matches.

We only offer betting lines if:

  • The incentive (prize pool / prestige) is high enough.

  • Professional teams are playing in a professional tournament.

  • There is a live coverage of the game.

To further discourage collusion in any way we also don’t accept high-roller bets! If you want to bet 100 Euro or more on a single game please place that bet on something else like football or tennis or go to a different sportsbook. We don’t accept such high bets on e-sports! The majority places between 2 and 5 Euro on a match and that is fine! We have a responsibility towards you so please understand that we are restricting e-sports betting to a certain amount.

David Ting from IGN/IPL had this to say:
David Ting, GM, eSports and VP of R&D at IGN

I have always believed that professionally-run wagering operations are complementary to any sport. For example, Fantasy Football has added so much to the NFL -- and I think bracket challenges and lines make watching NCAA March Madness a ton of fun. With money on the line, it can really amplify the viewing experience. I find digibet’s vision and passion to invest in this uncharted territory matches well with IPL’s vision.

[Regarding collusion]

We have tremendous team, player and community support, so we have not run into these issues ourselves. We take a hard line and would deal with any signs of impropriety quickly and severely, but we and the entire IPL eSports community also keep a watchful eye to make sure we won’t ever have to deal with this in the first place.
Nick Allen also pointed out that digibet adds a lot of legitimacy to League of Legends as an e-sports. Betting has been following sports since the dawn of time. It’s a natural step to add more excitement, passion to a sport.

Personal shoutouts

  • I want to thank Robin, Björn, Max, Matze & Ingo for doing such a great job. 
  • My boss for believing in e-sports!
  • Carlos! We wish you all the best for Season 3. 
  • Sk Gaming and Mousesports for representing us. 
  • A special Thank-you goes out to David Ting and his team!
  • Thank you Travis for providing awesome content and Alex Penn from which is our number one research source at the moment. You guys make our lifes so much easier. In the end it's guys like him, Sjokz, Rachel or the guys from who come up with the content we devour each day.
  • Panky & Qu1ckshot for being so enthusiastic about LoL.
  • A big shoutout to Micha and his team. Your insights helped us a lot. 
  • Thank you Tomis for becoming a good friend. Say "Hi" to all the "Y U TALK?"-guys.
The biggest "cheers" goes out to all the e-sports users who use our service. I know it sounds corny but without your positive feedback there would be no " - home of e-sports betting!".

Let's have a great 2013!

Follow us on and on twitter: @digibetcom

 Tom "sb2" Lemke

Samstag, 22. September 2012

The thought process behind the ocelote spot

How should a modern e-sports TV spot look like?

I've asked myself the same question. What do I need to do in order to sell my product, respect the athlete and at the same time help e-sports push into the right direction which is to appeal to a broader audience.

Take e-sports serious!
It really boils down to to this:

1. Make him look good! Display the e-sports athlete in such a way that you could switch him out and put an famous footballer in the spot instead. If that substitution works you have the foundation. Give the spot a mature look!

2. Take e-sports serious! We don't need another commercial that makes fun of e-sports! Show what e-sports is really all about: passion, emotions, glorious victories. Oh and please let him be authentic! Don't put him into a scenario he is clearly uncomfortable with.

3. Be subtle! Don't plaster your product all over the spot. Let the athlete speak for himself and gently connect him to the brand. I got sick of spots where the athlete had to say "I love using the xyz-mouse. It helps me to react faster!" - C'mon who's going to believe that? 

Make him look good!
Judging by the feedback we've recieved so far the TV spot for was a huge success.

I think a lot of companies from outside the industry really lack the inside knowledge. E-sports is a whole different market. If you try to come up with conventional marketing strategies you are bound to fail. Maybe it scares them off.

In order for e-sports to grow bigger we need to create stars and faces. Come up with new content every day and create stories around those you follow on stream. Only then we have the chance to evolve e-sports to the next level. We don't need a revolution: lots of professional structures have already been established. But lets try to work on the little things e.g. connotations:

Don't write "gamer" - write "athlete" instead.
Avoid the word "playing" - use "practise/training".

What we need are stars who shine so bright that the light can be seen outside the inner circle of our industry.