July 10, 2016

ESL One Cologne 2016 comes down to SK Gaming and Team Liquid

The finals here at ESL Cologne have come down to Team Liquid and SK Gaming. The two powerhouse teams did not have an easy road to the finals here on Sunday.

esl one stageesl one stage

SK Gaming had to reach new depths against Virtus.pro (VP) in the semi-finals, scrapping together a 2-1 win over a VP that seemingly put everything on the line and had a nearly god-tier performance.

And Team Liquid had to performance in match after match that they were predicted to fail. Defeating Na’Vi and Fnatic to get into the finals was an absolute triumph, and they’ve had to beat two of the top three teams in the world to get where they are.

To everyone’s surprise, there seems to be a huge amount of teamwork, synergy, and trust in Team Liquid, and they’ve got a legitimate chance to overthrow the current favorite: SK Gaming.

The only question is, can Team Liquid keep this unbelievable streak alive and beat the current world champions in CS: GO? A lot of factors will need to line up: s1mple needs to continue his dominant performance, EliGE and nitr0 need to continue to show up, and Hiko needs to bring a few more match-changing performances.

It’s going to be a hell of a match, I’ll tell you that.

A quick look at the live production, event setup, video productions, and game observing is all overly positive. PGL has brought a lot of great production values into CS:GO, and the matches are always fun to watch. The various videos sprinkled around are incredibly well done, and it’s always a pleasure to see how seriously ESL presents CS:GO. It never feels like they treat it as just a game”: it’s a sport to them, and something with a lot of passion and excitement.

The only real complaint is there’s some obvious mixups in the observer feeds here and there, something you don’t see as often in ELeague or MLG. And when casters talk budget, you don’t normally see the money of players (opening player tab). Favorite tweet on the matter:

However, the mistakes are very minor compared to the overall kickass production values. Seriously, hats off to all the people behind the scenes, and of course to the analysts and commentators who bring yet another awesome event under their wings. The tier 1 talent pool in CS:GO is a very sharp, funny, and engaging crew: always a pleasure to watch.

Being here in Cologne has been an awesome experience, this is the first CS:GO Major I’ve attended in person, and have had an great time watching the games with the rest of the crew at DOJO MADNESS.

We’ve also had a chance to chat about our new, upcoming CSGO statistics toolset with a few people around the industry, and we’ve gotten some awesome feedback (and some very positive reactions) about what we’re doing. It’s a very innovative, interesting project, which I’ll be writing more about in the future.

The games are about to start here in Cologne, and look forward to watching the matches. In the meantime, keep an eye out for this exclusive drinking game.

Matt Mattc0m” Richards, reporting live from ESL Cologne, rooting for that American dream. Let’s go USA!

June 23, 2016

Quick trip to Toronto, got passport, took photos

I’ve just made a quick trip to Toronto, with no other purpose than to get a passport. I figured I might as well explore the city, its food, sights, brews, and everything else. And I was not disappointed.

Check out the gallery.

June 22, 2016

Colorado Roadtrip

Back in April, went on an amazing cross-country roadtrip from WV to Colorado. Wow, what a beautiful state. Had a ton of fun (minus a brief run in with the lovely state police of Kansas), and look forward to returning next year.

I grabbed some photos of the entire trip. Check em out here! You see plenty of landscapes, friends, brewery tours, and just some good times.

Colorado Roadtrip 2016 - album by matt richards

Embed isn’t great, but you can check em out on Imgur

June 22, 2016

See you around, King of Nordic

It’s been awhile, so figured I’d jot down a quick update about the hectic happenings in my life of recent.

I’ve been involved with a media company in Sweden called ESEN Studio, which produces a weekly CSGO show called King of Nordic. I’ve work there about a year, doing everything from videos (such as this play of the week), broadcast packages, logos, web design, and more. The coolest aspect was definitely the chance to be a commentator for CS:GO. Every week I’d hop on and provide energic, yet on-point analysis and play-by-play of the game. It was pretty exciting.

Sadly, things did not work out with ESEN, and I’m no longer working on that project. It was really unfortunate in the timing, too. I was supposed to fly out in early July to spend a week hosting a gaming LAN event. Would have been the first time I’ve been in that position in over four years. The last event I attended (to produce/host) was QuakeCon in 2012.

And while that ship has sailed, the burn to continue working in esports and media projects continues. I’ll likely try to start up something in the next few months, as I’ve made a lot of awesome people who also want to commentate Counter-Strike. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll just make some sick frag videos (haha), or continue work on the CSGO map I’ve been working on.

I’ve got a lot of other exciting things in the works, including some developments with my current gig at DOJO MADNESS. We’re working on some awesome tools for CSGO Broadcasting with a really tight team — I’ll share some news about that in the coming week.

In the meantime, if anyone is looking for CSGO analysis or commentary talent, feel free to reach out.

Cheers, Matt

March 10, 2016

The Division Impressions & Review

The Division has gone a long way from it’s initial, very impressive E3 reveal in 2013. A lot of uncertainty has spilled forth, as information about the game was scare, and the hype seemed unreal. Watch Dogs played a big role: a similar open world concept with fantastic, next generation graphics and seemingly innovative gameplay. The problem with Watch Dogs was the game did not live up to its hype, and The Division seemed almost destined to follow a similar course.

The good news is that The Division largely lives up to the vision it shared in that famous 2013 trailer. The graphics, real-time lighting, detailed New York city landscape, and RPG/FPS hybrid gameplay are all in excellent form. And hey, you even shut the doors for cars you’re using as cover. Wicked.

The bad news is that The Division is only as fun as your expectations let them be. It’s not an open world survival game. There is very little inspiration from games like DayZ or Rust: there’s no urge to survive, no resources to collect, no constant countdown that is pushing you forward. It doesn’t have a deep PVP. It’s not a true MMO. The strengths lie in it’s co-op gameplay elements, and really shines when you can work through the game in a group of 2 or 3 other people. Sadly, groups are limited to 4, which can seem a bit limiting at times. Still, it’s enough to enjoy a really compact co-op game.

The graphics, sounds, customization, and environments are all next-generation, amazingly rendered, and have blown my expectations quite a few times.