The games UBC eSports plays — and how to play them

In case you've been living under a rock in the past 15 years — or have never seen South Korean television – professional competitive gaming has been prominent for a long time now. There’s also a lot of money being made in business. Hell, it’s even caused organized crime. Of course, it requires a lot of commitment, namely becoming a voluntary shut-in willing to punish your finger tissue and eye retinas.

Still, if you think this makes a better career alternative than your fine arts degree, you probably want to know where to start, especially if you’ve never touched Tetris. Here are some notable games that UBC’s eSports Association plays competitively, as well as descriptions of how they work and comments from players themselves.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)

If you were born before 1998, some of your classmates probably attempted to stealthily install the original Counter-Strike in computer labs throughout elementary and high school. Today, this first-person multiplayer shooter series is still going strong with its latest iteration, Global Offensive.

Competitive CS:GO is mostly played through two classic modes. The first is “Hostage,” where both teams – terrorists and counter-terrorists – can win by wiping out the opposition first, but counter-terrorists may prevail by rescuing all hostages placed throughout the level. The second is “Bomb Scenario,” where terrorists can win by successfully planting a time-bomb – which counter-terrorists would need to defuse before detonation – in a designated area.

If you’ve never played CS, don’t be fooled. Matches are very difficult, especially as players only have one life per round. It therefore entails a lot of strategy and frustration. Although, according to Danny Hsieh, captain of UBC eSports’ CS:GO team – which won first place in the 2014 National Collegiate eSports tournament – it makes victories all the more sweeter.

“The best thing about playing CS:GO is the feeling of playing with a team and trying to outplay your opponent in every way possible – mechanically, strategically or split-second decision-making,” he said. “There's an extremely rewarding feeling that comes with being able to perform all three of these tasks at a high level and under pressure”

League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Heroes of the Storm

These would be the games that your eSports buddy never ever shuts up about on Facebook – especially League. Why are they all bulked into one section? Because apart from a few differences, they are all extremely similar, right down to their level design. There is a long, zany industry history lesson behind this, but only worth Googling if you major in media studies.

These games fall under the strategy game sub-genre of “multiplayer online battle arena” (MOBA). The main competitive modes involve two opposing teams of player-selected "heroes" with unique abilities guarding their respective bases at opposite ends of a map, typically with three pathways connecting both. The goal is simple: find a way to destroy the enemy base through whatever means you have, from magic to monsters.  

League is easily the most popular game among the UBC eSports community and the association’s team has participated in six international competitions – all while butting heads with their SFU rivals. UBC players Jeremy Kobserstein and Ryan Pattyson shared their thoughts.

“The best thing about playing League of Legends is how widespread and mainstream the game is,” said Koberstein. “The community members can relate to each other outside the game, unlike other games where the community may not be the focus.”

“[The problem] about my own gameplay is having a small [hero] pool because it limits my role on the team. However, being able to carry on my favourite [heroes] is also very satisfying,” said Pattyson. “To get better at the game, you just have to put in time and effort like any other sport, and look at your own [mistakes] and learn from them.”

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone is a card-playing video game. Somehow it isn’t an actual physical card game instead. Then again, instead of being a Thunderbird and making coach Butenschon proud, I’m still playing NHL games on my PlayStation, so who am I to judge?

In Hearthstone, two opponents will pick a hero with their own unique perks. With that hero, they will also use card decks comprised of various spells and items – all of which are either earned through other matches or just outright buying them – to defeat each other. Basically, it’s like Yu-Gi-Oh, but with Warcraft heroes and a shit Hollywood movie based on its universe.

The UBC team has been busy, claiming first place in the Collegiate Starleague tournament this year, and finishing in the semifinals of last year’s AfreecaTV International Championship.

These are just a few games UBC eSports tackles – others include Overwatch, StarCraft II and more. Although you can blow your wallet for these games, you can also try them at the eSports Lounge on the second floor of the Nest. Just please, for pete’s sake, get enough food and Vitamin D.