With how wide the esports world is, it’s tough to pin down every marquee matchup and bit of esports news each week. Sometimes, those moments go beyond the competitive sphere and dip into streaming, general gaming and the business world, too. Esports is bigger than just the games we watch every day and the big thing that you should take away from each week could pass you by if you’re not careful.
That’s where we come in. Every week, Upcomer’s staff comes together to select the five biggest W’s of the last week, whether they be a player’s performance, a new game release or something else. The goal: To get you caught up on esports news this week and get you ready for everything that comes next.
Here are our Five W’s for the week of April 12-April 18.
Ludwig Ahgren broke the record for most subscriptions ever on Twitch 30 days into his 31-day sub-a-thon stream, taking the title from Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. The content creator ended his month of almost continuous broadcasting with a tearful goodbye as his stream timer slowly went down to zero. Viewers watched as he worked out, ate, played video games and interacted with his audience in party games. While asleep, Ahgren’s camera captured him in his red racecar bed while his moderators set videos for viewers or competed in more party games.
After his stream gained mainstream media attention, Ahgren’s peaked at a subscriber count of more than 270,000 people. Along with the notoriety, he also earned $1.6 million before California taxes, Twitch’s cut, his charity contributions and paying his moderators’ salaries for their contribution to the stream.
Before this past week, many knew of Ahgren from his Super Smash Bros. career and content. He has commented, competed, created content and even hosted his own tournaments for the series. Now, the Arizona State graduate has cemented himself in the Twitch hall of fame with a stream that, at many points, seemed like it would never go offline. There were hiccups and accidental offline periods (even a one-second timer scare) but Aghren kept the show running until the 744th hour. He has freed himself from his self-induced subscriber jail and, for his efforts, along with the fame and slight fortune, landed himself as one of Upcomer’s inaugural winners of the week.
— Declan McLaughlin
Royal Never Give Up
Royal Never Give Up have defeated FunPlus Phoenix 3-1 and become the 2021 LPL Spring Split Champions. The win secured the Chinese team a spot at this year’s Mid-Season Invitational in Iceland, where they will face teams like DWG KIA (LCK), MAD Lions (LEC), and Cloud9 (LCS) between May 6-22.
Royal Never Give Up weren’t the fan favorite heading into this final match, even though they ended the Spring Split with a first place finish and an automatic bid for the fourth round of the playoffs. However, FPX outmatched them with a 3-0 victory, sending RNG to the loser’s bracket. Once there, they had to defeat Top Esports and EDward Gaming before returning to the main stage.
This win marks the first time in two years that Royal Never Give Up have won the Spring Split Finals, after a fourth place finish in 2019 and seventh place finish in 2020. That 2018 squad went on to win the Mid-Season Invitational and Summer Playoffs before falling short to G2 Esports at the World Championships.
The team has gone through many shifts since then. Former poster child Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao retired from the competitive scene in 2020, top laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao has moved from mid laner to top laner and only support player Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming remains in the same position from that golden era.
The same could be said for the scene altogether. The last time an LCK team took home the Mid-Season Invitational trophy was in 2017 with SK Telecom T1. This drought won’t last much longer as DWG KIA look more dominant than any of the other teams at this year’s event. RNG is the only team that might be able to pull off an upset.
— Ethan Chen
The Overwatch League… broadcast
The "What?" heard 'round the world. pic.twitter.com/0CjdHd06xm
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) April 18, 2021
After a grueling six month hiatus, the Overwatch League is finally back. Quite a bit happened in this first week, including the emergence of new star players, improbable upsets and the utter collapse of everybody’s pre-season power rankings. But the real winner of the weekend was the Overwatch League broadcast itself.
Last year’s online production was pretty clearly thrown together, through no real fault of the production team. It is kind of hard to prepare for a global pandemic on short notice, after all. This year’s broadcast, however, showed up firing on all cylinders. The league has adopted a whole new look, elevated by slick motion graphics and a virtual arena, and it looks fantastic.
The production team has also finally solved a problem that pro Overwatch tournaments have been struggling with for years: face cams. It’s always been difficult to incorporate face cams into Overwatch’s busy UI, but OWL 2021 has found a way to do it that isn’t too distracting while remaining prominent enough to appreciate. A permanent face cam on whoever’s being spectated helps immensely with online competition, allowing people to put faces to names and even glimpse big, real-time reactions.
If all of this sounds like something you’d like to appreciate on your TV, then OWL has something for that as well. You can now watch the stream in 4K (and get in-game rewards for it, too, if you connect your YouTube account to your Blizzard account). There’s no telling where this season will go, but the broadcast has definitely stepped up this year, and it’s easy to be happy that it’s back.
— Bonnie Qu
During their week of matches, G2 Esports’ CS:GO team found itself in an uncomfortable situation. Despite having one of the best players in the world, star player Nikola “NiKo” Kovač couldn’t bail out G2 in every situation alone. But since he joined G2, NiKo has taken the attention away from his teammate and cousin, Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač. Yet, without huNter-, G2 would not have qualified for Blast Spring Finals.
With that in mind, G2 played Endpoint, OG, and Spirit last week. While those teams may sound underwhelming, each played above their level, with OG even eliminating Astralis. So when G2 faced the tough competition and no one else stepped up, huNter- top fragged every single series the French team played. He put on particularly heroic performances on CT side Dust2 against Spirit and against OG in T side map three, with16 kills and 18 kills respectively. Without huNter-, G2 would have been destroyed in this tournament.
— Zain Merchant
Bottom-half OWL teams
This weekend of the Overwatch League was one of giants toppled by unlikely challengers. Sure, many power rankings were left in shambles after the high-rated Los Angeles Gladiators and Atlanta Reign both went winless, but in all fairness, those rankings had mostly been based on hypotheticals and scrim rumors. The real surprise came on Sunday, when last year’s regular season champions, the Shanghai Dragons, were thoroughly trounced by the Chengdu Hunters in a swift 3-0. The Dragons had long been expected to sweep through the Eastern Division with relative ease, so to see them stumble so spectacularly early on was a shock.
Speaking of shock, over in the Western Division, two-time champions San Francisco Shock had an equally surprising weekend. Mere hours after the Dragons’ puzzling defeat, the Shock were handed a 2-3 defeat by the Houston Outlaws. With the two top teams from both divisions losing to teams that have occupied the bottom half of the standings for the past few seasons, it’s starting to seem like the Overwatch League is going to look a little different this year.
Or the San Francisco Shock could just come back from this better and angrier, as they always do, and complete their three-peat. It’s too early to call.