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 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 July 19-25.
Pokémon UNITE is actually really fun
After announcing Pokémon UNITE, there was some skepticism about whether Nintendo could pull off their attempt at a Pokémon MOBA game. However, not only did UNITE release with very few issues, the game seems to already have many fans from all over the world and across many esports scenes. From casters to players, everyone with a Switch seemed like they were grabbing this new MOBA. But while Pokémon as a brand has a place in many gamers’ hearts, good gameplay is what many people focused on when it came to UNITE. Its lenient but still interesting style got players in very easily, which games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 have shown isn’t easy.
There are certainly problems with Pokémon UNITE, but it looks like a general success overall. And if the game can maintain its player base until the mobile version drops in September, it might see an even bigger surge in popularity.
— Michael Czar
TSM FTX and T1 qualify for VCT Stage 3 Challengers 2
After several missed opportunities during previous stages throughout the VALORANT Champions Tour, T1 and TSM FTX have finally qualified for the main event. Both teams have endured a streak of bad luck throughout the last few open qualifiers. They haven’t made it to a main+ event in several weeks since they usually ended up eliminated right before the finish line.
TSM FTX pulled through multiple overtime situations against ANDBOX and DarkZero Esports to earn a 2-1 win over both teams. After several weeks, it appears that TSM FTX has finally regained their clutch factor. On the other hand, T1 didn’t struggle against the competition in the open qualifier. They swept through five different teams, including Built by Gamers and Renegades, to qualify for the main event. This was a massive improvement from their last open qualifier that had them finish top sixteen after falling to Envy.
Now, both TSM FTX and T1 will join Rise, Gen.G, Version1 and the Kansas City Pioneers. Time will tell whether this will be the start of a redemption story for both of these teams.
— Danny Appleford
IEM Cologne posts record viewership
Not only was IEM Cologne the first Counter-Strike LAN event in 500 days, but it also set the record for viewership of the game. While other CS events of the year, such as the Blast Premier Spring Final, had only 400,000 peak viewers, IEM Cologne doubled those numbers with a peak of 840,000+ people. This number was recorded during the grand final of the tournament, where Natus Vincere faced off against G2 and won 3-0.
While this event was played on LAN, no fans were allowed in. The community will have to wait until November for the first LAN with a crowd, which will be Blast Premier Fall Final.
— Zain Merchant
Royal Never Give Up continue to ‘never give up’
The 2021 LPL spring and Mid-Season Invitational champions, Royal Never Give Up (RNG), have propelled themselves into playoffs contention for LPL summer after taking down Ultra Prime and JD Gaming to extend what is now a six series win-streak. They now sit seventh in the standings with 7-5, a far cry from their 1-5 score four weeks into summer.
When RNG set the stage on fire in Iceland by toppling current World Champions DWG KIA to claim the MSI trophy, few expected them to stumble quite so hard in the opening weeks of their domestic summer league, with their only win against Rogue Warriors after four weeks of competition. However, the team seems back in shape lately with victories against Invictus Gaming, JD Gaming and LPL leaders EDward Gaming.
With four matches left for RNG, and considering the form they are in, making playoffs to defend their domestic crown seems all but certain at the moment. They face TT Gaming and a tricky match against Rare Atom this week. Can star top laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao lead them to the summit once more?
— E.G Kant
Minnesota ROKKR complete turnaround
Amid the rise and fall of the more notable teams in the Call of Duty League, the Minnesota ROKKR pulled off one of 2021’s best turnarounds in Stage 5. The mixed-experience roster clawed their way back into the winner’s bracket for the upcoming major after starting the last one in the loser’s bracket.
The ROKKR faced tall odds at the start of Stage 5. They were placed in Group B with the likes of Dallas, Toronto and Florida, all contenders for the top seed. And after Florida’s 3-0 start, it looked like Minnesota was out of luck for a top three spot and a place in the winner’s bracket. However, the ROKKR clearly took on the motto of “it’s not over until it’s over” to heart and won a huge match against Florida this past weekend. This secured them a top three seed in Group B and a date with Atlanta FaZe in the winner’s bracket of the Stage 5 Major.
— Joey Carr