Not So Massively: LoL's e-sports controversy, Dota 2's matchmaking overhaul, and more

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The MOBA e-sports community was enraged this week when it was reported that professional League of Legends players participating in the 2014 championship series had been barred by contract from livestreaming competing games. The list of competing games included the entire Blizzard lineup and practically every MOBA, including several that no longer exist. Dota 2 gave players an inside look at its upcoming matchmaking revamp, which introduces a new Ranked Matchmaking system. And SMITE revealed details of its versatile new mage character Nu Wa, Guardian of Heaven.

Diablo III beta testers put together videos of some of the new monster affixes in the game's upcoming expansion, including an inventive Wormhole modifier that essentially lets the elite monster teleport players. Path of Exile's new dueling and PvP tournament features have been delayed until after patch 1.0.3, and developers briefly showed a new tower zone that will come at the end of the game. Star Citizen hit the $34 million mark this week, unlocking a new smuggling ship and locking in future plans for a strange new solar system with a black hole instead of a star. And Elite: Dangerous retired its early backer rewards ahead of today's web store relaunch.
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If there's one thing that every MOBA has trouble with, it's balancing matchmaking. Every game has its own matchmaking algorithms and stats, but we don't often get a peek behind the curtain at how they work. This week Valve published a huge development blog digging into the details of its upcoming matchmaking revamp and looking under the hood of the new system.

Every player already has a secret Matchmaking Rating (MMR) that's hidden from other players, but a new Ranked Matchmaking mode will let your teammates and opponents see your ranked MMR score. Ranked games will be unlocked only after participants play about 150 games, not all game modes are supported, and coaches are not allowed to join ranked games.

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As the world of MOBAs continues to expand, many professional players are finding themselves taking on the challenge of multiple games. The skills that make someone a good League of Legends player are largely transferable to any other MOBA, and top players now often livestream other titles to tap into a wider gaming audience. The e-sports community was up in arms this week over new terms in the contracts of those participating in the League of Legends 2014 championship series, which effectively banned the players from streaming competing games in their spare time.

Among those games listed were Dota 2, SMITE, Heroes of Newerth, Infinite Crisis, World of Tanks, and even Awesomenauts. The entire Blizzard lineup was also excluded, including Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and the Diablo series. The list also rather confusingly included games that have long since shut down, such as Rise of Immortals and Wrath of Heroes.

Riot Games initially responded only to confirm that this clause was indeed part of the 2014 championship contract, prompting Awesomenauts creator Jasper Koning and S2 Games' Marc DeForest to release statements condemning the actions as anti-competitive. Riot later announced that it will be changing the LCS contracts to allow tournament participants to stream other games as long as they aren't accepting sponsorship in return for promoting the games.

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SMITE's latest God reveal introduces the goddess Nu Wa, Guardian of Heaven. A powerful ranged mage with a snake transformation ability, Nu Wa excels at support and controlling the flow of battle. Her passive ability activates a buff after each spellcast that changes depending on which spell was used; once all five buffs are activated, Nu Wa will transform into her snake form for a short duration and all buff timers will be reset.

Nu Wa controls the battlefield by concealing herself and nearby allies in fog, granting auras, and summoning clay soldiers that will help push the lane they're spawned in. The clay soldiers will attack the first enemy minion, player, or structure they encounter. The Flame Strike ability lets Nu Wa deal damage in an area and stun all affected enemies, dealing more damage if you're closer to the target. Nu Wa's ultimate ability is Pillars of Heaven, which summons four pillars that create a square electrical field. Any players passing through the electricity lines are damaged and slowed.

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Players in Diablo III's early Reaper of Souls beta recently discovered that several new high-level monster affixes are introduced with the expansion. They players have put together videos showcasing each of them. An interesting new Wormhole affix causes the monster to spawn two portals on the ground, each of which will pull in nearby players and teleport them to other portal.

The Poison Enchanted affix makes lines of poison damage similar to a flame wall shoot out of the enemy, while Orbiter makes lightning orbs appear and orbit him. Frozen Pulse shoots out small orbs that deal area-effect cold damage periodically, but the most deadly affix is definitely Thunderstorm, which strikes all creatures in the area rather than one specific target.

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While Path of Exile has PvP, one of the most highly requested features is the ability to challenge other players to immediate duels. Developers will be introducing this and a new PvP tournament feature in an upcoming patch, but unfortunately it won't quite be ready this week in time for content update 1.0.3.

In the first of a new developer video series, Art Director Erikk Olofsson very briefly discussed the realistic styles of new unique items coming to the game and gave us the first look at a new tower zone that represents the end of the game.

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Star Citizen hit the $34 million this week, unlocking a new ship hull designed for the illegal smuggling of goods. Based on players' votes, the $36 million stretch goal will be a new solar system named Tamsa, whose star has somehow collapsed into a black hole. A new vote has opened up asking players what new locations they'd like to see in the game as future stretch goals, with options ranging from a stellar graveyard to a Banu trading post or aquatic planet.

Cloud Imperium founder Chris Roberts responded to criticism of Star Citizen's runaway feature creep this week with a promise that more features means more developers hired to work on the game. With a million dollars raised for each new feature, the funds are available for new developers to work exclusively on those features. Roberts claimed that feature creep shouldn't affect the game's release schedule, stating that "because everything is so modular, it has minimum impact on the rest of the game."

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Elite: Dangerous officially closed its Early Backer registration on Sunday 8th December and retired all of the rewards offered via Kickstarter. Anyone who pledged for rewards before today has locked them in, and a new web store is set to open today in place of the old system.

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This article was originally published on Massively.