Feb 7: China recognizes esports pros, Apex Legends’ first tournament announced and StarCraft’s WCS and Fortnite’s account merges finally arrive

Hey there! If you have to use an aimbot, I guess this is the best way of going about it. Also, since I’ve apparently been covering AMAs this week, here’s an on-stream one with CS:GO team MiBR, bootcamping in Madrid.

China recognizes esports professionals

I’d heard of this, but was lacking in details before. Apparently China’s CMHRSS ministry has announced that both “esports professional” and “esports operator” will be recognized as proper professions. Their statement is a little confusingly worded, however, with one of the first’s responsibilities said to be account boosting. Still, overall it’s a welcome sign of support for the country’s rapidly growing esports industry.

Fortnite’s account merging (finally) available

Fortnite’s account merging feature has been in the works for a while, but has apparently finally made it live in this week’s update. Epic Games is also experimenting with custom matchmaking features and, amusingly, with advertising on Apex Legends Google searches.

Smooya gets himself banned by FACEIT

It’s not been a great week for Counter-Strike pro smooya. After voluntarily stepping down from his team BIG, he has now reportedly gotten himself banned from the FACEIT Pro League for telling fellow player refrezh to “kill himself”.

Event news

  • Well, I guess it’s an esport now? I can’t keep up. Anyway, Twitch has announced it will be teaming up with Respawn Entertainment for the Twitch Rivals Apex Legends Challenge. The two-part competition will be played out February 12th and 19th and see 48 streamers compete for $200,000 USD in prizes.
  • The map pool for the Overwatch League’s second season has been released, as well as each map’s place in the first stage’s schedule. Additionally, while we already knew about Overwatch Contenders’ new seasons, Blizzard has now further expanded on their layout.
  • The company has also finally announced its plans for the StarCraft II 2019 competitive circuit. While there are some minor changes, it does seem like the game will have a strong showing again this year, including two StarLadder-organized events.
  • CS:GO’s IEM Katowice Major starts next week and we now have the seeding and opening schedule for the 24 team, month-long tournament. The action hits the map come Wednesday.
  • The second season of the Balkan-centric NoxFire league will kick off tomorrow. Sixteen Counter-Strike teams will compete for a spot in its May finals in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a share of the $70,000 USD total prize pool.
  • NoxFire has also announced a new Artifact league, which is set to start late February. It will have a $30,000 USD prize pool, which makes it the highest paying tournament the game’s seen to date.

Roster changes

CS:GO

  • SANJI leaves Syman, org trialing Ramz1k in his stead

League of Legends

  • SeongHwan trades the LCK for a TCL spot with Beşiktaş Esports

Overwatch

  • LA Valiant announce coaching staff
  • Contenders team Based Tryhards disbands

Game updates