Man and Machine all set for Battle at eSports’ Biggest Tournament

IMAGE SOURCE: @DotaSLTV via Twitter

Whether you are a huge fan or yet to get immersed in it, there is simply no denying that the world of eSports is continuing to just grow and grow. Professional competitive gaming is on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream, with exciting new competitions like the Overwatch League emerging alongside more established competitions to bring top-quality action to the masses.

To say the industry is in rude health would be an understatement. According to research from Newzoo, the global eSports economy is expected to be worth $905.6 million this year, with much of this being driven by advertising and sponsorship as big brands continue to dip their toes into the hugely popular area.

Jewel in the crown

However, for all of the growth which has happened and is expected to continue into the future, one tournament is still arguably viewed as the jewel in the eSports crown – The International event for online battle arena title Dota 2.

Held annually and set to take place in August this year, The International is a tournament like no other – specifically due to the huge level of prize money which is on offer. Last year, the winning side Team Liquid took home an incredible $10 million share of the $24 million prize pool, which was raised for the event through a base contribution from organisers Valve and funds generated from the release of special content linked to the tournament.

With this year’s competition in Vancouver edging ever closer, the 2018 prize pool stands at more than $19 million and – as of July 4th – Betway had Team Liquid and Virtus Pro as joint-favourites with both sides having odds of 3/1 to win outright. Away from the main action though, a new subplot has also emerged in relation to this year’s event, which is sure to attract a lot of attention and interest when the competition gets underway.

Science fiction becomes reality

The idea of humans doing battle with machines sounds like something straight out of a science fiction film, but this year’s The International is set to see top gamers go head-to-head with artificial intelligence to see who will come out on top.

According to Variety, the research company OpenAI are behind a plan which will see five neural networks compete against a team of professional competitors in a match. The ‘team’ of AI players has apparently already beaten some amateur human sides and they are playing in the region of 180 years of matches between themselves in order to master the game. Ahead of The International, OpenAI is also hosting a game against human competitors at the end of July, which will be broadcast live on Twitch. Speaking to Variety, OpenAI added that it was “focused” on being prepared for The International and that its AI team had “a real shot”.

The next chapter

The match between humans and the AI players is sure to be a fascinating sight and it is just the latest example of occasions when people have pitted their wits against machines.

Probably the most famous was, of course, Garry Kasparov’s famous chess matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. Two six-game contests were held, with Kasparov winning the first in 1996 and Deep Blue taking the second in 1997. The latter was the first time a reigning world chess champion was beaten by a computer program.

AI’s relationship with chess was even back in the news at the end of last year, with the AlphaZero program created by Google’s Deep Mind beating the previous champion program Stockfish 8 in a 100-game match. Perhaps most remarkably, AlphaZero had actually taught itself to play chess in less than four hours – a clear sign of the increasing power and complexity of artificial intelligence.

An interesting side-plot

The International 2018 is a truly prestigious event and the major prize money on offer means that everyone who loves eSports will be watching closely to see the outcome. However, news of this planned meeting between an AI team and human players is an interesting side plot to an already intriguing event.

eSports continues to grow and the fact that the latest battle between humans and AI is taking place in competitive gaming is perhaps yet another sign that the industry is becoming more widely accepted and embraced across the world.

Biggest Game App Releases of 2016

The mobile gaming market is thriving and this is no coincidence – more and more game developers are entering the market and even Nintendo made a sort of appearance through their partnership with developer Niantic and the immensely popular Pokémon Go.

Suffice to say, gaming on mobile is huge at the moment and there are more and more high quality titles being released than ever before. Even popular gambling casinos are raking in huge interests thanks to popular casino app they offer for mobile players. Thanks to technological gains in newer smartphone and tablet devices, we can now enjoy some of the old classics in a better, HD environment, and even VR makes a stride every now and then.

Oh and we are going to be mentioning Pokémon Go a lot in this article, so be warned… yes, this is due to the fact that augmented reality games are making history, with more and more devs being interesting in experimenting with the new game play design. Alas, let us go through the list of the finest game apps that are available in 2016, in no particular order (yes, Pokémon Go is first, deal with it).

Pokemon Go (world-wide phenomenon, free to play)

With over 40 million downloads the first week, Pokémon Go is a monolith of mobile game achievements. It is a statement that a great concept, bellowed characters with global appeal and a horrendous technical support will lead to a massive success. Part of the enormous following and explosive downloads can be attributed to the first, real world Pokémon experience to date. Players could finally go out and “catch them all”… literally. With simple gameplay that enables exploring the outside world, meeting, trading and battling other players and more, this is undoubtedly the biggest mobile game of 2016.

Final Fantasy IX (huge game, better graphics, boosters available)

This port of the 2001 classic by Square Enix is one of the biggest mobile games to date. With a truly captivating storyline that spans hours upon hours of game play and dialogue, charming graphics that have been remastered and several new additions in the form of boosters, FFIX is back and thriving on mobile. Be warned though – the download is massive as well as the install.

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (memorable battles, heroes, tournament mode, multiplayer, etc.)

Episode 7 rekindled the love for Star Wars and its licensed games and this is definitely one of the best ones out there. With a huge rooster of characters that you can use for battle on iconic locations as well as the online multiplayer mode, Galaxy Heroes is what every Star Wars fan needs in the mobile galaxy, far far away…

FIFA 16 (free, available along with PC and console version)

Football fans rejoice – not only is the new FIFA available for mobile devices alongside the consoles, it showcases some impressive graphics and game play driven by touch controls… oh and it is completely free. Yes, that’s right, though we have no idea how we managed to fit “free and EA” in one sentence, but there you go. It is a true testament how far mobile gaming has risen, having one of the “more complex” gaming experiences for both PC and consoles, and having it transferred perfectly for mobile play.

Her Story (price: $2.99, mostly videos, unique story and “game play”)

A surprising and unlike any video game out there, Her Story is more a video than a game. It can be classified as a “video detective simulator” which doesn’t say much if you don’t try it out for yourself. It is a mystery game where you watch videos and try to find out what happened to the girl in the title. It is… difficult to emphasizes just how different the experience is to anything previously played – but it is entertaining and quite something new so check it out.

 

Monster Energy’s Welcome to Rockville Announces Tequila World and Onsite Sponsor Activites for Florida’s Biggest Rock Festival April 25 & 26

MONSTER ENERGY WELCOME TO ROCKVILLE:
ONSITE SPONSOR ACTIVITIES,
TEQUILA WORLD DETAILS,
AND INTERACTIVE ART INSTALLATION WITH NOTABLE GRAFFITI ARTIST RISK
ANNOUNCED FOR FLORIDA’S BIGGEST ROCK FESTIVAL
APRIL 25 & 26 AT METROPOLITAN PARK IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
VIP TICKET PRICES INCREASE MARCH 9

Various onsite sponsor activities and an interactive art installation with graffiti artist RISK have been announced for the fifth annual Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville, April 25 & 26 atJacksonville, Florida’s scenic Metropolitan Park along the St. Johns River. In addition, more details have been confirmed for the new Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville Tequila World.

Florida’s biggest rock festival kicks off the World’s Loudest Month festival series and featuresmusic on multiple stages, band autograph signings, interactive experiences, a Monster Energy viewing area with beverage sampling, and a variety of food and beverage options, including local gourmet food trucks and the debut of the new Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville Tequila World.

The new Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville Tequila World, with a Mexican fiesta theme, will feature a wide range of tequilas, extreme margaritas, gourmet tacos, mixologists and more. The expanded list of tequilas that will be offered in the Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville Tequila World is as follows: Cabo Wabo, Corazon, Espolon, El Jimador, Lunazul, Margaritaville, Monte Alban, Pura Vida, Siete Leguas, and more to be announced. Gourmet tacos will be provided by TacoLu Baja Mexicana. Admission to this area is free and open to those 21 and up.

Metalachi–the world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band (www.metalachi.com)–will keep the party rolling with three performances on the Tequila World stage each day. Check out this hilarious behind-the-scenes video clip with Metalachi as they get the news about playing the festival: http://youtu.be/XSWUcaJlD0E.

Also new in 2015 is the RISK interactive graffiti art installation. Kelly Graval, the multi-talented fine artist, illustrator, and graffiti artist known as RISK (www.riskrock.com), will be curating an interactive art exhibit to be displayed on site. The exhibit will showcase multiple live demonstrations by RISK and will allow festival attendees the chance to interact and add to the exhibit. RISK has been synonymous with the Los Angeles art community for decades. With a career spanning 30 years, RISK has solidified his place in the history books as a world-renowned graffiti legend. He has come a long way since he pioneered the painting of freeway overpasses, signs and billboards, dubbed “heavens.” Although RISK loves aerosol art, he sees it as merely just one genre in his life’s work. From his days as a student at the USC School of Fine Arts to gallery and museum showings around the world, RISK has transformed from a street artist to a rising star in the contemporary art world. Check out a video of RISK in action here: http://youtu.be/0St2Rt9xAN4.

Tickets for Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville are available now atwww.WelcomeToRockvilleFestival.com. Those looking for a VIP experience are encouraged tobuy now and save. A limited number of VIP tickets are still available for purchase for the following prices: Weekend VIP: $244.50 + fees; Single Day VIP: $129.50 + fees. On March 9 at Midnight ET, VIP ticket prices will increase to: Weekend VIP: $264.50 + fees; Single Day VIP: $139.50 + fees.

As previously announced, the daily band lineups for Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville are as follows (subject to change; more to be announced):

Saturday, April 25: Korn, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, Ministry, Halestorm, Queensrÿche, Testament, Of Mice & Men, Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, Hollywood Undead, Suicidal Tendencies, The Devil Wears Prada, Periphery, Nonpoint, Exodus, Fozzy, Beartooth, Upon A Burning Body, Like A Storm, Stars In Stereo, Red Sun Rising, World Gone

Sunday, April 26: Slipknot, Godsmack, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, The Pretty Reckless, In This Moment, All That Remains, In Flames, Tremonti, Motionless In White, Hatebreed, Starset, Butcher Babies, Vamps, Young Guns, We Are Harlot, ’68, Islander, From Ashes To New, Sons Of Texas, and more

General Admission and VIP tickets, as well as hotel packages, are on sale now at www.WelcomeToRockvilleFestival.com. Ticket prices will increase in the coming weeks, so fans are encouraged to buy now and save.

VIP tickets include: a VIP entrance to venue; access to VIP lounge area featuring dedicated bar, beverage and food service; viewing of main stage (seated and standing areas); seated area with shade for dining; private restroom facilities; and a VIP guest laminate.

A limited number of tickets are also available at select MetroPCS and Firehouse Subs locations with no service fees.

Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville is produced by Danny Wimmer Presents and anchors the World’s Loudest Month festival series. The World’s Loudest Month features the biggest names in rock music performing in eight distinct concert atmospheres across the country in April and May.

2015 sponsors for Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville include Monster Energy, Bud Light, Jack Daniel’s, Jägermeister, Firehouse Subs, MetroPCS, Crazy Dave’s Music Experience, f.y.e., Zippo Encore, Yamaha, Fxck Cancer, Corona, ReverbNation, Hundred Handed, Matador Beef Jerky, Victory Records, Another Century Records, Wine Decadence, TacoLu, Al Capone Cigars, Roadrunner Records and more.

Website: www.WelcomeToRockvilleFestival.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/welcometorockville

Twitter: @RockvilleFest

Instagram: @welcometorockville

Official Video Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlWzJp7nV0I

About Danny Wimmer Presents: Since 1995, Danny Wimmer has created, developed and produced events from the club level to some of the largest North American festivals. Founded in 2007 by industry veteran Wimmer, DWP produces some of the largest festivals in the rock and alternative landscapes. Never satisfied with the status quo, Danny Wimmer Presents strives to create memorable and fulfilling concert experiences leaving both consumers and partners with lasting and meaningful impressions.

www.DannyWimmerPresents.com

About Monster Energy: Most companies spend their money on ad agencies, TV commercials, radio spots, and billboards to tell you how good their products are. At Monster Energy, we chose none of the above. Instead we support the scene, our bands, our athletes and our fans. We back athletes so they can make a career out of their passion. We promote concert tours, so our favorite bands can visit your hometown. We celebrate with our fans and riders by throwing parties and making the coolest events we can think of a reality.

www.monsterenergy.com; www.facebook.com/monsterenergy

About Metropolitan Park: Metropolitan Park offers a scenic, spacious site for Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville that’s just a few hours drive from cities including Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Savannah and Tallahassee, and is easily accessible by plane from around the country. Metropolitan Park is a premier 27-acre recreational facility along the beautiful St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville, Florida at 1410 Gator Bowl Blvd.

Win a DVD of “Axel: The Biggest Little Hero” [ENDED]

How does a voice cast sound including Matthew Lillard, Ed Asner, George Takei, and Tim Curry? Sounds great to me, “Axel: The Biggest Little Hero” hits DVD on June 3rd and to To celebrate the release, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway two (2) DVDs of the film to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Tim Curry film. This giveaway will remain open until May 30th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

AXEL’s always been a hero in his own mind. Unfortunately, in real life he’s just another mischievous little boy who pulls pranks while his village runs out of food. One day, he has a vision of a mystical grove of cactuses that could feed his people for years. Determined to save the day, AXEL and his best friend JONO embark on the journey of a lifetime where they must fly through magnetic valleys, escape an evil robotic lizard king, and put up with a brave but headstrong young Princess. Will AXEL find the magical plant and save his village? Can he become the real life hero he always wanted to be? Starring voice talent from Matthew Lillard, Ed Asner, George Takei, and Tim Curry.