Marketing company Thryv has launched a Small Business COVID-19 Grant Program through the company's small-business foundation. The program will award immediate grants to struggling small businesses, which apply via the company's online application process at thryvfoundation.org.
Google is donating more than $800 million to support small businesses, health organizations, governments, and health workers impacted by Covid-19. The amount includes $340 million in Google Ads credits for small and midsize businesses with active accounts in the past year.
Telecom giant Verizon is donating $2.5 million to nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation for its Small Business Covid-19 Recovery Fund, which will use the funds to provide grants of up to $10,000 to struggling businesses.
GoFundMe, the social-fundraising platform, has launched the Small Business Relief Initiative, partnering with Yelp to provide small-business owners with grants and resources. GoFundMe and Yelp have each donated $500,000 to the Small Business Relief Fund, and it is open for anyone to make a donation. There will also be $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.
The James Beard Foundation, the national nonprofit culinary arts organization, has launched the Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund. The organization will draw support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to offer micro-grants to restaurants, bars, and other independent businesses in the industry.
Legal and employment issues
Lawyers for Good Government Foundation (L4GG), a nonprofit network of more than 125,000 legal advocates in all 50 states, launched the Small Business Remote Legal Clinic to offer free consultations for small-business owners to help them answer legal questions and better understand the help that's available. The pilot program starts with New York City businesses and will expand to other cities in the weeks ahead.
SixFifty, the tech subsidiary of law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, released free legal tools to help businesses manage employment issues related to the Covid-19 crisis, from automated policies developed by employment attorneys to questionnaires to gather employee information, manage tasks, and automate important communications. The firm is also hosting free webinars to guide businesses on how to use the tools.
Business Warrior, the software platform for small businesses, is offering 12 months' free access to its software and support, including personalized recommendations to drive new customers and improve profitability during this uncertain time.
Gift certificates, gift boxes, and more ways to support small businesses
Investment firm Granite Creek Capital Partners and technology company Theron Technology Solutions have launched free web-based tools for small businesses to estimate amounts available and forgiven under the PPP.
Verizon launched Pay It Forward Live, a weekly charitable entertainment series, to support small businesses affected by Covid-19. Dave Matthews was the first among other artists who are performing concerts from their homes that stream live on Verizon's Twitter account and on Yahoo Entertainment and encourage viewers to support their favorite local businesses.
Keep Your City Smiling, born out of the Covid-19 crisis, sells gift boxes of products to benefit struggling local businesses. It is currently focused on Seattle small businesses, but it's expected to expand to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon--with more cities to come.
Rally for Restaurants, a grass-roots movement to support restaurants through Covid-19, has made it easier than ever to buy gift cards to restaurants and encourage others to do the same. If you're a restaurant owner, you can add your business to the list.
Presently, a group-gifting platform, is covering all credit-card fees for group gifts on its platform through April.
Kabbage has launched an online hub to help boost gift-certificate sales for small businesses impacted by Covid-19. While the service is free, there is a 2.5 percent payment processing charge per gift certificate that goes to the third party facilitating the service.
Supply chain solutions
Software company SAP is offering free access to SAP Ariba Discovery through June 30 for all suppliers. The platform serves as a business matchmaking service for buyers and suppliers. Buyers, who have always had free access, can post their immediate sourcing needs--and now any supplier is free to respond to any of them at no charge for this limited period.
Vonage, a global cloud-communications company, is offering its collaboration platform and videoconferencing tools for businesses at no charge for 90 days, and for up to 250 users.
Vidyard, an online video platform, is offering its video message service for free to businesses to use for internal communications through June 30.
Software company TechSmith is offering its screen recording tool, Snagit, and its collaboration platform, Video Review, for free to businesses through the end of June.
Threads, a collaboration and communication platform, is offering its Pro tier plan, which supports up to 100 members, for free through July 1.
Workhuman, the human capital management software company, is making its cloud-based social recognition tools--specifically its Life Events, Social Recognition, and Conversations platforms--free for 12 months to all businesses and organizations.
15Five is offering full access to its performance-management software through June 15, to help companies lead remote teams.
Igloo Software, a digital workplace solutions provider, is offering its Business Continuity Bundle for free through July 6, which includes digital workplace tools to keep employees productive and supported through the crisis.
LinkedIn has made 16 LinkedIn Learning courses available for free, including tips on how to stay productive, build relationships when you're not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools, and balance family and work in a healthy way.
Calendly, the appointment scheduling software company, is offering Zoom and GoToMeeting integrations--which were previously premium-tier features--free of charge to businesses through June.
Dialpad, a communications platform, is offering businesses its cloud-based phone system Dialpad Talk Pro and its videoconferencing tool UberConference Business at no charge for two months.
Adobe is offering Adobe Connect, a web conferencing platform, for free to businesses and individuals through July 1, for meetings of up to 25 participants.
Cisco, the multinational tech giant whose Webex product hosts videoconferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars, is offering free 90-day licenses with unlimited usage.
Zoho Remotely has opened up its complete suite of Web and mobile apps for free to small-business owners through July 1, to help remote teams communicate, collaborate, and be productive.
Align Technologies has made its Huddle Tools software available for free to small businesses to help teams improve the flow of communication and manage updates and tasks through the coronavirus crisis.
Fitness startup ClassPass has launched livestream classes for studios, with all proceeds going back to studios through June 1. The fitness startup is encouraging members to donate to their favorite studios, and it plans to match those donations up to $1 million. ClassPass also offers free access to 2,000 on-demand workouts.
Unmind, a workplace mental health platform, has started a free and open #GreatUnminds channel on Slack, where you can make connections, learn tips, and share advice on mental well-being in the workplace.
Les Mills, whose fitness brand started in 1968 in New Zealand, is offering more than 100 of his virtual fitness classes for free until the coronavirus crisis is over.
If yoga is more your speed, DoYogaWithMe is offering two months of free access to its premium content.
Only well-formatted and professional-style feedback is forwarded. Make sure your suggestions are clear and easy to understand (this means good grammapunctuation!!). Provide reasoning for WHY something should be implemented as well as examples of how to implement your idea. I'm looking for thoughtful items where I can tell the user put time and effort into it.
Specify which category your feedback falls under. If one of the categories is not specified, I will not send it.
When this thread is closed, items that were forwarded will be listed within this post.
MyCAREER — Player Creation (Builds/Archetypes)
Put limitations on certain builds. Example: Non-Shooting builds (Glass Cleaners, Pure Rebounding, Lockdowns) can't green 3 pointers if attribute is lower than a certain rating. These builds could POSSIBLY get greens but not until they reach that attribute around 96 - 99 Overall. Pure Shooting builds can green from the start. Dual builds with shooting may have to increase attribute for greens depending on Primary & Secondary.
2 Primary Archetypes and 1 Secondary archetype (3 total). For example, if wanted to make a slashing, defensive minded PG (who can obviously still playmake/run the offense & get playmaking badges) a la John Wall or Rondo, you would need a 3rd archetype slot. Or an AD type PF that is nasty around the rim/in the post, has a wet jumpshot AND can blocks shots/clean the glass, you would need 3 archetypes. Maybe the 3rd archetype caps out at silvebronze badges, for balance. 3 choices would give us the freedom to get really creative with the blends and create players that actually mimic some of the crazy skillset combinations we see in the real NBA. This would add much need diversity to the player pool and then maybe we wouldn't see everyone making the same 4-5 builds.
Please let the name of players be changed between different careers.
MyCAREER — NBA Career
Bring back college and the Draft Combine, where your performance determines your draft stock. Take a page from MLB Road to the Show, if you don’t like where your projected draft position is, give players the option to choose if we want to go back to school for another year or choose to go play in Europe/China before entering the draft.
Add Summer League (just 2-3 games) where if you outplay your draft position/impress scouts/GM/coaches, you see an increased role/minutes on your team
Give player the ability to be a role playe6th man if they so choose. Many people like to play the game as a basketball RPG and not everyone wants to be a superstar demi-god. Some might rather play as instant offense/go-to scorer off of the the bench.
Give players more choices in influencing their career. The idea from the Spike Lee story where you had to “decide” whether or not to get rid of Vic as a friend was a cool idea in theory.... give us scenarios like this where we get to make an ACTUAL decisions, with actual consequences and multiple outcomes/cutscenes/endings.
Have our responses in interviews/press conferences make an actual difference on how we are perceived in the league... are we an asshole/villain that everyone loves to hate? Are we charismatic/charming and the darling of the league? The idea of adding Fans vs Teammate Chemistry based on interview answers was a good start, but this could be taken MUCH further. Things that could be affected by our league-wide perception could be: booing/crowd reactions in opposing arenas or the arena of our former team, more detailed in-game and pre-game show commentary, whether teammates will pass you the ball or freeze you out of the offense, coach benching you for a game or two, teams deciding to give up on you and trading you away, etc.
Overhaul the Offseason and allow us to see things like which rookies are drafted by which teams and the ability to monitor Free Agency, so we know where other marquee players end up and can base our own free agency decisions on that. Have our free agency decisions actually mean something and influence the storyline of the upcoming season. Do we stay loyal and remain with the team that drafted us? Do we ditch our team and join the reigning champions to get a free ring? Maybe have our former team’s crowd boo us when we return to that arena and have the announcers comment on it during the game. This kind of drama/storylines are part of what makes the NBA so exciting and currently the career mode lacks any of that.
Improve Trade Logic - oftentimes, your team will make seemingly random trades that make no sense. For instance, on my main PG build, I was playing for the 76ers. We already had myself and Markelle Fultz, but for some reason, the team traded away one of our bigs for Patrick Beverly, another PG. This screwed up the rotation and forced me to play out of position for the remainder of the season.
Bring back GM talks BEFORE 90 ovr. I think lowering this to 88 would be a nice compromise. Additionally, allow us to ask for trades for current teammates. As I said before, sometimes your team will trade for players that do not really fit the roster and instead of being stuck with them for an entire season, give us the ability to request that they be traded away for players that are a better fit.
Let us choose our path. College then Enter NBA Draft, Enter G-League, or Play Euro League. WNBA also. From Lower leagues, allow us to enter the NBA at anytime. (Call-Up, Two-Way Contracts, Get Drafted but play Euro for 1 season)
Add more cut scenes with players and Staff. Use scenes with Text like MyGM after the Main Story with VOs.
Add a Relationship System similar to MyGM. Your MyPlayer can develop friendships with any player, Staff, or Owner. Also develops Rivals throughout the season/Career depending on Personality badges. This could also be a way to Unlock certain Personality Badges. (Ex. Friendly, Calm, Unpredictable, and so on)
Team Chemistry will depend on relations with teammates & it will show. If the MyPlayer doesn't click with ONE player on the team it can destroy the chemistry/team.
Continue after Retirement. Allow us to become a Head Coach or Owner of a team. Almost a merger with MyGM but in MyCareer. Continue the relationships from Career.
Please create a COOP PVE mode where you and one or two other friends can share a career. All players need to be online simultaneously to play an official game, but you can play 'phantom' games to build your characters if desired. Phantom games would advance your personal schedule and include your Player teammates as AI, but not advance the COOP schedule.
PLEASE fix the drills. PLEASE. The following are broken, and by broken I mean there are events out of the players control that cause them to fail/not get 3 stars. Hustle Rebounder. I can achieve a perfect box out, and instead of me grabbing the rebound, the ball bounces 50 feet the other way and goes out of bounds. Or the shooter grabs the rebound. Either give me points for the box out or overhaul the drill entirely. Posterizer. Remove the player between you and the basket when you’re at the baseline. It’s impossible for trigger a contact dunk animation, you only go for layups regardless of what you do Deadeye. Remove the tiny dots you need to love to. Remove any non PGs from being the passer. If it’s a non PG they either don’t pass the ball when you call for it, or they don’t hit you in the right spot and you take the shot off of the tiny dot you need to be standing on. Tear droppeAcrobat. If the defender goal tends, which happens a TON in acrobat, give me credit for the shot.
Please scale statistics to quarter length so that our stats at least match the rest of the league. I don't care that much of stats are realistic I just would like them to be consistently comparable. This option is available in other game modes.
MyCAREER — Playground AKA Park
Instead of waiting on a specific court for next, have a waiting area where either a squad or a single player can get on a queue to join the next open court automatically of your choice of 3s or 2s. For instance, a squad of 2 gets on a "got next" spot in the waiting area and automatically is in line for the next open 2s court. Same with 3s.
Single players are queued first in first out and join the next game of 3.
Please create a shootaround court where anyone can hop on, grab a ball and shoot around with park latency and sliders.
Please create a PVE park area where you can always get a 3v3 park game vs. the AI with your friends, a la Court Conqueror, to practice running plays and communication and so on.
Winter adds snow effects (Ex. Slipping, Snow fights). Longer day cycle in the Park over the Summer.
MyCAREER — Pro-Am and Jordan Rec Center
Jordan Rec Center should be broken down into leagues based off overalls. So like a 62-75 league, 76-87 league, and 88-99 league with advantages for unlocking higher leagues. A system like this could balance matchups and prevent lower overalls from having to be the weak link on their team and prevent them being discouraged from playing Jordan Rec altogether. A good chunk of my losses in Jordan Rec came from a low overall not being capable of checking the 90+ overall player they got matched up with. If Jordan Rec was broken into leagues based off overalls the way I suggested, the highest overall that 68 would have to check would be a 75 and they wouldn't hold back their whole team on offense and defense. Then once they get to a 76 overall, they would unlock the next league (76-87). Some of the advantages for going to a higher league could be that unlocking the 76-87 league would allow you to earn 1.5x more vc per game. Then unlocking the 88-99 league would allow you to earn 2x more vc per game.
In Rec Center, give PGs (the player who is actually at the PG position) the ability to call a 15-20 second timeout, where they can change matchups and set defensive/offensive schemes (especially helpful when you have AI teammates). Currently, you have to try and scramble to do this stuff during a dead ball or during the game and it often leads to turnovers/blown coverages, etc because there simply isn't enough time. Limiting this feature to PG's ONLY and maybe only once per quarter would be a way to stop people from abusing it.
Remove the other games from the background of Rec Center. I'm sure having to render all of the other games being played in the background is a contributing factor to the terrible latency/lag issues that plague online play. This is unnecessary and useless to the overall experience, so there is no reason to include it.
Allow clothes/accessories/shoes to transfer between characters. We already spent the VC and our characters all the look the same anyway, so there's really no reason to prevent us from using the same cosmetics across characters.
Make the daily spin a pop up that just pops up on your phone or something every 24 hours instead of it's own separate room. Include a countdown timer.
Community Submitted Events
More unlockable Clothing & Gear by completing goals
If you bring back Reps & Affiliations, having a whole Neighborhood for each team would be pretty sweet
Scrap Cages, add NBA Street type of Park with insane moves and power-ups
Change the Auction House to a grid style and make the scroll speed faster. We should also be able to sort by certain ratings (i.e. inside/outside scoring, physical attributes like speed and lat. quickness, and defensive ratings). We can do this with cards we already have, so why cant we do it in the auction house? And PLEASE keep the auctions as up to date as possible. One of the most irritating things is finding a card with time left, trying to bid, and the game telling me "Your bid is not higher than the current bid" or "Another user has already bought this card"
Expand upon the dynamic duo feature. Maybe include a Big 3 feature. For example, if a player has any "Big 3" trio (Bird/McHale/Parish, or Lebron/D. Wade/Bosh, or ParkeGinobli/Duncan) on the court at the same time, all 3 players get a significant boost to their ratings.
Please increase the token rewards for single player challenges. Doing 10 challenges for just 3 tokens is super tedious, especially when there's like 10 for each team. There should be either 3 tokens after every other challenge, or 20 tokens after completing all 10.
Would be nice to be able to preset gameplans like Switch Everything Defenses, Series Focuses, Freelances and whatnot. A little tiring to do in-game. Also maybe the option to use the advanced rotation tool in this mode (like in the MyLeague coach gameplans)
Please implement position locks. Whoever plays out of position gets a hit on their attributes.
Matchmaking: either make it so that you match up with people that have similar gem colors as you or you implement salary cap again. If you have a team of Ruby’s and emeralds you keep getting matched up with god squads that keep lowering their overall just to get easy wins.
Stop inflating Pink Diamond players abilities (i.e. non-three shooters being able to shoot well from the perimeter)
Make user-skill of the game more reliant on shot-IQ and working the ball on offense, rather than players making shots because of unstoppable animations from inflated players like PD Giannis, etc...
For users without Xbox Live accounts, please make it possible to complete all the goals and use the auctions at the least.
Create different leagues with various lineup restrictions like it used to be for "Road to the Playoffs". It would be nice to be able to use my Ruby players in March, cards become useless as the year goes on.
Draft Classes need to be updated. There needs to be storytelling throughout the predraft process, think Madden and how they have a story for 20 or so players in the drafts. 2K could highlight 10 or so guys throughout the season in depth, players who are future stars or just good college players. Misdirection, teams missing out on guys who are actually good, players rising after a strong march, etc. Would help with bad overalls, ages, realism, and tendencies. Rule changes, like 18y/o could unlock some younger guys for each draft class.
Historic draft classes need to have the "years pro" glitch fixed. Also, make players look young, not a bald manu, old looking John Stockton, etc. A lot of times, besides the top 1 or 2 guys, many historic players wash out of the league fast. Brendan Haywood and Gerald Wallace both are terrible and drop out of the league in a year or two (if they last that long).
Free Agency: Players ask for way too much, even when they have no bidders/no market for them. They would, in reality, take either a smaller deal, or a shorter "prove-it" deal. Each new draft class that hits RFA thinks they deserve 20+ a year, if not the max. Guys like Malcolm Brogdon want 25 a year, when in reality, they can't take a 100+ million contract in RFA, due to the CBA and him being a 2nd round pick, he is only eligible for an extension worth less than half that, at around 48 million, and is realistically getting a 4 year deal around 60-70, like Bledsoe's deal. There should be bad contracts, yeah, but not to the level the game currently has. Overalls, plus player archetypes (athlete, shooter, defenders, etc) and how they typically age, and stats (both per game and in relation to their mins), team needs, player worth, league cap situation (a 2016 boom means higher contracts should dictate their market value. Superstars shouldn't rarely sign with teams that don't make sense. Ex. KD going to the magic happens, Klay not getting a deal, then signing with the Cavs after the season starts happened in my most recent My League. Sure, both teams would sign either of them in a heartbeat, but neither of them would sign there unless a drastic move happened.
There is a pace problem. After a few years, the average pace drops down to early 2000s, and some teams are playing at a glacier pace. scoring goes down, and you're lucky if the top scorer in the league is averaging 25 a game. After KD, Curry, LeBron, and Harden get older, no one is able to carry the torch as a great scorer. Changing the rules so 20 sec is the shot clock helps, but the per 100 stats are still slow and all the rule change does is inflate stats to a stupid level, like 20 rpg, 37 ppg, and only for a few years.
Overall Team IQ: Teams need to be smarter, less bad trades and signings. Teams can make bad decisions, but not all 29 teams. Improve the IQ for most teams, and as eras change, maybe update the IQ of teams. Once you get a roster of stars (which is too easy) no team stops your dynasty, or even really tries.
Progression/Regression: I feel the draft class fix could handle a lot of this, but players need to adapt to how the league changes and their overalls as well. If a player gains a 3pt shot, his tendency should not be 0. His steal/block ratings go up, he shouldn't be scared to block shots or play the passing lanes. An aging player should gain iq, maybe have an increase in shooting as his athleticism decreases. Curry should never have a 3pt shot below 80, which happens as he passes his prime. His passing vision should never go away, those type of mental cues that a player has should not decrease the same as speed/jumping/dunking. An algorithm could possibly solve this, as the sliders in place are not reliable.
Make it possible to play throwback MyLeauges. For example you can start in the 2002 - 2003 season with the rosters from that season so you can shape the league the way you want
Add a few Mexican cities (probably Mexico City and maybe Cancún?) to the expansion list since there is real talk of expanding the NBA to the Mexican market and it is way more likely than a NBA franchise in Omaha. Plus you can actually make a team called Mexico City Aztecas which is undoubtedly a great name.
Allow the user to have a little more control over their schedule. For example, choosing who plays on Christmas and major holidays, or which teams get to open their season at home.
A more in-depth or revamped team creation suite. The player suite still needs love, but so does this feature. We’ve had the same custom jersey, team logo, and stadium options, like video boards, scorer’s tables, etc. for a long time, so any change would be appreciated.
Allow the user to set custom stadium sounds and audio without it causing the stadium to change to a default one. I like the new Hawks stadium, but if I want to add an air raid siren for dunks, I have to change to a generic arena.
Rework the All-Star Weekend, from top to bottom: The Rising Stars Challenge needs updated jerseys and rules. The three-point contest needs updated formatting (more players to match the current amount allowed to compete, choosing where our money ball rack is, etc.) and better timing with shot releases. The dunk contest needs a better control system (hitting a series of buttons correctly) would be better. The actual All-Star Game needs different sliders to tone down the defense and up the crazy offense that can happen.
When starting from the offseason, give users an option to use either the same draft order, a custom draft order, or a random order.
The automated rookie generation still needs some work. For example, grey hair shouldn’t be added to a character in the draft class. We’re getting better results with the new facial slider system, but a few more tweaks couldn’t hurt.
Social media needs a little help. The same cliché statements, the same lame profiles, and nothing of benefit. Have people argue about basketball topics, have stats be noticed, rumors spread, and social media actually look like social media if at all possible.
It would be cool if players could get “fed up” with a team, or be happy enough to take pay cuts. Have different player personalities take effect, even in their different animations on the court.
Allow at least one custom player to have tattoos for MyLeague. I know it’s been said by the devs that they can’t have too many player files with tattoos in MyLeague because of loading time and file size, but I play this mode to have a sandbox career mode essentially. So one player allowed with custom tattoos would be nice.
Allow for aesthetic customization of players without a game face in MyGM. Real players get older and change hairstyles so I want to do it in MyGM as well
Instead of having a starting screen for myGM, the player's myGM character should be in an office or something similar to how the myCareer player is in a park. In the office, when he wants to make changes to the lineup or to price changes, he would go to the CFO's office to talk with him.
I believe the myGM character should be fully customizable apart from the myCareer player. Along with this would be the ability to customize his suits, etc.
Furthermore, there should be more media engagements and fan interest should be harder to attain and a bigger aspect of myGM.
Players levels of fame should be on the player cards and there fame should be able to be increased or decreased based on their team and the way the GM promotes them. (the fame would affect jersey sales)
I always thought myGM had a lot of potential, and I think attaching VC to myGM would be a great idea. There should be VC rewards per month/year based on your profit. These rewards should not be as small as they are for if you are an owner. VC rewards for games should be adjusted to the difficulty you play at
Technical-Foul related suggestions: At the cost of a technical foul, you could have a player scream or do an excessive celebration, step over a player after a dunk, etc. and this would get the player reach his takeover faster. You should get a warning first sometimes, and other times a straight tech.
Ability to back up a teammate if another player gets into their face.
Dominant players need to be dominant. It is too often LeBron, Giannis, or Embiid will be lackadaisical when playing against them. It is an overall gameplay aspect, but sometimes they need to be unstoppable, or near it. If you play a quick game online against the 76ers, Embiid should be near impossible to guard, same if you're using Harden or Giannis.
Missing retired players: Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, Bison Dele, Nate Robinson, Mike Dunleavy Jr
CAP: There needs to be some meaning to the order for different dunk packages. I currently have the package at #15 trigger the most. Either have the order count, or make it so that we choose a fast break package, an under-the-basket package, a baseline package, etc.
CAP: Perhaps license some artists to create actual sleeves. Or allow a more free form tattoo placement system where we could create our own sleeves (for example, the tattoo system on UFC 3)
CAP: Bring back the different body types for players. Maybe a slider or options, but having lean, ripped, and average, or even more would differentiate the types of players we see.
Ability for player's to see what their network ping is
New teams for Play Now 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers. Fisher, Kobe, Artest, Pau, and Bynum (and Odom). I know we already have a lot of Lakers teams, but I think we need just one more. Mamba Mentality Kobe plus a fantastic starting lineup equals a great team. This was the year that Kobe truly proved that he could win without Shaq, and we also saw the stellar duo that was Kobe and Pau. Seeing as we don’t have a team with Kobe that doesn’t include Shaq, this team would be a great addition to 2K20. 2012-13 or 2015-16 Oklahoma City Thunder. I would like one of these teams to be added because we only have one historic Thunder team, and Westbrook isn’t even a 90 overall. I think a historic Thunder team with both Durant and Westbrook in their primes would be so much fun to play as. I went with 2012-13 and 2015-16 as the preferred seasons, because from 2013 to 2015, either Westbrook or Durant was injured. 2012-13 would be great because it was the year they won 60 games, and Durant and Westbrook were taking over the league, but I wouldn’t mind 2015-16. 2013-14 Los Angeles Clippers. The Lob City Clippers would be so much fun to play as, and we have yet to see them make an appearance as a historic team. 2013-14 was the season Blake finished 3rd in MVP voting, and Chris Paul was dropping dimes to him and DeAndre Jordan left and right. I’m fine with any Lob City team to be honest, 2013-14 just came to mind because of Blake’s MVP-worthy season. 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs. Like the Lakers, we have a lot of 90s-00s Spurs teams, but none in the 2010s. I think a Spurs team with a prime Kawhi would be great, and any team from 2013-14 and beyond would be fine. 2013-14 would be great because the Spurs won the championship with Kawhi as FMVP, and they still had their Big 3 as their backbone. 2015-16 and 2016-17 would be fun because the Spurs had Aldridge and won 60+ games both years, but those teams might be too recent. 2013-14 probably has the best chance of making it into 2K20, which is fine by me. 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers. The team that did the impossible. Seeing as the 2015-16 Golden Stats Warriors are a historic team, I think it would definitely be possible for the 2015-16 Cavs to be one as well. The trio of LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love would be electrifying, and I would love to see them in 2K20.
[Spoiler] A Dark Theory concerning the potential plot of the Forsaken expansion's campaign
Just a warning that this post discusses not only spoilers for all of Destiny 1 and 2 (including Warmind, Rise of Iron and Taken King) but also potential major plot twists and character deaths in the upcoming expansion Forsaken. If you want to play it blind in September without reading obsessive theorizing and speculation turn away now...
After watching the Forsaken trailer Vidoc I was extremely hyped for the DLC but also worried about the Developer comments that Forsaken will have a 'darker tone' given that darker storylines tend to involve the deaths of significant characters. I was just getting worried about Petra and Variks possibly dying when I realized something worse.
The Vidoc refers to Forsaken's story as one which puts our Guardian in a new role, that of a wild-west type gunslinger seeking payback:
"We sort of just embraced that western revenge vibe" - Shiek Wang
"You go to a darker place, you're gonna take on a different role as a guardian" - Eric Osborne
But if that's the case, why does the story's introduction have us showing up with Cayde after being 'sent' to the Reef, presumably by the Vanguard? It's true that Cayde is a bit of a rogue and our Guardian got up to similarly unauthorized adventuring during the Taken King Campaign, but it's hard to imagine a storyline being darker if Cayde-6 cracks jokes the whole way while riding a shank. Unless something happens to change that early in the story. And the 'revenge vibe' begs the question- Who is being avenged? Which led to me thinking briefly that Cayde-6 might die instead. I initially brushed it off as preposterous but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. If Cayde dies and we seek revenge while cut off from the tower then it certainly would fit the dark storyline the Vidoc implies will take place. But how and why will this happen, and what evidence is there?
The Sealed Ahamkara Grasps
These exotic hunter gauntlets debuted in Destiny 1, but returned in Destiny 2's recent Warmind expansion, this time with their own lore tab view-able by inspecting them in the inventory and holding the 'aim' button (L or L2). Doing so reveals not the usual lore but a cryptic message containing a game of 'two truths and a lie' in which readers must figure out which of three statements is false, leaving the other two as truth. The statements are as follows:
Brother, ally once more, sends his regards. Dreamer, awakened, the Bearer shall meet. Light fades, deep within the Prison.
Given that the recent Vidoc mentioned a 'Dreaming City' and a 'Prison' it's safe to say that this lore foreshadows the upcoming Forsaken DLC and that the latter two statements are likely true. This leaves the first statement as a lie: 'Brother, ally once more, sends his regards'. The only 'Brother' linked to Forsaken's story thus far is Prince Uldren, otherwise known as 'The Queen's Brother' in Destiny 1. His crashed, empty ship appears on Warmind, which combined with lore from Destiny 1 confirms him to be alive and active recently. So why is the statement a lie? Because Uldren was never an ally-- he hates the Guardian and tries to sabotage us at every turn as we seek the Black Garden in Destiny 1, only aiding us at his Sister's demand. He's also the only character to literally hold a knife to our Guardian's throat.
After all, the clues of the Ahamkara Grasps have more legitimacy now that their words match the Forsaken trailer, and they imply the permanent death of at least one guardian deep within the Prison. If that guardian is Cayde, it makes sense that Forsaken would become the dark revenge mission Bungie is hinting at.
He's the easiest main character to resurrect after death... and that resurrection has benefits
Just to clarify, this isn't a usual guardian death for Cayde, it's a permanent one in which his Ghost also dies. But if Bungie kills off their leading mascot and fan favorite character (voiced by Nathan Fillion who has worked with Bungie for a while) isn't that a pointless risk just to make the storyline of Year 2 darker? Not quite. As an Exo, Cayde has numerous opportunities to come back from the dead outside his Ghost. The Deep Stone Crypt of the Exos has yet to be explored, and the powerful Warmind Rasputin has a close relationship with these artificial human lifeforms.
If Bungie wanted to restore their leading hero, it would be easy to create some plot contrivance in the future to bring him back. And that's not to mention the fact that if Cayde did return from his 'final death' his Exo form would likely need rebooting or replacing, giving him the name 'Cayde-7' according to lore. Conveniently this would give the franchise mascot Bungie's favorite number '7', one that frequently appears in Bungie-related media. Perhaps killing Cayde is just a temporary move to darken the story, giving him the opportunity for a triumphant hero's return later. His permanent yet also temporary death would also set him free from the responsibilities of Vanguard he seems to hate so much and let him do plenty of shooting and adventuring in Destiny 3. Speaking of his Vanguard position....
There is more than one potential Hunter Vanguard in waiting
Hunters are not normally inclined to hang around the Last City as Titans and Warlocks, preferring the adventure of the wilds. Cayde is no exception, but if he meets his end there are plenty of veteran Hunters who can take his position shortly. Ana Bray is unlikely given her duties on Mars and cavalier attitude, but she is not the only candidate. Shiro-4 is a senior hunter who in Destiny 1: Rise of Iron supervised Vanguard activities in the Plaguelands of Old Russia. Should one male Exo Hunter Vanguard fall, another could take his place in the tower hangar post-Forsaken campaign with a bit of coding on Bungie's part, and Shiro currently has no role in Destiny 2 occupying him.
But the Forsaken trailer holds another possibility. A bearded man is shown overseeing the new 'Gambit' gamemode-- a man bearing the snake-styled crest of a hunter on his person. Could this man be Cayde's replacement? It certainly gives Bungie the opportunity to introduce a new character and gamemode together. Bungie has stated that this new mode will have matchmaking, and footage shows it occurring both in the Reef and the EDZ on Earth, making it similar to crucible in nature. Such modes are always overseen by Shaxx or Saladin, but could Gambit give the Hunter Vanguard a purpose besides the weekly flashpoint?
The Murderer has already been hinted at
If Forsaken is a dark story of payback in which Cayde is killed, who might the villain and perpetrator be? There is a whole rogues gallery of vicious fallen itching to kill guardians in the prison, and the Vidoc implies we will hunt them down, but are they truly acting alone? What are these Awoken secrets the Vidoc speaks of? And why-- if our enemies are merely Fallen barons-- would we push deep into the Awoken homeland of the Dreaming City?
Back to Prince Uldren. Based on the Grimoire card 'The Reef: 4' in Destiny 1, he is missing and acting suspiciously, gaining what appears to be mind control over the Fallen House of Kings. He is evading his own people at the Reef, amassing soldiers for unknown purposes on behalf of an unknown female. Could he be acting on the behalf of a not-quite-dead Mara Sov? or perhaps a more malicious presence like Savathun, the Hive God likely controlling the Taken enemies in Destiny 2? Perhaps his plans concern the Dreaming City. Either way he has plans that he does not trust the Reef or the City with. if the statement 'ally once more' is a lie, might everyone's least favorite awoken prince be an enemy? Could he be the one to kill Cayde in the Prison, or will he be responsible in a less direct way? A mass prison breakout of Fallen would give Uldren the unaligned army he needs...
Either way, our Guardian has fought plenty of Fallen in the past. Will our ultimate enemy be this time more human? Or does Uldren form a different piece of the puzzle?
It's a gun pointed at Cayde, who has his back turned while being shrouded in darkness and 'walking into the light' which is a common death metaphor. Granted, it's Cayde's own handgun, the 'Ace of Spades', but it is being consumed by darkness, turned upwards as if it has fallen from his grasp. We also recieve Cayde's ship along with Cayde shaders and an ornament for his gun in the pre-order bonus. This could be a coincidence, but given the possible hints at his death elsewhere it certainly looks ominous. Could the cover art symbolise Cayde's final death, with the preorder bonuses letting us pay tribute to him through our Guardian?
That's all for now, but I'm sure there could be more hints hidden elsewhere, and the upcoming E3 conference is said by Deej to contain more story details, which could lend more weight to this theory or refute it. There's nothing concrete yet, but Bungie have made it clear they want a different and darker storyline for Forsaken and the death of a main character like Cayde (along with a deadly betrayal by Uldren) would certainly set it apart from previous Destiny campaigns. EDIT: WHAT HAVE I DONE. I'M SO SORRY EDIT 2: Wow thanks for the Gold guys! It did take a while to put this together so I really appreciate your comments and support (and your rage after witnessing Cayde's fate). Eyes up Guardians, it's up to us to avenge Cayde!
tl;dr This, but unironically Alternate title: Review of "Who Gets What and Why: Part III" by Alvin Roth. Alvin Roth has won lots of prizes related to market design, the most important being the 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Personally I found part III the most interesting, which dealt with matching markets, so I decided to focus on that. Blockquotes are taken from this book unless otherwise specified. Matching markets are cases where we have two groups of people or organizations and need to match them up to each other. The matchings could be many-to-one (eg students to schools, people to jobs) or one-to-one (eg marriage). Money may be involved (eg a job offer), but only indirectly. For markets such as these, the Stable Marriage Problem is important to understand. The original framing involving an equal number of (presumably straight) men and women looking to get married. Can they always be matched up in a stable way? That is, matched in a way that no marriage will break up because a man and woman from different marriages both prefer each other to their current spouses? David Gale and Lloyd Shapley proved the answer is yes, and created an algorithm to do so. This is the same algorithm used in the National Resident Matching Program created in 1955, years before Gale and Shapley developed their algorithm. The algorithm is asymmetric in how it treats hospitals and residents, however both submit ranked lists indicating their ordering. The algorithm works its way down the residents ranked list and assigns them to the first hospital on their list which has either a) an open slot or b) a slot where the resident is preferred over a different resident who matched earlier in the computation. If b) that resident is booted and they get matched further down their list. Keep in mind this is all done by computer (either human or silicon) using the ranked lists and people/hospitals are only notified of matches once the algorithm is complete. This algorithm is still in use today. There were minor changes over the years, and one major change necessary to reflect how society has changed , but overall it has held up very well. The design of the algorithm means both hospitals and residents can be completely honest about their preferences and not try to gauge whether they should rank their honest first choice first or guess which hospital/resident liked them best. Is this quality so important? Yes, yes it is. Both the New York City and Boston public school system found this out the hard way. They each had matching programs (not designed by Roth) which operated in rounds, but once in a student was in, they were in. Partially because potential students didn't submit a ranked ballot, they submitted only one choice at a time, so the administration didn't want to unaccept somebody. Plus the gap between rounds was weeks, it could be a very emotionally draining process. Ultimately it meant that students had to do exactly what they shouldn't have to; guess which school was most likely to let them in and pick them on the first round. Because after that round most spots are full. Roth participated in redesigning these matching programs to be more like Gale-Shapley. Back to doctors. That same type of matching process occurs after residency too, when new doctors are applying for fellowships. With first-come/first-serve type processes, applications tend to creep earlier and earlier. Residencies last from 3-7 years, some residents were applying for fellowships in their very first year. Simply making a rule against this type of thing sometimes works, but only if there is a way to actually enforce the rules and punish rulebreakers. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn't (see below). Roths typical solution was two-fold:
Create a central clearinghouse for matching applicants fellowships, which operates at a reasonable schedule and uses a Gale-Shapley-type algorithm for matching.
Make sure people don't have incentives to work outside the clearinghouse.
Point 2 can by accomplished in different ways. The simplest way is to just make a rule against making offers earlier than the deadline, but these rules are not always enforceable. It can also be accomplished by making sure job offers are non-binding on the applicant side. If a resident can un-accept an offer for a fellowship if they get a better offer from the clearinghouse, then fellowship programs aren't going to recruit 3 years ahead of time. It's only necessary for one of these ends to be able to break the agreement, and then the race-to-the-beginning stops. Even though job offers are never legally binding, the social penalties can be severe enough that applicants won't break these agreements. Roth stresses repeatedly that markets need to be designed appropriately for the context in which they operate. Roth gives a few examples of success; gastroenterology fellowship applicants became empowered to unaccept offers and a clearinghouse was implemented, which solved that market. PhD students can unaccept offers from graduate schools without serious consequences, that prevented the race-to-the-beginning process even without a central clearinghouse for applications. The job market for orthopedic surgeons had a similar problem to gastroenterology, but here was a case where the status and prestige of senior surgeons meant there was no way to empower junior surgeons to break those agreements. But the power of orthopedic surgeon professional societies was such that they could impose sanctions on doctors who made early offers. So here the simple solution worked: impose a rule against early offers and then enforce it (for example, by not allowing rule-breakers to present at conferences). Because they had different cultures they needed different market designs which worked within those cultures, but they all followed the same basic principle: If a certain type of agreement makes for a bad market, prevent those agreements from forming. A case that so far remains unsolved is was with judges hiring clerks. Law school lasts 3 years, so you might think that aspiring lawyers would start applying for clerkships their final year. Well you'd be wrong. The race to the bottom meant applications started first year, long before students have figured out where they want to work and before judges have determined which students have the best potential. But it gets even worse. The hiring process itself starts early and moves incredibly fast:
I received the offer via voicemail while I was in flight to my second interview. The judge actually left three messages. First, to make the offer. Second, to tell me that I should respond third. Third, to rescind the offer. It was a 35 minute flight. -Applicant for a 2005 Federal Judicial Clerkship
Judges recognize this is a problem and have tried to mitigate it. Being judges, they just set rules and tell everybody to follow them. No one was actually punished for breaking the rules, but surely judges just have too much integrity to break rules even without the threat of punishment? Yeahhhhh no:
Judges aren't easily discouraged: they have proposed and tried similar rules about the timing of offers in 1983, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2002, with the most recent attempt being formally abandoned only in 2013.
A comment from a law student puts it well:
It's very disheartening to see so many Federal judges - the ostensible paragons of rules and fair play - breaking their own rules...I expected better.
There is no central clearinghouse for matches, early acceptances are binding, which means judges move their hiring earlier and earlier and expect answers right away, to avoid missing out. As far as I know, this story does not have a happy ending, and the clerk job market remains a shitshow. Incentives are more powerful than rules. Read more: https://www.amazon.com/Who-Gets-What-Why-Matchmaking/dp/0544705289 Also check your local library, mine had it available electronically. I read the whole book twice and wrote this review without getting off the couch. Footnotes:  The NMRP was in place from 1955 to 1995 with only minor tweaks. In 1995 the NMRP realized that since women could be doctors now many married couples wanted to go through the match process together. They didn't have to match to the same hospital but they did need to match nearby. Furthermore, it's not a good idea to give one partner their first choice and the other partner their tenth. So the algorithm need a special way of handling couples which would satisfy them both reasonably equitably. Roth goes into some detail about how this was accomplished, I left it out here for the sake of brevity.
Matchmaking Optimization and Dynamic Difficulty: The Perfect Storm
DISCLAIMER: It is still highly difficult to "prove" the existence of these mechanics in FIFA 18. Game files are encrypted and user data is the property of EA. Regardless, there is growing evidence to suggest that if its not already in use, it will be soon in many more EA games. In fact, I suspect most games we play in the near future will incorporate similar player retention strategies. Below, I’ve reviewed two papers published with EA affiliations. In my day job I am a researcher that uses similar technologies/methods, but for rather different aims. In my night job, I lurk FIFA. I have my own hot takes on #FixFIFA, but hopefully I can convince you of the real discussion we should be having.
Exhibit A: EOMM: An Engagement Optimized Matchmaking Framework, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1702.06820.pdf(Credit to georgios82 and his recent post for bringing this up: https://www.reddit.com/FIFA/comments/7esmcb/ea_does_not_believe_that_a_fair_elo_is_optimal/) This paper, published with EA affiliations, describes a method in which matchmaking, rather than pairing players of similar skills together, pairs players towards specific objectives – retention and spending in particular. In their own words, “Moreover, we can even change the objective function to other core game metrics of interest, such as play time, retention, or spending. EOMM allows one to easily plug in different types of predictive models to achieve the optimization.” In essence, they take user data x (say WL record), and determine a target y (likelihood to quit the game). The matchmaking is the function, in which they convert user input into user action. In their offline simulation of this method, they used real player data – which, though unnamed, almost has to be from FIFA 16 seasons – and calculated the probability that a particular combination of results ends up in someone ragequitting, or the “churn risk” (Table 1). Users were most likely to quit after L-L-L, and interestingly most likely to continue after DLW, LLW, LDW, and DDD. In addition, they calculated the probability of each outcome of tons of matches based on each player’s skill ratings. With this information… Player A has skill rating of 350, and in last three games played a LLL, thus at high risk of quitting. Player B has skill rating of 220, and in last three games played a WWW, thus at a low risk of quitting. These two players are made for each other in the eyes of EOMM. With a skill differential of 130 pts in Player A’s favor, the chances of Player A winning are say 80%. Player A NEEDS a win or they will call it a night. Player B is on a streak and can afford to suffer a loss. Now do that across the entire matchmaking pool = Weekend League as many have described. In case you think EA is not serious about such game mechanics, I will refer you to a recent patent in which all this is described: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2017/0259178.html Because buying packs is so closely integrated into the game, EA also can surely see recent results before a pack is bought – just like any other retailer. Though its not explicitly described, it would be wise business on their part to ensure that those frequent pack buyers continue to receive motivation via matchmaking and other systems potentially far more concerning, as this next section describes.
Exhibit B: Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment for Maximized Engagement in Digital Games, http://papers.www2017.com.au.s3-website-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/companion/p465.pdf The only other paper I’ve found with an EA affiliation, published as a conference paper in 2017. In this, it describes how EA ran an experiment on a level-based mobile game to determine if dynamic difficulty adjustment (DDA) resulted in more player retention. The results were a modest 9% increase. Nevertheless, I will point to several quotes that stuck out to me as a FIFA player: “We have successfully developed a system that applies this technique in multiple games by Electronic Arts, Inc., and have observed up to 9% improvement in player engagement with a neutral impact on monetization.” “No statistically significant difference on in-game transaction revenues was observed between two groups. This is probably caused by the mechanism of our optimization framework: it “saves” players of high churn risks, who are less likely to spend.” “In the near future, we will extend the framework to a wide range of game genres.” Even though there were little differences on monetization, EA is still targeting this as a goal. They want to maximize monetization, but for whatever reason this particularly game was not the best testbed for such a strategy. They allude to “multiple games” and a desire to extend this to a wide range of game genres. Could it be in FIFA 18? It was almost surely in FIFA 17, or the game files are lying. If you are curious, go read /initfs_Win32 with a text editor in FIFA 17. FIFA 18 has the same game file, of nearly the same size, but now it is encrypted. What we cannot be sure of is whether or not it was deployed in FUT. Turns out they have a patent on this too: Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment, http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2017/0259177.html Now read this quote and tell me what game they are talking about. “Embodiments of the present disclosure can be used to modify various aspects of game state of a video game, which may or may not affect the difficulty level of the video game. For example, in a game where weapons are randomly dropped, if it is determined that a user prefers to play a game using a particular in-game weapon, the game may be adjusted to present the preferred weapon to the user more frequently. In some cases, such as when all weapons are evenly balanced, the type of weapon dropped may not impact the difficulty of the video game and thus, such an adjustment may be based on user play styles or preferences rather than difficulty level preferences. Some other non-limiting examples of features of the video game that can be modified, which may or may not be detectable by the user can include providing extra speed to an in-game character, improving throwing accuracy of an in-game character, improving the distance or height that the in-game character can jump, adjusting the responsiveness of controls, and the like. In some cases, the adjustments may additionally or alternatively include reducing the ability of an in-game character rather than improving the ability of the in-game character. For example, the in-game character may be made faster, but have less shooting accuracy.” Not to fan the fire too much, but replace “weapon drops” with “player drops” and you have a recipe for a massive scandal. Or the fact that it knows play style and preferred weapons and caters your drops to that style (which explains why I get a huge amount of fancy Arsenal players every year). Speculation aside, I cannot think of any other EA games that include running, shooting, throwing, jumping, etc as player attributes.
Ok, so EA has a matchmaking system. They have a dynamic difficulty system. Now what? Remember how the matchmaking system pairs according to the desired match result for each player based on skill differential? Players on verge of quitting getting wins and vice versa? Well, now not only do they have skill ratings for each player, but Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment is another tool to optimize match outcomes. My suspicion is that due to the already RNG nature of the game, the probability of a match result as a function of skill rating has a large variance – skilled players can still be felled by that one lucky long shot in the 88th minute. Mapping outcomes to skill differential may be problematic. DDA provides another strategy to weight the probability in favor of an outcome. I bring up these points not only to bring to light matchmaking mechanics, but also to raise the idea that knowledge of such player behaviors is an important responsibility, and should be subject to some sort of ethical standards. Video games are not going to become less addictive, but more, because they are only going to get smarter. EA is attempting to lead the charge on this with the addition of the weekend league. Video game/internet addiction seems to be slowly gaining recognition in the psychological community, and a 2013 review paper on the topic found the consensus for diagnosis was threefold : “By adopting a utilitarian approach to defining the disorder (i.e., consensus decision-making), the majority of instruments assessed three features: (1) withdrawal, (2) loss of control, and (3) conflict associated with interpersonal relationships, work and/or school commitments.” (Review here: https://ac.els-cdn.com/S0272735813000056/1-s2.0-S0272735813000056-main.pdf?_tid=ac3e597e-d01f-11e7-8e14-00000aacb362&acdnat=1511422200_092cded6cd33b0f89c48b263f6c63a99) Asking players to give up time on the weekend and stress relationships while targeting addictive behavior for monetary gain is irresponsible. In my humble lurker opinion, this is what #FixFIFA needs to be about to gain any traction. Protect consumer mental health. Take a holistic approach to optimize user satisfaction. Its frankly too late to do much about FIFA 18 and the whole self-sustaining “pro” streaming ecosystem, but the conversation needs to start. I am not your test subject EA, I am a guy who wants to score with scorpion kicks. Just that. Give me a scorpion kick and I’ll be happy dammit.
We are Devs that built PVP game"Secret Ponchos" from our homes over 6 years. AMA
My name is Yousuf Mapara, I am the president and creative director at Switchblade Monkeys, I'm here to answer any questions for the AMA, about the game, and share our story of how a group of friends made a PVP game together from our homes (Secret Ponchos). This Journey has taken us 6 years. Our goal was to do something outside of the formulas combat games use, and make something new. We built an initial prototype in Unity from our homes. We mainly self funded the game by contributing our skills (not paying ourselves) Sony saw our prototype at PAX 2013, and asked if we could turn it into a full PS4 title. (That would be on stage at the PS4 press conference). We took this challenge on , but it meant rebuilding the game from scratch in a new engine. The game was given for free on PS+ and sadly did not resonate with a mainstream audience whatsoever. The core competitive game-play was fantastic, but it allowed for a high skill ceiling and this did not go over well with a casual audience. On top of this it lacked any type of support features a commercial product on PS4 landscape needs to be successful. Because the game was such a new style of combat, it also introduced so much genre confusion. Our PS4 launch was a failure for our team, and even after a few critical patches we were not able to turn its momentum around. This was our lowest moment. We received an invitation to Evo 2015, to showcase Secret Ponchos. At this point just when we thought we made a game that nobody would like, the fighting game community at Evo had the opposite reaction. The Evo community embraced the game, and showed a a keen understanding of the mechanics, core gameplay, and celebrated the unforgivingly competitive nature of the game, where everything was designed to be a skill shot. We decided to try again for our PC launch. Instead of doing a port, we implemented the thignswe learned from our PS4 missteps, added the onboarding, AIbots, better matchmaking, to put out the very best version of the game we can. It's clear we've made a niche game that fighting game enthusiasts respect, so we have a grass roots community. But from here our challenge is getting any pickup from a mainstream audience, because ultimately a PVP game lives or dies by its population. The PC launch which came out on Steam last week http://store.steampowered.com/app/265750/ Here is a little documentary made on our team https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_Q_CNdVtk4 Ask me anything. -yous
It's like he said, "Man, if I'm not worth anything, I'll leave. I want to be somewhere where I am worth something. I want to be valued. I never received anything for free. If they say, 'Oh, you got rich'; if I got rich, it was because I worked and I won, no one gave me anything. No one ever sent me home a bonus check or anything; if I won a bonus, I won the best fight, the best knockout. I never got a gift from anything like that, and never complained! But now I'm in a moment that I am no longer a kid; I have 30 years, and I have some lifetime within the sport. I want to do other things. Maybe I won't even fight MMA anymore, go fight other things. But I do not want to be in a company that does not recognize me, in a company where the boss is not who should have the control, where the boss is a guy who sells very well. The guy is bringing money, you have to value him, OK; so first not promise me, do not tell everyone that you will do something, because that's ugly. It shows that your word is worthless!"
According to the coach and manager, José Aldo still has in his memory several conflicts with the company. He mentioned the controversy surrounding the rib injury suffered before UFC 189, last year, when Dana White denied that Aldo had a fracture and Aldo's team had to get a foreign doctor to confirm how serious the injury was, which took him from the first scheduled match with Conor McGregor, and he also remembered what Dana White said about Aldo not wanting to fight Anthony Pettis in 2013, when Pederneiras wanted to negotiate a more lucrative purse and a catchweight fight for them, since the opponent never fought in the featherweight division at the time. The perception of dissimulation regarding Aldo's future in the company, increased with the announcement that McGregor would fight for the lightweight belt without dropping the featherweight title was the last straw.
He was already very angry with the situation, for being left waiting without an answer. You can't do that with someone like Aldo. You can do it with a new guy who just joined the UFC, not with someone that was undefeated for 10 years, not with someone who was the first and only champion until he lost in a 13 second situation, and that did what he had to do to deserve a rematch. He was lied to and didn't happen. I know that the company has a financial side, I have a company here and I will always think about it, but I won't lie to an employee of mine. If it can't be done, it can't be done. I won't tell something to everyone, put it in the media for everyone to see and later get caught in a lie - said Pederneiras.
The fighter's future is still unknown. He has six fights left in his contract and the manager revealed that he already contacted a lawyer that will review it and tell him what can be done. Pederneiras will also meet José Aldo today before flying to Portland where he will be with Hacran Dias for his fight against Andre Fili, and should meet Dana and the matchmaker Sean Shelby. He didn't rule out that the situation may end in court.
I think that Dana and the new owners need to understand that there is an employee that is totally unhappy and doesn't want to continue. If it was here in Brazil and a guy said, "Boss, I wanna leave", I would say, "Alright, I can't hold you here." The deal we have with the UFC, "Boss, I want to leave", the answer is "No, you will be stuck with me, you can't do anything else and you won't leave here." I think that creates a dissatisfaction. He would have to go to court to get out of the contract. And a guy like that, tired and unhappy, with the credibility that Aldo has, talking shit to everyone about several things, I don't think any company would want a guy like that every day telling something to the media, since he doesn't want to do it, he just wants to get out. We don't want a war, we don't want to fight, we don't want to talk bad things about anyone. We just want the right to say this, "I don't want to be here anymore. It's not the money, I just don't want to be here anymore." - explained Pederneiras.
The coach said that if Aldo really retires, his future may still be as an athlete, but in other sport besides MMA, which he isn't authorized to reveal. He also vented about the future of UFC that in his opinion, values the controversy and bad manners instead of respect.
I think that maybe it was my fault as a coach to have taught him the right way of the fight, the respect, "don't do anything like that, don't throw a water bottle in the middle of a press conference, don't start a fight like that. Don't curse the guys, don't show the middle finger in the middle of the fight, that's not nice." So maybe I was the wrong one, and I take the blame. Promoting that is something that I can't understand, because I'm an old coach, I am an old coach that can't see this. Maybe someone who replaces me will be in line with this new model, where talking shit is what sells, and I am still living by old standards. I am outdated, maybe that's it. But to try to convince me that this is the right way, that's something I won't be able to understand. But we have to recognize that this is what is selling: the guy who curses, the guy who shows the middle finger to others, the guy who starts a water bottle fight, the guy who smokes pot and doesn't care... It's so much stuff, that what gets attention are the bad things, not something nice. Aldo has a social project that noone talks about in the UFC. But talking about that the other guy was caught smoking weed or whatever... Those are things that to me, a guy who is teaching classes for 30 years, to kids and old people, I can't go to my students and say, "This is something right, you can curse the guy, try to get a fight with someone in the street, do a lot of shit, that's the right thing. The wrong is doing the right thing."
What happened to the notification thats supposed to happen when a game was found / starting? For example if you switched over to the YouTube app you could be watching a video while matchmaking and it would tell you once a match is found so you could jump back to the game. First shown here at the E3 Conference in 2013 https://youtu.be/fSXicnwHgss?t=3010 (50:10) This feature would be especially useful for games with long matchmaking times like MCC. Edit: I've just found an Xbox User Voice post for this very feature, I believe this should get some attention, especially as we don't have snap anymore multitasking isn't as convenient as it once was. https://xbox.uservoice.com/forums/363186--new-ideas/suggestions/18759787-multiplayer-notifications
So I just listened to Jim Cornette's latest shoot interview with Kayfabe Commentaries where he discusses his often criticized time in ROH in-depth; there is a new Russo in his life, and his name is Greg "The Office Boy"; Recap of Cornette's Inisghts
Cornette says for the last 20 years hes tried to keep wrestling alive and he always said if he had to he'd open his own company and do it himself, but now he realizes, "wrestling is dead, it can't comeback because after something which has been pretty much the same - a parody - for a generation now, its been so long that you can't get people to take it seriously again."
Sean Oliver fires back after Cornette has finally finished and says he believes wrestling will comeback and that in the last two years he think it has, but that people will always find an alternative when they really want it such as Ring of Honor which leads us into the topic of discussion I bought this entire shoot DVD for.
Ring of Honor Just under an hour in and we're on the topic of ROH. This should be good.
Cornette says he's not booking for ROH right now because an "office boy" drove him crazy. ROH was the final thing reminiscent of true wrestling left, it was his last effort to bring back what was great about it to him and that now wrestling is dead people blame him because "they didn't do anything I said".
Sean Oliver asks Jim, "what can Hunter (Delirious; the booker) do for ROH that you can't?" and Jim says he isn't talking about creative at all but instead how the original plan for ROH when Sinclair bought it was botched "because of Sinclair".
Cary Silkin (former ROH owner; now ambassador) rang him the day after it was announced he'd left TNA and he met him and Adam Pearce (then booker) and went to his first ROH show in three years, saw all the talent who he says, "were the polar opposite to most of the TNA locker room before I left, because these young guys were working themselves to death every match when in TNA half the talent couldn't give a shit", and thought there had to be someway he could expose it to a wider audience and "treat wrestling seriously", that maybe they'd fall in love with it.
Cornette says what he liked about the ROH locker room was the majority of them weren't guys that had worked for WWE or TNA that had been beaten or buried on national TV and then came back to the independents, who if ROH signed any mainstream wrestling fan would "like an idiot", think ROH were idiots for pushing them because WWE couldn't notice their talent.
Cornette said he never wanted ROH to take over Vince, it was never a mission of his, initially he didn't have the budget TNA had but he knew from when he arrived to when he left, ROH wasn't losing as much money as TNA was when Cornette was there.
Jim wrote the proposal for ROH to Sinclair which was only intended to be for a TV spot and not for them to buy the company, but Sinclair liked it so much they bought the entire thing.
He didn't enjoyed working as a booker with anybody more then he did with Delirious. When Sinclair bought the company, Jim was asked to become the head of creative but Delirious still booked everything, so what happened to the ROH product, "wasn't my fault, but people put the blame on me".
ROH didn't have the budget to compete with Raw or Smackdown or Impact's production, so he proposed Sinclair buy a building and create a specialized ROH arena which would be named the Honor Arena, so they could save money in the long haul. But It'd also be a place for storage, production, an office and a training school, so everything would be based out of the same arena and the arena would be based in Baltimore, MD (where ROH's offices now reside). Sinclair didn't do it.
Because the majority of ROH's fans came through the Internet they needed an in-house iPPV production system with a state of the art website so they could start taking in all the profits as opposed to sharing them with GoFightLive.tv, Cornette even offered to buy the equipment himself before Sinclair bought the company so they could stop doing business with GoFightLive who he calls, "pricks".
The website wound up being built by friends of Greg Gilleon, who Cornette calls "the office boy", who was taken from the accounting department and placed into ROH's head office, and because in the first few months of Sinclair's ownership he had managed to balance the books so that the company was making profit - "because he would cut costs everywhere as to not piss off Sinclair" - he gained more authority over the product, which involved him despite having no interest in wrestling prior to this trying to tell him, Gary Juster (former WCW executive who worked for ROH's head office) and Delirious who to sign, who to use, what shows to run, who to push and who not to push, pissing off so many people in the process Jim had to talk Charlie Haas from knocking him out and had to hire two new ring crews because others quit due to the way he treated them, and Cornette started getting frustrated because, "this prick was tearing my plan apart".
Long story short on the initial website, it kept going down, you couldn't buy a DVD off of it so for the first few months that wasn't possible, and iPPV's couldn't be ran off of it at first so Sinclair wound up saving money in the beginning because it was shit, but actually lost money in the long-haul because it had to be professionally redesigned.
Jim didn't want to alienate the existing fans but because Sinclair didn't have TV in two of the promotions biggest markets, New York City and Boston, Sinclair didn't want to run the areas outside of the Hammerstein Ballroom who want ROH to run there due to the business the company brings for iPPV's. Instead what Sinclair or Greg "the office boy" did was raise ticket prices, stop running places like Boston where ROH had a following because it wasn't on TV so already a large chunk of the existing fanbase were cast aside for new "casual" ROH fans.
Originally Dave Lagana was intended to take over ROH's social media platforms but when TNA found out he was no longer ROH's producer they gave him a jacked up contract to sign with them which he did, so they brought in a guy called Patrick Edwards (Who I personally have had dealings with, guy is an idiot and has no clue what the fuck he is doing) who Greg would tell what to say which is why ROH's social media image in the beginning sucked. And then when there was iPPV problems and Greg would tell 2,000 or 3,000 viewers that the feed would be back up soon and it didn't happen for 45 or 50 minutes, fans would get annoyed and start blasting the ROH Twitter account and then for whatever reason Greg would go to Sinclair and say it was Jim's fault and Sinclair would get mad at him.
ROH's scheduled plan was to for the first six months establish their TV show, then their big breakout moment was going to be Showdown in the Sun (two day show during WrestleMania Weekend at the Ft. Lauderdale War Memorial Arena which was sold-out) which would build to the big show they had planned from the beginning which was supposed to be Border Wars in Toronto.
Showdown in the Sun Day 1's iPPV feed never got off the ground because the idiot from GoFightLive didn't sync the audio with the visual correctly, then when he was trying to fix it before the show stepped on a cable which knocked everything off. He spent the entire night fixing it so that it was ready for the Day 2 iPPV but the area had a brown out which again knocked off the iPPV feed for most of the show.
Sinclair decided to go away from GoFightLive and go in-house like Cornette wanted and they brought in all the production equipment to make it happen, Greg "the office boy" did the test which worked perfectly and Border Wars was built as a big card (Lance Storm vs. Mike Bennett, Fit Finlay vs. Roderick Strong, Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team vs. The Briscoe, All Night Express vs. The Young Bucks, and Davey Richards vs. Kevin Steen), but when 3,000 or so people went online to watch it because they all logged in at the same time and Greg had no clue what bandwidth was the iPPV feed blew up and became so congested it just froze and nobody saw it.
Best In The World 2012 went off without a hitch because not that many people bought it because the last two iPPV's failed. To prove they could do a flawless stream they turned Boiling Point - which was supposed to be a live event - and turned it into an iPPV, but the card wasn't strong enough because they had no time to build toward it, so again not all that many people bought it but at least those that did were commenting that the stream was flawless, so come Death Before Dishonor in September 2012, while the stream was flawless for some, for others it failed, but instead of saying sorry Greg had Patrick Edwards ignore the issue over Twitter, Facebook and the website which is why Patrick Edwards was fired and replaced with former ECW manager Judge Jeff Jones.
Cornette says in June 2012 he stopped really giving a shit because he got a phonecall from a friend of his in Charleston, West Virginia where ROH runs on both the FOX and ABC affiliaites, and ROH was getting an average of 22,000 households watching in that area every weekend and the station manager wanted a live event there because he knew it would draw.
So Cornette went out and did everything himself because it was an old Crockett market so he knew the area well. They booked the Civic Center which was the arena Crockett used to run and did all the deals locally for sponsorship which came together at $28,000 in sponsorship money, they got plugs on the afternoon FOX news affiliates, they set-up a good card but then when Jim went back and told Greg all this - "who hadn't a fucking clue where West Virginia was" - he sets the ticket prices as first row $60, second row $50, third row $40, general admission $20 - more expensive then a Smackdown taping. Event wound up drawing 320 people, but made money, so instead of looking at the 320 people in the arena all Greg would relay back to Sinclair is that it made money and because he was the accountant and the Sinclair representative in the office, took the credit for it.
Jim wanted to demote himself so he could stop taking the brunt of the anger from the ROH fanbase for the way the show was being booked - "fans wanted to see the Super Smash Brothers; I don't know where but somewhere on a planet in an undiscovered universe there are professional wrestling fans who would want to see the Super Smash Brothers more then Matt Hardy, Mike Mondo and Mike Bennett, sadly I don't know where" - so they did an angle where Jay Lethal attacked him which removed his on-screen character and Nigel McGuinness would move from color to the on-screen authority position. Jim would stay as producer and a consultant to Delirious.
ROH went to Toronto for Glory by Honor XI, and fans and reviewers online and in magazines including Dave Meltzer praised the event, everyone saying how isn't it amazing how when Cornette left we got such a great show - when he wasn't actually gone from behind-the-scenes yet.
When Nigel was made matchmaker they wanted to bring in a new color commentator and it was decided it would be Adam Pearce, who'd previously been the ROH booker. Adam left on bad terms with Cary because he hated Syd Eck and Ross Abraham's who were in ROH's office and sent Cary an email with the opening line, "First of all, fuck Syd and Ross". So they talked to Adam and he agreed to comeback, even said he'd shake Syd and Ross' hand, so they went to Syd and he agreed that it was fine for Adam to comeback and he'd accept his apology, but Ross said he'd think about it - over a weekend Ross rang Joe Koff (ROH COO and another Sinclair representative) and said Adam had previously threatened to inflict violence on him and that if he was brought back he'd sue, so Jim had to shred a contract he'd wrote up to bring Adam in, ring him up and unbook him.
Greg "the office boy" wouldn't allow Cornette to book more shows in the last quarter of the year in order to save money because ROH was making profit, and as long as it was making profit he saw himself doing a good job, no matter what was happening on TV. So they booked an arena in Pittsburgh for a TV taping to set-up Final Battle, but because Greg didn't do his research it wound up being an ice rink which with the rent and set-up would take $20,000 to make look appealing for a TV taping and that's before any of the talent were paid.
Cornette missed a weekly conference call which would happen between several members of staff for his anniversary. During this conference call Greg "the office boy" (not going to lie, the guy sounds like a dick) decides to save MORE MONEY and to make MORE PROFIT for Sinclair so that they think he's doing a good job, their going to do an iPPV one night and then the next day do a TV taping and they would start this from WrestleMania weekend 2013 onward. Cornette knew this would kill not only the wrestlers who would have to compete in ROH's style of matches one night and then go out and have another match the next day, but also the production staff who wouldn't be able to get a proper nights rest for a 2:00pm bell time the next day AND the fans because the majority would show for the iPPV over the TV taping.
The last straw for Jim was the Belle Vernon, Pittsburgh taping. Because Greg had saved so much money and they were in a cold ice rink, because Steve Corino suffered an injury and everyone from the office was gone, they were well outside the city of Pittsburgh, they had 400 people there for the go home taping to the biggest show of the year, the shows didn't add up in-terms of time so they'd be a pain in the ass to edit and Greg had pushed him so far that he told anyone who'd listen he was going to kill him.
Cornette edited the TV show the next day, Joe Koff rang him the next day and they agreed Cornette would "go home", and that was the end of Jim Cornette in ROH, where he feels that he failed. Cornette says that while ROH the company itself was making money due to Greg "the office boy", he was called by Joe to comeback but opted not to for his own sanity because he doesn't want to deal with anything in the wrestling business anymore. Since hes left ROH has had a turnaround because Greg "the office boy", Syd Eck and Ross Abraham's have since been fired, plus Delirious has finally been able to get Sinclair to spend money instead of staying within a budget that outside of booking was constrained because of Greg who saw no value in what the product was like as long as the company was making profit and Sinclair saw the plus on the statements every month. And that concludes that. So TL;DR, Cornette does blame all the wishes most fans blame him for on somebody, Greg "the office boy" who is to him in ROH as Russo is to him in life, but does admit he failed in his project and that it was his final attempt in wrestling.
[OC] Hearthstone Developer Q&A from the 2013 EU Blizzard Community Summit
Greetings, everyone! For those of you that may not know me already, I’m lhavelund, and I’m one of the long-term mods over at /WoW. As I mentioned yesterday in a post over on the World of Warcraft subreddit that I was fortunate enough to attend the 2013 EU Blizzard Community Summit, and while there was a lot of information about all of Blizzard's games, Hearthstone -- being the big, public pet project of theirs right now -- was big on the list. And it's good. We weren't simply given a canned list of "this, this and that" or get our answers from a community representative in Versailles, no -- we had a chance to sit down and play Hearthstone, and then escorted back to a conference room, where we were greeted by a video conference with actual developers just videolinking in from the US office. And not just any developers -- Eric Dodds and Ben Brode. They were fantastic, and obviously just as god damn excited about the game as we were, which can only be seen as a good sign. As mentioned above, my interest for Hearthstone is very newly-found, and some of the Q&A responses below may not be news to all of you, but they were to me. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them, and I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability. They talked about other topics too, but most of the time, I was far too busy scribbling away at my notepad to catch everything. Without further ado, here is the result of the Q&A. Since I'm generally not sure how to format everything optimally, I've decided to simply scribble things down in the order we talked about them (which was zig-zaggy and criss-crossy at times). This is intended as an easily-digestible "here are the conclusion" format, as opposed to a full interview. For those, many other fansites will be putting longer interviews out today.
The game is completely free-to-play, and it is feasible to play at the highest possible level and collect every card without paying a dime. 40% of players in their current test builds who play at that level are examples of such players.
The game will only have the 9 classes (Warrior, Hunter, Shaman, Warlock, Paladin, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Druid) at the start. Whether the last two classes (Death Knight, Monk) will be added later is undecided, but a possibility.
The game will feature four unique boards to play at launch: Orgrimmar, Stormwind, Pandaria, and one last board. Edit: the board is Stranglethorn. Thanks LotusCobra.
There will be different rarities of cards, and also special "golden versions" of cards - with no functional differences in gameplay except for pure styling. A legendary version of a card is functionally the same as the "basic" version.
It is possible to get the higher-rarity cards without paying for the game.
Achievements will reward something, but it's undecided what yet; possibilites include more cards.
There is no link with World of Warcraft, aside from the shared universe.
Cards will be earned as you play, the specifics are still undecided.
Will only feature 1v1 at the start, but may expand to 2v2 and 4v4 later on, depending on community feedback.
The game will not launch with any eSports features, but this is definitely something they're looking into, i.e. tournament/spectator modes. Depends on community feedback, but high on the request list so far.
Rankings will be available online, allowing you to compare yourself to your friends and show off your status, decks, etc.
While the game is a 1v1 (i.e. multiplayer) game, there will be a short introduction to the game, where concepts are introduced, and you unlock the heroes through a very short, and very quick progression ----
There will be a chance to play against the AI in Normal or Expert mode. Expert mode is hard.
Medal system in place, used for random matchmaking like with StarCraft -- may also incorporate decks, to match them evenly.
Future updates will most likely follow along with the WoW universe and updates will be introduced to take that into account (perhaps this means we'll get new boards around the holidays? Special cards? New card packs with new expansions like the TCG? Pure speculation on my end!)
Trading won't happen. Crafting is the best possible way to keep the game balanced, and to ensure players can get hold of the cards they want through crafting, as opposed to having to shell out dozens of cards for a single, rare card that is highly-coveted. Additionally, the developers value the instant gratification you get from crafting your own cards. This also means every card will be equally valuable, as they can all be disenchanted, and the Arcane Dust can subsequently be used to craft new cards.
It will be possible to look up recipes for any card directly in-game.
If you buy cards during the beta (when that hits), those cards will be lost when the game goes live, but you will get unopened packs of cards in the final version rated at the exact amount you spent during beta. You effectively lose nothing.
Decks will be limited to have a maximum of two of any card, and a maximum of one legendary version of each card (but it is possible to build a full deck of legendary cards... but it "would probably suck").
There will be class-specific cards, and generic cards that are shared between all classes.
There will be no "Horde vs. Alliance" combat in Hearthstone, just player vs. player.
Each Hero will have their own specific power, not multiple powers to choose between.
Balance is apparently very, very good so far.
The game is region-locked to your region like all Blizzard games. It's undecided whether it'll be possible to change your region, like in Diablo or StarCraft.
The game will be in beta when it's ready. Sorry, that's all I could get from it, guys -- but I assure you they're just as pumped to get the beta out as we are to have it.
The game may be developed on Android later, if there's a lot of interest from the community.
The Warlock hero power (Life tap) was the hardest to balance, but seems to work very well currently.
The team have considered how the order of players start out affects balancing later in the game.
They're considering how best to foster a sense of progression down the line, aside from medals/rankings.
It takes one game (~10--20 minutes) to unlock each class at the start, sequentially.
With each class/hero, you will start with a deck containing 30 cards, almost all of which remain competive, even at very high level of play.
Finally, to all of you doubters out there (of which I doubt there are many on this subreddit) who think an online card game based on WoW sounds ridiculous and stupid... I was indifferent before this experience, but now I'm pumped. It really is a huge amount of fun to play, and I wish you could all try it. Perhaps soon, you can! Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@MirawenDMF) for more news as I post it, or ask your questions in this thread, and I'll do my very best to answer it. Thank you for being awesome.
UFC 200 Supersized Newbie Guide Part 3: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fights.
Much like Daniel Cormier's replacement opponent, this guide arrives at the eleventh hour. Apologies if it goes off the rails at times, it's late. But hey, at least it's hear and I didn't test positive for a banned substance three days before this was due. Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne The historic 200 card starts out with the big boys, in what is clearly a showcase fight for the former Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Velasquez is coming into this fight with something to prove, as injuries and a title loss in 2015 has seen the former HW GOAT contender (If you ask Dana White anyway) not having a win in his column since 2013, though this does come with the caveat that he has only actually fought once since that last win. Fortunately, Cain has made it to fight night, so barring a floodlight falling on him during his walkout or getting taken out backstage WWE style, Cain will finally find himself back in the Octagon on the biggest night in UFC history. His opponent is the ever controversial Travis Browne, who through actions inside the Octagon (which I will go over) as well as actions outside (you can look them up yourself, I’m not TMZ) has not exactly found himself in fan’s good graces. Many are expecting (and hoping) that Cain will run through Travis, but let’s see if there’s more to it than that. Cain was supposed to be the UFC’s answer to Fedor, a can do it all Heavyweight with tremendous cardio that also allowed the UFC to tap into that sweet, sweet Mexican combat sports market. He certainly seemed poised to take that place, with an undefeated run up to the title which saw him batter Brock Lesnar to claim the strap. Cain had finally achieved his destiny, but sometimes destiny’s follow up isn’t always kind. Cain was knocked out in his next fight to lose the belt, and while he came back to regain his belt in violent fashion, a string of injuries left Velasquez on the sidelines. Frustrated fans seemed to want him to just vacate the belt and go away as the injuries began piling up. Finally in 2015 he returned to defend the belt, in Mexico City no less. Ironically, he did not prepare for the altitude and his trademark cardio was nowhere to be seen. Cain found himself getting bloodied up and submitted, losing his first fight in two years. A rematch was booked but once again, injuries derailed this and now Cain finds himself in a heavyweight division that may have passed him by (which is impressive since the HW top ten has been the same since about 2007). It’s unfortunate Cain’s body refuses to co-operate, as he is a phenomenal talent. A heavyweight with amazing cardio and actually precise (if rudimentary) boxing? Someone who implements a game plan instead of swinging ham hocks and gassing out by the second round resulting in a 2nd and 3rd round professional staring contest? Yes please. Cain is somewhat undersized for Heavyweight (adding to the Fedor comparisons), but he makes up for it with an unrelenting pace for the weight class, one which earned him the unofficial nickname of “Cardio Cain”. Cain has a simple gameplan, press guys up against the fence or take them down before drowning his opponent in a tsunami of heavy leather. He may not hit particularly hard for Heavyweight, but there’s no mistake that his opponents feel it when he lands. Travis Browne may not be quite the specimen Cain is athletically, but he is something to behold in his own right. Browne is a massive man, at 6 foot 7 he towers over the majority of men he is in the cage with. A late comer to MMA, entering the sport in his 20’s, Travis doesn’t have a background in any art of striking or grappling, as such he has an eclectic style made up of various different techniques. Browne’s stand up arsenal consists of a few basic punches, but what made him well known is his propensity for kicking. He may not win style points with his technique, but eating a front kick from Browne is sure to ruin anyone’s night (just ask Alistair Overeem). His wrestling has also been steadily improving, showing some good takedowns and ground and pound in his most recent fight. His takedown defense has always been interesting, with two UFC finishes coming by way of elbowing opponents (in the back of the head but ssh) with his back against the fence as they tried to take him down. However, the best addition to his game recently are some wondrous eye gouges. Many men in the UFC eye poke, but Travis in his last fight showed an exceptional talent for landing a thumb straight to Matt Mitrione’s cornea every time he stepped in. Typically in MMA eye pokes consist of an outstretched finger and telling the ref you were just trying to find your range, aka the Jon Jones favorite (next to cocaine and vehicular irresponsibility). With Browne however, he managed a feat not often seen, thumbs and rakes so consistent that Chuck Liddell could be seen falling in love cageside. So impressed by Browne’s dazzling display of eye gouging that when Mitrione complained to the ref, he was simply told that it was his fault for stepping in too recklessly (and also that it was his fault for dressing the way he did). Cain, who is known for his aggressive style, should be wary of Browne’s decadent digits. Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar If there needed to be anymore indication that this card is insanely stacked, Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar meeting in a match for the Interim Featherweight title and the Conor McGregor Mad Money Millions Sweepstakes is only the second match on the main card. Both men are coming into this bout with massive chips on their shoulder, Aldo having lost his title in record time to a man he despises, and Edgar having blown through almost every big name at Featherweight on his way to a title shot. This fight is a rematch, but anticipating it to go the same way as the first fight is pure crazy talk. The Edgar that fought Aldo found himself getting jabbed up and legkicked every time he tried to step in, and his takedowns that he could manage to get, Aldo quickly shot back up from. The Edgar stepping in the cage at 200 is not that same Edgar. Frankie has improved his striking to be more about landing with power rather than landing with volume, although he still has the volume to back it up, and his takedowns come from much better angles as well. When Frankie does get his opponents down now, when he would previously use it to catch his breath, he now batters the man beneath him and works for submissions. Poor Cub Swanson got the worst end of the stick for Frankie 2.0, having his jaw smashed and then his head damn near torn off with a neck crank. These improvements have brought Frankie the best winning streak in the Featherweight division (in terms of names not necessarily numbers), and makes this second shot at Aldo an interesting affair indeed. I’m not going to lie, Frankie Edgar is one of my favorite fighters of all time, his career has been full of great fights and performances (check his bonus record). Across from him is Jose Aldo. Last December, 13 seconds managed to undo 10 years, and Aldo saw himself losing his belt and his undefeated record at featherweight in front of the largest audience to ever see him. Many fans will never know the man who dominated an entire division for years, leaving men limping with his leg kicks and boxing them up with some of the finest technical striking in MMA history, a fighter who many considered the best in the world. To many, he is simply the man who lunged in against Conor McGregor and found himself unconscious, with McGregor moving on to superfights and million dollar cards. For Aldo, the time is ripe to stake his claim as the best active Featherweight in the world, and prepare himself to right what he believes to be a great wrong, avenge his loss and keep it from being the one that defines his career to the masses. Frankie Edgar has never been finished, with many of his losses being disputed decisions, so far Aldo to go out and dominate Frankie or even finish him on the biggest card in UFC history would certainly be a statement to the world. Daniel Cormier vs Anderson Silva In a fight that surely would have set the world on fire had it been announced months ago instead of arriving by eleventh hour miracle, we see the former Middleweight champ and often considered GOAT vs the current Light Heavyweight champion in a non-title bout for none of the gold but all of the cheese. Anderson Silva isn’t exactly in the best place career wise. Having not won a fight officially in 2013 (his win over Nick Diaz being overturned due to steroids), but still clearly being able to compete as evidenced by his close fight with the current MW champ, Silva needs something big to get himself back into the conversation. With Jon Jones deciding he hasn’t done enough to piss off the UFC brass, Silva came in like a dancing Brazillian angel at the last minute to save Daniel Cormier’s wallet and get himself on the biggest UFC card of all time. Allegedly coming in without having trained in months, and definitely weighing 6 pounds under the LHW maximum (DC weighing in at 206 means he may have a good 30 lbs on Anderson come fight night), The Spider certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him. Silva however is a live dog in this fight, as his striking is always dangerous, and it’s not hard to imagine an overemotional or overconfident Daniel Cormier getting clipped with something that puts him out. Silva built a career out of blowing fans and other fighter’s minds with his precise counter striking and cat like reflexes. Anderson certainly had power, but his high finishing percentage came from an understanding of timing, and how catching an opponent coming into a strike will do the most possible damage. This combined with solid takedown defense as well as a great submission game off his back allowed him to decimate his division for around a decade. Daniel Cormier however, is an extremely formidable foe. A former Olympic wrestler, Cormier has been able to toss around and slam heavyweights, so I imagine he won’t have much trouble doing the same to a Middleweight, but hey considering Silva took this fight on 48 hours’ notice maybe his balls will keep him weighed down. Cormier’s kickboxing is also quite good, and having trained for Jon Jones I have to imagine he’ll have been drilling leg kicks, which are a good deterrent to a guy who likes to move his feet as much as Silva. Both Silva and Jones are also rangy guys and dynamic strikers, the difference being Jones likes to lead far more. I don’t want to count anyone out, especially considering recent events, but it is certainly an uphill battle for Silva. Still, you don’t go down and history by doing exactly what is expected of you. Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt The fight that has no doubt generated the most interest, former UFC champion and shaved gorilla at large Brock Lesnar returns to face the man with a skeleton of stone wrapped in a body of pudge, the always dangerous fan favorite the Super Samoan Mark Hunt (or MARKUTU HUNTO for us PRIDE fans). It’s not hard to predict the possible outcomes of this fight, but it is near impossible to imply they are at all guaranteed. Heavyweight is always hard to call due to the one punch knockout power at play, but never is that more in play than with a man like Mark Hunt. A kickboxer before entering MMA, Hunto has always been tough and exceptionally hard hitting, but his grappling deficiencies as well as Japanese MMA matchmaking not having an understanding of difficulty curves resulted in him having a very mediocre record. However at some point something clicked for Hunt, and his style evolved from being a hard hitting brawler, technical yes, but still a brawler, to a laser like counter puncher with excellent take down defense. Hunt is known for his chin, and while it is still solid it has certainly seen better days (In terms of taking a shot…..appearance wise it’s still chiseled and….I’m getting ahead of myself). It’s easy to chalk up knock out artists as nothing more than low technique guys who are blessed with power, but make no mistake, Hunt is easily in the top three most technical strikers at HW (along with Junior Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem). Lesnar, contrast, was never much of a striker. He always looked stiff and training out of his garage certainly didn’t do his technique any favors, but as Randy Couture learned you don’t need exquisite technique when you’re more primordial entity than man. Where Lesnar excels is his wrestling, but make no bones about it he’s not the time to lay on you and wait for a decision. If Lesnar can get on top of Hunt, expect him to drop those cinder block fists on Hunt’s head like it’s a piñata full of Jack Link’s Beef Jerkey. The speed at which Lesnar is able to move for his size is absolutely terrifying, and really makes you wonder if there is a God or if we truly do live in a chaotic universe devoid of all meaning, just floating endlessly through a void of distractions from our own inevitable and forgettable demises. Mph, mph anyway…. Anyone who has seen Lesnar and Hunt fight before can probably tell you the two ways this fight is going to go. Lesnar likes to duck down and barrel forward for a takedown, so either he’ll get said takedown and proceed to dismantle Hunto’s face so that it can be shipped to Samoan facial reconstructive surgical facilities, or Hunt is going blast Lesnar with a counter and Dave Sholler will spend the remainder of the week in Vegas looking for Lesnar’s head. So of course because of how things have been going lately, Lesnar by 720 Tornado kick. Miesha Tate vs Amanda Nunes Strange circumstances has brought us this main event folks. A card that was originally to be headlined by McGregoDiaz 2, saw it being replaced by a rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier after a press conference debacle. Everything seemed to be working out in order, the hype for the rematch was there but...then fight week came. Three days before 200, news came out that Jon Jones had failed a drug test for two banned substances, and would be pulled from 200 (see ya in 2020 Jon! Try not to hit any more pregnant women in your boredom!). Lesnar vs Hunt was briefly moved to the new main event, before a clash between newly crowned women’s bantamweight champ Miesha Tate and the always dangerous Amanda Nunes found itself as the main event. While an interesting choice, it is technically the only remaining legit title fight on the card (Aldo/Edgar is for the Interim gold assuming Conor doesn’t get tired of steak), so the fight fan in me can’t be too mad at it getting the head billing over what is basically a freakshow fight (not that those are bad things). And what a fight it should be indeed! Miesha Tate is perhaps the scrappiest fighter in the UFC, never having an easy time throughout her career. The majority of Tate’s fights seem to be her getting battered early then coming back (or not if she loses naturally) to secure the win, often in dramatic fashion. Her career has had its share of ups and downs, contemplating retirement before she netted the title fight against Holly Holm which saw her finally claim the UFC gold. Her life isn’t going to get any easier with her first title defense, as she will be taking on the extremely dangerous Amanda Nunes. Nunes is a fighter I affectionately nicknamed “Shetor Belfort” a while back due to her propensity for either finishing the fight in the first or gassing out horrifically and losing after the 2nd. Nunes may not be the most technical striker but she is certainly the hardest hitter in her division and her early blitzes should be feared by anyone she is sharing the Octagon with. As mentioned earlier, Tate has a tendency to take damage early, which makes this doubly so dangerous for the champion. On the feet, I would say Tate is the more technical and skilled striker, although the power deficiency would make it unwise for her to try and keep it standing early. Nunes has shown some proficiency on the ground as well, so it can’t be sad that even with Tates grappling background that is entirely an easy place for her to go early. For Tate it would be wise to try and weather the storm early, take minimal damage, and control the fight as it moves to the later rounds. The dangerous nature of the challenger combined with the raw grit and heart of the champion is what makes this such an interesting fight, and one that will surely be a great way to close a historic show, even if it isn’t the dazzling matchup you’d expect to be the headliner.
Rampage's deal with Bellator includes TNA Wrestling (Spike TV press release)
(from a Spike TV press release sent about 5 minutes ago): QUINTON “RAMPAGE” JACKSON JOINS FORCES WITH BELLATOR MMA, TNA WRESTLING AND SPIKE TV FOR LANDMARK PARTNERSHIP Los Angeles, CA - June 4, 2013 – Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the mixed martial arts icon and action-movie star has agreed to a monumental, multi-year partnership with Spike TV, Bellator MMA, and TNA Wrestling it was jointly announced today by Kevin Kay, Spike TV President, Bjorn Rebney, Bellator CEO, and Dixie Carter, TNA Wrestling President. The landmark partnership includes Jackson competing in Bellator MMA, along with joining the superstars of TNA’s “Impact Wrestling,” which includes fellow Bellator fighter “King Mo” Lawal. Spike TV will also create a special reality series featuring Rampage that will lead into his debut with Bellator, along with other entertainment initiatives. “Rampage is a true superstar both inside and outside the MMA cage” Bellator CEO & Chairman Bjorn Rebney said. “The partnership that we’ve created with Quinton is unlike anything that’s ever been done in the sports & entertainment arena and Rampage is the perfect athlete/entertainer to carry it off.” "Rampage is one of the best known MMA fighters competing today," said Carter. "He is a true cross-over star and his talent, big personality and popularity among a wide range of fans make him an extraordinary fit for our company,” “We are thrilled to create this opportunity for one of the greatest athletes and personalities in MMA,” said Kevin Kay, Spike TV President. “Rampage is a proven ratings driver who brings incredible star power to both Bellator and TNA.” Jackson (32-11) joins Bellator as a former Pride and UFC champion, having last fought on Spike TV in September 2007, in a fight vs. Dan Henderson that drew nearly 6 million viewers, making it one of the most watched fights in the sport’s history. In 2009, Jackson served as a coach on Spike’s “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights,” the highest-rated season by far in franchise history, delivering over 3 million viewers per week. Rampage joins a Bellator Light Heavyweight division that features “King Mo,” Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Emanuel Newton, Attila Vegh and Vladimir Matyushenko. The charismatic fighter from Memphis, TN began his professional MMA career in 1999 and established his legacy across the globe through epic battles with MMA titans including Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, Jon Jones and Dan Henderson among others. Jackson starred in the 2010 blockbuster film, “The A-Team,” as “B.A. Baracus,” the character made famous by Mr. T in the television series. Jackson’s other film credits include “Confessions of a Pit Fighter,” “Fire With Fire,” “Never Surrender,” and “Miss March.” More information regarding this signing will be made available at Wednesday’s press conference. Details on the press conference will be released shortly. About Bellator MMA Bellator MMA is the world’s largest tournament based Mixed Martial Arts organization. Televised to nearly 500 Million homes worldwide in over 107 countries, Bellator’s majority owner is entertainment giant Viacom. In the United States, Bellator can be seen on Spike TV, the MMA television leader. With over 150 world-class athletes under contract, Bellator is home to many of the sport’s top mixed martial artists. Bellator’s founder & CEO, Bjorn Rebney, is an experienced fighting sports and entertainment executive with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes. Bellator’s core philosophy is that title shots should be earned, not given. This belief gave rise to Bellator’s real sport, tournament-based format, which gives Bellator’s tournaments a true playoff feel that keeps the sport true and distances itself from the subjective side of fighting sports found in organizations that utilize a matchmaking/casting formula. Bellator MMA is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations. Bellator is based in Newport Beach, California. For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BellatorMMA About Spike TV: Spike TV is available in 98.7 million homes and is a division of Viacom Media Networks. A unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), Viacom Media Networks is one of the world's leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. Spike TV's Internet address is www.spike.com and for up-to-the-minute and archival press information and photographs, visit Spike TV's press site at http://www.spike.com/press. Follow us on Twitter @spiketvpr for the latest in breaking news updates, behind-the-scenes information and photos. Please visit: Twitter @IMPACTWRESTLING, @TNADixie and @TNAPR and on Facebook at www.fb.com/IMPACTWRESTLING.
Wrestle-1 (W-1) Website Official W-1 Site Official Twitter Official YouTube Official Facebook Founded: 2013 Founded by:Keiji Mutoh Owned by:Keiji Mutoh Style: Fighting Entertainment Championship Titles: Wrestle-1 Championship First Champ: Masayuki Kono Current Champ: Manabu Soya Wrestle-1 Tag Team Championship First Champs: Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo (Team 246) Current Champs: Masayuki Kono and Shuji Kondo Wrestle-1 Cruiser Division Championship First Champ: Minoru Tanaka Current Champ: Andy Wu UWA World Trios Championship First Champs: Jiro Kuroshi, Seiki Yoshioka and Yasafumi Nakanoue Current Champs: Jiro Kuroshi, Seiki Yoshioka and Yasafumi Nakanoue The UWA World Trios Championship traces its lineage back to the UWA in 1984 where the first champions were Black Man, Kung Fu and Kato Kung Lee Keiji Mutoh and Kannazuki currently hold the F-1 Tag Team Championship which was an official AJPW championship that was revived in October ‘15 Background On November 1, 2012, IT company Speed Partners bought 100% of All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) shares from main shareholder Keiji Mutoh and his business partners for ¥200 million. In late May 2013, Speed Partners president Nobuo Shiraishi fired AJPW president, Mutoh's longtime right-hand man Masayuki Uchida, and took over as the promotion's new president himself effective June 1, which led to Mutoh resigning as the chairman of the board and leaving the promotion. For the next weeks, Mutoh attempted to buy back his shares of the promotion from Speed Partners, but eventually gave up the attempt before the end of the month. During the rest of June, Masakatsu Funaki, Kaz Hayashi, Shuji Kondo, Ryota Hama, Hiroshi Yamato Masayuki Kono, Koji Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka, Yasufumi Nakanoue, Kai, Seiya Sanada, and Andy Wu all announced their resignation from AJPW out of loyalty to Mutoh and left the promotion following a June 30 event in Ryōgoku Kokugikan, which marked the official end of the eleven-year-long "Mutoh All Japan". On July 10, Mutoh held a press conference to announce the foundation of his new promotion, named "Wrestle-1". Mutoh got the name from a series of professional wrestling events that were produced by his AJPW, K-1 and Pride Fighting Championships between 2002 and 2005. Wrestle-1 continues Mutoh's brand of "Pro Wrestling Love", which he had launched after taking over AJPW in 2002. Mutoh dubbed Wrestle-1's style of puroresu "Fighting Entertainment". As the label suggests, Wrestle-1 is considered more entertainment based than the traditional AJPW. The press conference was also attended by Funaki, Hama, Hayashi, Kai, Kondo, Kono, Nakanoue, Tanaka and Yamato. Andy Wu would also join the promotion, once he returned from an excursion to Mexico, along with trainees Brian Ishizaka, Daiki Inaba and Seiki Yoshioka, ring announcer Makoto Abe and referees Daichi Murayama and Daisuke Kanbayashi. The promotion announced its inaugural event for September 8, 2013, at Tokyo Dome City Hall. At the press conference, Mutoh stated that Wrestle-1 was open to working with other promotions and that he was looking to use Taiwan as a stepping stone towards an Asian and eventually global expansion. Mutoh also stated that he was open to the idea of having a women's division in Wrestle-1. On July 26, the Gaora television station announced that it would broadcast the inaugural event, as well as a 30-minute preview show, live on its channels. On July 30, Mutoh met with Jeff Jarrett in Nashville, Tennessee, United States to discuss a possible working relationship between Wrestle-1 and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Jarrett was later announced as a participant in Wrestle-1's October 6 event. Mutoh later also revealed that he wanted to form partnerships with promotions in Europe and Mexico, specifically mentioning Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA), and create a "true" world championship that would be recognized on three continents. On August 9, Mutoh revealed the promotion's official logo and a partial card for the inaugural event. Also announced was a sponsorship deal with the Ezaki Glico confectionery company, with its sales department and product manager Hiroki Kuwabara signed to Wrestle-1 as a conditioning coach. Wrestle-1 Hataage Sen Wrestle-1 Hataage Sen was Wrestle-1's inaugural event, which took place on September 8, 2013, at Tokyo Dome City Hall. On August 9, Wrestle-1 released the first partial card for the event, which revealed only the Wrestle-1 signed workers taking part in the event, but none of their partners or opponents. The event featured a women's match and the Japanese in-ring debut of Daiki Inaba. None of the other workers were revealed before the event, though Mutoh stated that TNA wrestlers would not be taking part in the event.The event aired in Japan on Gaora and internationally on internet pay-per-view (iPPV) through Niconico and Ustream. Tickets to the 2,500 seat arena were sold out the day they went on sale. Sports journalist Dave Meltzer wrote that this, coupled with AJPW's recent decline in attendance numbers, showed that "fans are taking Muto's [sic] group as the real future of All Japan rather than All Japan”. The event featured outside participation from several freelancers as well as wrestlers from Big Japan Pro Wrestling, Dragon Gate, Michinoku Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Zero1 and World Wonder Ring Stardom. Koji Kanemoto, René Duprée, Seiya Sanada and Zodiac, who were with AJPW prior to Mutoh's departure, but had not announced their affiliation with Wrestle-1, made surprise appearances during the event. In fact, Duprée, who took part in the main event, was still officially AJPW's reigning Gaora TV Champion at the time of the event. Duprée returned the title belt to AJPW three days after the event. Bob Sapp, who had appeared in several of the old Wrestle-1 events, made an appearance in a tag team main event with Mutoh. Kenta Kobashi, who had the previous March announced that he would be joining AJPW following his retirement in May, worked the event as a color commentator. Regular tours Wrestle-1 began running regular tours right after Hataage Sen; the first tour ran until September 22 and the second from October 6 to 14. Many of the outsiders taking part in the inaugural event became regular members of the Wrestle-1 roster with the exception of Bob Sapp, Fujita Hayato, Katsuyori Shibata, Kazushi Sakuraba and Masaaki Mochizuki. Though Wrestle-1 also did not have regular female wrestlers on its roster, each event included a women's match, featuring wrestlers such as Ryo Mizunami and Shuu Shibutani from Pro Wrestling Wave, Koharu Hinata, Makoto and Syuri from Wrestling New Classic, Hikaru Shida, Maki Narumiya, Risa Sera and Tsukasa Fujimoto from Ice Ribbon, and freelancers Akino and Hiroyo Matsumoto. Wrestle-1 sought to introduce an "openweight division", where its wrestlers would not be typecast as heavyweights or junior heavyweights, like in most Japanese promotions, but would be able to interact with each other across weight limits. On September 24, Wrestle-1 announced that Seiya Sanada had signed a contract to officially become part of the promotion's roster effective October 1. On October 6, Wrestle-1 held its first event in Korakuen Hall in front of a sold out crowd of 1,750. On October 18, Mutoh announced his semi-retirement from in-ring action, saying that in the future he would be concentrating on running Wrestle-1. The following month saw the continuation of a working relationship between Wrestle-1 and TNA, with A.J. Styles coming in to defend the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Seiya Sanada on November 16 and Jay Bradley and Rob Terry working the entire tour from November 16 to December 1. Meanwhile, Andy Wu also made his return from his seven-month Mexican excursion, making his debut for his new home promotion on November 16. During the event, Wrestle-1 announced its first ever event at Ryōgoku Kokugikan, set to take place on March 2, 2014.Mutoh later announced that this would mark only the first of four events Wrestle-1 intended to run at Ryōgoku Kokugikan in 2014. 2014 On January 12, 2014, Manabu Soya, who had resigned from AJPW the previous month, joined Wrestle-1 as a freelancer, taking the role of an on-screen matchmaker, while recovering from a recent shoulder surgery. On January 26, Wrestle-1 held its first tryout, which resulted in three men being accepted to begin training at the promotion's dojo the following April. On January 30 it was announced that the March 2 Ryōgoku Kokugikan event would feature a "Wrestle-1 vs. TNA" theme with thirteen wrestlers coming in to represent the American promotion in addition to Rob Terry, who had remained with Wrestle-1 since the past November. Jeff Jarrett, the original man behind the Wrestle-1-TNA relationship, had since parted ways with TNA and now the relationship was handled by Bob Ryder and John Gaburick on the Americans' side. On March 2 at Kaisen: Outbreak, three TNA titles were defended as part of Wrestle-1's first Ryōgoku Kokugikan event. While Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo failed to capture the TNA World Tag Team Championship and Kai the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Seiya Sanada defeated Austin Aries to become the new TNA X Division Champion. The event also saw the debut of another former AJPW worker, Taiyō Kea. The following day, it was announced that Sanada would be leaving Wrestle-1 to work for TNA indefinitely. Also in March, Wrestle-1 relocated their offices from Minami-Azabu, Minato, Tokyo to Hyakunincho, Shinjuku, Tokyo to their own four-story building called "GEN Sports Palace", which also includes the promotion's dojo. In April, Wrestle-1 established two more international relationships with British promotion All Star Wrestling (ASW) and German promotion European Wrestling Promotion (EWP). As part of the relationship, EWP wrestlers Ecki Eckstein and Leon Van Gasteren worked a tour with Wrestle-1 from April 27 to May 4, with Van Gasteren successfully defending the EWP Intercontinental Championship against Hiroshi Yamato on the final day. On June 18, Wrestle-1 held a press conference to announce that effective July 1 the promotion would be joined by Akira, Jiro Kuroshio, Koji Doi, Rionne Fujiwara, Tajiri and Yusuke Kodama, after their previous promotion Wrestling New Classic went inactive following June 26. On July 1, Wrestle-1 was also joined by Hiroki Murase, a freelancer who had started his career with WNC in January 2013. Wrestle-1's second Ryōgoku Kokugikan event, Shōgeki: Impact, took place on July 6 and featured matches for ASW's British Light Heavyweight Championship, EWP's Intercontinental Championship, TNA's World Tag Team Championship and Zero1's World Heavyweight Championship with Hiroshi Yamato capturing the EWP title from Leon Van Gasteren, Masakatsu Funaki the Zero1 title from Kohei Sato and Seiki Yoshioka the ASW title from Dean Allmark. The following day, Seiya Sanada announced he had agreed to a contract with TNA, which meant that he would continue to spend most of his time in the United States, occasionally returning to take part in Wrestle-1's larger events. Sanada remained with TNA until April 2015. Meanwhile, Seiki Yoshioka left for an extended tour of the United Kingdom with ASW, during which he lost the British Light Heavyweight Championship back to Allmark. On July 21, Wrestle-1 announced the creation of its first own title, the Wrestle-1 Championship, with the inaugural champion being determined in a sixteen-man single-elimination tournament taking place between September 21 and October 8. On August 8, Wrestle-1 announced that Manabu Soya had signed with the promotion, ending his days as a freelancer. On September 22, Wrestle-1 announced the creation of the Wrestle-1 Tag Team Championship with the inaugural champions being determined in a round-robin tournament taking place between November 15 and 30. On September 25, Wrestle-1 and Pro Wrestling Zero1 announced that the two promotions would be coming together to hold three joint shows at Shinjuku Face between November 5 and 7. On October 8, Masayuki Kono defeated Kai in the finals of the sixteen-man tournament to become the inaugural Wrestle-1 Champion. The relationship between Wrestle-1 and TNA continued on October 12 with eleven Wrestle-1 wrestlers taking part in TNA's Bound for Glory event in Korakuen Hall. On November 1, Wrestle-1 held an event at Ryōgoku Kokugikan celebrating Keiji Mutoh's 30th anniversary in professional wrestling. The main event of the show saw Mutoh defeat Masayuki Kono to become the second Wrestle-1 Champion. On November 30, Team 246 (Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo) won the First Tag League Greatest to become the inaugural Wrestle-1 Tag Team Champions. 2015 On February 25, 2015, Wrestle-1 announced the creation of a cruiserweight division and a new third title, which was on March 9 officially named the Wrestle-1 Cruiser Division Championship. Starting on April 11, Wrestle-1 began holding shows at their dojo under the brand name "Wrestle-1 Starting Point", which were intended to showcase the promotion's younger wrestlers. On March 6, Minoru Tanaka won the tournament to become the inaugural Wrestle-1 Cruiser Division Champion. Also in May, it was reported that the relationship between Wrestle-1 and TNA had come to an end. Seiya Sanada remained in the United States, working on the local independent circuit. In March 2015, Wrestle-1's management was hit with several resignations, which led to Mutoh offering Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) president Sanshiro Takagi a job in his promotion's management. On May 5, Takagi was officially revealed as Wrestle-1's new chief executive officer (CEO). His goal was to make Wrestle-1 more profitable by getting sales up and increasing the number of shows. There were no plans for Takagi to start wrestling for Wrestle-1 or for Wrestle-1 and DDT to exchange talent. On May 13, Wrestle-1 and Seiya Sanada held a press conference, where it was announced that the two sides had decided to amicably part ways when Sanada's contract with the promotion would expire two days later, so he could continue working in the United States full-time as a freelancer. Later that month, it was announced that Wrestle-1 would be teaming up with American Pro Wrestling Alliance (APWA) to hold their first tour of the United States, holding five shows in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, including one at the former ECW Arena, between June 23 and 28. However, on June 19, the tour was canceled with APWA citing a sponsor pulling out due to miscommunication between the two promotions as the reason. That same day, Wrestle-1 announced that Masakatsu Funaki would be leaving the promotion following his contract expiring on June 30. Meanwhile, Tajiri would only work sporadic Wrestle-1 events from July onwards. On June 26, Wrestle-1 announced the results of their recent contract negotiations with their wrestlers. 21 wrestlers had signed new contracts, including freelancer Kazma Sakamoto who in the process made Wrestle-1 his new home promotion, while Rionne Fujiwara became the second wrestler to leave the promotion following his contract expiring at the end of the month. On July 13, Wrestle-1 announced the first "Wrestle-1 Grand Prix", a single-elimination tournament featuring 21 participants and taking place between August 2 and 30. The tournament was billed as the Wrestle-1 equivalent of New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Climax. On August 3, Wrestle-1 announced the establishment of Puroresu Sōgō Gakuin ("Pro wrestling comprehensive school"), where Akira, Hiroshi Yamato, Kaz Hayashi, Shuji Kondo and Yasufumi Nakanoue would train both men and women in six-month-long terms. Graduates from the school are not automatically signed to Wrestle-1 and are free to join other promotions. The school's first term started two months later. On August 30, Wrestle-1 announced it was reviving two inactive titles on October 9; the UWA World Trios Championship and the F-1 Tag Team Championship, the latter being a comedy title Mutoh created in AJPW in 2006 for teams made up of a wrestler and an impressionist. On October 27, Wrestle-1 announced a new project named "Wrestling Camp", headed by Kaz Hayashi and former wrestler American Balloon, with the goal of recruiting more foreign wrestlers for the promotion. Suggested Matches Manabu Soya vs. Shuji Kondo Kaz Hayashi vs. Minoru Tanaka Previous Weeks: Dramatic Dream Team SWS, WAR & Tenryu Project Battlarts Michinoku Pro Pro Wrestling Noah Dragon Gate
How my struggling business was saved by Confucius and Lester Freamon from the Wire
And even more tales from my entrepreneurial path from consulting to developing products, following the money and the meaning.
TL,DR I'm a consultant and I'm on a journey to discover products. I almost let my consulting company fail, but Confucius and Lester Freamon from The Wire saved me. When I started to look for a product of my own I encountered three great principles and a ton of resources along the way. I also found my product... If you're lazy like me, here you can find the video and the slides of the presentation where I tell this story. Long version So you're one of the brave. Let's turn to my story then... It's customary here on Reddit to start with your results: hard data for the number crunchers, social proof for the doubters. So here's the list of my successes. Three and a half years ago I left my day job to start an independent consulting firm. I now have clients spread across all of Europe and make a living out of it. It pays rent in Berlin, travel (I'm writing this to you from Taiwan, a bit far away from home-base), and I'm able to save something every month. I'm pretty frugal, but I'm not missing any material comfort. This is what success is to me: being in charge of my own lifestyle. There is one thing that saved me in my dealings as a consultant: having my clients on a retainer agreement. Negotiating the rules, length and rates in the longer term has made my business sustainable. I learned a ton of other things, but this is by far the most important one. Sitting down with my clients and spending time figuring out how to make a plan together is what keeps me sane and in business today. I'm not just a consultant. Sometimes I am inspired by people or ideas that lead to a sort of creative collaboration. I don't see this as consulting, but more of a partnership. Through my clients I gain access to how traditional, established businesses work. Through the startups I get in on how small, nimble teams think about big problems. One job, the best of both worlds. There's even more: I get to teach startups how traditional businesses solve certain problems, and more often I invite traditional companies to adopt the ways of the startups. Yay. Success all around. Everybody's happy. Sorry. This is getting boring. Let's introduce what any good story needs: some obstacles to overcome. Let's go back in time to see how I learned what I learned because, as Kierkegaard says, "Life can only be understood backwards: but it must be lived forwards." Flashback to previous times, when I thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn't. 3+ years ago I signed a big client - that, for full disclosure, was also my former employer - and so my consulting company "La Fabbrica della Realtà" was born. I had one big client. I took care of them, made sure they were always happy. I was often in their offices, always punctual in my deliveries. I thought that the work of the consultant was just that: to make one client happy. And so I did. This left me with some free time. In this time - instead on focusing on my consultancy business - I started to develop other projects. If you're an entrepreneur you see already where this is headed. Yes! At some point something changed inside the organization of my client and my services were needed less regularly. I noticed, but did not act on it. At some point I burned through what savings I had at the time, until I reached the climactic figure of 0 in my bank account. This was right after SXSW 2012, where I spent all my time pitching an idea to save the world, that would ultimately save neither the world nor myself. Reaching zero didn't mean that I was going to become homeless. I could have asked my family for help, I have friends around me that could have chipped in financially. I was never going to go hungry. But I had to start to make some choices: cutting on nights out, avoiding restaurants, using all the groceries I had at home before going to get more, buying new groceries at the discount supermarket and billing them on a 60 day credit card. There was something really good in all this. I felt a sense of loss: I lost my easygoing lifestyle, my careless let's eat out and buy top grade groceries attitude. Did I mention I'm Italian? There is no limit to what I can spend on cooking ingredients. Fancy, imported and overpriced mozzarella di bufala? Give me more. I finally felt hungry again. Hungry for the better mozzarella I couldn't afford anymore, but also hungry for a rebound. Hunger is a strong motivator. But you need to give it direction. Fortunately I have great friends, and the best advice came exactly from one of my friends and fellow entrepreneurs, Andrea Volpini. For those of you who have seen The Wire, Andrea was like Lester Freamon, only way more zen. Lester's the smart, seasoned detective that changes the scope of a drug investigation when he suggests to stop following the drugs and to start following the money. It was with total calm that Andrea told me, "Matteo, you're a consultant. This is where you make money, as a consultant. And right now your consulting business is not growing. Go back to working as a consultant and you will have solved the problem." So I did. My mission: win back past clients, find new clients. I had found a new focus - following the money - and a new modus operandi: I would accept any consulting gig, even the ones I was not necessarily 100% qualified for, and I would also lower my rates to make my services more affordable for more clients. Things were bad in the bank. But really well-aligned and organized in my brain. Consultants sometimes need consultants. And fortunately I was able to convince some good friends to help me rebuild La Fabbrica della Realtà. Daniela Berto is a designer, matchmaker and consultant. She started me off with the basics: she convinced me that I needed to apply to my business the same techniques that I apply to my clients. I had used the Business Model Canvas for my clients, but had never applied it to my own business. So I drafted my Canvas. That was quite a moment. By answering each and every question that the Canvas required I was able to shed light on my business and start to see things clearly. The Canvas of my business showed me I had a lot of potential I was not acting upon. How could I start to realize it? I needed a website. I had borrowed the name La Fabbrica della Realtà - which is Italian for The Factory of Reality, by the way - from my blog. I've been blogging on and off for more than 13 years and it seemed natural to use the name of my blog as a company name. But I hadn't cared to build a website. Why not? Well, at the time, I lacked the clarity I'd now gained after two years of consulting. Building a website is a great way to understand your uncertainties. If you want to create a good website, you need to make hundreds of small decisions. And each of those decisions has ramifications. I had to think about how to organize my services, what role to give to past projects. I needed to describe both visually and with words my bio, my vision, and what I had to offer. I had to collect case studies of all the work I'd done in the past. I'm tremendously happy with the result. You can see it here. Now, if you are following me with some attention you might ask: did the new website bring a lot of new business? The answer may surprise you. My new website has not brought in a single new client. So, is the website a failure? Not at all. You see, each and every new prospect, referral or person I have pitched to directly has used my site to decide if they should hire me. The typical call with a new client nowadays runs something like this: Hey Matteo, my associate John Doe has a very high opinion of you and has suggested that I hire you. Oh, and then I saw your website and I'm very impressed. Would you... I feel so good when this happens. I think about how hard it was to understand what I was doing and to create a website as the tool of my relaunch. Now, seeing the fruit of all this work gives me a feeling of satisfaction I've never experienced before. It's simply priceless. One thing continued to elude me, though. In my website I could define my personal positioning very clearly and describe my offerings with a degree of confidence, but could not come up with a convincing description of the company itself. How you describe a consultancy of one is... how you describe yourself. And this self branding problem is quite widespread. More than six months after going online with the new website, and after many many drafts I finally could define what I do, not only in words - but as I love doing - with a little sketch: La Fabbrica della Realtà is an innovation laboratory centered around people and ideas. You have no idea how much work there is behind this definition. Not only had I come up with a definition of my business, I had come up with one that aligns with my personal ethics. I'd come up with a credo that defines my goals in life. All right. Finally I had solved the problem. I had won back my original clients, encountered some new clients, started making some money and was back on track. Now you may ask: why hadn't I done all of this at the beginning, three and a half years ago, when I first started my business? Why hadn't I begun with a stronger strategy, with a business website, etc.? To respond I need to tell you a short story within my story. I was walking around the European Maker Faire in Rome and I encountered a poster from Reggio Emilia's Fab Lab. It read "Se faccio capisco", translated "If I do, I understand." It's Confucius. It struck me like lightning. That's exactly what had been happening to me. Confucius was speaking directly to me. What a feeling. I needed to be doing to truly understand what was happening, to learn from what was happening I needed it to happen. It's the doing that enables the understanding. Bingo! Welcome to typical me. The subtitle of this post says I'm going to discuss productizing, and 1850 words in... there's still no mention of products. I'll get there in just a few more paragraphs, promise! Now that I know how my consulting business works, how I can expand it and to what degree I want it to grow (hint: not too big), my next big challenge is building a product! We all know that consulting does not scale. You can increase the amount of hours you work, hire more associates and raise your hourly rates, but you're always going to reach a limit. There's a problem: you see, I was an employee for 10+ years and I was trading my time for money. Then I became a consultant and I was still trading time for money. Products have eluded me for a long time, but now they are the perfect solution to my problem. While looking for my own product I learned many many things. Let's start with three of them. I call them my three keys to product discovery. The first key is expertise. When you look for products, look deep and close to your areas of maximum expertise. Ideally you should already know every stakeholder in the market of your product, all the influencers and - whenever possible - know the clients by name. Why? Building products is hard, the closer you are to your area of specific expertise the better you will be at gathering feedback, understanding your clientele and being able to market to prospects. My second key is ease. For anyone coming from a guilt-based value system "ease" is a negative value. I was taught in school that if something is easy, this means that you're doing the wrong thing. If something is easy then you need to up the anti or change the topic altogether. Products don't work that way. You need to find something that comes easy to you because you need to do it a lot, rehearse it a lot, re-work it a lot, so it might as well be something that comes easy to you. In particular, look for stuff that comes strangely easy to you and hard to other people. My third key is passion. You must have fun dealing with your product, you need to love your customer base, you must enjoy spending time with them, you need to be passionate about how they use your product, and admire the final products that they will build through yours. So these are my three keys. You might ask if they have been effective in unlocking my own product. They have! So 2000 words in, please welcome the protagonist of this post. It's Presentation Hero, a presentation training course that promises to save the world from bad presentations! In the end I decided on the infamous info-product. I looked back at my last 15 years of work and found one common thing in all of my work engagements: presentations. As a "self-taught-everything" I self-taught myself presentations a long time ago, and now I want to tell you what I've learned by crafting presentations for the last 10+ years. I believe I can really change how you think about, structure, design and deliver your next presentation with my course. And I'm so happy to report that not only many individuals already trust Presentation Hero, but quite a few companies and agencies are approaching me to deliver Presentation Hero to their associates and employees. I would love to give you a bit of the course right now and for free, no strings attached. It's called Presentation Story Toolbox and to get it you just need to click here. Along the path to developing Presentation Hero I have found a ton of useful resources. I wanted to end by sharing some of them. You all probably know him here, but following Patrick McKenzie (Patio11 here and on Hacker News) has provided me with invaluable resources. If you don't yet, I recommend you subscribe to the Kalzumeus Podcast, a collection of miscellaneous knowledge on the art and science of creating service businesses. He's also a consultant turned product guy and you can learn a ton by following his journey. I also suggest watching some of his presentations, in particular this one delivered at MicroConf. Even though I wish he had me as a coach for those slides… Which leads me to MicroConf. The great thing about this conference is that you don't need to attend it. The best talks are online. Just set aside the appropriate amount of time and watch those videos. Add them to your queue, save them to pocket. They are worth your time. Patrick gives you a ton of advice related to software products, but in this case I am developing an info-product, so I also looked for more specific advice and I found it by starting to follow the blog and podcast of Nathan Barry. Nathan has written a nice walk-through of product launches called Authority. The book is an okay resource, it won't change your life. But do yourself a favor: follow his blog, get on his email list. They are all great free resources worth following. There's a bunch of technical knowledge that goes into creating an info-product, especially one that involves videos. I'm not going to talk about that because I think it's too specific. One thing that every product needs is marketing, and I get my marketing advice these days mostly from Noah Kagan. Again. Get on the blog, subscribe to his email list, and you will not be disappointed. I think that it's through Noah that I first encountered Brian Dean. He's the mind behind the most brilliant SEO blog I've ever seen. It's called Backlinko. Brian provides super actionable, instruct-able articles where you learn how to do only the most effective SEO. But it does not stop at that: he masters a content marketing formula that has changed the way I publish my blog. Also in this case, subscribing to his list is highly suggested. As I researched the best platform to publish an online course I came across a service called Fedora. Yes, it's the same name of the Linux distribution, but in this case it's a SaaS online course system that lets you upload your course materials, manage payments and email your users. There are many other platforms out there but none will be as focused on acquiring new users. I highly recommend it. (I don't want to litter this post with affiliate links, but in case you want a $100 bonus on your first bill leave a comment and I will post the affiliate link for you there!) Wrapping up. I don't know how my product will evolve. I don't know how successful it will be. I still can't write a post like "How I fired all my clients and started partying 24/7 while making a passive income from my presentation training." I really don't think that the objective here is the passive income or the 24/7 party either... What I can tell you is that my success or failure is dependent 90% on my strength, abilities and resources, maybe 9% on pure, condensed luck, but 1% of my success or failure depends on you. How do you react to this content? Do you want to follow up, does it inspire you to comment, to forward it to other people? Does it drive you to know more about me, to download the Presentation Story Toolbox, to ultimately remain in touch through my email list? Success has many facets. One part of my success would be represented by you following my advice and discovering a new resource. I don't get kickbacks, but I establish my usefulness. On the other hand, I would love something more tangible to come out of this 3200 word monster. That you would be convinced enough to let me train you for 10 short minutes and give you my best advice on presentation structure. Would you like that? If so, click here and download the Presentation Story Toolbox. That's it. You got to the end. Thanks for reading this far. Hope you enjoyed.
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