How MC became a pro


Jang “MC” Min-Chul posted an autobiography of sorts on Inven. It covers the period of when he decided he wanted to become a pro to eventually achieving that dream at 18. For those who do not know, MC started his esports career as a Brood War player. He never found success there and became one of the early transfers to StarCraft 2, where he became one of the most decorated pros to ever play the game. The first half of his career was spent in Korea where he won two GSL titles and had multiple top finishes that span from the end of 2010 to the end of 2012.
Soon afterward, he moved from Korea to Europe to participate in the WCS EU where he eventually became one of the top players in that circuit. At the same time, he set up a team house for the Koreans that moved to WCS EU to compete. While no longer in the highest echelon of play, he continued to be a dangerous opponent for the highest tier. Once his SC2 career was done, he eventually transferred over to League of Legends where he became the  head coach of Kongdoo Monster.
Here is his story in his own words. I will punctuate it with context to explain context behind his life and career. (my thoughts in italics, his are in plain text from this point on. Thanks to Andrew Kim for translating the original post).
MC: I lost my father at an early age and was raised by a single mother. Thanks to his inheritance, I had a plentiful life until I was 6 but, after the IMF financial crisis, it came to the point that my mother needed to start working. That led to me being alone at home a lot and my friend during that time was into video games.
I played a lot of games before StarCraft. I remember mostly playing The Land of the Wind, Maple Story, and Asgard. I got to know StarCraft through a friend of mine*, and because I didn’t know how to install it I played it mostly in PC Bangs. That was when I knew that I had a talent in playing video games.
*This is an interesting bit of history here. MC was about 13 years old during this time in 2004. He was in the midst of the PC Bang (internet cafe) explosion. His story was a common one during that time as PC Bangs were where teens and kids met to play games. It was a cheap form of entertainment and Starcraft: Brood War reigned supreme for multiple reasons: It could run on cheaper computers, didn’t need multiple licenses, and came right when PC Bangs grew in popularity.
MC: I spent my elementary school years playing unlimited 3:5 and 2:6 maps. When I was in sixth grade a friend told me about something called Brain Server, so he installed it on my computer and told me to play custom map games. I got deeply into those games after the unlimited maps.
That’s how I started with StarCraft and I joined a guild when I was in sixth grade. I don’t remember the name of the guild, but an older player I met through the guild taught me everything about pro gaming. I was very interested in making a lot of money* by playing games, which was my best friend growing up.
*This is a story MC goes into in an old Twitch VOD that is now dead. When State was training in Korea, he and MC are talking. During that stream he explains that when he was young and living in an apartment, his mom caught their landlord masturbating to her in their room. But they were too poor to go anywhere else, so he made it his goal to make money. His dad had died when he was 1 and his mom re-married when he was about 8. His stepdad had a failed business and fell into debt. Over a decade later, MC was able to get his mom a car, a house and repay the debts from his winnings he made in SC2.
MC: I started playing 1-v-1 from then on as a choice random player. Funnily enough I played into bad matchups back then. I played Zerg against Terran, Protoss against Zerg, and Terran against Protoss. I practiced 1-v-1 for about two months, and I received an offer from the older player that told me about pro gaming.
“Hey Min-chul, I have a guild in the Asian server and I’m the vice guild master. We’re a group of people looking to go pro. Do you want to join?”*
*When people talk about the famed infrastructure of Korean esports, this is pretty much it on the lowest level. A group of dedicated amateurs who have the mentality of hard work and willingness to put in the hours in hopes that they can go pro.
MC: But at the time I didn’t have the money to purchase the game, and when I told him I couldn’t play on the Asian servers because I didn’t have a CD Key, he said, “I’ll buy you a copy. Come play with us.”
That’s when I joined the guild called Siz. The guild master at the time was someone called Siz)Player. I still remember his name; Min Soo-hong.
Looking back, I think I’m able to lead this fantastic life I have to this day thanks to Siz)Player and Siz)Gravity. Siz)Player spent a lot of time watching VODs as an observer of the players and gave advice to them. When I first joined the guild there were three very good players: Siz)o.Ov Hwang Chang-gyu, Siz)KaL Kim Ku-hyun, and a Zerg player that I can’t remember right now.
As a selective random player at the time I saw Siz)o.Ov play and decided to go Protoss. He was a player who was good at astral plays, kind of like the stylish way  Kim “Bisu” Taek Yong* plays today.
*He references Bisu here because he is the most iconic Protoss player in Brood War history. Nicknamed the Revolutionist for upending the PvZ matchup against the bonjwa Ma “sAviOr” Jae Yoon at the height of sAviOr’s career. Where other games had patches, Bisu was the patch. If Bisu had never come around, it’s incredibly likely PvZ would still be a heavily Zerg favored matchup to this day.
MC: He was the best player in the guild and he was good at both team games and 1-v-1’s so I would observe his games to learn everyday. Siz)KaL a.k.a. Kim “KaL” Ku Hyun was a rock-like player and was very good, but Siz)o.Ov was better. So with three Protoss players and one Zerg the guild did team matches against other teams in the Asian server. And Siz)o.Ov would always win.
*Among all of the players MC names during this period, KaL is the most famous. In 2006 he was drafted into STX SouL. In 2007, he became a regular member of their Proleague team. He was given the nickname “The Red Shuttle” for his signature shuttle plays that left his shuttle in red HP. He became one of the “Six Dragons,” a period of time that lasted from the last quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009. During that period he got Top 4 in the 2008 Club Day Online MSL. He had another run in 2010 where he made Top 4 in two different Starleagues. In 2012 he opted into the Air Force Ace team, which was a team that allowed esports pros to do play while doing their military service. He also played SC2 briefly when KeSPA transferred over. When he finished military service, he played on Prime for a brief time before retiring.
MC: My daily life at the time was coming home from school, playing practice matches, a team match, watch the VODs for o.Ov and KaL copying their builds, and then going to sleep. Around that time I met another player aiming to be a pro gamer, Lee Ho-joon. Ho-joon was playing as much as possible on the channel at the time to join our guild.
He was my age so we spoke comfortably with one another, got very close with one another, and I used to beg the older players to make him an official member after his time as a sub-member was over. (He needed three votes from guild members to be accepted in)
He was terrible when he first joined, but surprised me by improving quickly. Looking back I think I didn’t try really hard at the time lol. Then the first KeSPA Cup took place. Our guild decided to join and each team entry needed four players.
I was still too green to be in competition at the time. So they added me in the entry, while the other three players would actually compete. And that was my first offline event.
I met with KaL in person for the first time to go to the venue. I remember wearing the clothes that my mom bought me, and KaL was a very fashionable person. I still remember him wearing a flowered over shirt lol.
o.Ov, KaL, and the Zerg player I can’t remember made it to the finals, but lost to a guild called Rex. At this time KaL was really good and won all of the 1v1 games, and I remember o.Ov losing his 1v1 game and team match and feeling very apologetic.
Seeing games be played in offline tournaments like that made me want to go pro even more, and I continued to play StarCraft. After that a lot of good players started to join our guild.
Siz)CoZy Siz)Kai Siz)Flash Siz)Fantasy Siz)probe Siz)han; six players joined the team to make a strong entry,
Han Yeong-hoon, Park Kyung-ho, Lee Young-ho, Jeon Myung-hoon, Byun do-seop, Park Soo-beom, I can still remember all of their names. With the six players added was o.Ov, KaL, me, and Ho-joon.
o.Ov gave up on being a pro around this time. I remember it was because of some personal issues. While we were playing as a clan we heard a big announcement from the guild master.
“We’re going west boys!”
At the time team matches were in Asia, while 1v1’s were in the west server. So all of the good teams were in the west. So we used to go to west as a team to play practice games. Our guild moved to the west together. And slowly started to get better.
Then I learned about career matches. I think the first one I took part in was the 14th career match. I can vaguely remember Rush Hour being one of the maps. It was my first venture into Seoul and I remember going there with my mom lol.
While our guild was there playing in career match, KaL was the first to win a career match and went pro on our team. He was by far the best player in the guild so I thought it was natural. Then Ho-joon won his career match and went pro. I thought Flash or Fantasy would go amatuer pro first, and I was surprised at the time since Ho-joon was the worst Terran in the guild.
Honestly thinking now, Ho-joon just really tried hard and it was the result of that work, but I guess it was hard to understand for a kid my age. One by one my guild mates would win career matches and move on to be pros. I remember not working as hard at the time, naively believing the words from the people around me who called me very good.
I did have some performances at YMBC or BarbaraTV guild matches and I didn’t know that real pros prepare in the shadows. After that I went to the Elite School League and became the best StarCraft player in my school. I started to beat the other top players from other schools and met Shin Dong-won and Lee Sang-gil.
We were all at the same level, and we took turns winning first place at a competition that was held in Chun-an. I cultivated a friendship with them, childishly calling us the three kings of Chun-an StarCraft.
I then took an entry test to Astro at the recommendation of Kim Won-gi and joined the gaming house as a trainee. The first house I went to was very good. It was in Gangnam’s Seo-rae village, and I was surprised how big the apartment was.
I played games with the other members of Astro after unpacking my things and I still remember being nagged by coach Kim Dong-jin who was famous for his Terran play to produce probes. Thanks to that I moved by army shorts cuts from 1,2 to 0,9 and pressed 0 and 9 out of habit.
I was stressed during my time there, but it instilled some very good habits for me. Then on the second day the head coach told me to shave my head and sleep on the floor. He also told me that I would have to clean the apartment and cook breakfast for the team. I couldn’t understand why I had to shave my head, cook breakfast, clean the apartment, and sleep on the floor when there were beds.*
*A common story that is often the case in a majority of Korean esports teams, though this is the first time I’ve heard of having to go bald. The better Korean esports teams use the looks of the Korean pros to cultivate a “boy band” sort of look to build their brand and gain fangirl followings. So it’s likely this guy was also incompetent.
MC: I was only 14 at the time.
I honestly was more concerned about where I would find the money to cut my hair and couldn’t understand why I had to do all of those chores, but I told the head coach that I understood. Before that evening I asked other players I knew if they had to go through the same things. They told me to move teams, that other teams were different.
So I told Won-gi and left Astro in three days. To me a pro gamer was a dream job where I could make money while being supported in all other aspects but I got frustrated after being hit with reality. After I went pro I didn’t get paid for a year, and the year after that I was paid $6,000 a year.*
*MC’s Mom was incredibly happy for her son, but for MC he had a clear goal in mind and this was nowhere near enough.
I was told that it was pretty much the same no matter what the team was, and I kept asking myself why I was an amateur when the people around me went pro. Although I think I did know why.
That I didn’t work as hard.
But I kept my self-rationalization by saying that my condition was bad or that I had bad luck with draws.* With losses in three career matches and feeling inferior to other players who were successfully going pro, I was ready to fold on my goal to become a pro.
*This is a common affliction that can plague even some of the best pros. The fact that MC gets over this so soon is retroactively seen in the rest of his career. There were multiples times when MC wasn’t the best player in SC2, but he never played himself out of a game.
MC: I told my mother, who was supportive of my dream, that if it didn’t work out one last time I would quit. I prepared for my last career match.
I think I practiced the most leading up to that. Games were going well as I played without any sense of weight on my shoulders. Thinking about it now, all of the amateur players I knew were already pro. I won the 37th career match and officially became an amateur.
But then the problem was finding a team. Teams drafted players from the bottom teams to the top, and there was usually a number 1 and 2 preferred player slot to protect the top two players in the team. All of the teams placed their most valued players in those slots.
I didn’t have any connections to the teams and was determined to get picked by standing out in some crazy way. Then a friend of mine introduced me to the coach of MBC* Kim Hyuk-seop, and although I wasn’t chosen in the first draft I was able to take the entry exam thanks to his  recommendation.
*MBC was one of the Proleague teams at the time and the team that eventually recruited MC.
MC: The test at the time was a ranked game made up of 14 players including the members of MBC’s third team and I passed by placing second in the competition.
First place was Oh Se-gi, who played as tiny[s.g.]. A total of 6 players were chosen and we stayed in the dormitory and played ranked 1v1’s and team matches during the stove period.
After that period the head coach of MBC Ha Tae-gi told us to come visit the dorm after contacting the team whenever we wanted to. I called after a week of being home because I wanted to be closer to the older players there and when I went to the day that coach Kim told me it was a day before the opening match with Lecaf.
That was my first live viewing of a match.
I remember feeling so happy following the players in the back, saying hello to the people they were saying hello to, and them telling people that I was the team’s new youngest player when they were asked who I was.
It was like I already joined MBC. That day we won 3-0 and I went to see the fan meet up and about 50-60 people were there giving presents and talking to players.
There were a lot of pretty (girls) and so many gifts. At that moment I thought I was glad that I wanted to be a pro gamer. I was so happy to see the players get their presents (usually food) and the cakes and donuts I ate with their permission were delicious.
I thought that I also wanted to do very well to get gifts like this. After those three dream-like days I came back home and played while going to school. During summer break I went to dorms to play as a trainee-amateur player
And I was terrible at dorm life at the time lol. I didn’t know how to live as a group and was very rude. I was always scolded by the coaches and looking back if I was them, I would send me back home lol.
After that experience came the second draft. I was not chosen.
As I was down the older players tried to console me but I thought my path was blocked because there was no team that chose an amatuer that wasn’t chosen in the next draft. So I came back home and started to study. That was when I was 18, and I thought if I really worked hard in my studies I could get a job.
About four months later coach Kim, who became the head coach, called me on the phone. He told me that he’ll give me another shot.
I was very conflicted. I was focused on nothing but my studies for a time, and I’ll have to focus on it during the entirety of my summer break to catch up. On the other hand it was a game I put four years of my life into so I asked about it to my mother.
She told me that since it’s my last shot, I should go for it if I really wanted to. So that’s how I returned to Seoul and started to build myself back up with the team.
The third draft came along and I wasn’t on the team’s first pick. The second pick belonged to another player. I felt my world collapsing. I was certain that I would at least be a second pick.
But another player’s name was called. I started thinking about the second draft. After Sae-gi was chosen as the first pick I thought that was to be expected, but I was still expecting my name to be called as a second pick.
As I almost half-gave up another player was called as the third pick. Right as I was about to cry, I heard the head coach’s voice call my name as the fourth pick.
Thinking now, it may have been a way for the head coach to reign me in.
That’s how I became the pro gamer I dreamed of being from ages 13-18.
Afterword:
From here on, I’ll fill in the gaps between what happened from then to how he eventually became the head coach of Kongdoo.
After getting onto MBC, MC’s career in Brood War was nonexistent. There were no results or runs to talk about. KaL got the nickname “The Red Shuttle,” Bisu was “The Revolutionist,” and as for MC? He got the nickname “Suicide Toss” as he performed a throat slash ceremony before a game and then promptly lost.
When SC2 was announced, MC was hesitant to switch. This was because he would go from his small salary to no salary again off of a risk that he could be the best. He eventually did and became one of the most iconic figures of SC2 history. In SC2, he was the most dominant Protoss player early and known for his strong personality and antics (including a murloc dance, an undertaker entrance in the OSL, dancing, and karaoke). He eventually became known as the “Boss Toss” because of those reasons.
His story has been mirrored throughout many of the great SC2 champions and players through its history and still continues on to this day. As for MC, he eventually realized his time was done as a top player and he couldn’t come to terms with it when he was on SK. The SK manager Min-Sik “reis” Ko (currently working for ELEAGUE) told an anecdote at a Homestory Cup about MC’s struggles. He told MC something along the lines to stop whining as it didn’t matter that he was no longer the best, he was still making great money.
If there was ever a single line you could draw throughout MC’s entire history, it was always the drive to get money so that he could support his family. This is why he eventually retired after Proleague shut down in SC2. His ex teammate from MBC, Seo “Shark” Gyung Jon hired him to become the Kongdoo League of Legends head coach.
The last words he said to the SC2 community were from this interview:  
I know you guys sad for I leave StarCraft II scene,
But, you know, all people have to change… to another life.
So, please just cheer for me, it’s not betray.
We love esports and we are together.
And keep cheering StarCraft II please.
A lot of Korean players still want to play, so
Yeah, so, that’s all.
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A letter to our readers


Sadly, Slingshot will cease operations effective tomorrow, Oct. 31, 2017.
We launched Slingshot because we wanted to do great esports journalism. I think under editor Vince Nairn’s leadership, we did produce great work. We didn’t fail in this regard and I owe debt of gratitude to all of the writers and contributors who worked with Slingshot over the past two years.
We were unable, however, to secure enough funding to continue operations. This is a business fault that lies with me, not with the editorial staff. For the past eight months or so we have been trying to raise funds and simply did not raise enough to continue Slingshot in the way we wanted. We had offers to purchase the site, but for several reasons those offers did not make sense. So we declined. We had a great business plan and were making progress building a membership base. But that plan requires new resources. And we weren’t able to find them.
We set out to create a media company that was independent and focused on producing high-quality journalism and esports content. We thought and still think we have a solid business plan built around diversified revenue streams from memberships, advertising and ecommerce based on our years of publishing experience. But for many years digital media has been dominated by advertising alone and now there’s skepticism about the monetization potential of advertising, leaving many investors and venture capital firms skittish about media. Some of the investors we spoke with were all in on social video, which we don’t think makes for good journalism or works as a long term business strategy.
Esports needs an independent media outlet. I urge anyone who was a fan of Slingshot to support the other independent, native media in esports. There needs to be someone willing to report on wrongdoing. Someone needs to stick up for unpaid players and to investigate the inner workings of the industry as it expands and experiences growing pains. I wanted this to be Slingshot, but it seems that will not be the case. So please, support other independent media.
Anyone who contributed to the Patreon we launched will be refunded. We launched the membership program as a step toward building to the future. But things did not work out as planned. Our intention was only to take money from members if we were continuing with the operation. So we will issue refunds.
I will likely share some more thoughts in the coming days about esports and esports journalism. I’d be happy to share more details about the experience on the business side with anyone interested. At the very least, maybe it can help others succeed where I did not. But I wanted to share this important news with you first.
I highly recommend anyone looking for esports writers and reporters consider Jarek “DeKay” Lewis, Stephen Chiu, Andrew Kim, Emily Rand and Vince Nairn. You won’t find many better than this crew.
I’m sorry it has to end this way. Thanks so much for reading.
The post A letter to our readers appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


Roll back the years: EPICENTER 2017


Before EPICENTER started, I referred to it as the “Champion of Champions” tournament. Seven of the best teams in the world (and Virtus.Pro) had congregated into a killer eight team tournament. Even among that field, FaZe Clan stood out as a favorite; FaZe had won ESL New York and the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier in dominant fashion. Its unassailable form turned the centerpiece of EPICENTER from “Which amazing team will come out victorious?” to “Who could dethrone FaZe?” The answer surprised everyone. The two teams that defeated FaZe in the group stages were SK and Virtus.Pro. Both teams went on to the grand finals, the first time they have faced each other since DreamHack Las Vegas.
For Virtus.Pro, it felt like a literal roll back of the years. Prior to this event, the Polish legends had been bearing the weight of a long slump since their Las Vegas victory nine months ago. Around that time, they had switched in-game leaders from Filip “NEO” Kubski to Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski. Although the tactics remained solid, Snax’s individual form bottomed out to the lowest point we’d ever seen from him. Coordination between players appeared fragmented or nonexistent. They were losing everywhere: online, on LAN, in qualifiers — almost anywhere you could think. So it was unthinkable to predict Virtus.Pro going far in this stacked event.
In classic Virtus.Pro fashion, it defied the odds in ways no one could imagine. The first match aligned with expectations. VP was crushed by SK with little suggestion VP could put up much of a fight against Gambit or FaZe. But the Poles regrouped and defeated Gambit, FaZe, and G2 during its run to the finals.
Snax did not return to the superstar antics he showed off earlier in in the year. Instead, everyone else stepped up their game. Jaroslaw “pasha” Jarzabkowski and Pawel “byali” Bielinski have been shining spots for an otherwise lackluster team over the last nine months, and they continued to raise VP on their shoulders as they brought the necessary firepower throughout EPICENTER.
What has truly been surprising is Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas and NEO’s impact. The entirety VP’s slump saw both pull off an invisible man act, and neither showed any sign of returning. This was a problem as their contribution was what tipped the scales for VP in the past. If they were on and added to the firepower of their stars, they turned from a good team to potential world contenders. That happened at EPICENTER, as TaZ had impact as an anchor and entry-fragger, while NEO was one of VP’s best players throughout the entire tournament. Additionally, TaZ finally took over the in-game leadership role from Snax. His style of calling fits the team much better as Virtus.Pro once again looks incredibly dangerous on T-side.
All told, it was a classical showing from Virtus.Pro reminiscent of a time gone by. TaZ was back to in-game leading and producing impact via entry kills to explode into sites. NEO was the critical player to pull the team out of the Gambit series and contributed great decision-making and game sense. Pasha aggressively pushed everywhere and won his duels. Byali got multikills at critical moments. The only one “missing” was Snax, and even he turned up at the very end of the G2 series to close out the game.
Even the final was a modern classic, as VP ended up playing against SK, the Brazilian squad that was once one of VP’s greatest rivals. As for SK, the showing was more a figurative art of mimesis. SK’s run at EPICENTER paralleled its first international finals at Faceit Stage 3 Finals in 2015.
This event featured the Brazilian side with internal team issues. Joao “felps” Vasconcellos was burned out, a frustration with incongruent roles that leaked out into interpersonal interactions.
“The change was a sum up of felps being a little bit burned out from playing roles he didn’t even like, requiring a lot of adjustment,” Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo said. “Small problems that we had to deal with outside the game eventually became more difficult for felps to deal with, more so than other players…He wasn’t feeling very happy playing for us and it was pretty much his decision to ask us to leave.”
In his stead, SK brought Ricardo “boltz” Prass. Boltz had been part of this lineup when it first made its big debut on the international stage under the KaBuM.TD tag.
The internal team situation resembles what happened to the Brazilian squad right before the Faceit Stage 3 finals. Luminosity made a dramatic roster move by removing Boltz and Lucas “steel” Lopes for Lincoln “fnx” Lau and Epitacio “TACO” de Melo. They had reached the limits of the old lineup and rather than wait around until after the event, they pulled the trigger.
“Back in the days boltz wasn’t very worried about it, and even with some of us telling him ‘Hey boltz, you gotta fix this thing,’ he wasn’t really focused on fixing issues, and he became someone who didn’t evolve,” FalleN said.
Although the reasons were different, the end result was that both lineups had no time to prepare for upcoming events. FalleN considered Faceit Stage 3 finals a revelatory event for his development as an in-game leader. Prior to that event, he had run a tight ship: there was a system and everyone was a cog within it. But that style of leadership wasn’t feasible with so little practice time, so he set the team loose. The results were some of the best LG ever had, and FalleN revealed himself to be a world class AWPer at the event. The Brazilians took second place, only losing to Fnatic. From that event FalleN learned how he wanted to steer his own leadership method.
FalleN embraced pedagogy instead of remaining the captain of the enterprise. His Counter-Strike methodology was taught and assimilated by his teammates. From there the structure was formed as they reified FalleN’s ideal of how CS should be played. Finally he gave them freedom, understanding he no longer needed to micromanage them — his players understood why he had them move in certain ways and thus they did it independently. That in turn freed FalleN to become the star AWPer of the team, the cornerstone from which they won two Majors.
At EPICENTER, the same thing occurred. There was no time to fit boltz into the system. Instead, SK relied on the core of the team as the basis of success. FalleN, Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, Coldzera, and TACO have played together for more than two years now and have a shared understanding of each other’s play that is nearly unmatched. From there, the experiences of boltz kicked in.
“I realise how stupid I was in the past, being lazy and how I lost an opportunity in my life, but I really learned from it,” boltz said.
For those two years following his departure from LG, boltz had built himself up as a better player. He first became the star of the second best Brazilian team, which eventually became Tempo Storm and then Immortals. As the roster filled out with more talent, he became the in-game leader and worked to be the supplemental element within the team. On his time with Immortals, the star AWPers of his team were Henrique “HEN1” Teles and Vito ‘kNg” Giuseppe. Boltz facilitated them with the maximum amount of freedom while he and steel filled in the gaps for teamwork, did the menial tasks, and consistently made great plays to push the team over the line.
When he came to SK, he did not let those two years go to waste. He applied those lessons of selflessness and discipline to make his new squad better. Boltz took up the old roles TACO had grown tired of, becoming the new site anchor and allowing TACO to explore where he wants to go with his play style. He took on felps’ old position, and his passive style perfectly complemented the hyper-aggressive style of fer. On the T-side of Mirage, he has shifted to TACO’s old spot at palace and in general is playing passive holds his side of the map, letting the rest of the team work without worry.
Boltz’s contributions have enabled other players to abdicate some of their previous responsibilities and focus on individual performance. On the former SK roster, FalleN’s innate style clashed with felps, which had both players sacrifice for each other to work. With boltz, FalleN’s AWP performance stabilized. These shifts boltz has brought to the team in turn has allowed FalleN more stability in his AWPing as there is no longer a style clash with his supporting cast as there was with felps. Just as in Faceit Stage 3 Finals, FalleN had a standout performance as an AWPer and one of his most notable showings since the removal of fnx.
It was fitting that these two teams ended up in the finals. Virtus.Pro has once again reawoken its old form. VP dug out the old plow under the snowfall, dusted it off, and rebuilt the engine to reach a final for the first time in eight months. SK had been slumping since the Major but is now revitalized with the addition of boltz, reminiscent of the Faceit Stage 3 Finals run nearly two years ago.
The question prior to EPICENTER starting was who was going to beat FaZe? The answer was Virtus.Pro and SK. Virtus.Pro’s renewed form was able to defeat FaZe with tactics, teamwork and key individual performances. SK was able to defeat FaZe with natural chemistry and individual skill. So going into the finals, the match was set as Virtus.Pro’s tactics against SK’s skill.
In the end, the EPICENTER trophy boiled down the classic VP/SK matchup. This was the best matchup in 2016, and this finals lived up to that hype. The series went all five maps. Virtus.Pro’s CT-side shut down SK on Mirage, and SK promptly retaliated by crushing VP on Inferno. Train was a tightly contested map as both teams dominated CT-side, but in the end SK clutched it out on Coldzera’s back. Cache was the exact opposite as both teams looked invincible on the T-sides. SK had fer as a one-man wrecking crew, but in the end Virtus.Pro persevered in classic Virtus.Plow fashion.
The final game was on Cobble. Looking back, it was a legendary game that will go down in the annals of CS:GO. VP’s T-side tactics were explosive and NEO had a world class performance. On the other end, Coldzera was the best player on SK and once he got his AWP going on the B site, Virtus.Pro could no longer contest him. It ended in double overtime where SK had to dig every ounce of clutch it had to take the final away from Virtus.Pro.
Although I have recalled the similarities of both teams to times gone past, the circumstances have completely changed. A year ago, you could say Virtus.Pro would always find a way back, but this year saw these players enter the worst slump of their careers, a hole so deep that it was incomparable to every other decline they’ve had. SK made it to the finals with a roster shift at the last minute, much like its run at Faceit Stage 3 Finals with fnx or DreamHack Las Vegas with felps, but both runs ended in second place. This time SK came out victorious in one of the epic grand finals in CS:GO history. And in its wake, both Virtus.Pro and SK have made a statement with their run. They are back and they are hungry.
The post Roll back the years: EPICENTER 2017 appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


Resolut1on’s World Tour comes to Europe


The next stop in the Dota 2 circuit is the Dota PIT League LAN Finals this weekend. Held in Croatia, we will see the official debut of the equally lauded and reviled OG. OG was the most consistent Dota 2 team from the 2016-2017 circuit and is most well known for winning both of the Majors last year. Despite the consistent success outside of The International, OG removed Anathan “ana” Pham and recruited Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok in his place. For Resolut1ion, this will be the third region he has played in during his Dota 2 career as he continues his world tour across the globe. Why yes, he is related to Russell Crowe.

Resolut1ion’s career started in the CIS region during 2013. Like most up-and-comers he was a drifter, shifting between teams of minor note until finally landing on Team Empire in 2014. There he became their franchise player as he struggled to bring the team to the level of the historic CIS teams. Unfortunately for Resolut1ion, Empire was essentially fool’s gold. The rosters always looked good on paper, the organizations always made the theoretically correct pickups, and they were always on the verge of breaking into Tier 1 recognition; arguably, they did so sporadically. But Empire inevitably petered out, with every promising run short circuited from players being bought out, leaving or switching roles for covert reasons (shoutout to Maxim “yoky-” Kim).
Once 2016 started, Resolut1ion decided to roll the dice and sought out a foreign team to ply his trade. Up to 2014, Dota 2 was mostly a regional game as most stacks were delineated along regional lines: NA/EU, CIS, China, and SEA had become useful shorthand within the lexicon, each with an array of stars and stereotypically recognizable play style. But that pattern had broken apart by last year, first with the assemblage of Team Secret, the collection of Western stars, and soon after as other teams scrambled to copy their formula. Before that, the idea of moving regions wasn’t even a consideration. It was terribly inconvenient to organize and train players without the proper money and infrastructure, the language barrier was a pain to overcome, and there was no legacy of success to inspire copycat behavior. Now it was a real possibility. So Resolut1ion tried his luck in the NA region. He joined Digital Chaos, a small grassroots effort by the personal involvement of DotaCinema’s co-owner. It was terrible, as the team bombed out.
DC disintegrated in the Shanghai Major shuffle, leaving only Resolut1ion. The organization scrambled to replenish the ranks as they found outcasts who couldn’t find any better teams. The new members included Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen, Aliwi “w33” Omar, David “Moo” Hull, and Martin “Saksa” Sazdov. It was better than expected, especially considering the low expectations of the first roster, but there was no core reason as to why they were assembled. They were just the best of the flotsam. For the next 6 months they wavered between mediocre to terrible—finishing second-to-last at every international event—and the team was on the verge of breaking up. The only thing keeping them together was the roster lock and TI6 coming up. The turnaround point was during their bootcamp where MiSeRy gave an any given sunday speech.
The gist of the inspiring speech amounted to: “You are all shit.”
DC then went on its epic TI6 run. DC made it all the way to the final, and the superstar of that roster was Resolut1ion. It was an incredible run and the team decided to stick it out for another year together after kicking Moo for David “MoonMeander” Tan. The next year was up and down without rhyme or reason. DC could make deep runs or bomb out, but there was no identifiable reason why one or the other happened. The team eventually crashed and burned in the TI7 qualifiers; Resolut1ion looked to cast TI7 for the CIS stream.
At TI7, Resolut1ion’s old team, Empire, was set to play. Since Resolut1ion’s departure, Empire was still stuck in the ‘rebuilding’ phase. The lineup that was set to play had some potential with its own unique play style and draft, but it was considered one of the the weakest teams in attendance. Then worse news struck: carry player Vladimir “Chappie” Kuzmenko was unable to secure a visa. In a last ditch attempt, Empire asked Resolut1ion to stand in. Empire’s chances were already grim and with the premium placed on team chemistry, a late replacement only hurt them further.
But The International only happens once every year. Empire willingly dedicated its remaining time into last-second preparation, particularly discussing how to make Resolut1ion as comfortable as possible. The group stage mirrored that as Empire started off poorly and became more cohesive the more teams it played. Despite that, Empire still ended the group stage near the bottom with a 6-10 record, barely edging out Infamous.
Once again Resolut1ion showed how clutch he was under pressure. He had already performed a miracle run at TI6 and he did the same here. In the playoff stage, Empire had figured out the game plan and played around Resolut1ion’s strengths. Empire defeated Cloud9 and EG before losing to the eventual champions Liquid. Despite the early elimination, Resolut1ion showed a world class performance and everyone bore witness. Among those whose interest was piqued was OG. After losing in TI7 and the messy drama with ana, OG decided that Resolut1ion was not a player they could pass up on.
For Resolut1ion, this will be his biggest challenge yet. He had spent years trying to raise up Empire to the top of the CIS region. He was able to give DC a miracle TI6 run; in TI7, he pulled another miracle run to get Empire to the top 8. By now it’s common wisdom that he is one of the greatest CIS carries alive. Now he joins OG, arguably the best team on paper he has ever joined. It should look like a match made in heaven: OG is only changing one player and moving Resolut1ion to mid, his old position. But I still have reservations. At its peak, OG was largely dependent on split-push and illusion heroes, strategies that emphasized its tight macro play and finicky selection of battles. Resolut1ion is a hybrid between farm and teamfight carry, with OG’s early struggles showcasing their inability to properly balance responsibilities with Johan “N0tail” Sundstein.
That is what Dota Pit makes so intriguing. It will be right after the new patch, arguably the period when OG performs the best. It is time for Resolut1ion to make his debut in the 2017-2018 circuit and to see if he can bring OG to even greater heights.
The post Resolut1on’s World Tour comes to Europe appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


Changes come to Dota 2 at the ESL One Hamburg Major


Before the Major started, I called ESL One Hamburg a harbinger of a new age. It represented IceFrog’s own belief in the constant evolution of Dota 2 itself. Change is inevitable, and it was brought forth in this tournament. This was the first new Major of the circuit and with it came new memes, new teams, new players and a new champion.
Hamburg was an amazing tournament, almost as amazing as the Mercedes e-Class sedan. “The most intelligent E-Class family of all time welcomes a powerful new member to the dynasty. The E400 Sedan model arrives this year, boasting a 3.0L V6 biturbo engine producing 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque — the same powertrain that currently drives its E400 Coupe, Cabriolet and 4MATIC Wagon cousins. Paired with the 9-G-TRONIC 9-Speed automatic transmission and DYNAMIC SELECT, it promises a bracingly…”
Wait, sorry. I lost myself there for a moment.
Beyond the birth of what looks to be Dota 2’s new great meme was the rise of new teams. Keen Gaming was a surprise as it initially appeared to have fluked its way into a spot from the Chinese qualifier. It was a lineup filled with players unfamiliar to the non-Chinese viewership and though they were eliminated early on, they were different from the iG.V of last year. iG.Vitality was infamous as pure onliners who were unable to give a stable LAN performance, whereas Keen Gaming showed a surprising amount of cohesion for a rookie squad. Some of their drafts and strategies admittedly leaned more into gimmick territory. There’s a reason we don’t see Aghs/Dagon Bloodseeker as the standard. Nevertheless KG showed the basic macro and map movements we would expect from a top Chinese team. I’ll eagerly await their next international appearance.
Beyond them, the big surprise was Team Secret. A week prior to Hamburg, Secret was eliminated by Immortals in the group stage of PGL Bucharest. Although the result itself hardly raises an eyebrow, the manner in which Secret lost was horrendous. The team threw a huge lead against the IMT squad that did not inspire confidence. Secret was able to turn it around here and won its group by defeating EG and Newbee. Yet the real shocker came in the semifinals: Secret upset The International 7 champion Team Liquid with some convincing victories and slick drafting. Hamburg showed the potential that had formerly escaped Secret and exasperated its dedicated fanbase.
But in the end, the biggest sign was the victory everyone had anticipated for a long time. Virtus.pro dominated the tournament as it swept through the competition, defeating Keen Gaming, Liquid, Newbee and then Secret in the finals. Purely from watching the games and the level of opposition it regularly faces, Virtus.Pro stands as one of the best teams in the world.
Yet despite widespread acknowledgement of its prowess, VP had come up short in the big tournaments. VP’s only two trophies from the last tournament circuit were Summit 6 and Summit 7. Beyond thatn VP lost at the Boston Major to EG, took 2nd at the Kiev Major to OG, and lost to Liquid at TI7. This was a critical victory for the squad as they beat all of the best teams here to get over that hump.
Now Virtus.Pro has one and they owe it in large part to Alexei “solo” Berezin, the captain and creator of the modern roster. With Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi leaving the CIS region to create Team Secret after TI4, the player base was caught in a rut. CIS teams always recruited skilled players, and the first words of praise from casters and fans inevitably accredited their individual skill. But the region lacked world class leaders with the will and vision to turn a group of players create a cohesive whole. The infighting, the egos, the stubbornness and lazy attitudes proved too much. In effect, there was no one left who could control the davai. No one until Solo.
Prior to Solo joining the team, Virtus.Pro in Dota 2 had an alternate nickname: Virtus.Throw. They were a chronically aggressive team that could rack up a huge lead, but they were also players who pushed the envelope and created levels of throw that could almost baffle Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao. Solo was able to control it and created a perennial contender that exemplified the best aspects of this style while holding it onto a short leash.
This is a huge victory for Virtus.Pro and the CIS region. It has always been a huge reason in Dota 2 as the CIS region was the birthplace of Na`Vi, Dota 2’s biggest Western team at the game’s inception. Their aggression, creativity, and instinctual teamplay captured the hearts of fans worldwide. When they went into a slump, CIS despaired of ever having another team reach those heights. Hamburg crowned a new successor to Na’Vi, one that could stick around for a very long time. Virtus.Pro is now no longer just among the best teams; it now has a Major trophy to back up that statement. In the long campaign through the Major/Minor circuit of 2017-2017, Virtus.Pro has struck first blood, and Solo drove off in his new Mercedes E-Class sedan.
The post Changes come to Dota 2 at the ESL One Hamburg Major appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


Avoid strength, target weakness, using soO and Rogue as examples


In Group B of BlizzCon over the weekend, we had a group with soO, Rogue, Neeb, and Nerchio. For now I will focus on three particular matchups: Rogue vs Neeb round 1, soO vs Neeb, and Rogue vs Neeb round 2.
I’ve watched Neeb’s career since when he debuted as a Terran player. There is an obvious overarching theme to his play style: Standard play, good decisions, and excellent execution. This style was only exemplified when he made the jump from Terran to Protoss player (I suspect good decision making at a consistent level as a top-level Terran was harder up until the creation of the liberator, but it’s not like Neeb knew how strong that thing was going to be). So going into this year, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this is probably the best Neeb has played and his style is such that it is strongest in late game.
This is what we saw in the first series between Rogue vs Neeb. Rogue played out the standard game, which was Neeb’s game and Neeb won.
Going into soO vs Neeb, I saw plenty of people pick Neeb to win the series. They weren’t blowing up the foreigner hope or anything like that. It was complexly understandable if you understood the relative strengths of both players. In a pure theoretical sense of what people consider “strong starcraft.” Neeb is a superior player to soO in the matchup of PvZ. Rogue is a better late-game player than soO is in that matchup, and Rogue lost. Thus if you follow the same logic that soO would follow the game plan of Rogue, he should lose.
But soO isn’t that kind of player. He understands the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents and targets those. One of his masterpiece series was against Zest in 2013 GSL Season 3 season where he pulled out a series plan to counteract how Zest was beating him in their prior matchups. He did the same this year in both his GSL runs (unlike Maru, who showed an extreme amount of preparation work in his first OSL run against INnoVation, but never did again, which makes me think it was a fluke of chance). What soO did was create a game plan that avoided Neeb’s strengths in the macro game and just kill him before the game ever got to that stage.
After Neeb lost, he was set to play Rogue in the elimination match. This is of particular note in that Koreans are well known to adapt after a loss. This is why it’s so hard to make a deep run for a foreigner in a GSL tournament beyond just the raw number of Korean players. They adapt and learn at a faster pace. But the question I had was if Rogue had the arrogant sort of ego to believe that he should win a late game against Neeb if they played again. He was good enough and such a scenario would likely end in another 50/50 coinflip. Rogue didn’t. He saw what soO did and followed the formula. The games were different, but the theme was the same. Kill Neeb before you get to the late game.
I forget who said it, but someone said something along the lines of real StarCraft is the late game macro game where both players are forced to macro, micro, and make tactical/strategic/economic decisions across the map. That’s one way to look at it and a valid way. The other way though is to look at it the way Mvp did. You get the map point regardless if you win a maxed out 200/200 battlecruiser max army game or if you win with a 2rax. In which case, you must create series plans that give you the maximum chance of winning maps while decreasing the chances of your opponent taking any. That isStarCraft to me and for that reason Rogue and soO were better players than Neeb despite the fact that I don’t think either could conclusively beat Neeb if they played Neeb’s game.
Avoid strength, target weakness. That is what how you win.
The post Avoid strength, target weakness, using soO and Rogue as examples appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


Rogue benches shinobi for remainder of ESL Pro League season


North American Counter-Strike team Rogue has benched Josh “shinobi” Abastado for the remainder of the ESL Pro League season, according to multiple sources. Shawn “witmer” Taylor, a former member of the core lineup, will stand in for shinobi.
Witmer was the only option for Rogue, which already used both of its allotted roster moves for ESL Pro League earlier in the season. It is unclear at this time why Rogue isn’t able to play out the season with shinobi but it is the latest in a mounting number of obstacles the team has endured this season. They began with Collin “wrath” McSweegan being too young to compete for the first 10 matches of the season. Rogue then lost its original target for AWPer, Cvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov, to NRG Esports at the start of the season.
Danish AWPer Casper “cadiaN” Møller joined the team in September to replace the spot meant for CeRq. Since then, Rogue has gone 3-9, bringing its season-long record to 4-16. With only four matches remaining, Rogue has no chance to reach the LAN finals in Odense, Denmark in December. Rogue’s 13th place standing leaves the team in jeopardy of having to play a relegation match after the season to keep its league spot.
Rogue declined comment.
The post Rogue benches shinobi for remainder of ESL Pro League season appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


DeKay’s Final Five: EPICENTER 2017


Here’s the DeKay Final Five from a wild week that was EPICENTER 2017.
Virtus.pro is back, again
Virtus.pro is one of the most preposterous and confusing Counter-Strike teams in history. The four year old lineup has been through hell and back multiple times. Almost every player has tried every role on the team, other than Pasha and Byali in-game leading. This same lineup plays ESEA Premier during the week and grand finals of $500,000 events on the weekend. If that’s not a great example of their time together, I don’t know what else is. You have to tip your hat, even I thought this lineup was done. This performance doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll continue this form, but at least they have the confidence required to keep it going. CS:GO is better with Virtus.pro playing well; I hope this sticks.
FaZe struggles for the first time
After a close victory against Gambit, FaZe Clan lost to SK Gaming in a close series. SK was able to take advantage of FaZe on Overpass with a lockdown CT half. Rain and Olofmeister had an uncharacteristically bad series while coldzera and fer finished with over 90 ADR. The group decider match against VP looked like it would end quickly after Mirage, but it wasn’t meant to be. Losing the next two maps wasn’t the fault of any one player but more of a team collapse. When another team is able to rattle off 10+ CT rounds, FaZe has a hard time recovering. FaZe won 9+ T rounds on only one map, against Gambit. This isn’t a large issue and can be fixed. It’s easy to remain positive when you’ve already won two events with this fresh lineup.
North goes South
I really needed to see an improvement for North, but that simply didn’t happen. With a majority of the lineup returning as defending champions of this event, I expected some flair. They got it done against Team Liquid but fell absolutely flat against G2 Esports, winning five rounds over two maps. There is no excuse for winning only one round on your map pick. Against Astralis in the decider match, North failed to accomplish much, only making it close on Train before losing its map pick once again. The best-of three format of EPICENTER should have benefitted North but somehow didn’t. This team has the firepower and a map pool; it just can’t seem to mesh the two when necessary.
Boltz is picture perfect for SK Gaming
Although SK had to play the event with a stand-in player, it was the best possible replacement in the world. I expected SK to pick up Boltz following the Major unless they won the event, but it didn’t even take that long. Boltz has shown throughout 2017 that he is one of the most consistent and fundamentally sound players in the world. Not just Brazil, but the entire world. He can help in-game lead, he can frag, he can clutch, and he can support. SK took advantage of that by letting fer run wild on CT side while coldzera mopped up, and it paid dividends. SK Gaming have one unique characteristic that no other team has: the ability to remain calm and collected on the brink of elimination. Every map SK is about to lose, the players look so confident and full of self belief. I don’t ever see a player get emotional or look rattled. They are always in it to win and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. Give SK an inch and they’ll take a mile, or in this case the entire event.
More best-of three group stages, please
I love EPICENTER for many reasons, but the main one was a full best-of three group stage. In the future I’d like to see more events use this setup, with more talent members so they can switch off on the desk. This format puts the better team in the playoffs and removes those random best-of one wins that happen at nearly every event. Virtus.pro didn’t make it to the final because it lucked into an easy seed and won a couple maps. VP made it to the final with grit, teamwork, and willpower over multiple best-of three wins. Not only are the better teams in the playoffs, but the teams who make it to the end feel like they deserve to be there. I’m not convinced every final should be a best-of five, but once in awhile is just fine. Nonetheless, this event was one of the best weeks of Counter-Strike in recent memory. Well done.
The post DeKay’s Final Five: EPICENTER 2017 appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


More Evelynn changes tested in League of Legends PBE


The recent Evelynn rework is still not balanced, apparently, as more buffs were added Thursday to League of Legends’ Public Beta Environment.
The passive cooldown (which takes her out of camouflage) when she takes damage was reduced from four seconds to 1.5. That gives Evelynn’s opponents a shorter time frame to pursue her before she goes into camo once again. It’s important to note that when the passive is active, she recovers a lot more health per second when she’s below a certain amount of health and empowers her damaging abilities.
The damage on her E moved from doing a flat amount of base damage to dealing a percentage of Evelynn’s total attack damage stat as magic damage to her target. The effect was also added to the empowered version of the E, which makes her hit a lot harder in the late game when she has a decent stack of items. On top of the skill’s base damage, she deals another 4 percent of the target’s maximum health with an added 3 percent per 100 ability power she builds, and the empowered version deals another 6 percent of the target’s maximum health with an added 4 percent per 100 AP.
Her R has a new added effect, which immediately puts her back into camo and has a 25 percent cooldown refund when she kills an enemy champion or epic monster. Not only will this give her a more hit-and-run play style, she can now also steal objective and leave without breaking her camo with some careful maneuvering.
Other more minor tweaks
The damage on Lee Sin’s second cast of his Q and the damage on his E increased by five points at all ranks.
Leona has an added 20 points to her base armor.
The slow from Urgot’s Q is reduced by 25 percent at all ranks.
The post More Evelynn changes tested in League of Legends PBE appeared first on Slingshot Esports.


It’s A Wal-Martian Invasion!


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Wal-Mart! A place where people go to get low prices and apparently a place to exercise low self-esteem. Taking pictures of strange people at Wal-Mart has become an industry in itself. If you want some OMG moments, check out these poor souls who have found an audience. These outrageous Wal-Mart customers and workers will have you shaking your head and wondering if they know how ridiculous they look. Check them out!
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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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The Strangest People of Walmart

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