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Photo Credit: Getty Images | Norbert Barczyk KATOWICE, POLAND - MARCH 01

ESPORTS HUDDLE: IEM TOURNAMENT GOES ONLINE, OPTIC FOUNDER RE-ACQUIRES BRAND

Esports Huddle is a curated weekly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of online competitive gaming.

ESL, the world’s largest esports company and organizer of the Intel Extreme Masters competition series, has announced it will be moving the upcoming Intel Extreme Masters: Global Challenge to an online-only format.

Plans to hold the event live at the ESL Cologne studio were scrapped in response to Germany’s new COVID-19 related restrictions.

“In light of the rising infection numbers of Covid-19 across Europe we have decided to move the tournament online,” ESL vp of pro gaming Michal “Carmac” Blicharz said. “We would have loved to have brought everyone together for this tournament, but we are obligated to act responsibly towards the players and the staff working at our events.”

The IEM: Global Challenge begins online on December 15, featuring the top eight Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams across North America and Europe competing for a $500,000 prize pool. ESL said it will “support all eight teams in finding suitable facilities within Europe” to “safely compete in one global division.”

Thus far, only Furia Esports from North America and Heroic from Europe have qualified.

Elsewhere, esports organization 100 Thieves revealed it will be joining the Call of Duty League in 2021, taking the place of OpTic Gaming Los Angeles. On Wednesday morning, OpTic founder Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez revealed he re-acquired the OpTic Gaming name from Immortals Gaming Club after selling his majority stake to Infinity Esports & Entertainment in 2017. Immortals, who acquired Infinity in 2019, will continue to operate its two esports brands Immortals and Brazilian CS:GO team MIBR for the foreseeable future.

“OpTic Gaming has always been a part of me and I am glad it has finally returned home to our fans,” said Rodriguez.

The new 100 Thieves franchise will aptly be named the LA Thieves. The team’s current roster includes Thomas ‘TJHaLy’ Haly, Zack ‘Drazah’ Jordan, Austin ‘SlasheR’ Liddicoat,and Kenny ‘Kuavo’ Williams.

“100 Thieves has a deep history with competitive Call of Duty and are well-positioned to bring fantastic experiences to fans around the world,” Call of Duty League commissioner Johanna Faries tells VENN.

The 2021 Call of Duty League season currently has no set start date.

Elsewhere in the world of competitive gaming:

CALL OF DUTY League Player Dies at Age 21

Maurice “Fer0” Henriquez, member of the Call of Duty League’s Florida Mutineers, has died at the age of 21. News broke of Henriquez’s passing on Tuesday night, with the Mutineers tweeting, “This is an unfathomable loss for his family, friends, and our Florida Mutineers team.” The official Call of Duty League Twitter account also released a statement: “[Henriquez’s] absence will be felt throughout the league and the entire Call of Duty esports community.”

High School Esports League Teams With Army National Guard

Generation Esports, the creators of the High School Esports League, have teamed with the Army National Guard to build “esports labs” in high schools nationwide. Each lab will include six high-specification gaming PCs. ASUS will also provide mechanical keyboards, gaming mice and wireless headsets. Schools can apply to be one of the 25 institutions chosen for the labs at the league’s website until Jan. 31, with the winning schools receiving the facilities and tutoring classes on how to maintain them.

LEAGUE OF LEGENDS All-Star Voting Now Open

The 2020 League of Legends season has ended, but the games still continue as voting has opened up for the league’s All-Star festivities. Fans will vote for players based on position and have until Nov. 17th to pick their favorite stars from the 2020 season. Top vote-getters at each position will make the All-Star event, which is scheduled to take place online beginning Dec. 18.

Team USA Basketball Names Its NBA 2K Squad

Team USA Basketball has named the seven players that will represent the country in upcoming international NBA 2K tournaments. The selections came after a weekend of tryouts whittled down a field of 30 entrants. The final Team USA roster is as follows:

     – Wendi “ALittleLady87” Fleming (BallHerAlert, WR Pro-Am League)
     – Rafel “Crush” Davis (Kings Guard Gaming, NBA 2K League)
     – John “JBM” Mascone (Wizards District Gaming, NBA 2K League)
     – Kenneth “KennyGotWork” Hailey (Raptors Uprising GC, NBA 2K League)
     – Malik “OriginalMalik” Hobson (Knicks Gaming, NBA 2K League)
     – Ramo “Ramo” Radoncic (Pistons GT, NBA 2K League)
     – Spencer “Ria” Wyman (Jazz Gaming, NBA 2K League)

The team will compete in the 2020 FIBA Esports Open II’s North and Central America Conference beginning on December 19.

Photo Credit: Getty Images | Norbert Barczyk 
KATOWICE, POLAND – MARCH 01: View on the stage during StarCraft II game between Lee Rogue Byeong Yeol and Joo Zesta Sung Wook during ESL Intel Extreme Masters 2020 at Spodek Arena on March 01, 2020 in Katowice, Poland.

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