BAR-DOWN: SETTODESTROYX SKATES INTO EA SPORTS NHL 18 (UPDATED)
EA Sports is known for a variety of sports games, but perhaps the one that seems to be most overlooked is their NHL series. Their latest installment, NHL 18, is the twenty-seventh in the series, released on September 15th, 2017. On the cover of the game is the Edmonton Oiler’s Captain, Connor McDavid. NHL 18 is an ice-hockey simulation game that features real NHL teams and players allowing gamers to compete in solo and multiplayer modes. What’s new to this game is what they’re calling Three's Mode, which is a three on three team match just like the real NHL overtime rules. While the game wound up getting honest reviews, it's the esports scene for the series that is on the rise.
Back when World Gaming went by the name Virgin Gaming, they were known for hosting various events for NHL titles. After a while, the tournaments and interest in the series died down and was almost virtually forgotten. This year the esports scene has been revived thanks to WG hosting and Xbox sponsoring the Snider Hockey Cup. The cup has been broken into different segments. Registration opened on January 3rd, 2018, and the online Qualifiers started January 10th and runs until February 10th. The playoffs will be held online the 17th and 18th of February. The top two players in the playoffs from Xbox One and the top two players for PS4 will be flown to and receive accommodations for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the live finals and to see the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. With so much at stake and a shot at part of the over six-thousand-dollar prize, the game and tournament has drawn more players and backing than in the last two years. This is only just the beginning of larger things to come.
"YOU MISS 100% OF THE SHOTS YOU NEVER TAKE." - WAYNE GRETZKY
SetToDestroyX also took notice and skated right into the competition by first signing Nick ‘HeadShotPro’ Myers. Although Nick has been playing for 10+ years and had great success to date with the franchise, its EA SPORTS NHL 18 where he is getting his break, as the scene has finally caught up to his skill and now providing opportunity. Nick was first in the two weeks leaderboards on Jan 1st-16th and January 16th-February 1st. Currently, he is second for the Snider Cup but jockeys back and forth for first place every week and has qualified for the playoffs already. To add to his accomplishments, he also holds a current record of 32-0-1 for VS Online and has won close to $10,000 over his tenure when the scene hasn't dolled out much cash to begin with. He is the third player to be signed with STDx from an EA Sports franchise, as two players for Madden and 1 for FIFA also adorn their esports pro roster. The relationship between STDx and Nick isn’t as new as one might think. In previous years, he had applied to try and be a part of Call of Duty roster for the organization. While he heard nothing back from them, he didn’t give up on gaming and didn't give up on SetToDestroyX. When he approached them again, this year with the mention of being signed for NHL 18 and 19, he found out that SetToDestroyX had been keeping an eye on him over the last couple months.
Nick comes from Charlottetown, P.E.I., where it’s a small town living where everyone knows everyone and it’s hard to go places without seeing someone you know. As a Canadian, he was raised up around hockey, which is what attracted him to the NHL games in the first place. From age five to around eighteen, he played hockey. Knowing the experience on the actual ice may just be what gives him the advantage over other players in being able to strategize and envision the game. He’s excited for what the future holds and especially in esports. “This is what I’ve been working for. I can’t believe it’s actually happening.” Nick stated in an interview. “Charlie is awesome! His staff signs players that possess massive talent and play all over the world, but he values the person, the character and the personality over their skill first and foremost and that caught my interest.” Nick went on to explain how he has heard of SetToDestroyX in Canada over the last 2-3 years from their presence within the Canadian esports scene, to winning multiple major events at World Gaming, competing in Canadian events the last 3 years such as EGLX, LAN ETS, DreamHack's, Northern Arena and winning last years UMG COD event in Ontario. Nick had heard, read, watched and seen on TV the brand that has made huge waves on the home front but also internationally, and the team he wanted to play for going back all those years to his first application.
It was finally Nick's time to join the #DESTROYERS
Shortly after HeadShotPro's signing, SetToDestroyX continued its process and interest in several other top NHL eSports competitors and rounding out their vision. Joining Nick on the NHL 18 roster is Joshua 'Fearless' D'Eri, Tyler 'DaddyPadre' Stewart, Ryan 'Bouch' Bouchard, as well as Lucas 'DontBeSaad20' Kalish as the new DESTROYERS NHL Division Team Manager. While some of them are familiar with each other before the signing over years of competition, each has a very different background and role they play on and off the virtual ice. One thing that connects them all is their love for hockey.
Joshua is no stranger to games played on a field, both ice and grass. While he grew up playing hockey at a young age, he's always had a love for soccer and continues to play today. His greatest accomplishment on the grass field is winning the Ontario Cup with his soccer U-18 team. As with a lot of Canadians, he grew up watching professional hockey, specifically the Toronto Maple Leafs. His pride for playing in NHL esports as a Canadian runs deep. "Hockey is our national sport. I'm proud to be able to represent something that means so much to Canada." Joshua explained in an interview shortly after his signing. Unlike the rest of the roster, he plays on the PS4 platform and is looking forward to the finish of the Snider Cup, because few tournaments have been coming up for NHL esports.
Next on the team is Tyler. Having started skating around the age of three, Tyler started playing hockey at the age of four and has spent his whole life in the hockey scene. Aside from his passion for NHL esports, he is also the emergency backup goalie for the St. Louis Blues and also started in a professional game for the professional club. With experience on the ice, he's able to bring real time strategy to his gameplay and especially the defensive mindset. "Making money off a video game? I never thought that would be a thing for me." He replied in an interview. With the Snider Cup playoffs coming up, he's confident that he will succeed on the XBox One platform by making at least the top four.
Moving along, Bouch grew up with a special experience on the ice. Learning how to skate at the age of two, his first time skating was on the Nashville Predator's home ice. His dad was a video coach for the team, so he grew up around professional hockey in a close and personal way. Having seen first hand strategies and team plays, he also brings an advantage to navigating the NHL 18 competition. With the revival of NHL esports, he's excited to see what the future holds. "I'd like to see competitions lead towards sixes." He remarked. The competitive community is already chomping at the bit for the change. For them it adds a new element and level to the competition that already exists with a six versus six gameplay. Seeing how serious the community is about reviving NHL esports, he believes that, in the future, there is room for it to mature and improve, drawing in more people but could happen realistically for year 2. Whether 1v1, 3v3, 6v6 or whatever is utilized in the future, you can assure yourself that Bouch is prepared to play at the highest level.
Lastly, Lucas was brought on as the organizations new NHL Team Manager and though he doesn't have major LAN competitive esports experience himself, he's been an advocate and positive creator for the scene for many years. His passion led to him being voted to represent the community, along with others. Known as an EASports Game Changer, he gets flown out twice a year to give feedback on the game and has assisted and lead to several changes for the franchise. He's no stranger to the real hockey scene either. Though he only played until he was eleven, his brother played through highschool and his dad also played. For him, the opportunity to be able to manage a roster with these players is humbling. He's looking forward to seeing what they accomplish individually and as a group working together with SetToDestroyX. He stated, “This is probably the most powerful group now and will be for a long time.” The team being signed to a brand that has long time major sponsors and is known in esports market across a plethera of games, genres and platforms as a whole, provides a unique way for them to make waves in the marketplace as a unit. He believes this will spur other organizations in the coming weeks to sign players and teams before the big league even starts.
The real NHL league announced that they would be sponsoring the esports league for NHL 18. While no firm details are announced quite yet, it’s been released that they will reveal more before the actual NHL season ends. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote a article November 2017 which further fueled SetToDestroyX CEO, Charlie Watson on his man-hunt for the best NA NHL Esports player signings and set about the course of speaking with Nick Myers down the road and various other players. "From all the rumblings going back to the late summer when many NHL clubs spoke with prominent hockey streamers about the NHL, NHLPA and the possibility of esports; it was then that we began our search and research players in the game and more articles were popping up every other week about the NHL future endeavors in esports, such as SBNATION'S article and the new 2018 Snider Hockey Cup. By this time, it confirmed to us that we knew we were on the right track to execute our plan and strategy, get in early, sign the best talent and work with a professional young men.
The signing between this group and SetToDestroyX holds a long term future, as all sides have agreed to terms for the 2018 and 2019 calendar year and cohesively working together. Even though our team will enter into the fray at the beginning before much has been established and much is to be determined for the upcoming NHL Esports future, all parties are determined, eager and focused on being successful, winning everything in sight and lifting the "Stanley Cup of Esports."
// REFERENCES //
NHL 18 - EA Sports
Nick ‘HeadshotPro’ Twitter / Twitch
Joshua ‘Fearless’ Twitter / Twitch
Tyler ‘DaddyPadre’ Twitter / Twitch
‘Bouch' Twitter / Twitch
Lucas ‘DontBeSaad20’ Twitter / Twitch