Photo C/O McMaster Esports Club

By: Coby Zucker

In week one of the College League of Legends tournament, McMaster’s team was rated 11th overall by ESPN. That’s 11th out of 350 teams across North America.

“We didn't expect it to be that high,” said coach Pedro “Photograph” Ribeiro. “We knew that we had to make a name for ourselves because a lot of teams, typically when they see McMaster, they underestimate our ability just because a lot of these other schools on these rankings do have esports programs at their schools.”

Ribeiro and the team let the pressure fuel them throughout their strong 5-1 regular season performance, only dropping games in their set loss to York University. The hiccup in their otherwise dominant season meant they had to face off against the Rochester Institute of Technology in the first round, while other playoff teams were granted an automatic bye into the second round.

“It was a pretty thrilling series,” said Ribeiro. “I've never really been through something like that.”

The first game in the series against Rochester went Mac’s way in a fairly one-sided victory. In the next game, the team’s collective focus wavered, and Rochester snapped up a quick response to level the score at one game apiece.

Game three was a 42-minute slugfest that eventually went in the favour of Rochester. After the game, Mac put in their substitute Jungler in an effort to shake something loose. The result was an assertive win to put the series score at 2-2. More than four hours into the series, the last game of McMaster’s season began.

“I don't know how to describe that final game,” said Ribeiro. “It was just a really exceptionally played game by both sides, and it was a true skill match up. They were definitely on par with our abilities which, going into it, we didn't expect them to actually put up too much of a fight. But they really did give it their all.”

The early exit for the highly-touted squad was particularly difficult as a number of players and staff are graduating this year, including Ribeiro and the team’s Support player, Marty “Diminish” Kyorskis. Nonetheless, Ribeiro thinks that the remaining players will be back with a vengeance.

“That’s unfinished business,” said Ribeiro. “They want to avenge us next year. At least some of the guys, that's what they're saying. I know they're probably going to go hard and try to make up for the mistakes and get better.”

The season might be over, but Kyorskis still has much to be proud of at the end of his collegiate career. As a progenitor of the McMaster Esports club, Kyorskis was able to help start legitimizing competitive League of Legends and the rest of the esports scene at Mac. He feels that even more can be done in the coming years.

“I think [McMaster] is reluctant to support gaming, as they see themselves as more of an academic institution,” said Kyorskis. “They think that it's going to affect their image, for example. But as the sort of train departs the station, more schools will say, ‘Okay, we need to get on this because it's a big thing’. It is a thing. And we don't want to look like that school that's stuck in the past.”

Kyorskis would encourage anyone interested to take the same dive into the world of collegiate esports that he made in his first year at Mac.

“Work hard at it,” said Kyorskis. “It's not a walk in the park. It's a serious commitment. You're going to have to put in a lot of work and you're going to have to be able to balance your life around getting better at the game and surviving school, because naturally we don't want to give up academics in favour of playing the game. The potential is there because we've set up the structure. So work for it, earn it, and you can do it.”

So what’s next for Kyorskis and Ribeiro after they graduate? Kyorskis, as one of the best Support players in North America, seriously considered pursuing a career as a pro-gamer before deciding that it was not for him. Instead he is going to work on growing his Twitch.tv following to stay involved with the game.

Similarly, Ribeiro can see himself involved with pro or semi-pro League of Legends but feels that he will more likely keep up his competitive League of Legends presence by supporting the McMaster team as an alumnus.

 

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By: Saad Ejaz

Are Canadians more polite than Americans? A new study conducted by two McMaster researchers claims that there is some truth to the stereotype.

The study analyzed over three million geo-tagged tweets in Canada and the United States between February and October 2015. Removing words such as “a”, “the” and “to”, the researchers sorted the remaining words into word clouds, with the words that are more commonly used in the middle in larger text, while less commonly used words on the sides in smaller text.

Based on the word cloud, the most common words in Canada’s word cloud include “great”, “amazing”, “beautiful” and “favourite.” Other prevalent but less commonly used words include “awesome”, “nice”, “praise”, “congrats” and “enjoy.” There were no offensive or questionable terms in Canada’s word cloud.

Meanwhile, the American word cloud was the complete opposite. Negative words such as “hate”, “hell” and “damn” were favoured more by Americans, along with other profanities and racial slurs that have been blurred out in the graphic. Other less commonly and mildly negative words used include “tired”, “annoying”, “hurt”, “bored” and “dumb.”

The two Ph.D. candidates Daniel Schmidtke and Bryor Snefjella explained that their interest started with the question of border regions. “We thought that this was very interesting to study linguistically […] you have two places that are very close together and you have language differences at a border,” said Schmidtke.

The pair began their work by compiling a large amount of raw text and used different linguistics and computer science techniques to cut out words.

“Nicely, one reason we get such a nice crisp result is that this particular statistic we are using is good at both correcting the relative proportions — there are more Americans than Canadians — and helping with some of the tricky things such as word frequency distributions,” said Snefjella.

Schmidtke and Snefjella have both analyzed a number of different border regions. These include East and West Germany, Scotland and England, Netherlands and Belgium, the U.S. and Canada. They mentioned that they have not seen such a distinct difference in language as between the U.S. and Canada. “I think what’s most interesting is that we evaluated a number of different border regions … and you only see this divide in positivity in the language with Canada and the US in this particular way,” said Snefjella.

“You only see this divide in positivity in the language with Canada and the US.”

 

The study gained worldwide attention almost overnight, which was a huge surprise to Schmidtke and Snefjella. “I think it just seems to hit a nerve in general. I knew it would be of interest to people but not of such huge public interest,” said Schmidtke.

Schmidtke and Snefjella work in linguist Victor Kuperman’s lab and the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship at McMaster University.

By Simon Granat

 

Well, for political junkies, it’s that time of year. We’re now in the midst of the US Presidential election, not to mention another Federal Leadership election.

And as I write this, Obama and Romney are in their dressing rooms, preparing to square off head to head in the first of three US Presidential debates.

If you’re a political junkie like me, this is the equivalent of the Superbowl, only with less common fanfare. And just like the Superbowl, some of us Canadians are obsessed with large scale U.S. spectacles.

Presidential debates deserve attention since in the short span of an hour and a half, this event can seriously affect who will be the commander in chief of the world’s most powerful country. So as Canadians, it’s worthwhile to pay attention and to ask, what’s in it for us?

Barack Obama, the guy everyone knows and most Canadians love, is still the favourite. His economic policies favour “Buy American” and a shift to wean the country off of foreign oil producers. These two policies could pose as problematic for Canada. By buying American, the already battered Canadian manufacturing sector could see even greater reductions.And while there are numerous other factors at play, and while the U.S. will remain Canada’s trading partner, we need to look no further than Hamilton’s U.S. Steel to see the potential effects on our economy.

Likewise, any policy that affects foreign oil will undoubtedly affect Canada. Our economy is commodity based, and oil represents a large proportion of that sector of our economy. I’m not making a value judgement here, but this election will have an effect on any pipeline decisions the Harper government will make, especially if we ship our oil down south, or out west.

Romney’s election could, I think, prove dire. At the expense of regurgitating the Obama campaign’s messaging, it will lead us back to the old G.W. Bush economic policies that got us into a recession in the first place.

It’s worth noting that Obama still heavily favours private enterprise, and his economic policies could still be considered neoliberal trickle-down economics.

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