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Deadspin Dwyane Wade Asks Jimmy Butler To Kindly Wipe His Drool Off Gabrielle Union’s Instagram Phot

Deadspin Dwyane Wade Asks Jimmy Butler To Kindly Wipe His Drool Off Gabrielle Union’s Instagram Photos | Jezebel What Are We to Make of the Case of Scholar Avital Ronell? | The Root Crazy Rude Asian? Seemingly Drunk Porsche Employee Gets Fired for Running Black Folks Out of Atlanta Lounge | Splinter This Is What Class War Looks Like | The A.V. Club An open letter to Wright Way Rescue, home of the world’s best, most extra cat |

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Overwatch World Cup Match Grinds To A Halt When Game Crashes

The primary ingredients for a great Overwatch moment are a) a hotly contested match and b) a cheeky strategy the other team doesn’t see coming. During the fourth game of last night’s Overwatch World Cup match between South Korea and Finland, both these things happened. Then the game crashed.

This year’s Overwatch World Cup—in which teams made up of the best players from 24 nations compete until a winner is ultimately crowned at BlizzCon—has gotten off to a rocky start. Last night’s inaugural matches were poorly promoted, leading to repeated refrains of “wait, the World Cup has already started?” Maybe the lack of fanfare was for the best, given that the production was marred by sound issues, graphics that weren’t supposed to be on-screen, shaky casting, and worst of all, a glitch that stopped the most exciting match of the night dead in its tracks.

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South Korea and Finland are two of the most talent-heavy teams in the World Cup. Both include a plethora of Overwatch League standouts; South Korea—having won the previous (and only) two World Cups—has especially gone all-in, assembling a murderer’s row that includes five members of OWL team New York Excelsior as well as standouts from Los Angeles Valiant, Philadelphia Fusion, Seoul Dynasty, and London Spitfire. Last night’s match promised fireworks, and it delivered with exciting plays from both teams.

Coming into the match’s fourth game on Italian map Rialto, South Korea had a slight lead with two map wins to Finland’s one. Finland refused to bow to South Korea’s dynastic dominance, though. On offense, they completed the map with the help of an absolutely massive, team-wiping Zarya Graviton Surge-D.Va bomb combo from Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin and Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti. Then, on defense, they came out downright frisky, using a quad-tank composition to block South Korea’s spawn door with a big ol’ ball of meat. Spawn camping rarely happens in high-level pro Overwatch, so it was a surprising strategy, to say the least. The high-risk, high-reward plan seemed to be paying off, but then something weird happened.

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Finland’s Lucio suddenly found himself suspended in mid-air, and their Reinhardt started doing a moonwalk that can only be described as Jackson-esque—impressive for such a mountainous Goliath of a man. The game, it seemed, had frozen up.

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“Ooooookay,” said one of the commentators, taken by surprise just like everybody else.

“Welp, this might be a redo on this one!” said the other.

Then they seamlessly transitioned into talking about team compositions, because commentating over esports is a weird job.

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Initially, fans suspected a crash stemming from an unstable build of the game. A Blizzard producer and observer, however, set the record straight.

“Just to note this has nothing to do with client crashing for anyone. LAN just straight disconnected,” he said on Twitter. “In the past ~2.5 years of doing OW production, This has been the worst and most unfortunate crash I’ve been in.”

Nearly 30 minutes later, the game finally resumed. Amazingly, despite having shown their hand earlier, Finland rolled out with the exact same meat wall strategy. South Korea didn’t have much trouble crashing through it, given that they knew what was coming. Against all odds, a gritty Finland managed to brawl and stall South Korea at Rialto’s final point, taking the match to a fifth map. On Nepal, both Finland and South Korea won one round a piece, and the final round came right down to the wire, with South Korea’s sheer pressure eventually breaking free from Finland’s dual-sniper web.

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The match was contested on stage in South Korea, meaning that the team took home their first win of the World Cup in front of a hometown crowd. An extremely patient hometown crowd.

Vía https://kotaku.com/overwatch-world-cup-match-grinds-to-a-halt-when-game-cr-1828427354 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

The Weekend In Esports: Call Of Duty World Championship And More

Photo: Call of Duty World League (Instagram)

Stay inside, turn on the air conditioning and watch gamers pwn one another to your heart’s content over the weekend, because there are a crap ton of high profile esports tournaments going on.

Call of Duty: WWII

Call of Duty’s annual championship takes places this weekend in Columbus, Ohio at the Nationwide Arena. For those tired of the series’ double-jumping futuristic incarnations, this year’s $1.5 million event marks a return to the game’s less frenetic roots with WWII. That means even if you’re not the most astute CoD expert you’ll still probably be able to make sense of what’s going on.

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Last year’s winners, Optic Gaming, have already fallen during the event’s initial group stage earlier this week. Matches for the bracket stage, meanwhile, began earlier today at 12:00pm eastern and will go through 7:30pm. Saturday follows the same schedule with the eventual grand finals taking place at 4:30pm on Sunday. You can find a complete breakdown of the schedule and teams here, with all of the matches streaming live on Twitch and in the feed embedded below.

https://player.twitch.tv/?channel=callofduty

Rainbow Six: Siege

Ubisoft’s tactical shooter also has a tournament going on at the same time at the Paris Major this weekend. Competitive Rainbow Six always puts on a good show, in part because the asymmetric nature of the modes and maps means you get to see teams play interesting games of cat and mouse with one another.

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PENTA Esports, who won the Invitational back in February, has since been acquired by G2 Esports and is set to face off against Team Secret in the semifinals at 8:30am eastern on Saturday. The finals, meanwhile, are set to begin on Sunday at 11:00am. The tournament will be streaming live on on Twitch, where new details about the game’s upcoming season will no doubt be revealed as well.

Dota 2

At long last the 2018 International is here. Matches in the group stage began on Wednesday with a great showing by a number of teams. Almost all of the over 100 heroes in the game so far have been chosen at least once. The meta is looking extremely health and fun to watch, especially when it comes to teams like Evil Geniuses, who just seem to play like they don’t give a fuck. It’s been working though, with the team who struggled all throughout the lead-up to the annual tournament being the first to qualify for the double-elimination bracket stage in a distant first place among Group A. EG have a penchant for massive throws, but they look unstoppable at the moment.

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Matches are ongoing throughout Friday late into the night, with the final series of matches getting underway at 10:00pm eastern. Games then resume on Saturday at noon before taking Sunday off. Liquipedia has a complete list of all the matches and times, but you’ll have to sort out which Twitch Dota channel they’re streaming on for yourself.

League of Legends

It’s the last week of the NA LCS summer season this weekend as. Per usual, games start on Saturday at 5:00pm eastern when Team Liquid take on Echo Fox to try to hang on to the number one spot. Matches resume on Sunday at 3:00pm with Optic Gaming vs. 100 Thieves, followed by Counter Logic vs. Golden Warriors in a contest to see which will finish last in the league. The matches will be streaming live here, with a breakdown of the rest of the schedule over on League’s esports website.

Overwatch

24 countries are currently competing for eight spots in the Overwatch World Cup tournament at BlizzCon this fall, with the first round of matches having kicked-off yesterday and going into the weekend. Six teams in group one, currently led by Russia and South Korea, will battle it out to see who can claim the top two spots and make it to the main event.

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After a short pause in the action, Hong Kong will pick things back up against South Korea Friday night at 11:00pm eastern. The following slate of matches begins at 11:00pm on Saturday and concludes Sunday morning at 6:00am with Chinese Taipei vs. Finland. All of the matches can be streamed or watched after the fact on Twitch, with standings and the full schedule available at the Overwatch’s dedicated World Cup webpage.

Fortnite

It’s week six of Epic Games’ Summer Skirmish. Hopefully by now you know the drill. Games will be played this evening and then continue tomorrow at 1:00pm eastern. You can watch them all over at Fortnite’s Twitch channel.

Vía https://kotaku.com/the-weekend-in-esports-call-of-duty-world-championship-1828427773 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

Monster Hunter: World Could Be Weirder

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate comes to the Switch on the 28th. Yesterday, Paul and I streamed the demo and faced off against a massive Valstrax. It’s a sort of laser-shooting dragon that darts around like a fighter jet. As I wait for the full release, it occurs to me that Monster Hunter: World could learn a lot from the strange monsters in earlier games like Generations.

Monster Hunter: World has some pretty great beasts to battle, from the lava-swimming lavasioth to the dopey dodo Kulu-Ya-Ku, but stepping back to Generations feels like going from a serious nature show to a high-energy anime. Fighting Valstrax was a wake up call; the fight was as tough as it was packed with wild ideas. Valstrax is an elder dragon with laser cannons inside its wings. Those wings can expand in length and stab at you like massive knives or come curving down like a scythe. When Valstrax gets pissed off, it literally blasts off into the air and darts around before it blasts into hunters like a missile. Monster Hunter: World has elder dragons, but none as wild as this.

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More and more monsters have arrived after release, but Monster Hunter: World’s expanding roster is less about flair and more about mechanical experimentation. The pickle-shaped dinosaur Deviljho can feast on other monsters and grab them in its jaw, using them as impromptu weapons. The glittering Kulve Taroth requires a sessions full of players to cooperate if they want the best rewards. Lunastra teams up with its near-cousin Teostra to unleash massive firestorms. The Final Fantasy-based Behemoth transplants MMORPG boss fight sensibilities into Monster Hunter’s rigid frame. These are all good fights, but once you hit high ranks, your daily grind as a hunter doesn’t have many surprises. You usually fight one of the same handful of elder dragons—which are still enjoyable and dangerous hunts—and never really break out of that pattern.

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Monster Hunter Generations has some of these same problems; it’s not really a Monster Hunter game without grinding and repetition, after all. But the stable of monsters is full of extremely diverse opponents. Within the lowest ranked hunts alone you have the raptor-esque Velocidrome, the rock-chomping Tetsucabra, and the freaky hermit crab Daimyo Hermitaur. The latter monster is a giant crab hiding inside a fallen monster’s skull. One side is heavily armored while the other is fleshy and vulnerable. If it wants to, it can burrow into the sand and poke the skull’s horn out at you. There’s nothing comparable in Monster Hunter: World.

Some of this is due to cost. It’s easier to make a giant gold monster with the same skeleton and animations as another monster than it is to make, say, a massive dinosaur with a bladed tail and highly unique behaviors. But Monster Hunter: World’s taken big risks on the actual design of newer hunts, remixing what it means to fight a monster. Embracing some of the stranger designs of yesteryear, with all of their transforming limbs and gnarly specimen types, would grant the designers even more chances to apply their smart combat design chops.

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We have enough dragons and birds in Monster Hunter: World. Whatever comes next should be as bizarre as possible.

Vía https://kotaku.com/monster-hunter-world-could-be-weirder-1828426891 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

An open letter to Wright Way Rescue, home of the world’s best, most extra cat 

Screenshot: Wright Way Rescue/Facebook

Late on Wednesday night, the Wright Way Rescue in suburban Morton Grove, Illinois—a no-kill animal shelter and worthy cause to which you can donate here—posted an ad trying to help one of their cats, a seven-year-old named Bruno, get adopted. Bruno, as the ad states, is a little bit extra, preferring to drink water out of cups strategically placed around the house instead of a regular water bowl in the kitchen and only eating if you scratch him behind the ears (not his belly, he doesn’t like that) while he does it.

He also likes to stand on his hind legs, and is a polydactyl cat, meaning he has extra toes on his front paws. Combined, they give him the delightful air of a bodega owner in a Cuban shirt yelling at the kids congregating outside of his store, or Tony Soprano getting up in the middle of the night to eat cold cuts straight from the fridge:

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Bruno is an amazing, special, wonderful, chonky cat, and so he immediately became famous, with writeups on Vice and Buzzfeed as well as several productivity-sapping, giggle-inducing hours of conversation on the A.V. Club company Slack channels. But this isn’t about that—not entirely.

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See, Bruno’s viral fame meant that Wright Way was inundated with adoption applications from people who simply could not live without him, including one from this writer. And a little over an hour ago, Wright Way posted a followup showing Bruno surveying the many applications placed by eager adopters over the past 24 hours, with a caption that reads, “He requests you make your case or post a video plea in the comments. What kind of feather wands do you have? What country do you live in? The more EXTRA, the better.”

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Well, how’s hijacking a pop-culture website with the express purpose of shamelessly begging to adopt a virally famous cat for extra? I’ve had cats since I was a little girl, and have loved some gloriously extra cats in my time. I promise to love Bruno just as much, as well as continually needle the Onion graphics department to make Photoshops of him. HE STANDS ON HIS HIND LEGS, FOR PETE’S SAKE.

Call me, Wright Way. You have my application on file.

Vía https://news.avclub.com/an-open-letter-to-wright-way-rescue-home-of-the-worlds-1828426186 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

Three Rules The Makers Of Assassin’s Creed Origins Used To Design Quests

Assassin’s Creed Origins is an incomprehensibly large game, so packed with quests that most players will likely never see them all. If you do see them all, however, you may notice that they follow certain rules—rules that Ubisoft detailed pretty specifically while making the game.

Speaking on the AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook podcast in an interview published yesterday, Assassin’s Creed Origins director Ashraf Ismail explained that Ubisoft has a “hefty guideline document” for how to make quests in the game. Most Ubisoft games are made not just in a single main studio but across several of their offices worldwide, so this kind of documentation was important, Ismail said. “It had to be formalized in a way that we can give it to, let’s say, our studios in Singapore, and Sofia, and there were clear guidelines, and we don’t have to keep repeating those messages,” he told the podcast’s host, Insomniac CEO Ted Price.

Here are a few of the guidelines he brought up:

1) The distance that a quest can take you is capped off depending what the quest is. If it’s what Ismail called a “bread crumb quest,” likely referring to a quest that steers you to a new point of interest, it can take you within 1,000 meters of the quest-giver. “If it’s part of a hub,” he said, “then you have to stay within the bounds of 500.”

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“So these are very technical constraints,” Ismail said. “It was really structuring the way we imagined players would spend time in part of the world.”

2) Only one “eradicate” quest is allowed per hub. Those are the ones where you have to take out all of the bandits or guards in one specific location. “That was to not have it be super frustrating that you’re just non-stop attacking,” Ismail said.

3) There can only be one “funny” quest in every zone. “No more than one,” Ismail said.

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The whole interview is fascinating, and worth your time—Ismail is an interesting guy with a lot of cool insights on Assassin’s Creed Origins, and he made some salient points about the power of limits like these.

“Having a programming background, I love constraints,” he said. “If you give me a white piece of paper, I’m going to get lost, I’m going to be flying around everywhere. If you give me boundaries, I always feel like, ‘OK, I have nowhere to go but deep.’ For me, constraints are an aspect of design, a valuable thing.”

Vía https://kotaku.com/three-rules-the-makers-of-assassins-creed-origins-used-1828425785 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

You Can Now Preorder The Nintendo Switch/Mario Tennis Aces/1-2 Switch Bundle at Walmart

With few exceptions, Nintendo Switch console discounts aren’t really a thing. Right now, Walmart is taking preorders on the new Nintendo bundle of the Switch, plus Mario Tennis Aces and 1-2 Switch games, f0r $359. You’re basically getting one of the two games for free at that price.


Vía https://kinjadeals.theinventory.com/you-can-now-preorder-the-nintendo-switch-mario-tennis-a-1828424882 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

The weekend is for finally making that pasta dish you spent all week planning to make but then kept ordering delicious takeout instead. Also, video games.

I don’t have a lot of free time this weekend, but my friends have been bugging me to play some Overwatch with them. I have, in return, been bugging them to play Fortnite with me because it’s way more fun with buddies. Will I do all those things, or will I just wander around The Witcher 3? I guess we’ll find out!

What about you? What are you playing?

Vía https://kotaku.com/what-are-you-playing-this-weekend-1828424887 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

The weekend is for finally making that pasta dish you spent all week planning to make but then kept ordering delicious takeout instead. Also, video games.

I don’t have a lot of free time this weekend, but my friends have been bugging me to play some Overwatch with them. I have, in return, been bugging them to play Fortnite with me because it’s way more fun with buddies. Will I do all those things, or will I just wander around The Witcher 3? I guess we’ll find out!

What about you? What are you playing?

Vía https://kotaku.com/what-are-you-playing-this-weekend-1828424887 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

The weekend is for finally making that pasta dish you spent all week planning to make but then kept ordering delicious takeout instead. Also, video games.

I don’t have a lot of free time this weekend, but my friends have been bugging me to play some Overwatch with them. I have, in return, been bugging them to play Fortnite with me because it’s way more fun with buddies. Will I do all those things, or will I just wander around The Witcher 3? I guess we’ll find out!

What about you? What are you playing?

Vía https://kotaku.com/what-are-you-playing-this-weekend-1828424887 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

The weekend is for finally making that pasta dish you spent all week planning to make but then kept ordering delicious takeout instead. Also, video games.

I don’t have a lot of free time this weekend, but my friends have been bugging me to play some Overwatch with them. I have, in return, been bugging them to play Fortnite with me because it’s way more fun with buddies. Will I do all those things, or will I just wander around The Witcher 3? I guess we’ll find out!

What about you? What are you playing?

Vía https://kotaku.com/what-are-you-playing-this-weekend-1828424887 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

The weekend is for finally making that pasta dish you spent all week planning to make but then kept ordering delicious takeout instead. Also, video games.

I don’t have a lot of free time this weekend, but my friends have been bugging me to play some Overwatch with them. I have, in return, been bugging them to play Fortnite with me because it’s way more fun with buddies. Will I do all those things, or will I just wander around The Witcher 3? I guess we’ll find out!

What about you? What are you playing?

Vía https://kotaku.com/what-are-you-playing-this-weekend-1828424887 ʕ ᴖᴥᴖʔ Subscribe to me here on Youtube!

How People Become Part of a NASCAR Pit Crew 

When a NASCAR pit crew swarms a car, it may look like they’ve been servicing cars all their lives. But many of them are actually athletes trained to do a mechanic’s job, and as Jalopnik found after reaching out to NASCAR’s top race teams, most never expected to find themselves there in the first place.

A couple of decades ago, race teams used to try to turn mechanics into crew members, as NASCAR Drive for Diversity pit-crew coach Phil Horton told Jalopnik over the phone. That meant teaching mechanics the physical side of pitting a car, since they already knew the rest.

These days, most crew training is the other way around.

“Even after we took them through the physical process, [the mechanics] were not performers,” Horton said. “That’s another reason we got the athletes. They knew how to perform, and they knew what was expected of them when they performed or if they didn’t perform.”

At its heart, working a pit crew is an athletic job. At NASCAR’s highest levels, crews send five people per team to jump over the pit wall to service a car. Two are tire changers, who run to one side of the car and take a wheel’s five lug nuts off before putting a new wheel on. Those changers have people carrying the tires to and from the car, and one carrier also jacks the car up on each side. The fifth person, the fueler, puts up to two 90-pound cans of gas in the car.

Before NASCAR moved to mandated pit equipment this season, which slowed teams down by a second or two, a top-level Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team could get everything done in all of 11 seconds.

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A clip of Jimmie Johnson’s crew pitting his car back when six members went over the wall. NASCAR changed regulations for 2018, downsizing over-the-wall crews to five.
GIF: NASCAR (YouTube)

Even still, it takes years to be able to pit a car in that kind of time. Horton told Jalopnik that athletes take about three to four years to move into the Cup Series if they’re going to make it at all.

The Cup Series pit crew on Alex Bowman’s No. 88 car.
Photo: Brian Lawdermilk (Getty Images)

“You can work on the Cup level in your first year, but to work on the Cup level full time, it takes about three years minimum,” Horton said. “That’s for everybody.”

As a job, becoming part of a pit crew isn’t easy. It’s not easy to learn, it’s not easy on the body, and it’s a career risk if a person trains and still isn’t fast enough. That makes it surprising to see how many of NASCAR’s top crew members never thought they would come to NASCAR, and didn’t have stock-car dreams—it was all a surprise for them, too.

Less of a shock, then, is that there are recruiting programs for pit crews, both through individual race teams and through through NASCAR itself, like the Drive for Diversity one Horton coaches. Not every pit crew member comes through the pipeline that way, but as Jalopnik found in our research, most come in with some kind of athletic background.

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Jalopnik asked all of the Cup Series teams in the top 22 in the standings earlier this year for information on the backgrounds of their crew members, and heard back from about half. That gave us information on 33 crew members in all, or about a third of the people who make up those top 22 Cup Series teams.

Amongst those 33 crew members, more than half did college athletics and another 21 percent did amateur, semi-pro, Olympic or professional sports. Together, nearly three-fourths of the group came from some kind of serious sporting background outside of racing. Only 6 percent had racing backgrounds, and only 6 percent were listed with no athletic background at all.

Graphic: Alanis King (Jalopnik)

Of the group, tire changers came from the biggest mix of athletic backgrounds, but that doesn’t mean much here—sample sizes were low when broken down by crew position, with information on only five fuelers, 14 tire changers, nine jack handlers and four tire carriers sent along.

Graphic: Alanis King (Jalopnik)

(All 33 crew members whose information was sent over to Jalopnik were men. Female tire changers Brehanna Daniels and Breanna O’Leary have pitted in the Cup Series this year, but weren’t included in this chart because they’re not full-time members at any of the teams Jalopnik surveyed for it.)

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Of those 33 people—who weren’t all from sporting backgrounds, remember—more than a fifth of them were scouted or recruited into pit-crew training. That was done either by NASCAR, its diversity program or by teams. Nearly a fifth knew somebody who knew about the opportunity to be on a crew, and about 15 percent had a career goal to be in racing.

A small percentage of the crew members surveyed just happened to live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area where most NASCAR teams are based.

Graphic: Alanis King (Jalopnik)

Terry Spalding, who changes tires for Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series on Austin Dillon’s No. 3 car, saw a race on television one Sunday in the 1990s and noticed the crews. He decided he wanted in, and headed off that very week to ask race teams for a chance. He eventually got a team to let him work for free, and quit his job to work there.

“I played football and baseball in college, but it didn’t ever go past college,” said Spalding, who accidentally agreed to work free 90-hour weeks. He did that for three months before getting a paying job there, going through his savings to the point that he wasn’t sure what he’d do if he had to go another month. “I’ve always loved sports and been competitive, and I thought, ‘Maybe there’s one sport I can still do.’

“After I got done with work and everything, I would drive down to the Charlotte area and start trying to talk to teams and get one to hire me. I went during the week and on the weekends some. I think I talked to every race team without any experience or really knowing anyone.”

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It all worked out, eventually.

Austin Dillon’s No. 3 team pitting his car during qualifying for the Cup Series’ All-Star race.
Photo: Sean Gardner (Getty Images)

A minister who worked for Richard Childress Racing and frequently watched basketball games at Derrell Edwards’ university went up to him after a game once and told him he should look into NASCAR, saying he’d be a strong leader on a crew. Edwards, who’s now a Cup Series jack handler for Richard Childress Racing on Dillon’s No. 3 team, brushed it off at first.

He warmed up to the idea when the reality of professional basketball settled in.

“Being a typical collegiate athlete, I was like ‘Nah, man, I think I’m going to go pro—at least go play overseas or something like that,’” said Edwards, who won his first Daytona 500 on a crew this year. “Come my senior year, I realized it’s pretty hard to make the NBA or go play overseas.”

Brehanna Daniels waiting behind pit wall during the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in April 2018.
Photo: Alanis King (Jalopnik)

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Brehanna Daniels, the first black woman on an over-the-wall crew in one of NASCAR’s national touring series, was in the same boat—a college basketball player who tried another career thanks to a by-chance encounter.

Most crew members are like Spalding, Edwards and Daniels—they come into it with an athletic background, whether by recruiting ladders through NASCAR, outreach by race teams or by an athlete’s research into other sports. A lot of athletes come into racing without much experience in it, but as Horton said, “the physical side takes care of itself” with athletes. It’s about taking that athleticism and putting it toward a new task.

Like Horton, Spalding’s been in racing for years—more than 20. His approach when he first got a job on a team would have security escorting him out of a building for trespassing these days.

Cup Series pit road at Sonoma Raceway in June of 2018.
Photo: Jonathan Ferrey (Getty Images)

Spalding worked for a company that did industrial maintenance in South Carolina in the 1990s, but his trips to Charlotte to try to find a job on team didn’t go so well. Once every team he’d knocked on the doors of had turned him away, he gave one more team a shot.

That team did the same thing.

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“I kind of knew [NASCAR driver] Jimmy Spencer,” Spalding said. “I’m from Pennsylvania and he’s from up that way, so I thought I’d use that. I walked into his shop, and his niece, I think, wouldn’t even let me past the front door.

“I was driving away and behind his race shop, there’s a farm and a big field. I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to give this one last big shot before I give up.’ I parked, walked across the field, hopped over a fence and just walked in the back of his shop. I was in there for all of about 30 seconds and one of the guys came over and said, ‘Can I help you?’”

Daniels didn’t find NASCAR on her own like Spalding, and instead got recruited through the Drive for Diversity program when she was about a month away from graduating from college. An athletic advisor at her school told her about a pit-crew tryout, and her immediate response was, “What? What makes you think I like NASCAR?”

But Daniels went to the tryout, and was one of just a few people who qualified to train with Drive for Diversity after the program went to colleges around the U.S. looking for potential crew members. She trained as a tire changer from the start, when program’s coach, Horton, told her that’s what she’d be fit to do.

“Really, he just looked at my height and was like, ‘You would be a tire changer. You’re short,’” Daniels said.

The pit crew on Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Cup Series car.
Photo: Brian Lawdermilk (Getty Images)

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Daniels did the program’s standard six-month training before her first race in the ARCA Racing Series, a series that slots in a few steps under NASCAR’s third-tier Camping World Truck Series and was recently acquired by NASCAR.

After six months with the diversity program, Horton said athletes like Daniels get sent to either booking agencies to be booked out to teams, or to individual race teams. But some teams have their own development programs, like the one Edwards inadvertently started at Richard Childress Racing.

“I didn’t necessarily do a training, because RCR didn’t have a development program at the time,” said Edwards, who interned for the team before getting called to come back after graduation. “To be honest, I was the first to ever kind of ‘develop’ there, and they started reaching out to other people from then on.”

Edwards, Spalding and Daniels all got their training in different ways, with Edwards easing himself into it during the internship. He did “the nitty gritty stuff for no pay,” like cleaning tires, to show the team how much he wanted to be there, and said he practiced jacking the car up and hanging a tire “here and there” to try out every position on a crew.

“I just got good at it really quickly,” said Edwards, who just had to go through a simply agility test once the team decided to start training him officially. “I was picking it up really fast.”

Austin Dillon’s pit crew at Auto Club Speedway in March of 2018.
Photo: Jonathan Moore (Getty Images)

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Spalding did a similar thing. He said the pit crew on Spencer’s crew practiced outside in the evenings, and it took him less than a week to start staying around with them. Daniels had a more formal education on changing tires through the diversity program, but that didn’t mean it was easy.

“I [was] like, ‘Man, what if this isn’t for me? I don’t know how to do this,’” Daniels said. “I was icing my hands every night. But Coach Horton told me to be patient—this is not stick and ball, I don’t have a basketball anymore. I have an impact wrench.”

Horton said even athlete hands aren’t conditioned to change tires like Daniels and Spalding do. It takes a lot of reps, he said, in addition to just learning how to use the tools—like slamming a pit gun against a wheel to get lug nuts off.

The pit crew on Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Cup Series car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July of 2018.
Photo: Brian Lawdermilk (Getty Images)

“One of the things about hitting lug nuts is you have to hit those things hard,” Horton said. “There’s a lot of wear and tear on the hand, a lot of wear and tear on the knees, a lot of wear and tear on the back.

“You have to get used to that. Plus, when you start doing it correctly, it doesn’t hurt as badly.”

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Daniels got through that and now gets contracted out through a pit school, which puts her on various teams during a race weekend including her first top-level Cup Series start in July. Spalding finally got to pit a race when Spencer’s team decided it was just easier to have him do it than someone else.

“They didn’t have [a front tire changer] there in the shop, so they contracted someone to come from another team to change front tires for Jimmy,” Spalding said. “It took me probably seven to nine months before they said, ‘You know, instead of contracting this person, we’ll just put you on the front of the car and let you start changing tires.’”

Spalding’s done that ever since, and is still in NASCAR’s Cup Series at 50 years old. He said he’s hit lug nuts “almost every week for 23 years,” and that he’s been fortunate to stay in the sport this long.

“I’ve seen a lot of people have shoulder surgeries, knees and backs,” Spalding said. “I haven’t had to have any surgeries, I’ve never missed a race for injuries or anything.

“When I was younger, I trained pretty hard in the gym. Once I got over 40, I cut back quite a bit working out in the gym and I do a lot of sports. I almost feel like if I ever slow down and stop, that’s when my joints are going to go. But if I keep pushing them, they’ll say, ‘Well, OK, gotta keep going.’”

Ryan Blaney’s Cup Series crew at Pocono Raceway in June.
Photo: Jeff Zelevansky (Getty Images)

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Edwards said he got a chance at a second-tier Xfinity Series car in 2015, and that the person whose spot he filled ended up quitting. Richard Childress Racing put him on a Cup Series car in 2017, three years after he finished college.

“It was kind of like a blessing in disguise that he quit and recommended me to everybody,” Edwards said. “I was on Brendan Gaughan’s car for the rest of the year. It worked out perfectly. That’s how I’ve learned that timing is everything in NASCAR.”

Aside from the timing, each took a risk getting into NASCAR. Spalding left a job, Edwards and Daniels left sports they’d practiced for years—all for something they’d never done before.

“I knew it was a risk,” Edwards said. “But I thought it was a risk that was more in my favor, honestly. Being African American, I knew that it was slim. I’ve never had anybody talk about NASCAR or anything like that, so I knew that I could potentially go do something that someone has never done before.”

Daniels was thinking about playing basketball overseas or going to grad school, but that her “life took a left turn, literally,” when the tryout happened.

“Just because I wanted to try something new,” Daniels said. “That’s why you don’t put yourself in a box, you know? You have to be willing to do anything, try new things, because you never know what doors it can open up for you.”

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Photo: Robert Laberge (Getty Images)

For Edwards, Daniels and probably many more, it opened up some doors to make history.

“Four years ago, I would’ve never thought I was going to be a Daytona 500 champion, let alone the first African-American pit-crew member to do it,” Edwards said. “That was pretty special to me, and that’s why I do these things.

“Before I even got into NASCAR, I won a bunch of championships—high school, junior college and Division I—playing basketball. So, I’ve been winning, it just felt good to cap it off with RCR and with the Daytona 500.”

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PUBG’s Throwback Mode Is A Reminder Of What Made It Great

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds keeps on expanding, adding new guns and maps that change the game’s pace into something faster than before. The game now has new rules for armor loot drops and tweaks to the dreaded blue zone. PUBG’s latest event mode, ‘Early Access Memories,’ brings back many of the game’s rough edges. Playing it reminded me why I fell in love with the game in the first place.

Early Access Memories limits players to the game’s original map, Erangel, and brings back some older rules that slow the game down, if only a little. High class armor can be found in the world, loot drops sometimes have Tommy Guns and Kar98s, and newer vehicles don’t spawn. It’s a nice way to look back on how far the game’s gone.

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As the battle royale market expands, PUBG has struggled to find its identity. Fornite Battle Royale’s strange meta-stories and wacky weapons have cemented it as the genre’s top dog, while games like Realm Royale experiment with crafting and other mechanics that alter battle dynamics. I enjoy playing those games and embrace their colorful sense of play, but nothing’s ever quite grabbed me the way PUBG did. As the game has developed, it’s gotten faster and altered how gear is handled. Getting to play Early Access Memories helped me appreciate how dangerous PUBG felt when I first played it. It might not have the clearest identity besides being the first big battle royale, but it remains one of the most methodical and deliberate.

Early Access Memories’ rule tweaks aren’t as dramatic as the massive War mode or gear-heavy flare gun events, but even its small changes can have large effects on the battlefield. Having level three armor armor and helmets available in the wild again emphasizes looting and exploration, which I appreciate. It also makes it even more crucial to scout out your enemies before attacking. This arrests the pace of the game ever so slightly; you watch your shots more and move more carefully if you see that your opponents have more defense. Limiting the matches to the original forest map of Erangel avoids the problems of Miramar’s empty spaces, and it limits engagements compared to the newer, smaller map of Sanhok. I enjoy how aggressive Sanhok can feel, but I fell in love with PUBG while lurking in Erangel’s bigger forests.

Events like the team deathmatch War mode are fun, but faster than normal play.

The core experience of PUBG incentives a sort of leapfrogging from position to position that is punctuated by ambushes. In the older days, those engagements happened across longer ranges. A plethora of high-grade scopes and straight-shooting weapons meant that you could get sniped by the most basic of rifles, from the greatest of ranges. Early Access Memories doesn’t go so far as to roll back weapon balance, and so it misses out on a greater opportunity to affect how the combat feels. Some of the edges are back—the blue zone’s damage doesn’t scale based on your distance from the playzone—but the developers hold back from the messy feeling that those early weapons had. I’d love to see a revamped version of the mode that changes ballistics and brings back earlier weapon dominances.

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For me, PUBG’s initial charm was its chaos. The game’s stability has gone up and down since its early days, but it’s largely trended upwards and gotten more reliable and predictable. Early Access Memories isn’t the most exciting event, but it does invoke the feeling of old-school PUBG. It’s not as dramatic as having armor cars fall from the sky, but it embraces the honest and tactical gameplay that helped make the game great.

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Buy Six Months of Xbox Game Pass, Get Three Months For Free, Even If You’re Already a Subscriber

6 Months Xbox Game Pass + 3 Month Bonus | $60 | Amazon
Graphic: Amazon

With Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft basically created the Netflix of video games, and it’s a great deal at its usual $10 per month. But for a limited time, you can get a three bonus months when you buy a six month membership for $60. Xbox Game Pass grants you access to new releases like State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves, as well as classics like KOTOR and all of the Gear of War games. Even Fallout 4 is included now!

Just make sure you see the bonus months in the “special offers and product promotions” section of the product page.


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Court Blocks Maker Of GTA Online Cheating Programs From Selling Them

Image: Take Two (Grand Theft Auto V)

Yesterday, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction against a man distributing cheating software for Grand Theft Auto V. In other words, he’s prohibited from making or selling any more cheat programs for the game until the court can definitively sort out whether he broke the law.

The injunction was the latest development in an ongoing lawsuit that started in March between GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive, and David Zipperer, who the company claims has threatened “irreparable harm” to its games and business by creating cheating programs that allow players to bank endless money in GTA V’s online mode. The publisher has accused Zipperer of copyright infringement by way of copying the game to his computer in order to create a cheat program, and that the cheat program is a derivative work as a result. The suit also alleges he breached the terms of GTA V’s User Agreement and encouraged other players to do the same by selling the cheat programs, and Take-Two is seeking to recover a minimum of $500,000 in damages as a result.

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Zipperer, meanwhile, has countered in part that since his cheating software is a separate program, it doesn’t count as copyright infringement. Zipperer’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for comment.

However, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton found Take-Two’s claims credible enough to grant a preliminary injunction against any further distribution of the software. According to the opinion released by the court yesterday, he did so based primarily on the fact that Zipperer hadn’t attempted to rebut Take-Two’s claims that he had been selling a program enabling other players to hack GTA Online.

Zipperer’s run-in with Take-Two began last summer over a program called “Menyoo” that was sold for $10, essentially a mod for GTA V that lets players use money-making exploits while playing in the game’s online world against other people. Take-Two sells these in-game bucks for real world cash, so cheating programs like these, in addition to making the playing field uneven, also cut into GTA’s profit margins, according to the publisher.

Cease and desist orders from Take-Two in June of 2017 were enough to get Zipperer to close down the websites through which Menyoo was being distributed. After which, he said he’d donate the earnings to charity. In its original complaint filed on March 23 of this year, Take-Two said that it was forced to pursue further legal action after Zipperer broke off communication with the publisher and allegedly began distributing a second program that did the same thing called Absolute, which Take-Two says he was selling for between $20 and $40.

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“While Mr. Zipperer originally appeared cooperative and disabled access to the Menyoo program, it recently has come to Take-Two’s attention that Mr. Zipperer distributed a new cheating program titled Absolute,” the company wrote in its complaint. “Take-Two demanded on multiple occasions that Mr. Zipperer cease his willful and infringing conduct. Mr. Zipperer has refused to comply. Upon information and belief, Mr. Zipperer continues to infringe Take-Two’s rights.”

Zipperer had claimed the injunction was unnecessary because he’s no longer distributing the cheating program or profiting off of it. He’s also argued that the venue for the case should be changed to Georgia where he lives, but Judge Stanton denied this request as well, citing language in GTA V’s User Agreement allowing Take-Two to have the matter settled in New York. Zipperer claimed that resolving the case in the Southern District would be, in Stanton’s words, “unreasonable and unjust,” because Zipperer hadn’t ever read that part of the User Agreement, had a ninth grade education, and insufficient funds to pay for ongoing legal action in a state nearly 1,000 miles away. The judge didn’t find these arguments persuasive though, saying they were insufficient to warrant overriding the terms he technically agreed to first start playing the game. Take-Two also disputes that Zipperer is poor, citing PayPal records submitted to the court but which have not been made public which allegedly show over 1,000 transactions.

“Take-Two is committed to protecting our multiplayer community from harassment and other disruptions to their shared entertainment experiences,” a spokesperson for the company told Kotaku in an email. “We can and will continue to take legal action against those who interfere with the multiplayer environment enjoyed by our audiences.”

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Since it was released in 2013, GTA V has gone on to be Take-Two’s most successful game of all time, in large part because of its online mode, which continues to get new updates even five years later. Last August, shortly after the company had sent Zipperer and other GTA modders cease and desist orders, it made $418 million in in net revenue from the game in just the previous three months alone.

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