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    Background Contest #2 - For Real this Time!

    eezstreet
    By eezstreet,

    Posted Image


    Hello everyone. The staff has been a bit busy and unfortunately our new background contest fell to the limelight. We regret the mistakes that were made with this background contest, so we are now officially reviving it! Here are the details of this contest:


    "After the recent success of the JKHub Holiday Competition, and much staff discussion, we have started a new competition. This time, it will be something a little bit different. Instead of focusing on something designed with the game in mind, we will be focusing on screenshots. Originally, JKHub used a picture of the level t1_fatal. We hosted a screenshot competition in 2014, two years after JKHub was opened to the public, and the current background is the winner of this competition.

    Fast forward to today. JKHub is turning four years old this year, and we haven't had a background change in several years. We need something new to keep the site fresh. So, we are announcing our second official Background Contest. The winning entry of this contest will become the new background for JKHub. Here are the official rules of this competition:
    • The art must be submitted by May 25th, 2016. Winners will be determined over a week-long voting period.
    • Winners will be determined via a voting system similar to the Holiday Competition.
    • Artwork must be a minimum of 1900x1200 pixels in size. The larger, the better! Ideally, your work should look good on all resolutions.
    • Screenshots must depict content which is only available in the base game, or official Raven Map Packs. Hand-made artwork / concept art is also acceptable.
    • Screenshots may be of content in JK2 or JKA only. Submitted artwork must be related to JK in some way.
    • You may submit up to 3 pieces of content for this competition.
    But you may be wondering, why would we hold a competition to change a part of the website, when the prospect of a JKHub 2.0 is looming? In truth, it will take a while to develop JKHub 2.0, even after the software we need becomes available. In the meantime, some small improvements to the website and minor changes, such as the background, will be enough to keep the site fresh while we all wait for JKHub 2.0. More details and information about JKHub 2.0 will be given as we learn more. We are constantly tweaking the website, and continue to evaluate new options to engage the community, in order to bring everyone together."

    This time around, the submissions will be taken from replies to this topic. The other topics will be locked.

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    #nL.Cube: Introduction

    Ping
    By Ping,

    The Best Saberists of All Time


    #nL.Cube


    Part 1: Introduction



    What makes for a good player? I must be more precise, since not all forms of play will concern us in this article. The question should rather be: What makes for a good saberist? If the various saber-only gametypes provide realms of competition where multiple players face each other in a race for points, then surely someone who is good at competing within those formats can be considered a good saberist. But then what does it mean to be good at competing within those formats? At first, it may seem that there is nothing more to it than winning a lot of games because the one who gets the most points at the end of a game inevitably wins the game - and that is certainly true. However, even if we say that winning a lot of games is that which makes a saberist a good one, the question that was posed at the start still remains open: How do you win a lot of games? In short: What makes for a good saberist?

    This question can be answered by considering a very related one: Who is #nL.Cube?

    Introduction

    Cube is a Polish staffer from the team no.Limits. However, he is not just any staffer, he is THE staffer. Let us take a step back and consider that throughout the history of competitive JKA, Polish players have been widely known for their excellence in fighting with the staff. It is true that there have been many notable staffers that were not Polish and that the Poles yielded many world-class single saberists as well (e.g. Wonder or Mariachi), but if you played on a base server in pre-2010 JKA and your opponent was Polish, chances were he would pick staff as his weapon of choice.

    Polish staff was feared for its aggressive efficiency. Whereas early competitive staff play mostly revolved around using staff as a faster yellow stance, patiently looking for openings, taking one's time in exploiting weaknesses in the enemy's attack patterns, switching to yellow stance now and then to bait the opponent into doing the same for the sake of meeting his yellow stance with a flurry of staff swings, most Polish staffers played differently. They were aggressive to the point of recklessness, facing the enemy's swings head on, pressuring relentlessly, forcing jumps, forcing mistakes.

    Cube was not just any Polish staffer. He was the Polish staffer par excellence. He embodied everything that made the Polish way of using the staff so distinct and recognizable - but not only that; he perfected it, brought it to new heights. He epitomized the style. There was little that Cube added to it; no new teachings, no radical changes in play, no introduction of new ways of thinking of the staff as a weapon. There was only plain, cold perfection of an otherwise established way of playing. And that was what made Cube one of the most remarkable players of JKA.

    Playstyle and Innovations

    It is one thing to use a certain style of play and be successful at it; maybe even have a distinctly unique style that is easily recognizable. Again, there are many excellent Polish staffers playing on the servers even to this day. It is quite another thing to be by far the most competitively successful player utilizing a given style. It is very difficult to point out exactly why Cube was so much better than any of the other players that used the same style of staffing. The source of his mastery is almost mysterious - he is just that little bit faster, that little bit more precise and more dexterious than all the others, and that is what makes all the difference. It is not a difference in kind - after all, many people played the same way as Cube did. It is a difference in quality.

    As is typical of Polish staffing, Cube was extremely aggressive in his play. Whenever he played 1v1, the opponent was immediately on the defensive. Cube did not wait for you to show an opening, he created openings through sheer force of will. His playstyle was that of a large wave powering through any structures his opponents might try to raise against him. Cube was everywhere at once: at each point in time close enough to bridge the gap between you and his lightsaber and at the same time far away for you to have no chance of hitting him.

    His complete mastery of the delayed staff swing bordered on the inexplicable. Nobody could execute it as well and as precisely as he did. This in turn allowed him to break through many saber blocks with ease and also made sure that whenever he were to land a hit, his opponent would take grave damage - oftentimes being killed in a single swipe. It made him fast and extremely effective.

    A good illustration of all of that can be found in his 1v1 matches against some of Ozone's top players: o³Dark and o³Osiris. Consider that although Dark was not known to be a player who competed a lot in the 1v1 matchup, he was certainly one of the best player in all of JKA, and given that it was Osiris who remained Ozone's best and most successful duelist for the entire duration of the team's existence, Cube's decisive victories against both of them only serves to highlight the staffer's prowess.

     


     

    However, Cube was not just a dominant force in 1v1. There are those who specialize on team matchups and do not excel as duelists or have no intention of playing 1v1; and then there are those who excel at dueling but whose capabilities do not transition very well into various team match ups. Cube was neither, because he was both a fantastic duelist and a great team player. Whenever he was in form, which he almost always was, he could pull off such amazing stunts like scoring 8 frags within a timeframe of two minutes against a team like p3G that was back then made up almost entirely of world-class ex-aXiom players.

    It is therefore not a surprise that Cube was both a significant addition to his team as a player and a successful leader of team NoLimits as well as the Polish national team of 2006. Most notably, he would be the driving force behind his close acquantaince's and long-time 2v2 partner S3chT's development from a fairly mediocre single saberist into a world-class staffer, one that only Cube himself would surpass. Having to face one of them was a great challenge on its own, but having to face both of them at once was a sheer nightmare. Thus it came to be that the 2v2 team comprising Cube and S3chT would end up as one of the most excellent and successful 2v2 teams in the history of the ESL.

    Achievements

    Cube's legacy is a powerful one. If we abstract from his contributions to the art of staffing and the role he played as a captain of various top teams and merely consider the sheer amount of success he has had as a saberist, it should come as no surprise that I consider him one of the best players of all time.

    A few months into joining the ESL International 1v1 ladder, he was placed consistently in the top5, spanning a time of over 3 years -
    and given that in 2004-2007 the competition was much more fierce than it would be ever again, because the game was still very young and contained far more talent than it would ever do again, remaining consistently in the top5 for almost the entire duration of JKA's prime is on its own a feat worthy of praise. But that was not all. Ever since a certain player who in this article shall not be named stopped hogging the first spot on the international ESL ladder, Cube immediately ascended to occupy #1 for almost the entirety of 2006.

    XqZWmxO.png

    In comparison to other top players of his time, Cube maintained a positive record of 2-1 against o³Osiris, 3-1 against Hell Raiser and 3-3 against Warhammer. He eventually reached 1626 points on the ladder in early 2007, a score that would take Warhammer almost two years to beat and that Hell Raiser never managed to break.

    His famous 2v2 team with S3chT boasted similar success, being active for the most part of 2006 and leaving the ladders with a record of 39 wins to 7 losses. On top of all that, Cube pretty much dominated the Polish 1v1 ladder ever since it was opened in January 2005.

    OQacY5y.png

    He was immediately placed #1 and remained on the spot for almost the entire duration of his stay, being eclipsed only thrice, once by FroZZt for a few days in early 2005 and twice by Wonder in early and late 2006. After Cube left the ladder with 82 wins and 7 losses in early 2007, it would take the then second placed Wonder another half year and nearly twice as many matches to reach Cube's equivalent of 1698 points.

    Rla6YOy.jpg

    As if that were enough, Cube placed high and won a range of high level tournaments. He most notably won both of the annual 64 player JKA 1v1 World Cup tournaments of 2005 and 2006, defeating such players like aXiom][Evil (aka Shirasaya), o³inSane, *aiming.divinity, zentur1o, o³Osiris, o³Dark, Hell Raiser, and many other top players.

    But to return to our first question: What does it mean to be one of the best players of all time? I am not sure, but I do know this much: If we all had played between 2004 and 2007, then regardless of whether or not we would be counted amongst the lucky ones with enough talent and skill to be placed anywhere near the top of any of the foremost competitive European ladders, we would, I am sure of it, at one time or another, inevitably and surely... get Cube'd.

    This is part 1 of 2. Read on to part 2 here.

    Click here to view the article


    #nL.Cube: Interview

    Ping
    By Ping,

    The Best Saberists of All Time


    #nL.Cube


    Part 2: Interview



    In part 1 of this article I gave an all too brief introduction of who Cube was and what he did. In this part we get to ask him some questions!

    Ping:
    Thank you Cube for taking your time to answer some questions for us. You have been one of the most successful players of all time, especially given the amount of sheer talent your competitors had. You were pretty much consistently #1 on the Polish ESL 1v1 ladder for a few years and were always placed top 5 in the International ESL 1v1 ladder for as long as you played. What made you so good? Or to be more exact: What would you say was the most important factor that contributed to your success?

    Cube:
    Thank you for interviewing me! In response to your question, I think I was simply lucky to have come across a group of excellent players such as Vosen, Slize, Vision, Averan, etc. at the beginning of my adventure with JKA. We quickly bonded and the camaraderie between us was so great we all just had a lot of fun playing with and against each other, which made me want to keep coming back to JKA servers every day. In fact, I’m still in touch and sometimes play games with many of them! The prowess of my teammates and the fact I had heaps of free time back then allowed me to improve my game significantly relatively quickly. Then my competitive nature kicked in. Encouraged by the initial success on the Polish competitive scene, I wouldn’t rest until I was at the very top in Europe as well.

    Ping:
    Did you ever spend a lot of time practicing outside of matches? If so, how did the practice sessions look like and who participated in them?

    Cube:
    As I said, I loved playing with my teammates and practiced regularly with them outside official matches – particularly in the 2v2 format. We also enjoyed having practice 2v2 matches against other teams and mixes.

    Ping:
    Were there matches against some players or teams that you remember specifically preparing for in advance?

    Cube:
    I was usually too impatient to prepare for particular matches by watching demos, so I would mostly practice my game against unknown opponents by simply challenging them to official matches. Of course, because the JKA top competitive scene was relatively small, I got to play with most players and teams multiple times and because of that I knew quite well what to expect from my opponents in most of cases. However, sometimes I had to prepare myself mentally for challenging situations, such as playing against incredibly passive opponents, or playing with a high ping, especially on US servers.

    Ping:
    While we are on the topic of matches: Do you have any particularly fond memories of specific matches that you played in? What were your favourite ones?

    Cube:
    It’s been nearly 10 years since my retirement from the JKA scene, so unfortunately I don’t vividly remember a lot of matches. Overall, I remember that playing CTF pickups was always the most enjoyable JKA experience because of its fast pace. When it comes to lightsaber battles, it was always exhilarating to play against aggressive teams in TFFA. Because nL preferred quite an aggressive playstyle as well, teams facing us would normally be on the defensive. Thus, it was always a pleasure to face outstanding teams such as oZone, Jedi Sentinels or *aiming in high-scoring matches. Regarding duels, I remember my only official match against Dark from oZone which was exciting not only because of the brilliance of my opponent, but also because it was really hyped and had a ridiculously large number of spectators. Besides that, I always liked playing against EvilWindu, as he one of the all-time greatest staffers.

    Ping:
    Are there any matches that you look back on with regret or a feeling of unease?

    Cube:
    I think I used to feel somewhat uneasy about not ever beating Dureal individually and aXiom with nL. In hindsight, however, he is arguably the best player of all time and axiom the best team of all time in JKA history, so credit where credit is due!

    Ping:
    Let us talk about something else. You have been one of the best staffers in the game and have always represented a style of playing that was based around attacking a lot, being aggressive and in the face of your opponent. What advice would you give to anyone who started out on the arduous path of mastering staff the way that you did?

    Cube:
    As banal as it may sound, just make sure that you actually have fun playing this way. My aggressive style wasn’t a choice; it came naturally to me as constantly attacking my opponents was the only enjoyable way of playing the game for me. I was lucky in the respect that I didn’t have to adapt my playstyle to particular opponents in most cases, including high-level matches, and that’s why playing with extremely passive opponents (e.g. doing butterflies all the time) always felt like a chore. Of course, everybody has their own preferences and needs to find their own style, so if you attempt to emulate a style of another player and you’re just not feeling it, you’ll eventually get frustrated. I’m afraid you can’t just fake it until you make it in this case.

    Ping:
    You were also known to have been a pretty solid CTF player and have played CTF a lot during your time. If at all, how would you say playing CTF has helped you become a better saberist? And do you think being a good saberist had any influence on your skill as a CTF player?

    Cube:
    As I mentioned before, CTF was the most enjoyable game mode for me. The most crucial element I learned from CTF that palpably improved my saber game was the ability to strafe jump properly. As back then there weren’t many saberists playing CTF or with any significant Q3 experience, the fact I was able to move much faster around the map than my opponents was a massive advantage. It definitely helped me flourish with my aggressive playstyle, particularly in TFFA.

    One of the most notable problems with TFFA was that often one player on form or with a low ping would perpetually engage in a series of duels with the other team, and his teammates would play rather passively, mostly focusing on not dying. In CTF such a strategy would inevitably fail, as in most cases teams with excellent players in terms of individual skill, but not playing as a team, would lose to teams with worse players, but with greater team cohesion. Learning this definitely changed my mentality and taught me how important it is coordinate your actions with your teammates, which resulted in nL improving its comms and getting stronger in TFFA.

    Ping:
    You played at a time when many other great players, both Polish and international, were around. Was there anyone you particularly admired for their skill or their style of playing?

    Cube:
    I’ve mentioned some specific players I admired in my previous answers, such Dureal for his unmatched and consistent excellence and EvilWindu for being a fearsome staffer. One player that was often underrated was dev from *aiming – I admired him for his indefatigable aggression which would often yield him 30+ frags in TFFA and make me always look forward to matches against *aiming.

    Ping:
    Excluding yourself then, can you give us a short list of who you would deem to be the top 5 JKA players of your time?

    Cube:
    In no particular order: Dureal, EvilWindu, Minneyar, Dark and S3cht.

    Ping:
    It is an unfortunate fact that JKA is not very well suited for cross-continental play, seeing as ping affects the gameplay so very much and the ESL was never very accomodating to North American players, but from the little exposure that you had to the NA side of competitive JKA, what was your impression of the level of skill and style of playing that they exhibited? Were there any particular NA teams or players that you felt were easily equal to the Europeans?

    Cube:
    It was a shame JKA was never a proper e-sport and there were no LANs organised to allow for a real comparisons between NA and EU teams. Cross-continental matches were unfortunately quite often skewed by the unforgiving elo system. Moreover, having cross-continental rosters was also a massive advantage as it allowed teams to have at least one player with a decent ping on each server and thus use the passive strategy I mentioned. However, it was always interesting and challenging to play NA teams in ESL as many of them at their peak were easily equally as good or even better than the European top-tier.

    NA players I had the pleasure to play with in a team, such as hisownfoot, were always fun to play with because on the one hand they were really banterous, which made for a great atmosphere in the team, but on the other hand they were also very composed during matches, which massively helped with team comms. As regards the differences in style, if I remember correctly the NA scene strongly favoured the single saber and had relatively few staffers. Curiously, this characteristic also applied to the British scene, while Eastern Europe was notorious for producing multiple skilled staffers. Perhaps it was an Anglo-Saxon thing!

    Ping:
    For a long time you played a decisive role in the administrative decisions of teams like noLimits or the Polish national team from 2006. What was your or your teams approach to fielding players for matches, recruiting new ones and so on? What would you say were the greatest challenges in managing a competitive team like noLimits?

    Cube:
    I think the key criteria I used in recruiting for my teams were the potential I felt the player had and his ability to synergise with the rest of the team, both during and beyond matches. As I mentioned before, my CTF experience made me see TFFA in a different light and to aspire to make my teams much better than just the sum of the skill of its individual members if that makes sense. However, while this conviction worked really well for nL, it didn’t do me any favours when it came to recruiting and fielding players for the Polish national team. As the scene was brimming with brilliant players from teams such as 333 and FoR, I was often forced to make very tough choices – usually favouring team play and making sure there are no frictions between the players – for which I was often criticised.

    For me the main challenge in managing nL was to have the core “A” team available to play in matches consistently as this was something that nL lacked for various reasons. Teams like oZone and aXiom were the best in the game not only because of their prowess, but also because they would always field the same three or four players which were able to “gel” well because of that. Conversely, there was definitely more rotation in nL, with me being the only constant feature on the line-up. It wasn’t a coincidence that nL reached its peak when S3cht became the second constant feature.

    Ping:
    Here is a simple question I got from JAA's Kain: What were your favourite JKA related moments of all time?

    Cube:
    Again, in no particular order: the release of both nL fragmovies made by Averan, landing cool shots in CTF, winning various team and individual competitions, and meeting many of my nL friends in real life.

    Ping:
    A question from JAA's Vision. If you could change one thing about JKA, about e.g. the way the sabering works or the game looks like, what would it be?

    Cube:
    It was a shame that JKA was only patched twice and then left alone to wither away, so one thing that springs to mind would be to fix the most patent and annoying bugs which JKA has. I’m not quite sure exactly how I would change the saber battles, but the end goal would be to balance the strengths of single, dual and staff sabers so that they have similar win rations against each other. The sabering system was definitely too random to make JKA a competitive game, but on the other hand it felt better than the one from JK2 and the randomness certainly made it quite charming.

    Ping:
    Here is another from Vision: Given the fact that you played at an extremely high level well into late 2007, competing successfully in both TDM and 1v1 matches, what made you eventually retire and stop playing the game?

    Cube:
    It was a combination of factors: I felt fully accomplished in the game and the drive just wasn’t there anymore; I wanted to dedicate more time to studying for my final exams; many of my friends whom I enjoyed playing with had left the game back then; I realised that JKA wasn’t as enjoyable as it had previously been for me; I wanted to compete in other games such as PES.

    Ping:
    And a closely related question: What lead to the eventual disbanding of the old noLimits?

    Cube:
    Pretty much the same factors as above but applied to multiple nL members. Especially the old guard kept getting increasingly less motivated to play after realising that we’ve won everything we could. We were also really united and many of us never wanted to play for any other teams, so the common sentiment was that it would be better to retire together as champions, rather than to tarnish our collective legacy.

    Ping:
    Did you have any influence on noLimits' revival in January 2008? How did you feel about the team being redone with completely new players?

    Cube:
    I didn’t have any influence on noLimits’ revival. If I remember correctly, S3cht or Slize initially encouraged me to make a comeback and then after I said no, if I were OK with them reviving the team without me and I gave them the green light as the team was as much theirs as mine. Of course, I trusted in their ability to recruit new players of the highest calibre and to return nL to its former glory. After wishing them good luck, I kept rooting for them and checking their results quite often.

    Ping:
    Are there any plans for a third comeback at all, with or without Cube as one of their players? Would you be willing to play JKA again if your team made a comeback?

    Cube:
    I did give JKA a try about a year ago and felt that JKA didn’t age well and was quite clunky. Moreover, many of my nL teammates either no longer play games or, as me, moved to other, more modern games. As such, I will definitely not be making a comeback. I don’t know of any plans to revive nL by other players either, but I seriously doubt it will ever be on the cards again given the current state of the game. I think it would only be potentially viable if JK4 was made.

    Ping:
    Here is a final question from Kain: How do you feel your JKA experience has affected your development as a person?

    Cube:
    Thinking about it, it might seem silly, but I did in fact gain a number of skills from playing JKA, such as leading and being part of a team, thinking on the fly, devising strategies and making decisions quickly. Moreover, generally speaking, my good results in competitive JKA boosted my confidence and interacting with international players allowed me to improve my English significantly and gain good cultural awareness.

    Ping:
    Any final words, shoutouts etc that you want to make?

    Cube:
    Thanks very much for interviewing me again and making me reminisce about the good ol’ JKA days! I would like to give shoutouts to Slize, Vosen, Vision, Averan, Immortal, Radzik, Virus, Beliar, Xeres, Earthquaker, Wiel, Wonder, Arch/Deith, S3cht, Knuspa, Basti, Arkanoid, hisownfoot and other players I formed teams with which I forgot to mention.

    Ping:
    Thanks again!

    Thus ends part 2 of this two-part article. If you have not, be sure to check out part 1 here!

    Click here to view the article

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