Former Australian Starcraft pros are leading the charge on the Age of Empires 4 leaderboards one week into the new release of the RTS classic — with four players making the top 32 at the game’s first major event, EGC Genesis.
With the game capturing a lot of attention over the past week through Twitch, Age of Empires 4 is now testing itself in a professional setting with the first premier tournament.
Genesis, run by the Elite Gaming Channel, boasts a $20,000 prize pool backed by Microsoft with over 500 players having participated in the qualifier.
Now, only the top eight remains.
At least five Australians competed in the qualifying event, which was held in the middle of the night, to try and become one of the eight players from over 500 to progress.
Four of them braved the 2am start time to finish within the top 32.
Ethan “Iaguz” Zugai reached the Round of 32 before being stopped by eventual qualifier Themistoklis “TheMista” Bonidis. The same went for Sheldon “Seither” Barrow, who was eliminated by Argentine Patricio “Capoch” Olmo.
Sean “Probe” Kempen was only one map away from the main event, beaten 2-1 by fellow Starcraft 2 professional Alexis “MarineLorD” Euesbio. Probe also eliminated fellow Aussie “Dinkey King” in the Round of 32.
Of the top eight players, three came from Starcraft II, three from Age of Empires 2, and two from Age of Mythology, showing just how many different strategy communities have come together for this new release.
Another Australian not in the Top 32 does have a rather distinguished, and somewhat unique, title in AOE4 already.
Nick “HuT” Hutton pulled a night shift for a small $50 tournament on the night of release, becoming at least for a small time, the highest earner in Age of Empires 4.
Despite an earlier than anticipated exit in the qualifier last night, he will forever have that title.
“I wanted some sick bragging rights,” he told Snowball.
“I learnt a lot from the games so I was more so happy with facing strong players than just winning. [It was] good practice for Genesis since it was also at 2am.”
Despite the game only being out a week, it already has a clear meta evolving in competitive play.
HuT says the French are by far the strongest civilization, with feudal age knights causing pain for anyone trying to deal with them.
Even knights pale in comparison to one aggressive Mongol tactic, in which Mongol players move their town centre at the start of the game straight to the enemies’ base.
It’s caused tournaments to outlaw the strategy, as it awaits a nerf from Relic Entertainment and World’s Edge.
“I was against banning the strategy originally since I thought you could work it out eventually,” said HuT.
However, after seeing it’s true power after multiple games, HuT agrees with the outlawing sentiment: “Funny build, but definitely overpowered and needs a nerf.”
It caps a good week for Age of Empires 4 and the RTS genre as a whole, as it’s seen a spike in popularity online. The first major RTS title sits at an average of 28,000 views on Twitch, with its peak viewership at 106,880 views.
Elite Gaming Channel’s Genesis tournament continues next weekend with quarter finals and finals happening on November 13 and 14. You can follow all the action on the EGC Twitch channel.