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Huge eSport prizes for PES League

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Konami Digital Entertainment has announced a $200,000 first prize in the revamped 2016/17 PES League and the official UEFA Champions League eSports tournament, titled “the Road to Cardiff”. 

Available exclusively to PlayStation4 and PlayStation3 users, the Road to Cardiff season has started via a dedicated PES League mode available in PES 2017, and the new free-to-play PES 2017 Trial Edition. Additional PES League events will be open to players on all platforms.

The huge prize incentive comes as Konami increases the scope of its annual competition, which is recognised by UEFA as the official UEFA Champions League eSports tournament. The ultimate winner will receive $200,000 with those in second and third place receiving $100,000 and $50,000 respectively. Additional prizes will also be available, with $20,000 going to the winners of the two European Regional Finals, the Americas Final and the Asia Final, with additional prizes for the runners-ups.

“Konami has demonstrated its skill in expanding the PES League as a global totem for PES players, and we are delighted to be involved with this illustrious competition,” said Guy-Laurent Epstein, Managing Director Marketing at UEFA. “The PES series has been a stunning showcase for the UEFA Champions League, and the confirmation that the PES League is the Official UEFA Champions League eSport tournament, is the next logical step. As Europe’s greatest club teams compete to play in Cardiff in June, so the world’s best PES 2017 players will do the same for a chance to be crowned the greatest.”

Officially kicking off today, users can register to compete in the 2016/17 PES League via www.pesleague.com and begin the first of many games as they play matches that will see them ranked against their peers. All scores and results from matches played within the PES League mode are logged and entrants can monitor their progress via the PES League website. Entry is also open to those using the new free-to-play, PES 2017 Trial Edition. This special version of PES 2017 showcases the Exhibition mode and Skills Training, but will also allow users to compete within PES League. The PES League has seen huge growth in recent years, and the 2016/17 event will be open to players from all over the globe, each looking to represent their region in Cardiff ahead of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League Final.

Launched under the Road To Cardiff banner to reflect the 2016/17 competitions position as the official UEFA Champions League eSports tournament, the national qualifying stages take place in Europe, Asia, as well as North and South America, using online matches to determine the best qualifying 16.

Entry to the new PES League season is free. “I saw for myself at gamescom last year just how high the level of skill is within the PES community,” stated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Borussia Dortmund striker and one of the official PES ambassadors. “While I consider myself good at the game, the guys who will vie for a place in Cardiff are at another level. The Official PES League is the best way to prove just how good you are at PES 2017, and I look forward to seeing the world’s best players showing their skills.”

For Europe, the first season of the regional qualifiers will run until January 5th, 2017. The second season will be held between February 16th and March 16th, 2017. Similarly, two qualifying stages in the Americas will take place, with the first running between December 15th through until January 12th, 2017 and the second taking place between January 12th through until February 16th, 2017. Asia will have one qualifying stage that begins today and will finish on February 23rd, 2017.

“We have enjoyed many great nights of European football at the Camp Nou and now we welcome the cream of mainland Europe’s PES 2017 community,” said Manel Arroyo, FCB Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “Our facilities will be a fitting venue to host such a meeting of PES talent and we anticipate a series of highly-charged matches full of flowing football and individual brilliance during this illustrious eSports event.”

With Konami establishing preferred partnership programmes with the world’s greatest football clubs, the first of the European qualifiers will be held at FC Barcelona in February 2017. The 16 competitors will gather in a special play area within the iconic ground, before entering a series of knock-out matches to decide the final four players to represent Europe at the PES League World Final in Cardiff. April 2017 will then see the 16 best American players gather at a soon to be announced location for their regional final. Four places are on offer for those qualifying from the Americas, thus ensuring a high level of competition to make the cut.

The European regional qualifiers finals will take place in April 2017 at a stadium location, soon to be announced. The initial 16 players will be whittled down to just four via another knock-out competition. Thus, with Europe’s eight entrants determined, they will be joined by the four qualifiers from the Americas, two from Asia, and one representing the rest of world, as well as one challenger to be selected at a later stage.

As has become traditional and in line with PES 2017’s position as exclusive licensee of the UEFA competitions, the conclusion to the 2016/17 season will take place ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final in June 2017. The ultimate winner will be given the main prize. The finalists will also receive tickets to watch the UEFA Champions League Final match.

“The Official PES League continues to go from strength to strength, and we are delighted to announce that the Road to Cardiff tournament begins today and is officially recognised by UEFA as the official UEFA Champions League eSports tournament,” said Jonas Lygaard, Senior Director – Brand & Business Development for Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. “We are also delighted that such key matches will take place in suitably auspicious venues, and thank our partners at FC Barcelona for providing such an iconic landscape for one of the official UEFA Champions League eSports tournament qualifier venues. There are more stadium announcements coming though so watch this space.”

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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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