Categories
Music

Mike Dean Is Your Favorite Artist’s Favorite Producer

Mike Dean is a Grammy Award-winning producer, engineer, and songwriter who has worked on some of the biggest hits in hip-hop.

Mike got his start working with Houston rappers like UGK and Scarface before moving to New York, where he caught the attention of Kanye West. Dean has worked on all of West’s albums since “The College Dropout,” and he’s also produced for Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, and Travis Scott. In addition to his work in the studio, Dean is also a talented musician, playing keyboard and guitar on many of his tracks.

Mike’s been nominated for several Grammy Awards, and in 2016, Pigeons & Planes named him one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time. Mike Dean is a true visionary in the world of hip-hop, and his influence can be heard in the music of today’s biggest stars.

Just last week, we covered Pigeon & Planes and Big.Ass.KidsSee You Next Year album, which was executive produced by none other than Mike Dean.

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Whether it’s scoring some of the biggest modern records, releasing his own music, or executive producing records with the best up-and-comers, one thing stays the same: Mike Dean’s scrupulous work ethic.

Lo and behold, here are a few of Mike’s greatest hits (yes, there are many more):

1. “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott
Epic Records

Mike Dean championed Travis Scott from the beginning. Remember the video of them performing on stage together in front of a sparse crowd? Well, by the time this hit was released, things were markedly different for both of them.

As it nears 2 billion streams on just Spotify alone, it’s pretty clear “Sicko Mode” is a fan-favorite from Travis Scott’s legendary Astroworld album.

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2. “A.D.H.D.” by Kendrick Lamar
Top Dawg Entertainment

Once again, Mike Dean found himself in the right place at the right time for “A.D.H.D.” — and with the right skillset. Not many other producers could cater to the level of quality Kendrick provides, but this was clearly no sweat for Mike (and Sounwave, of course).

Anybody else not know this beat was from Mike Dean?

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3. “1Train” by A$AP Rocky
RCA Records

Are you noticing a trend? Not only does Mike Dean collaborate with some of the biggest acts in the world, he’s made a habit of collaborating at the perfect time.

This was one of Rocky‘s early hits, but it’s clear Mike was earlier than virtually all of us on the Harlem star.

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4. “30 Hours” by Kanye West
Def Jam / G.O.O.D. Music

If you were to look at Mike Dean’s Genius page, you’d notice the ridiculous amount of work he’s done with Kanye West, amongst other consistent collaborators like Travis Scott,

This beat is yet another display of Mike’s production ability — and the seamless nature of his working relationship with Ye. They produced the beat together alongside Karriem Riggins, and then Kanye took care of the rest.

Did you know: Drake and Pharrell are credited for writing on this song as well?

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Conclusion

If we were to highlight even a quarter of Mike Dean’s catalog, you’d be reading for days. If you’re curious for more, take a look at the legendary producer’s Genius page. This is far from normal.

Categories
Style

Bodega and Suicoke Link on Kaw “One of One” Sandal

In Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is the concept of finding the beauty in imperfection, and even in the degradation or deterioration of objects. Within fashion, it’s become a major part of many people’s ethos surrounding their relationship with their most coveted possessions. Whether it be denim, leather or any myriad of materials, there is such an immense amount of beauty to be found in the cracks, the faults, the imperfect. This idea is embodied by the latest collab between Bodega and Suicoke, a sandal deemed the Kaw “One of One”. Although there will be numerous pairs circulating, the idea is that—through wear—every person is concocting their own one-of-one iteration of the sandal.

Bodega

The Bodega team gave us some insight into the development behind the interesting collaboration:

With the Suicoke X Bodega Kaw “One of One” we created a casual sandal that will only get better with age. Challenging the idea that footwear should be as crisp and unworn as possible, the Bodega Kaw’s use of denim invites hard wear and customization. From the fading and distressing that will occur naturally over time to the DIY embellishments you can’t wait to add to the upper, the sandal becomes more apart of you every time you strap them on. Not only does this add another dimension when wearing them, it’s a reminder that the clothing you choose to wear and how you wear it represents you as a person and hold the potential to tell your individual story. This is why we are so excited for the collaborative Kaw – not just because of how it looks hot of the presses – but because of how each person will make them a true ‘one of one’.

As part of the promotion for the kicks, Bodega enlisted a roster of creatives and designers in their network to put a spin on the pair of shoes. The sandals are a canvas and people can create whatever piece of art they want to see.

Bodega

“Adrienne, a textile artist part of Textile General Store chose to cover the upper in decorative Sashiko style stitching and a showcase of wool knit weaves, expressing her love of repairs, sewing, and texture. Tim, the designer behind u*b*U* online went the button route draping his pair in a smattering of ornate buttons and long thread tails which perfectly displays his eye for eye popping design. Julia is a professional artist who saw the design as an actual canvas and painted the upper and outsole in her distinctive color-charged abstract style while actually housing a few painting essentials like brushes and a tube of paint between the straps. Dan of Holy Grail Vintage and Fragile State Market let his vintage roots shine through with an assortment of vintage pins proudly displayed and a distressed treatment which gives some insight into the potential aging of the sandals,” reads Bodega’s blog about the project.

Bodega

Bodega

Bodega

Bodega


The Suicoke x Bodega Kaw One of One will be available online at 12pm EST and in-store at both our Boston and Los Angeles locations on a first come, first served basis this Friday, September 2nd.

If you’re looking for more sandals, check out our list of some of the best men’s sandals to shop right now.

Categories
Style

Midnight Studios Launches Retro 1970s “Candy Darling” Collection

Looks like we’re getting a little bit of 1970s fashion in before the 70s installment of our Fashion On Film Series. With NYFW officially kicking off next week, we’re bringing you Midnight Studios latest collection, “Candy Darling” which is available starting tomorrow. 

Midnight Studios

Inspiration for this collection stems from the 1970s era of Warhol superstars and the Silver Factory, which can be seen in man y aspects of the garments. The denim suit is treated with washes and foils in addition to the Brooklyn Box Trunk as seen on Madonna debuting in a silver leather. 

The capsule includes many retro pieces that are sure to up the funk level in your closet, including Faux fur crossbody bags in the shape of a vinyl record and a matching leather set with lace overlay detailing paying homage to the brand’s rock ‘n roll roots along with a three piece set, inclusive of a trench, kilt, and trousers made from Italian tweed.

Midnight Studios

Basics in the collection take on new motifs, consisting of cotton jersey tank tops with star snap epaulets and iconic images of Lou Reid; rib knit crewneck t-shirts are printed with flocked Candy Darling graphic logos and woven Midnight Studios tag detailing at shoulder-seams, which is actually pretty cool.

A standout piece found in the collection is the headphone hoodie, designed to fit over ear headphones in pockets on either side of the hood.

Midnight Studios

The headphone hoodie could definitely be considered the modern day version of walking around with a boombox, and simultaneously serves as a “tech earmuff” for those cooler winter days that will be approaching sooner rather than later.

Midnight Studios

Midnight Studios

Midnight Studios

Prices range from $200 to $2,000 for this collection, which once again will be available this Thursday, September 1st on midnightstudios.live.

You won’t want to miss out on this collection. You can also keep up with Midnight Studios via their Instagram

Categories
Sports

Updated: Which NFL Players Will Be Cut or Traded?

Which NFL players will be cut or traded this week?

The preseason is over and we are now less than two weeks away from the Buffalo Bills visiting SoFi Stadium to take on the defending champion Los Angeles Rams to open the 2022 regular season.

Before that happens, teams must trim their rosters down to 53 players by the August 30th deadline, and several high-profile names are rumored to be either on the trade block or in danger of being cut outright. 

Here is my list of the top 10 NFL players who will be cut or traded ahead of the deadline:

Quarterbacks
1. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Michael Zagaris / Contributor

“Jimmy G” is the most interesting name on this list. The 49ers seem to have the pieces in place for a legit playoff run and all Garoppolo does is win ballgames. With a lifetime 45-18 record and a 98.9 rating, it would seem to be counterproductive to remove him from a team that has big goals entering the 2022 season. 

However, after drafting Trey Lance in the first round of the 2021 draft – even with an uneven preseason performance that has some questioning whether he is ready to take over the QB1 spot – he is the future of the 49ers. With $25 million guaranteed dollars headed Garoppolo’s way if he’s on the roster past August 30, the only way he doesn’t get cut is if he gets traded first. 

Update: Jimmy G has restructured his contract and will remain with the Niners next year on a one-year deal worth $6.5 million.

2. Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers
Stacy Revere / Stringer

Rudolph’s roster spot has been in jeopardy for quite a while. The Steelers signed free agent Mitch Trubisky and drafted hometown quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first round this offseason.

Much like Jimmy G, the only question seems to be if Rudolph will be cut or traded ahead of the deadline. However, Steelers fans shouldn’t get themselves overly excited about what they may get back in return for the five-year veteran. The Vikings and Raiders recently swapped quarterback Nick Mullens for a conditional 7th-round pick in 2024. Compensation would likely be in that range if they can find a trade partner. 

Update: Rudolph remains on the Steelers 53-man roster (for now) but I would still not be surprised if he is traded before opening day.

3. Ian Book, New Orleans Saints
Patrick McDermott / Contributor

With Jameis Winston set to be QB1, Andy Dalton as the backup, and Taysom Hill on the roster as the change-of-pace guy/emergency quarterback, there doesn’t seem to be a spot on the 53-man roster available for the former Notre Dame QB. 

Book was selected in the 4th round of last year’s draft. That relatively high selection may be enough for him to at least stick around on the practice squad.

Update: Book was released and signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wide Receivers
4. Darius Slayton, New York Giants
Michael Reaves / Contributor

In what would likely be a salary cap move, the Giants seem to be looking to move on from Slayton. He is set to earn $2.5 million dollars against the cap in 2022 with just over $58,000 in dead cap if he’s cut. With Big Blue having just around $5 million in cap space, they can certainly use the savings. 

While Slayton is one of the Giants’ most experienced receivers, the former 6th-round pick in 2019 hasn’t exactly built upon his successful rookie campaign in which he caught 48 balls for 740 yards and 9 touchdowns. With Sterling Shephard, Kadarius Toney, and second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson firmly in the mix, it’s very likely that Slayton will be playing elsewhere in 2022. 

Most likely landing spot: Slayton was retained by the Giants but rumors continue to exist about potential trade offers.

Darius Slayton

Their job is to do what’s best for this team. So if somebody calls them and like if the Rams called and were like we’ll give you Aaron Donald for Darius Slayton, I mean I’d make that trade, too.

5. Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles
Scott Taetsch / Contributor

Raegor was selected by the Eagles in the first round of the 2020 draft out of TCU, and big things were expected of him. However, he has just 64 catches for 695 yards and 3 touchdowns combined over his first two seasons.

Raegor has some upside and a ton of speed, so it’s likely that some team would be willing to part with a mid-late round pick for him. 

Update: Reagor was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2023 seventh-round pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick that would drop to a fifth-rounder if he doesn’t hit certain statistical marks.

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Who can forget the Vikings draft war room the night the Eagles drafted Reagor just one pick ahead of Minnesota as they targeted Justin Jefferson, who looks to be on the verge of superstardom.

6. Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Andy Lyons / Staff

Scotty Miller made one of the biggest plays of the 2020 NFC Championship game and certainly has some talent, but the Bucs are loaded at wide receiver. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage all have spots locked up. That leaves Miller battling with Brashard Perriman and talented young receivers like Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Darden, as well as a fresh crop of rookies for a roster spot.  

Update: The Bucs decided to waive their former fifth-round pick out of Minnesota, Tyler Johnson and instead keep Scotty Miller on the 53-man roster.

7. Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets
Steven Ryan / Contributor

Denzel Mims had a solid rookie season after the Jets selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Baylor. However, he quickly fell out of favor with the current coaching staff and last year was a complete disaster. Coming into training camp, Mims was fighting an uphill battle, with Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios, and 2022 first-round pick Garrett Wilson having guaranteed roster spots. Opportunities were few in preseason games, culminating in a trade request from Mims’s agent last week. 

There is enough talent there for the Jets to get something in return for him, as evidenced by his impressive 6-catch, 103-yard, 1 touchdown performance in the final preseason game. Will his former Baylor head coach (Matt Rhule) want him in Carolina? Will the Cowboys bring him back to Texas? 

Update: Denzel Mims survived cut down day, despite his agent’s trade request.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/RichCimini/status/1564705947980861442?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Running Backs
8. D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Jason Miller / Stringer

Anybody who plays fantasy football knows that D’Ernest Johnson can run the ball! With Nick Chubb injured, Johnson took over the Browns backfield for three games last season. He put up extremely impressive numbers, reaching 23+ touches for 130+ yards and 20+ fantasy points in every game. 

With that said, the Browns enter the 2022 season with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt fully healthy. They also have 2022 5th round pick Jerome Ford and 2021 6th round WR/RB Demetric Felton–who is a core special teamer–in the fold.

There are rumblings that Johnson could be used as trade bait to bring in some depth at wide receiver. 

Most likely landing spot: Remains on Browns roster

Update: The Browns decided to keep 5 running backs on the roster and Johnson looks to be safely in line to suit up on opening day.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/FredGreetham9/status/1564711887274754048?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

9. Ronald Jones, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Elsa / Staff

Jones has a one-year $1.5 million dollar contract with just $500,000 guaranteed, so the Chiefs would save $1 million by cutting him. They currently have three running backs ahead of Jones on the depth chart in Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon, and rookie Isiah Pacheco, so it seems unlikely that they would keep him on the roster as 4th string depth. 

There will likely be many teams that are interested in the 25-year-old former Tampa Bay Buccaneer if the Chiefs do indeed cut him. 

Update: The Rams held on to Ronald Jones, although a trade is still possible.

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Defense
10. Malik Reed, Denver Broncos
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images / Contributor

Surprised to see an edge rusher on our list of which NFL players will be cut or traded? Malik Reed has started in 34 games and tallied 15 sacks, 123 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 30 quarterback hits. However, Brandon Browning seems to be the future outside linebacker in Denver, Bradley Chubb, and Randy Gregory aren’t going anywhere and rookie Nick Bonitto looks like a player.

With that said, if Reed is cut he will have no shortage of teams calling. Talented edge rushers don’t stay unemployed for long.

Update: Reed was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, swapping a 2023 sixth-round pick for the edge rusher and a seventh-round pick.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/SteelersLive/status/1565062114800173062?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Categories
Gaming

The 30 Best Wii U Games of All Time

Much has been made about Nintendo’s hybrid console being one of its biggest failures when you consider the overwhelming success of its previous hardware. In order to get in on the iPad craze of the time, the Wii U was outfitted with a tablet that allowed for creative uses within various games. But the allure of that gimmick seemingly wasn’t enough to do gangbusters like the Wii with its motion control mechanics. Say what you want about the lackluster run of the Wii U, but you have to admit that it has a ton of great games housed within its underrated software library. We managed to find 30 of those titles and are now ready to prop them up in a well-deserved manner. So without further ado, here are the best Wii U games of all time.

Best Wii U Games
Nintendo

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1. ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’

The Wii U certainly went out with a bang. One of the last major releases for the console coincided with the Switch getting one of its first major titles. And that game is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This open-world trek through the vast kingdom of Hyrule enraptured fans at the time – Link’s crusade against Calamity Ganon took him to tons of mini-dungeons that provided the brainteasers fans regard so highly. The weapon-breaking system has its detractors, but it definitely pushed us to experiment with all the different offensive tools this game provided. Breath of the Wild’s free explorable world provides so much to do, see, ride, and head into battle with.

Buy Now, $53.99
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2. ‘Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’

This game ruled our lives when it launched on the 3DS. It damn near became the only fighting game we played once it finally came to the Wii U. This edition of Super Smash Bros. provided one of the best series rosters to date by adding in the likes of Mega Man and Pac-Man. The DLC characters truly pushed this game into the stratosphere with some awesome picks – Ryu, Bayonetta, and even Cloud Strife popped up to knock some fools off the side of stages based on iconic Nintendo IPs. The usage of Mii Fighters welcomed extensive customization features, plus the 8-Player Smash allowed for the best local multiplayer experience on the Wii U.

Buy Now, $56.95
https://amzn.to/3CqzdXt
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3. ‘Pokkén Tournament’

Nintendo made the right move when it tasked Bandai Namco Studios with creating a proper fighting game starring a slew of fan-favorite Pokémon. The result of that partnership arrived in the form of this underrated arena brawler. Pokkén Tournament offers a smart mixture of 2D and 3D fighting game mechanics, which switches up on the fly according to the type of attacks you land on your opponent. It definitely paid off to be strategic with your movements and offense as this fighter is a lot deeper than one would expect. The Tekken, Power Stone, and Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm vibes are well implemented here. And we’ll always make time to hop into this game to catch some W’s with Pikachu Libre.

Buy Now, $31
https://amzn.to/3Cmbrff
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4. ‘Mario Kart 8’

You can never go wrong by asking everyone at one of your parties to participate in some Mario Kart hilarity. The eighth game in the long-running series upped the ante in so many ways that we hope to see make a return in the next entry. Mario Kart 8’s implementation of anti-gravity racing makes certain tracks way more appealing as you can race on the sides of them and boost just by bumping into your rivals. Speaking of this game’s track list, Mario Kart Stadium, Sunshine Airport, and Mount Wario will forever be among our faves. Thank god this kart racer is still getting new content via the updated Switch version.

Buy Now, $84.95
https://amzn.to/3wmTOrP
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MEyuZ6Kf2u4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed5. 'Bayonetta 2'","buttonTextBuy Now, $53.64","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3Af1RYN</code>
5. ‘Bayonetta 2’

The demon summoning, katana-wielding, and pistol-toting witch known as Bayonetta got a second lease on life with this amazing Wii U exclusive. Bayonetta 2 saw the game’s titular title character square off with all types of new angels and demons with a new arsenal in tow. Sawing enemies into angel halos with the Salamandra and slashing enemies to death with the Rakshasa are just two examples of the incredible melee gameplay this wild action romp features. We also adore this game for introducing the “Umbran Climax” mode that let us go even harder on the battlefield.

Buy Now, $53.64
https://amzn.to/3Af1RYN
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6. ‘New Super Mario Bros. U’

The New Super Mario Bros. series has done an amazing job of revisiting the classic 2D side-scrolling Nintendo’s mustachoed plumber changed the world with. New Super Mario Bros. U keeps the good times going as players take control of either Mario, Luigi, Yellow Toad, or Blue Toad as they hop and bop through the Mushroom Kingdom. The Wii U GamePad plays a big part in how the onscreen action unfolds as the player holding it can put down item blocks and trip up the enemies blocking the players’ progress. The formula that worked with the original Super Mario Bros. still works like a charm here.

Buy Now, $79.99
https://amzn.to/3cghAz0
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7. ‘Super Mario 3D World’

Now we have to showcase the more open 3D exploring that got its start on the Nintendo 64. Super Mario 3D World brought us into the colorful expanses seen in Super Mario 3D Land and added a bunch of new elements that made them even harder to step away from. The addition of the Super Bell item added a lot more mobility and verticality to Mario and his crew’s ability set, which allowed for fun multiplayer sequences where everyone jumped around in furry catsuits. The Wii U GamePad came into play in a fun way as you could actually blow into it to reveal hidden items and activate random mechanisms.

Buy Now, $64.99
https://amzn.to/3CmSAAP
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-CfW2hpHoNI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed8. 'The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD'","buttonTextBuy Now, $274.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3PK1f3l</code>
8. ‘The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD’

Props to Nintendo for always finding a way to port its classic games over to new consoles. This GameCube/Wii Legend of Zelda adventure got the HD rerelease treatment on the Wii U, which meant the visuals got a proper upgrade. The gameplay itself remains strong just like the original, plus the implementation of Zelda-themed amiibo figurines added game-changing features and an extra dungeon that offers the type of challenge only the most hardened Zelda fans could complete. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is the best way to venture through Hyrule and the Twilight Realm.

Buy Now, $274.99
https://amzn.to/3PK1f3l
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kmWn-ZOvtkU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed9. 'The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD'","buttonTextBuy Now, $82.95","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3dSarVO</code>
9. ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD’

The Legend of Zelda game that caused an uproar once everyone saw its art style ended up being one of the finest entries in the long-running action/adventure franchise. And once it finally made its way over to the Wii U, the animation style that fans eventually warmed up got to look its very best. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD features even better-looking visuals, vastly improved lighting, and new items to boot. The best part about this game is how it made the Triforce quest way less of a chore, which hardcore fans of this game were more than happy to revisit in its improved form.

Buy Now, $82.95
https://amzn.to/3dSarVO
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10. ‘Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze’

Donkey Kong Country Returns brought back Nintendo’s big and little ape duo for some retro 2D banana collecting and barrel throwing. And thanks to the great response to that welcome return to form, a sequel to that classic came through and produced a more “frosty” group of stages to explore. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze brought Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong into the mix for some thought platforming challenges that truly kept players on their toes. Dixie’s ability to fly with her ponytail and Cranky’s pogo stick-like cane added fun new exploration elements, which kept all the action fresh and fun throughout. This is Donkey Kong Country platforming at its finest – this is undoubtedly one of the best Wii U games ever made.

Buy Now, $36.91
https://amzn.to/3c8QQ3y
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11. ‘Splatoon’

Splatoon is one of those games that came out of nowhere and turned into the de facto multiplayer smash hit Wii U owners couldn’t get enough of. This third-person shooter launched and caught everyone’s attention due to its colorful exterior/interior, insanely addictive gameplay take on paintball, and lovable cast of characters. The single-player campaign is just as strong as the game’s extensive multiplayer mode suite (TURF WARS RULEZ!), which helped the game’s replay value stay strong right up until its final batch of updates. Nintendo took a risk on pushing this new IP to the forefront of the Wii U library – it’s safe to say that that gamble paid off in full.

Buy Now, $63.95
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<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7ZyerryUkoc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed12. 'Paper Mario: Color Splash'","buttonTextBuy Now, $31.74","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3QOhs8O</code>
12. ‘Paper Mario: Color Splash’

The Paper Mario series has done a bang-up job when it comes to offering plenty of humor and a nice offering of enjoyable action/adventure and RPG elements. Paper Mario: Color Splash added a new gameplay mechanic that deals with using a paint hammer to solve color-coded puzzles and unveil all types of hidden rewards. The turn-based combat the Paper Mario games are known for is retained here thankfully, which remains as fun as they’ve ever been. All that paint splashing and battling with Mario’s full ability set is still a blast.

Buy Now, $31.74
https://amzn.to/3QOhs8O
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_9W_y8IlNro" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed13. 'Super Mario Maker'","buttonTextBuy Now, $80","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3dREsFB</code>
13. ‘Super Mario Maker’

Super Mario Maker is pretty much Nintendo’s clever take on what came from PlayStation’s LittleBigPlanet games. Along with a host of pre-made courses, this crazy 2D platformer gave creators the chance to create their own wacky stages. The overall art design and items tied to Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U were thrown in here to allow for a wealth of creative takes when it comes to crafting custom courses. Most of the fun from this game comes from trying out all the user-uploaded stages and seeing just how wild all of them can be.

Buy Now, $80
https://amzn.to/3dREsFB
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GyKg1eMY87s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed14. 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker'","buttonTextBuy Now, $46.84","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3wpPqIu</code>
14. ‘Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’

Toad is no longer just one of the best characters to pick in Mario Kart 64 – now he’s one of the most beloved treasure hunters within the vast Mushroom Kingdom family. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is heavy on puzzle platforming mechanics as it plays around with isometric viewpoints as players avoid obstacles and look to retrieve a gold star at the end of every level. Seeing this concept evolve from a Super Mario 3D World minigame into an entire game is still super dope. Toad and Toadette got to embark on some fun adventures of their own with this one.

Buy Now, $46.84
https://amzn.to/3wpPqIu
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rIIPkyWaiu0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed15. 'Pikmin 3'","buttonTextBuy Now, $43","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3R2uzDa</code>
15. ‘Pikmin 3’

The Pikmin series got its impressive start on the GameCube and has remained a viable staple within the Nintendo IP vault. Pikmin 3 focuses on the word “more” – there are more captains to use, more Pikmin types to command, and more gameplay modes to enjoy here. Planet PNF-404 has plenty of fun secrets to uncover, monuments to build, and alien creatures to eliminate. The overwhelming charm the cutesy Pikmin creatures have always exuded is still intact – we just can’t stay away from our purple, red, and grey helpers here.

Buy Now, $43
https://amzn.to/3R2uzDa
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hxfrUngvHns" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed16. 'Yoshi's Woolly World'","buttonTextBuy Now, $81.60","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3PK0eIw</code>
16. ‘Yoshi’s Woolly World’

1997’s Yoshi’s Story gave Nintendo’s little green dino his own adventure to embark on. It may have taken until 2015 to get another spinoff game focused on Yoshi’s whimsical side-scrolling treks, but it was well worth the wait. Yoshi’s Woolly World stuck close to the art style and cute aesthetic introduced by Kirby’s Epic Yarn, which was the right decision to make. This platformer gave Yoshi the ability to swallow his enemies, turn them into balls of yarn, and use them to tie up all those other baddies in a knot. This game is just a wholesome adventure that’s all about getting your paws on all sorts of collectibles while exploring Yoshi’s highly endearing world.

Buy Now, $81.60
https://amzn.to/3PK0eIw
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VvwVde4DdKA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed17. 'NES Remix Pack' (1 \u0026amp; 2)","buttonTextBuy Now, $49.98","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3ALqnCw</code>
17. ‘NES Remix Pack’ (1 & 2)

One of the best Wii U games we’ve ever played just happens to be a collection of NES games that have been given a whole new spin. Retro gems, such as Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong, flipped the script by introducing outlandish game changes that made them feel new all over again. We still trip out over the fact that a miniature 8-bit Link gets to take over Mario’s spot during his ladder-climbing crusade against the big ape. This compilation and its sequel come together as the total package for 80s gamers looking to revisit their favorite NES games in a whole new way. That Super Luigi Bros. is still a great time!

Buy Now, $49.98
https://amzn.to/3ALqnCw
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zb8QpABNTPM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed18. 'Xenoblade Chronicles X'","buttonTextBuy Now, $79.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3pIMVgP</code>
18. ‘Xenoblade Chronicles X’

Xenoblade Chronicles X is simultaneously a departure from and dedication to what arrived with the Wii’s first entry in the series. A vast planet called Mira takes players on a wild voyage filled with alien wildlife, giant mechs, and epic battles to enjoy. Dedicating dozens upon dozens…upon dozens of hours to this extensive RPG doesn’t feel like a waste of time whatsoever. The well-tuned battle system, a wealth of deep mechanics to learn & master, and a nearly infinite planetary expanse to go perusing through all make this game such an absorbing experience for JRPG fans. Xenoblade Chronicles X retains some of the best parts of its predecessor while trying new things that worked out just fine.

Buy Now, $79.99
https://amzn.to/3pIMVgP
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IcYdO72B1k8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed19. 'Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE'","buttonTextBuy Now, $25.97","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3R9n0uj</code>
19. ‘Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE’

One of the most unexpected crossovers gamers have ever seen came in the form of a game that features the noticeable style and swagger of Persona and the legendary warriors seen in the Fire Emblem games. The quality of the JRPG that came from that wild partnership is still quite high. Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE features some of the swaggiest main characters we’ve ever seen – they seek to defend their world from evil Mirages with the help of friendly ones based on popular Fire Emblem characters. Hopping into combat is fun and all (entertaining the audience that’s watching your battles is such a cool mechanic!), but we got an equal amount of enjoyment just from venturing through the game’s appealing rendition of Tokyo.

Buy Now, $25.97
https://amzn.to/3R9n0uj
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gHBsMXx_YiM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed20. 'ZombiU'","buttonTextBuy Now, $7.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3pNvkoa</code>
20. ‘ZombiU’

The Wii U launch library had some good games worth bringing home with your newly acquired console back in 2012. One of the best Wii U games came from that day one games bunch – enter ZombiU. The Wii U GamePad is so crucial to staying alive in this game’s zombie-ridden version of London – managing your items, hacking combination locks, and scanning the area for extra goodies are just a sample of the things you can do with the console’s main peripheral. What we especially love and remember the most about this game is the way it treats players dying – after losing your life, you enter the body of a new survivor, who must run into the zombified version of their predecessor and retrieve their precious goods.

Buy Now, $7.99
https://amzn.to/3pNvkoa
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zsdjm2-Ll8I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed21. 'Lego City: Undercover'","buttonTextBuy Now, $28.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3RgG8qe</code>
21. ‘Lego City: Undercover’

For years, LEGO games were all about offering action-packed adventures that delved into the worlds of Marvel, DC, and even Indiana Jones. Lego City Undercover went the “Grand Theft Auto…but for kids!” route as it produced an original escapade within that style of play. The do-gooding Chase McCain is at the center of this game and lets players command his many disguises to perform all types of cool actions. The wide gamut of cool vehicles at your disposal here are also worth the price of admission. Lego City Undercover is a fun take on the open-world formula and should be every young gamer’s introduction to the genre as a whole.

Buy Now, $28.99
https://amzn.to/3RgG8qe
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rDKZOQwNeT8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed22. 'The Wonderful 101'","buttonTextBuy Now, $69.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3Tiy36l</code>
22. ‘The Wonderful 101’

PlatinumGames is one of the more talented development studios out there that’s known for offering the most kickass action games on the market. The Super Sentai vibes come into play here as the studio tried something very different from their usual line of singular character-focused action games. The Wonderful 101 makes the Wii U GamePad an essential part of all the anarchy that happens onscreen as players must draw out the formations needed to morph everyone into all sorts of massive weapons. The bombastic nature of this game and its cool implementation of the GamePad makes it a signature part of the Wii U software library.

Buy Now, $69.99
https://amzn.to/3Tiy36l
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Nn-5dLva5gg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed23. 'Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate'","buttonTextBuy Now, $69.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3pQeqoE</code>
23. ‘Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate’

We’d be insane to do a list of the best Wii U games and not even mention this highly improved version of the third Monster Hunter. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate did everything it needed to make a return visit to its new and improved self worth all the trouble. Certain weapon types could now be utilized underwater, a new focused camera viewpoint allowed hunters to zero in on larger prey, new monsters and subspecies became available for hunting, etc. Confronting the game’s newly added beasts (such as Brachydios and Dire Miralis) with your new weapons in tow is a blast here.

Buy Now, $69.99
https://amzn.to/3pQeqoE
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yMIKs1PKrEM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed24. 'Rayman Legends'","buttonTextBuy Now, $67.30","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3cktSqd</code>
24. ‘Rayman Legends’

Rayman Origins did a bang-up job when it came to reintroducing the limbless wonder back into the platforming genre. And once the Wii U got going, Ubisoft’s platforming mascot returned for an equally strong outing called Rayman Legends. Rayman, Globox, the Teensies, and the debuting Barbara the Barbarian Princess are all together to hop and bop all over some of the most beautiful stages any platformer has ever featured. The music stages are what really give this game its finest feature, which is something worth playing for yourself if you’ve never given them a chance. Rayman Origins is 2D platforming at its best.

Buy Now, $67.30
https://amzn.to/3cktSqd
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RgXQ1LzfA_c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed25. 'Shovel Knight'","buttonTextBuy Now, $52.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3KozQCN</code>
25. ‘Shovel Knight’

Yacht Club Games clearly noticed the lack of a new Mega Man game at the time and pulled a Thanos by telling everyone “fine…we’ll do it ourselves.” It filled the void left by that series’ absence and made fans of the “Blue Bomber” quite pleased with what it had to offer. Shovel Knight is such a dope side-scrolling platformer that brings together the best of the aforementioned game we love so much and even DuckTales on the NES. The blue armored warrior this game is named after is just a lovable guy we still enjoy navigating tough 8-bit stages with. The boss fights in this game made us rage, but finally beating them made us feel so damn royal.

Buy Now, $52.99
https://amzn.to/3KozQCN
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZP-jDgJ7hCY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed26. 'Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition'","buttonText</code>
26. ‘Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition’

Metroidvania games come a dime a dozen in this current era of gaming. And for the most part, they tend to be pretty great. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition apes that subgenre’s winning formula while also offering a Luca Libre-infused adventure. Learning about Juan Aguacate’s devastating strikes and grapples is an excellent experience, especially for die-hard fans of all those squared circle antics. The add-on content included in this complete package of the game is worth every penny and more – platforming fans will love what’s in store here.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eSKWihjkk04" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed27. 'Shantae: Half-Genie Hero'","buttonTextBuy Now, $107.94","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3POgecB</code>
27. ‘Shantae: Half-Genie Hero’

Shantae actually got her start on the Game Boy Color super late into the portable console’s life cycle. Even though the lady genie’s first releases didn’t do so well from a financial standpoint, it garnered enough critical love for developer WayForward to give her another try. As the series progressed, Shantae got to whip her hair at her foes and transform into a smorgasbord of animals within home console games. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is one of the best titles in that regard thanks to its clean animated visuals, amazingly fun side-scrolling stage playthroughs, and challenging boss encounters. The more freely explorable hub worlds pushed the Shantae series forward here in a very major way.

Buy Now, $107.94
https://amzn.to/3POgecB
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AV9Bqba8V1Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed28. 'Minecraft'","buttonTextBuy Now, $60","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3pOsFud</code>
28. ‘Minecraft’

What’s been said about Minecraft that hasn’t already been said at this point? It’s considered to be one of the most critically acclaimed, financially successful, and groundbreaking video games anyone has ever seen. It’s not only one of the best Wii U games, but it also happens to be of the most Nintendo-centric third-party games on the console. The overabundance of character skins that let you transform into the most popular members of the Mushroom Kingdom and mindblowing easter eggs spread throughout this version of Minecraft adds to the fun.

Buy Now, $60
https://amzn.to/3pOsFud
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/swF_S21eaeM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed29. 'Axiom Verge'","buttonTextBuy Now, $339.99","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3RhWgrx</code>
29. ‘Axiom Verge’

Axiom Verge did everything that Nintendo’s Metroid series brought to the forefront during its debut. And to make itself stand apart from its clear inspiration, this super trippy action platformer employed the element of injecting glitches into the actual gameplay. That feature blew players’ minds at the time of release as it used something gamers usually despised and turned it into an essential part of the game’s wild 8-bit trek. Axiom Verge includes the best parts of other games such as Contra and Bionic Commando while still sticking out on its own with cool original ideas.

Buy Now, $339.99
https://amzn.to/3RhWgrx
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/w8nvG4b1X5g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed30. 'Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut'","buttonTextBuy Now, Price Varies","buttonUrlhttps://amzn.to/3wzfeSE</code>
30. ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut’

The original version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was good for the most part. But a lot of vitriol entered the conversation about the game whenever it came to its highly disappointing boss fights. The highly retooled rendition of that first-person shooter/RPG is most definitely one of the best Wii U games that offered much-needed improvements. Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut gives players more methods for taking down each boss, which made those fights much more approachable and enjoyable. Other upgrades come in the form of including all previously released DLC, Wii U GamePad implementation, and various mechanical changes that made this game the only way you need to play it.

Buy Now, Price Varies
https://amzn.to/3wzfeSE

ONE37pm may receive affiliate revenue from some of the links in this article.

Categories
Sports

2022 Dreamville Chi-League Pro-Am Powered By Wilson

The NBA season only spans from October to June, but the game of basketball itself is a year round sport. No matter what season of the year, you can find the beautiful game of basketball being played at a high level somewhere. NBA players will spend their offseason training, playing with international teams in FIBA competitions, and sometimes play in scrimmage games that are mixed with pro and amaterur hoopers. 

Pro-Am basketball events are nothing new. The pickup style brand of the sports has been a staple in basketball for decades. From Jamal Crawfords ‘The Crawsover Pro-Am’ in Seattle to Dyckman Basketball in New York, the game of basketball literally stretches from sea to shining sea. The sporting goods company ‘Wilson’ along with record label ‘Dreamville’ have gone to great lengths to build out the infrastructure of a pro-am league in Chicago, and just finished their second successful year of the event.

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Championship Saturday

The final day of the Chi-League Pro-Am gave us the men’s and women’s championship, as well as a dunk and three-point contest. This was the culmination of the four weeks of games and events that Dreamville and Wilson put together. Special limited edition Dreamville basketballs along with DeMar DeRozan designed basketballs were available to purchase at the event. For a smaller scale event, the games ran smoothly and there was really no hitch. There was an MC on court commentating the game, creating a similar atmosphere to that of other pro-am leagues. Overall I think this is an excellent start for Wilson and Dreamville to create something that the city of Chicago genuinely looks forward to every summer. 

<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/reel/ChyDUsJPd0P/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>
Notable Players

There were a few notable NBA and former NBA players that participated in the championship game. Most notably, Chicago legends Jabari Parker and Talen-Horton Tucker were teammates with Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis. I was completely blown away by the effort and intensity that Bobby Portis carried from tip off to the final buzzer. Portis has built a reputation in the NBA for his high-effort play and that is something that he does not take lightly. He would constantly call out switches and identify mismatches on defense, and in-turn would sprint full-speed down the floor every possession. It was incredible to get to experience that level of play for a full 48 minutes. I can’t wait to see what Wilson and Dreamville cook up next summer for the Chi-League Pro-Am. 

Categories
Sports

ONE37pm Looks Back at Serena Williams’s 5 Best US Open Matches

Serena Williams has had some of the greatest moments of her career at the US Open. Pretty soon, she’ll have one final opportunity to leave a lasting mark at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The 40-year-old phenom currently has 23 major titles to her name during her all-time great career. That includes six championships in Flushing, New York—a venue that has always been special to the legendary figure.

Williams will be retiring this year, so it’s time to look back on some of her best achievements.

Today, ONE37pm takes a look at Serena Williams and her top moments at the US Open.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CSOFz2XRJbs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed1) 1999 US Open Final</code>
1) 1999 US Open Final

Williams won her first major title in 1999 after knocking off Martina Hingis, who was ranked number one in the world at that time.

This win kickstarted an incredible career for Williams as a 17-year-old champion.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3knAApQ45aI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed2) 2013 US Open Final</code>
2) 2013 US Open Final

Victoria Azarenka and Williams had built up quite a regular occurrence of meetings in 2013.

Despite losing just a few weeks prior in a US Open tune-up, Williams came away with a decisive victory in three sets.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/W7fCn_Y4yEk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed3) 2014 US Open</code>
3) 2014 US Open

Williams made her way into the US Open final again in 2014, but she faced a different opponent this time.

This final was genuinely historic for Williams, who defeated Caroline Wozniacki, giving Williams her 18th major title, pulling her level with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ho4Hoh7umLA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed4) 1999 US Open Doubles Final</code>
4) 1999 US Open Doubles Final

Williams and her sister, Venus, earned their first of two doubles titles together at the 1999 US Open.

This sparked an amazing run that saw the duo win 14 majors together as doubles partners.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/T0kpuS_HHe4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed5) 2002 US Open Final</code>
5) 2002 US Open Final

The 2002 US Open final marked the third straight major that Serena defeated Venus to hoist a championship.

The pair won doubles together in New York that year, but all the spotlight was on Serena. This win also helped give Serena the ability to continue her streak into the following year’s Australian Open, which she won.

That created the ‘Serena Slam’ after she became the fifth woman ever to hold all four major titles at the same time.

Categories
Popular Culture

Your Guide to the Major ‘Lord of the Rings’ Characters in ‘The Rings of Power’

For a series we’ve waited this long for, and with an unimaginable budget of $465 million, all I’m saying is that this show better be solid.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set to premiere on September 1 at 9 p.m. EST on Prime Video, the first of the show’s five-season production commitment under a full series budget of more than $1 billion. Given that the series takes place thousands of years prior to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, there are only a few characters who we’ve actually met in the films present in this show. The others have either been left out, created just for the show, or were only mentioned in conversation, meaning that the bulk of the characters we’re meeting will be fairly new to us.

J.R.R. Tolkien was notorious for having tons of characters to keep track of in his stories, so in a way to help ease the transition into a new cast, we’ve compiled the 10 major Lord of the Rings characters from the new series.

1. Elrond
Ben Rothstein / Prime Video

Ah, our beloved Elrond.

Elrond has been present in every iteration of J.R.R. Tolkien’s universe, from the original books of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the film versions of both, where Hugo Weaving played him. This time in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, we encounter Elrond (Robert Aramayo) as a much younger version of himself before becoming the master of Rivendell that we know and love.

2. Isildur
Prime Video

Isildur (Maxim Baldry) might be the most iconic of the bunch, as he’s partially responsible for starting this whole Lord of the Rings mess. Okay, okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but he is responsible for taking the master ring for himself instead of destroying it, which ultimately led to Gollum finding it, setting off an earth-shattering chain of events that comprised The Lord of the Rings. In this series, we see him in his early days as a Númenórean sailor, allowing us to track how he ended up as the king we ultimately knew him as.

3. Galadriel
Ben Rothstein / Prime Video

Originally portrayed by Cate Blanchett in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Galadriel appears again in Prime Video’s original series. This time played by Morfydd Clark, Galadriel is an Elven fighter, and though young during the period that this show is set in, she’s already proven herself on the battlefield. Throughout the entire series, we’ll be tracking Galadriel as she makes her way up the ranks and establishes herself as a major figure in Middle Earth.

4. Celebrimbor
Ben Rothstein / Prime Video

Actually, this whole ring mess might actually not totally be Isildur’s fault, after all, as Celebrimbor is the one responsible for physically constructing the Rings of Power. Portrayed by Charles Edwards, the character is a talented Elven blacksmith who physically forges the rings and is well-known around the area for his fine craft and care for details.

5. High King Gil-galad
Ben Rothstein / Prime Video

Looking much like the older version of Elrond from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Benjamin Walker plays the Elven High King Gil-galad, and while he was only mentioned briefly in a poem in The Lord of the Rings, he takes on a larger-than-life form in this new series.

6. Queen Regent Míriel
Ben Rothstein / Prime Video

Queen Regent Míriel is set to play a key role in the series as she’s the Queen Regent of Númenor, which means she’ll most likely be interacting a great deal with Elrond, as the land was owned by his half-brother, Elros. Played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Míriel is surrounded by a capable staff at all times, including Pharazôn, one of her cousins and closest advisors.

7. Pharazôn
Matt Grace / Prime Video

While Pharazôn is currently an advisor to Queen Regent Míriel, he eventually becomes the last king of the land of Númenor, which the series will most likely explore later down the line. Portrayed by Trystan Gravelle, Pharazôn has known Míriel for quite some time, being that the two are cousins, and with an extreme love for the kingdom that he serves, he’s well-known among the townspeople. While he’s just an advisor right now, Pharazôn will definitely shape up to be one of the lead Lord of the Rings characters from the series.

8. Halbrand
Matt Grace / Prime Video

Charlie Vickers portrays the common human named Halbrand, a completely new character created for the series. All that we know so far about Halbrand is that he’s looking to create a new life for himself and that somehow, his life becomes connected with Galadriel’s.

9. Arondir
Prime Video

Another character created just for the show, Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), is an Elven fighter who’s in love with Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), a healer. Aside from that, there’s little known about the character as of right now.

10. Prince Durin IV
Prime Video

The fourth in line of a group of kings of the same name, Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), is the Dwarven prince of Khazad-dûm. The bridge of Khazad-dûm, you may remember, is where Gandalf will one day make his famous stand against a Balrog.

At one point, he possessed the Ring of Thrór, one of the Rings of Power that was the most important of all the Dwarven rings.

Categories
Sports Strength

The 15 Best College Football Uniforms

We’re here to start trouble. There’s no other way around it. Team jerseys are a pretty big deal in sports, and oftentimes there is the inevitable discussion of which teams are the best. With us now being on the cusp of another exciting college football season, we thought we’d highlight which teams look the best, literally.

Obviously these types of rankings are pretty hard to do. It seems like a cop out to get the top jerseys award to the top/most popular teams in college football, but the reality is that those are the highest selling jerseys. That said, we’re also a firm believer that a great jersey is a great jersey, regardless of ranking and popularity.

As we prepare to block off our Saturdays for the rest of fall, we’re rounding out our 15 favorite jerseys of this season. Hang around and see if your team made the list.

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1. Cincinnati Bearcats

While you might be paying a little extra attention to Cincinnati because of their playoff appearance last year, the reality is that they have always had sick jerseys. Whether it’s red, white, or black, the Bearcats always look crisp.

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2. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama is a no-brainer. One of the most successful teams not just in the history of college football, but in the history of sports as well, Bama has always had some of the top-selling jerseys. The Crimson Red never fails.

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3. Georgia Bulldogs

Reigning National Champion or not, you can’t deny the power of the Bulldogs fanbase. They sellout games whether they are having a great season or not, and a simple look at the crowd will show everyone decked out in UGA jerseys and apparel. Again, the power of the Bulldogs.

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4. Michigan Wolverines

Coming off of last year’s dream season, the Wolverines hope to reprise their College Football Playoff appearance this year. The Wolverines are known for their classic dark blue jerseys that can be instantly recognized.

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5. Florida Gators

Come on, it’s Florida! The Florida Gators jerseys are a tried and true classic that represents school spirit to the fullest. Plus the colors go well with beautiful Florida weather.

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6. Clemson Tigers

The #4 team in the country in the pre-season polls, the Tigers will certainly be donning those iconic jerseys as they try to rebound from a disappointing 2021 season.

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7. Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles look fresh every time they step onto the field. A little garnett and gold has never hurt anybody.

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8. LSU Tigers

LSU. Land of the purple, white, and gold. Enough said.

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9. Ohio State University

Studs like CJ Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and TreVeyon Henderson would make any jersey look good, but they look especially sharp in Ohio State’s iconic grey and scarlet jerseys.

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10. UCLA Bruins

You’ve got to admit that UCLA has some killer uniforms. It’s very “Los Angeles” and “City of Angels.”

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11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Every college football list has to include the Fighting Irish. It just has to. No other options.

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12. Oregon Ducks

Green just has a way of bringing a new life to the football field. The Oregon Ducks have done it time and time again.

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13. Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State is another team that has to be included on any and every jersey ranking/list. The crisp blue is a killer, and you can’t knock the white either.

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14. Miami Hurricanes

The green stripes with a solid orange is a fresh look, that once again screams “Florida.” Check out the Hurricanes on December 31st when they take on the Washington State Cougars.

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“Norrrtth Carolinaaaa” (Petey Pablo for the youngins). The baby blue is an instant eye catcher. You literally can’t take your eyes off it. You can’t look away. The material is rich. That is all.

SMU
Getty Images

SMU may never replicate their Pony Express eliteness, but they’ve never looked better on the field. Last season the Mustangs debuted a new get-up with a script “Dallas” along the front, rather than the team or school name. It—alongside the helmets with the Mustang logo running through a big D—is cold as hell.

University of Maryland
Getty Images

Inspired by Phil Knight’s efforts at the University of Oregon, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank has made several generous donations to the University of Maryland, his alma mater. Like Oregon, the Terrapins have some of the most outre jerseys in college football, paying homage to their home state by wearing its famously garish flag on their sleeves.  

Tulane
Getty Images

Although most people don’t even realize that Tulane has a D1 football team, their stellar football jerseys deserve more love. With their combination of powder blue, green and white, the Green Wave have some of the most unique ensembles in the sport. Their logo is very cool too.

Navy
Getty Images

It’s impossible to not respect the troops when their jerseys are so clean.

Auburn

That’s gonna do it. Whether you agree with our selections or not, nobody can ever take away the power of school pride. Happy Bowl season!

Categories
NFT Tech

What are Layer 2 (L2) Solutions in the Blockchain and Why Are They Important?

But First, What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a fundamental concept in understanding the way cryptocurrency works. But it’s not only limited to its application in crypto.

The blockchain is a database that stores information from transactional records in a universal ledger. Assets are traded and tracked on the blockchain, reducing risk and cutting costs for everyone involved. 

Blockchain allows you to send money to a friend in seconds without worrying about banking fees and other charges. You can also store cash in an online wallet and don’t need anyone’s permission to move it or transfer ownership.

Every block on the blockchain has a specific number of transactions. When a new block generates on-chain, it’s added to each network node’s ledger and uses distributed ledger technology (DLT).

A key concept of blockchain is that it’s decentralized, which allows for transparency and real-time access to assets. Being decentralized also enables the network participants to be collectively responsible for the security, as opposed to having a centralized entity like a bank or governing body.

Other fundamentals of blockchain technology include being immutable and distributed. Since the ledger is immutable, you can always trust that the information is accurate because no one can alter it.

Since the blockchain is also distributed, it potentially protects users from network attacks and other instances of fraud and cybersecurity threats.

Layer 1 vs. Layer 2: What are The differences

Layer 1 is the main blockchain network in charge of on-chain transactions, while Layer 2 is the connected network in charge of off-chain transactions

What are layer 2 solutions?

Layer 2 is a term used for solutions created to help scale an application by processing transactions off of the Ethereum Mainnet (layer 1) while still maintaining the same security measures and decentralization as the mainnet. Layer 2 solutions increase throughput (transaction speed) and reduce gas fees. Popular examples of Ethereum layer 2 solutions include Immutable X, Polygon, and Polkadot.

Why are layer 2 solutions important?

Layer 2 solutions are important because they allow for scalability and increased throughput while still holding the integrity of the Ethereum blockchain, allowing for complete decentralization, transparency, and security while also reducing the carbon footprint (less gas, means less energy used, which equates to less carbon.)

Although the Ethereum blockchain is the most widely used blockchain and arguably the most secure, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with some shortcomings. The Ethereum Mainnet is known to have slow transaction times (13 transactions per second) and expensive gas fees. Layer 2s are built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, keeping transactions secure, speedy, and scalable.

Each individual solution has its own pros and cons to consider such as throughput, gas fees, security, scalability, and of course functionality. No single layer 2 solution currently fulfills all these needs. However, there are layer 2 scaling solutions that aim to improve all these aspects; these solutions are called rollups.

What are layer 2 rollups?

Rollups are layer 2 scaling solutions that perform transaction operations off the main Ethereum blockchain, but still post the transaction data onto layer 1. Considering the transaction data is on layer 1, rollups are secured by the same layer 1 security measures. In fact, this is the defining feature that rollups offer to users.

There are three properties of a layer 2 rollup: 

  1. Transactions are executed outside of layer 1 (reduces gas fees)
  1. Data and proof of transactions reside on layer 1 (maintains security)
  2. A rollup smart contract which is found on layer 1, can enforce proper transaction execution on layer 2, by using the transaction data that is stored on layer 1

Ultimately, rollups require users like you and me to stake a bond in the rollup smart contract, which encourages users to verify and execute transactions correctly. 

Rollups are useful because they reduce fees, increase transaction throughput, and expand participation. There are two kinds of rollups with different security measures:

  1. Optimistic rollups assume transactions are valid by default and only runs computation, via a fraud proof, in the act of a challenge
  2. Zero-knowledge rollups runs computation off-chain and submits a validity proof to the main-chain
Optimistic Rollups:

Optimistic rollups sit in parallel to the Ethereum Mainnet on layer 2 and don’t perform any computation (mathematical equations) by default. Instead, after the transaction is complete, they submit the new state to the Ethereum Mainnet, essentially notarizing the transaction.

Optimistic rollup transactions are written into the main Ethereum blockchain, further optimizing transactions by reducing the cost of gas.

Advantages of optimistic rollups include:

  • Low gas fees 
  • Increased throughput
  • Smart contract capability
  • Security (guaranteed by the Ethereum Mainnet)

Disadvantages of optimistic rollups:

  • Long withdrawal time (challenge periods can last for weeks)
    • If a fraudulent transaction is discovered, the rollup will automatically call a fraud-proof and run the transaction’s computation using the available written data, leading to long withdrawal times if the transaction is challenged.

There are several applications of optimistic rollups that you can integrate into your own dapps:

Zero-knowledge rollups:

Zero-knowledge rollups (ZK rollups) bundle thousands of transactions off the main Ethereum chain and create cryptographic proof which is known simply as SNARK (succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge). This is called validity proof, which is posted to the Ethereum Mainnet.

The smart contract for a ZK rollup keeps the data of all transfers on layer 2 and the data can only be edited with a validity proof. Meaning, ZK rollups only need validity proof, opposed to all the transaction data. This function decreases the cost to transact due to less data being included.

When it comes to ZK rollups, there is minimal hesitation when moving assets from layer 2 to layer 1, considering the validity proof has already been approved by the ZK rollup and has already authorized the transaction.

Advantages of ZK rollups include:

  • Near instant transfers 
  • Not vulnerable to the attacks that optimistic rollups may be affected by
  • Still secure and decentralized

Disadvantages of ZK rollups:

  • Validity proofs are extreme to compute for smaller applications with less on-chain activity
  • A user can influence transaction ordering
  • Some rollups don’t offer Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) support

There are numerous applications of ZK rollups that you can integrate into your own dapps:

Ethereum layer 2 solutions have some serious potential to change the blockchain landscape for the better. Layer 2 solutions ensure that users are able to maintain all the safety measures used on the Ethereum Mainnet while still being able to transact quickly and at little to no cost for users.

This type of technology may encourage more people to try out the Ethereum blockchain and everything it has to offer. Also, keep in mind that many layer 2 solutions are still in their beta phase, meaning you should research everything in-depth and always remain curious and cautious when exploring the various layer 2 solutions.