Dr Pepper, Korean Supremacy and Nerd Chills: The Little Things at Columbus
Dr Pepper, Korean Supremacy and Nerd Chills: The Little Things at Columbus
Frenzied spectators jump to their feet as their favourite warrior steps out of the booth, like the gladiator leaving the arena. The copious amount of Dr Pepper cans get trampled and slide across the floor, covering the floor in a cherry red liquid that has replaced water over the course of the weekend. Previous chants of USA have now been replaced with chants of MMA. After receiving his trophy he is presented with his second prize. A tiny helicopter? A look of confusion passes over his face as he wonders what they just gave him. Laughter amidst the crowd is heard as people wonder what the hell did he just get. None of this is captured on the stream. I'm not talking about MMA's win or his trophy. I mean the Dr Pepper, The Purple Shirt, The Back Massage, The Flooded Hall. As a collective the many in attendance go home with much more than the results of a series of games. They go home with the memory of The Little Things that made their MLG experience unique. There is no way to capture those moments, all I can do is tell them to you and hope by the time you're done you have your ticket ready for Anaheim. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
On My Way In
As I walk from my hotel to the venue I pass by a zombie wedding and Frankenstein. I would like to blame the grass, LSD, ether or mescaline but I'm sober as a judge and the zombies aren't going away. I realize that right next to the MLG convention is a horror convention. A mummy in a suit hangs out at the Hyatt bar over the weekend, freaking me out every time I pass by him. I wonder if I'm in the right place but then on the stairs I come across a t-shirt that I use as a reference point. Littered throughout are t-shirts covered with the MLG logo, Zerg symbol, HALO symbol and team jerseys. I spot a Team Dignitas sweater and wonder if they sell those, they look so comfy. The line to get in is soul crushingly long but with a smug look I flash my Media Pass and walk right in. Once I walk through the door the eerie Alienware glow guides me to the StarCraft 2 area. There is a player area where spectators aren't allowed, I flash my Media Pass again and walk right in. Before I get a chance to set up my camera I'm already star struck. Day is sitting next to TLO and giving him advice. Behind them Artosis is talking to fans. TT1 and Haypro welcome each other. The little Asian kid doing depot pushups can only be KawaiiRice. Players greet each other and familiar faces from past MLGs exchange hellos. As I get settled in a thunderous roar followed by total silence, The God of War has entered.
When a high level player enters the player's area there are usually cheers, fans shouting at them, people coming up to greet them. If it wasn't for the cheers coming from the Halo area you could hear a pin drop when July entered. The first thing I thought to myself was "Damn this guy is tall." I noticed a very common trend amongst seeing the people in person that I not so long ago admired on my monitor. Day for example looked fairly normal in his dailies but he's actually 9 feet tall. Artosis, pretty big guy as well. djWHEAT and JP were easily 8 feet tall. I heard the spectators sharing my thoughts. Perhaps we admire these people so much that seeing them in person our minds turn them in to giants. There was certainly no one bigger than July. He was followed by his GOM posse throughout the event. A translator, someone in a sweet GOM jacket and a girl that had her camera pointing at July the entire time. There is a reason this mystic aura followed July wherever he went. The four Koreans that were invited by MLG were on their way to becoming legends. But July was a God. He was a known face in BW and a high level player in SC2. The crowds filled up the area around him to see how he played, hoping to see how he did the amazing things he was known for.
While everyone was focused on watching July plug his keyboard in I turned my attention to the seven year old kid playing SC2. I watched him play against someone three times his age. He was playing Terran and a Protoss deathball showed up at his base. His 20 drones and 12 marines didn't put up much of a fight against the colossus and 2 dozen gateway units. But then amidst the carnage he clicked on his command center (hot keys weren't exactly a concern for him, neither was his keyboard). After clicking on his CC he lifted and floated off. While laughing he typed out "You will never get me." I think miniWHEAT has a rivalry in the making.
And then the main stage erupted.
The energy of Idra and MC's first games was surreal. That first series drew the most emotion out of any game I saw at MLG. Chants of USA would explode at the smallest advantage for Idra. After Idra won the series I ran up to film him in the booth. As a fan of Idra I knew what to expect and he did not disappoint. I saw no emotion in the man despite the crowd howling with joy. While packing his gear Idra looked up at the crowd, the door to his sound proof booth slightly opened. Then he smiled. For a brief second the cold, robotic Idra could not hold back the pure joy of winning that game. I spent a lot of time in front of the main stage and saw almost all of the games but without a doubt none made me happier than that one. Once he exited the booth his girlfriend ran up to hug and kiss him. It was like a scene out of a movie.
Returning to the player's area I saw my friend setting up for a game. He had entered the open bracket and won his first match. His second opponent was a bit tougher than his first, he was placed against July. I think as a player this is what MLG means the most to me. July had entered the open bracket and by chance my friend got to play against him. I cannot put a price on what an amazing opportunity it is to face your idol. You know you have no chance against him, maybe you trick yourself in to thinking there is a small chance if you play the best you've ever played in your life. But take one look at July and any hopes of beating him escape your mind. A lot of people took pictures with July and he grabs you and pulls you for a candid shot that makes you look like best friends. That friendly emotion he shows disappears when he brings out his poker face. He looks like he's watching a movie he's seen a million times before. A perfect analogy because this game is a movie and he already knows the ending before you do. Whatever you throw at him or surprise him with does not faze him. In fact during many of his games he would turn his head and look at the main screen to see how his fellow Koreans were doing. It's comedic to see someone trying so hard and losing to someone who isn't even looking at the screen. Remember when Neo fought Morpheus for the first time and Morpheus slapped him around for a few minutes? Yea, it was like that. And guess what, if July is in the open bracket next MLG I will be the first one to sign up for a chance to play him.
TLO continues to earn his spot as number 1 in our hearts. While playing Losira he had begun to warm up and stretch his back. DeMusliM proved what a great guy he is but jumping up on to the stage and giving him a back massage. Something TLO was very happy to receive. TLO always had a crowd gathered to watch his games. His game against iNcontroL was filled with laughter. Shortly after starting up his game he would alt tab and press play on a YouTube video. He had Pirates of the Caribbean music queued up and he wanted to listen to it. Most of us recognized the music from watching his stream. Travelling to a different country and playing in front of so many people brings you completely out of your natural element. It's great seeing the little ways players bring themselves down to the level they feel comfortable at.
The Purple Shirt
Just before he sat down to play his first game Tyler put on his famous purple wolf shirt. He grinned ear to ear as he took a bow and the crowd cheered him on. As he was setting up for his last game a fan walked up to him and said "NonY can I have your autograph?" Tyler looked at him, said "No" and turned away while putting on his headphones. It happened right next to me and I felt awful for the poor guy who got turned down. I know Tyler had an autograph session at the Stride booth which was a big event so maybe he wasn't allowed to give autographs outside of that. Or maybe his loses were getting to him. There are talks of him retiring or that he can't compete at this level. Seeing him before his first game and after his last, it's like looking at two different people. I'm still a big fan as I am certain the poor guy who didn't get his autograph is so I hope that Tyler focuses and gets back on track. I saw many players immediately after a loss but none hit me quite as hard as Tyler. I don't doubt that he has potential to be at the top and as a fan I hope to see that.
On one end we have July's aura that elicits silence and awe amongst the spectators. On the other end we have Destiny's cheerful attitude as he would banter with the spectators. Fans would crowd around to watch him play and he was always willing to talk with them, sometimes I even saw him talking to someone in the middle of a game. He knows he won't be winning MLG any time soon but every time he played he won over more and more fans. He played a ZvZ where the opponent went hatch first in the first game. So he 6 pooled in the second and went on to an easy win. The fans enjoyed it. Out of all the players Destiny seemed to be interacting the most with fans. I saw him outside the player area many times and always talking to a new person. Say what you will about his skill but Destiny knew his fans made him who he is today and he is more than happy to return that kindness back.
I couldn't help but think back to my days as a kid, watching WWF. MC is the Hulk Hogan of our generation. He knows how to sell a fight. His taunt towards Idra brought the crowd to their feet but there was no feelings of animosity between them. Idra smiled and laughed as MC walked away like a boss. MC is one of the best players in the world and it's amazing to watch him play. To see him entertain the fans and give exciting storylines cements his place in the halls of SC2 greatness and people will always be looking back at him as someone that was fun to watch in and out of the game.
While SC2 crowds cheered on in to Saturday night, Halo and COD players were greeted by a large puddle on the way out. A broken water pipe flooded the area outside our original exit. Few people were bothered by it as our after party was soon beginning at Brothers.
I had never been to Brothers nor had I any clue what it was but after seeing that it was a club I thought this would be the perfect place to socialize with gamers. The loud music and drunken crowd limited our ability to communicate with each other but our passions for SC2 overcame all. One of the most exciting people to talk to was Mr Chae, manager of GSL and code S commentator. He was very happy to be out with fans discussing SC2. We talked a bit about foreigners in GSL and it turns out he's a big Jinro fan. He told us he hopes to see Idra back in Code S but any foreigner in GSL was enough for him. The joy that man has for foreigners in GSL is what I felt when I heard Koreans were coming to MLG. When I picture corporations I always picture evil, soulless individuals in suits. But talking to Mr Chae and seeing his passion for StarCraft 2 and the community warmed my heart. It shows that the future for SC2 is very bright.
When the bar closed I'm happy to report that there was still many SC2 fans and community members looking for a drink. We headed outside and where I noticed Drewbie was dead drunk. I thought he wouldn't be able to walk home but in a few hours I would see him playing a game against iNcontroL. How he pulled off that miracle is another story but what makes his MLG experience that much interesting is that Sunday night at the after party I saw him partying even harder. That man loves to party. At one point after Losira's game I saw Drewbie come up and ask him for his autograph. I couldn't help but smile. We always focus on the hate between players and moments like this get buried beneath petty rivalries and insults. But to see in person when players become fans is a great moment, one I hope more people will focus on.
Outside the club I ran in with the one person everyone seemed to hate, PainUser. I saw CrunCher a few times at MLG and even though he's not the most popular community member, compared to PainUser he was a king. After PainUser walked out of the bar he approached a group of people and began bragging that he works for IGN. A few people were talking that he gets paid a hefty salary and I don't want to get in to any figures since for all I know they could just be rumours. As a community member I'm saddened that he gets paid at all. I remembered reading djWHEAT's struggle between making content for SC2 and having a full time job to support his family. It just doesn't sit well with me that djWHEAT has to bust his ass at work while PainUser receives so much money doing nothing. On any given week djWHEAT does more for the community than PainUser will do all year. Not to mention the fact that he wasted everyone's time and took up a player's spot in the NASL. It's insulting when other deserving players were declined spots so he could join and throw it away. For people that weren't there I want to say there was an amazing community at SC2. I spoke with so many people, met so many friends and talked about SC2 with so many people. So many of us were there simply because he cared for SC2 and would do anything to see it thrive. Every single person I spoke with told me PainUser is in it for the money and will do anything for his career. I generally don't follow the drama or what petty disputes arise in the community, but I couldn't help but agree with the people. In every community there are people who just want to make money and exploit everyone else, I hope in time everyone sees who those people are.
After leaving the bar and heading home I saw DeMusliM flirting with 2 girls. As a gamer I was proud.
The Last Party
The party on Sunday night was just as wild as the one on Saturday. I walked in to the bar to see KawaiiRice hanging out next to the bar. He was too young to get a drink but him and the Fnatic team were discussing how their games went. I shook hands with Mr. Bitter and told him how impressed I was with his casting at NASL. Destiny was hanging out at the front. When I went to order a drink I found out Justin.tv was covering the cost of all drinks. My eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas with the possibilities. Then about 30 pizzas and hundreds of chicken wings walked through the door, also courtesy of Justin.tv. This was my second pleasant encounter with corporations at MLG. Justin.tv knows the power of the SC2 community and they were very thankful. Another sign of a bright future for us.
SeleCT had a lot of swag chillin at the bar, I could tell he was sad he didn't win so I shook his hand and told him he's still one of the best. Coming out of the bathroom I started chatting up Sheth, what a bro. I sat down at a table with Catspajamas and DOA. DOA was rushed by a group of fans. They lifted him in the air and started chanting DOA! DOA! The night dwindled down as players and fans came together amidst free booze and pizza. Everyone was already excited for Anaheim. My weekend came to a close as I crashed in my hotel room. Apparently brave gamers partied on throughout the night but after 12 hours of filming and partying my body came to a total halt. My mind was in a haze thinking back on the amazing things I've seen. But also focused on the future, on the next MLG. On the little things that made my experience so great and on the little things that make this the best community to be a part of. See you in Anaheim.