They say one realizes the quality of an event by the feelings it provokes when leaving. A mix of excitement and sadness, a vein of tiredness, the need for a private moment to think of what just happened. Then one knows it was a good event.
The train is leaving Cologne with 25min of delay ready to miss the connection in Mannheim, the rain draws diagonal lines on the windows, like swarms of droplets in an endless attack, reminding me that at this very moment Idra is playing against MorroW the Starcraft2 final. I am typing this on a beautiful piece of useless and expensive technology they call iPad, pretending for a moment I know where I’m going.
This was the second time I travelled to such event. A lot of things happened during these five days, but I will concentrate on two particular experiences, in the hope they will drive some discussions.
First, I had the chance to spend some hours with the pros: a late lunch in an Italian place, with a diverse assembly of characters, from tdm, ctf, duel and even ra3/ca, and later in the evening, the Gamers Party. I guess this was the long waited "hang out with the pros" time, which has been one of the reasons I wanted to come to the event.
And well, this made the trip even more interesting, although not for the reasons one could think of before hand. At first it was a bit odd. In the continuum of social interactions where a person knows and is known by a certain number of people, the two extremes are probably rockstars on one end, and spies on the other. I was the latter, my identity masked by the combo unfriendly latin nickname plus non-existent quaker pedigree, and yet I was surrounded by faces I felt I knew. People feel uncomfortable when they don't know how to address you, but with the help of Noctis, the presence of my girlfriend, the exposure due to the last event in Hannover, and the socializing nature of our species, the barriers went down.
With no curtains hiding the pros limbo, I could have a clearer vision. On the positive side, these are people sharing a passion. They have different background, age and style, but the common experience allows them to hang out together trying to have a good time. This is important as really is the link that pulls everything together. This is what I enjoyed most, and what we should always keep in mind whenever doing anything about quake; a common passion, a common experience. Common up to some extent; unlike me and many of you, they had their passion clashing with the society's duty, and talking to them you could tell they faces the consequences. I will spare you a poor textual version of FRAG, but you see where I'm going.
Sadly, being a niche game for such a long time has deposited layers of bitterness that speak of frustration rather passion. If I ever was naïve enough to believe I could hear more educated and articulated - and why not, positive - opinions regarding the hot topics (new account model, maps, directions), I did have to change my mind. I heard there what I read every day here on ESR, the same skepticism and negativity. While I’m not blaming anybody for this, it's pretty unhappy. If the guys I talked to are truthful representatives, I can safely say our community has a major enthusiasm lack and feel doomed, as everything is out of our control. This is in my opinion a dangerous stance, as the barrier between impotence and laziness is fuzzy, and being excited is the essence of entertainment.
This brings me to the second topic, Starcraft 2. As you know a sc2 tournament was run at the same time as the QL one. A comparison between the two is appropriate not only because they were both part of the event, but also because it may show how things could be in QL, or at least suggest good reasons why they are not.
As first remark, I have to say I loved what I saw of Starcraft 2. I used to watch GOMTV, but somehow lost the beginning of sc2, and this was my first exposure to it. The game looks brilliant on stage. Blizzard's ability of making a pleasant and exciting design without hindering the gameplay aspects is so admirable, and I like to think that the esport-unfriendly WOW had at least the benefit of allowing blizzard to financially afford the highest standards for sc2. The support for tournament, in terms of what you see on the screen is also pretty damn good. Lag and crashes are still there, but nothing is perfect. Overall, it is the best looking thing I've ever seen on a tournament stage.
What I also liked was impact on the crowd. Now here I may be fooling myself, but while for quake I had the impression that the dedicated crowd was of the same magnitude of the players in the tournament and the rest were just waiting, cheering because of a German player winning, with Starcraft 2 spectators looked like real fans. You could even see a couple of korean like signs, and the atmosphere was really intense.
I cannot overstate how sad I was to have to leave before the final (Carmac was rightfully wtf’ing me when I said good bye). Next time I’ll take vacation on Monday aswell...
The players attitudes also surprised me. Now, maybe Dimaga and Tarson are really special cases, but you could clearly say they loved the moment. That level of positivity and respect for the tournament and each other is something I would like to see in quake. I've seen Tarson leaving the stage after his loss with the happiest of the smiles in his face. If you compare that with a 3rd/4th match between Cooller and Avek, where both basically did not care, the contrast could not be stronger. We may justify this lack of pathos with the combo battleforged plus unexpected upsets which possibly made the tournament finals less exciting.
From what I read in the comments, people on stream were quite excited anyways, and for sure the matches during the previous day had some very special moments. Yet by being there today, I have to admit sc2 seemed nicer in many respects. This is a line of toughs that I don't dare following; let just say I hope there will never be the time where the choice is either QL or SC2. Having both games is a wonderful choice. Whoever made it did the best possible one.
Finally, I would like to give the proper respect to ESL, in particular Carmac, Joe, Calipt, Xou and those involved with the tournament preparation, execution and streaming. They did a terrific job. The stage was beautiful, the tournaments run as smooth as possible, and the few issues weren't their fault. I cannot comment much on stream and coverage, but I read that was good as well. Overall this was a great experience, a very nice event run in a beautiful city, with good weather, nice people, and exciting games.
It's past 10pm and I'm arriving in Zurich. This will be a crazy week (I have a deadline the 31st), but I will do my best to post my photo gallery. Thanks for taking the time to read.
Update: you can find my gallery here.
Edited by Memento_Mori at 03:33 CDT, 13 October 2010 - 18408 Hits