Goteborg, 5:40 am. I'm sitting at a cafe in the Landvetter airport, my laptop and an orange juice as fellow companions as I try to not fall asleep. Today, I got meetings starting early in Saarbruecken, and the only option to get there in time was to plan a trip over night, leaving directly from the dreamhack "afterparty". This column is my attempt to keep my mind focused, preventing me from falling asleep and missing my flight.
I'm writing this column as a mixture of chronological facts and unstructured impressions. What drives me to tell you this story is that I feel this event helped me understanding how I want to approach my future, what I want to do, and where I want to be. These things are never easy to figure out, but when that happens, one feels like a better person. I want to share this with you guys, as a natural response to what I feel is a good thing.
I arrived quite late on Saturday, being able to follow some of the groups on stream as I was still traveling, very excited to meet the quake folks. My traveling got slower and slower as the more I would get close to dreamhack, the more I would meet people I knew, the socialization including a few d-tours for a beer. I finally managed to get to the Quake area around 6 or 7pm, just to see the reminder of the games.
The tournament area was different from last year, possibly a bit smaller, but as well organized and appropriate for the tournament. Despite the duel attendance being wider, I missed the TDM folks. Teams are nice because the common goal allows sharing the emotions more openly from the start. Emotions and communication are the key for a good atmosphere. In duel, only some individuals are extroversive enough to open up to other contenders and visitors. While the overall mood was positive, I felt like some of the ice did not melt yet.
At night I would sleep at a hostel a bit outside Jönköping, together with a bunch of Quakers. I shared the room with Tony (who can fall asleep in 0.736 sec and start snoring right there), and in the nearby rooms staid Weird, Twister, Ins, Mouse*, Lukelawl, his father and a woman, whose name I forgot (Penny?), that would let us know that stealing her cokes from the common kitchen fridge had not been appreciated. Bad boy Tony...
Sunday was quite exciting. I slept like a baby and arrived at the event ready to get irradiated by Quakers' awesomeness. Some of the most exciting matches happened that day, and most of the credit goes to the Russian power house.
I was deeply rooting for pavel, who to me incorporates the notion of perseverance and purposefulness, and I was happy to see how well he did against cypher. I would later find out that pavel is also a very nice guy in person, despite the chances of getting to know each other considerably limited, as the intersection of languages we both speak was the empty set. It was also nice to see cypher vs evil. I somewhat did miss this last year, so if you did not know yet, evil is an iron robot. I don't know if it is his cold blood, extreme composure, or deep interior peace, but evil would sit at his desk and play as a surgeon, as emotional as a stone wall. He also conducts a very healthy life style, without alcohol or smoke, which makes him stand out among the fellow Russians, who measure the vodka they swallow in tanks and live to tell the story. If I understand correctly, Cooke (the Russian Quake godfather) is the man behind evil and pavel's attendance. Respect for that.
We had other very interesting games. I was really happy to see Luke play well. I totally see him talking the last minute loss on Weird as motivation to come back next time much stronger. He's just a great youngster, smart, honest, passionate, much more mature than people at his age. Luke's father was a nice surprise as well. He came to the event with very little knowledge about Quake, besides "it's a game where people chase each other". He stood there for the whole event and watched game after game, sometimes getting explanations from either Luke or other people around. Talking with him at the end of the event, he showed some understanding of the game and seemed genuinely impressed by how deep the thinking goes, and how good the players were.
Another surprise was seeing scoot winning against dkt. If dkt took the loss very professionally (i.e. went for a smoke without throwing any chair <3), scoot looked like a flourishing flower. The smile on his face, the excitement for reaching the top4, the satisfaction for winning prize money... that man walked around with a joyful aura that made me happy just at looking at him.
In the evening we manage to squeeze in a few games among spectators and eliminated players. It always amazes me how great the game feels in lan. Even with a config made on the fly, there is something magical about how responsive everything is, how dodging seems to allow you to do crazy stuff especially in close fights, and in general how weapons are insanely nice to use. It is really a better game, and I'm just so deeply saddened I get to play it so rarely.
I got my personal satisfaction beating twister on ztn. He probably took it lightly at the beginning, but said in the end he really tried to comeback. After that he played a crazy aero with Tony that went to something like 5 overtimes. There was a small crowd behind Tony's pc, with people laughing as he was definitely being a showman while playing. This is something anyone who went to an old school LAN party has experienced. It's not e-sport by any means, but it's Quake at its origins, a form of the game that is just so nice. I’m a bit sad we all live so far apart, as I would love to do a pure Quake fans LAN every now and then.
The last day was a mix of different things.
The semis and third place final were still played at the QL area. I was expecting Dahang to be in the beastly form he had the previous day. Unfortunately this did not happen. I wonder what happened exactly to him, if he was too nervous, or did not sleep well, but I felt that somehow the huge anticipation given by how strong he was playing earlier, somehow broke his play against rapha.
It was very interesting for me to observe scoot. As said earlier, I felt scoot's feelings were right there for me to see them. He was being almost too honest about feeling no chance against cypher. This was definitely reflected in the game; as "caster legend clipper the dolphin" pointed out, he was not bolzy enough, and in many situations where he should have done harassment on major items he preferred to stay hidden. Now, this is probably no big news, as it is quite trivial one has to feel confident enough to play his game, otherwise things go bad. Moreover, one could argue that even a super confident scoot would not be able to beat cypher.
My point is different, though. There are situations in everyone's life where we are put at test, and we are scared of not performing as we know we could. Sometimes, if we fight enough, our brain makes a "clic" and suddenly we become a new person, stronger and determined. An example could be the first time one makes a concert as guitar player and has to play some solos in front of the audience. I feel scoot was right there, on the stage, guitar in hands. I remember that as teenager it took me a few concerts to start feeling confident, and even if it were small concerts with most of the audience drunk, it thought me a few valuable lessons. I'm just looking forward to see scoot doing the mental step up, and grow to his full potential as player. You can do it man!
The finals left my mouth a bit dry. On the one hand, the games were good, and rapha was on fire. On the other hand, sitting in the dream arena, I wanted to have the best possible show ever, and I felt things ended too quickly, with some sort of anticlimactic lostworld. I general I was happy to see Quake played on stage with a big crowd, even if many were there for lol. I think it still makes a difference to be up there, with fair stream numbers and moments of excitement in the air.
Since there were fewer games during the day, I had time to hand around and chat. I had a very nice and refreshing discussion with a Swiss guy with a very good network within e-sport, and a lot of experience with making LANs. I talked to him about the idea of bringing an event to Switzerland, and what the country could offer. He gave me very good insights and a trace to follow. I make no promises here, but I’m going investigate a little more about this. I would dream to be able to host Quake in my country.
The part I enjoyed more of third day, and probably of the whole event, was the evening. We started the social event at the hostel, having some drinks and discussing about the game. We were joined soon after we started by the Bloodline champions guys. They were about 20 people, mostly gamers, and at least one of the developers which apparently always hangs out with the players. I think 2GD must have instilled some sort of profound respect for Quake in that community as they were very friendly with us, one guy even going around asking our autographs.
We then moved in taxi to the afterparty. It was conceived as some sort of exclusive party for pro players and VIP of the industry. I honestly took it as the occasion to hang out with the quake folks and just have a good time together. The place was some sort of disco, with a dance floor and an elevated area with couches and tables. A pro-gamer wristband would grant you drinks for free, but they did not seem to care much and would just serve anyone who showed up.
The quake guys conquered one of the corners, right next to the bar, with a good view over the rest of the disco, and enough space to fit everybody. There I realized I really like the Russians. They were the first to arrive, and acted as tractor beam for the rest. There might be some serious cultural and linguistic barrier for me to fully understand them. But when you go to the root of it, I saw a group of strangers welcome every Quaker as a brother, as if we were a clan, and share a special moment together.
I was happy rapha joined the party. In past events he had stricter scheduling and would fly to Germany or home right after the event, but this time the ambiguous dates of dreamhack (which include Tuesday morning though the only thing happening is that people leave) allowed him to spend an extra day in Europe. rapha is very special. One the one hand he is so remarkably knowledgeable of the game that I’m just happy to sit there and let him talk. On the other hand I find him extremely hard to read, and I’m constantly trying to guess what is going on in his mind. It’s like looking at a black box that takes whatever input and generates awesome stuff as output, with the partially sad feeling you will never know how it works inside.
The afterparty went on for some time, with people having a good time. It was in the middle of it, I realized something important about myself, which has rested inside me for a long time, but finally erupted to the surface at full force. I want to be part of this. I want to keep seeing this game going, I want to keep playing, I want to keep coming to the events. This is part of my life; it’s something that defines who I am and what I want to be.
Dreamhack is a very unique event. It welcomes e-sport as a natural fit, but still maintains its identity and attachment to the LAN party experience. I'm not sure exactly how and when they managed to make gamers and LANs something “cool” in a general sense, but I certainly happy to see they managed to do it.
This event gave me more faith in e-sports. There are so many fascinating individuals, so many characters I look at for inspiration. The industry has grown-up gamers who do this because they love it; people for whom the business is a mean and not a goal, people I want to be with.
There are several people I met these past three days that I want to thank, and I will probably name just a few.
A big big thank to the staff! The admins (blaze, slayzah, and snelvovve) have done a terrific job, and I agree with those saying this has been the best run dreamhack tournament ever. Same goes for zoot and calipt for the casting, which from what I could see was really well done and entertaining. I want to thank all players who did their best to come to the tournament. This makes such a difference, as the quality of the tournament, and in turn of the event overall, depends on them. I want to thank the guys that staid at the hostel, for the nice evenings we spent together. I want to thank luke's father for bringing his son over, and for showing interest in the game and what we do.
I wanna conclude with a very personal note. I owe a big thanks to 2GD. I discussed with him throughout the event, and some of the things he said reached deeply inside me. I've always looked at him as a brilliant caster and entertainer, but I learned he has much more to offer. He has a vision for this industry. He understands esport. But more importantly, he cares about the people.
And this is my take home message. Quake, beside being an awesome game, is a group of players, supporters and enthusiasts. We share a passion, and the best we can do is to care about one another, and look at the future as a community. Today I'm an happy Quaker, and I dare looking at tomorrow with a smile. Thank you all for being there with me.
Edited by Memento_Mori at 04:43 CDT, 25 June 2012 - 12287 Hits