Archive for November, 2009

WCG 2009: The Olympics Of Video Games

Most of Team USA seemed more interested in exploring than cramming in some 11th-hour practice, so I enjoyed the varied delights of shopping in China and left my partner TorcH hunched over a phone in the Samsung Mobile Arena to practice Wise Star 2.  Group play for each game was spread evenly throughout the week, while matches for 1st through 4th place were scheduled for the grand finale on Sunday.

The exception to this rule was Red Stone, a Korean MMO with a WoW-arena-esque battle system.  Three teams competed (Korea, Japan, and USA) on Thursday and, while USA’s Cool Runnings put up a good fight, they were ultimate chased down and squashed by overweight princesses (really?  are we back to Fat Princess again?).  This was excellent as their early achievement of 3rd place (B) ($750 + new camera for each of the five players) freed up the delightful Sean “Wraith” Snack to hang out with me and the-whitest-kid-in-China, Matt “d00bi0us” Marcou, to be annoyed with me!

Our Guitar Hero players, MoB_Shift and vVv Smokyprogg entered 8-slot bracket play on Saturday.  Smokyprogg was knocked into the losers bracket by Brazil’s Caiomenudo13, who went on to take first in the finals match against MoB_Shift on Sunday.   The final standings were Caiomenudo13 (G), MoB_Shift (S) ($3,000 + camera), and vVv Smokyprogg (B) ($2,000 + camera).

Racing game pro and former Championship Gaming Series player IndigoFerret beat out fellow USA player Zach Wolters and came close to a medal in the virtual pool game, Carom 3D, but took fourth after a loss to Germany’s Protonski.

Of the Samsung Mobile Challenge boys, OmegaElite failed to clear group stage in Asphalt4 on Friday.  I suspect this might have something to do with the tourney switching over to the laggy demo phones. <.<  H2O TorcH however took first in his group after a 50 second round over The_French (France, duh!).  He lost his chance for a first or second place finish against Italy’s a.Enrico, but came back on Sunday against China to finish with a (B)ronze!  He took home $2000 and a Samsung camera.

American Warcraft III player LongWalk dropped out of brackets first round after a 0-2 loss against Korea’s sk.Lyn.  Starcraft player Idra faced a similar 0-2 fate against Kolllsen from Germany.  Both are very talented players on their home scene and in Europe, but there was no doubt the Koreans and Chinese would dominate the Real Time Strategy scene at this international challenge.  I salute our brave heroes.

Putting up a slightly better fight were our boys on Team USA for CounterStrike 1.6.  Team_EG and Turmoil both lost 1-2 to Denmark and France respectively.  Denmark and France…?  Denmark and France?

Our final medal count was 1 (S)ilver and 3 (B)ronze (even though TorcH’s medal doesn’t officially count towards the totall).   Team Korea (South of course) ranked 1st place with 3 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze medals (and every member of Team Korea took home a Samsung monitor!), followed by Team Sweden, and Team Germany.  Nearly all the players threw themselves into this, heart and soul, from the mobile players to the 5-man teams.  It was a thrilling experience watching teams triumph and feeling the energy in the venue.

Team USA Steals Flag From Venue, Has Dinner With It

Team USA steals flag, has dinner with it.

For a complete listing of games, competitors, and scores, visit WCG 2009 Schedules and Results.

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WCG 2009: Here Comes The Hero

Life has been a little hectic since I’ve returned from my trip to the World Cyber Games in Chengdu, China.  I’ll spare you my touristy run-down of airport delays (Beijing rockets silver iodide into clouds to make rain, but ended up blanketing Beijing in an unseasonable blizzard), sleep deprivation (left a forehead print on the glass revolving door, poured noodles on my partner’s laptop trying to show my mom my breakfast over webcam), internet restrictions (no Wikipedia, no Facebook, no blogs, no Youtube, and a very sensitive IP blocker), and personal excursions to different corners of Chengdu (the mountain where Daoism was founded, tons of street market haggling, and harrowing cab rides).  I will, however, name-drop it like it’s hot.

TorcH and I sat across the aisle from SirScoots, a well-known personality in eSports, and MoB Shift, one of the two Guitar Hero players for USA.  The flight was uneventful save for my sudden and unparalleled achievement in Pokemon Pinball: access to the Mewtwo Bonus Level and an all-time high score of 1,517,277,700 on the Blue level (which after some research I’ve discovered is not a very impressive score… let down).

Waiting in the Beijing airport, I lost track of TorcH and glommed onto the group surrounding the US WCG managers, Paul, Aaron, and Natalie.  Also in that group were Jamal, an Ultimate Gamer contestant, and one of my new friends, Sean “Wraith” Snack.  Paul ended up saving the day and getting us to Chengdu that night whereupon we were greeted by… a gaggle of uniformed volunteers speaking English, offering bottles of water, and encouraging us to relax in a special seating area while we awaited our shuttle!  It was our first taste of celebrity, and it was pretty neat.

At the hotel, the lobby was set up with tables dedicated to registering teams.  There were uniforms and meal cards and room keys for the players who all shuffled off to bed by 2am China time (all of China is one time zone). I had been awake for 25 hours and most other for much longer than that, so I was determined to sleep as long as possible.  Fortunately I didn’t because then I would have missed the players’ tour of the Panda Research Base the next morning!

Ah, the day of the police escort…  For the 30 minute ride to the panda base, we had a cop leading our bus the whole way (as a note, the banners for WCG still lined the road two full miles from the venue) and other cops along our route blocking intersection traffic so we could pass.  We were rushed around the base by our volunteers/herders and tour guide, but the pandas were epically adorable.  On the ride home, I sat with a group of referees in panda (excuse me, pander, as the Chinese pronounce it) hats and got to know Nicholas White, an Australian ref who has attended several WCG final events.

Upon returning to Century City, the combination hotel/event hall, we got our passes and entered the venue for the first time.  And here, we come to our agreement from my last post.  These aren’t the original “scantily-clad ladies” I was promising, but readers, feast your eyes on the lovely booth girls of Samsung!

These beautiful girls (and several very attractive guys) populated every exhibitor booth in various teams of costumes.

There were futuristic soldiers, elves, school girls, deal-or-no-deal types, space aliens, airline stewardesses, and even some cat-girls… whatever best related to the individual products (however tenuously).

What’s more, they all spoke at least some English, and were always eager to help me understand or get me to participate.

So suck on it, boys… I got to be around tons of hot Chinese girls and you didn’t. 😛

Coming next installment… how Team USA fared and who owned the most face! (hint: it wasn’t us)

GameX: It’s Got Bawls

Sorry, blog!  I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy catching up with everything I missed this week while sick.  As a gesture of apology, the next post will focus entirely on scantily clad women. 😀

TSP GameX

This was the first year for Pennsylvania’s new gaming affair, GameX.  Held in the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center near Valley Forge National Park, it was a bit out of the way for convention-goers more accustomed to metropolitan travel, but the expo still managed to attract a large number of attendees.  This may be due in part to GameX’s attempt to appeal to multiple crowds within gaming culture.

For the casual gamers who love to play with friends, there was a large Bring Your Own Computer area, the Alienware Arena, a bay of 98 Alienware PCs loaded with games and open to everyone, and as well as a ring of Xbox 360s and Playstation 3 running mostly fighting games hosted by the GXL team.

TSP Alienware

Competitive PC players had three gauntlets to run in the Alienware Arena in Team Fortress 2, Flash Point: Dragon Rising, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Unreal Tournament 3.  Console fans could duke it out in Street Fighter 4, Halo 3, BlazBlue, and more at the GXL booth or try their hands at Smash Brothers and Rock Band 2 on the main stage with the ladies of PMS Clan.  Prizes ranged from t-shirts and cases of energy drinks to hundreds of dollars and three real Epiphone guitars!

Just interested in looking around?  GameX has you covered there too!  Industry panels and exclusive screenings ran all weekend in the theatre room and the Artists’ Alley and Steampunk Gallery both had some amazing and funny pieces on display (and for sale!).  Gaming celebrities like The Escapists’ famous fast-talking Aussie critic Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw from Zero Punctuation and several cast members of the popular web show The Guild were on-hand to chat and sign autographs in the red carpet section.
TSP Zero

Interactive booths from Ubisoft, MSI, Hi-Rez Studios, Dante’s Inferno and Warhammer Online, Turtle Beach,  and more ringed the walls and dotted the showcase floor, offering attendees lots of free swag and exclusive gameplay opportunities.  Other companies like RockyBid.com, Dust-Off, Bawls, and Steel Series offered great deals on products and services.  There were displays from local robotics teams and local Jedi teams. And just when you thought the day was over, live bands took over the main stage to serenade the attendees with game-inspired ballads and mash-ups of well-known game soundtracks.

As a special treat for industry insiders and the hard-working volunteers, there were several VIP parties once the doors closed on the convention hall each night.  While many enjoyed the upscale wine and cheese soiree on Friday night, I loved the bouncing between the GameX and The Escapists’ parties at Arnold’s Family Fun Center on Saturday.  Laser tag, bumper cars, beer, and Bawls: everything a gamer could ask for to unwind!

TSP Bawls

GameX has already posted their 2010 date (October 22nd-24th for those wondering) so I hope it’s safe to say this event will be around to enjoy again.  I look forward to seeing how the convention grows, if it changes spaces, and what it has in store for the future!