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Hey Now!

Guess who is back with another photoblog / story time post? This guy. I really do enjoy being able to put my thoughts here and share me event experiences with all of you. If this is your first time coming across my blog then I would love to welcome you. Sit down and join me for some tea.

IPL5, Las Vegas Nov. 29 – Dec. 2

You can find all of my IPL5 photos on my imgur page, at this link!

IPL is a trip that almost did not happen for me. With my friends bailing on me I had no way to make my way from LA -> LV, and nowhere to stay. It is a good thing that everyone in Starcraft is awesome. After a few texts and tweets I made arrangements and found myself driving down to GHOSTCLAW’s house Thursday night. It sucked that we had to miss Thursday at IPL, but a 4 day event is silly long.

After meeting up with Robbie, our ride arrived. Gary, a CSL admin and all around cool kid, showed up in his mother’s lexus SUV. We packed out bags in the back and made out way from UCLA twords Vegas. However we decided that it would be a good idea, at 8pm, before our 4 hour drive to stop and get Ramen in downtown. Needless to say the noodles were gewd, but we did not leave downtown until 11pm. We were not going to get to Vegas for a looooong time.

On our drive up I sat shotgun. This turned out to be very necessary because Gary’s sense of direction was quite subpar. We made our way from the 10 to the 15 as we sang with the radio and chatted. eSports, politics, school, engineering, and Katy Perry were all discussed in detail. GHOSTCLAW download and played a solid 3 hours of Hill Climb Racing for his, now cracked, S3.

We finally made it to Vegas at 3:30am. After parking at the Cosmopolitan we took the elevator up to our rooms. I was calling drazak 100 times over as I was suppose to sleep on his floor. He would not answer so I followed Gary to the room that he was crashing in. I was welcomed in and offered a floor by two guys who I have never seen before in my life. Turns out that one was Cheesehead, a CSL caster and Empire Media, and the other his friend on leave from the Airforce. They were drunk. It was great. I made a bed with the couch cushions and crashed for the night.

Waking up Friday morning we all scantered down stairs to the fourth floor. As soon as we got out of the elevator the amount of people was evident. IPL too over the entire floor, using one wing for sponsors, one as a lounge, and the last as a SC2 / LOL venue. I met up with Paul, the CSL web dev, and got some Panda before picking up our badges and heading on into the venue. We got to walk across the bridge hanging over lv blvd, and take in all the crazies.

Back from food I got my media badge and decided to check out the venue. Already missing a day I was curious what it looked like, as I was not able to see many pictures from inside the hall. When I walked in Scarlet and DRG were playing. Almost all the seats were filled. GOM production was in the corner, Grubby was on stage casting like a boss. The voting scoreboard was front and center, and the casters were flanked by two booths on each side. Not much to do aside from sit and watch the games. The Media pass did not allow us to sit in the first four rows of VIP seats, but it did allow us to sit right in front of the stage. Guess I could not complain about that.

Players were gathered to the right of the stage by the bay of computers set up for them. This is where most of them hung out during the entire event. If they wanted to sit in the VIP area they needed to get a VIP tag themselves, so it was easier for them to hang here. The shitty thing about this is that the lighting to take pictures of them was bollocks. Aside from the standard eSports dark venue which makes taking pictures near impossible, everyone was glowing weird colors like purple, blue, or green. Here is MC in the player pit sporting his sexy purple hue, and his Obama tshirt.

Alex Garfield was also looking like a boss in the player pit attending to his ever so important business. He looks damn good in blue.

A bunch of stars were in the audience. Well eSports star atleast. Joinging the crowd as spectators were the likes of Mike Morhaime, and djWHEAT (Making side-bets, none the less)

I decided to go check out the League room next. They were making a lot of noise. They in fact had the bigger hall, which was a good thing because they needed the seats. They had ~200 more seats than starcraft, and also more people standing. They had a little better lighting too…

I walked in during the middle of a 70+ minuet game. Which is pretty extreme for a moba. Turns out with the delay that the players actually get to turn around to watch the last 30 seconds of the game. You know who wins before the gg. They had a very similar stage setup and was a very fun environment.

I love FPS games. Valve shooters brought me into eSports. With that being said, I am a big fan of Shootmania. The shootmania room had a really small stage and audience, but also a bunch of computers to come play on. Everyone also got a beta key with their IPL pass. The environment was small, but fun. Joshy did a good job casting the games with TB. I spent more time in this room than I care to admit.

On the way back to Starcraft for GSL ro4, I found a wild Hot_Bid. This is what the interviews look like from the other side.

The GSL intros were fucking epic. I actually had chills. Everyone came out and stood under their spotlight. The Korean announcers were on point. John was extra cute.

Artosis was ready

Mr Chea was ready

Definitely the highlight of my day. Tastosis did an awesome job on stage interacting with the crowd. The games were fun. I got to sit three feet in front of the casters and take pictures of the players. I felt spoiled. Ultimately Hyun and Sniper won. Setting up the ZvZ that really, no one wanted.

I went out with Shindigs and his UC Irvine CSL squad to go get some Earl of Sandwiches. Hot Hawaiian was a good choice. Getting to interact with the all of the colorful vegas night-goers was fun too. Really tho, I just love the look and lights of the city.

After playing Mafia until 6 am, I slept in a wee bit too late. I missed all of the IPL happenings on Saturday. I arrived just in time for the opening ceremony for Korea vs World. Shit was going down. Robin marched his players down the isle hoping to snatch victory from the GSL Koreans.

Unfortunately for the world, the Koreans had this in the bag. With the exception of Scarlett and Stephano, the Koreans won out. They were very smug at their table.

After Korea won day 1, everyone got on stage for the camera.

After a little break it was GSL Finals time. This was the most crowded that the venue got. Everyont was piling in to watch Tastosis cast a GSL Finals on American soil. Both of these players have been waiting all day for their chance at the trophy.

Sniper making his way down the isle

Hyun on stage ready for battle

Tasteless being sexy, as always. His interaction with the live audience really made the finals that much more awesome. Joking and doing call / response with the crowd just raised everyone’s excitement levels.

Now Sniper did win. Congrats to him. That kid was in so much shock coming out of the both that he was shaking. Hands on face, tears in eyes, he won the highest prize in the land of Starcraft.

With every winner comes a loser, and it was heartbreaking looking at Hyun in his booth.

With the night over we all went to KBBQ. JoRoSar owed GHOSTCLAW dinner from an old bet. Turns out 40 of us walked down to this hole-in-the-wall scary 24 hr kbbq place. We found Korean players, GOM staff, and a bunch of other friends here. We ordered a lot of food. However our table got the wrong order. With the waitress coming back after we finish eating in a panic telling us “NO WAIT, THIS IS YOUR ORDER!” we were a bit scared to find out what we really ate. And that’s the story of how I ate tongue for the first time.

We all went back to the fourth floor to play some more mafia. Jorosar joined us and got his mafia beak wet. He really enjoyed it, and tweeted a bunch of panoramic of us playing. Untill 6 am, again. Bad call. It is hard to balance eSports work with getting to hang out with these wonderful friends that you make.

Kiett also decided to take a bunch of pictures of me playing. Stone cold Mafia killer over here. Just ask Shindigs.

When Gary and me got back to our room we found our roommates to still be up. Cam was bleeding all over the place. He had a nasty cut on his nose and above his eye. He was so drunk from the club that he tripped in the bathroom. After tending to him and getting him to bed, I did not get to pass out on my comfy floor until about seven am. w00t.

Sunday started for me with the Brothers Spain trying to take down the Koreans in all-kill format and send the show-match into an ace match.

Even with Stephano trying for his reverse all kill, it was kinda hopeless

The Koreans won 2-0. We were ready for IPL finals.

At this point TB came upon stage and hyped the shit out of the crowd. This was needed because most of the media staff was falling asleep on the right side of the stage. This was not helped by Leenock and Violet playing all 8 of their games. We actually thought we might have gotten out of their early Sunday….lol

Leenock and Violet hugging it out before the finals

However 8 games later, the winner arose

Polt is beautiful. I have a man crush on him.

IPL Top 3 posing

I stuck around after everyone cleared out to talk to some people. The GOM staff all lined up on stage for a photo. Was really happy that by change I was able to snag it and share it with everyone who wanted to thank them for the awesome job they did over the four days.

So the event was over. Twitch had an after party at the hotel bar. That was really cool until I found out that they carded at the door. #under21problems. I got to hang out with the other youngins until the party moved to the downstairs open bar. I was able to interact and mingle with everyone there. The night gets a little fuzzy after that part. I just remember getting to hang out with a lot of people, talk, and hugging Artosis. After getting kicked off the casino floor really early in the morning, we talked on the fourth floor for a bit before calling it a night. Sadly Julian did not last too long

The next morning we all arose in our tired state. Had some buffet and left vegas around 4pm. GHOSTCLAW slept, Gary and me sang along with the radio on our trip home.

NASL4, Long Beach Dec. 8 – Dec. 94

You can find all of my NASL4 photos on my imgur page, at this link!

NASL was a completely different beast than IPL. Aside from going from Vegas in a convention hall to a theater in Long Beach…I was no longer just Media picture boy. Now I was volunteer dood on the production wall.

Normally I take thousands of pictures during an event. I was not able to do that. My duty here was to make sure that every piece of media out of game (Segments, back-from-commercial videos, and so on) were played with the correct sound and able to be broadcast to the stream. Everything went smoothly as I have worked with a lot of the NASL guys before. After all they really are the ones who put my foot in this proverbial eSports door.

I arrived Friday night driving from Ventura CA to Long Beach CA. Normally a 75 minuet drive that took over two hours. Anyone familiar with LA traffic will know why. I arrived twords the end of rehearsal. Everything was set up and we were just practicing for tomorrow. I got to snag some pictures of the venue to release.

I drove back to Van Nuys to sleep at my grandmothers house. Gas < hotel. After catching a few winks I headed back out to Long Beach for the 9am call time. We had to delay starting the show an hour, and admittedly got off to a rocky start. We were startled by some things but kept on pushing through. The crew is tight nit and very kin to a family. I really love being back stage with everyone involved. The production wall consisted of about 12 people in total, so we were all working our asses off. It was good to see the show get started.

Everyone was huttled backstage working on the next move and watching the games being played. All of the players and interviews were taking place under the stage in the dressing room areas. Directly behind the stage was where the production was going on, along with the PC’s for the FFA.

Fierce Fitness Happened.

Mr. Bitter enjoyed it a lot.

Soe does an amazing job in her couch/corner doing interviews. She is also a very pretty and funny lady. If you ever get the chance you should say hi to her.

Rotti also adds some sex appeal to back stage

Gretorp catching some Z’s

Ken was a great addition to the NASL staff. He sacrificed a lot to move down from Canada to SoCal to help eSports.

Lauren and Chance are the real sex appeal of the show. They are also BFF’s. Chance is actually an immaculately trained dog. Morgan, the director, treats him like a king.

Violet rounded off Day 1 punching his ticket to the grand finals Sunday. It was a long day working and waiting. I drove back to grandmas for the night, excited for the events of Day 2.

So we started off arriving a little later day 2. We were all in our rhythm and ready to roll out. The day started off with White-Ra and Ret playing their HOTS show match. Both of these guys are personal friends of mine. Hell I am the Liquid`Ret fan club head. I should update that. Alex kicked the shit out of Jos. It was the first time I really watched HOTS play.

the FFA was coming up. The last bit of silly before the serious finals time. We knew how epic it was going to be, but not how viral it turned out. The viewer ship peeked during this time, and everyone loved the interaction between the players on stream. The combination of casters / cameras on the players / the players willingness to be silly with each other hit a home run.

After the FFA break, the mood shifted. It was no longer time for silly segments and laughs. It was time for the NASL Grand Finals. This was serious. HerO was the hero we deserved. I looked over to Elliot (the bad ass who is responsible for almost everything that goes out to stream. He is the man technically producing the show.) and told him that I was going to run off now to go take pictures. He couldnt really say no to me. Now here a bunch of pictures from the championship celebration.

After the finals ended and clean up stopped we went to Roscos. Dat shit gewwwwd. Silverfire had chicken liver, and that was discussing. Everything else was wonderful. The rest of the staff went off to PF Changs to have some drinks. Eventually we all met back up in the hotel lobby. Players, staff, fans, and insiders all mingled over some Makers Mark, 151, and coke. This went on until we got a bit too rambunctious and had to take the party upstairs. Mr. Bitter told a story about turtles for about 15 minuets. Unfortunately I had to say my goodbyes and drive home. I arrived back home at 5:30. A 60 minuet drive greeted by the sun rising. I slept for 13 hours.

There are a shit ton of pictures that I did not post here because they have no context. I like a lot of them. If you would like to see them, this is a link to the imgur page that houses all of the event pictures.

Again, since I had a job this event I did not get to do a lot of shooting. QQ, I need as much practice as I can get. If you would like to see more photos please check out my friend’s albums. Carlton, the ESFI Guy & Silverfire/Ghostclaw/itsjustatake, the TL guys. Both have really good stuff.

There is a part of me that is happy now that I can spend the rest of 2012 relaxing with my family, and focus on other parts of my life. It is not long before the tournament scene will be back in full swing for 2013. I hope that I get to attend more events next year. I love networking and meeting new faces, along with getting to shake hands of those who I have spent hundreds of hours of my life watching. Maybe if I am really lucky I could get a job in the scene. Twitch just put out a new listing for a “Content Manager,” and god damnit I feel like I fit their requirements well.

I hope that you all had a great year. 2013 is looking bright for not just Starcraft, but eSports on a whole. Trying my hardest to suppress the cynical side of me that is concerned of a “bubble.” I hope to be able to meet more of you in the future.

If you would like to follow me on twitter to keep current with everything I am doing, you can find me @leafeator. Thanks for reading. I wuv you <3