Jun 112013 Tagged with , , ,

“The Reddit Guy” BWC Coverage / Trip to China

Hey Now!

Leafeator here back with another blog to chronicle his time spent at one of these little starcraft events. This time I was a lot out of my comfort zone traveling from California to Shanghai for the BWC grand finals. It was one hell of an adventure. This blog will follow the format of all of the others. It will accompany little personal stories from being at the event with pictures I took there. The positive feedback I received from the other blogs and joy that I get from writing these means that I will be doing this for every event I get to be a part of. Thanks for all of your kind words.

So how did I get to BWC? Who am I? Admittedly I do not post much around TL. I am a reddit guy through and through. I have been contributing to the /r/starcraft subreddit since the beta in numerous ways. Blizzard wanted to send a bunch of media out from their best news sites to cover the events. /r/starcraft made the cut and found out that Blizzard would be paying flight, hotel, and event costs to send one of its members all the way out to China. The mods of the subreddit decided to make a thread and take nominations for who would be the best fit represent them at BWC. A lot of names were thrown around, but when the dust settled they were tasked with choosing Krukar or… Me. Because of the overwhelming support Krukar got in the thread, he ended up being the first choice. However he decided to decline the offer. That left me, leafeator, the kid who has done a bunch of different jobs at a bunch of different events, and likes to post a lot.

I was fuckin’ ecstatic. Immediately I was put in contact with Blizzard. I got all the paperwork together to go down to the Chinese embassy in Los Angeles to register for my visa. That place was like a super DMV, and after being harassed by the teller, I was back a week later to pick up my passport with a cool little visa inside. Plans were put in motion, equipment was borrowed (I LOVE YOU GHOSTCLAW), and I was about a week away from traveling outside of North America for the first time in my life. I was both hype and uber nervous. I did not want to be letting anyone down. It is a lot of money to send someone out to China and put them up. It is a lot of pressure knowing that you could go there and your comrades on reddit could think you’re a twat. I don’t want to be a twat.

Day 0

All packed and ready to go. It was 1pm on Wednesday that I got through security at LAX. They determined that I had no bombs on me, so I waited in the boarding area for an hour. There I saw such people as Dustin Browder, Blizzard Employees, MLG photographers, and TL members. We did the anti-social thing and chose not to intermingle much. I was sitting playing my 3DS, and was too enthralled with paper mario to shake a hand. I was super happy to have this new Paper Mario to play on my 14 hour flight. Yep. 14 hours from LAX to Shanghai. And I was one of the lucky ones as I just had a strait flight. I did not have to take another plane to connect with San Fran, DC, or any other state side local. You know what is even cooler than the 14 hour flight? The 16 hour time change. That is a lot of dead time.

I hate airplanes. I do not know how I have not gotten over this yet. I do not like planes, elevators, or talking on the phone. What a random bunch of phobias. I wish that I was just scared of heights and would only carry that fear. Making me more nervous was that after boarding, we got to wait around an hour on the plane to wait for takeoff. I sat in the very back row by the bathrooms. The bad news is that it is a very high traffic area. The good news is that the two middle seats in my row were empty. The other lady and myself were really happy with this. We took a few naps with both of hour heads resting together in the middle of the row.

To keep me company in my bag (which was snuck past security because technically I needed to have it checked for size) was a laptop to big to use in my seat, my phone, and the afore mentioned 3DS. Mario, Howard Stern, Adam Carolla, Dr Drew, the new P!NK album (which, fuck you, is awesome) and the latest episodes of Dexter / Homeland lasted me a while. But by the first feeding time I ventured to the land of the built-in entertainment set in front of me. I was excited to get to watch the Katy Perry documentary (which I later informed everyone to watch. The EG WOW players know whats up, along with the female blizzard employees). I also got to watch Ted (not nearly as good) and play some tetris.

Speaking of plane food, well, this picture probably does a good enough job explaining how my dining experience went. Note: turbulence not pictured.

When I landed and we all got off the plane, it was a little surreal that I was in Asia. It was 9pm on Thursday. More than 24 hours after I took off in LA. Everyone made it past customs just fine. I only got a few dirty looks. Once we made it out of the baggage claim area we were greeted by thousands of fans for some pop star that was set to be arriving at the airport. That was the first big shock in China. Thousands of teens lined up at the airport to great and take pictures of their pop idol. All with accompanied signs and shirts. This made finding my designated driver rather difficult. Also, I was not really sure if I had a driver or not. After stumbling around I got a cab. The man told me where to meet the pretty girls and get the best drinks, then called a cab for me. The cab was my own little minivan with a guy wearing full butler outfit. White gloves and all. We did not talk for 50 minuets as he drove me on a highway to the hotel. I did not care about not being able to converse, or knowing that he could drive me to an alley and murder-rape me. I was taking in everything I could see. The roads were new, tolls were taken by lots of flashing lights. The buildings tall. The drivers crazy. Seriously my dude was driving in the on the middle of the lane lines.

Once I made it to the hotel I checked in. Wow that was a riveting sentence. The hotel was five star breath taking. Never stayed in something like this before.

I made it to my room on the 31st floor. Fun Fact: The elevator did not list a 4, 13, 14, 24, or 44th floor. So I was not really that high. Once I got into my room I not only realized that I had to call for a power converter (come on people 110v is obviously best v), but I had no god damn idea how to turn the lights on. Flipping the switched and walking around mindlessly for 10 whole minuets until the guy came with the converter with me. He then instructed me, and probably laughed, that I had to put the key card in a cretin slot to power the room. I felt like an ass, but I went back to setting up my room and taking in the view. Here are some daytime shots of the room. It was sweet. The bath with the window wall was my favorite. Took my first bath in maybe 10 years.

Turning on the TV and channel surfing I stopped on MTV. Call me Maybe was on, and I was both happy and confused. I switched the TV to HBO because it was the only English background noise around. I then went to plug my lappy in and tried to set up my VPN. China firewall is dumb. For realsies. I had to switch providers on the fly and ended up using StrongVPN. Not only did they have a 7 day money back guarantee, I had the best VPN out of anyone at the event after. I got to watch streams and never had downtime. I even got it working on my new S3, so everyone wanted to use my phone in the lobby to check twitter. Twitter is some sort of meth for players and casters. Monk from TL hit me up on skype, and I met him and Antoine down in the lobby for the first time. We talked for a while and then parted ways knowing we had to be up early for the breakfast buffet, and shuttle to the venue. I turned in for the night and slept rather well. No jetlag the whole weekend actually.

Day 1

Friday morning. The first day for everyone to get to the venue and finishing prepping everything for a live show. It was the practice day to get the players comfortable with everything that would be going on. After an amazing breakfast buffet on the 54th floor (well amazing is relative, ask Adabisi and Grubby) everyone gathered in the lobby awaiting the shuttles. Want to play a fun game? See how many people you can name in this picture:

We waited and waited as the buses seemed ever delayed. I stuck mostly with the TL guys, and we got passes for the event from the Chinese Blizzard rep. We had all our gear and was ready to get on site. The first buss filled up with players only. HerO decided to take a smoke break, where Sen went for a nap.

The TL boys and me got in the second little van and made our way to the venue. It was about 10 minuets away from out hotel and across an epic bridge. The venue was in the African hall from the 2010 world fair that was held in Shanghai. Miles of buildings were erect here for hundreds of countries. I was so ignorant I did not even know the world fair was a thing. The sad thing is that only two years later, all of the buildings are abandon. Much like the Olympic structures in Beijing. The architecture of the building was very unique and beautiful. It is a real shame that they are all rotting away. When we got to the venue everyone was taken aback by the banners outside and the pure size of the hall. Here is a pano that I posted of the entire front of the building.

When we got inside everyone was gathering in the media room as workers finished up the venue. I walked around and saw the two stages, razer and asus booths, fan art gallery, press rooms, media room, blizzard HQ, informational booth, and store. It was evident that a lot of planning went into this. It was the most well constructed event I had ever been to. Everything was crisp. I had high hopes. After all of the players were briefed of the days events in the media room(minus Suppy, Scarlet, and HuK who were arriving Friday), they were moved to the player area behind the stage. The player area was two rooms, one lounge and one with tons of computers. The boxes were set up so you could not surf the web, only play starcraft. And a lot of starcraft was played. In fact the players spent 98.6% of their time at the venue in those little rooms. It was their haven.

I noticed that after they players left the media room that only the TL boys, the MLG Photographer, and myself were left. That seemed odd as we wanted to see where all of the other media was. There was about 50 chairs all with internet in the media room. We prepped a lot of content anyways and was ready to push it to the internet. But things felt fishy. I asked my bliz contact, Stefi, and she shortly there after sent Rob Simpson my way to inform us that we really were not supposed to be here, and could not post anything from inside the venue today. Oh. Well I deleted all of my pictures I took so I would never post them. I wish I kept some of them in retrospect.

We packed up and headed home. It was a gift from god himself that Monk can speak some Chinese to find out from the buss drivers when we could get back to the hotel. Waiting around for our ride back we took part in a good luck ceremony outside the event. A Chinese chef set up a table and lit some candles/incense and took out a roasted pig and chicken. He cut them up and we all ate a piece with sauce and sugar for good luck. It was very tasty, all be it a little cold.

Once we got back to the hotel we all went to our rooms and set out stuff down. Armed with just cameras and cash we ventured out into the streets of Shanghai looking for food. Monk knew where we were going, I just followed. Enrique, the MLG photo man, joined our krew. I marveled at the buildings, lights, weather, people, everyone’s inability to follow traffic laws, and all of the bikes. Everything seemed so odd and weird. I constantly felt judged by everyone around me.

We made our way down the street and into the shopping mall. This place was huge. Four stories of mazes of shops. Food, stands, clothes, electronics, it was your standard mall all right. But the size and losing my sense of direction was killer. We went down to the level that must have had 30 restaurants, and the metro access. The colors were awesome, the text I could not read. I found some shops that looked familiar

And some not as much

Our mission was to find soup dumplings. Monk said it was a specialty of Shanghai. I am a bit of a foodie and am down for trying anything as long as it has a good recommendation. I was all in on this soup dumpling idea. Once we found a good place after wonder around for what seemed like an eternity to my stomach, Monk took the liberty to order everything for us. Still not knowing any Chinese, I was was just happy when the food arrived.

God damn that was good. We walked around the mall a little more, and headed back to the hotel. It was not raining and people laughed at me wearing shorts and a tshirt. My only real wardrobe. Everyone rides bikes and mopeds, and they all have their own special way of keeping dry. It was interesting. So was the long rack of bikes.

We all dried off in Munk’s room. It was nice to be in a room on the other side of the hotel, as we got to see the other side of the city. We also laughed at how his bathroom glass wall was oddly placed right next to the bed. It was romantic. Here we waited to get our official press badges and go to the dinner we were invited to by Stefi, the lady from Blizzard. To kill time we did some work practicing interviews. Monk wanted me to pretend to be a player so he could interview me. I put on my best Illusion swag and did a full interview answering questions as if I was Chris. It was good to get some practice in front of the camera.

We met Stefi and formed a party of 10 who would be walking down the street again to go for a traditional Chinese dinner restaurant. Courtesy of Blizzard of course. Dat’ WOW money. TL, Reddit, and Enrique got clumped with the Europe press as that was the Blizzard division taking care of us. I do not know if other NA media got invited to a different dinner, but I do not think so. I did not see much of Gamespot however. We got to know each other venturing over to dinner. Sweeds, Germans, Americans, Franchies, Ukranianiese, we represented a wide stroke of western media. When we sat down we got a book that had 100 pages of things. Again, thank god we had Monk. The task of ordering dinner was more of a team building exercise than a pleasant night out. We had to take notes just to figure out what we wanted to order. After the marathon of ordering was done, we drank some amazing tea and talked all things from wow boosting (yeah I still dont know much about it) to #SaveHOTS, and investors being the most broken piece of shit in the history of the universe. I also got some shit for being “The Reddit Guy.” The brunt of many jokes I was. Pitchforks and Destiny posts were frequent one-liners. Once our food came we ate about 7 weird yet great plates of food. Never had a lasy susan been so effective. Dinner was great, but what was better was getting to know all of these guys, and converse about eSports for about four hours.

We all walked back home and hung out until it was time to get some sleep. The event was tomorrow, and we were ready to work out asses off. Everyone was hyped.

Day 2 / BWC Day 1

We were ready. We ate our morning buffet and took off for the lobby to meet up with everyone else. Gunrun was paranoid about getting everything working the way it should, so we took a cab with him to the event. We had an interesting time getting there, and arrived before the majority of the players. However people were already filing into the venue. Even with the heavy security

This place was starting to get rockin. So many plastic lawn chairs were set up in front of the starcraft stage ready for the day’s events.

Starcraft to the left, WoW to the right, sponsors and art in the middle. At the start people were drifting all over the place just to see the venue. The media room filled up with the gents I met the night before, some new faces, and a ton of chinese press.

Artosis was chillin’ at the main English caster desk as people filed in. It was odd in respect that he, and everyone else for that matter, were out in the audience casting. However no one was pestered by all of the fans. Thousands of people and they did not care for our English casting heroes one bit. Must have been relaxing for them.

Cosplay was super popular for the people attending the event. I do not really understand, but everyone was clamoring to take pictures of these paid actors in professional made costumes. The Kerigan took the cake tho.

Each side of the hall had a desk with posters and pens where ladies would let you draw your own sign to take with you to the audience. It was cool to see that the paper was free, because most NA events will charge you for this. Some of the pre-made art was quite badass.

As it drew within 30 minuets of the stream going live, the loudspeaker told everyone to gather and take seats in the starcraft section. The opening ceremony would be taking place. This was the moment everyone was waiting for, the start of the event! The amount of people that filled the chairs was quite cool.

Then the drums started. It was a little weird, but whatever. We rolled with it.

Next up came the chinese crew for the audience. Pepper is on the left, and is Clutch’s favorite.

After not understanding a word they said, Mike came out to give a speech about BWC. He was good, but I would have been 800x happier if he was not reading it from a prompter.

Now we were greeted by the flag girls who walked to the back of the crowd to unite with their respective players.

Evey one was announced one by one to walk with their flag down the crowded audience section. This thing was seriously a fire marshal’s worst nightmare. This was the largest camera blitz of the event, trying to snap pictures of everyone walking proud

Full Album of these pictures

My man Suppy was up first on stage. It is hardest to watch your friends play big games. You want them to win so bad it is painful. You feel their excitement, you share their defeat. Luckily Conan won his group the first day. After the win he took a long deep breath, happy he did not travel all this way to lose his first set (something he was scared of).

Day 1 was all group play. The brackets in venue were the best I have scene. Big and posted on the side of the stage, they were updated asap. It was the only real way for us to follow the tournie as we only say one game at a time, not four. Liquipedia was obviously our other resource.

Upon going back to our media cave after the first game it was evident that this BWC ship was sinking fast. Stream problems were running ramped, and the complaints were going strong. We were aware of the feedback because we could hear that in the venue as well, not just the stream. That shit was annoying. All I could hope for was Blizzard stepping in and taking over some control from the chinese production team that was ruining this broadcast. Some of that did happen, and bugs were being squashed, but I still understand that the stream was not the high point of this event. IMO if the games were not as awesome as they were, this would have been a huge failure.

People were leaving the starcraft seats fast to go back over to the wow stage. Their hometown hero was defeated, the only other player they cared about was Grubby, and come on, wow dungeons were being shown across the hall. That shit kray. This was a common theme through the event, more people watching wow. In all reality they should have had the bigger stage. People were also leaving because the only people who had food at the event were media members and staff. Being in an abandoned area, there was no food around for miles, and no food served in venue.

A high point of the first day was how the casters did. On the main stage was the chinese duo, who along with the OGN korean casters worked their ass off casting main stage games non stop for the two days.

The English desk was a constant rotation of the many casters. Tastosis saw the majority of their time out in the crowd, but Day[9] and Apollo had some good stints at the desk. I only saw the Ax brothers out there once, along with Kaleris, Khaldor, and Wolf. I dont think that Bitterdamn ever made it out to the main casting desk, but I could be wrong.

I sent a tweet to Razer asking if they had any hoodie swag at the event that I could have. Why not eh? They got back to me and told me to meet the rep their names Andrew. He is the “eSports Marketing and Content Specialist.” Have you ever met someone and just from the start had a friendship with them? These are my feelings twords Andrew. Although they had no hoodies, we started a friendship over the remainder of the event. I learned quite a few things from him, and am even considering applying for a Razer opening in Singapore now. Seriously, he rocks. Here is his interview with Illusion, and here is his event video.

I finally got to do an interview with a chinese fan. It was hard enough to find someone who spoke english. I looked like a fool asking everyone. Ever harder was finding someone willing to do a video interview. 7 people later I had to settle for text. You can read that here.

The rest of the day was games and standard media work. Nothing too exciting except for seeing the response online and watching fires be put out. Grubby won, which sent the chinese fans in a frenzy.

Illusion lost to Parting. This made me QQ

Idra went on a fucking tear. Which was good because people started talking about him, and less about the stream.

Most people who go to many events to work know that Saturday is a long night. Normally you get out at midnight or later, and go to bed because you have to be up in < 6 hours. We got out of the venue at 9. Holy shit that is early. Andrew and me hung out in the lobby, got some KCF with Illusion, Rotti (who lost his phone TT), Axletos, and some others. Then we went up to the bar at the top of the hotel to have a drink and chat with the likes of tastosis and wolf. The bed.

Day 3 / BWC Day 2

Wake up, shower, buffet, buss, venue. We arrive on site ready for the RO16. With half of the players out already today is when we find out who is out champion. Players nerves were high hoping for a win. Media nerves were high hoping for a better broadcast and more access to the players. The fans didn’t care because they were watching WoW anyways.

In all honesty there was not a ton to be doing. You can only take pictures of the audience so many times. With Sen being the only fan favorite left in the event, he spend almost all day on the main stage to try and get the best response from the crowd as possible.

It might get boring to shoot the crowd a bunch, but it NEVER gets boring taking pictures of Artosis. I swear I set a world record for tastosis pictures this event.

I spent much of my time out of the press room standing by the English stream desk. Either taking pictures of watching games listing to Dan/Sean cast them a foot to my right. It was nice because I could focus on them and drown out the in house chinese stream. You did get to see their frustration with the production tho. Here is Day[9] saying “What the Fuck” to the crew back stage.

Yao Ming showed up. That was really, really cool. He is tall. He was swarmed by his countrymen too. A real Chinese hero, I wish I got a picture and not just pushed around by adoring fans. Brothers casted Brothers after the clamor from the community brought it to Blizzard’s attention. This kind of made the event for me. It really was something monumental.

The downtime on the stream where everyone had to watch the cut scenes over and over again was masked in venue by a crazy chinese dood, and pepper, giving away tshirts to fans in the audience. It was a little bizzar. My favorite one was when the guy did not know that Idra played Zerg after Idra just finished playing his game.

Another fun part about being at the venue, was that they can only smoke…in the bathroom. I hated myself every time I had to pee. Walking in the restroom was like wondering into this mist of cigarette smoke so dense you could feel it. They hot boxed the entire bathroom, and it made it hard to even breathe.

HerO lost his games and dropped out. I felt his pain.

However it was more hard to watch Illusion lose. And by far the hardest to watch Suppy get knocked out after going up 2-0, and winning most of the third game. Sorry if you happen to be reading this Conan. I could only imagine how you feel. It sucks watching friends lose. Friends who could have beaten sen and been in the finals. ='[ I got to interview Conan and ask him questions from reddit. It was really hard to get play interviews, especially the format I was trying to implement. Add to that how bad the audio is because I do not have a direct line in on my t1i, and this being my first interview…. Yeah. Fuck I think we did a good job tho. Interview.

So I dont need to run down the event for you. You can see who beat who on liquipedia. ^^, But as we all know, this baller won. Pardon the pun.

The victory ceremony for Parting was very……odd. Not HerO not knowing how to open champagne odd. But…eerie odd. Parting does not know what do to on stage. The crowd is cheering, but it is a very calm cheer. No one is going too crazy. Everyone is just watching him on stage, pointing their cell phones at him, as if they are waiting for his instructions on what to do next. I know it came across loud on stream, but being in venue after Parting won the event, something felt off.

The house lights come on and everyone clears out. Parting does three interviews in the designated press rooms. One chinese, one korean, and one english. Here is the full english one recorded.

I got Andrew to snag one last picture of me before I shook Mike’s hand and headed back to the hotel

TL, EU, and Chinese media buddies all went to a Hot Pot restaurant after the event. We got a private room and ordered a bunch of stuff. The most enjoyable eating experience of the event for me. Again we talked a bunch, but we also got to enjoy the food. Again I had no idea what we were ordering, I just put the apron on and went with

Evey one was announced one by one to walk with their flag down the crowded audience section. This thing was seriously a fire marshal’s worst nightmare. This was the largest camera blitz of the event, trying to snap pictures of everyone walking proud
img class=”aligncenter” alt=”” src=”http://i.imgur.com/uXcRWl.jpg” width=”427″ /h4height=”640″ / the flow. Zero regrets, and I enjoy the friends I made.

We get back to the hotel late. A man with a monkey on a leash follows us home. We see Rotti arrive with Ben and Stephano back from wherever they went off to party. Everyone split into little catacombs that night. There was not one central event (unless you were blizzard staff or uber VIP). Rotti was silly drunk, and Bitter was pissed because he had to babysit him. I also believe that they got kicked out of a cab, so Ben was having horrible flashbacks. Monk and I along with Sam and Matt went down to the corner store and bought some very interesting liquor. My bottle of rice vodka had a $5 bill underneath the cap. I do not know why I paid $12 only to get $5 back upon opening the bottle. It threw red flags of horrible at me right and left. We discussed Reddit v TL, Warcraft 3, China, the future, and eSports all night. No sleep for us and we hit the buffet in the morning.

Day 4

Last day in China. We eat ourselves awake in the morning, meeting other groggy friends such as Axletoss and Major up there too. Major freaked me out by touching me on the back of the neck thinking I was Apollo.

Most everyone was leaving for the airport early, but those of us flying back to LAX were not leaving till 8pm. After saying bye to friends and cleaning/packing up, Enrique and me checked out of the rooms and left our bags at the front. We went out for lunch and exploring around. I was excited to have extra time to do this. We went back to the mall, got lunch, got lost, ate, got lost some more, found some little alleys lined with shops, shopped around, and had a fucking black. I love Enrique. He is a little quiet, but a baller and artist none the less. He also works at a shoe shop. Respect.

After walking around for hours and spending money (or in my case, regretting I did not buy things like the Obama Mao bag) we chilled in the lobby and talked to people who too were waiting for their shuttle to the airport. Had a nice long talk with Mike about his food poisoning. Also some chatter with Suppy / Scarlett / Major about teams.

Eventually Enrique and me went up to the business lounge with out bags to do some work / use our laptops. We ate the snacks (which we later found out were not free), and worked away prepping stuff for upload. It was sad knowing that out time in Shanghai was coming to a close.

We got on the buss with Blizzard employees, players, the EG WoW team, and Day[9]. I sat in front of Sean and the mother fucker was rocking shaking my chair the entire way to the airport. To be fair, he warned me. I could have moved. We talked about, in the words of Rotterdam, “Fucking China, Man.” Then the conversation switched to “Top 5 Games.” The 40 minuets to the airport felt like 4 with everyone just enjoying conversing about games. Unfortunately the buss took us to the wrong terminal, so we had to navigate out way back to AA departing.

We get our boarding passes from the desk and make out way through customs. Turns out that airport security is very easy leaving china. This guy didnt even have to take off his shoes. I did anyways and everyone was looking at me like an idiot because I had no idea what was going on. Enrique and I went on one last shopping adventure through all the duty free shops, and waited another hour for our plane to leave.

Boarding the plane back was hell, as it was a full flight. I was in the back again, but not an isle seat this time. Sucked. 15 minuets after getting on the plane I was asleep. Only to be woken up by offers of food, take off, and landing, I slept for almost the entire 10 hours on the way home. My neck hurt like a mother fucker.

And then I was back in LA going through customs again. At 7pm on Monday. 2 hours before my plane took off. Time travel dude!


It felt great to be home and eat some comfort food. I was ready to upload some pictures, share them with the world, and start writing about the experience. I can not thank Blizzard and /r/starcraft enough for the experience. I will be traveling to Vegas this weekend for IPL5, and Long Beach for NASL4. I will be doing insider coverage on reddit, uploading more albums, doing more interviews, and blogging about it after the fact right here.

I hope you enjoyed my story. I probably forgot some things because there was just too much. You can the “best of” album of BWC pictures here. It has over 200 pictures from the event, and more/different ones than this blog! If you would like to follow me on twitter to keep current with everything I am doing, you can find me @leafeator. Thanks. I wuv you <3. Thanks. I wuv you height=”640″ / the flow. Zero regrets, and I enjoy the friends I made.