Tuesday, August 27, 2013

European Research Exchange - Gamescom and WCS

So today is Tuesday. Now, I normally do my posts on Mondays, but I got back home from my trip to Cologne last night, and even though technically I could've still wrote it, I totally didn't really feel like it, so I'm gonna write it now.

My exchange here in Berlin is officially coming to an end! Finished work last week, and the day after I got on a bus to Cologne for Gamescom and WCS. Honestly was such an awesome trip. Was really tiring but I had a great time. As a result this is gonna be a long post, be prepared.

It only took ten freaking hours to get there. But I had these like, European instant noodles.

Me and my friend got to Cologne sometime in the late afternoon, so after dinner we went to the Cologne Cathedral because it's literally right next to the main station. The cathedral is pretty sick. It's really big and really detailed, and just overall looks pretty cool.

After that we went to Bonn because hotels in Cologne are expensive, so we booked a hotel in Bonn instead. It's not super far from Cologne, so whatever. Thursday was the start of Gamescom, so that morning we got up early and made a trip to the Messe in Cologne.

There were so many people.

It took forever to get inside. We arrived at like 9:45 and we managed to get in at like. 11:30. In that time a lot of standing occurred, which kinda sucked. But hey, whatever. This is my first large video game convention, so I was pretty excited for it. Especially because the WCS Season 2 finals were being held there.

The moment I got into the venue, the first thing I did was notice a souvenir booth that sold stuff like t-shirts. I immediately lined up and bought a Gamescom t-shirt because souvenir and I figured I could get awesome eSports people to sign it, so it would be an epic souvenir.

It ended up kinda wrinkley, but also ended up incredibly awesome.

Since WCS didn't start until Friday, my game plan was to walk around the venue on Thursday to look at the booths and to figure out where everything was. So I just started walking around. The first hall I went into had the Square Enix booth, and as people know I'm a pretty big Square Enix fanboy.

They had Lightning Returns, FFX HD, KH 1.5 HD and FFXIV as their main titles at their booth. There was a pretty big crowd for that stuff, but I managed to get in and play a bit of FFX HD. The graphics were polished up pretty nicely and I liked the interface change they made to the game. Made it feel a lot more modern.

Can't wait for any of those games.

The next hall I visited after that one was the one with Ubisoft and XBox. I didn't really stick around in that hall much though, since Ubisoft is cool, but I've never really got into the Assassin's Creed series, so Black Flag wasn't a big of a draw for me. Watchdogs looks sick though.

And the XBox section was like XBox. I'm a Playstation person, so XBox isn't really a thing for me. They had a pretty big section for XBox and their exclusives though, and a lot of people we're checking it out.

So green.

The next hall I visited was my second most visited hall because it had Blizzard and Sony stuff. Blizzard had announced their expansion for Diablo III at Gamescom, so they had a pretty big focus on D3's PS3 release and RoS expansion. The trailer is really cool.

They also had a big focus on WoW (obviously) and for their new free to play game Hearthstone. I actually went and lined up to play Hearthstone, and it was actually pretty fun. My opponent was kinda slow, so I didn't get to play too much, but it's like a simpler version of Magic that's kinda just fun to play.

The Blizzard stage.

They didn't really have anything for StarCraft II, but I guess it made sense since they didn't have any new content for it. Plus WCS was gonna go on during the event, and that's honestly enough StarCraft II. They still had some show matches though, so I got to meet my first StarCraft pro of the event that day, White-Ra.

Aside from the Blizzard stage I also went and checked out a presentation for Destiny, which seems like a pretty cool/interesting game, and I played a bit of Warframe and got a t-shirt for it because my friends lined up for it. Most of my time was still spent at the Blizzard section though haha.

White-Ra prepping for his match against Ret.

After getting White-Ra's autograph and a picture with him, we decided to call it a day and leave. I grabbed some food with my friends and afterwards we just kinda hung out around the area. Cologne at night is pretty nice since a bunch of stuff like the cathedral and bridges are lit up.

We pretty much just killed some time before heading back to Bonn for the night. Pretty good first day I would say.

Kinda wish I took a landscape version of this.

The next day was the beginning of WCS. Honestly, WCS was the main reason I was at Gamescom. Like Gamescom is cool, but it's not like, travel to the other side of Germany for 6 days cool. WCS on the other hand was the hypest thing.

We got to the stage two hours early because we figured getting seats was important. It turned out to be a good call since the seats were pretty much all taken 1 - 1.5h before the event actually started. It was awesome seeing so many people I've watched on stream live and in person. Felt really cool.

I also got to meet Jae freaking Dong.

The first day of matches were pretty exciting. The highlight of that day for me in terms of matches were definitely Jaedong vs MC. It was super tense and super exciting, and I was so happy that Jaedong made it out of his group in first place. It didn't even feel possible since his ZvP seemed so weak, but after his matches it seemed like his ZvP improved soooo much.

I ended up leaving a bit earlier though since there was a Team Liquid meetup for dinner. I figured I'd go since it would be kinda fun to meet other StarCraft fans, and obviously food is food and food is awesome.

Greek food.

Afterwards I went out with my friends to see more of the city and to do things. Pretty fun night overall, but again, pretty tiring. The next morning I went back to Gamescom, and even though I arrived a bit later, it was good because there was no lineup to get in.

I pretty much just rushed to the WCS stage and luckily found a seat even though the show already started. Saturday was the day of deciding matches and the round of eight. Highlight of that day for me was Jaedong vs Naniwa because obviously.

I really like this picture actually.

I managed to get a few more autographs from random pros. And pretty much building on what I said before, it was really cool to be at an actual StarCraft event, because you see so many people you normally only see on stream in person.

It's so much more awesome when you see players running around, interacting with fans, setting up their equipment, etc. Like, I never knew just exactly how short most of the Korean players were, or how awkward Maru was haha. And obviously being there live had a sick atmosphere. The crowd was good, the games were amazing, and the production was stellar.

Dat crowd. So glad I get seats since there's normally a ton of people waiting for a seat to open up.

After that day we went out and got Vietnamese food before calling it a day. I was really hyped for Sunday since it was the last day of Gamescom, and so the tournament would play their round of four and finals. Considering how the final four were Jaedong, First, Taeja and Bomber, it was gonna be a sick day.

And a sick day it was. Jaedong vs First was fantastic as Jaedong continued to prove that his ZvP is no longer his weakness, and Taeja vs Bomber was a pretty good TvT match between two SCII veterans.

And it all led up to this, Jaedong vs Bomber finals.

Going into the finals I was kinda worried. Jaedong's ZvP was great now, but his ZvT was untested in the tournament, and I had a feeling that either Taeja or Bomber would end up beating him. And it did happen. Unfortunately Jaedong got crushed pretty hard by Bomber and got 0:4'd.

Pretty sad for Jaedong considering it's like his fourth second place finish in a major tournament in like the last three months or something. But I'm glad Bomber won too. He's been around for so long and he's been pretty good, so it's nice to see him win something.

I got like, those paper things in my hair.

After that we waited around a bit more and got a few more autographs and pics from pros. I managed to also get Bomber's pic and autograph, which is obviously important since he won. I wanted him to sign the center area of the shirt, and he did, but I was hoping he'd fill up the space a bit better, but whatever.

Following that we went out for food. My friends were planning on bringing us to some Asian place, but apparently it was closed, so we ended up going to a Dominos (yea) nearby.

what is this racial profiling shenanigans

It was ok. Like still better than the Dominos back home, but it's Dominos.

So that was the last day of Gamescom. The following day, Monday, we had a bit of time to kill before getting on a bus back to Berlin. So we went back to the cathedral and climbed to the top. Surprisingly it wasn't as tiring as I thought it would be.

It's only like, a hundred meters up or something.

Coming down was kinda awkward though. Halfway down I recognized one of the Korean casters going up the cathedral. So I was like "whoa hey, do you remember me?" because I got his autograph the day before.

But he clearly didn't remember me, so it was just kinda awkward. But whatever. We left the cathedral and got some food. While coming back to the station after eating lunch, we saw the Korean casters again, but I was like no way man, and like avoided them to avoid another awkward interaction. Don't want to be remembered as that one random Asian guy who stalked them or something >_>

Oh, here's a pic of the cathedral. The casters were out of frame to the left.

After killing a bit more time, I got on the bus and headed back to Berlin. The trip back wasn't as bad as the trip there since it was only seven hours. Less stops, so it was quicker. It also had Internet. But unfortunately the power plug didn't work, which sucked.

Regardless, super fun trip. It was nice to go to my first live eSports event and to meet a bunch of players and other people in the scene plus I was on stream in the crowd haha. It was also pretty cool to just go to another German city to check it out. Lastly, it was nice to see some of my friends again before I head back to Canada.

Bomber's interviews took forever to finish.

I'm back on Friday guys. Kinda excite, but kinda sad too.

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