This summer Toronto was host to the StarCraft II World Championship Series Season 2 Finals and I was absolutely thrilled to attend!
The setup was glorious and impressive to look at. However, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few things that bugged me. Or at least tickled my OCD senses. Like, if you’re going to have a clear trophy stand, you really should windex those gross hand prints all over it first. Directly in front of the elevated commentators were elevated camera crews, angled ever so slightly toward the centre, a giant camera arm that reached from off left all the way to the centre. Right now front centre sounds like the best view, but the monitors were facing backward in the sound proof booths so if you looked head-on at the stage all you can see of the players are the back of their monitors, and there were both cameras and cameramen standing around the front of the booths, so your view was obstructed a lot.
This sounds like really silly stuff to be annoyed about, but I’m new to the DSLR world and was really looking forward to getting some practice taking photos. But the only way I could even get a half-decent frame was to stand in-front of people over and over again, which I’m not a fan of doing. It’s different if you’re a professional and take photos quickly, but I’m stumbling with settings and my anxiety made it impossible to do. I ended up keeping the camera on auto most of the time as a result, which defeated the purpose and I didn’t get shots I wanted to. When you’re watching the game most of it doesn’t matter, it’s the rest of the time you may as well just be watching the stream because it’s a better view than you’re getting there. But you can’t experience that atmosphere on a stream, right? Right! Directly left of the stage was a small setup to get autographs and photos with the players, and they had some awesome backdrops throughout. There was some overpriced and underwhelming food, the laughable “swag shop”, and sign up for Legacy of the Void. I was hoping to drop some cash on official Blizzard merch, but all the “swag shop” yielded for me was a poor fitting event t-shirt. No joke, that was all they had. I do like the shirt, I just wish it wasn’t twice my size. Thankfully they were liberal with the thunder sticks and posters, which that was a relief because those thunder sticks pop easily.
At the back of the room was a modest Hearthstone fireside gathering setup, with local Hearthstone celebrity Kripparrian in attendance. We knew we’d be seeing him at another event later this summer so we shied away from meeting him. They did have some Blizzard merch, but sadly it was for display only – nothing for purchase. Directly beside the Hearthstone gathering was a smaller viewing area for the StarCraft II team tournament and LAN machines.
Lastly, I will add two more points: Forever thankful for fully blasted air conditioning, and I couldn’t help but notice the women’s bathroom was double the size of the men’s. Given the male to female ratio of the event, I found that odd.
As for the experience itself, attendance started low but picked up as the event progressed. The weather forecast for the weekend was miserable; non-stop rain. Which was a bit of a blessing in itself, because other events in the city taking place that weekend (the big one being PRIDE) undoubtedly suffered lower attendance as a result. So our train rides in and out of the city were probably more pleasant. And since we could walk fully covered from Union to the show, the rain didn’t bother us any! By the time the final match was starting it was nearly full and the energy was electric.
Some of the matches were exciting and, in the end, Hydra took the win against Lilbow. It was thrilling to attend and brought a sadness to see end that we didn’t have another live WCS event to look forward to.
I definitely recommend checking out the amazing official ESL photos taken by the incredibly talented Helena Kristiansson.
Now, onto that sweet sweet Giveaway 🙂 I have some extra Gosu Trophy Portraits for StarCraft 2 that none of my friends apparently wanted, so comment on this post if you’d like one and I’ll be happy to give you one. They’re just sitting on my desk so I would love to see them used and not thrown away.