The India Gaming Fiasco!
I will stick to the DotA side of things .
This blog is strictly informal, strongly opinionated, dramatic and may be politically incorrect at times but most importantly , its the truth.
Stuff that made me go " KID ALERT " + Third-person Facepalm :
1.The name of the man on his facebook profile was "Conquistador Kushagra" Yeah, you read that first name right.
2.The way they spoke about it, oblivious to the intricacies of hosting an event of this scale.
3.Inspite of providing them with an email address for communication they chose to communicate through Facebook messages.
4.An interesting quote was " ..i have more than 1500 pcs for the whole carnival and as such i can have as many players and teams playing against each other. "
..We all know how that turned out.
5.When a person asked a question about Why wasn't DOTA 2 being played , IGC replies " Wait a minute ! Are you talking about BLIZZARD DOTA or ..?"..and henceforth they even used the little teaser that Blizzard released last year in all the video promos that were made for IGC.
6.Posting updates in a casual and unprofessional manner " itz going to be dota1" etc.
7.They "Hired" a counter strike player who runs a cafe in Mumbai to be the " Brand Ambassador " of IGC.
He made things worse and made them look even more unprofessional .
8.All the dramatic speeches that were typed out on various forums and on the FB page in an attempt to make people believe that the event was indeed real. A very lame attempt to garner the sympathy from the masses.
As expected, a majority of the intellectually stunted CS-fanboy clout fell for it instantly.
9.He didn't know the first thing regarding "E-sports" , knowing GosuGamers, was probably out of his cerebral reach.
There are many more things that I may have missed out but the bottom line is that an organization with supposedly 300,000$ at their disposal should have taken things way, way more seriously.
Then came the Bank guarantee which seemed to be legit and convinced international teams like Mith , Orange and a few other CS teams like M5 and Nxtlvl Gaming to attend the Carnival.
The world's best Tekken and FIFA players had also confirmed their participation.
Pictures of them putting up LCDs at Metro stations and promoting the event via mainstream media, instilled a feeling of optimism that they just might be doing something that could be REAL and they would seriously need help.
3rd April 2012 :
A website reported that the venue has been locked down and no access has been allowed to people from WTF-eventz ( The Event Company behind IGC)
The news showed that there was a notice on the gates indicating that there was an ongoing dispute between the owners of the venue and the WTF-eventz.
We neglected it and went to Delhi anyways.
Since Mith and Orange had confirmed participation, The plan to sit back and watch 'em burn had to be cancelled.
4th April 2012 :
On this day I reached Delhi .
I remember stepping onto the platform along with the event crew and breathing in the fresh Delhi air, thinking this could be the real deal. India is 48hours away from shaking up the world of e-sports.
*rofl-ing at the thought now*
After reaching the hotel , I got ready as soon as I could to go to the venue and cover my very first lan event.
After stepping out fully armed with my Cam , laptop , notepad and all the weapons I would have needed, I was told to " Calm the Fuck Down! and get back into your room" [j/k]
There actually was another team of volunteers who had reached Delhi on the 2nd April but had been sitting idle since access to the venue was blocked.
Then began the process of bringing me up to speed regarding the status of the whole thing, as it was then.
-Their PC contractors had doubled their rates for the allotted PCs.
-Permissions regarding " Fire Hazard and Safety" were still under process and some issues regarding that were yet to be resolved.
-The venue was still under a lockdown and hence the required preparations had not even started.
-Advance Payments that were made to some people in the form of cheques had bounced.
So, the possibility of an event, let alone the event being " 5 TIMES BIGGER THAN DREAMHACK " , was close to NIL.
Since the people who knew of these things also knew how incapable the organizers are, A back-up plan [Plan B] was formulated and a minimal sponsorship from Alienware was also secured,even at such a short notice. All this was done just so that the people who were coming from all parts of India and from different parts of the world would get a chance to atleast play and compete.Some students had even skipped out on their exams for this.
When the WTF-eventz team were informed of the Backup Plan , they got off their lazy asses and finally got some action going.
But still things were not even close to being executed.
5th April 2012 :
The whole day was wasted again.
Finally in the evening , we got news that internet is being set up at the venue.
The news of the plan B did shake them up a little bit.
We went to the venue and were allowed to enter.
There was a huge swarm of people , just waiting for something to happen.
Some people fighting for their money to be paid ,without which they wouldn't do a thing.Some people threatening the organizers with legal action. Some people were working relentlessly without expecting a dime, since they knew it was too late and India's image was already at stake..
Internet was set up and was going to be sufficient for HD livestreams for SC2, DotA and Battlefield 3, If Computers and the peripheral infrastructure ever appeared on the location.
People worked over the night to get network cables and other hardware.
Computer would be arriving at 8am the next day. The day the event was supposed to kick off.
We went home and tried to get as much rest as we could.
6th April 2012 :
The computers were delivered , network setup had started .
A contingent comprising of 21 people arrived on the venue sharp on time. They were Mith E-sports.
They were bewildered at the whole scenario but chose to remain professional and extremely well mannered.
It was a really awesome experience meeting them in real life.
Funny Bit : Tnk actually made Lakelz stand up and pose for a photo when I asked him to introduce the team in general. They really do take pride in their star carry.
I also met a Starcraft 2 player based in Hongkong (CG.Fatal, i believe), and spoke to him at length. He said, he loved DOTA 2 and I respected him instantly :D
So far things were going smooth although heavily delayed .
As time passed more and more people came in ,most them were livid with rage at the state of affairs. As soon as the Organizers stepped up on the stage to make announcements, an angry mob surrounded them and began yelling at them.Many videos have been posted about that incident and are quite entertaining. People had every right to be angry and demand justice.
Refunds were issued and a majority of the crowd chose to leave the venue since they were convinced that IGC was not going to happen.
A little while later Electricity went out and organizers were not even prepared to handle that situation.
This further agitated the the already enraged crowd. Mosquitoes deserve a special mention here, as soon as the sun would set ,it would become impossible to stand at one placed.
Since the organizers couldn't do much about the power situation and offered no assistance to the pro-active community members doing everything on their behalf; the Starcraft and Battlefield 3 setup and the livestream capable PCs were removed .The entire community of these games chose to leave the venue and set up a small casual tournament at a different place.
IGC posted a FB update that SC2 and Battlefield 3 has been cancelled.
The DotA team chose to stay and make do with whatever they could get.
Initially I thought Orange made a smart move to come in a day late , which would have allowed them to see if the event is actually happening.
Turns out they had some genuine problems and were dead set on attending this event right from the start.
7th April 2012 :
Orange arrived with their DotA and COD squads and their Managing Director, Mr.Frank.
*Dear Mother of God , Mushi was in India ! *..squealed the fanboy in me, but the 'Dude' in me tried to act all cool.
PCs for DotA were set up.
Internet was present, but PCs powerful enough to livestream matches were not.
Matches began by noon and were completed by night.
IGC Playday 1 Qualifiers was done.
Highlight of the day : Meeting representatives from Riot Games and Mr.Frank.
They were basically a group of management students from America, who were doing a survey/study on the gaming scenario in general in India.
They were mostly casual gamers and went about talking to many gamers on location.I was privileged enough to take part in the discussion about the Indian Gaming Scene with them and Orange's owner Mr.Frank. Overall the discussion was really interesting , A lot of it revolved around how to make LoL a success in India, the concept of f2p and its merits/demerits , the paying capacity of the average Indian gamer ( zero ,true story :D) etc.
I will try to post a blog/article about the discussion when I get some time.
Funny bit : Winter , on meeting Mith , went straight to Toy and started tickling him, probably some internal thing but was really funny to watch.It happened a couple of times on the following day as well.
Oh and I lost my camera this day, hence I couldnt post pictures / videos , some interviews etc . I had a really good video from Day 1 when the parents of a kid almost slapped the organizers and made them shit their pants..sigh.
NOTE : During my interaction with Orange's manager , it was revealed that they were never given access to the bank guarantee.Even without having access to it , they seemed optimistic about the whole event , Promoting the event via their FB page and encouraging teams from Philippines to join in, all the while.
8th April 2012 :
We knew this day was going to be an uphill battle from the start. Primarily because of the absurd re-entry rule that the organizers had stated. Turns out, that wasn't the only issue .
The company who supplied the computers for DotA refused to let the tournament proceed because they had not been paid .
As it is , we were running out of time due to the re-entrants and to add to that the PC guys wouldn't let us start the tournament till afternoon.
After a lot of persuasion and repeated intervention by Mr.Frank the tournament was back on track.
If not for Mr.Frank assisting with the brackets,draws and persuading the organizers and event managers ..even DotA and COD would have suffered the same fate as CS.
Funny Bit :
A guy who has just started a gaming community website in India comes and sits next to me, and starts talking random stuff.
I didn't pay much heed since I was streaming a match , It was Mith vs Orange I believe ...the fellow goes
" Duuude! thats not how you spell Mith , Its supposed to be "MYTH" because thats what it stands for bro!"
Me : " Are you sure? (innocent face)"
Him: ".. I've been playing DotA for 8 years man , I also run a Gaming Community website bro ! its pretty huge. I have a tie up with RGC as well.Here, Take my card ... "
..Such was the impact of that interaction that I couldn't force air through my vocal chords for the next 15 mins.I was way too exhausted to even laugh.
Things went on real late this night and at around 12.30 am the PC guys again shut down the PCs just before the match for the 5th place. Again the money they were to be paid as promised in the morning , was not paid.
Again Mr.Frank had to step in. Big props to the man , he assisted both COD and DotA in terms of brackets,draws etc..and also was there the whole time to support his teams.
There is much to be learnt from his wisdom and experience in e-sports and in running a successful enterprise.
Somehow, DotA was wrapped up and we finally left the venue at around 4.30am.
Funny Bit :
After the organizer handed out the mock cheques to Orange and Mith , I finally spoke to the spaniard , in person.
He said that that inspite of all the " backstabbing , bad publicity , smear campaign" against them , THEY had somehow managed to pull it off.He also added that he had realized "computer events" are prone to failures like fuse blowout , power/electrical failures etc and that they will not be doing any sort of gaming events in the future.
The event, as a whole, kept failing on multiple levels in all domains, yet the organizers persisted portraying an aura of success.
After three days of enduring harrowing conditions , The DotA section of the event did somehow manage to reach completion albeit under-whelmingly.
It truly hurts to see the image of India being tarnished by a bunch of talentless fools who wanted to make it big by taking shortcuts.
I can sympathize with M5's counter strike team for what they went through.I can assure you that this has probably been the worst experience even for the average Indian gamer.
Overall ,The tournament was the first time that Indian Dota teams got to play against international teams like Mith and Orange on LAN.
An interesting point to note here is that , this is also the first time that Indians have faced any international teams since the advent of RGC.
RGC eliminated the latency bottlenecks that Garena was plagued by , and hence had enabled Indians to play in leagues which constituted of most of the Asian top teams.
So in a way , Indian players have been playing along with them for more than a year on pings that are definitely playable.
Inspite of the exposure that RGC brought, we witnessed Indians being outplayed, outclassed in every way.
Almost all games played by Mith and Orange against the Indian teams ended in less than 30 mins barring a few exceptions,and in the end it was just a matter of who could withstand longer.
Mith.Toy, who is Mith's coach, revealed that when Mith face a team they study their opponents thoroughly and thought that's probably where the Indian teams fell short.He also added that Indian teams needed more experience and international exposure , once they have that they would be more confident and fluid in their game-play.
On the Indian side of things, we saw a major upset coming in the form of Roccat.RoG being eliminated out of the competition and not even making it into the top 5 places.
We also saw the comeback of , probably the first Indian team that appeared on the International scene during the days of ADC, Team Err0R. They have definitely made a strong comeback and shaken things up in the once mundane competitive scene in India
The Bright side to all this :
Now that IGC has set such a low benchmark , there is nowhere but the top for Indian E-sports and Tournaments to go.
It was a huge learning experience to watch how humble , disciplined and well mannered the foreign teams were.
Gameplay and skills aren't the only things we should strive to learn from them.
I wonder what would've happened if EG had decided to attend this event.There weren't even computers that they could break .. :D
I'd like to thank Mith and Orange for coming to India and giving Indian teams the much needed exposure.
I sincerely hope all the winners receive their prize money, although I cant comment on its likelihood.
Kudos to every volunteer who made it happen , you all should know you're the real heroes!
+ Thanks to the team who took me along with them!