MLG Day 1 - Sun_Tzu's experience so far

Dota 2 Johan “Sun_Tzu” Järvinen

Good co-casters are hard to come by.

It seems that at each of these events the first things you hear are the horror stories of everyones travels. SingSing's 35+ hour nightmare or Na`Vi going 28 hours and having their luggage lost in transit, MLG Columbus did not dissapoint in this aspect. The worst thing about these stories for me, coming in from Europe as well, is that nagging feeling that things are due to blow up on you, but nothing ever happens. Visa issues? Not really, Finnish people get a visa waiver for the U.S., which takes a day or two to acquire and lasts for at least two years. Connecting flights? Not really, I get off my flight at JFK Airport in New York and waiting for me is a package with my boarding passes for my next flights and an express pass to get me through all the checkpoints with priority. And so I arrived at Columbus yesterday at midnight, on time and as planned. Yet I continue to fear that flight home on monday. 

Now if you ever arrive at a hotel in the middle of the night, the day before a big event, there's really only one thing to do. Find a bar. I managed to find a local watering hole and over the course of the silky smooth tones of Balvenie Double Wood I got to know some fans who were in town to cheer for Team Liquid. They told me about the secret strategies that the brain trust behind their favourite team had been dreaming up, namely a conviction that the mighty Bristleback is due to take over the world. So I decided to take the question to qojqva as he was warming up for one of his games. I hate to say it, but he wasn't quite convinced.

When it comes to yesterdays events, we got a relatively late start, heading out to the convention center at around 1pm, only to find out that the press tour had been dissolved in minutes because of the allure of the Secret Shop. Really, if you've never been to an event with the Secret Shop, which at this point basically means if you haven't been to The International 2 or 3, you just don't realize the draw of it. I was a bit saddened to hear that the Shopkeeper himself wasn't going to be at MLG as he'd recently been to Korea, but I hear we'll get to see him next week in Sweden, so those of you joining us there have that to look forward to.

Once the tour broke up we were looking at roughly four hours of dead time before any games would start, which for anyone doing press at one of these events is just unheard of. This gave us a chance to catch up with all those people you only ever meet at events. Again, in this sense MLG has truly shaped up to be a miniature TI. All of the NADota luminaries are here of course, from Spitwad on down. But we've also got outsiders coming in by the droves. V1lat and the Na`Vi crew are all here, who are always among the best people to hang out with at events. We've also got some Swedish press here, my good friend Cyborgmatt came out and above all, there's enough BTS affiliated people to fill half the VIP area by themselves.

Na`Vi also brought their new manager, who is an absolute joy. I first got to know him during a drunken karaoke night in Kiev earlier this year, bonding by listening to TobiWan put on his best girly voice for a rendition of Aqua's Barbie Girl. It really was something else. This also gave me a chance to ask him about a recent bear incident. For those of you wondering, wether Puppey was aware of what was to come or not, I can now tell you the facts. Puppey had no idea. Nobody did. Suddenly, bear on stage. Only in Russia. And only Puppey can be that calm about standing face to face with a bear who's trying to hand him some merchandise. Puppey, officially the most boss person in Dota 2.

Now there's many people I look forward to seeing at these events, but I don't think it would surprise anyone for me to say that Fnatic is always at the top of my list. And Bulba. Because who doesn't love Bulba? Even the babes love Bulba! But as mentioned, Fnatic are always a joy to hang out with because that camaraderie that you may have heard of or caught glimpses of is really genuine. There's not a dull moment with these guys, and all the more lovely that Tal's girlfriend is here as well. She's their acting manager for the weekend and is another person who has been great fun to hang out with, watching the guys take that game off of Speed Gaming on the main stage. Because apparently Soul Ring, Bottle, Hand of Midas and Black King Bar is the right build order against a Weaver ;) I know you've had success with it in scrims Envy, but damn, that looked clowny in that situation ^^.

You'll notice there's a lack of crowd shots coming out of us at the event. While it's a lovely event and a lovely crowd, the gaming hall is pretty dark and in order to compensate, cameras are being tuned in a way which ends up hurting shutter speed, which makes getting good crowd shots really difficult even with good equipment. It also effects your general reaction shots when something funny is happening around you, like dpm poking Bulbas chest in amazement, which honestly no camera in the world would have helped me catch on film. Still funny though, how it came out of nowhere ^^.

And there's also a certain grim reality to these long hours. As the day winds down, the crowd grows tired, the players grow tired. The groupstages here keep the players highly occupied, going from game to game and in the brief moments when they aren't playing, having to rush off to get some food before another game. Perhaps that's the reason for certain lapses of judgement, perhaps not. Whatever may be the case, it's a sad thing to hear. We should be above this as a community. Let's not fall into the stereotypes of fandom. Let's try to be better. And that also goes for the booing of any mention of Call of Duty. It might not be our game, but we're all gamers. I've more in common with another gamer who shares my passion for games than the average non-gamer. Why should I hate on my brother from another mother like that? Madness, really.

Oh and I'll leave this on a note of anticipation. Some of you may have noticed that one of the most beloved managers, Monolith, has been helping out Speed Gaming at this event. He just radiates with this fatherly presence wherever he goes. Over some late dinner, we heard whispers that the by now infamous manager Mark might also be making an appearance at the event. Pray for it to come true. Because if it does, ixmike will need a bigger bag of popcorn. Drama, the only way NA Dota knows how.

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