Competitive gaming has been around for a long time, but its players, tactics and infrastructure can be little mystifying to the layman. People scream a lot; it’s a little intimidating. There’s a lot of action on screen; it’s a little confusing. It’s very in-depth and without prior knowledge, difficult to report.
Covering gamer rage has never been a complicated matter.
This week, Riot announced that they would be opening a Sydney office and looking for a community manager, and an eSports organiser. Then, writes Alex Walker — the local scene immediately devolved into a frenzy of backstabbing and name calling. If you want to lead a community, maybe you shouldn’t act like a shark when there’s blood in the water.
This was the big one. This was the day where everything was on the table. All the showmatches, all the thousands of dollars bet beforehand was just a warmup to the main event.
You wouldn’t have guessed, watching the cheers, gasps and regular group hugs on the stage (to the annoyance of organisers and any health and safety officers in the crowd) that the final prizes were so small compared to what changed hands earlier in the weekend. Still, it didn’t dull the intensity of the matches or the passion of the spectators one iota. It was almost a kind of pure enjoyment, playing solely for the glory, something evident on the faces of particularly the Melbourne supporters.
As expected, the intensity ramped up significantly at the second day of proceedings at the 11th OzHadou Nationals. The fact that it’s a Road to EVO qualifier, where the top 2 of most games receive seeding points towards the Evolution championships in Las Vegas later this year, helps somewhat.
Mind you, a few thousand dollars changing hands doesn’t hurt either — and more is expected to come out tonight.
For those who have never attended a national championships for fighting games, let me offer you a primer: casual is not casual in the slightest.
The OzHadou nationals, the 11th iteration of which is being held at 99 on York’s Red Room in Sydney, always earmarks the first day for two things: registration and “casual” play.
But a cursory glance around the room proves that what’s really going on is far from casual.
The wonderful advantage of Blizzard’s methodical approach towards their eSports baby, StarCraft 2, is that it never stays the same. Take the Heart of the Swarm beta, for example. To the uninformed the game would look essentially identical, but the quantity and subtlety of some changes have made the expansion to the real-time strategy beast a completely different kettle of fish to the game which first what went live late last year.
Some units have been removed completely; others have been substantially reworked, and some haven’t changed a bit. Old strategies have been dusted off and revamped for a new age, and brand new ones are being invented every day.
To get the best picture of just where things stand before Heart of the Swarm launches next month, I rounded up some people for whom the game matters the most.
Throughout the course of the year, Australia has a lot of wide and varied tournaments serving gamers’ competitive needs. But none are as competitive or as fierce as those held by the fighting game community, which enjoyed a stellar 2012 by having some of the biggest and most unique events seen in the country.
The first nationals for the year, OZHadou 11, looks set to continue that tradition, having been selected as an official qualifier for the Evolution global fighting game championships at the Paris Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, in July.
I spoke to some of Australia’s most talented fighters ahead of the event and asked them what their expectations were, who to keep an eye on as potential darkhorses, what Australia’s chances at the world finals in Las Vegas were — and just exactly why they love fighting games so much.
The reception of professional gaming within traditional and even gaming media itself has become a lot more prominent of late. Games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 have helped punishingly difficult learning curves come back into vogue, while the continued growth of prize pools at events like The International have caught the attention of traditional newswires and even business publications.