i46 – The Write Up!
Oh well, i46 is now over and done with and it’s now LAN Death time as we return to our normal lives.
It was good and in the same way I did for i43, I’ll go through it bit by bit. First:
Same as last year, little change, still Telford International Centre. Multiplay had arranged the Halls so that players of the same game could sit together. Hall 3 was the TF2 hall. It had it’s own bar, no idea why, next door to the VanillaTV casting area, no idea why. The main stage was in the same hall as the exhibitors. They’d increased the seating area from last year, introducing tiered seating at the back. With 400+ openly self-admitting TF2 players attending and a TF2 final, this was sensible.
Multiplay had arranged it so food (including a cooked breakfast), drink (including beer) and pc components could be delivered to your desk, while you gamed, ordered and paid on-line. You only needed to leave to sleep and go to the toilet. Rumour has it that Multiplay are working on that for i49 next summer.
I hotelled it again. Due to my advanced age, the hotel very kindly put me in a room with emergency pull cords by the bed and in the bathroom and a seat in the walk-in shower. There was also a grip rail by the toilet. It could’ve have also been, of course, that the hotel had assumed that I might get very drunk.
As well as the main halls, Multiplayer also provided a number of clanboxes that groups could book. UKCS (their site is affilliated to Berath’s Brain Burps) booked one of these and managed to fill it with 64 people including me; the WDG community didn’t attend though two dropped by on Sunday. In the end two adjacent clanboxes were opened up together. And what a fine and well-met collection of people they were….too many to name; intellectual giants as well because UKCS won the
The Pub Quiz was held on Saturday evening, and yes, UKCS came first winning £300ish which was spent on a large keg of Hobgoblin, a load of cans of cider and pizza. The team wasn’t strictly UKCS. Halfway through some of Kritzkast appeared replacing various UKCSers who’d left and we were reinforced by representatives from the reloaded clan, but we still counted as UKCS, mostly because Xerxes, the UKCS Vice President, was there and he was wearing a white suit.
This was why Xerxes was wearing a white suit and why Berath was wearing a long mauve ballgown. i45 had brought in Classy Saturday, an excuse for everyone to dress up. Many did. It was repeated for i46. It gave my ballgown the second outing that it’d ever had, the first being a Murder Mystery Party about 6 or 7 years ago.
Last year I went on a Spectator ticket, this year I went on a BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) i.e. took computer ready to game. There was much gaming. Borderlands 2 and X-COM: Enemy Unknown were showcased, Borderlands 2 in particular got a good reception, and there was a tournament featuring the new game, Shootmania, which is still in beta. Shootmania has been billed as the next great e-sport and it’s really being pushed that way. It looked entertaining enough when we watched the final before the TF2 final, but much will hang on whether it can build a popular following once released, courting pro-players isn’t enough. For the first time at an iseries, Fighting games had a significant presence and a sponsor. I caught up on a bit of LoTRO, played The Secret World and of course some TF2; well actually quite a lot of TF2. Which brings me on to:
As said, much TF2 was played. We entered the Highlander Competition as Cats Don’t Eat Haggis and were rolled, playing teams way better than us, one comprising players from 9men, the other players from idk ( maps were pl_badwater and koth_viaduct; we stood on the point twice). A second UKCS team also entered, Don’t Put Me On the Spot. They were rolled too.
However, possibly of more significance, the TF2 community had managed, through a mix of fundraising and very generous donations/lending of money (thanks be to Salamancer), to fly two US teams over from the States to take part in the 6v6 TF2 Tournament. Altogether $20000 had been raised. The two teams that made it, after a series of knockout games, were Classic Mixup and Leviathan Gaming.
And, unfortunately, they rolled the EU in every game. The question had been, who was best, EU or NA, all pings being equal; the answer was now obvious. The final was all-American (though there had been a tantalising possibility during cp_snakewater in the Epsilon vs LG lower bracket final game, that Epsilon may have made it through for Europe).
To be honest though, if one of the EU teams had got there and even more so, if one had won, I’m not sure that 1)it would have been deserved and 2) if it would have been good for EU TF2 in the long run.
Straight off, the US teams had practised, practised, practised, they’d watched VODs, they’d studied their opposition. They were seriously ‘in it to win it’, only natural really considering $20000 had been raised to send them. They were focused. This was not the case with the top EU teams. I think there was a certain amount of complacency here. At the top, there has been little new blood or new ideas, teams play each other over and over again, it feels as if there is a general lack of motivation or incentive.
The US teams entering this, were basically like a dirty great boulder crashing into a stagnant pond. Splash!
Not only had they practiced hard, they played differently; even as a no-name scrub I could tell. They took more risks and played faster, they off-classed more and in unexpected places; they adapted and tried to catch opponents out rather than waiting for them to make mistakes.
They provided a fast-paced, exciting final with interesting tactics and plenty of close plays. It was BO3 and went to the third map, with Classic Mixup finally clinching the win. In the main, the crowd was behind LG, the relative underdog of the two teams. As has now come to be expected of the average TF2 audience, it was loud and excitable with hats in evidence.
Anyhow, post-i46, much thinking is being thunk. It’s clear some people are going to leave Prem, teams are going to fold and line-ups change; playstyles, rules and tactics will be reviewed and further ways of encouraging and developing new talent and teams discussed. Prize money has already been put up for 6v6 S13 to provide an incentive, along with rule changes aiming to improve professionalism (these were being considered anyway).
So, we shall see what we shall see.
The TF2 Community
What can I say? Below, the, by now, mandatory “TF2 Community photograph with only about half the people in it because the rest didn’t know it was taking place”.