Our setup included a large conference room on the 3rd floor and two large hotel rooms across the hall that had been cleared out to provide more room for players. I think we had something like 60ish people show up to compete. The first night we casted the FFA event from one of the small rooms since not all the players had shown up yet. We were musing as to where we'd be casting once everyone arrived the following day when we got a bit of a surprise.
We'd be casting from the Best Western's main lobby.
Yeah. You know that area right across from the check-in desk where the couches, etc are in most hotels? That's where we were! We had our table with our casting setup on it and a large 67 inch TV above and behind us showing the game. (we had a 3rd account following cats' game-camera on the TV) So basically anyone who walked through the lobby of this hotel was suddenly confronted with something they had probably never seen before. Here's where it gets interesting.
The vast majority of these people stuck around. Usually for an hour or two. They ask questions about the game to players who were watching and between games I would get up and approach a couple of them to see what they thought about it. You might have expected people to be negative towards it and find the whole thing to be pretty silly, but they didn't. All the people I talked with had lots of good questions and seemed really intrigued about the game and the idea of serious esports in general.
A couple instances that really stand out are a little boy around 10 years old grilling me non-stop about how the game was played. Another players took him upstairs later to actually watch some people playing and the kid stuck around for the rest of the night. Definitely a new fan for life. I also talked to a dad and his 3 teenage sons who were in town for a hockey tournament. They had been watching for an hour or so already. One of them told me about how little mistakes caused them to lose their hockey games that day. "..and it really seems like this game is the same way, right?" one of them enthusiastically asked. "If both players are really good then it's all the little mistakes that really decide who wins." This hockey dad and his kids were actually starting to analyse the game themselves with the same seriousness they'd treat their own sport!
Needless to say the tournament was amazing. (coLRSVP ended up winning) As I was checking out the next morning the little kid from the night before saw me and walked up.
"Sir? My family came to St. Louis for a vacation because I got all As and Bs on my grades. I think I got really lucky to come here now though!" He then started describing a battle in which one player got a nice flank with two groups of units on the opponent's army. "I'm going to get this game when I get home!" He said. The gigantic smile this kid had was the most rewarding thing I think I'll ever get out of casting SC2. Money or internet fame will never come close to that.
The desk worker at the hotel who was finishing the paperwork commented "I watched your stream for a couple hours when I got home last night. I didn't really know exactly what was going on at first, but I really liked it!" He handed me my receipt and said "So you do this for a living right? Go around and commentate these tournaments?" I laughed and replied.
"Nope. I do tech support at home, but maybe someday...."
I was smiling the entire 9 hour drive back to Minnesota.
I keep telling people SC2 is going to be huge. It was awesome to see first-hand how great of a spectator sport it can be!
HUGE HUGE thanks to Catspajamas for asking me to come and cast with him. Congrats to Eleven Gaming for hosting an awesome event! I had a ton of fun actually getting to meet IRL and talk SC2 with lots of amazing players. After talking with Slurgi, Antimage, and RSVP for an extended period it's hard not to want to switch to Protoss. Thanks to Destiny for giving me in-person insight into why I should feel like a criminal for being a dirty Terran player. (I will be working on the Seeker Missle build later today) Thanks to Kencorp and Hunger for providing easily the most entertaining match of the day. (the people who saw the games know...)
I'd really encourage everyone to go to LANs if you can. I only have one other person where I live to really sit and talk SC2 with. Getting to shake hands and theorycraft with so many great players is a great experience!