So, July 22nd was just another normal day for me, browsing the web, editing liquipedia, just being awesome, when I suddenly see this tweet:
This tweet took me by surprise. A WCS event in Latin America? And in Mexico of all places? I was happy to have an event of this magnitude this close to me, yet I found it weird to have one on such a small region. There are always events in Europe, Korea, and NA sometimes but those are logical places because they're big, they have fanbases, and there is the money to make a good event there. If they ever came again to a "small region" I would have guessed Brazil or Australia first before Mexico. But ok, they have made their choice and it is pretty close to me, so I guess it is time to start planning a trip.
A few days after the annoucement I receive an email from Blizzard with the title (in Spanish) "You're invited to WCS in Mexico City!". I was like "oh great, an ad for the tournament". I start reading it "you're invited to WCS bla bla bla list of invites approved bla bla bla we of course will pay for your trip..." Wait what? I gave it a more carefully read, and yes, I was being invited by Blizzard itself to go and watch WCS live in Mexico City. I could not believe, I went and tweet my thoughts at that moment exactly:
After a few more emails and tweets to confirm this was not a late aprils fools joke, this was the real deal. Apparently Blizzard invited several members of the LATAM community to go and watch the show, myself one of the lucky ones. Apparently someone over at Blizzard really like all my Teamliquid and Liquipedia shenanigans enough to land me a trip to WCS. Cool.
A few more weeks pass and it is now time for me to take a plane and go to Mexico City. This was a trip full of firsts for me, for starters I had never took a plane before. Second, I've never been to Mexico City before. Third, my first offline SC2 event of this size. Fourth, the chance to meet people who I've interacted for years online, and now got to meet them face to face.
I get my bags ready, my work schedule free, and everything ready to go to the airport. I'm lucky enough the airport in my city is only like 20-30 min away by car, so I expect no problems.
My flight is at noon, and this being my first plane ride I got there pretty early
All was ok, except my flight ended up delayed by 1 more hour, but all was ok because Hearthstone on my phone plus a book I was carrying (The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau in case anyone asks) kept me busy.
After a short flight of only 90 minutes I finally arrived in Mexico City. Very red from above, and the airport is in the middle of the city (on my city is on the outskirts). After landing I meet Enrique, an employee whose job today is to take all of the people arriving and taking them to the hotel. It was me alongside other 5 people in the van on the way to the hotel, one of wich I would later find out was Topin, hardcore fan of the game, writer for a fansite called Moebius Files, and also one of the lucky community invitees to the event, coming all the way from Peru (9 hour trip from what I heard). I've talked for years with him online and it was awesome to meet him in person. Also shoutout to the other people in that van, who where part of press/media. Awesome guys.
The Hotel was pretty awesome. Hote Fiesta Americana, a 25 storied building, and only 2 blocks away from the place of the event. Since this was the 8th, a day before things began, I explored a little bit the city.
View from my window at night
Day 1 - LATAM qualifiers
First day of games are the LATAM qualifiers. 6 players from the bracket came to the city and play the finals of the qualifiers offline. I say 6, in reality they were 5 since one could not make it.
First thing in the morning is breakfast. We gathered in the hotel's restaurant and it was there I get to meet most everyone else:
Honourael from Blizzard. Community manager and the one in charge of the invitees from the community.
Nimbioth also from Blizzard. Same post as Honourael except he's the Portuguese speaking manager.
Néstor Kelevra, another invitee and part of the fansite Lizzard Wizard in a Blizzard.
Brenda, also from Lizzard Wizard in a Blizzard.
Hayato, longtime member of the community, used to have a clan called SXG and did a weekly tournament called the SCG Tour. Now it is part of the fansite Moebious Files.
Sandra, streamer, part of a podcast called "Nerfea esto" and awesome person altogether.
Lastly, Dimitri, Brazilian and an admin for the ESL website, known online as Sinistro. Also my roommate for this trip.
And Topin, who I have talked before.
All of us were the community invites.
Also of the breakfast were some of the players, casters, staff, and other Blizzard employees. A thing that happened to me here, and several times trough the duration of the event, was introducing myself to certain people for the first time. First one was Cham, I saw him and went to him and was like "Hello, how's things? Name's Eduardo (my real name)" And he was like "huh, hi" "I'm also known online as DARKING" and it that moment his eyes shined bright, put a smile to his face and went for a hug "DARKING, it's you! How are you doing?"
This conversation happened to me like 5 more times trough the weekend. People didn't knew my name or how I looked, but the minute they heard my nickname it was like they found a long lost brother. That was an interesting experience.
After breakfast we hurried to the venue, where I saw it for the first time
It looked good. What I specially liked were the boths, pretty cool looking.
A thing it had at the entrance was a wall where you can put your name on there. Of course I didn't waste time:
Unfortunately the games from the LATAM qualifiers were not streamed, but I was able to watch them from behind the playing/practice area.
While I was there, I was lucky enough to get my hands on the info for each mach, including the map vetos and selection. Having this information I added it to liquipedia trough the whole weekend, from my cell phone (since I didn't carry my laptop pc).
MajOr playing in the finals againts Kelazhur
In the end Kelazhur prevailed, and qualified for the event.
After this, I just stayed around, talking to people, and helping a little with the rehearsal for the event. It was also here that I met many other members of the LATAM community:
Colter, the observer for the event.
DemonSwaP, a Blizzard employee.
Pedroca, VIU Studio employee and Portuguese caster.
JeikoState, the Spanish host for the event.
JimRising, who was there as a caster.
Horuss, Spanish caster.
SolidCaster, the third of the Spanish casters.
Argie, streamer and Twitch LATAM employee.
Ekchauh, another fan of the game and also part of the Moebious Files website.
KingArthur, the former CEO of Ordo Equitum, a LATAM esports team. In fact a lot of the team and staff was there, as they had 2 players in the LATAM qualfiiers.
This is the day where the action begins on stream. I was there early in the morning and just hang out, waiting for everything to begin. You could see the players in the practice area
It was also here that I get to meet a few more people:
Susana, aka Shiura, the Blizzard esports manager for LATAM.
Megamii, press/media who works for ESLA, a Mexican esports organizer and content producing company.
Andreas Megert, mYinsanity co-owner and who currently lives in Mexico.
Adrrich, caster and also a doctor in real life.
The audience started entering the venue about 30 minutes before the start. It was pretty packed, and the audience has this energy that you may have heard if you watched the stream. It was pretty cool.
I'm gonna say the event started with the right way: the intro video. If someone has not watched the intro video, pleaso go and find it, it was a pretty awesome video. There were 6 matches the first day, and they were pretty awesome to see. People cheered everytime a player won, and gasp in awe with every clutch move. It was awesome.
The last day of the tournament. It started pretty similar to the previous day, except it started 1 hour later. I want to take this moment to give 2 shoutouts: one to pepedemo, a caster of the Road to Master team league, who went this day dressed as a blue power ranger. There was some moments of downtime, and while this the camera and casters took a good shot of him in his outfit. It was cool, and people loved it when he took off the mask.
Second, to all the awesome signs that were there during the event. I think my favorite one read "The SCVs will pay for the wall". Hilarious.
Also, it was this day where we got to see the trophy:
I was a little dissapointed it was not a wrestling belt
At the end of the day Snute won, as you may know, and it was awesome. The public loved him, chanting "Snute Snute Snute." You could truly feel the passion of the audience.
After the event was over there was only 1 thing left: the after party. It was done in a small bar a few kilometers from the hotel, and it was pretty chill. Most of the players, staff, and invitees where there. Drinks were plentiful, food was delicious (tacos al pastor) and there were luchador masks given out (you may remember from the stream Steve Hout with a El Santo mask). I even got to bring one home with me.
I ended up returning to the hotel early (or at least earlier than most), 'cause I needed to be ready to go back to the airport in the morning.
Day 4 - Return home
Last hours in Mexico City was just preparting to depart. At 10am I was ready to go to the airport. Same way we arrived, a van was waiting for us to drive us to the airport from the hotel. I got to share mine with Smix and ByRada. By noon I was waiting and ready to board my plane, which was again an uneventful trip (and not delayed this time). By 3pm I was already home.
From my point of view, as someone who was there live, the event was awesome. It was really cool to meet all the people who so far I had only talk to online, and also all the new people I got the chance to meet. The audience at the venue was awesome, and basically everyone were.
I don't know how Blizzard see the event, as a success or not. But if they do, I hope they bring more to other of the "small regions" of Starcraft. I would love to see an event in Chile, or Australia, or Taiwan. Only time will tell.