Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
For most of Brood War's life as professionally played game, there were always more VODs than anyone could reasonably watch. Proleague had several matches a week, MSL and OSL were going, and at one point, even GOM (which had formerly just sponsored) had its own Brood War league running at the same time. Occasionally there were Super Fights other showmatches. All the time there were variety shows of every colour for Brood War, of which Star Infinity Challenge and B.Net Attack were especially loved outside Korea. We even got reality T.V. shows in the form of Hyungjoon Becomes a Progamer and Nal_Ra's Old Boy. It was a lot of Brood War, and to a lot of people interested in this niche entertainment, it made it seem invincible and bigger than life.
When everything pro Brood War related disappeared, that's what was on my mind a lot. It is exactly because pro Brood War had so much content I'd never seen that I kept watching it, even after the Last OSL Ever ended. Of course, I watched Sonic's league as well, but I haven't been that devoted to it. Since the last OSL ended I have watched the whole of the original KPGA tours, the 2003 Proleague season (featuring frequent appearances of Elky and Grrrr... actually winning), every OSL and MSL final, a lot of Star Infinity Challenge, and a bunch of others. Currently I'm watching 2008-09 Proleague and 2005 Proleague, which feature some of the same maps.
I don't mean to imply that since the day OSL ended I've been watching BW VODs every day. Especially on the heels of the end, there were a lot of times where I would be enjoying it a lot and then I'd start thinking "why did this ever end?" and I'd think about all those things above, and then I'd think about how it actually did end, and I'd suddenly realise I was hardly watching the game anymore and it was time to take a break.
I have a lot of bitter feelings towards what Blizzard became. I have a lot of bitter feelings when I see Savior's face in old VODs. I have a lot of bitter feelings towards a community which at large gobbled up games they admitted were inferior, but were 'the future of eSports' and who told lies until they became the truth. If I think about those things and start on that path, I stop enjoying the VOD.
Sometimes that unbearable feeling requiring a break didn't come from thinking about how BW ended. There were a lot of times when the nostalgia was too overwhelming, when watching things as a retrospective without intellectually analysing the game at hand was killing it for me. I'd start thinking that it was becoming impossible to enjoy old games because they represented a stagnation in the development of the game. As historical changes in what standard play was they were interesting, but it made me yearn to know what was going to come next in pro BW, in 2013 and beyond. It would lose its magic for me and I'd have to stop again.
An Attitude Change
About a month or two ago I started watching the last MSL that was ever played. That is, the one that never got sponsored and ended after the survivor tournament. For some reason I had a revelation when I was watching that, which took all the negative feelings I'd had completely out of the picture. I started getting into the habit of watching a few games in the morning with breakfast and tea before I started work, and it was really relaxing. If you don't know, when they do the out of studio VODs for the qualifiers, they tend to jump into the middle of games and you end up seeing around 5 or 6 games in an hour. That ended up being a perfect format for me, but when it changed to the studio group stages it didn't lose me. I had an epiphany about one of the real, deep reasons I love Brood War and why I was never able to appreciate a lot of other games as esports.
Watching Brood War is an intellectual distraction. The glammer and glitz of the pro-scene might get you into it at first, the emotions of the players are a huge part of the attachment you build for it, and the storylines are cool and those things are all the part you describe to outsiders when you're making a case of Brood War as an eSport. But if you've played this game since the beginning, if you've followed the proscene for years, if you watch replays and you really love the game itself, there's something maybe more important than all of those things which aren't really particular to Brood War. The thing that Brood War has for the informed spectator is the game itself.
When you think about the emotions of the players, you know it's in the past. It's the same for the glammer and the storylines. There's a certain point where that starts to make you feel sick if you really miss it. What doesn't expire, even with old VODs, is that each game is a puzzle. Before BW was gone, whenever I watched it was always the most natural thing to think about what this player should do next to win, how this player should react to this to come out of this, and seeing if that is what the player really tries to do, or if they surprise you with a more ingenious solution. When I think about these things, suddenly all those superficial aspects above are out of my head, and I'm actually enjoying the game as if it were played today. It gets my brain going, I feel good, and it stops being a nostalgia trip (of which there is only so much I can handle).
The Last BW OSL Ever Anniversary
You may have been aware that August 4th was a year from the day Jangbi beat Fantasy in the last OSL. A month before that I had finished watching (many rewatched from years past) all of the OSL finals. I had wanted to write something specifically for the anniversary, and I wrote a few drafts but none of it felt right. At some point, I came to the conclusion that it was because this feeling was so important to me, it wasn't something I was okay with sharing. Dramatic or not, I thought that this one is mine alone, so I spared its dignity of being analysed by others. I'm sure a lot of other people were thinking about it too.
The reason I include this section, or why I write any of this, is just to say that I really love this game. I loved watching it taken past its limit and I love playing it at my own level. It's a real feeling that can't be taken away from me, even by the flippant nature of eSports and gaming culture.
There's enough pro BW to last me for ages. As long as its hosted somewhere and as long as I still enjoy it, I'll keep watching it. Right now it is part of my morning ritual and one day maybe it can really come back—though I'm not holding my breath. I've wanted to write something about this for a long time, and maybe it's not quite what I wanted to say, but it's a blog and that's what your old pal Uncle Chef has been doing.
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Forgive me for writing that's even worse than it was before, it's been a really long time since I wrote something of this nature.