Recently I went to Seoul, South Korea to watch the final matches of the Hot 6ix OGN Champions Summer season. The first match I saw was the 3rd place match between MVP Ozone (now Samsung Galaxy Ozone) and CJ Entus Frost. The second match I saw was the final match of the tournament between SKT T1 and KT Bullets, with SKT taking out the victory. The whole experience of being in Seoul by myself was amazing and I could probably write about it for days but instead I am going to summarise it by some highlights of the events:
- Lining up for tickets but not for the bathroom:
The two matches I went to were best of five matches all going to the fifth match. This is means there usually is three hours or so between start and finish. This a standard time for a sports event (although unlike in other sports there's no more than 10 minutes between each game - there is not half time or anything like that). What took up most of the time was waiting in line to get tickets. Both events were free but you needed a tickets for both. These tickets were given out on the day of each match and it was a first come first serve basis. There are pros and cons for this system but it mainly means a lot of waiting in line. And not only do you have to wait in line but you have to be sufficiently placed in the line to get a ticket for a good seat. I spent FIVE HOURS in line for the third place match. And I got the last seated seat in the TV studio. But being in line was surprisingly interesting in itself. It's always exciting to observe completely new things and the fact that hardly anyone spoke English makes it more like a puzzle since there's no way of knowing what is actually going on. I wrote a blog about my line experience. For the final tickets were scheduled to be given out at 10am on the day and I arrived at 7am anticipating a large line...I was not disappointed. There was at least 300 people in front of me. The final was not in the usual TV studio which holds about 200 people but at a stadium holding close to 10,000. I was mostly chilling in line with middle school aged boys which was kind of funny really because I stuck out because of gender, my ethnicity and my age (although I look like I could be anywhere between 16-24). Not that there weren't older people around but the teenagers just happened to make up the majority near me. All this waiting was completely worth it though, 10/10 would line up again.
|In the line at 7am for finals tickets.|
|The male toilet line during the finals. The ladies' toilets had no line so no waiting for me!|
2. Rain and being #wetforeSports
The finals were held at the Jamsil Sports Complex Subsidiary Stadium which apart from being host to many concert and events including the Olympics, is notable for being an outdoor stadium. So when it started to rain during the first game everyone and everything got fairly wet. The rain triggered a max exodus to the undercover areas at the back of the stadium although many people stayed in their seats embracing being #wetforeSports. I feel most sorry for the casters, since they could hardly slip into a raincoat, put up an umbrella or rush undercover while casting. I would have been thoroughly distracted but the OGN have excellent English and Korean casters and they managed to turn the rain into a positive. After all the number of people who were still there watching in the rain just proves how dedicated and excited the fans were to be watching the finals.
3. Vision Wars! But not for the fans - mini maps and different POV galore
|Dedicated fans with raincoats and umbrellas and they eventually erected tents over the casters|
This blog is named after the constant battle for in-game vision that teams these days find themselves, and just so fans didn't miss out of any of this struggle the screen set up consisted of; a main screen with the usual spectator mode with both teams visions on one map, two square screens showing mini maps of each teams vision separately and; two smaller screens showing one teams vision at any given time. I am a big fan of how in the OGN the observer is always switching between full vision and the separate team visions to give the viewers an idea of what each team sees. This screen set up took that to the next level and really gave those spectating at the venue a new perspective on the game. It really can show how great some of the plays pros make when they have limited vision or leads to better understanding of how important vision is at any given time. I hope other eSport event organisers can utilise this idea for future events because it really adds another dimension to viewing eSports live at the venue.
|All of the screens for exciting viewing! The side screens often showed other parts of the game not on the main screen.|
4. Quadruple Ninjas!
The blind pick games for both the 3rd place match and the final were explosive. If a match goes to a blind pick game in the finals, you just KNOW it's probably going to be the most exciting and amazing League of Legends you have ever seen. I am so glad that I got to see two blind pick matches when I was there, especially considering there were absolutely none in the spring season. The 3rd place match had MVP Ozone and CJ Frost both pulling out Zeds for their midlaners, and also double Thresh in the botlane. But it was the finals match between SKT T1 and KT Bullets that gave birth to the Quadruple Ninjas, both top laners Impact and InSec both pulling out the Shen (wtf 2 shens?!), and Faker and Ryu with Zed v Zed in the mid lane. I suggest you watch that game to see how that turned out (hint: see next point).
4. Faker, the play maker and mid lane terror
SKT T1 is known for a play making style of play and this finals was no exception. Faker picked up the MVP of the whole season, and his Ahri and Zed plays destroyed the KT Bullets. Special mention goes to that Zed play in the blind pick game, where he won a duel against Ryu's full health Zed when he was less than a quarter health. The plays. Only a video can really do it justice.
|SKT T1 player banners in all their glory!|
These are just a few of the reasons why going to Seoul was worth the 13 hour flight and not insignificant financial loss. I really enjoyed Seoul as a city and a place to be, and I will definitely be going there again (Season 4 Worlds? Riot pls).
You can read more on my trip and League of Legends in this post.
Thanks for reading, don't forget to leave comments below and you can find me @gerarda on Twitter!