It’s no secret that esports tournaments borrow broadcast conventions from more traditional sports. Many of these elements, like instant replays and snappy uniforms, were natural additions to the esports milieu; others, like the champagne ceremony, have had what might charitably be called mixed results.
Consider the champagne ceremonies of traditional sports: the dignified tradition of the F1 Grand Prix, the brawny exuberance of the NBA Finals. Have esports champagne celebrations lived up to their athletic analogues? Well—kind of. Take this example, from Counter-Strike:
Despite the general atmosphere of excitement, there’s something undeniably awkward about this clip. Who’s going to open the champagne? None of the players seem interested. Finally the manager, who is just a random guy as far as the viewers are concerned, steps up. And with vigor! With such vigor that it comes across as desperation! He unsheathes the bottle, waves it frantically, as if trying to empty it as quickly as possible, and retreats immediately afterwards, looking mildly horrified. (What did I just DO?) Also, he is wearing a hat with a Goomba on it.
But at least he gets the bottle open, which in esports you definitely can’t take for granted.
StarCraft II players tend to be the worst culprits. In the above clip, from DreamHack 2012, Liquid`Hero treats the champagne bottle with all the familiarity of Marie Antoinette hefting a pickaxe. In 2013, DreamHack attempts to head this off at the pass by handing champion StarDust a champagne bottle that is ALREADY OPEN. The results are only minorly less horrifying:
…by 2014 they are back to Plan A, sending Liquid`Taeja out into the world with an unmolested bottle…
The above clip does at least have one highlight, which is the look of gormless joy on Taeja’s face when someone finally opens the bottle for him.
Still, progress was inevitable. This weekend, when the delightful and lovable Bang “True” Tae Soo took down cocky five-time winner Polt in the WCS Summer Championship, he came to the champagne ceremony prepared. He opened the bottle on his own, which would have been impressive had he not assumed such an expression of wide-eyed shock immediately afterwards. He gave the crowd a good dousing. But then he did something special. Something truly esports. He flipped the bottle around, took a couple of big gulps, and beckoned for the microphone.
“I am still thirsty,” he said, “thirsty to win!”