The image that stuck in my mind last night, on my drive back to LA from the Anaheim convention center, was the World of Warcraft themed band playing faux-metal. I don’t know how anybody let this happen. Alongside typical food trucks, they were serving Diablo-branded tacos in the lobby of the Hilton.
One of the first things I saw when I arrived today was someone carrying a Diablo III poster that had been signed by McCree. It’s chaos out here, everybody. The widening gyre, center cannot hold, etc etc. Welcome to the second day of reporting from the front. Here are your dispatches:
3:00 – I spent the morning watching the final matches of the Overwatch World Cup. First, there was the loser’s bracket between Finland and Sweden, which was anyone’s game until right up to the end. Hymzi ran a terrifying pig colossus, killing Tviq over and over even after the star DPS player switched to Roadhog’s hard counter, Reaper. Ultimately, Sweden took the match, narrowly proving themselves the third best team of the tournament.
The actual final was an absolute shutout. While some hoped that wundergenji Shadowburn would be skilled enough to crack Korea’s extraordinary defense, they showed that to be a pipe-dream after the first match. The first three rounds, Russia didn’t even manage to crack the first point. People began to leave the arena before the fourth and final game, not wanting to bear witness to what was now inevitable. There was nothing competitive about it; South Korea left the Overwatch World Cup without dropping a single map.
An interesting shift of dialogue I’ve noticed today is the increase of casters referring to this tournament as an “exhibition.” Which, of course, it is. These are fan-voted teams. But Blizzard seems to be trying hard to focus all eyes on the future of their Overwatch League, now that it’s officially announced. Bizarrely, the casters even debuted the trophy shortly before the World Cup finals were played, despite the fact that no one will be touching that until next BlizzCon.
There is a Nova cosplayer in the press room. She has to set her plastic rifle to the side while she writes. Did she expense that costume?
Pavel won all the marbles over on the Hearthstone stage! Good for him. I’ll leave it up to you reader: is he redeemed from his legendary fuck-up? Haha, no, probably not.
6:00 – On the show floor, Blizzard keeps the spirit of competition alive by putting two ice cream stands directly next to each other.
A big surprise actually came out from the Heroes of the Storm semi-finals, as Fnatic pulled the rug out from under tournament favorites and Korean powerhouse MVP Black. They’ll be going up against the other Korean team, Ballistix, in the final.
ByuN wins the Starcraft II World Championship, reminding many of us that Starcraft II is still played at the competitive level. Boo, hiss!
The temperature in the Anaheim convention center has dropped ten degrees in the last thirty minutes. This is brand appropriate, but deeply unsettling.
8:30 – With their backs against the wall, the press room pulls it out with an incredible last dinner. Flank steak! Tamales! Balsamic goddamn vinegar! This is the meal we’ve all been waiting for, and I was so happy to be there for it.
Oh, and Ballistix have won the Heroes of the Storm Fall Championship. With this victory, South Korea cleans up three of out of the four major esports at BlizzCon.
Weird Al Yankovic played the closing show for the convention, following up such acts as The Guy Who Plays Hodor and The Aforementioned Guys in Leather Tabbards.
BlizzCon is over, South Korea is incredible and competitive Overwatch is going to get a lot bigger in 2017. I’m going to go see what Protoss-themed drinks they’ll serve me at the hotel bar.