Published on Thursday, 22 June 2012 01:08 | Written by BabyToss
Finally sitting down to write down for a bit. I would like to share my experience from Dreamhack Summer & my participation in StarCraft 2's Eizo Open tournament. Now, some quick facts, before I even get to the whole thing. First of all, this was my first international event. I've never had chance to compete in an international offline event before. This is why there were many unknown factors for me in there, I'll go more in depth about that in the write-up itself.
Second - the first part of my write-up will be purely from my personal view, as a player and participant, the other part of this will cover more summarised review as to how I felt Dreamhack was like, in terms of organization and stuff.
DreamHack - Being the player!
The trip, Day 1
My trip to Dreamhack was long. I didn't fly there, as obviously, the expanses would be even bigger. I had the opportunity to travel along with the fellow Czech people, who are part of the biggest Czech e-Sport club/Team, also known as team eSuba. Needs to be said I had to wake up really damn early in the morning, which I oh so much love, as every nerd. However, I felt this opportunity was well worth the hassle. So, packing my stuff day before, I was all set and ready to go on Friday, 15th June, to arrive at the meeting point with my fellow Czech friends. Me being "lucky" as always, the weather was incredibly hot, despite of whole week's raining before. Some cursing occured, as there's nothing worse than train full of people breathing at you while the damn hot ball on the sky is burning like mad. That awfulness took around three hours, until I arrived at the actual meeting point. Meeting and greeting ocurred, nothing really special there; I'm quite sure that my dear readers are not even interested in reading that. We were supposed to set off towards Sweden past noon, but some people got delayed, so we headed towards our destination three hours later. We had two cars capable of containing at least 8 people, and I was lucky to go in the bigger one with less people.
I'm generally easily bored and I need some sort of stimulus for my mind to stay focused. You can imagine my mind going all crazy, when I just briefly touched the thought of me finally travelling to Dreamhack. I can't deny that it was one of the most anticipated events in my life. My love for StarCraft 2 and the game becoming part of my life, it all was there, and I was going to be on one of the biggest festivals on the whole damn world. Nothing else mattered for me, not even the fact I'm so damn shy person in real life. Opportunities like that don't come easily to me, so my excitement was probably similar to a kid's happiness while in a candy store. Or a kid looking forward to Christmas. Or a Zerg seeing that their Protoss didn't wall off their friggin ramp, so they can just six pool and laugh like maniacs afterwards. Take your pick. So, based on that mindset, I just needed something to occupy myself with. That, or just sleep over the damn trip. Eventually, I just listened to my music, my mind being completely elsewhere, mostly imagining myself already being on Dreamhack, which had me to fall asleep few times along the way. It's very easy for me to sleep in the car, somehow, I find traveling very soothing and I just fade into mild sleep easily.
All nature, food and whatever breaks were like pain in the ass. Really. As they prolonged the time which it'd take for us to finally arrive to Dreamhack. I knew I'd be willing to starve just to be there as quick as possible. I also missed my ol' good StarCraft 2 fix, but I'm not gonna admit that without torture. Oh, I just did? Whatever! These are not the droids you are looking for.
All the waiting was gone after roughly 18 hours of travel, including the 2 hour wait for the ferry boat and 2 hours trip with that thing. Not a fan of sea travel, my stomach usually gets upset.. although this time I somehow didn't pay attention to that. There was more at stake, more on my mind. Too much excitement. Dreamhack was in front of me and I knew that time of personal test of courage was getting closer and closer, each passing minute.
The tournament, Day 2
Of course, I have to mention my participation in StarCraft 2's EIZO Open tournament. Dear reader should know, that I'm not too confident person and in fact, I am very anxious and shy personality. It's easy to present myself on the internet, as there's so much anonymity, so there's even place for awkward people like me. Granted, I always do my best to behave at my best, to present myself and my team in the best possible lights, but, when it comes to real life contacts, I just don't cope too well. I want to point out, that I knew, that this participation in the tournament was going to be a huge test for that, as well as experience for me, which would eventually help me in the long run to overcome these issues. I often talk about StarCraft 2 being my personal quest to not only become a good player & role model, but also a quest to become a stronger, better person as a whole. These were to become one of the most tough proving grounds, but I didn't know that yet. I felt my stomach grumbing, as my feet stomped on the Dreamhack's venue for the first time.
There were some issues by the enterance, as I was supposed to get a press pass & player pass but apparently didn't get either right after I arrived. It took some time to even find out I needed a player band and the staff mostly didn't know about that either. This is where the organization was lacking and you can imagine me becoming all frustrated after running around the venue like a fool, trying to find out how things were. One hour later, I finally got all the correct bands, my left hand looking like a Christmas tree with an event pass, press pass & player pass (funnily enough labelled as "pro-gamer", now it's official, kids!), but I was content with all the organization things being in order now. I brought along my laptop for the event, because I thought this was going to be a regular BYOC tournament and I'd be playing my games hidden in the BYOC arena. I couldn't be more mistaken!
I knew my group since Thursday. I knew who I was going to face and I even knew that facing one of these people would be maybe harder than facing Hero from Team Liquid and Merz from Team Dignitas. One person off my group was a friend of mine, also a Protoss player. For me, facing a friend, that was something unknown to me before and it just felt off and out of place. However, I still knew I would have to give it my best. My games were set to start at 6pm local time and I was told we would be playing at the designated Tournament area, so I'd need to bring my keyboard, mouse, mousepad and headset a half hour before start. This was admittedly the big shocker for me. Like I said, I thought that I'd be playing my games in the BYOC arena, hence why I brought my gaming laptop along. These stations also had a huge monitor at the top so the people wouldn't have to breathe on player's necks behind them, while playing. I could feel my heart pounding and my stomach doing really odd things by just thought that people could see my games if they really wanted. The fear was creeping out and I thought that if I knew about that particular thing, I'd probably not sign up for the tournament. Part of me wanted to slap myself for that thought, but my worries were too strong. As the time was nearing, these feelings were becoming stronger and stronger. Each single minute passed felt like an eternity. I knew I couldn't back down, not now, when I got so far and comitted to this. It'd be disgrace not only for myself, but also for my team, wouldn't it? My good friend always reminds me that to be brave doesn't mean absence of fear, but the ability to face it. With that, I was set on doing this, despite of all the difficulties. But I won't lie; it was not becoming any easier for me.
I knew I should've warm myself up with the time I was given during the setup phase. But my mind was too cornered, too afraid. I'm even ashamed to say this. Because after all, it may be hard to comprehend for many people, that I could feel so worried and out of it, just because of the game. I love the game, it's part of my life and yet, I fail to face small obstacles like that? How could I even think about becoming good? Self-doubts and berating myself in my mind, that's what I was doing, while I stepped away to throw some cold water on my face, to at least force myself to focus and calm down a bit.
I sat down into the "chair of death" few minutes later, logging onto StarCraft 2, having bunch of people messaging me immediatelly after I came online. Some of them knew I was playing in Dreamhack, despite of me not telling them, so you can imagine me freaking out a bit. Nothing too unusual though, I couldn't be any more freaked out than I already was. The refree was by my side few more moments later, asking me which map I wanted to veto. Mumbling "Antiga Shipyard" more to myself than him, he still seemed to understand. And I was in for more surprises. I was asked by some guy, whose's name I already forgot, if I could invite them into the game, as they wished to stream my game. Can you imagine me so wanting to tell him to not do it? But how would I look like? How would vVv Gaming look like, if they had such a damn coward in their midst? Mumbling "sure", I gave in and sent the guy an invite. Wasn't the official Dreamhack caster duo, think they were from GLHF.tv.
My first opponent was a Terran player, Dignitas's Merz. Game loading, my hands all cold, my fingers numb, my heart beating as if it was a race. First game was on Daybreak. I managed to not misclick my probes. Good job! However, I misrallied my Nexus. Girl, you fail. Hands still refusing to do what I told them, I luckily noticed soon afterwards. I cannot even describe state of my mind. I was making many mistakes. It's usually called "choking" when you make mistakes you'd not normally make, but all the stress just causes you to play so much worse. Nothing feels worse than supplyblocking myself. Or even blocking my two immortals by other buildings. The tunnel vision incoming, it was so hard to focus. Writing these lines, I feel so ashamed of myself. It just should not happen like that. Mistake after mistake creeping into my play, me getting gases way too early. The brain just shut down on me. I was not thinking clearly. My build, my opening, it all was way too flawled. I cannot find words of excuse or even comfort for myself. Mere drop happened, my reactions were way too slow and I knew the game was lost anyways, my "GG" followed.
A miriad amount of feelings crossed me, I had to bite my lips to not begin crying. My friend Sophie, she was immediatelly by my side, comforting me, saying I played okay. But, it just didn't help. Nothing would help at that time. I knew I didn't give my best and I just wanted to be gone, to not know myself. It is always important for me to give my best. Therefore, it is just way too easy to blame myself when I don't. I was invited into next game, but I just wasn't ready at all, so I requested few minutes downtime. I knew my mind was way too disturbed, touched by that loss. To be realistic, I could've not take a game from him, I very well knew that, however, I wanted to fight with all I had. And, to my knowledge, I wasn't able to do that, not even remotely. That is why the weight of loss was so difficult for me to bear.
I couldn't just let them to wait for too long. I had to soldier on. Despite of my feelings. I knew that if I am to become a stronger StarCrafter and a person, I'd eventually have to face situations like that, as they serve as true test of one's preparadness and willingness to fight. So, I had them to begin the second game; this time playing on Cloud Kingdom. I was slightly calmer after Sofie spoke to me for a bit, but even in the second game, I just felt my anxiety striking, causing me to still make mistakes I shouldn't be making. It is really hard for me to write out anything positive about myself, really. If you aim to be good at something, you can't just lie down in comforting yourself. You have to be as critical of yourself as possible, in order to be able to progress further. Merz was able to beat me with two prong attack yet again, as I had no confidence nor means to defeat him. My another "GG" went up, me needing these 10 minutes of break really badly.
My next game was supposed to be against the korean player, Liquid Hero. All of you probably know him. Most of you would probably even see it as honor to be able to play versus him, as it's something you do not gain easily with a player of his caliber. But, I didn't see it that way back then. I saw it, as if I needed to prove myself, to be able to yet again show my best. It's just how I roll. Always aiming somewhere, always trying to show that I can manage, no matter the odds. But, maybe I'm just lying to myself. Maybe it's just a wishful thinking. Is it wrong to aim somewhere? Is it wrong to want to learn, in order to grow? No matter where the road takes me? Where the end barrier should be? Where is the line between being downright harsh on myself and on trying to learn so much?
Again, the refree would come, asking me which map I wished to veto. For some odd reason I didn't veto Antiga Shipyard - yes, I just hate that map, so of course, my first game versus HerO would be on that particular map. I admit I was not too familiar with the map at all, due to me downvoting it on the ladder and never really playing on it vs my practice buddies. So yes, a handicap, added up to already existing nervousness. I'm probably really good at making stuff harder on myself, am I not...rhetoric question, dear reader, yes. Protoss versus Protoss... is it late to say that it's my least favourite matchup? All these 1 base thingies, I just don't like those. I prefer a juicy, exciting, fiercy macro game. I have yet to discover a way how to expand early in this matchup, in order to make it worth digesting. My Protoss builds are kind of messy in general, so HerO had it easy, rolling me with no effort with some ridiculous pressure I was apparently supposed to hold no problem. I gg'd out, facepalming really badly. At least these fails weren't streamed, to my and the audience's health! Finding positive here, can you see? Growing an optimist here.
Another game on Cloud Kingdom followed. Ever felt that you knew a cheese was coming, you scouted the base and then realized you had to make a decision, as to what kind of cheese was coming? Not scouting these things on time usually means a really miserable death. Even a Silver leaguer knows that. I know that. But, that knowledge alone didn't help me. I just wasn't in time to see what was coming and before realizing it, I had HerO's Zealots having party in my damn base. I had to smile on that one, giving HerO a "GG" with a smile sign at the end. I had nothing to lose afterwards. I knew that my next game, the game against a dear friend of mine, would be my last one in the tournament. Well, a set of games, to be precise.
The burden of fear was gone. I had nothing to lose, nothing to gain. I just wanted to play my last games with dignity. Admittedly, because my last set of games were Protoss vs Protoss yet again, I wanted to change the pace and played really greedy in the first game. Which of course didn't pay off, but I wanted to try it. My first game was therefore lost. But, I wasn't keen on just going without giving a proper fight. Not my style. I took other two games. I don't want to comment on these too much, as I do respect my friend and I do not want that friend to feel any bad. We had good games though, I can say some of these battles just had me going and they reminded me why StarCraft 2 is just so exciting and awesome game. Me and my friend shook hands in friendship, hugging each other right after the game.
There's this sentiment of never giving up, of just going no matter of the odds, as long as you can, to have the old fashioned fun with something you love. This is the very valuable lesson for me to yet learn. To learn to relax, breathe and focus, even when the situation kicks me out of my comfort zone. That is how we learn. It's something, which the participation in this tournament gave me, even though it's something I have to constantly remind myself of. I hope to take more courage with me from this and that this courage would be growing with every single game played. I don't care how many tears I'll shed, I don't care how many hours, days or even years it'll take. A wise friend of mine always tells me "Anything worth having is worth fighting for." By that, I am trying to live day by day.
Shoutouts & thanks!
I met many awesome people. Ferry "Darkomicron" van de Pol, Sophie "Sophie" Yngman, who was truly helpful when it comes to mindset and helping me overcoming the really rough spots. Caroline "Guilly" Danielsson, a friend of mine, who is of a kind heart and always so cheerful, Tobias "OneStep" SÖRLING, a fellow Protoss player, who has endless amount of courage and I'd like to have at least bits of that. I can't forget mentionimg some of the famous personalities, like Liquid Ret, who even greeted me and told me he remembered me. Although it still beats me how he could remember me, as I never really met him before? Maybe he was just mistaken. I also met Liquid's HerO and TaeJa. Then there's Aleksey "WhiteRa" Krupnyk, who has really special place in my heart. He is a true role model and an awesome player. I aspire to be like him, in my own way.
I know following people weren't with me on Dreamhack, but a special mention goes to Allen Rulo, who is an old friend of mine, always trusting in me, always supporting me and always pushing me forward, then to Fraser Bedwell, who is also a good, old friend of mine, always cheering on me, always giving me good laughs and odd jokes. Can't forget mentioning Ryan Rushia & Rob Feeley, who were an inspiration to me, and who taught me a lot about StarCraft 2 and myself, and last but not least, my mom, husband and son, whom I truly love and without them, I'd never really aim anywhere, as I'd not find worth in myself. Thank you for all. I won't let you down.
I also have to thank my team, vVv Gaming for having me in their midst. I hope that one day, I can make you proud with this passion of mine. I know I'll be trying.
Dreamhack - the overall experience
The venue itself was huge. It's really easy to get lost there, especially if you are there for the first time. A lot of the staff crew in place had no idea about the very basic things like as to where the "sleep area" is. That is kind of disturbing. I mean, nobody expects people to know every thing, but there should be basic outlines as to what the staff crew should know. Things like where to sleep should be among those. But, that's just me. I feel like when you are tired, you shouldn't need to spend another hour running across the venue, packed with sleeping accessories, tired from previous day, only to try and find out where exactly you are supposed to rest your physical body.
I mentioned this issue with having the correct ID bands as well - this should be a non issue, especially if you ask at the Info booth. These people had no idea. I had to talk to an admin from some other booth to be able to get the correct informations and corresponding ID bands and that too took quite a lot of unnecessary hassle. However, to the defence of that kind lady, who heled me, she was truly forthcoming and helpful, once I explained her what my problem was. I didn't even have to wait in that huge queue, as she realized that this was a mistake done by the enterance crew and I really shouldn't be paying for that.
The tournament refrees seemed to be considerate and knowledgeable of the game. That is always a plus. Nothing worse than having some sort of guy, who has no idea what's going on and they just happen to be there.
The BYOC arena is not really any good. The tables are way too high and the chair, I just slumped too deep, so if I really wanted to play, my hands would be all broken oddly. I know I am just a midget, but I still think that this could be handled somewhat better. Not to mention that the table space you are alotted. I could barely fit in there. The event like DreamHack should have it really better than some unnamed LAN here in Czech republic, where I have much more space for myself, my laptop and its accessories. On the plus side, the whole venue didn't feel all "breath out", the air was fairly breathable and the temperature was just good enough to not have a headache.
The tournament area was overall a good idea. You got enough space for your own equipment (mouse, mousepad, keyboard, headset) and you also got enough time during the setup to get comfortable with the settings and set your own if you truly wished to. The organizators should really keep this trend up, it was a good thing.
Last thing - Massage for the players - awesome, I didn't want to go, but I did in the end, after my friend pushed me to do it - so, again, awesome!
There are lessons to be learnt, in everything we do in life. Dreamhack, at least for me, happened to be that kind of event. I think, it made me stronger, even if it may be only by a bit. Some of my readers may even ask why do I do all of this. And I already explained that, on several ocassions. I may be a "small" player today. Worried, not having confidence in myself, struggling with myself, but having a big heart for what I do. Rob Clotworthy, a voice-actor, who voiced Jim Raynor once told me a wise thing - "There are no small players. Every journey begins with one step.", and I believe, after looking back, that he is right. We all have to take small steps to grow. If we expect ourselves to run straight away before learning to walk, or heck, before learning to crawl for the first time, we will of course trip and hurt ourselves. I admit I am good at that. I struggle at objectively judging myself. I struggle with finding positive stuff about myself and my games. But I know, more than ever, that this is what I love doing and I am not going anywhere. If I could, I'd attend Dreamhack again. Heck, If I had the money & opportunity, I'd subject myself to the Poland's StarCraft 2's Training house "Ministry of Win" for a month or two, despite of being a shy nimwit, a training house, which I heard have really rigorous training regimen, just to focus on my passion and overcome myself. I know I have to fight for what I love. Right now, I am my worst enemy. I'm going to be facing myself more than anything else.
Who knows. I certainly do not know what the future holds. The only thing I know, is that the community, StarCraft 2 and this whole journey of self-improvement, learning and growth is going to be awesome. We don't enjoy just the end goal. The journey itself is what is making this so exciting for me.
I'm not going anywhere. That is a promise.