Monday, June 18, 2012

MLG Anaheim Finals - PDX Barcraft



Major League Gaming (MLG) is one of the prominent professional gaming organizations in the world, and likely the most popular of these organizations in the United States.  While there have been a number of changes throughout its lifetime, in 2012, there are championships for several fighting games for PS3 and a couple real-time strategy games for the PC.  Of these, the most popular game on the tour is Starcraft 2, made by Blizzard Entertainment.

As a result, since the early Starcraft 2 tournaments two years ago, a small community of eSports fans have begun to meet in gamer-friendly bars to watch tournament matches, have a few drinks, and meet fellow gamers.  These have been dubbed "Barcraft" by the greater community -- and I finally had an opportunity to attend one!

This Barcraft was in celebration of the MLG Championships being held in Anaheim, California, on June 10.  The Starcraft 2 Finals were set to start at 1:30pm (although they did discover that was provided in Eastern Time, so we rewound and watched on a delay).  I arrived at the bar (Bistro 153) a couple minutes late, which seemed to be fashionable, since a few others joined shortly after me.  I sat at a table with a couple other gamers, and ordered some of the specialty drinks and appetizers created just for the Barcraft Event.


Eventually, we were up to about 20 attendees for the Barcraft (and another 10 or so just for the bar), making this a less successful event than they were accustomed to.  I was told there had been as many as 100 attendees at previous events, which would have definitely exceeded capacity.  A normal Barcraft event would be about twice as large.  As it was, it was very comfortable, and everyone was quite approachable.  In fact, the gaming on the screen was generally ignored in favor of conversation, with an occasional look at the screen as the announcers got excited -- and once when we noticed a sign in the crowd saying hello to PDX Barcraft!  

A nice touch to the event was that they had gaming sponsors, who were nice enough to provide T-Shirts (all sizes in Korean, so they just called them Korean medium...definitely too small for some of us), banners, inflatable hammers (really?  what did they expect would happen when you give gamers a bunch of hammers and alcohol?), and even a slick mousepad and mouse for raffles.  These were given away or raffled off throughout the event, with the more expensive prizes being saved until closer to the end of the evening.  Thank you Thermaltake eSports for sponsoring the event -- it definitely made it enjoyable.



After several hours of socializing, DRG won the championship over Alicia playing as Zerg.  The mostly-Terran crowd started to disperse after the second game of the finals, but it was worth sticking around to see.  The final game was actually started as a 6-pool (a strategy where a Zerg player only use the starting allotment of workers, in order to build your attack units earlier), which is generally not thought to be a top-level strategy, especially against Protoss.  Although the early attacks were denied, he recovered his economy and won the game and match.

I've been told that they try to have these events monthly, if they can (of course, that depends on the pro gaming schedule).  Specifically for PDX Barcraft, the best place to find the information is on their subreddit at http://www.reddit.com/r/barcraftpdx.  If you'd like to see about other Barcraft events in your area, the first place I'd start would be the subreddit http://metareddit.com/r/BarCraft.  Otherwise, it looks like TeamLiquid (one of the prominent Starcraft 2 communities) has a site specifically for finding Barcraft events, as well.  There are other places that you can find online, but they're quite varied, and often not updated as frequently as they probably should be.

I had a great time at this event, and would definitely attend again in the future.  The other attendees were great, the bar was cozy, and the bartender/owner was very friendly.  I wish it were closer to home, so that I could frequent it more often.  In the meantime, I definitely got the itch to start watching Day[9] and playing Starcraft again.  Of course, that was short-lived, based on the erosion of my skills...I'll wait and allow the upcoming expansion to rekindle my desire to play more.

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