AVDRshow #12 — I Was a Part of a Failed Esports Event
AVDRshow #12 on PPSL

The renewed interest in the music festival mishap that was Fyre Festival due to the recent release of the Fyre Festival documentaries in Netflix and Hulu, as well as my invigorated efforts to create regular content on the Facebook page, culminated in me making this video retelling my 2011 experience of being a part of a failed esports event.

It was a dark time in the lives of everyone involved, including the man who led it. Seven years after the fact, I tell the story for posterity and to spread the message of sobriety in leadership and not letting ego get the best of you as you manage and deal with people in pursuit of a common goal. I like to think it just happened to be an esports event.

Below are some more details I wasn’t able to fit into the video.

Disclaimer: I withheld some names to cover my bases. The main subject of the video (this scenario’s equivalent of Billy McFarland) is hidden behind the name of “Bigshot”—a sarcastic nickname that reflects his propensity for egotism.

There were also plenty of details that ended up being left out—like the barcraft in Bubba Gump Greenbelt that was paid for with Twitch money; the sky-high other host in the event Allyn Hoang (who has since moved on to daytime news in the US and even won an Emmy for it); interviewing Robert Clotworthy, the voice actor for Jim Raynor, and getting a sound bite for a radio ad from him to hype up the event; other logistical gaffes in the event floor; and so on.

StarCraft II Esports Scene in 2011

Funny enough, I can look back and see it as a simpler time when all I did was watch streams and play StarCraft II. Never mind that I was beset by depression during this time since that also made things simpler back then in a weird sort of way.

The StarCraft II esports scene peaked in 2012, when it got as popular as it was going to be as one of the top games in esports and streaming until MOBAs then took over. The entry point for real-time strategy is pretty high up since learning how to play StarCraft “properly” is not that easy and the skill ceiling is up to the stratosphere.

I remember StarCraft II getting average concurrent viewer numbers of 20,000 to as high as 50,000, which was high for that time. Then the MOBAs came around and got six-digit numbers, like it was going “pfft” at StarCraft II for being such a baby.

Nowadays, the top games in Twitch tend to be battle royale shooters like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite (and EA’s Apex Legends as of this writing) as the trend has shifted a bit away from League of Legends and Dota 2, although those games still have a following as mainstays in esports.

StarCraft II has since experienced a sort of mini-renaissance in 2018 with the ascension of a non-Korean world champion. The likes of NaNiwa, Stephano, and Scarlett have gotten close over the years, but it was Serral who seems to have reached that level of domination that the non-Korean scene had strived to achieve.

However, it must be said that the StarCraft II scene in Korea is not really that big to begin with. Perhaps the only thing that sustains it is Blizzard’s monetary support. Once that goes away, it won’t be able to sustain itself like StarCraft: Brood War can with its legendary status.

With that said, both of those games will never be as big as Brood War was in the 2000s due to the specter that is match-fixing. The underground gambling world in Korea has made it so bad for both StarCraft games that players involved in match-fixing and game-throwing were served jail time and suspensions since the South Korean government takes esports seriously enough to regulate it.

Becoming the Content Manager for the Team

The writing work for the team wasn’t that hard to begin with as I tend to have heavier workloads in my freelance work for clients in online marketing and elsewhere.

At this point, I didn’t have the graphic design skills I have now, at least not at the level that would’ve made me useful like now. Therefore, my usefulness was rather limited, making me simply a secretary and personal assistant.

How capable I was at that capacity, I couldn’t say for sure, but my lack of ample communication skills (and willingness) must’ve made me even more bothersome.

Pre-event Happenings and Preparations

A common theme in the team’s internal communications is the Bigshot’s adamant stance of Mineski, the net cafe franchise and budding esports team, being our enemy. I found this constant bellicosity towards a more established entity in the field to be a waste of time and effort.

But perhaps Bigshot read one of those leadership self-help books that half-assedly state that people can be brought together when given an enemy to fight. Meanwhile, our real enemies were time and financial limitations.

(On a tangent, here’s an interesting note. Mineski founder and CEO Rommel Robins’ wife and I were classmates in high school. My mother used to borrow her notebooks since I was such a lazy note-taker.)

I remember our first meeting as a team. It was a gathering of motley characters, and I acted as I always did as more of a fly on the wall than an actual part of the team. But since I had fairly significant responsibilities, I had to be called to attention despite my lingering anxiety.

When the night ended, we had racked up a bill of somewhere around P10,000 to P15,000. I’ve always found five-digit restaurant bills to be imprudent and deliberately ostentatious, which went against my own programming. The more verbose attendees did indeed offer to go Dutch, but the tossing around of plastic was the first red flag in my head.

The second gathering was touted as “the first Barcraft in the Philippines”. A “barcraft” was basically the watching of StarCraft games in a sports bar, which started to become a thing in the StarCraft community during that time. It was held in Bubba Gump Greenbelt, and it was paid for with money from Twitch. I also found this to be imprudent and thought allocation to event preparations to be better use of those funds instead.

But of course, Bigshot had to show off. That was in his nature.

They brought a projector and sound equipment to broadcast the games, but Philippine mobile Internet was still complete shit in 2011. The venue didn’t have the proper facilities, so we couldn’t properly do what we set out to do there. The rest of the night was spent gorging on shrimp and desserts to make the most of the aforementioned money. While I had my reservations, I remember taking in my fill of crustaceans and Alabama mud pie.

We also received StarCraft II and early Twitch merchandise. I still have the Terran dog tags and Twitch mousepad, but I’ve since lost the old Twitch shirt.

After that, I remember the early morning Skype incident and pre-event meet. I remember being late for the meet since I had to take the midterm exam for my web design class. When I got there, they already finished dinner and were on their way to the arcade since Tasteless and Artosis wanted to play Street Fighter IV. They were both Blanka players since that character is the fighting game equivalent of a Protoss cannon rush. I also remember TheGunrun playing a rhythm game.

Most other happenings in between is a blur in my mind. I should’ve documented it better.

There was the time we were in a Skype call with Robert Clotworthy, the voice actor for Jim Raynor. I remember asking him a question about vocal cord nodules, something I would find significant years later as start using my voice more for work. A sound bite was recorded for a radio ad for the event, which was exciting since Jim Raynor was advertising our event.

We also had sponsors like Nvidia, Razer, Palit, and Cougar. This was the point when team morale was at its highest. We wouldn’t be this optimistic ever again.

The Event

Bigshot going home to sleep was the point of no return. Even if the whole gamble was well on its way to a big payoff, all hope was dashed with this one decision. Life hinges on crucial decisions like this, and the most important factor in execution is follow-through. To this day, Bigshot seems to be coming up with schemes to earn money, like a Game of Thrones viewing (from what I hear).

Like a middle class version of Billy McFarland.

But he would do that with little to no foundation, like a brand to serve as his base (at least nothing I’m aware of). Of course, brands that have anything to do with him have to make sure his presence is somewhat covered since a simple Google search of his name brings up his sordid past (namely this event).

Philippine Internet infrastructure is five years behind, which was why we were getting mostly DSL speeds in the event. The service provider Globe must have thought it was enough to give 2 mbps up and down since streaming wasn’t that well known of a thing back then. Nowadays, everyone with a decent enough smartphone wants to do Facebook Live videos.

That mix-up would’ve been easily remedied if Globe could have been contacted right away. Unfortunately, only one person knew how to reach them, and he was fast asleep in his own home that was kilometers away from the venue.

EDIT (5:40AM@10FEB2019): I keep forgetting to put in what I remember of the other host Allyn Hoang. I remember her dedication to the job, practicing her hosting spots backstage. Even for a hokey event like this, she was doing her job as best as she could. That’s definitely how she eventually got a Daytime Emmy when she transitioned to broadcast journalism.

I must have creeped her the fuck out, though. She may have noticed this fat Chinese kid in some foreign country ogling her breasts.

Afterparty

The one image I remember from that somber “afterparty” was Rachel Quirico leaning her head on her boyfriend Trevor Housten’s shoulder with this look on her face that summed up the event as a whole. Tired and sullen.

I went back home alone after having had my fill of iced tea and resigning to the fact that I won’t be compensated. Everyone was just glad it was over, but it wasn’t over just yet. Worse things were yet to come.

Event Fallout and Aftermath

Being told to delete everything in the team’s Liquipedia entry was something I didn’t want to do since I knew it was just going to be undone, but the number of people begging me to do it was staggering. That was the most annoyed I had ever felt since I got into the team, even more than the incident with the Skype conversation.

No, really. It annoys me up to now because those people were a bunch of idiots to even think that would be allowed. Also being told to stay quiet was something I’m still quite mad about to this day. I’m perturbed by the fact that I could only make a video on this incident as far into the future as now.

The whole aftermath perturbed me, not just because of Bigshot’s inability to handle the consequences with grace, but also that everyone else’s. I’m sure it’s mostly due to inexperience, but the only reason why I haven’t lost respect for them is because it’d be wrong to look down on their fear and panic.

Reviving the Issue a Year and a Half Later

The TeamLiquid thread that revived the issue was dumb. There’s no other word for it. It was just dumb. There was nothing else to talk about. What happened after I made my post was also dumb.

That’s all I can say about that.

Trying to Get into Esports (And Stepping Away)

I was invited by to a nearby StarCraft II tournament by someone in Pacific so I could write about it. Dex Ancheta of Mineski (who attended the event) was also there, and he was the only other person I recognized. I remember how socially awkward I was there. I felt so out of place.

Everywhere I went in my brief quest to get into the local esports scene made me feel out of place. I didn’t know these people, I couldn’t talk to anyone, and I didn’t feel truly present. I went to another StarCraft II tournament in Mineski Taft, and being there confirmed my lack of excitement.

I tried doing let’s plays and commentaries of StarCraft II matches over that time, but it always turned out terrible. I know well enough how to be objective with my performance, so this isn’t just me being hard on myself. Talking is one of my great interests in life, and I could say with all honesty that my StarCraft commentary was absolutely terrible.

That was when I decided that there was no way I could get into the local esports scene with what I had to offer (and lack thereof).

Conclusion

There’s a lot of talk regarding Bigshot being a chronic scammer. Stories of his supposed exploits have been traded between those who had the displeasure of working with him. I personally try my best to divorce from such talk, but I did dig up this ancient blog post that mentions his name.

As far as the event is concerned, I defer to Hanlon’s Razor—”Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

Got Feedback?

Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.

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