This weekend saw Sydney host the first ever Blizzard World Championship Series (WCS) for Starcraft 2. National Championships were held in more than 25 countries, starting with Peru in April and ending with Australia. Regional finals will be completed by the middle of September to decide the finalists that will advance to the Global Finals held in Shanghai, China in November.
16 players from Australia qualified for the Australian National Championships by being the best in their state. Players were randomly drawn into brackets and started playing their first matches on Friday. Most matches were played in the back room; showcase matches were played on the main stage in front of the crowd, commentated and streamed online live in high definition.
The stage was beautifully built and themed, with two sound-proof gaming booths on the side of the stage framing the commentator’s table in the centre. Blizzard ANZ flew in four of the most famous Starcraft 2 commentators in the Western world; Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski and Nicolas “Tasteless” Plott from South Korea and Taylor “PainUser” Parsons and Alex “HDstarcraft” Do from America; this generated a lot of excitement from the Australian Starcraft2 fans.
600 free tickets (300 for each day) were distributed online last month in a first-come, first-served basis – these tickets ran out in less than 15 minutes of going live! Starcraft 2 fans came from all over the country and a small group from New Zealand even flew over to cheer for their two representatives in the Oceania finals on Sunday.
The Australian Nationals were held on Friday and Saturday. Throughout the two days, winners were declared until the final matchup between Jared “PiG” Krensel and Andrew “mOOnGlaDe” Pender, with Pender needing to win both best-of-three games due to being knocked into the lower bracket earlier in the day. Unknown to PiG, his parents were sitting in the crowd watching and cheering for their son.
There were 300 spectators making as much sound as a crowd double the size, and they were cheering excitedly for both mOOnGlaDe and PiG – but there could only be one winner. With aggressive play from both Zerg players (they both favour the bug!), PiG eventually came out on top when the “gg” call came from mOOnGlaDe’s keyboard signaling defeat, and a very ‘good game’ indeed. PiG let out a huge cry and the crowd responded with clapping and whistling. Jared Krensel was the Australian champion and $4000 richer, while Andrew Pender takes home $2000.
All was not lost however as mOOnGlaDe advanced to the Oceania finals the next day, due to being in the top 6 standings. Would he have another chance at PiG?
The Oceania finals combined the top 6 players from Australia with the top 2 from New Zealand. Both finalists from Sunday get a chance to attend the Starcraft 2 Global Finals in November.
Throughout Saturday, Sydney Barcraft (hosted by the Australian Pro League) streamed the Australian National Championships at The Ship Inn, at Circular Quay in Sydney. More than 70 Starcraft 2 fans attended the event, some proudly wearing Starcraft 2 shirts depicting their favourite race and conversing with other fans about their favourite game. Starcraft 2themed drinks were served, ranging from long drinks to shots like the Baneling Bust. three large televisions streamed the event, taking over the usual Olympics coverage for the night. Artosis and Tasteless even came by to meet fans that were unable to attend the actual event!