Had a great feeling about the Manila Major shortly after I landed, when I was greeted by several people to be driven to the hotel (complete with motorcycle escort!). One of the greeters apologized profusely for not being able to find me initially after I got off the plane, to the point where I almost felt ashamed or wondered if I was being trolled! And the good feeling…never went away. The accommodations for the Manila Major were excellent. The hotel, already right by the ocean, also featured a large winding pool just outside the main restaurant, with a big slide. I think the worst part of my entire trip was deciding to go face-first down the slide, which is built for children and picks up momentum incredibly fast, and then being slightly dazed and in pain after hitting the water. I think this might have temporarily caused some hearing issues too…I had to say “What?” way too many times, or even limit, avoid, or simplify a few interactions altogether. I blame colleague Helen for goading me into it!
There was a huge variety of food every day, with different themes and plenty of choices that seemed to please eastern and western palates alike. The breakfast selection was abundant nearly to the point of confusion. Huge shout out to the hospitality people, MCW events, (you can find some of them, such as @Shannon_mar1e on Twitter!) for kicking ass.
The event was clearly well received, and seemed to be run with efficient, organized compartmentalization and accountability. The fact that, from my limited perspective, no major issues came up suggests either (a) there were no major issues, or (b) the major issues went directly to the people who were supposed to handle them, and were nipped in the bud. PGL also proved responsive to the community in amending its BattleView, and making numerous other adjustments throughout the event. We live in a day and age where a Romanian-based company which had largely run CS:GO tournaments could come to the Philippines and run a successful DotA 2 Major…impressive.
The fans were excellent. The place just brimmed with energy from day one of the Main Event onwards, I’ll never forget standing on the floor for Fnatic-LGD to the chants of “DJ!”, and just the general warmth and enthusiasm of the fans matched the setting.
Got to meet and talk to many people for the first time, especially Maut, Waga, Fogged and Noxville. I was half expecting Fogged to flame me for some bad Lich play I’d done in his lane in a pub, but he was of course gracious, knowledgeable, and open-minded. Waga just seems like one of the most genuinely friendly people out there, also a kid who grew up playing games and has now found a great outlet for his interests and talent. Noxville is bawdy and irreverent. One of my favorite moments was when Maut asked where I was from, went something like
Me: “New York City, but I was in upstate until 8th grade.”
Maut: “Really? Where upstate?”
Me: (excitement building) “Latham!”
Maut: “REALLY? Did you go to Shaker?”
Me: “Yeah!! You?”
Maut: “Half moon!
Both of us: “Small world.” Yes, we get giddy when we discover in Manila that someone is from basically the same rustic, quiet township.
It was also lots of fun watching Slacks do his thing, dude is wound up, does not stop, and is endlessly entertaining. It’ll be hard to top sitting next to Slacks, ODPixel and occasionally Redeye and watching ideas be molded and come to life as they steadily patched together the now legendary Manila Major Rap.
Some other favorite random snippets from Manila:
– Sgamer photoshopped the Slacks interview with Aggressif where I was the interpreter. Personally I think Slacks’ voice and grand proclamations sound more like a pre-pubescent Storm Spirit, but whatever. Some of the Chinese forum comments at Sgamer cracked me up, especially “My heart goes out to the sofa” and “Panda ulted, RUN!”
– Chinese nicknames and memeology, still got a ways to go. Mandarin Chinese words are all one syllable, packed with homonyms in a language that lends itself so well to puns and wordplay. There are so many minds churning them out too, it’s hard to keep up. One of my favorite came up perfectly right as LGD was defending its high ground against Liquid, and some of the Chinese casters were chanting it and laughing when I walked into their suite: Lai Gao Di, or “Come High Ground”, an all-too fitting nickname for the squad known for its methodical and defensive playstyle, and whose formidable high ground defense has been likened to trying to breach the Great Wall.
– Was given an opportunity by awesomely helpful colleagues to be on the Chinese panel for groupstage and a couple days of Main Event. Got some quality feedback about it already, and would love to hear more…but it was incredibly fun, helped me learn a lot about how the Chinese do things, and let me share some of our nicknames, memes, and perceptions with them. It also put my knowledge to the test, but I loved every step of preparing for it, the nerves, the energy, everything. I also want to thank my buddy Gorgon the Wondercow, who was one of the official casters for the Manila Major Qualifiers, for providing formidable research and perspective, the type of detail and work ethic that’s gotten him noticed as a writer and caster and hopefully continues to be rewarded as it should be. Hopefully, there will be more panel opportunities to come!
– It seems Texas holdem has been steadily gaining popularity in China, and so on the final day before departure some of the Chinese players came down for some cards with the casters. True to expectation, the players were all pretty good…Xiao8 was clearly messing around but quite capable, along with Maybe, Mu, and Kabu. Sharks in the water, though the biggest shark was probably Helen, who I might just take to calling the river queen based on the day’s events.
Looking ahead, I haven’t been very active with the blog lately, but I hope to be writing more in the days to come, including a closer look on the state of Chinese DotA heading into TI. I’m currently in China and have some exciting DotA-related activities to do here in the coming weeks, will keep this humming when possible.