Welcome to Anaheim

“What’s with California and their obsession with palm trees?”

Welcome to Anaheim

"What's with California and their obsession with palm trees?"

That’s what one of our professional Overwatch players asked me. With a quick search on Google, I found out that, apparently, palm trees were first introduced into the Los Angeles area during the 18th century by Spanish missionaries, and their popularity rose dramatically during the Victorian era. Palm trees are supposedly associated with desert weather, but it seems like they actually need a lot of water to grow, and the recent drought in this area has stunted their spread.

BlizzCon was at the Anaheim Convention Center, and we got here a few days early to get accustomed with the area. On the day of our arrival, a few of our pro players and I walked around Anaheim. We stopped by a restaurant that boasted meats with “no skin, no dairy, no trans fats, no fried stuff.” Then one of our players wanted to stop by a medical marijuana facility (which is legal in California) to see if he would qualify – unfortunately for him, a California identification was required (and an Australian passport was not accepted).

BlizzCon itself was pretty busy for me. I was there for work, but the press area was extremely crowded and loud, so there wasn’t really a nice place for me to work. I managed to find an out-of-the-way area where I was allowed to be because of my media badge, but even then, there were still hundreds of people flooding by right next to me to get to a different floor of the convention center.

I also realized that it probably isn’t the best idea to dispatch writers to BlizzCon to be on-site if I actually ever want content to be done. Conventions are pretty compelling, and I don’t really want to take away from writers who want to actually enjoy the convention … but seeing as there are non-stop shows and events and parties, it’s difficult for them to actually find the time to write.

Because of how busy I was, I wasn’t really too alert in terms of photographing things. Regardless, a lot of interesting stuff at BlizzCon I wasn’t able to photograph anyway, because they were in the restricted area where we were not allowed to photograph or share anything we were being told. But, I did still manage to get these two photos:

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The first photo was the meal I had when I met up with our Merchandising Director. The second photo was from my spot next to reynad as we were setting up when he was doing a meet-and-greet in the Hearthstone tavern area of BlizzCon.

My plan was to leave California and head back to Illinois shortly after BlizzCon’s conclusion, but there has been a change of plans … I’ll be sticking around for a little bit longer while I do some setup of our new team house here in southern California.

 

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BlizzCon 2016 Opening Week, and how I got kicked out of the studio

Surprise, I’m going to BlizzCon Opening Week.

Surprise, I'm going to BlizzCon Opening Week

At O'Hare International Airport

Arriving at Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport

Okay, well obviously that’s no longer a surprise, because I arrived in Los Angeles on October 23 and I’ve been regularly sharing photos and other posts on social media. The first photo is my ride to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois; the second photo is when I was at O’Hare waiting to board flight with American Airlines; the third photo is after I landed at Los Angeles International Airport and inhaled the familiar smell of cigarette smoke saturating the air; and the fourth and final photo is at Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport, the hotel at which I stayed during BlizzCon Opening Week.

If you’ve been following me for the past year or so, you probably already know that “Surprise, I’m going to ________” is my signature phrase for traveling. I have a tendency to not really share what I’m doing unless I’m already in the process of doing something, or it already happened – this allows me to avoid situations where people say “wait, but I thought you were going to ________” and I have to explain what happened. A consequence of this is that the stuff that I end up sharing is sometimes unexpected, and it’s particularly surprising when I announce out of nowhere that I’m traveling.

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, mostly for our Heroes of the Storm team. If you only know me for Heroes of the Storm, you may be wondering, “why are you going to BlizzCon Opening Week when your new Korean Heroes of the Storm team didn’t even qualify for BlizzCon?”

With Tempo Storm being a very player-oriented organization, and the fact that I would be traveling to BlizzCon anyway for production work, I decided to book my flight early and be present for Opening Week as well. Although our HotS team might not have seen success this time, our Australian Overwatch team did – we had four people qualify for the Overwatch World Cup. I roomed with one of our players who got his hotel room covered by Blizzard, and stayed around to provide administrative support for our team.

Unfortunately, I personally am not much of an Overwatch player, so it was a bit difficult for me to actually be interested in what was going on. So, I generally only went to the studio to check up on the players and stopped by when I was needed. I spent the rest of my time in the hotel room working, as well as doing genius things, such as eating food from restaurants with two hotel coffee stirrers because they forgot to put chopsticks in my takeout bag.

Chop Coffee Stirrer Sticks

So what was this whole thing about getting kicked out of the studio?

Well you see, esports “managers” haven’t exactly demonstrated themselves to me as the most bright and alert people. They generally just do their minimum duties without actually genuinely caring for the players.

I’ve had experiences with league operations staff members who faced tech problems and just gave up. At ESL, a tech was addressing a “power outage” problem … when all he had to do was flip the power switch on the power supply of the computer tower. He couldn’t figure it out, when I identified the problem within seconds after he left the room to get more help. At DreamHack, our CS:GO coach and in-game leader had some audio problems on his laptop, and the tech couldn’t figure out how to fix it and basically said our team had to play the game with the coach’s volume at 1/5th of everything else. That one took me a little bit longer to fix, but I still managed to work through it myself.

Because I didn’t want stuff like this happening to our players at the hands of underqualified individuals, I decided to take care of stuff myself.

Unfortunately, there was no “official” way to have me be the team’s manager, as a manager was assigned for the Overwatch World Cup teams. The Australian team just happened to have four members of Tempo Storm on it, because we have the best Overwatch team in Australia, but for most other teams, random people came together to form the country’s representing team, so it was reasonable for them to not have a specific esports administrator be their manager from a specific organization.

With that being said, confidence gets you far. Even though I wasn’t exactly allowed inside the studio and practice area (because I was not a player or a registered manager), I just walked into the studio as if I belonged there, and was never questioned. I spoke with Blizzard staff members who were on duty inside the studio, and nobody doubted that I belonged there.

Except one person – Nelson – the person who was assigned to be Team Australia’s manager.

The reason he knew I wasn’t authorized on paper to be there is because I was essentially taking his job and making up for his shortcomings. Apparently he had a problem with that – I guess he put his pride before the actual needs of the players.

On one of the Opening Week game days, the team asked me for Starbucks, so I went over to the studio with coffee in hand. The thing about this day is that I announced in our Twitter group DM that I was on my way in the next shuttle (rather than just showing up and walking in), and that I would be arriving in about half an hour.

Nelson was also in this Twitter group.

Right as I got off the shuttle, there were security guards waiting for me at the entrance letting me know that I was not allowed to enter. To be fair, they weren’t wrong – I wasn’t officially on the list of people who could enter – but I had never had a problem with it before then, seeing as most people realized I was a positive addition to the team’s environment.

I have no proof of it, but surely, the only way this could have happened is that Nelson had reported to security that a “trespasser” would be arriving.

This is usually what happens with stories like this – they’re a lot less exciting than what people expect. No, I did not break someone’s bones to get kicked out. No, I did not hack the broadcast. I simply got told on by our own team’s manager.

 

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New infographic on HotS Global Championship, Fall 2016, NA Regional

 

As part of my work with Tempo Storm, I grouped up once again with our statistician and graphic designer for another infographic, this time covering the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship’s Fall 2016 NA Regional.

Although I’ve been going to quite a few Heroes of the Storm events lately due to Tempo Storm’s pro team, now that we’ve signed a Korean team, I had no reason to be on site for this one. I was able to cover this event from the luxury of my home instead.

My tweet above from earlier today gives a brief overview of the infographic.

We did two special features this time, one on the winning team, and one on the hero Zagara. This victory was pretty unexpected, as a new team essentially came out of nowhere, defeating the reigning North American champions, so I did a spotlight on each of the players and where they came from.

If you need the link, in case the embedded tweet above is not displaying properly:

https://tempostorm.com/articles/infographic-esl-hots-global-championship-fall-2016-na-regional

 

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New infographic on HotS Power League, Season 2 grand final: T/S vs. L5

In celebration of our new signing, we made a new infographic focusing in on the grand final series between Tempo Storm and Team L5 in the second season of Power League, a Korean Heroes of the Storm league. This was the tournament they premiered the signing – meaning, this was the first time they appeared on stage branded as Tempo Storm.

Luckily, for the sake of the infographic, the series happened to go on to all five games in the best-of-five series, and all the games ended up pretty close and epic. Even if it ended up being a 3-0 sweep, and even if Tempo Storm lost, we were planning on doing the infographic anyway, but considering the way the games turned out, there wasn’t much more I could’ve asked for.

This was a collaborative project, with Moonprayer doing statistics and analysis, hareclam doing graphic design, and me doing project direction and outlining.

Here’s the final product:

https://tempostorm.com/articles/infographic-power-league-season-2-grand-final-tempo-storm-vs-team-l5

In case you need more coaxing to click on the link and check it out, here’s a preview of what the infographic looks like – it contains an excerpt of the bracket, summary, and a breakdown of the first game of the series:

 

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Regarding AA’s disqualification, through the eyes of a social psychologist

After explosive controversy regarding Astral Authority’s Heroes of the Storm team’s disqualification from ESL’s tournament, I decided to seize this opportunity to write a piece about the event, through the eyes of a social psychologist.

Because I take a much more broad and general role at Tempo Storm, I don’t really dig deep into Heroes of the Storm news, even though I’ve been with Tempo Storm’s HotS team multiple times to different events. However, something as big as this definitely catches my eye, and I took some extra time to actually read through what people were saying.

My main motivation for writing this piece was how much people were complaining about how “the right thing” didn’t happen, as if life is supposed to be perfect. It seemed a little strange to me, but then I figured that it was simply because a lot of the commenters were young people who just didn’t have much life experience.

To help them out a bit, I applied some psychological theories and explained both why stuff like this happened, and why it’s just how life is.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece, the introduction:

 

Last night, one of my good friends Mellina Kong, manager of Astral Authority’s professional Heroes of the Storm roster, posted an update on Twitter about how her players had their dreams crushed. Curious as to what was happening, I looked into it.

Apparently, Astral Authority had qualified for the HGC Fall 2016 NA Regional, happening in early August. The winner of this regional will qualify for BlizzCon 2016 to take their shot at proving themselves to be the best team in the world, on the grandest stage of them all. Not long after, Astral Authority was notified that their qualification had been revoked and their team was disqualified due to bug abuse.

Tyrael has a bug with his trait where selecting a particular sequence of talents and inputting a series of key presses with the right timing will cause his Archangel’s Wrath to deal an unintentionally high amount of damage. According to investigations conducted by ESL and Blizzard, a player on Astral Authority was abusing this exploit to gain an unfair advantage in their games, and consequently, the team was disqualified.

Drama began to explode, with some members of the community and other professional players directing the hatred of 10,000 years at ESL, Blizzard, and Astral Authority’s opponents. People attempted to justify Astral Authority’s behavior by bringing up evidence of other teams using the exploit, claiming ignorance, and just spewing hatred to get the frustration out of their bodies.

What’s done is done. ESL disqualified Astral Authority from the tournament and are scheduling a match to determine their replacement. No matter how vocal Astral Authority fans get, I highly doubt that ESL will reverse their decision by reinstating Astral Authority or revoking the match offer they gave to the runner-up teams.

Having an educational and professional background in sociology and psychology, with a speciali­zation in criminal psychology, I decided to write this piece to help explain this whole fiasco, and nudge the community in the right direction – away from drama, and towards a thirst for learning.

There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this situation about how life works.

  1. Just because you work hard for something doesn’t mean you get it.
  2. People will break rules.
  3. Not everyone gets punished for wrongdoing.
  4. Don’t get caught off guard by Schadenfreude.

 

Want to finish reading the whole piece? Check it out, available exclusively on Tempo Storm’s website:

https://tempostorm.com/articles/stop-the-drama-and-start-the-learning-lessons-from-astral-authoritys-disqualification

 

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We just signed the Heroes of the Storm world champions


After a series of really poorly executed teasers that looked something like this:

We finally got around to revealing that we signed a new Heroes of the Storm team – Team Tempest, the current reigning world champions.

We also got around to revealing that I’m really bad at making non-obvious teasers.

Check out the official announcement linked in the tweet above – I wrote the announcement, and our new communications specialist wrote/translated the player bios.

 

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T/S Infographic: OGN Super League, Season 2 (Korean Regional)

Although our Chinese infographic from a few weeks ago wasn’t quite as popular as our North American and European ones, I really liked how the multi-language infographic came out, and those who were interested in the Asian scene really appreciated it. So, we decided to do another foreign infographic, this time for Korea’s OGN Super League.

https://tempostorm.com/articles/infographic-ogn-super-league-2016-season-2-kr-regional

This was finished a little later than we wanted because we prioritized getting the North American regional infographic out first. Super League actually ended while we were in Burbank, CA for the regional, and most people attending ESL were shocked that Tempest managed to sweep MVP Black 4-0 to become the new Korean champions.

Like always, I appreciate any community feedback that may help me improve my work, so if you have any suggestions, you’re welcome to leave them in the Comments section of this blog post. There’s also a thread on reddit that’s posted with these infographics, and our statistician closely monitors that, and a lot of our tweaks and improvements have come from posts there – so rest assured that your voice, if you choose to express it, will be heard.

 

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ESL HGC Sum. ’16 NA Regional infographic is live now, w/ a new section

The infographic from the Heroes of the Storm tournament I just attended is live now.

While I was there, I noticed a huge rise in Anub’arak play (which was a hero otherwise not really seen in com­petitive play). I also remembered that he had some buffs and changes recently, so I asked my statistician and analyst to collect some more in-depth data about Anub’arak so we could create a new section, the Hero Spotlight.

https://tempostorm.com/articles/infographic-esl-hots-global-championship-summer-2016-season-na-regional-2

Like always, although our statistician and data analyst Moonprayer does a lot of work, I still take this as one of my personal Tempo Storm projects and put effort into innovating and improving it. As a result, I’ll always read non-troll feedback about the infographics.

If you have any suggestions as to what new segments we should add in the future, or have any validly-supported complaints about anything we’re doing now, feel free to leave me a note in the Comments sec­tion of this blog post. I read every single message posted to my website, and answer all posts that prompt a response.

 

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