I delivered the well-traveled pretzels

Earlier this month, I went on a trip to Los Angeles, California for the Heroes of the Storm North American regional, as part of the global championship circuit. On my flight back, I was messaging Ed Lam (better known online as Grainyrice) via the wifi on the plane.

He let me know that he wanted me to save the airline pretzels for him, because enjoys the taste of a well-traveled pretzel. I posted a screenshot of our conversation on Twitter:


Ed and I met up a few times since then, but I forgot to hand off the “product.”

Earlier today, Ed came to visit me again, and this time, I remembered to give him the pretzels.

Ed Lam (Grainyrice) holding a bag of well-traveled pretzels

That is Ed excitedly holding his well-traveled pretzels.



KMAA’s TKD Demo at Lambs Farm Fun & Fit Family Day 2016

Earlier today, I went to Lambs Farm, which is a disability services facility not far from Keumgang Martial Arts Academy. KMAA was participating in the Fun & Fit Family Day 2016, and also had a demonstration as part of the festivities.

I agreed to attend because I didn’t realize the entire thing was outside, but luckily, I was aware enough to wander off and find some shady and scenic areas away from the hordes of people.

(Click photos to enlarge)

I also took a video of the entire taekwondo demonstration. It was almost 20 minutes long, and I literally got slightly seared on the areas of skin that was exposed to the sun.

I almost never burn, so this is literally a first for me – I’m assuming that the fact that this farm was in the middle of nowhere is the reason why the sun shone down stronger and had a more detrimental effect on me.

If you’re interested in seeing the video, as well as the full photo album that includes stillframes of action from the video, check out the post I made on Keumgang Martial Arts Academy’s Facebook page:



Apparently you get Hell Billie for free if you make a purchase

I’ve been around Heroes of the Storm for quite a while now, and I’ve made quite a few purchases from the shop. Back in beta, if you made a purchase, you got Wonder Billie for free, which is the rainbow midget mount; more recently, a purchase would earn you a free Billie the Kid, which is basically the same thing as the rainbow mount, without the fancy colors.

Back during the Black Friday sale, I got almost all the skins I wanted at 50% off. But, I recently noticed that I forgot to get Corruptor Cho’gall, which is the skin that turns you white and gold once you unlock the third color variation. Because I’ve been playing Cho’gall a bit more often lately (I would play only Gall if I could, but it’s difficult to find a competent partner), I went and unlocked the skin.

Unlocking Corruptor Cho'gall in Heroes of the Storm

I got a little notification that I had received a new gift, and apparently, the new “Billie” mount now is Hell Billie.

A Thank You Gift Unlocked - Hell Billie

I actually find it really nice that they’re giving away free promotional items like this, and it actually ties in very closely to a good marketing strategy. It’s the foot-in-door technique – by offering a free gift upon a player’s first shop purchase, they’re providing better value for the potential buyer’s money, and encouraging them to make that first buy. Once they do, it’s more likely that they will continue making future purchases.

I also like the fact that they’re keeping the Billie theme across the free mounts, and it’s nice that they picked Hell Billie, which sort of has a World of Warcraft: Legion theme feel to it, so it reflects what’s going on in the Warcraft world right now.

When I did some research on this, apparently, Billie the Kid became available on June 2, 2015, and Hell Billie became available on June 2, 2016. I’m guessing that the next Billie mount is coming out on June 2, 2017, and I’m eager to find out what theme the Blizzard world will take in that time, that will affect what the mount will be.




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.


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.




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.


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.



Aftermath of the ESL HGC Summer 2016 NA Regional

If you’ve been keeping up with the tournament, you probably know by now that Tempo Storm HotS didn’t do too well, dropping their series against Panda Global on the first day of the open stage tournament. The grand final is now over, travel day has come to a close, and I’m finally back home in the Chicagoland suburbs.

Apparently we were competing in front of a sold out crowd, but when I first went into the studio on the morning of the first day, there was a ton of empty spots. I figured that it was because it was early on the first day, but the crowd didn’t really ever fill up every chair throughout the entire two-day tournament.

I went into the stands and met up with Gelda, one of the content creators and producers for Tempo Storm’s Heroes of the Storm division, who works closely with me. Because there was nowhere near a lack of chairs, I was able to watch some games with him. I took a photo when Astral Authority were facing Naventic.

Once Tempo Storm got eliminated, I spent a majority of my time working and gathering information from people, so I didn’t really have much of a chance to have fun or take additional photos. But, I did catch Srey’s team’s series and took a picture of him from the front row of the stands.

(He’s the one behind the computer monitor, he’s one of my favorite players, and a former member of Tempo Storm.)

I also unexpectedly had my photo taken while I was watching the game from the stands. As you can see, I’m not very skilled at posing for selfies.

Yesterday was travel day, returning to ORD from LAX. It was quite a feat to even get on the plane itself. My flight’s gate was changed literally six times, and to thank me for running all over the airport, American Airlines then proceeded to add a 2+ hour delay to my flight.

I listened in on the announcements and discussion, and apparently, they ran out of airplanes, so they didn’t have one available to take us to Chicago. So, they had to send one over from Mexico City to come get us.

Luckily, even though this was a flight almost three hours after the one I was supposed to be on, the flight number remained constant, so I was able to get my window seat as originally scheduled.

The flight was as eventful as a flight could possibly be. My friend Ed Lam (better known as Grainyrice online) asked me to save him some airplane pretzels, because he “enjoys the taste of a well-traveled pretzel.” The guy sitting next to me pulled a sandwich out of his neck pillow. I dropped my can of Coca-Cola and it seemly went into a different dimension, because it disappeared without a sight.

Late into the night – somewhere around 2 AM – we finally touched down in Chicago, and my good buddy Josh was there to pick me up and drive me home.



Group stage of the ESL HGC Summer 2016 NA Regional begins

One of the biggest complaints I had for previous Heroes of the Storm tournaments was the fact that everything was packed into two days. Luckily, for this tournament, they split it up into three days so the broadcast personalities and production crew wouldn’t have to work 14-hour-long work days.

Unfortunately, Blizzard wasn’t able to provide enough money for ESL to do an official broadcast and open stage for a three-day broadcast, so the first day of group stage (which was today) happened behind-the-scenes.

Tempo Storm’s first matchup was against Naventic, the team expected to win the whole tournament. At approximately 9:30 AM PDT, the players got everything set up in the game room, and began reporting audio issues to the ESL admins.

The ESL admins promptly contacted some techs to get our audio problems resolved, but nothing seemed to be working. Some players had audio input and output problems, some players were hearing static, and some players’ white noise wasn’t working.

(For those who are not familiar with the tournament setup, the players wear earbuds for voice communication and in-game sounds, and headphones on top of their earbuds with white noise to block out outside noise.)

For over an hour, ESL techs went in and out of the game room trying to fix our problems. At one point, Tomster nearly had his eardrums blown up when a tech said all the audio problems should be resolved, but then proceeded to transmit a brain-bustingly loud crackling noise through his earbuds. After a massive delay, ESL finally got around to fixing everything.

This is where the real clown fiesta begins.

Because we don’t have a real draft built into the custom game interface in Heroes of the Storm, we have to use a third-party website to do our draft. Unfortunately, this website doesn’t really work properly, and the players have to constantly spam Refresh in order to see when picks and bans are locked in. Every several seconds, the whole thing would stop loading. At one point, for a little while, Zixz only had access to picking 10 heroes in the draft screen.

Once we finally get the draft website working, we discover that our observer had sent the wrong draft link, with only one ban instead of two. We obviously have to remake the draft lobby.

Then, the observer proceeds to send Tempo Storm one link and Naventic another link. Both teams im­me­di­ately ready up, then sit and wait for the other team. After the countdown timer went down by a cou­ple hundred seconds, I got suspicious and went over to the other side of the curtain to see what was going on with Naventic, when I found out that we were waiting for them, and they were waiting for us.

The observer finally sent both teams the same link, and we got started. The problems still weren’t entirely fixed, though, as the website continued to stop loading once in a while, and Tomster’s draft randomly crashed and gave 502 Bad Gateway errors. At one point, the drafting website force-picked Nova for Tempo Storm when we wanted to pick Uther.

Eventually, we ditched the website and did the draft in the lobby, which helped us make some real progress towards playing the game.

Unfortunately, Tempo Storm HotS dropped the series 0-2 to Naventic, but had some decently close games. This will place us in the lower bracket tomorrow, facing off against Panda Global in the second series of the day. If we rise victorious in this series, we will face the loser of Naventic vs. Astral Authority to decide who moves on to the semifinals on Sunday morning.



Practice and media day at ESL HGC Summer ’16 NA Regional

The day started off with us waking up (sort of) bright and early and heading to the studio to start practicing.

There’s one missing from that photo because our support player (who is role swapping to tank for this tournament) lives locally, and he was driving this morning and wasn’t able to make it in until about an hour or so later due to the notorious Los Angeles traffic.

To start off the day, they assigned the garage near the studio as our practice area. At first, I figured that it would mean we’re going to burn to death in the California heat, but then we found out that it was actually an air-conditioned garage.

For some reason, there were train tracks right next to the studio, about ten feet away from the garage. This is a photo I took out of the window, because it seems so strange to have train tracks so close to a building…

After our first round of practice, we were pulled into the multipurpose room for our media session, where all the players got their photos taken so ESL would have assets to use in the broadcast. They usually don’t have a makeup artist, but they had one today to make sure everyone looked pretty for the camera. This is Zixz getting his makeup done.

After everyone got their individual photos taken, it was time for the group shot.

Once the photo shoot was over, it was time for our second round of practice. We were moved from the garage to the multipurpose room for the second half of the day.

After a long day of practice, Zixz got tired and wanted to take a nap. Fortunately, the chairs they got us recline quite a bit.