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.
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.
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.
Despite not liking traveling that much, I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately … and I’ve got another “surprise!” post. I spent the day today traveling to Burbank, California to attend the ESL Heroes of the Storm Global Championship, Summer 2016 Season, NA Regional. My morning started off with a flight from ORD to LAX, with my preferred airline, American Airlines. I don’t think American Airlines is particularly better or worse than any other airline, they’re just preferred because I’m trying to get more miles in their frequent flyer plan so I can get more benefits. After a copious amount of delays, I finally made it to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I was on a standby list for a different flight than for what I had originally been scheduled, so I wasn’t able to get a window seat and get any photos during the flight. A shuttle came to pick me up and transport me to the hotel, which was supposed to be about 40-50 minutes away. Unfortunately, due to the notorious Los Angeles traffic, we ended up taking over 2.5 hours to get to our destination, because we were driving 8 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. After finally making it to the hotel, Tempo Storm’s HotS team, an early bird from Naventic, and I went to Olive Garden. I don’t like eating on travel days because I don’t want to risk vomiting on the plane due to airsickness, so this was essentially my breakfast. One of the players ordered a drink that came with a massive orange. If a single slice is that huge, imagine how big the full orange was. He held up a strawberry for scale. And of course, it wouldn’t have been an Olive Garden trip without the breadsticks. So far, it seems like the schedule is going to be tomorrow for practice and media day, Friday for off-stage group stage, Saturday for the first day of the event, and Sunday for the semifinals and grand final.
Earlier this month, I hit Level 9 with Li-Ming and got 1,425 gold from a single game: Li-Ming is probably one of my favorite heroes (just a little bit under Nova), but she happened to be released around the time when I didn’t really play Heroes of the Storm much. But, in the past few days, I finally got around to playing some more Li-Ming games, and earlier today, I hit Level 10 with her. I was literally a few pixels’ worth of experience away from hitting Level 10 with her after a Quick Match game, so I loaded up a Versus A.I. game to get that last tiny bit of experience. Of course, this meant that I could now get my Master Li-Ming skin. I’ve noticed that a lot of vocal people on reddit seem to dislike a lot of the master skins. I actually personally like a lot of them, and I particularly like the pink ones for the female characters. I am already in prized possession of Pink Master Nova, so I felt it was only fitting to also possess Pink Master Li-Ming. Another milestone achieved.
Today is the long-awaited public release day of Overwatch, Blizzard’s new first-person shooter. I was invited to the Overwatch closed beta, so I already had my moment to try out the game for the first time, so I wasn’t exactly squealing with excitement today to try out a new game. I was, however, a bit excited about the fact that my progress would now actually be saved on my profile, and it wouldn’t randomly be reset anymore. The most appealing part about games for me is building up a profile and a reputation in the game, so I hate it when my progress (or anything that indicates my veteranship in the game) gets cleared, hidden, or wiped. If you know me as a gamer, you know that I hate first-person shooters. I don’t really find them fun, I have poor aim accuracy, and I get motion sickness from the first-person view camera movement. But, seeing as it was release day, I played it a little bit anyway. Unfortunately, I had to wait a good chunk of time after the expected release time to even get into the game, but once I did, I queued up for some games and played some Widowmaker. I figured that, because I love Nova so much in Heroes of the Storm, I would probably like Widowmaker in Overwatch. It was a little fun sniping people, but unfortunately, I don’t really know the layout of any of the maps, so I had a hard time trying to find some good hiding places. I ultimately stopped playing in less than an hour. I am pretty excited about the cross-promotional items, though. I got myself the Overwatch: Origins edition, which means I get a lot of perks in other games. One of those perks is unlocking Tracer for free in Heroes of the Storm, and getting to play her a week earlier than everyone else upon release. The “play her a week earlier than everyone else” didn’t really matter for me, because I hate having twenty-minute queue times. I also wasn’t really able to play Tracer much anyway, because I spent the entire week in a location where I didn’t have wired Internet, and HotS is extremely sensitive to network disruptions over wireless connections. Tracer requires quick reactions to dodge spells with her Blink, and I can’t do that when I have high ping and frame drops. Either way, Tracer is an assassin, which is one of the classes I play in HotS, and I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to trying her out.
After a substantial amount of community backlash from Tempo Storm’s Hearthstone Meta Snapshot repeatedly being late and being riddled with basic typos, the Tempo Storm administration decided that it would be best for me to take over directing the project moving forward. This is actually a much larger project than I originally thought it would, and it took a massive amount of time for me to finish polishing up and releasing the first Hearthstone Meta Snapshot under my guidance. For those who aren’t aware of how the Meta Snapshot works already, we have nine experts, one for each class, who create decks and write descriptions about all their decks. Then, collaboratively, the experts determine which decks are strongest, and rank them in order, relative to the current meta. After they finish all this, my busy work comes into play, where I compile all the data provided to me by the experts, design and combine it in an appealing and attractive manner, fix any errors I find, and publish it as a full, cohesive piece. In between snapshots, I would be submitting suggestions to the web developers for new features for the snapshot that would improve the overall quality of the project (or, just implementing them myself if I’m able to) (although I haven’t quite had the time to do this yet, seeing as I took over this project three days ago). You can find the full Hearthstone Meta Snapshot at the link below, and you can see a few previews as well: https://tempostorm.com/hearthstone/meta-snapshot/standard/2016-05-18 As I asked in the “Thoughts & Observations” section, I’m open to feedback and suggestions on how to refine and improve the Hearthstone Meta Snapshot. I’ll be reading all the comments on this snapshot (and replying to ones with questions), and I always read all comments posted on my website, so feel free to leave me your thoughts either directly on the snapshot or in this blog post.
We just published our most time-consuming Heroes of the Storm infographic yet, on the Spring 2016 season of China’s Gold Series Heroes League. The full infographic can be found at: https://tempostorm.com/articles/infographic-gold-series-heroes-league-ghl-spring-2016-chinese-regional And here’s a preview: The reason this infographic took so long was because we added Chinese translations to a lot of the elements in the infographic. Although our infographics do pretty well compared to other Heroes of the Storm content on our website, it still isn’t at the level of popularity that I would like. On top of that, most of our foreign infographics don’t do as well, as a majority of our readers reside within North America or Europe. However, our statistician said that covering the Chinese region would be very important because of how advanced Asians are relative to the rest of the world. So, I did a bit of brainstorming and went along with his proposal for his project, but with a twist. I generally don’t see many Heroes of the Storm content creators focused in Asia, so I decided to do a dual-targeting marketing scheme with this infographic. We included all the normal English content that we publish all the time with all our other infographics, but I also hopped on Blizzard’s Chinese Heroes of the Storm website to get the Chinese names of most of the heroes and all the maps we included in the graphic. The Chinese government has some pretty tight control over what the Chinese people are allowed to view on the Internet, with common American social media websites being blocked. But, I’m hoping that, through our connections, we can share this content with the Chinese Heroes of the Storm fans, and expand our reach into an audience that is otherwise suppressed from free Internet access.
I went to a Korean restaurant today with my parents for lunch. I ordered a spicy pork dish that was apparently so spicy that, according to my dad, my tongue would shrivel off. Finished the meal, tongue is still intact. Whew