Starcraft II Red Bull Battlegrounds Recap
With fans driving hours, crossing state lines and international borders, Austin, Texas became an eSports epicenter Memorial Day weekend, at the first ever Red Bull Battlegrounds invitational pro-video game tournament. Attendees on site and in cyberspace were rewarded with an unprecedented live eSports experience across two days of action-packed competition in “the live music capitol” of the world. The 5,000 on-site spectators were treated to the intimate, premiere setting of Texas’ renowned live entertainment venue, Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater which was transformed into a high-tech spectator arena for this world-class event. 16 of the best StarCraft® II players from around the world competed for $41,000 in cash prizes, turning Austin into the “live gaming capitol” this weekend.
The Red Bull Battlegrounds tournament weekend kicked off with a free-to-the-public open house, inviting fans to meet and mingle with not only the players, but also top-level event commenters, Sean “Day Plott, Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, Mike “Husky” Lamond, and Rob Simpson from Blizzard Entertainment, the game developer of StarCraft II. After a lively panel discussion and Q&A session with the audience hosted by the commentators, the open house turned celebratory, with fans lining up for autographs and photo opportunities with the top competitors and pundits in eSports.
Following a crowd-pumping opening ceremony, day one of tournament action commenced with group stage play, throwing each competitor into a demanding run of best of three series. Their clashes were peppered with cheers and standing ovations from the audience, and expert analysis and color from the illustrious commentators. Day one saw intense matches across the board, with lead commentator Sean “Day” Plott remarking that each of these opening battles was truly epic. Asked what his favorite match of the day was, Mike “Husky” Lamond called out the marathon match between Ji Sung “Bomber” Choi and Chris “Ostojiy” Ostojic, with Red Bull athlete Bomber advancing to the second day’s quarterfinals.
Heading into day two, the quarterfinals kicked off with player confidence running high, and no shortage of talent and clever tactics – or smack talk. After decisive series of best of three matches that saw the elimination of Dong Hwan “viOLet” Kim, Lee Sak “PartinG” Won, Kim “SaSe” Hammer and Young Suh “TaeJa” Yoon, semi-finalists Illyes “Stephano” Satouri, Min Chul “MC” Jang, Hyun Woo “Squirtle” Park and Bomber moved forward, with the pressure increasing as the champion’s round and ultimate prize became that much closer. Despite his signature bravado, Stephano was defeated by MC in the semi-finals after a series of back-and-forth matches, but went on to take the third place prize and $5,500 after a clash with South Korean powerhouse, Startale’s Squirtle.
The last men standing for the finals were Bomber and MC, playing a best of seven championship round. In a pre-match interview, both competitors voiced the importance of this win: SK.MC declared his hope for a first tournament win in the United States, while Bomber, calm and cool, told interviewer Rob Simpson he wasn’t worried about his chances in the finals, leaving fans with his final words – “are you ready for Bombing?”
After a series of six hard fought battles Protoss player MC emerged as the first ever champion of the Red Bull Battlegrounds, taking home $15,000, with second place Bomber leaving with $8,000 in his pocket. With this astonishing win under his belt, his first in the US, MC told the audience it felt “fantastic” and it all came down to playing his best. His final comments to his fans were a simple ‘thank you’ before raising the champion’s trophy skyward.
Be sure to check out the recap video here as well as check back at OnRPG later this week when JamesBl0nde and Brad Baker bring us recap coverage and interviews with some major players at the event.