Again, I’d like to note I am not a member of the press. I did not feel obligated to cover Blizzcon in an informative manner. I had originally planned to attend every panel and report new and relevant information, but knowing it would be broadcast on DirectTV and WCRadio, I decided not to sacrifice my individual enjoyment of the convention. Furthermore, after day one, I realized there was hardly anything new to be said of WoW given how close Wrath is to being released.
Day Two of Blizzcon
Having realized there was hardly anything new to be said of WoW in the panels, other than small tidbits like Dalaran’s placement in Hillsbrad during the art panel, I decided I would catch the rest of the 3v3 tournament. A guildie, his friend and a I got there early to get front row seats. We also managed to talk to the announcers of the tournament, vhell (Jared Coulston) and TooGood (James Harding). vhell talked a bit about his raiding experience with Nurfed and why he swore it off. Then we talked about some of the matches from day one. While I found TooGood shaky for the selective queuers and Council of Mages match, they were both fairly strong during the rest of the tournament. Also, when talking retrospectively, they showed a better understanding outside the course of casting the matches. It’s gotta be a tough job to accurately depict what’s going on as it happens.
TooGood expressed how he was relieved to have so much time between a couple of the matches. He went to play Diablo 3 and said he was hopefully going to be able to skip the line with an exclamation to the staff of “Don’t you know who I am!?” When he got back to announce the next event, he made a joke in his introduction about how they didn’t let him “jump the queue.”
The first round I attended was the lower bracket final between fnatic Orz and selective queuers (SQ). This was a war/lock/druid (WLD) mirror match. Orz was clearly playing better than they did the day before, but they were still playing poorly. SQ was really aggressive going straight into combat at the start, which is abnormal for WLD mirrors. Normally, the two locks sit back and dance LOSing and DoTing. But Gumbot (SQ’s lock) just went in aggressively, forcing the warriors into the battle.
- In the first match, Rhaegyn (Orz’s war) dropped early by a charge and bash from Wojo (SQ’s druid) onto Hafu (Orz’s druid) after early pressure. SQ went up 1-0.
- In the second match, all three from Orz were pressured early, but Hafu managed to escape and top them entirely. From there, they pushed Yog (SQ’s war) hard while Wojo was in a cyclone and took him down for the win, bringing it to 1-1.
- In the third match, Hafu was pushed hard again at the start, but all players from both teams managed to get away and essentially reset the match. Hafu also managed to find the time to top her mana to full, leaving Wojo (SQ’s druid) with a disadvantage. But the match was pretty even for a few minutes after the reset and eventually SQ caught Hafu off-guard out in the open with nightfall up. SQ went up 2-1.
- In the fourth match, Orz pushed Wojo with Glickz putting up DoTs and Rhaegyn switching to him with full rage early and burned him down quickly. Once he was down, Hafu charged and bashed for the kill, meaning Orz tied it up 2-2.
- In the fifth match, Hafu was feared into a corner of the Nagrand map which allowed SQ to switch to her and push her down hard, giving SQ the match and the round at 3-2.
After the Orz and SQ match, I then attended the grand finals of Nihilum Plasma against SQ. I expected SQ to come away with the first round, given the momentum they had coming out of the lower bracket finals. However, SQ lost their focus in the last match. With the pressure of $75,000 sitting on each team’s shoulders, it was really a matter of who could play with more composure, and Nihilum proved that in the last match. The round was again a WLD mirror.
- In the first match, SQ pushed Carekoala (Nihilum’s druid) down hard for the win. So SQ went up 0-1. This was a testament to the momentum SQ had coming into the final and why I thought they’d win the first round.
- In the second match, Nihilum pushed Wojo hard for almost a kill. But Wojo managed to LOS a cyclone from Koala. SQ then retaliated with a push that killed Inflame (Nihilum’s lock). So SQ then went up 0-2.
- But Nihilum shook off the rust in the third match and played evenly with SQ. In the end, Gumbot was pushed hard and taken down after a long match. So the round was now 1-2 in SQ’s favor.
- In the fourth match, SQ managed to survive a hard push on both Yog (SQ’s war) and Wojo. This forced Wojo to try to top both him and Yog, which gave SQ an opportunity to switch their focus to Gumbot and taken him down while Wojo was focusing his HoTs elsewhere. So Nihilum evened up the round to 2-all.
- In the final match, SQ pushed Koala early, but Wojo had a resisted or LOS’d cyclone that ruined their push. Following this, Wojo was burned hard and taken down, giving Nihilum the win and crowning them the 2008 Blizzcon champions.
Of interesting note, SQ went into the finals unsponsored. They made a good run at the championship on a difficult stage. With the way Blizzcon is set up, there are a lot of distractions. For one, the announcers sit right next to the players and they can clearly hear the announcers’ vocal perspective of the action. As vhell and TooGood said in conversation with my guildie and I between matches, it would be ideal for the teams to play in soundproof booths, like they do for StarCraft, but this has not been the case for the WoW tournament. So even though SQ went into the tournament unsponsored, they should come out of it with some offers.
After the final, I walked the floor for a while and then came back for the China versus Nihilum exhibition match. World Elite (WE) was the team sent in from China. However, apparently, there was a visa issue with their normal mage and they had to recruit someone who could come to the U.S. That said, I would have expected them to find a decent mage. But it quickly became evident that they were outclassed by Nihilum. Nihilum went so far as to even play three different comps against them.
- In the first match, WE played RMP with the mage in PvE gear and the rogue specced mutilate. Nihilum played their usual WLD. Nihilum forced an early ice block from Arthess of WE. Once the block was up, they switched to Yay, the priest, and took him down quickly.
- In the second match, Nihilum switched to playing war/mage/druid, with Inflame playing the warrior and Paperkat (Nihilum’s normal war) playing the mage. WE pressured Inflame early, who kited around in defensive stance to avoid getting burned by the shatter combo. Once the shatter was avoided they then pressured Suky (WE’s rogue) and brought him down.
- In the third match, Nihilum switched to playing double war/druid. They first pressured Arthess and then feared him and the elemental to mitigate some of the shatter combo. They then forced him to block by pressuring him slowly. They had their shields out for spell reflects and to mitigate any possible damage while the mage’s cooldowns were still up. Once they had forced the CD’s from the mage and polymorph was on DR, they then switched to Yay and took him down.
This was a laugher to say the least. I hope it’s not the best China has to offer. However, I do understand that they are fairly isolated from the style of competition that goes on in the EU and American tournaments and brackets. Either way, it’s not a great first showing from China. Paperkat went so far as to joke about it saying, “I heard Chinese people were really good at video games.”
After the match, I rushed over to the second class discussion, knowing it would be absolutely packed. I only went in hopes that the Q&A would be more intelligent than the previous day, and that I would get a chance to ask a question. The panel itself was pretty much exactly the same. They added a few more details here and there about some of their decisions, however. For example, they explained why they changed rune carving and implemented death runes (which are universal runes triggered as talents). They simply didn’t want people carving only one rune type and using only a couple abilities tied to those runes. So they made the runes static and implemented death runes as an alternative.
They also explained why they made some buffs redundant. To quote Greg Street, he said they didn’t want the rogue to “go home if he has no windfury.” Which is certainly an admirable intention, and there are some buffs and abilities that definitely needed toning down. But I’ll hold my judgment and wait until I see how it all plays out in 3.0 and Wrath itself. I definitely have my doubts, many of which I have explained in previous blog entries.
The Q&A for this panel was much more interesting. However, I was a little miffed. For all the other panels I attended in room 204, the Q&A line was down the center aisle. However, for this panel, it was off to the right side of the audience. So I ran to the middle aisle and then had to double back. The Q&A session ended with me standing third in line. (Argh!) Alas, I will have to make my case for nourish being too similar to regrowth in my blog. That said, the questions were much more intelligent than they were during the first day’s class panel. Perhaps this was because the diehard fans made sure to find their way to this one early.
After the class panel, I made may way down to the store to buy some items for a guildie. From there, I watched Nihilum play the winner of Blizzard’s in-house tournament (their European team). Blizzard actually played resto shaman, warrior and retadin (a strange comp for tournaments). The first two matches went to Nihilum no contest, with them playing rogue/lock/mage for the first match and burning down Blizzard’s warrior in about a second. In the second match, Nihilum played double warrior/mage and took down Blizzard’s shaman quickly. TooGood then convinced Nihilum to play 2v3 (war/druid) against Blizzard, which Blizzard ended up winning after a few minutes (Koala actually managed to live through a bloodlust). After that, the last match went back to 3v3 with Nihilum playing war/mage/druid. Nihilum was dominating, but Koala left the arena when Blizzard’s war went down and Inflame left once Blizzard’s shaman went down, prompted by TooGood to make it interesting. So it was left to a duel between Paperkat’s mage and Blizzard’s retadin. The paladin almost had Paperkat, and would have if he hadn’t used bubble earlier. Of course, however, Nihilum came away with the win. An amusing round, nonetheless.
Finally, I went to the closing ceremony. Kyle Kinane was the opening comedian. His humor is very dry and I’m not a fan of it. Patton Oswalt’s material was much more fitting for the crowd at Blizzcon. Even though he doesn’t play any of Blizzard’s games, he was able to make jokes about people in the crowd and about geekdom in general. Beware the great punishment disk in the sky! On top of this, he went with some of his usual material, which works well for any audience. So it turned out well. After the comedy, Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftan (Blizzard’s in-house band) played. Being a metal band, I’m not a big fan. Their music is essentially a cheeky novelty for those who play Blizzard’s games, especially since Mike Morhaime (Blizzard’s president) and Samwise (Blizzard’s art director) themselves are in the band. So it definitely works, but I can’t stand metal, so I headed over to the WoW tournament stage to prepare plans for dinner. I did want to see Video Games Live, but that would mean having a two-hour wait for dinner after the convention and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet again with some of the guildies I had never met in person before the con.
Overall, though, the last day was great fun.