Day two of PAX Aus (or, Saturday, as the general public would say) is often a bit of a weird one. It occupies the space between initial hype for PAX Aus and the frantic following up of interview opportunities before the Omegathon. Let’s be honest, no-one ever remembers the middle child, the silver medallist, or what happened in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. This year, Paddy, Nick, and I strove to ensure that day two of PAX Aus 2017 would not be forgotten.
The issue with PAX Aus is that there is so much to do, it is easy to end up doing nothing. There are panels, exhibitors, competitions, quests, and giveaways all vying for your precious time. Everything is inviting, but so is everything else! It’s paralysis by indecision – the paradox of choice.
No matter what you were doing or where you were headed on the labyrinthine PAX show floor, however, it’s hard to miss eSports. Broadcasts of League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch dominated the indoor skyline, as every hardware developer tried to promote their affiliation with various eSports teams. League of Legends players from the Oceanic Pro League teams seemed to be around every corner, acting as draw cards by offering meet and greets and scrims with fans.
What’s more, two major zones on the show floor were dedicated to eSports championships and qualifiers – the ESL arena and the PAX Arena Throwdown eSports stage. Australian representatives for Smite, Paladins, and others were determined through on-stage LAN battles in front of crowds of passionate fans. Said passionate fans could be identified around PAX sporting their Fnatic, Cloud9, Legacy eSports, Dire Wolves, and Chiefs apparel.
And if you didn’t get your fix on the show floor, there were also four eSports-related panels to attend, dealing with everything from cosplays to sponsorships. In the evening, League of Legends fans packed the GameSpot arena to watch a livestream of the World Championships semi-final between SKT T1 and Royal Never Give Up. Who needs surround sound when you have over 500 people vocalising their excitement or dismay at baron steal and ganks?
Even those who don’t enjoy watching or playing eSports must admit that the emergence (and continued rise) of video games (in particular MOBAs) as a competitive sport has had a significant impact on the video game industry. Some may argue that it is for the worse, but when you witness the passion of the fans, and the dialogue that shared experiences like the World’s Viewing Party Open, you’d be shouting TSM too.
Oh man, I had to wait for a ridiculously long time to get into the Monster Hunter World demo area, having left it until late in the day to give it a bash. Get in I did, however, and let me tell you – I can’t wait to tell you about it tomorrow.
For now, however, the best part of today by far was when I had my ass handed to me by a group of women. Allow me to set the scene: It was late in the afternoon and the expo floor was already beginning to wind down. I was walking past the Cooler Master booth and had to stop and admire the work of an apparent madman and genius. That’s when one of the booth runners sidled up and cheerily asked, “Did you want to try some CS:GO against the Dark Sided team?” It should be noted at this point that I’ve got a total of 3 hours playtime in CSGO, and I’ve owned that game for years.
I’m well aware of CSGO’s competitive popularity, but, by this point, you’ve probably clicked to the fact that I don’t follow eSports a whole lot. So, having absolutely no idea who Dark Sided were, I stupidly agreed. “It’s just a game of CSGO,” I thought, “how bad could it be?” It turns out that it was 15-1 bad, in view of any who happened to be walking past, with these players beating me and two other unfortunate souls like it was their job. (Which, to be fair, it sort of is.) It was all in the name of fun and everyone had a good laugh, of course; if I had any dignity left to lose, however, it would have died on my keyboard today.
And so, my hat goes off to Christine ‘Bunny’ Jenkins, Ellesha ‘Linhdt’ Tran, and Thao Le. Not as one competitor to another, I don’t think I ever stood a chance, but I appreciate you guys not rubbing it in after the fact. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to catch some sleep and dream of viciously hunting down towering monsters before the last day of the con.
Don’t worry. It’s coming.
Yes, I am a person. Yes, I enjoy things of a humourous nature. Yes, directives pertaining to victorious endeavours are in line with my interests that are definitely organic in origin. Yes, I am a fan of basketball – but only when they involve controlling robots, because that is how normal people play the game of ball. It is only logical that I enjoyed my pick for the day: Regular Human Basketball.
Using egg-shaped mechas to pull off sweet dunks is a special kind of fun. You must work together with your team (or, technically, squad) to pilot things like the mechs boosters, wheels and ball magnet. The controls are obtusely placed, as they always are giant mechs, so you have to communicate to successfully shoot a hoop. Add the ability to hop into the opponemts’ mech and sabotage their plans, and you end up with a glorious mess of hilarious basketball.
What got me wasn’t just the concept, though, but the sheer polish of the game. The game was made after the long development of Crawl, so the devs just wanted a simple, clean game to absolutely nail that wasn’t so… Irregular. While I’m a bit disappointed that the guys working on it aren’t too interested in making more robot shapes or terrain, but for what it is right now, I’m a fan.
Giant mechs playing basketball might sound ridiculous, because it is, but that’s the beauty of Regular Person Basketball. It’s awkward, messy and totally ludicrous, and if that doesn’t sound like a great game, you’re probably an AFL fan. Ball is life. Get with it.