Roaring crowds and cheers can be heard in every section of BlizzCon 2014. This year, the event housed the World Finals for Starcraft, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. Each had their own stage just for tournament play and the venues were incredibly well-designed. Having been to a large amount of eSports tournaments in my life, I can safely say Blizzard had the competitive vibe down.
I attended BlizzCon with the full intention of taking-in what it's like to join in on a community whose passion points lie in a specific area of the industry. In this case, that's Blizzard Entertainment and all the wonderful games they produce. But in every different Blizzard title lies a different genre and with that genre, a diverse array of fans. Sure, you'll always get the fans who enjoy all aspects of everything but regardless of your love for MMOs or distaste for RTS, Blizzard catered to all.
I myself love eSports and the competitive aspects of multiplayer games. The many fans who shared my interests were treated to an excellent experience in the competition department. Until just recently, perhaps the last three or four years, eSports didn't really hold any weight. It just wasn't relevant--not in North America. You'd see big events every couple of months but not to the scope it is today with Twitch and daily pro matches.
Blizzcon 2014 Starcraft 2 eSports Venue
Now in 2014, more towards 2015 with BlizzCon being in November, many people showed up just for eSports. A lot have even opted to purchase the $25 ticket that only granted you access to the Starcraft 2 arena venue which was somewhat separated from the event itself. Mind you, getting a glimpse of the SC2 venue was worth the money alone. You can tell Blizzard spent a lot on the in-person production (people at home seemed to complain but the power outtage was real).
Going from venue to venue, I could tell there were a lot of attendees passionate about the eSports aspect of the event. I could barely find any seats during the matches and my poor legs could barely endure the wait time for one. Plenty of people stood-up for match sets the lasted up to well-over an hour. Standing for more than an hour to cheer a team on? That's devotion.
It's pretty obvious that every game on display would showcase some top quality matches--this is the World Finals after all. But top quality matches were met with top quality production. If you know a thing about eSports, you know fans of competitive gaming looove top-quality production. The SC2 venue was alive, taken over my creep when a Zerg took over. The Hearthstone arena was straight from the World of Warcraft, barrels (and fireplace) and all. Blizzard knows how to throw money at venues. Take notes, MLG!
Blizzcon 2014 Hearthstone eSports Stage
BlizzCon was an epic moment for eSports and hopefully, more companies acknowledge that competitive gaming is a growing force that cannot be contained. Blizzard did and it added a whole new level of depth to an event I assumed would be like any other.