Alright, so this past weekend marked MLG Anaheim 2012. Despite knowing the event’s video game line-up and personally enjoying, on a daily basis I might add, one of the tournament’s main stage titles, I didn’t really feel at home this year. Mind you, I’ve attended every MLG Anaheim event since 2009 and have paid attention to it since 2006 so I definitely know what I’m talking about and fully understand MLG’s reasoning as to why certain titles weren’t featured at Anaheim.
So this year's event featured five games. The giant titan that is Starcraft II, Riot Game's ever-so-popular MOBA League of Legends, and three... THREE... THREE!!!!! fighting games; King of Fighters XIII, Mortal Kombat, and Soul Calibur V. I love fighting games, and watching them is pretty cool with all those insane combos.... but three fighting games? I simply do not understand. I guess one fighting game would've been too fast and they had to fill up three days.
Entering the event, that same competitive aura struck me, which felt great after a long year of not being present at a major gaming tournament. The main stages, the dark lights to prevent burning eyes, and the unlimited caffeine in the form of Dr.Pepper, that came close to killing me having had 14 cans and all, was definitely very “gamer”. Unfortunately, there was no cheerleading competition next to the event this year to put the nerds with the girls but I can deal with that. Anyways, back on topic, despite how much larger the event was, and I mean LARGER… like literally… the event felt smaller on the inside for me.
The booths weren’t anything to behold, except the iconic Dr.Pepper station. I guess they never really were ever anything to behold even in past years since the event is a tournament at heart, but the booths were literally just booths. You know, like the small little tables at the back of every other convention that no one really pays attention to. The only real place to look at besides Dr.Pepper was the Sony Station but even that did not appeal to me. (More StarHawk next time?).
As far as main stage titles go, the fighting game section was near dead, to my standards, so all there was to appreciate in terms of audience was Starcraft II and barely hanging on a string was League of Legends. Fortunately, I get to say LoL needs more seats and the fans and Riot devs present were amusing, but it barely passes the line for me to say that. Still enjoyable especially for anyone who has never attended a live eSports event, but the selection was very bland. Though, if you pay attention to the Starcraft, the event would have been heaven since the KeSPA and MLG agreement allowed Brood War legends to play in the tournament. And then there were never an empty seat in the house…
Of course, one of the biggest things about the event was the Heart of the Swarm tech demo which was slapped right in the middle of the event, featuring many many iBuyPower computer stations. I myself did not try it since I’m worse than a snail at playing Starcraft but since Blizzard developers as well as their CEO, Michael Morhaime, were present, it was pretty much mini Blizzcon and as such, they should’ve at least had Diablo III and World of Warcraft PvP present just to add variety. Those two additions, even if not on the main stage, would’ve added more flavor to the tournament because honestly, the two top games of the tournament; League of Legends and Starcraft II, have long downtimes before they get going… You know, all that farming and gathering that needs to be done so my brain was dead after long hours of just sitting.
I really think it’s just me. Having attended many events like MLG, it just wasn’t enough anymore. The matches were still good as expected from pros vs pros gameplay but I would’ve had just as much fun going to an MLG Barcraft at some restaurant somewhere because really, I only paid attention to one game this time around and I was hungry the whole time, but alas, I support eSports enough to actually show up no matter what. Geez, I sound like such a pessimist while writing this and i'm generally very easy to please. Hopefully next year, the selection will be large enough to keep me moving from mainstage to mainstage. I guess the best thing to come out of this was that MLG Anaheim 2012 shattered stream viewer records which makes me so happy as a supporter of eSports... but like I said, I wouldn't have mind staying home and just watching the stream.