Intel Extreme Masters (“IEM”) Sydney 2018 was a wonderful experience. The activities of IEM provided me with a newfound appreciation and understanding of esports and gaming as a sport. Here’s Part 2 of my experience.
Day 3 of IEM marked the biggest day with the Grand Finals being held. Two of the top esports teams, FaZeClan and Astralis, had spent the weekend knocking out other teams to make it to the finals, proving to the world that they were, indeed, the best CS:GO players. As the finals were slated for the afternoon, I spent the day being interviewed by the IndiaTimes online technology site and spoke at length about women in gaming and the need for more diversity, highlighting that Indian gamers, especially women, are very rarely seen in the gaming industry.
Following that, I was lucky to have had some time to sit and chat with Lee Machen, the General Manager of Gaming and VR/AR Sales at Intel. Lee was absolutely a pleasure to interview and had some fantastic thoughts on esports and the future of gaming. The interview will be published in a separate piece, so watch this space.
In the afternoon, I enjoyed some time streaming Fornite live from the IEM grounds thanks to PLE Computers and JAMGamingAU. Though the Internet connection wasn’t the best, I had such a fantastic time streaming, the sounds of boisterous attendees drowning out the game’s audio and the roars from the stadium vibrating through my headset. As someone who streams from a quiet room at home, the experience was thrilling. You can check out the stream on the AttackOnGeek Mixer channel here: www.mixer.com/AttackOnGeek.
Then came the Grand Finals; the epic finale to one of the most exhilarating weekends of 2018, which was absolutely wild. The stadium was completely packed to the max and the production was top notch. Never before had I experience such energy at an event. Having thousands of gaming enthusiasts stepping out of their homes to watch games being played live is usually unheard of, yet, IEM managed to draw such a huge crowd.
Not only was the environment mind-blowing, but watching the players play CS:GO was interesting as well. For someone like me, a noob gamer, who spends more time dying in game than playing strategically, watching FaZeClan and Astralis battle it out with such tactical precision was like watching a rugby match, wherein each player is so intune with one another. The way in which both teams managed to line up their shots, anticipate the enemy and do so in an extremely short amount of time was glorious and actually quite fascinating to watch. There’s certainly so much more to esports than we realise. A lot of practice, training, and of course, skill goes into being the best player and no doubt the players on stage were the best at what they do.
The finals took little over 4 hours all in as the match was nail-bitingly close, however FaZe Clan managed to snatch the win, taking home the incredible metal plate as well as the title of 2018’s IEM Sydney Champions. The crowd roared with excitement and the celebration was very much similar to what I had experienced when the All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup. There was such positive energy as the entire stadium reigned down loud cheers. Once again, I was in awe and taken aback as to just how wildly supported esports was in Australia.
Having spent the weekend immersed in esports and gaming, I now have a newfound appreciation and understanding of esports. Gaming and technology are most definitely the way of the future, as are influencers, content creators and all those involved in the industry. Intel and ESL did such a marvelous job to be able to bring IEM Sydney back for a second year and I hope that the fantastic turnout this year will mean continuation of the event annually. I’m not sure where New Zealand is in terms of hosting such a huge esports event but we’re certainly seeing positive growth. With great corporations pushing for more growth in the industry, I have no doubt that we’ll see esports being included at the Olympics one day soon.