In the past week I visited Valencia in a mix between a tourist trip and a StarCraft II tournament participation in Dreamhack Valencia
. While I was not very interested in actual sightseeing I did want to see the life in Spain. In addition I did not have great expectations for my participation in the tournament but I was eager to meet the pro players and feel the Dreamhack spirit.
We arrived in Spain in the evening, set to check into the hotel and find the Dreamhack venue. I do not know what the Spanish people hold as their self-image but in Bulgaria we like to think of them as care-free, a bit lazy and not really exact. Kind of like the opposite of the Germans. Interestingly this attitude is what the area around the city of Plovdiv in Bulgaria is known for. I am sure very few Spanish know what Plovdiv is but we like to think that we are competing with them in the attitude we call "ailiak". The corresponding attitude in Spain is supposed to be "Mañana, mañana!" which I think means "Tomorrow, tomorrow!" and implies that the person cannot be bothered to do the work today. There is this joke that goes like this:
A Spanish guy and a Plovdiv guy meet.
The Spanish guy: Do you know what "Mañana, mañana!" is?
The Plovdiv guy: No, what is it?
The Spanish guy: "Mañana, mañana!" is that feeling you get when you are on the beach, drinking cocktails, not caring about anything, not having anything to do, there is slight breeze and the waves are gently touching your feet.
The Plovdiv guy: I see! Do you know what "ailiak" is?
The Spanish guy: No, what is it?
The Plovdiv guy: Well, "ailiak" is just like your "Mañana, mañana!" but without all the pressure.
Jokes like this, stories from friends and some Spanish movies I have seen like the greatest children/teenage TV series ever – Blue Summer have built in my mind this image of Spain as a country of "Mañana, mañana!". As I set foot in summer Valencia this image was immediately reinforced. I do not know how easy it is to travel around Bulgaria without knowing the language but I am sure much more people speak English than in Spain. In Spain even the staff on the airport could not be bothered to learn the language but they were so friendly and were trying to help with a smile. Now, I must admit when the number of native speakers of your language is larger than the number of native English speakers your motivation to learn English is greatly reduced.
It was Thursday but there were a lot of people out as late as 2:30. The streets of Valencia were tidy, with nice palm and orange trees and various flowers. On the other hand there was some amount of trash on the pavement and the roads were not in perfect condition. I actually liked it that way. Perfect cleanness and perfect condition of everything implies that people there do not live normal lives. I am not defending the wrecked roads of Bulgaria or the absurd amount of garbage everywhere but I like to imagine that Bulgaria will become like Spain if economic conditions improve. I do not like to imagine that Bulgaria will become like Germany. Valencia also has great architecture but I do not care about that much as you stop noticing it when you live there. The city was quite hot and had high humidity which makes you sweaty in that strange sticky way. I am not sure if I was sweating or water is condensing on my body. Overall I can say I liked Spain a lot although I realize that being a tourist and actually living somewhere is quite different. The country had its imperfections but they made it even more beautiful in the way imperfections work to amplify the beauty of pretty women.
On the days after the tournament we went sightseeing. We went to a relatively cool biopark with African animals, to the Oceanographic park which was fine and to the museum of science which frankly sucked although the architecture of the actual building was quite impressive. I managed to fall asleep in the cinema during a documentary on astronomy.
We could not get into the Dreamhack event on the first night because it was too late. We scouted but hit a full wall. We were to attack on the next day. On the bus back to our hotel we met a Russian guy who turned out to be the player Revolver
. I had not heard of him before but it turned out he was quite good and is playing in the WCS EU Challenger League.The LAN area was HUGE
On Friday I was to play in the StarCraft tournament. We got up early to get to the venue. The venue is great, large, beautiful on the outside and dark on the inside as it should be. The LAN area was huge. I cannot even begin to describe it. One small problem was that there was no free WiFi but I guess getting WiFi to work for so many people is no easy thing to do. There was a cosplay but I was not very impressed by it as it was dwarfed by what I had seen at the Bulgarian OnFest.
Participating in the Dreamhack Tournament
The first problem I encountered was that there were no headphones provided for participants in the tournament. I decided not to take headphones with me because I do not care what headphones I play with. I took my mouse, keyboard and pad because I care about those and I expected to play with whatever headphones they provided. Tough luck – no headphones provided. I had to play with the headphones from my phone which was a terrible experience. The Dreamhack store was not open yet so I could not buy reasonable headphones before my last match. Otherwise the organization was perfect. Everything ran on schedule and every player had his own dedicated machine so there was no swapping and setting up for each match.Playing Terran and losing as I usually do My group
consisted of one very high Masters Terran player whom I did not get to play due to the way the group developed, one mid to high Masters Protoss player and one Diamond Zerg player. I myself am currently high Diamond Random player so we had it all. First I played the Zerg player and despite playing like shit and getting into really disadvantageous position he managed to play even worse and I somehow won the first game after getting mutas and killing like 10 overlords on the map and his third in the meantime. The second game I got Terran and went for my usual Hellbat drop into ultra turtle mech with Planetary Fortresses that I like to call the Asenovgrad Mech. Even though I killed a ton of workers and lings I lost two dropships with Hellbats for no reason at all. Then instead of destroying his building third base with six Hellbats I only had two. Normally things work out differently when I play on the ladder and manage to do so much damage :( . The third game I got Protoss and tried to cannon rush but he hid the drone and I did not get back in time to cannon it. The rush failed very badly. So I lost the first match 2:1 and got to play in the losers match.
The Protoss player had lost to the Terran player and had to play me. I got Zerg on the first match and he asked for a race. I assumed he was joking and replied "Yeah, right!". After all we were in a tournament. Ivellina tells me he was serious when asking about the race but I was not brave enough to ask him after the game. I opened 14 gas, 14 pool into speedlings and he failed to defend the lings with his gateway in the main and attempt at expand. Frankly I do not think you can win against equal player in this situation unless you place your gateway on the ramp. Ivellina also tells me he was quite nervous. I got Terran the second game against him which is probably my worst matchup. I went for my usual cheese with proxy factory for mines and bunker on the natural. Interestingly everything went perfectly and I managed to snipe the Mothership Core, force a Nexus cancel and manage to kill some workers with a mine in the main. Then for some reason I played extremely good bio Terran for my level and managed to drop while attacking and kiting on the natural several times. I normally fail miserably at this but this time it went perfectly. At one point I had a doom drop in his main and he decided to attack. I had a second Command Center in my natural and decided to turn it into otherwise useless Planetary Fortress because I knew that if I held this attack I would win. I did hold the attack and I am not sure if I would have won without the Planetary Fortress as he may have been able to camp my production if he managed to get past the natural. He did say "gg" but he looked pretty angry. The guy had a team t-shirt and his teammates around him. I guess he researched the group the same way I did and expected to qualify based on the ladder rankings of the opponents.
I find it really strange that people expect Random players to tell their race. I find it even stranger that they want Random players to tell their race. After all you can meet a Random player in a tournament and what would you do then if you have never played a game against one but always asked for their race? Much better to have some anti-Random builds prepared and practice them when you meet a Random player on the ladder. Do not ask Random players for their race because in a tournament you will be sorry for this. For example I am pretty sure that someone who does not ask for race will end up putting his Gateway on the ramp against Random players. I also reject the notion that Random or even purely cheesing Random is somehow dishonorable or unfair. Everyone can choose it if they see fit but let me see how you handle controlling your late game army if you do not practice one race. I know I mess up my groups all the time.
The Zerg player lost his winners' match against the Terran player and had to play me again. The first game was Z vs. Z. I opened with one base speed/baneling and was successful at crushing him. The second game I got Terran and it was pretty similar to the second game of the first match. I did slightly less damage and lost only one Medivac with Hellbats for no reason but the net result was similar :( . The third game I got Zerg again and this time he got my number and defended my one base speedling/baneling perfectly. I regret trying the same strategy again but of all games I regret the failed Protoss cannon rush the most (it should have worked had I seen the hatchery earlier). Overall I went out of the tournament with 1:2, 2:0, 1:2. I am relatively happy with this result and my only regret is that I was so close, maybe just one Medivac with two Hellbats away from getting to Group Stage 2.
Do not be afraid to enter a big tournament if you are not on the highest levels of play - a Diamond player from our group made it through and he even got third place in his group in Group Stage 2 :) . Do not be afraid to enter if you are above thirty – nobody cares and I can confirm I had fun even losing.
Watching the Dreamhack Tournament
After being eliminated I could finally watch the tournament as part of the audience. First goal was taking pictures with celebrities and players. On the top of our list were Tasteless and Artosis, Grubby and MC. Contrary to our expectations taking pictures with the pros was quite easy. We did try to not disturb them while they were preparing for a game, recovering from a loss or talking to fellow players and we avoided joining groups of fans asking for pictures. We tried to get them alone while they were idling or moving around. Even then we were surprised that everyone we asked agreed to a picture and they did not seem annoyed at all.
With Street Fighter EVO 2014 champion Luffy
On day two players were playing on the main stage and the camera crane was moving above the audience. We expected that getting some sign shown on stream was going to be easy but it was remarkably hard and sometimes we waited for an hour occasionally waving our tablet before the director decided to put us on the screen. Of course perseverance pays off and we managed to sneak quite a few signs into the stream.But her highest rank is PlatinumQ:And what happened then? A:Then MC happened.
The finals were quite epic. The Spanish hero Vortix got quite a bit of support including from us (we always support foreign players against Koreans because more, successful foreign players is good for the scene). Interestingly against Patience who opens gateway every game Vortix used 14 gas 14 pool build and won twice. I guess this build works up to pro level. The grand final was between a new name – Sacsri against fan favorite MC. Sacsri won an epic series with even more epic final game and even beat the champagne bottle. We failed miserably because despite of all the pictures with pro players we took we did not get a picture with the actual winner. To my defense I had not heard of him at all before this tournament. On the other hand he was the one who took the picture we got with his teammate StarDust.
Overall I liked both Spain and Dreamhack. I am already thinking about visiting another Dreamhack event. For the record I held the opinion that Dreamhack was the best major tournament just from watching the stream and the selection of competitive games (I love Street Fighter and Quake).
P.S. For some reason Spanish people love The Ramones
. I saw more The Ramones t-shirts than all other bands combined.