The 2007 ESWC Campaign to Paris for Australia’s Team Immunity finished during the second day of the competition. With eight groups of six teams from around the World battling for Counter Strike supremacy, it would require a valiant effort from each and every competitor to help make their team the best of the best! $40,000 euros (almost $80,000 Australian) and maybe a couple of the lady gamers (*wink wink*) was up for grabs. All you had to do was make it through to Sundays Grand Final on the Main Stage and reign champions in front of several thousand people and millions more watching on HLTV.
Alas, the odds were against our brave lads as we drew a mighty hard group indeed! Two teams who have had excellent lead ups to this competition with winning large contests across Europe. 69N-28E and Alternate Attax, representing Finland and Germany respectively, were seeded Top 5. This, however, only encouraged our boys to fight harder, if we could beat these two teams early on, then we could beat anyone!
The day before the competition officially started, all the competitors from every game were invited to an opening ceremony where the Electronic Sports World Cup major sponsor gave a nice welcoming speech, which was rudely interrupted by several teams who proceeded to talk amongst themselves (not one Aussie I can assure you!). Followed by a video highlighting the previous four ESWC's and magic moments which made you glad to be apart of something that is on par with any sporting (including non-electronic) competitions around! We all tuckered in some grub was a banquette of food was served and a chance to chat with the other teams while everyone one was on the same score. And maybe even an Aussie one-liner or two to our lady competitors.
Day one of the event allowed the team more time to overcome the gruelling 23 hour flight from Australia to Paris. With being the team who travelled the greatest out of everyone, we were sure grad to have that extra day to recover. It allowed us a day to wander around the venue, watch some interesting matches between the ‘super teams’ in the Counter Strike world. Also to wonder at the almost impossible notion that girl gamers could actually be hot! The number of times I had to be reminded to close my mouth as my jaw was on the ground was just plain silly! I certainly give props to our Scandinavian sisters for bringing joy to our otherwise male overpopulated events. (*sigh*)
The day we had waited for arrived! Day two of the ESWC Counter Strike competition,. four out of five players where about to play in the biggest competitions of their lives. The one who was cool, calm and collected was none other than the Jackle, who was about to set out for his third attempt at glory. The team had won the right to represent Australia a couple of months earlier in Perth where they beat off not only Australia’s best but New Zealand’s and Malaysia’s as well. Could this be the day that Australian gaming was stamped forever on the World Map!
The first our four games we had to prove ourselves begun at . The team arrived hours early eager to get onto their computers to warm up. But here is where the ball started to unravel. At our first opponents, Global Gaming from Denmark walked through the officials straight onto their waiting computers. Expecting to be allowed to follow, we were abruptly halted in our tracks and told, ‘not yet, too early’… well at least that is what is sounded like. Unfortunately very few of officials could speak much English. Trying every ten minutes or so we tried again to get through as other teams were being allowed past. The nerves started to pile as we seconds ticked by with precious warm up time being wasted. Finally about we were able to pass, but something was wrong! The seating arrangement for the team contained only monitors and no computers!! By we finally had the functioning computers we needed except for one whose monitor was playing up. The Officials wanting to start the match on time was pressing us to ‘Ready Up’ but lucky we managed to delay it until . With 10mins or so of warm up and knowing the opposition was hot to go, the game started as the guys were just sitting in their seats after a quick huddle to pump themselves up. Scrambling in the first round to get over the shock of how quickly it all began the guys weren’t able to recover until too many rounds were lost. They gave it a good go but you could see that the guys just weren’t relaxed enough to climb back into the game and result went in favour of Global Gaming. Not the start we were hoping for!
The next game came after a short break with guys getting a little practice before having to face one of the two big challenges of their group, Alternate Attax from Germany. The guys still a little down from the loss faced an all out assault. Though some of the rounds were close Alternate Attax took a convincing win on the score board.
With two losses on the trot the guys were not keen to make it a third in a row. They took some consolation from the Alternate Attax match knowing that with some of their strats they could push the opposition and make them work for every round. A fired up Team Immunity jumped to a 5 round lead early and the 69N-28E team were sitting in their seats wondering what was going on. With reports of the team getting upset with each other as they had under estimated this team from Australia. In the Second half it looked like we had just about cracked the backs of our Finnish opponents jumping to a lead. With only 3 rounds from a win and a big upset on the cards everything was with us. This is when the years of playing in Europe, against the best, comes into its own. Slowly, round by close round the Finnish boys managed to claw themselves back into the game. Throwing everything at them including the kitchen sink and the six burner barbeque, the team from Finland had locked the bomb sites down and no-one, which unfortunately included us, was getting in. The final scored being 17 to 13. Even though we lost this match we could hold our heads high as we had come up against one of the best and scared them!
The last of the matches was against Bulgaria’s Onfire team. Both teams were battling it out for at least one victory in competition and take a little pride away from the event. Drawing the worst of our maps, the guys got to work and set about dismantling the opposition. Taking the win and equal 25th position to finish out Team-Immunity’s first attempt at the ESWC. Next year in sure we will pose a completely new threat and the European teams better watch out.
On a side note, 69N-28E & Alternate Attax finished in equal 5th position. The winner of the whole competition was PGS Gaming from Poland who beat Team NOA from Denmark in the Grand Final.
As a whole, the 4 day event ran fairly smoothly with only a few hiccups (as mentioned earlier). The venue contained two floors, downstairs included the LAN & some booths housing the sponsors and upstairs the main stage. The main stage featured three massive projectors, ten LCD’s and speaker/lighting setup in front of several thousand seats.
With matches played on the main stage every two hours, my main gripe would have to be the way the three projectors were utilised. The centre only displayed the POV’s, Mapover View & Player Cam (footage of the players sitting in there seats) and the remaining two screens displayed the team names & some advertising. From a shoutcasting perspective it was all in French so I have no idea what was been said . If I could have changed anything about the Grand Final it would be: 1. A team I followed or, 2. English Commentating!
The atmosphere of the Grand Final was absolutely fantastic. It was better than any live footy or cricket match I have seen in Australia! The crowd went ballistic with big kills, clutches and supporting their favourite teams. When Neo (rated as the best player in the world) went HUUUGGGE and clutched the second last round of the match with a 3v1 defuse, the place exploded in noise with almost everyone cheering, clapping and stamping their feet. The Grand Final concluded with PGS winning 2 maps to 1 (second map going to two overtime rounds).
Bad Luck to Team Immunity, hopefully next year we can get up! Personally I think it was due to the fact the Boys where sitting face to face with the Swedish Female team and playing footsies under the table.