Vainglory Worlds Invitational: The Experience
Where does one even begin to describe what just happened in Seoul?
The two weeks of worries around visas, passports, and logistics issues were daunting. But the moment you meet someone in person for the first time after long 6 months of playing and growing with them online, you realize it was all worth it.
The 12 hours to Seoul were smooth and comfortable. At the airport we were met by Mini and other OGN representatives - our guides and interpreters. The first plane, from San Francisco, brought PwntByUkrainian, gabevizzle, gabevizzle's dad, and all members of Team Fusion. Unknown, Infamous, and Invincible Armada all arrived shortly thereafter, and we were driven to our hotel on a rented bus. Everyone was shy at first so there was not much talking between the teams on the ride home.
We thought we came there to fight; turns out we came to make friends. The Vainglory community is beyond amazing - every win and every loss was handled with honor, humility, and empathetic hugs. OGN asked us to appear hostile, for show; no one obliged. No matter what happened during each game, all players bowed, hugged, high-fived, and grinned wide. Does "drama" sell better on TV? Perhaps. Yet we hope that what we witnessed doesn't go away because it felt truly magical. Playing on stage had a strange bonding quality - you would begin to relate to each other like you never could before.
There were 8 teams:
GankStars (North America)
Invincible Armada (Korea)
Divine Brothers (Japan)
Tiger Phobia (EA)
We would leave the hotel at 10am and come back at 11pm-12am, so that didn't leave us much time to explore. What we did explore was great - from Korean food to German beer to coffee shops with high-speed wifi. At the end, SEMC threw us a late dinner party where the conversations rang loud and Bluberryz and the legendary Korean hype man and caster Jeon Yong Jun shotgunned beers together.
What do highest-ranked Vainglory players do after a long day of championship games and a big dinner? A LAN party, of course!
Wow, what an experience. Thank you, SEMC. Thank you, OGN. We cannot wait for all of you to see the games - they aren't without surprises and the gameplay was truly worthy of Worlds Invitational. One feeling was inescapable: this is it. Vainglory has grown up. Actually, it sprung up - so quickly that it's still hard to wrap our heads around it. When did it happen? Yet, it's true - the era of professional e-sport of Vainglory has arrived. Just trust us on this one. If that side of it is your thing - go make a team and practice, right now. The stadium awaits.
Here's big cheers to the future!