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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.

Airport - waiting on our ride to hotel

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. 

DonJon (back, right) always had a face for the camera

The food, cooked in front of us, was delicious

First night in town, Germans lead us on a mission to find quality beer

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. 

gabevizzle, CullTheMeek, and IraqiZorro representing GankStars and North America

Oldskool, FooJee, and R3cKeD plying as Team Fusion (North America)

Stan Smith with the "Bring it!" face (playing for Divine Brothers, Japan)

Hunters and their Queen (representing China)

Invincible Armada represented Korea

"Good luck, buddy!"

"Good luck, buddy!"

Jen and Ron cheer for their sons (CullTheMeek and gabevizzle, respectively)

Yu Lin from China leveled her "Stun" ability to overdrive

Japanese casters

There were 8 teams:

GankStars (North America)

Fusion (USA)

Invincible Armada (Korea)

Infamous (Korea)

Hunters (China)

Divine Brothers (Japan)

Tiger Phobia (EA)

Unknown (Europe)

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.

Jeon Yong Jun: "I'll drink the beer faster" Bluberryz: "Is he serious? I'm German!"

NwK-MEDIC (of Unknown) and Cassandra (of Infamous) after downing a beer

GankStars, Fusion, Queen of Hunters, and Unknown pose for the camera

Came as competitors, left as friends

What do highest-ranked Vainglory players do after a long day of championship games and a big dinner? A LAN party, of course! 

1am, Tommy Krul: "Could you open the hotel bar area for us?" They did.

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. 

A chair awaits a worthy player

Here's big cheers to the future!

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