Last weekend was a big one for competitive gaming in Australia – we had the World Cyber Games kicking off in Parramatta, and the Sydney Gamers League going through its fifth run since 2009. We managed to get out to the World Cyber Games, but Kotaku regular Zorine Te headed over to the SGL. This is her story!
Sydney Gamers League 5.0
Last weekend saw the Sydney Gamers League (SGL) go through its fifth run since its overhaul in 2009. Self-dubbed as Australia’s “longest running” bring-your-own-PC LAN, the event was hosted at Macquarie University. With over fifty competitions offered within twenty eight hours (yes, you read that right), it was going to be one hell of a weekend.
Despite the fact that it had been raining non-stop that morning, I was excited. If anything, the rain reassured me that spending what was essentially 24 hours straight in competitive gaming was the best way to make the most of my weekend. So I got up early with plenty of time to spare in order to pack up my PC and patch my games. Everything was going to go according to plan.
It appeared that fate had some other ideas.
The first blow was my internet. It went down without warning and I immediately received a text message from a teammate saying how his internet died, asking if I could register him for the event at the last minute. The second incident was unexpected – I was suddenly informed that everybody was suddenly available to enter the first tournament that we had intended to skip out on. To make it in time, we needed to move fast.
I won’t lie; my team was in panic mode go-go. We exchanged several text messages, phone calls and curses, all in the name of getting to our first competition on time. With a grand total of one practice session between us, we gleefully rushed off to SGL with a song in our hearts and a Logitech G5 Laser professional gaming mouse in our hands.
Fortunately, we managed to make it without any PCs getting harmed, and that’s what’s important.
The weather continued to be dismal, providing a sharp contrast to what SGL offered upon our dramatic arrival at the venue. We were ninety minutes late. As I stood in the registration queue with my tower clutched safely in my arms, I could see that the hall was already three quarters full. It was fortunate that we had reserved our seats in advance.
“What’s your name?” The guy at the registration table asked me, “I mean, what’s your gamer tag?”
“I… uh…” I struggled under the weight of my tower, arms beginning to strain, “Harli”.
I was given a slip of paper to hand to the network registration guy, enabling me to connect to the network. Everything was back to smooth sailing.
I scanned the crowd for any familiar faces. People were bustling about, setting up their rigs. Cables were being pulled everywhere, creating a rainbow-coloured wire network around the venue. The sponsors had evidently pulled their weight, leaving no space wasted with their products on shiny display. On the stage, VIP setups were backed with various prizes that lay, waiting to be claimed.
The atmosphere was electric – quite literally, as there were approximately 300 computers plugged in and running in the hall. What better way to keep warm on a chilly winter’s night?
We had made our first competition on time – Counterstrike: Source. The matches were streamed live with hilarious commentary from experienced shoutcasters at Gamestah. Some of us also competed in Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 3.
Our second team tournament – Defence of the Ancients (DOTA) – was not so enjoyable. Due to a number of technical difficulties we had to replay our opponents not just once but twice, drawing out what should have been a single game to a three hour battle of epic proportions. I cannot begin to express how happy I was that we won each of those matches.
Despite our victories, we were all suffering from the 3 hour straight game. My gamer shoulder was in pain. One teammate had carpal tunnel. Everybody looked like zombies. I can’t even begin to imagine what the event organisers felt like the next day.
It was at this time I made the decision to forfeit the rest of our matches. Nobody was in the right condition to compete in anything. We came, we saw, we had fun. Now it was time for us to go home.
The best part about competitions like SGL (well, besides winning) is meeting like-minded people who are just as passionate about games as you are. Of course, it is unavoidable that there are always a few spoilsports who will show up to these events.
The realm of competitive gaming tends to draw an interesting crowd. Although I usually let insults of the sexist variety slide, there were some rage-inducing moments during competition. My teammates and I are not exactly innocent of trash-talking either, so exchanging banter during tournaments is nothing new. Fortunately the majority of participants are great people to hang out with post-match.
Nothing beats the feeling that tournaments bring. The pumping music on stage served up just the right amount of ambience. Announcers were energetic and enthusiastic. Competitions were being streamed live with commentary. People were yelling and screaming as they participated in their own battles. The shot of excitement that hits you every time your clan name is called out. It’s all priceless.
It’s why I keep on going back.