The cosplayers have dressed up, the confetti has finally settled and the champions have been awarded. After nearly two years in the shadows, BlizzCon 2013 has come and gone, leaving a long lasting impression on those of us who witnessed Blizzard’s greatest show. Just in case you missed BlizzCon for whatever reason, I’m here to give you a nice round-up of the festivities and events that transpired over this marvelous weekend.
This year, after the long waited return, BlizzCon 2013 delivered fantastically. The event was filled with an awesome Hearthstone tournament, amazing WarCraft news, the Grand Finals for StarCraft’s WCS and some other interesting news related to Diablo and Blizzard’s new game. After more than 20 000 screaming fans pouring into the venue, thousands logging in from home and CEO Mike Morheime’s opening speech, we finally got our first piece of real news: the development process for Blizzard’s new game.
The Heroes of the Storm trailer took the audience along for a wild ride, leaving all of us speechless. Seeing all the classic Blizzard characters we have come to love over the years duke it out 80’s style with some awesome power-metal thrown in the background was more than enough to have me squirming in my seat. At first I was a little speculative as to whether or not Heroes of the Storm was going to keep up with current MOBA titles, but I couldn’t wait to play the game after being blown away by the trailer! Heroes of the Storm is set to be a free to play online team brawler style with all the classic, lovable, and unforgettably humorous characters from across the WarCraft and Blizzard universes. The game is planned for release on PC and Mac and should be entering Beta very shortly. If you haven’t guessed already, I really want a beta key.
Immediately following the announcement on Heroes of the Storm, the next bit of news was locked, loaded and ready to fire. Blizzard announced the next big installment in the World of WarCraft franchise: Warlords of Draenor. Some of the new features that blizzard plan on implementing are:
- New level cap raised to 100
- New level 100 talent
- New world, Draenor (duh)
- Personal and upgradable Garrisons
- New and improved character models
- New dungeons and raids
- New Monsters
- New world PvP zone
- New items and rewards
- Hundreds of new Quests
- Boosts up to level 90
The new expansions looks like another nice addition to the already very successful WoW franchise. My favourite new addition to this expansion is the level boost. WoW, being a very social game, now makes it easier than ever to get your friends involved. The ability to have a brand new character (or old) boosted up to level 90 allows friends and newcomers to immediately jump into the action with veteran buddies who have been playing the game for years. This new feature may even entice me, a person who never really got into WoW, into buying a couple of subscription cards to give this update a whirl. The new expansion will offer 7 new zones including: Frostfire Ridge, Shadowmoon Valley, Gorgrond, Talador, Spires of Arak, Nagrand, and Tanaan Jungle. This is in addition to some fantastic new character models.
During the opening events, Blizzard only touched the surface of the new Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls. Since a lot of information is already known, there wasn’t much more to add to it. The game will be released on PS4 and PC.
Blizzard held a panel and released the first details about the new upcoming film, WarCraft, which is set to tell the original story about the war between the Humans and the Orcs. The movie is said to contain iconic characters and locations, and will explore the story of first contact between the Orcs and Humans. The concept art looks fantastic and I’m very excited to see what they decide to do with the film.
Blizzard also continued to give us more information about their other new free-to-play strategy card game known as Hearthstone. As someone who has been a part of the beta for a long time, I must say this game is “hella fun.” The game involves very fast based card playing with a mana system similar to that of Magic the Gathering, but with its own little spin. The big headlining piece of information that came out of this announcement was that Hearthstone will be coming to mobile devices like iPhones, tablets, and Android devices. That’s right, the highly addictive, super fun time waster will now be at your fingertips whenever you want it. There goes my productivity.
However, big announcements and trailer releases weren’t the only thing happening at BlizzCon this year. As always, there are the blizzard costume competitions which catch everyone’s attention. This year we saw something different. The World of WarCraft Global Arena invitational was held at the event and showcased some very high level 3v3 arena game play. With teams coming from all over the world, including the United States, China, Taiwan, Korea, Germany, and Spain, it would be the team known as “Skill-Capped” to be crowned champion. After going 2-0 in their group and only dropping a single match throughout the entire tournament, Skill-Capped showed some impressive “Skillfullness” and deserved every bit of their victory.
Now it’s on to my favourite two events from BlizzCon 2013: The Hearthstone Innkeeper Invitational and the Grand Finals for StarCraft II’s World Championship Series!
Let’s begin with Hearthstone Innkeeper’s Invitational. As previously stated, Hearthstone is a strategy card game in the style of Yu-gi-oh and Magic: the Gathering, but with its own little twist. The tournament was invite-only and featured many populate streamers from the gaming community casted by the one and only TotalBiscuit. Let’s introduce the players shall we?
- Kacem “Noxious” Khilaji
- Rumay “Hafu” Wang
- Mike “HUSKY!!!!!” Lamond
- Byron “Reckful” Bernstein
- Sean “Day” Plott
- Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski
- Jeffrey “Trump” Shih
- Octavian “Kripparrian” Morosan
- Being casted by the lovely TotalBiscuit
After 4 minion smashing, fireball blazing, face poundingly awesome series, here are the results: Reckful 3-1 Day, Kripparrian 3-0 Hafu, Trump 3-0 Husky, and Artosis 3-0 Noxious. In the semifinals, Kripp secured a win against Reckful and Artosis managed to beat Trump, making it Kripp vs. Artosis in the finals. The finals were definitely the closest games of the entire tourney. The series went on for 5 grueling games, with both players using every deck at their disposal and it coming down to the final deciding match. The Innkeeper Invitational concluded with the only liege remaining: ARTOSIS! Artosis managed to beat Kripp’s turn 8 super damaging Mage deck with his own super aggressive warrior equipment deck, taking down Kripp in the 5th and deciding match and was crowned as the “Grandmaster of the Hearth”.
Now being a StarCraft Player myself, this last event was by far my favourite and most anticipated event of BlizzCon this year – the World Championship Series: StarCraft II Grand Finals! This final tournament was 8 months in the making, involved some of the best games of StarCraft played in 2013, and was the highlight of the BlizzCon eSports events. This time around, $100 000 was up for grabs and the top 16 players competing made this the most cut-throat competition of the year. Everything was on the line: there could only be one winner, the crowd was massive, the energy in the hall was electrifying, and the competition was fierce. The skill level of these gamers was incredible to watch and the games that came about as a result were nothing short of earth-shaking. Fan favourites and expected powerhouses were losing games that they were not expected to lose and underdogs rose to the occasion in unexpected ways. The 16 Players that competed this year were:
- Soulkey: Korean (Zerg)
- NaNiwa: Swedish (Protoss)
- Bomber: Korean (Terran)
- MMA: Korean (Terran)
- HerO: Korean (Protoss)
- sOs: Korean (Protoss)
- Polt: Korean/American (Terran)
- aLive: Korean (Terran)
- Dear: Korean and GSL Champion (Protoss)
- TaeJa: Korean (Terran)
- Jaedong: Korean (Zerg)
- Mvp: Korean (Terran)
- MC: Korean (Protoss)
- iNnoVation: Korean (Terran)
- duckdeok: Korean (Protoss)
And the bracket for the Tournament looked like this:
There were a huge number of upsetting moments this event that left many fans speechless. First of all, WCSpoint’s leader INnoVation was eliminated in the first round by duckdoek’s stellar play 3-2. As well, MC Mvp,Taeja, MMA, aLive*, HerO, and the only foreigner NaNiwa were all eliminated decisively in the first round with most players losing at least 3-1 (aLive* is the only exception losing 3-0 and not winning a match during the event). The Quarter finals had Bomber beating Soulkey 3-1, sOs taking down Polt 3-2, Maru defeating duckdoek in an awesome Terran vs. Protoss season 3 rematch 3 games to 2, and Jaedong coming through with one of the best upsets of tournament: eliminating the Season 3 champion and reigning GSL Champion Dear in 5 intense 3 to 2 games. Being a Terran player myself, the Semi-finals made me tear up a little. Two of my favourite players and the only two remaining Terran players in the Grand Finals, Maru and the infamous Bomber, where both eliminated 3-1 respectively by sOs and Jaedong.
With all the Terran eliminated from the WCS, this left for a Protoss vs. Zerg in the Grand Finals. The story of this final could not have been better. Could Jaedong, the legendery brood war player, finally win a championship title after finishing second place in 6 prior tournaments? Or could sOs redeem himself from his season 1 failure losing 4-0 to INoVation?
The stage was set for a Clash of the Titans and things could not have been more perfect. Somebody was going to change their StarCraft career forever, and somebody was going home empty handed. The player that would take fate into his own hands, reach out and take the prize for himself was sOs. sOs got into Jaedong’s head early on with very unorthodox builds and followed up with stellar control and macro. He pulled out plays that are usually suicide, but because of his skill level he made them work. sOs was able to defeat Jaedong 4 games to 1 and walked off the stage as number 1 in the world and $100 000 richer!
Well there you go: BlizzCon in my little nutshell. If you would like more information, look no further! Here are my sources and related articles. Enjoy.
Photos taken by the lovely John Ornelas, who graciously agreed to let me use his photos. Thank you again Mr. Jib for letting me use your photographs, you are the best ♥ http://www.reddit.com/user/jib661.
Original post: http://tinyurl.com/kb2wgor
Also if you’re interested in all the videos and trailers mentioned in this article here are the links:
Heroes of the Storm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ecv0bT9DEo
Diablo III Expansion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb7QJwQ58T0
WoW: Warlords of Draenor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYueIdI_2L0
WCS Grand Finals Vods: http://wcs.battle.net/sc2/en/videos?tags=Global%20Finals
Hearthstone Vods and WoW Arena: http://www.twitch.tv/wow/b/478168971
More StarCraft news: http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/2013_WCS_Global_Finals
and anything else go to http://us.battle.net/blizzcon/en/
As always catchya’ on the flipside,