Guild Wars 2006 World Championship
Hitting the Ground Running
Day #1 – Denouement
6:00 to Midnight — The remainder of Day #1 is a blur. First a walking tour of the beautiful 101 Building, the world's tallest, possessed of an elevator so speedy your ears pop-twice!-as you ascend to the Observatory. Dinner at Cheers in the Grand Hyatt with the very personable Te guild, a little writing, and it's lights out just past Midnight.
Which is 8:00 a.m. yesterday.
Day #2 - Hitting the Ground Running
Good Morning, Taipei — Funny thing about jet lag. You sleep super soundly and awake thinking "Well, that was refreshing, time to start the new day!" Then you notice a suspicious darkness wending its way through a crack in the draperies and you pad to the window and look out upon a sleeping Taipei. It's a rousing 4:05 a.m. Fewer than 4 hours of sleep, after about 20 without? Hmmm. I settle back into bed, manage to reason with myself to get back to sleep, but I toss, turn, and finally give up and rise at 7:00 to send off another report.
Heading down to the lobby, I notice a lot of friendly faces beaming from around our customary rendezvous spot beside the marble fountain. I find myself thinking, "I wonder what the staid and conservative Grand Hyatt clientele thinks of our group." I notice a few of them peering at us discretely over the top of their menus, and one lady in the restroom glances at my Dev Team shirt and looks away as if it says something just a bit risqué.
9:30 a.m. — We head to the Taiwan International Convention Center with Te and LuM. Well, with all the guilds, of course, because no one is going to miss the opportunity to scope out the competition live and in person. Te is handed their official Guild Wars shirts featuring the splendid Taiwanese Guild Wars logo on a bright yellow tee. LuM is given the same logo against a black background. The rest of us non-competitor types eye the shirts with lust in our hearts, but few of us would be willing, or able, to undertake the kind of match put on by Treacherous Empire and Lamer's Ultimate Majority in order to earn such splendid garb.
10:35 a.m. — The first game of the first match of the first-ever GWWC is underway and I've gotten myself a front-row seat when Mike O'Brien comes over, taps me on the shoulder, and I hear above the din of the show, "Gaile, could you come with me? We need you right away." I take a last look at the screen, and it's still too early to call the game as I follow Mike around the corner. I consider why I'm needed, and why it's "right away." "Could it be," I ponder, "that one of the competitors has become ill and is calling for a replacement? Maybe, given my sterling performance in yesterday's PvP Exhibition Match, they're calling me to stand in." Ok, just kidding.
Mike opens the door of the backstage area, and gestures me inside. The din drops by a whole 2 decibels, which means that inside it's only at the sound levels of a 737 at takeoff, rather than the jumbo jet levels external to this area. Mike calls out "Can someone please get Gaile a computer? She needs to write," and I am soon perched on the corner of the stage with a browser open, trying to get into Gmail through a Chinese Traditional Interface. I have a moment of oneness with the late Helen Keller as I feel my way down the hallway of the mail room, trying to remember "What's the default on this page - the left-hand click or the right-hand click?" and "What's the second question they ask you on the log-in page?" In the end, I bag it and open Messenger, which is also - no surprise here - in Chinese.
But it works. I get hooked up with AJ back at the office, he pings John for me, and soon I'm messaging the news updates "Live, from the floor of the Taipei Game Show" and -déjà vu to long ago - I'm back in my faux Wolf Blitzer or demi-Diane Sawyer mode.
11:40 a.m. — Around this moment, it's all over but the shoutin'. LuM has won, Te has been graceful in defeat, and I'm taking 16 Finnish players and our two European CCs-Loic and Alex-out for lunch. The Food Court at the 101 Building fails to produce a seat, much less 19 seats, and Cheers is booked for an hour. We settle for the main hotel restaurant and enjoy a tasty meal. I pass out business cards and assign "homework" for the two teams: Give us feedback on the show - everything from accommodations to competitive equipment. The Finns promise to produce a full report. I fail to mention that they need to read the memo and be sure to use the proper cover sheet, but it's probably just as well, for an obscure Office Space reference may not bring global recognition.
2:15 p.m. — The path to the TICC is worn by our footprints yet again, as we escort the six guilds to the show floor for Match 2. I obediently head into my backstage hideout as several of the guilds are asked for yet another photo shoot. This is after a 2:00 press conference with at least 10 Korean journalists and all while knowing that there is continuous coverage from a US satellite dish network. Gaming isn't all, well, fun and games, it can merit some serious real-world attention, too.
2:30 — The team's don their Guild Wars tees. The Valandor rates the black, confirming that the teams are color-coordinated by region, not team. The Last Pride ends up with a white tee. They look so spiffy that another round of wistful sighs rises from us non-competitors.
3:00 — The matches begin. I'm back in my cubbyhole as the music swells and the teams take the field.
3:40 — Isaiah shares a few words of analysis as he's running out to do some more setups, I send off the website updates, exchange some messages with a rather sleepy but much-appreciated AJ and John, who are working well into the night to make the coverage live, and we're back to the hotel for a break before tonight's sit-down dinner (with tasty door prizes!) and then a "city lights" tour. I am excited about the opportunity to see this city more closely, for if the city itself is as wonderful as the people I've met who live here, it will be the experience of a lifetime!