3:00 p.m. – Match Four begins. This is the meet that many attendees and forum goers have predicted will be the most hotly-contested. Mike O’Brien and I are in the backstage area, cranking out battle reports. We have it down to the science, now. Isaiah observes, calls out fragmented commentary, Mike types up notes, sends to me, and I rewrite and edit. They’re on one side of the monitor bank, I’m on the other. So every now and then, I pop up—like a prairie dog out of her burrow—and ask “What character took down the Ele just now?” or “Is that three or four deaths on the Monk?” It’s work, but dang, it’s fun!
iQ runs a great game, but there is no denying The Last Pride this day. Hands are shaken, bow are exchanged, and we disassemble to roam the show floor, visit the 101 Building’s excellent shopping mall, or nap. I decide that shopping is hungry work, and therefore return to my room to break out the Chex Mix, a bag of which I smuggled across five countries, two continents, and the International Date Line for just such an occasion.
6:30 p.m. – Tommy Park has arranged a dinner party for us, but no one knows the details and we’re abuzz with questions. What sort of food? Where are we going? Anyone know what’s planned? And do we get more party games?
We hop onto two tour busses and drive through downtown Taipei to Wind, an Asian restaurant that we have taken over for the evening. I look around and do a rough head count: We have 48 guild members here, and half a dozen guild boosters, those excellent folk who flew to Taipei at their own expense in order to support their respective guilds. We have the Hong Kong and Taiwan guilds, set to meet tomorrow morning to determine the Taiwan Regional Champion. And there are several members of the NC Taiwan team, a few journalists, and 8 Dev Team members, as well. After about 10 minutes of Musical Chairs everyone finds a seat.
We were told to “mix it up” and not sit by guild. My table has an assortment of NC Taiwan team members, three or four Last Pride guildies, and a few from Te and iQ, as well. I’ve noticed something: There is a real bond forming between the guilds. I noticed it at the start. For instance, the Finnish guilds—Lamer’s Ultimate Majority and The Valandor—were quite friendly towards one another right away. I thought this was very nice, because in fact it might have been natural to harbor an exceptionally competitive feeling toward another major guild against whom you play regularly. Another example—the most charming, I think—is the bonding between Treacherous Empire and The Last Pride. Despite the competitive nature of this meeting, and in spite of a language barrier, the ties run deep, and you can see genuine fondness amongst the guild members.
7:30 p.m. – The Asian delicacies start arriving, and there must be 40 different dishes. The food is so good; we’re obliged to taste each. I’m challenged by the Koreans to sample a dish heaped with the red peppers. They smile impishly to one another, and at the end of the table, I see an elbow-nudge exchanged. Well, I might not be able to meet these guys on the field of combat, but this is one challenge I cannot refuse. I take a helping, down a bite, and manage to retain my calm demeanor, while inside my mouth, I hear a pounding on the health bar, and a shout of “Ack, what have you done? There are 10,000 slaughtered taste buds in here and no one has Res!” One of the Koreans starts eating the peppers one by one, like jelly beans, and he doesn’t even break a sweat.
9:40 p.m. – Meal complete. We’ve had so much great food we are groaning for mercy. But we’re all looking forward to another party game, this one called “Crazy Chicken.” Now, Crazy Chicken is what you might call a “twitch game,” but it’s of a different kind than most gamers would expect. It involves a large plastic chicken who rotates on a center spindle, laying small plastic “eggs” onto a platform, where each player is required to click flappers, like a pinball machine, to keep the eggs from heading into his “nest.” The player with the fewest eggs wins. In a tense playoff, Zrave, the player who traveled 50 (!) hours to reach Taipei, claims victory for Idiots Savant, and he and his fellow guild members are presented with a super web camera/voice-chat set.
10:00pm – We pile back onto the busses, and head to the hotel, where about half the party disembarks and the rest of us stay on board to go to the Taiwan Night Market. Or at least some pale rendition of the Taiwan Night Market. The place we are dropped is an old, large single-story building with lots of food vendors, skill (carnival) games, and maybe 20 booths selling trinkets. We take a look around and Mike Gills announces, “This isn’t exactly what we had in mind.” We reboard the bus and drive another five minutes to the winding streets and bright lights of the “real” Night Market. We spend an hour or so picking up gifts, sharing laughs at the t-shirts they find, and then Mike, Allie, and I hop a cab back to the hotel.
1:58 a.m. – Bed, and sleep, for history is to be made in just a few hours: The Guild Wars World Champion will be crowned!