Weekend LAN Experience - Midwest CS:GO Tournament at Wichita State University
A three-hour drive to a house we rented through AirBNB was how the weekend began. A weekend immersed in competitive eSports, witnessing the true passion and strategy behind what many people would consider “just a game”. It’s much more than that, and let me tell you – this industry will only continue to grow. Not only that, the local scene is dripping with potential.
The first day, the team we housed with that included three out of four of the GGPR team members, didn’t have a match until 1 p.m. This was the group stages, and they had scored a bye so they only needed one victory to make it to the playoffs. Needless to say they were confident overall. Naturally the morning was filled with watching streams of other players and keeping up to date on the other groupings that were being played early on.
Two hours before they were scheduled to start their first match, we made our way over to the Wichita State University’s Experiential Engineering building where the events were hosted. As soon as you entered you could feel the atmosphere and excitement of competition around you. Teams in jerseys walked back and forth, checking out various vendors who sold everything from paintings to custom made Xbox controllers. Kids lined up to try out different virtual reality games, shouts came from rooms where teams were already competing, and people who weren’t currently competing gathered around designated watching areas.
We did a quick survey of the area, making our way to the League of Legends competition (a $20,000 pot), the console competitions and the free play areas. We also stumbled upon some engineers testing out a car of some sort, and stuck around to watch that for a minute or two.
After checking out the lay of the land, we made our way to the CS:GO room. When you made your way in, the first thing you noticed was that it was 10 degrees hotter in there than the rest of the building. It made sense, because the second thing you noticed were the 50 PCs lined up in back-to-back rows. Complete with BenQ 240hz monitors, the custom builds were a thing of beauty. Competitors brought their own mouse, keyboard, headset, and mouse pad – which were the only differentiators in their equipment.
As is expected with any LAN, there was a slight delay in getting the match started, but once the other match had finished it was our team’s turn to warm up and strategize. Members had their own pre-match warm up style, varying in map and energy drink. Warm ups ended and the match began.
CS:GO is a first person shooter, with five people on each team. Each team has the chance to play two sides of the map, the terrorists – who try to plant the bomb at one of two different bombsites – and the counter-terrorists – who try to defend the bombsites by wiping out the other team or defusing the bomb. There are 15 rounds on each side and the first team to win 16 rounds overall wins.
Ultimately it was a quick victory, map placing them into the playoffs and on to day two. Hours spent preparing, waiting and watching other matches for one match, one victory, and a chance to compete for real money, with an overall pot of $5,000.
Day two started much earlier than day one, and the tension in the room was a little bit higher. The brackets were set late the night before and every team knew they only had to win two matches to make it to the championship and the money round.
The CS:GO playoffs were starting at the same time as the League of Legends finals, so naturally the spectating crowd navigated downstairs to see who would win the big money. The first round was underway and the higher seeded teams took early control. Each match ended 2 maps to 0, with shouts of excitement for the winners, handshakes and hugs all around and looks of disappointment from those who were no longer part of the competition. Only 4 teams remained: Robert Morris University (RMU eSports), RMCC, Flaw Peacocks, and our team – WashedUp.
Prior to the semi-finals, the strategy and preparation was intense. All members of the WashedUp team gathered around one computer, watching how to throw smokes into bombsites, where to watch for peaks, strategies for eco and anti-eco rounds, and so much more. This, in our opinion was the most fascinating part of the entire weekend. The pure knowledge of the players and the ability of some to teach their teammates was truly impressive.
The semi-finals went as expected, with RMU eSports and WashedUp making their way to what would be an intense final.
Before the final match began, everyone was given 30 minutes to grab food, relax, and prepare. To put it into perspective, we arrived at 11 a.m. and the first map of the final round would not begin until 5:30 p.m.
The first map was one of the most intense and incredible matches we have ever watched. (You can view the stream of the finals here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/374620351 starting around 5:29:00)
WashedUp started down 7 rounds to 0 before making a comeback to be up 15 to 14 after winning 6 straight rounds. With one round remaining, it would tie and go to overtime, or WashedUp would take the first map. This is no exaggeration: apple watch photo as proof – heart rates were through the roof. RMU took the 30th round and we went into overtime. Each team would get 3 rounds per side. At the end of the first 3 WashedUp was ahead 17-16 and looking extremely confident. RMU had something else to say about that. RMU won the pistol round again, bringing it to 17-17, before winning the next two rounds and capping the first map with a 19-17 victory.
It was a tough loss, but WashedUp knew they played well enough to win, just missing the mark in the end.
The second map was not quite as close. WashedUp handled their business, winning 16-5 and bringing the finals to the best of three. Just the way we all like it. One final map, win and you’re the champion, lose and you’re second best.
In the final map, WashedUp be T side first and RMU would play CT.
WashedUp won the pistol round with an ace from lowrider and would go on to win the ensuing two to start the map 3-0 and feeling all of the confidence in the world. However RMU wasn’t going to go down without a fight and through 6 rounds the map was tied again 3-3. RMU would then win the next 2 rounds, taking a 5-3 lead that eventually lead to an 8-7 first half in favor of RMU. One thing to note, however, is that the map is actually a CT sided favorable map, so in terms of who won the first half – WashedUp had the advantage.
RMU won the pistol round for the second half and go up 9-7. The feeling of another close match was washing over all of us and the tension was high in the room. WashedUp quickly turned the match in their favor again by winning the next 3 rounds before RMU tied it up again at 10-10. RMU then decided to take the advantage in their favor and won the next two rounds, before WashedUp would tie it up again 12-12. I think you’re starting to see a pattern here.
WashedUp didn’t want anything to do with going behind, and won the next three rounds to bring the map, the match, the tournament, everything to match point. All they needed to do was win one of the next three rounds and they would be crowned champions.
The final round went pretty smoothly. Exchanging a kill for each team before WashedUp would take down 3 of RMU’s players in a row. This left a 4v1 that was next to impossible to win. RMU would get one more kill, before WashedUp took the round, winning the third map 16-12 and capping a comeback down 1 map to none.
The players shouted in excitement, jumped up and hugged each other before going to shake hands with the other team.
After it was all said and done they went to collect their trophy and their winnings, spending a few last moments congratulating each other with smiles on their faces.
Overall, the experience was phenomenal. The staff did a great job of keeping things moving in a well-organized manner. Whenever you attend LANs, you expect for there to be delays. It is inevitable. The telling signs of a well-run tournament is that the delays are short and taken care of quickly. It was evident that the local community is strong. People turned up not only to compete, but to support their friends and to watch the event. Others turned out just to play in the “free play” areas and would watch the competitions in the watching areas when they weren’t playing themselves. Is there room to grow? Of course, but as the industry continues to boom over the next few years there is no doubt in our mind that this community will continue to grow with it.