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Esports anecdotes and trivia - Episode 2

A selection of anecdotes and trivia from the history of esports.

From its origins in the early Doom and Quake tournaments of the late 90s competitive gaming, now known as esports, can now boast a long and rich history. Throughout the many years, different games and multitude of events that have been held, there have been plenty of amusing, intriguing and unlikely stories to go around. This series features a selection of anecdotes, facts and trivia from esports history.

HotshotGG wanted to play Support Nidalee after Elementz was kicked (LoL)

HotshotGG is one of the most famous names in competitive LoL history and is associated with playing his signature champion (Nidalee) in the top lane, to the extent that many point to his 19-0 unbeaten competitive record on the champion during part of S1 as the reason behind nerfs from Riot. Later in his career he switched to playing the role of Jungler, but in time that proved unsuccessful and he went back to the top lane. What many may not know, though, is that for a time he was experimenting with playing the Support role on CLG.

After the team had removed Elementz, in December of 2011, HotshotGG was trying out the Support role, before the team settled on bringing in Doublelift, moving AD Carry Chauster to support and the new player to AD Carry. The latter proved to be a good decision, as they quickly went on to become one of the best bot lanes in the world, with Doublelift emerging as an AD Carry star.

Saintvicious, former CLG Jungler and team-mate of HotshotGG's, explained the story in Grilled Episode 83:

"Yeah, he'd be trying to play like Support Nidalee, and he would start like a Doran's blade and try to put like 20 traps out, it was a trainwreck. And then he would just die like straight after, like the Jungler comes straight from blue [buff] and just ganks him, cos he has no wards. And he was like 'Dude! You've just gotta play it out right' and reason with us"

Froggen played ranked 5s with Frost in Korea and laned as Blitzcrank with MadLife (LoL)

Froggen is known the world over as one of the very best mid laners in the world and MadLife as one of the very best Supports, particularly on the Support champion Blitzcrank. So it may surprise readers to hear the story of the time Frost, minus RapidStar, played with Froggen in ranked 5s on the Korean ladder, when Froggen's CLG.EU team were in Korea competing in OGN Summer. The Danish playher laned with MadLife and used the Korean's signature champion, a pick we'd see from the EG man in the tiebreaker at the end of LCS Summer.

Froggen explained the scenario in Grilled Episode 34:

"I actually played games with Azubu Frost in ranked fives, like with them myself, because they were like 'Oh, we'll just ditch RapidStar, we'll take Froggen instead'. So I actually played lane with MadLife, where I played Blitzcrank and I basically just had a lot of fun because he was like trolling me really hard"

Korean interpreter and host Chobra initially got his break in esports from standing outside the MLG offices on a hot Summer day, drinking only Dr Pepper and waiting for the chance to meet players. (LoL)

Chobra is well known to Western League of Legends fans as the interpreting voice of the Korean language interviews on OGN's Champions tournaments, but as short a time ago as a year and a half into the past he was still on the outside looking in on esports, literally. The Korean had the skills to do Korean interpretation and casting, but no in to get a job in esports.

Chobra would get to meet some famous players by going to the MLG Summer Arena in New York City and waiting outside the offices, since it was not an audience event and the security would not allow him up. When some famous players came down for smoke breaks he introduced himself and explained his situation. The rest is history.

Chobra told the story in Grilled Episode 63:

"I knew that the MLG Summer Arena was coming up, and that's in New York City, and I had taken a break from school, so I was living in New Jersey. I remembered my friend saying that a year ago when there was a StarCraft [MLG] Arena that he was down in K-town and he just ran into these players and was like 'Wow! Why are you here?' and they said 'Well we're here for MLG' and he was like 'This is great that I live in New York City, that I get to meet you guys and take pictures'.

[...]

So I was looking for reasons to try to run into players, so I was looking up the game schedules and everything, and then when I was looking at the MLG website I saw that they had the 'Dr Pepper Ultimate Fan Experience' competition, where you take a video or picture to show why you are the ultimate fan of Dr pepper and MLG. So I wake up on the morning of the first day of the MLG Summer Arena and I think of this dumb idea, which I would never do it again cos it very unhealthy, that I'm gonna show that I'm the ultimate fan by drinking only Dr Pepper and proving it on camera, the whole day, and then I'm gonna go outside and try to meet these guys.

And my goal was to show them that I was a fan by having a sign for the Summer Arena and try to meet the players and get pictures with them, I did not know that I was going to wait outside for six hours.

[...]

I walk into the [MLG] office and I'm like 'Hey, so I know this is not like a live audience event, but do you think I can go up?' and they're like 'Sorry, our security rule is that you can't go up.' So I was like 'Alright, Well can I wait in the lobby?' and they were like 'Well I guess we can't kick you out'. So I stood there for like an hour or two before Repeared [player of Blaze] and OnAir [Coach of Blaze] came down for a smoke and asked like 'Who are you?'."

HuK tried to mask a mothership rush at an MLG by telling his opponent the roar of the crowd was for the Halo tournament (SC2)

HuK has long been known as one of the best foreign SC2 stars, but back in October of 2010 the Canadian Protoss had not yet gone to Korea and dedicated himself to becoming the best. He even described himself more as an entertainer back then, implying he would try to produce exciting games for the fans over winning at all costs. This philosophy was most evident during his lower bracket final match vs. SeleCT, with a spot on the line for the final.

The Protoss player was the reigning champion but when the crowd began chanting something, which may have been "mothership! mothership!" he decided to indulge them and not only build the Protoss air unit, but attempt a rush with it. Latter day Wings of Liberty players may not see what would be unusual about using the unit, but this was considered unorthodox to the extent nobody would try it in a serious match, especially one of such magnitude.

When the mothership was spotted by the crowd they began to cheer and make noise, which HuK feared might tip his Terran opponent off to what he was attempting, since SeleCT had not spotted the fleet beacon prior. To mask his unorthodox play the Canadian typed in chat that the noise the crowd was making was coming from the Halo tournament being hosted in the same hall. Whether SeleCT believed him or not is another matter, the Terran would prevail and take the game, eventually moving on to the final.

HuK's typed chat to SeleCT:

[All] HuK: tahts halo

[All] HuK: dont worry

[All] HuK: o_o

[All] SeleCT: ''

As an amateur Flash was, early on, denied the chance to become a progamer by future fellow OSL champion JangBi (BW)

In the Korean professional progaming scene the only way to become a professional and play in their leagues was to possess a progamer license, issued only by KeSPA (The Korea e-Sports Association), the governing body. The only way for an amateur player to obtain one of these licenses was either by being given one by a team, which meant proving oneself in their internal system, since they only got a few at a time to give out, or by winning the Courage amateur tournament.

Held every month, the tournament was an open bracket of amateurs, all hoping to win and grab a license, or at least get the attention of prospective coaches with their play in the tournament. Most eventual progamers from the latter era of BW played in these tournaments, with some eventually great players famously failing them a number of times, such as Jaedong. Flash, the greatest BW player in history, is known as the youngest ever OSL champion and a general prodigy at the game, accomplishing so much at the tender age of only 15. In fact, he did not waltz to a license in his first attempts.

On his second attempt Flash made it all the way to the final, only to run into a Protoss player called JangBi and lose. Flash would end up playing seven more Courage tournaments. The twist is not just that Flash went on to become the greatest player in history, but that his opponent also went on to win multiple professional titles, taking the last two OSL (Ongamenet StarLeague, the most prestigious league in the scene) titles.

Flash retold the story in an interview in 2011:

"Enlightenment, or just simply learning, is not a difficult thing. Every step of the way in my career, I was enlightened in new ways. I went through 9 Courage matches, when I could have made it on my 2nd one. I was quite lucky in that one until I met JangBi in the finals. I felt the gigantic wall of skill I could not overcome."

Multiple time GSL champion MMA got dizzy watching the hand speed of faster SC2 pros (SC2)

MMA is not only a two time GSL champion, but one of the best and most accomplished SC2 pros in history, as outlined in this article. Top StarCraft pros are often associated, at least in the perpeptions of general gaming fans, as having blazing fast hand speeds, allowing them to reach incredibly high APM (Actions Per Minutes) in-game. As a general trend there is some truth to this, but there are exceptions, such as MMA.

The style of play that made MMA famous was the use of multi-tasking to allow him to drop groups of units at multiple enemy bases at once, forcing his enemy to deal with each surprise arrival and either end up overwhelmed or at an economic disadvantage, due to losing mining workers. Players who use this approach, a famous BW example being Bisu, are often high APM players with incredible mechanical skill, but MMA is actually known for using a slower moving, yet precise, style of play.

This is the case to the extent that when people commented on his clean mechanics MMA decided to observe his peers. When he tried watching other pros play, who have faster hand speed, he has felt dizzy from how fast they were moving, in comparison to him.

MMA, speaking in Grilled Episode 77:

"Actually I don't really know why, but when people watch me playing they always say that I have very clean mechanics, so I was wondering if it's really true and spectated other, fast playing, progamers. Watching their screens made me dizzy."

All-Stars' WCG 2001 third place cheque was left on a bus in Korea (CS)

At the first ever World Cyber Games event, held in Seoul, South Korea, in December of 2001, Finland was represented in Counter-Strike by All-Stars (All*). The team was made up of some now legendary names, such as natu, mysse and diGitaL. mysse was not just a top player, but also a funny ands unusual personality. When the team had finished third they been traveling home on a bus with the huge over-sized novelty cheque one receives from large events. When they arrived at their stop they got off and mysse left the cheque on the bus, not thinking twice about it.

One can only speculate on where that cheque ended up, I like to imagine a Korean bus driver has a huge cheque somewhere on his wall at home, not doubt with a good story accompanying how he came to get it.

TEC threw an AWP where it cannot be retrieved in a live tournament match (CS)

Going into the CPL Summer Event of 2003 the American team TEC (The Elite Clan) were highly touted as a potential top eight placing team. The line-up had beaten reigning CPL champions Team3D at KillerLAN shortly before the event and featured star names like da bears, jaden and elude. Instead their team ended up bombing out of the tournament unable to crack even the top 24.

In one of their losses TEC were playing on de_inferno as Counter-Terrorists. While in spawn their AWPer (Jaden) asked one of the other players to buy him the sniper rifle and give it to him. The player obliged, throwing the weapon, as was customary, over towards him. Due to Jaden's position near the metal railings at the back of the spawn the weapon went past him and into the area behind those railings. It just so happens that is impossible for players to get behind there, and he could not reach the weapon, so it was lost to them. As one of the most expensive weapons in the game, and in a match they ended up losing, this would stick in the players's minds as a huge mistake which cost them dearly.

Neo was not the most famous CS pro called Neo in the early days (CS)

Filip "NEO" Kubski is perhaps the greatest Counter-Strike 1.6 player in history, having won more major titles than any other player in history, yet he wasn't even the most famous player bearing that in-game name until about 2007. From 2003 to 2006 the most famous neo was a German player called Michael Mitrega, who played for mousesports and finished third at CPL Winter 2003 and ESWC 2005.

Known as the star player of a-Losers prior to being recruited to mouz, he was considered one of the most talented players in German CS. As if to make the story stranger, that neo was partially Polish in heritage, even playing for the Polish national team in the Clanbase Nations Cup.

After the rise of Pentagram in 2006, winning WSVG UK and the WCG gold medal that year, it was the fully Polish NEO who would go on to dominate association with that name, as the other neo slipped into obscurity, his time in mousesports finishing.

Photo credits: eslphotos, fragbite, SK Gaming, Helena Kristiansson, Inven, lolesports