Saturday, June 28th.
I wake up at the ungodly hour of 4:45, 15 minutes before my alarm clock was supposed to go off. Even my subconscious is excited for ESL One! I’m at our parents’ house because we’re taking mom’s car, and she wakes up at 6:15 just to see me off cause that’s what moms do. In a chipper mood I drive off towards Enschede, to pick up Sheever from the estate where she was celebrating one of her sorority friends’ wedding the night before. It’s early, traffic is light, and I take full advantage. At around 7:30 I am parked directly in front of the entrance of Sheever’s hotel, and I hop over to the passenger seat.
We’re off! Frankfurt here we come! Once on the highway Sheever jokingly says that we better not get pulled over because she had a lot to drink the night before and didn’t get a lot of sleep. About 15 seconds later we pass one of those work-traffic on-ramps where two German police officers on motorcycles watch us go by. We look at them, they look at us, I tell Sheever she totally jinxed that. Then things stop being funny because one of them actually pulls out onto the highway behind us. The next minute is spent in anxious silence. Suddenly another car overtakes us, and for some reason the police dude decided to chase him instead, we watch and hang way back as he is signaled into one of those truck parking lots. Oof.
Thankfully the rest of the trip passes without incident. We admire the German hills (something we don’t have back home) and I have a look at Sheever’s brand new ipad.
At about 11:30 we finally arrive at the hotel! We booked the Lindner hotel directly opposite the stadium because we are lazy and it wasn’t even that expensive. But it was a good choice, because apparently some of the casters and players are staying there as well, and as we go out to head to the stadium we actually meet up with some of them and find our way to the entrance together.
Now I’d never seen the inside of a stadium before, but when we first moved out onto the premium balcony and had a look around, it sure was impressive. I have to be honest though, and say that it also felt smaller than I’d imagined. I say felt, because it was still pretty huge. The “field” area though, hardly seemed big enough to play football on, but I think that was partly because one large strip of it was covered in shops and booths and whatnot, and of course people were sitting on the rest. We got there as a match was already going on, and the roar of the crowd that first time was really something. You just sort of perk up at that much enthusiasm and exhilaration coming from so many people, and everyone is smiling and enjoying themselves, it was wonderful really.
What was even more fun though, was the first time Sheever and I went down to the public area. I think we were aiming for the secret shop, but we made it about 10 meters before the first people approached Sheever to ask for a photo or an autograph. I hadn’t been to TI3, so I didn’t know what it was like to witness people actually wanting to take pictures and stuff with Sheever, it wasn’t like that at Dreamhack winter, where I guess there’s way more people also from other games who really would’t know who she was. So this was completely new to me. It put a big smile on my face though, so many people were just so genuinely happy to see her! I became pro at stepping to the side whenever someone stepped in to take a photo with Sheever, and I think I must have held over a hundred smartphones over the entire weekend. The monies that passed through my hands!
This “mobbing” as I heard someone call it, remained a thing throughout the weekend. I know that at some point Sheever was like, “well I think I’ve pretty much had all the people that wanted a photo by now” and she said I shouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t happen as much the next day, (because I was thoroughly enjoying this, probably more than Sheever since I didn’t have to do anything) yet even after she’d done a signing session on the Sunday it still never seemed to end. Pretty cool if you ask me!
We spent the Saturday alternating between watching the games from the early bird area, the premium area, and the player seating area. We met up with a bunch of people, and hung out with Anuxi, Meruna, and Ryan for a while. It was great fun, and the audience stayed hyped pretty much the entire event.
I had planned for this blog to be a clear description of the Saturday, followed by a clear description of the Sunday, but I am starting to notice that much of what happened is blurring together in my head so I don’t know exactly on which day happened what. I guess imma just throw all my observations out there, regardless of chronological order:
Sausages. We ate a lot of them! The food was free, and if you didn’t want to eat potato salad or pretzels, then sausages were pretty much it. I didn’t mind though, I thought they were pretty good. Energy drinks, too. Free redbull! No wonder everyone was so hyped. They also had a lot of different flavors, so I tried a lot of different kinds. I liked how the analyst panel was right there on the premium balcony, and you could practically stand right next to it and have a look see at what was going on. A floor up from the premium area were the player balconies. There were also player rooms, basically every team got a room assigned to them, and the team names were announced on a display next to the doors. I don’t think the players spend much time in them, but if you went out the other side of the player room you were on the player balcony, and that’s pretty much where most of the players/VIPs hung out. We also watched The Netherlands – Mexico in one of those rooms, together with Trance whom I recognized from the EUHub, and another guy from Twitch who spoke a little bit of Dutch, and some other Twitch people. Every once in a while Singsing would stick his head in to see what was happening but for the first half of the game as you should all know, nothing really did. Whenever we would hear the crowd roar Sheever would have a look and come back with “Fnatic is winning” and “Fnatic got racks” and little updates like that. The second half was a lot more exciting and we had a lot of fun watching. Were glad really, that there had been an opportunity to do so at all.
We ended up watching the grand-finals from the player seating area, and I had brought up some of those twitch dongers to blow up to we could slam them together and a create some hype! DPM got my backup set. We enjoyed beating the hell out of those things whenever something remotely exciting happened, but not everyone was as appreciative as us. After some disapproving glares from Puppey I decided that was quite enough. Still, gg, had fun.
Then last but not least, THE AFTERPARTY! WOO! We met up at the hotel with a bunch of people and ordered enough taxi’s for all of us. When we arrived there was a bit of confusion as to where the VIP entrance was, but find it we did! I remember the guy saying I had to take off the black VIP wristband, because we were getting a white one. He then proceeded to put one on my wrist and I noticed to my horror that he had gotten one of my arm-hairs stuck in the band! So I said something like “OH MY GOD MY HAIR IS STUCK” and he just took my wrist and did a little countdown before ripping it away from my wrist, and with a tiny pinch the problem was solved. Thinking back I think I must have already been a little tipsy (we had some beer earlier) because that seemed like a weird conversation. Anyhoo, we got in! Right inside was a big sign that said VIP up the stairs so up we went. I won’t go into too many details other than that it was a lot of fun! Drinks were free, which on second thought wasn’t such a great thing for yours truly, but more on that later. First time I had go pee I ended up downstairs in the non-vip area where is was crowded as fuck, I nearly tripped over some stairs, and some guy who helped me up was able to tell me where the toilets were. Made it there safe, hallelujah. As the night wore on and everyone drank more and more, I remember talking to a lot of people, and I’m just now hoping I didn’t make a complete fool out of myself because I really shouldn’t have drank so much. So around 4:45 I was starting to feel not so great. Sheever was out on the dancefloor somewhere and I had just spend about 15 minutes sitting in the hallway of the ladies bathroom (there was a chair there! Just for me it seemed!) cause it was nice and quiet there. Also, if I did have to throw up at some point I figured the toilets were within reach. When I finally managed to get her attention I made her big sister instincts kick in by proclaiming I wasn’t feeling well at all, so together we left. Taxi’s were parked right outside so that wasn’t a problem. We were in bed by 5:15, and though Sheever told me to “Drink a whole bottle of water Ri!” before we went to bed, I was like yeaaahhh but seriously I felt so queasy I didn’t feel like putting anything into my stomach right then. Oh the regret!
So yeah next morning was pure hell. My stomach felt like one ball of pure agony just clenching in on itself again and again. And while I lay on the bed in agony, Sheever went about packing our stuff while singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (don’t ask).
For obvious reasons Sheever was driving, and she dragged us into a McDonalds because according to her I needed fat and salty food. I actually managed a cheeseburger and some nuggets. Didn’t feel that much better though the way back, but a little over half way we did switch and I drove the rest home, I think it may have been a good idea to have something else to focus on rather than my stomach.
Overall though, the event was amazing. I just wish there were more awesome events like this in Europe, outside of Dreamhack. I met so many great people and I still remember thinking on Saturday that tomorrow there was going to be ANOTHER DAY just as cool as that one! And just feeling this wave of happiness at the thought. Good times.
I have to add also, that I was really grateful for also receiving a VIP pass, because obviously I’m not. But maybe because of that I appreciated all the more, so thanks ESL dudes!
ESL ONE WAS AWESOME AND I SHOULD DRINK LESS.