ESL One New York, one of the world's biggest gaming tournaments, kicked off yesterday with an almost tangible energy that rippled through Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Fans, commentators, experts, professional players and more entered the arena knowing what to expect. But for a girl like me who never experienced the world of live eSports, it was very cool to be engrossed in an event different from my usual music festivals.
On the first day of ESL One, I came with an open mind and wide eyes, ready to soak up this new experience! Scroll down below to find out all the things I learned during my time at the tournament.
1. An awesome setup: The main stage of the Barclays Center was organized like a huge wrestling match/sports game hybrid. The flashing neon lights, commentators and cheering fans made it all the more exciting for a newbie like myself.
2. Energy on a hundred, thousand, trillion: Speaking of the fans, they showed their love for certain teams with intensity! It was fun seeing the crowd erupt in roars whenever the scores were super close, or if a team won a round.
3. 50 shades of diversity: I was expecting a sea of white guys, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by black males, Latinos, Asian-Americans and a handful of other ethnicities.
4. Cool controller, bro! In the practice court, where the Street Fighter V tournament took place on day one, fans and players of the game carried around these awesome (and custom-made) larger-than-life controller pads.
5. Can I have your autograph? The biggest people in the professional fighting game world, like player Justin Wong and competitor/commentator James Chen, were treated just like some of my favorite pop singers! Fans rushed over to get their controller signed, take a selfie or spark up a conversation.
6. Let's end the stigma: Some may like to classify professional gamers as nerds, but these guys are way more than that. They crushed the stereotype for me during ESL One, as they made it clear they're everyday people who just happen to enjoy gaming.
7. A self-surprise: As I wandered through the tournament and watched the teams compete, I realized I knew more about gaming than I thought! I actually played Street Fighter when I was younger, so it was easy to follow along and get thrilled like the rest of the guys.
Below, check out electronic duo Krewella playing Street Fighter V for the first time.