According to WCG Inc. CEO Kim Hyoung-seok, more than 80,000 spectators bought tickets to watch the grand final from Novmeber 11 to 15, which made Chengdu WCG is the biggest grand final in WCG 10-year history. Jaedong said in a WCG interview "I was entering the stadium and they (Chinese fans) swarmed on me like Zerglings." Also according to Jaedong after beating Stork, the bo3 finals are the biggest indoor games he ever played in terms of spectator numbers. Bigger than OSL finals? Yes. I was there, sitting among thousands of Chinese fans. The venue has 3,600 seats as reported, I assume 5,500 some people crammed it. Though some of them were waiting for Warcraft final after Starcraft, I'm sure many many of them enjoyed both finals. A Starcraft friend of mine who doesn't play Warcraft watched both simply because it was the first time two Chinese players met in the final's final. We cheer for great players and games, as well as our nation.
Though the prize pool cut sharply, Jaedong went home with only half cash as Luxury took last year. No one ever expected Chengdu WCG was so successful. Not only Jaedong was surprised to meet so many foreign fans, Korean organizers and local municipal officials (typically some old guys in black suit who know almost nothing about e-sports) were shocked, too. They saw young people from different parts of the country come here with such enthusiasm, who desperately want to watch games and take photos of their e-sports heroes.
It's a festival. It should be a business, too. More than a campaign of Samsung year after year plus a bunch of hardware sponsors.
Some friends who didn't have time to attend WCG asked me if I could buy them some goodies. I found none. Why not selling WCG T-shirts, hoodies, key rings, hats, whatever they can come up with? I think Koreans acknowledge the popularity of e-sports in China better than before during last week. There is a huge undeveloped market here, some report saying China has 20 million e-sports fans. In my opinion, they should learn a bit from NBA about how to explore the Chinese market. Maybe OnGameNet should bring pre-season show matches or all-star events to China, in bigger stadiums with more spectators. MBCGame may find a new Chinese sponsor easily. Hwaseung OZ, SK Telecom T1 and KT Rolster can host foreign fan meetings/LAN parties with their well-known rosters. It sounds unreasonable? No. Korea and China are close (though we do often bash each other). I believe there is a way this can work out.
Be nice and bring more fan services (e.g. Grubby sat at SteelSeries' booth every afternoon during WCG to sign autographs and let fans take photos with him). Then Chinese fans are willing to buy it. Do not underestimate the emerging China.
When I went to the tournament area to watch Jaedong's first person view on day 2, lots of fanboys were already there. I pushed against some to take a closest spot to Jaedong. The last one in front of me was a fat black hair guy. I thought he must be a local staff so I told him in Chinese "Move a bit, I want to see Lee Jaedong" (in a less polite context). He turned around and looked confused - it's Coach Cho from OZ.
Wherever Jaedong was, this man must be nearby. He takes care of Jaedong like his own son. He looked very happy when I met him again after the farewell dinner. My friend asked him where Jaedong was. He said in the hotel "lobby" (in English). 10 minutes later, we did find Bisu, Stork and Jaedong in the lobby. Thanks Coach Cho!
He's a kid. He looks even younger than Flash in real life. And he speaks a little English and say "Hello" to me in Chinese. Cute and polite, it's so hard to not like Lee Jaedong. But once a game starts, the famous killer look comes back immediately. It's nice to meet him though I'm not a Jaedong fan. (Waxangel, don't stop being a Jaedong fan because he made a bad pun )
Jaedong and his autograph
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Before I met him in real life, he's sort of "nerdy" boy-next-door type in my opinion, being nice/humble and having a lot of friends. Everything changed since he lost much weight. Stork Slim is so damn hot in real life with his slender limbs. He looks smart and sexy at the same time. And more mature than Jaedong and Bisu indeed. Well, he's definitely in a relationship, sending text messages and talking over his mobile phone every time I met him.
Stork and I
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Once I thought I was old enough to get over the fangirlism, I got to admit Bisu is an exception. He's called Prince Charming by local media. A report from local newspaper Chengdu Evening News put on a large photo of him compared to tiny pictures of Moon and Lyn (Korean Warcraft finalists). Several booth babies (in the exhibition area) asked me "Who is the handsome boy? How come a gamer is that good looking?" and wanted to take a photo with him.
Bisu on local newspaper
Bisu's beauty is breathtaking in real life. Look at his Gucci backbag and True Religion 'Billy Super T' jeans. He knows how to spend money and make himself look better.
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However, he's still shy, talking in a soft and girlish tone. The only 20 minutes I spent by his side was in the evening right before the whole Korean team leaving from the hotel to the airport. He's sitting on his suitcase, not talking too much, sometimes hiding his head between his knees. Stork was by his side, leading their conversation. Two my favorite Protoss players looked so adorable together. My friend and I asked them for autographs and taking photos separately. Then my friend started transfer the photo files from the flash card to his laptop. Suddently I realized I should take another photo with both of them since the chance was rare - they usually meet each other as rivals not friends. I asked them again and they agreed to do it. They must be tired but they didn't get upset with me. I guess they are not only trained to play SC professionally but also to deal with fans professionally.
Photos of commentators
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Thanks a lot to my friend Chunlai for his great camera/lens and stalking strategy!