Special thanks to Bryan O'Malley aka Reithan, TheWahbinator, and Psianide for providing the media in this post.
“If Nestea doesn’t cheese me I’m going to win” – Snute
A Snute Birthday aka 200 off key nerds singing in unison.
Friday was poised with excitement as fans filtered into the Full Sail Live auditorium. The lights brightly shine and the feeling that this event would be unique was felt among the crowd. The cameras were live from the moment people arrive and the coordinator Rob Simpson did an amazing job of piecing everything together while Halo 3 pro and host of the event Walshy kicked things off. While Walshy maybe a FPS pro, his enthusiasm with the fans really kick started the event and made the whole production flow smoothly. As I arrived, I silently made my way into the crowd after traveling two and a half long hours from work to make it in time to watch State vs Snute.
State versus Snute generated a new feeling among fans. As Snute was slain, State had shown really strong play. Was he going to win this tournament? His protoss was strong and many hoped that his return from studies would not have hurt his career. Unfortunately it had taken its toll. After that series he was unable to win any more matches and could not advance past the group stages. I had an opportunity to talk with State once the event was over and got a few good words from him.
Q: Do you have any plans on going back to Korea?
State: It is my goal to be able to play there once again.
Q: Has it been hard coming back from School?
State: I wanted to focus on studies but regret that decision only because my skill fell behind further then I expected.
Q: You looked great in your games against Snute.
State: I’m happy I was the only one to beat him and I should have defeated Illusion.
Q: You went carriers!
State: Yes I regret going carriers. I have an 80% win rate with that carrier build on ladder. However Illusion was about two minutes further ahead than I thought he was so my timing was off and he won.
Q: You competed for WCG last night?
State: Yes, I qualified and everyone else stayed in the auditorium to play last night. Huk even played in the booth.
There was no more personality shining brighter than Huk. Some people call him shy and introverted but the fans never saw that side. While the finals was arguably the best moment of the tournament let’s address one thing. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ The Star Strikers battle was an eye opening experience for Huk fans. From the ring of the words “Bonus Round” there was such a display of character never seen before. While Huk ‘s opposing team managed to spam ¯_(ツ)_/¯ every time a goal was scored, Huk was in the booth on stage doing his impersonation live. It got exciting as he’d stand up in the booth during the game gesture to the crowd to get rowdy. His giddy excitement was even clearer as he’d bounce in his chair and chew on his head phone cord excitedly as the game progressed. Don’t let me forget to mention how cute it was to see him teaching Snute how to play Start Strikes. We could not hear Huk’s words but his hand motions told the story themselves.
So Huk makes it to the finals and retake my seat in the middle row and middle seat. Three rows behind me I still hear the tears of a Nestea fanboy. The series is getting ready to begin but Huk graces us with his kindness one more team by reading cheerful signs and giving the audience nods of approval and thanks. As loud as Snute fans cheered, the Huk chants were equally loud. All I can say is having him at a tournament is always a treat. When I walked up to him and we exchange words after the finals he left me with one message. “Tell Team Liquid I won the finals.”
There’s not much to interaction any person was fortuitous enough to have with Nestea beyond Smix. While Smix brought her glowing attitude and ridiculous work ethic to Red Bull Orlando, Nestea clearly came to win. Showing strong play he managed to make it to semifinals qualifying out of his bracket. Unfortunately burdened with online tournaments and jet lag, it was clear to any fans sleep had been the dark horse for this GSL champion. If he was not playing he was grabbing naps in order to have that small stretch of energy for the next series. So while judgment by many may be made from his loses in that tournament, it was clear that there were many factors going into the challenges he faced. So in my final moments to talk with Nestea, before he was pressed for one more post event interview, I was graced by these wonderful words from Nestea. “Grrrrzzzzzrrrpgh” (Note: Exact quote may not be entirely accurate).
Saving my last player analysis for best is our very own Team Liquid’s Snute. I beg all of you to meet him if you ever have the opportunity as he is the nicest person you will ever meet. Snute is a person that does not have a smile off switch. Each cheer of his name made his smile larger and as he left the booth to take stand with his trophy you could feel his passion as he let out a momentous roar to the crowd.
I talked with Snute before his games with Nestea and this is what he said. “I have played Nestea many times on the ladder. If Nestea doesn’t cheese me I’m going to win. I want to be able to play macro games because the later the game goes the more it will favor me.” And as we all witnessed, Nestea did not cheese him and Snute stuck to his words. Snute also said that it was very important that he can keep his hands warm as he was having trouble doing so.
Snute’s post game interview did a great job of encompassing many of the emotions relayed in our discussions. We have seen countless players get caught up in the moment where they are one win away and cannot finish the job. Innovation vs Soulkey may come to mind. But this occasion was different. After game six Snute hurriedly made his way into the backstage where he could collect his thoughts. His face looked different when he returned. Smiles were gone and it was nothing but a cold, angered, merciless face. Chills could be felt by fans on looking as our cuddly hero had to change his demeanor if he should win Red Bull.
The fans watched eagerly has the last game started. For each drone that died, each baneling that dropped, or overlords that didn’t drop there was roars of cheers and awes of passion. And as the time came near and GG was upon us the fans all stood at once to chant the glorious name, “SNUTE! SNUTE! SNUTE!” Instantly he was swarmed with fans to get autographs, but Snute could relax as his challenges were over and he was the Champion of Red Bull Lan Orlando.
Special mentions to the casters DJ Wheat, Mr. Bitters, and to Day9 who stood through 2 hours of signings after the event ended and everyone else had left so he could greet every single fan. Thanks to Rob Simpson who cleaned up the whole event within just hours while also providing shuttles to get players to their hotels and to Sheth who was there to greet fans all three days and support his team to the fullest. To TLO who showed great support to Snute his teammate and signed everything for fans. And to the rest of the players I didn’t get to meet I hope we get some more 1 on 1 time in the future.
Pic Spam (more to be added soon):