Thanks to our Czech friends who live here for a year, we have a nice place to stay at the campus of the Seoul University. Unlike the most of the city, which is just a heap of building on top of each other, the campus is a huge park wedged between two forested hills, so it's quite ice to stay there and the subway is handily close.
Jirka had a later flight and thus arrived at 5pm, but we still had ample time, as the studio is only a couple of subway stops from here, even on the same line. The destination station is easy to remember, because it is actually the same word as the Samsung brand. We had some trouble finding the studio, because there is a construction site and the building is hidden, thus no signs are visible, but interestingly, a rather older clerk from a nearby convenience store spoke English and knew the location. Then we just saw some white people and it was easy to guess where they are going. The receptionist of the building just shows two fingers to all foreigners to indiciate them that they are surely going to the second floor.
The studio is pretty cool, lots of colored lights and broadcast technology. It's quite interesting to see how the broadcast looks from behind the scenes, they have four cameras and the cameramen are very professional, they seem to know exactly what they are doing without a single bit of sweat even though the shots obviously require a lot of coordination. It never occurred to me how funny is the position of the shoot-the-GSL-logo-man, whose work you see before every match, it's not a prerecorded sequence, but he zooms through the physical logo every single time ...
The studio was eventually about half full, with about half the audience foreigners, which was the most surprising part to me. There was also Rapid, ZG, NoRegret and maybe some more important people i don't recognize. The Tastosis' casting desk is hidden on a balcony, they sit with their back to the audience (which is also obvious from the stream, but I never thought about it) and you can't really see them. However I met Tasteless on the loo and he thanked me for coming, which really threw me off and he probably thinks I am retarded and capable only of grunting
Even though the group featured the GSL champion, the star of the evening was Rogue, because he had by far the biggest fanclub present. Every player got a coordinated cheer at the start of the game, but Rogue's was like ten people - also when he qualified, a lot of the audience just left. On the other hand, it was nice to see that even the Koreans cheered for Elazer. It's just all in a very good spirit and the atmosphere is really positive.
You can listen to the Korean commentary or use headphones with a radio reciever for Tastosis, but the most interesting thing is just to enjoy with other people around. The quality of the image is fantastic, it's like cinema-level projection, the only downside is that if the player in the inside left station is playing, then the close-up camera often stays in front of the minimap which complicates watching bigger games.
We got some pizza pretty early and it was really enough for everyone to get full. I can see how Tastosis are unhappy that they never get the pizza I have already noted that making a cheerful sign is pretty difficult, because there are just so many really good signs around, so next time, I really have to think about it more in advance. If you have one, you need to kinda work with the cameraman to get it shown - you will see that he noticed you and that he holds you in the view until the director decides to cut you in - or not, which also happens a lot.
All in all it was quite a nice experience, very different from HSC, which is the only other ESPORTS event I have ever been to. As usual, I didn't really get to talk with the other people, because I am not that great in that, but on subway back, I bumped into two guys and we had a nice chat. Having a SC2 t-shirt is a good conversation starter on the subway
Seoul itself is pretty terrible from what I have seen so far, a busy, crowded city without really a nice downtown to walk in. It's also absurdly warm and humid these days, so it's not very inviting to go anywhere outside air-conditioned spaces. Now it's less hot, but it's pouring rain (and still pretty steamy anyway). As for sight, I visited just one palace, which is supposedly the greatest one, but it's rather boring, all buildings are the same and mostly empty ...
So far I have had only two korean lunches, because we get fed by the friends a lot, but those were pretty good. A lot of the dishes are quite similar, it's just some random stuff in a soup, possibly with kimchi, meat, noodles and whatnot and then you get small bowls of rice, kimchi and whatever other things they have. It's spicy, but not extremely and there is no coriander fortunately.
Now we will go to the NE coast to Sokcho to see how the rain looks from there