Eleven (and a half!) Cheeseadelphia events are officially on the books, and we’re fully wrapped for this decade so I wanted to take some time, as I often do after events to write a little blog about how the event went.
For starters we were lucky to get an incredible player line up. Running an open bracket event is always a nerve wracking as player sign ups are not guaranteed! Checking player registration and crossing my fingers that XYZ player signed up became a daily ritual in the month or so before Cheeseadelphia. We ended up seeing the typical strong North American line up that attends Cheese, and it was bolstered by uThermal and TLO two European players that attended the event for the first time! It was unfortunate that players like Clem, Namshar and SpeCial weren’t able to attend, but this easily ended up being the most stacked Cheeseadelphia to date!
In terms of story lines we had some absolutely incredible performances, starting from the back of the bracket LambNRice, a player that is only in Masters. played the tournament of his life and made it through TurkeyDano and Rob to claim top 16. Epic and Future had a rematch of their Cheeseadelphia X elimination match with Epic once again coming out BARELY on top 3-2. Astrea had an incredible run taking out puCK and Epic before losing to uThermal in one of the best series I’ve ever seen! Then having an NA versus EU finals with Neeb and uThermal could not have been a more perfect way to end the event!
The team at Nerd Street Gamers also really raised the bar with production values. The stage looked incredible, adding on Nekkra to host the event added so much to the broadcast and she absolutely killed it. feardragon, and Temp0 were on point with casting as always, and adding CatZ helped take things to the next level with his thoughtful analysis. The Cheeseadelphia trophy we had is one of my favorite touches!
The event itself ran quite smoothly after some initial hurdles. We wrapped well within our schedule’s margin of error on both day one and two which seems like a minor miracle after some of the issues we encountered.
So with the good stuff out of the way, let's talk about what went wrong!
Matches were scheduled to start at 10:00AM, this realistically means matches should be going around 10:30AM. At about 10:15 AM the Battle.net Authentication Servers more or less completely died. As someone who spent A LOT of years doing desktop support I can usually find a workaround for just about any issue, but there was zero way around this. Players that were already logged in could play, as could players using the Battle.net App for 2FA, but it became 100% impossible for anyone else to log in to Battle.net for around 90 minutes. This was an absolute worst case scenario: players cannot play, there is no workaround and no estimated time to resolution available, and it’s happening at the START of the day. The early stages of a tournament, are incredibly critical to having your event run smoothly. There’s more players to keep track of, more inexperienced players that might need some hand holding for how things like vetoes and chat channels work, minor tech issues to resolve etc. The group stages just move slowly, and any in this stage can wildly snowball, as players can’t start their bracket games till the slowest group finishes. Players idling around is the enemy of finishing on time, and groups being slowed down means 95% of the player pool will be stuck idling around. A 30 minute tech delay towards the end of the day typically results in about 30 minutes of lost time , a 30 minute tech delay at the start of the day can easily snowball to 90-120 minute delay. Luckily we were able to make most of that time back and finish only 20 minutes later than our (intentionally optimistic) estimate. The fact we had five or six registered players no show turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it helped move through the groups faster once the servers came back up. Anyways, give LAN.
Having Cheeseadelphia on the NCS Grand Finals weekend also presented unique challenges. To put it in context the Cheeseadelphia Grand Finals took place the same weekend as Fragadelphia (CSGO) and the Overwatch Grand Finals, so Nerd Street’s resources were quite divided. More lights, more cameras, and more staff would have made the event much easier, but the team at LocalHost rose to the challenge! Cheeseadelphia has been a scrappy event since it’s inception in 2015, so doing more with less is basically in everyone’s DNA at this point.
In addition, I lost the two admins that were assisting me with the event quite early Saturday, which meant I had to effectively run both the stage and pit simultaneously. I can’t be in two places at once so prioritization became very important! Luckily production was able to take on some of the stage load (i.e. helping players with minor tech issues) which meant that minor snags weren’t delaying the stream while I was resolving something in the pit, thanks production!
Day two the wireless mic our host used began picking up massive amounts of interference and no one could figure out why. We quickly realized this was not going to be a solvable issue and pivoted the remaining interviews to the caster desk, all of the talent and production were super awesome and adaptable building out a new workflow on the spot to do the smoothest possible transition for the throw from casters to host.
Overall most of the issues we encountered were fairly standard event hiccups, they certainly feel like the end of the world when they’re happening, but I find if I can get myself out of the stressed mindset of a tournament organizer that “needs to fix this now” there’s often a perfectly viable work around or fix. Cheeseadelphia has a lot of moving parts and finishing each one successfully feels kind of miraculous.
The National Championship series was an awesome event circuit and I’m glad it helped give NA players something to train for and play at all year long. The NCS had stops in: Philadelphia, Denver, and Washington DC, spreading that cheesey love all over the country!
I’m so grateful to Nerd Street Gamers for continuing to put Cheeseadelphia on year after year. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to all of the talent, production, and support staff for all their hard work and ingenuity. And of course a big thank you to everyone that: watched, played, or came out to say hi! I’m glad we got the chance to close out the first decade of StarCraft II, and we’ll see you all in 2020!