StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Release Night
This is just a blog piece I wrote about my experiences as the StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Midnight Release.
As everyone in Melbourne knows, Monday 11th March was Moomba, a time when everyone lets their hair down and has fun, and this year was no different. For gamers in the know, however, the evening was particularly eventful. While Melburnians were winding down from the Moomba festivities, another event was getting under way. Importantly for gamers, Melbourne was playing host to a World Premiere and the Australian midnight release of StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm.
For the record, I have only ever been to a couple of midnight releases, most of them at my local EB Games store but this one was the “biggy”, a World Premiere, right in the heart of Melbourne at Federation Square.
I arrived a little early (3 hours to be exact) so I saw them setting up for the event before it was swarmed (pun intended). There were three tents as well as the main stage. One of the tents was called “Blizzard Loot” and, surprise surprise, it specialized in Blizzard merchandise. I was parted from quite a bit of my writers pay in that tent, although it’s fair to say that it was worth it. The other two tents were involved with the game itself. Just for the record, anyone who had ordered a copy of StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm from EB Games were entitled to go to the first tent labelled “Registration” where they would be given a fancy little purple wristband which then allowed them to enter the various competitions conducted throughout the evening. They were also guaranteed a copy of Heart of the Swarm, which they could then pick up later after midnight at the third tent.
The event started at 8:00 pm with a hearty welcome. Then we were introduced to one of our hosts, Leigh Mandalov, who is a lead Australian StarCraft caster, followed by a number of other personalities led by the Games Director Dustin Browder.
After the introductions, they started the first three matches (which were Zerg vs Protoss) played by Andrew Pender (AKA mOOnGLaDe) and Mark Richardson (AKA yang).These matches were interesting to watch but it was the amazing last game of the three that really grabbed the crowd’s attention even though Pender won all three matches.
After this we had Baneling Bingo, where audience members holding the ticket numbers called out won a prize. We were then informed that we would have to take a break because the Moomba Festival’s traditional fireworks display was about to start. However, just as the Zerg claim everything they conquer, we did the same and so the Moomba’s fireworks became our fireworks. This yielded a more explosive reaction than Baneling bingo (Pun intended).
After the fireworks were over, one audience member amusingly remarked “Ok back to being a nerd again”. We were then introduced to the next group of players. The contestants were Jared “PiG” Krensel (Zerg) and Daniel “deth” Haynes (Terran). These were very intense matches. The first match was a warm-up that went to Haynes, thanks to some smart manoeuvring and tactical positioning. But the following two matches were taken by Krensel, who proceeded to demonstrate Zerg supremacy, with a Baneling rush that absolutely decimated everything around it.
After this we had another round of Baneling bingo, where much to everyone’s amusement, the numbers one and sixty nine turned up. So the very first person to pick up their order, won a prize as well, (lucky guy). As soon as the bingo was over we had the Cosplay competition. Four people stepped onto the stage. One dressed as Kerrigan (or someone like her), another as a Banshee pilot (“on her night off”), another was a Zergling, and then finally the winner who was dressed as a Dark Templar. When asked how he felt, the winner humorously said “I can’t see, and I can barely breathe, but I feel like a real badass right now”.
At least twice by now, they had shown the speed drawing which was being done by Luke Mancini of a Zerg Hydralisk, Zergling and the Queen of Blades. Considering the amount of time it took to paint these pictures, it was very impressive. To lighten the mood a little bit, the production crew dimmed the lights a bit and started playing a parody of the opening cinematic trailer, made by the group who created StarCraft (a g-rated version featuring StarCraft characters).
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After this they had a Q&A with Dustin Browder which went for a while as everybody had a lot of questions.
Unfortunately I was not able to stay for the whole event as I was called off to an emergency at home, and I left shortly before the countdown was to take place. However as I was leaving, I heard the massive roar erupting from Federation Square. According to other people who attended, there was a very long queue of fans getting their copy of Heart of the Swarm.
All in all, it was a great night, and for a StarCraft 2 fan, it was heaven. Watching professional StarCraft players go head to head with each other on a big screen at Federation Square was just amazing, and the sheer number of fans who attended the event, exceeded both my expectations, and had to exceed those of the people who were running the event. I must say, however, that one of the biggest letdowns of the evening was the performance of the StarCraft 2 fan band Viva La Dirt League, who did a parody of a Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” called “4 Rack Special” which was generally ignored by all. In all honesty, the HOTS trailer music was better, especially when it was aired during the StarCraft matches.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the night, and I’m still enjoying the game.
VIC | Content Writer for MMGN | "God's In his Heaven, All's Right With The World"