The Red Bull Battle Grounds Grand Finals were held this past weekend in Washington D.C., where eight players fought to be crowned the champion and the majority winner of the $50K prize pool.
First of all, Red Bull knows how to put on one heck of a show. This year’s finals were held at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington D.C. where Red Bull did a magnificent job at overhauling the venue to make it feel as if the building was created purely for this event. The polished look was amazing inside the theater with the names and faces of all eight contestants painted on the east and west side walls of the theater underneath golden arches. The main hall even looked brilliant with #BattleGrounds and logos on the walls, and once again the faces of the contestants. Be sure to check out photos I took at the venue.
Just seeing the Lincoln Theatre all decked out for this event was amazing enough. However, with the addition of excited eSports and StarCraft II fans that sold out the event, along with thunder sticks that attendees were given, this became a loud and thunderous sporting event with an amazing atmosphere. I was purely amazed by the passion the fans showed for the competition, the players, and all the fantastic strategic moves that all eight players showcased on center stage.
In the interest of full disclosure I must share that I have never given much attention to eSports. Not that I wasn’t interested, but only because I just didn’t have time to give it much thought. However, the opportunity to cover this event came forth and I decided to take it on as a learning experience and discover what all the eSports hype is all about. And I’m so glad I did.
The event was so much fun. From the atmosphere to production, and of course getting to watch talented players showcase their StarCraft II skills, it was a wonderful time. The announcers even did a fantastic job at discussing the game to make it even more entertaining for those who tuned in to the event or watched it live. I viewed it as an overall success and can see why eSports is continuing to grow even more popular among gamers.
The one thing I found odd on the first day was cheering for a specific player. I’m sorry, but it did just seem a little bit odd cheering for a guy who plays the same game I do. But these are the best players at the game, so why wouldn’t it be fun watching them perform their best strategies to take down other great players? It’s a learning opportunity for those who want to get better at the game and just pure entertainment for overall fans of the game. It may have seemed strange to me at first to cheer for a player, but thanks to the announcers and the amazing crowd, I found myself really appreciating both Scarlett and Polt who both were easily fan favorites. The crowd was rocking with applause and cheers when both players where engaged in battle.
Did I mention how amazing the atmosphere was? And no, it wasn’t just because the crowd was fed energy drinks and given thunder sticks to create noise.
I have another confession to make. I actually never played StarCraft II that much, yet I still couldn’t help but to fall in love with the event. I can only imagine what a great promotional impact this creates for games that are showcased in these events. As for me, the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was play StarCraft II!
The overall weekend event in D.C. was perfect, especially for someone like me who was interested in learning more about it. I was first able to do so by attending a ‘Business of eSports’ panel that was held on Thursday prior to the Grand Finals. Not only was it great in regards to learning more about eSports, but also in regards to learning how to get involved in the industry and how to utilize business specific techniques in general. I highly recommend watching the panel.
eSports is great for games, great for gamers, and great for increasing the competitive level. If you watch an event and realize how popular they are and how much money is involved, what always comes to mind is how can I master one of these competitive games? It’s time I play more Call of Duty!
NVIDIA was also present at the event as a sponsor, and all eight players were doing battle on NVIDIA’s high-end GPU’s based on the Maxwell chip architecture. This event was the first tournament utilizing the tech, providing the players with more of a competitive edge through clearer and sharper graphic capabilities. The Maxwell technology uses Voxel Global Illumination that helps establish a more real-like gaming environment. It also produces new anti-aliasing and super-resolution tech that delivers near 4K fidelity on 1080p displays.
While at the Battle Grounds event I sat down with James Grunke, Director of Global eSports at NVIDIA, to discuss NVIDIA’s position with eSports as well as its G-SYNC technology that was on display at the NVIDIA booth.
Grunke mentioned that “eSports is an important segment for NVIDIA as the players and fans are some of our best customers. The top three eSports titles are PC only and as the market leader in visual computing, GeForce is the weapon of choice for professional players. With the emergence of Maxwell and G-SYNC as a unified platform, eSports technologies and experiences will soar to new heights.”
Grunke also went on to say that “As the official technology provider for Red Bull Battle Grounds, we’re very excited to have the first major tournament utilizing NVIDIA’s Maxwell technology. Red Bull’s high production quality is unsurpassed and provides an ideal showcase for the GeForce platform including G-SYNC.”
I must say that the tech that was on display at the NVIDIA booth showed an incredible difference between using no V-SYNC or V-SYNC compared to G-SYNC. The output of G-SYNC simply looks glorious when it’s enabled and I can’t wait to get a display that has G-SYNC enabled as it clearly shows its superiority through providing a faster gaming experience without lag, stutter, and screen tearing. I can certainly see how G-SYNC provides the edge needed in competitive matches, especially these eSports matches, by producing faster response times.
But that was just icing on the cake for what was a great weekend, a fantastic event, and a brilliant performance by Bomber who walked away with a 4-0 sweep to capture the StarCraft II Red Bull Battle Grounds trophy! Congrats, Bomber!
I certainly can’t wait to attend the next Red Bull event as I know it’ll be another wonderful time at another masterfully crafted venue. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these events, make sure and do so as it is a unique and an incredibly fun experience.
To learn more about Red Bull Battle Grounds make sure to visit battlegrounds.redbull.com