Many times success is quantified. How many viewers, how much money, or how many people attended are things that are thrown out after a major event to determine its success. But what isn’t looked at is the success of an event through the intangibles that make an event great. The Midseason Madness was a success in many ways, but especially with those hard-to-define intangibles.
With the majority of Overwatch League players being Korean, it is amazing that there has not been a LAN event until now in Korea. There was a planned event in 2020 at DDP for the Seoul Dynasty home stand, which was unfortunately canceled because of COVID-19. But previous to that, most matches were at Burbank Arena in California, with a few homestands in other locations sprinkled in.
Starting this year the three Seoul-located teams, the Seoul Dynasty, the Dallas Fuel, and the Seoul Infernal, have been playing in front of fans which has added a bit of the LAN experience back into the league at a small scale.
Midseason Madness LAN
There had yet to be a major LAN event where Korean fans could come and see their favorite players in South Korea. When it was announced that the Midseason Madness was going to be in South Korea, it made quite an impact. This event allowed for both the fans and the players to experience what they had been missing. Many of the fans have been supporting the players since before the Overwatch League began or the early days of the Overwatch League.
Unless the fans had traveled to America, there was never a time for them to watch their favorite players in person, especially if those players were on a North American team. The joy of fans getting to see players like Xander ‘Hawk’ Domecq on stage and in person was contagious. It was seen by the way the fans would line up for the fan signs after the matches. Easily the events would last three hours because the fans and players wanted to interact with each other in ways that hadn’t been available before.
The players also felt the emptiness of not playing in front of their fans in their home country. Lee ‘Lip’ Jaewon said “During my time in the Overwatch League, I’ve never played an offline match in my home country of Korea, so this is a great opportunity for me to put on a good show in front of the Korean fans, and I’m looking forward to it. This is my first offline tournament in Korea, so I wanted to win in front of our fans, and fortunately, I’ve been winning, so it feels great.” The passion for winning was increased for many players because they wanted to win for their fans at home to show thanks for all the support.
Han ‘Chiyo’ Hyeonseok also reinforced the sentiment saying “I feel a little more energized and happy when Korean fans support me. I’m so happy and excited to compete with my fans in Korea for the first time in a long time, and I hope to have more opportunities like this in the future.” As so many players are Korean, having this first LAN event in Korea meant so much. Surely other Korean players feel similarly, especially those who unfortunately were not able to play in the Midseason Madness in front of their home fans.
Though the location seems like a small part of the large event, it meant the world to the Korean fans and the Korean players.
LAN events bring together the community. There is a sense of togetherness, which is hard to get when so many of the matches are online and friendships are formed through social media. The Midseason Madness helped break the crust away from online matches and brought the community together. It was a multitude of players both current and past that came by with their friends to hang out as well as support their fellow players on the stage. Also, old teammates were able to see each other again as the offseason can mix up the best of friends in the player shuffle.
Most notable was Kim ‘Rascal’ Dongjun, Jung ‘Kilo’ Jinwoo, Lim ‘F4ze’ Sihyun, Lee ‘Ans’ Seonchang, and Shin ‘Piggy’ Minjun who appeared multiple days. Park ‘Kariv’ Youngseo, Park ‘Profit’ Junyoung, Hong ‘Gesture’ Jaehui, and Kang ‘Void’ Junwoo came on Day 2 to watch the matches. On a final day so many players from Bang ‘Jjonak’ Sunghyeon, Kim ‘Haksal’ Hyojong, Lee ‘Carpe’ Jaehyeok, Kim ‘AlphaYi’ Jun, Kwon ‘Aimgod’ Minseok , Kim ‘Sp9rk1e’ Yeonghan and many more showed up. Not only Korean players but also international players like Indy ‘Space’ Halpern, Niclas ‘Shockwave’ Jensen, and Huy ‘Mirror’ Trinh appeared. It was great to see how close the player friendships are within the league. LIP posted his signed sheet after the first two days on fan signs, showing how supportive he was to stick around to chat with his peers.
It was a major success for the event, but also the league, that the players wanted to come to the Midseason Madness to cheer on their friends. It was great to see interactions of Kim ‘Birdring’ Jihyeok and Space, or Profit and Gesture who used to be a duo within a team. The Midseason Madness brought the friendships to the forefront to show how supportive the players are of each other.
The vibe of the venue during the Midseason Madness was extremely positive. Everyone who was attending was very polite and respectful. Even when there was a rush to get to the fan sign line, no one was pushing or trying to cut in the line. Fans waited patiently for the players. This was even true for the unofficial fan signs of visiting players. There was a neat orderly line for Profit and no fans swarmed him, but opted to wait one by one until it was their turn. To get in and out of the arena tickets had to be re-shown and that line as well as very orderly.
The signs that fans made at the venue were all funny or cute or witty. The artistry of the community was highlighted with some amazing artwork that was done on the fly. But there weren’t any signs of bashing any other players or teams. On the same note, there was no booing of players or teams. It was common to see someone holding a sign for the opposing team but still clapping during an amazing play. The fan chants were loud, even for the Hangzhou Spark who were unable to attend.
Production and Crew
When a team made a spectacular play the casters’ energy would hype up the crowd. Who would in turn return that energy back into the arena with cheers and boomsticks. It was easy to see how much everyone involved cared about the event and put all their energy into it.
The event was organized well so the movement of the crowd didn’t get stuck too long in one place. Even down to if a fan brought in food or liquid that wasn’t water, all they did was put a sticky note with their name on it and leave it on a table where they could pick it up after they left. It was respectful to the fans. The staff all around the arena was very helpful and would make sure that all the details were taken care of so the fans could just enjoy the event without worry.
Players were also respectful to each other. There was no on-stage trash talking, but the classic APEX tournament-style trash-talk segments. After each match, there were more hugs between the players of the two teams showing the respect that had been fostered between them.
One of the best moments was when Changsik, a former Overwatch League player turned caster, came to visit the Midseason Madness on his day off from the military. The cheers he got were extraordinary and when he was put on the desk to cast with his old peers, it was a magical moment.
The Success of the Midseason Madness
The Overwatch League Midseason Madness was a success. But more importantly, it ticked off all those boxes of intangibles that are hard to quantify. It was an event that meant a lot to the Korean fans and probably even more to the Korean players who were able to play at a home LAN event for the first time. The Midseason Madness shows the power that the Overwatch League community has and the positivity that they can bring to an event. Hopefully, this is just one of many events that will be located in many different countries so all players can the chance to play in front of their home crowd.
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