While the four colour coordinated main stages are showing enough esports to keep anyone entertained for the easily a whole weekend, there are a whole host of other attractions available around the edges of the arena. Perfect for visiting during the downtime between matches.
ArcadeXbox have set up multiple consoles for when the urge to play becomes too much. I tried my hand at some Killer instinct (which I’m still terrible at), however did considerably better with Titanfall, FIFA and NHL before letting a queue of better players take over. There is an arcade-style Forza 5 booth that, shockingly, I was also terrible at - much to the amusement of the Microsoft staff!
Meet and GreetAside from the COD stage (of which is packed floor to ceiling) the stores are also jammed. Team jerseys, headsets, controllers and a huge selection of other accessories are flying off the shelves. Pro players and teams are hanging around off stage, happy to talk, take pictures and sign autographs with anyone who asks. Three members of Team Liquid sat in front of me and cheering on Snute as he beat Grubby on the StarCraft stage and it is this kind of close interaction between players and fans which helps builds a great community spirit.
AtmosphericThe atmosphere in the Copper Box is electric. I came here to watch some events during the Olympics and, honestly, the arena seems much more suited to this kind of eSports event than handball! It’s not that long ago that the idea of holding an eSports event in a space like this was laughable, but the sheer number of people here proves that it is growing in the UK at a ridiculous rate - which can only be a good thing.
Trying Something NewThe layout of the stages makes it really easy to jump between the games without really missing anything and I’ve managed to keep on top of all of the games so far. The casters and analysts for each of the games have found a good balance, helping spectators with no real knowledge of the games to understand what is happening and building hype for games I had no real interest in before. I’ve seen FIFA fans stopping on the concourse to take in some Starcraft, joining in and getting involved, asking questions and sharing information with other members of the crowd. Personally, I’m compelled to read up on everything Counter Strike so I can appreciate it even more tomorrow! There is still plenty for me to enjoy today though as the quality of the matches so far have been top class across all four games.
Author: Forrest Deeks (@Msidasurc)