Imagine 120,000 people live in a stadium shouting at the top of their lungs. They aren’t watching soccer, football or a concert. They are watching world championship eSports, specifically StarCraft II.
Competitive live video game tournaments are taking the world by storm, and Austin has been impacted as well. As a matter of fact, Austin City Limits’ Moody Theatre is hosting a StarCraft II event May 26th-27th. Fans from all over the world are coming to watch a live match right here in Austin. In addition, there are multiple events that take place monthly in Austin where you can check this phenomenon out.
More on that in a moment. First, some background.
All gamers have heard the phrase, “You are wasting your life with that stuff.” But that attitude is rapidly changing. Did you know that there are gamers out there making over six figures a year competing? It’s true.
Stephano, a well-known and highly respected 19 year old French gamer, earned over $111,000 in 2011 playing StarCraft II, not including his team salary. But Stephano is just one guy. Korean players make even more money and dominate the sport, the way Team USA Basketball dominates the Olympics.
Take that, mom!
Before you quit your day job, know that the skill of these pro gamers is measured by Actions Per Minute (APM), or how many clicks and keystrokes they average each minute. While the casual gamer is said to average around 60 APMs, the pro at this level averages 300. So before you go using this article to defend your gaming obsession, make sure you can hang with the big boys.
So you might be thinking that this is cool and all, but what does it have to do with Austin?
Recently, I was invited by friend and local filmmaker Andrew Lee to an event here in Austin called BarCraft. BarCraft Austin was held at Plucker’s on Rio Grande, and the house was packed.
Nearly 100 people filled the place eating wings, drinking Red Bull and vodka (Red Bull sponsored this event) and cheering on their favorite gamers who were competing head to head in a live stream tournament of StarCraft II. The live event was put on by Major League Gaming and was taking place live in New York City, but being broadcast to BarCrafts all around the globe, including BarCraft Austin.
I sat with Andrew Lee and his friends Andrew O., Josh and Jason as they schooled me in what BarCraft is all about, and helped me understand the Austin connection.
BarCraft Austin monthly events draw anywhere from 100-300 gaming fanatics. But this isn’t your stereotypical gamer crowd. The group was a mix of about 50% professional adults and 50% UT students. As I looked around the room of gamers and fans, I commented on how packed the place was. Andrew Lee mentioned that this was actually a small crowd because Diablo III had just been released. He also told me that BarCraft events are now in over 271 cities in the world. Though they are mainly focused on StarCraft II at the moment, some locations also stream other games.
I sat back at the BarCraft Austin event and soaked it all in. Trying to capture the moment, I listened carefully and overheard things like Andrew O. asking Josh, “Is your Protoss style worthy of my Zerg style yet? It’s all Z vs. Z now and if you aren’t Zerg, well then it’s not important for you anymore.” And something about gaming mouses that will “change your life.”
What the heck they were talking about was far beyond me. My knowledge of video games ended when Wrath of the Lich King came out for World of Warcraft. Needless to say, I’m a little behind the times. Though I still don’t fully understand what they were talking about, I can tell you that everyone at BarCraft Austin was having a blast.
I asked Andrew Lee how he got involved, and he laughed and said that when StarCraft came out – the original – his then girlfriend wasn’t thrilled with him playing all the time. So he made it into his job.
Andrew Lee is producing a documentary called Star Nation, scheduled for release sometime in 2013. Smiling broadly, Andrew chimed, “So now when I play or watch, it is all work related.”
Andrew mentioned that with Austin being such a huge technology hub, where game development is a massive industry, it’s only natural that BarCraft Austin would generate a significant level of interest.
He also suggested that anyone interested should check out the StarCraft II event on May 26th-27th called “Red Bull Battlegrounds” that is taking place at the Moody Theatre.
Whether you can make that event or not, you are into gaming at all or whether you are a professional or a student, get to know these guys at BarCraft Austin. They are really having a good time and they give away stuff at their events like mouses that will change your life.
Thanks for the information, too bad I am not in town to attend… but the info is great. I usually watch these “after the fact” on the internet after the tournaments have ended. As a gamer (more during the winter months when I am not outside as often), these are always exciting to watch and understand the skill and mental dexterity needed to compete.
Haha Troy… the wings at Plucker’s looked pretty good too. Oh and on another note, I’m starting to hold some of my meetings on the Disc Golf course at Zilker. Thought you might find that humorous. By the way you should definitely come down to a BarCraft event sometime. I think you’d enjoy it.
eSports is exploding! Don’t get left behind! 🙂
It really is. Thanks for turning me onto it.
Awesome write up — thanks for coming out! Hopefully lots of “closet Starcrafters” (and maybe even fans of other games) will see the article and join us at our next event.
Thanks Josh.. what I really liked was that everyone was having a really great time and there were no “jerks” around.. just a bunch of pretty laid back people who were enjoying the atmosphere and talking in weird Z tongues that I couldn’t really understand.
Yeah, we have a strict no-jerk policy. 🙂 While there is a “Z tongue” (or “P tongue” or “T tongue”), most avid fans of the game are happy to educate new members if they show any interest. (Or even if they don’t!)
great article!! I had so much fun at my first BarCraft that now I drag as many of my friends out there as possible 😀
I think I met you there Angie! I think if all gamer guys knew you they might just pack the place out everytime.. haha Great meeting you and congrats on winning one of the door prizes!
Am I the only one that has never heard of StarCraft?
no, you’re not the only one, but you should check it out! 🙂
What is StarCraft II – http://youtu.be/yu1Ze3ucsfo
C-net.uk also did a great video about barcrafts you can check out here: http://youtu.be/Z3aDGqgEOb4
Here’s a glimpse of the US StarCraft community: http://youtu.be/VchuKnJONSk
I’d love to learn more about it, but apparently I need a FB account to get more information. Ohh well, -1 fan.
We’re working on a website soon!! Because we’re all volunteer driven, it takes a little while to get stuff done. Until then, you can check us out on http://www.reddit.com/r/barcraftaustin or the more general subreddit http://www.reddit.com/r/barcraft
Great write up! I always wondered what non-starcrafters thought when caught in the middle of a barcraft!
On a slightly off topic note, when I met Andrew Lee he thought I was going to steal his phone!
Thanks for the compliment @facebook-100002077884811:disqus appreciate it. Yeah, it was quite an experience. I really enjoyed it. The real question is were you going to nab Andrew’s phone? hehe
I’m kicking myself for leaving early as I heard my name was the first called for those tickets…sigh. Either way I had a blast at the event. I’m new to the town (just moved to Austin from Raleigh,NC in Feb) so getting a chance to meet other Blizzard game lovers was a huge help. Had a great time, and will be returning again. Just a word of warning, if you order a mug instead of the pint bring a DD 🙂
I love Austin, and I love Starcraft. This is absolutely incredible.
Glad you found the article @924ed78c4fd60054b0b45b50311d3a48:disqus how did you find out about the article? Are you planning on hitting up one of the BarCraft Events? If so get to know @4dc8b6b5af487e816603427be7a5f201:disqus and @joshmarshall:disqus they are regulars at the event.