By Jeremy Say
Hotshotz Asia 2017 was “touted as Malaysia’s epic eSports Festival” on their official page – and they weren’t exactly wrong. Held on July 22nd & 23rd 2017 at KDU Glenmarie, the event was an unmitigated disaster. Like a glorious ship slowly crashing into a large iceberg, Day 1 sank slowly to its impending doom; at least they saved the survivors for Day 2.
For a tournament meant to highlight some of the best amateur players and teams in Malaysia, attending this festival felt more like watching a headless chicken run around. With a total of seven games in the grand finals, this overtly ambitious cousin of Selangor Cyber Games 2016 ran face-first into a wall.
First, let’s start off with an amateur tournament looking for ticket pricing, because we all know how well that went with AGES 2016. Originally charging RM30 for a two-day pass is odd these days, but perfectly understandable to recoup operations costs for these type of events. Yet with little to no appeal through their marketing, I would rather attend free-to-watch events like Selangor Cyber Games, ROG MASTERS 2016 and U Mobile Game-Onz MSI MGA Pacific Championship (which also wins the award for longest tournament name – ever). Even with discounted tickets to Hotshotz (RM25), I saw no enforcement of wristbands and anyone could have probably walked in to spectate a sparse venue. From 2PM-6PM on Day 1, I saw little to no foot traffic besides the players and staff. The sponsors’ booths were basically empty most of the time and there was zero enthusiasm or energy at the main hall during this period.
This was honestly to be expected, especially since the majority of players and supporters ended up in the Cyber Cafe next to KDU campus on Day 1 trying to play their matches instead of the main hall.
Booked last minute due to what was a logistics problem, the new tournament venue at Blitzone was just the first sign of problems to occur. It was a valiant effort to eventually get back on track for Day 2, but there were other issues on Day 1 that need to be highlighted.
There were many issues with rescheduling, with one team confirmed to have waited six hours to play their first match on Day 1. For the cherry on top, there was also a plethora of issues with the network and computers. With 400 ping at the start of the day and lost connections issues, how is one supposed to play properly?
Speaking of playing conditions, the main venue was not much better. While there were a few games displayed on the main stage and a cosplay performance on stage, it didn’t feel conducive of a gaming tournament. While entertaining, I felt sorry for the cosplayers who were invited to the event. Having to compete for attention of at most 20 odd people was awkward. Add that to many of the players and their supporters huddling around screens, trying to focus on the matches being played right next to the stage.
It seems unfair to Clarissa Punipun (@punipun7), dressed up as D.Va, who stood on stage to sing and to the players who had to play through all the noise. Which reminds me, was there not supposed to be a cosplay competition at this event? With rumors of miscommunications, apparently many of them left to Kompleks Sukan Negara Shah Alam for the Bon Odori Festival instead.
So with little to no audience and more people at Blitzone cybercafe then at the main hall on Day 1, it was like reliving AGES 2016. Someone has clearly taken cues and went ahead to make AGES 2.0 a reality. Good on you, Malaysian gamers and the eSports industry will be proud.
PS: congratulations are in order to the winners of the tournament and other events. After finally finding a credible source concerning the RM70,000 prize pool, here is what was at stake at ‘epic’ eGames festival and the winners, who should be noted, will be having their official prize-giving ceremony on Aug 2 at KDU University College Glenmarie Utropolis.