Written by Shawn Hall
My second day at BlizzCon was just as incredible as my first day, if not more so because of the energy from the WoW Arena World Championship, but I’ll get to that shortly. I began the day by lining up at the North Hall again because there was some loot I wanted to get from the Darkmoon Faire that I forgotten about on my first day. The doors opened a little early on day two at the North Hall, but they corralled attendees in at the bottom of the escalators and released us right at nine in the morning to let day two begin. I went right to the escalators going upstairs to the Darkmoon Faire and power walked over to the Pin Purchase tent to get some of the convention exclusive pins for myself and some as gifts for friends that couldn’t make it to the convention. When getting into the line crew members would give attendees a laminated menu that illustrated the items for sale and also had sold out stickers on items no longer available as well as an order slip to mark which items customers wish to purchase. For the most part I was in luck because most of the pins I wanted were still in stock, but there was an Overwatch anniversary pin that I was interested in that had already sold out. I checked out at the cashier window and went over to a table nearby to open some of the series four Blizzard collectible pins when a fellow attendee came over to ask me how I was and if there were any pins that had sold out. I told him about the Overwatch anniversary pin and he told me that he had an extra and would be willing to trade it for some of my series four pins, which made my day because it reminded me of how generous the Blizzard community can be by helping each other get what we want. After that awesome experience I made my way over to the Pet Adoption tent to see what plushies they had for sale. They had a little display case where attendees could check out the plushies they had before making any purchases and next to it was an enormous Pachimari plush from Overwatch that I took a lousy selfie with (selfies definitely aren’t my specialty). One of the crew members running the tent explained to me that it was one of three giant Pachimari plushies in existence and that they borrowed it from the Overwatch office to display at the convention. I didn’t see any plushies that I felt like I wanted, but it was cool to just check them out and see that giant Pachimari plush. Then it was time to cross the sky bridge connecting the North Hall to the rest of the convention center to check out the main floor.
The first thing I did when I got to the main building was check out the e-sport stages that I hadn’t already seen. I had seen the amazing Hearthstone tournament stage when I watched the opening ceremony there, but I also visited the StarCraft II tournament stage, the Heroes of the Storm tournament stage, and watched the semi and grand finals at the World of Warcraft tournament stage. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the Overwatch arena because I was foolish enough to think that there would still be seating an hour before the finals started. Although I love all Blizzard games, World of Warcraft and Overwatch are the two that I keep up with the most when it comes to Blizzard e-sports because I enjoy playing and watching them the most. The Starcraft II tournament stage seemed a bit toned down compared to the stages that I have seen on the past three BlizzCon digital ticket streams, but it was still impressive. I watched a bit of the MVP Black vs. Team Expert semifinal with my friend at the Heroes of the Storm tournament stage and the stage lighting, viewing screens, and announcers were all awesome. Even though I only play Heroes of the Storm casually with friends online, I still had a great time at the stage and couldn’t help but feel the energy of the crowd and get into the thrill of the e-sport competition going on. After enjoying that for a bit I wanted to make my way over to the art gallery and check out some of the phenomenal art on display as well as some of the art that was going to be auctioned off for the Blizzard charity auction.
I worked my way through the swarms of attendees to the art gallery and charity auction displays where I had my mind blown by the awe inspiring artwork that was over there. I took as many pictures of the incredible pieces there as I could, but I’m sure I missed some because of how awesomely hypnotic this area was. I was surrounded by attendees pretty much the whole time I was there, but I was so sucked into the spectacular artwork that it felt like nothing else in the convention center existed. My favorite pieces were the replica Frostmourne and Helm of Domination from World of Warcraft, the replica Doomfist fist from Overwatch (by Henchmen Studios), Luke “Mr. Jack” Mancini’s Inner Demon painting, and Kieu Le’s adorable Lil’ Ragnaros Oversize Plush. Just because those are my favorites doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the artwork there too. I don’t think there was anything that didn’t make my jaw hit the floor and say, “Wow, that’s amazing!”. Right next to these galleries was the world’s largest video game diorama the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Battle for Lordaeron diorama. The little blue and red figurines are 3D printed versions of actual player characters that recreate the epic Alliance vs. Horde faceoff from the opening cinematic for the newly announced expansion Battle for Azeroth. I don’t know if it was officially recognized as such, but it was an incredible piece of art to admire as well. After all of this I decided to go check out the stage for one of my favorite e-sports and watch the semi and grand finals for World of Warcraft.
The World of Warcraft tournament stage was amazing. The lighting, view screens, announcers, audience, and pro players combined to create an exhilarating atmosphere for watching the semi and grand final matches. I arrived in time to catch most of the Method: Triforce vs. Panda Global semifinal match. It was awesome to see the North American team (Panda Global) play well against a European team (Method: Triforce) especially finishing 3:1, because European teams are pretty notorious for taking down North American teams in the past few years that I have been watching World of Warcraft arena matches. I attempted to make my way to the Overwatch arena to try and catch a bit of their semifinals before the World of Warcraft finals started, but the line went through about half of the convention center and they even had crew members tell everyone in line that the arena was full and attendees needed to find somewhere else to go. After that I made my way over to the Hurst Ranch Grill that was right next to the seating for the World of Warcraft tournament stage and grabbed a huge salad and continued to watch the next semifinal of Method: Synergy (North America) vs. ABC (Europe) from the dining area in front of the grill. This match was amazingly back and forth between the two teams with ABC ending up the victors at 3:2. By the time the finals between ABC and Panda: Global came around the crowd was ecstatic because Europe vs. North America is the biggest rivalry in this particular e-sport. Unfortunately for North America, ABC defeated Panda: Global with a clean sweep finishing 4:0, but it was still incredible to see these two teams go head to head and see the new BlizzCon champions win their amazing trophies. After this amazing experience I made my way over to the Mythic stage to catch a few panels before the closing ceremony started and attempt to get a decent seat for it as well.
The first panel that I watched at the Mythic stage was the World of Warcraft-Battle for Azeroth Q&A which has always been interesting the past three BlizzCons that I have watched at home with the Virtual Ticket streams. The panel this year was hosted by Jenny “Warcraftjen” Bliton and the questions were answered by Matt Goss (Lead Game Designer), Chris Robinson (Senior Art Director), Ion Hozzikostas (Game Director), J. Allen Brack (Executive Producer of World of Warcraft), and Alex Afrasiabi (Creative Director). The questions that I was most excited about were about adding character customizations and increasing the bag space of the default player backpack in game. Chris Robinson said that there will now be a posture change for orc characters as well as some potential cosmetic changes for all player characters in the near future and J. Allen Brack explained that in the future players will be able to increase their backpack size by connecting a Battle.net authenticator to their accounts. I thought it was awesome that these questions were brought up as well as the answers given because these are questions that I have often heard from friends when they started playing the game for the first time and I couldn’t really give them a good answer to it. A few minutes after this was the Inside the Overwatch League panel at the same stage.
The second panel that I watched was the Inside the Overwatch League panel. It was incredible to see Nate Nanzer (Overwatch League Commissioner) present the Overwatch World Cup champions of South Korea with their medals. I was incredibly excited to hear Nanzer announce the twelve inaugural season teams and show off their team uniform color schemes: Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, and the Shanghai Dragons. Nanzer also presented a short video about improvements for viewing Overwatch through the addition of team uniforms to distinguish different players and their abilities on screen, instant replay that can be viewed from different angles, a third person smart camera that allows for more awareness of what is happening around the player being viewed, top-down map view that allows viewers to see the positioning of players on the map being played, player stats that will be tracked across several matches, and hinted that other improvements will be coming along as well in the future. Nanzer also announced overwatchleague.com for fans to view Overwatch League team rosters, schedules, and videos as well as a mobile app that will both be free to access. He also presented an online shop that showcased jerseys, hats, and even socks for the various teams in the Overwatch League. A little while after this it was time for the BlizzCon closing ceremony.
The BlizzCon closing ceremony was started by Michelle Morrow and Alex Albrecht who hosted the Virtual Ticket stream for the convention. They essentially presented a recap of some of the major events that occurred at BlizzCon this year like contest winners, big announcements, and e-sport champions. Following their presentation was Mike Morhaime (CEO and Cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment), Frank Pearce (CPO and Cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment), and Allen Adham (Executive Producer and Cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment) who shared their love and thanks for the support of their fans. Adham also made a bit of an ambiguous statement saying, “I’ll say we’re going to have a lot of great stuff coming in the future, stay tuned.” That sort of teased fans, but also made me excited to see what Blizzard has in store for fans in the future and also made me question what game genres Blizzard might be pursuing in the future. It’s always heartwarming to see the love and appreciation that the founders of Blizzard have for the fans and it is something that is truly special about this incredible video game company. About a half hour or so after the closing ceremony was the live performance by the band Muse.
To be completely honest, I had no idea who Muse was even after looking up some of their background online. I’m open to trying new things and stuck around to give them a shot and just to be a part of the live performance experience at BlizzCon. I gave them a try and pretty quickly found that this was not a performance that I could listen to. I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to hate on Muse, they definitely have musical talent, but it just wasn’t something that I could appreciate. The instrumentals from Chris Wolstenholme on bass and Dominic Howard on drums were impressive, but they were so loud I couldn’t make out the majority of what the lead vocals, Matt Bellamy, was singing. I have seen quite a few concerts in my life and honestly their set left a bit to be desired by me, because it was mostly loops of strange visuals on screen and I couldn’t tell if they really had anything to do with the songs because I couldn’t make out the lyrics. There were thousands of people at the Mythic stage that were having a blast at this concert, so maybe it was just me and honestly I loved seeing some of the attendees really getting into the music and show their love for the band.
I had the best time of my life at BlizzCon 2017. The panels, Darkmoon Faire, the art, the announcements, and the e-sports were all remarkable. There wasn’t a single moment at BlizzCon that I wasn’t enjoying myself and honestly most of the time I had a huge smile on my face because of the incredibly fun time I had there this year. I only wish that BlizzCon would last longer than two days because I honestly never wanted it to end while I was there. I can’t thank Blizzard enough for all of the love and appreciation that they show for their fans and it was amazing to be able to share this experience with over thirty thousand other attendees.