Growing up my family didn't have an abundance of money. We weren't poor but traveling a lot was never an option so even if I was in Sweden, the esports Mecca at the time, I never was able to go a LAN. Dreamhack was just what the name implied. A dream. Friends who lived closer, or had parents who had the money to spare for them, talked about running into the afformentioned legends and I was so incredibly jealous. In the end it turns out this was a good thing for me. Those friends have since moved away from esports. While they never lost interest the fact that they could take it for granted made it less special to them. I grew up with that hunger and I only went to my first professional esports event 4-ish years ago. Then and there I swore that I would never take this for granted.
While I still have problems sleeping the night before going to an event they, for a moment, started to lose their glamour. I was fortunate enough to get a great pass for Katowice, with backstage access, and didn't think much about it. I started walking around with this "Uh I'm so bored" expression toy look like I belonged. The turning point came just before the Fnatic vs. VP game. I sat there, kind of tired after running around for an entire day, with some other people in the industry and in came a couple of people who had represented Fnatic at the IEM expo next door. They sat down in front of me and I didn't think much of it. Until I read the name on the back of the jersey of the guy who sat down in front of me. cArn. I couldn't believe it. Granted I was a huge Heaton fanboy but cArn was probably me 2nd favorite player back then. I sat back to take in the moment, without talking to him of course... too shy for that, and I realized something. I'm in a stadium. In Poland. Watching esports. With thousands of others. I've gotten to know people in the scene and am lucky enough to call some of them my friends. Hell earlier that day I watched a game with 3/5ths of the Liquid team. Players who people now look up to like I did to cArn, Pott1, and Heaton. How fucking lucky am I?
That night as I walked home to my hotel I couldn't stop thinking of all the events I've been to lately. The people I've met. The people I've seen screaming out the names of their favorite players and teams. How, in Kiev last year, Liquid were treated as rock stars during their signing session with several hundred lining up just for a picture. I also thought of myself 15 years ago. How I'd sneak up after my parents went to bed because SK had an importang game. I'd connect to the internet through our dial-up, suffocating the sound of our modem with a pillow to not wake anyone up. Years later a friend told me you could disable the speakers on most modems. How esports have gone from being something I enjoyed alone in my room to something I celebrate in arenas around the world. Again: How fucking lucky am I?
On an unrelated sidenote. I did manage to muster up the courage to talk to cArn during the last game of the Fnatic vs. Liquid series. Very in-depth conversation. Mhmmm. I'm sure I gave him a lot to think about.... not really. He said "We got this" after the draft (in Swedish) and I replied: "Aaah no way". He looked at me, said "You don't think so" and I simply replied: "Go Liquid". Now this might sound like one of those "Wow I'm such a big liquid fan"-moments. But I honestly had no clue what to say. I blew it. But whatever. It's good practise for if I eventually run into Heaton. Or as I said to bluemoon after saying how amazing it was to "meet" cArn: "I dunno man. If I met Heaton I might cry".
Now if anyone wants to check out what I did in Katowice, here's my flickr album from the event: https://www.flickr.com/photos/153753059@N02/albums/72157693003824024