Last week, on October 20th, 2014, I anxiously rushed towards Washington Square Park, hoping to meet some professional video game players.
In this day and age, that doesn’t sound so surprising anymore, but think about it. I was willfully sacrificing two hours of my day so that I could meet people who played video games the way Jeremy Lin played basketball. For fun, and then for money.
The name of the game was League of Legends, which is one of three games that I play. I am not a gamer, but I really, really like League. THe players in question were Hai Lam of Cloud 9, Joedat Esfahani or “Voyboy” of Team Curse, and popular Twitch.tv streamer Pamella Rocha or “Pooksie.”
I’ll be honest, I only went for Hai. I’ve been playing League of Legends for a little over 6 months now, and my LCS (League Championship Series) involvement has been about half of that. As far as following games goes, I only keep track of my favorite teams: Counter Logic Gaming, and Cloud 9.
So, when Hai casually mentioned in his Reddit AMA that he would be heading to New York City and having a fanmeet, I freaked out. 6 days was too short a time to prepare anything real, but I really wanted to give him something. College is tough, guys, so I didn’t get a chance to make him anything until the morning of the fanmeet.
I quickly put together a small handheld bunny in Cloud 9’s colors, wrote a note, and wished I had more interesting hobbies than knitting. Then, I bustled off to class, full of anticipation and excitement.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I was rushing towards Washington Square Park. The Reddit post about the fanmeet had garnered perhaps 6-7 replies, each saying “I’d like to make it” or “Hope I can.” On the other hand, the Facebook event had over 700 attendees, along with a sizeable number of “maybes.” Of course, I wanted to have a smaller, more intimate event, but it’s New York City. I’m still not sure whether that’s at all possible.
So, I got to the park and joined a massive line. By the way, on my way to the back, I saw a family friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in years. He had come to NYC just to attend this fanmeet. We exchanged a few words before he told me to “”go rot in ELO Hell.” Lovely. I passed a couple of other familiar NYU faces before finally finding a friend who let me cut. Soon thereafter, a few other girls from Parsons joined us, and we waited. Hai had encountered a few delays at the airport, so the event would be starting a bit later.
I began to worry. I had another class at 7PM, and I couldn’t afford to wait more than the two hours this event had blocked out. I wanted to give Hai my bunny. I wanted him to sign a notebook. I wanted to take a super cute selfie with him and upload it as my Facebook profile picture. (I realize I sound like a massive groupie at this point, but that’s okay. I totally am.) Hai got there maybe 20 minutes after the event’s start, and the message soon came out: No autographs. Then a second announcement: group pictures only. That was fine. At this point, all I wanted to do was take a picture, give Hai his present, and get to class.
After the first hour, the line moved a lot quicker. I actually had a lot of fun waiting in line, talking to my new friends, and even had quick conversations with the other people in line about which junglers were freelo (though I’m not sure about Udyr).
Finally, it was our turn to meet and greet. My friends from Parsons gave Hai their amazing fanart that took them about 20 minutes to do, and I gave him my tiny, boring little bunny. He offered a hug (I hugged Hai!!) and we were quickly positioned to take a picture. As I was awkwardly posing, I made eye contact with Pooksie, and she gave me a really sweet smile. After we took the picture, I waited around for a bit before realizing the time and had to run off to my next class.
(There I am, in between Voyboy and Pooksie!)
As we were waiting in line, an event runner had gone up to us asking if any of us were over 21, for a special event afterwards. I later found out that you didn’t even have to be over 21 to go, since my friends went, took selfies with Hai, and made me eternally jealous. But this interaction had satisfied me.
Unlike others, I didn’t feel compelled to run around looking for Hai. It would be nice if we could be friends (Hai, if you’re reading this, just hmu okay?) but I feel that respecting the privacy of others is way more important than any obsession.
My one regret? Not appreciating Voyboy and Pooksie at the meet and greet. I don’t really watch streamers, but I’ll keep an eye out for Pooksie in the future, and Voyboy–I promise I’ll keep track of Curse’s games next season!