“Only some of the time.” Tommy replied. “It gets used for plenty of other stuff, too. I want to see it at night when it glows!”

There was a sizable line outside of Spodek, and half of the bus had followed them. They were already registered, so they stopped at the table to pick up their passes—yellow for Michael and Tommy, blue for Marissa—and headed inside. The smell hit them first, some combination of popcorn and beer. There had to be thousands of people milling about the stadium, and the seats were only about a quarter full. Michael felt conspicuously out of place in his plain grey t-shirt. Everyone else had a pro’s jersey on, or at least a shirt with their clan’s emblem, like Tommy. He saw food courts, merchandise, peripherals, autograph booths, two stages, and a section with endless rows of computers.

“Jesus, this place is huge.” Michael wasn’t sure which of the three of them had said it, but they all shared the sentiment. He started to walk towards the computers, but Tommy looked at him askance.

“Woah man, you aren’t gonna play with the plebs, are you? Let’s go to the pro section.” Michael laughed and followed him to a back room marked PLAYERS AND GUESTS ONLY.

out site The two security guards at the table in front of the door saw the yellow badges and nodded them through. Beyond was a much smaller room, with maybe a hundred computers. Some people milling about and chatted, while others stared at their screens and clicked away with a fervent intensity.

readme There were a few faces he recognized, and many he didn’t. BlaZe, the up-and-coming South American Terran. River, the sole Korean allowed to compete in Starcraft World Championship circuit events. Formerly one of the best two Protosses and a top five player worldwide, he had given up his team, practice house, and training regimen to move to Europe and get a personal sponsorship. His skill level had fallen off, but he had tripled his earnings since leaving Korea.

Tommy spotted Thala—Nico in the crowd, and the big man waved them over. He was talking to BlaZe and a player in a Team Cross jersey that Michael didn’t recognize.

readme “Michael and Thomas, these are my friends Carlos and Kevin.” Kevin was tall, with a buzz cut and a wide smile. He might’ve been five years older than Michael. Carlos was about Marissa’s height. When they approached, the corners of his mouth raised a bit. He ran a hand through his messy black hair.

“Hello. I’m Carlos, you might know me as BlaZe. Very nice to meet you all.” He shook their hands with an intent look.

“Same. My ID is CryO, who are you guys?” Asked the other man.

So that’s CryO, Michael thought. He had been a rising American Protoss a few years back with a good result in one of the weekend tournaments. Michael hadn’t heard much about him since.

“I’m Khan, and this is Shade.” Tommy replied. The three professionals exchanged a knowing look after hearing the first name, and then Kevin adopted a familiar look of confusion and opened his mouth to speak.

“Huh, I thought Shade was-” Nico cut him off with a wave.

“No no, he is a real person. I am sure.”

An idea sprang into Michael’s head. “Hey, do any of you guys know Cain? Is he here yet?”

Tommy looked horrified. “No, you guys can’t let them meet, ever. They’ll find some way to make the most boring playstyle even blander and have their games last even longer.”

Nico chuckled. “No, he’s not coming. Nobody knows why. There is another spot available from the open bracket now, which is good for me.” He would have to fight for a spot in the group stages through the open qualifier, but he would probably make it.

click here Everyone else was still talking about Cain. Nobody had a good idea of who he was, aside from consistently being the #1 ranked player on the European ladder, Starcraft’s ranking system. Every once in a while he went to a live event and crushed everyone. He had won the first qualifier for the Circuit tournament in Katowice without dropping a map, but apparently couldn’t be bothered to come.

Kevin spoke up. “It was nice talking to you guys, but I really have to go. I promised my girlfriend I’d finally show her how to play before groups start, seeing how it’s been three years or something.” He called out to a blonde girl and they headed over to a computer.

“Speaking of which…” Marissa said with a mischievous look. “Michael, why don’t you teach me?”

“I… uh…” he fumbled for a reply. Tommy shook his head vigorously.

“If you learn from him, I’ll disown you and then commit Sudoku.”

“…seppuku?” She answered slowly, with an evident look of concern.

“Yeah, whatever. Let me teach you though, you’ll be GM in like a month.” Nico struggled unsuccessfully not to laugh.

“You had like ten years to do that. Anyways, everyone says Michael’s better” she said with a smile.

Tommy exploded. “EVERYONE? Nobody knows that Michael exists until he’s two feet in front of them, and even then they still don’t believe it! I’m gonna win this stupid tournament, just you wait!”

Let us know if you enjoyed Part 2! Part 3 will be posted this Tuesday.



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