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(this blog post was originally written and posted on TeamLiquid.net – many of the photos will be cut off or the links won’t work, so it’s recommended that you view the original post here: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=355307)

Hi everyone! This is my first TL blog post, and it’s a week “late”, but I’d like to share my journey and photos from the NASL Season 3 Grand Finals near Toronto, Canada.

I ended posting a LOT more photos here than I’d thought I would, but I hope you enjoy them!

The full gallery is viewable here: Link <= there are a few more photos there, so feel free to browse the album!

– Journey to Toronto, Canada

The first part of my journey began with a flight from Vancouver, British Columbia all the way to Toronto, Ontario. That’s #YVR to #YYZ if you know the airport codes. From there, it was a quick airport shuttle ride (which I missed, at first) from Pearson International Airport to the Four Points Sheraton hotel where the NASL people would be staying.

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Flying Air Canada to #YYZ

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An airborne iPhoto

– Waiting for NASL to start

Line-em up!

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Morning line-up for Day 1 of NASL Grand Finals

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Entering the venue (International Centre – located in Mississauga, Ontario (next to Toronto))

As I was walking around before the festivities began, I came across some computers that they were using either for WCS Canada or the CSL Nationals 

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GoSu.Ostojiy // Quantic’s DdoRo

Clutch started amping up the crowd, and Mr. Bitter and Rotterdam took their seats at the casting desk. It was almost time to begin!

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Mr. Bitter getting a camera photo of the crowd 

But first, some Day[9] crowd control 

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Day[9] wants YOU.

– Day 1 NASL quarter-finals and WCS Canada

The first match up was SK.MC vs EG.Puma

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MC coming down the red carpet for the first time

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Awaiting the President Protoss // MC, the boss Toss, coming down the red carpet

And then I whipped out my camera just in time for a random iNcontrol & IdrA sighting 

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Leaders – n. Visionaries who go against the crowd for the greater good (of #esports)

And then it was time to hear the iNdrA (IdrA / iNcontrol) casting duo. I thought they were on a roll that weekend. I remember thinking to myself, “Man, IdrA is totally in the casting groove right now”. Good stuff!

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iNcontrol and IdrA getting ready to get their casting on

NASL had matches from WCS Canada (and maybe CSL Nationals) in the back of the venue up on a big stage so that people could watch them there.

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Root (Slush?) vs… someone? Man, I only know DdoRo, Ostojiy, Huk, and Scarlett (and DdoRo has his name on his back)

What they DIDN’T show you on stream was the hot dog guy with his food stand in front of the entrance. There was a concession area inside the venue, but I’m sure this guy made lots of money as well. I went outside and snapped that pic, and then when I came back in it was time for… LIQUID’HERO  Since I came from the outside, I decided to wait from the back instead of returning to my seat up front. In the end, I got to get REALLY close to him (almost right next to him, if I remember correctly)!

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NASL hot dog guy // Liquid’Hero getting ready to walk the red carpet

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Liquid’Hero fighting!

But Stephano ended up taking out Liquid.Hero 

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Dat guy…

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SlayerS.Puzzle vs Liquid.Ret was up next. Here’s Liquid.Ret coming down the red carpet.

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And then it was time for what all of Canada had been waiting for…

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We’re waiting for him!

…but first, SlayerS.Alicia 

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He’s so cute and cuddly 

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Not the ‘Hero we deserved, but the one we needed?…

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/cuemusic Here he comes, to save the day!

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Magnificent in triumph…

But sadly, SlayerS.Alicia is a PvP monster and HuK’s aggressive style failed to find any cracks in his armor  And thus, our beloved Monsieur Loranger went out 0-3 to Alicia.

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Devestated in defeat  – you’ll get ’em next time, HuK!

– Day 1 NASL semi-final matches
And with that, we had our top 4 NASL semi-finalists. First up, SK.MC vs Mill.Stephano *shivers*

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Stephano and the Boss Toss

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In the midst of the carnage and destruction that is MC vs Stephano, I found a brief spot of peace

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We found love in a hopeless place…

When I found this photo yesterday, I found it extra hilarious (after reading about all the complaints from stream viewers after the event) and I knew exactly what to caption it:

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NASL sound guy? :O

The other semi-finals match was SlayerS.Alicia vs Liquid’Ret. SlayerS.Alicia ended up taking the PvZ match.

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SlayerS.Alicia trying to give MC a run for the title of “Boss Toss”

Oh, and look who decided to show up in front of me? Soe and Day[9]  I tweeted this picture last night and Soe retweeted me! *swoons*

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Soe + Day[9] = Doe 

After the event finished ~10:30PM, Day[9] told the crowd to not crowd around inside but to wait for him outside the venue. And lo and behold, after a short wait, a wild Day[9] appeared!

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Day[9] with some random fans

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That guy looks SO scared, lol // There’s one more photo, but I don’t think we need to see where this leads…

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Day[9] signing my friend’s phone and making a drawing of his favorite Starcraft unit for my other friend

I bought some $1 store Canada flags and wrote on them for various people. Here, Day[9] is holding one I made for him and one I made for Megumixbear (who wasn’t able to make it to the NASL Grand Finals). He also signed my Canada flag that I was waving on both days in front of the casters’ desk.

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See? I fit under his chin 

Day[9] is one intense Starcraft personality. The event ended around 10:30PM and he stayed past 1AM I think to sign things for fans. He was really interactive, too, and would chat and be really friendly with EACH fan. He’s definitely good to his fans  And then he retweeted me after the weekend, too *swoons again*

– Day 2 at the NASL Grand Finals

WHEW! Ok, that does it for Day 1. Day 2 was actually quite a bit lighter in terms of NASL content. At least, my photo count went down quite a bit for that day (and I made more signs to hold up for the stream viewers)!

There was the Tribes: Ascend Grand Finals match, cast by HiRez.Bart and Fishstix. I actually quite like Tribes: Ascend and play it a bit, too. You can check out the main gallery link for those pics, though.

First up was Liquid’Ret vs. SK.MC, cast by Soe and Day[9], I think?

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Fusion core dance

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Frodan and Day[9] // Camera phone pic of Soe, Day[9], and the flag he signed for me 

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Liquid’Ret, the people’s champion

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neobowman sitting on the red carpet

MC is good at vortices. GG!

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I know what you’ve all been wondering – “What does the NASL hotdog guy like? They never showed him on stream!” Well, never fear, I’ve got you covered:

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NASL hotdog guy, up close and personal

And then it was time for the Grand Finals match! Here comes SlayerS.Alicia…

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Refueling the BitterDam

And in between a break, here came one of the most memorable moments for me this NASL. I was already sitting in the front row (SO thankful for those seats!), and while I was standing up I asked Rotterdam if I could get a quick picture. He happily obliged, which resulted in the following:

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Rotterdam and Mr. Bitter – not just really, really, ridiculously, good-looking #Zoolanderquote

Maybe they SHOULD quit their day jobs…

And then it was time for Stephano to come down!

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Clutch & Lauren // Comment allez vous, Stephano?

And as quickly as that, it was over. 4-0 Stephano over Alicia. Protoss’, cover your eyes!

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Stephano right after shaking SlayerS.Alicia’s hand (as Stephano wins NASL Season 3)

And thus commenced the first inaugural NASL post-finals on-stage DANCE PART-AY :O

Let the champagne flow (I got hit by champagne in the front row, heh heh)!

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Stephano after winning NASL Season 3 and $30,000

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Champagne, champagne everywhere…

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…and not a drop to drink.

I also have a photo of one of the NASL organizers scrambling to throw a black cloth over the caster computers to save it from the champagne, lol  (you can check my gallery link for that one)

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The infamous on-stage dance party…

I don’t know if this was shown on stream, but a little bit into the “dance party”, Stephano actually crouched down and had to stay down for I think at least half a minute because he was so overcome with emotion. I managed to snag this shot during that moment:

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Stephano overcome with emotion (he had to stay crouched down for maybe half a minute to regain his composure)

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He likes to move it, move it… (from Madagascar 1 & 2, which my 2-year old niece here in Ontario has recently educated me on)

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Gretorp and NASL ❤ Canada

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NASL <3’s NASL

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Yup.

– Some extra stuff from behind the scenes

I wasn’t allowed onto the top level of the stage after the event was over, so I had to reach up high and get the best shot I could of inside the stage booth. This is the one Stephano was in.

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A sneak peek inside the NASL stage booth

Look who I found in the normal spectator area! It’s Mr. Bitter! There weren’t too many fans around at this point, and only myself and another guy seemed to be interested in getting his autograph, so this was a great time for me to give him my custom $1 store Canada flags I made for him and Rotterdam (which he passed along for me  ).

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Mr. Bitter! With my custom Canada flags for him and Rotti!

I found Liquid’Hero just outside the curtains to the back stage area, so I asked him for a photo before I lost my nerve!

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Who’s photobombing me and Liquid’Hero in the back? :O

And my fellow Canadian, Chris Ostojic! From the University of Western Ontario (I’ve visited their campus, before) 

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GoSu.Ostojiy – go Western! (UWO)

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THE END

Epilogue: So, since I was staying at the NASL featured hotel (and since @JawesomeArt was telling me that he had drinks with IdrA and iNcontrol at the hotel bar for a few hours before the first day of the event), I decided to stop by the hotel bar and see who I could “run into”. Well, I was able to run into (a somewhat tipsy) Rotterdam and Quantic.DdoRo while I was there. And then I found IdrA and iNcontrol at a back table and gave them the Canada flags I made for them! They were chilling with Scarlett and Liquid’Ret  Oh yeah, and x6.MaximusBlack was there, too.

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If you look carefully, you can see EG.iNcontrol & EG.IdrA (back left table) and x6.MaximusBlack (center screen) 

So, in summary, NASL was a GREAT experience for me. It was especially great for me as a Canadian, and this was my first ever esports event, so it was a bit of a dream come true to be able to break into the national anthem with my fellow Canadians spontaneously (on Day 2)  I was able to get WAY closer to the “celebrities” and SC personalities than I had hoped to be able to, and it was surprising how being here at this event in person was a bit of a springboard for me to interact with a few of them on social media after the event, too! I was able to get on Inside the Game with djWHEAT, IdrA, and iNcontrol last week and talk a bit about it (and they remembered my $1 store Canada flags *swoon*).

So I was definitely very thankful to everyone involved with putting on the NASL weekend and felt very blessed to have a good experience there 

I just got this confirmation e-mail today:

from notifications@teamliquid.net
date Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 1:55 PM
subject Order Confirmation

Your order has been accepted

Your Order Number is: ________

The following items were ordered:

               *** In Stock ***
Qty  Offer Id  Description
—  ——–  ——————–
1    TLJB-S    Blue T-Shirt – Small

Thank You for shopping at Team Liquid

If you’re wondering what I bought, it’s the Team Liquid t-shirt (it’s like a universally recognized symbol in the Starcraft world – especially the “foreigner” [aka non-Korean] scene). They did a first batch like a couple of months ago? A 1000 shirt run, and it sold out in about 14 hours. This time they made a second batch of 800 and I think it sold out in like 6 or so hours 😛

Good thing I caught wind of it on @TeamLiquidnet right when they tweeted it. I had ordered a Small within minutes!I am really looking forward to the conversations that it will undoubtedly start. That’s the main reason I got it 🙂

I think I’m going to wear it during Frosh week(s) at UBC and SFU, assuming I get to volunteer there with Campus for Christ this September.Think about it – the two Canadian universities with perhaps the highest Asian and Korean populations by %… there are going to be TONS of Starcraft 2 geeks there for Frosh week. Hopefully I will become the ultimate geek magnet (that’s just one step down from being a chick magnet… yeah, really…).

Lol.

On an unrelated note: Oh, broccoli. How I have missed you! May I never be separated for so long from green, leafy vegetables again.

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