Guild Wars 2006 World Championship
Gaile's Diary - Day One - Arrival and Activities
6:45 a.m. — We land at Chiang Kai Shek airport in an early-morning haze. Well, actually, I mean to say that the morning was hazy, but after a one-hour delayed take off and a fourteen-plus hour flight, we were sort of hazy, too.
Mike Gills, our ArenaNet tournament coordinator, greets us in the airport lobby. (Nice airport – spacious, clean and modern. The palm trees in the lobby are a nice touch.) Mike has seen more of CKS Airport than any person ought to see in a 48-hour period of time. He arrived himself two days ago, and since then has dutifully met each arriving guest or group, and there are a lot of them! We have 48 players, of course, with 8 each on 6 teams. But some guilds had a few extras come along, the Korean guilds flew down with a few NCsoft employees, and by the time we add it all up, there are nearly 70 people here for this event.
7:20 a.m. — We're riding in the shuttle for the Grand Hyatt, Taipei. I'm looking out the window, talking to Tyler and my first-met guild member, Tyson from Treacherous Empire. And I find myself thinking, "This could be any city: San Diego, Cleveland, Baltimore. I want more Asian in my Asia!" Somehow, I have this expectation that I'm going to see the upturned corners of old-fashioned traditional architecture on every corner, and dragons on every third rooftop. I give myself a shake and realize, "Stop looking for Madame Butterfly or the Dowager Empress; the 21st Century happened in Taipei, too."
I start looking for subtle differences, and they're visible all around. The lovely Chinese Traditional characters on the signage. The dozen or more buildings near the airport painted a bright, cobalt blue. "You don't see that in Seattle," I note to myself. I note that there are no single or detached houses on the road we're taking, but rather flats or apartments. Buildings are all multi-storied, and most interestingly, the balconies that are at the rear of each flat are not the sort I am familiar with, the jutting platform with a waist-high balustrade. Instead, each of the balconies is totally enclosed by a metal cage-like structure, some of which are made of elegant brass scrollwork. It seems that most balconies here are used for storage or for clothes drying. It may be that the balcony barbeque never becomes a big social event in Taipei.
7:35 a.m. — We pass an unusual building to the freeway's left. Quite traditional in structural appearance, it causes me to double take because the old-fashioned architecture seems to argue with the flashing lights that adorn the edges. My first reaction is that it looks like one of the more unusual "themed" casinos you can see in Washington State. However, glancing over my shoulder, Tyler points out the symbol on one of the columns and says, "See that symbol at the top? That means 'temple.'" Interesting – I want to see more of these!
10:00 a.m. — Lamer's Ultimate Majority and The Valandor arrive later this afternoon. We've met up with nearly all the members of Idiots Savants and Treacherous Empire and they have all proved to be very pleasant. The guests do the rounds of breakfasting at the hotel's sumptuous buffet, we pass out packets that our able business manager, Tommy Park, has assembled, brief the guilds on a few things they need to know, and gather at the hotel's indoor fountain (lovely white marble with spouting fishes in four corners) to head to the Taipei Convention Center.
11:00 a.m. — Opening Ceremonies of the Game Show. After a rousing singing number involving four dancing ladies, badminton racquets, and two anime-style figures, T.J. Kim, founder of NCsoft, addresses the crowd, officially kicking off the show. Then two models dressed as the Guild Wars Elementalist and Necromancer appear for photo opps, followed by Mike O'Brien and Jeff Strain, who answer a few questions. After the questions, they're asked to pose with two swords crossed in the air while a small light show takes place and two columns of steam rise on each side of the stage. Jeff and Mike oblige, and cameras click and videos film long enough that I start visualizing their arms weakening and someone losing an ear.
12:30 p.m. — Isaiah and I are co-hosting Te, so we take them to lunch and then head over to the show to prepare for our exhibition match. It turns out that there is a famous Taiwanese singer named "Tank," and he and three of his friends have challenged ArenaNet to a 4v4 after he presents his (really good!) song about Guild Wars. Somehow, I have been volunteered to serve in a combat party with Mike O'Brien, Tyler Kim, and Isaiah Cartwright. In front of people. Make that "in front of the best Guild Wars players in the world." Uh huh.
Final Day 1 report to come, including details on the exhibition match. Let's just say that jet lag and excessive heat nearly caused me to kill Isaiah Cartwright.
Or not. :)