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Guild Wars 2006 World Championship
Mike Gills' Thoughts Akimbo – The Taiwan Version - Day One

By now you should know all about the Guild Wars World Championship taking place here in Taipei, Taiwan this week. You know, big competition, big prizes!

Several of us have been asked to give you our take on this event, what we see it to be, and what it ends up meaning to the guilds that made it here. So, here are some of my scattered observations of the event so far (or as I call them, thoughts akimbo).

Feb 12 – My girlfriend and I are flying over to Taiwan to help check out the venue and make sure we have everything ready for the competing guilds. Our flight leaves Seattle at 12:50 am in the morning. That's later than my bedtime! Tournament Coordinators need their sleep! But off to the airport we go.

The flight lasted 14 hours, though we arrived in Taiwan 30 hours later! Who knew we had perfected time travel?!? Though apparently flying west and crossing the International Date Line can let you do that. Our internal clocks are a bit scrambled, which means that the competing guilds will all have to worry about that as well.

The first view of the hotel when you enter is pretty sweet!
The first view of the hotel when you enter is pretty sweet!

Feb 14 – We arrived at the fabulous Grand Hyatt in Taipei tired but excited to be in Taiwan. The lobby alone makes you realize what a lush hotel this is. The players are going to love it!

After checking into the hotel and catching a quick shower, we headed out to explore some of the area, so we will know where the players may want to go in their free time. 

And it even has a McDonald's in the basement!
And it even has a McDonald's in the basement!

The hotel is right next door to the 101 Building, which is currently the tallest building in the world. It's also filled with a ritzy five-story mall. If you are ever in Taipei and need some Gucci, this is the place to go.

To be a good tournament or event coordinator, you have to think through every question and situation players might find themselves in and have an answer ready. 

In the basement of the 101 Building is a bakery where they serve a special type of bread called Squid Ink Garlic Loaf. I realized that this was one of those situations I had to prepare myself to answer as this seemed just the sort of thing a high level Guild Wars competitor might ask me about.

And it even has a McDonald's in the basement!
From top left clockwise: Squid Ink Garlic Loaf, Red Bean Paste Roll, and the Beef Pastry.

My girlfriend and I agreed that we needed to take one for the team and test out this tempting, green consumable before it could tempt one of our players down the wrong path.

Needless to say, it tasted every bit as good as a Squid Ink Garlic Loaf sounds.  And its compatriots in bakery beneficence were just as odd and ultimately unfinished.

I swore I would do my duty and warn the players when they got here!

Feb 15th – After sleeping for 12+ hours, we woke refreshed and ready to forget all about the squid ink incident and check out the setup of the NCSoft booth.

Taipei Game Show getting set up for the next day's opening.
Taipei Game Show getting set up for the next day's opening.

Before we got to the show hall though, we stopped in on the NCSoft Taiwan office and worknapped Leslie, a friendly employee who had only been working there 1 week!

First we asked her to show us the swag that NCSoft had made for the show.  After oohing and ahhing over the cool artwork and planned giveaways, we then asked her to take us out shopping!

We needed to find an electronic superstore where we could pick up more cool prizes for the players' group dinners.  We've planned some random giveaways as well as some skill tests between the guild masters who would be trying to win prizes for their entire team.  Of course, no one told me that the skill tests had to be about Guild Wars <insert maniacal laughter here>.

If this isn't quirky, then I don't know what is.
If this isn't quirky, then I don't know what is.

After spending 2 hours in the store, we realized that we were starving! And poor Leslie had missed her lunch break!  So back to the hotel buffet we went before heading over to the show.

After a few platefuls of dessert, we walked over to the Taipei Game Show and were inundated by the light, the noise, and lots of quirky art.

We had a chance to check out the NCSoft booth and were very impressed! In addition to great Guild Wars graphics and setups, there was plenty of beautiful art for Lineage II, City of Heroes, and other NCSoft titles.

Did you know the characters used in Taiwan translate to 'Exciting Wars'?
Did you know the characters used in Taiwan translate to "Exciting Wars"?
We are number 1!
We are number 1!
Walk like an Egyptian!
Walk like an Egyptian!

We also managed to catch the rehearsal for tomorrow's debut of the Guild Wars theme song written and performed by Tank, a Taiwanese celebrity, who will play on MTV Taiwan!

After walking around the show, we headed off to an early sleep as Isaiah and I were going back to the airport to greet the arriving players in the morning.

Feb 16th – My alarm went off at 4:15 am... I couldn't remember the last time I did this unless you count all of the other shows I have worked on over the years. A tournament coordinator is like a postman, neither rain nor sleet nor even a frog, it's just little old me...Underdo...Well, you get the idea.

The first arrivals at the airport were the American guilds, Idiot Savants and Treacherous Empire. They looked a little tired but seemed ready to compete. Of course, the large bottles of alcohol they had purchased after getting off of the plane might say otherwise, but they were definitely ready to have fun.

After collecting them all from various flights, we rode back to the hotel, got them their rooms, and had breakfast at the great buffet.

We took them over to the show, so they could see the opening ceremony, which involved important figures talking, and much talking about the figures.

NCsoft founder Tack Jin Kim welcomes the crowd.
NCsoft founder Tack Jin Kim welcomes the crowd.
The crowd welcomes the NCsoft girls.
The crowd welcomes the NCsoft girls.

Then it was back to the airport for me to meet the Korean guilds at noon andthe Finnish guilds at 2:30pm.

Back at the tradeshow, my girlfriend continued to take pictures of the opening ceremonies.

Real life Guild Wars Elementalist and Necromancer.
Real life Guild Wars Elementalist and Necromancer.
Mike O'Brien  and Jeff Strain, 2 of ArenaNet's  founders have the power!
Mike O'Brien and Jeff Strain, 2 of ArenaNet's founders have the power!
A top view of the NCsoft booth.
A top view of the NCsoft booth.
Premiere of the Guild Wars theme music video.
Premiere of the Guild Wars theme music video.

While the American players were relaxing at the booth and watching the music video premiere, I waited at the airport for the other guilds to arrive.

The Korean guilds, The Last Pride and War Machine, arrived looking pretty fresh and relaxed. Of course the fact that they had the shortest flight of any region probably helped.

I sent them on their way to the hotel and then rushed over to the other terminal to meet the Finnish players who would be the last ones to arrive.

Back at the trade show, Tank had challenged Isaiah Cartwright, Mike O'Brien, Tyler Kim, and Gaile Gray to a special 4 on 4 PVP challenge. Guess who won?

The Challengers
The Challengers
The Challenged
The Challenged
ArenaNet victorious!
ArenaNet victorious!

Back at the airport, the poor Finnish players finally arrived after traveling for almost 30 hours. I wearily greeted them hello (it had been a long day for me too) and then immediately warned them not to eat the Squid Ink Garlic Loaf. After hearing my tale, they agreed that they should skip it. I had done my job well today.

We all loaded up on a bus and drove back to the hotel where the Finnish players were suitably impressed with its opulence while fighting backs yawns due to their lack of sleep.

The American and Korean players were then taken on a tour of the 101 Building while the Finnish were given some time to relax before a late night dinner.

Tomorrow the players all meet the press at 9 am before the first match starts at 10:15 am between LuM and Te. Good luck to them both!

More to come...