As the sun set on one of the hottest days in Melbourne in recent history, a swarm gathered at Federation Square for Australia's only Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm launch event in Melbourne. Being one of the first to kick off the launch events around the world, all eyes tuned in live and via stream to check out what the night had in store, as well as a sneak peek at what fans will be playing in the latest addition to the series.
The line kicked off early with everyone wanting to grab their wristband and enjoy the show, those who were early grabbed seats as the numbers filled in. As 8pm local time ticked over, the event started as Luke Mancini, an artist for Blizzard sat down at his computer to start a speed paint over the course of the night. Leigh “Maynarde” Mandalov, an AU caster and player, took the stage to host MC duties and invited Chris Davey, Blizzard ANZ Marketing Director, up to officially open the festivities.
It was time to see what we all came for, Heart of the Swarm. This was special though, it opened with a fun set of matches between Andrew “mOOnGLaDe” Pender versus Mark “yang” Richardson. It was Zerg vs Protoss with both players trying out the new strategies and showing off the new units added in Heart of the Swarm. It was a close set of games with mOOnGLaDe taking out the friendly competition with some swarm hosts just outside of yang's vision. Yang put up some real fight in the third match and surprised the Zerg player with a Protoss rush!
After the matches concluded, it was time for some quick giveaways before watching fireworks! These were not related to the event, but happening about 100m away for a festival on Melbourne's Yarra river, the fans quickly claimed them as their own and enjoyed the break in proceedings and checking in on Luke's speed painting which was coming along nicely.
Next up we had two more of Australia's best facing off, with Daniel “deth” Haynes taking on Jared “PiG” Krensel in a set of long back and forth games. We checked out deth's Terran forces holding out and pushing back PiG's Zerg invasions with the new Widow Mines and setting up traps to pull PiG into! Sadly, this is the Zerg's expansion and they held their own on the opening night.
After some more prizes and cosplay competition, there was only one hour left until everyone could get their hands on the game, it was time to bring out Dustin Browder and Luke Mancini for a Q&A from the crowd via Twitter. With some interesting questions sent in (and some not able to be asked in polite company), the dynamic duo did their best to entertain the crowd. Dustin talked about some units that never made it into any version of the game and how to get into game design by modding. Luke talked about getting his job at Blizzard, as well as his inspiration and influences when working on something new.
With the midnight hour getting closer, official festivities slowly wrapped up, and the crowd where let loose to obtain their copies and Zerg Rush home to play. All in all it was a great launch event, with a lot of people coming out from behind the scenes to chat, get photos, and even sign stuff for the fans. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is out now around the world!
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My life seems to revolve video games and I wouldn't have it any other way.