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A tropical resort in a former cargo airship hangar near Berlin, Germany, became host to the 20th edition of the HomeStory Cup, a StarCraft II tournament organized by TaKeTV, from Nov. 21-24.
Despite it being the offseason for the resort, Tropical Islands, it was completely booked out for the period of the tournament. The site supported the HomeStory Cup by providing the venue, catering for staff and players, and technical equipment while the event in return generated revenues from the audience attending, renting accommodations, purchasing tickets for the resort, and buying food.
While regular guests enjoyed their stay at the resort, in one of the seven-hectare venue’s pools, slides, resting areas, or saunas; roars and cheers echoing throughout the dome indicated the esports event taking place.
Responsible for creating this atmosphere was an audience of a few hundred people who followed the games on a large LED screen on the main stage or one of several screens provided by one of the event’s sponsors, Panasonic. The audience consisted mostly of people in their mid-twenties to late-thirties, some bringing their children along, and many watching in swimming gear, using pauses in between games to quickly cool off in a pool.
When not in a game, players behaved more like family members at a reunion than participants at an esports tournament. They could usually be found either having a chat with one another or fans, enjoying the venue, going for a swim, playing ball, having food and drinks, or warming up at one of the 50 brand new gaming computers provided by MIFCOM. Further equipment that was provided by sponsors were in-ears for the players and headsets for the caster by Sennheiser and new TaKeTV-branded gaming chairs from MAXNOMIC. Additionally, long-time TaKeTV partner Red Bull supplied drinks for the players, commentators, and staff.
The competition was hosted by Dennis “TaKe” Gehlen, the founder of TaKeTV, and narrated by a crew of commentators and several special guests including Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime, who bought 200 pizzas for the audience on Sunday; Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin; former global esports director at Blizzard Kim Phan; and Jeremy Steeves, part of the talent growth team at Shopify.
The HomeStory Cup XX became witness to some of the highest levels of StarCraft II competition with the event’s grand finals going the full distance of eight games. In the end, Finnish player Joona “Serral” Sotala won his third HomeStory Cup in a row to the delight of the audience, which was very engaged throughout the whole tournament and collected countless autographs and selfies with the players in between games.
Furthermore, TaKeTV set up a small merchandise shop for fans to buy shirts, swimming trunks, towels, etc. to support the event in addition to a fundraiser in collaboration with Matcherino, which was featured during the event’s stream.
Into the first day of the tournament, Shopify founder Tobias “Lorax” Lütke, an avid StarCraft player himself, donated $25K USD towards the prize pool, doubling it to $50K. Following that up, Shopify brought goodie bags for everyone attending the event on Sunday, paid everyone’s entrance fee for the after-party, and organized a shuttle service to get there.
In preparation for the event, the TaKeTV crew arrived at the venue on Monday to build the stage, set up technical equipment, pre-produce segments for in between games, prepare live production, take care of players, casters, and special guests, etc.
In parallel to the competition, the Global Data Science team from pharmaceuticals company Boehringer Ingelheim, the event’s recruiting partner, held a hackathon in a location close by to bring awareness to its career options. The team has successfully recruited current members at previous HomeStory Cups.