A Thank You Letter to Hypefestation
Earlier this week, I wrote an article about the upcoming Gears esports season and how The Coalition were poised to make this the best year competitive Gears has ever seen. However, I’d be remissed if I didn’t take the time to show appreciation to those who carried the scene through those dark years.
When Gears of War 3 launched in 2011, Epic Games hosted a showcase match at MLG Raleigh between former Gears of War 2, MLG National Champions, “THE NSAN3Z” and a team of developers. This was the first showing of MLG support Gears would see since that 2009 circuit run, which came to a heartbreaking end, embodied in the famous conga line.
The mere inclusion of Gears of War 3 at an MLG event renewed old feelings and carried with it a hope of a new year where Gears would return to prominence as an esports title. Many competitive players had been speaking with the developers from Epic Games and all the talks pointed towards it potentially being the most competitive Gears title to date. Such news led to the assumption that another run on the circuit was all but a foregone conclusion.
Ultimately, those hopes and dreams remained just that in the end. The game was never picked up and Gears of War fell into obscurity, as titles like Call of Duty were entering the fold. It was a tough thing to watch for the community seeing other games get the attention Gears once got as an esport, but what was there to do? Without developer support, what chance does your game stand?
As a community effort, Hypefestation was created purely as a placeholder event to build hype for the assumed upcoming Gears of War 3 MLG season. Alas, MLG never did pick up the title, so the community looked towards Hypefestation more and more to provide events for it’s starving fans.
Many former pros would quit the game shortly after Hypefestation 2 in early 2012, but Hypefestation would continue to run events and give a platform for new talent to make a name for themselves. Top players like Lava, Mental, Xplosive, Toy Soldier, Soto, Kenny, all of which are now on the top two Gears teams, OpTic Gaming and Team EnVyUs, wouldn’t make a name for themselves at LAN until Gears of War 3. We had lost many fan favorite teams and players but the “GOW3 Babies,” as they’re often referred to, would be the bunch that would come to make up the heart of competitive Gears moving forward.
As one of Hypefestation’s most constant and vocal critics, I’ll be the first to say that they had many problems. Events would be poorly organized and poorly planned. Equipment would get lost or stolen. Teams would be left in the dark as to when they would play, forcing them to remain at venues for hours on end, waiting for their next match to avoid a disqualification. Rulesets would be questionable, if not entirely ambiguous and unclear. Hypefestation 3 even ran until 6 a.m. in the morning after Championship Sunday, causing what I can only assume as just a nightmarish affair for all those who booked return flights that Monday morning and afternoon.
But even with all that said, it is undeniable that Hypefestation, through all its problems and misfortunes, kept competitive Gears alive. Hypefestation was the central figure in the Gears community for years without any developer support or major sponsors to contribute. The cost of events were covered by the top level organizers, and those that took roles as casters, referees and production crew, did so as volunteers. This was Gears esports for the community, by the community and regardless of the results, they did their best and provided many unforgettable memories and bonds for all those who attended.
It was a wild journey through some very dark and trying days, but in the end, Hypefestation proved to be that one glimmering flame to light the spark of what a Gears event is; rough, rowdy, loud and an utterly insatiable appetite for competition. Hypefestation played its role, and for that, I, on behalf of competitive Gears, would like to say thank you for all your efforts. It’s because of the platform you all gave that Black Tusk Studios (now known as The Coalition) were able to see what competitive Gears is and ultimately led to them bringing the scene more and more developer support. We’re now at the precipice of what will be the most lucrative year for Gears esports, ever with an optimistic future, and you all played a major role in that.
Thanks again and I hope to see you all return in the future. Just make sure you choose different music this time.
Please visit the Hypefestation Facebook page to take a trip down memory lane
photo credits: Hypefestation