Posted on November 12, 2012 AT 02:36pm
This past weekend myself and some close friends decided to embark onto the journey through middle Michigan to Central Michigan University, where Big Shot Gaming the thoughts are not directly of EGMNOW, DigitalNoob, and Radio Under the Influence.
For over ten years now I have been attending BYOC LAN’s, from small basement LAN’s at friends houses, to the largest in the United States, QuakeCON. At one point in 2004 and 2005, there were LAN parties at least every other weekend in Michigan, and sometimes there were some on the same weekend across the state. Michigan has seen some of it’s highest turnouts just a few years ago with MPCon hosting a 400+ person LAN. Now the only LAN party left still going strong is Big Shot Gaming, which is seeing a spike in attendance each and every event. This event sold out the quickest with over a month to go before the event started. A lot of people go to this event because it’s one of the few left, it’s easy to access, and there are plenty of things to do around the area in case you don’t want to game the whole time. Between Soaring Eagle Casino which has gambling for 18+, to the Mt. Pleasant Brewery for your micro brew pleasure, this event has great things for everyone, in a nice and pleasant area (pun intended).
At this time, I would like to thank all of the following for sponsoring their event. CMU Book Store, Antec, TteSports, Thermaltake, SilverStone, Roccat, Gamer Grub, GameGo Computers, TRENDnet, On Go Energy, and Enermax/LEPA. Without companies like these still supporting the LAN Party Scene, all of these LANs would be out of business. Be sure to thank them for supporting the LAN community.
A LAN Party can be broken into many categories, so let’s just dive right into the event. First off we have the network and power. Some of the biggest down falls of LAN Parties, especially in the size of 100+, is allocating power and network. Minus a few networking issues, the admins resolved them very quickly, and everyone was up and running. Staying on the backbone of the University’s internet without anyone there during the weekend, download times were phenomenal and everyone was able to update / download the games (including the recently released FREE TO PLAY Battlefield 1942, in which there was about 20 people playing during the event on Saturday).
The registration went very smoothly although they were a little delayed in letting people into the venue, including proper ID check, but the badges lacked any sort of significance to the event except for the alias of the person. A lot of people (including myself) prefer to keep these as they are significant to places and events you’ve attended. For the $20 pre-pay, you were fed multiple times (breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday) as well as you were given entry into the door raffle on Saturday night with some of the great prizes donated by the sponsors. Some people were walking away with nice cases, motherboards, gaming mice, and plenty of other great prizes!
For an event that is growing as fast as Big Shot Gaming is, execution of the event seemed key. At some times you felt the admins were too busy playing games themselves to help out, and they seemed disinterested. In part due to they were over worked and understaffed (it’s hard to find people who want to work for free). I fully understand how straining running a LAN Party is as I have been on the staff of Connection LAN (2002-2005), Swa7 LAN (2004-2005), and MPCon (2005-Present). I have also volunteered for QuakeCON every year doing the tournament set up since 2007. As a registered student organization, you are sometimes hindered by only having people who volunteer their time, and while CMU is a major university in Michigan, you may not get the turnout as you would from Michigan State (host of the former Sparty LAN Party).
The only true issue for the LAN was execution of the tournaments. It started on Friday night which had a decent sized Super Smash Brothers Brawl tournament in which there were only access to two Game Cube controllers (it is very rare for a person to play this game without a Game Cube controller). The event took a long time as matches were announced on a Challonge site, but you were still trying to find your opponents. With access to only one Wii (hindered due to the two Game Cube Controllers), the event lasted longer than expected, postponing all tournaments that followed it that night. Thoughts for next time- Set up an ‘on deck’ circle so that you can prepare for the next match while a match is still going, instead of waiting for the match two end, then calling to find the next people. Getting an ‘on deck’ circle of two to three matches will keep things moving as quickly as possible. You also create a crowd of people watching the matches, which can be very entertaining if you get two good people playing each other.
Due to the Super Smash Brothers Brawl tournament lasting a long time, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament was delayed. With nine teams for the event, it could definitely take longer than the three hours proposed by the event holder (including having rounds that were 2 minutes long instead of the standard 1 minute 45 seconds). This event also took a decent amount of time as there were only two servers, meaning only two matches were going on at once. With the event only single elimination, there wasn’t too long of a delay, but it could have definitely taken longer. This is one of the three tournaments I played in, but the servers were well run and managed, and it was running smooth once it started.
Winning CS:GO Team ~ 9 Hands Strong
Since CS:GO stared late, it then made the CS:GO Arms Race (Gun Game) tournament run late as well. This event had a lot of negatives as some of the starting maps for the event were on standards CS maps instead of Gun Game style maps. This was not great from the stand point of a lot of gun game players, but I felt in the end one of the best CS:GO players that was there won. That was the end of the first night. People were starting to play single player games (or WoW), or going to sleep. We went to the Super 8 Motel that is by the University and they gave us a great deal for checking in at five in the morning.
We came back the following day and things were running MUCH smoother in regards to the tournaments. Starcraft 2 was presently being played, which is a big tournament for Michiganders as there are a few great players, and a lot of casual professionals who take it very serious but do not play in the major leagues. We were able to work with the LAN staff to get it announced of a LAN Battlefield 1942 server, and we were off to 3-4 hours of Battlefield. A lot of people had never played the game before as 1942 was released in 2002, and shortly there after in 2004 Battlefield Vietnam was released, and followed by Battlefield 2. It was a lot of fun and great memories. We were waiting for the Team Fortress 2 tournament to start which had ten teams, and two of them were professional teams. The tournament was supposed to start at roughly 4pm, but at roughly 7:30pm is when it really started. It was delayed for dinner and a part of the raffle. It was kind of getting irritating waiting again, especially when they announced the tournament was starting back up, and they again only had two servers for a ten team tournament.
The event ended with a League of Legends tournament as well as a final raffle to give away some of the better prizes (also an incentive to stay later than you would). Something that always plagues events as there are a lot of people who just show up for a specific tournament and leave right after.
Overall the event is WELL worth the $20, but with rumor that they are expanding, you may not get the bang for the buck, but attending large sized LANs are always a little pricier and even if you get one meal out of it for $20, it’s still worth it. Make sure to like Big Shot Gaming on Facebook to listen to more events that they will carry, including their upcoming Spring LAN. They are keeping the LAN Community alive and strong in Michigan, and it’s worth the drive for a nice weekend in Central Michgian.
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