Yes, the entire city is under construction. Seriously.
If the phenomenal economic growth of China continues at the same rate, expect all eyes to be on this city within the next decade as once again the place to be, at least in Asia. At the beginning of the last century, Shanghai was said to be the most cosmopolitan city in the world, but lost its place during the maelstrom of the Chinese civil war and the aftermath of Mao Ze Dongís reforms. From 1949 to 1977 China was off limits to foreigners, and the phenomenal growth of Shanghai that we witnessed has only occurred since the early 1980ís, when China began abandoning most of their communist economic policies. Nevertheless, the Shanghai seems to have recaptured much of its cosmopolitan flair. There are European restaurants everywhere to match the turn of the century European architecture that never left, having successfully waited out the quarter century of Communismís dour rule in order to welcome back the foreigners that have always given Shanghai such a unique flavour.
On Sunday, we were taken to a huge exhibition trade mart for the tournament. ABIT had rented a huge multistory exhibition hall for the competition, complete with stage, audience seating area, press area, sponsor exhibit area and gaming area. After a Kung Fu demonstration and the required models showing off the latest hardware, the competition got under way. The excitement level was high, as most of the local audience was WC3 fans that had come from all over China to see their hero Hao Su a.k.a. Yoliny.suhO compete against the best of the best from around the world. The fact that over 400 people showed up is either a testament to the popularity of WC3 in China, or the lack of anything else to do on a smoggy Sunday afternoon.
As you can see in this photo, the audience area was packed in front of a big screen which showed each match being played out, with a narrator (in Chinese) calling the action on the screen as the audience screamed wildly after each key move. As spectator sports go, it was a cut above golf, billiards and bowling, yet not quite as dramatic as ski jumping or freestyle skateboarding.
The final match up turned out to be a classic for the ages: Mathew Anderson a.k.a. mTw-Wizard from Lexington, South Carolina, USA versus Andrey Sobolev a.k.a. DeaDman from Moscow, Russia, a Cold War match up that ironically occurred the day after the death of Ronald Reagan, a name synonymous with the end of the Cold War. In the end, the young Russian was simply outmatched by the American in the end. Wizard beat his opponent handily in two straight games to win the match and the ACON4 championship. The local hero Yoliny.suhO had to contend with 4th place after being defeated by the tournament favorite, the Korean Chun Jung Hee a.k.a. SK.Sweet, who is a sponsored professional gamer in his native Korea.