Summary: We sent Pongky to cover Newegg's big gaming tournament in Pasadena. Big prizes were at stake as hundreds came to play. Check out the video clips of the CEO of Infinity Ward giving a presentation as well as the cool products shown off by Gigabyte and OCZ in their trade-show-like booths. Also, check out what Pongky oogled at in the BYOC area; some people just spend too much time on their computers!
PASADENA: April 24,25 2004. Lanfest 2K4 is Newegg's gaming event where players come to win great prizes and prove their worth as cyber-athletes. Lanfest 2K4 made space for 200 Bring-Your-Own-Computer (BYOC) spots as well as 40 tournament PC's where the actual competition will take place. The 40 tournament PC's are located in a closed room, where only the media can spectate.
As you will see later on in this article, the tournament PC's are sweet, and are uniformly equipped in terms of software and hardware, in order to even the playing field.
The event covers two days of competition. The winners from the first day come back on Sunday to compete for the prizes. Prizes include Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz and motherboard combos, Logitech Z680 and Sound blaster Audigy 2 Card combos, and Fuji
Finepix A210 digital cameras - totaling about $15,000 in all! There were three games that were used in competition:
UT 2004 - A competition of 40 players fighting it out in 1 on 1 mode.
Call of Duty - Teams of 5 people play for the prize in elimination rounds.
Battlefield 1942 - Squads of 10 people per team
Upon arriving on the scene on Saturday, the first day, I was quite impressed at all the 'fuss' happening in the venue. There was a central stage where they setup a DJ and his music gear, along with giant ear-thumping speakers. All about the main hallway are the booths of the sponsors of the event, such as Gigabyte, Intel, ABIT, Viewsonic, OCZ and others. This is where people are trickling through to chat, check out the sponsors' products and such.
On one side of the main hallway is the BYOC area. It is a massive room filled with 12-14 rows of wooden tables where the contestants who come can jack-into the network, and have exhibition games as they warm up before they are called up to compete. This is what they stated on the official Lanfest 2K4 website:
SIDEBAR: Lanfest 2K4 official site
The companies that had booths were the ones supplying the hardware for the tournament PC's used in the competition. I would describe the environment to be a mini trade-show feeling, because there were about 7-8 companies displaying booths and the regular goodies you would get in a trade show, such as tee shirts, stickers, posters, CD-roms, free magazines and other knick-knacks.
Increasingly popular RAM manufacturer, OCZ (view their RAM lineup), also has a booth in. They supplied the 512MB of RAM that power the tourney PC's. On their display table, they had their top three RAM dual-channel RAM types for display as well as OCZ's first entry into the ever-growing small form factor market. It is an aesthetically pleasing design with brushed aluminum finish and clear acrylic accents, with a lot of drive-bay expandability, with three 5.25" drive bays and one vertical 3.5" bay.
Gigabyte (click to view products by Gigabyte) had their booth in the corner, near the couches under the camo tent. You can see them diversifying their product line, as they showed off an 802.11g 4-port wireless router and the 3D Cooler-Ultra CPU heat pipe and fans (click to read Brandon's review of this unit). Check out one of the close-up images of the 3D Cooler in my hand, this thing is quite hefty! Gigabyte also lined up their top two motherboards, one for Athlon 64 and one for Pentium 4.
On the other side of the Gigabyte booth was the Viewsonic booth (click to view all products by Viewsonic). Here they showed off one of their LCD TV's with integrated speakers, a 19" LCD monitor hooked up to a Playstation 2 and finally a 2.1 speaker system with subwoofers. Sure the speakers had a great form, but did it perform well?
SIDEBAR: Whenever they brought out bags of Funyuns, Doritos and Cheetos, they were gone in an average of 20.1 seconds.
Away from the sponsors' booths, in the big hall on one side of the convention area, lies the massive open area where the BYOC event-goers went and jacked-in their rigs, laptops and anything that needed plugging in. Out of the 200 spots, I think only about 30 of them were empty, so that is a great turn-out for a first-ever event by Newegg. It was a visual feast, only about 20-30 of the PC's were heavily modded and still looked good. It was hard to find an original design though. Some had water-cooled systems that were combined with unique lighting. Others were just monstrous, while yet others were just plain bland. I think there is a part of Lanfest 2K4 where you can win if your case was the best ‘mod’.
Basically, the tournament works like this: you sign up yourself (or your team) for one or three of the game events, then you are put into brackets (which aren't really shown to anyone). Then, you wait, until your name (or team name) is called, then you are moved into the Tournament room, where you play on the Newegg-built machines for prizes. So, much of the time, the gamers just hang out in the BYOC room, and chat, and have random battles with each other on the LAN servers.
I met up with Undefined Madmen, or UMM, whom I covered in the GamersOpen Offical BF1942 International Championships last year. They remembered me from the previous engagement, and were friendly as I asked them questions about the event. Eventually, I followed them into the tournament room when they were called up, and I watched them compete their first BF1942 match.
SIDEBAR: The Pasadena Convention Center is easy to find, about 1 mile south of the 210 freeway.
The tournament-room (for a lack of a better name) is a closed-off area with tables set up in four rows of five PC's facing each other, totaling 40 PC's in the room. There were other PC's used by admin to monitor the game as well on different tables. Now, as you can see from the photos, each PC was well-built with components a hardcore gamer would be proud to have inside their rigs.
The case is an Antec P160 gaming case with blue LED accents, powered by an Intel P4 3.2GHz CPU seated in an ABIT IC7-G MAXII motherboard with a Western Digital Raptor 36.7GB SATA HDD handling the storage duties. Installed RAM is a pair of OCZ 512MB PC3200 dual channel sticks. Video output is handled by a Leadtek GeForce FX5950 Ultra 256MB DDR AGP card onto a 19" Viewsonic P95SF+B flat CRT display. Logitech provided the input devices such as keyboard, mic-headset and Extreme 3D Pro Joystick while Microsoft provided their Intellimouse Explorers for mousing tasks. Have 40 of these systems lined up in perfect rows and connected to a LAN, what do you get? A VERY nicely equipped gaming center.
When the battles commenced, the lights were turned off, the P160 cases really looked slick in the dark, while not being too bright. Virtual blood was being shed and teams were getting hammered, this is what it's all about folks!
SIDEBAR: Contestants had to pay thirty dollars for their BYOC spots.
I spectated the BF1942 matches between four teams, two separate matches of one team versus another. Team UMM was up against team TGC. The competition structure is like this: there are two 20-minute matches on one map, at the end of one match, the teams reverse their allied / axis alignment, to make it even. Victory is decided by the total number of tickets left at the end of the two matches. The winners from today's matches will come back tomorrow for a shot at the big prizes.
When you watched the UMM matches, it wasn't even close and it was evident in the first 3 or 4 minutes into the match. They were up against team TGC, who didn't seem to be gel. Maybe they were just a hodge-podge of random players from the BYOC area. Nevertheless, UMM showed them no mercy. UMM team-members were very vocal, perhaps that's how they trained, but they were communicating constantly with each other. Donavin, the team-leader kept dishing out orders and keeping his team cool and collected. Both their matches ended up in 'Major Victories' since team TGC didn't have any communications whatsoever. You can tell that UMM is a cohesive unit - and that is what makes them dangerous.
I've gotten an update from one of the TGC members, who said:
We were not a true clan. Six of our players can actually play well, the others were pretty new. We had a tough time getting a 10 man team together. It was fun but brief, and a huge learning experience. I dont think any of us had been in a tournament ever. The lack of communication crippled us. Also, I was under the impression we were going to be using team speak during the comp, but no dice. We may try to form a true clan and practice as a team more in the future, it remains to be seen. UMM had that bocage map locked down. We wre choked off, and they had better air support as well. It was brutal. I could tell prior to the touranment that we were going to lose, i was just hoping it was not going to be that bad. I think we should have gotten an award for best speed bump ;-)Thanks Nicholas!
At the end of the day, Newegg held a speech by the CEO of Infinity Ward, Grant Collier, who spoke candidly about his time with 2015, EA and eventually, Activision. After the presentation, they raffled away FX5900 video cards and autographed copies of Call of Duty. Check out the three 30-second video clips (AVI format) below taken by my digital camera - watch out, they are all 4MB+ in size.
The results after day 2 were: (Thanks to Newegg's Ed Hsu for providing this info):
BF1942Overall, great job to Newegg, ABIT, Gigabyte, Intel, Western Digital, Viewsonic, OCZ and Microsoft for holding such a successful and upbeat first-time event of its kind. Lanfest 2K5? Bring it.
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