World Championships

Friends!

It’s been a while. Last time I wrote I believe I was returning from Seoul. This time I write enroute to Seoul. I’M GOING TO THE LEAGUE OF LEGENDS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS.

So, this, I feel, is a culmination of my childhood. I have been playing video games since I was three years old. Something that just dawned on me is that every part of my family has had influence on me and games. My grandma started me on SNES – Super Mario and the like. My other grandparents(or maybe my parents purchased, but the gift came from them) was an N64. Best. Christmas. Ever. Amiright? My cousin from my mom’s side introduced me to the drug that was World of Warcraft. All jokes/realities aside, that is one of the greatest games I have ever played. And alas, my cousin from my dad’s side. My homie. My best friend. How many Covenant alien scum did we destroy together? How many baddies have we killed in Tom Clancy games? We pretended to be gods among men in the game of Starcraft, but failed miserably. You can’t beat Koreans. At anything. Ever.

My most recent game has been League of Legends. It’s a free-to-play game that is now the world’s most popular game. The concept is pretty neat. You have troops (minions) who stream from your base every few seconds. There are defensive turrets lined up in three lanes (top middle and bottom) and both teams have these turrets and minions. Each team is comprised of five champions who have unique skills and abilities. There are something like…110? Champions with essentially 5 abilities each, along with the custom itemization. It takes a while to learn what could potentially happen, but once you do its just an intense battle of strategy and intelligence. I started playing last October. Much time has been devoted to this game, and I do not regret a minute of it (except for a plethora of losses haha). In North America, all the North Americans play together. In Korea, there is a Korean specific server that you can only download with a Korean phone number or SSN. I have seen the glory of playing with Koreans and it has actually increased my own abilities. When you play with people who are better than you, the learning gap closes really quickly.

This weekend I attend an event that many of my friends threatened murder over. “If you do not go, I will fly to Korea and murder you”… Yeah, it was a necessity that I attend. It might be funny to you “Why is he writing about some stupid game?” but then I’d say to you “Get your head out of the past.” Video games have come a long way over the past decade. They have led to many different issues, and resolutions as well. Addiction, health issues, and even death in some cases are all concerns to the extremist mind. But, games are also the complete opposite of that. There are games that provide exercise, games that EDUCATE YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN and you don’t even recognize it because in today’s society, digital media and what not are everywhere. Games are one of the best ways to learn problem solving, teamwork, and it can lead to a career in one of the greatest fields available right now. In my hagwon we just had a lesson on video game addiction. It’s a reality in Korea. But video games have been a lot bigger here for a few decades. When you have the fastest internet in the world, what can you expect?

The event I am attending is known as eSports. Similar to when you watch a football game, there is a pregame breakdown, in game commentary calling out what’s happening, and then post game interviews and all of that. It is a sport – in some facet. These competitive teams have a wellness trainer, lifetime coach and game coach. They eat well, stay social, get exercise and win earnings in the six figures. Like. What. Recently an American university started a League eSports VARSITY team. The kids are getting scholarship to attend school and play on the collegiate team. Other collegiate teams existed already, but they were RSO/club based. I figured with UofL’s budget, it could be something they could look into and be the first major university to set a standard. I mean, it’s only fair that kids who devoted themselves out on the gridiron get scholarships, just as the kids who devoted time on the fields of justice (League joke). Just an interesting thing and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gains popularity in the next few years.

Here’s a link for an example.

So. I’m rambling, but I can do that because hey, it’s my blog! Woo! This weekend is the finals. Two teams. South Korean and Chinese. I’m pulling for the Korean team because…well they are insanely good, but my heart wants the Chinese to pull the upset. Samsung White is the favorite by far. Only time will tell.

So. Over the past couple weeks I can’t say a whole lot has really happened. I made a Korean friend to help teach me Korean, but that’s kind of not happening? Confusing.. But I have some learning material and my students help me during breaks or before class. It is precious, as it always will be.

I began Scuba diving certification through PADI, the premiere company right now. It was awesome. I honestly do not know of any of my friends who scuba so if you do, let me know! In a couple weeks I have my open water test in the ocean. Crazy! It is going to be SO cold.

I started and finished a book called “Dance Dance Dance” by Murakami, one of the great Japanese authors right now. The book was gripping. And it lingered for days after I finished. Essentially, I think, it boiled down to loving everything or everyone you can while you have it so as not to lose it or lose yourself. Also, finished “The Quiet American”. There is so much to learn from books. And some things in those books that evolve not only as you read them, but also as you grow and reread. With this novel I started it on August 23. It is now October 18. Had I read it all at once I may have missed one of the themes. Or, is it that my mind can withdraw different ideas based on my personal life. I think it’s a little of both.

These books. I need more haha! I created a list of books to read based on where I may be going for winter vacation. Too bad Russians are such difficult people to work with…so cold. (It will happen eventually, probably next winter)

May as well share it on here, eh? Was going to go to Moscow for a couple days while on the way to somewhere else, but that’s not happening. Now we’re trying to figure out where else we could go enroute to see my fraternity brother Ogie in Istanbul. Yup. Going to Istanbul. And if I told you the possible new layover destination you’d probably say I’m crazy. So I’ll just wait until we know for certain. ;D

I finished HIMYM season 9. Dang. So sad it’s over. For me, it’s not a show I can go back and rewatch though. It served it’s purpose. Something’s to say about it, that I shouldn’t/can’t. I’m not a spoiler.

I explored Gimhae’s Royal Tomb’s with my friend Baylee. Beautiful. Just so neat! It was a great walk that culminated in my first homemade dinner for my friends. We had pasta, salad, veggies and this dessert I can’t for the life of me remember. It’s pretty nice to be settled in now. Not really anything unexpected happens anymore except for the Korean language.

Over the last month I wouldn’t say I have been feeling homesick (that has hardly happened, actually) but I think the realization hit where I’m going to be here for the foreseeable future. And the only negative thing about all of this is- that it is pretty lonely! Yeah, I have my friends, or see my students, but outside of that…it’s solodolo. But, yesterday, I had a really great day and I have no idea why. My demeanor with the kids has opened up a lot. We slow-motion box and fight, chase each other around the halls, make funny sounds, they teach me Korean, I teach them English, they pet my arm hair or beard or hair or point at my eyes and say blue, I flick water in their face. It’s a love love hate love relationship. After class ended I just smiled, it was a neat moment. As I explained it to John, his analogy was that I’d been trying to shift into fourth gear and it was just grinding and stuck and today went ker-plunk and off I went. And honestly, that is pretty accurate. So, we’ll see how the next few weeks go!

It’s hard to make friends, and yet somehow John and I have met the champion boxer of Gimhae, a member of the Yakuza, The Rock and Golddust, and last night I met Faker (a Korean League of Legends phenom). Now…the only one of these that is believable is the boxer – he was huge. I knew the guy wasn’t Faker, but hey, he was drunk, it was funny, and I’ll always remember meeting Faker. The Rock actually was the rock. “What’s your name?” “Darok” “다록?” “No, like Da Rock, Dwayne Johnson” “AHHHHH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” The English name he gave himself was The Rock. Easily the funniest guy I’ve met. It’s neat living here because so many people have stories abroad.

I need to sing you guys. This past weekend I went to Busan and met up with Coro San Benilde from the Philippines. Before I departed we sang through several pieces that I knew and IT WAS SO NICE. It was great seeing my brother from the other side of the world, Dino. And of course all the familiar faces I met at Sing n Joy almost a year ago. It’s crazy to think upon meeting someone “Wow, you’re from _______, that’s amazing – and I am so sad to see you go because…there’s like NO WAY I’ll ever see you again.” And wouldn’t you know… They were attending a competition in Busan. Their director Lorenzo, who, oh man..just an amazing guy, exudes love and happiness in every word and gesture. He has a blast with his choirs and was so very welcoming to me. It’s pretty neat having a friendship and professional relationship with someone around the world. They were all very interested in how my students are and what I do and just about everything. And it was so nice, just..so nice to be around people who care for you. *tear*. I can’t wait to go visit them! I might have gotten an unofficial invite to audition for their choir – along with a couple from Hyun Jung and Narae, haha. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them perform, but alas, I got to see them and that’s all that matters. We went to mass on Sunday evening expecting it to be an English service, but it was very much Korean. Out of nowhere we start getting up because the priest wanted to bless them, and I was included. So sweet. Next step on my list is to check out some churches.

So. I guess that’s a pretty basic update. Lengthy, but basic. Hope you’re ready for a ton of gaming nerd pics, cuz they’re coming to a timeline near you.

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