So the guys over at DICE, EA, and Microsoft got together and set up this amazing gathering of professional Battlefield players from around the world. Set in the great city of London in the United Kingdom the event pits the players from the USA and the European Union in a match not seen in the Battlefield community for quite some time. There is a HUGE a list of players here ranging from Pro competitors and Youtube Celebrities like The Russian Badger, Shibby2142 and many others. The full roster is available here. http://blogs.battlefield.com/2013/10/battlefield-4-showdown/
The show was also hosted by the lovely Jessica Chobot who Andy Akinwore. It was quite the surprise to see Jessica on the show for sure with her history covering games with IGN.
Other notable attendees were Fredrik Loving the General Manager of DICE LA. and Alan Kertz the Multiplayer Designer of Battlefield 4. Fredrik was playing for Team USA and Alan was playing for the EU. It was great to get to talk to the two several times through out the event and get tips and ideas for playing Battlefield 4.
So with such a colorful cast of players attending the event one would wonder how a guy like me (SPARTAN117GW) was chosen. Being an avid Battlefield player on PC and XBOX360 I have never competed but I typically play rather well. You can check out my Battlelog Stats here. http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf4/soldier/SPARTAN117GW/stats/197988969/xbox360/
I was actually eating a lunch when I was having a discussion with the Battlefield 4 Community Manager when he brought up the topic of the showdown. Before I knew it I was filling out a form that entailed the details of the event. Within a week everything was set. Leave form filled in. Overseas prep-work completed I was ready for the trip. It was pretty interesting having the Battalion CSM read the paperwork and trying to figure out what it was I was actually doing.
Arriving at Fayetteville airport it was a quick connection to DC. I figured it would happen but I was happy to run into other Showdown Attendees at the Washtingon airport. Since I always travel prepared to play I had my GAEMS Vanguard Setup (Check out these amazing gaming setups! https://gaemspge.com/personal-gaming-environments/vanguard). We played BF4 on XBOX360 until boarding time and the real journey began.
Arriving at Hethrow we linked up with Dennis Yu one of the guys helping organize the event. I must say between him and Ian Tornay the CM for BF4 they did an excellent job coordinating and executing this massive task of getting 64 people to the showdown. Once Team USA began to assemble it was clear this was going to be quite the gathering. Players you have only heard of or seen on Youtube all assembled for one big fight. It was something of a videogame Avengers of sorts.
Shortly after we arrived at the hotel. EA had spared no expenses having 64 of the worlds best players lodged in the Crowne Plaza. The first day was mostly about meeting everyone and talking Battlefield over dinner. We did get a chance to knock out some quick questions and general rules but there were more in depth briefings the next day. Getting a chance to meet a Level Designer Dennis was quite the treat at dinner. His insight into how several of the maps play was invaluable and it was just wonderful to get a glimpse of how someone develops at DICE. Fun fact, Floodzone was quite rough to debug due to the water level change from Levelution. I am glad they were able to get it to work as it greatly changes how the map plays.
First thing we did the next day was get our headshots for our Player cards. You would see these appear during the game to show who was onscreen and what type of stats they had. This was the first time all 64 players were in one room.
So team USA got together and we pretty much hashed out our strengths and weaknesses. The PC dominant players brought the strategy, knowledge, and insight to how true 64 player Battlefield is meant to be played. The Console players brought raw killing power and vehicle prowess to the table as well. By the end of our initial planning we had everyone squared away on the basic strategies of the maps. The big wildcard was what the final map in round 3 would be. We also chose to put our core Console players on the 16v16 Obliteration game mode. During the planning we got to get down in the trenches with Major Nelson. He was a great Commander during the game because he listened to his troops and provided the fire support, aid, recon that we needed and on the spot.
The setup was pretty amazing to say the least. Microsoft had brought a surplus of over 64 Xbox Ones to the site and everything was almost finished by the time we arrived. With a balcony overlooking the setup we could see where we would be staged. Luckily for me I was right up front behind the commander.
Rehearsals were long but well worth it. During that time we got a feel for the weapons, the system, and most importantly the Controller. The Xbox One controller felt smaller than the 360 setup and the Joysticks did not have as much resistance. The Triggers also were larger and had a longer pull to them. The Bumpers were larger but oddly didn’t seem as responsive.
After several rounds of BF4 we got the hang of it and began to find out what the EU team was made of. With several rounds of Conquest and Obliteration under our belt we were pretty confident that we had what it took to keep the EU at bay. The one game mode that seemed to be a wildcard was the Obliteration match. One thing for sure is our players were able to dominate the airspace and that proved quite the edge.
One really awesome treat was getting to play the NEW Caspian border from Second Assault. Re-imagined and updated it now has a fall touch to it with several new and larger buildings on the main center flag. A huge wall that we dubbed the Great Wall stands in place of what was the wire fence. This new dynamic really controls movement from the center to the US side of the map. On the D flag you can also go underground and spawn your buddies right up behind the enemy. The tower is now also on the center flag and when it is destroyed it creates a new path up to the middle. With all these changes to Caspian border the main flags are much more accessible but the core strategies used still hold true.
With a long day of getting a feel for everything and practicing being on camera we retired back to the hotel. Everyone was anxious for the next day as we would find out what we were truly made of. Some of us hit the pubs, some knocked out and awaited the coming battle. Either way the wait was over. Tomorrow was showtime.
The day had arrived. With a pretty hearty breakfast and some last minute planning we made adjustments based on our previous day of skirmishes with the EU team. Once we arrived at the venue we had yet another full rehearsal. This gave us a really good feel for how things were going to play out.
With the kick off of Caspian Border we were live and on the web. My squad (GULF) was tasked with holding the center D flag. The place where the strongest infantry fighting would take place. My squad consisted of Episilon Cheny, GrizzleBF, Level Battlefield Whitey, and myself Spartan117gw. The battle was INTENSE and for the guys who had not played 64 matches before it was quite chaotic. The EU had pushed the flag the entire game and they used just about every way you could think of to get there. Gulf squad racked over 121 kills or so defending that point. The rest of team USA was doing some serious work in the skies thanks to Compact Killa, and Epsilon Hulk. The rest of the guys were holding down the other two flags and providing tank support where needed. Some key Tankers were Iconic Walle and Fets25. Round one ended with us bleeding out the tickets by holding 3 flags and keeping EU on the low side of Caspian border. This set the tone and motivated the team even more.
Obliteration was ready to rock with 16v16. Our best console players got into the fray and we immediately intercepted the EU bomb carrier. Things got chaotic as bomb runs were very close to being successful on both sides. This was like the most insane match of football or rugby where a point was literally half a second from being taken until the bomber was shot in the back from opposing forces. Some of the strategy was to take out the enemy bomber with our air power then rush in with the ground. Sometimes going out to the outlying points to score worked but we often pushed right through the EU team to the objective. The commanders played a key role in using cruise missiles to deny any bomb plant or counters. Finally we managed to fight through the EU onslaught and plant the first bomb. This gave us the momentum we needed to shift things in our favor. The firefight over at the construction site was where the second plant occurred. With the bomb changing hands so much there were just too many close calls to count. They had setup pretty good around the second bomb site but we managed to get our forces there first. We were able to get 2 bombs planted securing a solid victory on this map. This was the CLOSEST match and in ways the most fun. Obliteration is definitely here to stay. This is the favorite match for most of the viewers at home but make sure to watch it on the rebroadcast or on YouTube.
The final round. Despite the very strong wins in the previous rounds this one was the one that mattered. Who ever wins Round 3 goes home with the big W. Thankfully we were set onto Floodzone. Arguably one of the best maps in BF4. We had played this map in the rehearsals and we were quite confident we were going to have solid control over the middle. EU had a slight jump start on us and were gaining control of the map fast. Typical but still a caution that they had triple capped the map right of the bat. We were able to secure the outlying flags and begin the bleed. At some point during the chaos the other squads were able to secure both the center flags causing the Pentacap or all cap. This got the team a solid 200 or so Ticket lead and forced the match in our favor. We were in the green and all we had to do was hold out. My team rotated between the middle and the A flag on the EU home side of the map. With such chaos this was probably the most even match for some time as the two middle flags were consistently under EU control. At one point Major Nelson had all his forces dedicated for assaulting those two flags. Despite the EU making a small comeback team USA bled out the clock and the tickets and Victory was ours.
We celebrated that night and got to say goodbyes to each other. Most had to fly out the next morning and we would have to wait till the next Battlefield gathering to see one another. This trip was an amazing opportunity and for Off Duty Gamers to be a part of it was an Honor and a privilege. Big thanks to the guys at EA for organizing this and to Microsoft for hosting the event. There are so many amazing players on the US and EU teams that there was just now low point during the entire trip.
If you haven’t seen the rebroadcast check it out here or search BATTLEFIELD 4 SHOWDOWN LIVE on Youtube.
Thanks to everyone who was at the showdown for such a great time!