The winners are going homeThe US contingent to the 2005 World Cyber Games' Grand Final in Singapore returned as overall champions after winning two gold medals and one silver. Capturing the world champion title for the first time, medals for the US team came in Counter-Strike, Halo 2 and WarCraft III: Frozen Throne against a field of 700 of the world's best gamers representing 67 countries.
The Grand Final culminated eight months of competition that saw 1.25 million gamers attempt to qualify for the right to represent their country in one of eight games (six PC, two Xbox) and a share of the more than $2.5 million in prizes. As the Samsung sponsored World Cyber Games is an open tournament, it has always featured a mix of amateur competitors and the world's top pros; it's widely held that if you want to go pro, you have to win here first.
With host Singapore giving a warm and enthusiastic welcome, the 2005 World Cyber Games will go down as one of the greatest e-Sports events in history. More than 55,000 gaming fans witnessed 1,000 matches officiated by 47 referees during the course of 5 days. Highlight matches held on the main stage regularly drew crowds of 2,500. 530,000 spectators followed the action via the online broadcast.
"This has been the most successful Grand Final to date," said Hank Jeong, CEO of International Cyber Marketing, global organizers of the World Cyber Games. "The crowds voted with their feet, and we earned the right to say we are the biggest competition of its kind in the world. As we continue to pioneer the e-Sports category, we are seeing a great variety of nations becoming more competitive. The World Cyber Games has truly evolved to become the gaming equivalent of the Olympics."
Kyle Miller, Ronald Kim, Sal Garozzo, Josh Sievers and Mike So comprise Team 3D, who repeated as gold medalists in Counter-Strike for the second year. Now candidates for the World Cyber Games' Hall of Fame, Team 3D upended an upstart Kazakhstan in the final after an exciting run on both sides of the bracket. The fierce competition from North American, European and Asian teams signals the rise in popularity globally of Counter-Strike within the world of e-Sports.
Dan and Tom Ryan, a set of 19 year-old twin brothers from Pickerington, Ohio, who play under the gaming alias Ogre Twins, dominated the Halo 2 event making easy work of Canada in the final. Also playing under the Team 3D banner, the Ogre Twins are poised for a long and prosperous professional career.
Dennis Chan of Sunset Beach, CA took the silver in WarCraft III. A seasoned veteran, Chan made waves in the gaming community by upsetting reigning WarCraft champion Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen of the Netherlands in the semifinal. Chan couldn't carry that dominance through the final however, when faced with a fierce Xiaofeng Li of China and boisterous partisan crowd.
There were rock-star moments a plenty for the winners and local favorites as they were held on stage for extended applause, autograph signings and photo opps following matches. The press corps tallied close 400 globally and the multi-lingual press conferences that followed the gold medal matches were conducted with great spirit and sportsmanship despite language and political barriers.
Next year's Grand Final will be held in Europe - Monza, Italy, home of the Italian Grand Prix - for the first time ever, and so the refrain began as the final curtain came down in Singapore, "See you in Monza."