I think my third HomeStory Cup was the one where I really started to feel like I belonged.
Over the years I’ve developed a friendship with TaKe, who runs and organizes the event, but that was just only one of the many reasons why HomeStory Cup now feels like home.
The atmosphere is one of a kind. Completely different from, let’s say, a WCS event. It’s the only place where you can challenge someone to a round of Jenga right before their match is about to start and not get a middle finger shoved in your face.
It’s the only place you see people playing poker, casting or drinking a beer long after their tournament has come to an end. The way in which everyone socializes and shares the weekend gives HomeStory Cup a sense of community, unlike any other tournament.
Of course, a part of that is due to the host city, Krefeld. When someone gets knocked out of a WCS tournament, they can usually spend a day or two touring one of the world’s great cities. They see the sights, visit a tourist trap and maybe grab some fancy food.
At HomeStory Cup there are no sights outside of the tournament, there’s nothing which would attract tourists, and as far as food goes, all there is, is Kebab. Simply put, Krefeld is so unspectacular the best thing you can do is come back for another day of HomeStory Cup.
That doesn’t mean you should NEVER go outside. I already mentioned Kebab, and the truth is the ten Kebab stores lining the main street are the city’s only redeeming feature.
They’re open around the clock, only closing for sixty minutes in the dead of night to circumvent a law in Krefeld where businesses can’t be open 24 hours a day. Kebab makes up a good portion of your diet when you go to HomeStory Cup. It’s quick, convenient and cheap… and it goes well with beer.
A couple of years ago an ex-pro named Targa and I stumbled out into the streets after HomeStory Cup had wrapped up for the day.
I’ll be honest, we were drunk and we were hungry. You can guess what we were looking for – Kebab. As fate would have it, we reached the shops at the precise hour in which every single one of them closed.
Our hearts sank, but just as we were about to head back, a man appeared from a nearby alley.
“Hey, hey,” he whispered.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been surprised by a man appearing from an alley before, but I was ready to run right then and there.
“Hey… you want some Kebab?”
It was like music to my ears.
“Fuck yeah, we want Kebab!”
The man opened his jacket and revealed, I shit you not, a pair of Kebabs.
“Do you want chicken or beef?”
I took the chicken and Targa took the beef. We paid the guy and walked away as if nothing had happened.
Those kinds of wild nights lead to great stories that make the HomeStory Cup special, but that’s not to forget that, behind the fun, is a tournament you want to win, just like any other.
I wasn’t really shocked when I lost in the opening round of my first HomeStory Cup. I was new to the scene, and honestly, not very good. Over the years I steadily improved, though. I finished top 16 in a number of Dreamhacks during Heart of the Swarm and eventually established myself as a regular in WCS Premier in 2015.
My career was really ramping up, but back in Krefeld, I was getting an unbelievable amount of shit for having lost in the first round of HomeStory Cup eight times in a row.
It was all those early exits coupled with the wonderful memories I had made along the way which made finally winning HomeStory Cup on my ninth try so special. It took a crazy five-game match to beat GunGFuBanDa and finally break my curse of losing in the first round.
I won my second group as well, but I was so used to losing in the first round and getting hammered that I didn’t realize I had to play the next day until it was 1 am and I was part way through my second beer.
As I hurried back to the hotel I thought to myself, “so this is what it’s like for players who are good.”
I went straight to bed and woke up the next morning feeling very fresh for the final day of HomeStory Cup. It was something that had never happened before and hasn’t happened since.
Protoss vs Protoss was by far my worst matchup going into the tournament and fortunately, there wasn’t a Protoss in sight once I made the Round of 8. I swept MaSa and Snute and took down Scarlett. It had taken four years, but I was finally a HomeStory Cup champion.
I remember exactly what happened after I won.
TaKe did his usual speech, the stream wrapped as planned and I immediately bought two or three bottles of booze. HomeStory Cup after parties are always great, but this was one unlike any other.
If you put a gun to my head I’d say I remember maybe 30% of that night, but the way I felt after finally winning a tournament which is so meaningful to me is something I’ll never forget. To this day, winning HomeStory Cup XIII still stands out as the highlight of my career.
There’s just something indescribably special about HomeStory Cup. I can’t tell if it’s the atmosphere, the mood, or all the crazy things that have gone down, but I always have so much fun.
Whether it’s BlinG’s broken armed backflip (I’m pretty sure he did a backflip, but he might have just fallen down the stairs) or getting illegal Kebab’s in the middle of the night, I’ve had so many unforgettable experiences.
I’ve met some amazing people during my trips to Krefeld and made friends for life. As cheesy as it sounds, HomeStory Cup really does feel like home to me.
If I could only win one more tournament before I retired, there’s not a doubt in my mind which one I’d pick.
Image Credit: TaKeTV Media