If you were watching the closing melees of the nail-munching minutes of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Masters tournament at the DreamHack Dallas esports conference, you were probably screaming your head off in frustration.
If you were watching the crowd, you were probably laughing your ass off at the last-minute madness.
That's because during the final minutes of an exciting three-round bout on Sunday between America's Team Liquid and Finland's Team ENCE, the massive screen set up in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center froze and went blank for several minutes. The malfunction briefly turned the esports tournament into a radio broadcast of sorts that made an audience of already screaming fans scream even louder, given that they could only hear the sound of gunfire and explosions and commentary from the convention's play-by-play announcers.
The sold-out event packed the entire floor of the convention center's arena space Sunday as Team Liquid and ENCE easily made their way to the finals, blasting through 14 teams over the previous two days of competition. Liquid were the heavy favorites to take home the masters trophies and the $100,000 prize, but the margin of victory was much closer than fans would have hoped.
Liquid handily defeated ENCE with a 16-8 match win on the shooting game's "Mirage" map, but ENCE answered back in the second round with a close 19-17 win that sent the tournament into the crucial third round of battles. Liquid's fans were aching for a big win not just because the hometown fans saw this match as a big win for their country on their homeland turf. It would also lift, as some fans have called it, "the Liquid curse."
The term refers to the team's original name Team Curse and struggle to overcome its disappointing second-, third- and fourth-place finishes in major matches. The "curse" also refers to the team's controversies following the stripping of their first-place at the 2012 Major League Gaming's League of Legends tournament. The league determined players conspired with the second-place finisher Team Dignitas to have them throw the match in exchange for half of their winnings, according to theScore Esports.
The final round took place on the game's "Inferno" map and continued the tournament's theme of bringing Liquid's fans to the brink of assured victory, only to have it snatched away in some of the match's final crucial moments. Liquid stood at a final-round match score of 15-11 with just one more win needed to secure their victory.
However, Liquid didn't have enough money to buy an arsenal higher than their sidearms going into the next round. Just before the final 20 seconds of this crucial match, the game on the stage's massive screens began to freeze for several seconds before going dark one at a time, including the main screen, the individual player status screens and even the identifying team signs in front and behind their individual stations. All the fans could do was yell loud enough for someone to put the action back on the screen or motion for a timeout to the cameras broadcasting the high-stakes showdown online.
It is not known what caused the screens to freeze and go dark. Convention officials say they are looking into the incident to determine the cause.
The broadcast sent out on DreamHack's official YouTube page played the sounds of the edgy crowd of fans after the screen went dark and some of the blank screens behind the teams that showed the players' gamer tags and head shots.
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The glitch, however, didn't interrupt the gameplay or the play-by-play announcers' ability to watch and commentate on the match. People watching on streaming services also couldn't tell anything was wrong from their feeds. However, the scene on the floor and the stands was filled with fans screaming for someone to turn the tubes back on since they could only hear the action from the speakers.
The screens stayed dark for more than two minutes as ENCE racked up their 13th win, moving them three wins closer. Thankfully, the glitch wouldn't deprive Liquid's fans of the victory they've craved for so long.
The screens came back online just after the teams started their 28th match of the round. Liquid's Jake "Stewie2k" Yip racked up three impressive, consecutive kills against ENCE before being put down by Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen. Russell "Twistzz" Van Dulken finished the round with two more consecutive kills and ending the tournament with a close but decisive win. The crowd erupted into joyous noise at the now-working screen displaying Liquid's victorious score.