You leave the subway and follow the flow of people up a grey stairway. At the top of the stairs you begin to see the arena. With every step the structure becomes clearer as well as the preceding square before you.
As you walk towards the entrance you notice the youth gathering in a stream towards the entrance. People wearing shirts of teams and other CS events walk towards the array of thick glass doors.
You take a closer look and notice sparingly scattered security, some Police directing people through traffic, food trucks, delis and hot-dog stands all around. With a bit of an effort you can find anything from donuts to empanadas within a five minute walk.
You open the glass door to hear the sound of metal detectors and Barclay’s staff. They’re yelling at people to present their bags open – a security measure that was emphasized to death over the course of the weekend.
As you inch your way through the line of people you observe the security personnel. Some seem energetically thorough. Others stand idly to the side, waiting for their next break. Most of them speak in a coldly succinct manner. They check your ticket as you finish passing security.
Now you’re free to roam.
Two adults rush towards you with Lyft flyers. You stow your belongings in their respective pockets as they throw pre-rehearsed words at you.
You exchange a lengthy glance.
“Sure. I’ll take it.”
He hands you the flyer.
“It’s a 30$ coupon?!”
“… if I don’t have the app?”
You take the damn thing and walk towards one of the two entrances shining with dark blue light. As you walk through the entrance and the stadium-like cave unfolds before you.
The temperature drops noticeably.
You hear a hollow echo.
People scattered sparingly throughout the arena. Kids chuckling at their energy drink fueled trolls.
You see the analyst desk right in front of you. It looks just like watching the stream back home, just that you get to choose the camera view. You stare awkwardly at the analyst desk before you realize their whole segment already passed. The analysts come out towards you. They sign mouse pads and take pictures with the fans just like star players. Although their appreciation for the attention looks heartfelt, their urge to have some rest seeps through the cracks of their polished demeanor.
You refocus as they head off to their lounge.
As you make your way further down the central area you pan your view and see the semi circle shaped arena. There’s a stage at the front that spans about 3/4 of the floor’s width.
You spy two large screens above each team as you raise your view. There’s a smaller screen suspended from the roof and one more screen behind each team’s side of the stage. Between the big screen you see banners for the competing teams and their players. And right behind the players on either side there are screens to display graphics for the stage, the playing teams and the maps.
It’s the middle of a game. You take a deep breath. This seems like a different world altogether. With the dim lighting and loud sound system it’s almost like a concert.
You find the nearest seat next to a crowded group of young teenagers. Everyone browse Twitter and text on their phones. Including you.
The people next to you are too loud. You need to move.
You see the perfect seat toward the bottom right corner of the G.A. seating area. You wait until the game ends. But moving towards the seat, you realize that it’s part of another area.
You turn around to check which way you came from. A glaring spotlight hovering over the analyst’s head blinds you.
You barely discern a daring fan leap behind the desk to take a selfie with the analysts. Thorin turns around in the middle of the sentence and shoves the guy out of view. YNk turns as well to further the distance. They continue analyzing CS:GO like nothing happened. Your jaw drops to the ground. The analysts brush it off. Everything looks normal by the time the camera turns on them. The whole thing transpired even smoother than the “Peace and love” transition.
Dazed and confused you walk back up to ground level. Reaching the hallway, you take a right and walk towards the next spectator section. People line up for hot-dogs, burgers, Red Bull and beer. You see long lines of fans stacked up to grab player signatures. So much to the point where the you can hardly navigate through the venue and the Barclays staff grow increasingly uncomfortable. More people flow into the venue. Seats fill up quickly.
As you reach your targeted entrance you go back to the inside stage-area of the arena. You find the spot you wanted. Time to settle down. There’s CS to watch.