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A Cruise Ship LAN Party Forgot One Thing: The Cruise Ship

A floating esports tournament (and casino!) proves to be an infinite regress of bad ideas.
photo courtesy of Port Canaveral

We nearly just had the Fyre Festival of gaming. Thankfully (I guess?), a total meltdown of the leadership has kept that from happening.

Earlier this year, a young and wholly unproven esports production company partnered with a small esports betting site to attempt something stunningly ambitious: a giant floating esports-themed LAN party aboard a major cruise ship. For the betting site, MoneyMatches, it would a chance to have a live gambling-friendly esports event, thanks to the legal freedom afforded by international waters. But in spite of a complete lack of relevant experience on the part of the organizers, and a breathtakingly tacky promo video, the so called Video Gamer Gauntlet Cruise seems to have hit a few snags!


On Friday, Zack Smith, CEO of MoneyMatches accused organizer Curtis Smith (no relation) of misleading his investors over the forthcoming nautical LAN party, which was to feature washed-up esports celebrities, Finnish DJ Darude (yes, that Darude), and X-Men Apocalypse actress Alexandra Shipp.

Unfortunately, it turned out that not only had many of these people not agreed to participate in the event, but there wasn't even a boat to put them on. According to Zack, Royal Caribbean, on whose MS Majesty of the Seas™ the party was supposed to take place, had never even heard of the Video Gamer Gauntlet Cruise. Likewise, Red Bull was apparently unaware that it was the flagship sponsor for what is quickly becoming the most hilarious esports debacle in recent memory. (That said, fake investors is pretty tame as far as cruise ship screwups go).

A weirdly cheerful Zack unpacked all these details about the world's most obvious scam on his Periscope stream while brandishing—but never actually drinking—a highball of scotch. With a chuckle, he accused Curtis mostly of getting in way over his head (accurate) and destroying what Zack thinks would have been a good-ass time (less accurate).

Curtis, meanwhile, posted a hasty statement on Instagram that manages to simultaneously confirm the accusations, defend his decisions, insist that the venture will set sail as planned, and offer a refund to anyone who wants one.


I love this story for three reasons.

First, this passage in Curtis's Instagram rebuttal: "We would like to address the information being put out. For starters it is technically correct. At the same time it is also being taken out of context." Yeah, once we get some context we'll definitely see why "we don't have a boat for our gamer cruise" is not a problem.

Second, by his own admission, Smith withheld the Video Gamer Gauntlet Cruise's woes from the general public because he "didn't want people to be nervous about attending" and "in order for us to secure an investor they needed to see that there was a great deal of excitement and industry support for it." Curtis, my dude, "fake it til you make it" will only take you so far, and commandeering a 74,000-ton cruise ship is not included in "so far."

Lastly, this is the second time this has happened. Somehow, the Video Gamer Gauntlet Cruise isn't the first instance of someone trying to combine esports and cavorting across the seven seas. Last fall, the notorious production company KeyTV hosted the Nanyang Dota 2 Championships Cruise Cup #1 on the whale-impaling Sapphire Princess, only to have the entire event fall apart because the ship's satellite internet proved incapable of broadcasting live video.

Listen. It's 2017, and you'd think the technical, legal, and administrative challenges of running an esports event would be clear by now. But esports is nothing if not prone to repeating the same mistakes over and over, even when cruise ships aren't involved. Something tells me that the Video Gamer Gauntlet Cruise will not be the last time that The Lonely Island pops up on some huckster's weekly Spotify playlist, prompting him (and it will always be a him) to ask: "Hey, why hasn't anyone tried putting a LAN party on a boat?"