People come to America for many reasons. Freedom and opportunity are two big draws, as are the country's extensive natural wonders and great cities.
Olivia "Livibee" Seeto is here for the internet.
She laughs when she admits it, talking to Red Bull eSports after getting out of her group. Her first day has been a roller-coaster, with a trip to the main stage for a series against Ryoo "SeleCT" Kyung Hyun, and then an elimination series against another player in her group. Despite losing to SeleCT, she's feeling good as the first day of Atlanta draws to a close.
She's got her work cut out on Day Two: her first opponent in the elimination bracket is Huang "TooDming" Hui Ming. She knows that will probably be the end of the road for her at Battle Grounds. But Livibee is here to learn and become a bigger part of the StarCraft community.
It might seem extreme to cross the Pacific to get a decent internet connection, but for a woman in her line of work, it makes perfect sense. A caster who has become increasingly involved with her own competitive career, she needed to leave Australia to take the next step.
"The internet out here is a lot better than Australia. Australia has the crappiest internet in the world. What you pay for in Australia is your bandwidth cap," she explains. "So you're always like, 'Do I really want to watch this show?' You always have to consider that."
That's a non-starter for a streamer, and it's also bad news for Australia's dedictated competitive gaming scene. While Livibee has competed at a lot of Australian events, she has to concede that the US events she's attended, MLGs and Battle Grounds Atlanta, are a class apart.
"Compared to European and North american events, Australia hasn't quite got there yet" she says. "I think it's more of a setback due to internet issues. So they have a lot of technical difficulties because of that."
Livibee was able to make an extended trip to the U.S. thanks to her status as a recent college graduate. After getting a degree from the Sydney College of Arts, she had a chance to get a one-year work visa.
"Maybe it's just [in] Australia, but they offer this certain visa to recent graduates of university. So I graduated within the last 12 months, and ...I thought it would be a really great opportunity to work on getting better at StarCraft and streaming," she says.
Taking Center Stage
Livibee has to contend with a lot more attention than a lot of players are her level. On her first day at Battle Grounds, she's already been called to the main stage, interviewed on stream, and then interviewed by Red Bull eSports. This is the lot of a woman in eSports: it's a viewed as a relative rarity, so someone like Livibee is instantly in demand as a story and as an interesting competitor.
It's a double-edged sword, though. That attention leads a lot of women to being unfairly dismissed as attention-seekers, and it can engender some hostility. But Livibee says that the StarCraft community is largely very welcoming, and she tries to tamp down any ire by setting herself some high standards.
"The majority of people I encounter are actually quite positive and supportive. I get a lot of positive feedback from them as well. I wouldn't say it's hard to be taken seriously," she says. "I'm trying to change that image for other women in the gaming scene who want to be taken seriously. Because there are quite a few out there. Women who just play to play, and they're not trying to just get an image."
The attention can also be a little bit distracting for someone who is still getting used to major tournaments. "When you're at a LAN tournament, you feel a lot more pressure, a lot more anxious, a lot more nervous. And for that, you can make some silly mistakes. But the flip side of that is you can also play better because you're senses are heightened, and something is on the line."
She thinks for a moment about stage fright, and continues, "I stream regularly, and when I get hundreds of people watching me on my stream, I don't feel any differently from when I'm laddering. It's casual, relaxed, anything really goes. But when I'm in front of a crowd of people, and there's lights shining in you face, it's a lot different. I feel a lot more nervous."
That stung her a bit in her series against SeleCT, where she made a few critical mistakes that cost her badly. But she bounced back in the quiet confines of the player area, where she was able to beat her opponent and move on to the next round.
A New Home?
For now, Livibee is focused on expanding her streaming and getting more tournament experience. She's going to be staying in Colorado until later this year, when she has to head back to Australia in time for the birth of her niece or nephew.
"Then after that, I probably want to come back to the States and keep playng. Until Australia gets good internet." She laughs, then adds, "Which won't be for a while."
For more news, follow Red Bull eSports on Twitter.