August 4th-6th, 2023
This August, Airlock worked with Spacestation Gaming & HCS to host The HCS Global Invitational Salt Lake City 2023. A one-of-a-kind Halo event hosted in Salt Lake's home for rock and roll, at The Depot in Salt Lake City featuring a 22,000 square foot expo space with games, booths, scavenger hunts, and stages. Airlock worked side by side with 3 venues, 6 vendors, sold out over 500 tickets to the main stage event, pulled over 3,000 people to the expo center, and over 1.2 million views online. Airlock put countless hours of love and passion into The HCS Global Invitational Salt Lake City 2023 earning it the community-given title of one of the best halo events in history. Airlock took the innovative content that defined The Spartan Snowdown and added a blacklight-drenched neon streets-inspired venue that paid homage to the history and culture of Halo. To top it off, Spacestation Gaming walked away as the hometown heroes with a first-place finish in Salt Lake City.
Bringing the first major esports event to Utah is a massive undertaking that had to be approached in a different way from any other esports event. The team immediately went to the drawing board and envisioned a different kind of esports experience. One that was intimate and exhilarating and paid homage to the strong history of Halo. It was decided to shirk the big expo halls and partner with Salt Lake City’s preeminent music hall found in the heart of Salt Lake City, The Depot. The Depot has been home to numerous rock legends over the years but none bigger than Master Chief himself. The team went all out, decorating The Depot with custom-made halo posters and graffitied spartan cutouts to help attendees feel immersed in the world of Halo. SSG was able to sell out the event, filling all 500 available seats with standing room only to watch the home team win it all in the grand finals. It made for an electric environment with chants, cheers, and roars from the crowd that even at-home viewers could hear through the broadcast.
This event was more than a tournament, it was a celebration of Halo. Over 3,000 people entered the free-to-enter expo space which provided a laid-back spot for fans and the general public to learn more about Spacestation Gaming and Halo. It welcomed attendees of all ages with a massive signature wall adorned with “Sign Me” in big lettering. We encouraged anyone coming to the event to leave their mark on a piece of art that will live at The Spacestation right alongside the trophy. Fans enjoyed a variety of activities with friends including classic Halo 2 on a CRT TV, competing against spartans in Halo Infinite on Xidax’s top-end computers, classic Street Fighter arcade cabinets, and even a Skull scavenger hunt. If Halo was a bit foreign to some, there was an entire wall dedicated to chronicling the history of Halo esports to get people up to speed. Additionally, attendees took pictures with their friends in the Halo-inspired photo booth with props and cutouts sized for a spartan alongside Spartan cosplayers. Fans and pros alike didn’t miss their chance at new limited edition merchandise at the Spacestation Gaming Booth where SSG sold over $40,000 in merchandise. Too tired to explore the world of Halo? Take a seat at our secondary stage and enjoy the matches.
The expo center was home to some of Spacestation Gaming’s event partners, sponsors, and fellow teams within the HCS. Airlock helped handle the logistics, booth building, and setup of all booths for our partners including PlayerX, FaZe Clan, N8V Gaming, Lizard Skins, and of course, Oats Overnight. Players quickly became a fan of Oats Overnight with a dedicated fridge set aside for players to snag a ready-made breakfast in the morning.
The vision for a backlit graffiti art direction was born early out of a passion for the grungy neon style of Halo Infinite’s map, Streets. The team challenged themselves to decorate the two venues in such a way that you felt as if you’d stepped into Halo itself. This took the form of thousands of custom-made posters, dozens of unique cutouts, and hundreds of hours of decorating. Hidden within the venue were Halo references like encouraging UNSC signups, measuring if you’re taller than a spartan, or “Beware of Grunt” signs. Signage was plastered all over the walls, around activities, on columns in The Depot, and even the trophy stand.
From the incredible signage and posters to the Halo soundtrack echoing through the venue and the amazing ambient lighting fans felt an immersive experience that rekindled their love of Halo. We took a dark dungeon of a venue and turned it into a piece of Halo history that fans never forget. Ultimately, this event was designed to feel like the ultimate fan service to Halo lovers but also welcome the general public who may just be curious or have limited knowledge about the game. We’re proud to say that based on the community’s response, we succeeded. Check out what Reddit had to say about the event!