Despite all the esports firepower in Las Vegas for a CounterStrike: Global Offensive match yesterday, the buzz by day’s end was about Thorin and Shaq.
After the match, Duncan “Thorin” Shields, the well-known esports journalist and historian, engaged in a playful war of words Shaquille O’Neal, TNT analyst and surefire NBA Hall of Famer. Let’s see who won:
Shot No. 1: Thorin calls out Shaq’s acting
Thorin, likely tired of the “Is esports a sport?” debate, seemed ready to go as soon as TNT host Ernie Johnson asked that question. He took it out on Shaq.
“The problem for (Lounge) was ShahZaM. He turned up.” Thorin said at the end of his CS:GO analysis. “And I’m not talking about Kazaam, that horrible movie that Shaq made in the 90s.”
Ouch. Kudos to Thorin if he thought of that on the spot, but it’s hard to imagine he didn’t have it queued up.
And judging by that wry smirk, he knew what he was doing.
Shot No. 2: Shaq calls Thorin…something
Shaq, clearly caught off guard, tries to recover but responds with a whiff.
“That was funny, David Buckham.”
The rest of his colleagues laughed, probably just out of courtesy to Shaq. Bless their hearts.
Shot No. 3: The Challenge
Still stunned, Shaq interrupts Johnson twice to get in another word at Thorin and Richard Lewis.
“I want to challenge you guys, in a couple weeks, to any game you want. Come to TNT. I’ll make you eat those words, buddy.”
He then butchers an English accent. Good work.
Shot No. 4: The shot heard ‘round the (esports) world
Poor Shaq. He clearly under-estimated his opponent, though nobody in esports could’ve been surprised to see Thorin on the offensive.
“What about weight loss? Should we do that? Is that a sport?”
Thorin crumbles the big man with a sweeping right hook, obliterating Shaq, eliciting real laughter from the TNT crew and setting up quite possibly the nerdiest high five in live TV history
It’s over. Say good night, Shaq.
Shot No. 5: The attempted comeback
Shaq tries to save face, offering “muscles’ and “boxing” as competitions with Thorin before saying, “The Queen can’t save you now, buddy.” It doesn’t matter.
Verdict: Thorin wins in a knockout
Shaq didn’t know what he was getting himself into, and Thorin overwhelmed the unprepared giant. Honestly, Thorin took it easy on Shaq.
As a gamer, Thorin could’ve pointed out perhaps Shaq’s most embarrassing venture: Shaq Fu. The mid-90s video game is considered one of the worst of all time, and even has a website dedicated to destroying every copy of it. Seriously.
Was this planned? It’s possible. Thorin’s first joke sure seemed to be premeditated, and he’s also smart enough to know that if there’s one way to get people talking about esports, it’s making fun of Shaq on national TV.
And you know what? People paid attention.
Mark it on the card as a win for both Thorin and esports. Who’s excited for the rematch?